Pastor said something in church today that made me think. He was announcing and reporting on a wake service held for rather new member of the church and was commending the members of the church who turned up at the service.
He commented that the situation is so different between churches in smaller towns like Batu Pahat compared to city churches in Kuala Lumpur. Whenever, a member of a small town church passes away, the whole church comes to pay their respect and to comfort the family members. But for a city church, few would make the effort.
I never thought of it from that perspective before. I usually don't go unless I am close to the members of the family because if I am not known to them, I feel I won't be of much of a support.
But what the pastor said is true. We are all one body in the Lord and the local church is the body of the faith community in Christ. Therefore, when one suffers, all suffer and when one rejoices, all rejoice.
When my father-in-law passed away several years ago, members from several churches came. He was sick and was not able to attend church much. But when he passed on, members of my family church, members of the church I was attending as well as members of the church my late father-in-law did manage to attend a few times, all came to the wake service to offer us their company and comfort.
It meant a lot to me.
I am now going to rethink this and work towards turning up at wake services of members of my church even though I may not be close to them.
It does not matter that they do not know me. We are one body in the Lord, we suffer and be comforted as one.
I have read and noticed recently some common cognitively biases that people around me have made that I would like to find out more. This is so that I will be more aware about them and not be affected when I make decisions myself.
One of the cognitive biases that I have noticed over the week is what is called recency bias. This is a tendency to weigh the latest information more heavily than new data, without realizing it.
We tend to become so confident in what we think we know that decisions are hastily made with very limited data.
So in order for me to improve decision making in this matter in the following week, I will need to seek more data, facts and contextual information before a proposal can be given and decision made.
I was singing Christ is Enough by Hillsong Worship this morning when I suddenly noticed the first line of the song that goes, "Christ is my reward".
I used the word "suddenly" here because even though I have known this song and have been singing it for months now, I only just noticed it. It proves that my brain is usually so bombarded with so much information that I inadvertently filter most of it away.
I think I am more aware now because I am currently reading Visual Intelligence, Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life by Amy E. Herman, which I will do a book review when I finish reading it. For now I can say that the book is very good and if you would like an e-copy, now is the time to get it while it's still on sale at $2.99 in Amazon.
While reading the book, I learnt about really seeing and observing things, and while you can't actually "see" a song, I became more aware of the words used.
When I was singing Christ is Enough, I was visualizing the words as I go and suddenly, I realized that the first four words of the song "Christ is my reward" goes against what I believe as a Christian.
How can Jesus be my reward? For one, I don't even deserve anything from God if not for his grace. As such, I don't deserve any rewards like I've earned something. What I do get from God, is a gift by his grace.
And what more, "Christ is my reward" is objectifying Jesus, who is God himself, and that is not right.
Moreover, now that I am looking at the song more carefully, I find that the lyrics are like a mesh of words and pat phrases that do not really fit that well together.
It has a good tune but I will have to remove the song from my list of worship songs to sing. I also need to pay more attention to the words of the songs I like.
I have been conducting the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People programme at work for goodness knows how many times now that I most probably can do it with my eyes closed.
However, I soon decided that I have to be truthful when I share with the participants certain things like the Time Matrix.
It is a matrix between what is important and urgent.
Quadrant 1 represents things that are important and urgent and it is labeled as the quadrant of Necessity. Quardrant 2 is a quadrant of Effectiveness, Quadrant 3 Distraction and Quadrant 4 Wastage.
I have no problems talking about Q1, Q2 and Q3 but when I explained Q4 to the participants today and advising them to eliminate it completely, I had to admit to them that I find myself in that quadrant a lot of times these days, what with my current addition of Korean dramas.
I am telling myself that it is not healthy to spend all my free time on it. I am missing my time on Q2 stuff like thinking and writing, reading and praying, journaling and connecting.
I have to keep reminding myself to go slow with the TV programmes. With them all in iflix, they will never go away and will always be there to be watched, slowly, not all at one go.
The thing is I have no problem watching the American and U.K. series in a good moderate pace, enjoying and savouring the stand alone episodes of shows like The Closer and Criminal Minds.
It's the Korean dramas that is the culprit. All the usually 20-one-hour-episode dramas each make one story and I tend to watch several episodes if not all of them back to back.
I need to divert myself and make time instead for the more useful stuff.
I have not been "in the zone" for some time now and with the many meetings I have at work, I really miss the time when I basically spend the entire time absorbed in work and feeling focused and motivated.
In searching for what it means by being in the zone, I found out about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist recognised for his work on the concept of flow.
