Government officials

This morning I had to get into a government office to make a claim for my retirement benefits. At the entrance the security personnel evaluated the documents and gave me #9 as my token.

When I entered the office and numbers were called, the first few numbers had been duplicated, leading to total chaos amongst the people present! The security personnel were being accused, voices were raised and suddenly there was no control until a young government official had to step in. Her role was to calm the people down and she did this very patiently and calmly.

There was pin drop silence. People listened as she explained the procedure and whilst she acknowledged that an error had taken large, she asked her colleagues to take on the duplicate numbers, making it a very fare process and no more reactions by those present!

Services by government officials are rendered free in this country and yet we tend to demand. We never appreciate!

As I sat my turn, I watched the commitment of these officials as they carefully dealt with each individual. I had no words to explain as I can imagine that this is something they must be facing each day! This morning I was encouraged with this verse, I needed to look for Him and His love:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Each day we go about our activities and can we look for appreciation or are we waiting for something to go wrong? If things go wrong, how do we react, is it with anger or with patience to resolve? I do not have the right answers but I was touched by one individual who was able to bring about a calm from the storm.

Thank you to those who commit themselves to serve humanity. There are many we come in contact with, we must express our appreciation! Going with the right attitude can make a huge difference, this is my personal experience!

Stubborn ++

There are two things that I know I do not listen to; drive slowly please, can you stop using your phone when driving? (Those who know me will probably say that I do not listen at all!!!!).

A much looked forward to moment for me at this time of our holidays is Christmas eve with the family with a nice hot soup and pot Roast, in the comfort of our cozy home! All is usually well until I do realize at some point of time in the day that my much looked forward to moment is not going to be a reality. This is eventually the time when body and mind begins to react negatively, hatred sets in as I am unable to fulfill the desires of my heart.

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 10:12 NIV

Everything that follows is done in bad taste, the mood is really bad and nothing positive steps out of my life. I become moody, angry, loud, grumpy, basically just pathetic. I know that my learning for a reasonable life does not call me to be this but totally the opposite. Why do I, despite knowing this, respond so negatively?

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

Matthew 12:33 NIV

Finally at 5 pm on Christmas eve, we begin our 6 hour journey home. Definitely there will be no family dinner and no happy moments that I was dreaming of. Rains set in and traffic is horrendous. I have the responsibility of the family in the car, I will drive with care and be the right example but, with the stress levels increasing on the road combined with the Land Rover Discovery which comes with an impressive engine delivering effortless performance and sheer driving pleasure (and my first time experience!!!), all “hell breaks lose” and the “light goes off” in my life. Stress levels inside the car are raised, all efforts to talk to me is to no avail, I am enjoying the machine, enjoying breaking road rules and enjoying the outcome of the hate building inside me.

10 minutes prior to our arrival, I have to make a call as I had promised to call this individual at 10.45 pm. I took my phone out (whilst driving of course) and begin to search the number. I am driving up a winding road and as I continue to search the number, my son who was seated beside me shouts “WATCH OUT ” and grabs the steering wheel and avoids us going down the hill. I am not reacting, unmoved I still go ahead with dialing the number, ignoring all the comments being made.

For I knew how stubborn you were; your neck muscles were iron, your forehead was bronze.

Isaiah 48:4 NIV

As we settle down for the night and as we come together for family devotion, I am slowly beginning to come to my senses, I am now facing the reality and becoming aware of my madness.

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.

Hosea 14:9

I realize how I have behaved. Not a good example on Christmas eve. I have to ask forgiveness from my family. I know I messed up. How can I stay calm in turbulent situations, how can I do this? I cannot stay stubborn can I?

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:3 NIV

These are daily battles we all encounter, I encounter them all the time, the choices I make either make it positive or negative. I need to strive each day for peace, it’s what I am called to be, if I cannot, how then can I fulfill my purpose?

My encounter with ‘JD’

Jan-Darryl, also known as ‘JD’ is a shy young man and we regularly meet at church on a Sunday. We’ve always admired him as he is a great singer and leads worship regularly on Sundays. 

A few weeks back, JD reached out to us and said that he wanted to share his vision and was looking for prayer support to help him take forward his plan and, as we sat and listened, I was just awestruck to understand that here was someone who really had a burning passion to do something very meaningful. A civil engineer by profession who was not planning to go build mega structures but was seeing how broken the world around him was and, dedicating himself to leading others to their God-given vision.

JD first shared with us some really frightening statistics that got us very worried and scarred, the reality more when we were bringing up two teenagers. Let me share the data:

Philippine Statistics

Obviously the statistics are revealing and whilst our youth may be a blur, the reality is when it comes to our own, what values are we bringing to our homes?

JD has made a commitment to bring awareness to the young population he works closely with, he wants to cultivate a good value system that is morally and spiritually right. Many have not had the opportunity of knowing between right and wrong, the way of life depends on the circumstances one is living in but, 

God put a burden in my heart to minister to youths full time

Jan-Darryl

As I dwell on this serious issue, I am sure that this is not just in the Philippines but is a global issue. As parents, how far do we care about those outside our families? Are we concerned about our own children and family members? Do we really understand the right morals we need to live with? I am burdened, I am pained. How can I help?

‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”’

Matthew 9:35-38

If you are moved to lend a helping hand to JD, let me know and I can connect you.

Hidden Treasures!


And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”

Genesis 1:20

The history of ornithology is rich and varied and this is the comment that introduces the “The Guide to the Birds of the Philippines” by Robert S. Kennedy et al. It goes on to say that “despite the efforts of numerous scientists and, more recently, bird watchers, the birds of the Philippines are still among the most poorly known in the world”.

Fast forward, my customer and now, a dear friend, tickled my interest by sharing with me his personal interest to protect and make known some of the rearrest and most sought after species of birds in the Philippines and I am just so very grateful to Dr. Miguel David De Leon for sharing his discoveries, where he spent days and hours first locating and identifying and lawfully making it all so easy for his friends to have the joy of witnessing and learning, an opportunity that 99% of the population does not have, mainly due to lack of interest or accessibility. Its the blessings one can count, the ability to see, the ability to learn and the wonderful opportunity to just know that it is so rear, so hard and not something one can see in our daily routine in life. I therefore join the Psalmist:


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

My first WOW moment, and it had to be the National Bird of the Philippines!

Philippine Eagle

pithecophage jefferyly.

Its Endemic and very rare and known to be the most endangered species on the planet, due to hunting, capture for private and public display, forest destruction, agriculture and increased human population. It is considered the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface and is among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world

An hour and half flight, an further hour to our friend, a 3 hour road trip, a one hour trek up the mountain in thick undergrowth and the wait for hours makes it all worth the effort!

Blue-Capped wood Kingfisher

Actenoides hombroni

Uncommon, poorly known and very hard to see, known to be one of the toughest kingfishers to find! Web search has much reference to this bird.

Streaked Ground Babbler

Ptilocichla mindanensis

Endemic to the Philippines, very hard to find and not easy to capture as it moves very fast!

Bagobo Babbler

Leonardina woodi

Wonderful opportunity to be in a hide to capture this very rare, uncommon, extremely secretive and hardly known or written about babbler.


the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Psalm 118;23

It is such a joy, such a pleasure to marvel at His creation. There are so many hidden treasures that we are not aware of, when we get to appreciate it, its only gratitude!

I must thank my customer and friend, Dr. Adel Samson, for sharing his lovely Sigma 600mm lens. It made the difference for sure!

Small, Big or White ‘LIES’

Last week, 8 of us adults, sat around a table and shared how we had lied in the last few days (what a discussion, did you not have anything better to talk about?)! I began by sharing two lies:

My Mom called me a few days back and said that she would share with me a prayer that was really special to her. After our call, she sent me the prayer and 5 minutes later called me back to ask if I had read it. “Oh yes I did” was my instant reply and when she commented that it really is a meaningful prayer, I carried on in my usual tone “yes, it truly is meaningful”.

All the while, as I lied, I was telling myself that I would immediately after the call listen to the prayer, which I did.

My second example happened in office:

I was needed to get to the office to sign a Telegraphic Transfer for a payment to a supplier. I had promised that I would get in on Friday but as I was busy with a few other appointments and I decided not to go into the office. I was then informed that they had made a promise to the supplier that the payment would be made on Friday and I instantly responded “You can tell them that the documentation was all done and sent to the bank for processing”, knowing that I was not signing the document.

I was aware that I was setting a bad example and after a few minutes responded back “Sorry, its not being truthful to say this to the supplier. I will find a way to have the document signed. Do not worry about it, its my responsibility to sign it for you, I will do it. I will make sure you can keep your promise”.

Back to our gathering, the rest of us all shared ‘lies’, it was a humbling experience because, even for me to share it was very hard, I was ashamed of my actions, especially when I verbalize it. We then asked ourselves why would we want to lie? We concluded:

  • It was to promote ourselves
  • Protect ourselves and our interests
  • Impress others, prove our points
  • Manage our ‘pride’

An interesting learning was that the opposite of a ‘lie’ was ‘truth’, and we clearly understood that the ‘father of lies‘ is clearly the evil one and, the ‘truth that sets us free‘ is the word of God!

We are called to and, it is a requirement that, we live the right standards. We might categorize our lies into different segments but, the fact remains that a ‘lie is a lie’ and this is sinful. We further discussed on how we can make a personal effort to avoid this sinful nature in us?

  1. Our Personal Life: We are called to walk with integrity, speak the truth at all times, remain this way and ‘do not change‘!
  2. Our Family Life: If we say we will do it, then we are required to do it. We have to support each other and our spouses and remind each other that we have an audience at home watching us – our children, our extended family and friends, our house help.
  3. Our Business Life: We need to build trust through integrity. We want to win our customers for the long term. Our word is our bond.
  4. Our Church Life: We mingle with a ‘spiritual’ family and hence we do not want to ‘upset’ anyone! We are good at making all kind of promises and never keep them, we get away with a ‘smile’, if someone says something that is not correct, we just let it past with our usual ‘smile’! But, we are forgetting that we are called to ‘speak the truth in love‘, ‘even if it hurts‘.
  5. Our Relationship With Our God: We must be truthful to our God, we need to honestly talk to Him and tell Him our wrongs truthfully.

