How do you become creative?

Creativity is an essential ability to succeed in life. Many people take training programs,read books, or travel to new places to gain creative ideas. People like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim-the founders of Youtube-  are the icons of inspiration because their outside-the-box ideas have literally changed and shaped the world. And there are yet so many people whose innovative thinking are effecting and leading today’s society.

So how can we as Christians, who are created after the image of God, become creative? If we are made in the likeness of the Creator who had planned out and constructed the whole universe, then aren’t we to be creative after His creativeness? Where do we turn to find the creative ideas?

TAC defines creativity as “discovery of the creation of God”. In Genesis chapters 1-3, we find that Man is created in the likeness of God, and God is the Creator of all things. This means that every single invention ever made in the past, being made in the present time, or to be made in the future, are all in fact the works of God’s creation and we are just discovering what has already been created by Him in the beginning of time. And TAC tells us to turn to the Bible, the Word of God, to seek creativity.

Jesus and many other biblical figures were always creative and did things that were extraordinary and different. Jesus performed so many miracles and did things that no one else would ever do, such as submitting to crucifixion without a sin. And every person of faith in the Bible did something extraordinary and new, while following God’s commands; Moses, David, Joseph, Jacob, Peter, to name a few.

Through the Bible, God gives us innumerable role models and examples to follow. And when we follow them, we gain pieces of wisdom that God has in store for us, including His creativity.

When we read the Bible, we can actually see the sources of inspiration and ideas for some of the inventions that people have made. Take technology for an instance. Who says computers are wholly new inventions of the twenty century? Computers, tablets, and smartphones are all constructed in the likeness of the Book of Life which visualizes each person’s life on earth. Or the parable of the talents shows the fundamental principle of how talents (abilities, wealth, etc) are multiplied or destructed.

The Bible is the word of God who has created the universe and the book indeed contains all things. I am in no way encouraging anyone to use the Bible as a means to merely gain ideas for personal and secular success. Bible is the book of Truth and it contains all wisdom. It tells us the right way to do in everything.

God tells us to cherish and read the Bible all the time in Deuteronomy 11. When we live by His words and keep studying the Words, we will learn of God’s wisdom and creativity.

God has created us after His image and has granted us His blessings to multiply, prosper, and dominate the world. Read the Bible to gain knowledge and wisdom about the world. When we keep His Words and live by them, then God will open our eyes and allow us to see the ways of His work.

 “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.” -Deuteronomy 11:7

K.P.

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.

Gratitude Quiz

How grateful are you today? What are you thankful of? Or have you been forgetful of your gratitude?

As Christians, we know that we have so many things to be grateful of in our lives. We are who we are today, all by God’s unconditional grace and love. We have been washed, renewed, and saved by the blood of Christ, and we have been chosen as His children to live forever in His glorious kingdom.

And God loves those who keep a heart of gratitude. He blesses those who remember to thank Him throughout their lives. God had chosen one man out of all humanity who kept a heart of gratitude for Him, and from him He raised twelve tribes which ultimately become the nation of Israel. Throughout the Bible we learn the stories of men and women whose grateful hearts were loved and blessed by God.

But personally and honestly,  I find that being grateful all the time is rather a very difficult work. I often see myself being irritated by and complaining about the smallest bits of troubles and in many cases the situations get worse because of my lack of gratitude.  I knew that if I said thank you and smiled instead, everything would have had been okay.

How grateful are you? Perhaps taking this Gratitude Quiz developed by a group of psychologists might help you gain an insight to your gratitude life. Take a moment to answer the questions and see your gratitude score here: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/take_quiz/6

Most of us are familiar with the idea that gratitude brings miracles. It truly does so, because God blesses the grateful hearts. People even have made an official holiday to give thanks, which is ten days away from today! Let us all remember and restore our heart of gratitude.

I want to share Rev. Goshen Choi’s (who is my pastor) advice for restoring a heart of gratitude:

1) Repeatedly give thanks. Give thanks through praising and singing.

2) Count your blessings. Examine the thread of your life and see how God has blessed you. The blessings come in many different forms through people and events.

3) Express your gratitude. Show it! Act upon your gratitude. Give offering to God to express your heart of thankfulness for everything He has been doing for you. 

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! -Ephesians 5:19-20

 

K.P.

Do you love Me?

As Christians we always know and say that we love God. We confess our love to Him through words and actions– we go to church, read Bible, listen to sermons, give charities in His name, and pray–all as ways of expressing our love and devotion for Christ. We say we want to devote our life to glorify God because we love Him. And many of us, especially young Christians, are inspired to become success in the secular world because we are told to become the Light and the Salt of the world. So we are driven to become the best in our work fields.

Simon Peter, a disciple of Christ, was probably just like us– always confessing his love for Jesus. Peter even left his wife and children to do the work of Christ. But one day Christ approached  Peter and challenged his love. He asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter answered that he did and that Christ knew of it. Then Jesus told him to “feed My lambs.”

