Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes, I'm one of those irritating people who like to ask questions to provoke thought. I like to disagree, not because I thrive on dissent, but because I believe disagreeing is a very good way to connect with people. You actually get to know what they really think instead of just 'text-book answers'.

In any case, this article reflects my sentiments on disagreeing.

Opinions matter, because they tell me what you think. I'm not deliberately being disagreeable. I'm not deliberately being mean and wanting to be entirely against you. A conversation where there are no disagreements are boring. Think about it.

A: I think XXX football club is great!
B: Yea, I agree!
A: I think they got great players!
B: You're right.
A: They're absolutely fantastic!
B: Yea, they are.

The conversation is totally uninteresting. How can the two of them connect? How can they communicate well?

It doesn't mean that you shouldn't be agreeable. I do have my own opinions. I may actually agree with you and the way you think. However, sometimes, I just play devil's advocate to provoke a response. Sometimes I just try to be disagreeable to get you to state what you really think, and why you think that way.

So if I'm being disagreeable... just remember I'm trying to connect with you.

Posted by Gerald at 3/31/2008 07:09:00 PM

Double Mindedness

You know how it is. The constant "Should I or should I not..." kind of thoughts which plague every individual. It takes a very strong person, or an idiot, to make such clear and absolute decisions.

Pastor preached about it on Sunday. While this may have just been the introduction to what he actually wanted to tell us, it bears much thought as being lukewarm is exactly what makes people 'ordinary'. Of course, the whole foundation was laid to finally talk about one of the biggest problematic attitudes we have as humans... procrastination.

There are a few things I learned. The story of Samson was interesting as it described how God led him to a place: Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Mahaneh Dan is the place of CHOICE. Zorah literally meant "Hornet's Sting", and Eshtaol referred to the face / will of God. It's always easy to make a choice with your head... of course you know you ought to choose Eshtaol. Unfortunately, we wrestle with our flesh, and it usually wants us to take the easier, self-gratifying way, Zorah.

How does this relate to procrastination? In many ways. Every time we decide we want to do something that is led by God, we ought to do it NOW. If God has called us to serve, then serve Him NOW. Saying "maybe when I have time" is basically making God play second fiddle to your own wants. Putting off tomorrow what you can do today is exactly the basis of procrastination.

We are used to thinking "I'll do it tomorrow for sure..." and we before we know it, a year has passed and that 'tomorrow' still hasn't come. It's the biggest lie the devil uses to keep us from achieving the things God has called us to. We have to make a DECISION, be DEDICATED to it, and DISCIPLINE ourselves to follow through. It's not easy, but it's what makes us strive to succeed.

So double-mindedness is when you think "should I do this now or later..." and then "well, I can afford to take a rest now... I'll do it later..." We're not being very wise because at the end of the day, we make decisions but lack the COMMITMENT. This is something I catch myself doing many times, and I'm still trying to overcome.

Of course, making the RIGHT decision is important too. Only do it when God calls you to, not when you want to. Impulsiveness is not the same as decisiveness... that's just foolishness.

So, I'll complete the things I know I ought to do. I'll write down everything I need to get done and make sure it gets done by the end of April. It's a busy period, and there is a lot to do, but it might just be an opportunity for me to overcome procrastination and adopt a productive habit. I won't do it alone though. I'll need Your help. Thank You.

Posted by Gerald at 3/31/2008 05:40:00 PM


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Definition: incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

It's when you work really hard and you only get negative results.

It's when you don't work hard and you seem to get all the results.

It's when your view of a just and fair world is punctured by the reality that it never is.

It's when life slaps you in the face when things are going great.

It's when you till the land, sow the seeds, care for the crops, but someone else reaps the harvest.

It's when you fight the enemy, and just as you're winning you get struck by an arrow.

It's when you play by all the rules, and not only lose the game, but many other things as well.

It's when you do everything in your power to bless others, only to be cursed yourself.

It's when you try to be the best you can be and have the world call you a hypocrite.

It just makes you wonder if you've missed something.

The world is cruel. Life is unfair. We have to learn to live with and accept that...

I don't think I have the full capacity to do that just yet.

