Friday, September 22, 2006

good news

This started out as a reply to a comment posted on an earlier post of mine, and morphed into this as I was encouraged to think a little more about the concepts of salvation, the gospel message, and about God. My decision to put this up as a blog post rather than a comment relates to how important I feel this conversation is to me, and I believe many other people as well.

I am very much aware that the topic of this post can heighten emotions, positively or negatively. Whatever your convictions may be, I pray that the differences between mine and yours will be treated in the bond of love as we work towards "unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God".


I also pray that you will not be too quick to presuppose my entire spectrum of principles and beliefs based on a single statement about my aversion to "exclusivism". My discomfort with exclusivity has nothing to do with the exclusivity of Christ's work in the salvation of man. A careful reading of my post will clarify my position on the uniqueness of Christ as "the way, the truth and the life".

My problem with exclusivity lies in the conventional understanding of salvation, hell, and the gospel, and how this understanding can sometimes be used to create exclusive clubs where some are simply "predestined" or "elected" to be lifetime members and some on the other hand will simply never be able to make it through the pearly gates.

While proponents of this position often cite God's absolute sovereignty over creation as the basis of their arguments, I believe not enough justice is being done to passages such Luke 15, which gives us such a vivid image of God, first seeking out the sinner with seemingly reckless abandon as he leaves 99 sheep to go after the single lost one, to eventually welcoming the sinner back home with great rejoicing.

How then does "turn or burn" or other hellfire rhetoric fit in this image of God? Have we reduced God to a deity that rejoices in exacting "deserving" punishment on sinners?

Of course not! God doesn't derive any joy from meting out judgment on sinners. However, God's holiness is as inherent a part of him as his love, and a holy God cannot tolerate sin. God after does tell us to be holy, just as he is holy.

But doesn't this holiness thing seem cold and harsh then? After all, doesn't God love us?

Of course he loves us! And more than that! John 3:16 tells us that he loves the world! And this great love for us was demonstrated when God himself, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, assumed the punishment due unto us by dying on the cross, therefore meeting the requirements of God's justice and holiness and thus reconciling man and God.

The completeness of Christ's redemptive work in the salvation of man is undisputed. Nevertheless, questions still abound.

To say that God is sovereign and is in absolute control over all creation, in light of the conventional understanding of salvation, is to ask then whether God actually planned "heaven" and "hell" from the very beginning. Did he predestine before the creation of the world, some to be eternally blessed in "heaven", and some to be eternally tormented by the "fires of hell"? How consistent then is this God with the God of Luke 15?

The alternative to this is to assume that God created the world to be perfect from the very beginning. Man was created to have an interactive relationship with God but man simply messed up. Sin enters the story and hell pops up along the away. God is then faced with the problem of fixing the situation. But this scenario calls into question God's sovereignty and his omniscience. How could God not have anticipated this from the very beginning?

There is a third alternative, which sees God as having a single purpose for man from the very beginning; that singular purpose being ultimate reconciliation with God. In Genesis, Abram was chosen to be blessed by God. But God does not stop there. God also uses him as an agent to bless the rest of the world. Effectively, God chooses to bless Abram so that he can in turn be a blessing to the nations.

Jesus also builds on this when he tells his disciples to be salt and light to the world; flavouring communities with the taste of God's Kingdom and bringing light where there is spiritual darkness. Jesus too calls us to be agents of God's Kingdom in this world.

Could it be possible then, that we have misunderstood what it means to be predestined or elected by God? Is it not too impossible to see that we may have mistaken this calling to be one of privilege or blessing, when in actual fact, it is a commission (Matt 28:19-20) for us go into the world to be a blessing to others?

