Sunday, October 29, 2006

Remembering those days as a Job-Seeker.

This past week, I have been meeting people who are looking for a job. The first person happens to be a fresh graduate. He has lots of enthusiasm and exuberates that youthfulness that cannot wait to get into the workforce. He has been waiting for interviews and I notice that that enthusiasm takes a gradual dip as the weeks go by. He has been waiting for about 1 month.

A second person have just left a previous employment. Waiting is hard, I gather. Trying to find a right job, that satisfies both employer and candidate is something increasingly difficult. There are jobs available but only to the right person with the right skills and experience.

A third person asks about the job situation in Vancouver, to which I replied: "It depends." True. The kind of job available depends on what kind of job, what kind of person, skills and experience. Above all, it depends on the timing. It is sad to be working on one lousy job when the 'right' one comes along later. Some people said that 'Luck' is when preparation meets opportunity.

Perhaps I can say my personal trivia. I landed my 1st job based heavily from my educational qualifications and the good job market in 1989. I moved on to my 2nd job in 1994, after having fulfilled my personal equity equation of "Learn 1 year + Contribute 1 year" system. Fresh graduates normally has to go through a period of learning and training. Even 'On-The-Job' training is considered a learning period, though I know of some employers who exploit this. My second job, I relied heavily on both education and experience. This time, the jobs are better, as my relevant experience enabled me to get a senior position. I moved to my 3rd job in 2000, with a mixture of education+experience+connections. From then onwards, all my job moves were dependent on connections+experience. Education is no longer that important as far as job hunt is concerned.

Why am I sharing all this? I feel that a lot of fresh graduates tend to be initially very idealistic in terms of their job experience. As the waiting period increases, this ideal falls sharply to "Any job will do." Consequently, it influences their career perspectives. On one extreme, ideals will make one very 'picky'. On the other, willingness to do anything makes one looks 'desparate'. Discernment is extremely important. I never liked looking for a job. Even those who are gainfully employed are also 'job-seeker' themselves as I have encountered many individuals who are simply wanting to get out when the first opportunity presents itself. What kind of work ethic is that? I do not know. It may be ideal to get a job that satisfies BOTH employer and employee. In a broken world, ideals like this soon become ordeals. We need to be transformed in our job seeking behaviour. We need to keep praying until we receive our bricks of job exposure, on order to build the chapel of God's kingdom in our circles of influence. Purposeful living must coincide with faithful loving.

Times has changed since the 80s and 90s. There are going to be more part-timers rather than full-timers, more contract positions rather than permanent places. Job security is a thing of the past. People need to learn to work based on short term goals rather than long term commitments. Not surprisingly, many will want to start their own businesses rather than work for others. If you are a job seeker, the following may help.

1) Education: Stay Updated on education and market research. Learn continuously.

2) Experience: Be faithful in your current job position. Your supervisor/colleagues may be your best point of reference eventually, at some point of your life.

3) Connections: Network with people in the industry. With the Internet, this is even more possible on a global scale.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Forgiveness = "Becoming Human"

While stopping at a Salvation Army Thrift Store today, to prepare for my kids school Halloween special, I picked up a book which I have always wanted to buy. That for a dollar! (imagine what goodies we can get if we know where to look!) It is a book by Jean Vanier about the importance of connecting humanness with spirituality. Both are meant to be together and inseparable, though we might at times for the sake of understanding, study them separately. Essentially, the main point in the book is:

"we cannot grow spiritually if we ignore our humanness, just as we cannot become fully human if we ignore spirituality."

Spirituality is in vogue nowadays. Religion is out while spirituality is in. The main problem is that if people separates the sacred from the secular, they will eventually separate spirituality from humanness. The chapter that struck me most is LONELINESS where Vanier goes on to detail 7 aspects of love that can transform the hearts of those who are profoundly lonely. These 7 are: to reveal, to understand, to communicate, to celebrate, to empower, to be in communion and finally to forgive.

Interestingly, this morning's sermon is about forgiveness. Drawing from 3 separate passages from the New Testament (sinful women, ungrateful servant & Lord's prayer), the preacher encourages us to live a life of forgiveness. Being a preacher myself, I have one ear listening to the sermon while my other ear devising ways to deliver my own sermon version using the same passages. These two entry points does not usually works, but that happened today. Anyway, Vanier puts this seventh factor as the most crucial of them all in addressing one's loneliness. My pastor said it. Vanier said it, so now it is my turn.

My sermon on forgiveness will be something like this. "As I think about it, we are not perfect creatures. We all make mistakes in relationships. Hence, we are always prone to allowing our brokenness to cause the breaking of other relationships. This cannot be helped. Since we cannot build perfect relationships, the next best thing we can do is to learn to mend whatever relationships we have broken. Forgiveness is the superglue of relationships. Far too often, we apply forgiveness to others like a Post-It pad to achieve that momentary 'feel-good' factor. Let us be the superglue of relationships that mends over time. True authentic forgiveness is not merely saying things like [I am sorry], or [I forgive you] or [I am wrong]. It goes beyond the verbal output. It goes beyond the mental willingness to apologize. It goes beyond the sentimentality attached to it. True forgiveness hurts. This hurt is both ways. Authentic forgiveness is after saying sorry to the other party, when the other party subsequently become hurt in another situation, we too become hurt. That is true communion. When the body of Christ is fully mended and attached one to another, when one member hurts, the others hurt as well. In a broken home, or a broken community, if there is no pain, it might be there are cold hearts. Nerves already damaged. More likely, there has been no true forgiveness. "



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Crazy October but . . .

Next week is Reading week. Know what that means?

For some it is catchup week, while others, it meant a break from studies and go for a trip one has always wanted to make. Yet the name is fairly deceiving. Reading Week eh?

Next week, I hope to be able to read what is on God's mind. I have been more conscious of the Lord this year, perhaps I know my Regent sojourn will soon come to an end. Nevertheless, there are papers to write. I handed in one for the Conversion/Transformation class I had, and one more is due this Thursday for the Systematic Theology C.

Yet in the busyness, the cold weather, the wet Vancouver rains, I cannot resist noticing the beautiful blue sky, forming a backdrop behind trees of golden yellow/orange leaves as I walked to Regent. It is pure therapeutic. It is a pity to miss the nature in the midst of busyness. I was glad I did not miss the clear sky and everything blue. Makes me delight in the Lord.


Friday, October 13, 2006


This is a new online Bible study tool that is most helpful. For those of us who do not yet have a Bible software, don't fret. If you are on the Internet, here is one facility that will help your study even better. The NEXT Bible.

Although the default verse search brings you to the NET Bible edition, with one click on the hyperlinked verse number, you can have on one screen 10 other English translation, and 2 other languages like Greek or Hebrew that is transliterated for your convenience. Moreover, it is free for anyone to quote. That is electronic convenience at its best! Enjoy it here.

Note that NET bible is the New English Translation, while NeXtBible is name of the Bible study tool.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Warwick Business School

The latest MBA rankings from the Economist's acclaimed Which MBA? is out. It ranks the top 100 Universities offering MBA, through a ranking methodology. After all these years, we all know that these rankings are heavily marketed by the various Universities, as the MBA market is a very lucrative one. While we may question its actual effectiveness, the general rule is that the higher the rank, the more the attraction for good students. European MBAs may not dominate the top 10, but they sure dominate the higher level of earnings, as well as the diversity of recruiters as European MBAs are generally older and more experienced in the business world, compared to the younger US MBA graduates.

Warwick Business School remains at the upper half. Consistent indeed. It makes me feel good.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Singapore: Wireless Broadband enabled Islandwide

It's about time. After a spate of bad news (haze) and negative publicity (IMF protests) about the island,this is one piece of good news. An added incentive to return home soon.


1) "Singapore one nation under WiFi"
2) "Free wireless net access at public areas"
3) ChannelnewsAsia: Channelnewsasia
4) Today online: "Singapore, one giant hotspot"
5) Infoword Netherlands: "Previewing Singapore's free Wi-Fi service"

Seems like the freebies are back in town. Perhaps competition has played its hand, as neighbouring JB in Malaysia, is also gearing up for a citywide wireless initiative. Based on historical data, Singapore has a better track record for things on schedule.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Os Guinness's "Unspeakable"

The quotations at the front page of the book sets the tone for the book, which is on the presence of evil in the world.

