Thursday, July 30, 2015

REAL FRIENDS

When I was a teenager, I thought I knew it all. I was full of insecurities, but I was also full of opinions—strong ones! Looking back, I feel sorry for my parents. I’m sure I wasn’t an easy child to raise, especially as a teen. I didn’t like the fact that I had stricter parents than some of my friends did, and I pulled away from my mom and dad, as many teens do. I was sure my parents didn’t understand me, and I was right—they didn’t! None of their other kids were anything like me. I questioned everything and had trouble keeping rules. However, although I was tough on the outside, all I really wanted deep down was to find someone who truly understood me.
One day I found myself at a gathering where I was the only teenager. While the adults talked in small groups, I sat off in a corner by myself, watching, until a woman named Joy came over and struck up a conversation. Eventually, I opened up and told her about all my troubles. I half expected her to lecture me, but instead she just listened. I could tell that she genuinely cared about getting to know me, and never once did I feel she was putting me in my place or trying to change my opinion; she simply tried to understand me.
That conversation was the beginning of a friendship that continued through thick and thin for seven years, until Joy passed away. We would take long walks together and would sometimes write notes to each other about things that were harder to say in person. Even after she moved to a distant city, we kept in touch by phone and mail. For much of those seven years, Joy was so sick that she could have died at any time, but I never heard her complain. She was always bubbly and had a passion for people.
Joy taught me something important—that it was okay to be myself. And in the process, she also taught me to try to understand people in a deep way, to look beyond their appearance and sometimes even what they say, to accept them for who they are and show them unconditional love. Though we all seem so different, we’re all made from the same stuff, and we all need love, understanding, and acceptance. When someone sees our need and fills it, we blossom.
Proverbs 18:24 ESV / A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV / Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
John 15:13 ESV / Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BEING A FRIEND

When Jesus told His disciples, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” He was literally describing His upcoming death on the cross to save humanity. The subsequent events proved that He was willing to give up everything for us, His friends. Jesus’ love is perfect and His friendship is perfect.
I’ve sometimes wondered what my actions would be if I were in a situation where I could save a life by giving my own; but of course I know it’s not so likely that I’ll ever be tested in such a dramatic way. The challenges I’m likely to face are more prosaic, and the opportunities for “laying down my life” that come my way are more mundane.
Do I hang out with my friend who’s going through a rough patch and isn’t particularly fun to be around at that time, or do I make excuses and try to avoid him? Do I visit my friend when she’s sick—not just once at the beginning, but regularly, if needed? If I got a ticket to a big game, but my friend didn’t, would I be willing to give it to him? When my friend gets an incredible work or vacation opportunity, am I genuinely happy and excited for her, or am I jealous of her good fortune? When my friends’ choices of restaurants or activities are different from what I would have liked, do I always expect them to accommodate my wishes?
Opportunities like these for “unexciting” sacrifices come up on a daily basis and are more valid tests of my character than hypothetical life-and-death drama. I’ve certainly not arrived yet, and working on this issue of Activated has inspired me to try harder to be the kind of friend who, as the Bible says, “loves at all times.”
John 13:34-35 ESV / A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Galatians 6:10 ESV / So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
James 2:14-17 ESV / What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS INTO THE NEW YEAR

A quick glance behind…
If you feel that you have made mistakes, taken wrong turns, even failed miserably at this or that, you’re in good company. Many of God’s heroes in the Bible did those same things, but they learned from their mistakes. And God came to them, sitting in the midst of failed dreams or disappointed hopes, and gave them a new reason to live.
That’s what He can do when we give up on our own plans and projects and decide to try His. He gives us goals to help us grow and move in the right direction, and then He helps us attain them. Give Him your heart and life, and let Him give you all the good things He has planned for you.
—Nana Williams
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
The world is a book and every step turns a new page.
—Alphonse de Lamartine (1790–1869)
A story is told of an elderly woman who slipped and fell on a busy street. Several people quickly went to assist her, but she was already hoisting herself back up.
“I’m all right,” she assured them. “I always fall forwards, never backwards.”
When we’ve “taken a fall,” instead of dwelling on the mistake or hurt, let’s make it a fall forward by learning from it and looking to the future.
—Abi May
A steady look upward…
We are given a fresh start not only at the beginning of the year, but every morning when we wake up. We have the chance to start anew and make things right.
—Mottos for Success
To improve the golden moment of opportunity and catch the good that is within our reach is the great art of life.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)
Look upon every day as the whole of life, not merely as a section; and enjoy and improve the present without wishing, through haste, to rush on to another.
—Jean Paul (1763–1826)
Let us labor to be like unto angels, “strengthened with all might,” walking about the world as conquerors, able to do all things through Christ which strengthens us.
—John Trapp (1602–1669)
All of us carry the future in us, the hopes, the dreams, the good and the evil, the potential to create a better world, if we can only make the right choices, if we are only willing to pay the price, to search for the goal and reach out for it.
We all search for love at some time or other, and so love will come to us. But how will we treat it when it arrives? For love might come to you as a princess, or as a beggar, or a slave; majestic and glorious, or uncomely and in rags, and void of respect. Though we cannot choose who we are when we are born, and what kind of life we get born into, still we can choose how to live our lives and what kind of person we will be when our earthly path ends.
—Colin C. Bell
I am willing to go anywhere, anywhere, anywhere—so long as it’s forward.
—David Livingstone (1813–1873)
A teacher took her primary school students to the assembly hall for a lesson with a difference. Standing at the foot of the steps leading up to the stage, she asked, “Is anybody good at jumping?”
Quite a few young hands shot up.
“Well,” she continued, “could any of you jump from the floor here up onto the stage?”
No hands went up this time.
“I can,” said the teacher, “and I’ll show you how.” Beginning at the foot of the steps leading up to the stage, she hopped onto the first step. From there she hopped onto the second, and so on until she reached the top.
Many things can only be accomplished little by little, step by step. When a task looks daunting or the way ahead too steep, just take it one step at a time.
—Abi May
Lord, when you call us to live and work for you,
Give us the wisdom to remember
That it is not the beginning
But the faithful continuing of the task
That is most important in your eyes,
Until we have completed it to the best of our ability;
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Who laid down his life for us
In order to finish your work.
—Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540–1596)
Acts 2:38 ESV / And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 24:22 ESV / And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV / Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

THE JOURNEY TO SIMPLICITY

The other day I was listening to a Christian radio program on the way to the gym. Each day they ask a question for their listeners to respond to, either via phone or their Facebook page, and the topic that day was: “What do you look forward to?”
The answers that listeners were sending in were simple, yet refreshing. For example, one woman said she looked forward to having a cup of tea at night once her children were in bed.
It got me thinking about the simple things in life. Essentially, that’s what we all generally look forward to—the little things. A hug after a long day. A cup of something hot in the morning. The sun shining again after a rainy patch, enabling us to finally hang our laundry. A comfortable bed to slide into at night. A refreshing shower. A freshly mowed lawn. A meal out.
I like to see these small things as being as much a part of God’s love for me as the bigger gifts He sometimes sends my way. As Robert Louis Stevenson put it: “The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”
Sure, sometimes we look forward to big and exciting things, like an upcoming vacation. But more often than not, it’s the simple day-to-day things that bring us joy and put a smile on our face. I’m reminding myself that I need to think more about those things, appreciate them more, as they get so easily lost amidst the craziness of life. It’s not a new realization by any means. It’s just one of those principles of life and happiness that easily fade out of focus when so many bigger and more stressful things are obstructing my view or weighing me down.
I decided to start small. I took that woman’s advice on the radio. I set aside a few minutes to relax with a cup of tea that night after the kids were in bed, and I enjoyed every sip!
I’m on a journey to find simplicity in my spiritual walk as well. The simple things in life make me happy. Perhaps my simple things will make God happy too?
2 Timothy 3:17 ESV / That the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV / Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV / And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

PERFECTLY IMPERFECT

I went to the Farmer’s Market this morning and was so pleased to find a good deal on some organic produce. When I got home and pulled the tomatoes out of the bag, however, I realized that some of them were too squishy to use, and I had to cull out the bad ones so they wouldn’t harm the others. As the saying goes, “One rotten apple (or in this case, tomato) spoils the whole bunch.”
As I examined the tomatoes, I was surprised by their many imperfections. I’ve been used to going to the grocery store and finding piles of perfectly shaped fruits and vegetables. However, when I cut one of the “imperfect” tomatoes in half and took a bite, I was amazed at the flavor. I decided that in this case “imperfect” can definitely be better.
We often judge by appearance, but looks can be deceiving. Often, those apparently perfect pieces of produce have much deeper flaws that can’t be seen. It could very well be that they have no bug bites because they have been sprayed with chemicals whose long-term effects might be worse than the insects. The processes used to speed their growth probably affected their flavor as well. Judging between the imperfect, organic tomatoes and the seemingly perfect ones in a supermarket, the imperfect is definitely better.
God could have created a perfect world with perfect people, but He allowed man to have a choice. After the fall of man, imperfections entered our world, and man began to have to deal with problems, disease, bugs, and pain.1 But all of these imperfections drive us back into the arms of our heavenly Father. If the road were perfect and our path without difficulties, we would never find the better way to the perfect place He is preparing for us.
Sometimes, people think they can get along without God. It is only when we take a good look at our imperfections that we see the need for a Savior. Then we open our heart and receive the greatest, most perfect gift of all.
So give me the imperfections of life. Give me the odd-looking produce. Give me the rocky path. Give me all the problems and weaknesses that drive me into God’s arms. Because I know how imperfect I am, I am thankful for a perfect Savior who looks at me through the eyes of love, and whose perfect love has changed my life.
Philippians 2:15 ESV / That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
James 3:2 ESV / For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
Revelation 21:4 ESV / He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Prayer Points

1. Please intercede for Corps Family:
Bro Vinoth Rao, Bro Kah Loke, Bro Mun Kit & Sis Wai Wai

2. Please intercede for Open Day 2015

3. Please intercede for Corps Family who are not feeling well in health

4. Please intercede for one another

Announcement

1. Explore Weekend (Final Call Today)
Date: 14-16 Aug 2015
Venue: Johor Baharu
RSVP as soon as possible on invitation

3. Women's Camp 2015 (Final Call)
Date: 11-13 Sept 2015
Theme: Who is my Neighbour?
Venue: Hotel Sentral Melaka, Melaka
Open for registration. Closing date 3 Aug 2015.

4. Open Day 2015
Date: 10th Oct 2015 Saturday
Venue: Penang Children's Home
Time: 9:00am - 2:00pm

5. Mission Trip to Myanmar 
Date: 24th Oct - 1st Nov 2015
Limited space. Maximum 15 pax. Cost RM1,600.
Closing Date: 31 Aug 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

SETTING GOALS AND REACHING THEM

Some people have been so discouraged when they’ve failed to meet their goals that they’ve given up on having any at all, so that they aren’t disappointed by the “inevitable” failure. There’s a lot of advice available today on this topic, and there isn’t actually anything too tough or mysterious about setting and reaching your goals.
Here are five easy steps to follow for success.
Step 1: What are you aiming for? Write down your goals for the year. Keep the list to a few top priorities: Too many can dilute focus and scatter your energy.
Step 2: Take steps—even large, seemingly crazy ones—toward reaching your goals. The important thing is to kick-start the process. The fine-tuning can come later! Try to focus on actions that will advance more than one of your goals at once. For example, taking your kids to the pool or riding a bike with your spouse would promote staying fit as well as spending time with your family.
Step 3: Keep at it. You’ll probably fail periodically, but don’t give up: Pick up the pieces and start again! In fact, if you never fail, your goals are probably too easy and need to be revised.
Step 4: Have fun! Enjoy the challenge! Fighting your fears and weaknesses in order to achieve your goals can be difficult, but it’s also tremendously rewarding. Much of the appeal of running a marathon is the challenge. Make reaching your goals the “extreme sport” of your life.
Step 5: Review the progress toward your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. If you’re serious about it, you’ll put effort into it. If necessary, be open to tweaking your goals or the action you’re taking to reach them, but be careful to not water down your original goal!
Get Started
So many fail because they don’t get started—they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.
—William Clement Stone (1902–2002)
The beginning is the most important part of the work.
—Plato (428 BC–348 BC)
James 1:12 ESV / Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Romans 5:3-5 ESV / More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Galatians 6:9 ESV / And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Friday, July 24, 2015

FORMING NEW HABITS

The month of January, when the new year is celebrated in most of the world, is named after the Roman god Janus. Because he had two faces, he could look back on the past year and forward into the next. He was the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors.
Making resolutions at the start of a new year is an ancient and established tradition. Apparently, the early Babylonians’ most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.1 We make resolutions, but we don’t seem well equipped to keep them. One reason we have a hard time changing old bad habits or forming good new ones is that sometimes our expectations are too extreme. Instead of making some gradual permanent lifestyle changes, we want instant success.
Fitness guru Jack LaLanne (1914–2011), who continued with his daily exercise regimen well into his 90s, observed, “The average person means well, but they set their goals too high. They [try] it two or three times and say, ‘This is too tough.’ And they quit.”
When I used to do private English tutoring in Indonesia and Japan, I was confronted with this type of unrealistic expectations. Many of my students thought that if they hired a native English speaker to give them lessons, they would learn through some sort of magical osmosis, without doing the homework and study needed to make progress. It just doesn’t work that way. We’re conditioned to want quick results, whereas in reality, it often takes work over an extended period of time to achieve anything worthwhile.
Messages are sent along the pathways of our brain through neurons that are connected to one another. These like to travel on known pathways, the “comfortable” way, and it takes time and effort to create new ones.
Carlo DiClemente, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Maryland, suggests setting realistic goals and making daily progress to realize them: “We all wish some things. We might say, ‘I wish I were a better parent.’ But that’s pretty vague. Maybe you say, ‘I’m going to count to five before I start yelling at my kids.’ That’s good, but then you discover you need a plan to remind you to count to five.”
Armed with the right goals, the desire, and the persistence, you can form a new habit this year. You can become the master—rather than the victim—of circumstances.
Philippians 3:13-14 ESV / Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:33 ESV / But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Luke 10:27 ESV / And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”