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Archive for October, 2008

Daily encouragement

“He doesn’t necessarily call the qualified, but He qualifies the called. ”

This is the encouragement of today’s Girlfriend in God devotion.  I don’t know why I’m particularly “attracted” by this statement, perhaps just the sound of it. 

It is however not only applicable at major decision points – should I drop my career and go into full-time ministry – but it is an encouragement for us every step of our walk, when we’re weak.

Yesterday I was hit by some unkind remarks (well, it upset me and it came from a significant others in my circle).  That took me into withdrawal again fairly quickly and my mind goes off thinking negative and self-defeating thoughts.  I don’t think I have the capacity to forgive and love, I just don’t think I can.  It’s too hard, takes too much energy.  I don’t think I have the capacity to speak against the devilish thoughts inside of me either, it’s too hard.  In my sleep, I just asked the Lord to take all the pain away, even though I doubt if I can (again) give it up to Him.

I woke up this morning not feeling great, but my mind is empty – it’s not usual after an upsetting evening – but I ain’t complaining.  When I saw this devotion and the phrase, only then I realized that it’s the Lord who has given me the capacity, even though I didn’t imagine I had it; He only called that I walk in His ways, He’ll give me strength to lift (drag even…) my feet along the path.  It’s beautiful…. 

Something else I think the Lord is also trying to tell me – we hurt each other because we of who we are (sinners); but the Lord is always faithful and able.  These verses from Psalm 118, it’s not about living in isolation, but to not build my expectation and trust in people – which is the reason I am easily upset by others.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
       than to trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
       than to trust in princes.

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Heart of stone

I don’t really have much to write on this Sunday’s sermon, because I didn’t quite give it my full attention.  It’s because I have heard this sermon before, so I know it all and there isn’t quite anything new in there to pay attention to.  The sermon was on “Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane” in Matthew 26 – it’s about doing all the right thing, follow Christ’s example.  There’s no news in this, is there?!

It seems like we are obsessed with “new” stuff – they are interesting, uplifting, refreshing.  Turned on the TV and it never runs out of advertisements for new products and invention, regardless of how much we really need them.  They grab our attention more than the important thing in our lives – we need to catch the latest movie release, the latest investment wave and we definitely need to have that latest song downloaded from the internet.

I was reading Psalm 116 one day and it strikes me that I do not have a grateful heart like the psalmist does.  Is it because I have not experienced life from the clutches of death like he has?  Possibly – the days have been pretty smooth-sailing at the moment – I do not need any “divine intervention” today.

But it’s more likely because I have now a heart of stone for God – this heart is so hardened that His goodness and grace doesn’t stir a wave in me anymore.  Reading the Bible is just another to-do item on the list, not with a burning passion for God’s words.  I have also forgotten that my “good life” is from God – it is not because I have done all the right things but He has chosen to bless me with it!  I got it so wrong, didn’t I?

Isn’t it funny how God is keeping watch even when we do not call upon Him?  One of the worship songs this Sunday was “Stir up a hunger”:

Day into night
You can turn the dark into light
You can take a soul that was lost
And turn it around
Lord on my own
My heart can turn as hard as a stone
But You can make it tender again
With Your love

Stir up a hunger
Stir up a hunger in my heart
Nothing will satisfy me
Nothing else will do
Stir up a hunger
A hunger in my heart
For more of You

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Joy or happiness?

Today I left work early compared to the other day.  I was all smiles because I do not need to work extra hours to get the stuff done, they have been completed.  I was feeling good, cheerful and positive.

As I drove away, I felt that I could appreciate the sunshine more, and the traffic doesn’t bug me as much; all-in-all, life is great at that moment.  I began to reflect on how I felt as I walked out of the office a few days back, when I had too much work on and could only be done during the extra hours.  I surely wasn’t feeling “great”, to say the least – I was cursing my life and why I was the one who has to pull the extra weight.  So what has changed, I wonder, that made me feel so different?

This brought me back to an post a dear sister has written in her blog, on joy vs happiness.  It appears that the “greatness” I felt was not joy, but happiness – it was driven by the circumstances and not internally.  I was reacting to the outside, rather than looking at what I have within me.  I could give thanks more easily when things are going well, according to my expectation, or not needing the extra attention.  That is why I give in to retail therapy easily – using something external to cheer me up.  At least it’s more easily achieved, or isn’t it?

Just over 2 weeks back I faced the dilemma of whether to turn myself in to God or to go to the shops, when I took a work situation badly.  I was reluctant to go to God, simply because I have lost self-control over the situation (I was feeling angry inside) and I couldn’t express it.  That is exactly what happened to Adam and Eve after having had the forbidden fruit – I wanted to hide from God.  Eventually I did give in and went to tell Him all about it.  I felt better, much better.  I knew there and then, nothing from the shops could have given me more joy and comfort than the time I have spent with Him!

