Sleeping through the storm

Could you sleep tightly during a storm? One episode in the Bible shows how Jesus Himself absolutely could. He was so chill, so unalarmed He didn’t mind that the boat He’s sleeping right on was close to sinking, while everyone else could have had some sort of cardiac arrest while the chaos unfolded. Let’s read this passage and reflect on how and why  this anecdote from Jesus’ life is and should be of great significance to us.

(Read Matthew 8:23-27)

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Thoughts to ponder:

  • This passage paints a picture of Jesus’ humanity–He did get tired and need some sleep. He was absolutely human like us who felt the same feelings, who had the same physical needs. This fact validates His qualification as our intercessor between us and God the Father (Hebrews 2:17).
  • The disciples who were with Jesus in the scenario were scared to death as the waves broke into the boat. Even if they knew Jesus was with them, they were consumed by fear, and overwhelmed by anxiety that they seem to forget who they were with. Even after seeing Jesus perform miracles and supernatural things, they lacked faith and entertained fear before anything else.
  • This is a reflection of us, our humanity–it’s so easy to worry and doubt, to be frightened of the troubles and challenges that confront us day by day, even the ones that have not come our way yet.
  • Jesus had to wake up to rebuke His disciples, “You have so little faith!” Notice that He rebuked the disciples first before the actual storm. Many times in life, we must first be reminded that God IS ACTUALLY with us–He is our Lord who is always able, He is faithful and mighty to save, His kindness and mercy lasts for eternity; and we can trust Him.
  • We fail to remember how God has already shown His faithfulness and kindness to us in the past, how much He’s blessed us, protected us, delivered us and cared for us. We tend to not believe that He can do it again; that He can rescue us from our daily storms again. And again. And again.
  • Jesus knew a storm was coming; He wasn’t even shocked or panicked about it. In this life, God did not promise that we will not go through stormy weathers; in fact, Jesus told us to expect trials and sorrows in this life (John 16:33). All He ever promised is that He is and will always be with us amidst the difficulties, and He will neither fail us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • This passage also captures a vivid picture of Jesus’ deity, His divine and supreme nature that “even the wind and waves obey Him”. Sometimes, God uses man’s extremities as an opportunity to perform His supernatural, to work His miracle, by just one word, in a heartbeat. We just got to believe that He is the Lord, and He is able. Wait and watch in awe.
  • Because of this we can lie down in peace and, like Jesus, sleep through the storm.

#HeCalmsMyStorms
#dirtybibles

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Raised to New Life

Let’s begin to read this passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, right at the beginning of Chapter 3.

(Read Colossians 3:1-3)

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Thoughts to ponder:

  • I have already died with Christ (i.e., my sinful nature, the power and dominion of sin over me), and He has raised me to new life in His resurrection. I can be alive again and be made new. I can be born again spiritually.
  • So I will set my mind to all things heaven: the final destination, the citizenship, the new identity, the glory of God, the grace I am experiencing until His next coming. Do not focus too much on the material things which are all temporary and have no eternal value.
  • Real life is found in Christ alone. I have been bought for a price, a high cost–the blood of heaven’s perfect Lamb. And He did it so I can experience new life, a life free from sin and death’s dominion; a life reconnected to the Lord.
  • I will keep subjecting my sinful nature to the Word of God, His laws and morals, with the grace He’s gifted and its implications.

#newlife
#dirtybibles

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Beyond the pages

Read Hebrews 4:12-13

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We must realise that the Word of God is more than printed pages in a book. The Word of God is the person of Jesus Christ.

John‬ ‭1:1-3, 14 say:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Word of God is living and active. The Word of God is Jesus Christ speaking to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us and transforms us to become more like Jesus.

We read the Word to know and understand Jesus, to seek His face and His truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, so we can have a relationship with the Lord, be renewed, and carry His divine truth and love in our world.

Reading the Bible is beyond a religious activity or routine, but it is a life-changing, heart-transforming journey of getting to know the person of our Saviour and King.

We must seek Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to make the living and active Word of God to be made flesh, to be alive in our own lives.

#JesusTheLivingWord
#dirtybibles

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Special thanks to Pastor Ken Brown of Spirit & Life International Ministries.

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fear (verb)

fear (verb)
Meaning: to regard (God) with reverence and awe.
Synonyms: stand in awe of, regard with awe, revere, reverence, venerate, respect

Used in a Biblical sentence:

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From Proverbs 14:26-27

God blesses those who revere Him, those who acknowledge His power, greatness and authority.

Psalm 115:13 says that Yahweh will bless those who fear Him, both the great and the lowly.

Fear of the Lord brings:

  • abundance/ prosperity – “How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table.” (Psalm 128:1-4)
  • protection – “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.” (Psalm 34:7)
  • longevity – “The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.” (Proverbs 10:27)
  • deliverance – “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:18-19)
  • riches and honour and life – “The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches, honour and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

#feartheLord
#dirtybibles

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Jesus can

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This one’s from a little story in Mark 9 where a dad approached Jesus and asked Him to free his son from a demonic spirit. Read Mark 9:14-29.

Let this be your prayer for today.

Jesus simply can. Jesus can turn any situation around. He can heal your sickness. He can take away the pain. He can bring you peace. He can bring breakthroughs. He can perform astounding miracles. You just got to believe and not doubt His matchless power. Pray even that you learn to not doubt the Lord’s power and authority, just like what the dad did in this passage. Believe and give your battles to God, from the smallest ones to what seem to be insurmountable. He got you covered! You just have to place your faith in Him and not doubt His sovereignty!

#DoubtNot
#Heispowerful
#NothingisimpossiblewithGod
#dirtybibles

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Do it unto the Lord

(From Colossians 4:23)

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Serve others like you’re serving God. Work hard for others like you’re working hard for God. Let everything you do be done unto God. Let everything you do be done in His strength. Let everything you do be done for His glory. He promised us a reward for sincerely and tirelessly serving Him, and all His promises are Yes and Amen!

#doituntotheLord
#dirtybibles

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Where He favours (Pt. 3)

(Part 3 of 3)

Read: Psalm 84:8-12

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The Lord shows favour to those who seek Him, honour Him, and trust Him.

1)  In verses 8 and 9, the Psalmist pleads to God for favour. Believe it or not, God invites us to seek His favour. Psalm 119: 58 says, “I seek Your favour with all my heart. Have mercy on me as You promised!” Yahweh wants us to seek Him in humility, and go after His righteousness so we may have His divine protection (Zephaniah 2:3). Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” We must humble our hearts before Him, and actually verbalise our need of Him like the psalmist in verses 8 and 9, “Hear our prayer”, “Look (on us) with favour”.

2)  The Lord favours those who gives honour to Him. The Psalmist says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (verse 10). I believe He’s talking about spending time with God in a place of worship in His presence (this may be referring to heaven, or simply a worship house or the temple). We honour God when we treat Him with high regard, and value Him by giving Him our time and availability. We honour God when we value the time we spend with Him in prayer (See Matthew 6:6; 1 Chronicles 16:11); and when we get to know Him in His Word (Psalm 1:2). The psalmist loves His presence so much that he has disregarded all his other fun and valuable memories, and counted them as nothing compared to the joy of being in Yahweh’s incomparable presence. He says he’d rather assume the lowest position in the Lord’s tabernacles as a doorkeeper, than be comfortable in the wicked’s hub. And by principle, the Scriptures is telling us that when we delight in Him, He delights in us (Psalm 37:4).

3)  God favours those who trust in Him. As reflected in verse 11, in our personal journey, He becomes the “sun” that gives us light and warmth in the darkness, the “shield” that protects us in danger. Psalm 5:12 supports this by saying that Yahweh “blesses the righteous” and “surround them with His favour as with a shield.” We can also be confident in His promise that “no good thing does He withhold” from those who strive to live with integrity (verse 11b), all who trust in Him are blessed (verse 12). When we live right, we can trust God to give us every thing that is good for us. Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.”

There is no absolute formula or ritual for God to bestow His favour and grace on us. He is not a machine that reads codes and responds to calculations.

God is not some genie that gets moved by spoken or choreographed rituals. He is the Lord that sees the heart and knows its secrets (Psalm 44:21). He searches our hearts, and tests our minds (Jeremiah 17:10). And only He can weigh our motives (Proverbs 16:2).

The bottomline is that He will favour those He knows who seek Him in humility, live in obedience and integrity, honour Him and trust Him with their lives.

#Hefavours
#dirtybibles

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See Part 1 here: Where He dwells
See Part 2 here: Where He strengthens

 

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Where He strengthens (Pt. 2)

(Part 2 of 3)

Read: Psalm 84:5-7

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God is our strength. He is the source of real and true strength. He is our mighty and all-powerful Creator who gives us the strength to live, to have faith and believe, and to endure difficulties along our journey. And He blesses those whole rely on Him for strength.

I believe this pilgrimage to Jerusalem is symbolic of our own walk with God. And in this personal pilgrimage, the psalm says that we will pass through valleys of “weeping” (Baka); perhaps, referring to valleys of struggles, doubts, confusions, serious troubles and even more.

But because we placed faith in God and set our hearts on Him, we can walk through these life areas in His strength and grace. It is His presence amidst this long, eventful walk that gives us strength, and actually turn these dark, complicated places into places of refreshing springs, where His love and blessings will rain down and flood upon us.

Because He is present with us, we will go from strength to strength until we see Him face to face at the time and place He’s set for us.

Make Him your strength today. Obtain true strength by:

  • Accepting our weakness and relying on Him – “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)
  • Trusting Him – “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬)
  • Hoping in Him – “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
  • Seeking Him always – “LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” (Isaiah 12:2)
  • Believing Him – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 3:14)

In what areas of your life do you need His strength today? God is still sovereign and faithful. Pray that He strengthens your faith, and enables His strength to dwell upon you daily.

#Strengthlikenoother
#dirtybibles

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Where He dwells (Pt. 1)

(Part 1 of 3)

Read: Psalm 84:1-4Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

For a true believer, God’s presence is everything. Spending time alone with the Lord enables us to feel His peace, joy, comfort and pure love. You feel complete in His presence; you feel security, satisfaction, and calmness you can’t get anywhere else. You don’t feel the passage of time when you’re with Him. His presence is like no other.

The Psalmist praises the goodness of where the Lord resides. This may refer to heaven, of course; but wherever the presence of God dwells, becomes like heaven. His manifested presence in our lives becomes our heaven on earth, and it’s only a tiny glimpse of the real thing!

The Psalmist hungers to enter His presence–he yearns for a communion with Him (v2), to stay in a place blanketed by His security and protection (v3).

And anyone who dwells in His presence worships Him and gives Him joyful praises inexorably because of His uncontainable beauty and grace (v4). It’s kinda like a sneak peek of our lifestyle in heaven, where we’d just speak and breathe worship all day long!

Have you ever been in His presence? Have you experienced the love and comfort God’s manifested presence brings?

Find some time alone with God daily. Just sit down and call upon His name, Jesus. Come before His presence with praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2). You can even play some worship music, and sing praises to Him. Read the Word, and His in-dwelling Spirit will reveal His truth and glory to you. He promised that if we seek Him wholeheartedly, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

His presence makes us whole and vivifies our spirits. In His presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Welcome Him in your room, in your household, in your workplaces, wherever you are. Believe that His presence goes with you everywhere you go.

#Hispresenceiseverything
#dirtybibles

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Why Trust God?

Let this be an encouragement for you today. I believe that the Bible has already stressed this enough, and the message is really simple: TRUST IN THE LORD.

Why? Because:

  • He is able (Ephesians 3:20)
  • He is sovereign (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
  • He is wise (Job 9:4)
  • He is loving (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  • He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • He knows you better (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • He always has, always does and always will provide (Philippians 4:19)
  • He is consistent (2 Timothy 2:13)
  • He makes it possible (Matthew 19:26)
  • He is true to His promise (Psalm 18:30)

If God has already taken care of you all this time, what makes you think that He won’t and can’t for tomorrow and the coming days?

It may look complicated and confusing, but that’s exactly the reason why we must trust a God that’s sovereign and loving. I’d rather cling to that Someone who I know cares for me and knows me, than rely on my own strength where I am sure to fail. And what’s the promise? A straight and sure path.

Pray that you learn how trust God in the middle of difficulties and trials, and of good and hopeful times.

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Dirty Bibles

I got something special to share. There has been something (or Someone rather) burning in my heart for the past few months, and it has finally bursted out of me. Not a great use of figurative language.

I’ve been praying about it after God has put in my heart the desire to study the Word more frequently and persistently, to seek His Holy Spirit, and to share my learnings with others, as I gradually learn how to abide effectively in His Word, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (I believe that it was Him who somehow inspired the name as well during one of our sessions together, because it literally just came into my mind while I’m conversing with Him!)

And so, recently I have activated a Facebook page called “Dirty Bibles”, a page where I share Biblical reflections, citations and insights from my personal study time with the Lord, which is persistent and ongoing. I call it the overflow of my “quiet time”, or “secret place” time with the Lord.

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The aim is to encourage the people within my spheres, and as many people as possible to to open up their Bibles and spend time to understand and meditate on the living and active Word of God–His precepts, promises, wisdom, teachings, stories. Bible says to keep His Word on our lips, and meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Just before I started, I had to check if someone already took that name anywhere online. And then I encountered a couple of other people coining the term, but none have actually taken it as an identifying label anywhere. And so I thought I’d take it upon myself to grab it and start off the project!

Then I heard a Christian minister saying that “the more you read the Bible, the dirtier it will get!”, which I just absolutely nodded exhilaratingly to. And then I thought, well the word “dirty” may have negative connotations. So in the About section of the page, I made sure I state that the adjective does not intend to mean filthy, immoral or dishonourable. But “dirty”, as in dirtied with fingerprints and tears; wrinkled, sometimes dishevelled, because of frequent use. The pages become dirtied with notes of revelation, of wisdom, of aha moments, of divine encounters. Every page marks and highlights the very Word of God for you and me. (Quoted from my About page)

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I believe that the Bible is our only authority, and the Gospel is our only hope. And I believe that a dirty Bible is a mere reflection of a tedious and persistent search for God’s truth and wisdom in the pages of the Scriptures. Notice that I use the word “persistent” repeatedly, only because that’s literally the attitude I’m going for–being persistent.

A dirty Bible produces a clean heart, and helps you live a clean life. An open Bible keeps us close to God.

The Lord said that if we seek Him wholeheartedly, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). I believe that. I stand firmly on that promise. And He never fails on this one, because now I’ve realised that the more I seek Jesus, the more I learn about Him and understand Him. The more I know Him, the more I hear His voice, and the more Jesus becomes personal and real to me.

“Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4)

And so, make sure you Like this page, and I invite you to read the Scriptures together, and feel the presence of Jesus where you are reading and seeking Him.

Get them Bibles dirty!

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Be still

Someone needs to be reminded of this right now. God wants to remind you that He is still God.

No matter how bad things look and feel like, He is still the Lord whose name is above every name, whose power is unparalleled.

And you can put your hope in Him.

You can rest in His presence; and in His presence there is peace, there is fullness of joy, which you’ve tried your best to find everywhere else, but failed.

He has the answers; in His Word lies the solution.

In Jesus you are complete and made whole.

You are loved.

You are justified.

You are restored.

You are renewed.

(Photo from YouVersion)

Timeout!

The start of the year has been pretty rough for me. I know, we’re only in Day 8.

Well, there are just things that are beyond your control, even your knowledge sometimes. Your limitations as a human being become utterly exposed no matter how hard you fight it and pin down the problem.

In all angles and views, you are weak. And nothing that you have can make you any stronger or wiser. The issues become incremental and remorseless; the issues just keep on piling up without the previous ones being resolved. And you’re caught in the middle somewhere, confused and distressed.

But if there’s one thing I have learned, experienced and practiced in the last few days, it is to seek God and His peace continually–to just sit down with Him and rest in His presence; to lay down everything: your pride, your fears, anxieties, inhibitions, your bare self before Him, and just take a break in His comforting presence.

I know to some that might not make a lot of sense. But it simply means that you call upon the Lord, and cast everything up on Him, good or bad. Bible says to cast our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), and He’s always ready to sustain us (Psalm 55:22),

Be honest and bold before Him, keeping in mind that you are loved and forgiven and that He knows you from the inside out.

And the most important part of it all is to trust Him and hope in Him, give your complete dependence to Him, and His will and plan for you. Give to God what only God can handle. I always remind myself of Proverbs 4:5-6 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

When our thinking minds fail, when our weak hearts collapse, when our plans just don’t work out in these tough situations, there’s nothing we can do but rely on God and wait for Him to move, wait for Him to look after everything with us. Psalm 27:14 says to “wait patiently for the LORD; be brave and courageous.”

Our problems are designed to put us in our mettle immensely. But I believe that God allows this sometimes so we would know our selves a lot more, our strengths and frailties. And more importantly, so we would know Him a lot deeper, too–that He is God, He is almighty and powerful, and He knows us, loves us and cares for us, and is able to rescue us from the quicksands of life.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” And that exactly what I have strived for–to sit quiet, trust God and wait on Him.

Isaiah 40: 31 is also well embedded in my heart: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

And so, the Lord has become my lifeline, my nourishment, my counsellor, my psychologist and physician in all of these. Nothing and no one else but Him.

Resting in God

I have come across this article by Joyce Meyer that spoke to me in the middle of the chaos and confusion I’m going through. I’m sure Joyce wouldn’t mind me reposting this for the people who happen to be reading this post. If it is your preference to go directly to her site, find the article here.

But here it is. The article is called “Living in God’s Rest” :

God wants us to enjoy our everyday lives. John 10:10 (AMP) says that Jesus died for us so we “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”. But it seems so many people who say they believe in Jesus are not really enjoying their lives. It’s tragic to think that Jesus paid the price for our sins, that He suffered to make that sacrifice, and yet there are Christians who are struggling just to get by and make it through each day.

The key to having abundant life in Christ is living by God’s grace through faith. Because grace is His power working in us that enables us to do whatever we need to do in life.

When we try to do everything in our own strength and leave God out of the equation, we just get worn-out and frustrated by our mistakes and failures. But when we lean on God, we actually enter into His rest and can enjoy our lives, no matter what our circumstances may be.

Hebrews 4:9-11 (AMP) says, So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; for he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors…. Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves]….

Now the rest of God is not a rest from work—it’s a rest in work. It’s partnering with God to do what He is calling you to do by His grace, and leaving the part you can’t do in His hands, trusting Him to do it. Hebrews 4:3 says it this way: We who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest…. So we start by believing.

When I’m trying to believe, I haven’t entered God’s rest. But when I do believe, I have complete rest in Him. Living by faith is not a struggle—it’s rest. And you can enter into God’s rest in every area of your life.

I’ve discovered that the stress in my life is caused by the way I approach my circumstances and the attitude I have toward them. It was a turning point for me when I realized that the world will probably never change, but I could learn how to change the way I go about handling situations that are challenging.

One key to this is knowing that as believers in Christ, we are partners with God—we have a part and He has a part in everything He calls us to do. When we don’t do the part we can do and we try to do His part, that’s when we live stressed-out with worry, fear, anxiety, frustration, no peace and no joy.

The reason this happens sometimes is because we think God needs our help. We meditate on the problem—rolling it over and over in our mind, worrying, trying to figure out how things should work out. It’s like we’re telling God, “I kind of think You need my help, and I’m not sure You can take care of this situation, Lord.”

We need to realize that worrying is useless! It’s like sitting in a rocking chair, rocking all day, wearing yourself out and getting nowhere. Trusting God means we give up worrying, reasoning, and anxiety and we enter into His rest with simple childlike faith—we live by grace through faith!

Ephesians 2:8-9 is a great scripture that says we’re saved by grace through faith. And we walk out our relationship with God and His plans for our lives the same way we receive salvation: by grace through faith. This is possible because Jesus made the perfect sacrifice for us when He gave His life, taking our guilt and condemnation and paying for our sins. Through a personal relationship with Jesus, we access God’s grace so we can do what He’s calling us to do.

It’s so amazing to know that God is always with us, giving us His grace for everything we need to do in life. Trust God’s unconditional love for you today. Do what you can do and give Him everything else. And when you find yourself getting frustrated or feeling overwhelmed, like you just can’t do it anymore, remember to stop, get your focus back on Him and enter into His rest once again.

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Original photo can be found on WallpapersCraft.com.

R.

List of Books to Read Diligently in 2014

I have always been a person devoted to reading. But my personal taste is so prejudiced and constricted only to a specific genre, writing style or categorisation. I like self-reflection and self-development books; books that actually make sense in reality and in my everyday life. I’m not into fiction books, love stories, mystery and killing, textual porn, epic reads; and especially the ones in the mainstream domain today.

Another issue I face with my reading time is what they call a ‘reading slump.’ It is when you know you’re dying to read as many interesting or relevant books as possible but can’t find the time or energy or the motivation to do so. It’s like whatever you read, you just zone out so easily as you can’t seem to understand a word you’re reading even if you’ve been going through the same sentence over and over again, however interesting the material is.

Sometimes I love to buy as many books as I can and I become too overwhelmed by the compulsion that I can’t even determine how I’m gonna start out or which book to pick up first. At times, after purchasing books I just do not read them and let dust and dirt creep in between the pages of the untouched books as they sit on the shelves. Horrific.

But for this New Year, it is time to get rid of the reading slump and start loading up new knowledge, learnings, insights and what not.

Here’s the list of books I plan to read “diligently” for the entire year:

1) Jesus Is ____. by Judah Smith (Christian, Devotional)

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– “A new and better way to be human.” I could really tell that this book is a substantial, nutritional and life-changing material to be devoured. I am sure that it is something that will bring enlightenment and inspiration to all hungry readers, especially those who are famished for Jesus, His truth and love. This book answers what the world hankers to know: “Who is Jesus?” or “Hey, what about Jesus?” I like how Smith describes his book to be a book created for new believers, for lifelong followers, and for the merely curious.

Judah Smith is one of the people in the Christian realm that I admire the most—such a cool, clever, down-to-earth guy. You couldn’t even tell that he’s pastoring a huge church. He looks pretty cash’, friendly and easygoing. We were inside the same stadium a number of times but I never got a chance to meet him face to face. But what I know is this guy is breathing out God’s Word in such a formidable way. You just learn so much from him. And for sure that is well reflected in this book.

In fact, I have already read the first ten pages of the Jesus Is. But because of the busyness and haste of uni, I failed to browse it regularly. Although I am well aware that it requires a steady munch, my schedule last semester was just so crazy that it did not become possible for me to read it on a regular basis. But hopefully this time around, I will be able to manage to give it some time.

2) Switch On Your Brain by Dr Caroline Leaf (Inspirational, Devotional, Christian)

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– Dr Leaf is such an amazing woman. She is a neuroscientist who pretty much knows and has mastered stuff about the human brain. Through her mastery of brain science, thorough research and technology, she is able to preach and proclaim God’s beauty and goodness and elucidate these matters in a way that’s more simple and understandable by the common human comprehension.

I can still remember clearly that particular time in church where she preached on the Sunday after the Conference. I was sitting there awestruck, almost gawking and just so in tune with her preaching about the brain, God as the artist of the universe, and all that. I was so fascinated by the new knowledge I have absorbed from that preaching and it will just make you realise how blessed you are by God with what you are, who you have, what you can do and so forth.

And so, I am quite sure this book is an embodiment of that new body of knowledge I am certain I would need in this life and time. Indeed, it is time to get to know the very workings and mechanisms of my own brain, my way of thinking, and everything else I gotta learn about it.

3) The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren (Inspirational, Devotional, Christian)

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– This is one of the most popular, best-selling books in the Christian world I must say, and written by a heavily influential spiritual leader, Christian pastor Rick Warren.

I have had this book for a long time now but because of my reading sickness (AKA reading slump) I just can’t complete almost every book I put out. Nevertheless, this book is so powerful. I am pretty sure I have finished at least 7 days (mini-chapters).

It speaks with so much authority as it is grounded firmly on God’s Word and has a very fundamentalist point of view. I like how it clearly illustrates matters about life, your purpose, and your destiny. It helps you define your identity, what you are and must become in this life according to what you are meant to be by the Maker. It is really an essential tool for one’s own personal spiritual growth.

This book is best accompanied by no other than the Bible as it can serve as a study guide that presents the Word in an easy, comprehensible but striking language. However, this time around I must probably start all over again.

4) The Word (Bibles)

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– This must be one of the most interesting things I’ve ever encountered in the contemporary domain. It’s the Bible published in a magazine format. I was so happy I was able to get it for free from church.

It brings the Word in such an engaging, innovative and exciting way because of striking visuals that effectively exemplify the Word of God, and keep things alive and interesting. It is my aim to delve deeper into God’s very mind and heart and I know that this book will help me understand and connect with God’s thoughts even more and gain a fresh perspective.

5) The Message: Bible In Contemporary Language (Bibles)

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– This is the Bible in a very contemporary language. So modern, so lyric and so stimulating. It just naturally resonates with readers, especially the younger ones and thus, helps them to relate the passages to their own lives. I guess it’s another way to connect with God in this overly contemporary sphere.

 I do have a Bible app on my iPad in which I can have the Bible in all kinds of translations or versions. But as a book freak, I still do want a physical copy that I can make marks, writings and doodles on. I keep all my bibles really personalised.

6) The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word by Joyce Meyer (Bible Study and Reference)

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– I am so looking forward to purchasing this book. Again it’s another medium in which the Word of God is personalised (or made personal?). We know Joyce Meyer to be one of the leading practical Bible teachers in the globe.

 I had a look inside this book as it sits at the church’s shop. It’s a little purple book that you could even put in your pocket. Many people say that this book serves as a powerful medicine for the queasy spirit. It sort of lays out a range of ‘Bible hotlines’ that you can easily reach as they’re broken down into easy referential categories (e.g., faith, hope, anger, encouragement, etc). The verses are written in a very painless style whereby you can easily say the Word in the most casual, day-to-day way without realising that they carry so much divinity and spiritual weight that can impact your life.

 We all know that we live in the era where many people are still deficient in God’s Word; some are just illiterate by choice; others do have access to it, read it and pray with it but never apply it in practice. And so, this book is one of those that will help alleviate that insufficiency because it exposes you directly to God’s powerful Word. I also believe that in any circumstance or season, you can’t turn to anything else but your Scriptures. Therefore, I know it’s gonna be an exhilarating spin!

7) The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (Motivation, Self Help, New Age)

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– This has to be labeled as one of the most controversial works ever released. Even the title itself evinces a lot of things to be very curious about. It claims to have changed lives, turned situations around and brought so much positivity in many different facets of human existence. Must be really appealing, aye?

I have had this book for a short while. I have been able to discover this ‘Secret’ Byrne is trying to put forth—it’s the Law of Attraction. It might sound somewhat silly at first but the renowned and (hopefully) credible men and women belonging to the professional domain who gathered together to generate this piece of ‘groundbreaking’ New Age work couldn’t just be talking nonsense, could they? I mean, all that money and brain cells. I guess they, to some degree, have something, valuable?

From what I have been able to hammer out so far, the authors’ principles teach you to dwell into positiveness—that everything in your life must spring from, is influenced by, and all revolve around an undeviatingly sanguine system of thinking. “Thoughts become things.” “Being positive about everything is the key.”

Anyway, since I’m a lover of the Bible and its Author, I’ve had to activate my own sense of discernment and wisdom while keeping myself grounded in the paths of righteousness and morality. What my inner self is telling me is to be wise about reading and absorbing the new kind of knowledge this book is trying to impart. Evaluate if such things are gonna bring harm, or put you in a better place; if they’re aligned with God’s will and admonitions; if they’re not just false teachings that have been existent nowadays.

I am still in the process of carefully analysing these issues because this book is mainly for the secular market and well, that’s self-explanatory, right? I am giving it a chance by actually scrabbling around a little bit closer into the mind of the book. But thus far, I like the way it’s reshaping the individual’s outlook in life into one that clings to being positive and always of good cheer. That’s a good start I suppose.

8) The Magic by Rhonda Byrne (New Age)

Image– If in Byrne’s first book she has introduced the Law of Attraction to readers, in the second installment of her work she now focuses on the concept of gratitude, another way of changing one’s life and focusing on everything positive about it. I guess what it’s trying to implicate is that being grateful amid your troubles and hardships turn them into blessings, sort of saying. It brings me back to a popular quote by Meister Eckhart that goes, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.”

I am quite certain that this particular concept per se can be paralleled to what the Bible teaches about thankfulness. ‘Giving thanks’ to the Lord is pretty much everywhere in the Bible. And I’m absolutely cool with that. However, I intend to approach it the same way I would approach the first book—scrupulous and still reliant on the Scriptures.

9) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (Personal Development, Self Help)

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– I’m pretty sure that this book has been around for ages now. Some of my friends already had a go with it. What the book claims to present is “a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity i.e., the principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”

Woah, sounding like some super high-level wisdom is about to erupt in its pages. Promising. Well, if it can be useful in giving guidelines and tips in improving both my personal and professional conditions, then it must be worth a try.

10) The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique by Ivanna Chubbuck (Techniques, Performing Arts)

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– All right, since I am a trying hard (literally) actor who does lots of research on techniques, craftmanship and some good amount of theatre wisdom, by good fortune I have come across this very popular acting method called the Chubbuck technique. Designed by premier acting teacher and coach Ivana Chubbuck, it is used by some esteemed Hollywood celebrities like my all time favourites, Halle Berry and Brad Pitt. I mean, gosh aren’t they astounding?

The technique utilises a twelve-part acting method that has made its actors win prestigious acting awards. It seems easy to trust what this book teaches as I have some friends in the theatre who actually practice this. One important tip, though, is this technique really feeds off of your own personal life, and it’s what makes it so effective.

Despite my lack of experience and expertise in the field of acting, I know that this book contains something that the actors in both the stage and the screen so awfully need. So far, I have only finished the introduction and the first chapter. And with a bird’s eye view I find the twelve pointers I really savvy and innovative. I need to make sure that I consult the Chubbuck every time the need comes to tread the boards.

11) Master Class – Men: The Actor’s Audition Manual Volume 2 by Dean Carey (Leisure, Performing Arts)

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– This is the Australian acting bible and is in the arsenal of Aussie must-have’s. It was also recommended by a friend who’s been seasoned oh-so-well in the field. This has been an important book in my own research and practice because it serves as a manual that illustrates the essential lowdown of acting applicable in various mediums. That entails the creative process, the audition process, the in-and-out’s of acting, theories, etc. It even includes a huge bunch of audition pieces for men handpicked by Carey himself. It’s pretty much the mini tome you’d need to pass any audition or screening. (I don’t know but these books just make me feel clever. Ha ha!) Anyway, this book needs a regular visit.

12) The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle (Education and Reference, Psychology)

Image– I know that I was born with some special, hardwired talent, which I am forever thankful for (cockiness not intended). As a result, I know that I must continue to learn as much as possible about what I possess to be able to cultivate the skills and capabilities gifted to me by our Maker. And this book might be one of those self-help hotlines that I really gotta make use of.

Coyle designed this book as “an easy-to-use handbook manual for building a faster brain and a better you, containing scientifically proven, field-tested methods to improve skills—your skills, your kids’ skills, your organization’s skills—in sports, music, art, math, and business.” (LOL I just love paraphrasing). Any who’s, I hope it serves me well.

13) The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Young Adult Literature, Science Fiction)

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– Well, the wildly popular story of the Hunger Games has finally reached me and convinced me to tuck into not only the films but the actual firsthand sources, the books. I’m not a huge fan of romantic fiction (or any kind of novelly fiction actually), young adult love and things but I must say I really liked its storyline. At this stage I can state that the storyline is well represented in the movie although a throng of jaundiced people would say that true essence of the material was decapitated (ouch!) in the film version, which really got me incredibly curious to know how and why.

My sister has read all three books and finished reading them in roughly three days (I know, right.) Gosh, she’s fallen in love with the entire thing and we would talk about the story, the characters and events almost all the time.

One thing that I like about this story is it’s young-reader friendly and is suitable for almost all kinds of audiences. Although it has its fair share of violence, bloodshed, tragedy, bondage and rebellion, all these factors are redeemed by and juxtaposed with the opposing dynamics such as hope, faith, love, courage, patriotism, liberty importance of family and many more.

Most importantly, the love story part did not try to conform to today’s description of a ‘great love story’, which is usually entrenched on an overt sense of sexuality. Rather, it was built upon the concepts of care, protection and indeed, love for one another, which just demonstrates the true meaning of love. Cheeseballs.

What else can I say? This one got me. Reading the books will perhaps inform me so much more of what the story is about and will probably complement the bits that the flick failed to present. Because I am very much caught in the niche of another genre, this must be something really interesting.

14) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Popular Fiction, Folklore, Mythology)

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– I’m still wondering why a lot of my friends really do insist on reading this book. Everybody seems to be so in love with the author (well, especially the ladies), and so I gave in to my curiosity.

Reviews say that this fable is about embarking on “a spiritual journey, following one’s dreams, listening to one’s heart, and reading life’s omens.” I guess it’s another piece of writing intended to motivate and inspire the searching soul and the confused state of mind. I am very much after the life’s lessons and realisations enclosed in this book. Based on the reviews I’ve heard and read so far, this piece has so much depth and meaning to decipher that can be richly applied in reality. And so, I say, bring it on!

R.