A change of name, again!

Folks, I came across a better name for my blog over the past week and, hence, a new name again! This name better reflects where I am at now.

Over the past couple of years, I underwent a major overhaul in the way I think, rejecting the obsolete, irrelevant and untrue, and, alert as ever, arriving at a sober, sensible and commonsense outlook of life. The thoughts I express will come out of that thinking, which I believe presents a better grasp of reality. Hopefully, these thoughts will help you and me live active more meaningful lives.

I assure you, I won’t be changing the name of my blog again — unless at some distant future I need to!

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Moving forward with a new blog name!

I’ve changed the title of this blog because I am moving away from the spiritual struggles which motivated me to start this blog under the previous name. Those struggles are over as I have discovered a sensible and balanced approach to life’s issues!

The change in outlook was initiated by a verse which I read on Dec 31, 2018. The verse — actually, verses are:

“This is what the Lord says — he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’ (Isaiah 43: 16-19)”

The verses resonated with me, especially because it was the last day of 2018. I realised it was time to leave those spiritual struggles behind; I won’t be revisiting them again unless I perceive something new emerging from them. If not, I won’t be looking back, but forward to the good things ahead!

Those past struggles are resolved and I have become aware of a sensible approach to life which anyone — whatever their background, race, religion, history or culture– can relate with. Hence the new name!

I hope you continue enjoying this blog.  Looking forward together to better years ahead!

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Hello, from Janda Baik! And a Happy New Year!

Having a good time here and forgot it was Friday to upload a post! Janda Baik is very pleasant.

Loved water tubing down the river and discovered the thrill of all-terrain vehicle driving! Pic below.

As I’m enjoying myself in the last few days of December, I hope you do too and usher in the new year with a whole load of goodness!

Me, far left, on a ATV with family members.

 

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Have yourselves a merry Christmas …

It’s Christmastime! I’ve taken a break from my commentaries on current affairs so that I can enjoy the Christmas season! While I am aware of what’s going on, I’m taking time out from bad news in order to enjoy! This season, I’ll let current events take care of themselves. They are not going to cast a pall of gloom over my happy season! I’ll resume my commentaries next year!

So, friends, enjoy the season! No matter what the difficulties we face, take time out and think of the goodness we celebrate in this season and take heart. Help will come as we keep trusting in the One whose birth we celebrate in this season. While learning to trust Him, enjoy what He gives: this season!

There’s much to enjoy in giving and receiving, helping and being helped, bonding with family and friends, and simply letting your hair down and having a good time!

Push aside your troubles, for a little while find it in your heart to enjoy the season. There’s enough in life to get you down but enjoy Christmas to lift you up! You’ll be refreshed and recharged to take on the grind of life again.

So, folks, have yourselves a merry Christmas!

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Passing along peace on Earth and goodwill to all men and women

Every year, my Christmas begins on Dec 1 when I switch the worshipful Christian music I listen to in the mornings to worshipful Christmas songs! It puts me in the mood of Christmas, to celebrate the season in the spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men and women.

Not that I don’t practise peace on Earth and goodwill to all men and women in the preceding 11 months of the year. Of course, I do. The Christmas message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men and women is for all time and all year round.

But, December is when I celebrate not just the message but the One who made it happen. When I celebrate Christmas I celebrate the reality of Jesus Christ in my life. I celebrate the life I now live because of the peace and goodwill I enjoy as I journey in faith in the One who entered human reality as a baby boy born of a virgin.

If He had not come and spread His message of peace around, there would be no Christmas. There would be no reason to celebrate the good news that is meant for all. There would be no reason to enjoy where I am at today if not for Him!

So, like millions all around the world I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with a special joy and a special excitement. A joy and excitement to pass around. I spring clean my house, change the covers and curtains, bake some Christmas goodies, put on the Christmas decor and welcome people to share in the joy over a meal.

These days the cooking and the decor are kept at a minimum because I want to take the frenzy and rush out of the commercial whirlwind that is often associated with Christmas!

I take it slow, savouring the music, the time I spend with family and friends, the shopping of gifts for my little relatives, the Christmas concert, the Christmas parties. Every week from the first week of December, I schedule time out with family and friends. We will meet at some place with a pleasant Christmas decor or at home and chat. The company is always good and because it is Christmas, everything somehow is just Christmassy!

For me, that’s Christmas!

Even the Dec 8 demonstration of chest thumping in Kuala Lumpur couldn’t dampen my spirit! Somehow, I felt that there would be no violence and I thank God, there wasn’t, although I still don’t know the reason for the rally, except for chest thumping!

And, yesterday, there was that shooting into a Christmas crowd in Strasburg, France, killing three. That must be painful for the families involved and those celebrating Christmas there.

We don’t diminish the pain. That’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about. Life is tough but Christmas helps us through it. The songs, the decor, the festivities take our minds off the harsh realities of life for a while, so that we can take a breath. In that breath, we are reminded of the reason we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the One who came to help us through the trying times.

