Thursday, December 28, 2006

Zoom in, zoom out

(edited)

My parents bought me a new digital camera for Christmas. Being the techno-not-savvy person that I am, I tried to upload my pictures into Facebook but was rejected several times. Not one to take rejection lying down, I fiddled with the USB thingy (I've only just upgraded the word USB to everyday vocabulary less than a month ago - I personally like discs and old fashion A-drives), clicked and reclicked edit photos, plugged and unplugged the cable from my camera, scrolled up and down the menu bar looking for something that would give me a hint... but nothing. Frustrated, I rang Eing, who then asked, "Have you installed the software yet?"

There's software?

So I dug out the CD from a pile of what I considered to be 'junk' in the box the shop people gave me and followed the instructions. It all seemed to flow quite well until I got kind of stuck at the legal jargon. As an undergraduate I would have skimmed them over and assuming I did better than everyone else who probably ignored it, would click 'next' or 'agree' without a moment's hesitation. Now, I actually read it and make mental notes of what I'm allowed and not allowed to do! How frustrating when the rest of the world doesn't feel bound by it! the strange thing is that if I had studied something else, let's say Philosophy or English, I would not have felt it as necessary to comply with the law as I do. The other day, I was in a hurry to go out. I left my apartment, took the lift all the way down, walked for a bit, realised I didn't have my ID with me (in Malaysia it's compulsory to carry ID) and debated for a second before deciding getting caught wasn't worth it especially if I were going to be a practising lawyer in Malaysia. I wouldn't want a black mark for something petty like that. So retraced my steps all the way back. Was SO annoyed but infinitely relieved that I was now without blame. The law certainly makes one a prisoner and even more so when one knows the law. If one claims ignorance, one is still under the law so breaking the law will still amount to punishment. However, the 'trick' is when the sentence is passed. Without mens reas (intention), the lesser punishment can be argued for and is usually given. Exceptions would include strict liability offences which mean the tariff is set for the punishment and it doesn't matter whether you intended to break the law or not.

I think when people think of God as a judge, if they do ever think of Him as a judge, they would more often than not see their offence against Him as one of Intention rather than one of Strict Liability.

"I didn't mean to hurt so-and-so with that rumour"
"I took that piece of bread because I was hungry and that person had more than enough to share. In fact, why not punish him for not sharing with the needy and selfishly keeping everything to himself??"
"It wasn't my fault. He started it."
"It was only a little, white lie"
"That man drove a lorry over my son on purpose. He deserved to die!"
"Everyone else does it too"
"It was only something I thought about. I wasn't going to do anything about it."

We all come to God with our excuses, treating Him as everything and everyone... except God. We whine the way a child tries to dissuade punishment from a parent. We stare sullenly like the time we got caught by school authorities. We pull out the same legalistic excuses we used when approached by the clergy. We bat the blame back and forth like the time owning up risked confrontation. We knit and sew rags of self-justification for ourselves to hide the knowledge that we are in the wrong afterall. We point in the other direction to the traffic cop. We want to stand out and be individuals yet when it comes to taking responsibility we shy away and try to remain unseen from an All-knowing, All-seeing God.

Like most of my blog entries, this started out as a frivolous dig at myself and at life's curveballs. I never thought that studying Law would actually impact me so much. I guess I took in more in class than I thought I did :) In studying Law however, I am pointed towards a Law on a grander, infinite, complete scale; a Law that no man can ever hope to attain. A Law that shows us up for who we are; in the light of such a Law, our ambitions become hubris, our loves becomes hate, our passion becomes destruction, our hope to fulfill the Law becomes a joke. Such is the situation of all man without Jesus. Such is the emptiness and hollowness of life without the One who created life and sustains it. The Law God gave Moses wasn't bad law of blessings and curses that Jesus came down to earth to destroy or overturn. It was God's perfect standard which, man on his own could never fulfill and so could never hope to reconcile himself to God. Jesus didn't come down to earth to destroy the contents of the Law, He came to fulfil the purpose of the Law. The Law revealed man's sinfulness because man could never keep God's perfect commandments. Man could never keep God's commandments because man's heart was calloused and naturally disobedient. When Jesus bridged that gap through His death on the cross, it wasn't that all of a sudden we didn't need to abide by the Law anymore and could go round stealing and harming people as long as we believed in Jesus' atonement for our sins. His death did not destroy the Law in that sense. Rather, He has done for us, what we could not do on our own; Jesus Christ brought us into a relationship with God. As a result, we can have an eternal relationship with God and can obey the Law as free men. When we do fail to obey the Law, our access to God is still wide open because access to God no longer lies in fulfilling the whole Law on our own but through Jesus, who has bridged the gap once for all forever. As a result, we are no longer bound by the Law but we are bound by whether or not we trust in Jesus as our Saviour, Redeemer, Christ and Lord. How wonderful it is not to be burdened by the yoke of law. I was burdened over something as small as not bringing my IC/ ID out. How much more would my burden be if I knew I had the whole of God's perfect law to follow every moment in order to have a relationship with Him. The pharisees must have been an awfully burdened lot to be carrying such a load on their shoulders! Their biggest mistake was not recognising the person who came to take their burden. Do not Jesus' words make so much sense now when He said in Matthew 11: 29-30:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Of course! If Jesus were the fulfillment of the covenant (and He is), His burden would be light because He already had and has an eternally perfect relationship with God the Father and so can bring us into a relationship with God.

My thoughts tend to trail... and my blogs are usually a result of things I have been chewing over or mulling, wallowing, burrowing in. I have to say it has become increasingly ploughed and less 'fun' to read but hopefully when I read back my blogs, I can look upon my present with hindsight and learn from the past.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Under our noses

Sarah and I were up chatting for 4 hours into Saturday morning, after which I drove home in a half daze, half adrenaline fuelled crze (hey it rhymes!). We were talking about B-O-Y-S becoming M-E-N. Despite the lack of one letter in the final sequence, we more or less deduced that they didn't lack anything innately due to a mere technicality in spelling. The male-ridden thought process in my head had been churning and analysing since the early hours of the evening when one of my brother's friends, asked me if I had a boyfriend. Not that I mind saying, "No" but the boy's 10. When I was 10, I was more concerned about elephants being poached in the world rather than if my friend's sister/ brother was next in line to throw a few red packets (money in red wallets of paper that only married people give out) to feed my piggy bank. Part of me felt the bairn insolent for addressing me with such a question but then I sighed as I realised kids 'now-a-days' grow up SO much faster than we did in my time. They are generally taller, bigger (scarier) and use I-pods and camera phones the way I used to work a giant pencil sharpener. It's not that I mind the question but if I knew the answer to the bigger question of when, where, who and how, I probably wouldn't mind as much. If I knew for certain that the only knot I would be tying was for mountain climbing, I would admit it in a shot with impish glee, especially to well-meaning people would might otherwise think that yet another life has gone to waste down the celibacy chute. I guess I don't really want questions asked that have answers I don't yet have. It's the being in limbo (almost), the will I or won't I that agitates me because I'm the kind of person who likes to know where she's going, what time she'll get there and whether they serve hash browns all day. Hopefully I'll stumble through this era relatively unscathed and when I reach 30, fingers crossed, I'll be elderly enough to stop being asked questions to which I have no answers, namely girl-boy-relationship related ones.

