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Archive for December, 2008

A visitor to the church this week gave the congregation this carol as a Christmas blessing, it’s very beautiful.

Merry Christmas to all – may peace, love and joy fill your days.

She leaned with her head on the window
Watching evergreen bend in the snow
Remembering Christmas the way it had been
So many seasons ago.

When children would reach for their stockings
And open the presents they found
The lights on the tree would shine bright in their eyes
Reflecting the love all around.

But this year there’s no one to open the gifts
No reason for trimming the tree
And just as a tear made its way to the floor
She heard voices outside start to sing.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love.

Carolers sang as she opened the door
Faces of friends in the crowd
And all of the shadows of lonely reminders
Driven away by the sound.

Now the heart that for years had been silent
Was suddenly filled with a song
As she clung to their hands like a child in the night
She found her self singing along.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love

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Differences

This week’s “lesson” is on differences.  I realized that my week-long struggle is with the fact that I live and deal with people who are different from me; and I do not cope with differences very well.  As far as I remember, I have always struggled with being different from the rest of the people – when I say “the rest of the people”, they can be anyone around me at a particular situation.  So when I’m with my classmates, I don’t feel comfortable being the odd-one-out.  That means I’d think about what I say, if I think it’s going to be different from the rest of my peer I’d think twice about opening my mouth.

So when the family got together this week I found it a little difficult to adjust.  What should I say in this situation?  Would I offend anyone by saying this?  It was a real challenge.  To make matters worse, I also began to feel awkward when others say or do something that’s outside the norm; I would begin to feel embarrassed, as if I had done it myself.

This morning I began to question it myself – why?  Why do I feel so out-of-place with differences?  How does God take it, I wonder?  But you know, God is the one who created differences – each one of us is created different!  He is the one who created all the different animals – birds in the sky, fish in the water, animals on the land.  So who am I to complain?

God, thank you for the differences.  Help me to love and accept the differences.  Help me to live out my difference, because you have allowed me to be so.  Amen.

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The pastor at our church told us that when he prepares his message, he follows the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God often tells him what he needs to preach on the day.  I marvel at that, constantly hearing God’s words and walking in His path.  Today I had the luxury of being indulged in God’s blessing, through the message.

The sermon is on Matthew 21.  It talked about Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem, on a donkey as the old testament has prophesied.  This is because God knows everything – He made us even before we were born (Psalms 139:13) and He knows the number of hair on our heads (Matthew 30:10).  As Jesus is God, He knows that the moment has come for Him to enter the gate on a donkey; just as He knew about Judas selling Him off and how Peter will deny Him 3 times.  He is also man, therefore He understands the happiness, disappointment, bitterness and excitement that we experience as human.

Have you ever heard a message and thought that it is meant for you?  Well, when the pastor asked if anyone from the congregation was carrying a burden and forgotten that our God is an all-knowing God, I definitely felt the weight of his stare.  The truth is – I have tried to shut it away, whatever that was weighing me down; thinking that this is the way to make it disappear.  In fact, the problem was still on my heart, hurting and scarring and refused to go away.  God surely used this opportunity to remind me that it is never going to work; I need to bring it to God, trusting that He is the one who will move the mountain (Matthew 21:22).

Of course, there is the question of faith and trust.  How big is God in my eyes?  When I put God over my problem, is it big enough to cover the hurt and pain that it’s weighing on my heart?  If God is not big enough for my problem, I need to super-size God – because that’s how big He is!  Nothing can be bigger then God’s reach, nor is He deaf to our plea (Isaiah 59:1)?  Really, either I have forgotten to put my problem into perspective; or I really need to be reminded of how BIG He is.

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I received this in an email from a youth fellowship leader at church – 29 useful suggestions for Christians:

1.下次如果覺得自己了不起時,試試行在水上。 Try walking on water when you are next hit with pride.

2.當魔鬼提起你的過去時,請提醒牠的未來。 When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

3.你不是幸運,是蒙福。It’s not luck, it’s blessing.

4.若想要真正活著,得先徹底死去。 You gotta die before you can live.

5.機會也許只敲一次門,但試探卻總是在按門鈴。 Opportunity may knock once but trials are always at the door.

6.我們常在強壯時,忘了神。 It’s when we are strongest that we forget our Lord.

7.那些只在星期天呼喚天父的人,在一星期餘下的日子裏活得像孤兒。 Those who are only Christian on Sundays remain orphans for the rest of the week.

8.不要以自我為中心,要以基督為中心。 Do not be self-centred but Christ-centred.

9.沒有基督,沒有平安;認識基督,得到平安。 No Christ, no peace; know Chrsit,  know peace.

10.為什麼我們不常向朋友提起神?因為我們不常向神提起我們的朋友。 Why are we reluctant to talk to our friends about God?  Coz we never commit our friends to God.

11.當把你的一切獻給基督,因為祂把祂的一切都給了你。 Jesus has given us His life so we should give ourselves to Jesus.

12.你現在所追求的,值得基督為它死嗎?(好問題…) Do you think Christ would want to die for what we are pursuing now?

13.使你向神靠近的人,是你真正的朋友。 Your real friend is the one who helps you draw closer to God.

14.神愛我們,不是因為我們是怎樣一個人,而是因為祂是怎樣一位神。 God loves us not because of who we are, it’s because of who He is.

