Friday 28 September 2012


We need to be aware of this less well-known cancer which is easily treatable if detected early.

Despite it being the third and eighth most common form of cancer among Malaysian men and women respectively, not many people are aware of this type of nose cancer as they are of breast, lung or colon cancer.

Do you have blocked nose, blood-stained nasal discharge, blocked feeling in the ear, ringing in the ear or a painless swelling at your neck?

Please consult an ENT specialist as Malaysia has one of the world’s highest incidence of Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC).

The main problem with NPC is that it occurs in a hidden part of our body, which is behind the nose. Unlike breast or skin cancer which can be detected relatively early, NPC is usually detected late because not many are aware of the condition and also because of its location deep within the skull.

Most NPC cases (more than 70%) are therefore detected late when the disease is advanced and not amenable to treatment.

So awareness of this relatively less well-known cancer is important. When you have such symptoms, please go for a check-up with an ENT specialist as soon as possible.

While its exact causes are uncertain, NPC is thought to be linked to the consumption of preserved foods such as salted fish and vegetables containing carcinogenic nitrosamines. Other factors include a genetic link and possibly the Epstein-Barr (EBV) virus.

Next time, when you order clay pot chicken, tell them to spare the salted fish topping, no matter how well it enhances the flavour.

The moral of the story is: We can't choose our parents (genes) but we can make wise choices when it comes to food. So why eat processed/preserved food when you can have it fresh? 


The price of academic success is often high. Often a string of A’s is achieved at the expense of creativity, independent thought and the acquisition of soft skills.

One of the distinctive features of Malaysian schools is that students are programmed to score as many A’s as possible in a highly exam-oriented education system. Now distinctions are not bad in themselves. They help to distinguish the cream from the mediocre.

But the pursuit of this type of academic excellence has its drawbacks. It does little to nurture creativity, originality or independent thought. Students aim to churn out as many A’s as possible so that they are eligible for scholarships and can enter the best universities.

That’s why we have this prevalent “copy and paste” syndrome. When it comes to writing essays, assignments or reports, students resort to plagiarism. This culture perpetuates itself even when they enter the workforce.

Of course, there are a few bright stars who, by reason of effort or self-interest, work towards enhancing their own creativity at an early age. Often they come from English-speaking homes where the parents and siblings help to create an environment conducive for creativity to thrive.

Such families usually start their kids young. The parents’ aim, however, is not to push them to join the rat race. By providing them with a well-stocked library of books — from fiction to factual, from secular to religious — and by gentle coaxing, these children spontaneously develop a love for reading. They seek knowledge because they want to learn, not just because they want to score as many A’s as possible.

Education is not just about scoring A’s. Some top scorers cannot make informed decisions, cannot think critically or creatively, while others are unable to tackle real-life problems or relate to others.

And, later, when they are supposed to start working, employers lament that they cannot be absorbed because they lack soft skills — such as the ability to communicate in good English and the capacity to work as a team.

Could all these weaknesses be the result of conditioning by an examination-oriented culture that encourages cramming and rote-learning?

Mark Twain penned: “You can’t let school interfere with your education”. Often, schools don’t engage the young enough. Students don’t feel they’re active participants in the real world.

Do our schools adequately prepare the young for the world out there? How well prepared are they to join the nation’s workforce? Can they hit the road running?



Tuesday 25 September 2012


Is the believer essentially a saint or sinner? If he is a ‘saint’, why is he still struggling with sin?

We're living today in a corrupt world that’s not much different from the ancient city of Corinth. And the people who make up the church today face similar struggles with sin as the Corinthian believers. 

Perhaps we face even greater struggles with sin, what with porn and the powerful negative influence of movies and the Internet. A lady pastor, who was dining in a restaurant, was aghast when she overheard a churchgoer boasting about his sexual exploits with a lady friend from his cell group.

Paul addressed the believers in Corinth as people who were “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1: 2). But, later, he told them he could not address them as spiritual men but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Carnality was evident in their lives because they were divisive and factious (1 Corinthians 3: 3-4). They were also sexually immoral; they even practised incest (1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:11).

