What a year it has been

The year is about to come to an end. What a year it has been. It did not really start that well but it is ending on a really good note. I feel blessed and happy and I thank the Lord for his goodness, his loving kindness, his grace, and his presence in my life.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
~Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

pearlie

It's a Good Book Year 2014

I started my book challenge in mid 2011 when I began reading ebooks challenging myself to read 50 of them but I did not meet it within the 12 months, but in one and a half years, I read 41 books. I was pretty motivated but thought I'd be more realistic and put my subsequent yearly challenge at 20 books, i.e. about 1-2 books a month which is more reasonable and workable.

However, I read 30 in 2013 and these 56 books this year, and I'm pretty proud of it. It's a good book year.



pearlie

Book Review: Four Views on Hell


Four Views on Hell
by John F. Walvoord (literal), William V. Crockett (metaphorical), Zachary J. Hays (purgatorial) and Clark H. Pinnock (conditional)

Before reading this book, my view on hell was the metaphorical one, which turns out to be the majority view of the Evangelicals. I find that I could not take the literal view, the traditional one, because I can't see how a God of love would allow his creation, even if they have rejected him, to suffer in literal fire for eternity. Being Evangelical, I do not see how it can be purgatorial since the bible does not mention it and I'm not yet exposed to the conditional or annihilation view.

After reading the book, I'm still not with the literal view. I will still hold (though now not so firmly) to the metaphorical view. I'm now thinking about the conditional one with an interest in the purgatorial.

Whether I'm more informed or more confused, I'm not sure!

I find that Walvoord did not do much with the verses other than just quoting them--I suppose that is him being "literal". And as for Crockett, he did not give much on what the nature of hell is, which I can understand because it really depends on one's interpretation on the verses metaphorically and with that, what Pinnock say is true: "If we do not know the nature of hell, then any position might turn out to be true," and that would include the literal position.

Hayes' view on purgatorial is interesting as I was thinking, before reading the book, if God will allow for an intermediary period after the death of an unbeliever if he really, really would reject Christ. But of course, logically speaking, you could say that our time in this life is that intermediary period, and if another is given, how many is enough? However, Hayes focused more on the perfection and sanctification of a believer in purgatory who is not good enough to be in heaven. But to me, that reduces the power and effect of the work of Christ on the cross.

Pinnock's case to me was the most convincing one. He is against the metaphorical view because that is like taking the hell out of hell. He is against the literal view with the same reason I do. What I find interesting is his point on the default understanding of the immortality of the soul which is according to him is Hellenistic in nature. He disagrees saying that the soul is not automatically immortal until the resurrection on the last day through Christ. Souls who reject God will not be resurrected but annihilated. He gave verses in Scripture which do provide support to annihilation. Like in Psalm 37, "the wicked will fade like the grass and wither like the herb (v. 2), that they will be cut off and be no more (vv. 9-10), that they will perish and vanish like smoke (v. 20), and that they will be altogether destroyed (v. 38)...God would destroy the wicked (1 Cor. 3:17; Phil. 1:28)...Their destiny is destruction (Phil. 3:19)."

I'm not yet switching to the conditional view as I need more study on it. I have questions like, if you can't take hell out of hell, how long will they have to suffer the torment before they are annihilated? And wouldn't annihilation a way of taking hell out of hell too?

It's tough but I still hold on to the immortality of souls and yet do not accept that God will perpetually torment people with conscious suffering for all eternity. But I do see that one can hold on to the annihilist position and still be faithful to Scripture.

I'm not sure if I want to be sure about my position. Can I not leave it till I get there (not hell but heaven!)? Or does the position I hold have any bearings on how I live my life in Christ now?

pearlie

Plane crashes in 2014

I was in church when I found out about the missing Air Asia flight today. I began to wonder about both the elevated number of crashes in 2014 and the probability of three of them being planes from Malaysian airlines.

I found these two interesting articles:
How odd is a cluster of plane crashes? BBC, 25 July 2014
Is 2014 the deadliest year for flights? Not even close. CNN, 28 July 2014

My heart goes out to the family members of the crew and passengers of Flight QZ8501 and my prayers are with them.

pearlie

In memory of victims on 26 Dec 2004



Today is the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people.

It amazing how we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when massive disasters like this happen. I was tucked safe and sound in a hotel in Petaling Jaya on 26 December 2004. News travel more slowly then compared to now, but soon I was inundated with horrifying pictures and accounts of the disaster.

I was busy working in a project in a bank on Friday, 11 March 2011 when we found out about the earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan.

And I was in a party celebrating a car race event our company took part in when my colleague rushed in and told us that terrorists have crashed a plane into one of the Twin Towers in New York. I remember leaving the party and walking to the nearby home of one of the race car driver to watch the news.

Do you remember where you were? Or...were you there?

pearlie

Jesus, the Hope of Christmas



We celebrated Christmas in church today with a Christmas service that was attended by if I'm not wrong, more than a thousand worshippers. It was great to see so many people in the house of God.

We performed a play every year for the past three Christmases I was here including this year. The first one was the best in its message, and this third one, the most entertaining and comedic of all three. Well done! I will see if I can post a link of the video though you'd need to follow it up with the sermon to figure out its message. It was a good mesh between the movies The Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men, Days of Future Past.

The sermon was good. We were reminded that as much as human beings want progress and perfection in life, we live and progress in our "future past", that is our future and progress can never happen without the stain of our broken past. And it is because of the birth of Jesus, fully God and fully man, that we break that cycle and really progress in both our cultures and societies. Radical changes happened in how we treat women and children, how we practice governance, the fact that we have science and technology, it's all because God came to us in human form. And it is this Jesus whom we celebrate this Christmas and I must add that it is this Jesus who will come again to redeem us, on whom we place our hope for eternity and fullness.

And I was in the back-up choir, which is the biggest we had so far in worship. I must say I am not used to being in ad-hoc choirs but we did a fair job in bringing the joy and spirit of hope and Christmas in our worship of our God and King.

Merry Christmas and may the hope of Jesus be with you all the days of your life.

pearlie

Book Review: The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey


The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey
by Rachel Joyce

I finally got a copy of the companion to Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey and read it. I have enjoyed reading the first one more, but it was good nonetheless.

It gave an intimate look into the last days of people with terminal illness in palliative care. But mostly, the story goes around the guilt and unrequited love of a woman for a man.

I had wondered as I was reading the book how Joyce would bring it to an end. Will you not agree with me that the most important parts of a book (or story, or movie, or life events, or even life for that matter) are its beginning and ending. And I must say I like this ending better than the one on Harold Fry. It was unexpected and yet unsurprising.

When I got to it, "ahh, of course," I exclaimed.

pearlie

Starbucks Day



I'm laying off coffee (think calories in fat and sugar) and I'm not really a Starbucks fan, but it turned out to be a Starbucks day for me. I bought some items as Christmas presents and found out that with my U Card, I can now get a buy-one-free-one Tiramisu Frappacino or French Vanilla Latte. And someone at work got me a latte. Nice!

pearlie

Four Views on Hell


Four Views on Hell
by John F. Walvoord (literal), William V. Crockett (metaphorical), Zachary J. Hays (purgatorial) and Clark H. Pinnock (conditional)

It may not be an ideal topic to read about during the Christmas season but I bought a copy anyway as it is a topic I've always been curious about. I'm not really sure if I'll take it on during this Christmas break though. We'll see.

pearlie

Burps & Giggles, Ipoh

My parents wanted to make a day trip to Ipoh just for a visit. My dad can't drive anymore and my mom isn't very familiar with the directions and so I offered to drive. My hubby is still down with a bad cough and he decided to stay home. So it was just my parents, my son and I. And we had quite a decent time there.

There is now this block of shop houses converted into cosy caf├Ęs.


When I did my research on which would be the places to go for a good bite, Burps & Giggles kept coming out tops.


And they were good. Food was delicious and the place rustic...


... and cosy.


Trinkets for sale.


pearlie

The Depravity of Humanity. The Absolute Goodness of God



At the recommendation of my friend who likes to watch Korean and Tarantino-like violent movies, I watched Snowpiercer today. It's an English/Korean movie directed by a South Korean director with quite an impressive list of actors, namely Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer.

It is about a climate change experiment gone bad that plunged the whole world back into Ice Age. Before it happened though, a billionaire built a self-sustaining bullet train and train tracks that goes round the world. The only people who survived were those in the train and the story was about life in that train 17 years after the catastrophe.

There exist in the train a class system with the rich and privileged at the front and the poor at the back, living in conditiona like a ghetto, but worse with the front controlling the back, and the back being violently forced to succumb to the front. Soon they began planning a revolt to get to the front to take control of the train.

Whilst for most part it does seem impossible for the train to run and for the tracks to sustain unattended for 17 years, it was still very interesting to watch human behaviours in such a condition.

The billionaire who built and controls the train is revered like a god and his appointed people ruled the train like sovereigns. The people are what they called "preordained" in their places - the privileged at the front and the lowly at the back. And so it is, nothing can be changed. Even though there is enough to be shared, the poor is preordained to suffer and die. (Sound familiar?)

