Monday, April 30, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #12 Will You Splatter or Bounce?

If only life could become easier with every day of living! But that’s not reality, is it? As you get older, truly some things get harder, but others also get easier. In every stage of life, there are good aspects and bad. The key is to focus on the good and learn to live with the bad. Of course, not everyone does that. In fact, I’ve found that there are really only two kinds of people in this world when it comes to dealing with discouragement: splatters and bouncers. When splatters hit rock bottom, they fall apart, and they stick to the bottom like glue. On the other hand, when bouncers hit bottom, they pull together and bounce back.

Paul J. Meyer, the founder of the Success Motivation Institute, says, “Ninety percent of those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” That’s what discouragement can do to you if you don’t handle it the right way – it can cause you to quit. Since you will become discouraged at some point, the question is, Are you going to give up or get up?

[Taken from The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset (2006) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson Inc.]

Make the decision to get up and bounce back today.

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Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (2004)
by Stephen R. Covey

In my 20s, I love to read self-help/inspirational books. Almost all of the authors – contemporaries and books published in 2004 onward – recommend reading this book. When I first saw this book, I thought that it was so thick and wordy. So I didn't buy or even browsing it. But I'm still curious why this book gets so many positive recommendations from many of my favorite authors such as Zig Ziglar, John C. Maxwell and Jim Rohn. Then I have an idea: I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it! The audiobook is narrated by Covey himself. Wow! I'm loving it!

I'm really buying into Habit 1 (Be Proactive), Habit 3 (Put First Things First) and Habit 4 (Think Win-Win) but my weakness is Habit 5 (Seek First to Understand). I'm still learning Habit 2 (Begin With End In Mind) and Habit 6 (Synergize). As for Habit 7 (Sharpen the Saw), this is an indispensable habit that I'm committed all days of my life. This blog is part of my way of sharpening the saw of my mind and soul. To me, these 7 habits that Covey teaches in this book are foundational for happiness and success. If you only want to read one book on personal development this year, I recommend you this book wholeheartedly (or you can read Stephen's son book, Sean Covey based on this one, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. More fun and easier to read).

I've written chapter by chapter summary for this book in my other blog Idea for Life. For a quick revision of the key messages of this book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People click TITLES below:

#1 Be Proactive and take all the matters in your hands.
#2 Begin With End In Mind by envisioning long-term goals daily.
#3 Put First Things First by organizing your life and focusing on important and not urgent matters.
#4 Think Win-Win and try to create situations of mutual benefits with other people.
#6 Synergize with others for best results and benefits that you couldn’t gain by yourself only.
#7 Sharpen the Saw having and maintaining a balanced life so you can practice all above.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #11 Let Failure Point You to Success

Oliver Goldsmith was born the son of a poor preacher in Ireland in the 1700s. Growing up, he wasn’t a great student. In fact, his schoolmaster labeled him a ‘stupid blockhead.’ He did manage to earn a college degree, but he finished at the bottom of his class. He was unsure of what he wanted to do. At first, he tried to become a preacher, but it didn’t suit him, and he was never ordained. Next, he tried law but failed at it. He then settled on medicine, but he was an indifferent doctor and was not passionate about his profession. He was able to hold several posts only temporarily. Goldsmith lived in poverty, was often ill, and once even had to pawn his clothes to buy food.

It looked like he would never find his way. But then he discovered an interest and aptitude for writing and translating. At first, he worked as a Fleet Street reviewer and writer. But then he began to write works that came out of his own interests. He secured his reputation as a novelist with The Vicar of Wakefield, a poet with “The Deserted Village,” and a playwright with She Stoops to Conquer.

My friend Tim Masters says that failure is the productive part of success. It provides the road you don’t have to travel again, the mountain you don’t have to climb again, and the valley you don’t have to cross again. At the time you’re making mistakes, they may not feel like “the kiss of Jesus,” which was Mother Teresa’s term for failures that drive us to God. But if we have the right attitude, they can lead us to what we ought to be doing.

[The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset (2006) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson]

Embrace your failures as blessings in disguise.

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John C. Maxwell on Leadership #10 Seek A Breakthrough

Every major difficulty you face in life is a fork in the road. You choose which track you will head down, toward breakdown or breakthrough. Dick Biggs, a consultant who helps Fortune 500 companies improve profits and increase productivity, writes that all of us have unfair experiences; as a result, some people merely exist and adopt a “cease and desist” mentality. He continues,

One of the best teachers of persistence is your life’s critical turning points. Expect to experience 3-9 turning points or ‘significant changes’ in your life. These transitions can be happy experiences… or unhappy times such job losses, divorce, financial setbacks, health problems and the death of loved ones. Turning points can provide perspective, which is the ability to view major changes within the larger framework of your lifetime and let the healing power of time prevail. By learning from your turning points, you can grow at a deeper level within your career and life.”

If you’ve been badly hurt, then start by acknowledging the pain and grieving any loss you may have experienced. Then forgive the people involved – including yourself, if needed. Doing that will help you move on. Just think, today may be your day to turn the hurts of your past into a breakthrough for the future.

[Taken from Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success (2007) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers]

Determine to turn difficult experiences
into breakthrough moments.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Review: The Malay Dilemma Revisited by Bakri Musa

The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia
(1999, Updated and Revised 2017) by M. Bakri Musa

I went to the library and asked the librarian on where to find Malaysia's politics section. To my surprise, state library doesn't have any special section focus on Malaysia! If any, the books are poorly organized and some you can find in other unrelated sections. Obviously, our concern and awareness of issues in Malaysia are still in low level and judged by my frequent visits to local bookstores, most Sarawakians don't read books – and thus, seeing anyone reading books on local and Malaysia's issues is very rare scene indeed. When I borrowed this book, the librarian asked me, "Are you a student? Do you have an exam coming soon?" "No," I said. "I'm just interested in the subject." "Oh, I see," he said. And with a gentle smile, he asked again, "Are you a Malay?" "Oh no," I replied promptly. "I'm just curious on what are the Malay's dilemmas in Malaysia." Though he didn't say anything in regard to the subject discussed (proceed with my check-out), I can see from his face-expression that he still puzzled as if thinking in the back of his mind, "What's Malay dilemma?"

Bakri Musa, a surgeon in California and an active blogger, writes very freely and openly on Malaysian socio-political affairs. Like a surgeon with his sharp knife, he pores deep into the issues and brutally revealed the truths about Malaysia and the way we Malaysians think (with extra emphasis on how the Malay think: in the past, present and how they should be in the future). Although he left Malaysia in 1963, he keeps close track of social and political developments here. Sometime if we want to see an elephant entirely, we can't stare at it up-close. We need to steps backward – a considerable distance – and then we can see the entire elephant. Bakri Musa's observations and analyses are admirable and pointed simply because he ‘sees' Malaysia from afar but closely examine its implications and realities as if he's near.

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad in 1970 has published his book The Malay Dilemma, where he examines the make-up of the Malays and the problem of racial harmony in Malaysia. Here Bakri Musa revisits Mahathir's book and "examine the extent to which modern Malaysia has been shaped by his convictions and assumptions as expressed in that book and to analyze the effectiveness of his policies and strategies in solving the country's social and economic problems" and more. If you wish to be stimulate in your thinking about what's happening today in Malaysia, if you are willing to see the reality and ugliness of what Malaysia has become, if you want to make a different (small as it seem) in this country  but you don't know where to start – read this book. Though the title is The Malay Dilemma Revisited, don't be close-minded! This book is also about the Non-Malay dilemmas. What happens to the Malays will affect us as well either we want to acknowledge that or not – we are Malaysians.

This book is divided into 3 parts, 24 chapters, and about 500 pages (don't let the volume discouraged you. It is simple and easy to read):

Part One: Malaysia Then and Now

Chapter 1: The Malay Dilemma – The Book
Chapter 2: One Malay Village
Chapter 3: It's Not All in Our Genes
Chapter 4: Ugliness of Urbanization
Chapter 5: Islamization of Malaysia
Chapter 6: The Sultan Syndrome
Chapter 7: MARA – The Great March Backward

Part Two: Modernizing Malaysia

Chapter 8: Enhancing Bumiputra Competitiveness
Chapter 9: Competitiveness Through Education
Chapter 10: Seventy Million Malaysians?
Chapter 11: The Subsidy Mentality
Chapter 12: We Are Special
Chapter 13: Affirmative Action in America
Chapter 14: The Non-Malay Dilemma

Part Three: Malaysia in the New Millennium

Chapter 15: That Pesky Neighbour
Chapter 16: The Sea of Corruption
Chapter 17: Vision 2020 – Not Quite Perfect
Chapter 18: Look West Is Best
Chapter 19: Twin Towers, Twin Crises
Chapter 20: Which Way Forward?
Chapter 21: What A Way to End The Millennium!
Chapter 22: What A Way to Begin The New Century!
Chapter 23: Najib's Twin Legacies
Chapter 24: The Malay Dilemma in the New Century

[P.s: You can get this book at local bookstores especially Popular and MPH about RM45-50]


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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #9 Disciplined Emotions

People have just two choices when it comes to their emotions: they can master their emotions or be mastered by them. That doesn’t mean that to be a good team player, you have to turn off your feelings. But it does mean that you shouldn’t let your feelings prevent you from doing what you should or drive you to do things you shouldn’t.

A classic example of what can happen when a person doesn’t discipline his emotions can be seen in the life of golf legend Bobby Jones. Like today’s Tiger Woods, Jones was a golf prodigy. He began playing in 1907 at age 5. By age 12, he was scoring below par, an accomplishment most golfers don’t achieve in a lifetime of playing the game. At age 14, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship. But Jones didn’t win the event. His problem can be best described by the nickname he acquired: “club thrower.” Jones often lost his temper – and his ability to play well.

An older golfer who Jones called Grandpa Bart advised the young man, “You’ll never win until you can control that temper of yours.” Jones took his advice and began working to discipline his emotions. At age 21, Jones blossomed and went on to be one of the greatest golfers in history, retiring at age 28 after winning the grand slam of golf. Grandpa Bart’s advice comment sums up the situation: “Bobby was 14 when he mastered the game of golf, but he was 21 when he mastered himself.

[Taken from The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player: Becoming the Kind of Person Every Team Wants (2007) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson Inc.]

Have you mastered your emotions?
Or are you mastered by them?

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #8 To Improve Your Leadership, Improve Yourself

A danger of teaching conferences or writing books like this one is that people start to assume you’re an expert who has mastered everything you teach. Don’t believe it. Like you, I’m still working on my relational and leadership skills. There are principles that I don’t do well, so I’m still working to improve myself. And that will always be true for me. If I ever think I’ve finished growing, then I’m in trouble.

People who often experience relational difficulties are tempted to look at everyone but themselves to explain the problem. But we must always begin by examining ourselves and being willing to change whatever deficiencies we have. Critic Samuel Johnson advised that “he who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief which he purposes to remove.”
[taken from Winning With People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time (2007) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson Inc.]

What must you change in yourself to become a better leader?
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #7 The Power of Self-Discipline

Author H. Jackson Brown Jr. equipped, “Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backward, or sideways.” If you know you have talent, and you’ve seen a lot of motion – but little concrete results – you may lack self-discipline.

Sort Out Your Priorities. Think about which two or three areas of life are most important to you. Write them down, along with the disciplines that you must develop to keep growing and improving in those areas. Develop a plan to make the disciplines a daily or weekly part of your life.

List the Reasons. Take the time to write out the benefits of practicing the disciplines you’ve just listed. Then post the benefits someplace where you will see them daily. On the days when you don’t want to follow through, reread your list.

Get Rid of Excuses. Write down every reason why you might not be able to follow through with your disciplines. Read through them. You need to dismiss them as the excuses they are. Even if a reason seems legitimate, find a solution to overcome it. Don’t leave yourself any reasons to quit. Remember, only in the moment of discipline do you have the power to achieve your dreams.

A nursery in Canada displays this sign on its wall: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty-five years ago… The second best time is today.” Plant the tree of self-discipline in your life today.

[The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow (1999) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson]

Begin a routine regularly scheduled actions of self-discipline.

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Jesus' Leadership #22 Change Your Unit of Measurement

In the New Testament, Jesus often breaks the status quo of the religious leaders by teaching the people saying, "It has been written... but I say..." What authority!

Perhaps the most important thing a leader can do is to change the unit of measurement
. Jesus constantly said, "It has been written… but I say…" throughout the New Testament. He was changing the units of measurements – of obedience, of love, of holiness, of requirements for entrance into God's presence… of how we measure growth and worth in the Kingdom of God. It is not about the volume of your prayers, it is about the depth of them. It is not about how much you have, it is how you treat one another.

All of us are slaves to our ideas and the (faulty) concepts of success that we learned from our cultures. Men are measured in terms of their money and women are measured in term of their looks. Is this the message that we are sending to our children? In the beauty pageants, for example, women are measured more by their looks than by their brains. Women must not be measured and weighted like cattle! Yet even today, when magazines talk about models, they highlight their appearance, height, and weight. Men, too, must not be measured in terms of how much money they have in the bank. Today, people treat those with money and power differently from those who have none or less. This and more – are all because of our cultural units of measurement.

Jesus had changed our units of measurements – change of mindset, perception, perspective, value, attitude, meaning, and purpose. It is time for us (for all of us) to change the unit of measurement, how we measure success, how we measure progress and how we measure others and ourselves. Remember, the most important thing a leader can do is to change the unit of measurement.

Currently what unit of measurement are you using to determine you/other worth?
How would you like to change it?

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Friday, April 20, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #6 Feelings Follow Thinking

The human mind has a tremendous amount of power in our lives. That which holds our attention determines our actions. Because of that, where we are today is the result of the dominating thoughts in our minds. And the way we think determines what our attitudes are. The good news is that you and I can change that. You can control your thoughts, and because of that, you can control your attitude.

Let’s do an experiment that will show you what I mean. Take a moment to think about the place where you live. No problem. You decided to think about it, and you did it. Next, imagine for a moment that the place where you live has burned to the ground, and everything in it is gone. What kind of emotional response did you have? Maybe you were sad because many irreplaceable things would have been lost in a fire. Maybe you were happy because your current living situation is terrible and a fresh start would do you good. The point is that your thinking prompts your emotion. That’s key, and here’s why:

Major premise: We can control our thoughts.
Minor premise: Our feelings come from our thoughts.
Therefore: We can control our feelings by changing how we think.

Why is that important? Because your attitude is your emotional approach to life. It’s the framework through which you see events, other people, even yourself. That’s why I believe the saying, “You are not what you think you are, but what you think... you are.”

[Taken from The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset (2006) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson]

How are the dominating thoughts of your mind affecting
your attitude and effectiveness as a leader?

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Jesus' Leadership #21 Serve Only the Best Wine

Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
(John 2:10, responded the banquet master when he tasted the wine that Jesus turned from water)

Jesus did not keep Himself in reserve. The first miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine at a wedding. Jesus poured out the best of His affection freely to all He encountered. This is an important leadership-action skill because we so often bestow affection in small droplets for people. Probably we all have encountered that boss who said no appraisal when work done well, or colleague who never say, "Wow! That's great!"

I met somebody who displayed affectionate spontaneity when I came to Christian fellowship for a speaking engagement. When I was introduced to the CF's adviser, she looked up from her sit and said cheerfully, "Oh! It's good to see you! I bet you'll bless our fellowship. Thank you for coming." She didn't know me prior to that encounter, but she welcomed me with gracious gesture. I wish more people were able to be affectionate spontaneously. Unfortunately, many of us are like The X Factor judges measuring people's performance critically before we open up our hearts to them. 

Why do we wait to serve the wine? Jesus, like those who are dying today, never reached the age of forty. Perhaps knowing that He wouldn't be here long is what caused Him to serve the best wine first. He gave the wine freely to anyone who wanted it. He poured out the best of Himself to all He encountered.... Leaders, Jesus served only the best wine. 

How often do you withhold love and affection
until someone has 'earned' it?
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #5 Value and Reward Loyalty

A quality you should look for in people to join you on your journey is loyalty. Although this alone not ensure success in another person, a lack of loyalty is sure to ruin your relationship with him or her. Think of it this way: When you’re looking for potential leaders, if someone you’re considering lacks loyalty, he is disqualified. Don’t even consider taking him on the journey with you because in the end, he’ll hurt you more than help you. So what does it mean for others to be loyal to you?

They Love You Unconditionally. They accept you with your strengths and weaknesses intact. They genuinely care for you, not just for what you can do for them.

They Represent You Well to Others. Loyal people always paint a positive picture of you with others. They may take you to task privately or hold you accountable, but they never criticize you to others.

They Are Able to Laugh and Cry with Your as You Travel Together. Loyal people are willing and able to share your joys and sorrows. They make the trip less lonely.

They Make Your Dream Their Dream. Some people undouble share the journey with you only briefly. You help one another for a while and then go your separate ways. But a few – a special few – will want to come alongside you and help you for the rest of the journey. These people make your dream their dream. If you find people like that, take good care of them.

[Taken from Your Road Map for Success: You CAN Get There from Here (2010) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson]

Do you inspire loyalty?
Show gratitude to the loyal people in your inner circle today.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #4 Develop A Personal Relationship With the People You Equip

All good mentoring relationships begin with a personal relationship. As your people get to know and like you, their desire to follow your direction and learn from you will increase. If they don’t like you, they will not want to learn from you, and the equipping process slows down or even stops.

To build relationships, begin by listening to people’s life stories, their journeys so far. Your genuine interest in them will mean a lot to them. It will also help you to know their personal strengths and weaknesses. Ask them about their goals and what motivates them. Find out what kind of temperaments they have. You certainly don’t want to equip and develop a person whose greatest love is numbers and financial statements for a position where he would be spending 80 percent of his time dealing with disgruntled customers.

One of the best ways to get to know people is to see them outside of the business world. People are usually on their guard at work. They try to be what others want them to be. By getting to know them in other settings, you can get to know who they really are. Try to learn as much as you can about the people and do your best to win their hearts. If you first find their hearts, they’ll be glad to give you their hands.

[taken from Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others to Reach Their Full Potential (1995) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson]

Make an appointment to get to know someone
on your team today.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #3 Those Closest to You Will Affect Your Success/Failure Level

In more than thirty years of leadership, I [John C. Maxwell] have learned that those closest to the leader will determine the success level of that leader. A negative reading of this statement is also true: Those closest to the leader will determine the level of failure for that leader. The positive or negative outcome in my leadership depends upon my ability to develop those closest to me.

Stop for a moment and think of the five or six people closest to you in your organization. Are you developing them? Do you have a game plan for them? Are they growing? Have they been able to lift your load?

In their first training session, I give new leaders this principle: As a potential leader, you are either an asset or a liability to the organization. I illustrate this truth by saying, “When there’s a problem, a ‘fire’ in the organization, you as a leader are often the first to arrive at the scene. You have in your hands two buckets. One contains water and the other contains gasoline. The ‘spark’ before you will either become a greater problem because you pour the gasoline on it, or it will be extinguished because you use the bucket of water.”

The question a leader needs to ask is, “Am I training them to use the gasoline or the water?”

[taken from Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others to Reach Their Full Potential (1995) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson]

Have you trained the people closest to you in your organization
to be water carriers?

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Monday, April 16, 2018

John C. Maxwell on Leadership #2 Do Things Together As A Team

I once read the statement, “Even when you’ve played the game of your life, it’s the feeling of teamwork that you’ll remember. You’ll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you’ll never forget your teammates.” This is describing the community that develops among teammates who spend time doing things together.

The only way to develop community and cohesiveness among your teammates is to get them together, not just in a professional setting but in personal ones as well. There are lots of ways to get yourself connected with your teammates, and to connect them with one another. Many families who want to bond find that camping does the trick. Business colleagues can socialize outside work (in an appropriate way). The where and when are not as important as the fact that team members share common experiences.

[Taken from The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team (2012) by John C. Maxwell. Published by Manjul Publishing House Pvt Ltd]

Spend some time with your team
And share an enjoyable common experience.

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John C. Maxwell on Leadership #1 To Leadership, Add Friendship

Why do I recommend that you work to develop friendships on the job?

Friendship Is the Foundation of Influence: President Abraham Lincoln said, ‘If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.’ Good relationships make influence possible, and friendship is the most positive relationship you can develop on the job with your co-workers.

Friendship Is the Framework for Success: I believe long-term success is unachievable without good people skills. Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.’ without it, most achievements are not possible, and even what we do achieve can feel hallow.

Friendship Is the Shelter Against Sudden Storms: If you’re having a bad day, who can make you feel better? A friend. When you have to face your fears, who would you rather do it with? A friend. When you fall on your face, who can help pick you up? A friend. Aristotle was right when he said, ‘True friends are a sure refuge.’”

[Taken from The 360⁰ Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization (2005, 2011) by John C. Maxwell. Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson]

Don’t just be a teammate –
Be a friend to those you work with.

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Help! Would You Consider Recommending an Abortion?

Case #1: A preacher and his wife are extremely poor. They already have 14 children. Now she is pregnant again. Considering their poverty and the excessive world population, would you consider recommending she get an abortion?

Case #2: The father is sick with a cold, the mother has tuberculosis. They have 4 children. One is blind, another is dead, the third one is deaf, and the fourth one had tuberculosis. Now she is pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you consider recommending abortion?

Case #3: A white man raped a 13-year-old black girl and she got pregnant. If you were her parents, would you consider recommending abortion?

Case #4: A teenage girl is pregnant. She’s not married. Her fiancĂ© is not the father of the baby, and he’s very upset. Would you consider abortion?

In the first case, if you recommended abortion, you have killed John Wesley, one of the greatest evangelists and hymns writers in the 19th century. In the second case, you would have killed Beethoven. In the third case, you would have killed Ethel Waters, the great black gospel singer. If you said yes to the fourth case, you would have declared the murder of Jesus Christ.


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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Timothy, Faithful Helper Will Gain Respect in the Church and at Home (1 Timothy 3:12-13)

"A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus"
(1 Timothy 3:12-13,

As if repeating himself, Paul instructs that the helper (deacon) should have the same qualification concerning marriage given to the leader (bishop). He must be the head of the house with obedience children and a well-ordered home life (not perfect, but loving and orderly). I once read about a helper whose son was about to decide to "go his own way" in disobedience to his parents. The father informed the son that if he did so the father would have to resign his position as a helper in his church because the Scripture in 1 Timothy says that one qualification of a helper is that he must "manage his children and his household well." The son saw the father meant what he said and was so touched by his father's seriousness to honor God and His Word that the son submitted to the father's love and will. The young man repented of his sin.

A faithful helper is a great gain for the church. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:2 that "It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." To those who are faithful and "served well", God will give rewards (sometime in this lifetime) and the promise of eternal rewards. As for helper who fulfills his office faithfully will "gain an excellent standing," that is respect and standing in the church and home. This does not mean an ecclesiastic elevation of office but is simply talking about the admiration and respect rightly due for a faithful servant of God (this include the leaders and all those who serve in the church). How tragic that the opposite is also true. Listen to stories of churches near you, read newspapers, watch TV news and YouTube videos, how many men in the church have fallen from their high position and calling of respect? Shameful both to self, family, the church and the name of the Lord.

Again, a helper who serves well will be rewarded; and he will gain "great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus." He will be bold in proclaiming the Word of God and confidence in prayer. This assurance is not based on his performance but based on his faith in the finished work of Christ and the knowledge of a heart that is right with God and a faithful life.

Dear helpers (deacons), do you manage your households well?
Do you serve by the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ?
If yes, may God’s rewards be with you.

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With Winning in Mind: The Mental Management System (2012) Book Review

With Winning in Mind: The Mental Management System (2012)
by Lanny Bassham

“In the Olympic sport that is most dependent upon effective and precise mental management (rifle shooting), Olympic gold medallist Lanny Bassham proved he was the master. Perhaps no one has thought more and taught more or better distilled the purest essence of controlling our minds to produce the results which we desire in sports or life: Turn mental shortcomings into mental strengths.

This book is a sports philosophy that talks about the mental management system and how it works. This mental management system can be used in sports, businesses and even in daily lives. One reason why I like this book is that Lanny talks about what he felt as an Olympic shooter and how he overcame what was hard for him. Over the course of the book, he teaches all of the things that can help me physically and mentally, like what I should think when I’m in a competition. I’m not an athlete (of course) but I learned a great deal from this book. It helped me to overcome mental breakdown and show me how to manage my thinking, talking and –even writing like a winner. Overall this book is inspiring!

I've written the summary of every chapter of this book (in my other blog Idea for Life), CLICK HERE to read:


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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Billy Graham's Crisis of Faith: Could the Bible be Trusted Completely?

Currently, I'm reading Billy Graham autobiography's Just As I Am (1997). It is a thick book and I feel like an awesome-nerd when I read it in public. I was taken aback when I read about Graham's crisis of faith. Just like what I went through early in this year. So inspiring and good to know that giant of faith like Billy Graham have had that moment too. It starts when Charles Templeton, a fellow evangelist, and friend, became skeptical about the authority of the Bible and less than a year later Charles (or Chuck) declared publicly that he had become an agnostic. What it does to Graham is contagious. Here is his personal account of that issue:

"My very faith was under siege. For one thing, my friend and partner… Chuck Templeton… and [I] discovered that he was undergoing serious theological difficulties, particularly concerning the authority of the Scriptures. My respect and affection for Chuck were so great that whatever troubled him troubled me also… The particular intellectual problem I was wrestling with… was the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. Seeming contradictions and problems with interpretation defied intellectual solutions, or so I thought. Could the Bible be trusted completely?"

"Feeling a little hypocritical, I began an intensive study of this question. I read theologians and scholars on all sides of the issue. I also turned to the Bible itself. Paul had written to Timothy, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God' (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV). (I knew that the New Testament Greek term that translates as ‘inspiration' literally meant ‘God-breathed writings.') There was an impenetrable mystery to that concept, as with all things pertaining to God. Yet the basic meaning was clear: the Bible was more than just another human book…

"The Apostle Peter said, ‘For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost' (2 Peter 1:21, KJV). Jesus Himself said: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away' (Matthew 24:35, KJV). The internal testimony of the Scriptures to their own inspiration and authority was unequivocal. So was Jesus' own view of the Scriptures…

"I ached as if I were on the rack, with Miss Henrietta Mears stretching me one way and Chuck Templeton stretching me the other. Alone in my room one evening, I read every verse of Scripture I could think of that had to do with ‘thus saith the Lord.' I recalled hearing someone say that the prophets had used the phrase ‘the Word of the Lord said' (or similar wording) more than two thousand times. I had no doubts concerning the deity of Jesus Christ or the validity of the Gospel, but was the Bible completely true? If I was no exactly doubtful, I was certainly disturbed…

"I pondered the attitude of Christ toward the Scriptures. He loved those sacred writings and quoted from them constantly. Never once did He intimate that they could be wrong. In fact, He verified some of the stories in the Old Testament that we the hardest to believe, such as those concerning Noah and Jonah. With the Psalmist, He delighted in the law of the Lord, the Scriptures…

"As that night wore on, my heart became heavily burdened. Could I trust the Bible? With the Los Angeles Campaign galloping toward me, I had to have an answer. If I could not trust the Bible, I could not go on. I would have to quit the school presidency. I would have to leave pulpit evangelism. I was only thirty years of age. It was not too late to become a dairy farmer. But that night I believed with all my heart that the God who had saved my soul would never let go of me…

"I got up and took a walk. The moon was out… Dropping to my knees there in the woods, I opened the Bible at random on a tree trump in front of me. I could not read it in the shadowy moonlight, so I had no idea what text lay before me… The exact wording of my prayer is beyond recall, but it must have echoed my thoughts: ‘O God! There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can't answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising…"

"I was trying to be on the level with God, but something remained unspoken. At last, the Holy Spirit freed me to say it. ‘Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word – by faith! I'm going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word'… When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears. I sensed it in months. My all my questions were answered, but major bridge had been crossed. In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won."

[Quote above is taken from Just As I Am (1997) by Billy Graham published by HarperCollins Worldwide from page 159-160, 162-164. Edited without permission.]

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (2011) by A. S. Byatt: Book Review

Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (2011) by A. S. Byatt

Since Marvel movie Thor, I'm fascinated by Norse mythology (Edith Hamilton's book Mythology also influenced me too). Thor latest movie entitled Ragnarok (2017) really exposed me to this end-time term for the end of the gods. This god-man, monster-alien, good-evil characters are very interesting for me because, as George Lucas once said, "Mythology gives you a sense of what a people believe, what they fear." One of the reasons I like to read books is so that I can learn other people's beliefs. In this short novella, A.S. Byatt captures the spirit of Norse mythology with short (I like!) and poetic prose (I don't like poetry). She tells this end-times story from the point of view of a 'thin girl' who escapes to this mythology during WWII.

The events of WWII are cleverly contrasted against the horrific events of the mythology of Ragnarok and the death of the gods. In the end, A.S. Byatt clarifies that she chose "to use particular translations and aspects of the story" in her retelling to not give a happy ending to the story. The story of Ragnarok she suggests here (in its mythic nature) is not meant to be a happy story. Unlike fairy-tales or any other narrative, a myth is not a story with happy endings. Myth always evolves and never end.

The one thing preventing me from enjoying this to a greater extent on a personal level was the poetic prose. Flowery language is not my strength. I wish to read a straightforward novel (I know myth supposed to be poetic). Adding to this the fact that I already knew the stories of the Norse gods quite well and this became a rehashing of familiar material for me. That said, it was well written and neatly constructed with an interesting narration device to show the point of view of a reader of these myths. I fully recommend anyone with a passing interest in Norse myths to read this short tale. It only takes you about 30 minutes to finish it.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Healing the Masculine Soul: How God Restores Men to Real Manhood (1988, 2003) Review

Healing the Masculine Soul: How God Restores Men to Real Manhood
by Gordon Dalbey (1988, 2003)

After I read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart last year (CLICK HERE to read my review), I try to find another book on manhood. And thank God I found and read this book! I was deeply moved by this book and I wholeheartedly recommend this wisdom and truthful teaching to all fathers and sons, and every husband and brother – all men! I underlined so many and wrote notes here and there (so, I will not lend it) because this book speaks to me personally as a man who needs to see God as the loving Father in order for me to be a real man of God. Dalbey writes, “[If] we dare to respond as Father God calls us out to become His men, if we allow Him to nail our pride and our plans to the cross, we’re eligible at last to receive His Spirit and do our appointed task in restoring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.”

This book is divided into 15 chapters. I want to make something different here. Instead of sharing what the book is all about, I will share some of my favorite quotes for each chapter (including Introduction and Epilogue). Enjoy!

Introduction: Recognizing the Wound

“In the Bible, godly exhortation finds its mark only after encounter with the Living God”; “[Brokenness in men is due to] the fact that boys lack sufficient contact with their fathers to generate a healthy masculine self-image”; “A war has many battles… but let’s not ignore the primary front itself, namely, the wound in the masculine soul.”

Chapter 1: The Lion Speaks

“Authentic manhood seeks men”; “True manhood is not something to be sought, but to be revealed”; “Even as we misperceive the lion, therefore, I believe that what we truly experience among other men is not the power to destroy, but to create – the pure courage and strength that God manifests in masculinity”; “The power to honour the truth – to speak it and be it – is at the heart of true masculinity” (Leanne Payne); “If truth is the power that God invests primarily in masculinity, then we fear being with other men because together the uncomfortable truths about us shall be revealed”; “…no man can outrun God.”

Chapter 2: Out From the Womb

“The first woman a male ever loves is his mother, and that relationship shapes his later expectation of what it’s like to love a woman”; “…my life depends on the Lord, not on her… letting go of the mother/woman as source of life”; “The man who has surrendered his life to Jesus belongs to the Father alone, and therefore cannot be owned by the woman – nor by any other man”; “…in order to exercise saving manly power in the world and bond with a woman, a man must first have separated from his mother and bonded with a masculine one who is greater even than his own father.”

Chapter 3: Come Out, Son of Our People!

“It is the Spirit who initiates the call to manhood”; “Until he’s secured in his manhood and the fellowship of men, a man will fear his mother’s power to draw him back into boyhood. As a Christian, he cannot keep the commandment to honour her, but can only withdraw from her”; “Your father is not the oppressor, but a fellow victim”; “It is the Father God who calls the boy into manhood”; “What might an authentic Christian male initiation look like? Surely, it must be termed a sacrament, namely, the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace of godly manhood”; For boys who have no father available, godly men are appointed as surrogates”; “Father God is calling you out.”

Chapter 4: She Left Me!

“Never marry someone to do her a favour”; “Many men today, however, bear deep wounds caused by demanding mothers or passive fathers”; “She needs a capable man, willing to wield the sword of truth with a manly sensitively…”; “…without a father to stand with him [boy] in manly truth, he can only abdicate his strength to the woman”; The man must “surrender to the Father in order to let go of her and pursue his own, authentic manhood – trusting God to bring his ‘suitable companion’ (Gen. 2:18) in due time”; “The world cries out for such masculine presence, and ultimately only men surrendered to the true Father of all men can offer it. Yet, too often the church has not offered men the true picture of Jesus in His manly strength.”

Chapter 5: From Love Bug to Faith: Sexuality and Spirituality

“[The] human creation began when God split His own image into two separate parts, male and female, and that is why a man and woman are moved toward one other: to reunite and become one flesh, in the original image of God’s wholeness”; “In protective love, God forbids fornication”; “[If] you want your marriage to last and stay exciting, you’ve got to think about what you want to accomplish together”; “From a Christian perspective… marriage requires not equitable independence; but rather mutual submission – which begins with each partner’s being submitted to Christ”; “I give myself to You first, Lord – not to her; make me the man You want me to be.”

Chapter 6: To Corral the Stallion

“Private morality has profound public consequences”; “Today, more and more men are willing to risk destroying family, career, ministry, nation – and themselves – all for brief physical gratification”; “The Good News of Jesus Christ… proclaims that Father God confers masculinity upon the man who humble himself in response to Jesus’ posture on the cross”; “Without the earthly father to call the son out into manhood, the boy grows up seeking manly identity in women”; “Freedom to choose sexual purity… is not about conquering your desires, but rather about surrendering to God”; “In biblical faith, sexual fidelity is first and foremost faithfulness to God, not to the woman”; “May we submit our male sexuality to Jesus, who offers us the ‘yoke’ (Matt. 11:29).”

Chapter 7: Lost Among Men: A Non-political View of Homosexuality

“Carl did have a very real physical need for another man – not just any other man, though, as in the homosexual impulse – but one particular man: his father”; “The boy who fears his father must fear manhood, and withdraw from it; the boy who hates his father cannot embrace and celebrate his own manliness”; “It’s not about avenging the father who caused your wounds, but learning to trust the Father who heals them”; “Unable to bond with either a woman in marriage or a man in healthy friendship, he then may fall prey to homosexual impulses”; “Every man is a son in search of his father’s affection and approval”; “From a spiritual perspective, homosexuality reflects a deep inner brokenness that only Father God can heal”; “When men are healed, the healing of women will naturally follow.”

Chapter 8: Warrior Redeemed

“Manhood requires the warrior”; “Does Jesus exhibit the character traits of the ‘ideal warrior’? The Gospel accounts reveal Jesus’ courage… His righteousness… His fellowship… His discipline… His determination… His strength… His energy… His glory… His anger… His overcoming… and Jesus never killed anyone”; “[Jesus] send the Holy Spirit to the believers as ‘the Helper’, the text uses the Greek word paraclete, which… is an ancient warrior’s term… Greek soldiers went to battle in pairs… Your battle partner was called your paraclete”; “the Latin sacramentum, defined… as the military oath…’”; “Jesus as the Commander in Chief of God’s army.”

Chapter 9: Boots For a Working Man

“A man’s struggle for masculine identity through work is linked with his struggle to bond with the father, with the men from who he comes.”

Chapter 10: The Father and the Man: Of Fathers and Sons

“The average man today often doesn’t appreciate God’s priority in reconciling fathers and children until he begins to lose his family”; “The son longs to know his father loves him”; “We men often are not ‘good with words’…”; “Yet how much easier it is for a man to hold it all down deep inside; how much easier to kill than to confess you need someone else’s love”; “When fathers and sons directly express their love, each bears life to the other”; “No pain in this world strikes more deeply into a boy’s heart than being abandoned physically or emotionally by dad”; “Men today desperately need the saving truth and grace of the God who manifests as Father, in order not only to become secure in our manhood, but to come alongside and bless women as true partners in our common destiny.”

Chapter 11: The Father and the Man: Of Fathers and Daughters

“The first man every girl loves is Daddy, and the character of that relationship shapes her expectations of what it’s like to get close to a man later as a woman”; “…the hallmark of fatherlessness in a society would be gender confusion”; “Promiscuous fatherless women are desperately seeking love” (Jonetta Rose Barras); “In sexual landscape without any rules, girls lacking male approval are more often taken advantage of”; “In fact, fathers often seem to bond more readily with their daughters than with their sons. Could this be because the boy, who potentially bears manly strength, is perceived as a competitive threat to the father’s dominion?”; “The finest thing a father can do for his daughter is not to promise her protection forever, but to overcome his own ego and introduce her to the Father larger than himself.”

Chapter 12: To Know the Father

“…alcoholic men often suffer from their fathers’ emotional abandonment”; “The deepest human need: to be loved”; “The danger in loving relationships is… in believing that the other person is the source of that love”; “Often the most seductive promise to gain the favour of God and other men lies in religious performance”; “Clearly, Scriptures describe God as having all the characteristics of the father needed by the son”; “We are so accustomed to seeking love from other people that we don’t know how to approach Father God for it”; “Hence this prayer for all men: May we become so humble before our Father God in our own need, and so bold before others in His love, that we may indeed ‘love one another, because love comes from God.’”

Chapter 13: Where Are All the Men? Why Men Don’t Go to Church

“The ‘feminization; of the church” (Lyle Schaller); “Jesus met men where they were – even hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes – but only in order to lead them where they need to god. And men clearly followed Jesus – real men, strong enough to haul heavy fishing nets every day of their lives”; He avoids God and, therefore, the church”; “Any lack of male participation in churches testifies that men will not be tamed by a program based exclusively upon feminine virtues”; “The church has done much over the centuries to encourage men to pursue feminine virtues. But we have not sought and portrayed Christ-centred ways to pursue masculine virtues”; “Masculinity is rooted in truth-telling”; “When a leader is real… real men will line up to follow him”; “Jesus is safe, but He’s not tame”; “Jesus, who alone is the Way… He alone is the authentic Man”; “Is church for ‘sissy’?” (There are more!)

Chapter 14: Rational and Independent, Faithless and Alone

“Our secular society sees men as created not in the image of God, but in the image of the world”; “Clearly, the faith in Jesus – and of those who would follow Him – rests upon relationship with God and relationship with other persons”; “Church does not exist to fulfil a duty, but to facilitate a relationship”; “Boys and men, that is, need to separate from Mom in order to feel masculine, but girls and women don’t need to separate from Mom to feel feminine”; “Clearly, natural human power can accomplish religion, but not spirituality. That’s why men are often more comfortable with religion that with spirituality”; “Life in the Holy Spirit of the Living God – not the written Law – was the hallmark of life in the earliest body of Christ.”

Chapter 15: An Ancient Mama’s Boy Is Called Out: Wrestling with the Father for New Life

“In the biblical tale of Jacob, we’ve got another unlikely match-up, with a God who also likes to get His fingers on the flesh and touch the bone”; “The God of Love reaches out and seizes and shakes up at the very core of our identities before blessing us with new life”; “The story of Jacob says that before you can love someone else, or be loved by someone else, you have to wrestle with that part of yourself that gets scared when love starts breaking down your defences. It’s the part that would sooner put an armlock on love and force other folks to be what we want them to be, to get what we want from them. It’s that part of us that’s determined to save face and stay on top, no matter how badly we hurt others – the part that sooner or later begins cheating or manipulating the people we care about most.”

Epilogue: The Mirror of Truth

A story about a lion cub. Very interesting, but too long to share here. In summary: We men must realize our potential, be manly in the group on men, don’t be distracted by caricature of manhood, and only the Lion of Judah can set us free from being pretension and be the lions that we are called to be.

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