“You who fear Him, trust in the Lord, He is their help and shield” Ps 115:11

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This week’s church service talked about seeing Jesus, from Matthew 17.  Ever since believing, I have often asked the question, “how do you know it’s God’s voice, when He speaks?”  My husband tells me, “you just know”.

In Matthew 17, Peter, James and John went up the mountain with Jesus.  There Jesus transfigured and gave them a glimpse of the second coming of Christ.  It was indeed interesting when the pastor explained verses 3 and 4 of the chapter, where Moses and Elijah had appeared and spoke with Jesus.  You see, in those days there were no cameras; so naturally the 3 disciples of Jesus wouldn’t have known how the 2 prophets looked like.  However, they just knew.  There was no introduction, or name tags, they just knew, through God’s revelation.  It was an instinct they just knew could only have come from God.

Sometimes we stumble upon our thoughts too much.  We hear something and we battle with the thought, “is it from God?” “what does it really mean?” “He didn’t say that, did He?” “but…. but I’m not ready for it!?” Peter, James and John probably didn’t spend so much time battling with God, their reaction was pretty prompt by the reading of the passage – they understood the revelation and ran with it straight away.

I am reading “No Turning Back” by George Verwer and he wrote about why so many believers are just plain believers, rather than missionary.  His definition of missionary is not necessarily a “profession”, such as the pastor or youth mission worker; just one who goes out to testify God’s glory, such as the believers in the book of Acts.  One of the reason is that we battle between what God says and what we think He said.  Fear of getting out of our comfort zone is probably one of the reasons, another one being our inability to let go of the control.  Fear rules our lives – how will I afford retirement, what’s the impact of the credit crunch – these questions have more influence on us than God’s words.

Even though I write about this as if I know it all, I do not have it all together.  Today God asked me this question – what is my fear when it comes to doing His will, what are the things which make me stumble when I am told “to go”.  I have yet to answer that, truthfully.  I know several of those fear:

  • how others think of me – especially the significant others, my family
  • instability
  • inability to service my debt
  • am I going to have enough to eat (I am intolerant to hunger, I have not known anyone else who can be as vulnerable when hungry!)
  • failure

I also know that God can work with anyone, it’s a matter of time.

And keep on listening (Mt 17:5b).

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Pastries

Here is my latest addition to my kitchen diary – danish pastries.  I didn’t make the pastries myself, they are bought pastries from the supermarket.  All I needed to do was to thaw it, put on the toppings.  I used chocolate (some ready-to-eat Lindt-look-alike chocolate thins) and canned pears.

Here are the different type of danishes from today’s baking.  Not too bad huh??

Tip on folding the beautiful pinwheel danish can be found here:

http://cafeoftheeast.blogspot.com/2007/09/danish-pastry.html

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On thanksgiving

I am a cry baby.  I could be watching a movie, or in my dreams, or when I hear a touching story – my eyes would start to well up….. sometimes I try not blinking, hoping the tears will hold on or that the air might just dry it up!  More often then not, the unruly tears would flow down my cheeks despite my best effort anyway.  Not wanting to cry is because it seems to be a sign of helplessness, childishness and hopelessness; more often then not I associate that with a sign of weakness.

In the counselling course last year we learnt that tears have a comforting effect on people – clients could find a release through their tears and as a counsellor, we are to allow that to happen.  Maybe that’s why kids cry – it probably soothes thier souls and relieve disappointments.  Today I experienced that myself listening to “All the Earth” in the car.  In the midst of my tears I know that God was within me, ministering to me.  He taught me that whatever that is weighing me down, He understands and knows.  Nothing should stop me from going to Him to “deposit” my regrets, sins and anger.  He has forgiven me despite it all.  These tears are not signs of weakness, but a sign that I am not able to save myself except for a hight being – He is there to make good what I can never do myself. 

For the last few days I was possessed by our own thoughts and had lost sight of the world around me.  When I was enveloped within my self-centredness, all I think about is how small others had made me feel, or what wrong others have done unto me, or how much injustice I was facing.  No one was living up to my standard when I am in such a mood.  Maybe I have come to the end of my most miserable state, listening to the song suddenly seemed to have brought me to a higher place where I could see things in perspective.  Compared to the trees, who sing joyously about their Creator; I am really “worthless”, so to speak.  I certainly wasn’t giving praises nor glorifying the Lord through my sulking.

I remember a sermon I heard a month back.  After learning death of John the baptist, Jesus was grieving (Matthew 14:13).  It wasn’t for long though, because Jesus saw the multitude of people who needed healing, He was compassionate enough to put God’s plan first before His own pain.  Why do I find it so difficult to put myself down when I come face to face with disappointment, injustice and pain in my own little world?  If God had sent someone who needed encouragement along my way today I certainly didn’t get the hint or even managed a smile, let alone compassion!

God, thank you for your grace, comfort and forgiveness.  Even though I have forgotten the golden rule of thanksgiving, you have sent me the song despite it all, to wake me up.  Let my heart be right before you again….  Amen.

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