Do you have a cure for me?



I am now halfway through my exegesis on Psalm 19.

The reason why I picked Psalm 19 over Psalm 30 was because when I checked Terrien’s The Psalms, Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary, Psalm 30 has a chiastic structure to it while Psalm 19 does not. So thinking that I should lay low on chiasms and be “normal” for awhile working on a good ol’ ordinary unchiastically structured psalm, I proceeded on with Psalm 19.

If you are good with plots, you will know where my story is heading by now, because right in front of me this very moment is Psalm 19 staring at me as a perfectly structured chiasm.

What happened?

I was mulling through the psalm for the past several weeks, dissecting it, breaking it into possible stanzas and maybe several envois, highlighting parallels, linking up themes. Last night, I suddenly went, “Wait a minute ... I don’t believe it!” and there you are – no running away from chiasms for Pearlie. They stick to me like glue.

A Nature’s declaration (v.1)
   B Nature’s public display (v.2-4a)
      C Nature compared and was equated (v.4b-6)
         D The written Torah (v.7-9)
      C’ The Torah compared and it surpasses (v.10-11)
   B’ The psalmist private prayer (v.12-13)
A’ The psalmist’s declaration (v.14)

Do you have for me a cure?

pearlie
Photo © 2007 i o f o t o

I am back!
Aha, and here's the chiastic-monsta!

All is well. I went on a blog-break on Saturday. Except that my mind has been actively “blogging” for the past few days! I see how reflecting has become so much a part of me. I automatically think about the day: how it went, where I have fallen short and most of all how I must thank our good and gracious God. I will be updating my posts, from where I stopped, on Sunday. There isn't any break after all.

pearlie


p/s The chiastic-monster challenges you to find what the chiastic-monster loves!

Bible Study:
Discombobulated Dialogue

We discussed John 2:1-11 today. The flow of conversation between Jesus and his mother ensuing the running out of wine at the wedding banquet we had found rather puzzling.

Mary: They have no more wine.

Jesus: Woman, what to me and to you? My time has not yet come.

Mary (to the servants): Whatever He says to you, do it.

What do you make out of it?

I suggest this:
Having no wine during a wedding banquet in the ancient Jewish world was a serious offence, culpable to legal proceedings. Mary was worried and came to seek Jesus' help. She kind of knew that he is special and will be able to do something spectacular to save the day.

But Jesus asked her what would it mean to her and what would it mean to him if he were do to something.

Mary's focus is on the immediate, Jesus focus is on the eternal and his time has not yet come for his glorification on the cross and his resurrection.

But since his mother had asked him and the matter at hand is a serious one, he chose to perform the miracle. He even set it to be the first of all his miracles, the one that inaugurates his kingdom.

Any objections?

pearlie

More on: forgive, forget and reconcile

I have reflected before on forgiving, forgetting and reconciling. It is a reality that while it is possible to forgive, it may be impossible to forget and inconceivable to reconcile. If that is so, what is forgiveness?

Forgiving and forgetting would certainly make life much easier to live but our human nature just will not allow it. It reminds and it recalls what you’d rather forget. Now, isn’t that ironical?

But if God can forgive us, if he can choose not to remember our sins, if he invites us into reconciliation with him, why can’t we do the same with our fellow brethren in Christ? And looking at it from a different vantage point, if it hurt so badly that we cannot forget or reconcile, how much more would it hurt God to forgive, forget and reconcile us to himself. Hurt He was – He gave us His Son to make forgiveness, forgetting and reconciling possible.

I now begin to imagine how my Heavenly Father would have felt when Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Tears welled in my eyes.

Inasmuch as it is difficult to forget or reconcile, even though we can forgive, we must relinquish our hurts to God – after our Lord bore our sins and our pains. We must surrender to him.

Inasmuch as it is impossible to forget or reconcile, we must remember that the blood that covered our sins is the same that covered theirs too.

