The Shack by William Paul Young

rating: 3.5/5

Even though a lot of people have recommended this book to me – I didn’t really take the time to sit down and read the book. My first time trying to read this book was about two years ago, and I found the language too overwhelming to bear at that time (it was quite… challenging, and it still is), so I put the novel back on the shelf and picked up another book to read.

Today, after finishing another book yesterday titled Miracles at Tenwek (haven’t made the review yet, maybe later this week), I am finally drawn to pick up this book and starting to read it seriously. No more excuses, just read.

Michael W. Smith said on the back of the book that “The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God.” And now I believe it! It is such a powerful novel that I feel like a little child once again, just beginning to know the Lord, and finding my way to trust in Him. Oh boy, what a journey.

Wrapped in fiction, Paul Young, the writer, has beautifully woven the very core of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and eternity. I do not want to say ‘Christianity’ because the book is not about religion. God is much bigger than that. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of all the believers, and of mine.

Reading this book, I have been reminded to repent again and again about my false paradigms and concepts about the Lord. While some of them I have already known, it is still easy to forget things you do not exercise or have not fully grasped the true meaning behind it. I feel lost, but as I turn the pages and close my eyes – I know, I have been found.

It took me by surprise because even though I know most of the paradigms, I have not really given much thought about them. One of the things that really strikes me is about the closeness of relationship that we can have with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Shack reminds me once again that we often have our own idealisation about what God might look like, or how He might think, or act. But He is beyond our imagination. While most people may portray God as serious, holy, and the one who holds power – this book also reminds me of the Father-like character of God.

and it’s all about relationship.

While I’m stuck to the image that God is the provider, I sometimes forgot that He is a God who longs for a relationship with us. He is not supposed to be a God that I just pray to everyday, and ask for blessings, guidance, and blah; He is the God that I need to have a relationship with. And in order to establish a relationship, I need to set aside some time to be at His feet.

The Shack has really opened my eyes and straightened my false paradigms. I learn a lot about relationship, judgement, the concept of trinity, love, forgiveness, freewill, the existence of evil, and life. But most of all, I learn to look upon God with a new set of understanding. It’s been an emotional journey for me, and I can not emphasis more on how it means to me – you need to read the book to fully grasp what I’m saying.

I encourage all of you to read this book, and it is not limited to just believers. If you are curious, asking questions, and wondering, what on earth have I been writing about, why don’t give this book a try – I guarantee, you have nothing to lose.

The following is some of the pages of the book. Please read the foreword, and if you have decided not to read further, that’s okay – but just give it a try. I’m sure you won’t regret it :).

[all images below are copyrighted and can be found from http://theshackbook.com/index.html]

Loving quotes, I leave you with some favourites of mine.

Papa (God): “Honey, there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away. Believe me, if I had one, I’d use it now. I have no magic wand to wave over you and make it all better. Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship” (92).

Papa: “The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think” (98).

Papa: “Who wants to worship a God who can be fully comprehended, eh? Not much mystery in that” (101).

Sarayu (Holy Spirit): “Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself- to serve.”

Papa: “There are millions of reasons to allow pain and hurt and suffering rather than to eradicate them, but most of these reasons can only be understood within each person’s story. I am not evil. You are the ones who embrace fear and pain and power and rights so readily in your relationships. But your choices are not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome” (125).

Sarayu: “Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can only draw upon yourself. That is death because you have separated from me: Life” (136).

Jesus (in response to Mack’s question about why he spends a great deal of time worrying about the future): “It is your desparate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.”

Mack: “Why do I have so much fear in my life?”

Jesus: “Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that we love you. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love… to the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe that I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don’t know it” (142).

Jesus: “Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to ‘be like Jesus’, it means for your independence to be killed. I came to give you life, real life, my life. We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But we will never force that union on you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side” (149).

Papa: “Have you noticed that in your pain you assume the worst of me? I’ve been talking to you for a long time, but today was the first time you could hear it, and all those other times weren’t a waste, either” (176).

Jesus: “I don’t create institutions- never have, never will” (179).

Jesus: “Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda” (181).

Jesus: “Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian” (182). “‘Does that mean’, asked Mack, ‘that all roads will lead to you?’ ‘Not at all’, smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. ‘Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.’” (182)

Sarayu: “It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you” (198).

