Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Did God Give Me a Child with Down Syndrome?

I met Apple Teoh when I was speaking at her church camp a couple of years ago. I find Apple to be a person with exceptional strength, courage and compassion. I am reposting a post of hers (with permission) from her blog I can do it!.

Why Did God Give Me A Child With Down Syndrome?

A friend asked me, ‘Have you ever wondered why God gave you a child with DS when others have typical children?’ She said she knew all the theoretical answers but wanted to know how I would respond. WAH…..this is a tough one man!!

Actually, to be honest, I’ve never really asked God this question. Ha! Maybe that’s how I should tell my friend and wiggle out of this…hehehe…Ok… I shall not clown around…Perhaps when Li-Ann was first born, the emotional side of me might have asked, ‘Why me?’ a few times but apart from that, I had to handle many issues and the practical side of me told me I had to move on. So I did.

I was seriously stuck with this question. It had set me thinking. It took me many months to organise my thoughts…and also to really ask God and wait for His answer.
God gave me His answer in 2 parts. First, He told me Part 2…

God gave us Li-Ann so that we and others can see how a child will grow up as a result of His unconditional love. This was an amazing revelation for me. Being imperfect, I can never imagine how this is ever possible. However, with the Almighty Father, nothing is impossible.

With our older two, parenting has been a continuous challenge. When LA came along, that stretched us further. Surprisingly, CM and I have found ourselves to be more patient (or lax?) with LA (I’m not sure if we are doing better as parents). Maybe we know she needs more time….or maybe we find her really cute….or maybe we are simply tired….Whatever the reason, she’s a joy to be with and we all treasure her.

We witness God’s Hands in moulding LA into a pretty girl who LOVES horse riding, (and she’s GOOD at it) has a mind of her own and will not hesitate to speak if you grant her audience. She is getting more independent and is eager to do things on her own. Now that she has grown taller, she would tip-toe (good way to strengthen her calf muscles) to reach the toilet light switch. With her gross and fine muscles being worked on, she is now more willing to take risks. Li-Ann recently tied a ponytail all by herself!! YEA!! On that day, she did it at least 5-6 times, further enhancing her fine motor skills. I found out it’s not easy for a child to do that.  As LA was given exposure to different sights and soundspeople and places, flora and fauna,  we see rapid growth and development in her speech her cognitive capabilities, interests and abilities. Many love her dearly and one, Aunty Louise, even experienced love through her. Perhaps she saw a glimpse of the unconditional love of God through Li-Ann…

As I pondered over these, it dawn upon me that if only more of us are willing to accept and experience this unconditional Fatherly love, regardless of our sufferings and sins, our lives will be full and abundant as Jesus promised in John 10.9-11 (KJV)

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

It is my prayer that this little soul will enter into a personal relationship with her Heavenly Father, who had created her in secret and knew her even before she was born. And that in spite of any limitations set by her genetic code, God’s will will be lived out in her life.

So what’s Part 1 of God’s answer? God gave us Li-Ann so that we will continue to experience His perfecting work in us as we humbly rely on Him.

Brother John and sister Rebecca simply adore their little sister. They love to hug, kiss and squeeze her. These two were known to fight over issues like ‘LA likes me better than you!’ or ‘LA wants to play with me.’ or ‘LA is MY dog/cat/horse/etc’ (when they pretended to be one another’s pet).’ While I shake my head over such petty quarrels, I saw their affection for one another and I’m grateful for the love that is holding them together. John thinks LA is The Greatest Blessing while Rebecca tells you All About Li-Ann. Here are pictures of this cherished relationship…

One day, a dear friend shared how upset she and her hubby were when one of her family members was so close to labelling LA. Both of them were frantically racking their brains on how to stop what they anticipated was coming forth. Finally the husband said, ‘Li-Ann is special.’ And that put an end to the conversation. I thank my Lord for this long-time pal from secondary school and am extremely touched by this couple’s love for LA. Thank you, brother and sister.

CM grew as a father. He loves the children and will take time to be with them as much as he can and as best as he knows how. He often obliges in our home therapies and even went for a talk on Raising Good Fathers of Children with Special Needs. Thank you Da Da for all the sacrifices you’ve made. Here are some beautiful shots taken by/with daddy…


Li-Ann, I come to understand how intricately we are made -  the interconnectedness of our body muscles along with our minds, something a healthy typical person may never realise, until perhaps one is deprived of the normal function of a part of one’s body. With every success, I give thanks for the loving Creator who always guides and protects. With every failure, I give thanks for LA’s motivation and perseverance which has become more spontaneous and sustainable as she grows older.

