The importance of Habit

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People tend to overlook the importance of habit when it comes to pursuing activities; the notion of habit is associated with thoughtless mechanism and as a result, insincerity. What exactly is habit, then? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, habit is a usual way of behaving; something that a person does often in a regular and repeated wayAttempting any sort of activities—from writing to playing musical instruments—requires reinforcement to get better, and living a life of faith is really not much different. When people think about praying, they commonly think that praying is only necessary when you need something, or simply want something. But that is a very elementary way of thinking about God, one that reduces the role of God to a mere genie in a lamp. God wants us to pray to Him regardless of whether we are happy or sad; whether we want something or are simply grateful for all that he has given us.

Just look at the Bible. You’ll see countless instances of Bible characters habitually praying to God. Out of many, two comes to my mind immediately. One is Daniel; in the Book of Daniel:

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

– Daniel 6:10 (KJV)

To give a bit of a context to the passage, there was a law issued in Persia that no gods were to be worshiped other than King Darius himself. According to the passage, Daniel knew that the writing was signed, yet he “kneeled upon his knees…prayed, and gave thanks before his God.” Perhaps the most important part of this passage is the word “aforetime.” Daniel had a habit of kneeling before God and praying towards Jerusalem three times a day. He knew that his life would be at stake for praying to God, but he still prayed as he did “aforetime.” The result, as many of you know, was that Daniel was saved from the lion’s den by God, and instead his political rivals were thrown into the den and eaten alive by the lions.

The other example is Jesus. Jesus also had a habit of praying, as stated in the Scripture:

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed Him.

– Luke 22:39 (NIV)

This was right before Jesus was crucified. Despite knowing that he would inevitably be crucified, he went to the Mount of Olives as usual to pray. As we can see, both Daniel and Jesus went to pray as they always did regardless of whatever was to happen to them. Both were faced with the threat of death, (and Jesus indeed dies from cross, and resurrects) yet did not skip their daily routine of praying because of grief and worries. From this we realize that praying to God shouldn’t be something we do impulsively out of worries or other surge of emotions, but something we do routinely to connect ourselves spiritually with God. Hopefully, the importance of habit in living a life of faith is somewhat clear now.

Though seemingly mechanic and methodical, our adherence to such habits becomes an important indicator of our own faith. The examples I gave above were in ancient times, where believing in God was potentially life-threatening. At ancient times people were crucified or tortured or burned alivefor their beliefs. Nowadays, these threats no longer exist. We seem to be living in a world where there is a freedom of religion. But the capitalistic society that we live in requires us to deviate from our daily habits of faith and focus on building careers, money and family by not wasting any time. If we have some spare time to pray, we might as well spend those time to expand our businesses, improve our personal skills, or catch up with old friends; we can’t go to church on Sunday—we attract the most customers that day! These subtle obstructions to our faith is our era’s test of martyrdom, because these things are hard to notice, like molecules that can only be seen when one scrutinizes its details through a powerful microscope. These microscopic obstacles to our faith creates a powerful momentum, like a splitting nucleus emitting a neutron which then clashes with other nucleus, ultimately creating a massive nuclear fission. It is so important to never be swayed from obstructions that prevent us from pursuing our daily habit of faith.

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

– Aristotle

The truth is, developing a habit is hard. It requires discipline. This habit of praying can be especially hard, because it is not what people commonly think when they think of praying. It is not the same as looking up to God when you need Him (although you would need Him every second of your life); it is devoting your time to Him even when you feel like everything is swell and you don’t really need to pray to Him. The same applies in situations where you just can’t help but brood over your deepest worries; you need to make it your habit to pray to Him. It should be difficult at first, but we should devote our time to Him.

So, how about it? Let’s start slow. At any time of the day, spare at least a few minutes of your time to pray. Pray for whatever crosses your mind; the things you’re grateful for, the things you want God to listen to, your problems, your dreams, your plans, your family, friends, the world, everything. Do not let your mind filter what you wish to say to God, rather open yourself so that the Holy Spirit can consume you.

Good Luck! Let us know how you are doing by posting on the comment below!

– A.K.

