Saturday, December 04, 2021

Love's as warm as tears

Love’s as warm as tears, 
  Love is tears: 
Pressure within the brain, 
Tension at the throat, 
Deluge, weeks of rain, 
Haystacks afloat, 
Featureless seas between 
Hedges, where once was green. 

Love’s as fierce as fire, 
  Love is fire: 
All sorts—infernal heat 
Clinkered with greed and pride, 
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet, 
Laughing, even when denied, 
And that empyreal flame 
Whence all loves came. 

Love’s as fresh as spring, 
  Love is spring: 
Bird-song hung in the air, 
Cool smells in a wood, 
Whispering ‘Dare! Dare!’ 
To sap, to blood, 
Telling ‘Ease, safety, rest, 
Are good; not best.’ 

Love’s as hard as nails, 
  Love is nails: 
Blunt, thick, hammered through 
The medial nerves of One 
Who, having made us, knew 
The thing He had done, 
Seeing (with all that is) 
Our cross, and His. 

POEMS “Love’s as Warm as Tears"
by C.S. Lewis


Friday, December 03, 2021

Live life slowly

I have posted a few days ago about writing Slowly letters. And now, my favourite word is? Slowly.

We always say, "Oh no! I can't believe it's December already! Time travels so fast!."

It does indeed, doesn't it?

Time is subjective. When you look forward it feels long but when you look back in time, it feels like it has just happened.

In other words, when you look forward for something to happen, it seems like it never will, but when it is does, it seems that it whizzed past you so quickly. 

Which bring us back to December. It came too fast for comfort.

And this is why I wanted to embrace the word "slowly". 

Do you think that all you have been doing is rush, rush, rush and rush? 

Do your days slowly.

Do you think that you've got so much to do you don't have enough time? 

Don't forget to enjoy your life slowly.

Savour life slowly, and bring joy back into your daily life...slowly.

I know you still gotta rush, but it slowly.


Thursday, December 02, 2021

Regaining the joy of work

I attended the APAC Strengths Coaches Community End-of-Year Gathering today and it was a good time to learn from the strengths experts as they share their experience and the latest insights from their research data.

What caught my attention was that well-being is now the new challenge, and from this slide, we can see how burnout has been now exacerbated because of the pandemic.

And when I showed this to one of my friends, whom I believe is experiencing burnout herself, she asked me a very good question: why do they talk so much about manager support but I don't see it coming?

A company will never be able to prevent their employees from burning out if their definitions of fairness, manageable workload, clear communication, manager support and reasonable time pressure differ from that of the employees'.

Until and unless we can all agree on what is fairness, how much workload can one take, how communication can be better, what kind of support does the employee need and how much time is needed, the employees will be burned out.

The expectations from the managers has been rising especially in these days of remote working because they fear that their people will not be productive otherwise. 

Managers, don't just talk about support and fairness, don't assume you are communicating well. Find time to talk to your people and find out what it takes for them to put in good work and still be satisfied from it all.

Help us regain the joy of work. Don't let us burn out.


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

A most wonderful bowl of pokebowl

I practice intermittent fasting every day and I'm very comfortable with the arrangement of skipping breakfast--because I don't feel hungry anyway--then having a good lunch and taking dinner only when I feel like it.

And today is such a I-feel-like-it day. I did have a good catch-up lunch today with a colleague; good on both food and company. But when I got home after work, I felt like I needed dinner, and thought a bowl of pokebowl would be nice. 

I checked my Grabfood app on the nearest Fish Bowl outlet and found that they have a special deal on their Tofu bowl for only RM9.90.

I usually order the Salmon bowl but for RM9.90, tofu will do just fine. 

Even without the more flavourful raw salmon, the garlic sauce combination with walnuts, mango, Japanese cucumber and cherry tomatoes with the rest of condiments, made my Tofu bowl a very delicious dinner. 



Tuesday, November 30, 2021

My books are like my counselors

One of my favourite Gallup strength is Input. And it has served me very well.

If you have not heard of the Gallup Strengthsfinder, it is an assessment that helps you find out what your strengths are and how you can grow your strengths to be even better than what you are already good in.

My third strength in the list is Input and I really enjoy this strength. Input people are collectors and one of the obvious things I collect are books. 

And with that, when I need to think through and work through some issues in my life, I am always able to find the right books to help me. They are like my counselors; and they are like the right counselors at the right time. 

