Perseverance, wisdom and faith

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (English Standard Version)

The word, "temptation" translated into English comes from the Greek work peirasmos. It originates from the stem word peira, which means try or test. While it is used in the negative sense of temptation in other parts of Scripture, here in 1 Corinthians 10, it takes on the meaning of "burdening". As such, it brings great comfort to have Paul tell us that the problems and difficulties that we encounter in our lives are common -- if not the kind, at least the experience -- and if it has been overcome by others, we too will be able to overcome it. And more than that, God is faithful and he will ensure that we will not be burdened beyond what we can bear. If you think that you have reached your limit, God knows better and if you are already bearing the burden, you will be able to continue to bear it with his strength. And at the right timing, he will provide a way of escape: this is a sure thing - he promised it.

One quality that we need to build is our perseverance. And we can only learn perseverance when we persevere.

Here is what James says: " Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." (James 1:2-8)

Perseverance, wisdom and faith - in rereading the James passage, you can actually see a cyclical logic. Have faith, faith get tested to build perseverance, so ask for wisdom, but have faith, faith get tested to build perseverance, so ask for wisdom, but have faith ...

It seems that our life here on earth is an ever-going and ever-continuing testing and trial - so that our perseverance, wisdom and faith is built up, again and again and again and again. Sometimes it really feels it will never end, but we look to that glorious hope when we will finally be in his presence on that glorious Day.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Rev 21:1-5)

Amen!

pearlie

Sing a song of Christmas

This is my favourite Christmas passage, and particularly in this version. It is because when I was younger I sang in the choir a Christmas piece that used the passage from the King James Version word for word (except those in parentheses). I can still sing these words, except that I just cannot remember what the title of the music is though.

Luke 2:1-15
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

pearlie

We begin to carol



We began carolling today. Time again to let the songs of Christmas fill the air and announce the glorious birth of Jesus. That "for to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

pearlie
Photo (c) 2009 Stephanie Berghaeuser

How has the year been for you?

The year is about to come to an end
How has it been for you?
I know I should not even complain
Only it had been kind of blue

But all in all I thank the Lord
He has led me to see
That through all the things untoward
He had been disciplining me

I do not think he is done with it
Though I am crying, "enough, enough!"
He knows what's best so I submit
But please don't get too tough

But when has life been easy
When has it been ever perfect
You may try till you are queasy
You may even have it wrecked

Until I have surrendered all
I will never have that peace
That my life is His first of all
This I, me and my must decrease

To You I must release control
I belong to You, my God, my King
You are the author of this soul
To You, my Saviour so I will cling

So, help me God.

(c) 2009 Pearlie Ng
All Rights Reserved

Now here, then gone



Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.
Job 14:1-2

pearlie
Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Time?

To denote the day today, I wanted to write about time - the concept of time in the Old Testament and the New Testament in relation to how I understand time - but I have no time.

pearlie

And lay thy foundations with sapphires

I have not much to think about these few days, or weeks. I have been reading a bit, listening to mp3 sermons, praying but the mind is not quite geared for much analyses. In short, I have nothing much to write about - proven by the great amount of pictures and photos posted here lately.

Spurgeon is always here though, to the rescue. Today's reading really encouraged me:

____________________________________
Evening, December 15

“And lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
Isaiah 54:11

Not only that which is seen of the church of God, but that which is unseen, is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and so long as they are firm it is not expected that they should be valuable; but in Jehovah’s work everything is of a piece, nothing slurred, nothing mean. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as sapphires for preciousness, no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is firmer than adamant, and as enduring as jewels upon which age spends itself in vain. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant abides throughout the lifetime of the Almighty. Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, which is clear and spotless, everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire; blending in one the deep blue of earth’s ever rolling ocean and the azure of its all embracing sky. Once might our Lord have been likened to the ruby as he stood covered with his own blood, but now we see him radiant with the soft blue of love, love abounding, deep, eternal. Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice, or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence—our foundation is of sapphire, and will endure the fire.