And while I have not mentioned "repentance" so far, I hope that one can see repentance as a necessary part for people to become beacons of God's light, to be able to flavour or influence their surroundings positively, and to be channels of God's blessings. None of that can be accomplished without a genuine turn of our hearts to seek after God's Kingdom and his righteousness.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Merdeka @ Bukit Tabur

Made a trip to Bukit Tabur with the gang on Merdeka Day. We met at church around 7-ish in the morning. Gabe, Bing and Bernard hopped into my car while Lareina, Marie and Wenz got into Benny's, and we were off! Was the 2nd time hiking up Tabur this year, this time thankfully with less drama!

Well, 'nuff said. I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking!

Early morning mist in Bukit Tabur. Just spectacular.

Marie, Wen Sze, Lareina, Benny and Gabriel trailing behind.

Christian grafitti?

View from one of the peaks.

Makan time!

LOTR comes to Bukit Tabur.

Looking back on the descent.

This is one scarecrow I definitely wouldn't want to bump into at night.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


When Jesus taught about prayer, He said...

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Your thoughts
I cannot fathom
Not mine
But Yours
Be done?
Pray You
Show me

Thursday, August 10, 2006

a second look

To be honest, I was a little disturbed at Care & Share Group last night. Somehow the little theological debate that took place on who gets into heaven, and who doesn't, got me a little sick to the stomach. It just all sounded so exclusive. Like we're only interested to know whether our Buddhist neighbour across the street is invited to the party, or not.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not pointing fingers because it's nobody's fault, really. Most Christians have indeed been brought up with these foundations that we have built our Christian faith upon. I was once like that too. Actually, I see myself straddling both sides, with one half of me still holding on to traditional Christian foundations, with the other side reaching out in search of answers to questions that had never been answered satisfactorily.

Once again, I have to blame Brian McLaren for this. I've just finished reading The Last Word and the Word After That for the second time (I really had to) and my head is still spinning as I struggle to digest everything. The scary thing is that I agree with the way he sees things!

To put it very simply, it bothers me to use exclusive and Jesus in the same sentence. Reading about Jesus' life and His teachings in the Gospels seems to imply that He was about inclusion, not exclusion.

And before anyone starts to write me off as a heretic, here's what I believe...

I believe that Jesus is the only way, that He is the embodiment of truth and of life as God had purposed for mankind to live. And I believe that He IS the only way for us to come into an interactive relationship with God.

But to say that you have to believe in Him in a certain way in order to gain access into the "in" club has just been something that I cannot comprehend. To me, it actually sounds like what the Pharisees would say.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

this entry attractive english it is

Spotted at Ampang Park just the other day...

Deriving pleasure from pressure?

But if you think that's bad, wait till you see what they've got in Japan...

No fly-by-night cookies here.

Becomes a stationary object when placed on surfaces.

Ovulation...not just for chicks anymore.

You like eating mother stick? Err...

Friday, July 21, 2006

19th Floor, Plaza OSK

Managing people is tough work indeed.

I've got three subordinates (2 gals and 1 guy) in my little team, all with very different characters, and it's really been a challenge adapting to each individual's style of communicating, working, and understanding.

X, the second person to join my team and the longest serving member among the three (the first guy resigned over a year ago), is a really fun guy to be around. Slightly chubby, his incessant cravings for KFC, ridiculous jokes and occassional childish antics make for good entertainment in our department when we're bored. Smart guy, but he mostly thrives on spontaneity and I think doesn't process ideas rationally at times. Pretty often, he speaks faster than he thinks. Not really advisable when you're advising clients on multi-million ringgit deals! Aside from that, he has contributed his fair share to our bottomline, and pretty much gets the job done.

Y, the most senior among the three, gives me the most headaches. She is my age and had worked for over 3 years in Ernst & Young before joining OSK 2 years ago. So, if experience is determined by the number of years one has worked, then she definitely has got one up on me as I happen to be the youngest team head here. So what's my problem with her then? I've thought hard about this and I think it simply boils down to the feeling that she doesn't take too well to instructions and wants to do things HER way (inspired by Dr M presumably). Well, while I think things have improved, it used to be a real struggle communicating my ideas to her because it always seemed as if she was not keen to listen, or that maybe she considered my ideas not really worth her "precious time". Can you imagine two people talking at the same time?! That's what happens sometimes when I try to explain something to her! I don't know whether the "lack of respect" is derived from the fact that she supposedly has got "more experience", but working with her has been challenging to say the least. And it's not exactly that she does a great job with her work anyway.

