Recently in God Category

God gives and God takes away

December 27, 2011 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

This Christmas, three of my friends encountered very different life-changing experiences.

First, just before Christmas Day, I was elated to hear that a close friend of mine was going to become a mother. My longstanding prayers for blessings have become that of thanksgiving, and now I can only ask for the pregnancy to be uneventful, and for a happy and healthy child to be born.

Second, on Christmas afternoon, I witnessed a friend’s baptism. I was delighted to hear that she had accepted Christ, and humbled that I had played a part in her journey.

The last piece of news, at the tail end of Christmas day, was sobering. Another friend’s father had passed away. The only consolation I could think of was that he would no longer be suffering. But it is still hard to accept.

Taking some time for reflection, I started to see a linkage between three seemingly unrelated events happening during this time.

For those who believe in God, it is a stunning reminder of how He can easily bless some of us who keep on persevering and seeking - yet, on other occasions, leave a void in the lives of others who have also been struggling on bravely.

There is no human way we can comprehend it all. All I can tell myself is that He has a plan for each one of us, and even though some of us cannot accept what seems like cruel fate, there is a higher purpose that has yet to be realised.

My thoughts are with many of you, my friends, as we move into the new year. Have a happy and spiritually healthy 2012.

In someone else's shoes

March 4, 2010 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

Sometimes I leave the office, full of thoughts in my head about how I’m going to juggle several projects, manage downwards and upwards and so forth.

Then I go somewhere else, and see what real problems are like. And all the little nagging thoughts I’ve been having about my own life leave my head, as I realise how small they are compared to the trials that other people are facing.

Today, I felt really sad for someone. My first, instinctive reaction was to offer a scientific, psychological explanation as to why things turned out that way and how it can be improved. (I blame this on the way I have to think, at work)

But what was needed at the time was emotional support, and so I held my tongue. Sometimes people just want a listening ear and prayers, because there’s nothing much else we can do.

Having had to reach out to others in more dire straits than me tonight made me think as well about how I’ve withdrawn myself from volunteer work over the years. How I’ve felt it was a strain on me and that I needed to get my own house in order before offering to tidy up others’. It’s got to a point where I’ve simply stopped coming forward to help.

Then I see how other people give themselves selflessly to a cause, and marvel at the inner strength they seem to have. I see little miracles of selflessness at my office every day and thank God for providing inspiration. I wonder if I will ever reach that level.

At least tonight I will remember to be grateful for what I have and the relatively small problems I face.

The ultimate gift of Christmas

December 26, 2009 1:19 PM | Comments (0)

Leading up to Christmas, I found myself influenced by different instincts and feelings of obligations. This made me wonder just how close to the spirit of Christmas they really were, and how far I had drifted from the true spirit of Christmas.

This year, my earthly instinct was to plan ahead for Christmas shopping, get all my wrappers and other decorative materials ready, and make sure I was prepared for every gift exchange and party that I was going to attend, and that the gift I gave would be satisfactory to the recipient. That met, at least a a social level, all my obligations as a polite human being.

The ‘religious’ obligation made sure I attended a Christmas service at the correct time, and as I was going alone, that I would find some good friends to sit with. I would attend the whole service dutifully, sing the familiar hymns, take Communion, and wish peace to everyone around me, including many newcomers.

But isn’t there more to Christmas than giving gifts, attending parties and showing face at church? It appeared my spiritual needs had taken a back seat in the hustle and bustle of it all. It’s made me reflect, in the precious few hours of time I had to myself, where I am and where I really should be going.

For Christians, the ultimate Gift has already been given to us, and everything we have on this earth cannot compare to it. So we don’t need to be transfixed on the gifts we give and receive to other people, even if we feel socially obliged to keep up with the Joneses.

The answer hit me this Boxing Day, when I received 2 messages from people I used to ‘minister’ to. I use that word loosely as I was an occasional counsellor for the first person many years ago. I also brought a friend to the Alpha course a couple years back. Reading their updates, I was touched to see how they have progressed in their walks with God.

And then I saw the pattern: Whenever I start to think that I’ve slackened in my faith, God sends me a reminder that I have played a part, in my own little way, and that I am not irrelevant in His big plan. It encourages me to continue seeking the Truth and to discard my old way of thinking.

Thus, receiving these uplifting messages from people I have helped has been the most meaningful gift to me this Christmas. I am grateful to R and Y for reminding me of the ultimate Gift that we all have been given, and how we too can also help others to receive it.

Thank you!

Easter in a song

April 13, 2009 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

I was just listening to a Brian McKnight album named after our common star sign, Gemini. Then I realised one track was about Jesus’ crucifixion. Wha - ? An R&B track entirely about Christ?

So I Googled it and found the lyrics which I shall reproduce here. Hope you had a happy and meaningful Easter.

“Me & You”

[Verse 1] In the garden spoke to His Father for the last time (Yeah) And Satan tried to trick Him Said He didnt have to die Jesus said Father not My will but Your will be done The Messiah Jehovah He knew he was the one

[Chorus] So it pleased them all to bruise Him They beat Him in ways you never heard And they kicked Him and they spit on Him And He never said a mumblin word But Lord forgive them, Lord forgive them For they know not what they do And they nailed Him to the cross And He died for me and you.