Matthew 18.10
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Perhaps, when the Lord brought me through my breast cancer surgeries and treatment, He was preparing me for the long haul with my family, including LA. I find the perfectionist me more willing to accept imperfections, interruptions, spontaniety and adjustments. Afterall, nothing is constant except our good Lord and the changes we need to cope with every now and then. Thankfully, He is also the Lord over any change and that’s an important reminder for me when I feel insecure.

James 1.17(NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Daniel 2.21(NIV)
He changes times and seasons;
   he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
   and knowledge to the discerning.

Recently, we were at the hair salon when our family hairdresser and another of her regular customer unanimously agreed that I must be a very patient mom since I homeschool my children. I thanked them humbly but the truth is I can be demanding with my children at times. I am grateful for that testimony, for how God has worked in my heart and would not give up on me. Each day, I thank Him for His grace, without which I would not be where I am now.

Do you have someone who require your special and dedicated attention? It is my prayer that as you plod on each day, tired with the mundane, frustrated with your unproductive labour and can’t help but ask ‘Why?’, that God will give you many reasons to give thanks for and that your perseverance will bear fruit.

1 Corinthians 15.57-58
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

original post here


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The End is Near: Chapter Two

Dr Philip Cheong is writing a book about the Endtimes. He has graciously allowed me to post it here.
Read Chapter One

Chapter 2

February 2012

The next event on the prophetic horizon is the destruction of Damascus. Watch the news. Jesus Christ is coming again soon.

ohn 14:2-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus said, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” 

John 14:29 English Standard Version (ESV)

And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

We live in tumultuous times, we live in privileged times. We have the privilege of experiencing the fulfilling of many Bible prophecies: the return of Jews to their homeland in May 1948, the signs that Jesus predicted in Matthew 24, the on-going formation of one world government, the great economic disparity, the symbolic Four horses of Revelation, the internet and the technology that make the implementation of the ‘mark’ feasible, the soon coming Middle East war, the soon destruction of Damascus. I will expand on the above in future months, God willing. Now we take a look at the prophecy concerning Damascus.    


Isaiah 17:1 English Standard Version (ESV)

 Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins.

Damascus, the oldest continuous inhabited city in the world.

The city was founded more than 4000 years ago. Damascus is first directly mentioned in the Bible way back in Genesis 14:15 when Abraham defeated the combined forces of a number of kings under Kedorlaomer. Before Abraham had children (Isaac and Ishmael), Eliezer of Damascus, Abraham's chief servant, was to have been his heir (Genesis 15:2).

According to the 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his twenty-one volume Antiquities of the Jews, Damascus was founded by Uz, the son of Aram. he stated:

 Nicolaus of Damascus, in the fourth book of his History, says thus: "Abraham reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans: but, after a long time, he got him up, and removed from that country also, with his people, and went into the land then called the land of Canaan, but now the land of Judea, and this when his posterity were become a multitude; as to which posterity of his, we relate their history in another work. Now the name of Abraham is even still famous in the country of Damascus; and there is shown a village named from him, The Habitation of Abraham.

King David held Damascus for some time, with a large garrison there (2 Samuel 8:5-6).

Damascus was captured and partially destroyed by the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser. The inhabitants were carried captive into Assyria. This fall was a fulfillment of  Amos 1:3-5 and Jeremiah 49:24 prophecy not the prophecy of Isaiah 17:1. Damascus did not cease to be a city, it continued to these days.

Damascus then experienced a long era of foreign rulers - Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It remained under Roman control through the New Testament period.

The city is perhaps best known in the New Testament for Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-25) after the martyrdom of Stephen. That event created one of the most prominent Christians in all history - Paul. Ananias of Damascus also played a key role in Paul’s life.

Acts 9:10-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”

Paul became a significant figure in the first organized Christian Church at Antioch in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys.

Modern History

Ottoman Syria was turned into an Arab Kingdom of Syria in 1920. Syria came under French Mandate in 1941, gaining independence in 1946, entering the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, and remaining in a state of political instability during the 1950s and 1960s.

