“The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love… I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the LORD” (Zephaniah 3:17,20)
With this world-wide pandemic, almost everything in the way we live has changed. The way we work, the way we interact, and even our usual family activities have changed. No unnecessary going out of home, no travels. Suddenly the whole world stopped. As if the Reset button was pressed.
There are a lot of talks about the “new normal” when we return to our usual activities. Social distancing, washing of hands, cleansing oneself before entering home, wearing of masks, and many others.
In our daily lives as Christians, can we practice these New Normal? The verse above reminds us that the Lord will renew us… will restore us to the life that He originally planned for us.
Sharing some insights on how we can keep this new life in Christ.
“My son, should sinners entice you, do not go if they say, ‘Come along with us!'” (Proverbs 1:10 )
In the new normal, we should keep distance from people of bad influence. Let us not associate anymore with people who live in a life of darkness and sin. Socializing with these type of people will push us back from attaining this new life in Christ. Let us maintain social distancing from this type of people, otherwise they can drag you into a sinful life.
Washing of Hands
“Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts.” (James 4:8)
This tells us to come to the Lord whenever we have displeased Him, or have committed sin, and ask for His forgiveness. We acknowledge before our loving and merciful God our sinfulness and repent of our sins. A true repentance means turning away from sin and the sinful life.
“They will wait while I am silent and listen when I speak; and when I shall speak the more, they will put their hands upon their mouths” (Wisdom 8:12)
As Christians, we are to be channels of God’s love. We say words that encourages, and not dishearten; words that lifts up, and not put down. And if there is a temptation to utter hurting words, we better cover our mouths with our hands – like putting masks on our mouths.
New Way of Life
I read in the social media that in the new normal, people will sanitize oneself before entering his home: remove sandals, change clothes, wash face and hands. Indeed, to ensure that before he comes into the home, he is clean.
“Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1)
We have been redeemed. The Lord had paid the price for our sins. Being Christians, we need to constantly remind ourselves to be clean before the eyes of God. Let us remove from our midst anything and everything that will keep us away from God. Galatians 5:19-21 says “the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We should get rid of the sinful life that we have lived in the past. The Bible says “whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). We have been renewed in Christ, and therefore, new creations. Let us avoid going back to the old ways of life – a life of sin, of darkness, of misery. Let us avoid sin, and all occasions of sin.
I pray that in this “new normal” we will all experience what the Lord has promised us in John 10:10B “a life to the full!”
“The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” (John 14:10c)
I have never doubted that the LORD is doing something good for me, in the background.
I recently acquired my “dual citizenship”. I became a senior citizen late last year. And I am jobless.
I had been looking for a job after the expiration of my consultancy work, but for over 9 months I was not successful. I had applied through internet job sites, through network of friends and still no work. My thinking that my age being the reason weighed in much more when I turned 60.
But I always kept my faith. I know the LORD is preparing something good behind the scene.
In middle of February, a person whom I have never met had invited me to connect with him in a social media platform for professionals. I wasn’t inclined to accept his invitation, but I noted that we have a common friend. I accepted him.
The following day, he messaged me if I am interested to Head the IT (Information Technology) Operations of a bank. I assessed the job description, and I believe I can do it. And so, I responded “Yes!”
At home, while watching a Christian preacher, it hit me hard when he said “immediate blessing is coming!” My heart jumped! And I claimed it.
Indeed, the same day I responded that I am interested in the job, I was immediately called for a face-to-face interview with the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). But before I accepted the interview, I asked if my age would matter. The HR said “No, it doesn’t matter”.
It was a nice casual meeting with the CTO. It was like an old professional acquaintance reconnecting with each other. I told him my work experience, and he was telling me his. After almost an hour of exchanging ideas, he had me wait as he left the lounge. The HR Officer approached me and said I have to meet the CEO for a confirmation meeting.
In my heart, I was shouting “Praise be to God! This is it!”
Indeed, after meeting the CEO, I was offered the job to Head the IT Operations.
I know, the LORD Who dwells in me, is doing His work. Thank You LORD!