Wikipedia clearly summarizes what a ‘lie‘ is but the contents of the page is rather interesting from a worldly context. It defines 28 types of lies! The good news for many of us is that we just need to keep it simple, a ‘lie is a lie‘ and we have to be truthful to our selves!

Lie quote

 

Sri Lanka Today!

  • Social media is at its peak.
  • Many are angry.
  • Many are reacting.
  • Many are having serious arguments

For those outside the isle, VOC on FB states the below and I share this because that’s what those of you who would read my post would be telling me!

“If you ABANDON your HOMELAND by choice for GREENER PASTURES enjoy your comfortable living rather than making sweet COMMENTS.” 

YES, so much is and has been taking place and leaving aside all thoughts, is it possible that we have forgotten that we have the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords in total control? The word encourages us over and over like this:

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:2

Many of us are angry. But:
A dear church mate boldly posted this last night:
“After we have gone through all of the human emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, frustration etc. we then have ONLY ONE REMAINING SOLACE TO TAKE REFUGE IN….. namely OUR FAITH THAT NO MATTER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCE… THERE IS A GOD ABOVE….WHO WILL NEVER FORSAKE. This is what I have been personally telling people since Sunday.”

The church at St Luke’s Borella has this to say:

“Dear Friends in Christ, These our troubled times in our nation. St. Luke’s, Borella is calling anyone who wishes to pray to gather to pray for our beloved homeland between 5.30 & 6.30pm. Those who cannot come on time, can come later to pray. Those who wish to stay on and pray alone, in two’s or in families can continue to pray to our prayer answering God.
“When we work, we work. When we pray God works!”
We are not praying for the government or the opposition, for or against any individuals, but for the common good. For God’s mercy and grace for our land.
Please pass this on to your friends and join us or pray where you are!

Friends, we voted prayerfully for our new government and president. Have we continued to pray fervently? Should we not? 

Financial Success!

The idea that having money is the same as being successful is probably the most common misunderstanding about success. This leads many to believe that if they accumulate wealth, they will be successful.

But wealth does not bring contentment or success.

John Maxwell said it in “Your Road map for Success”

King Solomon of ancient Israel, said to be not only the wisest but also the richest man who ever lived, asserted, ‘Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Have a look at the below list that ranks the richest people on the planet, using information from both Forbes’s annual list of 400 Americans, and its tally of the richest billionaires worldwide:

  1. Jeff Bezos (U.S.); CEO of Amazon, Age: 54, Net worth: $160 billion, Bezos became the first person to top $100 billion on the Forbes list of billionaires in early 2018.
  2. Bill Gates (U.S.); Co-founder of Microsoft, Age: 62, Net worth: $97 billion
  3. Warren Buffett (U.S.); CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Age: 88, Net worth: $88.3 billion
  4. Bernard Arnault (France); Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Age: 69, Net worth: $72 billion
  5. Amancio Ortega (Spain); Co-founder of Zara, Age: 82, Net worth: $70 billion

It is common for me to define success by how I unconsciously view these individuals as listed above and I am constantly reminded that I shouldn’t try to be like even one of these people, only because it would be a bad imitation. John Maxwell also describes other common misconceptions in his book:

‘most people wrongly equate success with achievement of some sort, such as arriving at some destination or goal. Success is NOT indicated by attainment of wealth’

Wherever I look each day, I am bombarded by billboards on our streets of SLEX and EDSA of the latest must-haves, commercials of what is hot in the market and a countless number of intrusive advertising in social media which lead me to believe that we are developing an incessant desire to acquire material goods in ever greater amounts and I find myself living in a world driven by a culture of consumerism. Its becoming tough, I am beginning to develop a way of life in which the craving to have more, purchase more, and own more gets stronger by the day.

The problem of many of us today is not that we earn less than our need. It is that
we spend more than what we have to.

Pressed against the wall, many of us have even gone to the point of living on credit cards, the trick is to own a few cards from different banks and pay the minimum amount monthly! We are spending money we have yet to hold in our hands and some of us have found ourselves already working for money. The sadder part of the reality is that more and more of us devote the bulk of our time, even sacrificing precious moments with our families, to working longer and earning more.

How can I truly be financially successful? How can I live with the fact that money matters in this life and yet not neglect that there are other things that  matter even more?

Give credit to whom credit is due:

Count what truly counts:

Dare to Share

  • A measure of my worth is not calculating how much wealth I have but, how much I share with others

‘ “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. ‘ Matthew 6:24

Benjamin Franklin (US President, whose image is printed in US $100 bills) said it very well; “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”

One of the most unfortunates things that have happened to us all is that we mistake the gift for the giver, to put our trust on money instead of the maker.

Related blogs from the past: