Indonesia Harus Belajar dari Ahok

Orang bijak selalu bisa belajar dari pengalaman orang lain. Saat ini, Indonesia sedang mengalami proses pembelajaran yang begitu keras, menguras jiwa raga. Gara-gara satu orang ‘pendobrak’ yang berani (baca: diberikan keberanian oleh Tuhan) untuk pasang badan, mempertaruhkan nyawanya demi masa depan Indonesia. Orang itu adalah Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok). Pak Ahok adalah pahlawan bagi orang-orang yang selama ini sudah lelah dan muak (dengan sistem birokrasi yang korup), tapi tidak berani menyuarakan aspirasinya. Mengapa pembelajaran ini begitu penting? Karena masa depan bangsa ini akan menjanjikan jika masyarakatnya mampu berpikir bijak, rasional, dan progresif, bukan regresif.

Sejauh ini, Pak Ahok sudah memberikan standard moral yang tinggi dan pelajaran penting bagi kita warga Indonesia (paling tidak bagi saya pribadi). Sejauh pengamatan saya, sedikitnya ada lima nilai atau pelajaran penting yang bisa kita pelajari dari sosok Pak Ahok yang fenomenal ini:

1. Jangan cinta uang, karena cinta uang adalah akar dari segala kejahatan (termasuk di dalamnya cinta kekuasaan dan kenikmatan duniawi). Sadarlah, kekuasaan dan kenikmatan duniawi itu semuanya sementara! Tidak akan kita bawa mati. Di mana hartamu berada, di situlah hatimu berada. Jika kita selalu bernafsu mengejar harta duniawi, tidak heran sampai kapan pun kita tidak akan pernah puas dan selalu cemburu, iri hati dengan harta atau pencapaian orang lain. Jadi, arahkan hati kita bukan pada hal-hal yang kelihatan (fisik, materi), melainkan pada hal-hal yang tak kelihatan (pengabdian, kejujuran, integritas, ketulusan, ketegasan, kebesaran hati, dan nilai-nilai moral agung lainnya). Mengapa? Karena hal-hal yang kelihatan itu sementara, tapi yang tidak kelihatan itu kekal. Itu ‘modal’ yang akan menentukan apakah kita akan menghabiskan kekekalan bersama Pencipta di surga atau bersama si perusak di neraka kelak. Karena ketidakcintaan-nya pada uang inilah, Pak Ahok berani menerapkan transparansi sistem pembuktian harta pejabat publik dan menolak gratifikasi. Tidak heran jika akhirnya Pak Ahok mendapatkan penghargaan sebagai tokoh anti-korupsi di Indonesia.

2. Miliki integritas, jika ya katakan ya, jika tidak katakan tidak. Jangan pernah takut selama kita benar. Jangan bohongi nuranimu. Memang hal ini akan menyebabkan banyak orang membenci kita, karena kita tidak mau berkompromi sedikitpun. Tapi ingatlah, bahwa pada akhirnya, hidup kita adalah untuk Tuhan, bukan untuk mencari pujian atau persetujuan manusia. Yang berhak menilai adalah Tuhan, apakah kita sudah bertanggungjawab terhadap hidup, yang hanya sekali saja, yang telah Ia anugerahkan di dunia ini. Integritas ini juga tentu setali tiga uang dengan kejujuran. Karena itu, jika kita mengaku pendukung Ahok, maka di tempat kerja kita juga harus jujur. Jangan makan uang teman. Jangan menggunakan jabatan/kekuasaan untuk keuntungan pribadi. Di sekolah, bagi yang masih belajar, jangan nyontek saat ujian. Jangan ngutang sama teman tapi tidak mau bayar. Jangan berbuat curang pada teman. Kecurangan yang kecil adalah cikal-bakal korupsi. Mulailah setia pada hal-hal kecil, bertanggungjawab pada harta orang lain sekecil apapun, supaya kita juga bisa setia jika kelak diberi kepercayaan untuk mengurus hal-hal yang besar.

3. Disiplin dalam bekerja. Saya masih terheran-heran bagaimana Pak Ahok bisa begitu kuat secara fisik dan mental, setiap hari datang ke Balai Kota dari pagi jam 7:30 melayani keluhan warga satu per satu tanpa pandang suku, agama, kondisi ekonomi, dll. di tengah persoalan kasus penodaan agama dan berbagai fitnah lain yang sedang dihadapinya. Bekerja dari pagi (saat yang lain mungkin masih tidur) hingga malam (saat yang lain mungkin sudah tidur) tanpa kenal lelah. Mengapa bisa? Saya percaya karena Tuhan-lah yang menjadi sumber kekuatan Pak Ahok setiap hari. Karena etos kerjanya yang disiplin dan profesional inilah, para pembencinya kesulitan mencari ‘celah’ untuk menyalahkan Pak Ahok. Karena kedisiplinan inilah Pak Ahok berani bersikap tegas. Waktu kuliah dulu, saya ingat dosen saya pernah bilang, “Indecisive is crime“. Jika sebagai pemimpin kita tidak bisa tegas dan gesit dalam mengambil keputusan, maka rakyat-lah yang akan menderita dan menanggung akibatnya. Kebanyakan, yang saya ketahui, pemimpin tidak bisa tegas karena ia ingin menyenangkan (dan disenangi) semua orang. Ia terjerat oleh berbagai kepentingan orang-orang di sekitarnya. Apalagi, khususnya dalam budaya Jawa, seringkali kita terjebak oleh perasaan sungkan, basa-basi, dan takut menyakiti perasaan orang lain, yang dikemas dengan label “sopan-santun”. Indonesia perlu pemimpin seperti Pak Ahok. Beliau sudah menang atas dirinya sendiri, beliau sudah ‘mati’ bagi kepentingan dirinya sendiri.

