A Reflection on Ascension Day: A Deepest Longing of Humanity for A Future Home

Everyone loves to stay in a beautiful house, but even more in a beautiful home. There is a difference between house and home – the former refers to a physical building where someone lives whereas the latter is more than just a physical building: home can be a place (or an atmosphere) where someone feels belonged to and lives most comfortably. It is a place of ultimate joy and satisfaction that we share with our beloved ones. One can live in a clean good-looking house without feeling at home. But, to be honest, we all long for a nice, clean, big, and permanent place to live called home.

When we are looking to buy or rent a place, we would preferably find the good one. We might not prefer to buy or rent a dirty and ugly house, even if it is quite affordable. There is an excitement when we are moving into a new house. Even before moving in, we may already think of some friends and family whom we would like to invite. We may also feel uplifted just by thinking of how we would decorate and furnish the house. In short, the joy of living in a new and beautiful house is an indicator of our deepest longing for a future glorious home. Deep down in our hearts, we long for a home that is always filled with love, peace, happiness, where things are imperishable and treasures can’t be destroyed or stolen (Matthew 6:20).

Ascension Day reminds us the promise of Jesus Christ to prepare heavenly places for those who believe in Him:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4, NKJV)

Isn’t it interesting to see that Jesus has already addressed the deepest desire of human’s hearts since thousand years ago? From the beginning He said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.” The only way for us to be relieved from fears and worries is by trusting Him. And then He mentioned about His Father’s house that has many mansions. What is the connection between our heart’s troubles with His promise of a Father’s house? We may be wondering why the solution or answer to our problems is faith in Him and His promise of a heavenly home – and even more, He prepares a place for us and wants us to spend eternity with Him. I believe the answer is because He knows our greatest need of salvation. The real life begins in eternity; that’s why we should think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth (Colossians 3:2). What an amazing God’s plan for us!

Now as Jesus invites us to believe that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), shall we trust in and entrust our lives to Him? Jesus does not just show us the way to the Father but He himself is the way. Jesus does not just reveal the truth about the Father but He himself is the truth. Jesus does not just give us the everlasting life but He himself is the life. Finally, another important question to ponder is: are we longing for the heaven or the One who is in it? Do we want the place or the Person? What is the true reason of our faith: heavenly home or heavenly Father?

A Reflection on Ascension Day

A Reflection on Ascension Day: A Deepest Longing of Humanity for A Future Home. (The background image is adapted from here and here)

Vancouver, May 10, 2018

P.S. I have also shared five reasons Jesus has ascended to heaven and the article can be read here.


Why Salvation is A Gift

Whether we realize it or not, every good thing in life is actually a gift. It includes the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the achievements we make, the time we have, the air we breathe, and so on. We know that life is a gift because we can’t intentionally do things like growing our own hairs, circulating our bloods, or digesting foods in our stomach, etc. What has been given to us which is not a gift?

But some of us might think, “I achieve success because I work so hard.” Hold on… isn’t it the ability to work hard in itself is a gift? Isn’t it a gift that our body organs can function well so that we can work and do normal activities every day? Isn’t it life in itself is also a gift? Therefore, if life (and every good thing in life) is a gift, then so is salvation (eternal life). Can we now confirm what the Bible says?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NIV)

It is clearly said that eternal life is the gift of God. The Bible doesn’t say “the reward of God is eternal life.” So, what’s the difference between gift and reward? To answer it, and to understand why salvation is a gift, here we’ll see from (at least) three characteristics of a gift:

1. Gift is given out of the giver’s generosity

In contrast with reward, which requires labors (hard-work) from the receiver, gift is given out of the giver’s love in the first place. Gift is given without a prerequisite while reward is given as a performance-based acceptance. When someone gives you a gift on your birthday (or any special day), that means you are loved – you don’t need to work or “do some good” to receive that gift. Have we been generous to others, or have we experienced the generosity of others? Have we realized that, in fact, most of the organizations (or activities) can only survive by “donations”? Research activities can progress if the government commits to support (or sponsor) them. Missions can thrive if the “stakeholders” are willing to contribute financially (and prayerfully). Even businesses can only run well if the customers are “generous” enough to buy their products. Humans are needy of the others’ generosity. Ultimately, we can only live (and be saved) by the gracious love and mercy of the True Giver, who is the Source of everything.

2. Gift can be accepted or rejected

There is only one requirement to accept a gift: trust the giver. It is up to you to accept or reject any gift – you can reject the gift, for example, if you don’t trust the good intention of the giver. You might question the giver’s motive and sincerity (or perhaps you might even feel undeserved to receive it). To accept a gift demands faith, and to have faith demands humility. When we accept gifts, sometimes we have to acknowledge our “wants” or “needs.” Imagine you have a very sensible friend who recognizes your needs of something and then he/she gives you exactly what you need. Would you humbly accept the gift, or pretend to be strong and say, “I can earn it by my own efforts and I will do it my way”? Salvation can’t be earned by our own hard-work – it is a perfect gift from the Creator of the universe, given out of his perfect love for us. The only way to receive such a wonderful gift is by humbly putting our faith in him.

3. Gift is not your own and thus demands a responsibility

If life is a gift, can then we do anything we want with it? Can we have a limitless control over our own life? Obviously not. You see that even though the gift is freely given, we should treat it with respect. Imagine what your best friend might feel when he/she found that you didn’t treat his/her gift respectfully? To treat the gift carefully is to show a true appreciation to the giver. The gift of salvation, if accepted by faith, should also be treated with honor. One can’t simply take it for granted. While it is true that we don’t need to “work for” the gift of salvation, we still have to “work out” the gift of salvation. As an illustration, suppose you receive a computer as a birthday gift from your parents. You don’t need to pay anything for it, but you still have to be responsible for taking care of it. If necessary, you should clean it every day and make sure it works well. You are expected to make the most and get the best out of it. At the end of the day, your parents would be so much happy if the computer can give maximum benefits for you. Knowing that life (and salvation) is a gift, we would please our Heavenly Father by making the most of every moment to live according to his will. Since we’ve been given two wonderful gifts – life and salvation, our expressions of gratitude are to love God and people, by sharing these gifts to others.

Vancouver, April 30, 2018

Why Salvation Is A Gift

Why Salvation is A Gift. (The background image is adapted from here)

What if the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus were Untrue?

Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday annually as they believe that Jesus had died and risen from the grave. In fact, the death and the resurrection of Jesus have been the foundation of Christian faith for centuries, even millennia. However, not everyone in the world has the same conviction – there has been a view that Jesus had not actually died on the cross, but he was miraculously saved by God and raised bodily to heaven during crucifixion. Thus, according to this view, if Jesus was not even dead, he was also simply not resurrected.

If neither the death nor the resurrection of Jesus was the case, all Christians in the world would have been deceived over the course of human history. As Paul wrote in his letter, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19, ESV). In other words, we Christians believe that since Christ has been raised, our faith is not futile, we have been set free from the bondage of sins, those who have died in Christ will receive the promised eternal life, and we (who are still alive) do have hope in Christ, not only in this earthly life, but also for the afterlife, where we will spend eternity with God and his beloved people in a glorious heaven.

Nevertheless, to some people, this kind of faith does not even make sense and thus not everyone can readily accept it – at least not everyone can understand it. But I believe that in order for us to grasp the meaning of the death and the resurrection of Jesus, we have to admit in the first place that we are all sinners (humanity has fallen) and the earth we live in now is perishing (the world has been broken). Now, as we look at our world today, we might ask ourselves something like “Are the death and the resurrection of Jesus still relevant today?” or “Do we really need God to die in our behalf?” or, what will be addressed here, “What if Jesus was neither dead nor risen from the death?” Let’s take a closer look…

What if Jesus did not really die?

No story of God’s love. If Jesus had not died, there would have been no story about God coming down from heaven reaching out mankind and to give his life for them. We may then imagine God as an “ignorance being” who does not really care about what is going on in the world, including the struggles and sufferings of all creatures. There would have been no life-changingly divine interaction between human and the Creator if Jesus had not sacrificed himself. We probably know the best expression of love is to sacrifice our own life for someone’s sake: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NIV). Suppose you have a friend who loves you so much that he is willing to die on your behalf when he knows that you are convicted of a death penalty as a consequence of a crime you’ve committed. Are you going to call him “stupid” or “savior”? Well, if we don’t realize that we are sinful and how much we need God’s compassion, forgiveness, and restoration, the death of Jesus might be a foolishness for us. Otherwise, when we humbly confess that we can never earn salvation by our own efforts, that’s the time we realize that Jesus is truly a Savior.

No hope for true justice in life. Seeing injustices in our world is easier today than it has ever been. Every day we can actually find heart-breaking news around the world on social media. We probably think, “It’s fine” as long as the tragedy did not happen to someone we are familiar with. But, what if such unexpected things befell our beloved ones? Would we still have hope and belief that all things work together for a good purpose? I believe the answer is “yes, amen” if we believe that Jesus had died for us (and vice versa). Here is the rationale: Jesus had died the worst possible way a human could die. Not only about the “method” of his death (crucifixion), but also about his “status” in which he died in innocence, meaning he had no guilt that deserved him such a terrible way of death. In other words, the death of Jesus was a result of injustice… and also an evidence of the brokenness of the world and humanity. By such a gruesome and humiliating death, Jesus had gone through the worst possible struggles and sufferings a human could experience. Thus, we know that we are not alone when we struggle with any problems or suffer from any diseases in life. We have hope that a true justice does exist and is yet to come in this world because God has a power to restore everything: “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18, NIV). After all, we have a courage in Christ whose death brings us freedom and salvation from all sins, shames, and pains.

No God’s authority over all things. The death (and the resurrection) of Jesus is a demonstration of God’s sovereignty and authority. Even a layperson knows that God the Creator has an authority over life and death, a power to give and take away life. Now that Jesus said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.” (John 10:18, NLT)what do you think of he is? If he has the authority to give and take up life, then he is not merely an ordinary person just like us, isn’t he? The moment before he died, Jesus said, “It is finished.” Now we know that the work of salvation has been completed by God himself and no man should ever work for his own salvation. The bondage of sins and the power of evils have been defeated by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross once and forever. Our lives now belong to God alone and it is he who has the ultimate authority over us. God is now at the center of our lives and the throne of our hearts. God is in control over all things in our world. What a great privilege to be owned by the Creator of this universe! This all were not the case if Jesus had not died.

