Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Danger of Sluggishness

We fail not because of handicaps, not because of a blighted background, not because of inadequate opportunity, but usually because of unwarranted, uncalled for, unmitigated sluggishness.
Don’t say you have no chance, but remember:
  • Isaac Newton, the greatest astronomer of his day, once peddling cabbages in the street;
  • Martin Luther singing in the public square for any pennies he might pick up;
  • John Bunyan mending kettles;
  • Prideaux, the world-renowned scholar and theologian, scouring pots and pans to work his way through college;
  • Bowditch, the scientist, beginning his useful learning and affluent career by reading the books that had been driven ashore from a shipwreck at Salem;
  • Oberoi starting as a sweeper in a third-rate hotel that didn’t even rate one star, then creating the largest Asian-owned hotel chain in the world.
  • Elder Kim fled from North Korea with Dr. Han.  Both of them arrived in Seoul penniless.  Elder Kim established an insurance company and gave as much as 70 percent of the Young Nak Church income in the early days.
  • Dr. Benjamin Moraes in Brazil began with every conceivable obstacle against him.  He earned four Ph.D.s, wrote the penal code of Brazil, and built the Copacabana Presbyterian Church, one of the most influential churches in the western hemisphere.
There is a flower in Siberia that blooms only in January, the severest month of that cold climate.  It is a star-shaped flower covered with glistening specks that look like diamonds.  On the coldest day of January this flower pushes back the snow and ice and bursts into full bloom.  It is called the “snow flower.”

The life of this flower is a beautiful example of the life of that individual whom the world, the flesh, and the Devil try to freeze out and snow under, but who, in the strength of God, pushes through and up and out, and blooms in the hardiest weather of this world’s cold treatment, starred and radiant, with a beauty given only to those who find life a struggle and turn it into a victory.
John Edmund Haggai

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Are The Lost Books of the Bible?

There are no “lost books” of the Bible, or books that were taken out of the Bible, or books missing from the Bible. Every book that God intended and inspired to be in the Bible is in the Bible. There are many legends and rumors of lost books, but there is no truth whatsoever to these stories. There are literally hundreds of religious books that were written in the same time period as the books of the Bible. Some of these books contain true accounts of things that actually occurred (1 Maccabees, for example). Some contain good spiritual teaching (the Wisdom of Solomon, for example). However, these books are not inspired by God. If we read any of these books, the Apocrypha as an example, we have to treat them as fallible historical books, not as the inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The gospel of Thomas, for example, was a forgery written in the 3rd or 4th century A.D., claiming to have been written by the apostle Thomas. It was not written by Thomas. The early church fathers almost universally rejected the gospel of Thomas as heretical. It contains many false and heretical things that Jesus supposedly said and did. None of it (or at best very little of it) is true. The epistle of Barnabas was not written by the biblical Barnabas, but by an imposter. The same can be said of the gospel of Philip, the apocalypse of Peter, etc.

There is one God. The Bible has one Creator. It is one book. It has one plan of grace, recorded from initiation, through execution, to consummation. From predestination to glorification, the Bible is the story of God redeeming His chosen people for the praise of His glory. As God’s redemptive purposes and plan unfold in Scripture, the recurring themes constantly emphasized are the character of God, the judgment for sin and disobedience, the blessing for faith and obedience, the Lord Savior and sacrifice for sin, and the coming kingdom and glory. It is God’s intention that we know and understand these five themes because our lives and eternal destinies depend upon them. It is therefore unthinkable that God would allow some of this vital information to be “lost” in any way. The Bible is complete, in order that we who read and understand it might also be “complete, and equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Old Donkey In A Dry Well

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quietened down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


August 02, 2004 The Times
Eureka! Thinking outside the bath ...
By Anjana Ahuja

You'd think anyone would spot a gorilla cavorting on a basketball court - but you'd be wrong. And this inability to see the obvious can prevent us from thinking more creatively.THE SCENE of my humiliation was a pub in Hackney. As I sipped wine and chatted to my brother-in-law, I failed to see the cars with blue flashing lights pull up outside. I became temporarily deaf to the ear-splitting sirens. I somehow missed the snake of police officers who stormed the pub to drag away, from the other side of the bar, a tribe of wedding guests who had greeted each other with flying fists and diving foreheads. Most disappointing of all, I failed to observe the sobbing bride, fleeing the pub in a dishevelled, tear-stained meringue.
To this day I remain stupefied by how I, reputedly possessed of professional observational skills, could miss a police raid unfolding in the same room (all credit to Harry for the riveting gossip, I suppose). But Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University and professional magician, isn’t surprised at all. We are all guilty of missing the obvious, of failing to see the bigger picture because we are focusing on narrower tasks in hand.

