It was meant to be

I came to the office today and saw a package on my table. With this silly grin in my face, much like that of a small kid on Christmas day, I tore it open.

I was in such glee that my colleagues became so amused and curious as to what I got in the mail. I showed it to them, complete with that wide grin to boot.

They instead gave me quizzical looks.

Click here to see what I received.

What made it more special other than the fact that this book is out of print, that it is the standard treatise on the subject, and that it is selling for ₤104 in Amazon.co.uk (I got it for so much cheaper, secondhand from abe.com), the delivery of the book was date marked on my birthday, 22nd July.

It was meant to be – after all, who am I but a chiastic-freak.



pearlie

Life

Life is cluttered
Busy and sputtered
Lest I'm alert
I'll be guttered
All rights reserved (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng

pearlie

Take heart and persevere

I pondered a bit about eternal life today.

I again found myself musing how much I look forward to being in heaven in the presence of God, though now (hopefully, for very good reasons God willing) is not the time.

Inasmuch as it is inconsequential, I have yet to decide on my stand about our condition after death. I am at the moment taking a closer stand toward soul sleep. I am thinking if I were to die, I may go into a soul sleep awaiting the final judgement, and then heaven. There will still a wait, even though I would most probably not feel it.
However, as much as it would be wonderful to be right there in God’s presence, there is still much to experience in this temporary world that God has placed us in, in preparation for the season that is to come, the consummation of life everlasting.

With that, I would like to take a brighter view of life as we have it now.

In the now and not yet of the eternal life that Christ has accomplished for us, there is still much to learn in the “now” before we go to the “not yet”.

Therefore, if you find yourself in a quandary, think about what you can learn from the LORD in your eternal life now, to prepare for the eternal life not yet. Think about the extension and expansion of our quality and quantity of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The more you have these fruits, the bigger and fuller you have them, the more you will enjoy the eternal life to come, in the very personal presence of God.

So take heart and persevere.

pearlie

Fasting: what matters in context



The last I mentioned the fasting I am observing was about a couple of weeks ago after which I had not talked much about it.

I was sent a link about fasting a few days before the fast proper. I went there for a spell but stop short of reading more than 2 or 3 pages, or spend more than 2 minutes on it. I suddenly felt a bit stressed and wondered if I should be worried about the fast.

I had felt relaxed about it and I was prepared to take on the 40-day fast quite in stride. I aim to spend my days more in touch with God. But after that website, I begin to wonder if I need to be more solemn about it. Do I?

One thing I can recall from the website was not to announce the fast to the whole wide world or they’d think I am out of my mind. I am not sure if that is so. But what I do encounter in my context may be slightly different.

I am fasting meat and comfort food. When I order food in eating places, I ask for the vegetarian version. Each time that happened, I seriously think I sound like a Buddhist. I don’t know what else to do – do I need to explain myself or do I need to reword how I order food? More importantly, does it matter at all?

I have also read in the website that fasting is not the main thing that is offered to God but as a discipline that leads us to God. I think I would agree with that - I used to think that fasting itself is an offering of surrendering oneself to God but more than that, it is also an act that helps us draw closer to God. After all, as it is with all our acts of discipline, the center is still God, the reason is still God; these are merely means to an end.

But after a week I do have some lessons learnt:
· I thought fasting meat and comfort food would be easy – not so!
· I found out how difficult life must be for pure vegetarians – it takes some getting used to
· Temptations come more strongly when our minds are set and I have in small ways regrettably justified succumbing to them, but all in all, I aim to spend the time in closer communion with God.

pearlie
Photo © 2008 Steve Woods

Boys Brigade 3rd KL's Enrollment Ceremony



Calvin attended his first BB Enrollment Service and Awards Day where he received his first button, though the careless one lost it. Ah well, he is usually the blur one too, like the mommy. From the photo, you'll see he has not gotten his uniform yet, which I hope he will get a set soon. They have apparently ran out of them for the time being.

This is also my first of such a uniformed group event and I must say it is very impressive. Many awards were given out and it really reflect the discipline the boys have in their pursuit of improvement and betterment of selves.