Sources:

1. Reverend Goshen Choi (sermons)

2. TAC (Meetings)

3. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/habit )

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I Put my Life Your Hands because I Trust You

In my younger years of youthful ambition or rather, greed, I looked upon the Bible character of Isaac and felt only questions and frustration. I’ve always only made a personal liking to the characters who at the end of their journey made an evident victory over their evildoers or at least were pronounced and expressive intellectuals who in various periods of their lives were able to battle and win in the name of Jesus Christ. Someone like Paul the Apostle.

But Isaac? Who was he but a son who willingly and quietly laid on an altar of firewood so that he may be made a sacrifice to the Lord? Besides the story of complete obedience shown so clearly on that altar, what else do people remember him for?

Perhaps some of you will remember the story of Isaac successfully digging wells everywhere he went, only for those wells to be stolen by nomads or villagers in that area.

Some of you may also remember that Isaac too, like his father Abraham, told Pharaoh that his wife was his sister so that he may be saved. Ah, and perhaps also the story of how Isaac married the woman chosen by his father’s servant!

But besides these few, his story, though unquestionably a major part, never quite seemed anything like the elaborate and intense narrative of the other more “vivid” characters in the Bible.

It was only until my arms were completely chained and my feet shackled that I remembered the story of Isaac. My chains were already choking my neck, and the pain was unbearable. Life or death, it was. Nothing in between. All doors in my life seemed closed shut. Darkness enveloped my life and a form like death seeped into my bones.

Yet, like a sudden gust of wind, the story of Isaac knocked a door in my tight-closed chest. It was as if a dust-covered book suddenly came to life and before me was a wisdom I was not, until now, ready to learn.

Was I kneeling before the Lord, praying like Jesus did before the Cross, that God’s will be done? If I truly say I believe in the Lord, in Jesus Christ, have I submitted completely and have retained not even a little, not even an ounce of myself? Or have I conceitedly applied the Almighty God to the schemes of my desires instead of submitting to His great and Good will?

And therefore, what was repentance all along if I had only asked God for grace for the chance to sin again? Have I  asked for heaven when within me I retained that little bit of hell?

Then, I remembered the story of Isaac, that righteous humility to leave everything up to God. Like a lamb, he quietly followed the path to his cross, without once putting forth his greed for life on earth. To every land he invested his work and discovered prosperity (the wells), it was stolen by thieves who steal the work of others and make it their own. And like a mute, he did not fight back. He was able to let go of “possession”, made his by his work and sweat. He did not question God and ask, “God, why give me the opportunity to find, to dig, to build, to invest my work only to take it away from me?” Tell me, what brave and faithful person can let go of something they treasure so much? A well, water, signifies a source of life. If I were to be cut off from my source of life today, the source that feeds me day to day and what I believe I need in my life, could I faithfully let go of it when God takes it away and believe that God has prepared a new way for me?

I stopped and looked at my hands, holding on to the chains and shackles of my greed. My desires. My wants. My belief that I knew what was best for me. I repented for the obvious sins I sinned, not knowing the underlying sin of trying to play God in my own life.

I ask you today, do you really trust In God that He has truly prepared a better way for you? Even if that path is not necessarily the path of your dreams and desires? Can you let go of things you think you need in life when God says to, believing that He has prepared a better way? Or will you be like the rich man that asks Jesus, “what can I do to receive salvation” and walks away from the truth when Jesus says:

“go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

To give up the self and to follow Jesus… this was what Isaac had done. C.S. Lewis says:

“The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.” Mere Christianity

Now, I ask myself, who was the wiser man? The one who constantly battled with the Lord to finally submit to His will? The man who began as a persecutor of believers and than was struck blind so that he may learn of the true God?

They are all wiser than anyone can judge, but it is now I understand Isaac a little bit more and why God was pleased in him.

The story of Isaac does not show much drama, and in his complete submissiveness to the Lord, his life seemed to me all too boring to make any human connection to. Of course I understood the teachings and the theological importance his story had to my faith. But in developing any further reason to declare I wanted to be more like Isaac, it was not so.

But how blind I was! In my struggles I have come to face again a fraction of the whole Truth that even in its small comparison to the Whole, is ever so monumental. And how blind I was because all along, the Truth was right there. Never moved. Never changed.