Here, I found it to be strange that Christ had asked Peter to feed His lambs when Peter was doing His work all along. Soon for a second time, Jesus asked  Peter again if he loved Him. Peter repeated the answer that he loved Christ and that He knew of it. Jesus again replied, “tend My sheep”. 

When Jesus again asked Peter if he loved Him for the third time, Peter is hurt because Jesus had asked and doubted his love for Him three times. Grieved, Peter told Christ that He knew all things and that He knew his genuine love for Him. Christ then told Peter to “feed My sheep.” Jesus indeed knows that Peter loves Him with all of his heart. What is Jesus really trying to tell Peter here?

In the following verse, Jesus reminded Peter of his past and said that when he was younger, he had the control of his life and lived by his own will. But when he is old, he would have to do things he would not wish to do and be carried to places where he would not wish to go. Jesus finally told Peter to “follow Me.” The question here is for us: “Can you still follow Him?”

I often mistake loving Christ with loving the glorious promise that’s sealed within believing in Him. We often ask God to give us a glorious life so that we can glorify Him. I have never asked Him to give me a difficult life so I can glorify Him. But what Jesus tells us through the above Scripture is different; loving Him would require us to walk the path that we often wish not to go.

Can we still love Him? Can we still follow Him?  Will you stop feeding and tending your own dreams and wishes, and start feeding and tending His sheep? Will you give up the control of your life and really obey and live by His will?

Jesus asks us again today, “Do you love Me?”

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What is your answer?

Scripture: John 21:15-19 

K.P

*A daily reflection from Rev. Goshen Choi’s sermon 9/22/2013

Life’s Decisions

Life is all about decisions. We make countless and constant decisions and we live the consequences of our choices. This is so because God gave us the free will and left it for us to decide what to do with our lives. So we make decisions all the time, small and big ones, which eventually shape and mold the way we are.

Hence we are anxious and cautious when it comes to decision makings. ‘What if I choose the wrong way?’ ‘Am I going to regret this?’ ‘I wish I can foresee the future!’ Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” reflects our troubledness when we face a crossroad and  cannot see what’s ahead of both roads.

Few years ago, I had an experience that made me regret a decision I’ve made in the past and I was very disappointed and frustrated with myself. I called my friend and shared my thoughts. She consoled me but told me not to think like so. She said, “In everything, there is God’s will. You might think you haven’t done your best and so things didn’t turn out the way you’ve expected. But the will of God works bigger than your own will. God presides over everything we do and we need to find what the God’s way is in our lives.”

TAC emphasizes living a “Theo-centric” life. This means we place God in the center of our lives and do everything in His way rather than our own ways. Instead of following our own thoughts and judgments, we are to find God’s way and pursue what He wants us to do to glorify His name.

Only yesterday, I was on a highway returning home from a summer camp with young children. We were behind schedule about thirty minutes and we were rushing to get down in time. It was then we came across a huge car accident. The accident was bad and there were flipped cars with broken windows and blood everywhere. I had goosebumps all over me because the accident seemed like it happened just a while ago and the police were arriving and surveying the site. What if we were on schedule thirty minutes ago and was passing the place with those cars? I was again reminded of God’s providence in life.

How are we to search and find God’s way in our lives? Gideon the warrior in Bible (Judges 6) shows us a way to find God’s will. He prayed to God and asked Him repeatedly for His signs. He asked God to dampen a fleece but leave the ground around it dry and God answered him. He then asked God to dampen the ground but leave the fleece dry and God answered him again. This shows Gideon was very cautious and he relied completely on God before making a decision.

God has planned the entire universe and He has His plans for each one of His creations. If we disregard our own wills and ask for His will, then God will show us His plans for our lives. When we abide by His will, we can actually see the end of the road through faith. Therefore, let us not fear the unknown consequence of our decisions anymore. Instead, let us pray and find God’s will in every decision we are to make.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

-K.P

Grace for grace

In a recent New York Times Opinionator column, Tim Kreider, an author, talks about an intricate issue of human relationships. He discloses the darker reality of how we are thought by other people in a rather negative light, against our existential desire to be loved unconditionally.

 An incident happened to Kreider when he received an accidental email which was meant to be traded between his friend and his co worker and it contained some gossips about him. At first, he was shocked to find that someone was gossiping about him behind his back. Then he felt hurt at seeing his friend’s unsympathetic behavior towards him. Finally, this incident led him to realize how little room we occupy in other people’s hearts and that everyone else does not always view us in the forgiving light that we wish they would do.

We all hope to be understood and be accepted by others, sometimes without a condition. But when it comes to understanding and accepting others, our brains start to pick all the reasons why we cannot understand and accept them. Yet simultaneously we count on them to understand our anger.

