Pastor Marvin's sermon this morning was on 1 Thess 5:19-21, entitled Don't Resist the Spirit.
He gave a revision of his previous sermons in the Holy Spirit series on what the Holy Spirit's work is, being one who: 1. Is our advocate 2. Convicts and converts sinners 3. Inspires and illuminates Scripture 4. Produces fruitful lives 5. Gives gifts to build up the Church
He then lays out how the Spirit can be quenched by us in line with canceling what the Spirit does as listed above. We quench Him by: 1. Not trusting the Gospel 2. Relying on ourselves to convert sinners 3. Neglecting the bible 4. Resisting His leading 5. Not using the gifts we are given for the local church
But one thing he said about not trusting the Gospel (#1) which struck me was this:
If we are unforgiving towards others, we are holding the person ourselves as accountable for what he has done wrong to us. It is an unwillingness to trust the Gospel. It is our wanting to hold him accountable and us wanting to punish him in our unforgiveness. But ultimately, we are holding on to that Jesus's death on the cross is still not enough to satisfy us!
Wow...that is really serious, I thought. I admit I do have in me a degree of an unforgiving spirit. And if I hold on to the saving grace of Christ on the cross, which I do, I must forgive and move on.
But I have one question, what if that person do not even know that he had wronged me?
What do I do?
Part of my anger is that he does not even know it. The thing is however, I am unwilling to talk to him about it because it has never worked before and I have stopped talking to him about it. And maybe that is the problem?
If I were to see it from God's perspective, a sinner who is told that he has sinned against God who confesses before God will be forgiven and will be saved. But on the converse, if he rejects that he has sinned against God, he will not be forgiven and not be saved.
So, does that mean that on our level, it is the same way? So if I were to speak to this person, and he refuses to acknowledge that he had wronged me and thus, I can't forgive him because he does not see that he is wrong and as such do not need to be forgiven? And worse than that, the relationship goes even more sour. How then what Pastor Marvin said that I am still holding him accountable and that Jesus's death is not sufficient for me?
Or am I to still forgive him for what he has done, and continue as if nothing happened, only to have him repeat it and the cycle goes on?
For what it's worth, I am doing exactly that. Gritting my teeth and letting it be. I forgive, and I forgive and I forgive.
With that, it is exactly what my relationship is like with God. He has forgiven me and yet I keep sinning against Him and He forgives, and He forgives and He forgives.
I have never blogged about cosmetics before, ever. But this time I would. So if you'd rather not hear me ramble about such an inconsequential subject, you had better stop here.
I'm blogging about this because last week on Wednesday, my boss joked about her working me so hard that my eye makeup has all gotten smudged and running down from my lids. How awful must I have looked!
But the problem is I look like that by the end of everyday.
I've always had problems finding a good eyeliner that stays and not smudge by the afternoon. So while I was in the mall today, I thought I'd better do something about it by now and go find something that would work better.
And I thought I had better play smarter this time and do some googling, and not trust any sales personnel pushing their products. I found this article I thought might be useful: 10 Best Long-Wear Eyeliners.
With that, I "strategised my game plan": I will first visit SaSa, then Sephora and then when all fails, I'll settle for Bobbi Brown and end up spending a bomb there.
I strike out in SaSa. They did not have any of the 10 liners in the list.
Next stop, Sephora.
They did carry two of the recommended brands but not any of the recommended products. Then, they recommended me to Benefit's new product, Benefit They’re Real! Push-Up Liner.
It is not in the list but I tried it on and I do like it and I bought one. So there, a sales personnel pushing their product and I fell into it, again.
I will find out this Monday if this eyeliner ends up running down my face.
Post-script (13/07/14): I have used it for little more than a week now and I must say I am very pleased with it. I don't look like a panda in the evening anymore. The only drawback of the product is that it dries out at the tip after a couple of days of non-usage which means you need to run it clean after every use, which I find is rather wasteful, but there is no other way around it.
Our office is having our second World Cup themed event and this time I participated.
I went to shop for a tee-shirt (I don't like to wear jerseys) and the selection at the store was limited and so I thought I'd just picked from what was available and settled for France.
That was two weeks ago, and I am thankful France has qualified, or I'll be jeered at for donning a losing team's attire!...albeit just for fun.
I am not a football fan, never was and never will, I suppose. But the camaraderie was great and it was fun. And I had a good time (though I spent most of the evening finishing off some work before settling for the weekend).
Again, Wikipedia has collated some very good pointers of engagement drivers from various good sources. Amongst them are:
• employee perception of job importance • employee clarity of job expectations • career advancement or improvement opportunities • regular feedback and dialogue with superiors • quality of working relationships with peers, superiors and subordinates • perception of the ethos and values of the organisation • effective internal employee communication • reward to engage
One may be tempted to create the working environment of offices like Google and Zappos, but it takes more than superficially creating the feel and the environment. It takes a lot of heart and soul of the organisation to be in the right place and make meaningful actions and effort to engage employees.
The feel and fun is nice, but for us to be engaged, we need to see something more substantial.
As I blogged a week ago, this month is certainly a month of personality theories.
I had two meetings today, both on that very subject.
The one in the morning was quite interesting as we were evaluating if it will be suitable for us to use the DISC as a hiring tool.
I have taken the DISC assessment over the weekend and we were given a run through of our results as an introduction and a review of the tool. I find it very interesting as it was able to describe my personality quite well. It is more complete compared to the previous times I have taken it, being a comparison between two graphs that were generated.
In the afternoon, I had a meeting with someone on the Gallup Strengths in my plan to pilot run it in my workplace.
Definitely a personality month. More to come?
I'm sure of it! And I'm so enjoying myself at work right now. Finally.
This week will be the most packed week I have in a long, long time. It will be back to back meetings the whole way through. And I am not sure why for whatever reasons, I am feeling so sleepy and tired today and it is only Monday, not Friday.
I didn't know that it would affect me this much. I had felt very sorry about it when I heard about it yesterday, but it had stayed with me as I kept thinking about it.
I got to know about a person who got herself so involved in a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that she has literally sold herself to it; body, heart and soul. In the two years that she was in it, she has lost so much and gained almost nothing, and yet she has not the eyes to behold it. She has lost all her money, but more importantly she has lost her health and her relationships, and yet she is still clinging on to it with dear life.
I am ashamed to say it, and I still prefer not to mention this portion of my life albeit a short one, when I was sold into the empty promises of MLM. Thankfully, I only lost some money - not a lot but not little. But I felt that what I lost most was my pride. How could I be so blind and stupid, as to fall into such schemes?
I cannot remember how long I was sucked into it: six months perhaps? This person has been in it for more than two years, and in the efforts of her loved ones in trying to pull her out of the literal sinkhole, nothing has worked.
Again, why would one fall into such schemes? I think I know the answer.
And why would one still cling onto it when it is not working and not see that it is ruining their lives?
Pride. And greed.
And how can we reach out to give them a better perspective to what they have gotten themselves into?
I don't know. Could it be a psychological issue? Would a psychotherapist help? The trick though would be to get them to see one.
During our group prayer in CG today, it was brought to our attention of a lady, one of our member's colleague, who had suffered two miscarriages, who has now just conceived. She has not passed her first trimester, and she is in a heightened state of worry and stress on the condition of her pregnancy.
I learnt that doctors do not actually proceed to check on the possible causes of recurrent miscarriages until the third miscarriage. I do not know why but apparently there is a very good medical reason.
It has caused the lady a lot of distress because she may not have obtained enough care and attention or any in-depth explanation to her situation.
Our prayers go out to her and we pray and hope that she will carry this baby to full term, with the delivery of a healthy, bouncy baby. I pray that with all my heart, in the name of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
Ever since I attended the week long training on coaching several weeks ago, as well as reading the autobiography on Andre Agassi, I have an interest to find out more about sport coaches. I am intrigued about what they do and how they do it, to make successful sportsmen.
So I went hunting for any good book on sports coaches and found this one:
The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
I was looking at a few titles but only this one was available for purchase in Kobo. I checked the reviews in Amazon -- it is one of the rare ones with a good number of reviews where almost all of them are at 4 and 5 out of 5. Only one review was a 1, but it is an unqualified review, about the price of the Kindle copy rather than about the book itself.
