Thursday, 31 January 2008

Universcale

Nikon UniverscaleOh, this was cool. Could be useful as an educational tool for young ones.

My Engrish - 31-Jan-2008

I wore all black today. Black pants and a black shirt. During dinner with Hank and Sharon,
I said: Eh, I'm dressed like a cafe waitress.
Sharon: (looks at me)
Hank: (doesn't seem to notice it)
Me: (hang my head in shame)
Sharon: Waitress? why?
Hank: Waitress, eh? Waitress?

Well, not exactly Engrish, cause it was just a simple mistake. But whenever I make an English mistake, it sounds as if I really don't know how to speak English...

Blog setting update

I've changed the setting for commenting here today.
Two things:
  1. You must be a registered user to comment on my blog now.
  2. Your comment will be displayed straight away without confirmation from me.
Most of the time, I have been able to authorise comments to show within minutes. But a times, I was kept from doing so. Hopefully this change will encourage my blog readers to comment on my posts, as well as keep the spammers and spine-less people (Anonymously abusive commenters) away.

If you are not a registered user (have not a google/blogger account or an OpenID), I'd suggest you get one now.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The Bruised Reed - 2

We must acknowledge that in the covenant of grace God requires the truth of grace, not any certain measure; and a spark of fire is fire, a well as the whole element. Therefore we must look to grace in the spark as well as in the flame. All have not the like strong, though they have the like precious, faith (2 Pet. 1:1), whereby they lay hold of, and put on, the perfect righteousness of Christ. A weak hand may receive a rich jewel. A few grapes will show that the plant is a vine, and not a thorn. It is one thing to be deficient in grace, and another thing to lack grace altogether. God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, but gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives: 'If she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle doves' (Lev. 12:8). What is the gospel itself but a merciful moderation, in which Christ's obedience is esteemed ours, and our sins laid upon him, wherein God, from being a judge, becomes our Father, pardoning our sins and accepting our obedience, though feeble and blemished? We are now brought to heaven under the covenant of grace by a way of love and mercy.
-- p.36 The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

Gospel is merciful, Gospel is encouraging, Gospel will keep you, Gospel will not condemn you who are in Christ. Trust in the One who created you, rescued you, and will judge and renew the world. Today.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Meditative Life without prayer and Bible reading

For the past couple of weeks, I've been posting up on this blog quite consistently. But when I looked back today, I found that most of my posts were quotes or really short comments on some articles, or books, if not just links to them.
I only posted those links and quotes because I found them helpful, insightful, and thought they were something worth reading about. And I hope those people who read my blog (I know there are only a handful at the moment) would actually take time to go and read them and benefit from those.

However, for myself, I was not quite satisfied with those posts I put up recently. The biggest motive in starting up this blog was to have a meditative life myself and use this space as a place of confession, questions, recommendations, in the hope that it may prove to be an encouragement to my fellow Christians everywhere and even to myself when I feel like I'm lost in darkness.
I know I have put up some light-hearted, funny posts a couple of times and some technology related articles, but I think they are fine. At least they are things I had experienced and they can be part of my confession to my Creator in my creativity and encouragement to my friends. But I have been only able to copy some quotes from books, or link to some articles I read online lately, without being able to put in some of my own thoughts. While I am happy with myself having tried to post up something more consistently (which helped me being a little bit more self-disciplined), I do not feel that I have lived a meditative life. I have been collecting information, and thought about what the articles and books said even, but it was only very short lived.

Why?

I first thought that it was because I did not put in enough time and efforts to really reflect on what I was reading and how I lived the day. I think those are part of the reason, often I distracted myself with worldly interests and temporary pleasures. But the main reason my Lord was willing to gently reveal to me tonight was this: that I neglected prayer and reading of the Bible.

Is that shocking to you? Those of you who know me might have thought I would never neglect such important things in life and faith, but I am sorry, you must've been misled by my ever-increasingly skilful play that I stage whenever I am around others.