1) "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797)

2) "In Germany, they came first for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up." (Pastor Martin Niemoller, 1892-1984)

3) "The world is too dangerous to live in - not because of people who do evil, but because of people who sit and let it happen." (Albert Einstein, 1879-1955)

4) "Let us not forget that violence does not and cannot flourish by itself; it is inevitably intertwined with lying. Between them there is the closest, the most profound and natural bond: nothing screens violence except lies, and the only way lies can hold out is by violence. Whoever has once announced violence as his method must inevitably choose lies as his principle. The simple act of an ordinary courageous man is not to take part, not to support lies! Let the lie come into the world, even dominate the world, but not through me." (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1918-)

In these quotes, the first three portrays a need to actively stand up against the evils and injustice in this world. The last quote by Solzhenitsyn, I would term "Passive act of good" in terms of not allowing oneself to be the channel of evil. As Christians, we need to be BOTH active and passive agents of goodness. We are created for good works. (Eph 2:10)

I agree with Guinness that the presence of overwhelming evil should not silence us, nor should it render us powerless that we do nothing. We should instead actively find ways to firstly recognize its reality, engage our emotional anger, and pray for opportunities to do something about it, no matter how small. Guinness is right to accuse Christians of moving to the 'faith clutch' too quickly without using our mental faculties to engage the explanation of evils like terrorism or Sep 11. The way of the mind, when dealing with evil must eventually point us to faith in God. His last paragraph is worth quoting.

Our challenge today is not to resort to faith as a clutch because reason has stumbled, but rather to acknowledge that reason, in its long, arduous search, has come up short and that where it has stopped it has pointed beyond itself to answers that only faith can fulfill. In the face of the horror of the unspeakable, only such faith can provide the best truths to come to terms with evil, the highest courage to resist evil, the deepest love to care for those caught in its toils, and the profoundest hope of the prospect of a world beyond evil, beyond hatred, beyond oppression, and even beyond tears.

Painful it is. Even greater pain is inflicted when those who are able to do something about it, don't.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Haze/Smog in South-East Asia

I remember the bad haze a couple of years ago, choking the cities of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, blamed on forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. Since then, it has become an annual haze gathering and for the past few years, Singapore has been pretty much spared as the winds have blown most of the smog the other way. This year, since early October, the bad haze seems to be back with a vengence. Just today, the pollution index (PSI) hits a high of 130, smack in the unhealthy range. According to the Singapore media,
SINGAPORE (AP) -- Singapore's air quality deteriorated to its worst level this year on Saturday as acrid haze from brush fires in Indonesia filled the sky, the National Environment Agency said.

The Pollutants Standards Index hit 130 at 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) Saturday, the first time this year it has measured above 100, the agency said.

The agency defines an index reading of below 50 as good, a reading of 51-100 as moderate, and anything above 100 as unhealthy.

When I look at the clear blue skies and cool atmosphere in Vancouver, it feels like heaven. When I think of the haze nor in Singapore, I pray with a nod of understanding as I have breathed much of haze before a couple of years ago. One needs to have experienced something in order to be able to pray with better understanding.

The PSI reached an alarming 150 this morning when I checked. Check the PSI online.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 50 books in Evangelical World

Bonhoeffer, Piper, Noll, Dobson, Stott, Yancey, CS Lewis, Schaeffer are all there. Our very own JI Packer's Knowing God is at #5. Several Regent professors past and present were in the voting committee. Click here to go to the ChristianityToday web article.

Reaction from Far Eastern Economic Review

Having been banned from circulating in Singapore, this is a 'no-holds barred' response from the paper. Read it here.

Most certainly there will be a rebuttal from the Singapore government very soon.... Stay tuned..

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Take a break - some light-hearted moment

The long weekend has arrived, with Monday (9 Oct 06) a Canadian thanksgiving day. Here is a list of funnies I came across in a magazine.

#9 - Bertha Belch, a missionary from Indonesia, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Church. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Indonesia.

#8 - Eight new choir robes are needed due to the addition of several new members, and the deterioration of some older ones.

#7 - Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

#6 - The 8th graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

#5 - t the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is hell?". Come early and listen to our choir practice.

#4 - Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help.

#3 - The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

#2 - The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

#1 - The sermon this morning: "Jesus walks on the water?" The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Words of Comfort

With exhaustion seeping into my bones, and tiredness round my eyes, I seek comfort in rest. Often guilty with feelings of self-inadequacy, the words below is an exposition of a welcoming arms of grace to a tired, weary and sinful self.

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lack'd anything.

A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them:
let my shame Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

—George Herbert, 1593-1633

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