Wednesday, April 19, 2017

11 Tips for Beating the Blues

1. Count your blessings. Expressing gratitude does wonders to lift your spirit. There is spiritual power in praise that can counterbalance whatever is weighing on you.
2. Get in touch with Jesus. He loves and cares for you, and He’s got the solution to every problem. Talk to Him about how you feel; read God’s Word; bolster your faith by holding on to promises from His Word.
3. Do something good for someone else. Reaching out to others not only helps that person, but it lifts your spirit at the same time.
4. Take a break. Stop everything and go for a walk, sit somewhere relaxing, or take in a nature scene or favorite picture. Meditate on the beautiful things in life.
5. Sing a happy song, or listen to one. A song of praise to God can draw you closer to Him and fill your heart with gratitude and peace.
6. Exercise. Physical exercise releases endorphins, “feel good” hormones that help to calm the mind and redirect thoughts and energy away from worries and concerns.
7. Laugh out loud. “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” Don’t take life or yourself too seriously. Read, watch, or think about something funny. Talk to someone who is fun to be around.
8. Spend time with your children. Children have so much love to give, and their cheerfulness, resilience, and simplicity can help put your own problems in perspective.
9. Spruce up your surroundings. A clean room, a nice view, a small home improvement, or even good lighting can lift your mood.
10. Get enough sleep. Problems are easier to deal with when you are well rested. A large sleep deficit can magnify problems and make you feel lousy.
11. Smile. Smiling even when you don’t feel like it has a positive effect on your spirit. Keep it up, and you will soon be seeing the world in a brighter light.
Psalm 118:24 ESV / This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV / Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Colossians 3:17 ESV / And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mayan Civilization

When our volunteer work took my husband Andrew, our daughter Angelina, and me from Europe to Central America, we were blessed with the wonderful opportunity to visit a peaceful lake in Guatemala that had once been a local center of the rich Mayan culture. In this serene setting, the main event of the day for locals and visitors alike is watching the sun set behind three volcanoes that rim the west side of the lake. Here the pleasures of life are simple, like swimming where the volcanic hot springs rise up into the lake, creating a curious mixture of ice-cold, tepid, and very hot water.
I don’t drink coffee myself, but I was fascinated to observe how coffee beans are grown, dried, roasted, ground, and finally brewed to a delicious deep brown cup of coffee. The aroma was intoxicating, and the taste, said Andrew and Angelina, was divine—a truly homemade cup of coffee from beginning to end.
It was a curious sight—tourists on temporary reprieve from their fast-paced, pressure-driven, “civilized” lives in juxtaposition with Mayan women peacefully weaving their beautiful multicolored cloth, some with an infant child, grandchild, or perhaps even great-grandchild sleeping peacefully in a sling across their backs or playing quietly nearby. What a contrast!
Although the Mayans of today must sell their wares to the foreigners in order to survive, they have not let the pressures of the modern world pollute their lives. Industrious and hard-working, they work in rhythm, sunrise to sunset, producing lovely traditional garments. Not swept along by the fashion trends, they proudly wear their own wares, as do their children. Nor are they dependent on the pharmaceutical system, but find the medicines they need right in the trees and plants that are grown locally. They even produce their own cosmetics. (My hair has done better with the herbal shampoo I bought from them than it has with any commercially produced shampoo, herbal or otherwise, that I’ve ever tried!)
While sitting beneath the softly waving palm trees, listening to gentle waves lap the lakeshore and observing the sun set behind the volcanoes, I felt like I had been taken up to God’s heavenly kingdom and shown one of the reasons that I had been created—to enjoy it all!
Jet-setters, get-aheaders, and others consider the Mayans backward, but I’m not so sure. Speed and stress take the joy out of life, but slowing down and bringing our priorities into line with God’s puts it back in.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV / All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV / And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
Isaiah 40:22 ESV / It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 - Easter Sunday


