I found it quite intriguing a movie as it raises many questions about humanity and power.

And this reminds me of Sir John Dalberg's famous quote: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

I am absolutely grateful and thankful that God is loving and kind to all. He "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4) and "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Pet 3:9)

And as C.S. Lewis said: "God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God."

pearlie
Source:
John Dalberg, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887 published in Historical Essays and Studies, edited by J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907)
C. S. Lewis - Christian Reflections, 1943

Nasi Lemak BK4



I bought some nasi lemak for my office colleagues today. I knew the Nasi Lemak BK4 is famous but I just found out that it is actually quite famous and well-known.

Here is its story of how it began.

pearlie
Photo source: Pn Tay's Blog

A really, really close call

I nearly ran over a person with my car today, and I'm pretty shaken up about it. I am indeed thankful to God that it did not happen and that I did have the time to swerve my car to avoid him and that I did not get hit by any vehicles as a result of my emergency maneuver.

What happened was this: I was on my way back from work. At one point in the highway, the car in front of me suddenly swerved to the right and what was immediately in front of me was a man rolling on the road with his motorcycle. I slammed my brakes and swerved to my left to avoid him, failing which I would have ran him over and it could cost him his life. I had no time to see if there were any vehicle on my left. Thankfully, there weren't or I'll be in big trouble myself.

I stopped for a moment by the roadside and the car which was in front also stopped. With that, I did not get down, and I do hope that the guy who fell off his motorcycle was alright.

I'm thankful for the personal safety seminar which I have attended several months ago that taught me some safe driving tips. I'm now used to keeping a good distance between cars, both when I'm stationary and when in motion. If I had not kept a good distance, I can't imagine what would happen to the guy and I'd definitely be in really big problem right now.

I thank God.

pearlie

Our own voices from the future

“You will say in that day”
(Isaiah 12:1, 4).

We are listening here to our own voices from the future. Isaiah is describing the revival of the church in the latter days..He is not giving us details about the end times. He is creating an impression, giving us a foretaste of what it means to live in a spirit of praise.
~ Isaiah: God Saves Sinners by Raymond C. Ortlund

pearlie

The beloved book of Philippians

I was listening to Philippians again and again today, which I can consider as my most loved book of the Bible. And these are the well-known verses:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (1:6)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (1:21)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (2:3)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:5-11)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. (3:13)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:4-7)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (4:8)

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (4:11-13)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (4:19)

pearlie

Seeking approval and validation from others

I was wondering about how some of us, or even most or all of us are always seeking the approval and validation of others. I found many online articles about it and it seem to be something quite prevalent in the human race. How so?

Take a look at this poem apparently written by someone call Annie Hyde.

Validation
People look for validation
The ways are many
From things like
"Does this look okay?"
To "Tell me if I'm wrong"
Human strive for it
To be validated by their parents
Their peers
Their bosses
Society as a whole
But why can't we validate ourselves?
Why do we feel the need?
To be subjected
To others (sic) opinions
To others (sic) thoughts
When their thoughts
Are none of our business

The author asked, "why can't we validate ourselves," and "why do we feel the need" to be validated by others. And I began to ask the same questions and I think it's this: we seek for validation because we are a fallen race looking for the perfection which we have lost.

God has created us in his likeness and in our pristine original being, we were good and perfect. But when we chose to be our own gods, our own masters instead of God, we became sinners who now fall short of the glory of God. We have become lesser, imperfect.

But we were still made for perfection and in our imperfection, we look for validation for who we are.

As such, only Jesus is the perfection we can have in our lives. Seek him, receive him in your life, and you will already have the perfection in him. And it will only be to God whom you look for validation, and the validation God sees in you is his perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

pearlie

Being one voice



I have often found myself in a position where I'm in a team and every single member would rather do things their way, which in the end result in disaster. This was what happened this evening and it has reminded me to listen to one another and be one instead of many.

pearlie

My migraine triggers


At 7 in the morning. Clear blue sky and a nice cool morning.


At 1 in the afternoon. Sunny and a blazing hot day.

I was out in a staff event today in street puzzle solving, treasure hunt and pedestrian challenge today. It was really fun and I had a great time but the gathering place was in the open car park of a stadium and to me it was a bad idea.

Even though we were underneath canopy tents, it was very warm being a hot sunny day. Our prayers was answered that it didn't rain with that risk being very high at year end and it would have been a bummer since our event was in the outdoors but I returned home with a really very, very bad migraine. Worst I had in a long, long time.