Kudos to all of them.

pearlie
Photo (c) 2008 Pearlie Ng

The Corinth that Paul Saw: Week 1



Our church has invited Kar Yong to teach us about the background and the impact of the city on the Corinthian letters.

It was a tiring day but it was indeed fruitful. Our usual bible study class more than double up to 20. For a start to the sessions, we took on the background and history of Paul with an overview of his life and missionary journeys, and particularly briefly on Athens and then Corinth.

What caught my attention was the number of temples uncovered in the ruins of ancient Corinth - at least 34. At first I thought, "Well, 43 isn't that many. We have loads of them here in our city too." But then I asked about the size of the city. It was 500m from end to end - I could not comprehend a city so small. And 34 temples in such a small area?

We will be having this for 4 more weeks and I certainly look forward to them, as we get on to why Paul wrote what he wrote to the people in Corinth. Our homework is to read 1&2 Corinthians in one sitting - something I hope I can manage without stopping to check this and check that.

pearlie
Picture from www.abu.nb.ca/courses/NTIntro/PaulCareer5.htm

Eli, good but weak

I was listening to Dick Lucas on 1 Samuel 3 when he mentioned about Eli, the High Priest during that time when young Samuel was dedicated to the LORD. I have never thought much about Eli before, more attention was given obviously to Samuel but Lucas brought up a very important lesson from Eli - he was a very good man but he was very weak and the results were destructive.

After calling young Samuel three times, which by the way is usually where we take as the entire reading of the passage in Scriptures and draw the concluding lesson on hearing the voice of God without hearing out what God has to say to Samuel, which again by the way was why God called him in the first place, and three times.

God said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." (1 Samuel 3:11-14)

Weakness, which on the surface would be regarded as nothing and can be brushed aside, is indeed a very corrosive characteristic. By being weak and leaving things be, whether they are right or wrong, one will allow sin to eat into the very core of souls, so much so that everything becomes okay.

Just look at Hophni and Phinehas, Eli two sons. Take note that they were the priests of the LORD, but his father who is the High Priest could not control them.

1 Samuel 2:12-13,17
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD and the custom of the priests with the people ... Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD.

1 Samuel 2:22-25
Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He said to them, "Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? "No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the LORD'S people circulating. "If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.

Why was Eli weak? And more than that, why was Eli punished for the sins of his sons? Shouldn't they be accountable for their own actions.

Hophni and Phinehas were finally made to pay for their evil acts. Their story is found if you carry on reading from the passages above in I Samuel.

Eli was also accountable because he was responsible for his sons. He was the parent to teach and lead them in the way of the LORD, to discipline them, to instruct and correct them. It looks like he either failed or failed to.

When I think about it, I am fearful for myself. Some of us are parents of kids, little or grown up and some of us are leaders in the church, with many spiritual children so to speak.

To be a parent these days are challenging, I would not even want to begin to talk about it here. If you are a parent you know full well what we are up against - the expectations, forces and challenges from all sides and perspectives and more so the expectations from other people.

And to be a leader these days, we are expected to be diplomatic and tolerant, albeit with misinterpretation of the word. Would we be rendering ourselves weak as a result?

I have seen pastors who have a stronger will ostracised. I have seen leaders who are firm in their words and expectations pushed to the side. It is the "nice" ones that gets the stage and the accolades. But the results of being nice and weak is disastrous.

Be good but weak or be strong yet good?

pearlie

It's off! And I have failed.

Book frenzy!!!

At the rate I am going, the "book-fast" is officially off. Period. And I admit, both Kar Yong and Melissa is right - me on a book-fast? For 6 months? Unbelievable.

The other times I bought books during the "fast" was for TEE assignment purposes but this time, all I did was just to take a walk during lunch and the damage was done. MPH was almost having a "warehouse" sale and I walked into it.

This was the result, but I must tell you, RM258 for 12 books is not too bad, quite a bit of money still but not too bad for 12 books.

