Friday, July 28, 2017

Letters to Annabel: Treat Addictive Substances Like Poison

My daughter Annabel,

            A total of 131,841 drug addicts have been registered in Malaysia between January 2010 and February 2016. Papa is burdened for young people nowadays. Among them are youth aged 19 and below amounted to 8,732 people, that’s the ones that we know of, reported cases. But how about those youth in rural areas? Papa read news last year that one in four students in Sarawak's most northern district of Lawas have been found to be taking drugs. It seems that drug dealers are now targeting youths and students. Oh Anna, nothing can break papa’s heart when I think about this… God saves Malaysia!

            Last month papa did a motivational talk at boy’s home, I chatted with them after that. Most of them said they taking drugs due to peer influence and out of curiosity. Dr. Tam Cai Lian, lecturer from Monash University said it well: Research shows that the social pressure to belong, to be accepted, and to be part of a social group, especially in teenagers, prompts them to conform to their peer group, and start trying out drugs. That’s how it usually begins.” Be careful to avoid the people and the places that can entrap your spirit and destroy your life.

The dictionary defines addiction as “the compulsive need for a habit-forming substance; the condition of being habitually and compulsively occupied with something.”  Well, that definition is accurate, but incomplete. For us, Christ followers, addiction has an additional meaning: it means compulsively worshipping something other than God.

            Anna, papa know that you’re a very responsible woman. But as your father, I need you to know this: don’t get addicted to something that destroys your health or your sanity. Ours is a society that glamourizes the use of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other addicted substances. Movies and social media are indirectly promoting it, but never fall into temptations. “Since you are tempted without ceasing,” writes Charles H. Spurgeon, “pray without ceasing.” When it comes to the trap of addiction, my daughter, it is easier to stay out than it is to get out. Yes, help is available. Plenty of people have experienced addiction and lived to tell about it… but you don’t have to experience it, in order to learn from it. Take heed now, learn from people’s examples, hold on to God’s Word, care for your body and mind, and be mindful of the destructive power of addiction.

But I do encourage you to be addicted to these things: praying and helping others, fellowship with the Believers and make friends in school, reading the Bible and mediate on it day and night, go for physical exercise and learn to have fun :)

P.s: Papa will be home this Sunday. We’ll go to Kuching Food Fest ya  
Love you baby,

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Letters to Annabel: Stand Up for Your Beliefs

When I return home, Anna, we watch 'Wonder Woman' together again ya. 

My daughter Annabel,

            Papa have to go back to the longhouses at Sibu for a mission trip. I hope your aunty take good care of you and when I return, I’ll tell you the story of how Christ works among the Iban people, our people. It is so exciting! But one news that have been troubled daddy since last week is that many of our young people, when they study or work at the city, they losing their faith. Those who grow or kept their faith and beliefs are those who attend church or/and Christian fellowship weekly. Daddy will share God’s Word to the young people tomorrow night, would you pray for daddy?

            Anna, they remind me of you my child. One word that came to my mind this morning as I prayed for you is this: Stand up for your beliefs. Be secure with who you are and where you stand in Christ. When you become more God-confident, then you become willing to stand up for your beliefs and your God the Father. And that’s good because if you’re willing to stand up for the things you believe in, especially in your relationship with Christ, you faith will be strengthen. And not only that, you’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll make better choices.

            “Let’s take Jesus at this word,” Max Lucado writes, “When He says we’re forgiven, let’s unload the guilt. When He says we’re valuable, let’s believe Him. When He says we’re eternal, let’s bury our fear. When He says we’re provided for, let’s stop worrying.” Franklin Graham also said, “The value and purpose of following God’s ways are not in seeing, but in believing, what God wants to say to us.” Part of why daddy wants you to read the Bible every day and meditate on it is because I desires for you be rooted in Christ and His Word. Stand firm, okay?

Daddy love you,


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #19 Transparent and Visible

Jesus is God’s love made visible: “[the Word] became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus spoke out from the mountaintops; he did not mutter in the valleys. He spoke in synagogues, streets, gardens, and at every party he went to. He was not afraid to stand out in the crowd. When the Temple guards, uncertain of which man they were to grab, trying to arrest all the disciples, Jesus stepped forward and said, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Let these others go” (John 18:9). He was willing to be God’s lightning rod.

D. L. Moody was one of the greatest evangelists who ever lived. He drew crowds of tens of thousands of people every time he spoke. Once when someone asked him how he could be such a powerful speaker, he said, “Before I speak I just go out to an open place and say ‘Lord, set me on fire.’