I know I want to do mission work. I know that if I had to choose between getting married with 2.5 kids or going on a 15-year mission trip to Timbuktu with no running water, I would choose the latter. I'm not against getting married. If Mr Husband was also called to Timbuktu and due to poor contraception avoidance tactics, we end up having 9 children, all within a year of each other, that would be comical and my call would then be to my husband and children with other ministries beside, but if I had to choose either or, I know that world mission would always come first. I know that if that decision comes, it will not be an easy one to make. Afterall, spending a certain amount of exclusive time with the opposite sex naturally sets up emotional roots which will have to be uprooted should a relationship turn out to be, not necessarily unbiblical, but insufficient; insufficient in giving God the glory He rightly deserves, above earthly intuition, above earthly desires, above earthly loves. A lot of people say and believe that security is important and that for me as a woman, my security should lie in either wealth or a husband who can provide. I defy those opinions with the same fiery possessiveness I have over my relationship with Christ; my identity is in Him and Him alone. Money and safety are pitiable idols if my feet are not firmly planted and watered in God's Word. I understand concerns about needing money in this world; as a missionary the pension fund is somewhat limited and as for safety, well, as hazardous as the world is to walk through, how much more safe can I be in the hands of the God of the heavens, earth and seas, everything in them, under them, over them, past, present and future, allowing them to live and sustaining them to perform even the simplest of tasks such as producing the most miniscule amount of energy (mytochondria) or contracting and expanding by way of moving (paramecium and others)? Do I feel threatened by this world? Many times. Do I feel mauled by images from television and movies causing havoc with my mind? Yes, I do. Do I feel like I can barely sustain myself physically or materially, let alone provide for a family? Yes. But at the end of all that doom and gloom, my Saviour awaits and His arms are open and I am straining to finish this race to be with Him. I can't wait to cross the line and jump into eternity, flying free. It doesn't automatically solve the problems now but it does give me something to purposefully aim for. It's hardly idealistic; reality hits hard where it hurts the most, Christian or not, but the true reality of being hidden in Christ surpasses all my worries and even though they niggle at me and I still try get to college on time and pay my rent and plan my future, I do so with the assurance that it will not be futile. It will not be in vain.

What I said before about being in limbo... I am in the position to make decisions that will impact the rest of my life. I could, if the opportunity arose, say yes and possibly be on my way to an automatic Vios and maybe in time a metallic forest green Mercedes SLK-230 with dark grey upholstery and power steering. Or I could say no and have a 4x4 BMW Z series :p But probably, until such a time arises, I don't have to worry about my answer and focus more on now.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Donkey days

My brother's birthday is tomorrow. I have to find a picture of a donkey big enough for him and his friends to pin tails on. I've just baked enough brownies to feed an army and it doesn't stop there. He's made plans and gave me instructions before I had even set foot in the car from the airport. I also need to make pizzas (with specifications), a volcano-shaped, chocolate birthday cake, chicken nuggets, fry homemade crisps, make manggo and lychee jelly in moulds, spaghetti bolognese, sausages and pineapple cocktail sticks... he even wanted fried chicken and chips on top of it but really, how much food can 10 kids eat??? I also have to organise games including pass the parcel, pinning the tail on Donkey, egg and spoon race etc etc.

Tonight I'm off to a high school reunion at some seafood restaurant or something.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Supersis me!

My very smart, very hardworking sis just won a money-licious prize for being best overall student in her uni in Aussie. She is the same person who lines the family cabinet with maths trophies, science medals and straight As. She can play The Phantom of The Opera and if that's not great enough, she plays it on the violin. She's taller, slimmer, more athletic (cross country runner - wooo...) and now lives in a house with a swimming pool :P She knows how to operate an Apple Mac (to me that's huge!!!) and will probably invent her own calculator to do maths in the future or discover a new way of liver surgery. She was the one who told me, when we were kids, that when she made it big, she would buy me a yatch. I hope she remembers cos I think she's heading that way.

In all of it, it's very easy to feel slightly unimportant. Afterall, she's probably gonna be the one who sends my bro to uni, tops up my parents pension fund and drives the biggest car in the neighbourhood, not to mention owning that house with a swimming pool. Maybe I can start hinting that I want a Bull Mastiff that'll cost about RM2,000 for a vaccinated, male puppy. It's cool that she's doing so well for herself, at least it's one less person to worry about in the world and I do worry. In spite of us having been through battles known to the rest of the world as sibling rivalry (and have the scars to show), she is still my sister and although to her face I wouldn't say so, if someone did say something bad about her, the hairs on my neck would start bristling and I would turn into werewolf/ vampire, ready to rip the jugular vein, tearing tissue and bone... kay, too much gore, but you get the picture.

At this point in time, I am doing a course I don't know I'll complete, trying to win people I don't know will finish the race and wondering how to keep my slowly depleting ka-ching afloat. Maybe I was born to be an eccentric hippie, busking on the street (if only my saxophone didn't break down last night). Afterall, all famous people had one of those for a relative somewhere in their geneology, right? Am I proud of my sis? Course I am. She's worked hard and deserves her reward. I can't complain about my life either. May not be heading to a 25-foot yatch anyday soon but I have been much blessed, more than I can ever count (unlike the medals I collected in school), for things I cannot demand and do not deserve. In fact, I deserve the complete opposite! But God is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and I cling to that love and to the justice that follows it, because it is through His grace I am saved.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Casino not royal

Warning - spoiler ahead!