4. Kerendahan hati yang diwujudkan dalam pengabdian. Memang, orang bisa saja iri ketika melihat sosok Pak Ahok yang tinggi, gagah, cakap, dan berwibawa. Orang mungkin mempermasalahkan warna kulitnya, bentuk matanya, dan nada bicaranya. Lagi-lagi, yang dipersoalkan adalah hal-hal fisik yang sifatnya sementara. Padahal, jika jeli mengamati gesture (bahasa tubuh) Pak Ahok, terutama saat berinteraksi dengan masyarakat sederhana, saya menilai bahwa beliau adalah orang yang apa adanya, tidak ada yang ditutup-tutupi, tidak munafik. Beliau sudah selesai dengan dirinya sendiri. Tak peduli orang mau bilang apa, selama yakin benar, beliau akan berjuang. Kata-kata kasar yang kadang muncul, tidak bisa dijadikan patokan untuk menihilkan kerendahan hatinya. Justru hal itu menunjukkan bahwa Pak Ahok tahu kapan harus marah, kapan harus lembut. Beliau tidak memaksakan dirinya untuk harus memakai ‘topeng’ sopan-santun dan keramah-tamahan setiap waktu; menampilkan karakter yang bukan dirinya. Tak berlebihan jika beliau mengibaratkan dirinya sebagai anjing penjaga tuannya, yaitu anjing yang galak dan menakutkan pada maling yang hendak merampok harta tuannya; tapi di sisi lain, kalau saya boleh menambahkan, beliau juga ibarat anjing yang lucu, menyenangkan, setia dan ramah pada tuannya. Yang tak kalah penting, ketika melakukan kesalahan, Pak Ahok tidak malu atau gengsi untuk minta maaf. Seorang pemimpin yang sulit mengakui kesalahan dan meminta maaf adalah pemimpin yang belum selesai dengan dirinya sendiri, karena ia masih terjerat oleh harga dirinya. Pak Ahok (bersama Pak Djarot) tetap berpegang pada prinsip “tetap melayani sekalipun dicaci dan dibenci”. Mereka telah mengabdi, selama 3 tahun ini, pada masyarakat Jakarta, yang sebagian besar justru menolaknya.

5. Iman yang dimanifestasikan dalam keberanian. Saya jadi semakin mengerti arti kata passion setelah menyaksikan kiprah dan kinerja Pak Ahok selama ini. Belum pernah sebelumnya saya melihat orang yang begitu berapi-api, seolah-olah ada ‘kemarahan’ yang begitu besar dalam dirinya atas segala kemunafikan dan ketidakadilan yang terjadi di bangsa ini. Mungkin kita sudah sering ditanya, “Apa passion-mu? Apa cita-citamu? Apa panggilan hidupmu?” Dulu, saya rasa tidak mudah menjawab pertanyaan ini, tapi sekarang, setelah melihat Pak Ahok, saya sadar apa arti sebuah passion. Apa yang membuat hatimu bergetar, seolah ada api yang menyala di dalam jiwamu, yang tak tertahankan lagi, tak bisa dihalangi atau dialihkan oleh apapun. Passion adalah semangat jiwa, yang membuat kita fokus akan tujuan, dan benar-benar tulus sepenuh hati ingin mewujudkannya. Tentu, sama seperti api yang bisa menghangatkan atau membakar, passion juga bisa bermanfaat atau malah merugikan. Karena itu, pastikan bahwa passion kita tidak diarahkan pada hal-hal yang jahat/salah, seperti keserakahan, hawa nafsu, kebencian, dsb. Fondasi dari passion kita haruslah takut akan Tuhan dan keberanian untuk ‘mati’ bagi diri sendiri. Jelas, saya melihat bahwa Pak Ahok adalah sosok yang memiliki passion untuk mengadministrasi keadilan sosial dengan bekerja sepenuh hati, melayani dan mengabdi pada masyarakat. Beberapa kali beliau dengan tegas menyatakan tidak takut mati, siap menghadapi konsekuensi apapun dan mempertaruhkan nyawanya. Hal ini jelas menunjukkan bahwa beliau sepenuhnya beriman, bersandar pada Tuhan dalam menjalani panggilan hidupnya. Tidak perlu kuatir menjalani hidup, tidak perlu kuatir akan kematian, karena kekuatiran tidak menambahkan umur panjang dan hidup-mati seseorang ada di tangan Sang Pencipta. Bahkan, Pak Ahok juga sempat-sempatnya nge-joke, “Mati adalah keuntungan, seenggaknya kalian tidak lihat foto wajah tua saya.” Beliau juga meyakini bahwa kekuasaan adalah sepenuhnya milik Tuhan, “Kekuasaan itu Tuhan yang kasih, Tuhan yang ambil.” Sungguh mengagumkan, tak bisa dinalar. Kita, yang masih sering takut mati, harus belajar banyak dari Pak Ahok, dari imannya, dari passion-nya, dari keberaniannya.

Indonesia, belajarlah dari Pak Ahok.

Foto diadopsi dari laman Facebook Basuki Tjahaja Purnama

Vancouver, 9 Mei 2017

Tulisan ini adalah pandangan pribadi penulis dan tidak dimaksudkan untuk mewakili pandangan, keyakinan, atau ideologi dari institusi manapun.

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Mengapa Saya Tertarik Apologetika

Peran keluarga sangat besar dalam menentukan iman atau keyakinan seseorang. Faktanya, sebagian besar orang menganut suatu agama atau kepercayaan dengan mewarisi iman atau ajaran orang tuanya. Bisa dikatakan bahwa, pada umumnya, agama yang diyakini oleh seseorang adalah hasil pilihan orang tuanya. Jika seseorang terlahir dalam keluarga Kristen, maka biasanya ia juga akan mengadopsi iman Kristen sejak kecil hingga tumbuh dewasa, sampai kemudian ia pun akan mewariskan lagi iman yang sama kepada generasi berikutnya. Demikian halnya untuk agama atau kepercayaan yang lain (Islam, Katolik, Budha, Hindu, dll.). Ini adalah contoh kasus yang lazim (mainstream) dan saya yakin pembaca pun telah menyadari hal ini.

Namun, seiring berkembangnya pola pikir atau cara pandang seseorang, ditambah banyaknya pengaruh lingkungan yang diterimanya seiring pertumbuhannya, maka sangat mungkin seseorang mengalami ‘konversi’ dari suatu keyakinan tertentu ke keyakinan lainnya. Motivasinya pun beragam, dari yang sederhana hingga yang kompleks. Saya tidak bisa men-judge di sini, tapi setidaknya dari yang saya ketahui, orang-orang memutuskan untuk beralih keyakinan karena didasari, misalnya oleh rasa cinta terhadap seseorang (dan/atau hartanya, mungkin), rasa kecewa terhadap sesama penganut keyakinan sebelumnya, ketidakpuasan terhadap keyakinan sebelumnya, dsb.

Saya sendiri berpendapat bahwa motivasi yang benar (seharusnya) didasari oleh rasa haus akan kebenaran sejati, dari hati yang tulus. Isu agama, tidak dapat dipungkiri, adalah isu yang sangat sensitif dan cenderung membawa pemisahan daripada persatuan. Hal ini dikarenakan, secara natural, masing-masing agama memiliki perbedaan ajaran yang substansial dan, secara alamiah pula, manusia (pemeluk agama) memiliki kecenderungan untuk mengklaim bahwa “kecapku-lah yang nomor satu” atau “rumputku-lah yang paling hijau”. Jadi, sangat wajar bila setiap agama dan pemeluknya akan mengklaim bahwa keyakinannya adalah kebenaran yang sejati. Namun, benarkah semua agama atau keyakinan merupakan kebenaran sejati, jika kenyataannya mereka saling berkontradiksi (tidak saling sepakat) satu sama lain. Apakah mungkin nilai-nilai yang saling berkontradiksi semuanya benar?

