Thursday, November 10, 2005

10 Rules For Effective Prayer

  1. Set aside a few minutes every day. Do not say anything. Simply practise thinking about God. This will make your mind spiritually receptive.

  2. Then pray orally, using simple, natural words. Tell God anything that is on your mind. Do not think you must use stereotyped pious phrases. Talk to God in your own language. He understands it.

  3. Pray as you go about the business of the day, on the subway or bus or at your desk. Utilise minute prayers by closing your eyes to shut out the world and concentrating briefly on God's presence. The more you do this every day the nearer you will feel God's presence.

  4. Do not always ask when you pray, but instead affirm that God's blessing are being given, and spend most of your prayers giving thanks.

  5. Pray with the belief that sincere prayers can reach out and surround your loved ones with God's love and protection.

  6. Never use a negative thought in prayer. Only positive thoughts get results.

  7. Always express willingness to accept God's will. Ask for what you want, but be willing to take what God gives you. It may be better than what you ask for.

  8. Practise the attitude putting everything in God's hands. Ask for the ability to do your best and to leave the results confidently to God.

  9. Pray for people you do not like or who have mistreated you. Resentment is blockade number one of spiritual power.

  10. Make a list of people for whom to pray. The more you pray for other people, especially those not connected with you, the more prayer results will come back to you.

The Courage To Suffer

Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy
Once the meaning of suffering had been revealed to us, we refused to minimize or alleviate the camp's tortures by ignoring them or harboring false illusions and entertaining artificial optimism.
Suffering had become a task on which we did not want to turn our backs. We had realized its hidden opportunities for achievement, the opportunities which caused the poet Rilke to write, "Wie viel ist aufzuleiden!" (How much suffering there is to get through!) Rilke spoke of "getting through suffering" as others would talk of "getting through work." There was plenty of suffering for us to get through.
Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer. Only very few realized that. -- Viktor Frankl, "Man's Search For Meaning"
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -- Romans 5:3-5
What kind of suffering do we have? We are almost all too familiar with the physical, but in this world we often disregard the reality of emotional, mental, even spiritual suffering.
  • It can come in the form of financial ruin or material loss.
  • It can come in the form of unthankful children or unloving parents.
  • It can be in the form of missed opportunites or regrets.
  • It can be in the form of rejection from people we love or betrayal.
  • It can be in the form of shame or loneliness.
In contrast to the prosperity gospel, Romans 5:3-5 talks of rejoicing in suffering. James exhorts us to be joyful when trials and tribulations come (James 1:2-4). Peter tells us that suffering is not unsurprising, but expected in life. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

In fact to have 3 different people, Paul, James and Peter talk of suffering means that suffering was an essential part of the gospel of Christ. Yes, healing and God's blessing was part of it too. And the desire to alleviate ourselves and to take active measures to do so is the right thing to do. The action is to alleviate. But the attitude to take is to rejoice. It is not some kind of masochistic desire. No, it is the noble courage to face reality, but a firm confident faith in God, which some may mistake faith fo Polyanna-like or delusional optimism.

But does it mean we are doomed? No, because Romans 8 talks of the promises:
  • that we are not condemned.
  • that we are more than conquerors.
  • that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
  • that we have a helper in the Holy Spirit.
  • that God is working for our good even then.
  • that all things will be graciously given us.
  • that we are heirs with Christ.
  • that as we share in His suffering, so shall we share in His glory.
And that is the true reason why Christians can be optimistic. But not a delusional optimism that would be "irritating during times of pain" but one that recognizes that truth and sees it for what it is, yet faces it head on secure in the confidence that "his rod and his staff" comfort hims in the valley of the shadow of death.

Life Is Like A Rubik's Cube

I was never able to solve the Rubik's cube when I first got it when I was still in primary school. It just seemed too complicated. Get one square in position and all the rest are messed up. In the end I tried to solve it by unscrewing it and hopefully putting it back together. And that didn't work. So I ended up with a broken Rubik's which I threw away.