What if Jesus did not rise from the death?

No victory over death and sins. There is a lot of uncertainties in life, yet one of the certainties is that we will all die one day (unless God is willing to take us directly to heaven). Christians believe that there is an afterlife, and thus there must be a consequence of all the things people have done in life. We believe that salvation has been given by God’s grace through our faith in him: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8, NLT)Many people have fear in death and understand it as the end of their existence on earth. However, the Bible tells us that death is the final enemy to be destroyed and, in fact, has been defeated by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: “We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.” (Romans 6:9, NLT)Since Christ has risen victoriously from the grave, he is able to grant us, his beloved followers, the same victory he’s already won. Now, suppose you become the follower of a “God” who claims himself as a “loving, just, and powerful God.” Don’t you think such a “loving God” should be able to give an assurance for your salvation? If he really loves you, would he boldly say, “Believe in me, and you’ll be saved. 100% guaranteed” or do you think it’s just fine if he says, “Even if you believe in me, I can’t guarantee your salvation. It’s all up to you, o human. If you are morally good, you might be saved; if you are not good enough, you won’t probably be saved.” Which one do you think is the genuinely good God? Remember, both are loving, but only one of them is mighty to give you a certain hope for salvation. I believe salvation is a God-centered project, not a human-centered work. It is God himself who took initiative to liberate us from the fear of death and give us a victorious life by the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All this would be the case if Jesus had risen, and thank be to God that he is risen indeed!

No hope for eternal life. I wonder if you’ve been in a very good moment that you feel like going to live forever (or you want time to move slowly or, if possible, just stop there so you’ll be in a long-lasting happiness). We all might have felt that way – perhaps it’s like a glimpse of heaven. Even though the reality of life often disappointed us, in our hearts we still long for a life with never-ending joy. It’s everyone’s dream: an immortal life in eternal happiness. Would you be happy if someone help you realize such dream? Or, at least, if someone promises to give it freely to you? Did you know that someone does exist, he is alive, and his name is Jesus? This is his promise, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)I believe it’s also God’s desire to spend eternity with us, his beloved children. For this reason, he gives us eternal life as a gift, not a reward. You know that a gift is given out of the generosity of the giver while a reward necessitates labors from the receiver. Life is a gift – God gives us the breath of life and a good health; we don’t have to pay anything for breathing. Isn’t it amazing how he has promised us the gift of eternal life too? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, ESV). Our earthly life now is a God’s given opportunity to trust his promises, to obey his commands, and to do what pleases him… before we see him face-to-face. Though we can only see him now with the eyes of our hearts (faith), yet God gives us an unfailing hope, through his promises, that one day we’ll see the realization of our dream. And this would only be possible if Jesus had risen… and thank be to God, he had conquered the grave!

Life is miserable. Is this too blatant? If there is no resurrection, there would be no hope for eternal life, then we would all simply live to die. Our life would be meaningless and purposeless, we might think that we have a right to do anything we want because life is only once. Everyone would be trapped in a pursuit of worldly treasures, fame, and pleasures. All of sudden, this world would become a more chaotic place. We’ll see crimes and wars everywhere more than ever in history, and the victims, including innocent children, would all die in vain  so would the disciples of Christ, the saints, and the national heroes. You would never be able to see your beloved ones again – there would be no reunion and feast in heaven. Wouldn’t it be painful to experience such reality? Thank be to God for giving us good news: the Savior has come and there is a salvation in his name. Only he, who has risen from the dead, is able to save people from the death. No wonder Paul said, I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11, NIV). He wanted to know Christ, take part in his sufferings, resemble him in his death, and experience the power of his resurrection. In other words, Paul believes in the resurrection of the dead because Jesus Christ has risen. Would you believe that too?

Jesus Death and Resurrection

What If the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus were Untrue? (The background image is adapted from here; image designed by the author)


First draft written by March 28, 2018 and finalized by April 26, 2018 in Vancouver

The Lessons from Research for Life

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2, NIV)

The above verse tells us that God is glorious because He is “mysterious”, whereas a king will become glorious when he is able to disclose a mystery. Being a researcher is everyone’s duty, which is a great privilege, because the way of a researcher is the way of a king.

In this short article, I would like to share a few lessons from my research life and daily routines over the past few months. (It is a perspective of an engineering student).

Research is a long-time process that demands patience, endurance, and persistence. 

Researchers must realize that “nothing great comes easy”. One may not expect an instant good result without any struggles. Oftentimes, we must deal with tedious works, revisit the (same) problems, and exercise our problem-solving skills again and again. As I described in the previous article, research essentially means a “repetitive search”. It is true not only for people who work in science or engineering field, but also for those who study other disciplines, such as music, religions, politics, sports, arts, etc. In this sense, we could say that basically everyone is a researcher.

A simple case is that when you are planning to travel, you must first do a “research” about the locations, transportation, accommodations, foods, etc. In doing so, we must allocate time, energy, and money; we should be ready for a “long suffering” if we want to get the best results and make the most of our journey. To survive this long and rough journey of research, we need to understand what is our motive in the first place. I believe that the basic motive of doing research is curiosity, which will eventually determine our true passion.