Di sinilah saya ingin berbagi pengalaman melalui tulisan ini. Hal ini tentu tidak menyiratkan bahwa pengetahuan saya sudah lengkap atau keyakinan saya sudah sempurna. Saya dulu bersekolah di SMP dan SMA negeri di kampung halaman saya (kota Kudus) dan saya sudah terbiasa dengan perbedaan, menjadi kaum minoritas, dan beberapa kali saya juga pernah berdiskusi bahkan berdebat dengan teman-teman Muslim tentang keyakinan kami masing-masing. Saya berteman dengan cukup banyak orang hingga hari ini, mulai dari yang berbeda keyakinan sampai dengan yang tidak berkeyakinan (atheis). Tentu, tidak dalam semua hal saya sependapat dengan keyakinan (atau ketidakyakinan) mereka, namun saya tetap menghormati mereka. Prinsipnya, kita boleh berbeda pendapat atau keyakinan secara tajam, namun kita tetap bisa berteman baik dan saling menghargai tanpa mengorbankan prinsip.

Walaupun saya dilahirkan di keluarga Kristen, namun sejak kecil hingga tumbuh remaja, saya merasakan pergumulan yang begitu kuat dalam hati. Banyak pertanyaan serta keraguan di benak saya (termasuk pada keyakinan saya sendiri), terlebih karena saat itu saya berada di lingkungan yang mayoritas warganya berbeda dengan saya, baik secara etnis maupun keyakinan. Sampai saya pun pernah berpikir, “Apakah mayoritas pasti selalu benar? Bagaimana jika saya menganut keyakinan yang berbeda dari yang dianut oleh keluarga saya? Apakah mereka akan bisa menerima? Jika saya ingin diterima oleh teman-teman, apakah saya harus berkeyakinan yang sama dengan mereka?”, dll. Pemikiran-pemikiran semacam ini sempat cukup mengganggu pada awalnya, namun akhirnya justru mendorong saya untuk berpikir lebih dalam lagi apakah saya sudah teguh dengan keyakinan sendiri.

Semasa remaja hingga mahasiswa, saya sangat menyukai diskusi rohani. Saya senang belajar dari guru agama maupun teman-teman seiman dan yang berbeda iman. Dan anehnya, saya justru sering tertidur ketika nonton film di bioskop, tapi tidak ngantuk sama sekali ketika mendengarkan khotbah di gereja. Bagi orang lain mungkin hal ini tidak wajar, dan saya pun sadar tidak semua orang cocok dengan karakter saya ini. Kadang saya dianggap sok rohani, kaku, dan tidak easy-going, mungkin. Namun saya sadar, mustahil menyenangkan semua orang, dan saya tidak ingin membohongi diri sendiri dengan memerankan karakter yang bukan diri saya. Beberapa orang mungkin tidak terlalu tertarik membicarakan iman dan hal-hal rohani lainnya, karena menurut mereka wilayah keimanan adalah hal yang sangat pribadi dan tidak perlu digembar-gemborkan. Beberapa orang juga mungkin menganggap bahwa diskusi rohani itu abstrak, mengawang-awang, dan dapat memicu konflik. Saya memahami dan menghargai pendapat mereka, namun saya juga tidak harus menjadi identik dengan mereka bukan? Saya sendiri berkeyakinan bahwa, sesuai ajaran Yesus, membangun iman harus seperti membangun rumah di atas fondasi yang kokoh, yaitu batu, bukan pasir; sehingga tetap kuat dan tidak roboh ketika gelombang badai kehidupan datang. Dari sinilah saya mulai tertarik pada apologetika.

Banyak definisi apologetika yang bisa pembaca temukan di internet. Dengan kalimat sendiri, saya mendefinisikan apologetika sebagai “suatu disiplin atau ilmu yang berkaitan dengan usaha membela atau mempertahankan suatu keyakinan, teori, atau doktrin”. Dalam praktiknya, seringkali apologetika berhubungan dengan ilmu agama, namun saya memahami bahwa prinsip apologetika juga dapat diterapkan dalam cabang ilmu yang lain (sains, hukum, dll.); artinya ketika seorang mahasiswa sedang men-defense argumen atau hipotesa-nya di hadapan para profesor penguji, pada dasarnya ia sedang ‘berapologetika’. Saya menyukai theologi (ilmu tentang Tuhan) dan apologetika, meskipun saya tidak memiliki latar belakang pendidikan theologi. Dan saya pun berpendapat bahwa setiap orang, terutama yang mengaku rasional dan intelektual (terpelajar), harus mampu berapologetika. Yang saya maksud ‘terpelajar’ di sini bukan saja orang yang memiliki gelar akademis, melainkan juga termasuk orang yang belajar secara otodidak sekalipun ia tidak pernah lulus sekolah formal, misalnya. (Karena saya percaya gelar akademis tidak serta-merta menjamin pengetahuan dan kemampuan nalar yang lebih baik). Jadi intinya? Setiap orang, yang jiwanya masih sehat, harus mampu berapologetika. Kita perlu memiliki dasar mengapa kita meyakini suatu hal. Semakin kuat dasar yang kita miliki, semakin mudah kita akan menjelaskannya pada orang lain.

Tentu di luar sana banyak tokoh apologetika yang luar biasa. Mereka memiliki daya ingat yang hebat dan mampu menghafal teks-teks kitab suci di luar kepala. Mereka adalah profesional yang mendedikasikan waktu dan tenaganya dalam bidang ini. Sementara saya bukanlah seorang full-timer yang menekuni apologetika, namun prinsip apologetika ini juga dapat saya terapkan pada bidang keilmuan yang saya geluti saat ini. Menurut iman Kristen, saya menemukan sedikitnya ada tiga alasan yang mendasari ketertarikan saya pada apologetika:

1. Akal budi adalah anugerah Tuhan dan harus dipergunakan untuk mengekspresikan kasih kita kepada-Nya.

“Kasihilah Tuhan, Allahmu, dengan segenap hatimu dan dengan segenap jiwamu dan dengan segenap kekuatanmu dan dengan segenap akal budimu, dan kasihilah sesamamu manusia seperti dirimu sendiri.” (Lukas 10:27)

Akal budi (nalar), sama halnya dengan hati, jiwa, dan kekuatan, adalah anugerah Tuhan. Bahkan, akal budi inilah yang menjadikan manusia paling istimewa diantara makhluk ciptaan lainnya (binatang dan tanaman). Salah satu cara untuk mengenal Tuhan adalah dengan menggunakan akal budi yang telah Ia berikan. Memang, terkadang kita tidak bisa selalu mengandalkan pemikiran (rasionalitas) sendiri karena akal budi manusia terbatas, namun menjalani sesuatu tanpa pengertian yang benar juga tidak akan membawa hasil yang maksimal. When ‘why’ is strong, the ‘how’ becomes easyLet the thinkers believe and let the believers think. Dalam mengasihi Tuhan, selain percaya penuh dalam hati, kita juga perlu mempergunakan akal budi yang telah diterangi oleh kebenaran Firman-Nya.

