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Archive for May, 2010

I Got You

Heard on the radio Nick Carter’s song “I Got You”.  Chorus of the song goes, “the world on the outside is trying to pull me in, but they can’t touch me coz I got you.”

For me, it’s often not the world outside which is trying to pull me in; it’s in me head.  My heart (or head) keeps reminding me of the past, the pain, the struggle, the shame, the failure; in an attempt to lure me into that pit.

But just as the song suggests, I have Jesus, who has been through it all but still gave up his life for that was God’s will.  Jesus has been through betrayal – what can be more painful and disappointing than being betrayed by your friend?  He’s been through denial – his closest friend “disowned” him as he was hung on the cross.  Not to mention being through the most shameful execution in Roman history.

But these are not important, what’s important is that he knew what he was here to do – to be a living sacrifice for everyone of us so that we can be reconciled to God our maker.  He asked for God’s strength and grace to face his own death.  We believers are God’s children, so if Jesus has access to God’s grace, so do we.

God, I lay before you the past pain, shame, disappointment and failure; because you are the creator and only you can heal, comfort and reconcile.  I commit these to you because I believe Jesus will cleanse them all and I can be at peace with the past, and the evil one will have no control over me with these.  Thank you for your daily grace so that I can get through one day at a time, and thank you that I have you to turn to.  Amen.

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This week I’m still reading the book of Romans in my Bible.  As I came across Romans 10 I remember my initial journey of knowing Christ.

I began attending the Wesley Mission service in 2002 and it was just a past time to begin with.  New to Sydney this was the perfect place to know people and feel some community spirit once a week.  I soon made friends with the youngsters there and of course throughout the whole time, learnt about the teaching.  I remember the church urging me to be baptised, but I was reluctant as I am unsure of my belief.  But I attended the baptism class anyway, thinking that’s one way of learning more about my belief.

At that point in time I struggled with the notion of Jesus’ resurrection.  I mean, how can anyone be raised from the dead?  No matter who I speak with, there wasn’t anyone who could convince me of this truth; my mind was made up then and no one could change my mind about raising the dead.  I believed in God, but… raising the dead was a little beyond me at that point.

Fast forward to today, as I read Romans 10:9-10, I pondered: do I truly believe in Jesus’ resurrection and salvation; but more importantly, am I saved?

“Why can’t God raise the dead?  He created all things out of nothing, so what can be impossible for Him to do???”

This is my response.

I think I am convinced today and it is resolved forever, “it is finished”.  Amen.

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I have come to realised that I am a control freak just like my mum, I think my marriage has helped me to learn about this.  For the last few years I have tried to “grow out of it” with my conscious mind.  On days I think I still “let myself down” and continue to be controlling, meanwhile feeling frustrated when things do not go according to my will.  Other days (like today), I feel that even though I am still a control freak within, I am better at handling the consequences of things not going my way.  Praise God, I am “evolving” :0)

I have this thought – God doesn’t make mistakes (I remember hearing this song on the radio and I can’t seem to find it!  I will re-post when I find this song) – so even though I am a control freak there is a place and time to use this character of mine.  Acknowledging this and praying about it actually made me realise I can “overcome” the down side of this “gift”.  This morning while having a disagreement with mum (what do you expect, 2 controlling women sharing thoughts!?) I noticed that I am better at handling disagreement – it is not my business to ensure everything goes according to my way, so I am no longer frustrated.  Others have a say, too.

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This topic bugs me.  Every time I read a devotion surrounding this, I pause and question myself – do I really understand joy; have I ever felt joyous, the way that God means joy to be?

I was reading a devotion on Ps 51:12 and the author of the devotion used Nehemiah 8:10 to illustrate it, “when you enjoy doing something, the enjoyment gives you sufficient strength to do the task.”

How true.  Brought up an Asian, I live the typical life of a legalistic culture – you should do this, live that way, say this.  I am not sure if joy could ever be present in this kind of lifestyle.

Even though I am a Christian now and Christ’s salvation brings believers love, peace and joy; I am not entirely sure if I do understand and live within that promise.  I mean, I struggle with this joy business everytime I come across it – what exactly is my joy?

“The joy of the Lord is our strength” Nehemiah 8:10 says.  It is through believing in the Lord, serving Him, enjoying Him, obeying Him; these brings ultimate joy.  Focusing on the Lord’s cause and not my own brings joy, focusing on His salvation brings joy.

I don’t know.  I mean I know them in words and theory (head truth) but I don’t feel it (heart truth).  I pray that this limbic lag (head truth being converted into heart truth)  catches up sooner so I can fully grow into the Lord’s joy.  I’m pretty sure this is something the Lord insists on me learning, before He’ll move me on to the next lesson.

