Importance of Practice

2014 has begun and I bet we all have done planning and setting goals. That is the first and the most important part of achieving a goal. However, we tend to forget something more important: “how to achieve that goal?”

“How to achieve?” is a crucial question because you get lost if you do not know how to get where you want. I want to suggest that the most important step to it is to reflect your habits. What were the bad habits that hindered you to succeed? What kind of habits do you need in order to reach your goals?

good-habits-bad-habits image from: http://www.lawyerswithdepression.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/good-habits-bad-habits.jpg

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

 

Aristotle stated that a habit is what we repeatedly do. This might be discouraging since this means that we need to “practice” in order to have a good habit. It might take some time and effort to get a good habit because habit is something we can do it unconsciously. Some might say practicing repeatedly might bore us and we can get burn out. However, I want to oppose to that with the story of the Shouldice Hospital.

Shouldice Hospital is a small medical center located at Toronto, and they are specialized in hernia repair surgery. A hernia is a weakening of the abdominal wall and in most hospital, from 10 to 14 percent of the cases, the operation eventually fails and the hernia returns. However, none of that statistics apply in the Shouldice Hospital. Their recurrence rate is an astonishing 1 percent. The secret to this success is that dozen surgeons at Shouldice do nothing else but hernia operations. Each surgeon repairs between six hundred and eighty hundred hernias a year, which is more than most general surgeons do in a lifetime. 1

With a lot of repetition, surgeons performed each step without pause, and the assistants and nurses were in perfect harmony. Bynes Shouldice, a son of the clinic’s founder and a hernia surgeon, was asked whether he ever got bored doing hernias all day long, and he said, “No, perfection is the excitement.” 1

Perfection always excites us because we can never be perfect. “Practice makes perfect.” Practicing is the only way to reach the perfection. Therefore, practicing and creating good habit should motivate us to move forward rather than exhaust us.

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” (Luke 22:39)

             Jesus also showed us a good example of habit. His habit was to go up to the Mount of Olives and pray. This was the secret to His victory on the cross.

Reference:

1. Gawande, Atul; “Complications: A Surgeon’s Note on Imperfect Science” pg 39-14

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

It’s the end of the year! At the same time, it is the time to look back the year that was and look forward to the year ahead of us. The feeling of a new year is always good; the resolutions, the new beginnings, and the “sense of change” around us.

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Some of you may want to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future, and spend more time with family.

If you haven’t had time to ask questions to yourself, with only 1 day remaining until the last day of 2013, it is now the time to ask yourself “what you should change in the following year”. Even though a lot of us know what we want to change and why we want to change, these are different from knowing when to change no matter what the cost is.

 Then, does the Bible say anything about making New Year’s resolutions?

The answer is NO—the bible doesn’t specifically mention about making resolutions at the beginning of each year. However, it does urge us to regularly check our daily lives and to seek God’s help to become a better person every day (Lamentations 3:40).

Have you ever questioned yourself why sometimes it is really hard to keep the resolutions you made at the beginning of a year? One possible reason could be that sometimes our resolutions were not realistic—we had no clear New Year plan for reaching them. In addition, they may be self-centered, totally ignoring whether or not they are GOD’s will.

However, the main reason why we fail to keep our resolutions is because we always try to reach them without God’s help, but with our own strengths instead. As a human being, we are physically and spiritually weak and the Bible says “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

Before we start the New Year, 2014, Pray to God and ask Him to show you what He wants in your life during this upcoming year. With the help of Holy Spirit, you will be able to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

– T.S

Ready for the new year?

We are three days away from greeting 2014. Was your 2013 a good year? Are there any regrets? Any answered and unanswered prayers? Is there any unfulfilled wish or checklist? If there are, you can use them as a guidance while planning for the new year.

All of us are the servants of Christ and we have missions and works to carry on while we live in this world. God commands us to be diligent, faithful, and hard working while he blesses us to prosper, multiple, and dominate. Therefore we need to be on a constant guard to push ourselves and work hard to glorify God’s name.

I want to share the words of advice from Rev. Goshen Choi, who is often mentioned in our blog posts and who is a president of NYSKC World Mission Center, while we make reflections and preparations for the new year.

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Image from http://hishersq8.com/2013/12/new-year-resolution/

Based on the Word of [1 Corinthians 15:58], there are twelve pieces of advice that we can learn and use for our the new year’s resolution. These advice would greatly help us while we sought to live as the servants and workers for Christ.

1) Grow a habit of taking notes of our plans. Always take notes of your plans and thoughts. Having a habit of recording things is very important and helpful to organizing your life. If you are in prayer and God has given you His message, or while you are listening to a sermon and you get great ideas for your future, take them down on a piece of a paper or record it on an electronic device.