In addition, we must however realize that it’s impossible to research everything; just like we can never resolve every problem in life. We might have an unlimited potential, but our time, energy, and priority are all limited. That’s why, we need to keep in mind that even after graduating and holding an academic degree, we may not stop researching. (Now I feel that it’s probably not just a long-time process; it’s a life-long process!)

Research will reveal our personalities and how we deal with problems in life.

We can do research because problems exist, hence the quality of our research will be determined by the extent of problems that we can resolve. The more problems we overcome, the greater impact we make, and thus the higher quality of research we’ll end up with. In a real life, we also have to deal with such seem-to-be-never-ending problems everyday. The way we deal with problems in life will pretty much reflect the way we do research, and vice versa. Our hidden strengths and weaknesses are often revealed by problems, both in life and research. Our characters or personalities are going to be tested by and developed through the problems.

A successful research requires good communication skills and creativity. Think about of how we deliver our ideas, how we collaborate with others, how we organize our thoughts to approach a series of problems, how we cope with our own perfectionism, how we treat our “superior” or “inferior” ones, how we prioritize contribution over recognition, how we can become of a true impact beyond a good impression, and so on…

Research will tell us whether we are an optimist, a pessimist, or a rationalist. The optimists are usually very ambitious toward publication; they believe their works deserve attention and can get published as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the pessimists are normally a type of people who don’t really enjoy “spotlights”; they may like publication, but they don’t actually like publicity (and sometimes get confused by two of them: publication vs. publicity), therefore they are not very eager to build a reputation based on the number of publications. In between these two, the rationalists are those who demand compelling evidences in order to believe any claim or theory; they are usually more concerned with the depth of understanding than the quantity of papers, however they could be pessimistic if neither solid facts nor strong reasoning is provided. We see now that research may reveal whether we are “believers” or “doubters”.

I observe that research may also help us identify ourselves: whether we are a “broad learner” or a “deep learner”; it might tell our preferences when dealing with problems, whether to approach a broad or a deep learning. After all, one good thing is that research is a humbling experience that will encourage us to willingly learn from others and neither rely on our own understanding nor think that we are the smartest person in the world.

Research is preceded by vision and leads to an innovation.

The normal stage of PhD life is to spend most of the first year for an intensive reading (literature review). In this stage, we should learn from “history” of what is already known and what is still missing or remains unknown (i.e. knowledge gaps) in a particular field that we investigate. It is the time when we brainstorm ideas and develop a critical thinking. We are expected to have a good sense to criticize one’s works or publications, to tell whether or not a publication really has a great quality. In short, we should have an ability to examine whether or not any claim or theory is true and thus we are able to distinguish the truth from any misleading information. By the end of this stage, we are expected to have a “big vision” in our own research. Again, this is true not only for research, but also for life, in which we should know what to do as well as why and how we do something. Don’t be upset if your supervisors ask you the same question again and again, “What’s your goal?”

Here is the good news: a great research will lead to an innovation. After we develop our critical thinking and visions, we have a chance to formulate our own originality and novelty. It is now possible for us to be a pioneer, the one who open up a new way and make a breakthrough or ground-breaking research in the particular field of interest. We have seen that the rapid development of technologies, say in electronic devices (like smartphones or computers), is always driven by innovation, developed through research, and initiated by vision. In other words, without critical thinking and curiosity there would be no vision; without vision there would be no research; without research there would be no innovation; without innovation there would be no advancement or progress. It is now true what the Bible says:

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

Interestingly, to have a vision, oftentimes we should be able to see the unseen. It is our faith that will determine the “size” of our vision. As I heard someone says, “The eyes of our head give us sight, but the eyes of our heart give us vision“, it is actually important for us to develop faith, not only logic or human reasoning, in doing research and dealing with problems in life. We are to use not only our head, but also our heart.

Putting all together, I believe that we should not have an “anti-criticism” attitude in our minds. A good governance should embrace critics if it desires to progress. Otherwise, the nation will suffer due to its corrupted government (which can’t tolerate any critics and refuse to change or innovate itself). As a final remark: a nation will be blessed if the people are passionate in research.

Vancouver, February 28, 2018

The Life Lessons from Research


Understanding Chemical Engineering for Life

Hi there, welcome back to Pearls of Mind site. Time flies and it’s been five years for me now since I first started this blog in January, 2013. You might have noticed so far that many of my writings often discuss about personal, spiritual, and political issues. I realize that not all people can relate well to what I had written. Some people might feel interested, but some others might have also disregarded my stories or perspective. I am totally fine with that! 🙂 I would keep on writing and sharing, hoping that at least a little of inspiration would come to you after visiting this site.

Anyway, this year I am going to write more stories and thoughts from my research and work, the field I am currently working on. Hopefully, there are positive values or useful takeaway that can be extracted from here. Alright… in my first blog of the year, I would like to share a little bit of my experience and insight from studying Chemical Engineering, especially for those of you who might be interested to know a little more about a subject of which people often asked me a question, “Why do you learn Chemical Engineering? Are you gonna make a bomb?” 😀

In the following imaginary interview, you might probably get some general ideas of what Chemical Engineering is about.

How would you define Chemical Engineering?

Chemical Engineering is a study of chemical processes that convert raw materials into useful and higher value products by applying the knowledge of physics, chemistry, and mathematics for investigating material and energy transfer in each unit operation (i.e. processing equipment).

What will you learn more specifically in Chemical Engineering?