Sarayu: “Mackenzie, religion is about having the right answers, and some of their answers are right. But I am about the process that takes you to the living answer and once you get to him, he will change you from the inside” (198).

Sarayu: “Mack, if anything matters than everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again” (235).

“Each relationship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you.”

Sarayu: “Don’t ever think that what my Son chose to do didn’t cost us dearly. Love always leaves a significant mark,” she stated softly and gently. “We were there together.”
Mack was surprised. “At the cross? Now wait. I thought you left him – you know – ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'” It was a Scripture that had often haunted Mack in The Great Sadness.
“You misunderstand the mystery there. Regardless of what he felt at that moment, I never left him.”
“How can you say that? You abandonded him just like you abandoned me!”
“Mackenzie, I never left him, and I have never left you.”
“That makes no sense to me,” he snapped.
“I know it doesn’t, at least not yet. Will you at least consider this: when all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me?”

When apple and blackberry were just fruits

While technology has brought us into the next level of living, it also changes everything.

I remember my day trip to Kyabram (a rural place) around two months ago. With no phone service whatsoever, I am forced to live without handphone: the urge to check my facebook, emails, or even WhatsApp for every 10 minutes. And boy, how I love that day!

Entering a life in media and communication means entering a life in technology. E-papers have replaced newspapers. Blogs have replaced magazines. E-mails, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and all other social networks. Chatting with a friend over coffee has changed into chatting virtually through Skype. Technology has grown exponentially, but I guess my little heart is not ready for the rapid change.

While having a passion in the media, I have been confronted with the urge to be able to master the application of the new media. I’m not a ‘twitter’ person, yet in the end I am giving up my oath not to make twitter for the sake of my studies in uni.

What I hate most about the new media is the constant pressure to be plugged in with the news 24/7. I greatly dislike the need to compete with others in order to be the first one who knows what’s going on with the world. In a sense, I may not be able to be a true media student.

But what can I say, even blogging is a form of new media as well; something that I would not be able to achieve without the advance of technology. But the wheels are turning fast, too fast – at least for me.

I can’t help but notice some friends who are never separated from their mobile phones. Blackberry users, most of all, constantly have their faithful companions beside them, even at the dining tables.

And I can’t help but looking at Facebook updates and checking my emails for at least once in every 3-4 hours. I hate it because instead of building my life and  forging my character, I am updating my Facebook profile and giving life to my gravatar.

Although I approach blogging differently (as this is my reflection – my writing on life), I have been forced to face the fact that I’m living at least 4 hours a day in this virtual world. The hours that I can spend on building my relationship with others, read a book, or learn something new. Nope, I’m just too busy reading other people’s status updates, or finding who’s broken up their relationship and who’s getting together. I’m too overwhelmed with the urge to know their lives – instead of living mine.

And in the end, through all these new media, I have finally come to conclude the inevitable, that people may concern more about their profile picture instead of their character, about updating their status instead of mending broken relationships, about how others see them instead of who they really are.

Well, life was much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits.
Life was much simpler back then, the time when you don’t have to worry about checking your e-mails 24/7 – just in case important ones come.
Life was much easier, when you are focused more on developing your skills in the real world instead of the virtual world.
Life was much simpler, for only a  few options were presented. It’s either black or white.

In the end, life was easier, but that does not mean that it was worse, nor better – that answer entirely depends on you.
It was just – simpler.

3 Idiots (2009)

Rating: 5/5

It’s a must-watch movie for those of you who haven’t watched. I believe today is the fifth time that I watch this movie, simply because it is so inspirational, yet is wrapped in friendship, love, and laughter – a complete package of life.

If you are wondering what is wrong with your educational system, consult this movie. If you are wondering what is wrong with your friendship, consult this movie as well. If you are wondering what to do with your life, this movie also has an answer. It brings with it a universal theme throughout the world, and oh, how I laughed, cried, and smiled alongside the the characters’ journey.

I find myself laughing at this line, “That day we learned about human behaviour: when your friend flunks, you feel bad, when he tops, you feel worse.”

And how true it is!