It seems that life is like a Rubik's cube. There are so many facets to life. And trying to keep them all in balance is frustrating. If you turn one face to get the reds together you unbalance the other sides of blue, yellow, white, etc.

But it can be solved.

There are analogies that the simple method to solving a Rubik's cube can be applied to life.

First you start out with a simple cross on one of the faces.Start out with Christ taking control of one of a part of your life. Don't expect Him to get your life all perfect in one day.
Then slowly build up the parts that can be moved to make one layer.Solve one area of priority first in your life.
Remember that the center cubes do not actually move; only the corners and the edges. Some people get confused by this.Learn to recognize and accept the things that you cannot change, and the things that you can change. The Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Certain moves require you to memorize the moves. Follow the directions from people who have done it before. Professor Rubik took 1 month to solve his own invention. You can do it in 1 week by learning it from others instead.Get expert help when in trouble. You don't have time to work it out on your own.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Leaving On The Dot At 5PM

  1. Announce to everyone that you have a personal commitment at 5:30 that evening. If you have a child, you could say your child is in need of your assistance.

  2. Mark on your calendar that you will be leaving at five.

  3. Get a good night's rest the night before, so you'll feel up for the effort of fulfilling your dynamic bargain with yourself.

  4. Eat a light lunch; it keeps you from being sluggish in the afternoon.

  5. Strike a dynamic bargain with yourself at the start of the day, in late morning, in early afternoon, and in late afternoon. (Remember, it's okay to modify the bargain to accommodate a changing situation.)

  6. Regard any intrusion or upset as merely part of the workday, deal with it as you can, and plan tomorrow's strategy for coping. Do not let it change your plans on leaving on time today.

  7. After striking the dynamic bargain with yourself, don't be tempted to add more items to your list at the last minute.

  8. Envision how you'll feel when you leave right at closing time (but there is no reason for you to be staring at the clock for the last 45 minutes).

  9. If you want support, ask a coworker to walk you out the door at closing time.

Dynamic bargain:
"What would it take for me to feel good about ending work on time today?"
Stating exactly what you'll need to accomplish to feel good about leaving on time that day.

Kids and God

mrbrown: L'infantile terrible of Singapore: Sneaky

One of my favourite Singapore bloggers is Mr. Brown. I used to like reading his Singapore National Education Series.

He shares in this post about the travails he has as a father, taking care of his children, and in the latter part, the experiences he has with taking care of his autistic child Faith.

It reminds me something of God's relationship with us.

There are people who complain about God not doing anything. And there are people who know God is doing everything.

Perhaps we, the human race are like Faith, his autistic child. We get attracted to things that actually endanger us. And he has patience enough to lead us and to guide us and to protect us in spite of all the inconvenience to Him.

Turning the tables around, why should God love us, his children so imperfect?

I think that we the human race are like autistic children, full of joy and potential yet limited by a deficiency we are born with. But in spite of that, He loves us very much. (Matthew 18:1-6; Matthew 19:14)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Things They Should Teach In School

There are some things that I'm realizing now in life are far more important than schoolbooks, I'm amazed that they don't teach these things in school.

Perhaps some of these things are learned through extra curriculur activities, but the idea that they are "extra" implies that it isn't important when it is the obverse.

One sad fact I learned while working as a relief teacher was that the principal refused to start a football team because it would attract the "wrong" type of students. (Fill in the blanks on what you may think as "wrong"). And that by doing so would lower the grade point average.

1) Leadership skills and Teamwork.
I've realized that once an individual has gained competency in a certain vocation or skill, he/she needs to work with others.
Man is not an island, he works with people. Relationships are a necessary part of living in life. We relate to people from young, with our family, our peers, our teachers, our superiors, our government, people in authority and those under our authority.
In fact, as I have progressed in my career, the technical skills are easy to gain but the more and more higher you go, leadership and people skills become the most important. The CEO of General Motors doesn't know how to build a car, neither does the CEO of Coca-Cola know how to manufacture Coke but it was their leadership, motivational and people skills that was paramount.
Unfortunately, these leadership skills are almost haphazardly gained in the school playground. The movie "Sky High" illustrates this caricaturely, where students are either labelled "Heros" or "Side Kicks" on admission to school.
Does a person lose out on the chance to develop his relational and leadership skills based on a 5 minute impression made in high-school?
They do encourage students to take leadership positions, but do they teach leadership to all students?
I believe that everyone is capable of leadership, but they have to break out of the mold that they may have been given by their parents or teachers.