Here is his flow model in our mental states in terms of challenge and skill level.
This is new to me and I would love to get my hands on his books to read.
And I found this Transactional Analysis model quite useful in understanding and improving my communication with other people.
I still only know the basics of it but it proposes that each of us would choose one ego state out of three whenever we speak to others. The ego states are Parent, Adult and Child, with the Parent and Child ego states taking a positive or negative form.
The desirable state to be in for both parties in communication is the Adult one, where we speak in a matured state and communicate in the here and now. It is low in emotion and conscious of the needs of both parties to get things going with the least of friction.
But I find it challenging when I speak to a person with me using the Adult ego state, which I usually try to, but he speaks to me instead with a negative Parent ego state. In this situation, there is a crossed transaction and communication is not taking place.
So back to my question as to why some people do not have any kind words in their system, they must recognize the fact that they seem to always put themselves in the negative Parent ego state when they talk to others. They speak condescendingly and expect everyone to be in the positive or adaptive Child ego state, to hear and relent to their speech but not everyone would want to be in a Child state, much less a positive one.
Is it a preconditioned thing that they always go to their negative state? Being mean, inconsiderate, not with understanding or kindness?
Why can't everyone speak and listen maturely as an adult? That is the most efficient and effective way of communication. But alas, we humans are, most of all, self-centered.
Paul says it well, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph 4:31-32)
And so does Matthew: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matt 7:12)
I love time travel movies and TV series, never mind that it is hard to work out their logic and some simply do not make sense and worse, some have loads of gaps that they ignore and never address.
I don't mind because they are still very good stories and here are a few of my favourites, not in any order of preference.
About Time (2013)
The Lake House (2006)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Somewhere in Time (1980)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Kate & Leopold (2001)
Back to the Future (1985)
Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
Doctor Who (2005- )
Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)
I've only started on Korean dramas recently and I really like this one: The Queen and I (2012), except I must say that a lot of scenes here don't make sense especially the suicide one. Sorry for the spoiler but can one save himself while being hung? I doubt it.
My hubby is recommending me The Twelve Monkeys (2015- ) but looking at the picture here, I'm not sure.
It is my experience that when I pray for patience, my patience will surely be tested. Sometimes I catch myself still praying for patience, but it is at a time when I truly needed it, especially with difficult and toxic people.
So I found this prayer to be patience helpful.
Here I am facing a new day. I know that without yielding to your calmness and contentment, I will succumb to frustration and irritation.
I seek your help today.
Make me more aware of my emotions and my attitudes. Remind me that I have control over the attitudes that I choose to present to the world.
Remind me that I can learn to overcome every challenging situation today by putting on the shoes of peace and displaying an even temper.
Remind me to show kindness.
Give me more ability to receive your love and give it away to others today.*
Help me to work hard and do my best. But help me to care more about loving others than I care about getting tasks done.
Lord, I want to grow spiritually this day. I want to be more Christ-like tonight when I go to bed than when I got up this morning.
Today I will focus on developing the fruit of the spirit instead of pleasing myself.
Today I will thank you, Lord, for leading me toward love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Today I will praise you, Lord, and I will celebrate your love for me.
I have seriously thought about stopping my blogging several times now. And I thought about doing it over the past few days.
It's about security issues, about having nothing important to say, about the times when I struggle to find the time and the mood to write.
But I'm still on it.
I have stopped blogging in 2009, only doing it sporadically. It took me 5 years to get back into a daily blogging in 2014.
The reason I'm still sticking to it is because I know I will never get back to it if I quit. And I still think it is a good thing to blog, albeit about stuff that does not really matter to anyone but me.
It helps me think, it forces me to reflect my days and I will have a log of what mattered to me everyday over the years.
But I know I will still think about stopping as I go on. Maybe I should stop thinking so much. But that will even be a tougher thing to do.
Pastor Wong's sermon today was from John 21:15-25 on the restoration and reinstatement of repented fallen Christians.
He began by giving reference to the early Christians who recanted on their faith in the presence of severe persecution. This reminded me of what I read in William J. Bennett's Tried by Fire, the Story of Christian's First Thousand Years (which I am still reading).
Tried by Fire, the Story of Christianity's First Thousand Years
by William J. Bennett
I have read before about the great persecutions that happened in the harbinger days of the Early Church, and about Christians who suffered greatly physically, mentally and emotionally but persevered through, even martryed. It was only when I read this book that I found out that the Early Church had to go through the aftermath of those persecutions and what they should do with Christians who had recanted to save their lives from being massacred but returned hoping to be reinstated into the church.
