Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolution for Digital Life: 10 Digital Diet Rules to Live By

Why did you click to read this blog article? Was it the picture art? Was it the title? Was it a random choice? Or was it because of an undeniable voices saying that you’re, in fact, having an “obesity” with technology and you need a digital “diet” now?! Me and Daniel Sieberg, writer of The Digital Diet, guessing the latter. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority. Let’s examine yourself more with these questions by Daniel in case you still not convince of your need for digital diet:

Do you sometimes feel the urge to pull out your smart phone when someone else is making a point in conversation? Have you ever realized you were texting while your child was telling you about her day at school and later couldn’t remember any of the details of her story? Have you ever felt that something hasn’t really happened until you post it on Facebook or tweet about it? Do you sometimes wonder if you could actually focus better in real life before all these gadgets invaded your space? Does a flashing red light on your BlackBerry or white light on your iPhone make your heart flutter? Does a ringing/vibrating cell phone interrupt and trump everything else? Do you feel anxious if you’re offline for any length of time? Do you find that your family can be in the same room but not talking to one another because you’re each interacting with a different device?

The Digital Diet: The 4-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011) by Daniel Sieberg is a treasure book for me. As for the content of this book, you must read it for yourself. In summary, the 4-Step Plan and subtopics are Re: Think (You Are What You Type, My Binary Binge, The Weight You Can’t See), Re: Boot (Detox, Your Virtual Weight Index, Surveying the Damage), Re: Connect (Mind and Body Dexterity 2.0, Upbeat While Downloading, This Time It’s Personal), and Re: Vitalize (Your Organic Blueprint, Sustainable Intake). Here I would like to quote at length Daniel’s 10 Digital Diet Rules to Live By:

1)    Avoid tech turds. Don’t just dump your smart phone on the table at a restaurant or at home. Keep it in your pocket or purse unless it’s critical to have it out. If you must have it out, acknowledge its presence and inform your companions that you’ll check it only in an emergency. It’s a courtesy that you’d appreciate, too.

2)    Live your life in the real world. If you must post a status update or tweet or blog about something in your life, then make sure it’s something you’d be willing to announce to anyone you know face to face.

3)    Ask yourself whether you really need that gadget. There are tons of cool stuff in the tech world, and some of it might even improve your or your family’s life, but don’t feel compelled to buy every new toy that comes out. Before you make a digital purchase, question its necessity.

4)    Seek tech support. Navigating the wilds of the wired world can sometimes be too much to handle alone. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s also okay to use technology to help “outsource self-control” when needed. Check out the many programs that can assist with budgeting your time online.

5)    Detox Regularly. Once you’ve completed the Digital Diet, return to the detox phase one day a month. You can do this as a family, too. Use that day as a touchstone to remember what life can be like without technology.

6)    Sleep device-free. Move your chargers out of the bedroom to another room in the house, and let your devices live there overnight. They need a break from you, too.

7)    It’s either the human or the device. Work toward choosing people over the device. Yes, there’ll be times when it’s tricky or nearly impossible to choose between your smart phone or laptop and paying attention to your child or your loved one or your friend, but try to use your devices more on your own time rather than during the time you share with others.

8)    Remember the “if /then” principle. Choices that you make in the virtual world can have an impact in the real one. For example, if you don’t find the time to put down the gadgets and log out once in a while, then you might lose the ability to appreciate the finer moments in life.

9)    Structure your e-day. Work toward a finite beginning and end to your connectedness. In other words, dive into the gadgets and the e-mail and the texts only when you’ve composed yourself in the morning. When you’re ready to unplug in the evening, do it without reservation and focus on what—and who—is immediately around you.

10) Trust your instincts. If you think you might be spending too much time being a voyeur on social networks or playing online games or endlessly texting, then you probably are. That little voice knows when it’s all become too much. Listen to it. Pursue the ultimate goal of balance and awareness.

I would like to add one more rule.
Rule 11) First Thing in the Morning, Don’t Check Your Smartphone – Log In to God First.
Say a short prayer instead or read a chapter or few verses of the Bible and meditate on it.
Jesus first, not Facebook or E-mail. You can do all of it later.
Don’t eliminate technology, no. The goals are balance, awareness and take control.
Now, do you want to consider having Digital Diet this New Year?
Happy New Year 2015! Thanks for all my readers.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Don’t Be a Data Hoarder

This book The Digital Diet (Souvenir Press, 2011) by Daniel Sieberg is very informative, challenging and interesting. On the subject of Don’t Be a Data Hoarder, Daniel wisely counsels,

“There are many tragic (and extreme) examples of people who can’t throw out a single possession. They live in squalor and filth and often die in that environment. Dealing with something as simple as an old sweater turns into an enormous ordeal. We pity them and wish they could learn to separate ‘the thing’ from the emotion or ‘the thing’ from the person. All too often ‘the things’ take precedence because ‘the things’ don’t talk back or give them grief or cause alarm. But in the twenty-first century there is a new category of this type of obsessive-compulsive behaviour – data hoarding.