It may take awhile,
   to forgive, forget, to reconcile
It may never seem at all worthwhile,
   to forgive, forget, to reconcile
But when we have come away,
   to that very Last Day
The wolf, the lamb,
   they’ll graze together, you'll see
The lion like the ox,
   will eat straw, believe me
Forgive, forget,
   reconcile.
All rights reserved © 2008 Pearlie Ng


pearlie

Preaching:
A monstrous monologue by a moron to mutes?

I have been asking: what is preaching?

I admit I am oh-so-guilty of over-commenting on preachers - I know something is wrong with me. Therefore, in trying to get my bearings back, I started listening to Carson’s Primacy of Expository Preaching. He gave these lectures at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in 1995. There are three lectures and I am just midway through the first one.

I knew that preaching is hard work. But after listening to just a small part of these lectures, I am now convinced that preaching is more than hard work, and calling it “work” does not even give it justice.

Preaching is a simultaneous appeal to the heart and mind of the church.

Preaching is to convey the very image of Scripture that must reduce us all into a state of awe and worship.

Preaching is the task of holding up Scriptures as a mirror that make us squirm in our sins.

Preaching is power, holy power, that is with an authority bound up with the fact that it is God’s message – not merely content or God-forbid manner, presentation or style.

Informing, persuading, appealing, inviting response, encouraging, rebuking, instructing in righteousness, are but the immediate goals of preaching.

The ultimate goal of preaching is nothing but the glory of God.

pearlie

Away?

God is indeed so good. He knows us perfectly and pours his grace on us sufficiently at all times. Just when I was getting a bit discouraged about some things, he comes with multiple blessings and reminders.

For one,
a sister shared with me how she had read my sharing on my TEE experience in this blog at the right time – she soon met someone who indicated her interest in taking up theological training on a part time basis.

Two,
I had an excellent session with the youth today, as I submitted it all to Him. We studied the parables in the bible and learnt how to interpret the bible. Not with a “I think ...” or a “What this passage means to me ...” but what the passages mean as they were originally and contextually and only then to apply it into our lives as obedient children of God. As an example, I challenged them to give me the most important lesson in the so-called Parable of the Prodigal Son. It was a most interesting session. We learnt a lot, including me.

Three,
I may have started a hiatus in pearlie gates, but through it all journaling the web-log-way has become so much part and parcel of my life that I automatically reflect the days that I lived to thank God, on lessons to learn, questions to ask and blessings to share with whoever who has an ear to hear (or more accurately, an eye to read). To cut the long story short, I cannot stop thinking or reflecting and I do it best writing.

Mark 4:24-25
24 And He was saying to them, "Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. 25 "For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him."

pearlie

Regroup, Rethink, Review

I have been posting here every single day since 1 Mar 2006 without missing any save one (for a special reason). I have decided, albeit against my better judgement or not, to break away for awhile. For long or for short, time will tell. I need to regroup, rethink and review some things in my life. For those who may have a clue, reading this may shed some light.

Till then. Shalom.

pearlie

Christian Theology 2: Day 4
What is heaven, what is hell?

On our final day of CT2, we are on to one subject that I felt I need most at this point of time, being one of the topics I have least learning on: eschatology.

Christopher brought us through these:

1. The Second Coming of Christ
About His return being definite, what the characters of the coming are, the purposes for His return and our bodily resurrection.

2. What happens after death?
Would it be an immediate entrance into eternity, a soul sleep or a conscious existence of the soul? My position has always been between the first and the third. I have only been aware of the second not too long ago. While I was articulating between the three, I found myself taking all three position at different times within just 10 minutes. For now, I still could not go with any one position but the first one seem to make more sense, but having said that, how do we explain Lazarus' resurrection? Had he an immediate entrance into eternity and then called back to time again? Sound a tad too much like time traveling with its problems. What about Jesus telling the family of the dead girl that she is asleep? Soul sleep?

3. The Millenium

Source: www.wikipedia.org

Based on the little that I have learnt today, I am with amillenialism.

4. The Final Consummation
What is the Final Judgement, what is the state of the wicked and the righteous. Some of us had problems with eternal punishment - they could not accept how they can enjoy eternity whilst there are others that suffer eternally in hell.