I remember the time when my friends have low marks (or maybe failed their subjects) – I feel bad. But yeah, when my friend tops, I feel worse. It’s human nature to always want to be the first one to everything. Something that I need to learn how to dissipate my pride and ego.

So, what kind of behaviour should we have towards life?

“Pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down.”

While some of us may study for the sake of passing exams or getting good jobs, only a few of us really study for the sake of learning. We may want to top our exams, but it may be in the wrong journey of life which is not our passion. And yeah, that’s how I have lived my life during high school.

“Most of us went to college just for a degree. No degree meant no plum job, no pretty wife, no credit card, no social status. But none of this mattered to him, he was in college for the joy of learning, he never cared if he was first or last.”

3 Idiots shows us this: Rancho never cares on what others think of him, he just makes the best of himself. While I want to walk in his footsteps and study for the joy of learning, I have to face the reality that it is not that simple. There is always my pride, my ego, my parents’ expectations and of course my worry about the future. With the ever-growing competition for getting a job, the next question is: will I ever be able to get a decent job which I’m passionate about?

I bet this is no coincidence, as Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda says, “There are no accidents,” that I find myself talking about this with a church friend last Sunday. “In the end,” he says, “it doesn’t matter whether you have good results or not. Even those who top their exams are unable to find jobs. And when you already have a job, there is no guarantee that your boss wants to keep you in the next 6 months. Life is fragile, and God holds the key. In the end of the day, prayer is the best answer – you have to keep on praying.”

I’ll tell you a story about life. Yesterday was quite a downhill for many people that I know. Some worried about their job applications, some had problems with their families, some had problems with exams, and some – were just seeing the brokenness of life. I guess I have lived a very comfortable life that I am blinded of the area out of my comfort zone. I have been blessed with a great family, and monetary is never an issue for us. But it’s not the case for some others. And I have never really realised that ‘these people’ live close enough for me to actually see – but I wasn’t looking. I am too comfortable with my life.

While life may not be as simple as in the movies, living yours may be the best decision you ever made – as each character in this movie finally living theirs.

~”Give me some sunshine
Give me some rain
Give me another chance
I wanna grow up once again”~

30 day song challenge: day 21-30

day 21 – a song that you listen to when you’re happy

Mmm, it should be this one!

day 22 – a song that you listen to when you’re sad

day 23 – a song that you want to play at your wedding

MMM SO MANY SONGS I WANT TO PLAY AT MY WEDDING! but if I’m asked to choose one…

day 24 – a song that you want to play at your funeral

Hmm, maybe this one…

day 25 – a song that makes you laugh

(Ehm, only Indonesians can understand why I laugh to this song…)

Project_Pop_-_Teka_Teki_Cinta.html

day 26 – a song that you can play on an instrument

day 27 – a song that you wish you could play

day 28 – a song that makes you feel guilty

this one got a little history…

day 29 – a song from your childhood

LOL LOL LOL

day 30 – your favorite song at this time last year

Hmm,, around June 2010… my favourite song is…

Black Swan (2010)

rating: 4/5

As a Psychology student, I am attracted to watch this movie due to its dark, psychological thriller story presented. However, after I watched the movie, even with the remedy of watching Madagascar 2 cannot heal my disturbed mind. Let’s be honest, it’s a great movie, but it’s a very dark one indeed.

First of all, THUMBS up for Natalie Portman as the main actress. Needless to say, she is perfect for the role. I watched No Strings Attached a couple of weeks earlier and I just can’t believe that they are the same person. Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached is an ordinary girl who just living her life – and even acts a bit ‘seductive’, if you know what I mean. In Black Swan, she is a very innocent girl who just wants the role as the Swan Queen. And in the end, she shows her dark side – a totally different person.

Black Swan, simply puts, reveals the dark side of human. It shows that no matter how good your ‘White Swan’ is, there will always be a dark side of yours, hidden, your very own ‘Black Swan’. In the end, Nina (the Swan Queen, played by Natalie Portman), chose to be the black swan. Once again, it’s just a matter of choice.

“It’s about a girl who gets turned into a swan and she needs love to break the spell, but her prince falls for the wrong girl so she kills herself.” – Nina

One review (by hypercube) of the movie says,

“…As Nina goes deeper and deeper into her role as the Swan Queen, Portman only becomes more and more captivating. The entire cast is excellent, but Portman alone makes this movie a must-see.

Darren Aronofsky is at his boldest heading up Black Swan. His depiction of Nina’s struggles as she succumbs to growing pressures from her director, her mother, her rivals, her physical ailments, her personal need for a perfect performance.. it is intense, thrilling, exhausting, and truly gripping throughout. Part of what makes it work is that we are completely along for the ride with Nina. We see what she sees, we experience what she experiences, and sometimes it is truly distressing stuff.”

While entirely agreeing that “Portman alone makes this movie a must-see”, I am left to wonder about the morale of the story. Nina decides to be the Black Swan, killing herself in order to be ‘perfect’.

Before I watched this movie, a friend told me, “Remember Heath Ledger? He is so captured in his role as Joker in The Dark Knight movie that he finally becomes a dark person – and died. It reminds me of the movie Black Swan.”

It’s true that a good actor needs to be absorbed by the character that he is playing in the movie. But I guess it’s not worth the price if you pay it with your own life. Heath Ledger is a legend; I highly respect him as an actor, but he chooses to keep being the ‘Black Swan’, a decision that brings him to his death.

Moreover, now I find myself chuckling by the fact that both swans actually chose the wrong paths. While the ‘black swan’ reveals the dark side of a person, the ‘white swan’ is not entirely white. My interpretation is, when she decided to kill herself because the prince falls for the wrong girl, she turns into the black swan as well. Again, it’s a matter of choice.

A dark movie, but it’s unique nonetheless, and yes, Natalie Portman now has my respect.

Sanctum (2011)

rating: 3/5

It’s been a while since my last movie review (although I have watched like HEAPS of movies), so let’s start reviewing again.

I’d say that this is quite a good movie, but I won’t say much further. Although the cinematography is incredible (as expected from executive director James Cameron), the storyline is just usual, ordinary and 100% predictable.

Sanctum (2011) is said to be based on the experience of the writer, Andrew Wight, when he was trapped in the cave due to avalanche in 1988. However, it is just the event that is similar, the story is a different one altogether.

While watching this movie, I can’t help but think of the very strong resemblance with the movie Poseideon (2006), which tells the story of a group of people who fight their way to escape from a sinking cruise ship. One by one the people die, leaving only a few survivors (and of course, along the way, the people start to fight each other for the sake of survival).

While Poseidon takes place in a sinking ship, Sanctum tells the story from diving cave. But if you are a serious movie freak (like I am), you will predict what will happen, who’s going to survive and who’s not, and the family issue raised in the first 10 minutes or so.

Nevertheless, the story is unique as it tells us the danger of cave diving, and the ‘sense of reward’ that these divers have when they find ‘the place that no human has ever seen’.

I can’t help but thinking why on earth humans want to sacrifice their lives in order to do cave diving. I know, in a sense it gives hope to people, I guess, as humans are curious creatures that always want to accomplish more. ‘Dare to dream’, is perhaps the right cliche.

Well, when you have time to spare, I guess watching this movie wouldn’t hurt. Just a reminder, it is quite a ‘depressing’ movie that I find myself quite stressed after watching it. lol.

30 day song challenge: day 11-20

day 11 – a song from your favorite band

Mmm I have no particular favourite band but… this will do:

day 12 – a song from a band you hate

mmm… I have planned to skip this one because I literally don’t have any band that I hate.. but it’d be unfair for me so let’s just stick to this one:

day 13 – a song that is a guilty pleasure

hahaha, this is… quite transparent for me! lol

day 14 – a song that no one would expect you to love

ehm… cus I dont like the singer, the song, and the lyrics.. hahahha

day 15 – a song that describes you

hmm, this one pops to my head ;p.

day 16 – a song that you used to love but now hate

the lyrics just… so sad, so lonely, so negative.

day 17 – a song that you hear often on the radio

last time, it was this:

day 18 – a song that you wish you heard on the radio

:)

day 19 – a song from your favorite album

The only album that I bought and I really like is Westlife -Coast to coast (I know, I know, it’s been agesss ago). but hey, I love old songs ;)

day 20 – a song that you listen to when you’re angry

hahahah! I don’t really have a song for this one, but this song comes to my mind