Friday, November 04, 2005

Christ Sets Prisoners Free

Kelvin Soh is an ex-drug addict who turned out right because he turned to God.

How did he come to know God, in today's Strait's Times it said:
"He credits his turnaround to a prison warden, who introduced him to Christianity while he was serving a 5 1/2-year sentence for possession of drugs in 1998. That was his last brush with the law."
Another famous person you might know is Nelson Mandela.

I would quote from "Prisoners Of Our Thoughts", pp 40-41:
"The day that Mandela was being released from prison on Robben Island, Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, was watching the news. He quickly called his wife and daughter and said, "You must see this, it is historical." As Mandela stepped out, Clinton saw a flush of anger on his face as he looked at the people watching; then it disappeared.
Later, when Clinton was president of the United States and Mandela was president of South Africa, the two leaders met and Clinton told about his observation during Mandela's release from prison. And, because Mandela had always been a model of reconciliation with no spirit of revenge or negativism, President Clinton candidly asked him for an explanation of what seemed to have occurred on that historic day.
President Mandela replied, "Yes, you are right. When I was in prison, the son of a guard started a Bible Study and I attended;... and that day when I stepped out of prison and looked at the people observing, a flush of anger hit me with the thought that they had robbed me of 27 years.
Then the Spirit of Jesus said to me, 'Nelson, while you were in prison you were free, now that you are free, don't become their prisoner.'"
In both cases, it was become of some unnamed person who had managed to start a Bible Study in prison.
We will never know their names until we stand in heaven. It goes to show that Christ does change lives through ordinary people like you and I. We may never get credit for it, but its effect can change a person, a group, a company, and in Nelson Mandela's case, even an entire country.

The next thought that comes to mind are schools. Recently there has been a brouhaha about proselytizing Christianity in schools and in hospitals. I have not come to an opinion yet on this issue.

However I do have a question
Do we have to wait until children are of legal age and in prison before we can tell them of Christ?
I hope not.

Some parents think that "religion" should not be taught to children until they are adults. They want them to make the decision themselves. I agree. Everyone must make their own decision to follow Christ. God has no grandchildren.

However, as CS Lewis said, do we wait until the weeds have grown all over our garden before pulling them out?

Introduce them to Christ, don't let the weeds grow in their hearts. It's easier to prevent them from growing in the first place than to pull them out when the roots have taken ground in their hearts.
No matter what a government rules however, I do know this: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)

Miss Fear Factor

I want to marry a Miss USA.

Now, wouldn't any hot-bloded male want to do that?

I will have to explain that it isn't what it seems.

After watching Fear Factor:Miss USA edition, I learned to admire these women a lot more. Watching the episode on TV yesterday, I had this niggling feeling there was something different in the show than other Fear Factors.

I realized then halfway through that it was the tone of the contestants and the way they conducted themselves.

They were smiling all the way, there wasn't much fear on their faces and they were gracious before and after the stunts that they participated in.

Though of course there was apprehension they still gamely took on the challenges like walking on a suspended steel framework, being drenched in fish, fish oil and worms and clambering around a climbing net carried by a helicopter.

There wasn't trash talk, putdowns and empty boasts by the Miss America contestants. They were actually cheering their own fellow competitors on.

It's such a refreshing change from the culture of women that we read now. The "liberated" woman of today doesn't seem to mind to bitch, moan, rant and rave about people around them. Perhap's I'm reading too much of Xiaxue's blog. But I hope that the ladies of today and tomorrow not find that saying things like WTF, KNN and CCB acceptable. I shudder to think that the media attention is now on bloggers like Xiaxue and Sarong Party Girl. They may be honest, but they sure don't make good role models.
Instead of the stereotype of a dumb, vacuous beauty contestant (though the youngest competitor did ask, "Fish have oil?", Fear Factor showed that these women were independence, fearlessness, sportsmanslike and this combined with beauty, poise, grace, dignity into one package make the women to truly admire.
Though of course I do understand that it may all be good PR and that it may be part of the organizers orders for them to keep up a good image and it is realistic to believe that some in private they may have their own foibles. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt and realize that women don't have to be b****** . Let's believe in the best of humanity. At the very least it is an image to can prove to be a better role model and ideal that humanity should strive for.
If there are more such women around, perhaps world peace may be possible.