While Paul recognised the fact they were saints in the making, he was firm in rebuking them for their sins. He reminded them the immoral will not inherit God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10). 

He even threatened to expel those who committed serious sexual sins, such as incest, from the church (1 Corinthians 5: 5, 11, 13). Evidently, Paul did not want any rotten apple to spoil the rest within the barrel.

The reputation of Corinth for its immorality is legend. In fact, the word ‘to corinthianise’ means to ‘live an immoral life’. So even though they were believers, they were still very much a ‘work in progress’.

The moment one believes in Christ and decides to make Him Lord as well as Saviour, one becomes a new creation: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

But, in reality, we are still not perfect.

So how do we move from carnality to “sainthood”?

The Christian walk is a moment-by-moment experience whereby we are given the choice whether to serve the spirit or flesh — as opposed to a ‘once and for all’ experience of victory.

Whereas conversion is an experience at a particular point in time, walking in victory is an ongoing process which requires a daily, even a moment-by-moment, dying to self.

As long as we choose to walk by the spirit 1, die to self 2, lay our selfish desires at the foot of the cross, we will win the battle against the flesh: Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5).

That said, as we mature in the faith, victory will become more and more typical of our daily experience.

The answer to the original question is this: We were once incorrigible sinners but now we have become saints. Saints in the making, to be exact, as the sinful nature still has to be dealt with daily.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).




1   By choosing to ‘walk by the Spirit’, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). What are some of the practical steps involved? Draw near to God; be exposed to people and situations where God is glorified; pray in the Spirit; listen to uplifting messages; worship God; fellowship with other believers.

2   “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). According to Christ: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Monday 24 September 2012


When we select portions of scripture which are attractive and agreeable to us, we are distorting the truth.


The closest I ever got to experiencing “cherry picking” was when I was on a holiday. Together with other tourists, we gingerly positioned ourselves in between the long rows of strawberry shrubs. Naturally we picked the biggest, ripest and most luscious fruits we could find. Those tiny ones, which were still green, were left behind. Soon we were on our way again on the tour bus, most delighted with own bag of freshly picked strawberries.

All is well when we are merely selecting fruits. However, if we pick and choose from scripture what we think is good for us – and ignore those parts we deem are harsh, demanding and objectionable – we will be getting a distorted view of the intended message.

Naturally we prefer the image of a loving and merciful God over that of a holy God who will one day judge us for our sins. Humanly speaking, we want Him to constantly bless and forgive us, no matter how many times we sin against Him.

When we entertain only the attractive and agreeable attributes of God in our minds, we are actually creating our own god, which is tantamount to idolatry.

Love and mercy are important attributes of God. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive and chose us while we were yet sinners. He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. 
But He is also a God of justice and righteousness. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). He is the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah as well. He who once rode on a colt as a man is now ensconced on His heavenly throne as the King of Kings.
He may be a tender daddy (Romans 8: 15) and a close friend (John 15: 15). But He is also a Holy God, a consuming fire, to be feared and revered (Hebrews 12:29). 

It is wise not to “cherry pick”. Tozer warns: "Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. We just cannot select portions of scripture that our “itching ears” want to hear. We should not just highlight the agreeable parts and downplay the harsh truth in scripture.


A most serious warning to anyone who attempts to tamper with God’s word – whether adds or deletes its contents – is found in Revelation 22:18-19: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

By dwelling on the whole Bible, we do not focus on half-truths or emphasise one truth at the expense of another equally fundamental truth. 

Paul left an example for all who teach and preach God’s word. Addressing the elders at Ephesus, he said that he did not shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).


Harbouring an image of God that is attractive and agreeable has its dangers

Sunday 23 September 2012


How can job seekers make themselves more marketable?

Employers today lament the fact that young job seekers have a poor command of written English, cannot speak proper English and lack skills tailored for industry needs.

But it is also their attitude which is jeopardising their chances of employability. Lack of manners and courtesy, being picky and demanding (asking high salaries not commensurate with their qualifications) are some of the factors making it difficult for them to land the job.

