Fasting

The holy month of Ramadhan starts tomorrow where all Muslims will fast on food and water and anything sensual from sunrise to sundown. With this, the pastor gave a sermon on the Christian fast based on Matthew 6:16-18 focussing on these questions:

* Should Christians fast?
* Why do we fast?
* How should we fast?

Should Christians fast?
We should fast because Jesus expects us to. In Matt 6:18, he said, "and when you fast...", and not "and if you fast". So fasting is something we should do.

Why do we fast?
Matt 9:15 sets the reason for fasting.

And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridgegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast"
~ Matthew 9:15

We fast because the world and the Church misses Jesus. We deprive ourselves so that we will be satisfied with him.

How should we fast?
We see in Matt 6:16-18 that Jesus is not so concerned about how we do it but rather, how we should not do it.

The most important is that we do not fast to be seen by others, i.e. not to get admiration and praise or even to have others think well about us. It is not so much having to do it in secret and if found out, woe to us, but it has to do about having a right intention of fasting and even if others found out, it does not matter how they look at us.

It is to fast not to be seen by men but to be seen by God.

There are no rules and regulations to the Christian fasting - other than our intention - no set times, no set kind of food or things to fast from, etc.

What we need to fast on are the things that have a hold on us, on the delicacies of life, from our incessant nibblings of the world. And when we fast, we fill our "empty" spaces with the presence of God.

We fast to feed on God.

pearlie

Why must we perform, achieve?
Why can't we just be?

As I begin my day this morning, being mentally tired after a long work week, I began to think why is humankind so obsessed with performance? Why must we always do, perform, achieve? Why can't we just be?

It has been ingrained into us the "need" to be better. We are to meet standards, to achieve and even exceed the targets of our KPIs (key performance indicators). I know all that, it is part of my work in HR consulting. But why?

Why can't we just be who we are? Sure, you may say that we need to progress and be better, but why? Why can't we just be?

Let's imagine how it would be if we do away with being better? We just stay and be who we are. Yes, we may do things and be productive, but not for the sake of being better but just do and produce things, just read and accumulate knowledge, just live and let live, just be who we are.

I know, that is where it begins to sound weak and even ridiculous. We surely are imperfect - just look at us and humankind in general. Looks like it's a must and even mandatory for us to be better than what we are now.

Still, that begs the same question: Why?

I have two observations.

One, all this race for higher and better performance points very clearly to the existence of one perfection, one standard, the best, not the creme of the crop, not the top performers, but the One. And for it to be the One, it has to be a Supreme Being, not a plethora of gods, but one God.

Two, all this race to meet that perfection is because of the Original Sin, the greatest sin of the humankind: wanting to be god. Our relationship with God became severed because of that act, and as much as we strive and work at being good, we will never be satisfied. We want to reach perfection. We want to be perfect. We want to be god. To put it milder, we want to run our own lives, with our own standards, with our own ethics, with our own effort, to say that we have done it. In short, we want to be the controller of our own lives, to be our own god.

But what about us Christians?

Our severed relationship with God is reconciled. Knowing that we are not able perform and achieve that reconciliation - we are far from being perfect and not even close to reaching Him to begin with - He came to us instead as the Perfect Son. He reconciled us to God by paying the debt for our sin, the sin of wanting to be the god of our own live,s which leads to a life without God and that means death.

So Jesus died that death for us and He was severed from the Father at His death. But He is God and God is life. Death does not have the hold on Him and He was risen. And with Him, we also rise from our death and become reconciled to the Father.

With that reconciliation, we are letting go the desire to be our own god, and let God rule our lives.

Being imperfect beings who spends more and more time daily with the perfect God in obedience, we will become more and more like Him and thus, more and more perfect.

So perfection comes through obedience, not striving. There will no longer be a race and struggle to perform. Instead, we will be more eager to obey.

How will this be played out in our lives, at home, at work, at study?

Yes, we still work to meet the standard and targets given to us, by others and even ourselves. It is our duty and prerequisite to live here on earth. But it will not be done as a blind endeavour for more and more, or for the sake of having more, being more and taking more.

The reason to achieve, to perform and to be better is done as an obedience to God. That will involve surrendering to God, offering as a worship to him in what we do, trusting in His grace to be sufficient, loving one another in living our lives.