First for the boys:


The Night Sky: Discovering the Universe from Alpha Centauri to Quasars , Giles Sparrow, 2006 (rated 5 stars in Amazon.com) - RM20, hardcover


Space Missions: From Spunik to Spaceshipone: the History of Space Flight , Jim Winchester, 2006 (rated 5 stars in Amazon.com) - RM20, hardcover


Big Numbers: A Mind Expanding trip to infinity and back, John and Mary, 2004 - RM15


The Artist and the Mathematician: The Story of Nicolas Bourbaki, the Genius Mathematician Who Never Existed, Amir D. Aczel, 2006 (rated 2 stars in Amazon.com) – RM28, hardcover


The Dance of the Molecules: How Nanotechnology is Changing Our Lives, Ted Sargent, 4, 2006 (rated 4 stars in Amazon.com) – RM19

These are mine:


The Dead Sea Scrolls - Revised Edition: A New Translation, Michael O. Wise, Martin G. Abegg & Edward M. Cook, 2005 (rated 4 ½ stars in Amazon.com) – RM15
I would think this is an excellent find for just RM15!


The Photographers Practical Handbook, Paul Davies, 2005 – RM50
This is the most expensive of the lot. It was on 50% off but I still end up having to pay RM50 for it. I did not have the time to browse through it much but it did look promising ... I hope.

Books I could do without but got them anyway:


The Harmony Silk Factory, Tash Aw, 2006 (rated 3½ stars in Amazon.com) – RM15
I have always thought of getting a copy of this book, being an award winning book written by a Malaysian with a story in the Malaysian context. Now I got one with less than half the price.


Thud! A Novel of Discworld, Terry Pratchett, 2005, (rated 4 ½ stars in Amazon.com) – RM19, hardcover
This was a good catch!


The New Atkins’ Revolution Diet, Dr Robert C. Atkins, 2001, (rated 4 stars in Amazon.com) – RM9
I shouldn't have bothered with this one but at RM9 ...


The Children of Húrin, J.R.R. Tolkien, 4, 2007, (rated 4 stars in Amazon.com) – RM19 (hardcover)
Oh, this is a good catch as well. I have always wanted one when I saw it in the bookstores.


The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett, 2004, (rated 4 ½ stars in Amazon.com) – RM9
We already have a copy of this but at RM9 it will serve us well to be given as a gift later - or if anyone is interested, let me know!

pearlie

Happy Olday to Me

I had an excellent day today. But before I go on (and on) about it, first a song for me:
Happy Olday to me
Happy Olday to me
Today I turned big forty
Happy Olday to me
Wuu-aahhhhhhhhh!
I wanted to take the day off today to spend it on nice things but one of our clients had to spring a Remuneration Board Committee meeting on us. We got prepared and attended the meeting scheduled at 9am. We waited and only got called in at about 10.30, and the meeting lasted till about 12 noon. It dragged on but it was a good meeting. We are all happy in the end. There is still a bit more work but we are all happy about it. I thank God.

So I took the half day off.


Photo (c) 2007 M i E
To start it off, I received a birthday treat from a few in our team and they brought me to Chilli's in Suria KLCC. Well, inline with the 40-day fast initiated by NECF, I started to fast today on meat and comfort food (sweet desserts and any food I consider the comfort-kind). I ordered a caesar salad and a mushroom soup. The soup came with chicken pieces in it and the girls ordered a brownie a la mode with a candle on top! What choice do I have? I ate it - well, I thought since it is my birthday and thankfully (or not!) it is only the first of the 40 days.



Photo (c) 2007 Bell-Pepper
Then, I was on my own, and I decided to pamper myself. I went for a hair wash (complete with back rubs and massages) and then for a manicure and pedicure. I usually long for manicures and pedicures but avoid them at all costs because for every visit I could have bought a book! But this time I didn't want to think book and when ahead. I thought book much later and wished I thought book before adhering to the "push" sign at the door. But I did have a good time.



Photo (c) 2008 Joe
In the evening, my parents wanted to buy me dinner and we went to a place where I can be good and order just rice, vegetables and tofu, and whatever meats they want on the side. That was what we did - we had white rice with steamed white tofu in soya sauce, stirfried chinese cabbage, and stirfried bittergourd with salted eggs (it's the first time I had this, it was superb!), with stirfried sliced fish with spring onions on the side (which looks absolutely delicious my mouth is watering and my tummy is growling right now thinking about it). It was an excellent dinner.



