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 

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)  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On being a stay at home mum/homemaker

I always find it awkward when people ask me when I'm going "back" to work, presuming that I'm going to do so! When I tell them I'm a homemaker, they always say "oh but he's starting school soon isn't he?" Yes..but school is only 5 hours a day [until it becomes 6 hours a day and so on] what about the rest of the time? Even when he's in old enough, I don't want him coming home to an empty house on a regular basis during his growing up years.  Also, it's not just the kid - the home and family [including the husband] need caring for and nurturing, which is a full time job. In any case, why do I have to defend my decision? (Titus 2:3-5) is my guiding principle on this.

We all make our choices based on our individual circumstances, I don't dictate what model of car my neighbour should buy as i don't know their budget/needs/circumstances. Whether one should splurge on first class tickets to Amsterdam tomorrow depends on their bank account balance, how long they're gonna live for, whether they have family there or whatever. As much as some people can't afford to be stay at home mums, some can't afford not to.

In short, there are pros and cons of both working outside the home, and being a homemaker, and for our family's [unique!] goals and needs, we deem my being a homemaker is the best way to achieve them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    Why don’t you want to go to back to work?

Staying at home to raise my son furnishes the highest practicable chance for him to turn out to be holistically well adjusted in as many possible senses of the word, and have a deeply meaningful relationship with his parents both now and into adulthood.

2.    Everyone leaves their children in care but they turned out well.

Indeed, I know that many children of career mums can and do achieve many great things. However from observation and personal experience, on balance children raised by mothers at home appear to have greater core emotional stability, resilience, and ability to relate to others. To me, these are the most important metrics of success that override others such as professional achievement, as important as they are. Some children of career women appear to be resilient and relate well to others too, but I am responsible to provide Jo the best chance in life within the resources I have. Certainly, I do not judge others by their choices as I can’t know all the details of their circumstances – they may have other resources such as grandparents to that end, or there may be overriding financial reasons for their choice to continue as career mothers.

3.    What about your own self-worth and personal development?

There is no denying pursuing a career outside the home can have a positive effect on a woman’s personal development and sense of worth. However I have come to see my domestic career as a career path in its own right. Contemporary mainstream thought seems to see home makers as ignorant and slothful women, but the reality is that as the world grows in complexity and challenges, so must the home maker rise to the challenge. Just as work outside the home has largely transitioned from menial labour and repetitive administrative tasks to creative and relational endeavours, with modern technology replacing much of the traditional manual tasks at home the modern and thinking home maker’s job is becoming more and more about management, administration and conceptual development. This is intrinsically beneficial to my personal development and sense of worth. Of course, we do not live in a vacuum and which average person would not welcome society’s approval? However with mainstream thought putting negative pressure on home makers it can be a lonely road – that is the price to pay for those who go against the grain but I am comforted by the thought that throughout history the people who made things really great were the ones who dared to see things ahead of others.

4.    Don’t you want to achieve financial independence then?

First up, true financial independence is the domain of investors and businesspeople who have made it big. For our generation and the foreseeable future, employees will never achieve that. It would not matter whether our family were on a single or double income.

5.    What about paying off your home loan early?

It is certainly an important thing to be debt free, and my working outside the home could certainly help pay off the home loan earlier. However with the cost of extra child care and hidden overheads arising from external employment it is not quite as big a financial impact as it initially appears. The question is whether the financial reward of working outside the home outweighs the parental intimacy that staying at home makes more probable, and in my estimation and in my particular situation, the answer is no.

6.    What will you do when Jo’s at school?

The first two years of school, namely kindergarten and prep do not involve hours long enough to be encapsulated within a typical work week. This especially true in Tasmania, where most if not all schools hold kindergarten sessions for only three days in a week. This would make juggling an office position very difficult, let alone shift work. While some people are able to negotiate work arrangements that suit their family needs, my career had not progressed to such a level of bargaining power. In any case, the consensus among developmental psychologists is that a person’s character is especially influenced by his or her experiences up to the age of six, and I certainly want to pay my full attention on my son whilst he is within this age.
As for the later years, I would certainly contend that it would be beneficial for my son to have a mother who is always there for him while he is growing up. Most if not all men of my generation whom I regard as emotionally stable, resilient, and well-adjusted have been raised by mothers who had stayed at home for the most part. Of course, there is the question of taking care of my husband’s needs and my staying at home puts me in a better position to fulfil that role. Even from a purely economic perspective, my full attention on domestic management is crucial in optimising resources and minimising wastage. Cooking food at home represents a huge cost saving relative to eating out regularly, in addition to its health benefits.

7.    Aren’t you being some oppressed, sad, pathetic woman? Is your husband sexist?

The matter of being sad and pathetic is a subjective feeling that changes depending on circumstances, and is by no means exclusive to women working in the home. Certainly the repetitive bullying of home makers on the part of the media and other intellectual elite of society can be a cause of feelings of sadness and oppression. However, the office can also be a source of oppression and sadness. Anyone denying that must either be inexperienced in the workplace, or is experiencing selective amnesia simply because the current discussion is being centred on a controversial topic.
The suggestion that by working in the home I am an oppressed woman due to society’s historical treatment of women is largely moot in my context because the expectations around me are such that I am expected to work outside the home. It is important that we do not get hung up on the issues of the past, and as some say, the problem with many armies is that they had only prepared for yesterday’s war. As for my husband being sexist, the fact is that like many men of his generation he does his share of the work in the house, and was raised thinking that this is the normal and right thing to do. Throughout his career so far he has always had positive working relationships with the women he has worked with, so there is nothing to suggest that he has misogynist tendencies. My choice of working at home rather than pursuing a career outside it is my own. He supports me in this choice, as any husband in a healthy spousal relationship would.