Z is the baby of our team, being the youngest among the three. I think the relationship initially started off pretty frostily with her seeming quiet and even aloof at times. Thankfully, all that ice has melted away and she is really quite a darling not just within my team, but throughout the department. She learns things fast, is critical in her thinking, is quick and efficient, and possesses an independent attitude that's really congruent with my style of working. I think all those attributes more than make up for her lack of experience.

As I draw closer to my 4th anniversary in OSK, I guess a question that's been playing in my mind is whether it's time to move on to other pastures; whether the next step of growth actually lies somewhere out there in the corporate wilderness, rather than this grassy plain that I've grown so accustomed to.

I'm certainly praying that God will reveal to me a clearer picture of His plans for me for the future. But wait, perhaps I misunderstand how God works. He's no fortune-teller.

It's about trusting him to lead me into the new Promised Land which He has prepared for me. It's about putting my hand in His and letting Him lead me in this dance of life.

I may not get a clear picture of God's plans for me, but I'll follow Him nonetheless and trust that He knows the way.

Well, I guess that's faith for you.
And that's enough.


This post has been subsequently edited.

My sincere apologies go out to those who may have been offended by the contents of this post. Please note that while it was never my intention to offend, I maintain my stand that this blog represents my honest and private thoughts, which I do hope you would respect.

To YOU who thrives in spreading discord, I don't know what YOUR intentions are, but let me just say that abhor YOUR actions. I'm disappointed in YOU.

And to YOU, please do not take my silence as ignorance. Don't think for even a second that I'm ignorant of what YOU did. If there's one thing I despise about people, it's the horrible habit of gossiping and I certainly do not appreciate YOU going around and talking behind my back. While I have forgiven YOUR actions and put the past behind, forgetting doesn't come so easy. Don't take me for a fool.

Monday, July 17, 2006

a taste of the divine

These are good times indeed. Well, not quite the best of times, but I guess that little setback from perfection keeps our hearts anticipating and longing for the perfect world that God will prepare for us in the future.

I've been kept busy with work, with a major submission to the Securities Commission due this week for a new structured derivative product. No late nights however, thankfully!

Bukit Kiara remains one of my favourite hangout spots and I've been consistently hitting the slopes over the last 2 weeks with Bing. There's nothing like a nice jog up and down the hill to work those muscles and to get that ol' heart pumping. And when fatigue sets in, simply slow down and let good conversations take over!

Somehow also managed to squeeze in a badminton session with the guys during the weekend. The cousins, now back from the States, also joined us. And my singles match winning streak over a certain RR continues...haha!

Wrapped up the weekend with a splendid thank you dinner hosted by the new Tay household for the wedding helpers last night. It was a night of reliving our childhood at the playground swings, see-saws and slides, chomping down an exquisite spread prepared by the host and hostess, hilarious conversations on the now infamous i-Gallop, refusing to share "shareable" portions of decadent pancakes and ice cream for dessert, taunting with "haunted" trophies, drowning "sorrows" with duty-free Langkawi alcoholic mixes, and in the midst of all the chaos, catching Sports Illustrated - Swimsuit Models, Pimp My Ride, and Alexander on the idiot box. Guess one should never expect anything less when you put a rowdy bunch of Gasing-ites (including members who have since defected) together.

Some pictures from last night and from the wedding earlier this month...

The Tays.

Violations of playground maximum age regulations were spotted at the see-saw...

At the swing...

And at the slide.

Open lid to access good food.

And a little flashback to the 1 of July 2006...