Photo (c) 2008 Thai Odyssey
Then, I was at my parent's home helping out my dad with his internet banking account when Calvin kept telling me his daddy wants us back quickly. I arrived home to find my dear husband presenting me with a package of 10 Thai massages at Thai Odyssey. Oooh ... hmmm ...



Photo (c) 2007 Lynne Lancaster
Oh, I am truly being pampered turning big 40, and I am so blessed with my parents, my husband and my son.

And I am most blessed with my LORD, and I praise and thank Him so.

So, that's it! I've turned 40, I've cried, I've been pampered, I've been loved, I am happy. But from now on, I am 21.

pearlie

Back to the Psalter

I am back onto my long overdue (my own deadlines at least) assignments on Psalm 19 and the structure of the Psalter. I am running out of time and running out of breath.

I am being too ambitious this year with a desire to take 8 modules. I have already dropped "Introduction to the New Testament" (a core that is illusive to me, I can't seem to catch it over the past few years, including this year) and I am planning to drop "Leadership Development" (though I wish I could do this as it will help me with my Youth Work and even at work). Including these 2 assignments on Psalms I now have 5 pending, 1 from "Justification in the Pauline Corpus" and 2 from "Christian Theology 2".

I hope to take up "Teaching & Preaching the Parables" of Jesus in September, "Methodism" in October, and "History & Theology of the Exile" in November.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

pearlie

The Challenge of Difficult Passages



It is a very interesting day today but for some reasons, I cannot disclose it. Just take it that God does have a sense of humour, a big one and a dry one at that.

What was exciting though was the Take up the Challenge session we had during the Youth bible study in the afternoon. I challenged them to take on 2 difficult, really difficult passages from the Gospel of Mark.


Mark 7:26-30
The Syrophoenician Woman
&
Mark 11:12-14
The Cursing of the Fig Tree


I broke them into 4 groups of 5 each. Got them to read each one of the 2 passages, and the verses surrounding it for context. Their challenge was to ask 20 questions and if they can, to interpret the passages as well. But time ticked on, and so I gave them a discount – 10 questions would be good enough.

The purpose of the exercise was to get them to think and think actively about the passages, to have them realise that we must ponder and agonise over God’s word and the outcome will be awesome.

The results?

An intriguing and beneficial one and a half hours of questions and answers I must say (but with 2 “bobbing” heads as well since it was held during the dead of hour from 2-4 pm.)

Questions asked include:

The Syrophoenician Woman
· What does the bread, children and dog represent?
· Why wasn’t the woman angry?
· Why should the children eat all they want?
· Why didn’t Jesus just heal?
· Why is it not good to throw the bread to the dogs?
· How was the demon driven out of the woman’s daughter?
· What is the significance of the crumbs?
· Why did Jesus say “because of this answer”?
· What does this have to do with the clean-unclean debate that happened before this?
· Why were the disciples regarded as “dull” in the passage before this and what was the connection?

The Cursing of the Fig Tree
· Why the mention of the fig tree “in leaf”?
· Are there any emphasis to it not being bare?
· Why did Jesus curse when it wasn't a season for figs?
· Why didn’t Jesus “forgive” the tree?
· Why didn’t the tree die immediately?
· Was it important that the disciples were listening?
· What was Jesus thinking when he was cursing?
· Why did Mark use the Sandwich Technique?
· Where’s the meat?
· What has the cursing and dying of the fig tree got to with faith and prayer?

Did it make you think as well? The youth thought hard and they listened hard, which was no doubt a hard thing to do at four in the afternoon. The results amazed me - they were engaged, they were interested, they suggested meaning, and they asked more.

Learners do desire some challenges once in awhile.

pearlie

Nothing

There are certain rare days where you really, honestly did nothing.
I had such a day today.
And it was good.

pearlie

Pearlie's Threes!



Things always pile up all at the same time for me, almost always!

With the usual Friday Bible Study on John 3, I am also worship leading this Sunday with band practice on Saturday. Time has also arrived for Youth Bible Study for the month of July on Sunday afternoon.

I will have a lot to do this few days until Sunday - prepare for John 3; figure what to do with the Gospel of Mark and prepare for it; think about worship songs, prepare them and go for band practice.

