Friday, October 30, 2009

Wait

One of the reasons why I took a sabbatical this year was because I find it almost impossible to sit quietly. I'm someone who loves to dash around doing fifty projects at one time... stop briefly to breathlessly gasp out how busy I am... and then running off to yet another appointment/ task/ activity.

Like Martha, I cannot conceive how Mary can sit quietly at the Master's feet when there's SO MUCH TO DO! Of course, I've long learnt that the 'so much to do' is only in my eyes... lots of people in the same situation look around and say, "Hmm... NOTHING TO DO."

The Lord showed me that He has been developing in me the ability to wait recently...

Recently something happened that made me cross. I rarely get truly angry... If and when I yell at the top of my voice, that means I've already tolerated something a number of times and just can't take it anymore!

In my exasperation, my natural tendency wanted to grumble and nag. But I felt the inner voice of the Spirit say, "Wait."

I was like, "OK, God, I wait... then I scold, okay?!"

And again, the Spirit said, "Wait."

I waited. And then I began to see....

I began to see that the thing that I was cross about was such a small thing. In contrast, whilst focussing on that small thing, I had missed the big and beautiful things that had been happening and growing and developing. The Spirit pointed out in His quiet, gentle manner all the beautiful things that had bloomed and blossomed around the little small 'imperfection'.

And when I went home still a little cross but more calm and thought back, I realised how true that was. I began to see even more beautiful things that had begun unfolding.

And I realised too that the little thing that I was cross about... well, I'm a well-known 'picky' and 'fussy' person. Imperfections that I notice are rarely noticed by others!

And more, I didn't even know if I was right that it WAS an imperfection.

There were more decisions to be made this week, and each time, I feel that quiet voice saying, "Wait." I can do that now. I'm not in such a rush to dash about everywhere and create 'messes' that God has to undo!

There is a decision that is on my mind this morning... Soon I will have to arrive at a decision, of course... but the still, small voice of the Spirit again says, "Wait."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christians - tax issues

Discussing casually with other tax agents on this matter - nobody has a conclusive answer to give, because here in Malaysia, it's never been a contended issue before.

These are the arguments for and against that I can think of ... I'd appreciate feedback from other members of the accounting community :-

For:-
1) Malaysia follows UK tax law. In the UK, by case law, offerings taken up for pastors/ ministers etc. ARE taxable.

2) The offering is derived in the office of a minister - ie. it is given BECAUSE he/ she is a pastor/ minister.

Against:- 1) Love offerings are unsolicited gifts. Gifts in Malaysia are not taxable as it is a capital receipt. In the USA, love offerings that are unsolicited and given as a token of love, generosity etc. are NOT taxable.

2) We, the church members, are not claiming a tax-deductible receipt on love offerings given. Why should the pastor/ minister have to pay tax when what we give is out of our net-tax income?

Interesting, isn't it?

I was pretty shocked to hear from a friend of mine that a Christian organization that she works with was penalised by IRB for not paying the witholding tax in the two occassions given below:-

1) Not witholding the tax on offerings given to foreign speakers who came to her organization to teach

The Christian organization is not a church - it is registered as a company limited by guarantee.

Foreign speakers will come off and on to teach for a few days (less than a week), and normally the organization will give the speakers an offering before they leave.

It was held by IRB that the witholding tax should have been witheld and remitted to IRB within 30 days of the offering being given to the speaker.

Now, the question is - does that mean all offerings given by all churches to foreign preachers (missionaries, evangelists, apostles etc.) who come to preach at their church should be subject to witholding tax as well?

2) Not witholding the tax on 'royalties' from sale of CD's of messages by foreign speakers

The Christian organization was given permission by the foreign speakers to duplicate and distribute CD's of the messages they had preached. Part of the offering for the speakers was listed as 'royalties' (remember that 'offerings' were witholding taxable?).

It was held by IRB that the witholding tax on royalty payments (although there weren't, strictly speaking, royalties to pay!) should have been witheld and remitted to IRB.

So does that mean that even though permission has been given by foreign speakers to churches they preach in to copy and distribute their messages without royalty payments, churches must remit the witholding tax on 'royalties' on those messages to IRB?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Singapore FOT

Going to Singapore always says 'home' to me. I was so happy to be able to join the Singapore convention. Truly God gave my dad the wisdom to insist that I get my passport done on the 28th of August. When we reached the passport office, they told me that it would take ONE MONTH to get my passport done as it was a new passport that I had (unwittingly!) destroyed.