Yet we have all become digital pack rats. We have so many digital photos and e-mails we want to save, and with no single place to keep them, we don’t end up deleting anything. We fret over whether we’ll still have this laptop ten years from now or whether a certain format could be read by computers as our grandkids grow up. Or we simply don’t want to delete those e-mails that build a relationship. My wife actually printed out the majority of e-mails and instant messages that we exchanged while courting in 2001. Yes, I was the shy (aka nerdy) co-worker who started the come-hither messages. And while I’m all about saving trees, there was something oddly reassuring about having tangible copies of these irreplaceable moments of our history. I don’t think either of us still have any digital traces of these steamy conversations (it’s a fun read), but I’m not overly worried since we have the scrapbook.

We are going to continue to face this conundrum, as our entire lives are increasingly lived out online. We don’t just have e-mails and instant messages; we have text messages and Facebook posts and terabytes of digital video and photos that build up over time. We buy new external hard drives to accommodate them and attempt to purge some items. We get more space in our Gmail account and forward everything to the ‘cloud.’ And we rarely print stuff out anymore, since it’s time-consuming and sooooooo 2003. Therefore, we’ve all started to exhibit some minor tendencies of a ‘data hoarder.’

Muller has studied a spectrum of these types of personalities (a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder) and attempts to treat them with an extreme type of Digital Diet. Muller believes in ‘acceptance and commitment’ therapy – in other words, getting information hoarders to address their reliance on saving everything and proceed to a place in their life that puts it in perspective. And while the vast majority of us aren’t ‘hoarders,’ we may still keep too much stuff in our in-box or text-message queue or cache. If you eliminate the unnecessary messages and e-crap that are kicking around your various devices, you may actually find it lifts a burden from your brain. Like a mini cleanse. Every time you open those applications it will seem more empowering when you aren’t bogged down by digital leftovers.”

Take Action: Use some of your online time to hit the delete key, and feel the weight lift off your shoulders. Open your e-mail in-box and review messages from the last few weeks. If it isn’t essential in your life or critical to save, then delete it. I challenge you to get your in-box below five to ten unread items. Look at what those messages are saying or doing: Are they reminders? Sentimental? Things you don’t want to deal with? Use your online time wisely and tackle as many as you can. Easier said than done, of course, like a lot of things worth doing. But perhaps we can all learn something from those information hoarders before it’s too late.

After I read this book, I put it into actions.
Yes, now I gain more freedom from the decease of data hoarding
and I have more time for reading and writing. You should try it. All the best.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Optimist-Christian Attitudes #1: Half Full or Half Empty?

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation,
you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude,
a feeling that nurtures the soul” (Rabbi Harold Kushner)

Is the glass half full or half empty? This is just one of the most common of the many metaphors used to contrast optimism with pessimism. It is also said that an optimist sees daylight at the end of a tunnel, whereas a pessimist sees the headlights of an oncoming train. Optimists believe that every cloud has a silver lining, while pessimists just see the potential for rain. Optimists see the doughnut, pessimists see the hole.

Keeping your glass half full is a matter of what you pay attention to. If you focus on the positive aspects of a situation, this does not mean you are denying the negative, it’s simply that you are making a conscious decision to seek God’s guidance rather than evil’s plan; encouragement rather than discouragement.

One way to focus on the half-full part of the glass is to express gratitude for what you have or what you have experienced, what God gives to you and what God had done for you. I know, it is not always easy to recognize the things in our lives for which we should be thankful, particularly when we are unhappy, it can be annoying to be told to cheer up and be grateful that we have home, family, health, and so on. However, this is precisely what God wants us to do and what we should do. People who show their appreciation are those who are enthusiastic, energetic, faithful, and optimistic, and they experience less stress and depression. They are free to love God and others because they appreciate life the most.