The Carnival Culture

Most American children begin watching television before they can talk. A child by age 6 will have invested more hours watching television than in speaking with his or her father over an entire lifetime. -- Dr. James B. Twitchell

I was watching a TV program on Arts Central this very day when I read that quote above. It said that in the UK on average children watch 3 hours and 58 minutes of TV a day, and more on weekends. I.e. On average 1677 minutes a week watching TV vs. 39 minutes with parents. That's a ratio of 43:1.

It makes me think I'll have to put the plasma TV in my home under lock and key when I have children.

Even though we'd like to think that TV is meant to inform or even entertain, as James Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series said, "TV does not exist to entertain you. TV exists to sell you things." (Or ideas and propoganda as he later added.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Birthday Present From God

Look what I got from a contest I entered. A new mobile phone! Isn't God good? (And no, it isn't a spam mail, it's legit).

I stopped getting presents or angpows since I was 8 years old. My family doesn't have any tradition of giving gifts on birthdays, Christmas or Chinese New Year. But God is the father of the fatherless. And he gives gifts to those he loves.

Thank you, Lord.

The Elegant Universe

11 Dimensions.

As yet unproven.

Superstring theory.

"You see, our universe is kind of like a finely tuned machine. Scientists have found that there are about 20 numbers, 20 fundamental constants of nature that give the universe the characteristics we see today. These are numbers like how much an electron weighs, the strength of gravity, the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak forces. Now, as long as we set the dials on our universe machine to precisely the right values for each of these 20 numbers, the machine produces the universe we know and love."

Superstring theory reminds me of CS Lewis words when he said that the physical laws may just be the stroke of God's paintbrush. Basically the universe is composed of superstrings. Strings of energy that vibrate at different frequencies to produce the different particles in our world, alpha, beta, gamma, omega etc. which in turn form electrons, neutrons, protons and ultimately atoms.

"Just as the strings of a cello can give rise to a rich variety of musical notes, the tiny strings in string theory vibrate in a multitude of different ways making up all the constituents of nature. In other words, the universe is like a grand cosmic symphony resonating with all the various notes these tiny vibrating strands of energy can play."

I say, symphony for whom? But God. "... the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:12), "'I tell you,' he replied, 'if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.'" (Luke 19:40)

In other universes, the frequences set may be entirely different, producing an unimaginable universe, things that we cannot even conceive in our minds.

In Genesis we read that we are made in God's image. But what is an image? In secondary school we learn of the term "image" when we deal with light and reflections. An image of us in the mirror looks and behaves just like us, but doesn't exist in the 3D world. It is a purely 2-dimensional representation of a 3D object.
According to string theory, we live on a 3D brane in the 11 dimensional world. And because we are trapped in this 3D world, our eyes and sense of touch only perceives the 3D world, can we know the 5th, 6th, all the way to the 11th dimensions? (Or even more? That God is beyond even just 11 dimensions to the n'th degree?)
We are 3 + 1 dimensional beings. Able to move within 3 dimensions and flowing forward within the 4th, time. With extra dimensions, things can easily be explained on how God can see eternally, how he can remain undetected yet always observing us.
An illustration of this concept was turned into the novel "Flatland" which discusses a world of 2 dimensions and then a sphere entering that world. To a 2-Dimensional being a sphere would be a circle, yet the sphere can appear out of nowhere because it is living in 3-Dimensional space.
An illustration of this concept is listed here.
In the DVD "The Elegant Universe" superstring theory is on the forefront of unprovability. Yet there are scientists who believe in it.
Interesting that there are scientists that believe in an unproveable theory, what about intelligent design? An unproveable theory as well? Yet there are people who fight creationism with religious zeal.
So, if people can believe in an unproveable theory like string theory, cannot we believe intuitively in intelligent design, i.e. God?

The 33-Year Old Virgin

Happy birthday to me...

Craziest thing done since my last birthday?

Returning my NKF donation envelope filled with peanuts, and adding extra postage to make sure it will reach them.

For today, I give my faithful audience a flashback to the past, 1990 to be exact...