Let me leave this post with a quote by C.S. Lewis about what it means to truly trust God:

“…handing everything over to Christ does not, of course, mean that you stop trying. To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already.” – Mere Christianity

May we all trust in God.

The Humble Reflection

So as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.”

– Hebrews 3:7-8

The Bible should not be considered an allegory, but it can certainly be considered a holy text full of parables that teach us more than what is on the face of it. It is so often said that there are no questions that have not been answered in the Bible. If we do not see it, it is merely because we do not understand  the meaning behind the words we read, or we are not prepared to take to heart what Holy Spirit wishes us to obey. A simple line can have more meaning and application than a thousand hours of self-help lectures. If we just think about that, we can imagine how profound the Bible is.

By learning and loving the Word of GOD, we learn to become more like Him and understand His will. But through the Bible, we are also given the chance to really look into ourselves. It is constantly said in the Bible that the word of GOD is like a double-edged sword because of how exacting His words can apply to our lives. Sometimes His words cut us open so that the walls of our conceit and obstinance fall down and we can finally see ourselves clearly in the mirror, that is the Word. It is then we confess with great humiliation that we were so blind to the sins we were committing.

This time of humble reflection is a time of pain because the double-edged sword of the Word cuts us open, however it does not end with just pain. It is also a gift of God’s grace. It is grace because by the wounds of our sins being torn away, we are made new. We learn from our sins and begin to walk in the righteous path of the Lord again. We stop justifying the wrongs in our life and we come to accept that we have wronged and it is time to make it right before the Lord.

I found this verse from the Book of Hebrew. [So as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.”]

God speaks through us through so many ways. There is always the Holy Bible that lays somewhere in our room. The Word is always waiting for us. But there is also sermons at church, the prayers of our fellow congregation members, and even our friends. There are times we hear God’s words through signs in the day and night. Whatever the medium, when God speaks to you today at this very moment, let us not turn our heads away in the other direction. Let the double-edged sword pierce through us and make us know that it is time for a humble reflection. It is pain but it is also what makes us right again; not only internally but when all things stand right before the Lord, the rest of our lives fall through.

Have you had time for this humble reflection through the Word?

A Motivating Story of Nick Vujicic

“I have the choice to be angry at God for what i don’t have, or be thankful for what i do have”―Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limits

He goes around the world to tell people “you are beautiful just the way you are.” Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker with no arms and no legs. He was born with tetra-amlia syndrome, which is a disease characterized by the absence of all four limbs. Instead of choosing to be angry with God for what he doesn’t have, he chose to thank him for a little foot with two toes. He learned to do everything without limbs—He does most of the daily skills with his two toes on his foot. He can eat, brush his teeth, type up to 43 words in a minute, play drum, play soccer, swim, and etc.
He had attempted suicide at the age of ten due to bullying in school. However, he decided to live after few attempts because he didn’t want to leave his loved ones with the burden and guilt. The turning point was when he was thirteen. He hurt his foot and couldn’t do all of the daily things he used to do. This made him realize that he has to be grateful for what he has and focus more on the abilities than disabilities. He decided to give his life to Jesus at the age of fifteen because he experienced the greatest peace, joy, and fulfillment when he found faith in Him.
“Jesus has given me victory over every circumstance and comforted me in every pain. I believe that once you find faith in God, you will experience the greatest peace, joy and fulfillment. My faith in God is why I am driven to motivate, share and travel.”
He still keeps a pair of shoes in his closet. Since he was young, he prayed God for two arms and two legs and his prayer is unanswered. However, he realized that his life could inspire others when his struggle and embrace his lack of limbs—he became to be thankful for who he was. Though his prayer was not answered, God had showed him the way, His plan, and the purpose of life. He said “if you can’t get a miracle, become one.” Even though he still prays for two arms and two legs, he knows that God will not make such miracle, instead, He made Nick to become a miracle, and spread Jesus, hope, and dreams.

What does it take to become an Achiever?

In statistics, normal distribution is an important phenomena applied to many real-life situations in the field of natural and social sciences. The feature of the normal distribution is that it is symmetrical in shape about its mean, which is well-known as a “bell curve.”