Besides the white horse galloping down a stretch of sandy beach, the very slick baddie at the start who could move almost as fast as Jackie Chan and Craig's ice blues, I found Casino Royale hardly as gripping as previous, nail biting, what ifs, James Bond films. The car was a Ford (what's going on there???) and although I silently went "Noooooo..." when it spun on its own axis, Bond driving a Ford is like Prince Charming riding a Shire (Maybe that's a tad unfair as Ford has undergone a huge makeover and actually looks quite sleek now but it's the principle behind the car). In my case however, any horse will do. He could be James Bond, Blunt or Bun... hehehe. I made a mental note to get my man's suit tailored if he ever did have to look like he was betting 10 million squid (there was something about the way the lapels smoothed into the tux that made me smile - the tux itself looked like chiffon should float on it) and Craig was certainly put in more believable circumstances than the previous 5 Bonds - I could only wince and wonder what guys thought of the literally, ball-breaking scenes. Thankfully, in all his cheesy-beachy shots, Craig was nowhere nearly as hairy as Pierce Brosnan or smarmy as Roger Moore. I think Pierce is fantabulous but personally, too much hair dude. I had to get used to the whole blonde Bond idea but Craig's intensity as far as a person can be intense in a Bond film can go, which emerged at various points, sidelined the importance of the colour of his hair. The muscles above my left eyebrow worked overtime throughout the film whenever James Bond fell totally out of character such as handing in a resignation letter to spend his days with a seemingly perfect woman on a yatch and displaying actual fondness and adoration for the object or should I say subject, of his gaze, instead of simply being the womaniser we all know him for. The end tied things up nicely with reagrds to why James Bond goes on being the person we know him to be although we aren't quite allowed to see what happens to Mr White. As a character study, Casino Royale, has provided many 'insights' to Mr Bond but as a Bond movie, it did not quite impress an impressive impression on me. Except maybe, that now I know there are stirrups I can use to ride horses on the beach without needing footwear and that Daniel Craig's eyes currently head the list should I ever be asked the question which actor's eyes do you like the most?

Application time. Unfortunately, if a James Bond type did feature in my social circle (and I mean a true blue James Bond type, not guys with wishful thinking), I would probably go ga-ga over him, whilst at the same time battling an internal monologue of pros and cons. As much as I claim to be pessimistic, I suppose there's always the chick-flick hope of bad boy come good. But maybe the best thing I can do is walk away.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rubbish

(edited)
How does one explain a day that seemed to go so well until an email or letter or comment serves to remind that this world is evil, that relationships are only ever imperfect, that passion outside that for Christ is only ever destructible? Sometimes I really hate this world. I hate everything humanity stands for. I hate the hubristic nature of fools who have made themselves gods of their own lives which the more they deem wonderful, the more worthless it resonates throughout eternity. The fruitlessness, hopelessness, helplessness and futile ambition goes from pathetic and pitiable to evil, arrogant, self-absorbed and rebellious when not recognised in onesself. No little wonder that God is angry. No wonder He limited man's years, denied the ultimate fulfilment of man's ambition and man himself. With one word He wiped out the entire world except those He chose to save. Living creatures He stilled, even water and rocks, without breath in them, He destroyed. How can man know this and still think to himself, "I chose to accept Christ into my life and therefore God 'chose' me. God didn't really have any say in saving me. I chose Him therefore..." What possesses us to even consider that we can save ourselves? Human hubris.

Bla. I have no idea how God counters His wrath with His incredulous compassion and thus, passion to save us. I'd bet I'm not even close to being 0.00000001 percent as mad as He is about the state of this world.

Yet, there's so much to enjoy. Our heritage I suppose. Afterall, God did make the earth and He made it good. Problems begin when we take the earth for granted and say, "No thanks" to its maker. Brats. Childish, errant, ASBO-ridden children who would rather cower snarling than surrender and walk upright. That's us without Jesus. That's all of us.