My take is that hell is a place where God is not there. We live in a fallen world where God's common grace is still present. So, we may not know to the fullest extent how it would be like in a place where God has totally withdrawn himself. The description of furnace of fire and gnashing of teeth may be metaphors in the way that human will exist in a place where every person will live solely for himself and himself alone - where there is no peace, no pure joy, no pure love - nothing is good. Everyone will want everything only for themselves and there will be no giving in, no losing.

This suddenly reminds me of a book Calvin was reading some weeks ago, of a story of a place where death was removed, no one can die but they still suffer because they still get hurt, they bleed, and feel pain - and yet they had to live on an on in that state because they can't die and end the pain, which they brought upon themselves. The day was finally "saved" only when mortality was returned, they can finally die. (I was worried about what he was reading when he told me about it, nevermind that I bought him the book, I must now get hold of it and read it for myself.)

Imagine a world with no goodness and no death - and this would be the choice of some because they cannot find themselves loving each other more than themselves, or being in celebratory worship as one body of Christ, or being communal and denying themselves for God and one another - all the qualities of the children of God, in love, in holiness and to the glory to God. This would be heaven and the exact opposite, hell.

pearlie

Christian Theology 2: Day 3
And another break

The lecture today focussed on Ecclesiology, the Church. Several interesting things I learnt include:

1. Sociologists were said to comment that by right a church in its setting should not have existed within a sociological framework. I totally agree - if not for the one tenet of the church, viz. the saving grace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, there is no basis for all of us in all our differences to be one in Christ, as we are now.

2. The church can be described in relation to the Trinity - the nation of God, the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

3. The church consist of the following:
* the invisible church - the one true Church, of believers regardless of time, be it from the past, in the present or in the future
* the visible church - that which is seen by our eyes, consisting of "wheat" and "tares"
* the universal church - all believers at any one time
* the local church - the community of believers at one locality

4. The church is basically involved in 4 areas:
* worship
* edification/nurture
* evangelism
* social concern.

5. Social concern are acts of ministry to the needy and suffering with ends in itself, i.e. not as means to achieve something else. This is also where we discussed a very practical issue I brought up. What should a church or a Christian do in these situations and what are the implications:
* when approached by a non-Christian religious body for assistance in the social organisation that they run, be it an orphanage or an old folks home
* when approached by a temple to buy their building fund food fair tickets in reciprocation of their purchase of your church's building fund food fair

During lunch Kar Yong suddenly remarked that since I have the intention of taking the module on parables, I need to go get the recommended text from the "bookstore" in STM. So off I went and thankfully I already have Klyne Snodgrass' Stories with Intent. Thankful because of my book-fast, albeit ironical since it was also the reason for the book-fast!

And since I have committed to the fast through this blog, this has to be reported: that I broke my fast again. On a food fast, I'd still have to eat! I reasoned that this should an acceptable break and I took away with me:
1. Craig Blomberg's Preaching the Parables (for the module on parables)
2. William Dumbrell's The Faith of Israel (for my Interpreting OT assigments but more so because it was only RM26)
3. Daniel Maguerat's How to Read Bible Stories (it was a bargain at RM15 but I thought it will be useful for my sessions with the youth)

I was contemplating 5 other books but I exercised self-control - for good or for bad?

pearlie

Christian Theology 2: Day 2

TEE
Today's class concentrated on the theology of the Holy Spirit. We spent the whole day on this topic, from who he is to what he does. The usual questions on tongues were brought up and debated upon. For me, it was a "been there done that" kind of thing and was therefore reticent throughout. What I learnt though were these:

1. The speaking in other tongues at Pentecost can be viewed as "an indication of the reversal of the judgement of God at the tower of Babel. Instead of separation, alienation, and antagonism, there is now the formation of a reconciled community from all tongues and nations". But only if you view the event at the tower of Babel a judgement of God, which of course is the common thought. I have blogged this before - an alternate view that the tower of Babel event may point to the origins of cultural difference.

2. The accounts of the filling of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost, in Samaria, in Cornelius and his household are reminiscent of Acts 1:8, "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." I hadn't seen that linkage.

