Thursday, December 22, 2016

7 Hari Pra-Krismas Mesej #4 Kemuliaan Allah dalam Keperibadian Kristus

Gambaran semasa Perjanjian Lama, Kemuliaan Allah dari luar Bait TUHAN

Di daerah itu ada beberapa orang gembala yang bermalam di padang kerana menjaga domba mereka. Tiba-tiba malaikat Tuhan muncul di hadapan mereka dan kemuliaan Tuhan menerangi mereka, lalu mereka ketakutan
(Lukas 2:8-9,
AVB)

Dalam Perjanjian Lama, pada masa Bait Solomo iaitu Bait Allah berdiri megah di Kota Yerusalem, shekinah kemuliaan Allah – yang boleh dilihat, yang mempunyai intipati, yang terpancar dari diri Allah yang Maha Kuasa – memenuhi Tempat Yang Maha Suci. Hanya imam agung sahaja yang boleh mendekati tempat itu. Dan dia hanya boleh datang setahun sekali iaitu pada Hari Pendamaian (Yom Kippur). Pada hari itu, upacara pendamaian dilakukan oleh imam agung untuk seluruh umat Israel untuk dosa mereka dan darah korban akan dipercik di penutup Tabut Perjanjian TUHAN. Pada masa itu, imam agung berdiri di hadirat Allah. Kemuliaan-Nya memenuhi tempat itu!

Kesucian Allah menyebabkan orang Yahudi dilarang untuk menghampiri Tempat Yang Maha Suci, walauapapun alasan mereka. Oleh itu, mereka mengikat tali pada kaki imam agung sebelum dia memasuki tempat itu. Dengan cara ini, jika imam agung mati dihadapan Allah (mungkin disebabkan kecuaian atau kesilapan), mereka dapat menarik mayat imam agung itu keluar.

Untuk berdiri di tempat itu dimana shekinah kemuliaan Allah terpancar ialah suatu yang paling berharga di dunia. Tahun demi tahun, ia merupakan suatu kebesaran bagi setiap imam agung dalam pelayanan mereka. Selepas banyak persiapan diri, melalui banyak upacara yang harus dilakukan menurut Kitab Imamat, imam agung akan pergi menghadap hadirat Allah.

Tetapi setelah bertahun-tahun berlalu, umat Israel mula mengambil ringan terhadap berkat dan kasih kurnia Allah sehinggakan mereka memberontak terhadap-Nya dan tidak mengendahkan Taurat Musa. Akhirnya, setelah beberapa cubaan untuk membawa mereka dalam pertaubatan, mereka degil, jadi, kemuliaan Allah pergi meninggalkan mereka.

Pada masa pernaklukan kerajaan Babilon, nabi Yehezkiel bernubuat bahawa kemuliaan Allah masih lagi berada di Bait TUHAN (rujuk Yehezkiel 8:4). Tetapi nabi Yehezkiel juga berkata bahawa banyak berhala telah diletakkan berdekatan dengan pintu gerbang Bait TUHAN. Mereka menyembah dan bersujud kepada berhala negara asing (rujuk Yehezkiel 8:6-16). Umat Israel telah melanggar perjanjian mereka dengan Allah. Oleh itu, sedikit demi sedikit, kemuliaan Allah meninggalkan Tabut Perjanjian TUHAN (Yehezkiel 10:2), meninggalkan Tempat Yang Maha Suci (10:4), meninggalkan Bait TUHAN (10:18). Akhir sekali, kemuliaan Allah meninggalkan Yerusalem, meninggalkan Bukit Zaitun… dan dari sana… kembali ke syurga…

Sejak dari hari itu, Tempat Yang Maha Suci menjadi gelap. Kemuliaan sudah hilang! Ichabod! Cahaya sudah padam. Ruang menjadi kosong. Tiada kemuliaan. Tiada kekuasaan. Tiada Allah!

Beberapa tahun selepas itu, askar-askar Babilon menawan Yerusalem. Ramai pemimpin dan kerabat diraja ditawan dan dibawa ke Babilon. Bait TUHAN dimusnahkan. Semua harapan dan impian umat Israel hancur berkecai. Kemuliaan sudah hilang!

Umat Allah berdoa supaya kemuliaan-Nya datang, Dia berdiam. Selepas orang Israel kembali ke Yerusalem dari pembuangan, mereka membina semula Bait TUHAN. Mereka berdoa supaya kemuliaan Allah datang (Hagai 2:3), tetapi tidak ada rekod di dalam Alkitab yang kemuliaan Allah kembali semula. Selama empat abad umat Israel melakukan upacara agama di Bait TUHAN. Mereka tidak berhenti-henti berdoa. Mereka menyucikan diri. Mereka memberi korban. Tetapi Allah tidak berada disana. Tempat Yang Maha Suci masih gelap. Kemuliaan tidak kembali.

Satu-satunya harapan bagi orang Israel ialah apabila nabi Hagai bernubuat bahawa suatu hari nanti Allah akan memenuhi Bait-Nya dengan kemuliaan-Nya (2:7-9). Tetapi selepas hampir 400 tahun, nubuat itu masih lagi belum digenapi. Kemuliaan belum kembali.

Pernahkah kamu merasakan bahawa hadirat TUHAN itu seakan-akan ‘hilang’ dalam hidup kamu? Adakah kamu merasanya sekarang? Keadaan sekarang sudah tidak sama seperti dulu. Kamu cuba untuk meyakinkan diri kamu sendiri bahawa semuanya okey, sedangkan semuanya tidak okey. Semangat dan kepercayaan sudah tidak ada lagi. Kamu kosong dan cahaya sudah menjadi malap dan hampir gelap.

Jangan berputus asa! Apabila malam sangat gelap, ketahuilah bahawa matahari akan timbul kelak. TUHAN tidak akan membiarkan kamu sendirian, Dia akan menjawab doa kamu. Bagi kamu ia seperti sangat lama, tetapi ingat, Dia akan menjawab doa kamu sesuai dengan kehendak dan masa-Nya. Ingat, semua seperti tiada harapan bagi orang Israel sehinggalah malam yang gelap di kota Betlehem menjadi terang apabila para malaikat Tuhan muncul untuk mengumumkan bahawa kemuliaan-Nya sudah datang! Malaikat Tuhan dikelilingi dengan shekinah kemuliaan, kemuliaan Allah sendiri. Dia akhirnya sudah kembali!


Satu angkatan malaikat bernyanyi memuji Allah, “Kemuliaan bagi Allah di tempat yang maha tinggi dan damai sejahtera di bumi bagi orang yang berkenan pada hati-Nya” (Lukas 2:14). TUHAN Allah telah sekali lagi datang kepada umat-Nya dan seluruh kota itu dipenuhi dengan kemuliaan-Nya. Kepada siapa Berita Baik ini diberi? Para gembala! Dimana? Di kota Betlehem! Kenapa? Kerana Sang Gembala, Anak Daud, telah datang untuk menuntut umat-Nya dengan kekuasaan dan kemuliaan-Nya. “Pada malam ini di kota Daud telah lahir seorang Penyelamat bagimu, iaitu Kristus, Tuhan” (Lukas 2:11).

Yesus ialah kemuliaan Allah! Dia ialah Allah dan kemuliaan-Nya yang menjelma menjadi manusia. Sekarang kemuliaan Allah tidak lagi hanya terhad di Bait TUHAN di Tempat Yang Maha Suci, tetapi ia dipancar secara umum melalui keperibadian Yesus Kristus. Semua orang dapat melihat Dia! Hanya melalui Yesus kamu dapat melihat kemuliaan Allah… Dia boleh menerangi hati kita dengan hadirat-Nya. Amen. Selamat hari Krismas!

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

7 Hari Pra-Krismas Mesej #3 Tangisan Yesus Memecah Kesunyian Allah


Sewaktu mereka di sana, tibalah masanya untuk [Maria] bersalin. Dia melahirkan seorang anak lelaki, iaitu anak sulungnya. Dia membedung anak itu lalu membaringkan-Nya di dalam sebuah palung kerana tidak ada tempat bagi mereka di rumah tumpangan
(Lukas 2:6-7,
AVB)

Tangisan bayi telah memecah kesunyian malam. Tangisan itu menandakan bahawa sejarah telah tercipta, sejarah terpenting alam semesta telah tercipta.

Tangisan itu telah memecah kesunyian Allah.

Allah telah berhenti berfirman kepada umat-Nya selama lebih kurang 400 tahun. Dia tidak lagi mengungkapkan kata-kata sejak nabi-nabi-Nya sudah tiada. Umat-Nya berhenti mendengar, oleh itu, Allah berhenti berfirman. Selama empat abad, tidak kira betapa hebat umat Israel berdoa, Tuhan tidak berkata apa-apa. Dia berdiam.

Perjanjian Lama diakhiri dengan keadaan yang kucar-kacir dan ketidaksetiaan umat Israel. Maleakhi, nabi terakhir dalam Perjanjian Lama, menulis, “Sesungguhnya, Aku akan mengutus kepadamu Nabi Elia… dia akan membuat hati bapa berbalik kepada anak-anak mereka dan hati anak-anak kepada bapa mereka, supaya Aku tidak datang dan mengazabkan bumi dengan kemusnahan yang mutlak” (4:6).

Sejak dari hari itu, berabad-abad telah berlalu dan apa yang terjadi ialah kerajaan-kerajaan asing datang memusnahkan dan mengambil kota-kota di Israel. Harapan untuk kedatangan Mesias naik turun beberapa kali. Nabi Elia yang dikatakan akan datang mengusung Mesias belum juga datang-datang – yang datang ialah askar-askar Roma. Kekejaman dan kesengsaraan yang terjadi kepada orang Israel menghancurkan harapan mereka untuk Raja yang baru, Raja seperti raja Daud. Sesungguhnya mereka telah menerima azab Allah!

 Namun begitu, ada dikalangan orang Israel yang tidak pernah putus harapan. Mereka percaya bahawa Allah akan campur tangan. Pasti. Lambat laun. Raja Israel yang ditunggu-tunggu akan datang juga! Allah akan datang dan berfirman semula dengan umat-Nya.

Tetapi tangisan bayi yang kedengaran? Selama empat ratus tahun TUHAN Allah telah berdiam dan tiba-tiba bersuara semula dengan tangisan bayi yang baru lahir? Hanya Tuhan sahaja yang boleh merencanakan sesuatu seperti ini!

Kota Betlehem dipenuhi dengan ramai pelawat. Tiada rumah tumpangan untuk Yusuf dan Maria tinggal. Kemungkinan mereka diberikan tempat seperti kandang haiwan peliharaan, di sebuah gua yang agak gelap, dan yang berkemungkinan tiada penghuni selain daripada haiwan-haiwan ternakan. Jika ini ialah gambaran yang hampir tepat dengan keadaan mereka yang sebenar, maka, gambaran ini sangat luar biasa. Bayi Mesias diletakkan di dalam sebuah palung? Dibaringkan di jerami? Dikelilingi haiwan ladang? Siapa yang sanggup merancang kelahiran seperti ini???

TUHAN Allah!

Pencipta alam semesta, Allah Maha Besar, mengutus Anak-Nya ke dunia dalam keadaan yang sangat diluar jangkaan. Keadaan pada malam itu sudah cukup untuk menunjukkan kasih kurnia Allah kita. Raja segala raja dilahirkan di tempat yang sangat rendah. Malah hamba abdi dilahirkan dengan keadaan yang lebih bermaruah daripada ini – tetapi Allah memilih untuk mengutus Anak-Nya dengan cara begini supaya semua orang boleh melihat kasih kurnia-Nya. Alkitab berkata, “Kamu tahu tentang kasih kurnia Tuhan kita Yesus Kristus. Dia kaya, tetapi kerana kamu Dia telah menjadikan diri-Nya miskin supaya melalui kemiskinan-Nya kamu menjadi kaya” (2 Korintus 8:9).

Kelahiran Yesus memecah kesunyian Allah. Di kota Betlehem yang kecil, Raja Orang Israel dilahirkan. Berketurunan raja Daud, dilahirkan di Kota Daud – tetapi dilahirkan di bangsal. Tiada yang lebih diluar jangkaan seperti ini. Allah telah mengutus Anak-Nya untuk datang ke dunia untuk menunjukkan kepada semua orang tentang Siapa Dia tidak kira status, keadaan atau kedudukan seseorang itu. Tangisan bayi itu merupakan titik sejarah kepada seluruh dunia. Sejarah telah berubah ketika suara Allah kedengaran.

Allah sudah kembali!

Harapan untuk Mesias sudah dikembalikan semula. Cahaya sudah bersinar dalam kegelapan dunia. Wahyu dari Allah sudah kedengaran melalui tangisan-Nya. Jalan, Kebenaran dan Hidup telah datang untuk memberikan harapan dan keselamatan kepada manusia. Bayi yang memecah kesunyian Allah dengan tangisan-Nya pada malam itu akan menjadi Penyelamat Dunia. Dia akan menjadi Imam Agung yang akan “berdoa dan merayu dengan ratap tangis” (Ibrani 5:7) kepada Bapa untuk kita. Bayi yang menangis itu akan menjadi Penyelamat yang akan meratap bagi pihak kita!

Yesus menangis untuk kamu. Fikirkan! Disaat kamu menangis, Dia tahu. Ketika jiwa kamu menyeru nama-Nya, Dia memahami. Bila kamu terluka, Dia juga merasa. Dia mahu menyembuhkan hati kamu yang hancur dengan kasih dan belas kasihan (jika kamu percaya dan membiarkan-Nya). Tangisan Anak Allah menunjukkan bahawa Bapa mengasihi kamu! Dia mengasihi kita!

Yesus Kristus datang untuk menanggung dosa kita dan ingin membawa kita tinggal di dalam-Nya. Dia akan membawa kita kepada Bapa yang disyurga. Suatu hari nanti, Dia yang menangis untuk kita, dan Dia yang sekarang menangis bersama kita, akan berhenti menangis. Begitu juga dengan kita! Wahyu 21:4 berjanji, “Allah akan menghapuskan setiap titik air mata mereka. Tiadalah lagi kematian, kesedihkan dan tangisan. Tiada lagi kesakitan, kerana segala yang lama telah lenyap.” Amin.

Allah telah berfirman. Adakah kamu mendengar?

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

7 Hari Pra-Krismas Mesej #2 Sebelum Para Malaikat Bernyanyi

Saya tidak percaya malaikat seperti itu... ini ialah gambaran pelukis

Dia yang datang dari atas adalah di atas segala-galanya. Orang yang berasal dari dunia datang dari dunia dan bercakap tentang hal-hal dunia. Tetapi Dia yang datang dari syurga adalah di atas segala-galanya
(Yohanes 3:31,
AVB)

Lama sebelum Yusuf dan Maria berangkat ke Betlehem, Mikha 5:2 telah bernubuat: “Tetapi engkau, wahai Betlehem Efrata… daripada kamu akan muncul bagi-Ku seorang yang akan menjadi Pemerintah di Israel. Asal-usulnya sudah sejak zaman dahulu, sejak purbakala lagi.” Hal ini membuatkan saya tertanya-tanya: Dimana Kristus sebelum Dia dibaringkan di dalam palung? Apa yang Dia lakukan sebelum malaikat Gabriel bertemu dengan Maria? Dimana Kristus ketika para malaikat bernyanyi mengumumkan tentang kelahiran Penyelamat kepada para gembala pada malam sebelum Dia dilahirkan?

Alkitab menjawab persoalan saya ini dengan satu deklarasi: “Pada permulaan sudah wujud Firman, dan Firman itu bersama Allah dan Firman itu ialah Allah” (Yohanes 1:1). Yesus Kristus, Anak Allah, Penyelamat Dunia, sudah ada sejak dahulu lagi. Dia sama dari segi intipati dan kualiti seperti Allah Bapa dan Roh Kudus. Dia ialah dan senantiasa Allah yang Maha Wujud.

Allah itu berkuasa, abadi dan tidak kelihatan, apa yang kita tahu tentang Dia kita tahu melalui Yesus Kristus. Yesus ialah “gambaran Allah yang tidak kelihatan” (Kolose 1:15). Bukan hanya Kristus seperti Allah, tetapi Allah seperti Kristus! Sebelum kedatangan Kristus, setiap gambaran manusia tentang Allah ialah imiginasi manusiawi dan menurut gambaran ciptaan-Nya. Semuanya berhala. Tetapi di dalam Kristus kita dapat melihat gambaran Allah dalam kemanusiaan-Nya.

Yesus Kristus ialah Tuhan” (Filipi 2:11). Dia berjalan bersama manusia, tetapi Dia tinggal melebihi manusia. Dia merupai manusia, tetapi bercakap seperti Allah. Dia sepenuhnya manusia dan pada masa yang sama Dia Tuhan sepenuhnya. Dia menjadi cermin supaya kita boleh melihat sikap dan keperibadian Allah dengan jelas. Bila pengikut Yesus, Filipus, berkata, “Tuhan, tunjukkanlah Bapa kepada kami,” Yesus menjawab, “Belum lagi kaukenal Aku, Filipus? Sesiapa yang telah melihat-Ku, telah melihat Bapa” (baca Yohanes 14:8-9). Tidak boleh disangsikan lagi, Yesus tahu siapa diri-Nya dan mengapa Dia berada di dunia. Dia datang supaya kita boleh mengenal Allah yang hidup dan benar. Dia ialah shekinah kemuliaan Allah yang dipancar melalui kemanusiaan-Nya.

Kitab Injil Yohanes dari permulaannya ingin kita melihat kemuliaan Yesus Kristus. Dia lebih mulia dari segala-galanya dalam keperibadiaan-Nya kerana Dia Allah yang Maha Wujud yang menjadi manusia. Dia sudah ada sejak dahulu lagi dan Dia akan sentiasa ada. Dia bersama Allah Bapa dan Roh Kudus dari permulaan, dan Dia satu dan sama dengan Allah.

Yesus juga lebih mulia dari segala-galanya dalam kekuasaan-Nya. Dia ialah Pencipta. “Segala-galanya diciptakan melalui Dia” dan “hidup ada dalam-Nya” (Yohanes 1:3-4). Dialah sumber kehidupan. Dia ialah satu-satunya yang memberikan makna dan tujuan dalam segala ciptaan-Nya. Alam semesta menjadi saksi kekuasaan-Nya – menunjukkan kemuliaan-Nya bagi semua. Pemazmur bernyanyi, “Seluruh langit mengakui kemuliaan Allah; dan cakerawala menunjukkan ciptaan-Nya” (Mazmur 19:1).

Kristus juga lebih mulia dari segala-galanya dalam janji-Nya. Rasul Yohanes memulai Injilnya dengan mengingatkan kita bahawa hanya Yesus yang boleh menjadikan kita anak-anak Allah melalui iman kepada-Nya. “Namun demikian, Dia memberikan hak menjadi anak Allah kepada mereka yang menerima-Nya dan percaya dalam nama-Nya” (Yohanes 1:12). Kita tidak boleh menjadi anak-anak Allah melalui kelahiran fisikal; kita harus dilahirkan semula dan diangkat masuk ke dalam keluarga Allah. Hanya Yesus yang boleh menjanjikan hak itu kepada kita semua.

Akhir sekali, Tuhan Yesus juga lebih mulia dari segala-galanya dalam tujuan-Nya. “Lihatlah Anak Domba Allah,” seru Yohanes Pembaptis, “yang menghampuskan dosa umat manusia!” (Yohanes 1:29). Yesus tidak datang ke dunia hanya untuk menjadi guru, walaupun Dia merupakan Guru yang hebat. Dia tidak datang ke dunia semata-mata untuk menjadi contoh kita, walaupun Dia harus kita contohi. Tujuan utama Dia datang ialah Dia datang untuk mati bagi dosa kita. Inilah tujuan termulia Yesus kita!

Allah menjelaskan semua ini kepada Yusuf apabila Dia berkata, “Maria akan melahirkan seorang anak lelaki. Namakanlah anak itu Yesus. Dia akan menyelamatkan umat-Nya daripada dosa mereka” (Matius 1:21).

Yosua. Yesus. Penyelamat.

Betapa indahnya Nama itu! “[Allah] sangat meninggikan-Nya dan menganugerahkan kepada-Nya nama yang di atas segala nama, supaya kepada nama Yesus segala-galanya bertelut, segala isi langit, bumi dan yang di bawah bumi, dan semua lidah mengaku bahawa Yesus Kristus ialah Tuhan, untuk mendatangkan kemuliaan kepada Allah Bapa” (Filipi 2:9-11).

Kita tidak boleh melihat kehidupan dan ajaran Yesus tanpa melihat dahulu kemuliaan-Nya. Apabila kita mengkaji keperibadian dan firman-Nya, kita akan bertemu dengan Dia. Setiap hari kita harus bertanya kepada diri kita sendiri: Bagaimana hubungan saya dengan Yesus Kristus ketika ini? Selamat hari Krismas!


THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
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7 Hari Pra-Krismas Mesej #1 Tiada Kasih yang Seperti Engkau


[Apabila] Kristus datang ke dunia, Dia berkata, ‘Korban dan persembahan tidak kauingini, tetapi Engkau telah menyediakan tubuh bagi-Ku… Aku telah datang… untuk melakukan kehendak-Mu, ya Allah
(Ibrani 10:5,7,
AVB)

Pernah kamu berfikir apakah yang sebenarnya terjadi pada malam sebelum Krismas yang pertama? Sebelum para gembala datang? Sebelum ahli ilmu bintang atau para pelawat dari Timur datang? Malah sebelum Maria melahirkan anaknya yang pertama?

Alkitab memberikan bayangan kepada kita tentang apa yang mungkin terjadi di Syurga pada malam sebelum Krismas. Teks firman yang saya akan guna bukan dari Kitab Injil tetapi dari Surat kepada Orang Ibrani. Melalui surat ini, penulis menceritakan tentang apa yang bermain di dalam fikiran Kristus ketika Dia menyiapkan diri-Nya untuk datang ke dunia. Dengan memetik Mazmur 40:6-8 sebagai firman Kristus, Alkitab menerangkan dengan jelas bahawa “[Apabila] Kristus datang ke dunia, Dia berkata, ‘…Engkau telah menyediakan tubuh bagi-Ku… Aku telah datang… untuk melakukan kehendak-Mu, ya Allah’”

Sistem Korban dalam Perjanjian Lama sudah tidak berfungsi lagi untuk menggenapi kehendak Allah. Ia tidak pernah dianggap sebagai sistem yang kekal selama-lamanya. Dari mula ia diperkenalkan, ia berfungsi untuk menunjukkan kepada kita kepada Korban yang terakhir dan selamanya. Malah pada malam Paskah yang pertama (Keluaran 12), darah anak domba melambangkan pengorbanan yang akan datang. Selepas anak domba disembelih, darahnya akan dikumpul di dalam baldi yang kemudiannya dibawa ke rumah. Darah itu kemudiannya disapukan pada kedua-dua tiang pintu dan pada ambang pintu rumah. Dalam proses tersebut, mereka seolah-olah membuat lambang salib Kristus!

Semua ini melambangkan tentang apa yang akan terjadi apabila Kristus datang ke dunia. Saya membayangkan ada dikalangan malaikat di Syurga yang mungkin bertanya, “Adakah Dia benar-benar akan pergi ke sana?” “Mereka tidak layak bagi Dia,” ada yang mungkin berkata. “Mereka jatuh ke dalam dosa apabila Iblis mencubai mereka, mereka tidak layak untuk diselamatkan!”

Alkitab berkata penyelamatan dan kasih kurnia Allah kepada manusia sangat luar biasa sehinggakan “para malaikat juga ingin mengerti perkara itu” (1 Petrus 1:12). Bagi saya, mereka mesti sangat hairan dengan tindakkan Kristus yang sengaja memilih untuk “dijadikan rendah sedikit daripada malaikat” (Ibrani 2:9). Saya tidak dapat membayangkan tindakkan yang sangat radikal seperti ini!

Rendah sedikit daripada kita?” para malaikat mungkin berfikir, “Kenapa Dia sanggup melakukan perkara seperti itu?

Dia ialah Anak Allah yang duduk bertakhta di Syurga. Alkitab berkata, “[Anak Allah] adalah sinar gemilang kemuliaan Allah dan gambaran sempurna kewujudan-Nya… Dia duduk disebelah kanan yang Maha Mulia yang bertakhta di Syurga” (Ibrani 1:3). Kenapa Dia sanggup meninggalkan tempat kemuliaan-Nya? Kenapa Dia sanggup melepaskan kedudukan dan kekuasaan-Nya? Kenapa Dia sanggup mengambil risiko untuk menjelma menjadi manusia? Kenapa Dia sangat mengambil berat tentang Krismas?

Jawapan yang ringkas ialah… Dia melakukannya demi kita! Kita tidak layak bagi Dia dan saya tidak berani untuk memberikan penjelasan yang lebih dari itu. Satu-satunya penjelasan yang saya berani katakan disini ialah – kasih kurnia-Nya.

Sebelum kelahiran Yesus, Allah Bapa pernah berkata, “Engkau Anak-Ku… mintalah daripada-Ku, Aku akan menjadikan segala bangsa warisan-Mu, dan setiap pelosok bumi milik-Mu” (Mazmur 2:7-8). Penulis Surat Ibrani menerangkannya begini: Melalui Yesus, Allah “dapat membawa banyak orang ikut menikmati kemuliaan-Nya” (Ibrani 2:10, BM).

Ya, buat seketika Yesus dijadikan rendah sedikit daripada malaikat apabila Dia menjelma menjadi manusia. Tetapi akhirnya, Dia “dimahkotakan dengan kemuliaan dan kehormatan… supaya dengan kasih kurnia Allah, mengalami kematian untuk setiap manusia” (Ibrani 2:9).

Satu-satunya penjelasan yang diberikan oleh Alkitab tentang Krismas ialah Dia melakukan semuanya demi kita. Dia ialah pemberian Allah kepada seluruh manusia di dunia ini. Dia datang, menderita dan mati kerana dosa kita. Dia datang untuk menanggung hukuman yang sepatutnya dilakukan kepada kita. Dia memberikan diri-Nya supaya kita boleh dibebaskan. Inilah Penyelamat Dunia!

Samada para malaikat benar-benar terkejut dengan Krismas atau tidak, saya hanya boleh membayangkannya. Tetapi apabila keputusan sudah dibuat, mereka tidak sabar-sabar untuk mengumumkan Berita Baik itu. Perkhabaran mereka ialah perkhabaran yang membawa sukacita, bukan perkhabaran penghakiman. Ia merupakan perkhabaran sukacita Syurga!

Jangan takut! Aku membawa kepadamu berita baik yang akan memberikan sukacita besar kepada seluruh umat,” kata malaikat kepada para gembala. “Pada malam ini di kota Daud telah lahir seorang Penyelamat bagimu, iaitu Kristus, Tuhan” (baca Lukas 2:10-11). Dia tidak lahir untuk diri-Nya sendiri. Dia lahir untuk orang lain. Dia lahir supaya kita boleh menikmati kemuliaan-Nya.

Dia Allah yang Maha Esa, lebih tinggi daripada malaikat, kemudian menjadi rendah sedikit daripada malaikat, supaya kita yang lebih rendah daripada malaikat boleh menjadi tinggi sedikit daripada malaikat. Melalui Kristus kita menjadi lebih tinggi daripada malaikat! Bagi Allah kita sangat berharga dan oleh kerana kasih kurnia-Nya kita dilayakan untuk kemuliaan-Nya. Dia sudah melakukan sesuatu yang indah kepada kita yang kita sendiri tidak mampu melakukanya. Dia menjadikan kita anak-anak-Nya, mengangkat kita masuk ke dalam keluarga Allah.

Tiada siapa yang pernah mengasihi kamu seperti mana Yesus mengasihi kamu sekarang! Dia menyatakan kasih-Nya kepada kamu sebelum Dia meninggalkan Syurga untuk pergi ke dunia. Dia datang untuk membebaskan kamu. Membawa kamu kepada diri-Nya… supaya kamu boleh melihat Allah.

