Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bible Passage for the Day: Trust in the Lord

Psalm 37 (from NKJV)

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.

A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.

The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.

Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.

The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.

The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.

Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
Yet he passed away,and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Marry The One Who Loves You, Not The One Whom You Love?

Experienced people always make a million dollars statement of “Marry the one who loves you, not the one whom you love”. It does not mean that the person whom you love does not love and the other way round but, a dominating side is always there. If we think logically, this statement proves very true in the long run. If you marry the person whom you love, your expectations dominate and in the other way, the other’s feelings dominate. It pinches a lot when the person whom you love hurts you and the person who loved you is ditched by you.

The above discussion is not to confuse anyone but to advise everyone to move ahead in life with a wise discretion. One single decision can ruin the life forever. Yes, you can leave the person anytime and try to move ahead but, the thorn always remains. The mere suggestion here is to understand the relations and make decision with patience and after listening to both the heart and the mind. Love is blind, it is true but, do not get swayed by this blind emotion to the extent that it makes your whole life blind.

I was thinking deeply about the statement, and I would like to say that it is not a quandary about love anymore. This is a decision-making case, and in order to solve it, use all the wisdom at your disposal, and then make a decision. Here are some points to consider in order to examine your potential spouse and see if you should marry him/ her.

1. How is your prospective spouse’s faith? Do you lead each other to God? Is your relationship centered on God? Do the two of you have different faiths? Does he or she have a faith at all? The Bible advises against marrying a nonbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14) because marriage is difficult enough without having differences on an issue that should be the foundation of your life together. The Church does allow mixed marriages, but advises against them because of the difficulties they present within marriage.
A husband and wife should be able to do more for God together than they can do apart. They should form a team, and to be effective they need to have the same goal in mind. So take this all to prayer, and trust that God will guide you. Some couples make the mistake of failing to ask for the Lord’s guidance, while others overspiritualize the matter and will not move forward unless they receive numerous signs from heaven.

2. How is your friendship? It is easy to feel close to a person if you have been physically intimate, but how well can you honestly say you know this person? The more physically involved you have been, the more you will need to step back to evaluate the relationship. This is because physical intimacy clouds our judgment—which it should. One of the benefits of total physical intimacy for married couples is that it renders them less critical of each other. However, this clouding of your thinking belongs in marriage, not before.
Be honest in examining what truly unites the two of you. Is it a desire for pleasure or emotional gain? Is there an unhealthy dependency, where one or both of you has made an idol out of the other, expecting that it will solve loneliness? How do the two of you deal with differences? Can you disagree lovingly, or are there some issues of manipulation, anger, or guilt that need to be sorted out first? Lastly, is there a real romantic interest? This is not to say that you must feel constantly madly in love with each other. Those feelings have to be present, however we must discern feelings with infatuation.

3. Are the two of you on the same vision when it comes to family? Does one of you expect one child, while the other envisions two minivans full of kids? Does one of you want kids right away while the other wants to wait ten years before having any children? If you have different dreams, then now is the time to be honest about your differences. More importantly, do you think that your prospective spouse would be a good parent? Or does he or she have habits that are destructive to a marriage and family, such as drug use, excessive drinking, pornography, sarcasm, anger, self-centeredness, or infidelity?

4. Are you financially ready for a family? The book of Proverbs advises, “Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house” (Prov. 24:27). We should not jump into marriage before we are able to care for a family financially. You do not need to have college money set aside for your kids before you get married, but you should be stable enough with your career that you will be able to carry the great responsibilities that come with the blessings of parenthood.

5. What do your friends and families say? It is easy for a couple to become isolated and fail to consult the friends and families. They know your habits, your emotional health, your dreams, and plenty of things you probably wish nobody knew. But they love you nonetheless and can give some of the best guidance.

Finally, weigh all the above considerations and more, pray about them, and make a decision. You can only know a person so well before you marry. This is because coming to know another person is not so much a destination as it is a lifelong process. Within marriage you will see strengths and weaknesses more clearly than ever before. Because of this, disappointments are inevitable.
When difficulties arise—and they will come—they will test and affirm your love. Marriage is not an endless whirling romance, and there are times when the marriage will suffer. When the infatuation fades, some imagine that they must not have married Mr. or Miss Right. This is partly why so many divorces happen within the first few years of marriage.