It almost seems obvious that I did not have anything to say about what I was reading and seeing throughout the day. I was running dry. Those books and articles were definitely helpful, but I have been neglecting to have conversation with the Author and Perfecter of our Faith through prayer and reading the Bible.

So, help me God, that I may repent and live. Oh, how dreadful it is to live without the deep conversations with my loving Creator.
And, friends, help me to put in time and effort firstly to put my faith in order before I make a big deal out of someone else's and/or other aspects of my life.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Life At Its Best - 9 on Humility

We are always, it seems, reeling from one side of the road to the other as we travel in the way of faith. At one turning of the road we are presented with awesome problems and terrifying emergencies. We rise to the challenge, take things into our own hands to become master of the situation, telling God, 'Thank you, but get lost. We'll take care of this one ourselves.' At the next turning we are overwhelmed and run in a panic to some kind of infantile religion that will solve all our problems for us, freeing us of the burden of thinking and the difficulty of choosing. We are, alternately, rebellious runaways and whining babies. Worse, we have numerous experts, so-called, encouragin us to pursue one or the other of these ways.
-- p. 137 Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

Then he concludes:
[Psalm 131] nurtures: a quality of calm confidence and quiet strength which knows the difference between unruly arrogance and faithful aspiration, knows how to discriminate between infantile dependency and childlike trust, and chooses to aspire and to trust 0 and to sing, 'Enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet like a child in its mother's arms, as content as a child that has been weaned.'
- p. 138 Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

Friday, 25 January 2008

iMonk talks about Eugene Peterson

I've been reading books by Eugene Peterson, and today I learned that Michael Spencer is also reading one too, and more, he talks about him and his books. He mainly talks about two books from Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, and Eat This Book (with some references to The Message).

Yes, I recommend the Long Obedience too! Eat this book was a little hard for me and although it was helpful in several ways, since there were just a bit too many places that I couldn't quite understand, I can't say I recommend it.

Life At Its Best - 8 on Ambition/Pride (from the chapter on Humility)

Another excellent chapter from the book, Life At Its Best (Part I, which I am reading currently was previously published as "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction")
All cultures throw certain stumbling blocks in the way of those who pursue gospel realities. It is sheerest fantasy to suppose that we would have had an easier time of it as Christian believers if we were in another land or another time. It is no easier to be a Chinese Christian than to be a Spanish Christian than to be a Russian Christian than to be a Brazilian Christian than to be an American Christian - nor more difficult. The way of faith deals with realities in whatever time or whatever culture.
But there are differences from time to time and from place to place which cause special problems. For instance, when an ancient temptation or trial becomes an approved feature in the culture, a way of life that is expected and encouraged, Christians have a stumbling block put before them that is hard to recognize for what it is, for it has been made into a monument, gilded with bronze and bathed in decorative lights. It has become an object of veneration. But the plain fact is that it is right in the middle of the road of faith, obstructing discipleship. For all its fancy dress and honoured position it is still a stumbling block.
One temptation that has received this treatment in Western civilization, with some special flourishes in America, is ambition. Our culture encourages and rewards ambition without qualification. We are surrounded by a way of life in which betterment is understood as expansion, as acquisition, as fame. Everyone wants to get more. To be on top, no matter what it is the top of, is admired. There is nothing recent about the temptation. It is the oldest sin in the book, the one that got Adam thrown out of the garden and Lucifer tossed out of heaven. What is fairly new about it is the general admiration and approval that it receives.
-- p. 130 - 131, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

He then tells us the story of Doctor Faustus, then on the next page, he writes, 'There have always been Faustian characters, people in the community who embarked on a way of arrogance and power; now our entire culture is Faustian.'

So refreshing to see this "ambition" (or 'aspiration gone crazy' as he calls in the same chapter) caught out and identified as a stumbling block!

Some links to share

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Could be a good pair of church motto

from Pyromaniacs:
The right balance (positively put)
The right balance (negatively put)

I think it doesn't only apply as a church, but also to every individual who profess to be a Christian.

Oh, how I wish this to my church and in my own life as well.

Life At Its Best - 7 on Hope (and waiting through suffering)

Waiting does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying.
And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion of fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let him do it his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. That is not hoping in God but bullying God. 'I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.'
-- p. 126, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

And he concludes,
[Psalm 130] does not exhort us to put up with suffering; it does not explain it or explain it away. It is, rather, a powerful demonstration that our place in the depths is not out of bounds from God. We see that whatever or whoever got us in trouble cannot separate us from God, for ‘there is forgiveness with thee’. We are persuaded that God’s way with us is redemption and that the redemption, not the suffering, is ultimate.

The depths have a bottom; the heights are boundless. Knowing that, we are helped to go ahead and learn the skills of waiting and hoping by which God is given room to work out our salvation and develop our faith while we fix our attention on his ways of grace and resurrection.
-- p. 127, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment

Woohoo!
I ordered the Discipline of Spiritual Discernment on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, and the book arrived today. It's a little thinner than I expected, and I like it that way, being painfully slow reader.

On a side note, I actually got it delivered to my work, but I didn't expect my boss to bring to my desk! It was weird receiving from the hands of the head of Koorong a book bought on Amazon. Dang...

You can find some reviews on this book by googling, and here are some I read.

I'm sure Koorong will have them pretty soon, so you can buy it there.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Few links to share

The Spirit and the Church: A short, yet honest words from Pastor Mark Lauterbach that challenged me.
James Fong update: Friends, please continue to pray for James and his family.
Abortion: Be warned, this will make you feel sick, but it's the reality we must face.

Life At Its Best - 6 on Suffering (from the chapter on Hope)

We live in a time when everyone's goal is to be perpetually healthy and constantly happy, and if any one of us fails to live up to the standards that are advertised as normative, we are labelled as a problem to be solved and a host of well-intentioned people rush to try out various cures on us. Or we are looked on as an enigma to be unravelled in which case we are subjected to endless discussions in which our lives are examined by zealous researchers for the clue that will account for our lack of health or happiness. Ivan Illich, in a recent interview, said: 'You know, there is an American myth that denies suffering and the sense of pain. It acts as if they should not be, and hence it devalues the experience of suffering.But this myth denies our encounter with reality.'
The gospel offers a different view of suffering: in suffering we enter the depths; we are at the heart of things; we are near to where Christ was on the cross.
-- p. 120-121, Life At Its Best, Eugene Peterson


I spoke too soon. I think I'll post up something about hope in the next one...

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Life At Its Best - 5 on Suffering (from the chapter on Hope)

To be human is to be in trouble. Job's anguish is our epigraph: 'Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.' Suffering is a characteristic of the personal. Animals can be hurt, but they do not suffer. The earth can be ravaged, still it cannot suffer. Man and woman, alone in the creation, suffer. For suffering is pain plus: physical or emotional pain plus the awareness that our own worth as people is threatened, that our own value as creatures made in the dignity of God is called into question, that our own destiny as eternal souls is jeopardized. Are we to be, finally, nothing? Are we to be discarded? Are we to be rejects in the universe and thrown onto the rubbish dump of humanity because our bodies degenerate or our emotions malfunction or our minds become confused or our families find fault with us or society avoids us? Any one of these things or, as is more likely, a combination of them, can put us in what Psalm 130 calls the depths.
A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering. If we do not make that decision, we are endangered on every side. A man or woman of faith who fails to acknowledge and deal with suffering becomes, at last, either a cynic or a melancholic or a suicide. Psalm 130 grapples mightily with suffering sings its way through it, and provides usable experience for those who are committed to travelling the way of faith to God through Jesus Christ.

