Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life Around My iPad

It has been 4 months since I acquired my iPad and admittedly my life have evolved around it, no thanks to the wireless 24/7 internet connection I subscribed around the same time. And it has been addictive which is something I must watch out.

I must say I feel a little envious of people who recently bought the latest iPad 2 which is slimmer, lighter, faster and at the same price. I have this to say against iPad: the Apple iOS (operating system) controls the way I use it and does not give me the freedom to configure the way Windows OS allow me to do. But using the iPad forces me into a set way of doing things which has its good point. There is just one way to view pictures and one way to watch video. You cannot install other viewers of your choice unless they are available as apps in the App Store either for free or fee. Another thing that I dislike of iPad, in fact 2, is that 1) I cannot run my Office software and 2) I cannot move my files in/out unless I go through the iTunes program using its proprietary USB cable through its one-only port. Apple forces its users to follow its rules and had the product been poorly received if not for Apple's outstanding graphic display and trend setting touch screen navigation technology the iPad would have been less successful and definitely not enjoying the position as market leader in tablet PC segment. I for one am impressed by the true to life picture quality which makes me a forgiver of what iPad failed to deliver to my liking.

I should have considered the 3G model instead of the Wifi only model. After awhile I realize that the Wifi model is like living in your own country and when you go out you have no life! Which is why I never take my iPad out unless I am assured I get wifi service. Lately I learned that with the latest iPhone4 running on iOS4.3 it can wirelessly tether to a Wifi only iPad model by making itself a 3G hotspot. Viola! I get internet anywhere with this new 3G iPhone which I'm sad my non-iPhone 3G cellphone cannot be detected wirelessly on my iPad. This itself is not a justification to queue up for a new iPhone just to satisfy my ego.

My iPad is my night and my morning, and my in-between too, as long as I am home, indoor that is, and within range of the wireless modem router. It is convenient and quick on the start up. For simple tasks of checking my emails and reading the latest online news and playing children videos on YouTube for my grand daughter Grace (a great bonding exercise) the iPad is wonderfully useful. For more serious work, such as blogging, writing longer emails with attachments to send (surprisingly iPad do no allow this!) and writing reports on Microsoft Word and preparing spreadsheets and presentations on Excel and Powerpoint, my Dell Vostro 1400 laptop replaces my iPad.

Peeking at me forlornly is my 7 year old desktop nearby, now hardly used since the 3rd member of my computer family arrived. I had wanted to buy a new desktop with larger monitor but with mobile computing taking me into a new lifestyle perhaps even the Dell Vostro will feel the threat of becoming sidelined in 2-3 years when maybe iPad 3 makes its appearance, this time with all the useful features I want to become the one-in-all computer for me to use at home and anywhere I go, including while travelling. However, no matter how good the visuals show on the iPad I hope to be able to get a large LED monitor to wirelessly connect to my iPad for work and pleasure.

All the Wealth

Today's Lent Meditation is taken from the Gospel of Mark 8:36. The American King James Version states "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?".

It is both a challenge and a warning. It challenges us to consider our life's priorities, to balance the needs of our material and spiritual self. The material self lives for the world, the spiritual self, or the soul, lives for the after life. Many people sadly prefer to live in the present life and choose to defer making a decision of the future life when death is near, but who can plan death?

Jesus in sending the above warning also said in verse 37 that no one can give anything in exchange for his soul. In other word, our soul is not negotiable. We cannot have someone save our soul nor can we exchange good work, wealth or authority to save it. Our soul's salvation is the prerogative of God and how we live shall determine if our souls shall live or die. Verse 36 clearly say that material wealth shall not save our soul.

What then will save our soul from eternal condemnation? Acts 16:31 has the answer: Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved - you and your household. In other words, acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus in one's life and receiving salvation of one's soul. This is the Christian faith.

Along with faith come the way we live our lives. It is no good for one to confess his faith in Jesus and continue to shame His name through wanton living and engaging in corruption, deception, crime and exploitation.