Successful marriage is not the result of finding the perfect person but of loving the imperfect person you have chosen to marry. Therefore, do not allow yourself to be discouraged when you discover faults and annoyances that you never recognized before. It is said that after marriage, the man gets upset because the woman changes, and the woman gets upset because the man will not change. But when faults do come to the surface, we should not be set on “fixing” our spouse. We marry a human being, not an idealized image. Only when we let go of the idealized image and begin to accept and love our spouse will the deepest and most fulfilling kind of love appear. As a friend of mine once said, “I married her because I loved her. Now I love her because I married her.”

When a couple understand these principles, they are mature enough to think about marriage. We are not eleven years old anymore, fluttering from one crush to another according to how fun the feelings are. When a relationship is based on an infatuation instead of a decision, it will last only as long as the infatuation does. We must be careful about what we base our relationships on, because finding the love that everyone longs for is a serious endeavor.

Inspired by Mom's counsel, life experiences and collective wisdom.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Bucket List

When you die, what do you want to remembered as? Do you live life with joy and purpose? Does your life bring joy and meaning to others? What makes you happy; have you done that? This question is rarely posed due to its powerful reflective nature. Most people rush in life, not gaining much and leaving no marks. Life is short and the world goes on without you even when you're gone. However, you have a mission in life; what is most important is that you choose to find out and move towards the answers.

According to Urban Dictionary, bucket list is: A list of things to do before you die. Comes from the term "kicked the bucket". So here, is the list of what I want to do with my one precious life. The marked ones are done.