This is one more item to the list of my migraine triggers and I need to avoid being out in the hot sun from now on.

pearlie

Good food at Ben's

I was in Ben's at Pavillion KL this evening, and when I'm in Ben's, I usually order the same things but decided I try something different today.


Ben's House Salad
This salad was really good. It has edamame, nuts, avocado, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and my all-time favorite arugula leaves all in an absolutely delicious dressing. A must have.


Soft Shell Crab Spaghettini
I need to stay away from seafood but the combination of crispy soft shell crab and spaghettini with chili flakes and curry leaves was very interesting. I'm glad I ordered it. It was very, very good.

pearlie
Photo sources: Bad Boy Ben and Cindy's Planet

The mystery of time

I read a book about time a couple of years ago but did not put up a review on it. I found that I do think back on what I have read, and it will be useful for me to read it again to make sure I remember it correctly.

Time enthralls me and I'm always amazed with it being created by God. Or did he? I suppose he did since Genesis began with creation with the words, "in the beginning", hence that is when time began.

But I do wonder if there is time with God? When God says he is eternal, is he referring to time, where it last forever and ever? If not, does it refer to one point where it is eternity in essence, where past, present and future exist all at once? If that is so, when we are with God in eternity, can we even survive to have it all at once?

And Einstein said that, "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once."

I do have William Lane Craig's book Time and Eternity, Exploring God's Relationship to Time, except that I have yet to read it. I did try to but found it a bit too technical for my appetite lately. Will I be curious enough to try reading it again?

pearlie

Chronic cough

My hubby is having a bad cough that does not seem to go away. I was checking up on cough mixtures and found that in the olden days, heroin and cannabis were used as cures!



I rarely get a cough, but when I do, I'd usually go for traditional Chinese cough mixtures, though I'm not too sure if they really work, but they sure taste good though.



pearlie

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue


Room
by Emma Donoghue

Just when I was contemplating if reading is a waste of time, of course it's not, I'm just being a tad more philosophical about it, I came across this book that when I read the last word of it, all I could say was "wow".

It is a gripping tale about a 5-year old boy who grew up all his life incarcerated in a small room with his mother. The story was presented from his perspective as the first voice, and you could almost get into his mind as he perceives his world within just the confines of a square room.

This is one of those extremely good books that creates images in your mind as you read without requiring much of an effort. The words just flow and you find yourself in that very room with Jack.

It's an amazing read. The best one I've had in a long time.

pearlie

Landfill Harmonic Orchestra

Art


I learnt about this amazing orchestra today. And really, hats off to these young musicians who in their poverty in life are able to bring music to life.

pearlie

Is reading a waste of time?



I am getting another(!) dose of the 7 Habits training, and this time I spent a bit more time thinking about the Time Matrix. It was highlighted that effective high performance organizations spend 60% of their time in Quadrant II, 25% in QI, 14% in QIII and 1% in QIV.

My first question is whilst I understand that QIV needs to be minimized, is 1% enough? Some of the mindless and brainless things that I do, I will put them in QIV, but I find them important to wind down a stressed up mind. Can it be elevated in QII?

My next question is more interesting--I read a whole lot, but how is it different from watching hours and hours of TV, which I also do at times? If I read as mere entertainment, if I read just fiction, will it be lumped together with watching TV as time wasters?

After thinking it through, I'm still convinced that reading is still a virtue compared to TV. Reading takes more effort and builds more discipline. It builds your imagination and on top of it helps you improve your command of the language more effectively than TV. They may fare equally in learning new things, the former in reading and visualizing and the latter in seeing and hearing.

As such, reading takes its rightful place in QII, but TV can be in QII too if you ask me. But whatever it is, everything in moderation. After all too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

pearlie

Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce

With all my serious reading lately, I wanted something lighter and different and came upon this delightful book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

It is a story about a retired husband and father who on his way to mail a letter to a long-lost friend who is now dying of cancer, made a sudden decision to walk to her instead, all six hundred over miles from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed.



In his journey, he met and encountered many different people and situations. But what I like about the story was that he spent most of his time thinking about life, discovering about what he finds on his path and reminiscing about his past. There were memories of nostalgic and happy moments but mostly there were also painful and regretful images which he did not want to face especially when he started the journey, only having to face it finally in the end.

I like the story because if I were to travel, this will be how I want it to be, not the walking but the time spent thinking and mulling over life. To view the sights and learn about things I see and think about how it all connects both to life and in life. And now I understand why I have not been really traveling - it is only because this kind of traveling require a whole lot of time and money, both of which I can't afford for now.