There is no doubt that when the going is tough it is more difficult to be grateful than when things are going well. However, it is during the hard times that we need gratitude the most. Like my previous post, true Christians will surely be rejected and persecuted – either spiritually or physical or mentally – but they are also optimist about the future for “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) and “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you… For great reward awaits you in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Yes, optimist Christians see the glass half full.
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Friday, December 26, 2014

Jesus, You're Not Welcome (A Reflection on Mark 6:1-6)

Christmas. The angels announced Jesus’ coming. The visitors from the East welcomed him. The shepherds were rejoiced and visited him. But his own people did not welcome him. Jesus was rejected. I have had many friends in the past. Friends who would ‘die’ for me, drink with me, smoke and share cigarette with me. When I told them that I want to follow Jesus seriously and invites them to join me, they rejected me (Even my mother and family members, at first, accused me of being radical). My hundreds of friends now reduce to dozen of good faithful friends. Christmas reminds me of that truth.

The story of Jesus is a story of rejection. The apostle John summarised that fact when he wrote, “He came to his own people, and even they rejected him” (John 1:11). It’s sadly ironic that the people in general have arrogantly displayed a “No Trespassing” sign to their Creator.  Mark 6:1-6 is especially touching because Jesus is rejected by the people of Nazareth, his hometown where he grew up. No doubt, they had heard reports of his powerful teaching and healing ministry throughout Galilee, and his first appearance in the local synagogue was impressive that “many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed” (Mark 6:2).

’Where did he get all this?’ they asked. ‘What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles? Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?’ And so they rejected him” (Mark 6:2-3).

Based on the people’s respond, “Isn’t he the carpenter?” they doubted Jesus’ validity because he did not have the status or prestige of a teacher such as a Pharisee. To them, he was no more than a common labourer. They amazed at his wisdom, lifestyle and godliness but because of his low status, he remains nothing to them. “Isn’t he… the son of Mary?” another respond. Do you know? In Jesus’ time, a child was always referred to as the son of his father (same also in our Iban culture. My real name is Richard anak Ramlee. ‘anak’ means, in this context, is ‘the son of.’ The Indian is more obvious, ‘A/L’ in between of their name means ‘anak lelaki.’ Same also as the use of family surname in Chinese culture). Thus, referring to Jesus as the son of Mary implied that Jesus was illegitimate (or the more harsh word would be, ‘a bastard child’). The hometown people evidently knew and remembered that Mary had become pregnant with Jesus before her marriage to Joseph.

So rather than welcoming Jesus as a teacher and healer, the people of Nazareth snubbed him as a simple village carpenter and supposed illegitimate. Jesus was obviously hurt and disappointed. Jesus said to them, “Prophets are respected everywhere except in their own hometown and by their relatives and their family” (Mark 6:4). For sure, among the people were his own relatives and family. But on the other side, their unwillingness to accept Jesus hurt them more than it did to him because, “he was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he places his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith” (Mark 6:5). Truth is their rejection to the message of Jesus was also their rejection to God’s message, and their judgement would be infinitely worse than their rejection of Jesus.

Friends, be prepares to be rejected as a true Christian. Jesus clearly stated that rejection, even hatred, would be the destiny of his followers. “Because… I chose you out of the world… the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). When a friend finds out that you won’t cheating for exam with him because of your obedient to follow Christ, he may reject you. When you refuse to be compromise and defended the faith when religion lecturers or friends play a fool and talk nonsense about Jesus, when you stand up for the truth with love and conviction, you will be persecuted. Your loyalty, purity, honestly and dependability as a Christian is going to make you look as weird in the eyes of some people. Take heart!

But let’s look on the bright side now. Jesus promised a special blessing and reward for those who are rejected as his followers. “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For great reward awaits you in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12). Friends, you can live this life as a camouflaged ‘Christians’ avoiding confrontation and rejection. But the believers who takes a stand for what is right, even if it means losing their popularity, friends or status, is entitled for “great reward in heaven.” Not I, but Jesus promised you. This is sure assurance as Jesus is living today.

How does all of these (above) make you feel about being a follower of Jesus?

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas: What Christ Done for Us and What We Done for Christ Matters

There is a blessed kind of giving, which,
though it makes the purse lighter, makes the crown heavier” (Thomas Watson)

Good movie to watch on Christmas Eve. The film Schindler’s List chronicled the heroic efforts of a German industrialist named Oskar Schindler. Through his unselfish activities, over a thousand Jews on the trains to Auschwitz were saved. Although the film, even on television, has some very graphic and disturbing scenes, the message itself is profound.

After Schindler found out what was happening at Auschwitz (one of German Nazi’s concentration camps), he began a systematic effort to save as many Jews as he could. For money, he would buy Jews to work in his factory which was supposed to be a part of the military machine of Germany. On one hand he was buying as many Jews as he could, and on the other hand he was deliberately sabotaging the ammunition produced in his factory. He entered the war a wealthy industrialist; by the end of the war, he was basically bankrupt.

When the Germans surrendered, Schindler met with his workers and declared that at midnight they were all free to go. The most emotional scene of the film was when Schindler said good-bye to the financial manager of the plant, a Jew and his good and trusted friend. As he embraced his friend, Schindler sobbed and said, “I could have done more.” He looked at his automobile and asked, “Why did I save this? I could have bought 10 Jews with this.” Taking another small possession he cried, “This would have saved another one. Why didn’t I do more?

Friends, one day Jesus is going to split the eastern sky and come for his own. It will not matter then how much money we have in mutual fund or how many bedrooms we have in our homes. The temporary satisfaction we have in vacations and nice cars will be gone. Only what we have done for the cause of Christ will matter. “Only what’s done for Christ, will last.” This is the message of Christmas I learned strongly this year. Give. Give. Give.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Since the Bible says God cannot Die, yet Jesus Died, Does that not Prove that Jesus cannot be God?

All honour and glory to God forever and ever!
He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen
(1 Timothy 1:17, NLT)

It’s true that God is immortal, which is simply a way of saying that he cannot die. Verses like 1 Timothy 1:17 say this plainly. It’s equally clear that Jesus really died. That does not mean his existence ended. Rather it means his body and spirit were separated, just as ours are upon our death.

On this point, Philippians 2:6 says that before Jesus entered human history as a man, Christ had equality with God in every possible way. But he didn’t think that was something to hang on to. Instead he emptied himself of that equality in humanity to come “in the likeness of men.” Hebrews 2:17 says the same thing: “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

In conclusion, to identify with us and substitute himself for us, Jesus Christ humbled himself by becoming a human being to die like us so that we could have our sins forgiven. In this, Jesus remained God. Rather that refuting Jesus’ divinity, his death reveals to us the love of God.

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Isn't Jesus Really an Angel?

In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NLT)

The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus was not the creator God, but rather Michael, the created archangel who became a man. Speaking of Jesus, however, John 1:1 teaches that in the beginning (a reference to Genesis 1:1 when all created things were created), the Word was already in continuing existence. He was in face-to-face, personal relation with God when space-time, mass-energy, and the laws of nature were created. John 1:3 then tells us that the Word created all things. Paul says the same thing in Colossians 1:16-17. Throughout the Bible, it is clear that God is the one who creates. Passages like Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 are very specific that it is only God who creates. So if the Word creates, as John says, he has to be God. He can’t be anything less without violating foundational teachings of Scripture.

In the final phrase of John 1:1, it says “the Word was God.” Now, a predicate nominative (noun + “linking verb” + noun) mean the two nouns share characteristics. For example, when someone says, “The guy is a stud,” it means he has studly characteristics. Likewise, when the Scripture says “the Word was God,” it means that the Word shares the same characteristics of God himself. Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly translate the phrase as “the Word was god.” But if this were correct, the Word would be one of several gods, something no Jew would ever say. Further, the Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves do not believe that either. Simply, Jesus Christ the Word is God the Creator, not created angel.*


*Taken from: Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears (Crossway Books: Wheaton, Illinois, 2007), Page28-29.
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Leader is Influencer and a Reader: My Top 15 Book on Leadership Lists

Leadership is influence” (John C. Maxwell)
Leaders must be readers” (Kelsey Meyer)

A leader has two important characteristics: first, he is going somewhere; second, he is able to persuade other people to go with him. John C. Maxwell, one of my favourite authors, famously quote: “He that thinketh he leadeth, and hath no one following, is only taking a walk.” That is true! A leader is a person who is going somewhere – but not going alone. He takes others with him. His ability in setting up situations in which others are willing to follow him and happy to work with him is a precious skill called leadership.

[Leadership] skill is make up of many qualities,” writes Walter MacPeek, “thoughtfulness and consideration for others, enthusiasm, the ability to share responsibility with others, and a multitude of other trails. But fundamentally a leader is one who leads, one who has a plan, one who keeps headed toward a goal and a purpose. He has the enthusiasm to keep moving forward in such a way that others gladly go with him.” Are you a kind of leader where people are following you or chasing you?

How to lead and getting others to want to do something you are convinced should be done? How to lead effectively? How to be a good influencer for others? How to be a leader that people want to follow? First and foremost, I think, to be a good leader one need to be a good follower. Then maybe one need to learn more about one leadership style, be a role model, be passionate, listen more than talking, having a teachable and positive attitude, encourage and able to motivate others, fear God and love people – and leader must be reader! This last point lead me to recommend you some of good books on leadership that I want to encourage you to read. Let us learn together.

My Top 15 Book on Leadership Lists (buy or borrow from me or steal it!):

1)    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
2)    Ultimate Leadership 3-in-1 (The Winning Attitude, Developing the Leaders around You, Becoming a Person of Influence) by John C. Maxwell
3)    Ultimate Leadership: Maximize Your Potential and Empower Your Team (The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leaders Within You, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork) by John C. Maxwell
4)    The Heart of a Leader: Insight on the Art of Influence by Ken Blanchard
5)    Leadership Style of Jesus by Michael Youssef
6)    Life is Tremendous by Charlie T. Jones
7)    Spiritual Discipleship: Principles of Following Christ for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
8)    Spiritual Leadership: A Commitment to Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
9)    Be Determine: Nehemiah by Warren Wiersbe
10) Jesus on Leadership by  C. Gene Wilkes
11) Launching a Leadership Revolution: Mastering the Five Levels of Influence by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward
12) Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
13) The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma
14) The Book on Leadership by John MacArthur
15) The Bible – God on Leadership!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Adakah Perayaan Krismas merupakan Cubaan untuk Membawa Umat Islam menganuti Agama Kristian?

Pokok Krismas di Legoland, Malaysia
Soalan utama: Adakah perayaan Krismas merupakan cubaan orang Kristian untuk membawa umat Islam menganuti agama Kristian?

Peratusan Kecil, Pengaruh Besar

Ebola, HIV, api, bom atom. Apakah persamaan diantara mereka semua? Ianya kecil, tetapi sangat bahaya. Ada satu lagi yang sangat ditakuti di dunia ini: pengikut Yesus yang sebenar. Mengikut bancian pada tahun 2010, didapati bahawa 61.3% rakyat Malaysia beragama Islam, 19.8% penganut Buddha, 6.3% Hindu, 1.3% menganuti agama tradisi Cina – dan hanya 9.2% beragama Kristian. Kristian di Malaysia terdiri dari pelbagai makzab seperti Roman Katolik, Anglican, Methodist, Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB atau BEM), Baptist dan sebagainya. Persoalannya, kenapa peratusan yang kecil ini mampu membuat ‘kecoh’ di negara Malaysia sehingga mendapat liputan dunia? Kenapa kelompok yang kecil ini sangat ditakuti oleh golongan pelampau (extremist) agama? Kenapa Alkitab orang Kristian dirampas dan menjadi isu hangat di Malaysia? Adakah orang Kristian sudah melampau dan ingin menguasai Putrajaya? Ingat: hanya 9.2% Kristian, kurang daripada itu adalah pengikut Kristus yang sebenar, dan kebanyakkan adalah mereka yang tidak banyak bersuara dan suka akan kedamaian.

Apa Cakap Orang dan Situasi Sebenar

Pada pendapat golongan pelampau agama, orang Kristian memang mahu agama Islam berpecah. Orang Kristian dikatakan mempunyai agenda untuk menjadikan negara Malaysia sebagai negara Kristian. Ada sebuah buku yang dijual di kedai buku sekarang mencadangkan bahawa orang Kristian melakukan penginjilan secara besar-besaran di Malaysia untuk memesongkan pemikiran umat Islam dan gereja-gereja dibiayai oleh orang-orang kaya Yahudi di Israel dan Amerika Syarikat. Banyak lagi tuduhan yang tidak masuk akal yang saya tidak sanggup tulis disini (Bukan takut tetapi bodoh sangat).

Bagi setiap tuduhan jawapannya agak mudah. Sebenarnya, kebanyakkan orang Kristian tidak berfikir untuk menjadikan negara Malaysia sebagai negara Kristian. Saya sudah banyak kali pergi ke gereja dan kelompok doa – terbuka dan tertutup – tidak pernah saya mendengar orang Kristian berdoa supaya semua orang Malaysia menjadi penganut Kristian (Berdoa supaya mereka mengenal Yesus secara peribadi, ya, selalu dengar dan saya sendiri sering berdoa begitu). Bagi persoalan penginjilan pula, orang Kristian sendiri mempunyai isu perpecahan diantara makzab masing-masing dan pemikiran/kesedaran untuk bersaksi bagi Yesus masih lagi sangat rendah. Jangan takut. Dari segi kewangan pula, sebenarnya gereja-gereja di Malaysia (hampir) tidak mendapat peruntukkan khas dari kerajaan. Kebanyakkannya hanya dibiayai oleh pemberian dari orang Kristian sendiri. Kadang-kadang, gereja dibina dengan wang dan harta peribadi penduduk setempat. Orang Kristian rata-rata sebenarnya miskin! (TUHAN yang selalu mencukupkan).