The Tays and I.

With the young adults.

Skyline! Gabe's dream bridal car became a reality.

I'm telling you this thing is rigged. Za caught the bouquet =p

Now at the dinner banquet, Eugene introduces us to his date, Evangelina =p

Bing and I.

With Marie.

And Cher Ru.

No alcohol was served but Ee Lin brought her own that night.

Danny and KH with bashful Adrian.

The experts from The Photoz weaving photographic magic.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

longing for home

One day soon we will round a bend in the road and our dreams will come true. We really will live happily ever after. The long years in exile will be swept away in the joyful tears of our arrival home. Every day when we rise, we can tell ourselves, My journey today will bring me closer to home, it may be just around the bend.

All that we long for, we shall have; all we long to be, we will be. All that has hurt us so deeply - the dragons and nits, the Arrows and our false lovers, and Satan himself - they will all be swept away.

And then real life begins.
- Brent Curtis & John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance.

Monday, July 03, 2006

a holiday and then another

I'm contemplating an interesting proposition on a trip to Bali next week. The prospect of spending four days basking on sunny beaches sounds almost too good to let up!

The only drawback would be that I would have to sacrifice two days of unpaid leave. poor already lah...

Anyway, here are some pictures taken in UK and Ireland!

Mum and I in London!

We caught The Lion King which was showing at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Tickets cost a bomb but the show itself was THE bomb!

Sausages and mash...yum!

Mum, Victor and I on the banks of the Loch Ness in Scotland.

The family minus Vincent at Vic's convo at Trinity College, Dublin.

And the Voon-Chong clan gets its first doctor!

Clarence Hotel in Dublin, which I found out was owned by U2.

Mum and I cooking up a storm in Vic's apartment.

Lunch with Andrea at Han Yang Korean restaurant. Everyone say "KIMCHI!!"

We celebrated Father's Day over Irish stews, Guiness pot pies, Bailey's Irish Cream cheesecakes, pints of Guiness, and this Irish dance stage performance which was like watching a mini Riverdance.

Ancient graves and monasteries in Monasterboice.


Another food stop...Irish stew again!

Vic, Adeline and I.

One of my favourite shots of the trip.

Lin does her best impersonation of Simba.

Up in the Wicklow Mountains.

The bea-u-tiful Sally Gap. The movie Braveheart was shot in this region.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Toss and turn...toss and turn...

Sleeping has become quite a bit of a struggle for me of late with the ol' body just refusing to drift away into slumber at night. It's never really been a problem to me until recently. Actually, not until returning from the UK/Ireland trip. thinks it's not a good thing.

Thankfully, with the World Cup, and now Wimbledon, there's enough on the telly to keep me occupied lest Mr Sandman fails to take me.

Despite not being a Brazilian supporter, I have to acknowledge that yesterday's resounding 3-0 win over Ghana probably show why the samba kings are among the best in the world today. Even at 2-0 up, they had so many other great chances before making 3-0 that if not for the guile of Ghana goalie Kingson, I think the scoresheet could have been disastrous to the African team.

The simultaneous Wimbledon live telecast on Channel 82 had me switching channels back and forth. First round matchups between Andre Agassi v Boris Pashanski (who?) and Kim Clijsters v Vera Zvonareva were on. Agassi had an early scare from Pashanski as he struggled to settle in the match, resulting in Pashanski taking the first set. However, Agassi pulled up his socks and rallied to win in 4 sets.

It's sad to hear that Agassi will be retiring after the US Open this year. Sure, the guy's like 36 or 37 this year, but it doesn't really seem that long ago I remember watching this flamboyant blond-haired rebel making waves in the tennis circuit and winning Grand Slams. He inspired my love for the game and certainly continues to enthrall even today.

*sigh* He will be missed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

what the...

Take a look at what's news today.