A light should be set on a hill, not hidden under a bushel. Jesus was not a low-profile person.
He was visible.

How are you visible as a leader?
What are some ways you could increase your visibility?

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #18 Boil It Down to Its Essence

The Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Summarize for us the laws of the prophets. Which law is the most important?” They expected to trick him, thinking he would surely misquote at least one of the thousands of laws and Scriptures that had accumulated up to that time. He looked at them and said, “The law boil down to this one: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul, and your neighbour as yourself” (paraphrased from Matthew 22:37). He distilled thousands of teachings, writings, and theories into one sentence. He boiled it down.

If people could understand their core values, they would save years of doubt, confusion, and misplaced energy as they try to find direction for their lives. Advertisers, for example, are paid to pare things down to their essence. Take the Nike advertising campaign. All of Nike’s factories, sales representatives, products, energies, costs, profits, and purpose were boiled down by their ad agency into three words: Just Do It! The agency created an award-winning and sales-increasing campaign based on three simple words (more examples such as Apple’s Think Different, L'OrĂ©al’s Because You're Worth It, and McDonald's: I'm Lovin' It).

The value of everything International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) stands for can be boiled down in one sentence: Students built into communities of disciples, transformed by the gospel and impacting the university, the church and society for the glory of Christ.

Leaders identify, articulate, and summarize the concepts that motivate others. Most important, they boil concepts down to an understandable idea. Jesus boiled it down.

If you have to boil down your message or vision or mission,
What would it be?

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #17 Be Bold and Brave

Jesus did not mumble or whisper his message. He did not discuss for hours the safest approach for doing something. He did not go through countless committees to get permission to make a statement. He was bold.

Not most of the time, but there are times when he shouted and stomped, he flung tables and chairs, he cried and groaned. Everything he did made a statement about what he saw his mission to be. He crashed into people’s consciousness with deeds, attitudes, and actions that had never been done, seen, or even heard of before. One could say he used his very blood to paint his message. That was how bold he was.

Understanding that authority must be assumed within before it can be recognized externally, Jesus boldly took his authority. He did not wait for people’s approval. He did not wait until there was a cloudless sky. He flew his banner high and carried it on a day-to-day basis. He took the canvas of his life and painted a message big enough, bold enough and bright enough for everyone to see.

He walked into the temple as a 12-year-old and started teaching. He stormed into the temple as an adult and turned things upside down. He called a sin a sin and apologized to no one – not out of arrogance, but out of boldness and clarity.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was warned by his staff that his plans to end the Depression were too large, too costly and too rough. “Well,” he thundered, “maybe they aren’t perfect in every way. But, by God, we’ve got to do something!” His administration is credited with putting America back on its feet again. All because one leader was bold.

Jesus was bold.

When and what has it cost you in life not to be bold?

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #16 Expanding Your Influence

Jesus did not distribute his message just in his hometown. In fact, he left home rather quickly, recognizing that all too often a prophet is without honour in his own country. He took his message and hit the road, going wherever there was fertile ground. He looked at the whole territory and saw it as a field ripe for harvest. He quickly began calling disciples to join him with his missions.

The importance of branching out or expanding your influence and territories is depicted in many beautiful stories and images in the Scriptures. Isaiah encouraged his people to “Widen the space of your tent, stretch out your hangings freely, lengthen your ropes, make your tent pegs firm, for you will burst out to the right and to the left” (Isaiah 54:2). God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). To Abraham, God said: “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 35:11). The entire Book of Joshua is about the tribes of Israel branching out into the Promised Land.

God does not seem to want leaders to “settle” for a little piece of land, spiritual or otherwise. The Lord constantly urges us to lift up our eyes and see all the possibilities on the horizon and to shake off the dust and ashes from our minds and feet and get going. The word ‘branch’ or ‘branches’ is mentioned more than 70 times in the Bible. Jesus himself was called the “Branch of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:5).

Leaders must constantly look for ways to expand their vision, their influence, and their contribution. There are always more possibilities than our eyes can see. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s calling and empower you to do so.

Jesus branched out.

What are your current mental boundaries?
What are your plans for expanding your influence, territories and contribution for God’s glory?

