Monday, May 31, 2010

WHY GUYS LIKE THEIR WIVES

1. She will always smell good even if its just shampoo
2. The way her head always finds the right spot on our shoulder
3. How sweet she looks when she sleeps
4. The ease in which she fits into your arms
5. The way she hugs you and all of a sudden everything is right in the world
6. The way she takes hours to get dressed but yet it is so endearing to you
7. Because she is always warm even when its cold and rainy outside
8. The way she looks good no matter what she wears
9. The way she fishes for compliments and its still allright with you
10. The way her hand always finds yours
11. The way she smiles
12. The way she kisses you when you do something nice for her
13. The way she says "I miss you"…and the way I really miss her
14. The way her tears makes you want to change things or die trying
15. (MOST IMPORTANT) BECAUSE I WAS CHOSEN BY HER TO SPEND THE REST OF OUR LIVES TOGETHER.

There are probably a million other reasons and no writing can do justice to this topic. How do you measure something that goes beyond intellect any?

Tiredness - Bane or Boon








If you have been busy and you are tired because of your busyness, think back to the life of Elijah. After his great victory over the false prophets of Ahab by calling down heavenly fire, he fled when Jezebel threatened to take his life. What happened? What made him come to this – from hero to zero? I think it was simply fatigue.

At the end of 1 Kings 18, it was recorded that he outran a thunderstorm all the way back to the king’s palace in Jezreel. Now Mt Carmel is 600 meters high and the distance from Mt Carmel to Jezreel is about 42 km, the distance for the Olympic marathon. Imagine Elijah’s state as he arrives. Physically, he must have been very tired. He must have also been emotionally tired too after having dealt with the prophets of Baal. And so he runs at the first sign of trouble. That is what tiredness can do. It takes our eyes off God. It makes us forget God’s power and promises.

Do we lament this aspect of our human-ness? Do we bemoan our tiredness wishing we could accomplish more work? Do we then push our bodies and think it good to ignore our fatigue so that we can achieve more? Do we think it a blight, this frail aspect of our existence that foils our efforts to squeeze more from our limited day? I know I do sometimes. Yet as we reflect, is tiredness a bane or really a boon? I have come to think it a boon, a gift of God. If we touch a hot iron, the pain automatically moves our hand away. The pain prevents our hand from being burnt beyond repair. In the same way, fatigue prevents us from going on and on until we are burnt out. It reminds us that we are human and therefore feeble. It reminds us that there are times we need to rest. It also reminds us that our strength and achievements come from God not ourselves. It helps us to be humble and dependent on God.

Do you get worn out from the cares and stresses of your daily life? If you do, welcome to the club. The demands of earning a living, our families and sometimes the burdens of friends’ needs add up to a lot of time and energy resulting in overwork, stress and sometimes burnout.

How do we avoid burnout then? Perhaps the following may be of help to us.

Connect with God. This is most important. If we are too busy to be alone with God, we are too busy. Just as food gives our body the energy it needs, communion with God is also food for our soul.

Decide what's really important. Everything we meet can be urgent but not everything is important. Ask God for grace and wisdom to decide what things are important and focus on them. Our role model, Jesus focused only on doing the Father’s Will, so we should do the same.

Ask for help. Don't be a lone ranger. I believe that God has designed people to need each other. So sometimes, more is accomplished if we share our burdens with others.

Remember people, not programs, matter. Relationships are the key to happy living. Let us not just work and forget the people around us. Let us make time for them. Sometimes merely being together is time well spent.

Sometimes the best is to just rest. That was what God did with Elijah. He did not lecture or rebuke Elijah when he complained, preferring to just let him eat and sleep. Only after Elijah regains his strength does God give him further instructions to carry out. The lesson is very clear to us. God cannot use a tired person. If we want to be useful in our lives, we must acknowledge our fatigue as a sign to rest. God can only use a tired person who knows when to rest. May He then give us the wisdom to know it and abide in it!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shine Crystal Shine

People Get Ready



Crystal's Shining Moment

Ambition or Mission in Life



















If there is one clear lesson that all of us can learn from the recent devastation that struck our neighbours, it is about the brevity of life. Which one of us can tell how much more time we have left on this earth? We can make plans for a long life but we have to live with the fact that life can be short. This truth makes it compelling for us to live and make our days count for something.

If only annihilation faced us beyond this life, then our choices are easy. Just eat, live and be merry because after this we cease to exist. Some do believe in this reality which is why they live for themselves grabbing and exploiting all that they can. We Christians, however, know that there is a different reality for us in eternity and that is fellowship with a loving Heavenly Father. So, knowing this is just a temporary holding area for us, we too should make our days count – benefiting not ourselves but the Kingdom of God. It would indeed be a sad day to stand before the Lord and be ashamed of the missed opportunities of service and obedience that came our way.

A book I once read had this question to ask, “In life, do you pursue an ambition or a mission?” It is a question worthy of our self-reflection. Although the two may fit together at times, I think ambition refers to doing what we want while mission refers to doing what God wants.