Reflection: Are you praying for something that haven’t come to pass yet. Know that the Father is working behind the scene. Just have faith.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, strengthen my faith in You. Grant me the grace to wait for Your answer to my prayers in Your perfect timing. Amen.
“I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)
“I was living in darkness before, Bro Danny.” the man told me.
“I was a drunkard. I was almost always intoxicated with alcohol every night. I would go home very late, which would bring me into quarrels with my wife”
“I played with girls too. I have the ‘looks’, you know. There was this girl in my workplace who would frequently offer me lunch for free. I believe she is infatuated with me. When my wife learned of this, we almost had it quits.”
I know this man’s story. He narrated this a few times to tell the world that things have changed when he came to know and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.
In a “Life in the Spirit” Seminar, he realized that he was living a sinful life. He repented and made amends with the Lord, with his wife, and with his family.
The light of Jesus finally shone upon him.
Today he lives in the light, the life that only Jesus can give. He continues to be a living witness on how the Lord had saved him from the darkness of sin. He now serves in various ministries.
Reflection: Are you still living in the darkness of sin? Let Jesus’ light shine upon you. He can transform you to live a full-life!
Family Adventures in KL – Day 3 Exploring Batu Cave
By Danny Tariman
My family had been roaming around Kuala Lumpur. We have been enjoying the beautiful sights of the city. I love its environment: cleaner air, less traffic, efficient and dependable mass transport system.
Our first day in the city was highlighted by our visit to two iconic structures: the KL Tower – a slim high tower with viewing deck at the top, and the Petronas Twin Towers, with a connecting bridge between the two 88-storey towers at its 41st level.
For the second day, I like the experience of the Night Street Market. An awesome place where I had tasted authentic Asian food from among the varieties of food available in many stalls lining both sides of the street.
We continue our tour of Kuala Lumpur.
Our third day in Kuala Lumpur was the culminating day for our family’s short visit to the city. We had planned and is booked to a bus trip to the state-city of Singapore at 1pm. So we have practically about 2-3 hours left of our family tour of Malaysia’s capital.
As planned, we should visit Batu Cave early in the morning so as to have time to prepare for our Singapore trip, and also to check-out of our accommodation.
We arrived the Batu Cave complex at about 7:30 in the morning. Only few tourists were there when we arrived. We had time for some photo at the foreground, feeding tourist-friendly pigeons. Oh! it was really fun feeding those birds.
At the foot of the cave is a Hindu Temple. We are quite hesitant to enter. I observed how to go inside, and noticed that we just have to go – no questions asked. We passed by a narrow door and entered a very colorful interiors of the temple. Aside from the usual permanent setup, we noticed some newly decorated areas. Few minutes later there was a pre-nuptial shoot!
While inside the temple, of course we were very silent and had to speak in hush as a number of worshippers were inside. We had some good shots inside too.
But the most amazing experience of the day was climbing the 272-step hill leading to a series of caves with Hindu temples inside. From the level ground, the stairs are appealing because of its multi-colored steps in gradient colors. The iconic gigantic golden statue of a Hindu god stands tall at the foot of the stairs.
We had to stop several times to take our breath as the climb was truly a challenge.
But once we reached the cave, I was awed by its size! It was the size of a big cathedral. And there were a number of Hindu temples in each of the chambers. If I remember correctly, I think I saw 3 small temples with worshippers doing their service.
We explored the inner chambers, with additional stairs as we go inside. But eventually, we retreated for shortness of time. We have to be back to our accommodation to prepare for our check-out.
Back to the ground, we had a good rest at one of its shops offering traditional Malaysian and Indian souvenir items, and also food.
After refreshing ourselves, we traveled back to the city, and prepare for our afternoon trip to Singapore.
Land Trip to Singapore
Our trip to Singapore was an experience in itself. I saw the countryside of Malaysia which I believe is generally cleaner than most of the Asian countries we had visited so far. Even the village houses we passed along the way show well-planned communities.
At the far end of the highway and just before crossing the border, was the immigration counter. It was easy, although there was queuing and generally good. No hassle.