- p. 119-120 Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson (italics original)

This deeply touched my heart. In fact, this whole chapter was very meaningful and helpful to me. The fear (the plus part of suffering) is mine, and that cynic, melancholic, and even suicidal person is me!

I'll post up another quote from this same chapter. When I do, this time, it'll be about hope.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A cheap "I love you"

I got a new phone a few days ago for free by re-committing to a two year contract with Optus. Nokia 6500 Slide
I was just exploring functions on it, and one of them was text message templates. You can write a message and save it as a template, so you can use them to quickly send a short message.

Here are some of default pre-written templates:
  • I am late. I will be there at
  • I'm in a meeting, call me later at
  • I'm busy right now. I'll call you later.
  • I will be arriving at
  • Meeting is cancelled.
  • See you in
These seemed to come in handy when I feel really lazy to write it myself. I don't know if I'll actually use them much though because I won't remember they exist most of the time.

But this one template will never leave my mind.
I love you too
Shock and horror!!!
I really don't think I'll ever use it, God forbid!
If I were too busy to write those four words myself, then I'm way too busy to live humanly. If I were to use that because I couldn't be bothered typing that myself, I am definitely using those four words inappropriately, without really meaning it, cheapening the word, "love". Even if I broke my fingers, I hope I'd write those four words myself than to resort to the cheaper version of it.

Seriously, would you use it?

Evangelising to heretics

This was both entertaining and challenging.
I wish I could one day be bold and knowledgeable enough to follow his suit.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Reading is helpful

A friend of mine asked me whether reading books was helpful (for me) or not.
My answer was (as closely as I can recall):
As long as I read properly, that is, not reading just for the sake of getting through them as to gain knowledge in order to boast (unfortunately, this still happens to me as I am still a sinful man), but read them "prayerfully" then yes, reading definitely helps.

I used the word "prayerfully" with much nuance so to include the meanings of other related words like, "meditatively", "worshipfully", "humbly", "God-centred", etc.

Well, provided you do read books "prayerfully", I think Colin gave a fine list of reasons for reading.
Colin qualifies it by saying these words before though:
A couple of qualifications before I get started. Firstly, I remain convinced that reading Scripture is primary. Let me also add that I’m mainly talking about Christian books and most certainly good Christian books.

I agree with the first one, reading the Bible must be primary for all Christians. But with the second one, well, I would say it is helpful and good to read almost any book, not only limited to good Christian books as long as you read them "prayerfully". Actually, I'd be happier to read a secular book than to read a "bad Christian book", eg. prosperity-Gospel-like books, books claiming to be touching a serious topic yet fails to be more than a superficial or lazy attempt, a book that is (or a book by an author who is) lacking in integrity, and so on.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Inerrancy related posts over at the Internet Monk

A collection of interesting articles by Michael Spencer about the Inerrancy of the Bible.

I've read only one of them so far. Which one?
Answers Not In Genesis
The title was just too err... enticing.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Bible believers persecuted

It hurts when people accuse and label you as someone you are not, and when it is about something really precious and dear to us, like our hopes and dreams, or relationships, it really hurts. For us Christians, few would hurt more than to be attacked and labelled as someone who does not have the "right" kind of faith.

Tim Challies over at the Challies Dot Com and Michael Spencer over at the Internet Monk, they both seem to have had a tough day for this kind of reason.

It's ironic, though, that while Tim Challies is being labelled as a fundamentalist in a very negative sense, Michael Spencer is being accused as a non-Bible believing apostate, when in my mind, they both are dear brothers in Christ and sons of God.

I started reading their blogs not long ago, but soon I found both of them as exemplary Christians. I did feel that Michael fared near dangerous borders at times, but I found him to be an honest follower of Jesus. Tim also showed his character (albeit only through his articles, and online at that) be moulded and being moulded after our Lord.

It is a sad reality of our sins disrupting the love and unity among Christians...

