Sunday 31 March 2013

#fireplace: audacious prayers

I didn't really intend to go up for altar call. I hardly ever do anymore. I guess I'm jaded about the whole go up and get someone to pray for you thing because oftentimes, I'm this invisible persona in the front where everyone else and their dogs gets prayed for before someone goes "oh, you're still here. Do you want to be prayed for?" I usually give up by that time and go home. Yes, extremely jaded, I know.

But I went up anyway. And this line was repeating itself in my head. Give me Penang. 

I'm like, what? You know, like, really?

Give me Penang.
Give me Penang for Your glory.

And I think it ties back to the things I've been thinking of for years now. Thinking of, but never really quite managing to do, as much as I wish I could. And yet somehow working towards it, slowly, surely. I stumbled across an old post here, which says this:
NOW pursue in faith and prayer, seeking to do His will in its perfect time.
New beginnings and the birthing of a vision will take time and hard work. It will not happen over days, weeks or months, but over a span of YEARS.
But it will not fail.

BELIEVE that this will be the first year in a span of many, the first birthing year for the laying of the vision, the communication of the plan and the gathering of the people.

There may be no fruits. There may be failures, tears and trials. But YOU have been anointed and commissioned by the prayers of the saints, the laying on of hands and the anointing of oil and if you hold on to that anointing, believing in faith and without doubt, you will see these things come to pass.
It comes back to something Pastor Kul Bal said during his sermon last Sunday - what are the graves in your life? What are the things that are holding you back? What are the things that are distracting you from your main purpose in life?

And the thing is that I'm distracted. I'm distracted by so many things that's happening in church and out of church. I'm distracted by GCF and EAGC and Headstart. I'm distracted by worship leading and the worship team. I'm even distracted by trying to get involved in drama and creative arts outside of church. I'm distracted by the craziness of my work and the deadlines I have to meet. All these things aren't bad in itself. They're good. They're things that need to be done. They're things I'm good at doing. But the thing is, it's not my primary focus. And because I am doing all these things, I'm not doing what I feel I should be doing: building a creative arts team. 

Something has to give somewhere. I'm stretched too tight, because they need people. And they do. And I'm sorry. But I have to stop running around in circles and stop wishing.

Give me Penang. 
Give me this space as my theatre, my workshop, my dance hall.
Give me Penang for You.

Sometimes, I frighten myself.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

#bookreview: The Exile's Violin by @RSHunter88

The Exile's Violin (Tethys Chronicles, #1)The Exile's Violin by R.S. Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacquie Renairre has never accepted that her parents' deaths were an accident - capitalising on her guardian, Uncle Serge's contacts and her burgeoning skills as a Private Investigator, Jacquie embarks on a quest to discover the truth behind the mysterious black key that was stolen on the night her parents were murdered. Teaming up with socialite Clay Baneport, Jacquie is also contracted by Special Advisor Maximilian Delacroix to investigate a possible conspiracy to start a war between her home country, the Republic of Alesir, and their enemy, the Kingdom of Kenesta.

It took a while for me to get into the story - maybe a little more back story than was necessary was included in the beginning of the book, making it seem like it took forever to get to the more exciting bits - and I would have liked to have learnt more about the Exile's Violin a little earlier in the story (rather than only in the third quarter of the book). The story has its eyebrow-raising bits (as in, really, that's a bit unbelievable, isn't it?) but nothing too far out that it wasn't somehow rationalised (after all, it IS fiction).

The main characters, Jacquie and Clay, were well-written and had an easy chemistry that made me like them. Jacquie is both spunky and determined, as well as impulsive and vulnerable, making her utterly relatable, though a little annoying at times (just like real people, ha!) and I really wanted to box her for being so mean to the faithful Clay. Okay, it's not a romance, but when you have a guy and a girl as main characters, you can kind of guess where they're generally going to be heading. (Plus points to Hunter for keeping it really clean - I can recommend this book to younger readers without any qualms!)

I'm generally a fan of mysteries and science fiction and fantasy (I haven't given steampunk much thought thus far) and since this was a weaving of the two, I enjoyed this book quite a lot, though I've been rather wavering between a 3 and a 4 star rating, as you would have seen if you've been following my updates to this review. (Okay, I'm settling for a 3.5)

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Friday 22 March 2013

Knight in White riding to slay the Big Bad Wolf!*

Where I scored 27/30 on my Coursera Songwriting assignment #2.