1. Master 8 languages: Indonesian, Malay, English, Mandarin, German, French, Dutch, Italian
2. Swim with dolphins
3. Go to real service of Lakewood Church with Ps Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas
4. Go on a helicopter ride
5. Own a Porsche
6. Go on a cruise
7. ✓ Own a property investment
8. ✓ See an angel
9. ✓ Tell my Dad I love him
10. Have my picture published in a newspaper
11. ✓ Tutor someone
12. Make paper
13. ✓ Play the stock/ forex market
14. ✓ Try out lame pickup lines, and make it work
15. Design a website
16. ✓ Adopt a child
17. ✓ Make a significant change in someone’s life
18. Speak in front of 10,000 people
19. Move to Germany and live there
20. ✓ Make an origami animal
21. ✓ Witness an eclipse
22. Be a member of the audience of a TV show
23. ✓ Make soap
24. Solve a rubiks cube
25. Be interviewed in BBC Radio
26. Shake hands with a President
27. ✓ Volunteer
28. Learn to surf
29. ✓ Be published
30. ✓ Teach a class
31. ✓ Tour a vineyard
32. Feed a koala bear
33. ✓ Throw a party
34. Stand under a waterfall
35. Be a world renowned expert for my field
36. Participate in a 10k race
37. ✓ Ride in a gondola
38. Write a New York Times bestseller
39. Ride an elephant
40. Save a life, literally
41. Attend school reunion
42. Be a discipler
43. Honeymoon in a private beach
44. ✓ Tour a factory
45. Test drive a race car
46. Find my best friend from high school
47. ✓ Surprise someone
48. ✓ Get a bikini wax
49. New Year countdown at Times’ Square
50. ✓ Donate toys to needy kids
51. Be a game show contestant
52. Start a home garden
53. Write an article for The Economist
54. Have a second home
55. Stay in an igloo
56. Cook every dish for one week
57. Meet Zig Ziglar in person
58. Being admitted to Harvard Business School
59. Earn 6 figures per year
60. Dive the great barrier reef
61. Go on a spontaneous road trip
62. Help someone else achieve their dreams
63. ✓ Touch a famous piece of art
64. Attend one of Anthony Robbins’ talk
65. Have my blog featured in magazine
66. Take a mud bath
67 ✓ Knit a scarf
68. Be the youngest CEO of Unilever
69. Make a time capsule and bury it
70. Put my handprint into wet concrete
71. Stomp grapes
72. Build Indonesia’s largest social enterprise developing woman and children
73. Set a Guinness Book of World Record
74. Stand in the Sistine Chapel
75. ✓ See a volcano
76. Swing from a rope to a lake
77. Take a trip with mom, just two of us
78. See a Broadway play
79. Touch pyramid in Egypt
80. Sign up to donate organs
81. ✓ Create a room I love
82. Go to School of Theology
83. ✓ Walking on a rope 10 m above the ground
84. ✓ Try a new food
85. ✓ Take a makeup lesson
86. ✓ Write a Wikipedia article
87. Try working full-time in church
88. Learn CPR
89. Enter a food-related competition
90. Learn to play Canon in D on guitar
91. ✓ Drink 12-year-old whisky
92. Fire a gun
93. ✓ Be on a TV show
94. Hike every trail at a state park
95. Make my own perfume
96. Be in same weight or less until I'm 60 years old
97. Dress in super sexy lingerie
98. ✓ Try a pole dancing class
99. ✓ Read 10 books on the NY Best Sellers list
100. ✓ Learn to play guitar
101. ✓ List 10 things I'm grateful for every day for 1 month
102. ✓ Drink Absynth
103. Bring my family for a trip to Paris/ Jerusalem
104. Smoke a shisha
105. Die with a big smile on my face
106. ✓ Try smoke a cigar
107. ✓ Meet someone famous and get an autograph
108. Own an award winning healthy vegetarian restaurant
109. ✓ Start a blog
110. Play guitar in cellgroup
111. ✓ Visit a castle
112. ✓ Buy from second hand store
113. ✓ Wear fake eyelashes
114. Climb an indoor rock wall
115. ✓ Create my own recipe
116. Blow glass
117. Learn how to sing
118. Take a dancing class
119. ✓ Try flying fox
120. Be an extra in a movie
121. Milk a cow
122. Watch turtles hatch & run to the ocean
123. ✓ Create something useful & sell it
124. ✓ Finish a crossword puzzle
125. ✓ Invent something
126. ✓ Paragliding
127. Make a candle
128. ✓ Feed the homeless
129. ✓ Have a meaningful conversation with a stranger
130. Find the end of the rainbow
131. Get a patent for something
132. Look 10 years younger than I am (in future)
133. ✓ Lead someone to Christ
134. ✓ Eat alone at a fancy restaurant
135. ✓ Study abroad
136. Dance in the streets at Carnival in Rio
137. ✓ Sleep on a beach
138. Attend a random free seminar
139. Buy a diamond for myself
140. Walk the Hollywood Boulevard
141. Pick fruit from the tree & make a pie
142. ✓ Relax in a natural hot spring
143. ✓ Hitchhike
144. Build a water purifying plant in Indo
145. Read at least one book every month
146. Visit Barcelona
147. Visit Miami Beach
148. ✓ See a foreign film in foreign language
149. Write a cookbook
150. ✓ Write a letter to myself that i'll read in 5 years
151. Ride in a limousine
152. Journey on the Trans-Siberian railway
153. Start fire without matches
154. See Biblical sites in and around Jerusalem
155. ✓ Sew something wearable
156. Create a family logo
157. ✓ Pay the bridge toll for the person behind me
158. Visit a butterfly sanctuary
159. Be a wife of a servant of God
160. ✓ Create my own cocktail
161. ✓ Go kayaking
162. ✓ Go to the movies by myself
163. Visit the Parthenon in Greece
164. ✓ Always think before I speak
165. Live a life of faithfulness to the end
166. Live a life of meekness, humility and service to others
167. ✓ Vacation solo
168. Bring internet to an isolated community
169. ✓ Dance on a bar stage
170. Walk the red carpet
171. ✓ Learn a new software program
172. Own an original piece of artwork
173. ✓ Write letters and send via snail mail
174. Wear colored contacts
175. Sit front row at Victoria’s Secret fashion show
176. Being headhunted for job
177. Fly first class
178. Always go extra mile and find solutions
179. ✓ Have my own website
180. ✓ Receive a fan letter
181. Lead my family in prayer and devotion
182. Be able to pay all my expenses from passive source of income
183. ✓ Whitewater raft
184. Have a net worth of 10 million dollars
185. Parasail
186. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
187. Skydive
188. ✓ Eat a raw diet for 3 days
189. ✓ See a 4-D movie
190. Plant a tree
191. ✓ Talk to bus drivers and listen to their concerns
192. Give blood
193. Visit Petra, Jordan
194. Own a fabulous pair of designer shoes
195. ✓ Visit Red Light District, Amsterdam
196. ✓ Visit Neuschwanstein Castle
197. Build a sand castle
198. Be a self-made millionaire
199. Have my own children
200. Hold a 1-kg gold bar
201. ✓ Babysit newborn babies
202. Wrap a snake around my neck
203. Make a handmade gift
204. Swim in Maldives and Seychelles
205. ✓ Write a song
206. Kiss under the mistletoe
207. ✓ Ride a gondola in Venice
208. Jump off a cliff
209. Passionately kiss in the rain
210. Visit the Great Wall of China
211. ✓ Write a love letter
212. Get hypnotized
213. See Niagara Falls lit up at night
214. Create a family tree
215. Go to Rome, Italy and meet him again
216. Take a trip in a hot air balloon
217. Go whale watching
218. Inspire people to have purpose and goals
219. Build a blanket fort with someone then watch movies in it all day
220. Sail on a yacht
221. Spend the entire day by myself
222. ✓ Sleep in an overnight train
223. Attend an art gallery opening
224. ✓ Drive a 4 Wheeler
225. Given a Merit for contribution to society
226. ✓ Make a homemade beauty product
227. ✓ Get a Fish Spa
228. Be on the cover of a magazine
229. Go on a mission trip
230. ✓ Try acupuncture
231. Perform a Magic Trick
232. Go to a German Christmas Market
233. ✓ Try oysters
234. ✓ Climb all 272 steps to the top of Batu Caves
235. Go bungee jumping
236. Climb Mount Everest as far as my body will allow
237. ✓ Visit Prague
238. Be kissed on top of a ferris wheel
239. ✓ Go to a Drive-In restaurant
240. Dedicate a part of my house as free public library
241. Find a way to decompose plastic and styrofoam
242. Partake in La Tomatina Food Fight
243. Visit Buckingham Palace
244. See the Taj Mahal
245. ✓ Sleep under the stars
246. ✓ See a double rainbow
247. Ride a camel
248. ✓ Visit Disneyland
249. ✓ Drive a bus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. - Henry David Thoreau”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Year End Reflection- What Have I Learned