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The peak in the bell curve represents the mean (average) of the population, but in simple terms it is the highest number of occurrences of values, which is the mode. The important thing we have to notice is that the curve is concentrated in the center and decreases on either side. This is significant in that the data has less tendency to produce extreme values, called “outliers,” as compared to the values fall under the peak in the middle. Most individuals in a population fall under this region of the bell curve and standard deviation lets scientists estimate the extent of the deviation from the mean. In a normally distributed curve, there is a relationship between the population mean (µ) and the standard deviation as follow;

  • 34.13% of the area under the curve is contained between the mean and a score that is equal to µ + 1σ.
  • 13.59% of the area is contained between a score equal to µ + 1σ and a score of µ + 2σ.
  • 2.15% of the area is contained between scores of µ + 2σ and µ + 3σ.
  • 0.13% of the area exists beyond µ + 3σ.

If you add up all these values above, this accounts for 50% of the area and another 50% accounts for the area that is in opposite side of the bell curve (since it’s symmetrical in shape). The term “outlier” is a phenomena that is numerically distant from the mean and it is believed to occur due to either of measurement error or experiment error.

However, the outliers are those who succeed in the real world and one may think that only a few selected individuals can succeed in their fields while rests fall under the “peak” of the bell curve. However, the Bible says nothing is impossible when we do all to the glory of God. Let’s look at some verses from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 10:31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Mark 9:23: Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 2:13: For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

1 Corinthians 10:13: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Believe that you can succeed your life with the power of prayer! If you do everything in your life for the glory of God, He will show you the path and also make a way to escape if you may not be able to bear it.

T.S.

References:

http://www.concordspedpac.org/Bell-curve-ss.htm

Limitations of the Court

scales-of-justice

Lawyers will often try to explain to their clients that there are limitations to the relief they can get at law. Many laymen file petitions, hoping that for whatever inequity that have suffered, the Court will offer a complete relief of their burden even though the legal system just cannot offer the remedy sought. There are stories after stories of clients demanding lawyers to file a complaint that will probably be a futile attempt at what clients like to call “justice”.

Further yet, even when there is a relief at law, there are obvious limitations to what the Court can offer. Before discussing limitations, it is important to note that the Court system can do two things, very broadly speaking that is. First, the Court can act upon what has already happened. By doing so, it might either reward or punish a certain party for past actions. The Court may order damages or specific performance to compensate equity. The second thing the Court can do is stop or initiate future actions. The Court may order an Order of Protection, for example, to prevent a certain person from intruding on the petitioner’s premises. The Court can also incarcerate someone and forcibly prevent the criminal from committing further offenses.

However, the Court is limited to one thing. It cannot necessarily change an individual. It cannot make you whole from a broken marriage. Not necessarily, at least. The Court cannot change an individual to awaken them to their senses by incarcerating them. It may however, happen on the account of the individual’s own enlightenment. It is limited in that it can control a person’s actions, but as for what is within and without, the Court plays a truly limited role.

As Christians, the Word of God moves us. The Word is like a seed that plants into our hearts and from there the seeds sprout into leaves. Our hearts and minds become gardens of Christ, as by the daily dose of prayer and the Word, they are watered in the Holy Spirit. It is not a rare sight to see the unbelievable rebirth of a sinner shackled by death to his salvation by the Blood of Jesus. Like a man born again from the womb of his mother, a Christian is born again and again in Christ. Every time a sinner repents, you see regrowth and renewal in him.

The Word does not simply control our actions, though the Command of God is beyond prevalent in the entire Bible. Though an awaken individual may go to jail and come out as a “new” man, it is by the words of experienced judges who often say, “oh no, you’ll see that man again, in Court, very soon.” They simply say, “they do not learn”.

People all make mistakes. I cannot for a second doubt that all judges are great sinners themselves. Yet, people with ongoing and endless criminal counts, are almost residences of the Court or the jail. You clearly see, this is no mistake. Criminality to such degree in the all too many counts show that their actions are not mistakes. They are habits they cannot break.

There are weepers and moaners. There are the proud ones and the shouters. Sadly, too often than not, one cannot possible trust all that they “promise” before the judge. “Judge, thank you. I will never disappoint you again.” These words go in one ear and come out the next, as the same faces reappear year after year.