8.    Aren’t you wasting your degree/talents/brains?

For the record, I had already earned more than enough money to recoup the financial investments made to obtain my degree. To think of waste in terms of loss of potential financial income, one needs to definite what one’s priorities are. Personally, my life’s goals are more about meaningful relationships and finding out the essential nature of reality rather than to experience delights of the hedonistic variety (no pejorative insinuation intended). Making more money than what my husband already provides would not bring me any further in that pursuit.
The utilisation of one’s talents are not necessarily confined to professions that elicit a monetary exchange. As such I do not think that my degree, talents or brains are wasted by working at home, because they have given me some tools to deal with our world’s ever increasing complexity and changes. Just as professional life is now much more about intellectual and relational endeavours than menial labour and repetitive tasks, in my context the home maker’s job has a substantial intellectual and conceptual development component to it. My intellectual life is as vibrant now as it had ever been, so I do not think my career choice has wasted my brains – in fact it has given me the opportunity to explore a wider ranging and encompassing body of knowledge than if I had to devote to a career outside the home.

9.    Why are you judging working mums, you Judgy McJudgerson!

If I do sound judgmental at all, I do apologise as this is not my intention. I do not claim to know everything about other mothers and their circumstances. They could have absolutely legitimate and even admirable reasons to work outside their homes, and I acknowledge that many of the good things we enjoy in life today are made possible by working mothers. However, a distinction must be made between judging people and judging ideas. I do not wish to judge people because this is a very complex question that can only be done properly by someone who has all the facts, but I believe it is important to stand for what I am convinced is right. I stand by my belief that on balance children raised by mothers at home have greater core emotional stability, resilience, and ability to relate to others – and that a mother’s primary responsibility is to facilitate these outcomes to the best of her abilities/resources. To those who disagree with me, may we disagree with each other respectfully, bearing in mind that our finite minds cannot possibly have everything figured out.

To conclude, I think it's very important that we don't find ourselves at the end of life succeeding in the things that didn't matter. Seek God's face, and His will - If He guides us to something-He'll provide the means for it. [I'm learning this lesson every single day...and i keep having to relearn again!] If we're not provided something, perhaps it's because we didn't need it, after all doesn't He say He'll provide all our needs? Salvation is not found through our own works - so we needn't kill ourselves trying to live a certain way to justify ourselves. Only by coming to God can we find the answer to life's biggest questions.

Friday, January 29, 2016

from death... to life!

Just recently I was having a chat with a neighbour about the 15 yr old teenager who stole a car, drove it at 150kph, evading police, then mowing down a pregnant mum, killing her. The most likely outcome of "justice" here would be a slap on the wrist, as even the mass shooting port arthur murderer was only given life imprisonment [where they're given mixed grill for dinner, dessert twice a day, their own toilet, tv and free drugs, free GP visits, free dental] 

"he should be charged with murder!" 

" he should be sentenced to death!" said I. 
Which prompted a lot of deep thinking on my part. Should Christians support the death penalty? After all only God can take a life, right? But what if a person could only ever commit more murder if we let them live? If someone had a chance to kill Hitler, should they?

God is merciful - yet just. We aren't Him.

What if - the only reason we haven't committed murder is only by the grace of God? What if, our sinful nature already predisposes us to murder, and we have already sinned as much as a murderer, in the eyes of God? 

What if we're no better than a mass murderer in the eyes of God? [it's hard to imagine or comprehend, but in terms of salvation, we're all the same. it's only the degree of sin that we're allowed to commit that differs among each individual] 

God wants us "to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8, NIV). 

I'm not always sure what this looks like in practical terms. 
But I'm reminded that I need to first be humble and thank God for His grace and fear Him first. Not trying to take revenge because revenge is His [Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. ROM 12:19]

Looking upon the perpetrator as who he really is - a sinner, made by God, loved by God, who needs salvation as much as I do. I'm only trying to align my thinking to reality, not distort it into something pretty or popular. Also looking at myself as who I really am - a sinner, made by God, loved by God, redeemed by His blood, whose life and destiny are in His hands. Knowing that God is sovereign and loves me extravagantly. With these in mind, should i fear what other humans can do to me?

Paul was realistic enough to admit that he was the worst of sinners. "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." 1 Tim 1:15 

Am I able to admit that about myself? 

that robbed-at-gunpoint scene in "the War Room" where Ms Clara defiantly resisted the gunman made me wonder what i'd do if it were me. I probably would've handed over my money but if we truly believed that God was in control and we needn't fear man, how she reacted is logical. If she'd gotten killed it would've been God's allowing anyway, which renders it good since God is good. In any case, she would've been at God's mercy, not the gunman's. [by that logic!] 

These issues have been at the forefront of my thoughts lately as it's been demonstrated that how I see others is coloured by how I see myself. If I see myself as being righteous on my own merits, I'll see others [druggies, welfare dependents, school dropouts, criminals] as trash, conversely if I see myself as one of the worst of sinners, needing God's grace, redeemed by His blood, loved extravagantly by the Almighty God - I'd see them as the same. 

In Philemon, Paul encourages a master to be reconciled to his runaway slave, who is now a brother to him because of their faith in Christ. 

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." -Gal 3:28 

How should we receive another - even if they are a druggie/murderer/bad person? 
[bearing in mind that Paul himself was a murderer! and if I've ever hated another, i am too!] 

About the death sentence - that teenaged thief who killed another does deserve it. For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) but then... so do I. And everyone else. (Rom 3:23)

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thank God for this wonderful gift! It just fills me with awe and gratefulness. It brings tears to my eyes. That He would love us and want us! 
That He would take up the death sentence for us - because He loves us that much. His death  - means life for us! 

I'll end with this beautiful verse:

"The Lord appeared to us in the past,[a] saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." 

Jer 31:3