This time I think I will challenge the youth to interpret a couple of difficult passages in the Gospel of Mark. I already have 2 in mind - do you have any I can consider?

pearlie
Photo (c) 2005 Cristina Romano

Murphies' Threes?



Things always happen in threes?
Everything that could go wrong would go wrong?

Well, almost.

Firstly,
my car battery went dead last night. We decided to leave the car in my parents' house, and they would help get it fixed up today while I attend to getting Calvin to school and myself to work, with SH's car as he flies to Penang in the morning.

Secondly,
while my dad was recharging the battery to get the car started to get it to the workshop, the autolock went berserk and locked itself with the keys still in the car. I had to leave office to get home to get the spare key - the car was precariously parked almost in the middle of a quite busy road.

Thirdly,
I found the spare key, got the keys out and got the car to the workshop. We all then proceeded to have lunch together in a nearby restaurant. Right after we ordered the food, my mom gave an exclamation - she left the fire on at the stove before we left. I drove her back to get it turned off, hoping the broth hadn't dried out, or burnt, or worse still, melt the pot, if it ever happens. Thankfully it just gotten dried up without burning.

Things went wrong but I thank God these are only small things. I pray for his grace when it comes to bigger things - his grace will be after all sufficient.

pearlie
Photo (c) 2007 Carl-Fredrik Runqvist

Keep on playing in muck and grime?



Luscious, though intimidating
Foolish, yet engaging
Ingenious, but silly
Hard, even arduous
Risky, whilst demanding
Involving, then nosediving, should I then
Keep on playing in muck and grime?
All rights reserve © 2008 Pearlie Ng

pearlie
Photo © 2008 Craig Jewell

Quiet time? Noisy time?

I realised this morning my lack of prayer and time with God for the past week.

Of late it dawned on me that I am beginning to take a different stance in life - I have given up compartmentalising my life bifurcatedly: one spiritual and the other secular per se, as in quiet time, prayer life, church life vs. work, leisure, chores. I have begun to take life as a whole - my all as an act of worship to my God. As such, everything I do, I do it unto Him - which means I have to be extra careful about what I do, say or think.

Is this right?

I mean I no longer purposefully have "quiet time". Every moment of my life is "quiet time". I remember back in the younger days, we tend to be quite dichotomised in our way of life and thinking:-

  • "How's your spiritual life?" - as opposed to "secular life"?
  • "Have you been having your quiet time?" - are the other times "noisy time"?
  • "Have you been witnessing?" - as opposed to the other times not being a witness for God?
  • I don't know - I am still theologising it in my head, mainly because taking the other extreme, as in "even breathing is prayer to God" does not make sense.

    Am I over-analysing it?

    pearlie

    40-days Prayer and Fasting

    Pastor Chris spoke about fasting today to prepare us for the nationwide 40-days Prayer and Fasting event. He said that fasting was not a commandment back in the Old Testament days, was it?

    The prayer and fasting event is launched by NECF every year and this time I am planning to observe, God willing: a partial fast of meat and comfort food in the form of desserts, sweet stuff and sweet drinks including coffee and tea. I hope I can manage. It will begin on July 22 up to Aug 30.

    pearlie

    Jet lagged?



    My flight home from Mumbai last night was at 11.45pm local time. Arrival in Kuala Lumpur was 7.45am this morning Malaysian time. I could not believe I was jet lagged flying back from India but jet-lagged I was. I was down and out to the max.

    pearlie
    Photo © 2008 Georgios M. W.

    TTT at Mumbai: Day 3
    A side dish for some chewing

    Training today was slightly on the boring side, as they rehashed what I have been doing for the past 2-3 years, but just because I was the only one that was not new to this, it has to go on as planned, which is why I tend to multi-task in situations like this.

    Much has been talked about at Kar Yong's with regards to pastors and full-time-workers (FTW) take home salaries. During the training session, the mention of per-diem for staff from more developed countries who are seconded to less developed countries made me think about ways that can help alleviate some of pastors and FTWs financial worries. What comes out of my ruminations remains to be seen.

    Check this out and tell me what you think - note the date of publication and I was told nothing much has changed since then as far as pastors and FTWs' salaries are concerned.