If only we can station that into our hearts, minds and soul, can we release the temptation to gain for the sake of self.

We do not have to be better, we only need to obey and through that obedience, we will be better.

With that worked out in my mind, it will certainly make me look at work more differently now.

pearlie

John Stott



John Stott has gone home to be with the Lord. He was a great man and had touch so many lives in Christ through his work.

Christianity Today published an extensive eulogy of him here. I don't have to say more, it's all there.

He is with the Lord, how wonderful is that.

pearlie

For when I am weak...

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Most Christians would be familiar with these words of Paul. It sounds simple and easy, but it's not.

I know how is it to be weak. We have our own degrees of struggles and pain, our own degrees of weakness. I do not experience or know your struggles nor do you mine. It is therefore unprofitable for anyone to compare, to belittle the pain of others or God forbid, to be glad that we don't have it as bad as others. We face our own struggles. We know out own struggles.

And Paul says, "For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Paul's context of strength is without a doubt the strength of God. It is only in our weakness that our flesh, our self-dependence is subdued for God's strength to finally work in us.

However, when reality strikes, it does not seem so easy. I can describe and explain how I am weak, but find it hard to tell you how I am strong. Yes, I have faith but it seems weak in the arduous pain I feel. Yes, I have the grace of God but I succumb to self-pity and self-worthlessness. I do not feel strong, I feel weak.

But praise be to God and Jesus Christ my Lord that it does not depend on how I feel. It relies on the very utterance of God. When he says when we are weak, then we are strong, it shall be so. Nothing we say or feel is going to deny it. The only requirement is our surrender to him and to take him at his word, he is trustworthy.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. Amen.

pearlie

Because of His Grace
Songs He chose for me

I did not have a good day today. I usually do not listen to the radio or anything during my commute, and if I do, I usually hook my iPhone onto the stereo and play songs randomly from a collection of 500+. This time I uttered a prayer to God that he will minister to me from the songs played, and these were his selection for me, which was perfect.

1. Through the eyes of a child, Sandi Patty
2. Not my own, Twila Paris
3. Be still my soul
4. I say grace, Hayley Westenra
5. Only by grace

1. Through the eyes of a child
It's such a never-ending story
When you contemplate the world
Of all the ways that serve to hurt our fellow man
Is the answer oh, so simple
That we've forgotten how to love?
When we wring our hands and seek to understand
Are we blinded by the force of our own needs
To solutions that should be plain for all to see

Chorus:
Through the eyes of a child there is innocence
Through the eyes of a child all is love
May the light of Jesus help us to see
All the world through their eyes
There's compassion enough for the deepest hurts
With mercy to heal every pain
And the hope for each tomorrow
When we find the grace to see
All the world through the eyes of a child

We're so full of misconceptions
Teaching prejudice and hate
As we educate our children at our knee
And yet the nature of the young heart
Is to hold out loving hands
To believe that there is good in all they see
Is the leading of a child the light we need
To bring us to the place we're meant to be

2. Not my Own

I am not my own
I am bought with a price
I am not my own, not my own

I am not my own
I cannot hold to pride
I am not my own, not my own

Take this false desire
Burn it in Your righteous fire
I am not my own, not my own

This is not my home
This is not Paradise
This is not my home, not my home

This is not my home
I have been far and wide
This is not my home, not my home

Make this longing true
Turn my wistful heart to you
This is not my home, not my home

When I turn to find Your eyes
O Lord, O Lord
I begin to realize
Once more, once more

I am not my own
I am bought with a price
I am not my own, not my own
Take this false desire
Burn it in Your righteous fire
I am not my own, not my own
I am not my own, not my own

3. Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

4. I Say Grace

You know sometimes I feel like I,
I gave it my hardest try
Is anything left? I lost it on the last roller-coaster ride

When I get cold - This is what I say
When my baby asks; 'How was your day?'
I say grace

Took a rock from the garden I made here
In the backyard with a little love and some care
I come here when the world gets too crazy
I come here when I'm just feeling sad

We all need a place we can go where
You pick your dreams out of thin air
I work in this garden of faith every single day

I say grace for the blue painted sky
I say grace for my lucky stars that shine
When I look back on the road that I've traveled down
I say grace for the love that I have found