What then shall we turn from and turn to? Jesus gave the answer. Turn away from evil and do good. Love and not hate. Encourage and make peace. Prosper those below you, respect those above and befriend those who share your desires. Shun evildoers and avoid temptations. Above all do all that give you peace and joy.

Going after wealth is by itself not wrong if not done with any wrongdoings. But if over-indulging in building our earthly empire is creating unhappiness in ourselves, our family, our circle of friends, then it is time to reassess our priorities.

All the wealth we build shall remain earthbound. We should consider heaven bound wealth, that which earns our place there.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Educate The Young Well

It bears repeating that if we teach our young ones well they will grow up to be the kind of adults the world need. Take a moment to reflect on this:

We have centuries of good teachings and knowledge base as well as various traditions and cultures that we impart from one generation to another. There are many great religions in the world, all of which teach us to be good and do no evil. The problem we all face is that the PROCESS of transmitting these noble values and knowledge has hit a wall because we are into a culture of Me First. What does this means and how is it affecting us?

The Me First mentality subscribes to putting self above all else, including our families. It is a culture marketeers plant in our mindset, that we deserve the best, that for all our efforts and sacrifices, we deserve to reward ourselves with all the material goodies available. I don't disagree that we need to enjoy the fruits of our efforts. What I disagree is the extreme way this has been played out that we ignore the need to work on our children to keep them within the straight and narrow. There are far too many wrong stuff and things that can lead them astray. It may hurt to discipline them but it is necessary part of growing up. I was caned and reprimanded as a kid but I looked back with thankfulness what my parents and teachers did for me.

When the young ones are left to learn things on their own, there is a great risk they pick up the wrong values and wrong information as they grow up. They grow up so fast that before we realize it, they are out working, marrying, having kids and then teaching them wrong things, or ignoring them as many of us did.

I hope I have not been critical or judgemental but I honestly believe that no good things can materialize unless we put in efforts and sacrifice some of our time to teach our children, and grandchildren, the right values in life. Doing so not only help us enjoy our later years but also build them to live a better life. We must educate our children well, otherwise our human civilization will be affected.

Stay Strong Japan!

A friend sent me the videoclip above and my heart went out to the Japanese. Daily I've prayed for the nation that is still reeling from the tsunami of last Friday. I've prayed that they will have the strength to recover, to rebuild and to restore. It will be tough especially with the grave dangers of the nuclear reactors failures and potential meltdown. The areas affected may be isolated and uninhabited for years due to radioactive contaminations. Already hundreds of thousands of families have been moved away, thousands have perished and many more bodies await discovery before the final toll can be arrived at. Japan need our help, not financially but prayerfully. Japan needs to know that we are rallying around her to assure her that we care, we feel for her sufferings and that we are interceding to God to strengthen her in this moment of grief, loss and pain. I believe the Japanese sun will rise again. I believe God will not abandon the Japanese at this trying time. I believe God is compassionate and will not try the nation beyond despair.

Let us not just watch but pray for healing, and that the nation will repent of her sins and come before God to seek His grace, mercy and protections from further calamities.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent Meditation 1

Lent season this year began on Ash Wednesday (March 9). I would like to share my thoughts from the meditations over the past 4 days from the booklet produced by the Trinity Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. I would like to do this every few days. I believe the lessons and suggestions will help us as we journey through our lives.

Lent is about self examination and doing what is necessary to unbuckle ourselves from our erring ways and making an effort to return to the right path. Like a ship that has veered off its course the master has to reset its direction. Sometimes we got sidetracked so much that to restore our life would require major efforts and sacrifices, even giving up whatever we acquired wrongfully over the past year. Nonetheless a wrong is a wrong and confessing it and having the desire to correct ourselves is half the victory won. Lent has this purpose in mind and to Christians and non-Christians alike, looking at the common values would benefit us as a human race. Somehow we have become less civilized. We have become less polite, less considerate, less courteous, and more selfish as we pursue more of what we want instead of what our human race deserve.

We want change for the better. This is our conscious desire. Sometimes in pursuing this we make use of people. We worship success as if it is all that matters in life. We honor ourselves in what we do publicly. Such as when we give toward charitable causes we want to blow our trumpets or at least let our families, our neighbors, our friends know. It feel good, but it nullifies the purpose of giving since it has become a means to glorify ourself. True charity should be a secret. Can we give anonymously? It will be a true test of our motives of helping others.

Just like charity, when we pray or fast, do we likewise put on a show? Examine why and whether we have hijacked these acts for ulterior motives that are less honorable.

How about exchanging our souls for wealth, power, pleasure and prestige? It is easily done because we seldom see our souls as important to be saved since we may not even be aware they exist in us! Seriously, when we bargain away what are morally right for the 'things of the world' we have sold off our souls. This is a serious thought to ponder since the souls continue to live after we die physically and we will be unable to reclaim them even by giving up 'our things of the world' which would have been passed on to our benefactors. Think of the dire consequence. Also think of this: doing good will not guarantee our souls will live happily after us. If you are familiar with the story of Lazarus and the rich man in the Bible you know that there is no going back to rectify a wrong. It will do well therefore to set a high conduct of our life to secure a life for our soul that live beyond us.

What is a fast? I confess I find it hard to fast but I agree that fasting is good. People who fast for the right reason usually come out with better attitudes, and possibly healthier too! A fast is meant to slow us down to force the world into the background and to bring our spiritual life to the fore. When we fast we begin to see in sharper focus what God has done for us, and what we need to be doing to claim a right relationship with him. In fasting we become stronger in battling our sins and confronting temptations. Fasting also help deal with immoral living and help us turn away from them. When we fast our bodies but we feed our souls. Think about this.

Do we admit we are sick although we are well? All of us are sick but may not be aware. We may be physically well but our souls need regular care. We spend money keeping our appearance young and beautiful but we often forget our inner self, our souls, too need to be 'dressed up'. If we are honest we would confess that we are spiritually sick and the 'virus' that harms us are our many sins. No one can admit that he is without sin. Lent is a time to seek spiritual healing. The medicine is not the drugs prescribed for the bodies but our confession of sins committed and our repentance over them, renouncing them and putting them away and asking for strength to avoid repeating them. Jesus is our spiritual doctor. He alone provides the cure that save our souls from eternal damnation.

A Perpetual Question - Why Does God Allows Natural Disaster?

When it happens, as it did yesterday when the Sendai area of Japan was devastated by a killer earthquake AND ensuing tsunami, people affected and unaffected begins to question the role God plays in its occurrence. Why? Why Not?

My friend Aaron wrote a compelling piece which I produce below.

Why does God allow natural disasters?

Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, and other natural disasters? Tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the 2011 earthquake/tsunami near Japan cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.

The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.

In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.

We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ!

God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Disaster after Disaster

Barely 3 weeks after Christchurch was struck down by a moderate earthquake made deadly because it emanated close to the earth surface and killed some 200 victims and left the city devastated and taking years to rebuild, Yunnan in China was hit by a moderate quake of 5.8 yesterday but Japan became the latest victim this afternoon when a massive quake in the order of 8.9 points on the Richter scale struck some 150km off the coast of Honshu in north east Japan. The quake created a tsunami that caused flooding and destroyed cars, buildings, boats, roads and bridges and have taken 200 - 300 lives so far, which number is expected to rise rapidly. The tsunami may trigger flooding in islands and countries in its direct paths as these targets await anxiously over the next 12 - 24 hours to brace against any tidal waves hitting their shores. The economic impact of this disaster on Japan and its trading partners is as yet unquantified but will created a dampening effect on global economic recovery. Here are a few pictures taken off Kyodo News website:

Read HERE for a report of this tragic incident. This report estimates the Japan earthquake to be 8,000 times more destructive than the Christchurch earthquake. Will the death toll be in the thousands? I doubt it will rival the 230,000 deaths claimed by the December 26, 2004 tsunami that exploded off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, killing people as far as Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. Read HERE.

How shall we read these ominous signs? Is the world coming to an end? Will we see more and more of these natural disasters occurring more frequently? How do we prepare ourselves? This is the start of the Lent season for Christians. It is a good time to reflect on where we are going should this world becomes a threat to safe living.


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