Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The reason* - Hoobastank

So we all survived 21/12/2012!!! I wonder how many people were actually afraid that they were gonna lose their lives on that day?

Well, the Bible tells us an account of some shepherds who must have thought they were gonna die prematurely!!! In Luke 2, it is recorded for us that "there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified".

They have seen God's glory - surely they cannot live to tell the tale! But wait a minute. Here is what the angel said to them:-

 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Gaudi's depiction of the birth of Jesus
The message they bring is one of joy!!! They come bearing good news! No, the shepherds were not going to snuffed out that nite. For that nite so long ago, a saviour came to earth! Not just any saviour - it was Christ!!!

No, "Christ" isn't the last name of Jesus - even tho we do refer to him as Jesus Christ. Christ is his title - it basically means, the chosen one!

So this saviour that the angels sing about is not some random saviour - it is the saviour that has been prophesised long long ago!

So that is the reason why we celebrate Christmas! It is because of the coming of Jesus, to be our saviour. It has nothing to do with Santa Claus or snowmen or reindeers. It is so sad that the meaning of Christmas has been covered up - in fact, in certain parts of the world, they do not wish people "Merry Christmas" anymore but "Happy Holidays" - and yes, we have heard that we do not refer to them trees decorated with tinsel and lights as "Christmas trees" anymore!

That is why i feel burdened to talk about the true meaning of Christmas - for it is such a waste if the whole thing became just a meaningless celebration, another excuse to spend money and party away. instead, we can all rejoice at the coming of a saviour who provided a way for us to receive eternal life!

*Their most commercially successful single - and one of my all time fav songs in recent times! Hhmmm... that sounds like a paradox! Lol!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Taxi Driver* - Gym Class Heroes

When we arrived at Barcelona, we were in for a big surprise! The trains were not running!!! In fact, most of everything was closed. We discovered that there was a strike going on on that very day!!! Not just in Barcelona but also in Madrid and a few other places. I kicked meself for not being more attentive to current news – but then again, the tickets were booked in advance and we could not have predicted this. Or could we? 

Anyways, the fact of the matter is that we were there, and there was a strike, and we were stuck at the airport. So how? The only way into town and to our hotel was by taxi. The queue was long – as it was the only public transportation out of the airport – but it was that or take the risk of waiting until the end of the day. 

Thankfully, the taxi line moved rather quickly – taxi drivers must have been seizing the opportunity to take us hapless tourists to our destinations. We prayed that God will provide us with a good and fair driver, not one trying to fleece us. 

The driver seemed like a nice “uncle” and altho there was a total break-down in communication, I managed to show him the address and he seemed to know the way. 

Fast-forward – he stops the cab and tell us we have arrived. We looked at the hostel and told him no, that was not our hotel. Like how the Chinese say, it was like the duck trying to talk to the chicken!!! 

He then fished out his GPS (only then!!!) and tried to type in the address while driving at the same time!!! So the meter was running as he typed in one alphabet at a time… we got pretty fed-up but as I looked on the deserted streets, I realized that if we get out of the cab now, we will have a tough time finding another one! 

Even so, after going round in circles for a while, we decided to take our risk as the driver does nto seem to know where the destination is – and he is just wandering aimlessly!!! 

He however, did not want to let us down! He just continued driving and we were at a loss at what to do!!! The wife told me later that she really thought he was gonna kidnap us! 

Soon, we were out of the city area…and according to the roadsigns, we were heading into France!!! 

I then whipped up my phone and called the hotel – trying hard to ignore the thought of how much the roaming charges were gonna be. I go thru to the hotel and spoke to the ppl there. I then passed the phone to the driver. But when he took the phone, he was just talking and did not seem to be listening to the person on the other side. He gave me back the phone and continued driving. 

I tried to call the hotel again – and after a few tries (and sweating a lot), I got thru and the hotel ppl told me that the driver seems to know where the hotel is. 

After a while, we arrived to the neighbourhood where the hotel is – and altho we see signs to the hotel (and I thought I saw the hotel from the pics I saw from online), the driver could not seem to get there!!! We drove round in more circles as the meter kept on going higher and higher. We told him to stop to ask for directions – but just like a typical man, he did not. Maybe he din know what we were asking him to do!!! 