Rachel Joyce also wrote a companion book from the side of Harold's friend who was dying - The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. I have not bought it, yet. It is almost double the price of the first volume and I have been buying too many books lately, I shall wait a bit before I get this one. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to it.

pearlie

Coincidence or premonition?

I'm not sure if you can call this a coincidence or a premonition.

All five ATM machines that I went to were either out of service or ran out of cash. I really need to withdraw some money but I'm just not able to.

Hope it's ok tomorrow.

pearlie

Oh no...

My colleague just remarked, "Oh no! It's already December."

I must admit I had not realised it, but yes, oh no, it's already December. And what have I accomplished?

pearlie

Advent and the Bb

Grace Notes was in Wesley Methodist Church Seremban this morning, being invited to sing and attend service together with the church.

Rev Ronald Yap preached on Mark 13:24-37 with a sermon entitled "Stay Awake".

It was a sermon for the first Sunday of Advent and I've learnt something very important.

Advent is a season of the Christian church year that leads up to Christmas. The word is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus that means "coming".

I've always thought of Advent as a meditative period as we prepare for Christmas, a time to recommit our lives to Christ and be thankful for his coming to us as a Savior.

I just found that the Latin word adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, which I do know refers to the second coming of Christ. As such, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. It "offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming."

It is therefore a blessing to be back in a Methodist service today to learn that (since the Baptist church, at least the one I'm in now is not so much a liturgical church, where seasons important to me like Lent and Advent are not observed.)

This season of Advent for me will be a time to "stay awake" and be alert as I meditate and be ready for the Second Coming of Christ.

Anyway, Grace Notes did well this morning. As for me, I never used to be able to sing anything above the high A. My nicest sounding highest note was the high Ab.

This time we sang four songs and three of them had a high Bb! I found that I'm now able to hit that now after attending voice lessons last year. And I was given feedback that I nailed them perfectly. I'm very glad.

pearlie
Source: Advent

One in the company of many

We had a discussion about the order of salvation in CG today, which I didn't contribute much. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm taking a wise strategy in keeping my thoughts at bay just because I hate conflicts. I am banking on the agree-to-disagree position but it does not seem to be working as I am beginning to feel ostracized.

I like what Roger Olson said. I know I've been quoting him a lot lately, because he is the only person who has a blog that I can refer to to keep sane in the onslaught of Calvinistic theology recently. He said,"God is sovereign and can work outside our theological boxes which are necessary but not prisons for God’s grace." It's just that I find the Calvinists' definition of the sovereignty of God ironically a tad too limited for them to understand where Arminians are coming from. So I have chosen to shut up.

With the reality that I'm outnumbered, I felt I'm being put on the outside, or maybe I've put myself outside. The thing is I don't find it conducive to bring anything up for discussion. Being the only one in the company of many makes it hard to be heard. So again, I have chosen to shut up.

But is it a right move?

Anyway the quote above is from a article Olson wrote about regeneration, a very interesting article after the session I attended in CG today.

Obviously, the definition of regeneration and being born again is different and thus like I have said before, we are two ships that will never meet in our voyage in sea.

pearlie

Ideation

One of the 34 Gallup StrengthsFinder themes that fascinated me today was Ideation.

I have seen it in action in a couple of my friends who have Ideation in their Top-5 Strengths and it was very fascinating to observe. They can practicality and simply connect two or more unconnected items into one brilliant idea without much of an effort.

I have it as my #8, not a Top-5 but nevertheless still one of my dominant themes. It does come into play when I put my mind to it. And I find it easier when I am in conversation with people.

I found this quote. As much as I like it, I'm not sure if it jives with what Gallup has with the Ideation theme. What do you think?



pearlie

Down once a year



I think I have mentioned before that I get sick quite badly once a year and these two days are bad. I have food poisoning, again.

pearlie

Family

Family is not an important thing. It's everything.
~ Michael J. Fox

pearlie

Am I a sleepwalker?


Dreamland, Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
by David K. Randall

I read this book back in 2013 and regretted not blogging a review about it. I have forgotten most of what I have read and I will no longer be able to come up with a review now but all I can say is that it was a fabulous read.

However, I am bringing it up here because I am reminded of these few things that I read. Sleep is an amazing thing that God created us to do. And till now, scientists still do not know for sure why we sleep. You may say we sleep to rest but the body is quite active and does many things while we are sleeping, including the brain.

And one thing that it does is that while we sleep, we go into a state of paralysis so that we don't act out our dreams. But in some people, it does not work properly and so they sleepwalk.

People who sleepwalk obviously do not know that they do it. They might find bruises on their body and find themselves sleeping in a different place when they wake up.