Believers who embrace positive work ethics will be able to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Values which will stand them in good stead include hard work, perseverance, faithfulness, striving for excellence, honesty, “going the second mile”, “working not unto the earthly master but unto God”, maintaining good relationships, “living peaceably with others” and the list goes on.

They would do well if they remember what President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Before asking about what perks and salary the company can offer, they should convince the employer that they will be a definite asset to the company. The benefits will surely come, in due course, as they prove themselves in the workplace.

Believers should trust in God, commit their plans to Him and He will act (Proverbs 16:3)

“You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm his covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

“For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he puts down one, and sets up another” (Psalm 75:6-7).



The price of academic success is often high. Often a string of A’s is achieved at the expense of creativity, independent thought and the acquisition of soft skills.

Saturday 22 September 2012


A blog reader posed this question to me:

What about those who engage in premarital sex? Will there be justice or forgiveness or both for those who have repented?”

This is my answer to him:

Hi Anonymous,

Premarital sex is not a greater sin than any other sin. God will forgive you if you repent. 

The only difference is that, in sexual sin, we are sinning against our own body because we are joining it to another body, one who is not our spouse. It is an unholy union for it is outside marriage. Other types of sins are committed outside our own body.

But be careful to live a righteous life after He has forgiven you. Hope this helps a bit:


What fate awaits those who sin repeatedly after they have believed?

This is a most interesting question. I will address the issue from these two main standpoints:

Firstly, is the person living in sin or deep in his heart he wants to please God but falls into sin on and off?

Secondly, what is our view of God’s nature? This will affect our final conclusion. Do we see Him only as loving and merciful? Or do we see Him as a God of justice and holiness as well?

The apostle whom Jesus loved, the one who lay on His chest, reminds us our true nature — that we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”(1John 1:8-9).

We are all in the same boat. We are stricken by this “congenital disease” called sin, whether we care to admit it or not. It’s a disease we inherited from Adam.

However, we see a different scenario in Hebrews 10: 26-27:  “Dear friends, if we deliberately (and willfully) continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.”

Such a person is deemed as one who lives in sin. He treats the blood of Christ with contempt: Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us” (Hebrews 10: 29).

Whereas 1 John refers to sin which God forgives, Hebrews 10 speaks of sin which God will judge!

Now the question is this: “What if we keep on sinning, even seventy seven times”? The answer is found in Matthew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered,I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” 

If God expects us to forgive others to such a degree, He himself will definitely surpass man in graciousness.

Does it mean, then, that we can exploit God’s “soft spot” for us? Do we capitalise on the fact that He will keep on forgiving us, no matter how many times we sin, on account of His grace, love and mercy?

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).

“He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing” (Proverbs 29:1).

We can have such extreme views of God in our minds. If we embrace the notion that God is always loving and merciful, we think He is like an indulgent Santa Claus. But when we picture Him as holy and just, we think He is like a no-nonsense, strict Judge. The true picture is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes; a combination of these two attributes.  

Actually, there are two sides to God’s character: He is loving and merciful as well as holy and just. If we are forced to make a difficult choice between these two sides of God’s character, it is better to err on the side of His holiness rather than on His mercy. We have everything to lose if we think He is an indulgent God and, finally, it turns out He is not!

Paul says, on one hand, nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8) and, on the other hand, he says he has to be disciplined in running the race so that he will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9).

We need to have a healthy fear of God because He is coming again as the JUDGE (whereas He came as the gentle lamb whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins).

Living in sin, presumptuously relying on His forgiveness, will lead us to the road of damnation in the hereafter.

How do we know when we have reached the end of God’s tolerance for sin in our lives?

Nobody knows except God. But you can be assured He is a righteous and fair judge. He knows our heart’s true condition whether we are living in sin or deep in our heart we want to please God but fall into sin on and off.

Let everyone who confesses the name of God turn away from wickedness. For God knows those who belong to Him—those who are really sincere in wanting to please Him (2 Timothy 2:19).




Is there eternal security for believers if they deny God or continue living in sin?