Siapa yang tidak mahu kasih seperti ini? Datanglah kepada Yesus dengan iman. “Kamu semua telah menjadi anak Allah melalui iman dalam Kristus Yesus” (Galatia 3:26). Selamat Hari Krismas!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Letters to Little Richard #5 What's Your God Given Purpose?


Dear little Richard,

            You want to be a godly man, don’t you? Well, part of becoming God’s man is figuring out what God wants you to do – and doing it. I mean, find God’s purpose for your life. I know… it isn’t always easy to discover God’s plans. Why? Because God’s purposes aren’t always clear as you might like; sometimes God speaks in a quiet voice when you’re alone, sometime through books that you read, sometimes through friends and people in general, and most of the time through His living Word, the Bible. “I will instruct you and show you the way to go,” God’s promises, “with My eye on you, I will give counsel” (Psalm 32:8).

            In doing so I don’t want you to be in such a hurry [also] to understand God’s unfolding plan for your life. Remember that God operates according to a perfect timetable. That timetable is His, not ours. Be passionate about it and at the same time – be patient. I believe, my little brother that God has big things in store for you, but such a good God that He is, He may have quite a few lessons to teach you before you are fully prepared to do His will and fulfil His purpose in your life. I like what Beth Moore writes, “Only God’s chosen task for you will ultimately satisfy. Do not wait until it is too late to realize the privilege of serving Him in His chosen position for you.”   

             May you genuinely try to figure out God’s purpose for your life. If so, you can be sure that with God’s help, you will eventually discover it. And when you discover His plans for you, you’re in for an exciting ride!                       

I found mine,
And many more to discover,
Richard


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Monday, November 21, 2016

Simple Book Review: Alan M. Turing, A Biography


Alan M. Turing (first published 1959) by Sara Turing

English mathematician, logician, cryptographer (code-breaker) and founder of computer science, Alan Mathison Turing is not doubt a genius! I came to know about this man when I browsed through Walter Isaacson’s latest book The Innovators (2014), a story of the people who created the computer and the Internet that included Alan Turing as one of the leading thinkers that created our current digital revolution. Then I was introduced again to Alan’s life in a movie The Imitation Games (2014) loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges [Alan is played by Benedict Cumberbatch a.k.a. Marvel’s Dr. Strange!]. So, when I found this book in the library, I straightaway borrow it!

This is a 2012 Centenary Edition. Sara Turing, the author, is Alan Turing’s mother. Alan is her younger son and John Turing is her eldest son. “Sara Turing,” comments Martin Davis in the forward, “failed to understand [Alan] on so many levels, wrote this remarkable biographical essay. She carefully pieced together his school reports, copies of his publications, and comments on his achievements by experts.” To me this book is a bit bias, I can feel it as I read it – mother’s touch is always kinder – and I agreed that “she was trying to fit [Alan] into a framework that reveals more about her and her social situation than it does about him.” Alan’s brother, John wrote in the afterward can only be described as a rebuttal of his mother's account. Sara is so optimistic about Alan; John think otherwise. Sara tried to make Alan look good and socialiable; but John said that he was a bit weird and absent-minded.

Nevertheless, Sara Turing’s aim for this book is clear, it’s not about exhausted detail accounts but “to trace from early days the development of a mathematician and scientist of great originality.”

Highlights about Alan M. Turing: As a child he was very energetic, clever, very good with words, adventurous, love sports, curious and had his own lab to do experiments. He studied at Cambridge and then Princeton. During the World War II he worked in the Foreign Office (where he and other code-breakers cracked German ‘Enigma’ code). After the War, he worked at the National Physical Laboratory Teddington, and also with the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine. In 1937, Alan published the paper On Computable Numbers which as much as any single event can be seen as the start of the modern computer age (where his proposed ‘The Turing Machine’). He published another paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence in 1950 which introduced his famous the ‘Turing Test.’ The test continues to play a big part in debates about Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Sadly, Turing died at 41. Sara thought of his death as ‘an accident’. She writes, “Many friends, either by reason of his temperament and recent good spirits… have been led to believe that his death was caused by some unaccountable misadventure. Besides, his inadvertence alone had always involved the risk of an accident.” But Martin Davis and John Turing suspected otherwise. Martin writes, “There is a reason to believe that Alan did take his life” by staged suicide, biting a “deadly cyanide apple.” Very likely, this version is more accurate. In memory of her son’s death and great accomplishments, she endowed the Alan Turing Prize of Science to be awarded annually at Sherborne School.

[P.s: Alan Turing is thought to have committed suicide shortly after his conviction for a homosexual offence, still criminalized at the time. His mother may or may not knew of this, she doesn’t record it clearly in her biography. “I believe it was here, perhaps in the first four or five years at the Wards, perhaps even in the first two,” John Turing recalled, “that Alan became destined for a homosexual.”]

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Letters to Little Richard #4 Work Hard as Something Done for the Lord


Dear little Richard,

            In a world where easy-money is promoted online and you can be muscular just by drinking drink in one week without exercise, don’t forget the old way of getting things done: work hard. I mean work hard in your vocation, doing it promptly and doing it well. As the Scriptures say, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

            Rich, God has created a world in which generally hard work is rewarded and sloppy work is not. Yet sometimes, you may be tempted to seek ease over excellence, or you may be tempted to take shortcuts when God intends that you walk the straight and narrow path. There are times when shortcuts and pragmatic ways are good and harmless – but not always. Work hard is always right and in fact a blessing by itself. “The world does not consider labour a blessing, therefore it flees and hates it,” writes Martin Luther, “but the pious who fear the Lord labour with a great and cheerful heart, for they know God’s command, and they acknowledge His calling.” Be an industrious worker in God’s field in this world “as something done for the Lord.”

            Work hard. Wherever you find yourself – whether at work, home, school, university, or anyplace in between – give it your best. When you do, you will most certainly win the recognition and respect of your peers (either they like you or not). But most importantly, God will bless your efforts and use you in ways that only He can understand. So, my dear brother, do your work with focus and dedication. Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hands find to do, do with [all] your strength”….and leave the rest up to God.

Read the Bible, God doesn’t use lazy people you know,
With brotherly love,
Richard

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Letters to Little Richard #3 Choose Your Friends Wisely (Those Who Behave Responsibly)


Dear little Richard,

            Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Remember this Bible verse that I asked you to remember 10 years ago? It’s very much relevant today as it was yesterday. If you want to be wise and responsible person, you should hang out most of the time with people who behave wisely and responsibly. You should realize by now that some friendships will help make you a better person, while other friendships won’t.

            Some friendships help you honour God; these friendships should be nurtured. It doesn’t matter if your friends are Christians or not – oh, my Muslim friends back in university were very supportive and even now we have genuine friendships with one another – whatever friendships that make you a better person, you should keep it! Oswald Chambers agreed, “A friend is one who makes me do my best.” Vice versa, other ‘friendships’ place you in situations where you’re tempted to dishonour God by disobeying His clear commandments; friendships that dishonour God have the potential to do you great harm. Because everybody (including you) tends to become like their friends, you must choose your friends carefully. “Do you want to be wise?” asked Charles Swindoll, “Choose wise friends.”