Jadi, kenapa golongan pelampau sangat takut akan orang Kristian? Secara ringkas: sebab cara mereka menilai dan berfikir bergantung kepada bagaimana mereka menilai agama dan kepercayaan mereka sendiri. Mereka suka berperang, jadi nilai-nilai kedamaian diabaikan. Mereka suka menguasai dan menindas orang lain, jadi apa saja yang boleh membawa kesatuan dan keharmonian dianggap sebagai ‘musuh.’ Mereka suka mencari dan menutup kesalahan sendiri, jadi orang Kristian menjadi mangsa. Secara rohani pula, Yesus berkata kepada pengikut-pengikut-Nya: “Jika dunia membenci kamu, ingatlah bahawa dunia sudah membenci Aku lebih dahulu” (baca Yohanes 15:18-27, BM). Mereka benci dan takut akan Yesus, jadi mereka mahu memusnahkan orang Kristian. Bagi kebanyakkan orang pula – tidak kira agama dan kepercayaan mereka – isu ini tidak timbul langsung kerana mereka sangat suka akan kedamaian dan keharmonian negara Malaysia. Ini ialah situasi sebenar.

Realiti yang Tidak boleh Dinafikan Juga

Tetapi, secara terus terang memang ada orang Kristian yang ingin menginjili umat Islam supaya memasuki agama Kristian (Jika tidak kerana Kristus, sudah lama saya menjadi penganut Buddha!). Umat Islam juga begitu. Persoalannya ialah bukan “bagaimana” tetapi “kenapa”? Pada pandangan saya, pelajaran agama yang diajar di Malaysia adalah sangat berat sebelah dan tidak telus dan jujur. Sebagai contoh, agama Kristian diajar (dengan salah) berdasarkan pandangan peribadi pengajar yang hampir tidak merujuk langsung kepada Alkitab atau jika merujuk sekalipun, rujukkan selalunya akan keluar dari konteks ayat sebenar. Maka, pada pemikiran orang ramai, tujuan orang Kristian menginjil seringkali disalah ertikan dan menjadi spekulasi sebarangan bagi orang yang tidak mengenal TUHAN secara peribadi!

Bagi orang Kristian yang ada membaca Alkitab (dan yang benar-benar mentaatinya) penginjilan membawa erti yang sangat berbeza. Ia merupakan suatu tindakan atau respon setelah mereka menerima Yesus Kristus sebagai Tuhan dan Juruselamat mereka. Penginjilan bukanlah suatu perkara yang dilakukan untuk mendapat “pahala” atau lesen untuk masuk ke syurga, tetapi sesuatu yang dilakukan kerana sukacita dan kedamaian yang mereka perolehi selepas mengenal Yesus secara peribadi. Mereka ingin menginjil bukan supaya orang menjadi Kristian semata-mata, tetapi supaya orang mengetahui Yesus, Penyelamat Dunia. Jawapan untuk “kenapa” bagi orang Kristian bukanlah disebabkan agama, tetapi Individu yang hidup dan benar – Yesus Kristus. Jadi, motif penginjilan dan perayaan Kristmas bagi orang Kristian yang benar ialah supaya orang mengenal Bapa, percaya kepada Yesus Kristus dan hidup dalam Roh Kudus dan kebenaran.

Soalan utama: Adakah perayaan Krismas merupakan cubaan orang Kristian untuk membawa umat Islam menganuti agama Kristian? Ya (bagi segelintir orang), Tidak (bagi kebanyakkan orang), Tidak tahu (bagi yang masih ragu-ragu).

Soalan seterusnya: Adalah perayaan Krismas merupakan peluang bagi orang Kristian untuk menginjil orang ramai supaya mengenal Yesus Kristus secara peribadi? YA! YA! YA! dan YA!

Jika ada orang Kristian yang cuba untuk menginjil kamu supaya mengenal Yesus,
dengar dahulu dan cuba pertimbangkan sendiri dengan merujuk kepada Alkitab tentang Yesus;
Tetapi jika kamu tidak mahu dan menolak, tidak mengapa,
saya mungkin kecewa tetapi kami tidak harus memaksa. Kasih itu tidak memaksa.
Bagi saya, kes selesai!
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unless We Walk Daily with Christ in a Real Experience, We Have Nothing to Share this Christmas

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…” (Luke 2:15-18, NLT).

Christians are supposed to be witnesses, not judges. It is not our responsibility to tell people their faults and sins; it is our privilege, especially this Christmas, to tell them about Christ and the salvation he alone can give. Like the shepherds and the apostles, our task is simply to tell people what we have seen and heard concerning Jesus Christ.