(And if you would like to know if you have the Input strength to build on it, let me know. I am a Gallup Strength coach too!)


Monday, November 29, 2021

I want to have a boring life

I don't like any adventures or worse, any problems in life, and so can I decide to have a boring life? Or is it too self-serving?

A peaceful mediocre life is a good life...can I call it contentment?

I have read this book 6 months ago but I do have a very bad memory and I cannot remember what's in it. So looks like I will have to read it again.

The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy
by Andrew M. Davis


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Belonging to Christ

We are very familiar with Philippians 2:6-11 but how about from verse 1 to 5?

Philippians 2:1-5 NLT
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? [2] Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. [3] Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. [4] Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. [5] You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Have we been sharing our lives with others showing love and compassion? Have we been working together with one mind and purpose in the Lord? Have we been taking an interest in others?


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hope in a World Gone Mad

Faith Among the Faithless: Learning from Esther How to Live in a World Gone Mad
by Mike Cosper 

I was saying that I was in a book binge, but this would probably be the last book of the binge: 7 books in 7 days.

What attracted me to the book when I bought it would be the phrase "world gone mad". Although how each of us would say how the world has gone mad would be different, it has certainly gone mad. However, looking at it from a broader perspective, it went mad a long, long, long time ago.

So what do we learn from Esther in this world gone mad?

What I appreciate about the book is that it tries to read Esther from its original context and it does not give us a very good picture. You will see that Esther and Mordecai takes on a very different life in the exile compared to Daniel. Whilst Daniel separated himself and maintained his life of being a Jew, Esther and Mordecai assimilated quite fully into theirs. 

And it is a well-known fact that God is not mentioned in the book of Esther any yet according to Cosper, what "the book of Esther tells us, is how God sometimes shows up. In the silence. In absence. In the darkness of doubt, humiliation, and loss. In the most unlikely ways possible, the miracle of grace manifests. It is precisely God’s hiddenness that makes this story so hopeful. Whatever dark place you are in today, whether by hapless circumstance or by your own actions, God hasn’t forgotten you. Esther’s story invites us to cling to hope, however small, and to confidence that whatever evil might currently reign, the story of God isn’t finished."

We can still hang on with hope and faith in midst of the madness we encounter. A lot of things are way beyond our control anyway. 

But remember, God is not finished with us.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Slowly Letters

One of the reasons why I am back writing here in this blog is because I have revived my letter writing in the Slowly app, making me want to write more than just letters.

Slowly is an app that let you write letters to the other Slowly users and the interesting thing about the app is that the further the other person lives, the longer it takes for the letters to arrive, hence the name of the app, Slowly.

The farthest person that I am writing to lives in Puerto Rico and our letters take 49 hours to reach each other! I know...49 hours - that's more than 2 days! Why do that when a text message is just microseconds away?

That's the whole gist of it: going back to snail mail, albeit in a modern way. 

Think about it, when a letter takes 49 hours to reach the other person, you'd put more thought into the letter as you write it, wouldn't you?

I am also using it to practice my Korean and it is quite fun though very challenging, writing a letter entirely in Korean. But I did it and I'm glad to report that though I know it is not perfect, the recipient understood it without any problems. 

And with me being a collector of whatever stuff that interest me--I used to collected mugs and notebooks and cookbooks--I am now collecting Slowly stamps. They are digital but they are attractive.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Every country comes with its own stamp and here's the Malaysian one.

And of course I cannot not get this location-based stamp of the Nasi Lemak being Malaysia's National Dish.

This is my most favourite achievement stamp because I just like being a sloth sometimes LOL

And I got this to mark a special occasion: to move forward and to be happy again.

Other than the sloth, my other favourite animal is the owl and who can beat an owl on vocals?

I have collected a total of 82 stamps I can use to write Slowly letters with and 126 stamps if I include those that I have received.

Check out the app here if you'd like to try it out:


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Why the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

I know we binge on TV shows but have you experienced a book binge before. It's like when you finish one, you need another. 

And that was when I finished a book last night, I went searching for another and found this. It's now one of the best books I read.

Discovering the Good Life: The Surprising Riches Available in Christ
by Tim Savage

It was so good that I finished it in one night. 

Tim Savage began the book by asking the question, "What is so good about life?", and he got me hooked from there on.