And we were leaving for Singapore on the 29th of September! Oy vey! Imagine if I was even one day late. After days of badgering the passport office, the poor reluctant officer, just back from Hari Raya hols admitted, "Ya, you boleh collect on 28th lah... sebab kita pun ada deadline kan...."

Phew! I collected my passport and zoomed back to KL by plane the evening of the 28th!

We travelled by van on the 29th. It was sooooo fun travelling with Sue Jan because we could yak about dance non-stop. Then... not very far from KL.... our van tyre blew! All we hear was "Boop!" and the next thing we knew, the van was swerving left and right. Uncle Mak was like, sooooo cool; he kept the van steady as it swerved and we got to the side of the road.

Okay, so Sue Jan and I were not exactly freaked... we were more like, "Ooh! Puncture! Puncture! Wah!!! Soooo exciting!! Take photo! Take photo!" Maturity flew out the window! *lols*

Anyway, yeah, poor van tyre was gone case. Out of nowhere these two Indian guys came up to our van and offered to fix the tyre. So, no choice right? Okay lor... We put our suitcases on the road since we didn't have an 'emergency triangle' and Auntie Mayya waved a scarf bee-yew-ti-fully to signal to other drivers that there was an accident and to pass us by.

When the tyre was fixed, the Indian guys wanted to charge us RM100. Like, what?! Finally they agreed to 'settle' for RM50. Uncle Mak drove us to Seremban where we got the tyres professionally fixed (and Pst David told Pst Irene to get BOTH back tyres fixed, just in case!!!) and then we went on our way again.

Smooth ride... till we got to Singapore immigration. Had a small hiccup where poor Auntie Mayya had to go for interview because they couldn't read her passport thru the machine.

We were running pretty late by then... we went straight to the YWCA, did very fast showers, and rushed down for dinner.

Oh yeah, and on the way to dinner, we learnt that the Singaporeans have the strangest sense of humour... we passed a construction site with the weirdest 'safety' signs... most of it in verse. Something like "If you die, someone will cry". I so have to get Sue Jan to put up the piccies of the signs!

Dinner was on a ship that's tied to the dock. That should be the coolest thing ever, right? Did I happen to mention I get sea sick?! Auntie Mayya affirmed that I HAD turned green, just before I decided to abandon ship. Stumbled all the way up to dry ground and struggled not to BARF. Yeurck!

Really liked the ship though! The menu had like the weirdest items... all based on the Bible. Sue Jan and Auntie Mayya were in hysterics over "Joshua and Caleb's minced meat" or something like that!! Auntie Mayya spent the rest of dinner re-naming dishes!

We celebrated Pastor David's birthday too :> The Singaporeans bought a choccie cake. Very delish ... it was finished by the next afternoon!

The next day was spent decorating the YWCA hall. The Singaporeans bought lots of fruits and for the first time we saw veggie at the Feast - cucumbers and tomatoes and celery etc. etc.! Cute lers! And jagung too, which Auntie Mayya spread out artistically over the front of the stage.

There were very few musicians/ singers this trip. Thank God all our team are multi-taskers and multi-talented (except me! XP). Sue Jan led the dance team, Pst Kim did worship leading and backup, Pst Irene did backup and preaching, Auntie Mayya played the violin and the keyboard, and Uncle Mak was the awesome-st of all - he drove the van, did the sound system, and played the keyboard and drums!

Well, Uncle Mak did try to teach me to do the sound system. This is how successfully I learnt how to operate the sound - at one point during a session, Sue Jan came to me and said, "Auntie Mayya's violin no sound". So I was like, "I know how to do! Uncle Mak teach ady!" and I pushed the volume up a bit.

From stage we could see Auntie Mayya shaking her head. So I pushed it up a bit more. Still no go. I pushed it up to max volume. Uh-uh. Finally Sue Jan said, "Must be wrong one lah... try this one." This time, Auntie Mayya nodded okay.

About twenty mins later Uncle Mak rushed down from the stage and came panting into the sound room. I squeaked, "I put full volume ady, Uncle Mak!"

Uncle Mak pushed a button, and, still panting, said, "It's on mute." Sigh.... Boy, am I useful (not!).

Throughout the sessions, God honoured the longing of the Singaporeans for Him. Even though I was right at the back of the hall in the sound room, I could feel His presence descend upon the people so strongly. The messages that God gave for them were words of comfort and healing. It was awesome.

I'm sure they were truly blessed by the message of the Feast of Tabernacles since most of them didn't know what is the Feast about.

(to be continued)