In a coup of 1970, Hafez al-Assad and his Baath Party took power. Syria was ruled autocratically by Assad during 1970–2000, and after Hafez al-Assad's death in 2000, he was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad.

In the context of the Arab Spring of 2011, Bashar al-Assad's regime faces the ongoing 2011 Syrian uprising.

In spite of many conquests, Damascus has not been completely destroyed or ceased to be a city. The Prophecy of Isaiah 17:1  “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap” has not yet been fulfilled. It will happen very soon. Watch the NEWS!

John 14:29 New Living Translation (NLT)

I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

“Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday (October 4, 2011) threatened to set fire to the Middle East, and especially to Israel, if NATO attacks Syria ,” the Iranian Fars news agency reported.

In meeting with Turkish FM, Syrian president discusses possibility of NATO strike, says “If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I won’t need more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets to Golan to fire at Tel Aviv.” Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday threatened to set fire to the Middle East, and especially to Israel, if NATO attacks Syria , the Iranian Fars news agency reported.

According to the Fars news agency, the Syrian president stressed that Damascus will also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch a fierce rocket and missile attack on Israel, one that Israeli intelligence could never imagine. “All these events will happen in three hours, but in the next three hours, Iran will attack US warships in the Persian Gulf as American and European interests will be targeted.” ( Assad threatens to attack Tel Aviv in case of NATO strike, Israel News, 10-04-11).

The London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat Arabic-language newspaper reported Tuesday that mass demonstrations had been held in all of Syria’s principal cities Monday, in support of an announcement by the rebel Syrian National Council  (Eerily similar in sound to its Libyan NATO-supported counterpart: Libya National Transitional Council) that it was setting up a shadow government in Istanbul, that would be ready to move into power as soon as Assad fell.

The “decision” has been made – al-Assad must go! USA announced in its news conference today (31/01/2012).  White House spokesman Jay Carney: "Assad's fall is inevitable... The regime has lost control of the country.”

 Now begins the embattlement in earnest.

Syria's Assad will go, says US, as UN vote nears.

The White House said President Bashar al-Assad had lost control of Syria, adding "he will go".

Russia has said it will block a UN resolution calling for Mr Assad to hand power to a deputy who would then form a government of national unity.

Moscow said the text - proposed by the Arab League and backed by the US, the UK and France - was "not balanced" and would "leave open the possibility of intervention" in Syria's affairs.

Moscow, which has maintained its ties with Damascus, has so far resisted moves for a UN resolution condemning the violence in Syria. Russia has a naval base in the country and supplies arms to Syria.

"The current Western draft... certainly cannot be supported by us," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency.

Mr Gatilov said the draft was "not balanced" and "leaves open the possibility of intervention in Syrian affairs".

France says 10 of the 15 countries on the Security Council now support the Arab League text. A minimum of nine council members must lend their backing in order for a resolution to be put to a vote.

However, Russia - as one of the five permanent council members - can veto any proposed resolution.

 “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap”

Russia, China oppose anti-Syria draft

The UNSC logo. The West and Arab League are pushing for an anti-Syria UNSC draft resolution.

Wed Feb 1, 2012 2:46AM

Russia and China have rejected a potential UN Security Council (UNSC) draft resolution against Syria proposed by undemocratic Arab states and backed by Western powers.

The top officials of the Arab League (AL) gathered at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday, swaying the world body to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign and hand over the power to a deputy, who is then supposed to form a national unity government 'with the opposition within two months.'

The United States, the UK, and France have supported the AL plan.
Russia and China, however, have expressed opposition to the draft resolution based on their concerns that it could eventually lead to military action against Syria similar to the NATO attacks on Libya in March 2011.

We await new developments as we look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 4:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Loving His appearing,

Philip Cheong

End-time pilgrim.

Chapter One


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's here!

After years of living with Abba Ah Beng and his disciples (the little monks) in my head, the compilation of their adventures and misadventures is in print. Special thanks to my family who read through each story and laughed at the appropriate sections. To Lim Hai Seng whose illustrations brings life to the tales and who designed the cover. Also to the team at Armour Publishing for their editing, designs and printing (and tolerating a very kiasu author). And a special thanks to a certain eagle-eyed proof reader who spotted all the typos.

