29 June 2010

Works vs Grace

A man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates.

St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in."

"Okay" the man says, "I attended church every Sunday"
"That's good, says St. Peter, " that's worth two points"

"Two points?" he says. "Well, I gave 10% of all my earnings to the church"
"Well, let's see," answers Peter, "that's worth another 2 points. Did you do anything else?"

"Two points? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."
"Fantastic, that's certainly worth a point, " he says.

"hmmm...," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."
"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"

"THREE POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!"

"Come on in!"


Life's a Cake


Sometimes we wonder,
'What did I do to deserve this?' or 'Why did God have to do this to me?'
Here is a wonderful explanation!

A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong,
she's failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.
Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack,
and the daughter says, 'Absolutely Mom, I love your cake.'
'Here, have some cooking oil,' her Mother offers.
'Yuck' says her daughter.
'How about a couple raw eggs?'
'Gross, Mom!'
'Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?'
'Mom, those are all yucky!'
To which the mother replies:
'Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves.
But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake!
God works the same way.'

Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times.
But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good!
We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!

God is crazy about you.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

Contributor - Anonymous

28 June 2010

Kota Kinabalu Highlights - Glorious Food

Street Food
Street food is food that is commonly served from a streetside vendor, often from a makeshift or portable stall, a push cart, a basket. Food and green groceries sold in farmers' markets may also fall into this category. However, street food can also be served at stores, due to hygiene laws where the customer can clearly see the preparation and cooking of the prepared streetfood.

Most street food is both finger food and fast food; hence it is intimately connected with take-out, junk food, snacks, and fast food ...but not the McDonald's or Kentucky Fries kind. It is usually distinguished by its local flavour and by being purchased on the sidewalk or in the case of these photos, at a car park where it is opened from early morning (don't ask me how early ....I was still sleeping) till about two in the afternoon.

There is something about street food that I always found fascinating. Maybe because it is food that I have grew up with, as a snack or even as a meal, is cheap and is served quickly when the order is placed.

I am partial to the relatively round Chinese doughnuts, some stuffed with bean paste, the "Yau-Char-Quai" a kind of long stick fried bread usually served with rice porridge and the "Choy-Kui-Tuai" flat rice noodles fried with eggs and bean-shoots.

Bistro or Cafe Food
A bistro is a small, casual eating place known for serving hearty, simple "home cooked" food ...but certainly for some dishes, simple may be understating it. These places or establishments are usually shop houses in the suburb serving restaurant style food for the evening. They do not necessarily open during lunch time, but come evening, .....dinner is served and the good ones are usually jammed packed with people.


Although the food is served quickly in these bistro-restaurants, the preparation time can be very long for the cooks as many dishes need marinating and/or long, slow cooking times.

However, if you haven't already noticed, eating does not take that long a time. The food is enjoyed even much more when having it among good friends.

Restaurant Food

More specifically Café TATU, at the Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa. It was the place of choice for dinner with Margaret's friends whom she has not caught up with for a very, very long time. At least it felt like it.

Café TATU is a contemporary restaurant featuring a varied buffet dinner of Asian and Western dishes, in an open-kitchen setting. They offer Mongolian, Tandoori, Asian noodles, Dim Sum, Pasta, Salads, not forgetting the favourite, Seafood and of course, the desserts .....the famous Ice Kacang: shaved ice with sweet red beans, cendol, corn, rose syrup and ice cream. Chocolate cake with wild berry compote and fresh mint Panna Cotta with Pandan and ruby soga pearl are some of the sample you can find.

Beside the food already laid out, there are also cooking stations where you get to watch the cook at work, cooking your dish, prepared fresh on the spot.

The thing about eating in places like Tanjung Aru, the ambience of the place also count. The following are some features of the place, enroute to the restaurant that caught my eye.

23 June 2010

Perspective

One day , the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.
They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
"It was great , Dad."
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yeah , " said the son.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.
The son answered:
"I saw that we have one dog and they had four..
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.
Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.
We have servants who serve us , but they serve others.
We buy our food , but they grow theirs.
We have walls around our property to protect us , they have friends to protect them."
The boy's father was speechless.
Then his son added , "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.
Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!

"Life is too short and friends are too few."

Contributor - Anonymous

13 June 2010

Kota Kinabalu Highlights - Shopping

Since the last time I visited KK, the number of shopping malls has doubled with new ones cropping up at the suburbs. Even so, the usual shopping mall like Wisma Merdeka, KK Plaza, Centre Point and the ever so popular Karamunsing Complex, all within the city centre, still draw in the crowds. If nothing else, the air-conditioned malls are incentive enough to get inside, away from the heat.