There's only so much I can do. Regardless of how I may dislike, abhor, detest, loathe, despise or hate it, I have to accept the things which I can do nothing about...

I need You...

Posted by Gerald at 3/27/2008 05:57:00 PM

The Challenge

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's always a challenge to decide to walk on a path which you know may lead to failure. It's difficult enough that the path is narrow, fraught with obstacles and treacherous passes, but to realize that all that effort may count for nothing, or worse, cause you to lose something... it's not easy...

All things worth pursuing come with a price, and it's the weighing of the cost versus the result which helps a person decide. A lot of thought was put into deciding to walk in such a difficult direction, and it was not an impulsive choice. In fact, despite the seemingly unfavourable position, the process in which that decision was made keeps coming to remembrance, and it is the sole source of strength which gives the drive and ability to stay in that place.

Thoughts of throwing in the towel have surfaced more than a few times, and each time it seems so convenient, so much easier, so much better to just yield. Yielding cuts losses, concedes that the prize is out of reach and allows for freedom... but you obviously won't obtain the prize even if it may not actually be out of reach.

How does one tell the difference between perseverance in the face of obstacles and plain stubbornness? It is a question that has been asked before... but a satisfactory answer has yet to be found. Perhaps it requires a leap of faith, to believe that this is the path to take and persevere through regardless of the obstacles. To keep on keeping on even when everything else fails. To look at the prize and focus on it, drawing strength in seeing it with your spirit. In the end, if it turns out right, it would be perseverance. Otherwise, it would be stubbornness.

By hanging the definition on the outcome, it is basically impossible to tell the difference when faced with the dilemma. Thankfully, I have one thing which gives me strength to know the difference...

God's word.

He spoke... in the still small voice... when I cried out to Him... They testify to what I believe is where He wants me to go... and I will follow them, even if they seem to make me stubborn. I will, by faith, take it to be perseverance. I have been encouraged each time I feel down, and I have been helped up each time I fell. Perhaps the final result isn't exactly as I predicted, but the path I am walking, I at least know that I was called to...

Lord, give me the ability do the things I can, the strength to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to tell the difference.

Breakthrough... or breakdown... I'm fighting for the former... but even if the latter happens, I will declare that I still believe in His word, that this path is where He has ordained me to go...

I have no regrets...

Posted by Gerald at 3/26/2008 01:42:00 AM

Arguments from different perspectives

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I've always liked debates. Up till this day, I'm really thankful to my secondary school English teacher for pulling me and a sizable number of my other classmates into the inter-school debate competition. While it was not perfect, and I'm not that great a debater, I actually learned a lot from that whole episode, particularly about how to tackle arguments.

This article Is a very good read on arguments. Although it technically focuses more on reviews, the points made in the article are poignant for anyone wanting to establish any sort of argument.

People have opinions, whether or not they choose to express it. Sometimes people express them when they're not warranted. Other times, even pleading will not bring it to the surface. These opinions guide our decisions and judgments when reading any article or any conversation. A neutral article is one where we feel stronger about our opinions after we read the article, regardless of whichever side of the fence we were on.

Unfortunately, although some try to be balanced in writing articles or making arguments, their articles and arguments are often taken to be 'either or'. It basically means that to choose a neutral stance, trying to be objective in making an evaluation, would equate to being rejected by both sides. The example given is that when a balanced article praising say, an iPod, which at the same time points out various flaws and areas of improvements is found, Apple fanboys would get upset because the article doesn't praise the product totally. Similarly, detractors of the iPod would deem it equally blasphemous as it seems to sing Apple's praises.

Interestingly, psychological studies have found that in the end, what matters most is the initial opinion of the individual. If I'm pro-iPod, then a 'balanced article' would seem to me to be biased. If I'm anti-iPod, the same article would seem to me to also be biased, but to the other direction. What this means is that in an argument, one would definitely be unhappy whenever conflicting views are presented if one is not entirely neutral, and most people aren't. It matters not that the conflicting view is from a neutral source. The source would be deemed to be biased.

Being neutral is not easy, nor is it particularly rewarding. However, it is a true sign of maturity that one is able to make observations, evaluations and possibly argue from both sides of the fence, judging only when all aspects have been considered, if one is so required. In the end, one has to be very conscious about blindly accusing others of bias, when one is likely to have done the same.

