It’s foolish to wear yourself out with work. (Ecclesiastes 10:15, explained by Pastor Rick Warren)

Pastor Rick Warren is a Christian writer that I respect a lot. I read his groundbreaking and life changing book “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” when I was a teenager. It is one of my favorite Christian books, along with Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis.


In this week’s sermon “You’re Not God—Stop Acting Like It!“, Pastor Rick comes up with another gem. It seems God Himself is a proponent of work-life balance. The problem of overworking is especially prevalent in East Asia, where it even flows down to the student level.

It is quite common that the average student in Singapore has less than 8 hours of sleep. In fact, it can be argued that it is almost “impossible” to have 8 hours of sleep, one will have to sleep at 10pm and wake up at 6am, and virtually no teenager sleeps so early at 10pm.

The human body is designed to mix work with rest, overworking is not only unhealthy, it is counterproductive as well. It may be quite possible to obtain temporary success by overworking, but the health effects may catch up sooner or later.

Related post: Good night’s sleep adds up to better exam results – especially in maths


The sermon by Pastor Rick Warren:

“Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.”

Ecclesiastes 10:15 (GNT)

You’re not God. You don’t have all the answers. You can’t do everything. If you’re struggling to find balance in your life, those admissions can transform everything. 

The Bible says, “Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work” (Ecclesiastes 10:15 GNT).

It’s foolish to wear yourself out with work. Do you realize that when you overwork, you’re playing God? It’s a way of saying that it all depends on you, that everything will crash down if you don’t keep the world spinning.

That’s just not true! You’re not the general manager of the universe. The universe will not fall apart if you take time to rest, if you take time to balance your life. God has it under control.

Often we do this to ourselves because we’re trying to please everyone. Learn this lesson today: You can’t please everyone. Even God can’t please everyone! One person wants it to rain. Another one wants it to be sunny. It’s absurd to try doing what even God can’t do.

When you live for the expectations of others, you pile a ton of “shoulds” on your shoulders. You may think, “I should work more hours,” “I should be as active as all the other parents,” or “I should volunteer for this project.” But realize this: No one is forcing you to do those things. Overworking is your choice. You choose to take on the extra work or not to take it on. And you choose the consequences that come with your choice.

When you deny your humanity and try to do it all, you’re robbing God of his glory. The Bible declares this in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (NIV).

Paul reminds us that we’re human beings. We’re feeble and fragile. Jars of clay break easily. If you drop them, they shatter. Clay pots have to be handled appropriately and with care. If not, they’ll be destroyed.

But the good news is that through our feebleness, the power and glory of God shine through. Your humanity isn’t something to hide. Instead, you can celebrate the power of God working through your limitations.

So admit it: You’re human. Thank God for that!

Seeking The Overarching Purpose Of Your Life – Homily by Archbishop William Goh (26 July 2020)

A quote from the video that I find meaningful:

Those of you who are doing a job or a career, whatever it is, and you find yourself so drained instead of being energised by what you are doing, it has become a drudgery, this is not your life. This is not your vocation. In fact, you are destroying yourself. You will be making a living, but you will never live.

— Archbishop William Goh (At around 3:46 of the video.)

Bible and Chinese history (Su Dongpo & Ecclesiastes)

Quite rare to read an excellent article in the Daily Bread (daily biblical stories) with links to Chinese history. I really enjoyed reading this article by Poh Fang Chia. This clearly shows that Christianity is compatible with Chinese culture.

The poem by Su Dongpo referenced is 《水调歌头·明月几时有》, namely the most famous lines:

人有悲欢离合,月有阴晴圆缺,此事古难全。但愿人长久,千里共婵娟。

The entire poem is much longer, but most people just refer to these 5 lines. The classic song that encapsulates this poem is the one sung by Teresa Teng:

Source: Our Daily Bread (July 15 2020)

Su Dongpo (also known as Su Shi) was one of China’s greatest poets and essayists. While in exile and gazing upon a full moon, he wrote a poem to describe how much he missed his brother. “We rejoice and grieve, gather and leave, while the moon waxes and wanes. Since times of old, nothing remains perfect,” he writes. “May our loved ones live long, beholding this beautiful scene together though thousands of miles apart.”