May this book be an instrument for the expansion of his kingdom.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday Prayer 2012

Dear Lord,

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten period before Easter. Again you have reminded us of your son, who after being baptised, was immediately sent to the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty day, our Lord Jesus was hungry and it is on this hunger that the devil focus upon. Dear Lord, in this dangerous and hungry times, help us to focus on your spiritual truths.

Help us to go beyond our hunger for physical food to spiritual food.

Help us to move beyond our hunger for self-centered living to Christ-centered living.

Help us to transcend our hunger for worldly treasures to seek heavenly treasures.

Teach us again while our earthly hunger may be sated, we will hunger again. Only you and you alone will satisfy us such that we hunger no more.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The End is Near : Chapter One

Dr Philip Cheong is writing a book about the Endtimes. He has graciously allowed me to post it here.



The Mayan Calendar will run out on December 21, 2012. Some believe that Planet X will collide with the earth in 2012. Others say a polar shift will take place causing an unknown global catastrophe. Millions actually believe the end of the world will occur in the year 2012. An Internet search for “End of the World 2012 produced 551,000,000 results! But what does the Bible say will happen in 2012?

The world is not going to end in 2012, however the end is near. I will be sending you the result of my study on Bible prophecy occasionally.

Here is the first chapter:


Chapter 1

If you have not done a substantial Bible study on End Time, it is high time to do so now because the end is near. I have spent the last ten years doing just that; and I am surprised that many of my understanding of the sequence of events leading up to Christ’s second were wrong. By the grace of God and through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, I am willing to change my long held view. I pray and hope that you will be open to the Holy Spirit to lead you to the truth.

Your belief and conviction should be based on the Scripture alone and not on the teachings of your church leaders or books. Let the Bible be the final authority. Is your view on End Time scriptural? Have you really searched the Scripture?

Acts 17:11

English Standard Version (ESV)

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

I am sharing with you my view on End Time. This will be through occasional briefings over the next several months or years as we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.  Please check the Bible regarding what I share and form your own personal conviction which is required of us.


New Living Translation (NLT)

I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

John 20:31

English Standard Version (ESV)

… but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

1 Thessalonians 1:10

New Living Translation (NLT)

And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven­Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.

The Events before the End of the world

In Revelation 6, we see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse representing great “end times” events bringing devastation to the earth in four stages.

1.  First Seal: Deceptive Conqueror

I looked up and saw a white horse standing there. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.

2. Second Seal: Death through Open Conflict

When the Lamb broke the second seal, I heard the second living being say, “Come!” Then another horse appeared, a red one. Its rider was given a mighty sword and the authority to take peace from the earth. And there was war and slaughter everywhere.

3.  Third Seal: Economic Disparity

When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.”

4. Fourth Seal: Widespread Death and Destruction

When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a horse whose colour was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals.

There is a sequence of seven seals.

The first four seals identify major world events that will take place before the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation is the last 3 ½ years of this age. Fifth and sixth seals will take place during the Great Tribulation. The seventh seal marks the opening of the Book of Life in preparation for Christ's return and gathering of His Elect, the Church.

The breaking of the first four seals correspond to “the beginning of birth pains” which will start the final generation leading to His Second Coming and His Kingdom on earth. Christ said,

“Ethnic group will rise against ethnic group, and government against government. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:7-8).

These first four seals give early warning signs. They reveal to God's people that the "Time of the End" has come and alert them to what will soon take place so they will be prepared.


(First Seal: Deceptive Conqueror)

Deception permeates all areas; in politics and governments, military, Wall Street, Main street and religions. Under the pretext of freedom and democracy, regimes were changed by undemocratic means and robbed of their wealth (Oil and gas, other resources); in the name of God, ungodly atrocities are committed; in the guise of humanitarian concern for the civilians, inhumane acts are committed; bombs and missiles are employed to kill civilians.

 Jesus revealed to Apostle John about two thousand years ago in Revelation 6:2, symbolically:

‘And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.’ (A horse represents a spirit or a global event, the colour white signifies purity and righteousness; so, we have a rider under the guise of pure and righteous intention, conquering nations and thus deceiving many).

What is unfolding in Syria is an armed insurrection supported covertly by foreign powers. Armed insurgents belonging to Islamist organizations have crossed the border from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

The objective is to destabilize the Syrian State and implement "regime change" through the covert support of an armed insurgency, integrated by Islamist militia. The reports on civilian deaths are used to provide a pretext and a justification for humanitarian intervention under the principle "Responsibility to Protect".


