This is my last posting for the year, and my first in Melbourne, Australia.
I don’t suppose many will read it because this site has been dormant for quite a long while that those few who frequent it previously could have stopped checking it out altogether. And so, I log my last post knowing my thoughts are bare to the One who sees all things, but which I have also chosen to make know to the world on this obscure blog – thoughts that will mark the end of this year and the beginning of next year.
The past two months since leaving the country, have been fleeting and almost spurious. And I have come to appreciate how reality and wishes can blend into a kind of twilight that leaves you wondering if at all your life is in free fall instead of the masterful control of the unseen Hand of the Almighty.
I don’t think I can begin to express enough and mention the many people I would like to talk about who have crossed my path this season. Not just yet. I will blog in stages when the year begins, as I mentioned I would in my last posting.
Today, I will just articulate three concerns.
First. I know just how far I am from understanding what it takes and means to be strong and courageous. But that is what not only I but those who are called to hasten His coming and to possess the land are required to be. Thus, I will continue into the next season this endeavour. To be strong and courageous. That would be my resolution this coming year, in the things that truly matter. Beyond that, I couldn’t care less. For the moment, I speak almost in riddle. Those who have walked with me would understand, for I speak plainly.
Do you need to be strong and courageous? What does it matter if you do or not?
Of course, I will elaborate as we move along into the new year what matters you and I must face and overcome. But for now, let me move into my second concern.
While the world reels in the onslaught of incessant blows – those of us who have managed to track developments locally and abroad – most of us are focused on our micro priorities. For us, who have moved out of our comfort zone into a new land, we too have easily stumbled headlong into our self-centered preoccupations, however legitimate they may be. In that process, we are caught in a vicious cycle of survival. Surviving. And in the course of time, we become who we survived to become without realizing it – victims of our perceived circumstances and limited choices. Do I judge someone on this matter? I fear that I may, though I wish I would not.
How can we break free of our cycle, or “karma” in the words of some others labelled heathens? Doing the same thing over and over, until the silver cord is broken.
Do you know how you are going to end your cycle? What is does it take to move on to that which you know truly matters? Or are you going to ask, What does it matter, and carry on as if tomorrow will never come.
My third and last concern, for the moment, is simply this. We will see like never before a beguiling force that would shroud the world. Unprecedented deception. In so much that, if it were possible, even the very elect shall be deceived.
The Church will be sieved. Listen to what the Spirit says to the Church.
The Word says you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. Only those who truly love the Truth and seek the Way will find Life.
And the elect will stand.
What does it matter to you to be counted among the elect? You and I need to be strong and courageous and not be among the crowd who are deceived.
Already, the next hour draws near….
For now, I conclude.
May God bless you
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This is my last posting for the year, and my first in Melbourne, Australia.
Posted by John Beh at 5:49 AM
Friday, October 31, 2008
This is likely my last blog in Malaysia this year.
The next will be done in Melbourne.
For starters, I'll be posting in three installments my next blog.
First, pictures and commentary on our three years and seven months in Grace Assembly. That's the happy nostalgic part.
Second, pictures and commentary on the mighty warriors I've had the privilege of knowing in Grace Assembly. That's the grand part!
Third, pictures and commentary on what was, what is, and what is to come in Grace Assembly. This would be my insider view on the whole journey. And that's the exciting part!
Unlike Raja Petra Kamaruddin, I don't think I'll be hauled up for sedition, ISA, OSA, or whatever Thossai or Chappati.... Heh heh, but it's time to look to a new season.
So if you're watching and waiting... pray along, and we'll soon see what's next!
God bless you all my wonderful friends, fabulous fans, and fiendish fiends....
Let me end with an old Christmas song ahead of time....
You better watch out, You better not cry
You better not pout, I'm telling you why
CAUSE Jesus Christ is coming so soon....
Posted by John Beh at 11:44 PM
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Like the movie starring Pierce Brosnan in The Day After Tomorrow, the world's climate seems set to change more amid drastic levels in global warming. But more alarming is the financial meltdown that last days prophets of doom in the 70's and 80's would shrill with delight in proclaming curtains for all.
But really, how close are we to the end?
Those who have lived with the overcast gloom in those days and are pushing 50 to 60 today seem largely oblivious to the fears of yesteryears. I guess, for them, it doesn't really matter as much if Jesus comes back today or not since they are already close to ticking off their bucket list.
For those who are hale and hearty, the end seems a remote and unwelcomed possibility. Although none can run away from the inevitable of pushing daisies when their number is up, most do not come close to considering death let alone Jesus coming again.
So where does this leave us all?
The Bible says, as it was in the days of Noah, many will go on eating, drinking, and making merry with business as usual, so shall it be in the last days....
So what shall it be for you, my friend....