Our lecturer, Christopher, also introduced us to a very interesting painting entitled "The Trinity" by a Russian painter, Andrei Rublev (1370-1430).



Some interesting questions:

1. Why did Rublev paint the Trinity this way?
2. Which do you think were the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
3. What other characteristics of the painting did you notice - colours, items, expressions, etc.?

For more, check it out here.

Alex had commented that because I broke my 6-months-book-fast with the purchase of the book for my Psalms assignment (which by the way has not yet arrived from Amazon.com), I am more on a book diet. Technically yes but I'd rather still call it a fast. However, with this CT2 module, I would like to get a copy of Alister McGrath's Christian Theology, An Introduction since I have a passion for Historical Theology, and Christopher has gotten me interested in Sinclair Fergusen's The Holy Spirit. I think I will wait on Fergusen's but relent on McGrath's. I'll need McGrath for my assignment.

pearlie

note: I will respond to comments in due time. I have been trying to publish this for the past 40 minutes - connections are bad.

Christian Theology 2: Day 1

This is irrelevant and it isn’t about theology but for whatever it’s worth:

We weren’t expecting this
Have we so much gone amiss
Along it came no less
That without much finesse
The thing that got to us
Has made us gloomy Gus
Everything is now a mess
All Rights Reserved © 2008 Pearlie Ng

We began our CT2 class today led by Christopher Cheah – on these topics:
- The Doctrine of Humanity
- The Image of God
- The Essential Human Nature
- The Fall and the Nature of Sin

I may have been doing too much exegesis because I find that I keep doing exegesis work today on the passages presented for the various topics.

For example, there was this section where we were looking at the account of the temptation that led to the fall. Christopher commented that it is a common view that the blame always fall on the woman for being the one that listened to the devil, replied him, got enticed by him, ate the forbidden fruit, and somehow got man to eat it too, thus causing the fall.

Scanning through the passage given, I began to see it differently. I know I am not in a biblical study class but humour me as I articulate this:

If we read Genesis 3:1 in a non-literal manner as how you might want to read the creation story in the same way, I find that the author may have purposed it in the way that he designed his story as a way to explain the original sin.

In the setting of the narrative, the serpent asked both man and woman present, the question tempting them to disobey. It was Eve who answered, who went along with the serpent's suggestion, twisted God's word, saw the fruit, took the fruit, ate it and passed it along to Adam. Adam was quiet through the entire transaction - he did not object or question. He willingly went along with it.

Had Adam did what Eve had done, the doctrine of the fall and the nature of sin could have been very different and the Feminist Theology could have been made stronger. But it was Eve who was set in the narrative to have done all that, with the husband's silent consent.

I propose that the author did this with the purpose to include woman into the fall and the act of disobedience. Just because the man was the rightful head of the union, the woman can in no way blame it solely on the man in saying that she was forced into it. Nor can a single woman claim that she is without sin, because according to the account she inherited the sin because Eve was the one who made the move with the consent of the man. (A single man can in no way claim he is without the original sin because being the head, Adam consented to Eve's action).

Can this exegesis carry water?

Again, I know I am suppose to talk about theology - let me get into it slowly, maybe tomorrow.

pearlie

Running away?



I have not been catching up with blogs. Ever since we made a big change in logistics, it is taking some getting used to - exceedingly stressful too. That and deadlines and more deadlines are getting to me.

Which is why the rest of this week will be an excellent break for me - I have signed up for Christian Theology 2 that is to be held in-campus, from Wednesday to Saturday.

I doubt many will look at it the same way I do - using study as a break, but it would be an extremely welcomed one for me.

The only worry is that this class is on theology - and I hope I don't end up having my hair all pulled out!

Running away? Or hair pulling?

pearlie
Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

3-point sermon?

Today's passage was taken from Luke 18:18-30. Not an easy passage to preach from and I have three more questions to add to my list.

1. What was Jesus' intention in his response in v.19?

2. What is the concept of inheritance in the context of the rich ruler? If he was to inherit it, why ask what he needs to do?

3. Is Jesus' demand in v.22 event-related or is it to be applied across the board?

pearlie

Fragile flower or firm sacrifice?