(Second Seal: Illegal Wars)

Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”

This vision corresponds with Christ's prophecy of the end time recorded in Matthew 24: "And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (verses 6-7).

Approximately 180 million men, women and children were slaughtered in 20th-century wars. The new millennium has continued the trend, with the addition of mass-murder terrorism. We are beginning to witness ‘blatant aggression’ against nations.


DISPARITY (Third Seal: Economic Inequality)

Economic disparity and inequality are widespread all over the world. Occupy Wall Street movement (We are the 99%), austerity measures by many nations and the so-called Arab Spring (Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, etc.) are evidence of inequality in wealth distribution. Middle class is disappearing and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening.



 LONDON PROTEST Austerity cuts ignited Britain unrest


About two thousand years ago Jesus predicted the economic situation we are experiencing today.

Revelation 6:6 "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!"

(Easy-to-Read Version)

It said, “A quart of wheat or three quarts of barley will cost a full day’s pay. But don’t harm the supply of olive oil and wine!”

The Expositor's Bible Commentary explains regarding this passage: "This amount [of money] suggests food prices about twelve times higher than normal ... and implies inflation and famine conditions (Matt 24:7). A quart of wheat would supply an average person one day's sustenance. Barley was used by the poor to mix with the wheat." Food shortages cause inflation in food prices. And higher prices make the remaining food harder to afford.

Oil and wine, though, are typically symbols of plenty. The reference here could indicate there will be pockets of abundance in the midst of famine. Christ's reference to famine "in various places" (Matthew 24:7) indicates the same possibility.

For the poor, the basic necessities will cost a full day’s pay; the rich will continue to indulge in luxuries (oil and wine).

In any case, the opening of the third seal indicates the onset of a period of severe famine unlike any in the past. While famines of varying severity have struck throughout history, it appears things will get much worse.



(Fourth Seal: Widespread Death and Destruction)

 Revelation 6:7-8 tells us this about the fourth seal: "When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, 'Come and see.' So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him."

The Expositor's Bible Commentary says this about the colour of the fourth horse: "'Pale' (chloros) denotes a yellowish green, the light green of a plant, or the paleness of a sick person in contrast to a healthy appearance." Put bluntly, this horse is the colour of death.

In Jesus' parallel prophecy in Matthew 24, He explained that in the wake of religious deception, war and famine would come "pestilences" or disease epidemics (verse 7).

The seals have a cumulative effect. False religion causes instability within relationships leading to war. Famine follows war, and when malnourishment occurs and social systems break down, human beings are more susceptible to disease. These seals depict the ferocity of problems unleashed on the world in the lead-up to "the Day of the Lord."

By the time the fourth horseman completes his ride, a fourth of earth's inhabitants will experience incredible devastation. The death toll will be unlike any from plague and disease in human history.

Satan’s Purpose

John 10:10

New Living Translation (NLT)

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.

Destruction and death are forecast to increase; unending wars, extreme man-made climate change and disasters (famines, droughts, floods, nuclear meltdowns, tsunamis, diseases, blizzards and hailstones and earthquakes).


Jesus told us in advance:

There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.

And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

The above four events will increase in intensity and regularity as the end of the world approaches.

Chapter 2 is coming soon,

End time pilgrim


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Reading Monastery of the Heart for Lent

My online reading group will be reading this book for Lent.

Feb. 27 to March 4. "Our Search" Sections 1, 2, 3
March 5 to 11. "Our Interior Life" Sections 4, 5, 6, 7
March 12 to 18. "Our Community" Sections 8, 9, 10, 11,12
March 19 to 25. "Our Service" Sections 13, 14, 15, 16,17
March 26 to April 1. "Our Promise" Sections 18, 19, 20
April 2 to April 8. "Our Spiritual Growth" Sections 21, 22, 23, 24,25t


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Sunday, February 19, 2012

When You are Old

by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
      HEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
      And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
      And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
      Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
      How many loved your moments of glad grace,
      And loved your beauty with love false or true,
      But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
      And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
      And bending down beside the glowing bars,
      Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
      And paced upon the mountains overhead
      And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
"When You Are Old" is reprinted from The Rose. W.B. Yeats. 1893.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

How (not) to think like a doctor

This is an excellent post by Ilana Yurkiewicz who is a first year medical student at Harvard Medical School which was originally posted on her blog Unofficial Prognosis which is a blog with The Scientific American website. Posted in full here with her permission.