What does it matter if the end comes today, or tomorrow, or whatever you say?
Posted by John Beh at 7:35 AM
Monday, October 6, 2008
Does it matter that RPK is still squatting in a cell in Kamunting?
Does it matter that the financial status of the United States is in a quandary?
Does it matter that you have been ingesting melamine the past many donkey years as a result of China's .... hmmm shall we say, apathy?
Does it matter that Najib could be the next prime minister in Malaysia?
Does it matter that you don't know what you believe in and when someone asks you what your religion is and you pause a moment and say, ur hur ur ur....
Does it matter that tommorow Thailand will dip further into some kind of anarchistic melee as a result of the nation's loss of vision?
O you say, vision? Is Malaysian on target to achieve its vision 2020 or is the country going to go under in the next few years from corruption and mismanagement and sheer stupidity?
Does it matter .... O does it matter at all whether you are going to sleep soundly tonight and probably waking up to a more crappy tomorrow because you haven't figured out why you are the way you are?
Does it matter that the rest of the world is in doldrums and you're thinking about what you are going to do about your life?
Does it matter if anything really matters and nothing matters altogether because you haven't figured out what matters that is worth mattering over? Huh? Duh?....
Does it matter....? What? You say....
Posted by John Beh at 9:47 AM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
(Sunther in the middle with his arm over Ethan, flanked by Davian and Torina, in a photo taken with missionary friends, John and Melody woodworth, and their sons, Tanner and Grayson, and a church member.)
Today, the family and friends of Pastor Sunther will bid him one last farewell. I'm sure it will be a teary affair. While we know he has certainly moved on to a far better place in the bosom of the Lord - awaiting the last trumpet call when the dead in Christ will join all who are still alive to meet in the air to reign forevermore - he will be missed by those dear to him.
Sunther was the president of our graduating class in 1993. He was always jovial and outstanding as a leader among leaders. Quick to inquire when he spotted a need and to speak a kind word or intervene when he could make the difference. That was why his peers elected him.
Since then, the class of 1993 have moved on.... everyone doing their own thing in the ministry field, too busy to meet as regularly as we ought to have met. Like most ministers, the driven pace of work and tyranny of the urgent crashing into our pool of priorities, clouding oftentimes the menial from the what matters most in life.
The last I met Sunther was in the recent AG council meeting. Bright eyed and alert, he chatted only briefly with me. I noticed though, a pensive mood he carried. He looked the same only having added some kilos to his portly frame, but appeared quite different from the earlier days.
We all change. Life's choices weigh down on us. And the passage of time carve its effects on us.
Among our graduating class, he is the first to move on. At age 42, he leaves behind Lydia, his sons, Davian, Ethan, and daughter, Torina, and immeasurable memories behind.
One day, we will meet again.
Meanwhile, his passing on leaves a poignant impression and trailing questions.
At the end of the road, at the end of the day, what does it matter.
Posted by John Beh at 7:32 PM
Monday, September 15, 2008
By the end of this day, all Malaysians will know whether a new era has dawned in our nation.
But in any case, the year 2009 looms ahead ominously spelling certain doom and perilous times ahead for those who are not anchored in the Rock of the Ages!
Let us call unto the Lord - 2 Chron 7:14
Posted by John Beh at 7:59 PM
Friday, September 12, 2008
Finally, after a week predicting his own arrest, controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was picked up today at 1.10pm under the Internal Security Act for allegedly being a threat to security, peace and public order. He could be detained for up to 60 days.
No wonder our friend said he was banking on Anwar Ibrahim forming a new government failing which he is done for!
For somewho who is doing what he has been doing to uphold justice and the truth, I wonder if his arrest will inspire Christians and the church to get locked up for upholding justice and the truth.
If not, then for preaching justice and the truth?
Posted by John Beh at 12:38 AM
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Not a very sharp picture.... but you can imagine the dazzling beauty of sunset after a full day's diving in Lembeh Straits.
Not a tangled bunch of banded sea snakes. Just the friendy mimic octopus in the area...
Hmmm, a pretty shot of a wise Napolean Wrasse humming along the depths in North Sulawesi.
Nothing like the black-tip shark to zap your adrenalin level up on a typical dive here.
Posted by John Beh at 7:57 PM
Monday, August 18, 2008
The recent Malaysian Bar Council forum on issues related to this came under fire and drew the ire of a rowdy bunch of demonstrators allegedly instigated by certain political figures. The mainstream newspapers did not seem to provide information the public could get hold of online, thus casting doubts on the reliability of our media.
Foxnews.com recently posted an exclusive interview with the son of an influential Hamas leader and even provided the transcript of the discourse detailing at length his thoughts on leaving his Muslim faith and embracing Christianity.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, 30, attends an evangelical Christian church, Barabbas Road in San Diego, California. He renounced his Muslim faith, left his family behind in Ramallah and is seeking asylum in the United States.
