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Archive for January, 2009

I was watching the Australian Open on TV last night and many times I see the players shouting and mumbling after hitting the ball outside of court.  The telecast didn’t capture what the words were but I wonder what I would be thinking and saying if I were in their shoes. 

I liken the balls that went outside of court to things that I say and do to those who are important in my life – once they go outside the rule of love it scars and hurts.  What I often do is to be filled with regrets and guilt, then I would go off into remedial action.  Unfortunately it is often not as easy as this – there’s a Chinese saying which goes along the line of “broken mirror cannot be restored” – the tennis player who hit outside of the court too often of course does not stay in the match any longer.

Gladly, our relationship with God is not like this.  After the answered prayer yesterday I learnt that I need not be worn down by the guilt of not going to God many times in the past; what matters is that TODAY I bring my burden to Him and trust in Him, He listens and forgives me as I ask for it.  Never is it too late.

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First thing in the morning that greeted me came Satan’s voice, as Paul has written in 2 Corinthians 12:7, “what you have done was wrong, it’s not what you really wanted.  You’ve done it again, pleasing others.”  I could not sleep and my head was spinning from his prompts.  I couldn’t think about a Bible verse either as I was feeding on his words.  It really is pointless, I began to tell myself, I think I’ll pack it in.

I am not a quitter, I don’t think.  But I feel as if I’m gasping for air and I really don’t feel like pulling on the extra weight.  I guess it’s just human – I have failed before and chances of another failure is high – why bother putting in the effort when I can foresee the result now?

I wanted to drown Satan’s thoughts – surely some Christian music will make him go away?  Nuh, it’s not working this time.  It’s actually made it worse, the drumming and pounding is really bursting my head.  Ok, shut up radio.

The next best thing is to pray, I guess.

“Is this really Your will for me?  If it is, why does it feel so difficult?  Show me how to do it if it is.  You show me the way and give me the strength and the means, if this is what You have set for me.”

Nil response.

“You know Jesus’ prayer before going to the cross?  Now, You give me strength like you gave Jesus.  Change my heart so that I can move on to what You have set out for me, if this is Your will.”

Still nothing came back.  But I feel lighter inside of me after this one-way chat.

It was a little busy during the day and while chewing lunch a thought came to me.  What matters most is the final result I want.  The circumstance that is bothering me is only about the fringes and I should not be distracted by it.  I ought to focus on the destination, that’s the important thing.  Satan is famous for his deceiving acts and lies, and he’s made me focus on the fringes instead of the final result.  The comforting thought is this – even Satan is under God’s rule – so if I call on God’s power, He can use it to build my faith and humility. 

Our God is forever faithful.  Even though He seemed silent when I was speaking with Him, He is forever tuned in to us.  His promise is this, “knock and the door will be opened”, He is never silent if we allow Him into us.

Just trust and believe.

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我很特殊

One of the sisters at church introduced us to this song at the service today.  I like the lyrics and thought of sharing it here.

Enjoy.

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Coming home

It’s the eve of the Chinese New Year and I attended the special church service with mum back at our home church, where I was baptised and first learnt about Christianity.  It is a Chinese congregation and growing in population in midst of Sydney city.  The pastor is also from Malaysia so I have always felt a special tie with their services.

Ever since moving to Canberra, attending a service here is very far and few.  But this does not change the way I was received at the church.  As soon as we arrived at the door, I was immediately welcomed by this elderly lady whom I used to do usher duty with.  She held on to my hands and sincerely asked about my whereabouts in her big grins.  As I entered into worship I felt nothing but a place filled with warmth, care, vigour for God – the same vibe that attracted me to the worship.  I know that one should not live in the world of feelings, but the homeliness of the place and warmth of the people was quite something to reckon with…..  At that moment I thought of this – this is how I have been received and surely I could do the same onto others wherever I go to worship?  Wherever I go I could be the one who would make others feel welcomed, rather than being at the receiving end?

This was on the office’s daily planner the other day, “Have an attitude that others would like to catch on”.  How true, do onto other what you would like to be done onto.

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A friend invited me out for lunch today and during our conversation, we talked about the feeling of being lost – not knowing exactly what you were created to do and whether this is the path we should tread.  That instance, I shared with her my struggle in deciding to move to Sydney 6 years back; because that was the last time I felt really lost.  After our brief encounter this afternoon, it hit me that I didn’t exactly share with her how I got un-lost.

The year I decided to move to Sydney, I had no friends; I needed to begin my new life in a new world.  I didn’t quite know if Sydney is my cup of tea – what am I doing here with experience in my field of work but not recognized by local businesses?  What am I doing here in my early 30’s and trying to figure out another community and blend into another lifestyle alien to mine?