            Do you want to live a life that is pleasing to God? I assume you want it passionately. My brother, you must! Go build friendships that are pleasing to Him. Especially with your Christian friends, remember this wise advice: “True friends don’t spend time gazing into each other’s eyes. They show great tenderness toward each other, but they face in the same direction, toward common projects, interest, goals, and above all, toward a common Lord [Jesus Christ]” (C.S. Lewis). Choose friends wisely. If you do, our Heavenly Father will bless you and your friends with gifts that are simply too numerous to count! Amen.

[P.s: Don’t hang out only with your Christian friends, go and be involve in Christian fellowship, and read the Word daily. Don’t forget to pray too]

                                                                                    Mother send her regards to you,
Your brother,
Richard

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Letters Little Richard #2 Learn to Put God First


Dear little Richard,

            You have many interests. Your mind is full of wonders. You’re naturally curious and want to learn many things. That’s good! It simply mean that your life is not as dull and boring as many kids in your generations. But as you pursue knowledge, don’t forget about this: Learn to put God first in everything you do (even in your studies of theology and works of ministry).

            In Exodus 20:3, God makes it clear that we must have no other gods before Him. Why? Because “the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God” (Deuteronomy 10:17). As you may have already realized, the world tempts us to do otherwise. The world – especially the system of the world – seems to cry, “Worship me with your time, your money, your energy, your thoughts, and your life!” May we be wise and won’t fall prey to that temptation.

            Rich, you will always have some type of relationship with God. It’s inevitable that your life must be lived in relationship to Him. The question is not if you will have relationship with Christ; the burning question is whether that relationship will be one that seeks to honour Him… or not. My brother, are you willing to place God first in your life? And, are you willing to welcome Jesus Christ, God’s Son into your heart? (That mean, He is the King rule over your life). Unless you can honestly answer these questions with a resounding YES, then your relationship with God isn’t what it could be or should be. Hey, God is always available, He’s always ready to forgive your sins and He’s even waiting for you now to come back to Him. To put Christ first in everything you do. The rest, of course, is up to you. Be still, and know that [He] is God (Psalm 46:10).

Your brother,
Richard


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Friday, November 18, 2016

Simple Book Review: iBrain (Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind)


iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind (2008)
by Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan

Reading this book remind me of other books that I’ve read such as Don Tapscott’s Growing Up Digital, Jesse Rice’s The Church of Facebook, Kim Stolz’s Unfriending My Ex and Daniel Sieberg’s The Digital Diet. Basically, all of these books are about how digital age and technology effect the way we think and behave. What make this book different is that Gary Small, a neuroscientist and experts on brain function and behaviour, gives hundreds of researches, studies and experiments on the human brains to draw conclusions in his book. This book is full of facts but not as dry as textbook. It’s interesting! I read this book because I want to understand my students (Digital Natives) and myself (between Digital Natives and Immigrants) in this always-online generations.

iBrain explores “how technology’s unstoppable march forward has altered the way young minds develop, function, and interpret information.” It reveals “a new evolution catalysed by technological advancement and its future implications.” And iBrain also offer helps/tips to avoid the potential drawbacks such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (H for Hyperactivity), increased social isolation, Internet addiction, hyper-multitasking, and so on. They offer tools and strategies needed to bridge the brain gap, enabling us to compete and shrive in the age of high-tech immersion.

This book divide into nine chapters: #1 Your Brain Is Evolving Right Now; #2 Brain Gap: Technology Dividing Generations; #3 Addicted to Technology; #4 Technology and Behaviour: ADHD, Indigo Children and Beyond; #5 High-Tech Culture: Social, Political and Economic Impact; #6 Brain Evolution: Where Do You Stand Now?; #7 Reconnecting Face to Face; #8 The Technology Toolkit; and #9 Bridging the Brain Gap; Technology and The Future Brain.

I learned great deal about technology addictions, the fall of multitasking activities, the power and danger of high-tech culture, the important of face-to-face communications and social skills, the usefulness of physical and brain exercise, and how to balance technology and off-line life. “All of us, Digital Natives and Immigrants, will master new technologies and take advantage of their efficiencies,” writes Gary Small, “but we also need to maintain our people skills and humanity. Whether in relation to a focused Google search or an empathic listening exercise, our synaptic responses can be measured, shaped, and optimized to our advantage, and we can survive the technological adaptation of the modern mind.”

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Letters to Little Richard #1 Remember that It's Your Life and Be Responsible


Dear little Richard,

            If you make a big-time mistake – and if you get caught – what’s the first thing you’re tempted to do? I know you, you’re going to find somebody or something to blame. Don’t do it bro. Forget about playing the blame game. Here is what I learned over the years: The more excuses you make – and the less responsibility you take – the less likely you are to learn anything from your experiences.

Rich, the sooner you begin taking responsibility for your actions, the sooner you’ll start growing into a mature, sensible, clear-thinking adult. As E. Stanley Jones once says, “Transformation will begin in any life – in yours – when you stand up and say: ‘I’m responsible for the kind of person I am. I am what I’ve wanted to be. Now I’ve changed my mind. I’m sorry for what I am and for what I have done. I’m going to be different. God help me.’” If you don’t do this, the opposite is also true: The longer you postpone accepting responsibility for your actions, the longer it will take you to really grow up.

Richard, my brother, it’s your life, which means that the person you see in the mirror is the very same person who’s responsible for the things you do, the things you say, and the mistakes you make. No exceptions! Therefore, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1) in Christ. I know that God is sovereign in all things and at the same time we’re human with responsibility. “God will take care of everything,” writes Lisa Whelchel, “the rest is up to you.” Remember my advice to you here. Meanwhile read the Word daily ya. I’ll write more soon…

Your big brother,
Richard

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Simple Book Review: The Measure of A Man


The Measure of A Man (1959) by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was first a pastor – man of God – only then he was an activist. Not the other way round. He was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1963 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. This book is not dry essays but lively meditations that contains the theological roots of his political and social philosophy of nonviolent activism. Basic to Dr. King’s philosophy is the belief that meditation and action are inseparable elements of life. If you want to know the motive or theological background behind his action – oh, may protesters in Malaysia today think it through before joining or supporting any cause – read this book!

The question ‘What is man?’ is one of the most important questions confronting any generation,” writes King, “The whole political, social, and economic structure of a society is largely determined by its answer to this pressing question. Indeed, the conflict which we witness in the world today between totalitarianism and democracy is at bottom a conflict over the question ‘What is man?’” There are those who look upon man as “little more than an animal.” Then there are those who would “lift man almost to the position of a god.” There are still others who would “seek to be a little more realistic about man. They would avoid the extremes of a pessimistic naturalism and optimistic humanism and seek to combine the truths of both.”

Then King turned to the Psalmist. He comes forth with an answer to ‘What is man?’ “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour” (actually he quoted Psalm 8:5). First, he explained that man is a biological being with physical body. He doesn’t stop there, he also said that man is a being of spirit. “This distinguishes him from the lower animals. And so, somehow, man is in nature, and yet he is above nature; he is in time, and yet he is above time; he is in space, and yet he is above space.” But there is another principle that must go in any doctrine of man, claimed King, “It is the recognition that man is a sinner.” Because of this we have conflict with our Holy God, we misused our freedom, we go to war, we “destroy the values and the lives that God has given us”, we become selfish and ego, etc. King pleas with sinners that we may come to God who say, “Come home, I still love you.”

