Friday, 8 December 2017

In Praise of the Bible

Hi everyone!

I wanna share with you my love for reading the bible and why I think every Christian and perhaps even everyone should read the bible at least once in his lifetime.

Personally, I have read the bible about 5 times (in different versions).  I started out with the NKJV (which I read during my teens under a torchlight at night to "re-enact" what I thought would be like the olden times when there wasn't electricity yet.  Trying to get the "feel" of what could have been the experience of early Christians I guess ^_^).  I later moved on to the NLT, ESV, The Message and of course the NIV.  I think the Message bible version is so cool with its contemporary way of expressing the scriptures (example:  "Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and -good-bye, friend! - Proverbs 17:9), but my personal favorite has got to be the NLT version.  I got this version in a bible which Billy Graham recommended; it's a sort of a mini study bible with some explanations of certain scriptures found in it.  Reading the NLT certainly holds fond memories for me.

I recently got an archaeological bible that gives more insight into the culture and historical backgrounds.  Quite a neat bible to have if you are interested to gain more knowledge. 

I think everyone should read the bible for what it is -

#1. a truly well-written book that is poetic at some parts (especially in the new testament and "Song of Songs" in the old testament).  Also, the stories in the old testament are nothing short of what you would find in any adventure story, filled with excitement, well-paced, and grip one's attention. 

I started to re-read the bible again some time ago and I was reading the book of John (new testament) and I was utterly amazed at how remarkably poetic it is - it starts out as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (NIV version).  I mean who writes like that nowadays?  What beautiful language! 

Then, there are verses like:  "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).  Now we know where the pop band, "Jars of Clay" got its name from ;) 

#2.  the bible is also so full of wisdom (for daily living).  Books like proverbs, the teachings of Jesus (in the 4 gospels) and the writings of Paul, the apostle, give us instructions on how to conduct ourselves.  Simple things like, " a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of hands to rest and your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man" (Proverbs 24:33-34)  serve as warnings to us to not lead our lives casually or the "way we want". 

#3.  the bible shows us the grace and compassionate heart and nature of Jesus Christ whom we base our faith on. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

Plus, the story where a woman caught in adultery was on the verge of being stoned by the religious leaders when Jesus stopped them by saying, "Let him who has no sin cast the first stone".

See, there are soooo many wonderful things you'd get to discover when you read the bible, you really have to do so at least once in your lifetime!  

 - "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path." (Psalms 119:105)  

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Secret Pleasure #6. - Conjuring up MTVs in My Mind

"A lady singer comes on stage dressed in a baby blue dress and sparkling jewellery.  The patrons in the Jazz bar start to quiet down (we can see some stealing a few quick glances at each other, others blowing cigar smoke into the air.  They are all dressed like characters from a F. Scott Fitzgerald story).  She takes hold of the standing mic and we see a close-up of her red-stained lips drawing closer to the mic.  The camera pans out to capture her singing and the stage where the rest of the performers - a band (piano, bass, etc.) were spread out.  Next, we see a young man enter into the bar and he looks intensely at the singer who notices him almost immediately.  She does not show any special emotion, but there is a look in her eyes and gestures as if she is now singing to the man who had just joined in the audience.  We see the young man leaning casually in his seat, a finger to his mouth as he keeps eyeing the lady singer on stage.  Then suddenly he gets up and joins the singer in the song.  The crowd seems shocked and a little upset, but some are evidently amused and cheer him on.  The two of them now sing on stage and continue on until towards the end of the song, the man hops off stage and carries the lady singer (by now we know to be his woman) down in his arms and leaves the bar while the crowd cheers and whistles."

This is the MTV I had imagined to a Lauryn Hill song, "Nothing Even Matters".  This scene literally "popped"  into my head as soon as I heard the melody because it sounded so sultry and jazzy.   

One of the secret pleasures that I enjoy doing - conjuring up MTVs to songs I listen to.  Perhaps because I grew up watching a lot of MTVs on television, I was, during my teenage years, inspired to film some MTVs with my then best-friend and now to imagine them in my mind.  