Christmas does not promise us tinsel and decor and everything nice. Those are trappings, a momentary catching of the breath. What Christmas promises is this verse I recently discovered: “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.  Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.” (Psalm 119: 143-144)

That’s something to look forward to through Christmas and beyond: Understanding of God’s promises so that we can live.

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New PTPTN repayment scheme’s good — ingrains the will to pay back

The new repayment scheme for National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) borrowers seems to smack of robbing the rich to give to the poor. The scheme heavily penalises higher earning borrowers but lets off the lower earning borrowers.

Under the new repayment scheme, the monthly salary deductions range from 2% to 15%. Those who earn less than RM2000 don’t pay back. The deductions are applicable to those earning RM2000 and more. Those earning RM2000 a month will have to pay RM40 when compared to those earning RM8000 and above who will have to pay RM1,200 or more.

The deductions would be a major adjustment to those in the higher income brackets. A deduction of RM1,200 or more is a large cut in disposable income, especially in the urban areas where the high cost of living would result in a significant drop in the standard of living.

For those who worked hard to reach comfortable income brackets, such a high deduction is understandably frustrating, especially when they have been consistently paying back.

The latest report is that the scheme has been postponed for review. However, I believe the underlying principle of the scheme is laudable as it ensures repayment and those eligible to pay won’t get off not paying!

However, a rethink is necessary to ensure that all borrowers pay. I think even those who earn less than RM2000 should also be expected to repay their loans. It inculcates the mental discipline of always paying or giving back what you borrow or take out as a loan. Otherwise, it is just as good as stealing!

And, Malaysians need to learn that you can’t justify stealing — or whatever other names you call it — just because as a borrower you can’t afford it or as a lender you are helping the poor. We should develop a mentality that whenever we take something on loan, we must always give back. When that quality is ingrained in our mental make-up, we will always honour our word to pay back.

As we determine to pay back, we will probably become resourceful in generating more income so that we can honour our commitment to pay back. In the process, we learn how to manage our resources and prove we can be trusted with the resources put in our hands. That’s a mentality that needs to become part of the national consciousness.

So, I fully support PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s repayment scheme for PTPTN borrowers. But, I agree, a review is necessary so that everyone who borrows pays back and at a rate that they can afford.

The same scheme may be used but including those earning less than RM2000, reducing the percentage of deductions for the higher income earners and extending the repayment period. Perhaps a flat rate of a 5% monthly deduction may be better for the higher income earners. For someone earning RM8000, that would still be a loss of RM400 monthly, but maybe more acceptable.

It is a good scheme; the rates, perhaps, need to be adjusted so that it is not a painful loss for the higher earning borrowers.

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Tis’ the season to be jolly … and keep temperatures down!

December is here! It’s the end of the year, the holidays have begun and Christmas is just round the corner. Folks, this is the month to let your hair down, have fun, enjoy one another and party a little!

So, if you notice that the temperatures are rising, go to the mall, listen to the non-stop playing of Christmas songs, stand next to a Christmas tree, be dazzled by the decor, then, go to a nearby shop and have a drink — give retailers some business! — and take some friends with you!

What with the scheduled Dec 8 rally to “celebrate” the cancellation of the government’s ratification of Icerd (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) and the Seafield clashes, I think this is a good season to simmer down and make peace with one another.

What’s the point of a Dec 8 rally when it’s only a political gimmick? It benefits no one except in raising temperatures and getting brownie points from those who don’t want to change and move forward.

What’s the point of getting racial over the Seafield clashes when it was an isolated incident involving a temple and a (or a few) developers over its land? It benefits no one except those who want to turn it into a racial issue and disrupt the peace and harmony that we want preserved so that we can move forward as a progressive nation.

Tis’ the season to be jolly! So, let’s get into the spirit of the season and welcome all to take a break from the harsh realities of life. The Christmas season is not exclusive, it is inclusive. All can celebrate, whether or not you believe in our faith.

Visit the malls, join Christians as they celebrate. Churches usually have many programmes for members and their families and friends.

One event that non-Christians can attend is the Christmas celebration that City Revival Church is organising on Sunday, Dec 16 at the Holiday Villa,  Subang Jaya. There will be a charity bazaar and a concert in aid of its two orphanages.

The concert, starting at 7pm, will feature saxophonist Brad White (American) who was nominated twice for the Grammy awards. The concert will also feature our very own illusionist Anslem Roy. The children from the orphanages will also give a presentation. The concert is free but an offering bag will be passed around for donations. The charity bazaar opens at 5.30pm.

Calvary Church (the church I attend) will also have its Christmas services on Dec 22 at Damansara Heights and the next day at the Calvary Convention Centre in Bukit Jalil.

There will be worshipful singing and dancing and you can expect to enjoy it! The service on Sunday at Bukit Jalil will be followed by a Christmas fest of stalls and food trucks.

Like the above, the church near you will have something for you, your family and friends, whether you are a Christian or not.

So, let’s spread the Christmas cheer and keep people happy and at peace!

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