The Lord himself has laid the foundation of his people’s hopes. It is matter for grave enquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God, but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tried ere long: woe unto him whose lofty tower shall come down with a crash, because based on a quicksand. He who is built on sapphires may await storm or fire with equanimity, for he shall abide the test.
____________________________________

It brings relief to the soul to be reminded that we have a definite hope in the Lord, and what he is doing in our lives is setting the foundation right. So in times when we are having it easier would only mean he is giving us some breathing space, because much time will be spent with him disciplining and correcting us, so that we stand strong in Him.

Indeed, "he who is built on sapphires may await storm or fire with equanimity, for he shall abide the test." It is a norm that as we grow older, life seem harder. It only means we are maturing. I have done away with wishing that I am still a kid, with no worries of life, because being a kid your whole life is just unnatural.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)

pearlie

At the Hilltop

My brother took us for dinner at this place I never knew existed - a hill in the fringe of the city nicknamed "Little Genting". The food there is nothing to shout about but the view is fantastic.

It is our little way to celebrate my dad's and brother's birthday, on the 14th and 6th of this month.

My brother did not tell me about the view before we packed and go and so I did not bring my camera and had to settle with the one I have with me - my iPhone:





pearlie

Movies, movies, movies

Continued my lazying away today ... which is rare lately and therefore deserved! according to me, that is. I watched 3 movies - from the collection of DVDs I bought but never watched.


Adventureland
I won't recommend this if you can't stand expletives - this movie is full of it. And the plot isn't so great either.


Music and Lyrics
You may not understand it but I have watched this at least 4 times! Twice in Astro but missing the front, both times and twice on DVD. I am one person who can watch a favourite movie many times over, savouring it differently at different times. I love the plot, the songs and the actors. My favourite scene is when Hugh Grant sang Drew Barrymore the song - Don't Write Me Off Just Yet.


What's Eating Gilbert Grape
This DVD was on sale and I thought it might not be that good but I got it anyway because Johnny Depp is one of my favourite and he is one cool actor. I finally watched it today and it was exceptional. I soon checked Rottentomatoes.com and found that the 1993 movie is rated at 90% fresh. It has a simple plot but the acting is really good. Young Leonardo diCaprio got nominated for an Oscar from this movie - he gave a stunning performance as Gilbert's (Depp) mentally retarded brother. But I really hated the Mary Steenburgen scenes. Had them fast forwarded.

I have two more DVD I have not watched -- Donnie Darko and The Cider House Rules. I'll wait for another lazy day, but it must be a happy one, because I think I'd need it to watch Donnie Darko.

pearlie

I am dead wrong

I am wrong.

It is quite rare that I'd readily admit that. Reluctantly maybe but this time I am dead wrong.

To my shame, I am wrong about what contemplation is. How basic can you get?

I suppose it is how we, or maybe it is just I, learn language. We listen, we understand, we learn, we speak. And I never did check out what contemplation actually meant. To me, it is always a synonym of meditation. Now this word "meditation" is another ballgame altogether. So to set things straight, when I use the word, meditation, in general, without tagging any explanation to it, I clearly mean Christian or Biblical meditation, not New-Age, i.e. I meditate on the Word of God, mulling and ruminating on it over and over again. And this I equate to contemplation.

Several people already told me that I am a very contemplative person and I readily agreed with them.

But now that eureka has happened, i.e. I finally realised what contemplation is, I am absolutely NOT a contemplative person.

I have found out contemplating to mean that "one has stopped 'doing' anything and is simply present to God, and God is present to that person. In contemplation, one no longer thinks, meditates, reflects or speaks, but is 'all ears' in an ambience of love, a simple 'being with' the God of Love." (Source: here).

There is absolutely NO WAY I can do that. My mind is ever busy thinking and musing, there is no stopping. The only time it is not "doing" anything is when I am sleeping, and even that, when I am not dreaming. And even if I am not thinking, the mind will be set on whatever I am physically doing at the moment, be it eating, driving or brushing my teeth. I don't even stare into space without thinking.

So the next time you tell me I'm contemplative, I'm going to violently refute you. So there!

But ... is there anything wrong not being able to contemplate? Okay, maybe I am exaggerating. I suppose I do become still in short spurts at certain times, but even that, I am not contemplating, i.e. I am not being mindfully "present" to God. I am simply not thinking.

So ... is there anything wrong to not being able to contemplate?

pearlie

p/s Upon checking the dictionary, which I should have referred to in the first place, I see that the definition given to "contemplate" is quite similar to that of "meditate". Looks like we are all pretty confused. And looks like I am not all wrong, or am I?

Now clear off!

Too many voices
None of them mine
You would have just one
I have them all in line
Some condemning
Others berating
Some are laughing
And others judging
But these voices
I've let them come near
Now clear off!
You've no place here

I've only one Voice
One Judge
One King
One Lord
In Him I live
In Him I move
In Him alone
I have my being
This Voice will speak
My Lord will judge
He has taken place
In my life, my heart

(c) 2009 Pearlie Ng
All rights reserved

Busy, busy, busy

It was a very, very busy day today.

1. Preaching

Folio 46r from the Syriac Bible of Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale, MS syr. 341), Job

First, I was to preach today. I told my good friend I am a "ganti" preacher, or replacement preacher. All the three times I preached over the last few years have been to replace someone in the last minute. Not that I mind. I am only glad I am able to fill in for them.

I did ask the question recently - How do you know what to preach? I ended up preaching on Job 1. Don't ask me why - somehow I felt God tugging me there and so I did. I preached it the expository way, though someone commented that I gave them a bible study. Well ...

2. Opening Ceremony
Then we attended a friend and his wife's opening ceremony of their music school.









3. Pre-Christmas Party
In the evening, Calvin and I went to a pre-Christmas party with some kids from a home. The kids really had fun.

Would you like to have more ice cream?




The cutest of the lot - the youngest, a 5-year old.






Isn't she pretty?


Want some too?


You see ...




Joy ...


4. Birthday
And it is my brother's birthday today. Happy Birthday, Jason! With the day too occupied and him not pre-arranging it with us until this afternoon, we all decided to take a rain check. Looking forward to the belated celebration with him.

pearlie
Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Our night out

There is a PC Fair in KLCC and so we decided to drop in for a visit. We kinda regretted it because the crowd was too much for us.

But I managed to get these shots of the Petronas Twin Towers. Too bad I did not have my Canon 40D with me, but as this person once said, the best camera is the camera you have with you!





It is always warm and humid here but it is still nice to sit and enjoy the open air with great scenery and sounds.


With the crowd, we are glad we are getting out of there!


pearlie
Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Human is a complicated lot

Human is a complicated lot.

Just when you think you have deciphered the mystery of humankind, you'd be surprised to find that you didn't. When God created man and woman, and all of creation, He said it was good. But this man and woman had other ideas in mind and turned it all bad. In fact, we are very good at turning things bad, and most of the time, we do not even realise it by the thoughts that we think, the words that we say and the things that we do.

Would God have made us any different?

Would we be better off not being individuals but existing in a collective like that of the Borgs? So that all collectives would act in consensus and obedience to the one head, i.e. God. There would be unity and comradeship. The collective segregated by personalities or trade or skill, will be enterprising in all they do together and all will be in agreement in a collective. Or would they?

Or would we be better off being a force with no bodily attachments and no connection or communication with other forces, each acting and behaving independently from each other. There will be no wars, no suffering, no pain, just forces whirring away in space obliviously to each other. What meaning is there?

But God is omniscient, he knows that this would the best form that we exist in. In this world, in this time, 24 hours a day, in this space, with air and water and breeze and storms, in this world, with other people that we connect with.