His poem carries themes found in the book of Ecclesiastes. The author, known as the Teacher (1:1), observed that there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh . . . a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” (3:4-5). By pairing two contrasting activities, the Teacher, like Su Dongpo, seems to suggest that all good things must inevitably come to an end.

As Su Dongpo saw the waxing and waning of the moon as another sign that nothing remains perfect, the Teacher also saw in creation God’s providential ordering of the world He’d made. God oversees the course of events, and “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11).

Life may be unpredictable and sometimes filled with painful separations, but we can take heart that everything takes place under God’s gaze. We can enjoy life and treasure the moments—the good and the bad—for our loving God is with us.

By Poh Fang Chia

REFLECT & PRAY
Thank You, loving Father, for watching over all seasons of my life. Help me to trust in You and enjoy the life You’ve given me.

What are some things you’re afraid to try because of life’s unpredictability? How can you lean on Jesus as you step forward in courage to forge new friendships and deepen relationships?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
The book of Ecclesiastes is a book for a postmodern world. The “Preacher,” whom many believe was Solomon, speaks of the frustrations and disappointments of life. Two key phrases in the book are “everything is meaningless” (1:1) and “under the sun” (v. 3). The phrase “everything is meaningless” speaks of life lived on human terms and according to the values of this world, which is described by the phrase “under the sun.” In the end, the Preacher says that the answer to this meaninglessness is to look beyond this world and “remember your Creator” (12:1), who is the only source of true meaning in this life.

To learn more about the book of Ecclesiastes, visit The Bible Project, Old Testament Series. Bill Crowder

Original source: https://odb.org/2020/07/15/treasure-the-moments

Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

This is one of my favorite Christian books. The Imitation of Christ is a Christian devotional book by Thomas à Kempis, first composed in Latin (as De Imitatione Christi) ca. 1418–1427. (Wikipedia)

Despite being written centuries ago, many of the words still apply perfectly. Human nature hasn’t changed over thousands of years. I find the book particularly suitable for those facing troubles, depression, or problems in life.

Some Quotes:

  • “When a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace.”
  • “Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.”
  • “So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation.”
  • “If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense that all the things of earth are full of vanity!”
  • “Be not troubled about those who are with you or against you, but take care that God be with you in everything you do. Keep your conscience clear and God will protect you, for the malice of man cannot harm one whom God wishes to help.”

Summary

For five hundred years, this gentle book, filled with the spirit of the love of God, has brought understanding and comfort to millions of readers in over fifty languages, and provided them with a source of heart-felt personal prayer. These meditations on the life and teachings of Jesus, written in times even more troubled and dangerous than our own, have become second only to the Bible as a guide and inspiration. It is now available in a modern translation that retains the flavor of the original English translation.

Free Download of Imitation of Christ Book

There is a free download of the book here: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/kempis/imitation.html

There is also a Chinese translation available for free, in HTML format. I did check briefly that the translation seems fine.


For a printed leather bound version, check out the book on Amazon below.

The Imitation of Christ

The Spiritual & Humanitarian Aspects Of The Gospel – Homily by Archbishop William Goh

For the complete Mass recording go to: https://youtu.be/IzXhGM2QB8Q

The Church must never forget the priority of providing spiritual food to the People of God. This is critical and can never be replaced by mere humanitarian services. This was precisely what the early Christians did. They did not simply do humanitarian works when they cared for the poor and the widows. Their goal was ultimately spiritual. The works of mercy that they did were in continuation of Jesus’ works of mercy. They were meant to reveal the Father’s mercy and love for them. The gospel cannot be proclaimed without the works of charity, otherwise, it will merely be words. People need to see Christ and encounter His love and mercy concretely in their lives.

Worry Doesn’t Solve Anything

Source: Pastor Rick Warren

BY RICK WARREN — MARCH 31, 2020

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Worry is essentially a control issue. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. We can’t control the economy, so we worry about the economy. We can’t control our children, so we worry about our children. We can’t control the future, so we worry about the future.But worry never solves anything! It’s stewing without doing.

Jesus actually gives four reasons you don’t need to worry in his Sermon on the Mount.