Used to want to be at the top of the ladder
Even when you leap, you just come back down
When time gets a hold of my horses
I think I'll just laugh and go for the ride

Now while I look out my window
Where I planted my heart and my soul
It does a girl a world of good
To watch her garden grow - I

I say grace for the blue painted sky
I say grace for my lucky stars that shine
When I look back on the road that I've traveled down
I say grace

I've been through the hardest of seasons
Holding my heart in my hand
But every kind of thought has a reason
Now I understand

When the roof caves in - lets the sunshine in
Life is beautiful - now at the end of the day

I say grace for the blue painted sky
I say grace for my lucky stars that shine
When I look back on the road that I've traveled down
I say grace

I say grace
I say grace

5. Only by Grace
Only by grace can we enter
Only by grace can we stand
Not by our human endeavour
But by the blood of the Lamb
Into Your presence You call us
You call us to come
Into Your presence You draw us
And now by Your grace we come
Now by Your grace we come
Lord, if You marked our transgressions
Who would stand
Thanks to Your grace we are cleansed
by the blood of the Lamb
Lord, if You marked our transgressions
Who would stand
Thanks to Your grace we are cleansed
by the blood of the Lamb

pearlie

Good works, naturally

The sermon today brought up the tension between faith and works based on the exposition of Gal 5:1-6, where Paul says that if the Galatians were to depend on circumcision, they will never be free. If they do, two things become very clear - (1) they will not need Christ and (2) they will be obligated to keep every bit of the whole law and not just parts they like. The thing is that we are never perfect enough to fulfil the entire law, which is why the only way is to depend on Jesus's work on the cross for only he is perfect to fulfil all the requirements.

But of course that does not mean that we no longer need to produce good works. Good trees will certainly bear good fruits, it is just natural. So in the same way, when we live a life that is in Christ, the result is good works produced naturally. Our works in Christ is a "because of", not a "so that".

pearlie

Pluck - Musical Arson

I came to know about "Pluck - Musical Arson" by chance last week. Calvin knew about it from school last year, and thought it might be quite good. So we decided to buy tickets and go watch it.

It was simply brilliant!

It is a classical music performance with a twist. It is pure talent with plain humour. They make it look so easy, playing the violin, viola and cello. It is second nature to them. And it was the most entertaining classical performance that I have attended, from the start to the end.



They are performing in PJ Live Art Center until 31 July 2011. Check them out here.

pearlie

Today is Pi Approximation Day

22/7 is pi approximation.

Pi approximation is the approximation of the mathematical constant pi.

Pi is the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, representing the letter P.

P is the first letter of my name, Pearlie.

Pearlie is happy today.

Today is 22/7.



pearlie

Perfect Parenting?

Times published an interesting article: Working moms vs. stay-at-home: what's better for kids?. "Are working moms somehow lacking as parents compared to stay-at-home mothers? According to a new demographic analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the answer is a reassuring no. The study found that working doesn't lower the quality of parenting overall — or even worsen the load of parental stress."

But the study also found out having a considerable length of maternity leave matters.

I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I feel that I could be a better mom by being at home, having more time to spend with the family and caring for the home. But we cannot afford it and I was back into the workforce since my son was 9 months old. But that desire to be a stay-at-home mom stayed with me, and only until recently had I begun to accept reality.

This also reminded me of the illustration the pastor used in his sermon this past Sunday. I googled it and discovered that he actually sourced it from the book Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Levitt is described on its jacket as a "rogue economist (who) explores the hidden side of everything".

Levitt generated a list of factors that correlated strongly with good school test scores and this is what he found mattered and what did not about parenting.

Matters: The child has highly educated parents.
(Ok, I consider myself that)
Doesn't: The child's family is intact.
(We are intact)

Matters: The child's parents have high socioeconomic status.
(Medium, I'd say)
Doesn't: The child's parents recently moved into a better neighbourhood.
(Ours is okay)

Matters: The child's mother was thirty or older at the time of her first child's birth.
(Yup, I was)
Doesn't: The child's mother didn't work between birth and kindergarten.
(Oh, I did)

Matters: The child had low birth weight.
(Oh no, he was heavy alright)
Doesn't: The child attended Head Start.
(What's that?)