This year, one of my personal achievement was to travel to 8 European countries by myself and mw own money, before the age of 20. I strongly believe that in order to achieve something in reality, we must first conceive it in mind, and make necessary actions towards it. I made it a target in my 19th birthday that I would be able to speak fluent German. I saved my scholarship money and work part-time more often, so that I managed to have more than SGD 9,000 in my bank account, within a year and no contribution from my parents at all. This had let me proof to myself that when I want something badly enough, I can achieve it. Not a really huge sum, I know, but to earn it in a year while studying full time and holding leadership position in school, I believe it is an accomplishment. And yes, opportunities come to those who are ready.

In early 2011, there was an opening for summerschool in Darmstadt, Germany for a month to study German language. The course fee itself was SGD 1,800. I then applied to my school to be considered for an exchange, which was magically accepted. I said this because during the 3 years of programme, there were only 2 international students sent, as Singaporeans are always given priority for such type of international exposure. The programme started in 21 May 2011, 2 days after my last exam. After a long and complex process of visa application, cheap ticket search, and travelling plan, I went alone by Lufthansa with EUR 2,500 cash and a Visa debit card. Had studied German language for 2 years in high school, I arrived in Frankfurt completely perplexed about what the people were talking.

I was picked up by the host allocated by Technical University of Darmstadt; her name is Jutta, works as a local judge and luckily, she speaks English. We quickly became in good relationship, while we have common interest in gardening and cooking. I gladly bought some flowers every week to replace the old ones in the living-room, helped her with laundry and cooked "nasi goreng", "mee goreng" which she really liked. Well, she offered to be my step-mother, which could make me a German national and bear her family name; but the requirement was that I need to legally erase my current parent-child relationship, I could not do that. However, I find it interesting, the little things I did makes a respected German woman want to adopt me.

Lastly, after the summerschool finished, I went to travel to 7 more countries in Europe, including Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Austria. I am not going to tell the amazing travel experience and beautiful sights I saw at each place. Getting lost, some flings, bar-hopping and communications breakdown, I would expect all that to happen. My experience can be best described as, er, traumatizing. I had my passport, all identity cards and debit cards stolen, with EUR300 i put in my sling-bag pouch.