1. Worry is unreasonable.
Matthew 6:25 says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (NIV).

Jesus is saying, if it’s not going to last, don’t worry about it. To worry about something you can change is foolish. To worry about something you can’t change is useless. Either way, it’s unreasonable to worry.

2. Worry is unnatural.
Jesus gives us an illustration from nature in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (NIV).

There’s only one thing in all of God’s creation that worries: human beings. We’re the only things God has created that don’t trust him, and God says this is unnatural.

3. Worry is unhelpful.
It doesn’t change anything. Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (NIV). When you worry about a problem, it doesn’t bring you one inch closer to the solution. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair—a lot of activity, energy, and motion, but no progress. Worry doesn’t change anything except you. It makes you miserable!

4. Worry is unnecessary.
Matthew 6:30 says, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (NIV). If you trust in God, you don’t need to worry. Why? Because he has promised to take care of all your needs: “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).

That includes your bills, relational conflicts, dreams, goals, ambitions, and health issues you don’t know what to do with. God will meet all your needs in Christ.

Don’t worry about it!

What is 20+C+M+B+19? (Epiphany)

This looks like a Math question, actually it is an Epiphany tradition called Chalking the door.

20 and 19 stands for the year 2019. C, M, B stands for the names of the three magi, CasparMelchior and Balthasar. The plus sign is actually a symbol for the cross †.

Some variations also put “20*C+M+B+19”, where the star stands for the star of Bethlehem.

CMB can also be the abbreviated form of the Latin blessing “Christus mansionem benedicat“, which means, “May Christ bless this house”.

The LaTeX code for it can be:

20\dagger C\dagger M \dagger B\dagger 19

\displaystyle\Huge\boxed{20\dagger C\dagger M \dagger B\dagger 19}

Book of Wisdom

1 Wis 7:7-11 (Book of Wisdom or “Wisdom of Solomon”)

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.

mire – deep mud

Biological evidence that Jesus actually was born in December

The type of sheep in Israel is the “Awassi” sheep, a type of desert sheep. In Israel, the principal lambing season is December through January. It makes sense, since the winter in Israel is around 8 degrees Celsius, which is not too freezing cold. Something interesting to know!

Source: Aleteia

Long ago, I accepted the idea that December 25 was probably not the actual date of Christ’s birth, that the real date was unknown but probably in the spring. Knowing the exact date doesn’t really impact the liturgical celebration, after all. It was just one more sad thing about being an adult, one more little bit of wonder gone from life.

Since then, I’ve become well acquainted with the historical evidence in favor of a date of December 25. The date can be derived historically from the dating of Zechariah’s entry into the temple to burn incense. It can also be derived theologically from the ancient tradition that a great prophet entered and left the world on the same calendar day. Thus, the Annunciation was determined to have occurred on the same day as the crucifixion, March 25. December 25 naturally follows nine months later. They are good arguments, held to strict standards of historical research and logic, within their own fields.

But neither ever quite satisfied my desire for something really concrete. One continual objection was that the shepherds in the fields at night were presumed to be attending to the dropping of lambs. And lambs didn’t drop in December. Lambs dropped in the spring, not the winter.

So, when yet another person asked “Why do we celebrate Christmas in December if lambs are born in the spring?” instead of explaining the significance of March 25, I suddenly wondered: ARE lambs actually born in the spring in Israel? Can I find out?

The Awassi sheep is a desert sheep, a fat-tailed breed that has existed in the Middle East for an estimated 5,000 years. It is the only indigenous breed of sheep in Israel. They are raised for wool, meat, and milk. Awassi sheep breed in the summer and drop lambs in the winter, when there is sufficient pasture for the ewes in milk. In Israel, the principal lambing season is December through January.

This is practical, I thought. This is fact. This is biology.

The scientist nuns: In pursuit of faith and reason

Source: Aleteia

Making a career out of science, just like joining a religious order, requires dedication and discipline. Some tireless souls have managed to do both.

In 1965, Mary Kenneth Keller became the first woman to obtain a PhD in Computer Science. She was also a nun.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1913, Keller entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1932. Eight years later, she professed her vows, before obtaining B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from DePaul University in Chicago, where she became fascinated by the incipient field of computer science.