Some fundamental concepts include, but not limited to thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, mass transport, and heat transfer. In thermodynamics, we’ll learn about relation between internal energy, heat, and work for a number of molecules at different temperatures and pressures in a system, including the spontaneity of reaction. In reaction kinetics, we’ll study the speed of reaction; how fast the reactant changes into products, which could be affected by temperature, pressure, and energy to activate the reaction. The mass transport studies the movement of molecules participating in a process or reaction; how fast the molecules move is driven by the differences in concentration and/or external energy. The heat transfer studies the flow of energy (in the form of heat), either naturally from high to low temperature region or vice versa with the help of external forces. Material and energy balances is the unique subject only learned in Chemical Engineering (you’ll not learn it in other disciplines).

In addition, we’ll also learn some advanced theories and applications, such as momentum transfer, fluid mechanics, engineering mathematics, computation and simulation, catalysis, reactor design, plant design and the economic evaluation. In short, Chemical Engineering students will learn how to be a designer of chemical processes.

How well does Chemical Engineering relate to people’s life?

Nearly all materials that we use everyday are derived from chemical processes. Clothes, drinking bottles, food packaging, glassware, electronic devices, and all the components of your house are manufactured through chemical reactions. The knowledge of Chemical Engineering also plays a vital role in energy industries. All transportation means, from automobiles, ships, to planes, are driven by fuels, which are produced via complex chemical processes. Even not too far, in human’s body itself also undergoes a variety of chemical reactions every day. As long as we can breathe the air, oxidation process occurs in the cells of our bodies. It is clear now that Chemical Engineering is actually not far away from everyday life.

What is the main role of chemical engineers in the real world?

There are actually diverse job opportunities for chemical engineers. Some people may argue that ideally a chemical engineer should work at processing plant, such as petroleum, cement, textile, or paper industry. We know that most of such industries have also impact on the economic development and political aspect of a country. Moreover, chemical engineers can also contribute to the innovation of technologies through a rigorous research and development. More importantly, chemical engineers play an important role in designing process that can transform underutilized materials into valuable products in a clean and sustainable manner. That’s why, a good chemical engineer should be concerned with both ecofriendliness and cost-effectiveness of a process.

If you could extract the insight from Chemical Engineering lessons, what would that be?

There are two keywords that have taught me a very important life lesson: “process” and “balance.”

First, the process we learn in Chemical Engineering, as already mentioned earlier, is actually about transforming less valuable materials into more valuable materials. This process typically consists of three steps: pretreatment, reaction, and separation/purification. In the pretreatment, raw materials will be selected and pretreated in a physical process, such as heating, cooling, or size reduction, in order to minimize “burdens” in the subsequent steps. In the reaction, materials will be exposed to high temperature and/or high pressure environment; they will absorb or release heat, known as endothermic or exothermic process, in which the bonds between molecules are broken or formed. In the purification step, the products resulting from the reaction will be isolated or separated from the other undesired compounds, such as impurities, unconverted reactants or by-products. Both steps require time and it is hard to imagine that raw materials can be changed into pure products instantaneously. Note that a pure chemical product is reasonably expensive since it was formed through a long, hard, and complex process. Fortunately, there is a substance that can speed up the reaction, called catalyst, which can “magically” reduce the amount of energy required to activate the reaction.

Second, the balance is very important in all the process. This concept is based on the fundamental laws of material and energy conservation. In an ideal process, the amount of input materials should be equivalent to that of output materials. The same is true for energy. All this means that there should be neither accumulation nor losses of material or energy in the process; a good process should not corrupt.

So, what is the life lesson? What can you learn from that?

Life is like the “process”. We used to be like the raw materials; in our old life, we might often feel less valuable and it seemed impossible to be a good person with great impact. However, through a series of process, that is often painful, unpleasant, or inconvenient, we have been growing to become a better person. We might think our circumstances and environment often “heat up” and “pressurize” us so much, however we have been actually transformed into a valuable product after being “purified” from all the impurities in our hearts and minds, such as hatred, envy, anger, and other negative emotions. This is not an instant “process” and often demands our patience, endurance, and persistence. Our characters are shaped along the way; there are some “bonds” we need to make while some others we need to break. Ultimately, when we turn into a “pure product”, our values are so high that people would give respect and honor to us. I believe that prayer and faith can be the good “catalyst” for our life process. (Hopefully, the already good reaction is not reversible) 😀

Not less importantly, the “balance” is what we always need in the “process” of life. All the blessings and good things in our life are not supposed to accumulate for our own. Our money and talents are to be shared with others, especially those who are in need. We come to this world without carrying anything and we’ll one day leave this world without carrying anything. Knowing this insight, we need to keep every aspect in our life in balance if we want to go through every life process as ideal as possible. For instance, whenever we feel that we had overworked, we can keep the balance by taking a break with some fun or relaxing activities. There is a case when the process is not in balance, for example due to an excessive amount of heat (overheating) that would potentially fail the process. This condition might result in a poor product that is less useful and even rejectable. If you are happy, don’t be so happy that you ignore the other person’s struggles. If you are rich, don’t be too rich that you neglect the poor. If you are religious, don’t be too religious that you become judgmental to others. If you are smart, don’t be too smart that you underestimate the lowly ones. Studying Chemical Engineering is truly a life-transforming experience to me.