It didn’t take me long to find a community – the church is a good place to start (despite not being a believer then), these are friendly people who speak the same language as me.  I was also quick to snatch up any job offer so long that it involves accounting; so before the end of a month, I was working for a local business.  However, I was constantly toying with the idea of whether I would stay on or return to my comfort zone back home.  Living with an option in mind meant that I did not give it my best in whatever that I do, which of course made the uncertainty even starker.  To top it all off, I was eager to move out of the job which was clearly too elementary for my experience – it was no easy task because I did not get any response from the job applications I have sent out.  While going through this misery, I began to blame my family and the circumstance for landing me in such a state of mind.

Then one day, I went to a gospel meeting organized by the church.  I wasn’t a believer then but I was not rejecting  Christianity because it seemed a sensible “religion”.  I couldn’t remember exactly what was preached at the gospel meeting but I responded to the alter call.  My heart pounded so heavily when I heard the pastor asked, “Are you lost and do not know where you are going?  Are your relationships falling apart?  God is calling you tonight into a relationship with Him.”  I stood up because I couldn’t battle that pounding any longer and that instance tears rolled down my cheeks.  That was where I was saved, in the Ashfield Townhall.

Things began to turn for the better.  I received a job offer, when I said to myself that it was the last application I was sending out.  It was not just another job, it was a role which was related to my experience!  My family relationship also grew better and closer.  One would think that I ought to be contented and happy with it and live on happily ever after.  Not so easy.  The idea of going back home was still at the back of my mind.

One night, the idea was so strong that I could not stand it anymore.  The uncertainty that brew with it brought me to my knees.  I asked God what should I be doing with my life and where I should be.  His response came and that settled my question once and for all – “don’t worry about where you go and what you do.  It doesn’t matter because whatever path you choose, you are taken care of.”  So here I am, in Australia and have not looked back since.

It’s been 5 years or so since those days and despite its significance I seldom talk or think about it.  That is why when I shared with the friend about my struggle then it had not occurred to me that it there is a victorious (and sure) path to life!  God takes care of me, even before I knew Him He has taken care of me; but I have forgotten about it now that I (seem to) have it all.

The most amazing thing is I have been reminded for the past 2 weeks to write about my salvation story on the blog, and obviously I have put it off for one reason over another.  Now I know why I should heed God’s call – had I done what I was asked to do, when I was asked; I would have had this testimony ready to roll off my tongue at lunch today!  Oh well, God doesn’t depend on us to accomplish His will – He works in all circumstance for good – Amen!

(And of course, I have learnt my lesson on obedience…. however with much regret….)

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I have written a lot on fear lately, a sign that I should work on this year.  Perhaps because this is constantly on my mind of late I find my mind susceptible to fearful thoughts – they make their entry in the wee hours of the night and I end up not sleeping very much or waking up with dreams of all sorts.

The thoughts or voices mirror the deepest worries and concerns I have, and they feed on insecurity within me – Who am I?  What do I matter?  How can I do this or that?  What happens if…?  Why did I ever let that happen? – all these shame and guilt is perfect breeding grounds for the thoughts.

The Bible provides the only answer to my fear, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You” Psalms 56:3 – how encouraging!  Yes, God has dealt with all that which brings us fear – human guilt, shame and fraility – fear would have no space in our hearts if only we trust in Him.

Holy Spirit, Joy divine,
Cheer this saddened heart of mine;
Bid my troubled thoughts be still;
With Thy peace my spirit fill.

Psalms 138:7

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Love vs. Law

I was given a rule to obey and follow one day, supposedly to improve a relationship.  It made me question – how does law, which attaches to it absolute, help to build a relationship?  Or has the law set an unequal ground between the parties, which is hardly any love at all? 

This threw a light for me on why God put so much emphasis on love and grace, as opposed to His law.  Of course, He would like us to do the “right” thing; but He wants us to know that He is more interested in knowing and being with us, rather than putting us through a set of formulaes or rules.  How much more precious is an act of love, as opposed to an act of doing?  Without love, following a law is just like producing a paint-by-number drawing; there’s hardly any feelings to the piece of “art”.  If it began out of love, the painting will come alive within its frame!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not parish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Because our love is so fragile and shallow, God first showed us how to love; so that we may love others, and bring them to the source, the Christ.  He could have easily given us a rule, “me, just love me”; instead He wanted us to paint Him a picture of love out from our hearts.  A beautiful picture of love.

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