He looked at our lives from the perspective of three trees:
1. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
2. A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse
3. The Tree of Life 

I always have a question about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on why is it there to begin with. Why put a tree there to tempt Adam and Eve? And knowing that they will succumb to it anyhow? 

I think Savage has finally answered the question for me. 

He said that God, in the creation of the universe and the world, has lavished himself on humanity. He poured out and provided it all through his providence and creativity. And the gift of this tree is where God's "generosity rises to unimaginable heights." 

Really? How so? Since it "bears within its branches the forbidden fruit with the power to rain doom on humanity," how can it be God's generosity that rises to unimaginable heights?

It is this very tree that plays an important role in the lives of human beings, Savage said. It is because God is love. And this love of God calls for a response. How will Adam and Eve return it? Will God be enough for them without needing to want "more" than God? 

"By opting for the orchard, humans return God’s love. By opting for the forbidden fruit, they reject it."

Now I am finally clear why the tree is in the Garden of Eden.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Friends: the greatest of worldly goods and the chief happiness of life

I did say that I'm addicted to the TV but I'm in a reading phase right now, finishing 4 books in just 2 weeks.

And since I'm in the groove, after finishing a book yesterday night, I went hunting for another and this book caught my eye. I bought it and started on it immediately. 

Made for Friendship: The Relationship that Halves our Sorrows and Doubles Our Joy
by Drew Hunter

I'm already three-quarters way through and found it very good. I'm also glad that it coincides with my desire now to reconnect with my friends whom I have not spoken to for the longest time, what with the pandemic and all. So it is good that I get to be more thoughtful as I do so.

The book touches on the necessity of friendship, the gift of friendship and the redemption of friendship. 

And one thing that does strike me is one of the deterrents to making and forming friendship - busyness. We are usually too busy for our friends.

Hunter says that rather than saying that we have no time, isn't it better to say “Let’s get together! How about next month?” We do need to make time.

Yes, friendship takes time but it is one of the most important things in our lives. On our deathbed, we will never wish we had spent more time at work, on the screen or even to travel, but we would wish that we had spent more time with our loved ones, our friends. 

Hunter quoted many authors, philosophers and to my surprise even bible scholars and also Church Fathers who spoke so highly about friendship, in that it is the “the greatest of worldly goods” and “the chief happiness of life.” (C.S. Lewis).

Here are a few more quotes:

Two things are essential in this world—life, and friendship. Both must be prized highly, and not undervalued. They are nature’s gifts. We were created by God that we might live; but if we are not to live solitarily, we must have friendship. 
~ Augustine

This world is full of sorrow because it is full of sin. It is a dark place. It is a lonely place. It is a disappointing place. The brightest sunbeam in it is a friend. Friendship halves our troubles and doubles our joys. 
~ J. C. Ryle

When thou hast found such a man, and proved the sincerity of his friendship; when he has been faithful . . . to thee, grapple him to thyself with hooks of steel and never let him go. 
~ Charles Spurgeon

We have few friendships, because we are not willing to pay the price of friendship. . . . The secret of friendship is just the secret of all spiritual blessing. The way to get is to give. 
~ Hugh Black

Our friends who will halve our sorrows and double our joys, how can we not preserve and build our friendships. 

Think of whom you need to rekindle your friendship with: talk to them, do things together, eat together, affirm and encourage each other.

Be a friend. 


Monday, November 22, 2021

How do we love our enemies for real?

I was looking for a good devotional reading to use when I saw that I have C.S Lewis's Preparing for Easter in my library. 

Preparing for Easter: Fifty Devotional Readings from C.S. Lewis
by C.S. Lewis

But it is still November, about 150 days to Easter. But since I am in such a need of a good devotional guide that I decided to use it anyway. So I'm doing a day's reading in three days: two days for the two Bible passages and another day on the reading. And that makes 150 days. Perfect.

And it is working well so far, which brings me to today's passage:

Matthew 5:43-48 NLT
You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

The thing is I had this as well in my Proverbs reading yesterday (I am following a Daily Wisdom from Proverbs reading plan from

Proverbs 24:17-18 NLT
Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble. For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.

When you get a double dose of the same thing-- it's like Jesus saying, "Truly, truly..."--and with that, I better pay very close attention.

This reminded me of this portion I just read in Brett McCracken's Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community about God's love and grace:

"There’s a gut-wrenching scene in the Korean film Secret Sunshine that captures the scandal of grace better than any film I’ve ever seen. The scene takes place in a prison, as protagonist Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) goes to visit her son’s murderer in prison. Shin-ae, a new convert to Christianity, wants to forgive him. Her friends tell her she doesn’t have to see him face-to-face in order to forgive him. But she insists. She wants to see him in person and (truth be told) wants to witness the look on his face when she offers him the gift of forgiveness. And yet when she sits down to confront the prisoner on the other side of the glass, Shin-ae finds him unexpectedly happy, peaceful, even joyful. “You look better than I expected,” she tells him before explaining that the peace, love, and “new life” she’d found in God had prompted her to forgive him. She’s “so happy to feel God’s love and grace” that she wanted to spread his love by coming to visit her son’s murderer. But then the shocker: the prisoner, the killer of her son, has also come to faith in Christ. “Since I came here, I have accepted God in my heart. The Lord has reached out to this sinner,” he says. “Is that so?” replies Shin-ae, crestfallen and shaken. “It’s good you have found God,” she says, very tentatively. The convicted murderer continues: “Yes, I am so grateful. God reached out to a sinner like me. He made me kneel to repent my sins. And God has absolved me of them.” And this is where Shin-ae begins to wilt. “God . . . has forgiven your sins?” she mutters in disbelief. “Yes,” he replies. “And I have found inner peace. . . . My repentance and absolution have brought me peace. Now I start and end each day with prayer. I always pray for you, Ms. Lee. I’ll pray for you until I die.” This hits Shin-ae hard. When she leaves the prison, she collapses, overcome by the horror of an idea she had not considered: that God could beat her to the punch in forgiving her son’s killer, offering this criminal the only real absolution he needed. Unfortunately, Shin-ae can’t accept this seeming injustice. How can a law-abiding, good citizen like her and a convicted child-killer be on the same level in terms of God’s grace? She can’t take that, and abandons God because of it. The sufficiency and availability of God’s grace to all people is scandalous, and for many, a pill too hard to swallow. We’re prideful creatures. We want to believe that “right” living warrants us better standing in God’s eyes than, say, terrorists and rapists and pedophiles. We want God to reward us for being good and punish others for being bad. Our pride makes it hard for us to stomach the notion that earning or deserving are not words that exist in God’s vocabulary of grace."

This is what McCracken said as "one of the most offensive things about the cross of Christ has always been its leveling aspect, giving “insider” access to prostitutes, tax collectors, and the pariahs of society just as much as to religious and cultural elites; to Gentiles just as much as to Jews. The wretched thief on the cross didn’t and couldn’t do anything “good” to save himself, but Jesus still welcomed him into his kingdom. This is offensive."

It is a very tough thing to do, to love our enemies but that is exactly what Jesus has done for us, his enemies, and whom he calls friends when we respond to his invitation. 

And with that, like what is reflected in Proverbs 24:17-18, we are not to rejoice when they fall but as in Matthew 5:43-48, we are to love them and pray for them. 

And that takes a firm decision for me that I need to make and lots and lots of practice as I keep going back to God for him to teach me how to do it well.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

I've set up my recording studio

I posted in April 2020 about my dream to set up a recording studio and it took me one year to accomplish it. 

I said it would cost me RM2000 according to the video I posted, it was spot on except I had to add on more funds for a new laptop computer.

I didn't expect I'd actually set it up but I did! And I didn't mind that it is just a simple and basic studio: with just a condenser mic, audio interface, headphones and computer.

Compared to what I experienced during my trip to Seoul, it is a bare minimum but I am happy nonetheless. 

Here's the huge difference between the professional recording studio (with the recording room on the left) in Seoul and my mini home studio:

However, comparing what I have recorded in Seoul and at home, there is a huge difference too. The stint in Seoul was just a 2-hour visit and experience, and with my awful pronunciation of Korean, the song I recorded I wouldn't want to listen to it ever again. 

But with the time and constant recording and re-recording I am doing in my home studio, I am liking what I hear. 

Here's a recording if you'd like to hear what a mini home studio can produce. In case you are wondering, the accompaniment I used was purchased from Sovereign Grace Music.

So equipment is one thing, but time and effort is another. 


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Since I watch TV so much

The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long For and Echo the Truth
by Mike Cosper

I have a confession to make. I am a TV addict! Or at least I think I am with the number of hours I spent watching TV. 

So when I saw this book in Amazon, I immediately bought a copy and started reading with the purpose of seeing if I can "theologize" this thing of me watching so much TV.

And it is also in very good timing because I have started thinking and reflecting on what I watch to find lessons and learnings through the vicarious experiences in what I watch. 

In this book, Cosper has reflected on quite a wide range from sitcoms to movies, and classics to even reality shows. And what he see is the creation story and redemption story being played over and over again. 

It is comforting to know that the stories we tell are stories of us seeking for love, for justice, for meaning, for hope and for life. Sure there are many un-Christian ways in the stories told but they still point to the ultimate human's sense of need and search for perfection and salvation. 

For example, even in dark series like Dexter, what the protagonists are looking for is meaning and purpose in life. It all reflects where we come from and where we hope we will go.

We have many stories to tell and many stories to listen to. I will be good not to just watch to pass time or to just watch to be entertained. Look into the heart of the stories and see the Gospel story time and again seeping through. 


Friday, November 19, 2021

It has been awhile

It was in April 2020 when I last blogged and a long year and a half have passed since then. A whole lot of things have happened and a whole lot of things I have learnt.

I must say that just like my blog here, my life has been in a series of starts and stops, and again just like my blog here, it is going to continue to start and stop. 

Of course, until it all stop and Life starts. 

So here am I again...starting again. 

The reason I am back is because I would like to think and write again. Life has been tough for the last one and a half years making it tough to think and to write. But now I'm back and it's good to be back and I hope this session of a start will last a longer time.

While I restart this, I also thought about the purpose and the direction of my writing. When I started this blog in 2006--oh my, that is like aeons ago--I wanted a space to reflect and express myself, and I think I will fall back to the same purpose. 

And hopefully through my thinking and my figuring out this world, I am am able to provide some hope.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Three pieces of masks

We received our 3 pieces of masks in the mail today. It's a good gesture but I somehow find it impractical. Three masks for three people in my house and for only one time use.

The practice in Taiwan is different. They allow each person to buy 2 pieces of masks per week using their ID card. The price is controlled and they make sure they produce enough stock. And the have a system to ensure you adhere to only one purchase per week.

It is still ok now we are mostly at home and do not need to use it so often. But when MCO is lifted, it will be another story. Will we have enough supply for the entire nation?

I certainly hope so.

Will there be another panic buy when MCO is lifted?


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Setting up a recording studio at home

My church has been meeting online even before MCO began on 18 March, partially online before that and fully online after.

As per our duty roster, I wasn't my turn to worship lead until next week and with the team now up-skilled to run the weekly worship service seamlessly, it's now my turn to get myself set up for next week.

And I wondered if I need to get the proper equipment to set up a home recording studio and I found this video simple and informative. 

5 Things You Need to Set Up a Home Studio

All is good except that if I were to get the mixer pad and the condenser mic she recommended, it will cost me RM2000.

So looks like I will have to just settle for the bare basic that I already have: just my computer. 


Friday, April 24, 2020

MCO Police Block #2

I was caught in a police block today, for the second time since the start of MCO.

The first one was when I went to the airport to pick up my son returning home, and that was exactly a month ago. That time, the police officer was very nice and friendly about it. 

But not so this time.

I wasn't worried because I wasn't flouting any regulations. I was within 10km of my home, I was alone in my car, I had a mask on, I went to the doctor's office, got some groceries and was on my way to pick up food I have ordered via the telephone. All essential purposes. 

The moment I stopped my car at the blockade, I showed them my identity card with my address on it and told them why I was out. 

The police asked me if I have a letter of authorization.

A letter? To go buy food?

I do have a letter for work since I am working in essential services, but I was not out for work. Just to visit the doctor and to get some food since I was already out. 

The first police officer directed me to the other side of the road and the next police officer questioned me again and I repeated the same thing. He looked into my car, which was full of groceries, but he was so reluctant to let me go. 

He finally did but he was so unwilling to do so.

I did wonder why and I figured out he must have thought I was trying to lie my way of out of it. 

I do have my doctor's report, which I would fish out if he would still not let me go. 

But wouldn't you think he would render it fishy since I seem to have too many valid reasons?

I understand they are doing their job and it is right that they should call out those who lie to break the MCO.

And good for them. And thankfully, he finally believed me. 

My lesson though is that - avoid that stretch of road! I wasn't thinking and took the wrong route. If I had stuck to my usual route, I wouldn't have been caught. 

But it's an interesting experience nonetheless.