Every human being is a Leonardo da Vinci. The only problem is that he doesn't know it. His parents didn't know it, and they didn't treat him like a Leonardo. Therefore he didn't become like a Leonardo. That's my basic theory. -- Öystein Skalleberg.

2) The Will To Meaning. (Spiritual)
The one hole that is in everyone is the need for meaning in their lives. Frankl disagrees with the other 2 schools of psychology that man either has a will to pleasure (Freud) or the will to power (Adler). Frankl claims that the will to pleasure or power arises when the will to meaning is blocked.
However, the will to meaning is also not taught. In fact, the underlying idea in life that is sometimes thought (I would not know since I am not in school) is that we are economic units. We are designed to fill jobs in the economy. The message that we get from the government is that we are either to defend the economy and to be competitive or to protect our rice-bowl.
True, power and pleasure are there and necessary. But they are only tools and side effects on the true goal of meaningful existence.
What happens then? When people are told that the meaning of their lives is just to make money, they are losing out on their true purpose of life.
Another side effect is that their self worth is tied to the economic value. A person who is a bus driver would think that he is of less worth than a president's scholar that earns tons of money.
The drive for entrepreneurship currently is a necessary move to keep Singapore going in the face of international competition but I fear that it again emphasises the esteem given to people making money far more than those that aren't.
3) Self Esteem and Responsibility.
Keep quiet. Behave yourself.
All these are reactive behaviour from teachers and parents to their children. They are taught that they cannot make wise decision for themselves.
"Keeping quiet". Also teaches them not to have a voice, or that their thoughts and ideas are not valued.
Perhaps not all, but I believe that responsibility can be taught from an early age. Unfortunately, I see in poly that there is this sense of helplessness in some of them that they can't change their future, that the course given to them wasn't their first choice, etc.
One of the most important habits of effective people is being pro-active. And pro-active people are pro-active because they know that they can have an effect. That their words and actions are responsible for consequences that follow. The only way that can happen is when they are response-able. I think that a lot of students are capable of a lot more than they are capable of, except that we don't give them enough credit for it.
4) Ethics and Morality.
Ethics and morality are one of the most important fibres of society. However, in school it was considered the non-examinable subject. The "sure-pass" subject. If it "easy and sure-pass", why are there people going to prison for crimes? Scholars and white-collar crimes are in the news. Enron, WorldCom, China Aviation, Slim-10. All these were committed by educated people.
The fact is, an idea like "separation of church and state" must not imply "separation of morality and skills". Especially in classes like political science, ethics and morality plays a huge role.
Ethics and morality are in fact the most difficult things to pass in life. In fact, doing the right thing is sometimes the most difficult thing to do against the choice of the easy wrong.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

What good is there to have smart and clever scholars that are corrupt, immoral and unethical?

A View Of Future Things

Electronic paper moves from sci-fi to marketplace - Yahoo! News

You can order your e-ink prototype kit from Any aspiring 17 year old future Bill Gates should order theirs one now! Well to do schools or polytechnics should order one for their student labs. Only US$3000.

Mobile is still the technology to go for. With more and more wireless and mobile applications, a foldable and lightweight technology will bring even more flexibility and new ideas to the market place.

Mobile is the next Internet frontier.

Imagine, picture frames holding updatable images. You could have the Mona Lisa on it one day, Van Gogh's Sunflowers the next, or a live cam view of the Eiffel Tower the next.

Or even bigger, things like dynamic wallpapers on your home.

Since it is bendable, how about camouflage or stealth vehicles that can actually change colour as and when needed. A chameleon vehicle as you may call it.

What about fashion accessories? Watch straps or clothes that change pattern?

The great thing about it is that the pattern holds even when power is turned off.

Verse Of The Week

'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)