Archive for May, 2007

Ireen’s Birthday Surprise!

After three weeks of nefarious plotting and scheming, the plans my caregroup and I were hatching were finally carried to fruition: surprising Ireen at her house for her birthday! Well, technically it wasn’t her birthday yet but she would be in Israel on June 1st.

I’m really starting to enjoy the Flickr features. While not a social network like Facebook, the features Flickr offers are very powerful – moreso if you have a Pro account. For example, the Organizr allows easy batch editing of captions and tags. You can toggle which pictures are public, private or viewable only to certain people. A Pro account allows unlimited uploads every month and creation of sets and collections (free accounts only allow 3 Sets). I’d term Flickr a plog, or rather, a picture blog. I know Flickr has been around forever, but after beginning to have a vested interest in photography, I’m really having fun with the site.

I suppose the only gripe I have with Flickr is how the photos are arranged when newly uploaded – if performing a batch upload via the Uploadr Tool, they are arranged alphabetically. Otherwise they are just displayed according to how new the photos are. This is why the Sets play such an important role – they allow you to arrange the photos in any way you like, which is a winning feature for me because I arrange mine in either in chronological order or in a way that if viewed from first to last – tells a story; Hence the term ‘plog’ being particularly appropriate.

Well, I think that is enough gushing about Flickr – check out the power of Sets:

 
Ireen’s Birthday Surprise
Thumbnail View | Detailed View

Amazing Foodie Race

The Arrow NUS cluster organised an Amazing Foodie Race on Saturday! We had to complete several dares and challenges – some being taking a photo with a live frog, hands clasping its slimy and squirmy little body; embarrassing ourselves by posing with bubble tea pearls stuck in our teeth; performing robot dances in front of bemused onlookers; finishing a Giant Slurpee in a minute and suffering brainfreeze.

Nevertheless, it was loads of fun and if you couldn’t be there – we wished that you had been!

I signed up for a flickr Pro account, so that it’d get me taking more photos and getting around to using the Nikon SLR my dad left behind. This set of photos were taken using a Sony Cybershot WSC-50 which my dad bought as well. A very excellent purchase I must say!

Amazing Foodie Race! 

This Must Surely Be Love

This must surely be love.
With each hand entwined
Fingertips lingering against hers
To trace lines in air and water,
Along the forbidden canvas
Dancing across the secret wood.

This is what he seeks,
The glorious agony
Which seizes the seconds,
Its yearning that goes
Well past the hours,
Carving moonlight through the soul
To pave the cobblestones of eternity.

His hooded eyes tell me nothing,
But in the shadow that casts
Itself apart from the tree
Stretching into the twilight,
In the music that escapes the sigh
I hear his whispers in the wind:
This must surely be love.

Taking Up Our Cross

If you have listened to the new Hillsongs United album All of the Above, there’s a particularly melodic song called ‘Devotion’. One of the lines in the song reads as: “And I’ll take up my cross, and follow you Lord”. Upon hearing for the first time, it disturbed me. I thought, Hey! Didn’t Jesus already carry the cross? Why should I carry one at all?

That led me to study the verse in the bible a bit deeper than I did before. I wanted to know what ‘taking up the cross’ really meant. I believe that the commonly accepted meaning of the phrase of taking up or carrying one’s cross is a metaphor for a heavy burden. It certainly seems so! Anyone who has watched the Passion of the Christ could see how Jesus struggled with it after suffering all the scourgings; so much so that Simon of Cyrene was pressed to bear the cross to help Jesus (Matt 27:32).

However, what did Jesus mean when he said: ‘And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.’? (Luke 9:23-27)

Other accounts of the same incident are found in the following passages: Matthew 10:34-38; Matthew 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-38.

I remember one important verse in which Jesus said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Therefore this verse is contrary to the popularly conceived meaning of to “take up one’s cross”, which is to, I reiterate, a metaphor for carrying a heavy, backbreaking burden (googling of the phrase “carry my cross” throws up several songs, both secular and Christian, that use this meaning). What I feel is that this is not what Jesus meant by taking up the cross. If the passage is read in context, Jesus is exhorting his disciples to deny their selves and to follow Him.

When you look at the verse from Matthew 11 above, it simply means that to follow Him is a easy and light task when we come to Jesus first and draw of His life. Truly, we find rest for our souls.

I found this commentary to be the one that helped illustrate the context of the verse for me. Read the sub-section titled “Coming After Jesus (9:23a)” to read Dr Wilson’s deeper look into the verse. As Wilson puts it, in regard to the taking up of one’s cross: “[Jesus] isn’t talking about a mere burden or trial or difficulty. He is talking about death… Make no mistake, Jesus is not speaking figuratively here.”

I also read somewhere else that to “take up the cross” means to “renounce selfish ambition; it is a death to a whole way of life”.

This line that Wilson wrote convinced me: “Jesus is saying, let the disciples take up the position of a man already condemned to death, carrying the [crossbeam] of his cross to the place of execution.”

When I read all of that, I realised that to take up one’s cross is not meant to be a feat of gargantuan self-effort, but rather an act of absolute humility. Perhaps one might think that both are one and the same; indeed, if we were to rely on the force of our will and the strength of arm to accomplish this, to discard our way of life before we were saved, it would certainly be an insurmountable task.

That is, however, why we must come to the end of ourselves. We must come to the realisation that in our selves, we are nothing. And that we need a Saviour. For what are we apart from Christ? We were all sinners once, before the blood of Jesus had sanctified us unto righteousness.

I believe this is what Jesus meant by to deny our selves and take up our cross. Before we can walk with Jesus, we must see our old selves, our flesh, crucified with Jesus, who paid the wages of our sin by His death. Wilson provides these passages by Paul:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

“And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day — I mean that, brothers — just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?” (1 Corinthians 15:30-32)