15.神的應許像夜空裏的星星。夜越深,星星的光芒越亮。 God’s promise is likened to the star in the night – the darker the night the brighter the star.

16.沒有基督的生命,是無望的盡頭。有基督的生命,是無盡的盼望。 Without Christ the hopelessness is endless.  With Christ the hope is endless.

17.我雖不知道未來掌管著什麼,但我知道誰掌管著未來。 Even though I do not know what the future holds, I know who holds the future.

18.把你的重擔交給主,讓它留在主那裏。 Cast your worry on God, and keep them there.

19.不要畏懼明天,因為上帝已在那裏。Do not worry about what tomorrow will bring because God has been there already.

20.當你除了神,一無所有時,你將知道神就是你全部的需要。 You know that God is sufficient for you when you have nothing but God.

21.放手交給上帝,別再向神講述你的風暴有多大,當向風暴講述你的神有多大。Don’t emphasis your trouble to God – declare God’s authority over the trouble.

22.能夠滿足人心的,是造人心的那一位。Only the maker of our hearts can fulfill that void within us.

23.請常常保持著你心裏的光,因為你不知道,誰會藉著這光走出黑暗。Guard our hearts and the spring of eternal life because one day it will brighten someone’s way.

24.當我們只顧工作的時候,我們獨自工作;當我們祈禱的時候,神工作。 We labour on our own when we are a Martha; God works when we pray.

25.神無所不在,所以我們可以隨處禱告。God is everywhere so pray everywhere.

26.一個沒有需要的人永遠見不到神跡。We will not recognize a miracle if we do not have a need.

27.敬拜提醒我們生命的價值,但世界卻使我們忘記它。Worship reminds us the value of life but the world wants us to forget it.

28.步履艱難的時候,別一味的禱告,卻不邁向神要你走的路。Head the path God lead you to even though it is difficult.

29.禱告會為我們作很多事,憂慮同樣可以。

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I prayed to God today, feeling really hurt, torn, pressed on all sides (resembles Paul’s emotion when he was imprisoned, but I think it’s hardly a fraction of that!) and I just wish to pull away, disappear.  Why is it that those who are closest to us are often most cruel to our emotion, I asked God.  We are exposed to them and most vulnerable; and they would stab and step on this heart we throw out there.  Ever felt this way?

Last Sunday we were at a friend’s wedding.  The ceremony was held in a beautiful chapel and the priest spoke about love – surprise-surprise for weddings?!  What I took away from it was the passage on forgiveness – which is fundamental in any love relationship.  God offered us His forgiveness and therefore we have His love – overflowing love such that we are able to do likewise for those around us. 

At this point of heartache I could find no strength and will power to forgive.  I prayed to God and ask Him to teach me how I can love these people, who have hurt me; and He reminded me the priest’s message on forgiveness.  I guess this is my cross to carry for today.

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I was a little lazy to pray the other day.  There are load to pray about – the circumstance, unsaved souls, our baby – but I’m just plain lazy.  Besides, it’s the “she’ll be alright” syndrome – things usually just work out and God is in control of everything so He’ll make everything right again, won’t He?

The response came a second later:

“Yes, time passes and things do work out, whether you like it or not.  You would grow to accept the circumstance and because you trust that I am in control, you’ll take it that I have made things the way they appear to be.

But precious one, it is in my perfect will that you pray and tell me about your worry, your circumstance, your desire.  I want to have that conversation with you.  If we don’t talk, I can’t tell you how I’m going to take over your worry; change your circumstance or fulfill your desire!

If we don’t talk, I can’t comfort you or love you while you adapt to the next lot of situation.

And if we don’t talk, you’d have missed out on the greatest leap-of-faith exercise you could be having!

So yes, she’ll be alright; but that’s only external.  I want to carry you through this journey, with your knowledge and permission, o’ precious one”

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The holiday season and being in control doesn’t sit well together.  When there’s a holiday season, people get together;  as people gather, the number of suggestions and points of view increase proportionately.  The result?  Loss of control.  This is why I’m getting increasingly anxious and nervous about the upcoming season, I think.

I hear on the radio and read on websites that Christmas is about the celebration of our Saviour’s birthday.  It’s about peace and joy and promises that God give us.  That doesn’t go hand-in-hand with anxiety and stress???  What am I missing?

Today I read a reading on thanksgiving – very appropriate as it was just celebrated in the US not long ago.  Here in Australia we do not have a thanksgiving holiday.  But the fact of the matter is – it doesn’t take Thanksgiving Day to give thanks.  As Christians, we have an enormous portion to give thanks for!  Our salvation, the promise of an eternal life, our family, our health (or ill-health as in my case at the moment!), our created purpose… anything and everything.  However, we continue to seek things we do not have (“if only we have meat to eat!  We remember the fish we had in Egypt….. the cucumber, melon…..  But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6), rather than being thankful for the Lord’s portion.

Perhaps the manna is too ordinary (we get them everyday), we need some extraordinary dishes to pick up our taste buds.  But to whine and wail is truly a disgrace to the blessings we have!  To control and demand for the excitement rather than seeking God’s direction in our situation perhaps is not the way to go?!

I should really be going to God for some reminder of the peace and joy and promise of Christmas; rather than thinking and delving into ideas of how to possibly have control over the situations.  Crap would happen.  People will do as they please.  But I, I need to believe that my God’s arm is no too shot to save, nor His ear too dull to hear (Isaiah 59:1), when I seek Him.

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