2. Kita harus bertanggungjawab pada apa yang kita yakini dan mampu menjelaskan pengharapan apa yang kita miliki.

“Tetapi kuduskanlah Kristus di dalam hatimu sebagai Tuhan! Dan siap sedialah pada segala waktu untuk memberi pertanggungan jawab kepada tiap-tiap orang yang meminta pertanggungan jawab dari kamu tentang pengharapan yang ada padamu, tetapi haruslah dengan lemah lembut dan hormat, dan dengan hati nurani yang murni, supaya mereka, yang memfitnah kamu karena hidupmu yang saleh dalam Kristus, menjadi malu karena fitnahan mereka itu.” (1 Petrus 3:15-16)

Terjemahan bahasa Inggris nya mengatakan:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Artinya, saat kita mampu mempertahankan keyakinan dan menjelaskan pengharapan yang kita miliki dari keyakinan tersebut, kita sedang memberikan penghormatan pada Kristus. Tapi tentu saja cara kita ‘berapologetika’ juga penting untuk diperhatikan, yaitu harus dengan lemah lembut, penuh hormat, dan didasari oleh hati nurani yang murni (tidak ada motif terselubung, misalnya demi kepentingan atau keuntungan pribadi). Ketika orang mempertanyakan iman kita, maka kita perlu menjawab dari dua sisi: ‘mengapa’ (defense) yaitu alasan kita percaya, dan ‘untuk apa’ (hope) yaitu tujuan kita percaya. Dalam hal ini, alasan saya percaya pada Yesus, at least, adalah karena Ia telah terlebih dulu mengasihi saya dan mengampuni segala dosa kesalahan yang telah saya buat, seperti yang telah dinyatakan dalam Firman-Nya; sedangkan tujuan saya percaya pada Yesus, at least, adalah untuk semakin mengenal dan mengalami kuasa kebangkitan-Nya. Kebangkitan Yesus adalah jawaban dan penghiburan bagi ketakutan terbesar manusia, yaitu penderitaan dan kematian. Seandainya Kristus tidak dibangkitkan, maka sia-sialah iman kepercayaan kami kepada-Nya (1 Korintus 15:17), tidak ada pengharapan hidup di dunia ini karena pada akhirnya semua akan binasa, dan yang tidak kalah penting, hal ini dapat mengindikasikan bahwa Sang Pencipta adalah “Allah yang cuek, bersikap masa bodoh terhadap pergumulan manusia, nyaman dengan tahta surgaNya, dan tidak mau berkorban turun ke dunia ‘menjangkau’ umatNya.”

3. Semangat untuk menyelidiki dan membuktikan kebenaran yang sejati.

“Orang-orang Yahudi di kota itu lebih baik hatinya dari pada orang-orang Yahudi di Tesalonika, karena mereka menerima firman itu dengan segala kerelaan hati dan setiap hari mereka menyelidiki Kitab Suci untuk mengetahui, apakah semuanya itu benar demikian.” (Kisah Para Rasul 17:11)

Di zaman para rasul, yang hidup di periode waktu yang dekat dengan masa kehidupan Yesus, diceritakan bahwa orang-orang Yahudi memiliki passion untuk menyelidiki Kitab Suci (mungkin Taurat, Mazmur, dan catatan sejarah sebelumnya) setiap hari! Bayangkan, setiap hari! Artinya, mereka memiliki rasa ingin tahu yang tinggi, begitu haus akan kebenaran sejati. Jadi saya membayangkan bahwa di masa itu mereka tidak gampang menerima suatu berita tanpa membuktikan kebenarannya. Mereka tidak mudah ditipu dan terpancing emosinya mendengar berita palsu (hoax). Menurut saya, mungkin saja semangat jiwa orang Yahudi inilah yang diwariskan turun-temurun, sehingga sekarang kita bisa melihat fakta bahwa orang-orang hebat di dunia teknologi kebanyakan berlatar belakang Yahudi. Jadi saya meyakini ada keterkaitan antara kecerdasan intelektual dengan semangat mempelajari Kitab Suci. Hal ini diaminkan oleh Raja Daud, yang menyatakan bahwa mempelajari Taurat membuatnya lebih pandai dan bijaksana daripada musuh-musuh, bahkan gurunya! (Mazmur 119:97-100). Di era teknologi internet sekarang ini, kita telah diberi kemudahan untuk mencari informasi kapanpun di manapun berada. Masyarakat, yang memiliki akses internet, seharusnya sudah lebih pintar dan bijaksana dalam membedakan mana (informasi) yang sesat dan mana yang akurat. Sudah bukan zamannya lagi kita dibodohi oleh oknum yang mengatasnamakan Tuhan demi meraih simpati dan kekuasaan. Setiap orang pun bisa melakukan survey atau riset sendiri, sehingga kita pun bisa sadar jika misalnya ada informasi salah yang telah kita yakini selama ini; tidak hanya dalam hal agama, tapi juga dalam bidang kehidupan lain, misalnya gaya hidup sehat, cara bermain alat musik yang baik dan benar, sejarah peradaban manusia, dll. Dan jika memang apa yang kita yakini selama ini ternyata terbukti salah, maka kita pun harus berani mengambil langkah tegas untuk melakukan ‘konversi’! Tidak perlu gengsi demi sebuah reputasi. The real truth is worth dying for. Untuk itulah, setiap orang punya hak untuk didengar dan, oleh karenanya, setiap orang memiliki kesempatan untuk berapologetika.

Vancouver, 13 April 2017

Acknowledge God: Is it Worthwhile?

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6, ESV)

Have you ever met people who always said good things (like “Praise God”, “Thanks God”, “By the grace of God”, “God is good”, etc.) when you gave him/her compliment or appreciation? What would you think of those ‘godly’ persons? Do you think they are always real and honest when they are responding that way? Or… do you think sometimes they are just pretending to look good in order to give you a good impression (niceties)? Or you might think they are just simply trying to tell you that “My life is going well because God loves me”.

I suppose that not all people really expect those kind of answers when they are giving compliments to others. Imagine when you have a friend who always relates all the good things happened in his/her life to God. Would you think that he/she is too religious or a spiritual snob? Would you not wonder if he/she is truly a godly person or just trying to be ‘godly’? And you may often see that some people just want to give ‘normal’ answers rather than the ‘spiritual’ ones because they do not want people to think of them as if they are boasting.