How (not) to think like a doctor

On our first day of physiology, our professor showed us a picture of an elephant. He let us look at it for several seconds and then asked: what is this? On the next slide, he put up a chest X-ray. We stared for a few more seconds and were then asked: what’s the diagnosis?

He was demonstrating what was done in a recent experiment that examined the way doctors think. In the study, similar images were shown for similarly brief amounts of time, but to physicians rather than first-year medical students. It took doctors the same amount of time to recognize an animal as to make a diagnosis – under 1.5 seconds. Moreover, brain scans revealed that the same parts of the brain were being used to do both tasks.

This was not the first time in medical school I was made acutely aware of how I think.

What are the ways a person could identify an elephant? One method is working from the top-down. You could observe: this is large, grey, and has four legs and a trunk. Then you would come up with possible objects that possess those qualities, exclude ones that do not make sense, and continue to collect and reason through data until you arrive at the correct diagnosis.

Or, you could reflexively recognize the pattern and make the identification.

For something like an elephant, which approach we take is obvious. We call upon pattern recognition all the time, without even consciously noticing that we’re solving a problem. It can be extremely beneficial.

Imagine if you had to derive an elephant from the top-down every time you saw one. Moreover, imagine you saw twenty elephants a day. You wouldn’t have the time to reason through your assortment of observations in each case. The ability to perceive patterns and instinctively classify them based on things we’ve seen before supplies us with the tools to derive those things we have not.

As a result, it makes sense that medicine would rely on this mode of thinking. Medicine is huge in scope. It is cumulative. Many doctors are taught the top-down approach – meaning take a few facts, and formulate a diagnosis. Receive a few pieces of the puzzle, and extrapolate the whole picture.

Entering medicine means learning a new language, and you won’t be able to solve complex problems if you are looking up every other word and puzzling through every concept in the question. There are undoubtedly disease patterns you should know, cold.

But there are downsides. Jump to conclusions based on only a few facts, and your ideas are prone to biases. There is the bias associated with arbitrary prior experience; you might be more likely to make a diagnosis of one illness, for instance, simply because you happened to see it before. You might try to massage your observations into preconceived models in which they do not belong. Or, you might discard stubborn data completely, assuming them flawed.

Maybe most of the time, your prediction based on pattern recognition will be correct. But you will be wrong about the complicated cases. And being wrong in medicine can have serious consequences.

Our professor’s point in showing us the elephant experiment was not to encourage us to think like the doctors in the study. Rather, the point was to show what we might be prone to do – and thereby to encourage us to resist those impulses. Do not guess, we were advised. Do not just memorize patterns. Work through each problem, and fill in each step.

Following these recommendations will be an uphill battle. Problem-solving takes time – something that is relentlessly lacking from medicine. Medicine is fast-paced. People talk fast and make decisions fast. The doctors in the study diagnosed chest X-ray lesions in a mere 1.33 seconds.

As I continue to learn more and find myself in increasingly fast-paced environments, I realize I may have the urge to memorize patterns. I can look at lab values and remember that the last time A and B went down, C and D went up, and feel tempted to speculate that the same disease process underlies a new case. I will likely have colleagues and superiors that endorse rather than temper this kind of thinking.
But medicine is more complicated than that.

I hope I can develop the ability to recognize the elephants of medicine when I need to, but to remember to pause and think: what else could be large, grey, with four legs and a trunk? What other information would I need to distinguish the possibilities?

Thinking like this will be more work. But it just might lead to discovering what’s really going on.

Image: From Wikimedia Commons

Ilana Yurkiewicz 

About the Author: Ilana Yurkiewicz is a first-year student at Harvard Medical School who graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in biology. She was a science reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina via the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship and then went on to write for Science Progress in Washington, DC. She has an academic interest in bioethics, currently conducting ethics research at Harvard after previously working at the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Follow on Twitter @ilanayurkiewicz.


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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flowers for Someone Special


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Gift for a Coffee Lover

Received this wonderful gift on Monday- a CBTL Kaldi. The perfect gift for a coffee lover (read caffeine addict).