Maybe one day I will be motivated again to start filming them, but until then I am deeply satisfied just by the experience of having them play out in my mind's eye.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Secret Pleasure #5. - Queuing at MacDonald's for Hello Kitty Plush Toys

I looked at my watch for the umpteenth time - another 10 minutes to go before MacD changed the breakfast menu into lunch.  I was a ball of emotions -excitement and nervousness all rolled up inside of me.  I was waiting in line with others (not a lot this time 'round) to get my hands on the limited edition Hello Kitty that came with every extra value meal.  I was excited to purchase the melody version, but also a little worried and anxious if they'd still have stock of it.
Finally, the doors opened and the staff greeted us with smiles, but nothing could beat the smile that was on my face as I placed my extra value meal and got my Hello Kitty Toy!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Secret Pleasure #4. - Eating Ice Cream in Winter

Early in the morning, the air was cold and I could see my breath formed into little white swirly clouds as I talked, but how I craved for an ice-cream.
I ran excitedly towards the vending machine (one of the thousands in the country) with the coins firmly grasped in my palms.  I slotted the coins into the machine, made my choice of a chocolate ice-cream with a cone, and waited expectantly.
As soon as the machine released its prized good, I started gorging into this humble yet essential snack.  It tasted so good!  And especially in this weather, eating an ice-cream is definitely a special experience.
Snow came down at a leisure pace and when I have finished savoring the ice-cream, I found a tiny snow flake fell on my nose.  What a great start to the day!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Secret Pleasure #3. - Singing Karaoke with Strangers from Around the World

It's always been a pleasure to sing karaoke with my friends and family.  Recently my karaoke singing has been taken to another level - I'm singing it with total strangers now!  All thanks to a phone app. called, Smule.    You search for a song you want to sing and then you get to choose who to sing it with.  It's been a kinda strange experience to sing with someone you don't really know and sometimes you wonder if you've ruined the song for the both of you, but when that stranger you sing with likes your partnership on the song and even gives you a positive comment, the feeling is incredible (to say the least).
Try it, you might enjoy it too :)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Secret Pleasure #2. - Enjoying the Ambiance at the Cinema

I love to watch a good movie.  Who wouldn't?  Many of my friends watch their favorite movies online or on DVDs, but I am a bit "old-school" & prefer to do so at the cinemas (even if it's more expensive...ouch).
The main reason why I like to watch films at the cinema is not because of the big screen, the special effects or the surround sound (courtesy of Dolby - "all around you").
The real reason is because I like watching movies with the public.  Minus the annoying people who still refuse to turn their mobiles on silent mode or still talk to each other when the movie plays, sharing a movie with people you don't know can be quite charming.  I especially love the parts where we all laugh together at funny moments or simultaneously (as you know, laughter can be quite contagious).  Even if we don't normally see eye to eye and treat each other politely, we still have this something in common.  Something that we do so in unison.  Think "team spirit".
I remembered watching "Jurassic Park" (I can't remember which one) & the young man sitting behind me made a remark to something a character was saying on screen.  It was so hilarious and left a deep impression on me since then.  It had been a midnight movie and the spectators, some with their young families, were all snuggled in the cinema.  It was so convivial, I'd never want it to change.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Secret Pleasure #1. - Listening to Really Funky Music On the Crowded Public Transport

Got inspired by one of Philippe Delerm's books, "La Première Gorgée de bière et autres plaisir minuscules" and decided too to do a series of posts of my "secret pleasures" aka things I do that really bring that sparkle (and kick) to my otherwise mundane life.

"Secret Pleasures #1. - Listening to Really Funky Music On the Crowded Public Transport"

The train jerks to an awkward start.  I am pressed on all sides by fellow commuters eager to make their way home.  It's so crowded I could not move easily without risking stepping on someone's foot or having another person's elbow jab straight into my face.
The only thing I can do is to scroll through the song titles on my trusty Apple ipod.  Time to activate my "silent disco mode".  I scroll down the list and picked either a Blur, Arcade Fire, or Backstreet Boys upbeat track.  As the beat comes on, I start to dance crazily, nothing shy of  the characters in "Forever Fever", in my head.  My body is cautiously static, but in my mind, I am truly the dancing queen.  And the best thing is nobody can tell.  There is no outward tapping of feet, not even the bobbing of head. This is my silent rebellion.  At each jerk and movement of the train, I would synchronise to the rhythm of the music.  It is such a gratifying experience, whoever thought one cannot enjoy a ride even on a crowded train?