Matters: The child's parents speak English at home.
(English is our first language, doesn't matter that we are Chinese)
Doesn't: The child's parents regularly take them to museums.
(Er, nope)

Matters: The child is adopted.
(No, he's not)
Doesn't: The child is regularly spanked.
(Used to!)

Matters: The child's parents are involved in the PTA.
(No PTAs in the schools he attended, and I'd most probably won't be much involved if there were)
Doesn't: The child frequently watches television.
(Moderately, he's ALWAYS at the computer, does that count?)

Matters: The child has many books in their home.
(Yup, loads!!! haha)
Doesn't: The child's parents read to them nearly every day.
(Used to and frequently too. When he was a baby, I even read my books and The Economist aloud! Now, I read the Bible to him every other day)

His test results? Not so good, some quite bad. But I'm not giving up hope that he'll do better.

pearlie

Oh no, Amazon has eaten our beloved Book Depository!

I was in STM this morning and while having breakfast with Kar Yong and some fellow classmates, I learnt that Bookdepository has been acquired by Amazon. And I share the same dismay with Guardian that Amazon has eaten our beloved Book Depository.

It is the only decent place we can buy books online at a better price and free shipping. We do not yet know what Amazon will do with it. But as business and competition goes, I am imagining they'd, as Guardian so aptly put it, eat it up, gobble it all and they are done for...we are done for.

Boo hoo.

pearlie

Be careful how you text

I think you would agree with me that SMSes, or any kind of text messages for that matter, make a poor medium of communication. Yes, it is convenient and it serves me well as I'd prefer to text than to talk but if we are not careful in the way we make our messages, it may do more harm than good.

A very good friend of mine sent me a "Dead Pearlie," some time ago, God bless him, I had a good laugh over it. That was nothing.

But the SMS I received today was worrying - someone important to me asked to see me urgently - which got me so worried the whole day. In the end, when we finally met in the evening, it was just the usual. A whole day of worrying for nothing, but I'm thankful that things are still in order.

pearlie

Let the Weak Say, "I am Strong"



This was the closing song from yesterday's Sunday worship and it stayed with me today as an encouragement to remain in the Lord.

I searched YouTube but could not find any good ones until I found this. It gave me goosebumps, it was very well done.

pearlie

What is my worth tied to?

Today's sermon was from Gal 4:21-31, where Paul used Sarah and Hagar as allegorical examples of who we call our spiritual parents (v.24).

What struck me was this: God was not for the fertile Hagar but barren Sarah. It is apparent historically through the reading of Scripture that we are not worthy because of who we are or what we can do and achieve. We are worthy only because of Jesus.

This lesson is timely for me - I wrote about my "Great Fulfilment" and Jesus as supremely valuable as he is, in the last two days. They bear the same question: what is my worth tied to?

In my weakness and in my flesh, I've tied my worth to what I desire to be and my worth is to be realised when I achieve it, only that my standard is ever moving higher and higher as I strive at it, and in the end I would never have realised my worth. This is what I mean when I call it The Great Fulfilment.

This explains why I am always living a defeated life - I am never good in what I do, I am not accepted as who I am, I am not appreciated for what I have done. In short, pride. I've tied my worth to myself, what I see as good and acceptable; to the world, what I take as what they see to be good and acceptable.

How foolish. I need a shift in my thinking and conviction.

I must be identified with the barren Sarah, who bore the son of promise and not the fertile Hagar who bore the son of flesh (v.23).

I am to tie my worth to Jesus, to his righteousness, of which I am robed with (Isa 61:10), and he is good and acceptable, without question. What I can never be good in, or accepted as or appreciated for is good, accepted and appreciated in Christ Jesus.

What I cannot achieve is achieved in me in Christ, and is thus good and accepted by God, and that is all that matters. What I think and what others think of me do not matter. Only God matters.

And what is wisdom to God is foolishness to the world. Thus, I have no reason to measure my worth through the eyes of the world.

My worth is in Jesus, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

But the tension is this: does it mean that I stop doing or striving? No, I don't. I am to be a living sacrifice for God, an offering to him, and how can I be a fragrant offering if not my best?