I often sit and see this frustrating cycle of sinful habit. Break it, I say! But how do they begin? Where do they begin? What if their entire lives were constructed by sin because their parents too, did not know any better? They may return home today with a legal remedy that they are happy of. But, will that change them from where they are now?

There seems to be two worlds facing each other in Court. There is the judge with authority, with wisdom and knowledge of the law. Then, there is the inferior one who stands before the bench, waiting for an invisible hand to force them to do something. I sit there in between the two worlds and feel stricken with grief.

How limited the legal remedies are! People fight and say “I’ll see you in Court!” as though, justice would be served and all would be well. But, what of the true offenders who have violated the law? What of the offenders who come back every now and then, and who cannot break away from their problem-infested lives?

I do not not for a second think it unnecessary for the Courts to exist. The relief that the parties gain through trial or hearings can amount to more than I can possibly imagine. Yet, when we downsize and look through a microscope into the individuals lives, it pains me that some do not know there is complete relief in Christ. 

Perhaps it is because I know that from death, Christ saves me day to day. Though we are all sinners, the Word breaks us into pieces day to day. The Word is like a mirror. It shows us our dirt, our conceit, our pride, and our crime. By seeing that reflection, we know the grace we have received! And though we can never stop sinning, at least we are given the blessing to know what we have done wrong, how to undo that wrong, and how to begin walking the right path.

Think what blessings you have that even today, this very moment, you can see your true reflection by His Word. Be thankful that this moment, when you kneel before His grace, you can be born again. Remember, nothing in this world can give to you exactly what you need. It is only Jesus Christ that gives complete relief.

The Heart of Many Thank-you’s

If you were lucky to have amazing parents, friends, and/or teachers, you probably grew up with a lot of advices about how to live life. But one that stands most common among family and friends is this very advice: Be thankful.

Now, if you grew up in a Christian surrounding, you probably heard the same thing but with a little bit of variation. “Thank God for everything in your life.”

You hear it so much, sometimes it goes to the back of your head and God knows when you even remember to properly thank God for everything. But then, there are moments you come to this enlightenment, this realization that truly everything in your life was given by God, all the good and the bad, and you cannot believe how amazing God is and how much He has worked within your life.

People, both big and small, talk about “ways to be happy”. Oh sure, there are plenty of ways. But underneath the joy of happiness, you find that gratitude lies as the strongest foundation of them all. When your heart begins to look at the world and your life with thankful eyes, you understand through thick and thin that everything will not only be “okay” but “great”. You find that the reason you can be joyous of your life is because God is in you, and He is working both night and day, whether we are there to know it or not, to lead your life to His will.

Now, if you are a grumpy old soul reading this post, all these words of gratitude may make your eyes more frown-y, your shoulders more slump-y, and you can’t find what there is to be thankful of! A grumpy soul finds the smiles of a joyous person so distasteful, and quite understandably so. But remember that gratitude does NOT come only when you have fortunate events in your life. No, gratitude is something truly deeper than that. It begins with knowing who you are. It begins with the humble journey of discovering how small and weak you are. When you can see clearly the being that you are, then you begin to see this hovering light of Holiness and Grace above you, so far up in the heavens. You learn through the Words and through the sermons at Church that this Holy Light hovers with grace above the clouds in your life. You learn that the Almighty Christ loves you, that God sent his Beloved Son into this sinful world, to save you and me from death and evil.

You see the shackles that constantly tries to chain you. You see the darkness of the soul seeping into every hole your heart creates. Any emptiness is quickly filled with evil thoughts. You cannot deny this soul we have is evil.

And yet there is but one hope in life. It is the hope of Christ. It is the hope of salvation. Though the toils of man without God is left in the dirt, the work of man in accordance to God’s will is of the heaven’s glory!

Let me share with you a few Bible verses:

Psalms 118:24 – This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Psalms 127:1 – (A Song of degrees for Solomon.) Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Ephesians 1:16 – Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Hebrews 12:28 – Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Colossians 3:15-20 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Psalms 107:1 – O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

**

These are but the very few. His words are of rejoice! Let us find gratitude in our hearts, find light in darkness, and seek with prayer and passion that once the Light has been given to us, that we do not let anything take it away.