This makes witnessing a personal, practical thing. Some Christians “play the same old record” (consider how the Christmas messages were delivered for the past few years) and think they are communicating the excitement and challenge of the Christian life, but they’re not. Unless we personally walk daily with Christ in a real experience, we have nothing to share with others. The Gospel or Good News is not past history (although it is certainly based on historical facts) – it is present reality. “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:3).

If witnessing means sharing a personal experience, then the believer must maintain that fellowship with Christ. The indwelling Holy Spirit makes Christ real to us, and then through us to others. “[I] will send you the Advocate – the spirit of truth,” said Jesus, “He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry” (John 15:26-27).

Don’t allow witnessing to become a strained, artificial thing. Stay in the Spirit, enjoy a personal walk with Christ through his Word, prayer and fellowship, and like the disciples, you will say, “We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Merry Christmas!
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Importance of Orangutan

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1)

As for now, morality set aside, there are other, more practical reasons for saving the orangutan from extinction. The red ape’s very presence, in some ways, is a key to protecting all the rain forest of Southeast Asia. People are becoming more aware that all life on earth, including humans, are completely dependent on forests for survival. The world’s rain forests have provided humankind with a number of products they often take for granted: coffee (ah, yes!), chocolate, rubber, and about half of all medicines in the world today.

Of course, many of these items can now be artificially produced outside of the forest. However, the vast majority of the world’s rain forest plants have yet to be studied. There is no way to tell how many more medicines, natural pesticides, and foods are waiting to be found. Once the forests are gone, these undiscovered treasures will be lost forever.

The orangutan plays an important role in protecting these vital rain forest resources. Most rain forests are closed systems, which means the entire ecosystem operates as one large organism. The plants, fungi, and animals are all completely interconnected and dependent on each other for survival. The combined interactions of these smaller organisms make up the rain forest. The orangutan is an integral part of this system. By eating a large amount of ripe fruits, the orangutan serves as a seed distributor. In fact, some trees depend solely on the orangutan to distribute their seeds, throughout the forest. Furthermore, by eating buds, shoots, and leaves, the orangutan effectively thins out or prunes the forest, allowing the sunlight to come through the canopy and stimulate growth in the understory.

Orangutan are also messy eaters, which means that they serve as a food delivery service for many of the ground-dwelling creatures. As the orangutan drop uneaten portions of fruit to the ground below, a variety of smaller animals and insects are treated to a free meal. These scraps make up the bulk of many rain forest animals’ diets.

Perhaps the most important role the orangutan plays in the forest, however, is as a “keystone” species. A keystone species is one that has, for one reason or another, caught the attention of the human world and acts as a focal point for forest protection. Orangutans are large, attractive, interesting, and perceived as highly intelligent. They are also seen by many as a close relative to the human species (If you don’t agree, then just see orangutan as living being created by God). For all these reasons, people are interested in saving them. Thus, in the course of saving orangutans, people also unwittingly save the lives of countless species of smaller animals, insects and plants that share their habitat. By rallying behind efforts to protect orangutans, the general public helps to serve complete ecosystems.

Ecosystems is important. For example, people of Sarawak sometime don’t understand why the natives want the Baram Dam project to stop. Besides the unnecessary dam expansion, every habitat such as plants, animals, insects, flowers, trees - even people who are very dependence on the river and forest for living  – include the orangutans will be badly affected. Anything happen to the forest will affect humankind in general. “A human made tsunami will roll down and destroy everything,” said Peter L. from Long Anap, longhouse interior of Baram district, “forest, rivers, crops, churches, schools, graveyards, just everything! This will be the end of our lives!” Save orangutan! Save ecosystem! Save our lives! My first practical way to save orangutan is through awareness, how about you?  


Reference:  Lucent Endangered Animals and Habitats Series: The Orangutan by Stuart P. Levine (Lucent Books, Inc., 2000).
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Invest God-given Time, Energy and Talents in Your Community

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.
I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home” (Jesus, Matthew 25:35, NLT)

The best portion of a good man’s life – his little nameless acts of kindness,
unremembered acts of kindness” (William Wordsworth, poet)

One of the comments people most commonly make after a major disaster has hit a community is how it brought people together to help and comfort each other. More often than not, when I read and talk to people who are going through some difficulties and ask them if there is anyone nearby to whom they can turn for support, they cannot think of anyone they know well enough to ask. Admittedly, I only do and join few social community projects in Sarawak, but I understand that this phenomenon is not exclusive to large, city areas only. The need for social community projects is vast and very demanding, especially, today.