So I bought a copy and began reading it. I must say it looks very promising and I am certainly looking forward to spending time with it. And I shall reserve my comments, albeit initial ones, to a book review after I complete it.
Intellection is one of the 34 strengths in the Gallup StrengthsFinder and it is my Number Two strength.
With this strength, I like to think. I like mental activity. And I need time to think and then to write, which is why blogging works for me and Twitter don't; neither does Facebook.
However, in keeping a daily blog, I need time to think and when I have a busy day like today, I don't have much to write about.
It is hard to find time to think recently. Coming back to an operational HR function, I find that my time is filled with tasks after tasks to fulfil, thus less time to think. But with the intellection strength as my Number Two, it is a need to find time to think and I must always remind myself of that need.
The only time that can happen is late into the night, though at times I am so tired I will simply doze off before I can think a thought.
The other interesting thing about this intellection is that this mental activity can lack focus - it does not dictate what to think about; it is simply the fact that I like to think.
This then brings me to the times when I sit myself down and start to think of what to blog about, I think back to the hours before to pick up one significant event or idea or anything at all. But if that day consists of routine work, I'll have absolutely nothing.
How about this, I have thought and wrote about having nothing to think and write about.
I had a very interesting conversation with a trainer called Bart, introduced by someone I know, who told me that I will enjoy the company and the discussion. He was right.
We spent a whole one and a half hours talking about stuff including something that interest but eludes me - transactional analysis.
I was introduced to both Eric Berne's and Thomas A. Harris's books back in 2009, but I never got to finish reading any of them because I found them quite tough to read -- they could not hold my attention long enough. I keep getting lost in them.
According to Bart, I shouldn't worry about the books. He gave me a summary of what Eric Berne's Games People Play is about, with a simple explanation of the egos played by people in transactional analysis -- parent, adult and child -- and the main three characters in games people play -- prosecutor, rescuer and victim. It is simple enough to understand but I certainly look forward to hearing and knowing more.
Starting with Gallup StrengthsFinder, moving into checking up on manipulators and now Transactional Analysis, it is certainly the Month of Personality Theories for me.
The sermon this morning was about urban transformation through urban mission but the verse that put me in much thought was not about mission. It has to do with what has been eating me over the past week.
It is Romans 12:21, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (ESV)
It is a tough thing to do but it is nevertheless a command. I will dwell on it this week so that I will not be overcome by evil but to indeed overcome evil with good, even if the evil is still an onslaught.
I was chatting away with a friend and we realised that we are all manipulators in our own ways. I now need to be more mindful to recognise it.
I found this list of 10 types of manipulators. Next, I would like to figure out how to manage them, not so much to manipulate them myself, but at least to know where they are coming from and not fall into possible traps.
1. The Constant Victim - This kind of individual will always finds a way to end up as a victim in their relationships.
2. One-Upmanship Expert – This person uses put downs, snide remarks and criticisms, to show that they’re superior, and know much more than you.
3. Powerful Dependents – They hide behind the mask of being weak and powerless – then use their helplessness to dominate relationships. That is, they send the subtle message “you must not let me down.”
4. Triangulators – This person tries to get other people on their side. They’re quick to put you down, and to say some nasty things. They separate good friends or drive a wedge in families.
5. The Blasters – They blast you with their anger or they blow up suddenly. That stops you asking questions - in case there’s a showdown.
6. The Projector – This person thinks they’re perfect and others have the flaws. They take no ownership – because they’re never, ever wrong.
7. The Deliberate Mis-Interpreter – They seem like a nice person – but they twist and use your words. They spread misinformation and misinterpret you. Thus, they deliberately present you in a false, negative way.
8. The Flirt – This person uses flirting to get their way in life. They want to be admired and to have an audience. However, your feelings and your needs are of no concern to them.
9. The Iron Fist – They use intimidation and throw their weight around, to use you for their ends, and to get their way in life.
10. The Multiple Offender – This person uses several of the techniques we’ve described – and they’ll often switch between them if it suits their purposes.
What do you do if you have problems that deeply affect you that you can't solve?
I have been thinking and thinking and thinking about this problem of mine to no end, and there is still not a solution in sight. The only solution is to just surrender it to God. There is nothing else I can do.