I got you!

See you in the next posts.

ChemEng in Life

Please be advised that you can also read the similar contents of this blog for Indonesian versions in the following links:

Menemukan Makna Hidup dalam Teknik Kimia (1)
Menemukan Makna Hidup dalam Teknik Kimia (2)

Vancouver, January 31, 2018

The Attributes of Jesus in the Bible: A Reflection on Christmas

Year by year, on the month of December, we may often hear a question, “What is Christmas all about?” We may also be pondering the real meaning of Christmas, is it more than just a holiday season and time of happiness with family and our loved ones? What does Christmas actually mean to you?

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump declared that Jesus is the reason for the season. The birth of Jesus, over two thousands years ago, and the story of his incredible life has forever changed the course of human history. Things you may want to know about Jesus has been written in the Bible, the world’s best-selling book of all time.

The uniqueness of Jesus is attributed to his birth (from a virgin woman), his life (with miraculous signs and heavenly authorities), his ministry (to love God wholeheartedly and people unconditionally), his death (to overcome sins and become a perfect, flawless offering to God), his resurrection (to overcome the grave, showing his authority over life and death), his ascension (to prepare eternal home for us, showing his authority in heaven and on earth), and his second coming (to judge the living and the dead and to establish God’s endless kingdom). By this, Christians believe that Jesus is capable of saving people from eternal death, the condition of being separated from God forever.

Now, what does the Bible say about Jesus that makes him so special? There are many names, titles, and characters of Jesus, mentioned either by Jesus himself or by other people in the Bible. The author herein lists some of the biblical attributes of Jesus, which can be enough to prove his matchless nature, so that the readers may be convinced that Jesus is truly incomparable and his name is above all names.

The Word of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, KJV)
He (Jesus) wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13, NLT)

The universe is created by God through the word. If Jesus is the Word of God, then everything is created through Jesus. Mario Joseph once asked, “Is the word creator or creation?” If the word is creator, then Jesus, as the Word of God, is the Creator. However, if the word is creation, how did God create the word? Let me put it this way: of all the creatures, human is endowed with the ability to communicate through words. People make a living through words, by writing, speaking, listening, and reading. Simply to say, we all can’t live without words! Is it a coincidence that the Bible says in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God? Why does the Bible correlate the Word with Jesus? If Jesus is the Word of God, then we must acknowledge that he is the source of life!

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

The above verse is widely quoted during Christmas. It is the prophecy of Isaiah, written about seven centuries before the time of Jesus, which has been fulfilled in Jesus, who is a descendant of King David, and whose kingdom is everlasting. Let us now take a look at each of the title of Jesus here.

First, a counselor means “a person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems.” If Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, then he must be an expert to give us wisdom and guidance on any problems we may have. He is able to do that because he has experienced the most terrible suffering ever: the crucifixion; that’s why he totally understands our struggles and pains and he will never despise anyone who come to him. Knowing this truth, we may approach God with a confidence in the name of Jesus.

Second, who said that Jesus is not God? Clearly, in this verse alone, we can see the words “child”, “born”, “son”, and “God” exist together referring to Jesus. If Jesus is the Mighty God, then he must be able to empty himself and become a human. No doubt about that, because Jesus is the Omnipotent God. On the other hand, if Jesus is not God, then there has never been a story of God coming down to earth to lovingly reach out and communicate with his people. We may then think that God is “an indifferent creator” who lives comfortably at his throne in heaven and does not really care about us and what is going on in the world. There had never been a meaningful interaction between God and people or heaven and earth if Jesus were not God.

Third, one of the truth about God is revealed through Jesus, the Everlasting Father. What a privilege to be the children of God that we may call him “Father!” We know that being a parent (in this case, father) is a permanent role we may have in life. One can never say, “He is my ex-father.” Once you become a father, you are a lifetime father. A father is supposed to be the head of family, who is responsible for the welfare of all the members. In the father, children can find joy, love, peace, security, wisdom, and vision. What a personal and intimate relationship we have with God as our Father, the source of everything we need. And even more, what a joy to know that such relationship will last forever!

Fourth, the reconciliation between God and people is made possible through the work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus has become “the bridge”, creating peace between man and his Creator. As we see the world today, horizontal conflicts are everywhere; peace is what people, family, and nations are longing for. In this Christmas, we are reminded that even though the world has been damaged by sin, the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has given us the ultimate hope for a better life. As the children of God, we are also to be peacemakers wherever He has placed us (Matthew 5:9).

The Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NLT)

Jesus has come to earth with a clear mission: to take away the sin of the world. In the ancient times, as indicated by the Old Testament (see the Book of Leviticus), the people of Israel had to offer a various type of offerings to express devotion or thanksgiving to God and gain his approval. The annual ritual of the sin offering to make atonement or purification for all the people foreshadows the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who was slain for our redemption from sin. Jesus has died once for all and we have been sanctified through the offering of his body. As a result, it is no longer required for those who believe in Jesus to present any sacrificial offerings for the forgiveness of their sins.