For example Bennett wrote, "Such sustained violence had major repercussions for the church...the church divided on the question of what should happen to those Christians who had denied the faith or sacrificed to the emperor under threat of death. Many others had simply fled to safer places, where the persecutory decrees were not as widely enforced. Some Christians accused those held in prison of being show-offs. The church in Alexandria underwent a schism on the issue of whether they should readmit the lapsed into the church."
Coming back to today, what do churches do with fallen but repented Christians especially leaders and pastors? Most churches do have a restoration process in place but what about reinstatement?
Pastor Wong takes to a reinstatement of such pastors and leaders as how Jesus had restored and reinstated Peter at the Galilean beach. In the calling again of Peter here, he was reinstated to his pastoral duty and care of the flock, the main duty of a pastor in feeding, caring and discipline.
This is not easy. A church can split in the reinstatement or abrogation of a fallen pastor's ministry, both ways.
What I say is that we must be grateful of God's grace most of all. We are so unworthy of him but he still loves us so much to receive us in whatever state we are in as long as we come back to him acknowledging our brokenness.
Who are we to judge when God is the ultimate judge but who is also love?
We were at a get together dinner with both sides of my family, my parents and my mother-in-law, my brother and sisters-in-law, when we were discussing about helping my mother-in-law with her banking facilities.
We talked about how we can help her as all banks are soon moving fully into digital banking.
It was then when I thought that banks should have a specialized paid and premium service provided to elderly folks who have problems with the digital world. They really have no concept of the online world let alone knowing how to get around apps and email accounts and online banking.
I have been in the service of several digitally challenged older folks and I spend quite a lot of time with them helping them figure it out and more often than not, I am showing them the same things over and over and over again.
This is not a trivial matter. They will have a big problem when the banks goes fully digital. And moreover, they are less able to avert themselves from scams, phishing and malware.
So I think it is necessary for banks to still offer some sort of specialized service for them, albeit at a price because they will pay, so that they can still use the banks like how they used to in order to manage their funds.
The Like Switch, An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Influencing, Attracting and Winning People Over
by Jack Schafer
My hubby told me quite awhile ago about this podcast in BFM that caught my interest. It is an interview with an ex-FBI agent on how to switch on your "like" switch, to win people over. He wrote a book on it and I saved it in my Amazon wishlist back in July when the interview was broadcasted.
I was preparing for the final module in the development programme I am delivering at work (and why is the last of things the toughest?) and I was reminded of this book yesterday afternoon and before I left office, I purchased it without much delay anymore.
It is a good book with a lot of things to learn, and a lot of things that I need to practice on to gain the skills.
I found myself being more attentive to what I do and say when I'm with people. I was at a synergy meeting and I realized I was doing several things mentioned in the book!
I also became more sensitive to how other people behave and how they say what they say. For example, my staff received a text message from a sales manager of a vendor we were using, and I was able to evaluate it as unacceptable. We have an arrangement to purchase some training materials from Singapore and we wanted to check with this Malaysian counterpart if we can now explore buying it from them instead. The sales manager's reply to us was, "So now you don't have to purchase it from Singapore anymore?", which I found a little condescending. He should have used an empathic statement like, "Oh, are you having some issues with the purchase from Singapore? If so, how can I help you?"
There are more to it in the book and it will definitely become a reference for me as I go back again and again to learn all the different ways and tactics in human communication, building of rapport and relationships and gaining influence.
I admit I am not an "early" person. I am not very good at time management and I always have to put in an effort to be on time. It is because I respect other people's time and it would be unfair and a disadvantage to them if I made them wait.
But sometimes, I end up waiting and it irks me a lot. If I not being an "early" person make it a point to be on time so that I don't make others wait, why do I end up waiting instead?
The reasons the article gave are these:
1. It's inefficient to be early
2. They hate the uneasiness to be early
3. There is an opportunity cost associated with getting somewhere early
4. Sometimes you don't want to be early to be polite
Well, the reasons here are why some people don't like to be early, and I totally agree. I am not an "early" person, but at least be on time is what I say.
I like the actress and started watching this series and I got "stuck" to it right from the first episode. The actor Yoon Shi-yoon is simply too adorable for words - like a cute but handsome puppy jumping and prancing about wherever he goes. I only found the other guy so sappy that all I wanted to do is to skipped all his scenes. And I find that there is so much shouting going on too that I swiped to avoid those scenes. The shouting distressed me.