None of the roads I see are worth going on, and yet it feels frustrated being where I am. It does seem like a narrow road that I am on -- hard, tight and tough -- not the wide and broad roads of shortcuts, compromise and escape.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
It is interesting that Jesus used the word "gate" and not "road". I feel the difference in nuance here is quite significant. The gates represent the "crossroads" in life, the places where we make a decision to pass through or not, and it is the choosing of which gates to pass through, the wide that leads to destruction or the narrow that leads to life.
The wide gate will be enticing and it will look like the easy way out. It will allow all your baggages and encumbrances and burdens. You can bring it all in. The gate will be wide enough for you to get through, with much, much more space to spare. However, you will so be burdened by the heaviness and sheer weight of it all that you may not go far, if at all. You may even just give up and camp at the wide gate!
The narrow gate however will only fit you, just you. You will need to drop, discard and peel away all the things that you hold on to that has no place in the narrow way. You will have to go with nothing. It is a hard way, the verse is very clear about that. You will feel vulnerable and exposed. And your only dependent and source of security are not the things that you left behind at the gate, not even yourself, but the Overseer of the narrow way, Jesus himself. He will provide the way. He will be your strength. He is your only hope.
Do you make first impressions of the people you meet for the first time and make your judgment based on what you "see"?
I am not sure if I get it right but apparently, it only takes one-tenth of a second to judge someone and make a first impression. That is quick - as such, how accurate can our first impressions be?
From a speedy check in Wikipedia, when the person present themselves genuinely, our first impressions are pretty accurate. Problems arise when a person feigns emotions or lies. I think that is quite an obvious fact but it is a good reminder.
I attended to an interview today and will be having many more in the next few weeks to fill a position in my department that has become vacant. I am not saying that the person was not genuine but one has to be very careful during interviews. Some are genuine but some put on a facade and it takes some skill to differentiate between the two.
How can one get better at it? I would love to know.
Microexpressions? I was quite interested in this topic a couple of years ago, but did not spend time in pursuing it much. Maybe I should. But it does take a lot of time and practice. Well, nothing is instant, except maybe a packet of 2-minute noodles.
I don't believe in NLP. Body language maybe - with microexpressions as an extension to it. OK, I will need to find some time to dig out the books I got on microexpressions and read them.
This new working place of mine love to have dressing themes just for the fun of it. We are having a division tea-time this Thursday and the theme is Back to School. One of the activities we will be having is to bring our old school photos and see if anyone recognizes you.
I no longer have any of my old photos. But there's the good ol' Facebook and friends who are archivists. The photo above was posted some years ago in Facebook, which sparked a lot of conversation and "friending" of old friends in Facebook.
I requested for a better quality print of the photo from my friend and submitted it this afternoon for the event this Thursday. (It is still not a clear copy - quality of photos back then aren't that great you know.)
I'm sure no one will ever be able to guess where I am in that photo!
Now that I am back home, I have been napping and napping and napping for two days straight. I am not a napper, and I could not believe that I am been napping so much. This goes to show how intense and accelerated the training was in the past 5 days.
Even after the several nappings, I am still going to bed and sleeping normal hours and wake up at 7 am and not any earlier.
It really proves to show that the weekends are needed for us to recharge, whether to pay our sleep debt or to spend time with loved ones we tend to be neglecting over the week.
Someone said something not very nice and I reacted, not badly, I just reacted. And that person got angry because I reacted to his negative statement. And I had to apologise for it. What do you make of it?
I am angry, albeit a silent fuming one, because he got angry at my reaction to his negative statement, and I had to apologise?
Today is the final day of a week long training and it has been a long dense week of data and learning and yet it feels so short.
I am always aware of getting high in retreats and in this case, training events that I am on the lookout of any withdrawal symptoms.
My mind is in full whirr in comparing Gallup strengths positive psychology outlook with prosperity theology. I wasn't too comfortable with the usage of the "name it, claim it and aim it" phrase in the training over the week as a way to own the strengths and I realised I have not actively thought of, say or use the phrase in the any of the group activities that we have had.