And yet, we cannot bring ourselves together for the good of one another. We fight, we strive, we take, we conquer. We would do anything possible to ensure we have it all good on our side, at the expense of others. We don't quite care for anyone else other than ourselves.

God created us good, but we have gone bad on our own accord.

But God's work did not finish with the creation. He continued His work and did one more thing for His creation. He gave Himself in sacrifice for us through His Son. His work of creation is only completed by the giving of His life through Jesus Christ on the cross.

God breathed the breath of life into man on that day of creation, Jesus gave His life for man on that day of Calvary.

Human is a complicated lot. Jesus made it simple on the cross.

pearlie

I'd love to read this book


Ryken, Leland. Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 208 pp.

Review from Christian Book Notes
Introduction
Leland Ryken has been professor of English at Wheaton College since 1968 and has written over 30 books. Most notably, he was the literary stylist for the English Standard Version translation of the Bible published by Crossway as well as the coeditor of the ESV Literary Study Bible.

Review
When you ask the typical Christian why they read the particular Bible translation they are reading they usually give an answer like, “I understand it” or “I was raised with it” or “It was given to me when I became a Christian.” When you ask the typical Christian what translation of the Bible they study, they more than likely offer similar responses.

Read more.

pearlie

Words from the Good Book

This was published in The Star today.

Wednesday December 2, 2009
Words from the Good Book
Mind Our English by LUCILLE DASS

Everyday words and phrases that originated from the Bible.

ACCORDING to The Bible In Facts And Figures, the Old Testament contains 592,493 words; 23,214 verses, 929 chapters and 39 books; the New Testament contains 181,253 words, 7,959 verses, 260 chapters and 27 books. This totals 773,746 words, 31,173 verses, 1,189 chapters and 66 books.

Wow! Expansively impressive. Little wonder that it’s been described as the world’s “greatest book”. This “library of books” (Biblia in Greek) is said to be written by at least 40 authors and took about 1,000 years to compile.

Read more.

pearlie

How do you know what to preach?

If you preach, how do you know what to preach? I know that we are just a mouthpiece for the LORD, and we preach what He wants us to preach. But that does not answer the question. How do you know what to preach?

pearlie

The Super Duper Duplicator

Time has not permit me to think much today, let alone write. Work is piling on and I wish I could have Calvin's duplicator.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

© Universal Press Syndicate

pearlie

Melaka, Day 2

Grace Notes intently singing and ministering the good news of the Lord in music and song during the morning service. This is not all of us, the camera lens was not wide enough to capture the whole team.


Joanna gave some vocal lessons to some of the church members yesterday. We sang a song together in the service.




Chloe and Kristen.


After service, we were brought to savour the best cendol in Melaka.


Lee Mei with the auntie preparing the cendol.


A contented lot.


pearlie
Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng (the first 4 shots were taken by Wong Jen May)

Melaka, Day 1

Grace Notes were invited to sing in the Taman Asean Methodist Church, Melaka tomorrow and off we went to Melaka today.

We all put up in different places. My parents and I with the kids were housed in Wisma Wesley. A bit too quiet and simple, but comfortable nonetheless.

View from our room. I think this is the Wesley Church's office.


pearlie
Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Free and easy

We have a day off today being Hari Raya Haji and I thank the LORD for a good day of rest. I took the opportunity to go to the nearest nursery to see if I can get some good shots. I enjoyed myself and manage to catch some photos of butterflies - my, they are not easy to shoot. They won't pose for you. Just when you think you got the right angle, poof! off they fly to another bloom.