While my lapse was an observational one, Wiseman believes the real problem in business is that no one is brave enough to step back from their day-to-day responsibilities and let their minds roam free. If they did, he says, they might spot a “gorilla”, a killer idea that can transform company fortunes and even change history.

A gorilla, Wiseman explains in his book Did You Spot the Gorilla? ,is a why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-that-before insight, a flash of brilliance that seems obvious once unleashed. Examples include Ikea— the idea of funky, cheap selfassembly furniture — and Post-it Notes, which stickered their way into ubiquity after an enterprising employee realised that the weak adhesive he had unintentionally developed might have a use after all. Other recent gorillas include the Anywayup Cup, a non-spill beaker for toddlers, and easyJet, the no-frills airline that has utterly changed the way we think about air travel. Wiseman labels their inventors Eureka thinkers (the Greek mathematician Archimedes was supposed to have shrieked “Eureka!” — “I have found it” - in his bath, when he realised that the volume of an object could be gauged by the amount of water it displaced).

“Why didn’t someone think of Ikea 20 years before the man who did think of it?” asks Wiseman. “It’s so obvious. He saw that there were a lot of people who couldn’t spend a fortune on furniture but still wanted nice well-designed, stuff. Until then, you had to go somewhere such as MFI, which wasn’t exactly known for its style. It’s a great example of a gorilla. And now he’s one of the richest guys in the world.”

Wiseman appropriated the primate in an allusion to a study carried out in 1999 by Daniel Simons at Harvard University. Volunteers watched a 30-second film of people playing basketball. Three players wore white T-shirts, three wore black ones. Viewers were told to count the number of passes made by one team. Afterwards they were asked for the tally, and whether they had seen anything unusual. Astonishingly, only a very few put their hands up; these individuals had seen something that should have been blindingly obvious to everyone: halfway into the film, a man dressed as a gorilla walked on court and beat his chest at the camera. Everyone else was so fixated on trying to count the passes that they completely missed this surreal moment.

Wiseman, 38, calls it a “perfect demonstration of an unbelievable psychological blind spot”. He has repeated the experiment numerous times, with the same result. “I’ve shown the film on normal TVs and also on massive projector screens, and most people still don’t see the gorilla,” he says.
Interestingly, by tweaking the set-up, he can coax an entire audience into missing the gorilla. “If I introduce a competitive edge, such as pitting men against women, I can get the number of people who see the gorilla down to 5 per cent.” It shows that, under pressure, we are even more likely to miss what is under our noses.

Worryingly, when Wiseman tried the experiment on the country’s top scientists at the Royal Society, not one spotted the hairy interloper. They, and Wiseman, could hardly believe it: “It’s amazing, isn’t it? In some ways it’s actually worse if nobody spots the gorilla, because you get accused of switching films. But on the other hand, scientists are extremely good at focusing.” Afterwards, Wiseman says, one well-known scientist thanked him for opening his eyes to the gorillas that he and his students might be missing in the laboratory.

Becoming a Eureka thinker often entails shedding our overwhelming desire to conform. For example, given a square sandpit with buried treasure and a shovel, where would you start digging? For me, it’s the bottom right-hand corner. Bad move, says Wiseman. Nearly everyone chooses the middle or a corner, or somewhere along a diagonal. That’s fine if that’s where the loot is buried and you get there first. But if the loot is somewhere else, it is the soul brave enough to dig in the undisturbed patch that ends up the richer. Similarly, when people are asked to pick a number between 1 and 10, most choose 5 or 7 (yep, I fell for that one, too). Asked to choose one between 1 and 50 that contains two prime digits (eg, 17) most choose 35 and 37 (I have to admit to Wiseman that I chose 37).
“It’s amazing that we all tend to think alike,” muses Wiseman. “It could mean that we’re all missing something. In fact, groups of people are no better because they share responsibility and often see things the same way.” In particular, companies are often built on conformity, which squeezes out original thinkers. Businesspeople — and scientists — tend to be good at sitting exams, which requires adherence to the notion of right and wrong answers.