Mission means focusing not on ourselves, which ambition does, but on how we can serve God and others, as God wants us to do. Mission is being God- and others-centred. It means being sensitive to the needs of others around us. Sometimes, meeting those needs may even cause us some discomfort and personal loss. But we should do it anyway, because it is what God wants us to do. We should expect from God situations like these, situations that will test our faith. If we respond in obedience, our faith will grow stronger. If we respond by compromising our faith, we slide farther and farther away from God.

I believe this is a Kingdom truth - when we do things we are not naturally inclined to do, we come away changed, and for the better. Further, we will praise God for that change because we would have done something we ‘naturally’ would not do. This is because God’s grace is at work. When we cooperate with His Spirit in performing others-centred acts regularly, we will be changed to having an others-centred mentality that is able to do Kingdom acts ‘naturally’. A shepherd’s heart and a servant’s spirit will come ‘naturally’ to us.

Every year we can thank God for the past blessings of being able to give and work towards his Kingdom’s agenda. In the rest of the year ahead then, let us ask God to help us to be wise in our priorities. With only one life, our resources of time, energy and possessions are indeed important, not only to us but also to God. Let us then invest them in things that have eternal consequences, not in things that may seem important to us but ultimately be trivial from a Kingdom perspective. May God grant us the grace to know the difference as we echo the words of the Psalmist, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Be Still and Know...

(Pictures taken from the Internet)



























One of the songs that we sing in church is Don Moen’s ‘Still/Be Still’, which is adapted from Isaiah 43 and Ps 46. Many times have I asked, as I am sure you have, “what does it mean to be still before God?” Someone sent me the following poem which has given me much food for reflection. In the times when your life circumstances threaten to overwhelm you, thus may our good and gracious Lord also speak to you!.

My child, I have said in my Word:
Though the earth be moved,
Though the waters thunder,
Though the mountains tremble,
Though the winds blow,
Though the storms rage;
BE STILL

IN OTHER WORDS
Though your bills are due,
Though your boss harasses you at the office,
Though your husband won't act right,
Though your wife won't act right,
Though your children are disobedient,
Though there's sickness in your body,
Though your colleagues get on your nerves;
Stop your WORRIES!
Stop your COMPLAINING!
Stop your DOUBTING!
Stop your FROWNING!

Cease your fears, and dry up your tears,
For I'm right there to comfort you,
I'm right there to guide you,
I'm right there to hold you up,
I'm right there to heal you,
I'm right there to deliver you.
So cast your cares upon me because I care for you.
My child this is what I mean by being still and knowing
I AM GOD.

Author Unknown

Friday, May 14, 2010

GRACE ALONE






This was what I recollected at the beginning of a new academic year when I was still in theological college. As we sang “Grace Alone” during morning chapel, it made me realize how much grace has been lavished on me. It seemed only recently that I was just another “green” student with all the corresponding anxieties and doubts about making it. Yet after a year, I was listening to another batch of students expressing the same doubts and anxieties. As I was reflecting on my experiences, I thought of how each student in the college, indeed everyone of us, need God’s grace in every facet and experience of our daily lives.

GRACE is indeed God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense freely bestowed on us. Yet in the busyness and urgent demands of our daily lives, we sometimes forget this very precious free gift we have. Instead we trust in our own natural abilities to carry us through. Although we may still accomplish much, yet our failure to appreciate our need for God’s grace may actually cause a rift, without us realizing it, in our relationship with Him. Perhaps, that is why God allows crises and adversity to enter our lives so that, in His mercy, our spiritual lethargy does not grow to the extent of threatening our walk with Him.

This is why to guard against spiritual sluggishness, we need to practice daily the disciplines of grace – prayer, Bible reading and study, reflection and worship. These disciplines are more than mere ritual. Think about it, the omnipotent God has chosen to walk with you. Is that not grace? As we exercise these disciplines of grace, we are actually communing with Him. We can hear Him. We can see His glory. And we gain in seeing a greater vision of his plans and strategies for mankind. We gain in the growth of our spiritual muscles to avail ourselves of even more grace in our times of desperate need. Amazing grace it is indeed that we mere mortals can connect with a God who is sovereign over all there is and be empowered by His grace.

Perhaps that is why we may also experience materially-rich but spiritually-defeated lives. We do not take Him seriously. Instead we take Him as a hobby and give Him the leftovers in our lives – we talk to Him when we have leftover time, we worship Him when we have leftover Sundays and we give to Him when we have leftover money. We are attracted by the world but we are jaded with the church. As a result, we have much power, possessions and privilege but yet we fail to forgive readily, we question the goodness and purposes of God and we fail in obeying Him regularly.

Dear readers, inasmuch as I write these words to you, I am also preaching to myself. Amidst the abundance of spiritual resources and material as I was studying in theological college, my greatest fear was that these spiritual riches so easily available to me become mundane instead of spectacular. I had to constantly guard against practicing the disciplines of grace merely for the sake of having something to write in my assignments or to share with a study group or to preach on Sundays.

I have to remember that these disciplines of grace are the channels by which I enter His presence and experience Him. It is not easy and I must admit sometimes I fail. It is only because of God’s mercy that when I fail, I do not fall too far.