I found a bruise I can't remember how I got it. It was quite a bad one at my left elbow. And now I'm wondering if I'm sleepwalking!

Oh dear...

pearlie

Best Crabs, Ever

Grace Notes will be singing in Wesley Methodist Church Seremban next week and we took a trip there today to do a sound check.

We did not stay long as the sound man did take quite a long time setting up the mics, and by the time we figured out where to stand as a group, and how we sound, we had to leave as the next service in that church was about to start.

The church apparently has at least five if not six services every Sunday and I must say it is the most utilized church I've been to.



With us having to travel so far for just 15 minutes of practice, it is good that we decided to have dinner in Seremban. We headed to Seremban Seafood Village, the originator of the delicious Baked Crabs.



And it was the best crabs I have ever eaten, ever. And I will be back!



pearlie
Photo source: Travel Findbulous and OhFishiee

Explaining Sin in a Chinese Context

We discussed about our conversion experience in CG today, but I didn't say much because (1) I wasn't feeling well and quite soon into the study, I felt feverish and (2) being a "third generation" Christian, my conversion story is rather boring, but I must admit I'm indeed very, very blessed.

Being born in a Christian family, I was brought up in the faith and I became very active in church, which contributed to my growth in Christ. I was uncomfortable in one phase of my life for not having a specific date of conversion like most of my friends. But I remember the very moment when I finally became convinced and settled in my heart and mind that my conversation is a journey, and that I am saved by the grace of God.

My faith journey started right when I was exposed to the faith by my parents to Sunday School to Youth Fellowship to the undertaking of my Masters Degree in Christian Studies right up to that moment of realisation where I finally felt confirmed I belong to Christ.

Interestingly, as much as Wesley's moment of warmth in the heart was in 1738 when he "experienced confirmation of his salvation by the grace of God" in a meeting room in Aldersgate Street, London, mine was when I was thinking and walking to Pustaka Sufes Book, a Christian bookshop! However, isn't it sad that I don't remember when that happened.

Anyway, during CG, some were sharing moments before their conversion where they were in conflict and most have said it was difficult for them to take it when they were told they were sinners.

In my understanding, it all has to do with the difference in the Western and Eastern culture. The mindset and worldview is so different that methods of evangelism that work well in the Western world do not work as well in the Eastern.

I have this article entitled "Explaining Sin in a Chinese Context" written by Mark Strand in the journal Missiology: An International Review (Oct 2000). He wrote it because he read "an intriguing paper by a Chinese Singaporean who argued that the key to Chinese converts remaining faithful to Christianity over the long haul was that at conversion they understood clearly the doctrine of sin". And inspired by the author, he "arrived at a method of how to teach the doctrine of sin to Chinese people."

He began by stating the fact that our understanding is very much dependant on our language. He gave a summary of the history of the Chinese translation of the Bible followed by why zui is not a very good translation of sin for the Chinese based on these three points:

1. With the group mentality of the Chinese people, wrong is determined primarily by consequent negative social implications rather than by failure to live up to some fixed standard.

2. Culturally, Chinese people believe in the original goodness of humankind.

3. To Chinese readers, zui is equivalent to breaking the laws of society or committing a crime and being a criminal.

On point #2 and #3, it's common to hear us say, "I did not kill anyone, nor have I burned [your house], I have not sinned."

His method involves teaching the biblical concept of sin accurately in two ways:

1. Talk to the Chinese about sin as missing the mark (Rom 3:23), as in the Greek word hamartia used in the New Testament, translated as sin.

2. Use the traditional Chinese concept of filial piety, where they are obligated to honour their fathers and how much more they are obligated to honour their heavenly Father, who has given them life and breath, and all things (Acts 17:25).

If you are interested to read the article, leave me a comment and I will send it to you. I am not able to post it here publicly but within the rights given, I'm allowed to send it to you for individual use.

pearlie

I got thrown into the water

The funniest thing happened today, and it happened without my knowledge. My hubby practically threw me unconsciously into the water. Unconscious because I didn't even know it and I wasn't there to defend myself.

He was at a lunch with whom he called a very staunch Calvinist, who in my opinion does not know enough about Arminianism to refute it.

My husband unknowingly tread waters he should not and got himself caught in a debate where they will be no end to it, especially if both parties do not fully know the subject on hand and when there is a lack of respect for each other's position.

I seldom want to get into a Calvinism-Arminianism debate unless it is a round table discussion, where all parties have spent enough time researching and knowing all positions, including their own. I truly respect my fellow Calvinists for I know they are intelligent people and I would also expect the same from them as I do regard myself as an Arminian who is just as smart as them.