King then turned to the Apostle John’s vision of New Jerusalem, describing the city: “The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (Revelation 21:16). This is how he interpret this text: that life as it should be and life at its best is the life that is complete on all sides. And he challenges each of us to meditate upon and to accept the dimensions of a complete life – the length of life (the inward concern for one’s own welfare), the breadth of life (the outward concern for the welfare of others), and the height of life (the upward reach for God).

Rev. Martin concluded, “Love yourself, if that means rational, healthy, and moral self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That is the length of life. Love your neighbour as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That is the breadth of life. But never forget that there is a first and even greater commandment, ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind.’ This is the height of life. And when you do this you live the complete life.”  

This book is simple, but it is very meaningful and depth in wisdom. I read it twice. Now I understand deeper why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a theologian and pastor involved in political and social nonviolent activism. This is his philosophy.

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Simple Book Review: In Their Own Words (Thomas Edison)


In Their Own Words: Thomas Edison (2001) by George Sullivan

I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” These are the words of Thomas Alva Edison. They help to explain why he is the greatest inventor in American history. (After I read about Benjamin Franklin in the same series, I looking for more biography, holla! I found Edison!) Edison’s inventions changed the world. Edison amazed people with the first practical electric lightbulb with hairpin-shaped carbon filament. He called it his “bright idea.” The phonograph was another of his ingenious inventions. He invented a movie camera and projector too, and was one of the first people to produce movies.

Edison also did much more. He invented the business of inventing. He brought together teams of scientists and engineers. They are his masterminds to solve problems (even so, he like to solve the hardest problems by himself). In so doing, Edison introduced the idea of modern research laboratory which many companies use today. Throughout his life, Edison valued hard work. Since he was a kid he worked as a farmer, then as train boy selling newspapers and snacks for the passengers (he even have his own mini laboratory in the train), and learned to become one of the most famous telegrapher. His curiosity and inventiveness gives joy and fullness to his life (oh, and also disasters. When he was six, he started a fire in his father’s barn. When asked why, he later explained that he wanted to “just see what it would do”). He worked day and night on his projects. “Genius,” Edison said, “is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” I almost agree totally with this statement. I just don’t think the percentage division is accurate.

Sadly, he suffered a hearing loss as a young boy and grew worst as he became older. Amazingly however, Edison was the original positive thinker. He claimed that his poor hearing worked to his benefit. “I wasn’t easily distracted,” he said, “because I heard fewer sounds than other people did.” So he could concentrate better. During his lifetime, Edison was granted 1,093 patents in the United States (That mean on average, if we count from the day of his birth to death, 84 years old, he invented at least once per month!) That’s the greatest number ever issued to one person. What I admire about Edison was his honestly, passion, confident and positive mental attitude. It was told that he also seldom gloomy. For example, in December 1914, a fire broke out at Edison’s factory buildings in West Orange. Edison, then 67 years old, stood and watched the blaze. “Where’s mother?” he asked his son Charles, “Get her over here. Her friends, too. They’ll never see a fire like this again.” Not long after, he rebuild the factory again.

Lest I try to make Edison perfect, he was not. He was also very competitive, feel superior to other inventors and sometime very mean to his ‘enemies.’ However, I think maybe these characters what make him the Inventor of the Age. He died in 1931 but his legacy continue on until today. “Edison,” write George Sullivan, “was after all the wizard of electricity. His inventions had changed the face of the world.” Look at the light bulb and you see his idea shine on us.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Simple Book Review: Steve Jobs [Thinking Differently]


Steve Jobs: thinking differently (2011) by Patricia Lakin

Entrepreneur. Inventor. Pioneer. Creative. College dropout. Visionary. Revolutionary. Rebellious. Nonconformist. Sometime asshole. I think, anyone who know him will agree that Steve Paul Jobs, the cofounder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc., could answer to all of these descriptions (oh maybe except an asshole). Jobs created one world-famous company, Apple Inc. and nurtured both NeXT and Pixar Studios. In short, he and his team – with his visions and passions for perfection – revolutionized home computers, the music and smartphone industries. I told my colleague, pointing at a poster on the wall, “Do you know that Steve Jobs involved in the creation of computer-animated films like Toy Story here?Wall-E too, but maybe most people doesn’t realize that. But for sure, people can remember Jobs as ‘father’ for the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.

This book is excited because it shows from the beginning how Steve Jobs, the brain met Steve Wozniak, the genius to found Apple Computer. “I remember Steve,” said Wozniak, “…mostly about pranks we’d pulled, and also what kind of electronic designs we’d done. It felt like we had so much in common. Typically, it was really hard for me to explain to people the kind of design stuff I worked on, but Steve got it right away.” Jobs agreed, “Woz was the first person I met who knew more electronics than I did.” They started their ‘company’ in the garage “creating an inexpensive computer for the average person.” With many challenges and failures, both Steves, Mike Markkula, their first investor, and his friends (partners and workers) were able to produced the first generation Apple Computer [I always wonder, why called it ‘Apple’? #1 Steve once worked on a farm tending to apple orchard; #2 Steve was a vegetarian, consumed an all-fruit diet; and #3 Newton’s apple as symbol of revolution].

I chuckled as I read the seriousness of Steve Jobs in the teachings of Zen Buddhism that one time when he went to India he said to a guru he wanted to be a monk. I chucked some more when I read about his unseriousness in college causes him to dropped out but take a great interest in calligraphy. I amazed at his simplicity in life, his ability to think ahead of others, his don’t-give-up spirit, his drive for perfection, and his determination even in the midst of failures. I think of him as asshole sometime when I read about how he handled conflict with others (especially with Woz), how he treated his ex-girlfriend (he have a daughter, Lisa with her), and how self-centred he become when it comes to making decisions (but then again, I can interpret it as selflessness, for he think about the company and the products as a whole).

Honestly, minus the all-star popularity, the perfectionism and creative level, I see myself in Steve Jobs’. That’s why I love-hate Jobs. I don’t want to be like Jobs, and at the same time I want to be like him in the area of imagination, perseverance, passion and daring. After I read this book, I understand a great deal of the person of Steve Jobs. I used to doubt, “Apple Inc. is not only Steve Jobs but also Wozniak, the Lisa team, the Macintosh team and the Apple team. What so great about Steve?” Now my perspective is different: Yes I cannot think of Steve as the sole creator and designer of the Apple products. But Steve is worthy of our amazement because he was “like an ingenious conductor who assembled an orchestra of brilliant musicians and led them in playing his tunes, always to perfection.” Jobs was not the soloist hero, but the leader who lead a great team. In his life time and after his death in 2011 he had fulfilled his dream, namely, “to put a dent in the universe.