In fact, in my experiences I have seen many people who are sort of ‘allergic’ towards “God’s stuffs” or religious attributes. They tend to feel uncomfortable even to have a conversation about God or spiritual matters with those ‘godly’ people. In my view, there are at least three reasons of this apathy or ignorance:

  1. They think the ‘godly’ people are just absurd. They have found it is hard to believe in the ‘fantasy’. To them, God is not real because they have neither seen him nor touched him. They hate bigotry and can’t really accept the idea of surrendering soul to God if you want the happiness or fortune.
  2. They think the ‘godly’ people are judgmental. They have seen many religious people often think themselves as highly moral persons, who like to value things from a right-or-wrong perspective. As a result, they often feel as if they were being judged in the presence of these ‘theologians’.
  3. They think the ‘godly’ people are hypocrites. They have argued that in the history people had struggled with the so-called holy wars, where people fought and killed each other in the name of God. These evil people had used the God’s name to gain authorities, to subdue and overcome others. No wonder that eventually these skeptics chose not to believe in God and rather follow their own ways.

Well, I can understand those feelings as some of their objections are actually quite reasonable. However, while it is true that people might use God’s name in vain in order to impress (or even dominate/control/rule) others, it does exist people who sincerely thank God from the bottom of their hearts. They acknowledge God for all the blessings and goodness they have experienced. In fact, the Bible tells us, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31). Now, you may wonder, “What then really motivates those ‘godly’ people to always praise and thank God publicly or… shamelessly?”

Let me attempt to explain with the following illustration.

Suppose you are an author of a book (or a research paper) and there have been many people who have contributed to your publication. Some of them have given very significant contribution that you would never ever complete it by your own effort. Then, would you be so mean not to acknowledge them publicly? In reverse, when you become a significant contributor to your friend’s work but he/she does not even mention your name in the acknowledgement part of his/her publication, what would you feel? The same is true not only for book or research paper, but also for all masterpieces, such as movie, photography, music album, etc. You should give the credits to the people who deserve the credits! That’s the way you honor and respect the contributors.

So, what is the importance or significance of acknowledging God? I found, at least, three reasons.

1. Expression of gratefulness

All possessions we have and all things with us now are, in essence, the gifts from God. Even every breath we take should not be taken for granted. Nothing is really produced by our own efforts, if we would honestly confess. Therefore, we have no reason for not expressing gratitude. When we are not ashamed to sincerely thank God publicly, we trained ourselves to acknowledge God and remember his goodness in all our ways. It is very important to remind ourselves to be thankful everyday and not to allow a little bad thing steals our joy. When we acknowledge God with a thankful heart, we please God.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. (John Piper)

2. Show of respectfulness and trust

For if we are honoring people by giving them the due acknowledgement for what they have done, how much more does God even deserve our respect, praises, and honor? God is the ultimate source of life, and we should honor him through all we do, our work and achievements. Moreover, respect is strongly intertwined with trust. Oftentimes you lose your trust when you lose your respect to someone. Thus, just as you trust someone by showing him/her respect, you are trusting God by honoring and acknowledging him.

Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you. (Anonymous)

3. Sign of humility

Success is never accomplished by a one-man show. Behind our success, there must be a lot of efforts, supports, and prayers; usually from invisible people who have worked “behind the stage”. Each contributor deserves the due credits. But then, who deserves the most of your success? Knowing that throughout the journey to success there were actually so many things beyond our control (e.g. sick/diseases, misfortune, disaster, etc.) that could possibly ruin our plans, we had better acknowledge that without the “gracious divine intervention” we would never be able to achieve our goals nor successfully reach our destinations. Some people may not confess that their success are from God, instead they would merely argue that it was a good luck that gave them success. They even boast that it was their hard-work and intelligence that have enabled them to succeed. Yes, that’s their right to do so! But I also have a right to believe that it is God who has actually given all the success and blessings for us to enjoy which are ultimately dedicated for his honor and glory! Isn’t it true that the ability to work hard and the intelligence are also given by God? We, human being, are fragile and even our own success can eventually destroy us if we do not handle it with care. Therefore, I believe that surrendering our success to God and giving back all the glory to him is the best way to find rest from all the heavy labors and to enjoy the full benefits of our success. To acknowledge God is to place God on the highest place and to humble ourselves before him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:6, ESV)

Article history:
First drafted on March, 3, 2017
Finalized by March, 12, 2017
Vancouver, BC, Canada

My “Handsome” New Year’s Gifts

The title of my story today is a bit unusual. People usually use the words ‘wonderful’ or ‘beautiful’ to describe the quality of gifts they receive. But for me now ‘wonderful’ is just too common. And ‘beautiful’ also sounds pretty ‘girly’ at this time. That’s why I choose the words ‘handsome’ as a man and, by chance, I am feeling a bit handsome now. 😀 Anyway, thanks for coming… here is a little glimpse of my first new year’s experience in North American country.

The first gift was the opportunity to visit my uncle’s family in Los Angeles, California by the end of last year. Although it was just a very short visit, from December 29th to January 1st, I was so excited because finally I could meet my uncle, his wife, and his son for the first time after nearly 20 years. I am so happy to see them all in a good and healthy life. I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the evening of the 29th and my uncle so kindly picked me up at the airport, and from there we went for dinner and then shopping at a groceries store. On the first day (30th), my uncle drove me to Hollywood and we took lots of pictures there, some of which I could only see in the movies when I was a kid, such as the Hollywood sign and the star signs along the Walk of Fame. On the second day (31st), we all (my uncle, aunt, cousin, and me) went to San Diego to visit La Jolla Beach. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, but we still enjoyed some delicious food (of course ‘provided’ by my uncle) and took some pictures, as normally happened. 😀 After arriving back at home, my uncle and cousin took some rest while my aunt and I just spent time watching a new year’s countdown on TV at that night. On the third day (the first day of new year), we went to a Sunday service at Saddleback Church, one of the world’s megachurch, founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren, the author of a best-selling book, Purpose Driven Life, one of my most favorite books that has pretty much influenced me and shaped my way of thinking. We were so happy to have such privilege to start new year with worshiping God at his church, and of course we did not forget to take some pictures (again) there. 😀 After the service, we went for lunch and then my uncle sent me back to airport. Thank you so much, Akiu and Aking! (that’s how I call my uncle and aunt by the way). Even though we had met only for a while, but I got many valuable lessons from you two. Inspiring!

Hollywood Lake Park

In front of the Hollywood sign. (Photographed by my uncle)

My cool uncle and me with his car. (Photographed by both of us)

My cool uncle and me with his car. (Photographed by both of us)

Along the Walk of Fame. Which one is your favorite? (Photographed by my uncle)

Along the Walk of Fame. Which one is your favorite? (Photographed by my uncle)

A cloudy day, but the view of La Jolla beach is still worth seeing.