When we slowed down at a junction, I had enuf and rolled down the window. We started waving and calling out to a couple walking nearby. They came and we asked them the directions to the hotel. The driver again started talking to them but not listening. 

In the end, we arrived at the hotel. One look at the meter showed a sum of more than 50 Euros!!! I went straight into the hotel and asked the ppl there to help us talk to the driver and tell the driver that we are not gonna pay such a high amount. The guy at the reception reluctantly agreed to go with me. 

But when I started walking out, the wife was waving at me to go there quickly… 

The driver somehow informed my wife, thru a notepad, that he was only gonna charge us 35 Euros!!!

We were truly thankful to God that we arrived safely and that he really indeed provided us with a good and fair taxi driver. In fact, the hotel reception told us that 35 Euros is actually a low rate for a taxi ride from the airport to the hotel!!!

Bought this in rememberance of our taxi ride!

I actually felt bad for the taxi driver after that - he had to endure the verbal abuse from us, took us to 2 destinations and then undercharged us.

We thanked God for him and we prayed for blessing upon him.

*Interestingly, in the lyrics, 27 bands and artists that the Gym Class Heroes like are mentioned.

Monday, 17 December 2012

It wasn't me* - Shaggy

The sermon was based on a verse in Genesis 3. So we read the whole chapter. A familiar chapter, no doubt. It did get me thinking, tho. 

When God confronted Adam, his (Adam’s) response was immediately to blame Eve. And when Eve was questioned by God, she blamed the serpent. 

Since the beginning of time, when man (and women, of course) is confronted to face up to his wrong-doing, his reaction would be to find someone else to blame. No matter how guilty he is, and how much he knows he is guilty, he will try to push the blame away. 

I have seen this around me too much – and at times, it sickens me. In order to escape blame and liability, people will intimidate others and make them take the blame, instead of owning up to the wrong they did. 

At times, they do it in a way that is so ridiculous!!! They are obviously wrong but they have the cheek to say it is someone else’s fault. 

Is admitting wrong seem to imply weakness? But are we too proud to come to terms that we are not perfect? Does it not take a big man to hold up his hands and say he has made a mistake? 

*His first official single and his highest charting song thus far.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Start of something good* - Daughtry

I watched The Hobbit yesterday! =) yeah, one day before the actual release on December 14th!!! 

Pic obtained from their FB page

It has been so long since I managed to watch a movie so early. I am still trying to catch up on movies that i have missed. But for The Hobbit, iw as gonna make the special effort to catch it early. 

After all, there has been a void (small one but still, a void) in my life when the Return of the King ended - and when i have watched all the extra scenes. So when The Hobbit was filming, i have been so excited! It brings back memories of so many years ago (yes, it has been that long) when i would be swept away by Peter Jackson's version of Tolkien's brilliant work (and the beautiful New Zealand landscape) and then wait patiently and with great anticipation for the sequel the following year around the same time.

It's gonna happen again now, all the way till 2014. And who knows for how long more, with the new scenes being released later like LOTR?

Anyways, i went yesterday, watched it, froze in the cold cinema hall - and thoroughly enjoyed the movie! Yes, even with all the expectations, it still was good! 

It was wonderful to go back again to Middle Earth (or NZ), reacquaint myself with the familiar characters and get to know new ones. The technology has improved since LOTR and it really showed!!!

And the best thing is that it is only the start!

The question however one may be asking is whether is it better than LOTR? Well, i compared it with The Fellowship of the Ring - and i still preferred Fellowship! Why? Well, go to this post and find out (warning: spoilers in that post).

*Their 4th official single from their 3rd album, Break the Spell.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

What matters* - Edwin McCain

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Eccl 7:2"

This is true - it made me appreciate what I have more and help me remember what things in life are important.

My fren's mom passed away early Sunday morning. The wake was last nite and the burial this morning. I went for both of it and i must admit i was glad i did.

It was a pretty sobering experience - a timely reminder in our ever hectic and fast paced life that death awaits us all. Life is fragile. Am i focussing on things that really matter or wasting my time on those that do not?

It was pretty touching to hear the testimonies of that sweet old lady - she was indeed an example for us to follow.

It also brought home the grim reminder that the day will come when it will be me who goes up to thank the people for coming and for showing their love and concern to me. And to cherish every moment i have with mama from now till that day!

Still, it was a bittersweet experience all in all as although we'll miss her and we feel for her family as they deal with her departure - but the wonderful thought of her safe in our heavenly Father's arms now, free from pain and suffering, comforts all of us. And one sweet day, we will all be reunited again - together with papa, with Markus, and with all those who have gone ahead of us.

*His 2nd and less succesful single from his album, Misguided Roses. The first was I'll be.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Again and again* - Jewel

For my 2nd trip to London in last month, i had bacon and eggs for breakfast EVERYDAY for 9 days in a row!!!! For the last 3 days, i decided to give it a rest!

We found this little cafe near our fren's place at Angel - only four and half quid for this:-

Mine!!!! With mushrooms and toast!
My wife opted for the grilled tomatoes instead of mushrooms

Happy... and fat!!!

We also spent a few days at Barcelona- and at the hotel where we stayed, yes they served bacon and eggs amongst other things for breakfast!!!

Bacon and eggs - with chorizos!!!!!!

Subsequently, i went for my conference in London - what else do they serve for breakfast? Yes, typical English breakfast with bacon and eggs!!!!! 

9 days, man!!! Nope, i did not get sick of it. =P But i dun know how long i could have gone on like that!!!

That was for breakfast. 

Being in London also allowed me to satisfy my craving for roast duck!!!!! Without fail, i will always have raost duck when i am in London! When i used to study at Essex and travelled to London, i would end up eating roast duck too!

I can't find it here - even tho one of the restaurants have a branch here in Subang, the duck is just not the same!!!

It is quite sad, i know. There are so many other nice things to eat in London. I did try them - fish and chips, steak and guiness pie, scones, lovely sandwiches - but for roast duck, i had it again and again. It helped that my wife was not really in the mood for anything else and she could order other stuffs while i had my duck!

Roast duck rice!!! With the layer of fat between the skin and flesh! *Drools*

A happy man!

Even when we ordered dishes, duck had to be one of them!!!!

 I miss the roast duck...

*The lead single from her Goodbye Alice in Wonderland album.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

I need you* - LeAnn Rimes

We had the privillege of worshipping at All Soul's on the 2 Sundays when we were at London - and God truly blessed us when we were there.

My wife and i after one of the service

For one of the Sundays, the Rector spoke on 2 Corinthians 12. The key verse no doubt will be “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It was a timely reminder and a great encouragement for me! 

At the end of the day, i have to remember that God's grace is *sufficient*! I do not and shold not rely on my own stregth and ability. If i have any weakness (of course i do), that is fine - for God's power is made perfect in my weakness.

So what should i do? Do not depend on my self - but look to God and when his power is displayed, give him the glory! I need to know that I need him in my life!!!

*Released as a single from the album, Jesus: Music From and Inspired by the Epic Mini-Series. It was later found in her compilation album of the same name.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Thanks but no thanks* - Sparks

I never liked to get people to take photos for me. Well, i dun think they would do a good job!!! 

But recently, after looking at one of my fren's vacation photos, the wife and i decided that we should get people to do ti for us - and not use the one-handed technic that i had been using all these while. 

 So while we were outside the Tower of London, we decided to ask someone to take a photo of us with the iconic Tower Bridge in the background. We ended up asking 3 different people. Here are the results - and you can see i my fears were justified!!! 

Where's the other tower???
Where is the tip of the tower???
Focus on us!!!!! We're so blurred...
So if someone were to come along and offer to take the photo for us, i'll prolly say "Thanks but we're alright"!!!

To be fair, tho, i think the 2nd one is pretty nice. If only he managed to catch the tip of the tower...

*An oldie - taken from their 4th album, Propaganda.