Our next stop was the immigration of Singapore. I told myself “Singapore, here we come!”
It was truly an amazing experience in Kuala Lumpur. Truly fun and fully enjoyed. Thank You LORD!
Family Adventures in KL – Day 2 Markets and Malls of Kuala Lumpur
By Danny Tariman
My family had an amazing day touring Malaysia’s capital, the city of Kuala Lumpur. Our day-1 was highlighted by our visit to two of the magnificent icons of the city: the KL Tower and the Petronas Towers. It seems you haven’t been to KL if you hadn’t set foot on these two iconic tourist destinations.
It is our second day, and we haven’t finished yet visiting the many exciting places in the city. Join me, as I continue to tell our second day story.
KL’s Central Market is where we got the best price for local items – food and souvenir items. It looks like an old building that was spruced-up and air-conditioned lately. It offers various kinds of souvenir items, shirts with Malaysia or Kuala Lumpur prints, local chocolates (you have to taste this!) food items, and many more. The local chocolates are a must-taste: with various filling of local fruits such as durian, strawberry, and a lot more.
We had a good time looking around what to buy, and buying some items in this retail shopping market. We were surprised to note that a few of the stalls were manned by Filipinos! And one of these, if I remember it right, is managed by a Filipino.
River of Life
This river is few hundred meters away from the Central Market. We just had a perhaps 15-minute leisure walk to this tourist spot. This is actually a convergence of river systems that was rehabilitated by the government in an attempt to bring back to life polluted rivers. It is a nice attempt to clean the river.
At the background is the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur, the Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad. I read from some materials that this place is better visited at night as there are some elaborate lighting effects at this river complex. We happen to visit the place in broad daylight, and so we were not able to see the “dancing lights”.
This museum stands out as an iconic Islamic-style building within the bounds of Merdeka Square. It showcases the different processes and techniques – starting from ancient times – of textile making. It also has a display of the process in making batik!
There are 4 main galleries or sections inside the museum, showing many beautiful collections of traditional apparel, accessories, and textiles.
It was an educational visit for me as I had been fascinated by elaborate design of batik. It was in this place I learned how this was made. Really interesting!
This huge patch of greenery in the middle of the city is one of the famous landmarks of KL. There are many Islamic-style buildings surrounding this expansive tract of land, and one of these is the Textile Museum. A very tall pole hoists the Malaysian flag. I can’t resist comparing this place to Luneta (or Rizal Park) in Manila. Indeed, a beautiful place to take some good pictures.
On the other side from where we were standing, we can see a church – which happens to be St Mary’s Cathedral. I thought it was a Catholic Church, it turns out to be an Anglican Church. I remember in Hong Kong, we mistakenly attended a church service (Mass) in a Catholic-like church, which happened to be, you guess it, an Anglican church. It was ok though – similar service, similar readings.
The well-manicured greens, I understand, used to be a playing field for a sport called cricket.
This place is bustling with commercial activities. Not only the sidewalks but the whole streets were filled with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. My son was able to buy a camera lens which you clip onto a phone to get a wider view.
From all angles, it is really a Chinatown. We tasted a very familiar food for us family – soy curd (taho in Manila). We also tried other street food which we are not familiar, just to taste the native culture of Chinese-Malay. All really taste good!
To taste a more authentic Sino-Malay meal for lunch, we entered this food market inside the Chinatown. Wow! The food – the noodles, and others we ordered – were really good! And the price was very, very reasonable. On our way out of the food market, we saw this looking familiar street food – chakoy, as we call in Tagalog – we tasted it, and yes, tastes very much familiar!
From Chinatown we took LRT to MyTown Mall, our next destination to check what we can buy from Ikea.
MyTown Mall was quite far from the city center. But with a very efficient railway system, the travel time was short and very comfortable. The train coaches were clean, and arrival & departures were prompt.
We first explored MyTown to see Ikea – this Swedish store chain that offers good quality household furnishing and accents. My son was looking for a kind of jar he couldn’t find in Manila, and so we tried Ikea Kuala Lumpur. It was a good experience. The mall is big but far from city central, which is good urban planning so as to decongest the city proper. It got a lot of shops and boutiques with familiar foreign-brand names.
After touring MyTown, it was about 5pm, we went back to the city to meet up with our daughter who went to work that day.
We met our daughter at Pavilion Mall, another upscale mall in the city. We again roamed around, and finally went to the supermarket at the first basement to buy some food and grocery. Although it was a basement, the place is totally refreshing and looking good.
From the basement we went straight to another mall across the street passing through an underground tunnel – with stores – you would never thought you have crossed a street.
And again, we roamed around and we found this familiar store brand in Manila – “DIY Store”. It happened that this store started operations in KL.
Night Street Market
This is one of my most memorable experiences in Kuala Lumpur. An entire street, seemingly an ordinary street during the day, but bustling with people in the night.
At night, both sides of the streets have all sorts of food – Malay, Indian, Thai, Singaporean, and many others. And its full of people from different cultures. You would see whites, Asians, Chinese-looking people enjoy the meals, and the drinks in the middle of the street.
That particular night, I was awestruck on what cuisine I would want for dinner as there was literally a *lot* of choices. But finally, after making rounds to the different stalls, we finally settled for some Malay and Thai food. We had my favorite Thai soup dish – tom yang. Oh… it was so incredibly tasty, I had to ask for extra soup.
At daytime, cars can pass by the streets, but at night, the middle of the street is literally filled with tables and chairs full of people. It is truly very lively, and a truly different kind of experience!
It was indeed a fun-filled second day in KL. And we capped the day with this awesome Night Street Market. A truly memorable adventure! Thank You LORD!
Family Adventures in KL – Day 1 Touring the City of Kuala Lumpur
By Danny Tariman
My family is so excited to explore this Asian neighbor-country – Malaysia – particularly the City of Kuala Lumpur. After all, it was long interval since our last family foreign travel.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia, and is about 4 hours travel by plane. Leaving Manila almost 11 o’clock in the evening, we arrived KL at about 2:30am. Manila and KL are in the same time zones. Since it was wee hours of the night, I do not have much time to look around and appreciate its airport. My immediate concern then was to find a car to take us to our accommodation.
Finding our way to the airport’s arrival/exit gate was a bit of a challenge. But we found our way after speaking to a man – who looks like an airline pilot – for directions. We finally got a Grab car which took us to the city. It was a long drive passing through expressways.
At last, we arrived the condo unit where we will stay. Our daughter who moved to the unit earlier in the day, was waiting for us. It was a happy reunion of sorts, after about 2 months of being away.
Our daughter bought this Hop-On-Hop-Off city tour ticket for the three of us, weeks before our arrival. Yes, it was only the 3 of us since she is working in KL. She would later join us after her office.
And so, the first order of the day was to get to the bus terminal of the Hop-On-Hop-Off. I had noticed that the buses are double-decker with half of the upper deck in the open air. It felt it was good to be in the open-air section so it will be easy for me to take photos. I eventually went to the air-conditioned section because it is quite hot outside.
It was a beautiful ride touring the city in a double-deck bus. I was able to see the unobstructed view of the city sights and sceneries as we crisscross the different parts of the city. What I have noted during the city tour is that the streets are less crowded as the place we live in.
We first alighted from the bus at a place called “Little India”. As the name suggests, the streets are lined with Indian stores selling various items from food, to clothes, to jewelry, to flowers, and many more.
People tending the stores are Malaysians of Indian decent, and really, it feels like an Indian town.
We explored the place, took some photos as other tourists do, and yes – had a taste of Indian-Malaysian food too.
After roaming around the place, we hopped-on to the next bus again and rode to our next destination.
Malaysia National Museum
Our next stop was the National Museum better known as “Muzium Negara”. We toured around the ethnic origins of Malaysia. We went inside the Istana Satu which is the royal residence of a past Sultan. It had intricate wood carvings which is evident of Malaysian craftmanship.
The interiors of the house are reminiscent of a royal occupant: the bed, the furniture, furnishings. An elaborate golden cloth hangs as a ceiling.