Apart from the shopping malls, there is always the shops that line the roads within the city business district and the ever so popular KK Handicraft Market. You'll find a range of markets where you can pick up bargains on handmade crafts, crystals, antiques, the freshest seafood, local cakes, vegetables and exotic fruits. The Handicraft Market alone boasts exquisite pearl jewellery and a wide range of ethnic wares; handbags, table runners, shell ornaments and carved wood furnishings. There is also the Gaya Street Market that opens only on Sunday's with wares ranging from antique gongs, potted plants, ceramics, clothing to local cakes and biscuits; some of the hundreds of items on offer.

However, this trip highlights a particular shop that is off the usual shopping area and is a gem for shoppers who are looking for style or something different. We were brought here by Susan, Margaret's sister-in-law who seems to know where all the best stuffs or bargains can be found in KK. She is a very good person to go shopping with as almost every proprietor seems to know her. Either she is a very seasoned shopper or KK is not as big a town as I thought.

Asiana, is a tourist souvenir shop with the usual tourist items that you would find, but almost half the shop specialises in jewellery ranging from silver and gold to pearls and sea-shells. Asiana target market are the Japanese and Korean tourist as it is heavily advertised in these two countries.

The photo with the four pieces of jewellery shows a sample of the unique design work that you can find. The greenish colour parts are made from abalone shells.

05 June 2010

A Little Girl and Her Father - Part 1 - Perspective

1 John 4:10, 16a (NLT)
10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him....
Our Loving Effort

At a personal level, often in our pursuit of God, we look at what we do in our search or in our pursuit to find Him as an expression of our love for Him. We trust in our ability to hold on to Him by memorising scripture verses, for example. We attend Sunday service every week, with the hope that the sermon we hear will keep us in His favour.

Often however, we forget where in the Bible the verse is found at best, or worst, mis-quote it entirely. Occasionally during a Sunday service, you'll find oneself nodding off or taking that nap when the sermon does not seem to have that "vroom-factor".

At a ministry level; an example of how we trust our ability to hold on to God are preaching that emphases on our love for God with teaching like Luke 7:36-38 "Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman". Such teaching on its own, invariably leads to works to be accepted, approved or even to be justified by God. The teaching overlooked the rest of the passage from Luke 7:v39-50 or from dwelling on what could possibly have brought the sinful woman to her loving act for Jesus.

Preaching and teaching that we are to "cleanse" ourselves before coming into God's presence sounds good, after all isn't that what we should do when we come into the presence of our Almighty God? However, that is not what scripture says that God asked of us. Such teaching brings about a life that is sin-conscious, instead of being Christ-conscious. It also cancel out the need for the blood of Christ and dishonour Jesus finished work at the cross which empower us to do Hebrew 4:16 (NLT)
16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.
because of who He is in Hebrew 4:14-15 ....a great High Priest who understand our weaknesses for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.


God's Love

However, it is not so much what we do that our Heavenly Father is looking for from us. It is in our believing that He loved us that interest Him most. And how much does he love us? So much so that He sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

It is not in our ability to hold on to Him that we are to focus on, but in His love for us that we should be focusing on (1 John 4:10). In doing so, we will come to trust our lives to Him (1 John 4;16), and that is what interest Him most in us. This knowledge of His love, empower us to love one another (1 John 4:11).

The following is a short story, I hope better depict what I am try to get across.

A little girl and her father were crossing a narrow bridge. The father was kind of scared that his daughter might fall off the bridge so he asked his little daughter, "Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river."

The little girl said, "No, Daddy. You hold my hand."

Puzzled, the father asked, "What's the difference?"

"There's a big difference," replied the little girl. "If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go."

In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond. In the illustration above, the bond is that between the father and his daughter.

Rather than us reaching out to hold onto our Heavenly Father's hand, especially in our time of most need, it would seem to be a far better thing to have our Father God hold onto our hand. A slight change in the emphasis of who is holding whose hand, but the difference in the outcome can be far reaching.


How do I do that, let my Father God hold onto my hand?

Seek to be conscious that:
  • God the Father LOVES YOU. (1 John 4:10)
  • you are a Child of God (Roman 8:16)
  • you as a Child of God, is led by the Spirit of God (Roman 8:14)
  • you received the Spirit of Sonship and by the Spirit you cry , "Abba, Father" (Roman 8:15)
  • you are heir and co-heir with Christ (Roman 8:17)
  • you are righteous in Christ (2 Corinthian 5:21), not your own righteousness, but HIS righteousness. You become God's righteousness not by what you did or will ever do, but from the finish work of Jesus Christ at the cross.

If nothing else, at least remember this verse from Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
"Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you."
or as in Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
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