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #15 Right Ones come from the 'Wrong Side'

Jesus of Nazareth was not exactly what the people had in mind for a leader. Nathanael, a potential apostle, said, “Examine the Scriptures yourself and see. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (see John 1:45-46). Jesus neither a warrior nor royalty. He wasn’t exactly handsome, either, according to some writings. He not only came from the wrong side of town, he came from the wrong town. The man nobody would have considered wore the crown. Nothing that the learned ones could decipher from their libraries called for a carpenter king. Once again, God played surprise.

Few people consider themselves perfectly qualified to lead. We are influenced by the media as to what everyone and everything should look like. We know what Miss Malaysia should look like, just as we know what YBs and ministers should look like. It is easy to disqualify ourselves as leaders based on external characteristics alone. Yet we also live in times of great upheaval and surprise. Blasphemers are becoming worship leaders, minority-indigenous people are becoming Wakil Rakyats, criminals become Christian ministers. Leaders are coming out of the ‘wrong side’… with a fresh perspective.

The call to leadership can come from many directions and in many ways. The Old Testament indicates (at least) three ways that we are called to leadership: the burning heart, the burning bush, and the burning house.

The burning heart is the kind of call that David had. He said, “I’ll go fight the giant! It isn’t right that our people should tremble in their tents at his insults” (read 1 Samuel 17:33-37). The burning bush is the kind of call that Moses had. It is a surprise approach to getting someone’s attention. As you recall, Moses was called to leadership by seeing a miraculous burning bush (read Exodus 3:2-10). The burning house is the kind of call to leadership that Queen Esther had. Esther risking her life and certainly her social standing when she (and her uncle) try to stopped the enemies from killing all the Jews. She revealed her identity to the king, her husband, who in an embarrassed fury hanged Haman, the man who plotted the Jew’s destruction. Esther became a legendary leader among the Jews. She became a leader when her house was burning down.

Nearly every leader in the Scriptures had doubts at one time or another. They often felt underqualified, forsaken or abandoned. Yet those who were called were given the strength to carry out their missions. Then as now.

Jesus was another one of God’s surprises.
He came from the ‘wrong side.’

Which type of call to leadership have you experienced?
The burning heart?
The burning bush?
The burning house?

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Letters to Annabel: Become Serious about the Pursuit of Wisdom

Dear sweetheart Annabel,

            Daddy left this letter with a book for you to read while I’m gone these few days. How’s your school? I promise that we will spent time together for dinner this weekend, okay? Chocolate vanilla or green tea ice-cream for dessert? Both? It’s going to be fun!

            Oh ya, about the book Eugene Peterson’s The Message: Proverbs that I want you to read and meditate… I love this translation because it’s fresh and I have been reading it many times now. If you are looking for wisdom, the Book of Proverbs is a wonderful place to start. It has 31 chapters, one for each day of the month if you like. If you read and meditate on its wisdom regularly, and if you take its teachings to heart, you’ll gain timeless wisdom from God’s unchanging Word.

            School can teach you knowledge and skills, but only God’s Word can give you true wisdom and understanding (go for both of course). “Knowledge is horizontal,” writes Billy Graham, “Wisdom is vertical; it comes down from above.” Wisdom, however, will not come instantly, you must seek it day by day. Be passionate, my daughter, in your pursuit of God’s wisdom; sincerely seek to live a life of righteousness. Proverbs 4:6 says: “Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.” The Bible describes wisdom as “she” not because it means that wisdom have gender, but it is personal. Take this advice personally.

            When daddy was young and your grandpa is not there to be a Christian father-figure for me, I seek for myself worthy mentors – men and women of God –  and listen carefully to their advice and exemplified their lives. Find yours (I’ll suggest to you when we meet okay). You must associate day in and out with people who behave wisely and responsibly. And, you must act in accordance with your beliefs. Be wise and be a blessing to our family, your friends and to the world. I already proud of you.

Annabel, you have grown wiser, yet you’re always be my baby girl.

Daddy loves you,


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Jesus' Leadership #14 Break Ranks (Dare to Be Different)

Jesus did not follow the crowd. He led it. He did not report news, he made it happen. In the Old Testament, David had to break ranks to take on the giant Goliath because his brothers and fellow Israelites were back in their tents, trembling in fear. Finding the situation counter to all he believed about God, himself and his people, David volunteered to go forth to fight the giant (read 1 Samuel 17). Astonishingly, it was his brothers who tried to keep him from doing the right and courageous thing.

It was the same situation with Joseph in the Old Testament. His jealous brothers threw him in a well because they were tired of listening to how he stood apart from them. Families have very strong “corporate cultures” of their own, and anyone who dares to be different is bound to encounter resistance. To Jesus the Lord, his family was not necessarily his earthly mother and brothers, but anyone who did the will of God. In other words, his true family was anyone with similar goals, plans, and visions who was willing to act on them, no matter what the cost.

There are so many dysfunctional families and groups in our society today that a person must have uncommon courage to break free. Sometimes breaking free may require drastic measures and cause conflict. Churches can be dysfunctional. Companies can be dysfunctional. Laws can be dysfunctional. And a leader who is not willing to break ranks is not a leader at all, but merely puppet set up to maintain status quo.

The Pharisees were dysfunctional religious leaders whom Jesus felt so strongly about that he called them “whited sepulchres, broods of vipers” and other choice words. He had such strong words for them because they were supposed to help set people free, yet instead they enslaved people for their own selfish gain. Jesus knew he had to step out of that crowd in order to set people free. He broke ranks.
[Reference: Jesus, CEO (1995) by Laurie Beth Jones]

If you did what was really in your heart,
With whom or what would you come into conflict?
What keeping you from truly being a leader?

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Letters to Annabel: Learn from Your Mistakes

My daughter Annabel,

            Since the day your mom passed away, both you and dad are greatly affected. I know you love your mom so much, I do too, but she’s gone now. Anna, daddy loves you. Please do not let this tragedy cause you to rebel against God (we already talk about this), and stop making mistake by channelling your anger externally. Instead, I encourage you to express your feeling toward God your Father – and when I’m home soon, I’ll be by your side and listen and talk with you personally. Deal?

            About the mistakes that you wrote to me the other day, well darling, nobody likes ‘em but everybody makes ‘em. Sometimes, even if you’re a very good person, you’re going to mess things up. And when you do (I do too), God is always ready to forgive you. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God will do His part, but you should be willing to do your part too. Here is what you need to do:

1)    If you’ve been engaging in behaviour that is against the will of God, cease and desist (that means stop)
2)    If you made a mistake, learn from it and don’t repeat it (that’s called getting smarter)
3)    If you’ve hurt somebody, apologize and ask for forgiveness (that’s called doing the right thing)
4)    Ask for God’s forgiveness, too (He’ll give it whenever you ask, but you do need to ask)

My baby girl, today is the perfect day to make things right with everybody (and the word everybody includes yourself, your family, your teachers, your friends and Jesus the Lord). Your mom once told me, “Mistakes are the price you pay for being human; repeated mistakes are the price you pay for being stubborn. So don’t be hard-hearted: learn from your experiences – the first time!” Your mom knows that daddy is a stubborn man. Like I told you, be stubborn in your faith, but not in your heart :)

I’m coming home soon.

Daddy love you,

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Letters to Annie: Keep a Clear Conscience

Dear Annie,

            Sorry for this late reply to your previous letter. Life has been hard for me these few days. I was discouraged by my own sinful thoughts that lead to guilty conscious. But don’t worry… I’m okay now, Christ in His Word have encouraged me greatly.

            It has been said that character is what we are when nobody is watching. How true. When we do things that we know aren’t right, we try to hide them from our families, friends and loved ones. But even then, God is watching. I was tormented by my own guilty conscious. Oh how glad, joy and content I am now when I obey God’s commandments of repentance and seek for His grace and forgiveness upon me. What a joy!

            A clear conscience is one of the rewards we earn when we obey God’s Word and follow His will. “God has revealed Himself in man’s conscience,” writes Billy Graham, “Conscience has been described as the light of the soul.” I wants to be able to say like Paul: “Believe me, I do my level best to keep a clear conscience before God and my neighbours in everything I do” (Acts 24:16). I learned now – relearned, in fact – if I sincerely wish to walk with Christ, I should follow His commandments. Love express in obedience. When I do, my character will take care of itself… and I won’t need to look over my shoulder to see who, besides God, is watching.

Thank you dear for praying for me.
Long to be with you again, sharing our lives in Christ together.


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Letters to Annie: Make the Most of Your Talent(s), Dance!

Dear Annie,

            I remember how much you like to dance. When I asked you the other day, what brings you joy? Your answer is: “Dancing before the Lord.” That was your ministry. How your movements and the rhythm of the music become one when you dance; how you used your hands and feet to worship the Lord; your heart soar to the heaven with praise and thanksgiving – I remember all. You’re beautiful then, you’re beautiful now.

            But since you’re no more student but working adult already, I would like to encourage you to keep using your God-given talents, especially your dancing gift. Like what Paul said to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you” (1 Timothy 4:14). God has given you talents, keep using it my dear. “In the great orchestra we call life,” writes Max Lucado, “you have an instrument and a song, and you owe it to God to play them both sublimely.” Or do you remember the old adage: What we are is God’s gift to us, what we become is our gift to God.

            I understand that sometime our society and the pressure of lifestyle today, they may encourage us to do otherwise. We face countless temptations to squander our time, resources and talents. I’m struggle with all of these too. I think we should be keenly aware of the inevitable distractions that can waste our time, our energy and our opportunities. You and I know that every day of our lives, we have a choice to make: to nurture our talents or to neglect them. My dear Annie, let us nurture our talents and gifts! God will reward us and expand our opportunities to serve Him. As we serve Him, we receive His infinite joy, peace and grace even in the midst of our troubles and busyness.

Would you dance again? Oh, value the talent that God has given you, nourish it, make it grow, and share it with the world. The best way to say “Thank You” for God’s gifts is to use them.

Long to see you dance,


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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #13 Call the Question

Call the question” means it is time to stop talking about the issue and take an action. We love to discuss more than we like to decide. Jesus throughout the Gospel stories was constantly saying, “Call the question please.”

I once read: A woman dreamed that she was being chased by a bear. When the bear finally cornered her, she asked in terror, “Are you going to kill me?” The bear calmly replied, “I don’t know, lady. You tell me. This is your dream.” This is a frustrating story for some because she was required to come up with the answer, rather than it being imposed upon her.

Jesus empowered people because he was willing to call the question: “Who do people say that I am? Who do you think I am? What do you want? Where is your faith?” He asked question after question. Perhaps he asked so many questions because one of his mottos was, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth is not always easily available. Sometimes it is hidden by our own delusions and is wrapped by worries and fears. Calling the question sometime means taking the time to look into our own heart and let the Holy Spirit examines us. By ‘forcing’ ourselves – and others – to tell the truth, we can know our true inner selves. Then what happen? We’ll be free. The truth will set us free, this is what Jesus believed.

Jesus called the question.

What obvious situation have you been afraid to bring to light?
When the truth is unbound, can you see the positive results from this freedom?

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #12 Create a Team

Once Jesus began his work in earnest, he wasted no time in forming a team. It is as if he suddenly became magnetized. People were inexplicably drawn to him and him to them. “Follow me,” he called out across the water, and without hesitation they followed. Even Jesus knew that he could not change the world alone (or maybe not “he could not” but “he will not”).

If you as a leader intend to accomplish anything significant, the first step toward attaining your God-given goal is to create a team. Yet many people still feel they must do everything alone. I love to do things alone, but I must see beyond myself, my preferences, my personality to working together. There is time for individualism, there is time for teamwork. Almost always, God-given goal(s) require teamwork. One man can only do so much.

Good ideas, noble intentions, brilliant inventions and miraculous discoveries go nowhere unless somebody forms a team to act on them. Whoever forms a team to carry out the best ideas wins. Jesus formed a team.

What parts of a project are you still trying to do on your own? Why?
Do you have a team?

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jesus' Leadership #11 A Leader Must Have a Plan

A good leader has a plan. Jesus had one. He gave clear instructions to his disciples regarding how they could attain their God-desired results. He also had received The Plan that he was working on implementing. He spoke often about how something was either part of or not part of The Plan. As a man he did not claim to know all the details, but as divine he certainly saw the finished big picture and acted obediently on a day-to-day basis while on earth according to the Father’s guidance. Even the Son of God has a plan.

What good does it do to stir up a crowd if you do not give them the big picture plan of what you want to achieve with them? So few people have plans that people will flock to almost anyone who comes up with a vivid sketch of how something should or could be done. The best advice is: Plan your work, work your plan.

A good leader has a plan that consists of changing simple pictures. Just because a group of people has a bunch of boards, hammers and nails does not mean that they are building a house or even anything recognizable. Sometimes leaders think they are doing their job but just because there is a lot of hammering going on. As a society we like the sound of hammering, but we are uncomfortable with the sound of thinking, which is silence.

Sometimes a plan can start with one simple objective. What is your plan? Read the Gospel stories, Jesus had a plan.

What is your plan?
Does it glorified God?
Is it written down?
Is it clear?
Is it workable?
How can you communicate your plan?
How can you implement it?
When will you begin?

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