Did he have to flee his homeland after he became a Christian? Like Lina Joy, could he not remain and impact his family and friends and community? Could and did the church provide him moral, spiritual, and physical support?
Mosab told the media that unlike the past, the generation today can seek the truth about their faith. He being the product of this search, concluded that more than 95 percent of Muslims don't understand their own religion and know little about the faith of other people.
Does this apply to the Muslims in Malaysia? Most Malaysian think that a Muslim is a Malay and when you converted to Islam, you also become a Malay, and enjoy the rights and privileges of a Malay. Is this true?
Would a Malay cease to become one when he choose to NOT become a Muslim?
Are the indigenous "sons of the soil" in Sabah, Sarawak, and Peninsular Malaysia Malay? Does the Malaysian constitution say that a Muslim who speaks Bahasa Melayu is a Malay? Does someone who embraces Islam and eventually speaks fluent Bahasa Melayu qualify to become a Malay?
Is there such a thing as a Christian Malay? Does that person cease to be a Malay when he stops becoming a Muslim?
Mosab explained to FoxNews.com that embarrassing stuff like the Prophet Muhammad's wives are not mentioned in mosques, saying that most Muslims are not aware of other such information that go against the grain of today's free thinking generation.
He said Islam try to destroy Christianity distorting the truth of Jesus's crucifixion and the redemptive plan of God. When he asked these among many other difficult questions from young, he was told off.
Mosab described Islam as his father. "I grew up for (one) father — 22 years for that father — and another father came to me and told me, 'I'm sorry, I'm your father.' And I was like, 'What are you talking about? Like, I have my own father, and it's Islam!' And the father of Christianity told me, 'No, I'm your father."
Mosab discovered all these on his own. But he did say in the interview that if a Christian tells the truth to a Muslim, it will definitely increase the vacuum between both religions. But with the help of Christians, he can reach his people.
However, there had to be a starting point. Mosab left everything behind: culture, civilization, traditions, society, family, religion, his Islam God. He went on to make his decision public by announcing to the world.
And now, Mosab is calling all Muslims to open their minds to read the Bible and study the religion of the Christians.
Can Mosab succeed on his solo mission? Is there any one like him who has gone ahead this path to preach the Gospel? I'm sure there are many.
Perhaps this is the season that we will find a gathering a believers and disciples of Jesus Christ from the four corners of the world to preach the Gospel of Truth beyond the walls of the physical church.
A random search brings up the site of Photios Michael Burkland, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer who is an Orthodox Christian, seeking to express himself writing what is true.
Someone can verify this report perhaps?
Hundreds of thousands of Malay Muslims have filed for apostasy
Tue Feb 14, 06 06:15:44
By Oleh Ekmal Yusof
IPOH, 14 Feb: Head of the Malaysian State of Perak Mufti (religious head) Dato' Seri Haji Harussani Haji Zakaria announced that there are close to 250,000 Muslim apostates in Malaysia .This figure includes about 100,000 Malay Muslims who have declared themselves Christians.
This announcement was made on a TV Forum entitled "Pekerti Islam" in the Malaysian State of Kedah recently which was aired by RTM (Malaysian TV & Radio Department) at 2 pm this evening.Another 100,000 Muslims are in the process of filing for apostasy while the rest are filing to have their Muslim name changed to "other religion name""This figure does not include individuals who don't do salat, doesn't fast and breaks all the tenets of Islam" he said.
According to the Perak Mufti he has personally received a letter from the American Christian Missionary Association which accuses the Malaysian (?) / Perak (?) religious authorities of being cruel (or mean) for not allowing about 30,000 Malay Muslims to convert out to Christianity.
Even in a religion where the penalty for apostasy is death, and in a predominately Muslim country where one must publicly file with the government to apostasize, Christianity is growing.
Posted by John Beh at 8:32 PM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Relaxing on the rig after a hearty lunch of fresh fish, squid, prawns, chicken and mixed vegetable.
From left: Canadian Josh, who teaches English in Taiwan. This guy can speak Chinese. Cool. Maybe not a whole lot but enough la.
The girl behind my wife, Jessica, is June Pak. She is Korean and just finished medical school during housemanship. Right now, she is taking time off to dive and chill away from home.
IN the next picture, June with Jessica on the beach front near the Jetty to Sipadan.
Danish model, Pil, with Jessica, after coffee break from our morning dive at Drop-Off and Barracuda Point.
Swiss Romain leaving us in gags when we realized he was trying to get the coffee out of the point. Finally, Oooh, just depress the top cover. Wondering how coffee pots in Switzerland works.
A nice group picture before we jump onto the speedboat for our next dive. From Left: Pil and her Danish boyfriend, Nikki, Peter (from England), and another Danish, Helle, who is on a year long break with her boyfriend to explore life beyond the comfort of their home.
Last day picture. Taking the lift from the rig to the waiting speedboat at the bottom. The tall guy is Helle's boyfriend, Michael. Real cheeky dude who's playful and fun to have around.
Enjoyed fresh coconuts on the way to Tawau from Semporna. Got a video of them scraping the flesh off the nuts. Messy business.
Hmmm. This is Yong, one of the rig's divemaster who took us around. This guy has gone to 60 meters depth. Just for fun to feel how drunk he can get with his buddy. I wouldn't want to be his buddy, you can count on it. Sixty meters is a long way up to the surface.
Long long way.
Here are some pictures of the fabulous people we met on the Rig in our dives. More to come....
Posted by John Beh at 8:15 PM
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
A crocodile fish half-buried in the muck in the depths beneath the oil rig at Sipadan.
You find these horrors in other spots in the area. And as usual, I needed my tectile experience. So I stroked the monster with my fingers. Scaly and rough. Urgh.
A white-eyed eel darting out of hiding. Quite a beauty. So much beauty beneath the murky oil rig.
Herd of huge bumphead fish gliding past in the blue deep off Barrucuda Point.
Close up of a bumphead. Notice the bugs bunny teeth. Real clowns.
Patted the head of this handsome turtle resting on a ledge about 20 meters deep at Sipadan Turtle Tomb somewhere near Drop Off.
Swarm of barracudas spiraling in estatic circles. One of the must catch sights at Sipadan.
One of many whitetip reef sharks gliding gracefully from shallows of 10 meters to beyond.
Another close of up a turtle. Unlike other spots when you get excited when you spot one, you find them shuttling back and forth at Sipadan.
Jessica luring this turtle with bits of sweet potato. Got his on video. Real beauty. She was so pleased with it.
And before more pictures come up, here's one of us in clear waters.
Uploading the pictures one by one. Details later ya
Posted by John Beh at 11:18 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Isaiah 58 describes the kind of fasting that God approves.
When we pause, and consider the gravity of the warnings, instructions, promises, and commands, we tremble realizing how far off the mark we have strayed.
Malaysia, like so many nations this season, is going through unheaval. Like never before, we will see the landscape prepared for the final onslaught. And what would the saints do?
IN the final moment, do we rise in the strength and courage we have long prepared ourselves with or do we wallow in the feebleness and faintheartedness of our fears.
GOD DOESN'T NEED US TO DO ANYTHING FOR HIM. GOD ONLY WANTS US TO WORSHIP HIM WITH ALL WE ARE. And all we are destined to be can only be wrought about as we learn to go through the fire and the flood and come out as pure gold.
IT IS ABOUT HOW WE ARE BECOMING WHO WE ARE.
May God have mercy and compassion on us, so that we understand what does matter.
Posted by John Beh at 3:25 AM
Saturday, June 28, 2008
As part of an experiment by the Washington Post, Joshua Bell, who easily earns $1,000 per minute, performed as a street musician on his $3.5 million violin one morning in January last year, collecting only $32 plus. The result, published in the April 8 edition of the newspaper, is the buzz of the classical music world in the US and around the world. Click here to read Gene Weingarten's story, complete with audio and video.My two-cents worth of comment?
First. People rush through life missing the pearls in life. No wonder the Bible has a quote that says, Do Not Cast Pearls to Swines. But for you and me? Seek the everyday pearls in life.
Second. We cheer when the crowd cheers. We jeer and boo when the crowd heckles the lone figure. If the world says it is good, we believe it must be good. We derive our values from the dictates of societal norms. We ARE the crowd. But check out the Word of Life to break free and Stand out for Christ. What does God say? Do you look to God for affirmation or the world for confirmation?
Third. We live like there is no God in heaven. People forget that they don't just do what they like to do and want to do without consequences. Just as we watch the entire episode of the experiment on video, I wonder, how we would behave if we realized for a moment, everything is caught on camera by the angelic crew. No wonder Heb 4:13 says, Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom We must give account.
What do you think? Does it matter?
Yeah, maybe you say, what does it matter....
Posted by John Beh at 12:17 AM
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Dear fellow niche divers
You're invited to join me and my wife on a 5 DAY 4 NIGHT FUN TRIP exploring the underworld beauty of Sipadan from July 24-28 this year.
This will be one of your perfect diving adventures.
Since we are staying on a converted oil rig (the only one in the world if I'm not mistaken) that sits in the middle of the sea, we could make daily trips easily to Mabul (1 kilometer away) and Sipadan (20 minutes away), INSTEAD of making repeated long trips from Semporna (if we were to stay on the mainland) to dive.