The "name it and claim it" phrases is of course used different in the prosperity theology movement. According to this write-up by Tim Stewart, "the term originated as broadcast radio slang in the 1950s. But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that people began to apply this catchy catchphrase to the increasingly popular prosperity gospel movement...the term initially seems to have had a neutral connotation, and even something of a tongue-in-cheek playful connotation—after all, the term originally meant a radio game show. But over time, as vocal criticism of the prosperity gospel has mounted, the term name it and claim it has taken on irreparably derogatory connotations, and the term is mostly used by folks who are critical or dismissive of prosperity gospel teachings."
While it is a suitable phrase to be used in the way and methodology of realising the Gallup strengths in individuals, I wonder how it originated for them. And it is hard not to admit that their methodology and approach by way of positive psychology is in a way quite similar to prosperity gospel, with a minimization of sin and the disregard for the fallen state of humanity.
After all, we are all no good in our innermost being: “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” (Romans 3:10-12, NLT)
Of course I would not be surprised if this ignites an anger or repudiation from some people. It goes against their very thought and belief. They believe in the intrinsic good of humankind. But just look at history, and you will see how far from good humanity is.
Only Jesus is the perfect man that gave us His life, so that only when we acknowledge our brokenness and fallen state and embrace His perfection, will we be perfect alas.
Firstly, the Gallup strengths are generally grouped into four themes: Relationship Building, Strategic Thinking, Execution and Influencing. I have my dominant strengths in my first 15 and I only have one in the Influencing category. But it is a pretty strong one. It's my #7 Maximizer. People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to
stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb. I found out that this strength explains a lot of things about me that I was trying to figure out, both the positive and negative sides of it. I tend to want to get the best out of the limited resources I have. I am a perfectionist, albeit in different ways than normal, and interestingly, I was told that Maximizers can sometimes be snobs on the things that they do well or whatever they pride upon. Moreover, I have extremely high expectations of myself and my peers. I blogged about pride two weeks ago. This is definitely something I need to further think about.
Secondly, I realized that if I had to name one strength I really want to have, it will be Positivity. People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do. I have it as my #30. I will never have it and so I asked if I can make use of any of my dominant strengths to achieve a certain form of it. It was suggested to me that I use Empathy and Relator. I will see if it will work somehow.
I have completed all my catching up sessions yesterday, and it is in good time for me to have an early night to retire, my top need at the moment.
By the end of the training session today, I realized three days is the maximum number of days I can survive in training. I was so exhausted I call it my mid-training depression state. I suddenly felt I have had enough. I felt what the Cantonese kungfu movie calls "jau for yub mor" (give me a few days to double check with my Cantonese friends what this exactly or literally means).
As such, I could not remember much of what happened in the morning, but what stayed with me was the 45-min coaching session we had in pairs. I was paired with Ives-Pascal, and being a professional coach himself, I got myself a great deal being paired with him. I got both sides of the deal: (1) I got properly coached and (2) I got good feedback on my own coaching skills, which was found wanting. I gained so much from the session that when I was asked by others how our sessions went, I didn't know where to start. I can't even articulate it now. I still need time to chew and mull and think about it. And that I will do and most probably there will be a part two to this day's blog post.
On Catching Up #4 today, I had a great time with Chee Leng. We cannot remember the exact year we met, but I think it was probably in the year 2006, when she was my client when I was in KPMG. It has been 8 to 9 years since we've met. Wow...what's amazing about Chee Leng is that to her it seems like we have only met yesterday. It is her strength in her ability to relate even though we've have got almost a decade between since we last met, and what more, we have not really been talking much in between. And what's amazing was that we spent the last 4 hours like we were old friends and comrades.
I had so much fun talking to her about what I was learning in the Gallup training and hearing her tell her stories. She is quite convinced about the strengths I seem to see in her. She has decided to take the top-5 strengths assessment, and I have agreed to give her some coaching, pro-bono, both as to benefit her and as a practice for me. Win-win!
It is Day 2, and by the time it was 5 pm, I was extremely exhausted. Talk about information overload. Nevertheless, I am still having a great time learning and absorbing all the data.