2) In order to begin your work, deconstruct the “big picture” to “smaller pieces”. You are given a job but where do you begin it? Having a big picture of your job is great, but you need to deconstruct the picture to smaller pieces so that you can have plans for immediate actions. You need to turn your dream or job into manageable plans for actions.

3) Know how to start. Knowing how to begin your work is important. Decide on what you will do to start your work. What would be the first step of fulfilling your task?

4) Check on the progress. Having a check point to see if the work is progressing well is crucial.

5) Distinguish between what you cannot do and what you do not want to do. If it is something you cannot do, then grow strong so you can do it. If it is something you do not want to do, know that persevering through hardship and unwanted task will make you grow and mature.

6) Remind yourself of the benefits of the result. Thinking about how the result of the work will benefit you at the end would provide motivation and passion for the hard work that you are enduring.

7) Start working from the small parts. Bible asks us to be faithful in small things. In Suzuki Method, children spend months learning and repeating small and basic postures and skills before they learn to play bigger pieces of music. (To read more about Suzuki Method, see my previous post about Dr. Suzuki and his method by clicking here)

8) Be positive.

9) Make a workable environment. Create a working environment that helps you focus on your work.

10) Avoid places of distraction. Stay away from places or things that can distract your concentration.

11) Know the time of the day when your working energy(biorhythm) is at its best. There are two kinds: morning kind or evening kind. Jesus and many workers such as Paul and Peter were all morning people who worked from the early morning.

12) Work for the good news.Work hard so that we may become inspirations and role models for others in Christ. Many Biblical figures such as Job lived in a way to win God’s favor and recognition. We don’t just live for ourselves but we live to become the light and the salt of the world. Always work to win God’s favor and ask yourselves, “would God like it if I do this?”

This is a long list but I hope you find them useful while you make new year’s resolutions and plans in Christ. I pray your new year be filled with God’s guidance, blessings, and graces.

Happy New Year!

K.P.

Merry Christmas!

The world lights up to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. There is joy in sharing gifts among the people we love and are loved by, but the greatest love we share is the love within Christ. Sometimes, in the beauty of the bright lights we forget why we celebrate at all. But for many, I do think that the beauty all around us, the love we share on Christmas day, and the joy of gifting remind us how much God loves us and how Jesus has taught us to love.

For TAC’s Christmas message, I want to share with you a simple thought we can all think about. The Holy Spirit came to Virgin Mary and told her that she will have a Son, and the Son will called Immanuel, and that the Son is the Holy Son of God. We can only imagine how surprised the young Mary must have been, how afraid she could have been. A virgin, who was yet to wed Joseph, giving birth to a child and not just any kind of a child, but a child of the Holy Spirit? A child, whose name is to be Immanuel, who is brought to earth to save the world! How does anyone have the courage to accept this, to embrace it, and to believe it?

Mary takes the message with faith and courage. When we think about this story retrospectively, we can ask: What kind of people is God looking for? Who are those that can be entrusted with the symbolic birth of Jesus Christ?

It is someone like Mary and Joseph, who took a large and profound message from the Holy Spirit with faith, and for ten months took the warmth to carry baby Jesus in the womb. God seeks a room, a soul, a body who can carry a great and profound faith. On Christmas day, the endurance and faith that Mary and Joseph had brought to the world, a baby in a manager whose name is Immanuel.

Today, God asks you: Do you have a room in your heart, a soul, a spirit to carry Jesus? Do you have the faith to stand strong against society, against your own fears and understanding to embrace His will? Will you join the people of faith when they rejoice in Christmas because they have waited and endured for His birth?

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TAC hopes you all had a Merry Christmas and that each and every day you bear the faith of carrying Jesus in your hearts and spirits!

Our Best Intentions can Deceive Us

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The Bible tells us to love God with “all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” (Luke 10:27) Having a faith isn’t something that we can do half-heartedly. Look at Esther: with her famous “If I perish, I perish,” she risked her life to carry out God’s will to save the Israelites. Perhaps a more prominent example would be Paul the Apostle, a convert who became the greatest proselytizer of early Christianity; the saying “there is no greater proselytizer like a convert” didn’t just come from nowhere. Likewise, God demands us to pour our hearts and dare ourselves to achieve His will.

But we must approach this idea with caution, for God only demands a specific kind of passion: a passion to carry out what God has deemed to be right, not what we think is the best for Him or ourselves. Sometimes, we might be overzealous and act according to our best intentions and as a result displease God. This is because our best intentions don’t guarantee agreement with that of God’s. Just look at David for instance. David believed that the best way to move the Ark of the Covenant was to bring a fancy cart to carry the ark and it with guards and trumpets and other instruments. But that wasn’t what God wanted. He wanted David to study the “right” way, His way of properly bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem with specific instructions that date back to the times of Moses.