ON TOP of that, we can make unlimited house-reef dives from the rig.
We get all these at the following price for Malaysians (subject to changes soon) based on Twin Share Basis:4 Days 3 Nights Seaventures Diving Package: RM1560.00 Per Diver
*Every Extension Night (Stay more than 4 nights): RM415.00 Per Diver Per Night
*Sipadan Permit: RM40.00 Per Diver Per Day/Night/Entry
*Excluding flight, equipment, and additional 1 night stay in Tawau.For your information, I'm arranging the following itinerary to optimize dive time and travel comvenience.
Day 1 – July 24 Arrival at dive resort (Lunch/Dinner)Take flight to Tawau Airport. Land transfer to Semporna (about 1 hour journey). Boat transfer from Jetty to Seaventures Dive Resort (about 45 minutes journey).1 orientation dive + 1 boat dive at Mabul Island (Subject to change without prior notice) + unlimited housereef dive with own buddy + night dive (with own buddy)
Day 2 – July 25 (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)3 daily boat dive (Sipadan / Mabul / Kapalai) + Unlimited house reef dive with own buddy + Night Dive at house reef with own buddy
Day 3 – July 26 (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)3 daily boat dive (Sipadan / Mabul / Kapalai) + Unlimited house reef dive with own buddy + Night Dive at house reef with own buddy
Day 4 – July 27 Departure (Breakfast/Lunch)After early lunch check-out & transfer you to the Tawau Airport by flight to Kota Kinabalu then connect flight back to home
OR(THIS IS MY OPTION!) So that we can make another 2 dives since we're not flying on the same day.After lunch at resort, around 1400hrs, check-out & transfer you to Semporna/Tawau Town. Note: No. of dive depend on flight time on next day.(Please bear in mind of requirement for the surface interval before flight on next time.)
Day 5 – July 28 Home Sweet HomeRelax after a night's rest and take either morning flight or afternoon flight according to your schedule and personal flight arrangements.TOTAL NUMBER OF PROJECTED DIVES: 10 day dives + 3 night dives (or more depending on YOU and DIVE CONDITIONS)
Note:Sipadan Permit is subject to availability. Once permit is booked, subject to 100% cancellation charges. All daily entry to dive or visit Sipadan Island will be subject to approval by Sabah park Management, which is in control of issuing the entry permit. Should the entry permit to Sipadan Island is not approved, we will make alternative diving at nearby island such as Mabul, Kapalai Island...etc.
Diving is subject to coincide with our scheduled transfer or subject to charge accordingly.
- 15% discount for the non diver from the diver rate
- 50% discount for the children below 12 years old (non diver)
- Dive scheduling and grouping arrangement of divers shall be determined by the resort staff
- All the diving schedules are subject to change without prior notice & subject to sea and weather condition
Package Rates includes:
1. EX-TAWAU Package: Return land & boat transfer between Tawau Airport/Tawau Town - Seaventures Dive Resort
2. Fullboard Meals & Beverage (Excluding alcoholic & carbonated drinks)
3. Twin share accommodation in fully air-conditioning cabin attached bathroom with hot shower.
4. 3 Daily boat dive ( 2 boat dive at Sipadan Island + 1 boat dive at Mabul/Kapalai Island) + night dive at house reef with buddy system.
5. Tanks, weights and weight belt.
6. Unlimited housereef dive with buddy system.
7. Free use of internet broadband services.
Equipment Rental Rates (Per Day)
1. BCD RM25.00
2. Regulator W/Gauge RM25.00
3. Mask & Snorkel RM15.00
4. Fins RM10.00
5. Wetsuit RM25.00
* Full set Equipment Rental Rate (Per Day): RM100.00
For Unscheduled Return Transfer:• Land Transfer: An additional of RM120.00 Per Person • Boat Transfer: An additional of RM300.00 Per Person Facilities:* Accommodation with fully air-conditioned & attached bathroom with hot shower* Karaoke Lounge with VCD movies* Sundeck Lounge (also serves as open-air area)* Maindeck Lounge (also serves as open-air dining area)* Restaurant* Game Room - Pool table* Fully equipped Conference Room (accommodated 60 persons)* PADI Diving course (up to Assistant Instructor Lavel)* Internet AccessYou are require to provide full name according to passport, passport number, gender, nationality & flight details of the guests. All guests are required to sign a liability release (waiver) and express assumption of risk upon arrival and abide by all diving and safety rules. Unused portions of tour packages are not refundable once tour commences.
Posted by John Beh at 8:06 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Congratulations to Hwai Tah, Sherene, Jacky, and Janielle for completing their PADI Open Water Diver certification! Posting some early pictures before I get the rest from the others.