I still keep with me an old exercise book from my Form 6 days in Maxwell Secondary School, Kuala Lumpur.
And it is one of the only exercise books I keep because it's contents are more meaningful than Science or Mathematics could be.
The teacher, Ms. Sandra Nicole Tan was different from the rest of the teachers. Well, the subject was supposed to be English, but the content was more of values in life and love. She thought about values and needs, introduced us to things like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I got interested in Psychology because of that.
One of the most interesting assignments that we had was to answer several questions about love. And reading those answers which I wrote in 1990, I realize that I haven't changed in my expectations and perceptions of love.
I share with you some of the pages in that exercise book:

The Question of Love
  1. What is Love?
    Love is something that we choose to do. Love is when we care for someone and put that before our own. It is patient, it is kind. It is not selfish. It forgives and forgets yet it does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Most importantly it is forever.
  2. What scares you most about the opposite sex?
    When they want you to be committed to them.
  3. If there was one thing you could ask about dating, what would it be? Why?
    I would like it to be humourous with lots of interaction especially from my partner. I prefer fun and enjoyable persons to spend time with.
  4. List the ways you use the word 'love'. How many of those can be considered 'eros' type love? Why or why not?
    I love eating, watching the world cup, sleeping and listening to pleasant music. Those are some of the 'eros' type love I have because it depends on mood and times. But I also love my mother and sister and my other brothers and sisters in Christ and also my friends and God.
  1. Is passionate love for an object (eros) always temporary, conditional and self-centered? What are some of your reasons?
    Yes. Because it follows the ups and downs of a persons mood and it is controlled by him, by his desires and needs.
  2. What is agape love?
    Agape love is godly love. Love of the highest order. It is when you love something with all your heart, mind, strength and soul that you would sacrifice even your life for the good of the other no matter what they did.
  3. Can agape love still be there when a couple breaks up?
    Yes it can.
  1. What are some things about yourself that you are thankful for?
    The clothes I wear, the body that I have, that I can live in a peaceful country.
  2. Define 'infatuation' in your own words.<
    Infatuation is a feeling you get when you are enraptured by a person of the opposite sex without taking into account the whole picture. It can happen 'at first sight.' This is not true love. Infatuation does not look at the faults of a persons. Seemingly the person is perfect in the eyes of the one who is infatuated. The person is caught in a dream state as if the person of his dreams has walked into his or her life.
  1. What is the difference between infatuation and falling in love?
    Infatuation can take an instant to happen while falling in love takes time. After a while with a person you slowly realize that you care for him/her very much that you would spend your life with him/her as your life partner. Infatuation overlooks faults in the person while love realizes a persons shortcomings and lives with it. Infatuation is looking for a perfect dream partner while love is finding a imperfect and flawed person but loving him/her nonetheless and sharing their lives together with and for each other in unselfish giving and taking compared to infatuation which is self-centered in a 'me' attitude.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How Fairytales Come True

Wigan Team Page

Today's Straits Times talks about Wigan, a newly promoted team that is now sitting 2nd place in the English Premier League, right behind Chelsea.

It is a fairy tale because at the beginning of the season, many people expected Wigan to be in the bottom drop-zone.

Instead, they are confounding pundits with their good luck and form winning their last 7 matches.

What is the reason for this? How does it happen? Some clues can be gotten from the match reports that we read:

They are:

  • Chase every ball.

  • Fight for lost causes.

  • Old fashioned hard work.

  • Communication.

  • People are the key, not systems.

  • Get people to understand what they are doing.

  • Defend your people from outside criticism.

I suppose that I should add a couple more points gleaned from other articles written about Wigan:

  • Don't set too lofty goals.

  • Play one game at a time.

  • Be ambitious to get rid of your underdog image.

Another team that has managed to break the Chelsea domination, is surprisingly Everton who were bottom of the league just only 2 weeks ago.

Everton was in crisis, propping up the table with only 3 points managed to hold the mighty Chelsea to a draw.

What were the reasons for their revival?

A clue can be gotten from the report that the team went for a white water rafting team building exercise prior to that.

  • Fight for every inch.

  • Refuse to capitulate.

This Draw Is A Victory For Everton