Grace alone, which God supplies,
Strength unknown He will provide,
Christ in us, our Cornerstone,
We will go forth, in grace alone

(from the hymn, “Grace Alone”)

Let us then remember that Christianity is a faith that connects us to a living God and transforms us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

SO WHAT?


(Pictures taken from the Internet)
















After studying in theological college for a year, I came to understand that it can be very easy to slip into a knowledge acquisition mode in bible study. The pursuit of knowledge becomes an end in itself and every profound truth is eagerly grasped and filed away in the mind for future regurgitation at some opportune moment. This was brought home to me when, in one class discussion, a classmate leaned over to me and said, “we theologians can take something simple and easily make it complicated.” How true, which is why I am very grateful for those of my teachers who constantly challenged us to ask ourselves what we will do with the knowledge that we learn. My theology professor constantly reminded us that theology seeks to apply truths to life and thought in order to guide us on how we ought to live accordingly. Another lecturer was always bringing in a “so what now that you have learnt all this?” dimension during our class tutorials.

As we come to church every Sunday, as we listen to the message and the ACE lessons, I guess the “so what now that you have learnt this?” aspect can never be over-emphasized. All that we study and hear is to help us know Him better, not know about Him better. After all God did not give us a book so that we can gain more knowledge of Him, much like reading an encyclopedia for expert knowledge on a given subject. Instead, He gave us His living Word to walk with us and guide us in our daily lives. We experience His still small voice when we read his Word, whether it be comfort, rebuke or exhortation. Yet at times it can be hard to hear His voice and so we fail to obey the “so what?” part.

Do you find it a problem to hear His voice sometimes? I must admit it happens to me many times. One of the problems I believe is the busy-ness of daily life. With our fast-fix mentality, we want to hear God enlighten us the moment we pray and read our Bibles. When we spend our Quiet Time, we mechanically start with prayer or reading our Bibles. We do not make it a habit to practise quietness before God. God tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). Be still is not just about finding a quiet place without any distracting noise. It is also about the heart and mind being still before him. That means letting go those anxious thoughts about your financial problems or that nasty neighbour next door or that mean colleague in the office, legitimate concerns though they may be. It is about being willing to let go of those selfish desires and motivations, although they may cost you since many others have the same motivations. This is how we can listen to God’s voice more effectively.

Once we have heard his prompting, it becomes essential that we obey what He has said to us. The Bible was meant to be obeyed, not just for the sake of hearing his voice. Then when we obey, we are leaving behind the Bible knowledge acquisition part of our faith and crossing over into the “so what?” realm of our faith. When we do so, we will then manifest our faith in our daily lives by being a blessing to the people around us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Touching LIves LIke a Mother




On Mothers’ Day, we remember and honour our own mothers as well as all mothers we know in our midst. It is right that we do so for the way mothers sacrifice their own comfort and happiness for their families’ sake. I sincerely believe all of us can learn from the attributes of mothers and apply them in our ministry to one another in HPC. In 1 Thess 2:7-10, Paul shows us the way to learn from mothers, “…we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children...”

Firstly, Paul was gentle towards the Thessalonians just as a mother is with her children (v7). Here we get a picture of a mother who deals patiently with her children who are difficult, stubborn and immature. My first church ministry, in my former church, was teaching in Children Sunday School. About a month later, a mother of a P4 girl in my class asked me, “What was it that gave you a call to teach the children?” I replied, “There was no call, it was more for my own gain. I felt I needed to learn to curb my impatience so teaching children was a good way to cultivate patience.” It takes time and energy to look after children. That is what a mother does, gives up her time and energy for her children’s sake. We know that Paul was involved in the lives of his flock. After we evangelize people, we should not just give them a gospel or Christian handbook, ask them to read and expect them to grow. We need to spend time to disciple these young believers, helping them to grow in the Lord, walking with them in their struggles and not be put off by them when they still behave as Christian babies.

Secondly, the Thessalonians were very dear to Paul (v8). How does he show this? Paul worked hard and sacrificed himself for their sake (v9). A mother sacrifices her own life, her wants and dreams for the sake of her children. Paul was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his flock. May we also be willing to sacrifice for our Christian brethren in our journey together.

Thirdly, Paul also passed on spiritual life and virtues to the Thessalonian Christian (v8, 10). It is easy to impart theology and Bible knowledge but, more than that, I believe we are to share our lives with our fellow Christians. A mother’s calling is to nourish her child. As we grow, it is our calling to nourish and strengthen the lives of those around us in need of such. Paul lived a ‘holy, righteous and blameless’ life (V10) so that his example would impart the virtues of a Christ-like life to the Thessalonians. This is also what a mother does – giving her heart away as she seeks to demonstrate and pass on godly virtues to her children. All those who are in a mentoring role - parents, teachers, pastors, elders, CG leaders, etc., have to learn and must know what it means to give your heart away to those you mentor.

Yet sometimes, those whom you give your heart to, end up poking a needle into that heart, just as sometimes children grow up, turn away and forget their mother’s love. No matter! The same thing happened to our Lord Jesus. May God’s grace lavish us with gentleness, love and acceptance for our brethren and may it be clearly seen both in our words and in our works.