STREET MAGIC: Nataly taking a peek under the funny man's dancing cocacola bottle to figure out how this magician does his act!
DON'T PLAY PLAY: Jacky walloping down his favourite extra-spicy everything-mixed-in authentic Thai beef noodles at only 60 baht!
COOL DUDE: Nataly and Janielle flanking this dude who runs the beef noodle stall
FOOD GALORE: Land piranhas tearing at Thai pancakes with a variety of toppings and flavour
TUCKING INTO NUM TUK: Andrew and Jacky stuffing down strips of delicious BBQ pork drenched in special lemon coriander mint leave chilli sauce.
SECOND DAY DIVING: Splendid sunset after a wonderful day's dive at Phi Phi Island
WHOSE ANGELS? Posing at Bida Nok
READY TO GO: Hwai Tah raring to experience the weightlessness of the underwater world
INTO SHORTIES: You don't have to only jump off a boat when it sinks. You can do it when you like - if you're a diver!
COOL ANDREW: Old faithful promoting RR in Phuket.
EASY AS ABC: Jacky and Hwai Tah finning into their buddy positions awaiting the rest of us to jump into the waters at Phi Phi.
I'M OK! Close up of Hwai Tah gleefully giving the OK signal
It was my privilege to work through the training with this bunch of enthusiastic and determined divers who didn't flinch when facing a thunderstorm and choppy waves amid wafts of cold wind on the second day of their dive training.
It was even cold enough for me to abandon my swimming trunks and T-shirt in favour of shorties. What more for them as new divers!
On the third day aboard Sea Fantasy II, all of them practically enjoyed their dives 5 and 6 with excellent buoyancy control as we explored the depths of Racha Yai.
PIECE OF CAKE: Janielle and Sherene chowing down pancakes drizzled with chocolate and cinnamon sauce and syrup after the second day's dive at Bida Nai and Bida Nok in the vicinity of Phi Phi.
ALL OK: Janielle, Sherene, and Hwai Tah giving the OK signal after they giant-stepped off the boat
Posted by John Beh at 10:53 AM
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Hwai Tah, Sherene, Nataly, and Jacky will be taking a cab to LCCT tomorrow while Andrew will join us on his own. Janielle will get to complete her Discover Scuba stint a year back and get certified on this trip.
Feeling a bit nolstagic already, having been to Phuket quite often, and each trip was filled with different memories.
The best were when Jessica and the girls joined me midway while I was spending a couple of weeks doing my dive training last year for two long stretches. You know, when you're away for a spell from those you spend your life with everyday, ....
Diving conditions are challening this season. The latest update today describes good diving and sunny weather so far, even though the seas are expected be rougher. That means the big fish are aplenty.
Interesting huh. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. That's when you see less of the wimpy and small fries. Hmmm. Life's like that huh.
17 June 2008Weather After a nice high season, some unusual rains in April though, the wind has shifted. After this wind direction change we always have some unsettled weather, which happened in the middle of May. We are having very nice weather lately; today it is sunny, there is a slight breeze, the seas are very calm.
The diving is very nice at the moment, with quite lots of ghost pipe fish, frogfish and seahorses at Shark Point, Bida Islands and Koh Doc Mai.
Also plenty of sharks in the area, both leopard sharks and black tips at the Bida islands, lots of jacks, and we even saw a whale shark at the King Cruiser wreck and at Racha Yai a few days ago.
Temperatures of appx. 34 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit), sea temperatures of 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit).
The visibility is ok at the moment. On average: Racha Noi 20 meters, Racha Yai 15-20 meters, Phi Phi 10-15 meters, Shark Point area 10-15 meters, Hin Daeng/Muang 15-20 meters, no diving at Kata Beach or Similans. Visibility in the area varies a lot day by day.
Sightings Besides the usual things to see, there are lots of leopard sharks at the moment, and also the number of white tip and black tip reef sharks has risen dramatically since last year. And there are of course the usual things to see.
At Similans, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock there are apart from the pretty standard nursesharks, leopard sharks and reefsharks also humphead parrot fish, Napoleons and quite a few turtles.
At these sites we also see nice small life like harlequin shrimp, nudibranches, etc.
At Shark Point: seahorse, nursesharks and of course leopard sharks; at Anemone Reef turtles, nursesharks and quite often a leopard shark in the 5 meter range; at Koh Doc Mai 2 seahorses and a frogfish; 3 different shark species, plenty of scorpion and lion fish and also a turtle at King Cruiser.
Turtles, see needles, a frogfish and frequently manta rays at Racha Islands; turtles, leopard sharks, seahorses and different types of reefshark at Phi Phi.
Posted by John Beh at 8:56 AM
Friday, June 13, 2008
Is Obama going to be the next US President?