On my office table, there are two quotes I printed and framed as my reminders. One is from Albert Einstein and the other is from Steve Jobs, quote that he recorded for the multi-awards Think Different advertisement: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

With this, Patricia Lakin also end her book.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Simple Book Review: Einstein's Masterwork (1915 and the General Theory of Relativity)


Einstein’s Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity (2015) by John Gribbin

I picked up this book simply because it’s about Albert Einstein, the title and persuasive BBC Sky at Night’s reviews, “An absorbing and readable account of Einstein’s life and work.” I once saw this book while I’m looking for Walter Isaacson’s Einstein at Kinukuniya KLCC Bookstore. I finally bought this one because I can’t find Isaacson’s. No regret! John Gribbin, though he is a physicist and astronomer, writes in a simple language (in comparison) and gives easy illustrations to difficult subjects (not all, of course). Gribbin, to me, successfully described what an incomparable physicist Albert Einstein really was to the world of science.

The Special Theory of Relativity,” writes Gribbin, “one of the achievements of 1905, is ‘special’ in the sense that it is restricted and ‘only’ describes the behaviour of things moving in straight lines at constant speed. The name alone tell you that the General Theory is a bigger deal, but because of the widespread (mis)conception that the General Theory is too difficult for ordinary mortals to understand, the events of 1915 have been less feted than the events of 1905… Einstein’s greatest year was indeed 1915, not 1905.” But throughout this book, Gribbin intend to demonstrate this by “putting Einstein’s science in the context of his life and work both before and after 1915, including his breakthrough year of 1905.”

It all started when his father gave the boy Einstein a magnetic compass to relieve his boredom. “He was fascinated by the idea of an invincible force that kept a grip on the compass needle, and baffled that none of his teachers at the school had shown him anything half as interesting. This helped to instil an early conviction that he was much better off working things out for himself than working within the system.” This is typical for geniuses, they are more productive and creative when they are alone. To cut the story short, Einstein wasn’t “the Einstein” when he was young, it was hard for him to further his study and even to find a job! He faced many rejections and was once told by his professor, “a lazy dog.” I think this is fair.

But as he gained great interest in science, especially physics, and by the inspiration of people like Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Niels Bohr – and many more – he soon become self-taught theoretical scientist. In 1905, what was called The Annus Mirabilis (The Year of Miracle) he produced three papers that jump start his career as world-class physicist, simply put as #1 On Brownian motion [which prove the existence of atoms], #2 On light quanta [on which at the same time prove that light is both particle and wave], and #3 the Special Theory of Relativity [I don’t understand all but for sure one of it is that E=mc2, the only famous equation that almost everybody knows].

Then with ups and downs in his life, particularly in his broken marriage and family in general, Einstein tells me that he is a mere mortal, not a god. But in the midst of [also] wars, personal health, and loneliness, Einstein completed his masterwork, namely the General Theory of Relativity. The Theory was tested over and over again that “the General Theory of Relativity can now be regarded as one of the two most securely founded theories in the whole of science, alongside quantum electrodynamics.” From this Theory, to my estimation comes ‘weird’ consequences or positively put, give us the shock of nature’s reality such as time is relative, universe space is curve, universe is expanding, gravity can bend light, the possibility of time travel, supernova, the black hole, wormhole, timewarps, dark matter, black matter, quantum internet, theory of the Big Bang (or vice versa, the existence of Intelligent Designer, God), and many more.

Einstein died without really finishing one of his ambitious dream, namely, “a single mathematical package – a unified theory – that would describe both the material world and the world of electromagnetic radiation.” He died as icon of science, as towering genius, as one of the founders of quantum mechanics. Good book.
[P.s: Some of my conclusions here might be inaccurate or too simplistic, I’m sorry, I’m not a physicist. Correct me if I wrongly inform]
                                                                                                       
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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Simple Book Review: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2012)
by William Joyce. Illustrated by William Joyce & Joe Bluhm

[This is one of the best fiction-fantasy, short-book I ever read so far! Full of wonderful graphics and how I wish you also may read this book with all of its inspiring pictures. This is a story about a man and his books, and how his life and readings influenced others to read books too. As the author writes that this book is dedicated to one of the librarian that influenced Joyce’s reading and love for books]

Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.
His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another. He would open it every morning and write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.

But every story has its upsets.
One day the sky darkened.
The winds blew and blew…

…till everything Morris knew was scattered –
even the words of his book.

He didn’t know what to do or which way to go.
So he began to wonder.
And wonder.

Then a happy bit of happenstance came his way. Rather than looking down, as had become his habit, Morris Lessmore looked up. Drifting through the sky above him, Morris saw a lovely lady. She was being pulled along by a festive squadron of flying books.

Morris wondered if his book could fly.
But it couldn’t.
It would only fall to the ground with a depressing thud.

The flying lady knew Morris simply needed a good story,
so she sent him her favourite. The book was an amiable fellow,
and urged Morris to follow him.

The book led him to an extraordinary building
where many books apparently “nested.”

Morris slowly walked inside and discovered
the most mysterious and inviting room he had ever seen.
It was filled with the fluttering of countless pages,
and Morris could hear the faint chatter of a thousand different stories,
as if each book was whispering an invitation to adventure.

Then his new friend flew up to him and landed on his arm.
It held itself open, as if hoping to be read.
The room rustled to life.
And so Morris’s life among the books began.

Morris tried to keep the books in some sort of order,
but they always mixed themselves up.
The tragedies needed cheering up and would visit the comedies.
The encyclopedias, weary of facts, would relax with the comic books and fictions.
All in all it was an agreeable jumble.

Morris found great satisfaction in caring for the books,
gently fixing those with fragile bindings
and unfolding the dog-eared pages of others.

Sometimes Morris would become lost in a book
and scarcely emerge for days.

Morris liked to share the books with others.
Sometimes it was a favourite that everyone loved,
and other times he found a lonely little volume whose tale was seldom told.

“Everyone’s story matters,” said Morris.

And all the books agreed.

At night, after all the stories that needed telling had been told
and everyone has settled down to their proper places on the shelves,
the great big dictionary would get in the last word:
zzzzzzzzzzz…

It was then that Morris Lessmore would once again write in his own book.
He wrote of his joys and sorrows,
Of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.

The days passed.

So did the months.

And then years.

And years…

…and Morris Lessmore became stooped and crinkly.

But the books never changed.
Their stories stayed the same.
Now his old friends took care of him
the way he had once cared for them,
and they read themselves to him each night.

Then one day he filled the last page in his book.
He looked up and said with a bittersweet sigh,
“I guess its’s time for me to move on.”

The books were sorry, but they understood.
Morris put on his hat and took his cane.
As he went to the door, he turned and smiled,
then waved good-bye.
“I’ll carry you all in here,”
he said, and pointed to his heart.

The books waved their pages, and Morris Lessmore flew away.
And as he flew, he changed back to the way he’d been
that long ago day when they’d all first met.

The books were quiet for a while.
Then they noticed that Morris Lessmore had left something behind.
“It’s his book!” said his oldest friend.
Inside was Morris’s story.
All of his joys and sorrows,
All that he know and everything that he hoped for.

Then the books heard a small, expectant sound.
There in the doorway was a little girl.
She looked around with wonder.
Then something fantastic happened.
Morris Lessmore’s book flew up to her and opened its pages.

The girl began to read.
And so our story ends as it began…


THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP. 
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