Flowers. We are mesmerised by their beauty, entranced by the colours, captivated by their design. We have them adorn the surrounding of our homes. We await their blooms in anticipation. We display them to delight our eyes. We give them away as a sign of our love.

I am therefore surprised at the bible's treatment and usage of the flower in general as a metaphor for nothingness.*

Job 14:1-2
Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.
He springs up like a flower and withers away;
like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.


Psalm 103:15-16
As for man, his days are like grass,
   he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.


Isaiah 28:1
Woe to that wreath,
   the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,
to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,
   set on the head of a fertile valley--
to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!


Isaiah 28:3-4
That wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,
   will be trampled underfoot.
That fading flower, his glorious beauty,
   set on the head of a fertile valley,
will be like a fig ripe before harvest--
   as soon as someone sees it
   and takes it in his hand, he swallows it.


James 1:10
But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.

Beautiful things are good to behold but that is all.

We are called instead to be to God the aroma of Christ, a fragrant offering - not as fragile flowers to behold, but firm sacrifices to be offered to God - Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

pearlie
Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

* Specific flowers like the roses and lilies do seem to be used differently though as a name and metaphor.

What is tolerance?

I heard in one of Carson's sessions the topic of tolerance*. He brought up a very interesting point where he felt that our contemporary understanding of tolerance has gone wayward.

If you think about it, isn't it logical that one can only be considered tolerant when - not only does one not agree with another, differing views are laid out full view of each other but tolerated with grace and aplomb.

That in my opinion is tolerance.

Accepting another person's differing views even though it goes against one's beliefs or principles for the sake of giving way is not tolerance. It is but syncretism, a fusion of differing beliefs - something that is impossible.

This came up because I was in the midst of helping Calvin with his homework when he was required to decide if the result of tolerance was that the "opinions of others are easily refuted".

I felt that it was my duty as a parent to explain what real tolerance is, which I did. But I also added that if he goes according to my explanation he will definitely be considered wrong in class.

What Calvin did was quite surprising. He actually asked me to explain both sides again, and proceeded to make his own mind. I checked his homework later and discovered that he had placed the "opinions of others are easily refuted" under the result of tolerance.

I shall not say that it is entirely correct because the idea or concept behind that phrase is just not complete. Scanning through the list, I find that the lesson was badly structure to the extreme:

Identify in the following if tolerance is practiced or not during a team-work session:
1. Dissatisfied with the task set

2. Improvements visible in relationship between team members

3. Having the spirit of give and take in the division of tasks

4. Work can be completed speedily

5. The existence of tension and the deterioration of relationship among members

6. Work is slow to complete because of tension

7. Patience if work is not evenly distributed

8. Opinions of others easily refuted


I am alright with taking #2 and 3 as the result of tolerance and #5 and 6 the result of intolerance.

#1, 4 and 7 in my opinion are just irrelevant. More than irrelevant, they must not be tolerated:

1. A dissatisfaction with the task set may be totally valid. What should one do if he is required to kill 10 cats? Be tolerant and do it anyway?

4. Work that is completed in no time could be the result of performance, skill or even with minimum quality. It can be done with or without tolerance.

7. What does the issue of fairness has to do with tolerance? What if it is because you are disliked for whatever reasons and therefore more burdensome work is given to you? What if you voiced out against the organisers because you rightly do not agree with the way they do things and that caused you to be given the dirtiest and most dangerous part of the job? Be tolerant and do it anyway? What if I as an organiser pocket 90% of the funds received but only does 10% of the work? Be tolerant and do your 90% anyway?


This is so wrong and yet they are teaching it in school. Oh dear.

So that leaves us with #8.

8. The way I see it, for example, I can easily refute you if you tell me Jesus was not resurrected. I don't even have to think about it, for I will flatly refuse to agree with you, but I can still tolerate you and be your friend. I will listen to you, talk to you, have a meal with you and help you when you need help but I will never ever agree with you on that score. This is toleration.

Bringing #8 back into context, what if the opinions of others in the team is totally whacked out - say, the leader of the group is an extremist and in his opinion, the best way of doing things is through torture? Tolerate? By no way!

