Thursday, 31 January 2013

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Fruit of “Charity”

“Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;” Romans 14:16

Have you ever felt the need to tell some people to keep their hard-earned money instead of giving it to charities. There are so many charities in today’s western world that I am tempted to believe the world is now a kind and loving place where most people are looking out for your well-being.
Charities are big business that makes people feel happy they are not like other people. Their main business is making money and distributing it to places where it won’t benefit anyone but the man at the helm.
The tree of charity offerings sometimes bears the fruit of arrogance. For example, some people believe they are better than the residents of a region because they give to a charity that distribute used items there.
Compassion takes more than feeling sorry for someone. Compassion breeds humility in the giver, which in turn cultivates respect for the receiver. Don’t give to charities to feel good that you are doing good. That is not compassion.

When Helping Hurts PB: Corbett & Fikkert: Books

ISBN: 0802457061
ISBN-13: 9780802457066

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Saturday, 26 January 2013

An Underrated Classic – The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

Just finished listening to the audiobook of The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien. Still enthralled by its scale and grandeur. The fact that Tolkien worked on it throughout his life and loathe to publish it was sad but understandable. Some of the stories were personal to him, no doubt. And the emotions he poured into it still reeked off the pages of the book.
Beren and Luthien, the sons of Noldor, Fingolfin and his brothers, the siege of Angband are few of the tales in The Silmarillion that makes you sigh and meditate on life’s issues. This is a rare feeling that is not common when engaging with most fantasy fiction.
This book is an underrated classic and makes an impactful reading every time I pick it up in whatever form.
Blessed Lord, your gift to the sons of men is lovely. Beautiful is its glory and humbling is its majesty.

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(New) Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers: Bless This House

Bless This House: Music


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit

So some critics did not like the Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Tough luck.
I reckon book readers will appreciate it much more since this is a trilogy that is meant to cover not just The Hobbit’s tale alone but some parts of other Tolkien’s tales.
As for me, I did enjoy seeing Radagast on the screen. He was loony, as I expected. Fervently looking forward to The Desolation of Smaug in December 2013, God willing.
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Sunday, 13 January 2013


“I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times.” Genesis 31: 38-41 (NIV)

He was a good man, Laban. He loved to entertain strangers in need, enjoyed welcoming visitors, upheld good tradition, and never turned his back on family members. As a business man, he was doing well enough to stay afloat. His employees worked well, but gave him nothing special.

One day, Laban met Jacob.

Jacob was broke. He was desperate for shelter, food, and money. He came to Laban for retreat – a means of getting a short-term rest, food, and an opportunity for planning the next step in his life. He got all these and much more - a seemingly lucrative employment deal with an attractive retirement package in the form of Rachael. Jacob shook hands with Laban on the deal. It was a win-win situation.

Now Laban, like most savvy employers, was able to pinpoint his employee’s strengths and weaknesses very quickly. Most importantly, he was able to work out how his business might boom exponentially and his life enriched from tapping into Jacob’s strengths. However, he believed his lofty aims cannot be achieved without taking advantage of Jacob’s weaknesses and abusing the goodwill of his new employee. But Laban was not worried about that. At least, Jacob was being paid for his work. Besides, there were no suitable places around where Jacob could find good work and shelter at the same time. The clincher? Rachael! That retirement package was good enough to make Jacob do anything. Laban knew, like any smart business owner, that it is profitable to keep reminding your workers of their bonuses or incentives if they meet their targets. This is useful for motivation.

Jacob worked hard for the seven years of his contract. Laban’s company grew in size. It grew moneywise. It made huge profits, thanks to Jacob’s effort. Of course the road was rough for the superstar employee. Though he could see profits rolling in, Laban convinced him the business was not doing as well as its competitors. Wages were docked, in line with the “recession” period. Stricter rules were made to ensure wastes were minimised. Shorter breaks were introduced to ensure no employees loafed around.

It worked! Business boomed further for Laban. He became what he had always wanted to be. Wealthy.

Now it was the end of Jacob’s contract. It was time to collect his retirement package and move on to another step in life. This was when he noticed a clause in his contract. He had never seen it before but Laban told him it had always been there and the lawful interpretation remained the same. The clause said Jacob cannot marry Rachael with first marrying Leah, Rachael’s elder sister.

It was heart-breaking for Jacob, but Laban was ‘kind’. He gave Rachael to Jacob after the latter’s wedding to Leah but made him sign a contract extension for another seven years. Jacob signed. It was a lose-win situation.

Jacob later tended his resignation letter but Laban rejected it. The sad employee had no choice but to roll up his sleeves and continued slaving at a job he no longer wanted.

After much thought, Jacob took a gamble and renegotiated his contract. He struck a deal with Laban where he took a part of supposedly “damaged products” and oversaw a different part of Laban’s business. Laban agreed to this on the condition that his new in-law will give up his wages but keep the earnings from the “damaged items”. So it was done.

However, contrary to Laban’s expectations, Jacob succeeded in this unique business section for many years so much so that his fellow employees began to get jealous and his employer became suspicious.

One morning Jacob woke up and ran away with his profits, taking his wives and children. Laban followed, accusing his ex-employee of stealing. He tried to guilt Jacob into going to work. But Jacob, having an upper hand for the first time, refuted Laban’s argument and came away with his family and wealth.

Interpret this story in whatever way you please, but the truth is that most of the doings in this story were very unconventional (even on Jacob’s part) and require lots of courage and divine guidance. Jacob wanted something and was determined to work for it regardless of the difficulties he faced. He outfoxed a cunning boss legally and did not wait to submit a second resignation letter after the first one was rejected. It took long but he freed himself from slavery and grew prosperous in the process. That, for me, was worth emulating.

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Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Heart of Man

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9 (New Living Translation)

In ancient times it is not rare to see two humans have a physical tussle.

These tussles sometimes lead to severe maiming or even death. Because physical bullying is common, strength is prized above many things. If you are not strong, another man may invade your home and steal…no, demand that you hand over your valuables or forfeit your life. All this because you are the weaker one and he, the aggressor, is the stronger.

It is deceptive to assume this particular culture has disappeared in the modern age. Just in case you are living in a deep hole near the earth’s core, you might want to spare few minutes and listen to, let’s say, ten people recount different daily experiences at work and other places. If you are patient enough to listen you will discover that humans rarely bully physically anymore. We have grown more sophisticated, and therefore have refined the art of aggression.

Humans now bully emotionally and set situations in motion to frustrate and break the spirits of others. The more power (political, economic, or financially) a man has, the more weapons he has in his arsenal to inflict deep and lasting damage upon the less powerful. This type of aggression does not even need a valid reason before it can be unleashed. It might be purely because of the way you dress on certain work days.

It is still the same old world, isn’t it. The strong prey on the weak. The weak prey on the weaker.

One thing is clear to me now as I grow older: people will do bad things to others if they can get away with it as well as gain from it. Also, some people have the propensity to walk on this dark path more than others. This isn’t because they were “born that way”, but because they chose to.


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