Well, both of you, I hope when you wake up tomorrow, you'll be filled with new joy in Him who loves regardless of all of our short-comings, so you may continue to know, love, and serve Him.

The Bruised Reed - 1

We see, therefore, that the condition of those with whom he was to deal was that they were bruised reeds and smoking flax; not trees, but reeds; and not whole, but bruised reeds. The church is compared to weak things: to a dove amongst the fowls; to a vine amongst the plants; to sheep amongst the beasts; to a woman, which is the weaker vessel.
-- p. 3, The Bruised Reeds by Richard Sibbes

Oh, how He knows what it is like to be bruised, yet, He is able and willing to carry us through! Oh, how comforting it is to know my strong Lord is dealing so gently with me!

File copying is so slow on Windows Vista!!!

I don't hold much against Windows Vista. I read a lot about tech people complaining about Vista saying something along the line of "it's the worst product ever", but I really don't mind Vista. It's stable, doesn't hinder me from doing my work/play at all (well, almost). I have but one thing against it. Copying files on Vista is painfully slow!

Copying a folder which contains thousands of files and subfolders would take some time. But seriously, on a modern machine, this is ridiculous. After waiting for more than 5 minutes, it's still saying 7 minutes and 30 seconds till completion. Total size of the folder is under 200 Mb. Even downloading from the web would take much less time than that! I've been trying to ignore it, embrace it, believe that Vista is doing many useful things while copying files, and get on with my life without complaining, but when I have to wait around for tens of minutes several times on daily basis for such a mundane task as copying some files to different location, I can only scream. AARRGGHHH!!!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Post election crisis in KenyaReport Acts Of Violence In Kenya - Ushahidi

A friend of mine went to Kenya to serve as a doctor (under training) just before the recent political unrest and violence started. She is safe, I heard, but still, the news about Kenya is leaving more impression on me these days.

Here's a site some guys developed to report and track incidents in Kenya due to the current crisis.

Report Acts Of Violence In Kenya


I post the link here in hope that this may help people inside and outside Kenya to resolve the issue as soon as possible and as peacefully as possible.

Life At Its Best - 4 on Perseverance

A quote from chapter 11, Perseverance:
The cornerstone sentence of Psalm 129 is, 'The Lord is righteous.' When the Bible says that God is righteous it is not saying that he is always right (although it, of course, assumes that) but that he is always in right relation to us. The word does not mean that he corresponds to some abstract ideal of the right, it speaks of a personal right relationship between Creator and his creation. '...Righteous is out and out a term denoting relationship, and that it does this in the sense of referring to a real relationship between two parties...and not to the relationship of an object under consideration to an idea.'
That the 'Lord is righteous' is the reason that Christians can look back over a long life, crisscrossed with cruelties, unannounced tragedies, unexpected setbacks, sufferings, disappointments, depressions - look back across all that and see it as a road of blessing and make a song out of what we see. 'Solely have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me.'
-- p. 115-116, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

The second paragraph is amazingly beautiful, and I could say that I agree with it. However, I was a little bit taken back by the first paragraph where Peterson emphasised the relational sense of the word, 'righteous' over the sense of justice and goodness. I don't think Peterson is completely wrong about the word, 'righteous', but I felt that the relational 'part' of that word was slightly over-emphasised to a point where the main meaning of it is brushed off to a side almost.
Ok, well, maybe I'm the one who's missing the point here. What Peterson says next made a good sense to me and was very encouraging and helpful.
God sticks to his relationship. He establishes his relationship with us and stays with it. The central reality of Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment that God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination, it is the result of God's faithfulness. We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous. Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God's will and purposes; making a map of faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.
-- p. 116, Life At Its Best by Eugene Peterson

Thank God for His faithfulness...

Blue sky

Looking out the window from my office, the sky looks absolutely wonderful... time for lunch.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Bruised Reed - 0

I was challenged to read some works of Puritans when I read the blog post on Between Two Worlds.
The list looks great, but I don't think I can read all of them (I'm really so painfully slow in reading), so I'm planning on reading two books, or time permitting, three this year (among other books of course).