"Staunch" Calvinists need to understand that Arminians have a reason to stand by Arminianism as much as they have a reason to stand by theirs. Find out why and exactly what we each believe in.

But I must say that most of the Calvinists I encounter do not understand what Arminianism is in its classical sense. What they say about Arminianism is actually Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism which it is definitely not. Arminianism is not well represented by most Calvinist writers. If you want to know about Arminianism, read Roger E. Olson and Thomas Oden.

Roger Olson says it well here: "We all (Calvinists and Arminians and everyone else) need to bend over backwards to be fair in our treatments of fellow evangelicals’ theologies. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement so long as it is informed and fair."

Anyway, when I found out what my husband did, I kept chiding him for throwing his wife into the water but he said all wives will float!

pearlie

Finally, an hour

Gym


After almost 10 months of working out in the gym every workday, albeit with several breaks with the longest one during the last two weeks, I finally did an hour on the stationary bike at a moderate level of 5. For a person who practicality hated exercises and had no shame in being sedentary, I've certainly come a long way.

pearlie

Listen! We are not always right

“Everybody thinks their opinion is the right one. If they didn't, they would get a new one. ”
― Anne Lamott

"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing."
― Socrates

"Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment."
― Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

I sensed today that it's a sad truth that everyone, including myself at times, always think we are right. Isn't it more prudent to listen and learn from others?

pearlie

Just a thought

As much as it should not be out of convenience that we attend Sunday worship in church but with the recent change of worship time in Pantai Baptist Church (PBC), it has been tough for us.

PBC used to have two English services on Sundays: 08:45, which we used to attend and 11:00, which we deemed too late for us. It has recently been changed to one service on Saturday at 17:00 and one on Sunday at 11:00, and we have no choice but to settle for the Sunday 11:00 service.

We used to get ready in the first instance we get up from bed, first for breakfast and then immediately to church. Now, I do feel rather slow and lazy having several hours to kill before starting off to church. Church is no longer the first thing we do every Sunday, not counting breakfast, and I'm not comfortable with that.

I am a person who adapts to changes quite well but this is one change I find hard to get used to.

I don't like to do this but I'm actually thinking about visiting other churches...just a thought, just a thought...

pearlie

Movies Galore


The Hundred-Foot Journey

Someone recommended me a movie about a Michelin star restaurant, and since I'm half a foodie (meaning I'm one, but compared to my friends, I'm actually not one), I thought I'd get a copy and watch it. Verdict? Well, it has a nice story but for me, it was spoilt by the actor Manish Dayal and his wooden acting. Helen Mitten and Om Puri were brilliant and the scenery and cinematography was fantastic. That's about it.

And since I was disappointed by it being so mediocre, I had to salvage my movie mood and ending up watching the following four movies! All of which I have but waiting for the right time to watch them.


3 Days to Kill
This did not get a good review in Rotten Tomatoes, but after The Hundred-Foot Journey, I actually did enjoy it. It was not suppose to be funny but I found it to be quite funny and sometimes quite cheesy as well. But I enjoyed watching it though.


Edge of Tomorrow
Then I decided to go for it and watch a "serious" movie, and ending up having the best movie of the night. As much as I don't really fancy Tom Cruise, I love the premise of this story and it was an excellent watch. Only that the ending, as much as I have predicted it to be so, is quite illogical, and will have quite an effect on the future of the protagonist if you ask me.


300 Rise of an Empire
And since I'm at it, I thought I might as well go the full nine yards and watch 300 Rise of an Empire as well. It was a good movie--just that it was a tad too gory for me. I actually had to watch some of the scenes from the corner of my eye. Interestingly, the blood splatters were something like those in the anime-inspired Kill Bill, but 300 is inspired by a comic series as well, though 300's blood is more artistically done. I'm impressed though by Rodrigo Santoro's portrayal of King Xerxes. He looked pretty cool fit and toned, draped in good chains and all. Though his voice were digitally lowered to suit his stature, it did not sound very natural. Well, he is not suppose to be "natural" anyway in this movie.


22 Jump Street
I finally decided to finish the day off by watching 22 Jump Street, and regretted it. Cheesy and a waste of time. Nothing much to say about it.

But what's weird is that I just realised I watched 4 out of 5 movies with numbers in the titles. Interesting. And the one without is the best of them all, and one movie I will watch several times over in the weeks to come.

pearlie

A Hymn Festival by Singapore Bible College Chorale



I attended A Hymn Festival by the Singapore Biblez College Chorale in Wesley Methodist Church Kuala Lumpur this evening, conducted by Joel Navarro.