Businesses can haul themselves out of creative ruts by throwing different people into the mix. So advertisers planning ideas meetings should invite Janice from accounts and Derek, the security guard, for their fresh perspectives (provided Janice and Derek aren’t silenced with fear at the prospect). And don’t expect people to have sharp ideas at exactly 3.30pm, or whenever your meeting is scheduled.
“I recently gave a talk on creative thinking to a company, and it sent me an agenda,” says Wiseman. “It amused me somewhat. That’s not how creative thinking works. You’re unlikely to come up with killer solutions on schedule.”

That’s why he follows his own advice: if he gets stuck on something, he leaves it and comes back to it later. Sleeping on a problem is another good ruse — while dreaming, he says, disparate ideas come together in unexpected juxtapositions, and these weird links can generate novel ideas.

He is in great demand as a business speaker, mostly, he suspects, because his work legitimises the idea of taking risks. “It’s almost as if managers need permission to do this kind of stuff. It’s about saying it’s OK to take your time, not rush into solutions. It’s OK to ask people to do things that don’t seem particularly productive. Companies under pressure often go with the first solution they come up with, but who’s to say it’s the best?” It is not uncommon for innovation-based companies to allow employees to do their own thing for, say, 10 per cent of their time.

Wiseman suggests banning e-mail within offices as it has replaced the personal exchanges that can throw up unexpected leads. His tips for successful meetings include choosing four words at random and discussing them for a while, bringing personal experiences to bear (hint: have a life outside the office), coming up with more than one solution to a problem, and doing the opposite of what is done normally. He suggests, for example, that the next Times features meeting should involve everyone thinking up articles that will interest absolutely nobody. From such perverse deliberations, an absolute corker may pop out. Well, we can live in hope.

His book can be read in under an hour — it is lighthearted and full of quizzes to elicit a reader’s Eureka potential, along with tips for improvement. He wrote it as an antidote to the doorstoppers clogging up business bookshelves. “I fly to Edinburgh a lot, and wanted something I could read on a 55-minute flight. You get so many dull, 2in-thick books on creativity. Instead of putting people in the right frame of mind, they make you think of exams. I wanted to write something people would enjoy.”

At £6.99 a pop, it’s not a bad Eureka idea itself. In fact, Wiseman, who also wrote a bestseller on how to be luckier, is full of them. He’s thought up a fantastic wheeze for booklovers: since buying books for people is so difficult, and book tokens are such a cop-out, why not sell tomes containing the first chapters of 15 books with a token tucked away in the back? Bibliophiles are bound to want to buy more than one, he says, so the bookshop makes more money.

The point is that nobody got anywhere new by taking the road most travelled. A year ago he subjected volunteers to a stress test that involved packing them off to Oxford Street with a shopping list of items they had to procure, such as a certain brand of trainer. The person who came back with the most change from £40 was the winner: “The idea was that this would put people under stress. But one bloke took the £40, went to a casino and put it all on red. He got back £80, went to the first shop, bought what was required and came back. He had a completely different take on things. He’d be the guy I’d want working for me; I wouldn’t care if he lost £40 several times over if he pulled off a stunt like that once in a while.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Parable of the Lost Blogs

After a most wonderful trip to Bangkok with Grace, I came back to horrors. Turning on my laptop, I heard a 'pop' and the screen went dead. I must have blown a fuse or something. At the time of this writing, I have not found out what actually happened. With my wife's laptop, I eagerly went on-line and to the horror of all horrors, four of my most active blogs disappeared from the Internet:

Panic set in! I was desperate... spending hours in an attempt to seek help from every possible source of assistance. I went on to Blogger Buzz and other blogging help sites. The information was grim. I was only one of the many bloggers who experienced such cyber tragedies. Some said that the blogs were gone forever.

I really appreciate those friends who came on-line to give different advice. A special thanks to my young brother-in-the-Lord, Benjamin Lai, who worked especially hard to link me with many helpful sites.  For two days, my fingers traveled the cyber-world in search of my lost blogs. No trace of any of them. I tinkered continually until weariness overwhelmed my desperation and I gave up.

Thankfully, this morning, I woke up to angels singing - all the missing blogs were restored.

This little saga reminds me of the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-7). Yes, I did leave everything I was doing so as to recover the four lost blogs. Now I know that sinking feeling of the poor shepherd who lost one of his sheep. So, if the Lord is going to use a new parable for our generation, He might just use the Parable of the Lost Blogs.

Pastor Albert Kang 
13 July 2011 

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Tears of the Father

The father in the story of the prodigal son suffered much.  He saw his younger son leave, knowing the disappointments, rejections and abuses facing him.  He saw his older son become angry and bitter, and was unable to offer him affection and support.  

A large part of the father's life has been waiting.  He could not force his younger son to come home or his older son to let go of his resentments.  Only they themselves could take the initiative to return.

During these long years of waiting the father cried many tears and died many deaths.  He was emptied out by suffering.  But that emptiness had created a place of welcome for his sons when the time of their return came.  We are called to become like that father. 

Henri Nouwen

INTERNET SCAMS - Greed and Gullibility

A common storyline ...

There have been scams and scammers since the beginning of human times - and there always will be. With the advent of the internet, scammers have merely found a new platform from which to ply their trade. No doubt you’ve heard or read about people falling for a scam here and there, sometimes costing people thousands of dollars and a lot of heartache.

Scammers are clever, devious people who have no remorse nor compassion for their ‘victims’, and many are extremely good at what they do. It is up to us as individuals to be aware and alert in order to protect ourselves. The old adage about something sounding too good to be true ... is very true.
Some people are genuinely scammed ... yet others fall into their own trap of greed and gullibility.
In the promotional ads for a television program earlier in the week, the voice-over described how this ‘poor woman’ was scammed for nearly a million dollars. Watching the show later shed revelation on what really went on - and although I do genuinely feel sorry for people who are scammed, there are times when I’m sure the ‘scammee’ may have brought it on themselves through their own greed and gullibility.

So in a nutshell, the story went thus. 

The lady receives an email out of the blue from a man in some far-flung country. He tells her that he has seen her ‘profile’ and that he thinks she is ‘beautiful’ and would like to get to know her. He sends along a generic photo of a relatively handsome man. (Stolen from facebook and/or the like no doubt)

In quick time he is professing his undying love to the woman and she falls for it hook, line and sinker. (That’s the gullibility part – they’d never met, never spoken on the phone, never been intimate etc - but it is ‘true love’ within a week ... yeah right!)

The man offers her a plan to ‘get rich quick’ - because he loves her so much, of course. (This is where ‘greed’ sets in ...)

He explains to her that he has drilling rights in Africa and will be paid $1 per barrel once the oil is shipped overseas ... and there are 94 million barrels to ship - so that’s 94 million dollars.
He then tells her that he will take 60% and she will have 35% - but first, the woman needs to send him $250,000 to secure the rights to something-or-other. The woman sends the man her life savings and takes out a personal bank loan to cover the rest. She sends him the money. 

In a short time, the man emails and tells the woman that he needs another $200,000 for some sort of rubbish - and again she falls for it, this time selling her family home for far less than it’s worth, because the man has told her that they need the money urgently. (And of course, he loves her and can’t wait to be with her ...)

Then another email and another $200,000 is required. The woman sells her investment property (again for far less than it’s worth) and sends the money over.

This theme just went on and on with this woman sending over hundreds of thousands of dollars - and all the while I am wondering about the intelligence of this woman. Now come on ... really.
By the end of the program the woman was sobbing and crying that he had ‘taken’ everything and she’d ‘lost’ everything. But in reality – she GAVE him the money, prompted by her own gullibility and greed. He didn’t steal her ID, run up bills in her name, rape her bank accounts and take out loans and credit cards - No. She chose to sell her own home, take out the loans and send the money of her own accord. Yes, she was most likely coerced etc, but ultimately, it was she who signed the papers and sent off her money.

She goes on to tell the reporter that she ‘loved’ the man, of whom she never met or even knew at all. And what was she going to do now that she’d lost her home and all of her money, and still had the bank loan to pay off? Where would she and her children live? (Children! – the woman has children yet sells her/their home and sends the money to a bloke she doesn’t even know!) I feel sorry for the children as they are an innocent party in all this - but I CANNOT feel sorry for the woman. I understand that she may have been feeling lonely and vulnerable – but common sense is common sense.

The point of my rant is that we all need to take personal responsibility for our actions and be mindful of what goes on in our own lives. Use discernment and common sense and be mindful of your actions, always.