A cloudy day, but the view of La Jolla beach is still worth seeing. (Photographed by myself)

Here is my cousin and me on the rainy day at La Jolla Cove. (Photographed by my aunt)

Here is my cousin and me on the rainy day at La Jolla Cove. (Photographed by my aunt)

After Sunday service at Saddleback church. What a perfect way to start the day in 2017! (Photographed by a kind-hearted passerby)

After Sunday service at Saddleback church. What a perfect way to start the day in 2017! (Photographed by a passerby)

The second gift was the acceptance of my latest work in Korea for publication in a scientific journal. I received this delightful news from my professor on December, 16, 2016. I now remember it as 16-12-16. Time has been running so fast since my first publication in 2014. What makes this gift special is because this paper is my fourth published work after four years study and research in Korea, meaning that my publication rate is one paper a year as the first author. I even did not have a chance to write the story of my second and third publications in this blog. Really… I have never even imagined this can happen before. Deepest gratitude to my professor, Dr. Jungho Jae and my colleague as the co-author, Haryo Pandu Winoto for without their continuous support and intellectual contribution this work would never be done; and of course to many other people (lab mates, technician, friends) who helped me a lot with their physical, emotional, and intellectual support. I remember one of my Korean professors has implied that I could probably have graduated as a PhD had I joined the integrative program in 2012. But, I feel that my knowledge and experience are still far from enough to be a PhD graduate. Nonetheless, knowing that your hard work being paid off has always been a rewarding moment in life. At the end of the day, I can only thank God for everything…

The third gift, last but not least, was the experience of snowshoeing in Cypress Mountain today with landlord family here (David, Stacy, Devon, Brendan) and with my “hiking mate”, Kwan. What makes it special is because today is just my 30th birthday! 😀 After arriving back at home from LAX, I had only a very short time to take a rest. This morning David drove us to Cypress and it took about an hour to get there from home. All I can say is that the snow view was stunning! The snow on the ground was deep enough that you may want to throw yourself and sink in the snow pile without any worry of being injured. You may also like to hear the ‘crunchy’ sound when you are walking on the snow ground. As normally happened, I took lots of pictures and videos as well. 🙂 A bit unpleasant thing was that the weather was a bit too cold that I could hardly grab my phone with bare hands. We spent about 4-5 hours for the round trip (walking up and down the hills) there. After reaching back to our first starting point, we stopped by a mini cafeteria and enjoyed some delicious snacks. From there we decided to leave for home, Kwan gave me a carpool and we enjoyed ramen noodles for dinner. 🙂 Overall, this brand new experience was great and I thank David, Stacy, and Kwan for organizing this event on my birthday (although they unintentionally arranged it for this purpose). Lucky me! 😀 Definitely, I would like to go there again next time if given a chance. Again, at the end of the day, I thank God for everything…

Here is the departure point of our snowshoeing today.

Here is the departure point of our snowshoeing today.

Can you tell what this picture reminds you of while you are seeing it?

Can you tell what this picture reminds you of while you are looking at it?

Do you feel like being in any Christmas movie?

Do you feel like being in any Christmas movie?

Lovely family! Thank you for bringing me to this place. We all enjoyed the snowshoeing for the first time. :)

Lovely family! Thank you for bringing me to this place. We all enjoyed the snowshoeing for the first time. 🙂

Here we are! Do we look happy? :)

Here we are! Do we look happy? 🙂 (Picture taken by David)

One of the best views today.

One of the best views today. We were lucky for the good weather.

It's the snow shoe trail map.

It’s the snow shoe trail map.

We (Kwan and I) stopped here to take this picture. This place is called Barrett's View.

We (Kwan and I) stopped here on the way back home to take this picture. It is called Barrett’s View.

Sunset in Barrett's View.

Sunset in Barrett’s View.

Finally, happy birthday to me! Thank God I am now 30 years young.

Finally, happy birthday to me! Thank God I am now 30 years young. (Picture taken by Kwan)

Alright, this is all! Thanks so much for reading and hope you enjoy the pictures too. See you on the next post.

Vancouver, January 2017

trazy.com

The Message of Christmas: A True Hope for the World

What is truly the message of Christmas?

Here is one of the most widely quoted verses in the Bible as people are wondering about the true message of Christmas:

And the angel said to them (the shepherds), “FEAR NOT, for behold, I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE. For unto you is BORN this day in the city of David a SAVIOR, who is CHRIST THE LORD. (Luke 2:10-11, ESV)

Luke 2 is the passage about the birth of Jesus and his very early life including his early ministry. In particular, the verse 10-11 is about the message of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds in Bethlehem, Judea. Herein, I am not going to discuss about the historical perspectives of the above verse. Instead, I would rather highlight some of the above capitalized keywords as I am amazed by how this short verse has actually sum up the ultimate message that we all need in life.

FEAR NOT

What is our biggest fear in life? Some people fear death, some fear suffering (physical torture, mental abuse, poverty, and so on). Some people fear punishment (for what they had done in the past), some fear life uncertainties (for what will happen in the future). Thankfully, God understands that everybody struggles with this and therefore the first word came out of the angel is, “Do not afraid”. If you have fear of anything these days, this message is for you. The birth of Jesus is a sign of God’s perfect love that casts away our fear. (1 John 4:18)

GOOD NEWS

Everyone enjoys a good news. When we get an encouraging message that something great is going to happen to us (or to our beloved ones), we may say, “Sounds good!”. When we are waiting in a hope for something that finally comes true, we feel so great. Our next expression could be bowing down, jumping, or singing to worship and thank God. And then we may also share our happiness to friends by doing good to them (such as treating them in a restaurant, buying them food, helping them solve their problems, etc.). The birth of Jesus is a good news to the dying world waiting for a healing, the broken world waiting for a restoration, and the oppressed people waiting for a freedom. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

GREAT JOY

When was the last time you felt a great joy? Sometimes, we are even afraid of feeling overjoyed because we realize that the joyful feelings would not last long. However, it is worth knowing that happiness and joy are not necessarily the same. Happiness depends on the external circumstances whereas joy is from the inside out. Physical things will never satisfy us because they are all just temporal (perishable) and our hearts are designed to hunger for something of the higher values (eternal, unchanged, imperishable). The birth of Jesus is a source of great joy that continually fills our heart as he has promised that the rivers of living water will flow from the hearts of those who believe in him. (John 7:38)

ALL THE PEOPLE

This message of hope has been declared to all the people, no matter what the races, religions, social-economic status, or sexual orientations are. Here we see the inclusive character of God. Humans are all sinners and we all make mistakes everyday. We desperately long to be set free from the fears and given the good news of great joy. As we live out our life each day, we face many tribulations, sufferings, and injustice that could degrade our hope, steal our joy, and challenge our faith. Thanks be to God that in Jesus we may find our rest as he is pleased to invited us to come and surrender our heavy burdens to him. In Jesus, we find our ultimate hope, peace, joy, and love. The birth of Jesus is an inclusive good news exclusively given to all the people. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