I always wondered how the CBTL coffee machine compares with the Nepresso machine. Jaffrey the Barack at the-vu (Internet magazine) made an interesting Comparison: CBTL, Nespresso, Single-Serve Espresso as in the table below

and came to some interesting conclusion. Read more

From the Espresso/Caffitaly Coffee Guide
Espresso is the most popular coffee drink in the world. It has its origin in Italy back in the year 1884. Nowadays, Espresso is a concentrated beverage brewed by forcing a small amount (30 ml) of almost boiling water (94 Celsius) under a high pressure of 9 bars through finely ground 8mg of coffee beans. Espresso often has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids and foam and all flavours and chemicals in a small espresso cup are very concentrated. Espresso is the base for almost all other coffee drinks, such as a latte, macchiato, mocha, cappuccino or even American coffee. Typical espresso has about 40 to 75 mg of caffeine.

Expresso/Caffitaly Coffee Guide is an interesting blog documenting the different types of expresso capsules for the Caffitaly/CBTL coffee maker.

Related post:
The Caffeine Driven life



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Will you be my Valentine?

Random Musing on Valentine’s Day 2012

Valentine's Day, was a Christian feast day, usually observed on February 14 honoring one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine. There are numerous early Christian martyrs who were named Valentine which includes Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269. Valentine of Terni was bishop of Interamna about AD 197 and may have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian. The feast day was first established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, and was later deleted from the General Roman Calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.

It is curious how a celebration of martyrdom became a celebration of romantic love. Many attribute it to Geoffrey Chaucer and his writings during the Middle Ages, when chivalry and romantic loves were ‘romanticised’. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending valentine greeting cards. The current trend now is “romantic” dinners in overpriced restaurants and expensive roses and other heart-shaped gifts. While my wife and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, we are happy that others do. However, we prefer our “romantic” dinners to be year round and my purchase of roses to be when the market price is reasonable.

I find fascinating it that my Bible reading today is on John 3:16 which is so appropriate for Valentine’s Day. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love is not “romantic” love. It is a love that is based on unconditional commitment and action. It is a form of love that gives and benefits others. With so many marriages on the rocks and so many divorced people around, it is time to rethink the whole concept of “romantic” love. Love is much more than lust and sex, candlelight dinners and roses. It is about commitment and benefiting actions. The Gospel is God’s Valentine card to us, asking
“Will you be my Valentine?”

picture source: Wiki


Monday, February 13, 2012

Spiritual Mentors and Spiritual Fathers

One of my greatest joy last year was to reconnect with my spiritual mentor or should I say, spiritual father, Dr Philip Cheong (D.Min, BSc,Dip.Ed) via the Internet. Philip and his wife Catherine has been instrumentally in taking in a very young and very green medical student who just became a Christian under their wings.

Philip Cheong in centre (blue Hawaiian shirt)

They did not have to help me. At that time, Philip was the Ministry Leader for the Navigators for Malaya University (MU) and was very busy. He did not have to take on an addition burden like me who is from a different university, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). I guess I must have looked very pathetic so he invited me in and trained me together with his other students. He will schedule one-to-one Bible study with me after which we will have dinner with Catherine. He did not have  any own children at that time yet. After dinner, we have to wash the dishes. He insisted that discipleship involves how you wash your dishes. I will lather and wash and he will dry. Often he handed the plate back for another wash because it is not clean enough. I am remember the grin on his face when he demonstrated that in a well clean plate, you can rub it and it emit a clear sound. Discipleship needs a standard of excellence. It was tough training which include Bible memorization, inductive bible study and evangelism in the streets. He helped me to lay down a strong foundation for my spiritual life.



Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Leaky Pipe

Drip, drip
The house pipe is leaking again, my dear.
The cold hard winter is coming.
Drip, drip
leaking precious water,
precious love.

A wounded creature seeking refuge,
seeking a safe place to hide,
away from others.
Needing time to heal, to balm,
life numbing desiccating ravages,
hidden soul abscesses,
open festering hurts,
and water.

Drip, drip
precious water,
on a hot pavement.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Conversations with my Granddaughter (2)

Hello little one, how fast you have grown over the last month! You may feel a chill on your head. That is because your grandma shaved your head a few days ago. It is a tradition, one of the many strange things big people do. Bald is cool. Don’t worry. Unlike grampa’s, your hair will grow back.