Boys Over Flowers
I still haven't figured what it is with boys and flowers, but I tried watching this one being the most popular Korean series in iflix. Again, there is a lot of loud dialogue and shouting. What is it with Korean dramas? I have watched 4 episodes but I am not sure if I will stick on with this one. Too much drama for me. And what is it with these rich boys literally dragging girls behind them when they take the girls by the hand.
My friend started recommending me more Korean dramas today when I told her how I got sucked into it and she mentioned a few I should watch. I don't think she really recommended this one per se, but what attracted me to it was her comment that this one is a crazy one, and I thought if it can be as crazy as Flower Boys Next Door, then it will be fun to watch. I have watched 2 episodes so far and it seems promising. But again, there is so much loud dialogue and shouting, as well as a rich kid dragging a poor girl behind him when he takes her hand. I hope that will lessen as I continue watching it but I have a feeling it wouldn't.
Today's sermon is from John 21:1-12. Rev Wong Fong Yang gave a good exposition of the passage and I learnt a lot.
This was the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection and I see now that the context of his appearances were pregnant with meaning.
The first appearance was when the disciples were so afraid of being arrested that they gathered behind locked doors. Jesus appeared before them to help them overcome their fears.
The second appearance was when Thomas was around and he showed them that he had indeed been resurrected, he is alive.
His third appearance was by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Pastor Wong cross referenced it to Luke 5:1-11, where Jesus first called them to be fishers of men. In both events, they were fishing the whole night and there were no fishes, not a single catch. And in both cases, Jesus asked them to lower their nets and they caught a whole lot of them.
This looks like an intentional reaffirmation of the call of the disciples to be fishers of men of the resurrected Christ. They are not to be afraid, but believe in the resurrected Jesus and be fishers of men to spread the good news of eternal life.
And there was so much fish and large ones too. Jesus is the resourceful one and he will provide for his own work to be accomplished. We do not have anything, but he he everything.
His call remained unchanged and we are still called to evangelize and bring people to the kingdom of God.
I always use my big ol' Tumi bag when I go out. I have everything in that bag and it is much more convenient to just grab and go.
And I know that I always forget something when I take a different bag but I thought I'd take a smaller bag today.
I was right. Using a different bag does not work for me, at all.
I drove around town the entire morning without my identity card and driving license because I took them out of my wallet several days ago and left them in the big bag. I found out when I was asked for identification when I needed to get into the housing area to pick up my mother-in-law for breakfast. I had to give the guard a sorry and pathetic look to get through.
I got back home in the afternoon and retrieved the cards and slot them back into my wallet.
I then went out at 2 pm for choir practice and after that dinner with Ee-Tan, again grabbing the small bag not realizing that when I placed the cards back into my wallet, I returned my wallet back into the big bag.
Now I don't even have money or any of my credit cards with me. But I still managed to spend money!
While waiting for Ee-Tan, I was in H&M and found some nice blouses I wanted to buy. And as you would have guessed it, I rummaged through my bag and realised I don't have my wallet with me. It's in my default bag!
In the end, I still got around the entire day without my identity card or driving license and RM300 poorer courtesy of my good friend Ee-Tan who came to my rescue and lent me some money.
But it was a good day, catching up with my mother-in-law and my good friend.
I know I am a late comer when it comes to the Downton Abbey TV drama series that lasted from 2010 to 2015.
I have tried watching it before and I remember the first few scenes quite well about the death of the heirs in the sinking of the Titanic, and an introduction to the parallel lives of the family and their whole horde of maids, butler, valet and footmen.
I am now midway through its second season in iFlix and I am seriously hooked.
I do not have any favourite characters at the moment, but I have one character I love to hate, Sarah O'Brien, brilliantly portrayed by Siobhan Finneran.
I find that the characters in Downton Abbey are all very, very interesting, very well played and well developed. Everyone of them tells a story.
And I find O'Brien's character very interesting indeed. You would call her a baddie but there are so many layers that you can see in her. She is loyal but yet selfish, clever but conniving, hardworking but calculating. And so far she keeps getting away with all her ill-doing.
I think she will be around for three seasons but she has already caused so much trouble, and not for herself but for others. It's interesting that she does feel guilty about what she does to protect herself but she does not seem to learn from it.
I suppose people who are self-centered, those who do not not have a single cell of benevolence in their hearts will not see that they need to do anything good to others but to do whatever it takes to benefit and protect themselves.
But it's fortunate that such people will not be able to continue like that for too long.