1) The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
2) The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter
3) The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (this one's probably going to be difficult even though the book itself is short, I've been hearing about John Owen's reputation as a difficult writer.)

Actually, I started reading one, 'The Bruised Reed'.
I think the inspiration came to me when I read the blurb by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
I shall never cease to be grateful to... Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil... I found at that time that Richard Sibbes, who was known in London in the early seventeenth century as "The Heavenly Doctor Sibbes" was an unfailing remedy... The Bruised Reed... quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.

I sure wanted this quietening of my soul, soothing and comforting effects on my spirit, encouragement and healing of my heart, just like Dr. Lloyd-Jones talks about.

Perhaps, by God's mercy, I may receive such benefits as he did, in times of need like these.

Now, how about you also read a couple of puritan works this year? What would you like to read?

Monday, 14 January 2008

Theology quizzes (don't take these too seriously!)

I've done 'Which theologian are you?' before, and I think my highest was John Calvin, but then, because I didn't get Martin Luther up high on my like-ness, I took the quiz again and I was able to rig the results. So, they are just quizzes (really, seriously), not a dependable source to check up on your theology. I decided to take these again today just for fun even though it isn't Friday today.

Here are my results:





What's your theological worldview?
You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


93%

Neo orthodox


71%

Emergent/Postmodern


64%

Reformed Evangelical


64%

Fundamentalist


32%

Charismatic/Pentecostal


29%

Classical Liberal


25%

Roman Catholic


25%

Modern Liberal


11%








Which theologian are you?
You scored as Karl Barth

The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.


Karl Barth


100%

Anselm


100%

Martin Luther


87%

John Calvin


67%

Jonathan Edwards


60%

Paul Tillich


40%

Charles Finney


40%

J├╝rgen Moltmann


33%

Friedrich Schleiermacher


33%

Augustine


0%








What is the Kingdom of God?
You scored as Kingdom as a Christianised Society

Christians shouldn't withdraw from the world, but by being present in it they can transform it. The kingdom is not only spiritual, but social, political, and cultural.


Kingdom as a Christianised Society


100%

The Kingdom as a counter-system


92%

The Kingdom is a Future Hope


83%

The Kingdom as a political state


67%

The Kingdom is mystical communion


67%

The Kingdom as Earthly Utopia


67%

Inner spiritual experience


50%

The Kingdom as Institutional Church


0%



I was a little bit surprised about the first one.. Hmm... anyways, I did say this isn't accurate and was meant for fun!

Quote from Life At Its Best - 3: on Joy

'Joy' has been a strange word to me for a while, at least a few months. I think I'd been suffering from (mild) depression.

The cause and triggers I won't talk about here, but it has been definitely one of the most difficult periods in my life. I do believe there is a divine reason (or two) for this dry season in my life, that is unfortunately beyond my understanding, but it might be that I am finally starting to see some light just over the past few days.

I've posted that I had started reading 'Life At Its Best' again. Surprisingly, when I picked up my book and opened to the page where I left it months before, it was just at the beginning of the chapter called, guess what, 'Joy'. I was momentarily intrigued at the coincidence (no I don't believe in such thing for my God is sovereign) providence of God, and thanked Him.

I do not think that this period is fully over quite yet, even though reading that chapter on Joy was helpful. Nevertheless, I'd like to share this quote from the chapter which was encouraging to me and hopefully will be so for you as well in the time of 'a dry season'.