And this will have to do for this week's friday flash, though it isn't a flash... because I have another assignment to do, videos to watch, quizzes to catch up on...
And I'm planning on working tomorrow so I need to sleep.

Also, the BIG BAD WOLF is in town!
{runs around gibbering}

*not really, but that was the only thing I could think of to connect the two main themes of my post.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

I'm not sure why I'm posting this book review

The Jane Austen Book ClubThe Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm not sure why this book was an international bestseller and made into a movie.
It was a pretty so-so read, with me being distracted on and off. The part of the book I really liked was the e-mail exchange between Grigg's sisters (I've already forgotten their surname) about Grigg falling in love.
I think what annoyed me most was the universal "we" used throughout the book and not actually finding out who the narrator was. Or maybe I'm just to obtuse to deduct it.

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Sunday 17 March 2013

fireplace: What does righteousness look like?

"Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to."
"I tell you, commander, it's true that some of the most terrible things in the world are done by people who think, genuinely think, that they're doing it for the best, especially if there is some god involved.”

Terry Pratchett, Snuff
In a way that's true. Being good is a lot about what you do and so often in the midst of good intentions, of trying to do what is right in our view, we do more damage to others in the name of God.
It's not difficult to be good.
It's difficult to be righteous, i.e.:
1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
a : morally right or justifiable
b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality
In fact, to even be righteous, you need to define morality. What's morally right or justifiable? Is my morality the same as yours? Is the divine law I believe in the same as what you believe? Romans 3 says this:
21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
I am righteous because of Christ. I have been justified by faith. And yet, the thing is that righteousness still has a cost. It's the cost of following Christ.

It's easy to proclaim freedom (which was promised by God) and grace (which is freely available) but forget that in Romans 13:13, Paul also urges us to "behave properly as in the day" and to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts". We forget Romans 14:13b: rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

And I think that's what we forget when we live in our own Christian bubbles so much. We create a culture of our own that has no bearing on the world out there. We create a double level of living and talking for the "sacred" and the "secular". And we forget that whilst the world out there dresses and behaves a certain way and laughs at us because we are so prude and old-fashioned, at the same time, they (often unconsciously) hold a higher standard to us than we do for ourselves.
And every time we forget that, we damage our testimony in their eyes. I'm not saying we need to be perfect. We will never be. But there has to be a consistency in our behaviour and in what we profess.

You know what? I don't even really know why I'm going into this. I don't think it's my main point/bugbear/annoyance. Thing is I grew up in a family where everything you do is scrutinized. It's not a good thing, but it's a fact of (my) life. And because of that, my natural reaction when doing something is to think "what will so-and-so say?"
It's a burden to live under but it's also very relevant to understanding that verse (not to put a stumbling block). Because people's faith sometimes are dependent on others, and that "others" includes you whether you like it or not. And if you, the church goer, the cell leader, the spiritual parent, are living exactly like the world, what difference does it make to be a Christian? How do you tell people to live holy lives when what you do is also seen as"sin" or "bad behavior" in the world's eyes? You may not see it as such because of your freedom in Christ, but sometimes other people do not see it the same way as you do. Because culture and age dictates otherwise.
It's a difficult path to walk and it's very easy to fall into being judgmental and legalistic. But we need to live upright, to be holy as He is holy even as we stand assured in His righteousness.
Ok, I'm meandering and getting lost somewhere. But here's a video.
It's a long video. But worth a watch.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

#bookreview: Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones

Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3)Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mr Crossley receives an anonymous note stating "SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH". This is dangerous because witches are still hunted down and burnt at stake in this alternate version of England and as Mr Crossley teaches in Larwood House, a boarding school for witch orphans and other problematic children, it could very well be true. Suspicion falls on Nan Pilgrim, the outcast girl with a famous witch's name (teasingly at first), whilst other classmates in 2Y soon discover some hidden talents. (I'm not sure why the edition I'm reading states their class as 2Y but Goodreads and Amazon says it's 6B?)

I think I'm pretty much a fan of Diana Wynne Jones by now so this may end up to be another gushing review. I must say this is the first of the Chrestomanci series that I have read so far (I started off with the Howl trilogy, got a little disappointed at Dogsbody and was pleasantly delighted by Dark Lord of Derkholm) and I loved it. Chrestomanci doesn't come in until maybe the third quarter of the book, so I didn't realise at first that it was part of the series - and now I want to find out who this mysterious personage (or personages) is (are).

The story is refreshingly and childishly funny, which I prefer over the current tendency to be either sexual or gross or mean in an effort to try to be "funny". There's a tinge of the old boarding school stories (i.e. St Clare's, Malory Towers) with late night prowls and watchful prefects in between the wonder and delight of magic. But if you're starting to think it's a simple straight-forward children's book, you'll be mistaken. There are twists within twists in this story, and there are more witches than you'd ever expect to appear in one class!

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Sunday 10 March 2013

The weekend setlist

You are loving beyond measure
Your presence is the treasure I am seeking
You are an all-consuming fire
I am Your desire and You are mine

It took an awfully long time to pick the songs for this week.
I had this song in my head that I was utterly convinced we'd sung in church before, but evidently we hadn't (I don't know why I was so sure!).
I'd swapped in and out at least a dozen songs (okay, maybe ten, but "a dozen" sounds nicer), some multiple times.
But I'm ending with this.
Because even after we have said all we can, described Him in every way we can think of, He is still so much more than we can ever say.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Love in Penang: a call for entries

Some time last month, Gina alerted me to an invitation by Fixi Novo to apply to compile and edit their upcoming anthology of short stories, Love in Penang. And well yes, things just fell into place last weekend, with the call for entries up since Tuesday.

cross posted from:
I still think I'm flying by the seat of my pants, but hey it's a cool learning curve, ain't it?

So yes, if the theme "Love in Penang" is ringing any bells in your head right now, or if you've suddenly been struck by some wonderful idea - get to writing!

Can't wait to read all your submissions! =D

Wednesday 6 March 2013

#bookreview: Single & Single by John le Carre

Single & SingleSingle & Single by John le Carré
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a book starts off with the intriguing line This gun is not a gun, you know you're in for a rather interesting read.

Single & Single starts off with the cold-blooded murder of a British corporate lawyer in Turkey. His boss, Tiger Single, the brains behind the financial house Single and Single, goes missing. In the middle of the night, Oliver Hawthorne, a children's entertainer, is questioned about a sudden influx of cash to his daughter's trust fund.

John le Carre explores the shady world of money laundering (in epic proportions!), pitting the acts of the father against the conscience of his son. How much love do you need to have to continually gloss over the sins of your loved ones? And what would it take to bring you back again?

Nothing in life is ever clear-cut, and this is evident in the story that le Carre weaves. Who is right and who is wrong, how much of this is real and how much of it is embellishment? What is the magic behind these successful people who seem to get away with their crimes? What moral fiber holds up those strong enough to stand for what is right?

Strong food for thought in a fictional thriller.

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Leading on from that, I'd like to call in a rather interesting parallel that came to mind... which was something I was mulling over in A Place to Call Home, where Daniel finds out his adoptive father is paying out bribes to get contracts. The question I had was - was that really strong enough to make someone decide to leave his home? We figured that maybe yes, it was.
And in Single & Single (hope this isn't a spoiler), Oliver turns himself in and snitches on his father's money laundering operations because his conscience finally caught up with him. But in this case, he had support from the government and was given a new start on life, anonymously, with a different name. And when troubled times hit his family, he turned back and did all he could to save his father.
Where would Daniel's conscience have led him? I wanted him to leave. To turn his back and say no, this life of lies is not for me.
But on the other hand, it would have been ungrateful of him to leave. What kind of gratitude is this boy, adopted from nowhere, showing, if he just ups and leaves after all of the things the Lees have done for him?
What would true love have been? To stay because of the bond of family? Or to call out the wrong?
I think this covers pretty much the essence I was looking for, but missed:
He needed to dab the bruises from his father's face and get him a tooth job and put a pressed suit on him and shave him and deliver him to Brock, and after Brock to sit him behind his half-acre desk at Curzon street; to set him on his feet but say, "There you are, you're on your own, we're quits."
We caught ourselves in a strange compromise in the musical, allowing Daniel to stay because Mrs Lee had independent money that was not tainted, but it wasn't the best of endings.
No, it wasn't at all.

Monday 4 March 2013

A Grand New Age of Boom or Dust?

Boomtown Craze, Book 3 in the Backworlds series is here!

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.

To secure his future, Craze must propel his world into a more prosperous era. Only days away from the grand opening of his new and improved tavern, he is confronted by a loony Backworlder intent on mucking up his plans. Gaunt and trembling, she claims her spaceship is possessed. She also has a connection to the underworld that shakes loose the dark past of one of Craze’s closest friends. It all threatens to end Craze’s prosperity before it begins.

Meanwhile off world, Captain Talos works desperately to outwit the mercenary Jixes and lure them away from his and Craze’s budding prospects. The mind-control weapon Talos uses against them is wearing thin, and his next move may be his last.

Will Craze and Talos’s efforts bring about a grand new age of boom or damn them to forever struggle in the dust?

Available in ebook at:

Other Outlets can be found at

It will also be available in paperback from Amazon shortly.

M. Pax is a Browncoat and SG fan, she’s also slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. In the summers she docents as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory where the other astronomers now believe she has the most extensive collection of moon photos in existence. No fear, there will be more next summer. She lives in stunning Central Oregon with the Husband Unit and two lovely, spoiled cats.

You can also find M. Pax on LinkedIN, Pinterest, YouTube, and Wattpad

From March 4 to March 22, folks can enter to win the following:

1 set of signed Backworlds paperbacks, including The Backworlds, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, and Boomtown Craze. Will only ship to US residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One of five free ebooks. All countries eligible. Enter the rafflecopter for a chance.

Sunday 3 March 2013

fireplace: Praying with power

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Ephesians 1:18-21

I've been putting off this post to almost a month now, but there are some things that somehow need to be said. I'm just not sure if I'm the one to be saying or if I even know how to say it. The thing with prayer is that it's very easy to talk about it. It's easy to bounce off theories and come up with placating reasons why some prayers were answered and others were not; about how sometimes we may not be able to recognise the answer, or how we refuse to accept answers we don't like, and all that kind of thing. But when it comes down to it, no matter what you or I can say, if you just cannot grasp what prayer really is about (and it's about a lot of things!), if your mindset and your worldview is wrong (what is wrong and what is right?), you're just never going to get it. And most times I don't yet either. I wish I did.

Dr Philip Lyn preached on The Believer's Authority about a month ago when I visited SIB KL, and one of the things he said that resonated with me went something like this: "Stop describing the mountain to God. He knows what it looks like and the more you talk you make it bigger for yourself. Speak to the mountain the words and promises of God."

And that's just it. I'm not a proponent of the "name it and claim it" theology, but at the same time, I think that a lot of times our prayers are ineffective because we forget or we don't really believe that God may actually want to answer our prayers. We act as if we need to twist God's arm or manipulate him into doing something that He actually wants to do for us.

And that comes to speaking it into being. Because you know, God spoke, and the world was made. And if we're learning to become more like Christ, there are times when we just need to speak into the situation, to say to the mountain that it should move, and wait for it to move. And we do have that authority in Christ to do so, if only we claim it. His incomparably great power for us who believe - the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

We - I - need to stop living in defeat.

Friday 1 March 2013

The story that didn't win anything

So there was this competition to win a free copy of KL NOIR: Red by submitting a short story (300 words) based on one of the titles in the book.
I didn't get anything, but here's the flash fic anyway. Enjoy!

The Oracle of Truth
“You’ll never find true love,” Katelyn blurted, then covered her mouth with her hands, her eyes wide.
“That’s not a nice thing to say, dear,” Mother said distractedly as she continued to eat her breakfast. Keith glared at his younger sister.
I’m sorry, she mouthed at him, but he narrowed his gaze and beckoned her out.
“You did not just say that to me,” Keith hissed at her once they’d left the dining room. His grip left white marks on her arm when she pulled it away.
Unsay it, Katelyn, unsay it, she willed herself, but she couldn’t. The words wouldn’t form on her lips, no matter how hard she tried.
“Katelyn, please.” There was desperation in Keith’s voice now.
“I can’t,” she whimpered. “You know how it is.”
“No, I don’t know. I don’t know how you can claim to be the oracle and just make things you wish to happen come true.”
“I don’t wish it to happen! Why would I want to do that to you? It just happens to be true. I can’t change it.” Her brain felt like it would explode from the pressure of his will that fought against the truth that had made itself known in her mind. Sometimes she just wished they were normal. “Stop it, Keith. It hurts.”
“Not until you change it.”
Did people actually pay for this? For the privilege of knowing the future and then blaming the one who foretold it if they didn’t like it? Something gave way in her mind right then, and she knew that Keith had managed to change the truth, just a little.
“You will fall desperately in love one day,” she said with finality. It was better than nothing.