I know I am going to the extreme in taking Calvin's schoolwork but this is serious business - it has to do with the formation of my son's character, and I need to have my say in it as a parent.

pearlie

* Let me know if you need the link to Carson's session. I am not including it now for lack of time - I have to hunt it down amongst the whole lot of downloaded Carson mp3s I have in my Carson folder.

Self-idolatry

My mind is processing some thoughts on something akin to Psalm 1.

Psalm 1
1 How blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

I grew up in a Christian home and thanks to my mom and dad, and some church leaders, I was taught in the Lord's way. But only now, do I really see for myself who we are as God's children in comparison to those who are not.

I am a person who tends to see the best in others, for good or bad. Lately though, I have begun to open my eyes to see the difference that Christ has made in our lives.

As much as it is a norm that humankind tends to be selfish and self-centered, ultimately upholding oneself above all, what I have seen lately made me realise that without Christ, humankind has no basis for love and grace.

What matters is self and hence, self fulfilment.

All thoughts, words and deeds are only for self. It does not matter if it is to the detriment of others, as long as no one is seen to be hurt.

What do you think when someone who said that the help she gave to the poor are made for herself? Oh yes, they get the help I am giving, she says, but I am doing it only for myself.

We live in a fallen world. We are a fallen being. We are those who in faith believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has been redeemed and changed by his love and grace.

I pray that we will continually be the blessed ones who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.

pearlie

The power of suggestion

A few months ago, my friend sent me a short audio clip of Akon's Lonely. I thought the opening that features a chipmunky voice was so cute that I set it as my alarm ringtone. On hindsight, it was a bad idea. It never occurred to me that I will be waking up to these words:

Lonely, I am so lonely
I have nobody to call my own ...
I knew the power of words and the power of suggestion, but the little wisdom I had was not put into work when I set this as the alarm ringtone, and what more, I am one who snoozes a lot.

This went on for months. My days had not been entirely great lately and I had not been fervent in prayer. I used to wake up and the first thing I would do is say, "Good morning, Lord!" but not anymore for awhile now.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly realise what I have been listening to every morning as I start my day! I changed it almost there and then.

And this is what I hear now as I wake up, written by John Rutter, sung by The Choirboys:

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
To shine upon you and be gracious
And be gracious unto you
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you
And give you peace, and give you peace
And give you peace
Amen, amen, amen, amen
Obviously I will not be listening to the whole song having to wake up and get ready for the day, but since I already have that song in memory, I find that I have been singing it quite often in the past two weeks, and what a difference it has made.

I woke up with a "Good morning, Lord!" today. And I was praying. I was revelling and looking forward to a great day* - and a life that is connected to Christ, as vines are connected to the branch.

Here is the song sung by The Choirboys:


pearlie

* until I got a call from an angry husband who got locked in the house because of some mis-communication. Ouch!

My sweetie pie

It was quite all about him today, as we got back into the rhythm of school after a really good 2-week break. He is after all my sweetie pie, my silly cow and the BSITW.


Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

pearlie

Calvin's new found interest

Art
Calvin never quite stay in one thing for long. But I have noticed however, for quite awhile now, that he loves making sketches and illustrations. So I got him some art paper and coloured pens and here are the results.

He wanted to make a gift for Auntie Rowena. I helped him with the vase and the rest is his work.

All rights reserved © 2008 Calvin Tan

We were going to the store in part to add on to his collection of Stabilo Point 88 pens. And as we were driving downtown, he conveniently got hold of one and started sketching me. He had done one before and called his work "Moo-mie". I wonder what he will call this one this time.

All rights reserved © 2008 Calvin Tan

And here he was a week ago, we were trying to find a book on "pen art". We did not find any but Bob Gill's Illustrations - not an art book per se, but he liked it.

Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

pearlie

Looming ahead



Looming ahead I'm on this road
It only stretches on
Find something good I really hoped
Even if it's a chance upon
It was however as I have expected
Seemed to be but a delusion
A prerequisite has been neglected
Now what we have is confusion
I really hope, to God I can only plea
Revellers would come to know
Only God and that only he
Not for us to put on a show
Yearn then for nothing but Him alone

O God, help us.