A common but futile strategy for achieving joy is trying to eliminate things that hurt: get rid of pain by numbing the nerve ends, get rid of insecurity by eliminating risks, get rid of disappointments by depersonalizing your relationships. And then try to lighten the boredom of such a life by buying joy in the form of vacations and entertainment. There isn't a hint of that in Psalm 126.
Laughter is a result of living in the midst of God's great works('when the Lord restores... our mouth was filled with laughter'). Enjoyment is not an escape from boredom but a plunge by faith into God's work ('he that goes forth weeping bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him'). There is plenty of suffering on both sides, past and future. The joy comes because God knows how to wipe away tears, and , in his resurrection work, create the smile of new life. Joy is what God gives, not what we work up. Laughter is the delight that things are working together for good to them that love God, not the giggles that betray the nervousness of a precarious defence system. The joy that develops in the Christian way of discipleship is an overflow of spirits that comes from feeling good not about yourself but about God. We find that his ways are dependable, his promises sure.
-- p86-87 Life At Its Best


I guess the reason why I am finding things hard and joy so foreign is because that last line, 'We find that his ways are dependable, his promises sure' is a difficult confession to make for me these days.

Oh, God, have mercy and grant me to see Your works and have faith in You.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Reading offline as well as online

My Google Reader tells me that:
From your 75 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 7,097 items, starred 9 items, shared 91 items, and emailed 0 items.

I've been reading a lot online. Granted, I only skimmed over many of the 7000 items, and many of them aren't even the full articles, but only excerpts. But it's still quite a lot.
There are hundreds of great articles churned out by very productive writers every day. Among them, I try to read the internetMonk (by Michael Spencer), ChalliesDotCom (by Tim Challies), Between Two Worlds (by Justin Taylor) and the Desiring God blog. There are also blogs by Gordon Cheng, Eddie Byun, and there are just so many blogs to read including some by my friends. The briefing produces great articles too. There are news articles to read, opinions, current culture trends, technical, Java programming related blogs and articles, and I didn't want to miss out on any of them. Considering how slow I am at reading, I've been reading quite a lot, and many of them were very helpful in many ways including spiritual benefits.
But an unfortunate side effect of spending so much time on the net was that I haven't been reading books much in recent days. The blogs and online materials have their values, but I also happened to own many books that are really worth reading, and I have been neglecting them.

So I've picked up reading again from Monday this week.
There are three books that I should finish reading, and it's been long over due.
1) Life At Its Best (by Eugene Peterson)
2) Knowing God (by J. I. Packer)
3) Getting the Gospel Right (by R. C. Sproul)
These are the books that I was reading before and never finished. I (re)started with "Life At Its Best", and its content is very soothing to my heart at the moment.

Friends, what are you reading these days?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Just one of those "oh-so-common" unethical marketing

On one side of the world, children were deceived and/or forced to commit torture and murder.
On the other side the world, children are deceived by unreasonable, no, I say, down right unethical and greedy business people to create wrong and negative self-image from even earlier age.
Larissa Dubecki writes:
Last year Nair, makers of hair-removal products, released their Pretty range, aimed at 10 to 15-year-olds, or, as they call them, "first-time hair removers". Yes, you heard right. Ten-year-olds. Girls — children — in grades 5 and 6, encouraged to wax and chemically remove hair from their barely pubescent bodies. As online site Gawker put it, what's next: Baby Brazilians?

She concludes:
It sits oddly that parents, who note and celebrate each step of their child's development, are being encouraged to celebrate premature sexualisation as another rite of passage. So at age two, their little darlings can use simple, short sentences and sort by shape and colour; at four they're able to distinguish between themselves and other people; at five they can dress themselves; eight is a big whoop with the likes of Santa Claus filed under a newly found sense of "fantasy". At 10 they can start ripping hair from their bodies to be more attractive to the opposite sex? You'll need to try just a little harder to convince me that's a "milestone" worth celebrating.

Encourage them to be children, just for a little while longer. And don't worry. They'll have plenty of time to learn to hate themselves when they get older.

Seriously, parents, do something! And those business men, just don't. (shaking my head thinking, "Do any of them have children? If they do, they would know what they are doing? I mean... just give me a break!")