Friday 21 September 2012


When it comes to sickness and healing, a balanced view and good sense should prevail.

This is a very sad story about a child who died because his parents, who were faith healers, did not think that they should send him to hospital.

Austin Sprout, 16, died of a burst appendix after suffering appendicitis for a week. The painful disease is easily remedied by routine surgery (source: Mail Online).

The parents believed in God for everything, including physical healing. But things went awry because they lacked wisdom and good sense.

Is seeking medical care and belief in supernatural healing mutually exclusive?

As for the boy with appendicitis, the parents should have prayed for him as well as send him to hospital. Granted their church has strong convictions on supernatural healing even if they had prayed for healing and kept the boy at home the excruciating pain of unresolved peritoneal inflammation after the second day, should have alerted them to send him to hospital. 

But, alas, some people are fixated on supernatural healing alone. They have not yet embraced the whole counsel of God found in the Bible: Seeking medical care and belief in supernatural healing are not mutually exclusive.

In another incident, a faith healer was called to minister to a patient who was seriously ill in a hospital in Malaysia. The former confidently told the patient’s relatives that, since God was going to heal her, they could remove the ‘life support’ (the ventilator, feeding tube, intravenous line – among other things – which were keeping her alive in the intensive care unit). They followed her advice but the patient died. The relatives later sued the healer.

In this second case, the faith healer should have earnestly sought God for a rhema word whether it’s God’s will to miraculously heal this very ill patient before proceeding to give advice. The healer should have fully understood the fact that the advice she gave to the family – to remove ‘life support’ – has grave legal implications. The patient in question is not her (healer’s) own mother but someone else’s. Furthermore, the condition could have easily taken a turn for the worse. It is not just headache or joint pain. So due diligence should have been the order of the day before giving advice.

Once again, we need to reiterate this fact: Seeking medical care and belief in supernatural healing are NOT mutually exclusive.

Having faith does not necessarily mean we shun medical care. Isaiah ordered a poultice to be applied to King Hezekiah’s boil. Timothy was told to drink some wine for stomach ailments.

Often, the physician works alongside the Great Physician in healing. The apostle Luke, who wrote Luke’s Gospel and Acts, was a doctor who followed Jesus in the latter’s healing ministry.

Obviously, Jesus does not discount the doctor’s role in treating diseases. Otherwise He would not have said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31).

Nevertheless, the above two examples do NOT nullify the fact that God does, in fact, heal by supernatural means. There are so many well-documented cases of supernatural healing through God’s servants.

Disease and healing as the Bible sees it,


Wednesday 19 September 2012


An entrenched mindset is difficult to change. But we need to bring every thought captive to obey Christ, aligning every thought to scripture.

A practice or belief is not necessarily true just because the majority embraces it or some well-respected leaders endorse it – or because it’s a long-held tradition. To test the validity of the practice or belief, we have to view it through the lens of scripture.

The Bereans were cited as exemplary believers because they questioned what they were taught – even Paul’s teaching – scrutinising it against scripture (Acts 17:11). Any teaching that does not stand up to the test of scripture should be rejected, no matter how eloquent or respectable its proponents might be.

Prominent leaders – like all men – are not infallible, no matter by what high-sounding name they call themselves (apostle or prophet), how many books they have written or how much respect they command from both sides of the Atlantic.

Furthermore, leaders are not immune to deception (Matthew 24:5, 24 and Joshua 9: 3-15). During the end times, deception will be a prominent feature. And even the elect – supposedly mature leaders – can be deceived.

The majority may be wrong. We may be like lemmings, one leading all the others down the precipice. It beats me why lemming culture is so attractive. *

And to say, “We have never done it this way before” – as it goes against our tradition – is tantamount to closing our minds to what God wants to reveal to us and do through us.

But, alas, it’s so difficult to evict something so deeply entrenched in our minds that it becomes a stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). 

We need to be open ready to bring every thought captive to obey Christ, aligning every thought to scripture.


“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

“For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Like a parachute, our mind works only when it is open.

Let us keep in mind this saying: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire.