Wednesday, December 06, 2017

3 types of church-goers

In the arena of loving others - as God's commanded us to do, one of the ways the Church expresses it is to give genuine love and kinship to fellow Christians, OR those seeking -who come to church for the first time.

Having moved around so many times in my life, I've spent a lot of time being the "new" person at church. Which isn't fun  - you feel so vulnerable and rejected when everyone acts as if you're either not there, or just not human.

I've found that there're 3 categories of people in church

Category A- <1 p="">Those who'd seek out newcomers or just anyone who seems lonely, who look like they don't know anyone. Show them genuine warmth, actually make some effort to get to know them. Seeking to befriend, not just act friendly. [yes, there're lotsa people who can be friendly without actually wanting to be friends with the person] These people would invite the newcomer to lunch, or coffee during the week, or something.

Category B-
Those who wouldn't introduce themselves to the newcomers but would introduce themselves back when the said newcomer introduces oneself, and attempt to make conversation. Perhaps they're just shy and not socially confident enough to introduce themselves to a stranger, but once the ball is rolling, they have a 50-50 chance of actually running with it.

Category C-
Not only does this church-goer never talk to newcomers, and even tries to avoid them and certainly avoid eye contact, but even when said newcomer approaches him and introduces themself, he looks disinterested and makes an excuse [or sometimes, not even!] to leave the conversation to go talk to people he knows. Church is just a social club where he picks the most beneficial/entertaining people to hang with and sticks with them. He probably doesn't understand at all the purpose of meeting with other believers.

No prizes for guessing which category has the least people in it...! I've only ever met 2-3 people of Category A in any church I've been to and shockingly, i've met people in Category C!

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A touching compelling memoir with lotsa interesting Indian Cultural tidbits

I've read this book over and over again and never get bored. The writer's style is so fluid and compelling that the reader is drawn into it right from the start. We are taken on a journey from Ravi's childhood in India through his teenage years when he came face to face with God and was given a purpose for living. Through many challenges, opportunities, heartbreak, hardship, victories, friendships forged, reconciliations and miraculous intervention we witness the sovereignty of a loving God whose hand was upon Ravi's life long before he'd even known Him personally. 

I particularly enjoyed the colourful cultural descriptions of social, family and religious life in India and the author's first experiences of the West as a young adult. How God used him, a boy who never read anything more than comic books and didn't do well at school, to now be preaching to the multitude and writing books to help the thinker believe and the believer think, that speak about the deepest yearnings of the heart, is so awe-inspiringly amazing.

A must read! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

This is Gavin's account of his experiences surrounding the accident and ensuing death of his father.

with dad in Penang

30 years ago, our family were on our way to my father's hometown, Penang, in the north of Malaysia from our home in Kuala Lumpur. We were not much more than an hour into the journey when we had to make a stop by the side of the road. While we were on the grass at the side of the road, a car flew into us without warning, hit all of us and killed my brother instantly. I had a broken elbow and was bleeding all over. I knew my father was in pain, and I was right beside him the moment the impact happened. I could hear my father praying aloud to God to save his family. After the initial shock, I too was in pain. After what seemed like an eternity, a passerby decided to help after many others did not (and even stole our belongings). My mother held my dead brother in her arms, I don't remember much more about this journey but next thing was my father and I being transported to hospital in an ambulance. I was on one of the beds, and my father in the other. At some point he told the paramedic that he could not breathe. Soon after that, the ambulance made a stop, offloaded my father somewhere and continued the journey with just myself. I wondered what that was all about.

When the ambulance finally arrived at its destination, I was put in a children's ward at a small hospital. I was all alone, but not overly scared.  That night, I had what I thought was a dream, although looking back it could have been a vision. In it I saw a bright light as though it was through a doorway, and my father and brother approaching me as I laid in my hospital bed. Then my father stopped and told me, "Gavin, don't worry. Your brother and I are in a better place." The next day, I remembered this vision vividly, but did not think too much about it although I was certainly very comforted. It was only later when I was brought back to KL and back to my mother that I realized that my father had passed away, and that the stop the ambulance made was because he had already died. Little did I know that those were his last moments on earth, and there I was beside him. I had little to no understanding, at that time, about the Biblical teaching of what happens after death.
with dad and my little brother

In retrospect,   this has been one of the most visibly supernatural interventions of God in my life, even while I was yet a sinner, yet to accept the grace of God through the saving power of Jesus' blood. Only after these events did my mother and I come into God's kingdom, whereas my mother vehemently resisted the gospel while my father was still alive. It was at his funeral where she made the decision to come to Christ.

Truly God in His mercy answered my father's dying prayers. Truly all praise and thanks to Him alone!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Focus on One - The One who is able to keep you from falling

I had a vision of a tree, with its roots running into the ground, its trunk solid and strong, and its branches flourishing with green leaves and fruit. A picture of beauty, design and "flourishing". 

Conversely, a vision of one upon whom 2 forces are applied but going in different directions - being torn apart, like an explosion. Such a force doesn't produce beauty, but disorder and destruction. 

"Do not be double minded, but be single minded - focused on ME."  was impressed upon my heart. 

-"he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." - James 1:8

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8

To be double minded is not only unstable, it's sin! 

I had to make a choice- serve my own purposes, or God's.

Before,  I thought the idea was to do both, so as to be a well rounded person, winning in every "arena". 

Do well at work/academics/impress people  
save enough money to do the following:
Buy everything I want 
eat at the best restaurants 
create stylish home, look fashionable
try to get as popular as possible 

and with time/attention leftover,

fulfill some godly goals such as going to mission trips and serving in church 

But I know now that all of that amounts to a big zero in God's eyes AS WELL as in my own life. Everything I was doing amounted to nothing, was meaningless and i knew it - I felt spiritually shaky and unstable.... I was tossed about by the winds, at times giving into deadly temptations to glorify or worship my selfish wants. Most of the time I was prevented from achieving any of them anyway, those of you who know me can attest to that! 

But giving it all to Him makes ALL the difference. perhaps we ARE meant to put all our eggs in one basket - in light of who God says He is. (
Luke 10:27 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.)

The picture of Peter walking on water comes to mind [Matt 14 :22-36] - while he focused on Jesus he was able to do the impossible, but when he looked at the winds and got scared, he began to sink. but Jesus reached out to him and took hold on him - how he does for us too when we cry out to Him for help! One of the lessons from this is that God wants us to trust Him, and not look towards our earthly circumstances/understanding. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,    and he will make your paths straight

Trust Him for EVERYTHING. not for a house, car, clothes or material gain, no, trust Him for our very existential essence of being. Trust Him for our spiritual care, and physical care, for His purposes, and to ultimately take us to be with Him for eternity. 

John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Gaining the whole world and all its recognition, success and accolades is ultimately worthless without God, but when living for Him, anything He calls me to is eternally valuable and worth it. Like that tree rooted in Him, growing strong and flourishing, and bearing fruit that in turn blesses all around it - I have to be focused on His purposes, and not be double minded. Perhaps, our hearts can really only have one person on its throne. 

Who is Lord of your heart? 

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money". Matt 6:24 

Well the greatest treasure in the whole wide world is peace with God
Yeah, the greatest treasure in the whole wide world is peace with God
It's the only treasure that will never fade
Even death can't take it away
Yeah, the greatest treasure in the whole wide world is peace with God

You can live for happiness, or live for stuff but it's all gonna fade away
But you'll never ever feel like you've got enough because it's all gonna fade away
The trickiest toys that money can buy it's all gonna fade away

What if the world makes you a star? It's all gonna fade away
The biggest house and the flashiest car, it's all gonna fade away
Earthly treasures like the morning mist are all gonna fade away

Yeah the greatest treasure in the whole wide world is peace with God
Yeah the greatest treasure in the whole wide world is peace with God

-Colin Buchanan "The greatest treasure" 1997 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

benefits of not eating out

5 Reasons not to eat out

When I was growing up in Malaysia, eating out was something everyone did, everyday. We thought nothing of it and in fact it was more economical to do so, because most of us were at that age where we did not have our own kitchens and had to live in small spaces with multiple generations of family members so having company at home was impossible. But now that I do have my own kitchen.... the benefits of eating out are so much less compared to the costs.

1. the amount spent on eating out is not commensurate with the benefit and pleasure of eating out. 
the fact is that living in Tasmania means that a fish and chip lunch would set you back about $19, add in a [sugary] drink and you're looking at an extra $4. this is something that only involves deep frying, something anyone could do at home with a deep fryer. Such a meal would last about 25 minutes, however that $23 spent on groceries could buy enough ingredients for a hearty, balanced meal to feed 6! that's not even what's usually spent at restaurants, where paying $50-$70 per head is the norm around here, and for food that's so easy to make at home too! For food that i can't make at home, perhaps I'd consider it, but the quality of dining out here is so bad that it's so so so not worth it! We had the worst ever soggy dosa and watery coconut chutney at some place on Collins Street that was so bad we could hardly finish it, as a Non-Indian, even my coconut chutney was 10x better than this bland gloop they dished up! yet we were charged something like $14 each for it. The main reason for everything being expensive here is the high labour costs due to the super high minimum wage.

2. the value of the money spent on a meal out is worth so much more when put into almost anything else
That $23 spent on lunch that lasts only 25 minutes could've bought
-a book, or 20 if bought from an op shop
-4 pairs of pants from an op shop
-15kg of rice
-a pair of shoes
-given to an agency that helps the needy with food, healthcare and water 
all of which would've lasted months, if not years of use.
-$23 every week for just 1 year amounts to $1,196 which if put into a mortgage at 3.99% interest could save $3,951 over the life of the loan!

3. most of the eating out occurrences occur because of lack of planning 
I get it, sometimes you're out and about and suddenly you're hungry so you grab at the nearest food outlet. Nevermind that it's just some greasy, deep fried patty with 1/44th of a lettuce leaf on it. We pay such a premium on our lack of planning. Is this luxury worth it? Now I try to plan all our meals in advance and if we're going to be out, plan to have food packed before we leave so that we can always have something healthy and nourishing whenever we get hungry. Saves us having to drive around, looking for a parking spot and spend more than necessary on junky food. Yes, you could buy a relatively healthy lunch for $27, but that amount could feed a family in Africa for a month! How could that be worth it?

4. so much healthier and balanced to bring your own food
I don't need to expound on this too much other than to say that you'd know what goes into the food you make yourself.

5. eating at home is so much more intimate and conducive for conversation 
Here's something - we all view eating out as a very important way to socialize - but how much conversation can one really have in most restaurants, where the music or noise of people talking are so loud, there's a waitress squeezing around your chair every 10 minutes and the next table is 20cm away from yours? Not to mention if it's a crowded restaurant, how the servers would be hurrying to clear your table as soon as you're finished so they can seat the next group. [Or, in Malaysia, how the waiting patrons would hoover around your table silently but surely pressuring you to choke down the last of your siu mai] How deep can these conversations be? Wouldn't it be so much more intimate if you were at home, at your own dining table, setting your own pace? With nobody to interrupt/eavesdrop?

Of Course, i'm saying this as someone who genuinely enjoys cooking and I enjoy the time spent with loved ones in the kitchen. So I'm not preaching to those who're really time poor and earning a truckload of money. YOU don't need to stop eating out.
But for everyone else, be aware of the huge costs you're paying just for want of a little planning and effort.

I know that in many situations, one would be branded as a "cheap" if they don't want to spend exorbitant amounts on bad meals, but seriously - just as surely as one does not need to waste money, one does not need "friends" who'd base their friendship with you on how much money you're willing to waste.

Most people who eat out a lot can't actually afford it, They;re drowning in debt and have no intention of reducing it because they're just so used to living a lifestyle of someone who CAN afford it.
If you're earning $33,000 a year and have $90,000 credit card debt, no, you can't afford it.

Why is it that we've become to accustomed to debt that the simple principle of spending less than one earns is so alien, so unpalatable and so repulsive that we never dare speak of it, never want to even think of it. While we continue indulging ourselves in things that don't even matter, at a price we cannot even afford. Rather than thinking of what we truly want, we allow marketers to tell us what we should want. And so we keep lusting after illusions on glossy pages or flashy screens and pinterest boards......

Thursday, May 04, 2017

God as Provider

what if... God's  got a jar of chocolates for you to last your entire earthly life, until the day you die. He doles them out at the right times, and there's enough for each season in life, right until the last day. Nobody can steal any from that jar, it's in God's posession and only God doles the chocolates out at His discretion, in His timing. You can't see how much is left in the jar, you only have God's character to rely on.

would I worry about His provision? would I be afraid that there wouldn't be enough? would I stress about other people stealing it from me?

The chocolates represent God's provision of earthly needs, whether financial, opportunities, spiritual strength, mental clarity, comfort, encouragement,emotional resource and anything really, that we need to run this race on this side of eternity. I wonder how I would live if I really believed that God provides everything i need!

I know that God's caused birds to bring food to someone when he needed it (1 Kings 17:6-8)
, or even food to fall from heaven (Exodus 16). He's caused bread and fish to multiple to feed a crowd, caused fishermen to catch a load of fish where they previously had none. Certainly we know all these laws of nature bend to His divine will! Because He's set those laws. So why is it hard to believe that God will provide when we can't see exactly how it's going to happen?  It's easy to believe it when there's a job lined up, when there's money in the bank but if we can't see HOW it's going to happen...we struggle to believe it.


Luke 12:22-34New International Version (NIV)

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Monday, December 19, 2016

parenting advice! from my younger self (all these were written before i became a parent]

-do not ever compare your child to another
-when you're wrong, say you're sorry
-let them help around the house from young, divide chores equally
-encourage and inspire them, not scold and nag. praise them. Dont belittle them.
-do not yell. children learn by example.
-Educate your children about finances

-dont say "that's the sort of person you are" when they do smtg wrong

(I obviously didn't understand the challenges of being a parent at the time but it's valuable insight from a place I'll never be at again - pre-parenting)