So I still do and strive and achieve, offering my best to God as an act of worship. This is separate from my worth that is in Christ.

pearlie

Jesus, supremely valuable just as he is, nothing more, nothing less



I was reading John Piper's Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God and this portion amongst others, got me into thinking.

"...grace is is God's free giving, and faith is our helpless receiving. When God justifies us by faith alone, he has respect not to faith as virtue but faith as a receiving of Christ. So it is the same as saying that not our virtue, but Christ's virtue, is the ground of our justification...Faith saves because it receives Jesus. But we must make clear what this actually means, because there are so many people who say they have received Christ and believe on Christ but give little or no evidence that they are spiritually alive. They are unresponsive to the spiritual beauty of Jesus. They are unmoved by the glories of Christ. They do not have the spirit of the apostle Paul when he said, 'I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ' (Phil 3:8). This is not their spirit, yet they say they have received Christ. It looks as though it is possible to 'receive Christ' and not have him for what he is...they do not receive him as supremely valuable."

It is not what we do or who we are but the simple act of faith in receiving Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and it must be accompanied by evidence in our lives that we are spiritually alive, i.e. knowing Christ through his word and obeying him.

And not as Piper has put it, simply receiving him as "sin forgiver (because they love being guilt-free" or as "rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain free)" or as "healer (because they love being disease-free)" or as "protector (because they love being safe)" or as "prosperity-giver (because they love being wealthy)" or as "creator (because they want a personal universe)" or as "Lord of history (because they want order and purpose)".

We can only receive him as "supremely and personally valuable for who he is", nothing other than to proclaim in the Holy Spirit that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12:3) and bearing spiritual fruits as a result.

Have we received Jesus as who he is, nothing more, nothing less? Have I received him for who he is? Do I love him with all my heart, soul and mind that I treasure him above all else, as well as translating that love into obedience and love for others?

I do but I struggle, do you?

pearlie

The Great Fulfilment

Someone asked me if I am happy with what I am doing now, and my reply was automatic.

"Yeah, it's ok".

"I see, so happy is too strong a word then."

"Oh no, it's not. I'm good."

It was a short exchange but it got me to realise that my level of happiness is indeed really up there. I suppose being an INFP, an idealist, I look to the Great Fulfilment to fully deserve that statement, that I am happy.

The Great Fulfilment is in a sense a nemesis to me. I am usually not completely satisfied with what I do and who I am. I know striving for improvement is something we all must catch on to, but I suspect it is a little bit more than that to me.

Which is why in order to survive, I must always remind myself that I will never get fulfilment from anyone or from anything or from anywhere, other than my heavenly Father.

"I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people will be satisfied with My goodness," declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 31:14

"If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."
Isaiah 58:10-11

Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
John 4:13-14

pearlie

If only this fallow ground

If only this
Fallow ground
Ever so dull
Ever so still
Left unused is
Deigned to be
Until it is
Made into
Brawn yet gently
Endowed with grace so
Dance in the wind
Dance with the King
O what a joy
When it will be a
Nesting ground where good is found

All rights reserved © 2011 Pearlie Ng

And I Quote #1

Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself.
~ James Stephens

pearlie

A day of catching up



I was very much on my feet today, but I have not been well these 2 weeks and hence it has been tiring. Up and down and in and out attending meetings and a dim-sum lunch with three of my ex-collegues. Definitely a day of catching up.

pearlie
Photo (c) 2007 Janusz Gawron

Be stablished in the faith

Charles Spurgeon hit the nail in the head for me again this time. Just as I was about to complain about stuff, about people, about life, he kinda slapped me in the face with this one.

July 11 Morning Devotion
“After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10

You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide?

The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding. Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.

But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed—“After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.

~ Charles Spurgeon

pearlie

Disciple or Fan?

Today's sermon was on Matthew 10, on Grace and the Cross of Christ. The sermon was simple, with little exposition of the passage, but it still drove home a very important message - are we following Christ closely or are we merely following him from a distance? Are we disciples or just fans?

I call myself a disciple of Christ but I am not always following him closely. I lose track sometimes, I tarry too long sometimes. And I needed to be always reminded of the grace and the cross of Christ.

O Holy Spirit, come abide in me, counsel me and lead me.

pearlie

What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women

Interesting read in Harvard Business Review (www.hbr.org):

Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women

The finding: There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

The research: Professors Woolley and Malone, along with Christopher Chabris, Sandy Pentland, and Nada Hashmi, gave subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.

>continue

pearlie

My Reading Frenzies

It will only takes one book, the right book, to spark me off into a reading frenzy. The last time it happened was back in 2003 when my good friend Noel gave me Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ that spearheaded me to plow into these books:

2003
1. Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (Apr)
2. Who Needs Theology? by Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson (May)
3. What about other faiths? by Martin Goldsmith (May)
4. Scaling the Secular City by JP Moreland (May)
5. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel (June)
6. The Trinity, by Christopher A. Hall and Roger E. Olson (June)
7. Surprised by Joy by CS Lewis (June)
8. Jesus and the Logic of History by Paul Barnett (June)
9. The Complete Worship Leader by Kevin J. Navarro (June)
10. The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis (July)
11. Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias (July)
12. The New Worship by Barry Liesch (Aug)
13. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (Sept)
14. When Skeptics Ask by Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks (Dec)

2004
15. Love in the Hard Places by DA Carson (Jan)
16. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by DA Carson (Jan)

In 2004, the frenzy fizzled off because by then, my focus was diverted to pursuing my Masters in Christian Studies. And I have not had any such reading spree until May this year: My 50-Book Challenge 2011/12

My blog is a good indicator of my reading behaviour. The last time I reviewed a book was back in July 2009 - which means I have not been reading any for the past 2 years! Wow... Yes, I bought books, I skimmed books (for the purpose of my assignments), I referred to books, but I never read (meaning read and finished) any since July 2009. The reason is as mentioned: my master's degree. I completed the last marathon of submission of papers on Mar 26, and now I am back into a reading frenzy.

However, the choice of books this round are very different. My 2003/4 spree were all theological books, more or less. But this time, my choices of books are anything that strikes my fancy. I think it has to do with the book that sparked me of. Back in 2003, I found Case for Christ such an excellent read and with it came a list of recommended reading chapter by chapter - I went hunting for those books. But this round, the spark was Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, a medieval historical novel. After reading it I began looking for recommendations based on that book and the chain goes on, interspersed with more solid books here and there.

I did 16 in 10 months in 2003/4 and currently 8 so far in 2 months. I do not want to stop - it's a 50-book challenge - but I still have two Introduction to New Testament assignments to hand up...

pearlie

Examination Results

I went to pick up Calvin's mid-term examination results today. He did not do well, but the meeting with his homeroom teacher was good. She was nice and encouraging. She did say that she enjoys teaching my son and he is a delightful boy. I am glad. Just that I do not know what to do with his dismal examination results. It is said that the standards in this school is after all extremely high -- I'm not sure...I do not want to be an exam-oriented parent, but I do not want to be lax either. A tricky balance indeed.

pearlie

A Methodist among the Baptists

What is a Methodist doing in a Baptist church?

I felt a wee bit out of place when the head of mission of the Baptist World Alliance -- the invited speaker for today in Pantai Baptist Church -- addressed the congregation, "we are all gathering as Baptists, and gathering as a church to proclaim the message of our lives, that is of Jesus and the cross, and Jesus as the risen Lord".

I need some getting used to being referred to as Baptist, which I'm not. But I do not feel that it really mattered, what I am, Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian. What is important is that we all belong to Christ, which I do.

The speaker referred to 1 Cor 1, to the Jews and Greeks, with the cross as a stumbling block and foolishness.

And here we are, Methodists and Baptists, and with this I quote Paul, "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.' "

pearlie

A Warning

Ezekiel 12:1-16

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. As for you, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile's baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile, and you shall go out yourself at evening in their sight, as those do who must go into exile. In their sight dig through the wall, and bring your baggage out through it. In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder and carry it out at dusk. You shall cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel."

And I did as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands. I brought out my baggage at dusk, carrying it on my shoulder in their sight.

In the morning the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, 'What are you doing?' Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.' Say, 'I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them. They shall go into exile, into captivity.' And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder at dusk, and shall go out. They shall dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there. And I will scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops, and I will unsheathe the sword after them. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries.

But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the LORD."

pearlie