    Click here for the pictures of the day: Mumbai - as I saw it from a bus.

    pearlie

    TTT at Mumbai: Day 2
    ORID and Hand Gestures

    One of the other things we learnt about being a good presenter is to start with a good impact statement. What I can say of them are basically excellent introductions that are short and impactful, and that is one difficult thing to do! But if mastered, they are attention grabbers. This reminds me of what Joanna, my vocal teacher and friend, used to tell us - take care how you begin a song, if it is poorly begun, you would have lost your audience.

    We then moved from being good presenters to being good facilitators. We were given a few pointers to use when facilitating session, using the ORID model:

    Objective - what were the initial thoughts, what happened, just get the facts from the participants, etc.

    Reflective - how did you feel, what made you say that, what were the benefits, how can parallels be drawn, etc.

    Interpretive - what does all this mean, what conclusions can you draw, etc.

    Decisional - what decisions can we make, what is the action plan, etc.

    I was called up first to do the facilitating of a session we had earlier. It was an anagram puzzle with extremely little instructions, which I was late in attending because I needed to go to the washroom. I came in and this was just it:

    Solve this anagram: A Galvanisers Moth
    The group told me when I came in that the instructions were that we can only ask 3 questions and that's it. We only have those words on the flip chart. I was a bit confused at first because they were so concerned about working it out that I did not know what was happening. But when I saw that they had no idea what an anagram was, with one of the questions they planned to ask being "what is a galvanisers moth?" I kind of took over and started to solve it. We got no where - there would be thousands of possible options!

    But the exercise was merely a prequel to a facilitation exercise and I was asked to facilitate it and find out what they thought about the intructions given to them.

    I suppose because I sort of fell into character since this is quite a common thing, if not exactly, that I do in church. The new thing that I tried out though were the hand gestures - and that was quite interesting.

    Click here for pictures for the day: A Cauldron of Cultures

    pearlie

    TTT at Mumbai: Day 1
    4-Mat Learner's Model

    I did not expect much out of the training here in Mumbai. (By the way, TTT stands for Train-the-Trainer.) But what I went through today was quite spectacular. I have learnt how to be a presenter, albeit conciously or unconciously, almost all my life, since I grew up in the church environment. But what I learnt today about being a good presenter were really good learning and reminders.

    One the things I find quite brilliant is the 4-Mat learning model.



    It basically divides preferences of learners into 4 categories - the Why Learners, What Learners, How Learners and the What-if Learners.

    I see myself as a Why and a What Learner. My left side of the brain with the Attend and the right side with the Imagine - I think, since this picture here shows that there is more than what was being introduced during the training session.

    I believe that all quadrants are important. As much as I learn best in the why and what, I also need to know the how and what-if. But what I can gather is that this is only applicable in a learning context - how one prefers to learn.

    Being a Why and What Learner, I now understand why I refuse to learn sometimes and the fact that I really dislike things like role playing, debates, "just do it", pass/fail grading, timed tests and computer assisted instructions (ooh, how I hate these!).

    Click here for more information on 4-Mat.
    Click here to view some pictures I posted for the day.

    pearlie

    On the way to Mumbai

    I had nothing much to blog about today and I was reminded of this picture I found at Kansas Bob’s – brilliant!



    I was in fact on flight to Mumbai today and not being a traveler myself, I did not know how the inflight entertainment really worked and thought that the one show I got to was the only one I could watch - 21. It was not a bad one and now that I checked TomatoMeter.com, it is a 2008 release, which scored 28% from Top Critics but 76% by the TomatoMeter community. I wonder again what the Top Critics were thinking about.



    Synopsis from imdb.com
    Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a shy, brilliant M.I.T. student who needing to pay school tuition finds the answers in the cards. He is recruited to join a group of the schools most gifted students that heads to Vegas every weekend armed with fake identities and the know-how to turn the odds at blackjack in their favor. With unorthodox math professor and stats genius Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) leading the way, they've cracked the code. By counting cards and employing an intricate system of signals, the team can beat the casinos big time. Seduced by the money, the Vegas lifestyle, and by his smart and sexy teammate, Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Ben begins to push the limits. Though counting cards isn't illegal, the stakes are high, and the challenge becomes not only keeping the numbers straight, but staying one step ahead of the casinos menacing enforcer: Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne). 21 is inspired by the true story of the very brightest young minds in the country and how they took Vegas for millions.

    pearlie

    A great day out


    I will be flying off to Mumbai, India tomorrow night for a 5-day Train-the-Trainer session. So what Calvin and I did today was to spend the day together - he skipped Boys Brigade (BB) and I brought him out for the day.