What intrigued me today was the actual getting into the interplay of the different strengths, in that my top five strengths do not exist individually on their own as five distinctive strengths but as one collective group of strengths. I have already realized this because I sensed that some of the definitions given do not really resonate with me perfectly because I use them in relation to my other dominant strengths, and thus they have different nuances in comparison.
I look forward to studying for myself the inter-relations between each of the 34 strengths, and I bet it will take me a long time to do so.
I also came to discover that one of my fellow participants has the exact same five strengths that I have, albeit in different sequence except the first and last of the five. I was told that it is one in more than 280,000 for that to happen. By the way, for two people to have the exact same strengths in the same sequence, it is one in 33 million! It is also quite freaky that we have several other things in common. We are both in HR, we both have taken a Masters degree in Christian theology, and we are both Cantonese by dialect and ethnicity. We didn't have time to discover more, and it will be interesting if we can compare ourselves further.
And for my Catching Up #3, I met up with my childhood friends, Rose and Allison, both sisters, and Sasha, Allison's 8-year old daughter. I have not seen them in 8 or more years and it was indeed a wonderful time of catching up and updating ourselves with our own happenings, family and close friends.
I remember not quite agreeing with my results but I had my doubts all quelled today. I began to understand what my five strengths in Connectedness, Intellection, Input, Learner and Empathy are, and more importantly, how they all inter-connect and how they can play out in support of each other to fully realize my being and how I can play it out powerfully to bring me success in what I do, which in itself is amazing, because I rarely talk about my success. I still don't, but I allow it myself this one time.
I also begin to understand why the themes I thought were my strengths are not really mine to have because I now understand better the definition and nuance of each. For example, I thought I should have Harmony, which is way down in my sequence. I now agree when I understand that Harmony is a talent that one use to be a peacemaker. A person with this strength may actively pursue conflict to dispel it. I on the other hand, would rather run away from it if I can!
I am now more convinced of the power of this tool in its ability to unleash to some degree a self awareness that I may not have discovered about myself. You will be able to find out what you are and on top of it, be comfortable with what you are not.
I am certainly looking forward for more learning in the next few days.
On Catching Up #2, I met up with Chia Lee for dinner in The Botanical Gardens. I met her exactly two years ago when I was working in a project in Hanoi. I was attending a Sunday service in a church when she approached me and we had coffee and lunch together. We had a great conversation today as I discovered her deep involvement with people with mental health needs. I am so amazed with her advocacy for a more wholesome life for them and her propensity to give and love in such a holistic and deep manner. I truly thank God for her and I pray for God to continually use her and reveal to her His plan in the gospel and love for the people in the world. I also remember the two person that she is actively engaged with at the moment in providing care and assistance. The Lord is good and His grace is so amazing and so great that He will be with those who seek Him.
I will be flying to Singapore this evening and I found myself desiring to maximise my time at home with my family before I go off for a week and as such, I booked an evening flight. But I also wanted to maximise the time I am in Singapore to catch up with friends I have not met in years. With that, I made arrangements to meet each one of them every night I am in Singapore, except for the last.
But what I found was this: in taking a later flight, and spending time catching up with a friend on arrival, I was only able to check into the hotel at 12:30am and finally settle into my room and sleep at 2am. I will surely have problems keeping awake tomorrow in the training session I signed up for. So maybe it will be a better idea to give it more time and fly in much, much earlier.
The other lesson I learnt was not to be so adventurous in taking the MRT from the airport to the hotel. I got lost and what more, at 12:00am in the morning. I nearly panicked. Thankfully, the second person I asked for directions actually knew where my hotel was and directed me to the opposite direction that I had intended to pursue! I thank God for him, this nice young man, for his help and knowledge. Next time, Pearlie, take a taxi!
On the front of catching up on friends, this evening was Catching Up #1, and I caught up with Sharon, my ex-colleague back when we were in KPMG, whom I have became very close to at that time because we were in the same projects, we were in the same boat of learning consultancy as a new skill and we were in the same boat in surviving the challenges and problems we faced. It was a great catching up and bringing it all up to date with each other in how we have been growing and maturing since the last we parted. I pray for Sharon that in her life now as a stay-at-home mom, she will find deep fulfillment in the nurturing of her three children as well as her home and herself as a person. May God be with her and she with Him.