All rights reserved © 2008 Pearlie Ng
Photo © 2007 DancingDolphin

The Unanswered Prayers and the Answered Prayer

Melissa once asked if I am “into Englishmen and stiff, upper-lip British English”.

Ah, I am not sure about the first one, since I do not really know any Englishman but she is absolutely right on the second!

Anyway, that is beside the point. I have uploaded several of Dick Lucas’ talks into my cellphone and I had let it run as I commute to and fro work. I happened to hear his session on 1 Kings 18 on The Unanswered Prayers and the Answered Prayer.

Talk about my endless study and thinking on the subject of prayer, this session seriously hit the nail in the head for me – it is about the most realistic thing I have heard about prayer.

It won’t do justice to have it summarised here. You have to listen it for yourself – the session is just brilliant. Get the mp3 here.

pearlie

Our pockets are tightening up

Petrol prices here went up by RM0.78 today to RM2.70. That is a huge jump, the biggest ever and this is more bad news for the already rising inflation. I keep reminding myself that this is life as it is and that I have eternity to look to, I have hope.

I was also listening to Dick Lucas' session on Psalm 90, which in fact has an extremely dismal portion about us. His title for the session is so aptly put: Are We Living in the Real World?

Many people, be it Christians or non-Christians, politicians or beauty queens, tells us that our world can be perfect, peaceful, sublime and happy, if we do and follow a certain set rules, or simply, we do what they say. As much as things can be better if we do some of those things they advocate, ultimately we live in a broken and fallen world. As much as we call for peace, for justice, for equality, and as much as we do our best to make those a reality, we are but drawn to the darkness and we revel in it.

Dick reminds us that we need to be careful not to live in Dream Land. Scriptures keep us away from dream world.

In times when we feel that life is like a rock rolling downhill, with its momentum gathering as it goes and getting chipped as it hits hard surfaces, remember Psalm 90.

In verse 1 and 2, the Psalter first remind himself of,
The Eternal God.
Psalm 90:1-2
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting,
You are God.


After setting the scene in v.1-2, the Psalter is now able to face the terrible state of life and laments without a bitter spirit,
The Transient Life of Fallen Man.
Psalm 90:3-12
3 You turn man back into dust
And say, "Return, O children of men."
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.
5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been dismayed.
8 You have placed our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
9 For all our days have declined in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.
10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

In his closing, the Psalter say
A Prayer for True Restoration and Renewal.
Psalm 90:12-17
13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

We too need to daily say the psalm:

First to worship our Eternal God, to acknowledge Him as Lord and King. And with our Eternal God to rule our lives, whom shall we fear?

Second, to confess our frailty and our sins, we cannot save ourselves - a fact so clearly demonstrated throughout the history of humankind.

And finally, to seek God humbly to restore and renew us, to find favour in us and confirm us as His children. We are nothing other than what He says we are.

Amen.

pearlie

Our blogs up in ashes?!

I had just started a new blog in www.photoblog.com/pearlie and posted 4 posts when I found that I could not access the website anymore. Something must have gone wrong somewhere but searches came to nothing.

Last night, http://www.photoblog.com/ came back and posted news that there was a huge explosion in the place where their site was hosted and it has caused a massive blackout for thousand of websites. Apparently, it was reported that the servers and the data were not damaged. Click here for more information.

That got me very worried. Not for my Photoblog, I only had 4 posts, writing was minimal and the photos are smaller copies of my original. But if that had happened to Pearlie Gates and if the servers were to have been blown to bits, I would have lost more than 2 years worth of precious journal entries, and daily entries at that. Gone! And done for!

I must do something about it.

I went searching and found this: HTTrack, Website Copier.

Come to think about it, I was looking for such a thing a few months after I started Pearlie Gates but found nothing. It is good that someone had come to the rescue and now I have backed up my entire website with a selection of mirror sites in my hard drive.