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This week I am off work and on my “occassional job” at mum’s cafe.  Rather than computers and printers and spreadsheets I deal with the wok and satay chicken and hot chips.  Yep, it’s quite a change, and I smell like a combination of curry and chips 🙂

Besides being a kitchen hand, I am also the “marketing executive” – walking as the flyer distributor to nearby factories in the mornings.  Which reminds me of my first job in Australia straight after I graduated.  When many of my course mates have returned home or received offers with big firms, I was jobless after my graduation.  Not feeling down and out, I was filled with the enthusiasm and energy of a freshie, looking into the papers and putting in applications.  I cannot recall the reason but somehow I landed myself in a marketing executive job interview.  When they called for an interview, I was over the moon – what, an interview?!  So I dressed up for the event, in the best suit I have.  Hey, you know, it’s an executive job interview, of course I can’t go in anything less than a suit!?

Well, the “marketing executive” turned out to be a walker-flyer distributor, and I wasn’t the only new recruit.  A dozen of us set out from the office after a short briefing, armed with brochures, targeting surrounding areas dropping flyers from door to door.  I couldn’t remember how I survived in the pair of high-heels but I do remember finishing the day with mixed feelings.  On the one hand I was beaten and felt cheated.  I mean, I was expecting an executive position, seated in the office with an extension number and a desk; not out in the heat and doing door-knocks?  I wouldn’t want anyone on my course to see me this way?  On the other hand, I realised that there’s no distinction to jobs (工作不分贵贱), they are only different means of earning a living.  Well, except that I didn’t quite earn anything on my first (and only) day at my first job.

So today, while dropping flyers in the offices, I remember my first job.  Also reminded of another facet to 工作不分贵贱.  No matter what I do, one truth never changes – my value as the child of God is higher than my value as an accountant, or marketing executive.

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Thanks to Terri’s blog http://hungerhunger.blogspot.com/2010/04/mantou.html, I made my first lot of steamed buns without a breadmaker!!!  Still, I used the food processor to help with kneading.

I made steamed vegie buns.  For filling I used shredded zuchinni, chinese mushrooms (soaked and minced), chinese black fungus (soaked and minced), a little preserved vegie or xie-cai (soaked and minced).  It is best to salt the shredded zuchinni and rest it for a little while, squeeze out the juice of the zhuchinni and mix in with rest of the filling ingredients (except for xie-cai). 

I first fried the xie cai in hot oil, seasoned with some sugar.  When it is ready (when it’s dry and begins to hop a little in the pan), put in the rest of the ingredients.  If you are not using xie-cai, you may now season them with some salt.  Add in some sesame oil after about 3-5 minutes of frying, and it should be about ready.  Let cooled.

Ingredients for the dough:

350g plain flour (the recipe called for Hong Kong flour, which I don’t believe we have in Australia)

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda (the recipe called for 1 tsp baking powder, which we didn’t have in the house at that time)

50g sugar

2 tsp dry yeast

180 – 200ml body temperature water

2 tsp oil

Method

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in the food processor (remember to have the dough blade inserted – I forgot to and had to tip the whole thing out!).  You may use the pulse function to do this.  Make sure it’s well blended because I discovered I actually had lumps of sugar in my dough.
  2. While the processor is running on low, pour in oil through the feeder tube.  Let the oil blends with the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour in the warm water through the feeder tube.  Pour in by batches so that the dry ingredient will incorporate the liquid evenly.  Every now and then you may need to pause the kneading and scrape down the sides to ensure everything is incorporated.
  4. The dough should form just before you finish the liquid.  Feel with your finger or spatula, the dough should feel soft but not sticking to the finger.  Knead in the processor or with your hands a little more until it’s elastic and smooth.
  5. Transfer to a bowl or basin that will allow it to increase twice in volume when risen.  Cover with a piece of damp cloth (preferably warm) and leave in a warm place to rest for about an hour.  As it’s autumn here I actually had to proof the dough in a warmed oven.
  6. It is ready when the dough has risen to twice its original size.  As I was making vegie buns, I used portions of about 4cm in diameter for each bun, flattened* and filled with the prepared vegie filling.
  7. To enclose the bun, supporting the “bun” on my left fingers, I pinch the edges together by going around the circumference bit by bit using the thumb and index finger of my right hand.  The left thumb assist by pushing the filling into the “bun” so that it is closed in by the time the full circle is gathered up.  Ensure there’s no opening or else the bun will open up when steamed.
  8. Put the buns away for second proofing, about 30 minutes.  Again covered with a damp cloth and in a warm place.
  9. Put the steamer on and steam the buns for 6 minutes when the water has boiled.

*the better practice is to make the edges of the circle slightly thinner, and the middle of the circle thicker.  This is because the filling should sit nicely in the middle when you pinch the edges closed, so a thicker middle (base) will hold the weight; while the pinched edges adds up the thickness.

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