I think this is my best shot, which is just so so.


pearlie
Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

Do everything in love

I found this verse in 1 Corinthians today:

1 Cor 16:13-14
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

I find it such an amazing verse - in that we need to be on guard all the time to ensure we walk in the Spirit, to stand firm in the faith no matter what happens and to be courageous and strong, having His Spirit in us. But the beauty is that we are to do everything in love. And I see this love to include His love for us, our love for Him and with this love to everyone else. It would not be enough to just stand firm in him, but also to live in this amazing love of God that was given to all through the cross.

pearlie

God is Good All The Time by Don Moen

God is good all the time
He put a song of praise in this heart of mine
God is good all the time
Through the darkest night, His light will shine
God is good, God is good all the time

If you're walking through the valley
And there are shadows all around
Do not fear, He will guide you
He will keep you safe and sound
'Cause He has promised to never leave you
Nor forsake you and His Word is true

We were sinners - so unworthy
Still for us He chose to die
Filled us with His Holy Spirit
Now we can stand and testify
That His love is everlasting
And His mercies - they will never end

Though I may not understand
All the plans He has for me
My life is in His hands
And through the eyes of faith I can clearly see

pearlie

The fears we face

Fears can be very real in our lives. On the outset, they seem irrational though. One of the ten most common fears is the fear of clowns, which happens to be my son's fear. He would steer clear of them. It does look irrational to others, but for those who has the fears, nothing can be more real.

What causes fear?

The way I see it, they usually arise out of past experiences. My son remembers when he was still small sitting in stroller being brought near against his will to the most hideous moving thing around, a clown. He must be only 2 or 3 then, but he remembered it. The odd thing is, even after you identified the cause of the fear, it does not get alleviated. It can even become worse.

How then can we overcome our fears?

I have nothing to give other than what is already given in Ephesians 1:13-14: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.

And the old faithful Isaiah 41:10:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


pearlie

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

I was eager for a word from God today at church but he gave me more, amongst others he gave me a hymn and the witness behind it.



’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Hymn Author: Louisa M.R. Stead, c 1850-1917
Composer: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 1:12,13


’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

    Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
    How I’ve proved* Him o’er and o’er
    Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
    O for grace to trust Him more!


O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

I obtained the following from Grace Community Church:
________________________________________
It has been said that a believer must learn to exercise such a strong trust in God's providence during the good days of life that, when the despairing times with their accompanying doubts come, which surely they do to all, trusting Jesus continues to be the normal pattern of living. Or, "You will not doubt in the dark, if you have truly learned to trust in the light."

"'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" was written by a most remarkable woman, Louisa M. R. Stead, out of one of her darkest hours—the tragic drowning of her husband.

Louisa Stead was born about 1850, at Dover England. As a youngster she felt the call of God upon her life for missionary service. She arrived in America in 1871, and she lived for a time in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1875, Louisa married a Mr. Stead, and to this union was born a daughter, Lily. When the child was four years of age, the family decided one day to enjoy the sunny beach at Long Island Sound, New York. While eating their picnic lunch, they suddenly heard cries of help and spotted a drowning boy in the sea. Mr. Snead charged into the water. As often happens, however, the struggling boy pulled his rescuer under the water with him, and both drowned before the terrified eyes of wife and daughter. Out of her "why?" struggle with God during the ensuing days flowed these meaningful words from the soul of Louisa Stead:

    'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    just to take Him at His word;
    Just to rest upon His promise;
    just to know, 'Thus saith the Lord.'
________________________________________

Ephesians 1:12-13 ... so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit ...

pearlie
* (archaic) to experience

Thus saith the LORD

Zechariah 4:6
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Luke 9:23-25
And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

pearlie

Father I thank You



Father I thank You
For all that You've done
You gave Your Son freely for me
And I praise You for calling me
Drawing me near
Out of blindness
You caused me to see

Spirit of life
You are God's holy fire
You've kindled my heart with Your blaze
And I know You're refining me
Changing my life
And by faith You're revealing Your ways

Jesus I need You
As Lord of my life
I give all I have unto You
Lord I want to come
Under Your heavenly hand
And to praise You in all that I do

~ Steve Stewart

pearlie

Update 7 Nov 2015: I finally found a YouTube video of this song and have just included it above. Chords are found here.

A spring shut up, a fountain sealed

I read this from Charles Spurgeon's devotional this morning:

"A spring shut up, a fountain sealed."—Song of Solomon 4:12.
In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a believer, we have very plainly the idea of secrecy. It is a spring shut up: just as there were springs in the East, over which an edifice was built, so that none could reach them save those who knew the secret entrance; so is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace: there is a mysterious life within which no human skill can touch. It is a secret which no other man knoweth; nay, which the very man who is the possessor of it cannot tell to his neighbour. The text includes not only secrecy, but separation. It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink, it is one kept and preserved from all others; it is a fountain bearing a particular mark—a king's royal seal, so that all can perceive that it is not a common fountain, but a fountain owned by a proprietor, and placed specially by itself alone. So is it with the spiritual life. The chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are separated by the possession of a life which others have not; and it is impossible for them to feel at home with the world, or to delight in its pleasures. There is also the idea of sacredness. The spring shut up is preserved for the use of some special person: and such is the Christian's heart. It is a spring kept for Jesus. Every Christian should feel that he has God's seal upon him—and he should be able to say with Paul, "From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Another idea is prominent—it is that of security. Oh! how sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for He who gave it pledged His life for its preservation. And who "is He that shall harm you," when God is your protector?

pearlie

So do you find it fulfilling?

A conversation that I had with a friend on Sunday in church is still fresh in my mind, but I just realised what words I used when I asked her about her work: "so do you find it fulfilling?"

It did not occur to me until this morning that I had actually used the word, fulfil. This explains a lot because I find that I am looking for fulfilment in all the wrong areas in my life, and finding none.

I cannot avoid the fact now that I can only find fulfilment in Christ.

But what is fulfilment in Christ? I know of many so-called standard answers, but what is it exactly in reality?

pearlie

The sinful nature - that is why ...

God certainly has a way with us. He knows us fully and comes to us in His own good timing.

I had directed many questions to him, particularly over the weekend. His word came to me very clearly yesterday via Calvin's Sunday School artwork, which carried the verse I posted here yesterday - Matthew 28:20b. God tells me surely he is with me always.

This morning, his word came to me again, and this time it is pretty loud and long. I need to spend much time reading through this passage and working it out.

Basically, I had asked him why is that while I know I trust in him, I cannot feel or experience the peace that is from him. I began to wonder if peace is only a feeling. But I am quite sure peace is either there or is not there. I can't orchestrate it. So something is not right since I did not have the peace that God is so willing to give.

He gave me the answer here in this passage from Romans.

From 7:25b, it is clearly stated that in my mind I am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature, I am a slave to the law of sin. At this present time until the Last Day when all is made perfect in Christ, we will have both this mind in Christ controlled by the Spirit and the sinful nature in us. Until and unless I release myself to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, I will be living in my sinful nature who will be narrating what I should think or do or feel. And I will not be with peace, the peace that only Christ can give (John 14:27) because, "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (v.7-8)

There's more:

Romans 7:25b-8:17
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.


pearlie

Hibiscus

I have not touched my camera in months. So I packed my stuff this morning and headed off to the nearest park. The sad thing is there is nothing much in parks here - I did not manage to get any good shots.

This is my favourite but I did not take it in the park, I took it at my neighbour's.



pearlie
Photo (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng

The Smell of Books

I have not really gotten into reading e-books yet. The few free e-books that I have downloaded are either left unread or unfinished just after a couple of pages. But I am not sure if the problem are the books (since they are free and just nice-to-have ones rather than what I really want) or the medium. And I still could not part with my money to buy a book I really want in the e-book format, but I'd readily fish out my purse in the bookstore.

I found this quote by Rupert Giles, the librarian extraordinaire character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, played by Anthony Head:
Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no texture, no context. It's-it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly.
So well said.

pearlie

What do you need to throw away?

I was clearing up some clutter in the house - well, maybe "some" is an understatement. I have this load of old stuff that I know I must throw away ages ago. And now that I did, I will feel better and much relieved that they are gone.

Isn't life like that sometimes, where there are certain things you just do not want to throw away but yet you know you should, like past memories you shouldn't want to bring back, old grudges, overdue expectations, archaic way of thinking, out-of-date love songs ...

What do you need to throw away?

pearlie

Meditation - the Christian's and the Buddhist's


The Foundations of Buddhism
Rupert Gethin

I finally managed to get a copy of this book. Apparently, it is the textbook for Buddhism, but a pretty small one at that. Now I can get back to reading and figuring out how to tackle my paper on this topic. I cannot even remember what the assignment question is! But I do know I wanted to so something on meditation.

I find the Buddhist meditation very interesting and quite unlike what I do in meditation as a Christian. I have only read the first thirty over pages of this book, but I remember Gethin saying that meditation is like attaining a state of altered existence - I may have gotten the words wrong ... but I think not. When I compare my meditation in practice with the Buddhist meditation, at least from what I read, I find that whilst I meditate on Scripture or on God, my aim is so that I can understand my God better. I desire to know Him more and enjoy His presence, and in turn know what I must and should do as His child.

For a Buddhist, it is the attainment of an altered state of the mind. It is a concentration on something or nothing, until the mind is free from externalities - that is what I think it is at this point of time. I have much more work to do to figure this out.

pearlie

Psalm 63 - what an amazing psalm

I was not feeling all that great this morning and believe me or not, I actually wanted to hear someone familiar - and I turned to Dick Lucas! The sermon that happened to be on cue in my thumbdrive was Psalm 63. I wasn't quite listening to him, just bits here and there, but I was quite enthralled by the psalm.

I spent a bit of time in the day ruminating about it, but I still could not get enough of it, and as such I could not pin down much things other than the fact that the psalm is just amazing.

I let it speak for itself here.

Psalm 63 (NIV)
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 O God, you are my God,
      earnestly I seek you;
      my soul thirsts for you,
      my body longs for you,
      in a dry and weary land
      where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
      and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
      my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
      and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
      with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
      I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help,
      I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you;
      your right hand upholds me.

9 They who seek my life will be destroyed;
      they will go down to the depths of the earth.

10 They will be given over to the sword
      and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
      all who swear by God's name will praise him,
      while the mouths of liars will be silenced

pearlie

The end in mind

I was listening to Dick Lucas' sermon on John 14 this morning and the one thing he said that struck me was that when Jesus began talking to his disciples about his impending death and the suffering they will be undergoing when he is gone, he not only began with exceptional comforting words but he began with the end.

Let not your heart be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. (v.1-4)

This is comforting because in whatever situations we find ourselves in, we only need to be sure of two things:

1. Our relationship with God the Father, in Jesus Christ, through His Spirit
2. There is a place for us in the heavenly abode, where God himself is

Soli deo gloria

pearlie

Andrea and Ashley

Ashley, my dinner companion ...

... the challenge was I have to communicate with her in Mandarin!
I think I passed ... with a 5-year old. We were at a wedding dinner.

Andrea and Ashley...


pearlie

Level Up!

Isn't life so much like a game?After you think you managed to pull through one troubled phase, you realise the game is not over yet. You are onto the next level. The more you advance the more challenging it gets. And there are two outcomes, you either complete all levels and crowned a victor or you're given the dreaded Game Over.

Unless of course you are playing Snake and Ladder.

pearlie

The Balance Between Happiness and Depression

It is not going to be easy but I think that to come back to a more sane journey in life for me, I need to be blogging daily again. Why? Because I find it therapeutic to blog. When I blog I tend to think more objectively, not ending up with whining and moaning in my own secret journal about how life practically sucks (pardon my language, I find no better word to describe it).
Interestingly, I read this article in Newsweek a couple of days ago: The Upside of Feeling Down. I am not disagreeing with it but I am not agreeing entirely with it either. As much as there is an unprecedented drive towards happiness in the happiness industry these days, and a call to value depression as a need in life as driven by this article, there must be a balance. One must get a hold on self and not go all out to gain that illusive happiness at all cost, and on the other side, one must not wallow in depression thinking that there is no meaning in life.