You should think about doing it too.

pearlie

Caption Needed #1

I was writing another piece on the will of God but I could not finish it in time to post it today - it is a long day. That will have to come tomorrow. Meanwhile, since I have restarted my "career" in photography, I should begin a series of "Caption Needed" - starting with this shot.


Julia: How now red cow?
Danesh: Look buddy, I don't care how much it hurts. I'm going to get my Red Bull juice whether you like it or not!

pearlie
Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

The will of God for who?

Pastor Chris gave a sermon today following through what the speaker had spoke about in the recent church camp - from Colossian 1:3-12 - concentrating on v.9, on the will and purpose God.

The "will of God" is one biblical and theological theme I have not quite worked out yet, which I still have loads of questions on and so while I was listening to the sermon, I worked out the verses as follows to try to understand the passage better:



Some "splendid" observations (as Dick Lucas would have termed it):

1. Faith and love, from hope
Most people who have refered to v.5 and most places I have refered to so far, talked about love, faith and hope as a group of qualities the Colossians had. But I would beg to differ. What the Colossians have shown were love and faith that comes from the hope stored in heaven, and at the same time are the results of their hearing of the Gospel.

2. Eternity has begun
The hope that is stored in heaven has already brought forth the fruition of faith and love. This means that eternity for those who belong to Christ has already begun.

3. Paul heard and Paul prayed
Because Paul has heard about their faith and love - and not any other faith but faith in Christ Jesus and not any other love but love for one another in the body of Christ - he prayed for them.

4. We reflect on His word, He provides the insight
He prayed that God will fill them with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. In reference to 2 Timothy 2:7 - which was actually brought up by Dick Lucas in a teaching session on Psalm 63 - this learning of God's truth is quite a paradoxical thing. We reflect and agonise on His word, and He will give us insight. Not in the sense that we reflect and in return get insight as result of our own reflection, or the other extreme where we don't reflect but He plants His word and truths in our mind and thoughts. In the same way in v.9, in our spiritual wisdom and understanding, we reflect on His word and He will fill us with knowledge of His will. But what is the "knowledge of His will"?

5. In order that, so that ...
The reason why Paul prayed for that is "in order that" and "so that" followed by a list of purposes in our lives:
* living a God-worthy life
* living a God-pleasing life that is bearing fruit, knowing Him more and more, and living only in His power and strength
* living a life full of endurance and patience
* living a life that is joyful and thankful to the Father
Is this the knowledge of His will? Or is this more the results of being filled with the knowledge of His will? If it is the latter, the same question remains, what is the knowledge of His will?

6. One full circle?
I feel that in the mention of the Father who has qualified them ... in the kingdom of lights, brings the whole thing to a full circle, to where the hope that is stored in heaven. But what is this hope that is stored in heaven? Why is it stored up? Why is only hope stored up, and not others?


The will of God for who?
On the topic of the "will of God", I performed a search in the NIV translation of the bible for the phrase "God's will for", and the result was only one verse:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

We only find in this one verse the mention of God's will for anybody.

But the phrase "God's will for you" is so widely and freely used for a long time now. My question is this: is there ever a God's will for you? for anybody? Even in 1 Thess 5:18, it is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. It is a will that is qualified by Christ - i.e. ultimately it is still God's will, period.

I remember some time ago listening to a speaker - by whom, from where, or when I cannot now remember - who said quite frankly that God does not care two hoots which job is better for us, which car we should be buying, which town we should be moving into, or whatever. Yes, these are important decisions, He does care - in fact, He did command us to cast all our cares to Him, which really means, don't worry about your life, but that of course will be another long discourse.
He does care about our whole lives, but when God's will is talked about, it isn't about us, not one bit - it is about His over-arching purpose, His work that done through Christ, His will that is done for His own sake and His own glory. So there is no God's will per se for you or for me. God's guidance and lead for you and me, yes. But only God's will for God.

Our will then is to follow God's will: that is to take part in His work, to be a part of His purpose in the work of the Kingdom, as being in body of Christ. Just like He is the vine and we are the branches, saying "the vine's purpose for the branches" would not make any sense. The branches exist to perform their function and duty for the vine, that is all.

pearlie