Or look at Saul; the Lord specifically instructed Saul to destroy everything in the Lord of Amalek. Saul, however, only destroyed what he thought were “vile and refuse”, sparing and bringing the richest of the lambs and the fattest of the oxens (1 Samuel 15: 1-22). Saul’s excuse was that these animals would be used as sacrifices for God, which prompted Samuel’s to say the famous “to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

We may love God with all our hearts and soul, but keep in mind that God wants us to obey His will, not for us to decide what’s best for Him. Sometimes, our best intentions aren’t enough. We must first seek what He wants from us and then give our all.

How to Face Adversity

Some say adversity is a blessing in disguised and I couldn’t agree more! Adversity is not a misery, but a chance in our lives. However, didn’t we learn from the Bible that our lives should be prosperous and serene if we believe in Jesus Christ? We often find out that this is not always the case. For example, when we look into the book of Jobs, God gave Jobs a lot of adversities and he lost everything he had—his children, wife, wealth, nobility, people, and health.

Why would God do such thing to Jobs? And to us?

It is because He wants to test us. He wants to examine that our hearts and faiths are true to Him. Of course, He is an almighty Lord and already knows them, but he wants us prove to ourselves that our hearts and faiths are real! Through this process, our faiths get mature and harden.

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3)

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)

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Yet, when we face such hardships, we often don’t think they are blessings. Instead, we agonize and complain about them. How should we face it? How should we twist adversity into blessing?

  1.  Embrace your adversity

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1: 2-4)

 Do not run away from your hardship! Running away doesn’t mean you are escaped from the hardship. Who can truly be joyful when they face the trials or tests? However, the Bible tells us to do so because “the testing of [our faith] develops perseverance.” When we face adversity and embrace it, we produce the characters of nine fruits of Holy Spirit—“ […] love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “ (Galatians 5:22-23)

      2.  Pray! Pray! Pray!

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.  You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139: 1-3)

 Adversity is a chance for you to talk to God! Remember that He is giving you the chance to cry out to Him. He is with you most closely when you are facing adversity. When David was running away from Saul, whom tried to kill him, he couldn’t do anything but pray. He finds out that God is always with him and he confesses that God knows everything—He knows David better than himself and guides him on His path. David felt Him most closely when he was in hardship.

3.  Give thanks

“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.”

(Psalm 18:30)

 Be thankful for your adversity! Thank Him because you are in His boundaries. He is leading you in His way. He is perfect and flawless. Be thankful for your hardships because in the end, He will lead you to victory!

What is Your Action?

Have you taken any high school-level science courses before? If you have done so, then you may have heard about Isaac Newton—the most influential figures of all time, especially in many fields of science. Newton’s most famous achievements include the laws of motion, universal gravitation, and calculus.

In physics, classical mechanics, sometimes also called as Newtonian physics, is concerned with the motion of bodies under the action of a system of forces. Of Newton’s achievements, the study of motion of bodies becomes one of the largest subjects in science. The law of motion proposed by Newton in his outstanding work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica are comprised of three parts:

  • Law I: When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force (Law of Inertia).
  • Law II: The acceleration of a body is directly proportional to, and in the same direction as, the net force acting on the body, and inversely proportional to its mass (F = ma).
  • Law III: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body (F1 = – F2).

Among the above three laws of motion, we should give a careful attention to the third law, which is well-known as the law of action reaction. It says when an object exerts a force to another object, then the latter exerts the force that is equal in magnitude but opposite in direction. We can generalize this law: To every action, there is always a consequence following it.

If one’s action is to stand on the ground, the ground exerts the force that is equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction. The heavier you are, the greater force is exerted by the ground to the person. This cause and effect relationship is not only found in our daily lives, but in the Bible through the parables of Jesus Christ. Because Newton’s law of action reaction is considered as a universal law in science, this can be applied to anywhere—to even our daily lives and spiritual lives. Every action we perform leads to something in our lives.

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Jesus tells His disciples about the story of seed to emphasize the importance of having a good mind. He said: “one seed fell by the road…[…]…some seed fell on rocky gound…[…]…some other seed fell among thorny weeds…[…]…some other seed fell on good ground where it grew and produced a crop” (Matthew 13:1-9). At the end, He said “Let those with ears use them and listen.”

The seed that Jesus talks in the Bible is the Words of God while the places where the seeds are planted are our minds. The Bible explains the people with a good mind as those of who have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23). These are the mind sets that are not innately born with, but can be educated through the power of Holy Spirit. If we want to have a desired consequences (reactions) in our lives, then the proper actions should be done on our part. If we say we truly love Jesus, then we have to make sacrifices.

Try to make time out of your busy schedules to worship God. Try to put efforts for studying God’s words. Try to speak with God through the prayer. And, you will be able to listen for God’s Spirit, as Jesus asked said in the Bible. The key to success is putting your efforts. For every action, there is a reaction following it. Your effort will lead to your success in your spiritual life!

– T.S.