Outside of the Istana Satu are burial poles made of big tree trunks, with artistic wood carvings from top to bottom. Many artifacts of the past are displayed just outside: locomotives, military canons, and others.
Within the museum compound, there was this handicapped man who was making wire handicrafts – various items such as miniature bikes, saxophones, pianos, drum sets, etc. His hands were so dexterous, he can make any item with just one single twisted wire!
This palace – Istana Negara — is really grand! From all angles, it looks very royal. The wide entrance gate is all we can reach, and all tourists for that matter. The entire palace compound is restricted. We can view from afar the palace which is quite a distance from the gate.
The entrance is well guarded by palace guards on horse, which are in itself, a good subject for photograph. It was a brief stopover at this tourist stop – just about 25 minutes – and we have to quickly hop-on to the bus.
The Botanical Garden – Taman Botani Pergana – is a big track of land planted with thousands of species of vegetation. At this point, I was very tired. We just checked its amphitheater, and a few other attractions. Over-all, it is a good place to visit that has various collections of plants – tree collection, bamboo collection, orchid garden, edible garden, among others.
One can actually rent a battery-operated cart, just like the golf carts, to tour you around the entire park.
This is huge mosque which is open to tourists at certain times during the day. Make sure to plan your visit as it is closed to non-Muslim during prayer time, which is from 1-3pm. We arrived in this place past 1 o’clock in the afternoon, hence we were not able to go inside.
There was no restaurant in the surrounding area. But we had a good experience of eating street food. It was nice and clean, and it serves freshly cooked sandwiches.
We had an afternoon of rest after this, as we prepared to an evening tour of the city with our daughter.
KL Tower is one of the tallest structures is Malaysia, which stands over 400 meters. We just reached the 300 meters – the Sky Deck. This viewing deck is an equivalent of about 75 story building! This is very tall, and considering that it stands on a very thin pillar structure, it is quite scary.
The view on top is breathtaking: it gives us a 360-degree view of the City of Kuala Lumpur! From the viewing deck, you can see from a distance another iconic building in Kuala Lumpur – the Petronas Towers.
There is this viewing deck with glass floor! It sends chills to my spine as it appears that I am standing on air!
We stayed a bit here until the city lights went on – that was about past 6:30pm – and it was really awesome to see the city at night from this height. Really one of the most awesome experiences in the City of KL!
This iconic building – the tallest in Malaysia – with the Skybridge connecting the 2 towers in the middle portion of the tower. The podium floors of the 88-story tower contain a big shopping mall called the KLCC. It is an upscale shopping mall offering many of the popular foreign-brand boutiques.
My family had a good photo-op outside of the building where a good-hearted vendor who was offering fish-eye lenses for mobile phone cameras, took a good family photo for us, using the items he sells. After some friendly conversations, he said his mother is a Filipino, and he know a little bit of Tagalog. Haha! What a blessing for us!
After our picture taking, we went inside the shopping mall. Oh! It was cool relief after walking in a tropical weather early in the evening. We had an enjoyable and satisfying dinner in one of the good restaurants inside the mall. It was really good. We capped the evening in this restaurant.
An awesome day-1 in KL with full adventure! Thank You LORD!
“The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to answer the weary a word that will waken them” (Isaiah 50:4)
“I am so distressed. I don’t know who to talk to, bro,” my long-time friend texted me.
He had just moved to a new apartment but ran into some difficulties. His unit had no provision for a telephone line and his car pass was having some processing issues, among other small but compounding matters. He had been following up with the property’s caretaker but to no avail. “Am so tired and weary,” read his last text to me.
He’s a retiree living alone so it must be physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting to deal with his problems by himself.
I didn’t know what to reply except, “Praying for you, bro.” Then I quoted to him Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” And when I sensed he was at the verge of giving up, I shared with him 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
Sometimes, we feel helpless when we can’t offer anything to alleviate other people’s problems. But I’ve learned that listening to them, praying for them, and sharing God’s Word with them goes a long way.
Reflect: How do you awaken a weary soul?
Prayer: Dear Lord, teach me to strengthen the weak and give hope to the weary. Amen.