[Verse 2] To the disciples he said whom say ye that I am Elijah the prophet from on high or am I the Son of man Surely thou art The Christ The Son of God who reigns supreme he had to die thats why he came he came to set men free

[Chorus] So it pleased them all to bruise him They beat him in ways you never heard And they kicked Him and they spit on Him And He never said a mumblin word But Lord forgive them, Lord forgive them For they know not what they do And they nailed Him to the cross And He died for me and you.

[Bridge] My Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice It was the reason why He came The Lord said that He had to die But He would surely rise again

[Chorus] So it pleased them all to bruise him They beat him in ways you never heard And they kicked Him and they spit on Him And He never said a mumblin word But Lord forgive them, Lord forgive them For they know not what they do And they nailed Him to the cross And He died for me and you.

The Worthy Woman of Business

February 15, 2009 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

A couple weeks ago in church, we were told that a special speaker was coming to preach at the 6pm service at a certain date on ‘The Worthy Woman of Business’. I perked up. That might give me a better sense of what I should be doing with myself, post-MBA. I jotted down the date in my Sermons notebook but forgot to key it into my iPhone. I then totally forgot about the date.

But fate, or more likely God, intervened. Firstly, on Saturday evening I had a V-day date with R. Which meant that I could not meet with my Strategy Execution groupmates then. The only time slot we had left was Sunday morning. Nooo! That clashed with my regular church time! But to be fair, the others compromised for me on Saturday night, so I thought I could skip the 10am service this time and attend the 6pm one - and cover all bases.

But on Sunday I nearly felt like skipping the 6pm service as well. My morning and afternoon was spent on 2 different sets of groupwork, plus I hadn’t even read up for tomorrow’s classes yet! I felt really bad. It made me re-assess how I saw my own relationship with God. Why was I unhappy about giving 1.5 hours of my time a week? So I grabbed the car keys and headed off to church.

It was unusual being in the same church building but with an entirely different group of people. They were a bit younger than those in the 10am service. They were around my age. I felt comfortable. At one point we all had to greet each other and so I chatted to D, a Kiwi guy, and L, a local lady who normally went for the 8am service! I told her I could feel the difference switching from the 10am service (couples, families, middle-aged folks) to the 6pm service (more youths) - and surely switching from 8am (the most conservative service with Communions; the choice for seniors) was an even bigger jump for her!

She said she only came for this 6pm service because of the topic, “The Worthy Woman of Business’! Then I realised that the speaker, Craig, was only making an appearance at this slot! I felt it was God’s plan that everything fell into place, and what I thought was an inconvenient rescheduling was really a prod in the right direction, removing my other options so I had to show up then and receive His message.

I listened hard to the sermon, recorded it on my iPhone and took notes. So let me share a bit of it with you (especially to my Christian sisters). Hope my interpretation of the sermon is accurate:

We learnt that Craig and his wife run an organization that helps people in poor countries find jobs. This was the basis for the theme of his sermon - that we all had the ability to make other people’s lives better. He said back in his home countr, one might balk at the current 7% unemployment rate - until you visit third-world countries that have perenially 50% unemployment. In short, things may sound bad on your side, but many other people elsewhere are doing much worse!

The scripture readings were Proverbs 31:10-31 and Colossians 3:22-4:6. We focused on Proverbs. This was about ‘a wife of noble character’ who managed her domestic affairs. But it wasn’t just about domestic work. She was likened to merchant ships bringing in food from afar. Craig said that was the kind of work that created jobs for people.

He briefly mentioned Abraham, calling him an ‘agricultural entrepreneur’. Who’d have thought of that! Abraham once rounded up 318 male employees in his household to form a militia. That indicated he ran a large enterprise. (it was amusing to hear of famous bible characters referred to in modern business terms, but I got the point)

We were told that many Christians have the wrong idea of business - that we shouldn’t be out to make money. The current financial crisis doesn’t help the image of business either. But we forget that profits are a blessing from God, too. And we have the power to create jobs - sustainable employment for many.

So instead of looking down on profit, what’s more important are these 3 questions we should ask:

  1. How did you make the profit? Was it honestly or dishonestly?
  2. How much profit should you make?
  3. What is done with the profits? We learnt of a woman who obeyed her pastor’s request and gave all her business’ profits to the church. Later, in hard times, her business had no savings and went bust, causing 100 employees to lose their job. Was this a good testimony to them?

Craig’s answer is that we should keep aside some savings, return some to investors (it’s Biblically mandated, apparently), and give some to help the poor.

And as an MBA student and a Christian, this point stood out for me: Our business is not just to maximise shareholder wealth (the key point we learnt in Finance class), but to serve as a blessing to community. We should demonstrate our Christlike behaviour to colleagues, clients, vendors, suppliers, the Government…

The message I got for myself was not to keep looking down on business-oriented practices. I’ve been grappling with this concept for a while, having worked for years in Government with some colleagues who are altruistic, and getting a high when I feel my work has raised awareness levels and possibly improved someone’s wellbeing. Knowing how greed, corruption and the repackaging of financial debt has caused great misery to people, I’ve often thought, how can purely profit-driven businesses ever add this kind of value to society? But now I’m reminded that having good business sense also helps society. Create and protect jobs. Improve your employees’ wellbeing and raise their standards of living. This is social entrepreneurism at its best.

And lastly don’t just talk about what we believe in - demonstrate it! God will give us opportunities to take action. I think this is preparing me for my study trip on Social Entrepreneurism to Cambodia in a couple of months’ time… may it open my eyes to an entirely different world.

Right now, I’m just thankful that I was guided back onto the right path this evening at 6pm.

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