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NLT)

In Psalm 23, King David declares the Lord is his shepherd, he lacks nothing. In the above verse, Jesus declares himself as the Good Shepherd, who sacrifices his life for the sheep. He has not only talked about the selfless character of a good shepherd, but also proved it with his own life. Clearly, Jesus “practices what he preaches”, he “walks the talk.” This is a very critical lesson, especially for leaders. The most important value a leader must have is integrity; to act in a way that agrees with the things said. In agreement with the title of Jesus as the Lamb God, Jesus has accomplished his mission to take away our sins by laying down his life so that he may take it back again (John 10:17-18).

The Light of the World

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

When we sinned against God, we chose to follow our own ways. We trusted in our own plans rather than His. We were walking in the darkness and the eyes of our hearts were blinded by the worldly things, such as selfish ambition, anxiety, envy, pride, and so on. Deep down in our hearts, we long for the light that would enable us to walk in the right path. Christmas brings a good news that the Light of the World has come. Jesus reveals who God really is to us because he is the radiance of God’s glory and the complete representation or exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3).

Human can’t live without light. In nature, we know that sun is the greatest source of light and energy to all creatures. Plants, for example, use sunlight to make nutrients for their growth through a process known as photosynthesis. On rainy and cold days, we miss sun so badly. With the modern technologies, people can use the energy of sunlight to produce electricity through a device known as solar cell. If you study about Physics, you may have learned that light is both particle and wave, the concept of which is known as wave-particle duality. Historically, this concept has emerged as the foundation of quantum mechanics and led to the discovery of electromagnetic waves, such as X-ray, ultraviolet light, infrared light, microwave, etc. Most of the electronic devices that we presently use, like computer, smartphone, and many analytical instruments, have worked on the basis of this principle. Now, can human live without all these devices? Did you realize that? Light is not only about sun! So, is it coincidence that Jesus describes himself in such an unimaginable way that addresses even the needs of people from every generation?

The Source of Living Water

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, ESV)

Can human live without water? In fact, up to 60% of human body is water. Every day we must consume water to survive. Again, is it coincidence that Jesus talked about the spring of water to satisfy our thirst? He not only touches our physical desires, but also our emotional and even spiritual needs. What are we thirsty for these days? Love, acknowledgment, knowledge, money, or else? Jesus promises the spring of water, which refers to the work of Holy Spirit, for whoever drinks it. The first step we must take to drink the water is to open our mouth: be intentional in opening our hearts to him. Once Jesus is in us, he will satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts and we will never be the same person. We will see things differently and our focus will change, from the self-centered minds to the God-centered desires. No wonder Paul, after his conversion, said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ  who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) and he focused on the unseen (eternal) things that would bring glory to God, rather than the seen (temporal) things that soon would be gone (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35, NIV)

After the word, the light, the water, which represent the basic human’s needs, now Jesus declares himself as the Bread of Life. He is concerned with the human’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. He best knows that we all need a freedom to express and communicate through words, to walk this life without fears by light, and to be continually satisfied by water and bread (food). In particular, bread represents the source of energy to run our activities. Again, here we clearly see that Jesus is the source of life, who provides our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). We couldn’t live one day without him. Every day is the opportunity to grow in Jesus as we do what he commands. We find the ultimate joy when we please him. There is no way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.

Messiah, the Christ

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, I am the Messiah!” (John 4:25-26, NLT)

Jesus is the long awaited savior of Israel and the world. The term of Messiah (Hebrew) refers to a future Jewish king who will be descended from the line of King David, to be the king of God’s kingdom. According to the orthodox views of Jews, the Messiah will gather the Jews back into the land of Israel. The term of Christ (Greek), meaning “the anointed one,” refers to the savior and redeemer who would bring salvation to the Jewish and mankind. Christians believe the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Jesus because he is the descendant of King David and has come to the world to save those who believe in him.

Immanuel, God with us

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23, NKJV)

Before the birth of Jesus, people might never think God would like to dwell among his people. Before the death of Jesus, he promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would be with his people forever (John 14:15-17). This promise was later fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, about ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. Before his ascension, Jesus declared that he would always be with his disciples, even until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Christians believe in the trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as three Persons of one Being. Putting them all together, we can see the consistency of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s intention to dwell with his people forever. Moreover, Paul also confirmed that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Knowing this truth, we can be sure of two things. First, the concept of trinity is undeniable. Second, Jesus is alive and he is Immanuel, God with us. It is truly a great honor to have God of the universe dwells in our hearts! Thus, we can say, “O come, o come Immanuel!”

The Alpha and the Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8, NLT)

We are born to this world without knowing exactly where we come from (origin), why we are here (meaning), how we should live (purpose), and where we are going (destiny). But yet again, on this Christmas, we are so thankful that Jesus Christ is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Jesus has the authority over life and death, in heaven and on earth, and also from the beginning to the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. In him, we may find the origin, meaning, purpose, and destiny of our life. Don’t ask your ancestors about your origin; nor your teachers about your meaning; nor your friends about your purpose; nor a psychic about your destiny! We may never fully grasp them all, but we should believe that having an intimate relationship with Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, is enough because He is the author and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).


There are actually names and titles of Jesus Christ in the Bible not mentioned here (such as the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lion of Judah, the Living Stone, the Resurrection and the Life, and many more). The author therefore would suggest the other article that may supplement this writing. Nevertheless, the author hopes that, by the grace of God, through this writing, we all may grow deeper in our understanding and love with Jesus Christ and continually experience his joy, peace, and love throughout the years. Merry Christmas!