Let's look at his position on Israel and second guess where the world is headed. Because, at the end of the day, the world leaders in power will play key roles with Israel and the middle east center stage in the end times. So what Obama stands for will certainly give us a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Recently, Obama declared that whatever peace accord contemplated, Israel's identity as a Jewish state must be preserved, and "any negotiated peace will involve the Palestinians relinquishing the right of return."
Like Bush, he has given his unequivocal support to Israel's rejection of the 40 years old demand by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) - endorsed by the 22 member States of the Arab League - that millions of former Arab residents or their descendants be allowed to emigrate to Israel.
For Hamas - the Islamic Resistance Movement - that right of return is non- negotiable and inviolate and will be pursued until the complete destruction of Israel's identity as a Jewish state is achieved.
Article 11 of the Hamas Charter states clearly that:
"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day."
Any attempt therefore by any Arab leader to abandon negotiate away or compromise on this issue would bring swift retribution from Hamas.
"Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation."
When push comes to shove this claim to Arab ownership of Palestine to the exclusion of the Jews will bring any negotiations crashing down to an ignominious end, since American support for the Arab position is absolutely essential if any kind of pressure is to be put on Israel to moderate its opposition to the demanded right of return.
Posted by John Beh at 12:05 AM
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Are you an immigrant? Are you Second or third Class Citizen in Malaysia?
But what does it matter to you?
Raja Petra Kamaruddin blogged saying: Last month, Umno Johor said that the greatest mistake they made was in giving the non-Malay immigrants citizenship in August 1957. Now that they have been given citizenship they show their ingratitude by voting for the opposition. Yes, non-Malays, even those born in Malaysia, are immigrants. And, being immigrants, they must vote Barisan Nasional. And if they do not vote for Barisan Nasional then they are ungrateful.
It seems then that the Malays can vote for whomsoever they would like to vote for because the Constitution allows them to do so. Malays, therefore, can vote for the opposition. But, if you are non-Malay, then you must vote for Barisan Nasional because you are an immigrant.
Tun Dr Mahathir’s father was born in India. But Tun Dr Mahathir can vote opposition. He can even oppose Umno like he is doing so now. In fact, he can even become the Prime Minister. He is not an ungrateful immigrant who should be sent back to India. Tian Chua, however, can’t oppose Umno. Tian Chua, whose family settled in Malaya long before the Portuguese came in 1511, is an immigrant. And if he is not happy and if he opposes Umno then he should go back to China. And Umno Johor regrets giving Tian Chua citizenship in 1957 but does not regret giving Tun Dr Mahathir citizenship.
Why? Because Tun Dr Mahathir is Muslim while Tian Chua is not. But if Tian Chua circumcises and takes on the Muslim name of Musa Bin Susah and marries a Malay woman, then he need not go back to China and Umno does not regret giving him citizenship in 1957.
My bro-in-law who is a Mat Salleh who previously married a Muslim and now has a Muslim name is more Malaysian than I am. In fact, by constitution, he is a Malay. Because if he speaks Malay, and he practises Islam, then he is more than a Malay - he enjoys Bumiputera status. Son of the soil. Although he was born in France, he is closer to Malaysian soil than me or my children (2nd and 3rd generation immigrants).
But I can beat him at his game. Convert and be a Muslim. Then I become a son of Malaysian soil. A yellow-skinned bumiputera.
But I don't care. Because my citizenship is of another land. Another time. Another world. Meanwhile, I can go where I like and travel where I want to. Settle where I choose to. All I need to do is move.
But what does it matter to you?
Posted by John Beh at 8:17 PM
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Is the Gospel magic or what?
Some people say magic is the devil's stuff and should not be dabbled with.
Illusionists, known commonly as magicians, are scorned because the latter label is seen to have negative impressions on people - especially nowadays when so many movies and TV shows portray the dark side of magic so attractively.
What happens when Christians use illusion to share the Gospel?
What do you think?
Posted by John Beh at 7:33 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
You are probably familiar with the North American stereotype of the vulture -- harbinger of death, dirty and traitorous. Why do we feel this way? Why has our view of these marvelous creatures so like this?
When I was covering the crime beat as a reporter checking out the morgue at the local hospitals, the guys from the funeral parlours used to hang out there waiting for customers. We call them vultures then.
The same vulture names we call the tow truck operators plying the highways. The same names we call people who prey on those who are weak and defenseless and dying.
But poor poor mighty vultures. They have been falsely accused.
First: Vultures are basically classified into two groups: Old World vultures and New World vultures. The similarities between the two different groups are due to convergent evolution. Old World vultures found in Africa, Asia, and Europe belong to the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards, and hawks. YES, eagles.
Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight.