As a graduate student, she spent semesters at other schools, including New Hampshire’s Ivy League college Dartmouth, which at that time was not coeducational. For her, however, the school relaxed its policy on gender, and she worked in the computer center, where she contributed to the development of the BASIC programming language that became so instrumental to the early generation of programmers.

Read more at: https://aleteia.org/2017/08/05/3-scientist-nuns-you-might-not-know-about/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en

How do you overcome the fear of the future? Pope Francis provides the keys

Source: http://aleteia.org/2017/04/26/how-do-you-overcome-the-fear-of-the-future-pope-francis-provides-the-keys/

Have you ever been gripped by a fear of the future that left you walking in circles or paralyzed from moving forward? Today, Pope Francis provided a deeper answer to this common human fear, urging Christians to remember that faith is the anchor that keeps our lives moored to the heart of God, amid every storm and difficulty.

Speaking to faithful and pilgrims at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope reminded them that, wherever we go, God’s love goes before us.

“There will never be a day in our lives when we will cease being a concern for the heart of God,” he said, as he continued his series on Christian hope.

“I am with you”

Reflecting on St. Matthew’s Gospel, Pope Francis observed that it begins with the birth of Jesus as Emmanuel — “God is with us” — and concludes with the Risen Lord’s promise to his disciples: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He said:

The whole gospel is enclosed in these two quotations, words that communicate the mystery of a God whose name, whose identity is ‘to be with,’ in particular, to be with us, with the human creature. Ours is not an absent God … He is a God who is “passionately” in love with man, and so tender a lover that he is incapable of separating Himself from him. We humans are able to break bonds and bridges. He is not. If our heart cools, his remains incandescent. Our God always accompanies us, even if we unfortunately forgot about Him. […] Christians especially do not feel abandoned, because Jesus promises not to only wait for us at the end of our long journey, but to accompany us during each of our days.

Prayer of St Thomas Aquinas for Students (English and Latin)

Source: http://www.aquinascollege.edu/prayer-before-study-exams-spring-2013/

A Prayer Before Study

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order
above the fiery heavens,
and have marshaled the regions
of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
The goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May You
guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are true God and true Man,
who live and reign, world without end.

Amen.

Ante Studium

Creator ineffabilis,
qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae
tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti,
et eas super caelum empyreum
miro ordine collocasti,
atque universi partes elegantissime disposuisti,

tu inquam qui
verus fons
luminis et sapientiae diceris
ac supereminens principium

infundere digneris
super intellectus mei tenebras
tuae radium claritatis,
duplices in quibus natus sum
a me removens tenebras,
peccatum scilicet et ignorantiam.

Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas,
linguam meam erudias
atque in labiis meis gratiam
tuae benedictionis infundas.

Da mihi
intelligendi acumen,
retinendi capacitatem,
addiscendi modum et facilitatem,
interpretandi subtilitatem,
loquendi gratiam copiosam.

Ingressum instruas,
progressum dirigas,
egressum compleas.

Tu, qui es verus Deus et homo,
qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

Amen.

Love Jesus in all who suffer, pope says on Palm Sunday

Source: https://cnstopstories.com/2017/04/09/love-jesus-in-all-who-suffer-pope-says-on-palm-sunday/

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus does not ask that people only contemplate his image, but that they also recognize and love him concretely in all people who suffer like he did, Pope Francis said.

Jesus is “present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own — they suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases. They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike,” the pope said April 9 as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Passion.

In his noon Angelus address, the pope also decried recent terrorist attacks in Sweden and Egypt, calling on “those who sow terror, violence and death,” including arms’ manufacturers and dealers, to change their ways.

In his prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope also expressed his deepest condolences to “my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros, the Coptic church and the entire beloved Egyptian nation,” which the pope was scheduled to visit April 28-29.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured April 9 in an Orthodox church north of Cairo as Coptic Christians gathered for Palm Sunday Mass; the attack in Sweden occurred two days earlier when a truck ran through a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15 others.

The pope also prayed for all people affected by war, which he called, a “disgrace of humanity.”

Tens of thousands of people carrying palms and olive branches joined the pope during a solemn procession in St. Peter’s Square under a bright, warm sun for the beginning of Holy Week.