So there I was, in front of Place St Michel, really shocked. A friend travelled with me, CWK, accompanied me to quickly went back to our hotel, and ask the receptionist if I had left it in the room. She does not speak English, so my friend managed to find a guy on the street to translate for me. This experience compelled me to learn French, which I'm currently doing. Since the pouch was not in the room, we went to nearest police office to report for lost.

This was getting better.

Out of 12 officers, there was only one who speaks good English. After struggling to get the police report, we went to Indonesian Embassy in Rue Cortambert, just to speak to the Counsellor to make me a temporary passport. There was no councellor, it was SUNDAY. I spoke to the security guard, who tried to call him and explain to me that i am the 6th case in the last 3 days. The moments were terrifying. His calm expression suggested that a lot of people have actually lost their passports.

With the police documents at hand, we went to Gare de l'Est to ask for train ticket replacement. I had to persuade and debate until the TGV officer reprinted the ticket for free, this was because I only left with few hundred euros to be spent on next destinations. We also managed to get my plane e-ticket printed in one of the hotel. He just hanged around waiting for me and comforted me. It was Sunday and we did not had any meal for 12 hours after I lost my pouch. Finally, he lent me EUR50 and I went back to Germany in evening. That was the day I learned about what "pressure" was. And I am truly grateful and thankful to you, CWK.

I continued to travel, this time with much more care, to my remaining destinations. During those days, I forged friendship and exchange contacts with some other travellers. Lastly, on my flight date, which was on 5.30pm from Paris to Jakarta, I was stranded in Brussels-Midi train station. They were having problem with electricity, and it was around 1pm that I got a train to Gare du Nord. I rushed to the airport with 30kg luggage and there were so many people queuing at check-in desk, due to baggage belt failure. I remember the feeling of blood rushing through my body. Pushed my way through the huge crowd, I caught my flight just on time. Needless to say, I fell asleep most of the journey, until I met an Indonesian cruise-ship worker who sat beside me in plane, glaring on the untouched super-early breakfast on my table. Well I had no palate at all to the strawberry yogurt, stale hard bread, and ricotta-garnished spinach ravioli. He finished them.

To my surprise, after i arrived in Jakarta, my luggage was not there. I came out from airport in tears, hugged my parents and felt bad about losing all souvenirs. Luckily, it was found to be still in Paris, which then delivered to me 4 days later. PT JAS had done it well. I wrote a compliment letter to Kompas for that.

So these are some of the things I learned about, the ability to deal with adversity and problems, from language, money, communication, time and emotion management; all this were tested during my memorable travelling experience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Packing List to Europe

Well, this was what I packed last time. Keep in mind this is not a definitive list – everyone has individual fashion tastes, preferences, opinions, and styles in terms of what they want to wear and bring along! This is meant to be a guide to help you in packing for your Europe vacation.

1 rainproof jacket/small umbrella
2 shorts/skirts. But remember that shorts are’t allowed in major cathedrals.
1 thick sweater
1 light jacket for layering
Shawl. Black or white colour is versatile; in cold weather it would help warm your body too.
1 or 2 swimwear and beach towel
2 pairs of jeans/ jeggings/ khakis. Khakis actually faster to dry.
3 T-shirts
Underwear. Silk, lace, or micro-fiber dries quickest.
3 pairs of socks
3 casual shirts
Dresses (depend on what your activities will be, 2 should suffice)
1 set of nice clothes (eg going out dress, tie, blazer, jacket or suit for evenings out on tour)
1 nice hat (rattan for summer, beanie hat for winter)

Comfortable walking shoes. It should be usable in rain; no pretty Steve Madden leather-suede flat.
‘Going out’ shoes (this translates to a comfortable heels for me)

Toiletry bag and contents: soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, comb
Make up (just the essential ones, they should fit in a small case)
Aspirins/medications, plasters for blister or minor cuts.
Few packets of wet and dry tissues, hand sanitizer. Dettol’s anti-bacterial wet tissue is good.
Insect repellent. Especially if you're staying in tent or outdoor.
Nail clippers & tweezers.
Sanitary pad, feminine hygiene products.