You are awake more hours now and are discovering what a wonderful world this is. What beautiful eyes you have; two piercing black deep pools of ebony. I have noticed how adoringly you look at your mummy when you are feeding at her breast. Yes, you are seeing your mummy; the one whom you sense when you are in the dark safe warm place before you are born. Now you see her; the big person who loves you unconditionally, feeds and cleans you and put up with all your tantrums.

Little one, there is a difference between seeing and looking. Many big people look but they do not see. It is sad but that is something they lose when they are growing up; the ability to see. Now they are so busy and have so many big people things to look at yet they still are not able to see clearly. One day, God willing, grampa will try explain to you what it means “to see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.” Yawn. Sleep well, little one, may all your dreams be sweet.



Friday, February 03, 2012

The Challenge of Biomedical Issues to the Contemporary Church

Brave New World: The Challenge of Biomedical Issues to the Contemporary Church

Title of Seminar Brave New World
Subtitle The Challenge of Biomedical Issues to the Contemporary Church
Synopsis Advances in medical treatment modalities, biotechnological innovations, and genetic-molecular manipulations have brought about a set of unique challenging issues not faced by the Church before. A pastoral-theological approach is needed to examine, reflect and develop responses to these difficult moral and ethical issues such as test tube and designer babies, facts and fallacies of stem cell therapies, cloning, reproductive technologies, abortion, mercy-killing, allocation of scarce healthcare resources, living will, gene therapy, prenatal diagnosis, and aesthetic surgery.
Christians should be engaging personally with these issues and also help others to do so. A rational engagement is essential to all Christians who are committed to living ethically in these changing times.
Speaker’s bio Dr Alex Tang is a senior consultant paediatrician in the Johor Specialist Hospital in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. He received his medical training from the National University of Malaysia, post-graduate training in Singapore and the United Kingdom and his theological training from the Malaysia Bible Seminary and the United States. Alex has published numerous articles on bioethics, written two books on the Christian response to biomedical ethical issues and taught courses on biomedical ethics in seminaries in Singapore and Malaysia.
Date and Time 17 Mar 2012, 1-4pm
TCA College
Please click here to download a pdf version of this.


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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Tales from the Monastery cover

I am excited about my new book. This wonderful cover is designed by Lim Hai Seng and the team at Armour Publishers, Singapore.



Spiritual Formation Institute Seminar on Spiritual Friendship

SFI Seminar 2012/1

Spiritual Friendship

We live in an increasingly lonely world. Technology that is meant to connect us ends up causing us to have less face-to-face time with each other. Yet the bible clearly states that it is not good for humankind to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Medical science bears this out. How then are we to find the relationships we need for healthy living?

This is also a question for followers of Jesus Christ. We are meant to follow Christ in the company of friends. Jesus calls us to follow Him in community. Yet the church can be as lonely as the world around us. How are we to find the community we need to follow Christ?

Date      :               2.00pm- 9.30pm, Saturday 25 February 2012
Place      :    Berea, Holy Light Church, 11-C, Jalan Gertak Merah, 80100 Johor Bahru

Program   :                 This seminar will seek to answer some of these concerns:
                  What is spiritual friendship and why do we need it?
                  What constitutes healthy spiritual friendship?
                  What is a practical and doable way for experiencing spiritual friendship?

                       The seminar will cover the following topics:
1. The Need for Spiritual Friendship
2. The Components of Spiritual Friendship
3. The Practice of Spiritual Friendship

We need friends as much as we need food and water. Come and see why. Come and see how.

Soo Inn is a director of Graceworks, a ministry committed to promoting spiritual friendship in church and society ( He runs this ministry in partnership with his wife, Bernice. He also serves as honorary pastor of Evangel Christian Church, Singapore. Bernice and Soo Inn have four sons.

Soo Inn has a BDS from the University of Singapore, a ThM from Regent College and a DMin from Fuller. His primary passions include connecting the Word of God to the struggles of daily life, and the promotion of the discipline of spiritual friendship.

He has been a supporter of Arsenal Football Club since 1971 and his favourite movie is Star Wars 4.

Registration Form          
(Seminar cost RM20.00 includes refreshment, dinner and seminar notes).

Spiritual Formation Institute Seminar 2012/1      
Spiritual Friendship

Name: …………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………………….. Church…………………………………………

Tel    : …………………………………………………………………………………. Email:………………………………………………………………………………………..

Please register with Sister Grace Soon of HLCE (Tel:07-2243285)

more on Spiritual Formation Institute

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