It was a lovely and splendid time of classic and contemporary hymns from the Gregorian piece Ubi Caritas to Horatio Spafford's It is Well With My Soul to the African gospel Jesus is the Rock right up to Stuart Townend's modern hymn Speak O Lord.

I have a recording of their first song--sorry I missed the first part.



pearlie

A horse and an owl

I have had my experience with narcissists but never have I been so frustrated with someone who is this narrow and closed minded.

I found this article from Forbes and it is interesting to see that the author Steve Berglas, has grouped them under the following animals:

1. Gorilla
"A narcissist. He won’t tell you he cannot handle the truth but, rather, will simply start beating his chest, growling, and snarling in ways designed to intimidate and then some."

2. Fox
"A form of denial that trumps the truth far better than ostrich-like hiding from it is flat-out rejection of it predicated on nothing more than personal preference. You see it all the time as “sour grapes” or, “I don’t need to hear that crap… that’s not where I live…”"

3. Horse
"There is no doubt that trying to manage someone who mounts intense resistances to facts calls to mind someone who is as “stubborn as a mule” or acts like a horse that has been led to water but refuses to drink. These equines are everywhere, bizarrely gaining more psychic satisfaction from power struggles with executives than from meeting or exceeding expectations and reaping traditional rewards."

4. Owl
"A tried-and-true technique for mounting resistances to the truth is debunking it with your own data. Folks who do this suffer hubris that’s manifest intellectually: They flaunt a self-awarded sense of wisdom and omniscience that they use to grind-down anyone who wants to show them the light. Of course, as nocturnal hunters, owls won’t tolerate that, and they hoot with laughter when you try to convince them that they are avoidant and evasive."

5. Skunk
"Often when attempting to confront insecure people with the truth, they spray you with a stink that is as, if not more potent, than the one expelled by a skunk."

The person I was dealing with, he came off as both a horse and an owl.

With the horse, Berglas said, "If you fight these neigh-saying critters [forgive me] head-on, you cannot win. Your only hope of stimulating the desired cognizance of what is right and proper is to admit defeat and abandon them," and that was exactly what I wanted to do but should I not show some brotherly love.

And with the owl, Berglas said, "Every owl I have worked for was vastly more intelligent than they seemed to be when haughtily refuting facts, and I knew that from the lofty perches they put themselves on I, a mere pedestrian, would never be able to help them. Which is why the only way I was able to help owls was to admit defeat and call upon an external advisor—a senior “owl” from their field—capable of having a birds of a feather heart to heart discussion with them," and that was also exactly what I thought I would do!

Is there no hope?

However, having said all that, I shall now have a disclaimer that in no circumstance will I not say that I am not like any of the above animals. I am after all part of the fallen human race who needs the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only he saves us from our depraved nature.

pearlie

Using Waze

I have been driving my son to work for his Work Experience Programme for almost two weeks now. His office is in the heart of the city and it takes about one and a half hours to get him there!



I am now a regular Waze user. I used to only switch it on for directions but now I put it on every time I get behind the wheel because it gives me a good gauge on the traveling time and the different routes I can take.

But the interesting thing was this: almost every time when I use it on our drive to his office, Waze sent us through a variety of routes and for someone who is horrible in navigation and road directions, I really get to learn new routes.

Anyway, his two-week long programme will end tomorrow, being his last day of work. I hope he has managed to get a good feel of what it is, what it means, and what it takes to have a job.

pearlie

Meetings, meetings, meetings



I had four back-to-back meetings today from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, the first time without a break ever since I started work here. Actually, come to think of it, the first time ever.

And now that I've moved from consulting to corporate, all I keep ending up in are meetings.

pearlie
Source: Tom Fishburne

World Without End (mini-series)



I finally managed to watch World Without End, the mini-series. It was quite a long while ago when I read the book and I do not remember much of what I read. As such, it was quite an enjoyable watch.

The plot was well paced for the eight-part series, and the development of the characters quite well done, and well played by the actors.





For one, the characterisation of Godwyn and his mother, Petranilla was very interesting. I'm amazed at how malicious and evil they can be, how they can justify lies and murders with religion, how they can justify their evil acts through which they obtain what they think is their right and privilege.



Of all the characters, the character development of King Edward III was the best. I had expected more from Merthin, but sadly he was quite disappointing. The king was more interesting as he struggled to first remove himself from his mother's apron, to take his rightful position as king, and finally to grow and mature in his reign.



The other character whom I really like was Gwenda. She's the only one with gumption and enough guts for a woman to outdo a man.

All in all, it was good entertainment, although I can't get through with the extent of evil some people can go to, but sadly that can be quite a reality in life.

pearlie