A former Liberian president is on trial for war crimes

A former president of Liberia is being tried for war crimes. I heard about the horror of civil wars raging (or had raged) in many countries around the world, especially in Africa. But I found this pastor's testimony particularly terrible.
Child soldiers - some of whom were so small they could not even lift their guns - rounded on one boy and chopped off his hand, then his arm, then both his feet, Pastor Tamba Teh said, speaking in an African Creole.

I dare not to tell Him what to do, nor do I even demand an answer, but I just really couldn't help but to think, "God, why? What were You doing, God?"

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Life is short, and most of us live it even shorter


Life is short. Know the Lord and be known by Him who loves us. Today.

Nicely done, Mister Huckabee!

Read how Mike Huckabee handled an angry heckler:
Mike Huckabee today calmly handled an angry heckler, turning the confrontation to his advantage and winning applause from a packed crowd that turned out to hear him speak at a local school.

I hardly saw any article favourable to Mike Huckabee in recent days. It was as if all of the Internet users were pretty much against him. Nice to hear something like this after all those accusations floating around the net.

Oh, just in case you think I'm a Huckabee supporter, well, I like him so far, but, please, I am just an observer, I don't even live in USA!

Monday, 7 January 2008

My Engrish - 7-Jan-2008

Ah... it was only a matter of time I guess...

Last Friday it was... Yes, I said it.

I speak Scotland!

Why do I get confused between these two? Weird...

Funny...?

Uh oh...

When Apache Ant does not recognise JAVA_HOME environment variable

Argh, so again, I had to spend more than 2 hours in a wild goose chase.

I was trying to install Apache Ant 1.7 on my machine, and it just wouldn't recognise the right path (JAVA_HOME). It kept on failing to locate tools.jar file which should be found by Ant if Ant correctly used JDK path. But it kept on using JRE! I tried uninstalling and re-installing JDK again and again to no avail. It was driving me nuts, literally! seriously!

In the end, I finally found a useful help on the Java forum site (and it wasn't easy to find).
check if there's a java.exe and/or javaw.exe and/or javaws.exe in your Windows or Windows/System32 directory.
If there is, remove them.

Sometimes/often installers will put them there but subsequent installers not overwrite them.

Fixed my problem instantly. Stupid installer!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

My Engrish - 2-Jan-2008

We were playing cards...
I said: I'll be wonning.
Translation to English: I'll be winning.
Seriously, that was just a weird mistake.

Below are not my mistakes, but still funny.

We were fishing...
Mango said: As soon as I threw my line in, I got nipples.
He was meant to say: I got nibbles.

We were playing monoploy... (again)
Hanoh said it again: one houses each!

Bwahahaha

Read my previous posts here, and here.

Pray for James Fong

Among all those people I have ever met personally, James Fong has to be the most passionate person when it comes to telling others about Jesus. He is a kind of guy who would walk miles (literally) to talk to you about Jesus.

This brother of mine is sick, very sick. Check out his prayer points and please pray for them as well as for James and his family.

Quoted from the xanga site:
Psalm73:25-28 “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

I have three prayer requests, that you all continue to:
1) Pray
2) Read your Bible
3) Tell others about Jesus

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

So, now it's year 2008.

Personally, year 2007 was the most stressful and unpredictable year I've had in my entire life. Even the year my father passed away, I don't think I was this much stressed. Or... at least, I didn't really feel it this hard. At least I knew it was coming. And I didn't have as much responsibility as I do right now.

Continuing my relationship with God, while dealing with people, and making decisions, especially when the choices seem all bad and had to choose a lesser evil, being a leader at church, trying to help frantically, while I myself feel like I'm rotting away, lost opportunities, broken relationships, shattered confidence, depression, weakened health... still, God is God, and I am His. May He keep it that way in the new year and beyond. Perhaps with a bit of more ups and less downs than last year though.

Happy new year, my friends.