Kreider in his article explains that unconditional love is to love someone despite their infuriating flaws and unforgivable absurdity. Many of us, including myself, demand this act of benevolence from others but when it comes to giving it, we find it the most difficult thing to do. I often see myself stuck between wanting for forgiveness and being reluctant to giving it.

Socrates has left with us his legendary quote “Know Thyself” and this asks us to turn a table around and  see ourselves objectively.Would you be able to forgive all the flaws and the absurdities of your own character and love

During one of the TAC meetings, a question was asked about the objectivity of knowing ourselves. Is what I know about myself an objective truth? Or is what others say about me an objective truth? The discussion led to a conclusion that the only objective way to know about ourselves is through the Bible.

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners. We are all sinners and that we need to repent and ask for forgiveness. Without realizing all the infuriating flaws and absurdities of ourselves, we can never grasp the meaning and the value of an unconditional love.

The one and the only person who has given us  true unconditional love is Jesus Christ. He has sacrificed and died for us despite of all our flaws and sins. He loved us and gave His life to save us. His love is grace for grace which we have not deserved. In His unconditional love, let us strive to forgive and love.

K.P.

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Read Kreider’s article here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/i-know-what-you-think-of-me/?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=OP_IKW_20130618

The Gift of Sparkle

Have you ever met a person who has kindled a sparkle in you and changed the way you’ve thought and lived your life?  We often say we are inspired by successful people but to actually be moved by someone and let your life be changed is, I say, a miracle.

Well, lucky for me, TAC was that igniter which opened my eyes to see the true meaning  in life and success. It still drives me everyday to live as fully as possible as a Christian. I am ever so grateful and indebted to TAC for igniting passion and hope for my future in Christ.

With that being said, I want to introduce a person who has brought sparkles to many young children’s lives. He is a world famous educator and the founder of a prestigious pedagogic method, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. Many of you may have heard of his Talent Education School or the well-known Suzuki Method for music instruments but the fundamental basis of his pedagogy is emphasized on nurturing Characters.

Dr. Suzuki’s belief in the power of love has actualized many impossible dreams  including a blind child to see the violin, strings, and bow. That child, after one year of genuine and arduous practices,  performed Seitz Concerto at the age of six. Dr. Suzuki’s tales, including his own, narrate many success stories of world famous performers and educators.

What has touched me most was  his fundamental idea that a talent is not determined at birth but is nurtured and brought forth by ceaseless effort and love. He says shortcomings or weak points in children (and adults) shouldn’t be blamed on “character” or “nature” but should be corrected and brought to the points of excellence through arduous training.

Under this principle Dr. Suzuki believes that all kinds of talents and superior abilities can be developed, especially for the younger children. The key evidence for this theory is that all children  speak their mother tongue languages without a difficulty and likewise a talent can be developed if placed in an appropriate environment.

He says that the way to produce superior ability is to concentrate on something and devote oneself to doing it. Quoting his words, “The reason that we chatter freely in Japanese (he’s Japanese) is that we use it daily; it is the same with jumping over the hemp every day from the time it appears. It is a matter of ‘Ease comes with training.’ We simply have to train and educate our ability, that is to say, do the thing over and over again until it feels natural, simple, and easy. That is the secret.”

His focus isn’t placed in attaining superior outcomes, but he esteems the quality of life and character prior to the materialistic outcomes of such training. Children shouldn’t just practice to produce excellent performing skills, but they are to first love and respect music, people, and life. They are encouraged to set purposes and visions that are beyond physical successes.

A lot of what Dr. Suzuki says resonate with TAC thoughts and I am ever so grateful for these priceless lessons that have changed and have formulated the path I now walk. I’ll end today’s blog with another inspirational passage from Dr. Suzuki’s book “Nurtured by Love” and I hope this will inspire a positive change in your life too.

“…You will one day realize that it is the greatest and best blessing on earth to come in contact with men of high humanism, who also through their art have a pure, noble soul. And whatever you can absorb of his greatness and beauty of character will determine your worth as a person. However, to perceive and grasp these qualities requires the humility and judgment that come only through sincerity, love, and knowledge…However wonderful the other person may be, it depends on us alone, whether we have the capacity to absorb their greatness. One has to educate oneself from within the benefit from the greatness of others. Only if one can do this can one fully realize the joy of being near someone who is great. Never lose your humility, for pride obscures the power to perceive truth and greatness. Please, by all means, don’t forget this.” 

K.P.

To learn more about Dr. Suzuki or his method, please refer to the following resources:

Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education http://www.amazon.com/Nurtured-Love-Classic-Approach-Education/dp/0874875846

Ability Development from Age Zero (Suzuki Method International) http://www.amazon.com/Ability-Development-Suzuki-Method-International/dp/0874875803/ref=pd_sim_b_1

Suzuki Association of the Americas http://suzukiassociation.org/teachers/twinkler/