BORN

There might be times when we feel so hopeless that we want to leave from earth just to end all the pains in life (read as: suicide). We are discontent with the unfair circumstances and we may reach the point where we regret our existence, wishing that we could restart our life. We want to make a fresh start. We want our debts to be forgiven. We want to be given a new heart with a new hope that everything is gonna be alright. As we live in this imperfect world, we see despairs everywhere everyday. Thankfully, we have a hope of assurance that in the kingdom of God, all things will ultimately be restored and perfectly ordered.  The birth of Jesus is a divine gift that favors the new born of human beings seeing the kingdom of God on this earthly life. (John 3:3)

SAVIOR

Have you ever been in a helpless situation where you found nobody, even your closest friends, can do anything for you? Or maybe you are in a situation where your closest friend, whom you have trusted, turned his/her back to you without any reason. You are now hardly to believe anyone and you want to believe that you can solve any problem by your own strength. You feel that you would not depend to anyone else, but deep down in your heart, you realize that living this life is just impossible without others. You are doing what you don’t actually want to do, and you are not doing what you actually want to do. You are struggling with your own weaknesses: pride, jealousy, unforgiving, hatred, addiction, and so forth… until you realize that all you need is a Savior. The birth of Jesus is the most glorious event in human history because the Savior is born. (Romans 7:23-25)

CHRIST THE LORD

People who work in a company must be pleased if they have a kind-hearted, ‘servant-leader’ type of boss or supervisor, who is willing to help and reach down to the employees to understand their struggles. One of the most certain roles of people in society is to serve; in other words, to be a servant. We are all servants to others, meaning that we have a sense of responsibility towards others. The employees are servants to the supervisors. The supervisors are servants to the managers. The managers are servants to the directors. The directors are servants to the company’s owners. The company’s owners are servants to the governments (presidents). And the governments are servants to the Lord God and the citizens. Ultimately, the Lord God humbles himself and comes to the world to serve his own people by giving his very life. The birth of Jesus is the ultimate sign of the Lord God’s love to his people as he emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the human form, coming down from heaven to reach the world and restore the relationship between the Lord God and his people. (Philippians 2:9-11)

Conclusion: The message of Christmas is a good news that Christ the Lord, a Savior, has been born to give everyone assurance of great joy, peace, love, hope, and salvation, so that we can live on earth and face our future without fears. The message of Christmas is a true hope for the world.

Vancouver, December 2016

My First Three Months in Vancouver

Today I am going to share a little bit of my experiences during the first three months of my life here in Vancouver. Well, before that I would say that my life transition from Korea to Canada has not been easy. On the days before my departure from Korea, I was so hectic that I could not even have a chance to visit my home country (at least to get some moral or spiritual support from my family, friends, and relatives who have been very helpful to me). I had so many things to do within only short period of times: (1) finish up some experiments and paper work as a part of my job duties to my supervisor, (2) clean up some stuffs and belongings in my dormitory and laboratory, (3) arrange some travel plans for myself going to Vancouver as well as itinerary for my family coming to Korea for a holiday trip to Jeju-do, Busan, and Seoul, (4) organize some appointments for farewell lunch or dinner with my friends and colleagues, (5) find out a new place to live in Vancouver and manage the contract with the landlord, etc. And after all, the hardest part was to be away from my significant other ㅠㅠ

I was thinking, “Had I continued to study in Korea, life would have been easier”. After living four years with a settled down life in Korea, I started to feel the needs for a new environment, new challenges, new connections, etc. The point is “moving out of comfort zone”, however I was not even sure if my feelings was real or just an illusion and whether my decision is out of a selfish ambition or a wise expectation. After three months living here with all the shocks and the circumstances in which I should start all over again, I am increasingly aware that human’s life is like a cycle: we are moving out of comfort zone in order to get another comfort zone from which we are going to move out again just to be in another comfort zone again, and again… (maybe until we finally find our peaceful rest). What are we really looking for in this short life? Experiences? Lessons? Meanings? Achievements? Glory? No clear answer for that… And then I began to question my decision to leave all the comforts of life in Korea for entering a new season of life that is full of uncertainties. However, this is my conviction: It does not matter where you are going in this life as long as you know WHO are going with you. The place you visit is less important than the PERSON with whom you visit the place. So, I keep reminding myself that I am not alone, yes I am weak but God is strong, and if God brings me to it, He will bring me through it. Thanks God for sending me kind-hearted people who readily help me in times of need. My prayer is that God will repay all their favors and sincerity with His never-ending grace and love.

Alright, enough for the introduction part… Before I become too much “philosophical” (like what I used to be), 😀 now let me share a little bit of my story from the past three months here and how is the comparison to life in Korea (Seoul).

Moving from Korea to Canada, specifically from Seoul to Vancouver, is moving to a bigger country but a smaller city. Yes, I can feel a huge difference. While life in Seoul is more dynamic with its “bballi bballi” culture and the distinct four seasons (winter-spring-summer-fall), life in Vancouver tends to be more relaxed and the weather is only good and enjoyable during spring and summer (during fall and winter you will mostly see the dark cloudy skies with the drizzle or rain and strong wind, sometimes). While Seoul is a city that never sleeps where you can find most of the convenient stores open until 12 AM (or even for 24 hours), in Vancouver most of the public places only operate until 8-9 PM (as far as I know hitherto). Transportation in Seoul is also more convenient as you have many options like subway, bus, taxi, or KTX and the public transits are almost always on time, while in Vancouver, even though you also have many options like skytrain, bus, taxi, or seabus, the waiting time is often long and in my experiences they are not always on time. In Seoul, the food menus are more diverse than in Vancouver (so far the typical Canadian food I have ever had is poutine; burger, pizza, sandwich, fries are of the most common meals here), so most likely, my culinary experience would be more memorable in Korea (although in the beginning I had to struggle with kimchi). For the entertainment, in the leisure time you can do a variety of activities in Seoul (like noraebang, drinking-eating-partying, hanbok wearing experience, cultural tour, etc.) while in Vancouver the leisure activities are mostly related to the adventures exploring the naturally beautiful places, like mountain, lake, beach, etc. Overall, based on my last three months experiences here, I would like to imagine Vancouver as a beautiful lady who walks slowly and elegantly; she is an easy-going person and nice to people around her, while Seoul as an active sporty woman who moves quickly and surely; she is more like a task-oriented person trying to accomplish her goals in life.

OK, for now I think that’s all I can tell about my first three months life here. My post would be sort of boring if the content is only all words… 😀

Anyway… here are some pictures that I have collected so far (mostly taken by Sony Alpha-65 or LG G5 smartphone). Check these out!

Canadian flag at UBC

Canadian flag at UBC, just to make sure that I am in Canada. 🙂

Welcome to the University of British Columbia (UBC)

Welcome to the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Here we had the first orientation day for UBC graduate students.

Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Here we had the first orientation day for UBC graduate students.

