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