Vancouver, December 25, 2017

The Attributes of Jesus (R)

The Attributes of Jesus. (Photo of Jesus is adapted from here and the background photo is adapted from here; designed by the author)

The Power of Problem

A wise man says “The way we see problem is a problem.” As we see our world today, people struggle everywhere – no one is spared from problem. We all face, at least, a problem every day. Different people have different problems (with the different kind and intensity), be it hardships, diseases, the lost of loved ones, and so on. The question is probably not “What problem do you have today?” but rather “How do you deal with your problem today?” It is apparent that the way we response to problem is also a problem!

Knowing that we have problem each day, how to deal with it? Leaving the problem unresolved often lead us to feelings of guilt, inferiority, and frustration. On the other hand, we might fear the problem would “kill us softly” if we insisted on resolving it our own ways. Problem often has a negative image and it is normal that people would long for a problem-free life. However, is there really in the world such a life without problem? If we know that problem is inevitable, don’t we feel challenged to overcome (or take advantage of) it? Are we often discouraged or encouraged by a problem?

In fact, some problems persist and at times the best we can do is just to accept it and keep moving forward. As long as we don’t lose hope, we may see some opportunities that disguised as problems. Now the question is “Can we benefit from problem?” Here are some interesting facts that you may not always realize about the good sides of problem, which I would refer to herein as The Power of Problem:

1. Problem is like an exercise that gets the best out of you

Just like your body muscles are strengthen through exercises, your “heart and mind muscles” are also developed through problems. Students are required to pass the tests, which comprise a series of problems, in order to advance to the next level. Moreover, it is interesting that humans tend to grow, not in the midst of pleasures and comforts, but rather of pains and problems. Whenever you are facing problem, don’t lose heart and remember that your character is more important than your comfort.

In military, a man is called powerful after he had conquered enemies, mainly the most difficult ones. It is only until we resolve a difficult problem that we experience a real progress. We know the more problems we fix, the more progress we make. When was the last time you felt a deep satisfaction and fulfillment after solving a problem? It is probable that problems exist (and persist) that we may become an expert in problem-solving and be victorious over our “enemies” every day.

2. Problem is the beginning of purpose

Do you agree that because problem exists, human can have a purpose? Just simply put it this way, for instance:

  • Because of health problem, doctors and hospitals exist (with the purpose of healing). There is no need for doctors and hospitals if everyone is healthy (has no health problem)
  • Because of the lack of knowledge, teachers and schools exist (with the purpose of educating). There is no need for teachers and schools if everyone is smart (has no lack of knowledge)
  • Because of the limited access to information, internet exists (with the purpose of providing the accessible information). There is no need for internet if everyone can have a limited access to information, and so on…

Problems happened that we may have a purpose: to help each other. Do you agree that all the technologies (the man-made things) exist because of a wide variety of problems? Believe it or not, even your job now does exist because of problem! (and you are there also for fixing one)

3. Problem is a reminder that life is not yours (and the earth is not your home too)

One of the characteristics of life on earth is temporal or perishable. When you feel good or bad, you know the feelings won’t last. How many times do we get tired of all the highs and lows, ups and downs, lost and found? Life is dynamic and that’s why it is important to enjoy every season and make the most of every moment. Problems remind us that life is not ours. What we call “possessions” or “treasures” do not actually belong to us. It is good to remember not to be possessive and act as if we are to control everything.

In my life, I have witnessed a person who had struggles with relationship, health, and financial problems all at once. He was divorced, suffering from a lung cancer, and had no house under his name before his passing over ten years ago. What can be concluded from his miserable life? To me, there are at least two important lessons that, first, this world is not our home and, second, a far better and greater place must have been awaiting us on the other side. The constant existence of problems prove that the world we live in now has been permanently damaged and therefore requires a complete restoration, which can only be done by the Perfect One.

4. Problem reveals the human’s greatest need for a Savior

There are times when the problems were so intense that we felt helpless. Deep down in our hearts, we acknowledged that no human powers were able to save us. Imagine you were trying to run for help from a tsunami. This kind of situation “forced” us to seek out a “divine intervention” (as the ultimate resort) which is able to deliver us. We, at last, are willing to humble ourselves and confess our weaknesses and limitations. It is often at this point that most people finally recognize their needs for salvation and thus decide to believe in a supernatural being, whom they may acknowledge as God, the Almighty, Savior, etc.

Everyone needs mercy and love. Knowing that life is fragile, we can never live by our own strength, we need each other, but ultimately we need a Savior. The power of the Almighty greatly surpasses the power of any problems you have. In my life, I have testified that the most relieving and rewarding ways to live is by putting our trust and hopes in the One who is always in control and takes care of everything (Romans 8:28). You’ve probably heard someone says, “When God allows you to face a big problem, He trusts you.” God is faithful and will not allow any problems to overwhelm you beyond your capacity or ability to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our ultimate strength comes from the Omnipotent, who is able to turn our problems into blessings (Philippians 4:13). What a great privilege to walk this life in a personal and intimate relationship with the Savior, who has overcome the most fearing problem on earth, i.e. death, so that we may have joy and peace until the end of time (John 16:33, Romans 8:37-39)

First written on November 30, 2017 and finalized by December 09, 2017 in Vancouver