Few years ago, I joined FES Malaysia, a student ministry organization, 2-weeks program called S.W.E.E.P. (Social Work Exposure & Embracement Program) and my life changed! Since then, my view on Christian faith broadened and my perspective of the Gospel enlarged. Getting involve in social community projects (definitely not the only means out there!) give joy to me because I get a chance to practise my faith, witnessing Christ both through my work and words, and it is an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives together – even with the students and my non-Christian friends. Offering to volunteer to help with or initiate a community project has been, for me, the most satisfying ways to love God and people.

In my experience, it pays to think and plan before rushing in to help with the first project you encounter or are requested to help with. In order to obtain the best return in terms of helping the community, while at the same time it helps you in your relationship with God and others, you will need to bear several things in mind prayerfully:

Do Personal Research and Respect Local Needs

You can do this by asking neighbours and meeting leaders of local organizations or churches. It also helps to spend time reading the local newspaper, campus or community bulletins, and listening to any local radio station. Do some research before you get involve. Don’t assume needs but offer helps only in the area of needs (not whatever you wants).  

Try to Match a Local Need or Interest to One of Your Talents

If you are good organizer, you could offer to put on trips for residents’ association, or be on the committee of a charity group. If your talent is writing, you could perhaps, offer to start a newsletter or write something like this article in your blog or any social medias. Give encouragements, update needs and be the voice for the voiceless. If you have driving license, offer your help in transportation. If you’re good in English or math, be a volunteer teacher. “If… be…” There are lots of opportunities and ways you can be involve. What are your God-given gifts or talents? Remember this: Playing to your strengths will be much more satisfying for you and make your involvement much more effective.

Under- Rather than Over-Commit

This is much easier said than done (over-commitment is one of my weaknesses. vise versa). Every community and charitable project is never ending and is constantly thirsty for help. It is particularly hard to say “No!” in crises, but remember – these are inevitable and frequent in this world. Don’t overcommitted that you lost your personal, quiet and alone time with Jesus along the way. Jesus is our priority, not men. That’s why the first commandment is the first, not second. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:8). So you have to be clear about the commitment you can give, and stick within your capability boundaries with super-assertiveness. Remind yourself that over-commitment leads to resentfulness, bitterness and burnout – none of which will benefit anyone if you do.

[Whether] you eat or drink, or whatever you do (that include social community work),
do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, bracket mine)

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Be God's Children, Not to Compete with One Another

All forms of competition are hostile. They may seem friendly on the surface but the prime motivation is to be or do ‘better than’ the next person. “Okay, you win!” said another, and I was puzzled. “Since when I compete with you,” I replied, “This is not a competition.” When I gave suggestions to my friend, she responded with raised eyebrow, “Oh well, you’re more creative than me.” I was surprised by her respond. I never thought of competing who among us is the most creative person in the ministry. I just want to help.

Remember this: We were placed on this earth to love and create, not to compete. If competition is used as our basic motivation to do anything, it will literally conspire against us and defeat ourselves every time. What I’m saying is that the purpose of life is to BE God’s children, not to compete with one another. As one teacher puts is, “I’m for me, not against anyone!”

Although it may appear that the world is a competitive place, it is only competitive to those who feel the need to compete. God’s children don’t have to compete. But sadly, most people will reject this idea because of their childhood training, where competition was rated right up there with how many A’s and who’s closes to 100% mark. If you ask them if they think competition is healthy, they will reply, with great enthusiasm, that it is not only healthy but necessary! They feel, like I was, that it gives life meaning, purpose and direction; that a person needs a reward for doing a ‘good job’ and ‘better than’ others. It never occurs to them that the reward is in the BEcoming as the result of doing, not in the end result itself.

We compete with others only when we are unsure of ourselves, insecure of our own abilities and our doubt as God’s children. Competition is merely imitation. It originates in early childhood from our need to copy others. The competitive person feels that others are better than he and sets to prove otherwise. He is struggles to surpass those he feels are superior. In effect, he is always comparing himself to people around them. The competitive person always needs someone else to validate how well he is doing. Beware.

God’s children, those who are abide in Christ, on the other hand, does not feel the need to compete – they are content with themselves. They don’t need to look and see what others are doing or be ‘better than’ the next person. They just doing their best for God. They want to be what God wants them to be. They only desire God’s approval. Recognizing their capabilities for what they are, they are strive for excellence and to glorified Jesus in their lives. The only competition is with themselves, the only standard for themselves is Christ, and all of these are done to achieve greater personal growth and to bless others in what they do. God’s children don’t compete, they just want to love, create and be God wants them to be – God’s children.

Which one are you?
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