Moneybelt is a MUST. Prevention is much better. You can put passport, plane ticket, debit and credit cards, railpass, and money inside.
Clock/ watch. Water-resistant if possible.
Plastic bags
Washing powder
Sewing kit (optional)
Pens and notebooks (optional)
Rechargeable phone card (optional, but suggested if you’re travelling to many countries). Check topdeck’s SIM card.
Power adapters. Check first the power-points type in your destination countries.
Day bag. Sling-bag/ postman-bag will be good as both of your hands are free. Just make sure you put your bag on the front-side of your body, otherwise you would not know if pickpockets take something out of it.
Overnight bag. I used a medium-sized backpack. This bag should be able to carry your one-day supply.

Label your suitcase inside and out with your name and your home address and perhaps attach a sticker, ribbon, patch or other unique identifier to your luggage to make it easier to spot.
Carry a copy of your passport, visas, travel and other important documents as well as your travellers cheque numbers (if you use them) with you in your luggage. You should also leave a copy of all this information at home with someone trusted and contactable while you are away. I was lucky that I had the copy of these as my passport, visa, and identity cards were stolen. At least I had a proof to be given to the polica and embassy.
Don’t pack your travel documents and passport in your luggage, rather take it with you in your carry luggage. This I learned because my luggage was left in my departure country and arrive only 4 days later. If I do not have any documents or money on-hand, I can’t imagine what would’ve happened.
Remember to bring more than enough of any medication you might need along with you and carry prescriptions for any medications that you carry with you.

That should be all and have a safe trip :)

Why Do I Tweet

I was not very interested in Twitter until recently. I saw it as a platform for people to just make status-es; non sense and pointless. But now, I can admit I am enchanted by it. Like an idiom in Indonesian “Tak kenal maka tak sayang”, I disliked Twitter because I didn’t understand it. Now that I know, I would like to propose on why in the world you should consider tweeting, here are the reasons:

1. It will help you stay connected to people you care about. Twitter actually contributes to community-building. In today’s world, it’s difficult to keep up with others. Especially if you are far from your family and friends, you can know what is happening to them and care about them.
2. It will make you a better writer. Twitter only allows you to post 140 characters at a time. As a result, you are forced to be concise yet get the message across.
3. It will help you see a new side of your friends. In an odd sort of way, Twitter “humanizes” people and provides a context for better understanding them. For example, you’ll quickly see that people get excited, bored, frustrated, anxious and happy—sometimes all in the same day. You’ll also learn what is important to them and what drives them crazy.
4. It will introduce you to new friends. I have now met several new people via Twitter. These have contributed to my life in small but significant ways.
5. It is faster than text-messaging. In a sense Twitter is a universal text messaging system. You can broadcast to all of your “followers” (i.e., people who subscribe to your Twitter feed) or send a direct message to just one. If you notice a friend is very active on Twitter, just send them message there, not on text-message.
6. It will make you think about your life. As you answer the question, “What am I doing?”. “What I want to share?” you start to see your life through the lens of the people following you. Interestingly, it will make you more intentional and thoughtful about life.
7. It will keep you up-to-date with what people are talking about. Via Twitter, I have learned about hot K-pop singers coming to town, new books, cool applications, breaking news, and even local as well as international trends. This is useful for our knowledge.
8. It can create traffic for your site. This is another tool of publicity, whenever you have something controversial or interesting to share. Your followers get to know it real-time. Moreover, when they like it, they retweet it, publicizing further to their followers. This can create a viral effect.
9. It requires a very small investment. Twitter itself is a free service. In terms of time, you probably need to invest some 20 minutes a day, or merely checking when you are idle in bus stop or traffic jam. Since every tweets are limited to 140 characters, you can skim them in a second. Writing a tweet takes less than 30 seconds.
10. It can help build your personal “brand”. When people hear your name, what comes to mind? What is your reputation? What is the “brand promise”? Brands are built incrementally, one interaction at a time. Twitter gives you one more way to build your brand, one tweet at a time.

A lot of them, isn’t it? However, I’m sure there are some downsides to Twitter as well. Hence, let’s go on the journey and shape the future of social networks rather than sit on the sidelines and throw stones.

P.S: Follow me @keziagusmawan

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My 20th Birthday Gifts

On November 4, I flew back to Jakarta to meet my dear family. We went to church together, then had an early lunch at Bandar Djakarta. Celebrated a little with some 12-yr-old whisky, Johnny Walker. Well, all of us only managed to taste it before deciding it's way too strong.. (I had this old whisky thingy wishlist on my last year birthday, checked!)

The exterior, it's one of my favourite restaurant. Really, if you visit Jakarta, this is something you should not miss. Fresh seafood, wide ranges, you can get a bucket and pick them up yourself! Then, the weighing staff will weigh your picks and note your preferred sauce/ cooking style. This means you only pay for whatever you pick and eat, no fixed portion.

Being affordable, it has drawn many loyal customers with its really good outdoor ambience and excellent service. Lucky we arrive around 11am, coz the place was jam-packed during meal hours. We ordered some 4 fishes each cooked with different styles, "gurita goreng tepung", "kepiting soka telur asin", "kangkung belacan", and "karedok". The server even commented, "Seems like the table is too small,ya". Haha.

My dearest parents

My lovely bro

My cute lil sis

Fun-time with mom and sis

Quality time with family is indeed my best gift this year :)

November 7 night, my bro and mom prayed for me. They had waited for me to finish some works just to pray. How lucky I am to have such godly family :)

Before my flight, November 8 morning, a friend came by, brought "Bolu Meranti" he bought in Medan the previous night. It was crowded when he got there and he almost missed the flight for queuing. Oh boy, I really appreciate that :)

After we ate some cake, my grandpa and dad prayed for me.
And ah, my dad was so sweet. After queueing around 30 minutes for check-in, suddenly I saw my dad running towards me. It turned out that I had forgotten to ask for rupiah to pay for airport tax, so he went back to airport to give me some rupiah notes, though he had to reason with some security guard outside. I know that he knows that I can actually exchange currency inside the airport, so I take his act as a form of showing care and love. I love you daddy!

Here is another cake from a friend in Singapore, green tea flavour.

My transition from 19 to 20 was accompanied by a worship song called "Sampai Putih Rambutku" by the book given by a friend, played using my guitar. The lyric says something like this:
Bapa, ajarku bersyukur buat hari- hari yang kau bri di s'panjang hidupku
(Father, teach me to be thankful for the days that you give in all my life)

Bapa, buatku kan mengerti arti panggilanMu Tuhan di dalam hidupku
(Father, make me understand the meaning of vocation of God in my life)

Ajarku tetap setia mengiring Engkau sampai putih rambutku
Bawaku jadi kepunyaan Mu yang berkenan di hati Mu
(Jesus ....
Teach me to remain faithful to follow you till my hair turns white
Take me as Thy belonging, pleasing to Thine heart)

It's so beautiful. Let this be my prayer and wish.
Thank you God!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hearing God's Voice

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.(John 10:27)

Does God really speaks? If so, will He speak personally to us? Even if I listen to Him, will I understand? Thank God, the answer is yes! And believe it or not, God really wants us to hear what He is saying-more than any of us do.

If we yearn for an intimate relationship with the lover of our souls, hearing His voice is a must. We cannot grow perfectly unless we draw near to Him, trusting that He wants to speak to us personally. Communion with God is more than just a ritual or “information” time. It’s a Spirit-to-Spirit time. As for me, it is possibly the sweetest moment ever in my life, very peaceful and transcends all understanding. Until just now, I didn’t realize many believers cannot point a single instance of hearing God’s voice for themselves. I would like to share and tell you, we need to hear His voice. Let’s cultivate a heart and life that responds when He speaks.

We each have a desperate need. Many people in Bible can be our example on how to maintain personal relationship with God. From Moses, Abraham, Mary, Paul, and David, each has a need and longing to hear God’s voice. They are all friends of God. I too want to be a friend of God. In fact, that is what I think being in God’s presence and hearing Him is all about.

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13)

Our father in Heaven has sent us a very special gift, a gift that gives us gifts! Can you imagine that? It is our Comforter, our Guide, our Helper- the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit allows us to sense our Father’s personal touch. Maybe to get close to Him, you need to push through misconceptions, spiritual warfare, religious theories, and a bunch of opposition, until you come to a place where you and Him are related with one another and become close companions.

For those who has the gift already, the key is this: Give much quality time to commune with the Holy Spirit. He will not speak to those in a hurry. Wait patiently, seek the Lord and praise Him. Be willing to set your heart on Him and believe in the great Spirit that will not let you be deceived.

Holy Spirit is like a personal tutor and guide. He coaches us in life, and as we end our days in earth, He prepares us for the postgraduate course thereafter. He instructs us what life lessons we need to learn, and compelling us to take them. The quality time we are spending with Him has to do with hearing God’s voice. I love asking Him questions. Yes dear, go ahead, ask Him questions. The more specific our questions are, the more detailed His answers will be. Even sometimes, He might turn around and ask us questions. Some of the subjects He will teach are about Purity, Humility, Honesty, Compassion, Faith, studying the Word of God, and speaking in tongues. Ohya, one more thing, sacrificial giving, but I wil discuss about this topic later. All these will hone our skill in hearing God’s voice.

Okay, so now that you have a big picture of Him, can you imagine a real lesson with professor who literally knows it all, the past, and the future?? The Holy Spirit does. He gives us cheat sheets by illuminating bible passages, imparting dreams, visions, and so forth. He gives us vignettes of things that are about to take place while preparing us. He doesn’t tell us everything, if so, we would not need any faith or trust. It is all amazing.

The Holy Spirit not only gives us revelation, but also truthfulness in our personality. We will become more like Him as we spend time with Him. God has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us. He knew that when it comes to walking into shadow of the unknown, we pretty much prefer to hold someone’s hand and be led by the voice of a guide. That’s why He gives us the Holy Spirit! As Isaiah declared “ Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left”.

Have you ever needed to be refreshed by the Lord? Have you lost some of your zeal? Need to return to your first love? Then God’s voice is the cure. Well, sometimes the voice of God will shake the foundation of our lives. God shakes everything that can be shaken so that which cannot be shaken will remain.

There are many tools the Holy Spirit uses to speak to people:
1. A dream or vision (Job 33:14-18)
2. A voice in trance (Acts 10:9-16)
3. Audible voice of God (Exodus 3:4)
4. God’s written Word (Psalms 119:105)
5. Voice of many angels (Revelation 5:11)
6. Wonders in the sky and earth (Joel 2:30-31)
7. Words to the prophets (Jeremiah 18:1-6)
8. Sound of ‘many waters’ (Revelation 1:15)
9. Moving people to declare God’s voice (2 Peter 1:21)
The list is non-exhaustive, which implies He has the right to say what He wants, how He does it and what method to use.

Here’s another hint: If we don’t make time, He will help us make time. He knows how to get our attention. For example, I have been awakened in the middle of the night many times. I simply get out of bed, sit and just be there. For a while, I thought I was just wasting both God’s time and mine. But eventually I learned the lesson: All He wanted was me. He simply wanted a friend, a companion, with whom He can share His heart. I have heard His voice more in the wee hours of morning than any other time. Now I truly love being on call to be with Him. One of the most common way I hear from the Lord is simply by hearing quiet peaceful inner voice communing with my heart.
We need to make the effort, take time to be with Him, and we will hear what the Lord is speaking.

Some people may have a hard time trying to hear God's voice in their life. Common obstacles that make barriers for people to receive are:
1. Lack of faith and commitment to Jesus
2. Sin
3. Ignorance of Scripture
4. Fear of being deceived
5. Guilty feelings
6. Fear of what other people think and being rejected
There is healing for all these. Love of God has healed you. Ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse our soul with stream of healing love; that will melt our hearts, remove the log in our eye, and lead us to the truth.

Even after we hear voices, there is a need for believers to discern these voices. Only the Holy Spirit is the true source. Ideas and thoughts can also be voiced by our human soul, which is an unsanctified portion of our emotions. Another source of voice is the evil spirits, who speak lies, because Satan is the father of lies, he loves mixing truth with lies to trick people. To be assured of receiving accurate and valid revelation, we can apply some tests:
1. Is it in agreement with God’s word? Because God and Holy Spirit will never contradict each other.
2. Does it have good fruit? As it is written in the Bible, there can be wolves come with sheep clothing, and we will know them by their fruits. So the result of our revelation should be useful to the building up and goodness of God’s people.
3. Does it exalt Jesus and turn you or people toward God?

Do you hear Him speaking to you now? He’s waiting for a moment with you. You will hear the sound of love beating in His heart.
May we experience the fullness of Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened (Isaiah 50:4)