There must be a balance and striking that balance is not an easy thing to do.

pearlie

The Boolean Rule of Holiness?

I was presented a question today on the measure of holiness: how holy is God and how holy are you?

But I thought holiness is whether you are holy or you are not.

Is it not?

In our working out of our salvation, do we attain a certain "level" of holiness? Or do we remain sinners, but saved and justified, reaching to the holiness that is our mark of perfection when we become perfect in that Day to come?

pearlie

What do you see?



Oh! I see.
What do you see?
I see that for every smile that is real, there is a weathered heart.

Oh! I see.
What do you see?
I see that for every ear that is listening, there is a battered soul.

Oh! I see.
What do you see?
I see that for every hand that is offered, there is hope for trust.

Oh! I see.
What do you see?
I see that for every tear that drops, there is a wealth of love.

(c) 2009 Pearlie Ng
All rights reserved

Photo (c) 2008 The beholding eyes...
Originally uploaded by
Жuntal

Christmas is near!

I have just been asked to help get the carolling team ready this year. I am pretty excited about it. I have yet to get hold of the songs in print but the carols are already running in my head and I am already singing them while driving.

Christmas is near!

As much as we must remind ourselves that Christmas is not about gifts and toys, but about the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ and our commitment to him, we must also revel in the sounds and colours and aroma of Christmas. The aroma of a busy kitchen, decadent fruit cakes, hot steaming coffee; colours of wrapped gifts, table cloths, Christmas trees; sounds of carollers singing, children laughing, family chatting. That is amongst what I look forward to the season -- to rejoice in the presence of Immanuel with family and friends.

pearlie

Missing parts

I do not like the fact that I have now less time to think and hence less time to blog. It is like a part of me is missing. I would love to come back thinking and musing and ruminating. But it is hard.

Oh that I have the wings of a dove,
I will fly away and be at rest.


pearlie

It also takes a village to kill a child

Reading this piece of news in BBC stirs my anger. Bullying is evil and it must be stopped, be it bullying in school where my son suffers from or workplace bullying where I have seen and experienced as well.

How can it be stopped. I always wonder what causes a person to bully. Their own upbringing? Their own lack of love? What do you think? Why do you think people bully? It is rampant in school and in the workplace too. Wikipedia has an excellent piece on workplace bullying here.

pearlie

Our Committed Heavenly Father



I was listening to Dick Lucas' sermon on Psalm 23 today on my way back from work and it was an encouragement. In his own words, it is good to be reacquainted with an old friend. And here is Psalm 23 in the good ol' king's English:

Psalm 23 (KJV)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


Dick Lucas emphasised that even though this psalm is quite an individualistic one, it focuses on God - He is the shepherd, He makes, He leads, He restores, He leads, He prepares, He anoints.

Moreover, it makes less sense to refer to "committed sheep" than to the "committed shepherd" -- in the same way, it is less of "committed Christians" (though it is good that we are) and more of our "committed Father". It is not amazing that in our troubled and mixed up lives that our Heavenly Father is ever so committed to shepherd us, to lead us and to guide us. We would no doubt still face our valley of shadow of death and be in the very presence of our enemies - there will be storms and tempest in our lives - but God will be there for us. His rod and his staff, they will comfort us.

He will cover us. In Hebrew, the psalm begins with "The Lord" and ends with "the Lord", i.e. The Lord is my shepherd ... I will dwell forever in the house of the Lord. We begin and end everything in the Lord. Isn't that lovely, even in the midst of ugliness of this fallen world.

If you are interested in Dick Lucas' sermon, check it out here.

pearlie
Photo (c) 2007 Reza Vaziri