I'd particularly like to quote this:
They care little for honest opinion. They want to pick up the paper and see in it a reflection of their own nearly religious zeal for the thing they love. They don't want a review. They want a hagiography.

Perhaps this kind of explains the reasons for fanboyism...

Posted by Gerald at 3/23/2008 03:45:00 PM

Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 LTS

Saturday, March 22, 2008

So once again, it's coming close to the release of a new version of Ubuntu. They're still staying true to the half-yearly release of distribution upgrades, and based on the beta that's been released so far, it's always getting better and better.

Some of the interesting features of Hardy Heron is the use of Firefox 3.0. It's developmental, but it has already solved one of the most GLARING PROBLEMS with Firefox 2... MEMORY ISSUES! This is a big thing as I still keep lighter web browsers around for quick loads as Firefox, with all it's useful features, is a resource hog. Add the fact that my Firefox is almost never closed as long as my PC is on (which is about well... almost all the time) it can get pretty jerky. Firefox 3 could potentially solve this problem so I'm really looking forward to it!

The second thing that is impressive is the use of the latest Xorg. This means no more tweaking and re-configuring entire Xorg settings just to get my display to my native resolution, and to get Compiz-Fusion to work. Monitor support has never been a problem, but the new Xorg would make configuring it an easier task.

Another interesting feature is Wubi, making this release a very good version of Ubuntu to download and burn and give out to all Windows users. Admittedly, the only reason why I'm still using Windows is because I play games as well, but with programs like PlayOnLinux and the infamous Wine, it's only a matter of time before Ubuntu becomes the default boot for me.

Also, this being an LTS release (LTS standing for Long Term Support), one can expect a relatively higher level of stability.

These are but some of the new things lined up for us in the upcoming release. I'm looking forward to the official release, although the beta looks very promising. Here's to a great new chapter in Ubuntu history!

Posted by Gerald at 3/22/2008 01:50:00 PM

Expectations and disappointments

Friday, March 14, 2008

Note: I made this post somewhere some time back. It's a good time to remember and reflect back on it...

Well, I guess after a high, there's bound to be a drop.

What did you think? What did you expect? That things will work out for you overnight? That the situation will suddenly turn out perfect? That circumstances will just change to the way you want it?

Expectations should be managed well, in that one can't possibly be expecting too much. Still, it's obviously difficult to think otherwise when things seem to be going well. The more expectations one has, the higher the likelihood of the disappointment which may follow. It's important to have them though, because otherwise we won't be striving for anything. The issue is that of balance, but the question is: how much is too much? It all boils down to expectation management.

So the disappointment you face is none other than your own fault. You didn't manage your expectations well enough. You couldn't possibly have hoped for that much. I cannot for the life of me understand why you could even THINK that way. Of course, this regret only happens on hindsight.

Lord, help me make sense of things. Help me understand, and REALLY ACCEPT that although things may have seemed great, there's still really a LONG WAY to go. Teach me PATIENCE, teach me to be OPEN, and most of all, teach me to be MATURE and WISE in handling this matter. Help me keep looking to You, to never grow weary or lose heart, but to rejoice always in ALL circumstances. Into Your hands I commit myself.

Posted by Gerald at 3/14/2008 11:44:00 PM

Of love, giving and serving...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving...

And giving of yourself is serving...

Thus you can serve without loving, but you cannot love without serving...

So do what you can, when you can, how you can, for the people that you care for...

Not even expecting anything in return although you may hope for it...

For such is the attitude of one who truly loves...

Not judging by mere feelings...

But by the decisions one makes...

Posted by Gerald at 3/09/2008 06:19:00 PM

Knocking on doors

Monday, March 03, 2008

"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matt 7:7

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Rev 3:20

We are not asked to just stand outside the door and wait, hoping that it will magically open for us. We are instead asked to knock, to take an action to gain the attention of the person on the other side of the door. We HEAR His voice when he knocks, so His word is also important.

Holding on to Your word...

Posted by Gerald at 3/03/2008 02:04:00 PM