UBC Student Nest, a very nice place to meet up and enjoy food together with friends.

UBC Student Nest, a very nice place to meet up and enjoy food together with friends.

Pizza cafe at UBC Nest, the place I usually go for instant lunch or dinner

Pizza cafe at UBC Nest, the place I usually go for instant lunch or dinner.

My first lunch menu in my first day at UBC

My lunch menu in my first day at UBC. All this costs C$ 6.80 after tax.

My first home in Vancouver, I live with a nice family and helpful persons

My first home in Vancouver, I live with a nice family and people who are kind and very helpful.

Thank you David Takagawa and Stacy for inviting me for Thanksgiving Dinner! From left to right: Katie, Kwan, Etienne, Yuri, Mika, Brendan, Al, Devon, Stacy, David, and me

Thank you David Takagawa and Stacy for inviting us to the Thanksgiving Dinner! (From left to right: Katie, Kwan, Etienne, Yuri, Mika, Brendan, Al, Devon, Stacy, David, and me).

My very first hiking experience at British Columbia: Stawamus Chief.

My very first hiking experience in British Columbia: Stawamus Chief.

Lost Lagoon, an artificial body of water located at the near entrance to Stanley Park.

Lost Lagoon, an artificial body of water located at the near entrance to Stanley Park.

Beautiful trees surrounding our hiking trails to Elfin Lake.

Beautiful trees surrounding our hiking trails to Elfin Lake.

Natural beauty of the surrounding scenery in our journey to Elfin Lake.

Natural beauty of the surrounding scenery in our journey to Elfin Lake.

Wish I could join the camping and enjoy the nature here.

Wish someday I could join the camping and enjoy the nature here.

Here is our destination in my second hiking experience: Elfin Lake.

Here is our destination in the second hiking experience: Elfin Lake.

Me and Kwan during the hiking day to Panorama Ridge, Garibaldi Provincial Park

My third hiking experience with Kwan to Panorama Ridge, Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Beautiful landscape of Garibaldi. Thanks God for the wide-lens camera in LG G5.

A beautiful landscape of Garibaldi. Thanks God for the wide-lens camera in LG G5.

Another beautiful landscape with snow. We are on the journey to the top!

Another beautiful landscape covered with snow. We were on the journey to the top!

This beautiful landscape reminds me about beautiful pictures we see in the calendar

During the journey to the Panorama Ridge, we really enjoyed the surrounding views.

Here we are! Kwan, Christine, and me at the top of Panorama Ridge.

Here we are! Kwan, Christine, and me at the top of Panorama Ridge.

Here is our hand-prints in the snow. Moment to celebrate and remember later :D

Here is our hand-prints in the snow. A moment to celebrate and remember later 😀

Finally, this is it! Panorama Ridge. One of the most stunning view I have ever seen.

Finally, this is it! Panorama Ridge. One of the most stunning view I have ever seen.

See you on the next posts! Stay happy, healthy, and wealthy.

Vancouver, November 2016

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Becoming A Witness: The Privilege of Sharing Your Story

We are now living in the most advanced era of information technology in human history, known as Information Age. Exchanging information has never been so easy. In fact, the world is as if in our hands with the existence of smartphones, tablets, computers, etc. People who have access to internet live in two worlds: the real and the virtual, and therefore you and I now have dual identities: the real and the virtual versions (which could be equal or opposite). The reality that we not only care about our real lives, but also our virtual images, with the unceasing news we receive every day (not all of which is important) often make us feel overwhelmed. The first thing people do when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they do before bed time at night is logging in to their smartphones. The same is true for most of the office workers who just turn on their computers after first sitting at their desks each day. Even in the quite extreme case, these devices are likely able to determine the degree of our happiness, affect our moods and health, and contribute to the quality of life for the long-term. Humans have been too dependent on what they have created.

In the last decade, we have seen the power of social media. It has revolutionized the way people live and communicate their ideas every day. Again, people (from all different groups of age or position in society) have seemed to so much rely on the internet technology. People who post the pictures may want your “LIKES.” Artists who upload the videos may take into account the number of “VIEWS.” Researchers who publish their works may consider how many “CITES” on their papers. Even in the political realm, you see that Presidents want your “VOTES” for the election. It is very understandable that people want (or maybe need) your attention, support, and trust. People want to be influential, deep down in hearts we want our stories to be heard (but perhaps not the shameful ones), and the happiness comes knowing that others sincerely understand and appreciate us. However, I believe, ultimately what we are expected to do is to “SHARE” (probably that is why in the social media we could see the “share” button ☺)

We will shortly see the reasons. But here I am not going to talk about ‘sharing’ in terms of material, physical, or other valuable things (such as time or energy) as we all have already known that the willingness to share our possessions (money or property) to the needy can bring us happiness and will never impoverish us. Herein, the discussion would be more about the importance of sharing STORY to others.

Why is it important? I believe one reason is simply because people need information. We must have agreed that human primary needs in this generation are not merely food (what to eat), clothes (what to wear), and house (where to stay), but also… information (what to know). Therefore, as we are sharing the information, we are addressing people’s needs or perhaps answering people’s questions. Of course, what I mean here is the good information, not the bad ones. And the good information is often manifested as the knowledge of truth. The attitude of heart to seek for knowledge and hunger for truth is what makes the difference between the intelligent and the ignorant. The fact that successful people always share is undeniable. The more we share, the more we receive. (I am also speaking this to myself now!)

Now imagine you have a friend who suffers from a terrible disease but he does not know the medicine that can heal him. Yet at the same time, you are sure that you have the solution for his sickness. There are three possible reasons if you were not willing to share the good news about the medicine to him: (1) you are not really sure the medicine can truly heal him, (2) you do not really care about him, (3) you are expecting his death (maybe because he is your rival or enemy).

Here is how we now can understand what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples to go to all nations and spread the Gospel:

And then he (Jesus) told them (the disciples), “You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere…” (Mark 16:15, TLB)

This so-called great commission is still relevant to this day. It is not a commandment to “christianize” the unbelievers, but it should be coming out of our natural response when we truly believe that Jesus is the “true medicine” or perfect healer for this broken world and only if we really care about the dying people around us. Could the development of information technology facilitate the fulfillment of Jesus’ command to his disciples in this generation? As people all over the world can have an access to internet, the truth of Gospel is reachable for everyone and therefore each individual ought to be responsible for seeking the truth oneself. People will not need to teach their neighbors or relatives (Hebrews 8:11) as everyone can consciously distinguish the good from the bad and the true from the false him/herself.

We are witness to everything around us every day, no matter what our professions are. Thank God, with the help of technology we now can share any information every time everywhere easier than ever before. If we can share the good pictures, artists can share the good videos, scientists can share the good papers, governments can share the good programs or policies, then… ultimately, why not sharing the good news?

Vancouver, October 31, 2016