New World vultures and condors (the largest bird in the world) found in warm and temperate areas of the Americas are not closely related to the superficially similar Accipitridae, but belong in the family Cathartidae, which is quite close to the storks. Several species have a good sense of smell, unusual for raptors, and are able to smell the dead they focus upon from great heights.
So now you know Eagles and Vultures are in the same category. The same kind.
Second: While eagles are know to hunt down the weak, slow rabbit (it doesn't really care so long as it's easy meat) the vulture is known to feed on carrion. And what is carrion? The meat or flesh of dead animals. Vultures don't prey on the healthy.
In fact, vultures seldom attack healthy animals, but may kill the wounded or sick. Vast numbers have been seen upon battlefields. They gorge themselves when prey is abundant, till their crop bulges, and sit, sleepy or half torpid, to digest their food. These birds are of great value as scavengers, especially in hot regions. Botulinum toxin, the toxin that causes botulism, does not affect them, and they can eat rotten flesh containing anthrax and cholera bacteria.
They clean up after the sickly is dead. They oftentimes clean up after the dead is long dead and a putrefying stench of rotting carcass covered in maggots. With 100 times the botulism of a human, the stomach of a vulture can digest meat in advanced stages of decay, a favor to every other creature in the world.
Basically, vultures takes out the garbage. And in a world full of rubbish left behind by the killers, we sure need the vultures.
Third: The vulture is one creature that can spread its wings and soar for hours. Much like the eagle. Like the eagle that hunts, the vulture patiently smells out its food or spots it from high up in the sky,and waits for it to die or if it's already dead, swoop down to clean it out. It hunts. Only differently. And patience! Boy, is it patient.
Fourth: The vulture's bald head is one feature that appears revolting to many people, but it is a brilliant physiological property that allows the creature to plunge into all sorts of carcasses, and come out clean. Its other cousin, the American Bald-head eagle probably had no feathers for different reasons. But for the vulture, that's how it keeps clean. After sticking its head into rotting carrion and gorging itself, the vulture would fly high and perch in the scorching heat of the sun. That takes care of the germs and rotting leftovers without the trouble of cleaning out under the feathers and stuff.
Without feathers to serve as a habitat for all the bacteria that infests their meals, vultures soar through their lives disease-free. After eating, vultures can often be seen perched in the heat of the sun. Here, whatever has managed to cling to the few bits of fuzz on their head will be baked off once and for all. So it knows how to keep clean.
Fifth: We are what we eat. But the vulture is not carcass. In fact, it can stomach so much rot that while other animals would have dropped dead from the same crap the vulture feeds on, the vulture has a digestion system that takes care of things. In other words, the vulture can take
s#@t as it comes.
Sixth: In Southern Africa, the name for a Nubian vulture is synonymous with the term applied to lovers, because these vultures are always seen in pairs, mother and child remaining closely bonded together.
Pairing, bonding, protecting, and loving are essential attributes associated along with the vulture's size and its ability to soar high in the sky. The Egyptians considered the vulture to be an excellent mother, and the wide wingspan was seen as all-encompassing and providing a protective cover to her infants. The white Egyptian vulture was the animal picked to represent Nekhbet, the mother goddess and protective patron of southern, Upper Egypt. The vulture hieroglyph was the uniliteral sign used for the glottal sound (3) including words such as mother, prosperous, grandmother, and ruler.
Wow! So now you know the vulture is esteemed for some lofty attributes.
Now what's so BAD about vultures?
Did you realize by now that what people have been telling you about vultures is not necessarily the whole truth? Isn't it interesting that many people who accuse the vultures of all the bad things can themselves be attacking the defenseless and weak and strayed? That they could be as bad as the vultures they are accusing? In fact worse, because vultures are not so bad after all?
After all, God created the vultures. At least the vultures know what they are living for. DO YOU?
The vultures are lofty. They can put up with a LOT of stench. They can survive the contamination and not die from what they consume. They know how to keep clean by basking in the sun and soaring against the wind to shed the dirt clinging to them. It is amazingly patient. It takes out the garbage. (Many of us don't)
AND.... one last point! This will surely thrill you.
"And I bore you upon wings of vultures and brought you unto me." (Ex. 19:4)
The Hebrews chose to compare God with a vulture, in this verse, because of the bird's amazing talent of flight. They admired the vultures ability to "float" on the air for long spans of time, without so much as flapping a wing. Vultures are incredible birds. In fact, they have been revered by many cultures throughout history.
One place we see this clearly is in the Hebrew texts of the Bible. Exodus 19:4 is translated in the King James version of the Bible as "I bore you on wings of eagles and brought you unto me." But the Hebrew word "nesher," which is interpreted as "eagle" in many common translations, actually translates as "vulture" in English!
Posted by John Beh at 11:17 PM