    For a start, we went to one of the places I go to when he is at BB - D'lish in Bangsar Shopping Village. Being a gastronomic enthusiast, he is always so sad that I get to go to "nice" places for food when he is at BB. He is now slightly happier.


    In the evening, we went to the park. It was a nice time together but soon the lingering migraine that started in the morning became almost full blown, but there was no stopping. I had to also go to the nearby mall to grab some medication and toiletries for the trip, get some cash exchanged into Indian rupees, borrow a travelling bag from my brother, and get some work completed before I head off.

    I am going to miss home and I have not even packed.

    pearlie
    Photos © 2008 Pearlie Ng

    What is in my courtyard?

    We finished John 2 today for bible study: the passage on Jesus' cleansing of the temple. What we learnt from this lesson is to always ask the condition of our "courtyards". Is it crowded with albeit necessary things but in the wrong places? It is so full of things that they have crowded out God? Have we made excuses to allow things in the "grey area" into our lives?

    Another lesson someone highlighted - are we bold enough to do the right thing when it is called for? Do we rebuke when we should? Do we stand up for the right when we should? This is very delicate - we think about the feelings of others, about being "tolerant" (whatever that means nowadays). Someone said we should not be too rigid. But someone else gave an example that some churches purposefully set their air-conditioner at full blast during service so that women who come dressed in spaghetti straps will either cover themselves with shawls or don a sweater or jacket. So where do we draw the line?

    pearlie

    Death is sure to be. But after that?


    I have been thinking off and on about death lately. I am not sure if it is just me, but this year seem to have more deaths. My strands of thought are two:

    (1) Our conjecture about afterlife as God's people differ through the ages, from Sheol, to paradise, to cloudy heaven with angels and harps, to a renewed earth, to a new earth, to whatever next. What makes us think we are right? Does it matter?

    (2) Even though we are not sure but we are sure about a definite place. We are firm about the hope. We are definite about the eternal life. I always wonder about non-believers, how can one live without that hope? How do they live with the believe that life is just here on earth and all I am doing now is all there is? I find that so hopeless and meaningless it disturbs me tremendously. God offers life, we need to make a decision to receive it, and it is ours, but it is not without cost.

    Note: Picture was taken during a visit to Labuan last year. I have posted them before ... but looking back, in trying to pick one to head this post, I found this one rather dismal - remembrance? That's all? (click picture for a clearer view)

    pearlie
    Photo © 2007 Pearlie Ng

    What? Book fast?
    Meltdown!



    I am too depressed.
    I am going to the bookstore.
    I cannot guarantee that I will behave.

    pearlie
    Photo © 2008 Pearlie Ng

    Update: Meltdown!


    Alister McGrath (ed.),
    The Christian Theological Reader, (Blackwell, 2006)


    Book Description
    This bestselling volume is now available in a fully updated and expanded 3rd edition, bringing together 361 readings drawn from 233 different sources, and charting the 2,000 years of Christian history.
    • Each reading illustrates a key doctrine, point of view, intellectual development, or theological landmark
    • Exceptionally user-friendly: every reading is accompanied by its own introduction, commentary, and study questions
    • Features increased coverage of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and women writers, and includes important sources from patristic, medieval, reformation, and modern periods
    • A new section provides a bird's-eye view of the historical development of Christian theology, allowing users to locate a reading against its historical context
    • Additional writers featured include: Yves Congar, Walter Kasper, Bernard Lonergan, Bonaventure, Duns Scotus, Stanley Hauerwas, John Paul II, C. S. Lewis, Maximus the Confessor, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Dorothee Souml;lle, Dumitru Staniloae, and Rowan Williams.
    How could I resist? I only hope I won't get depressed too often now that bookstores are just a walk away.

    pearlie