RM10,000 to marry and convert an orang asli into Islam?? Apparently, that's not all. Since we're feeling SOO generous with our taxpayers' money, tell you what...we'll throw in a spanking new 4WD vehicle, free accommodation, and a monthly allowance of RM1,000! Now how about that?!


Talk about desperation.

Friday, June 23, 2006

occidental adventures


Now I'm sleeeeepppyyyyyy!!!

About time too! Considering only about 3 hours of sleep in 40 hours!

Well, I think that Vietnamese beef noodle and spring rolls lunch finally did it for me. Or maybe it's simply the fact that I'm back in the office (yeay).

So much for thinking this aging body could cope with jet lag.

Still, the 2 week break (does a little Irish jig) was a blast and great time spent with the family I so rarely see these days. Boy, is it gonna be hard adjusting back to "real life".

Friday, June 09, 2006

a month's pictorial flashback

ROAR!! I'm back!!

And what a month is has been! From crazy working schedules, to last minute cramming in for exams, dotted with various activities in between...WOW!! I'm glad I'm alive!

First up, the YF saw its long-absent games time make a comeback of sorts. Thanks to YF game-maestro David Lee, the kids revelled in (I kid you not) "Stupid Games", "Lame Games", "Neverending Games", and many other sessions of likeminded frivolity.

Eat that jello gurl!!

Watermelon never looked so unappetising.

Look at 'em tempting water balloons!

Playing a game of dodge the water balloons.

Aiyah...forget the rules!! Unleash pure evil!!

Studying was tough. It's even worse when you live alone and you practically have no one to bug when the going gets tough. So what do I do to stave of boredom and maintain my sanity?

Answer #1: I break records!

Try this with your car next time. And it's not about inching s-l-o-w-l-y towards the gate okayy. Just drive up and hit the brakes! Hopefully before you hit something else! I managed about 1 inch. Now beat that.

Answer #2: I try not to break the dishes!

Cooking is fun! Here are some baked spuds with cheese and rosemary.

A simple steamed fish dish with some pea sprouts or tau miu.

An experimental salad that was a toss up of some salad greens, green apple, red grapes, pea sprouts and walnut. Point to remember: go easy on the apple cider vinegar.

Answer #3: I simply take a break!

Happy birthday to Lareina, Marie and Eugene!

The birthday subjects (minus the pomelo) ;)

Was back in JB for 2 weeks until last Saturday. Just had to go back to home sweet home for a study break since studying in KL was proving to be rather unproductive. Once back to creature comforts such home-cooked food and laundry services, I was supposed to have been able to concentrate beter on my studies. Well...kinda lah haha.

Well, our house has turned into a mini zoo, with the chickens all grown up, and with the addition of a new puppy to the family.

Almost every dog owner has a dog called Lucky! So, meet Lucky...our (say it with me) Peh-rye-ah, as she peers curiously into the house.

Hmmm...what's for dinner? Meet Happy, the pug-chihuahua, as she takes in a moment of contemplation.

The spot under the table in the terrace is clearly Happy's favourite! Here she is taking an evening nap before she realised the annoying camera "flash" from my phone.

The latest addition to our family. Meet Oreo the Rottweiler! Here she is trying to look all cute and adorable for the camera.

In truth, Oreo's a real beastie! I already bear the scars of being "playfully" bitten by her, not once but TWICE! And she's only about 3 months old! We're disciplining her with a rotan these days. Really thick skin though. Here she is tearing our garden apart.

The 4 ayam serama that we keep at home; once little chicks, now all grown up. They once used to be able to fetch RM500 each, almost the price you would pay for a pedigree pup! Sadly, with the advent of the bird flu, these birds probably just look fit for the pot.

Check out the cool feathers on the rooster. Yes, these birds are "not for eating, only ornamental okayy".

The younger hen just started laying eggs recently. Check out how tiny her eggs are compared to the average chicken egg!

Well, that's the month of May for ya! More pictures to come after I get back from UK and Ireland! Off I go to Liz's pad!