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An imperfect World

It was just a little thing, that smile on my baby’s face, but it changed my perspective on life.
As he woke and looked up at me, he was looking at what mattered most in the world to him—me! He didn’t care that I was dressed in mismatched pajamas, my hair a mess. He just loved me and loved being with me. He didn’t need perfection; love made it all right. That moment of holding him and taking in those rays of love clarified something I’d been thinking about earlier.
The lack of perfection in life has always rubbed me the wrong way. When someone said or did something that irked me, I’d often argue my case against it in my mind. Why do there have to be things like personality clashes, carelessness, inconsideration, injustice, pessimism, put-downs? These things are real, and they are wrong! I wish they didn’t exist. If everyone, me included, could just get their act together, my life could be one of blissful perfection. Perfection, I reasoned, was the only thing that could ever relieve my irritations. But I also knew that could never be. This was real life. I needed another option.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what I really wanted was for the world to revolve around me—my wishes, my feelings, my preferences, my priorities. Something had to change, and this time it had to be me, regardless of the faults of others. But how? I’d tried before.
Then that morning, as I held my baby, a whisper of a thought came to me. Would you want your baby to be perfect right from the start?
After pondering that thought, I couldn’t imagine something I’d want less. If he’d been able to walk and run the day he was born, I’d never get to see the look of thrill and accomplishment on his face when he took his first steps, and I’d also miss that special feeling of holding him in my arms, knowing that he was completely dependent on me. If he had been able to talk perfectly from the time he was born, I’d never experience the joy of hearing him speak his first word. If he knew everything that an adult knows, I’d never get to see him overcome with wonder at some new discovery and I’d never have the fulfillment of teaching him something new. So many things I’d miss. No, his imperfection makes him just perfect. I wouldn’t have him any other way!
What was it then, I asked myself, that made his imperfection different from the other imperfections around me?
The answer was love.
That was it! That was what I was lacking. That was what I needed more of in order to cope bravely and cheerfully when confronted by problems I wished didn’t exist.
I realized how much I’d be missing if I and everyone around me were perfect from the start. I’d miss the unpredictability of life that adds the sense of surprise; the joy of forgiving and being forgiven; the strong, abiding bonds of friendship that are formed through adversity, and the positive character traits that are formed much the same way.
Adding negative thoughts to a negative situation, I reminded myself, never brings positive results. I determined then and there to look for and find the positive opportunities and experiences that are hidden behind the mask of imperfection.
When my baby couldn’t sleep later that day, I decided to make the best of a difficult situation by putting my new lesson into practice. I put what I had been sure was best for him and me on hold, and my husband and I took some time to sing and laugh with him. It was a perfectly happy moment that we all would have missed had everything been “perfect” that day.
Every situation and person we encounter can make our lives a ride of joy and surprise, if we look beyond. Difficulties, losses, hurts, lacks—we can think of each as a clue in a treasure hunt, the door to a secret vault where you will find beautiful treasures from God. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
1 John 2:5 ESV / But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
Philippians 2:15 ESV / That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
1 John 5:18 ESV / We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Announcements

Women's Rallies "A Garden Gateway"
Date: 22nd April 2017 (Sat)
Time: 9am - 4pm
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Corps
Details: Please contact Capt. Fiona for more information

Banana Leaf Ministry
Date; 22nd April 2017 (Sat)
Time: 11am
Venue: Penang Community Hall

Mother's Day Celebration
Date: 7th May 2017 (brought forward)
Time: 10:30am
Venue: Penang Corps

Flag Day 2017 (fundraising)
Date: Ongoing
Please pray for this ongoing event.

A Breath of Fresh Air

It was a particularly hot, muggy summer day, and Jeffrey and I had already been traveling for a few hours when we plopped down in a stuffy bus station waiting room in northern Italy. “Did I really have to come?” he muttered.
How had I gotten this idea? Dragging a 14-year-old away from his friends to visit his grandparents—not exactly a teenager’s idea of fun!
We had another hour before we needed to catch the bus that would take us the rest of the way, and I didn’t know which was worse—the stale air in the waiting room or the thick air between us. “Would you like some ice cream?” I asked.
That usually did the trick, or at least it used to. Not this time. “No!” came his sharp reply. “I don’t need it.” My little boy was growing up.
My patience was starting to run out. “Well, I’m going to get some for myself.” I grabbed my purse and headed for the station café, asking Jesus to restore good communication between Jeffrey and me.
When I returned, Jeffrey was talking with a boy a year or two older. “Emmanuel is Romanian,” Jeffrey explained as he introduced us, “but he speaks Italian well. He’s living in a trailer nearby with his mom and two younger sisters, and doing odd jobs to help support his family.” Emmanuel was bright, well-mannered, and said he was willing to do just about any kind of work.
He and Jeffrey continued the animated conversation that my return had interrupted. When Jeffrey told Emmanuel that he had gone to a summer camp in Timișoara, Romania, Emmanuel lit up. “That’s where I come from!” he said. I could tell it really made Emmanuel’s day to find a boy about his age whom he could talk to and relax with. Also, Jeffrey seemed very interested in this boy’s life and in meeting someone about his own age who was fending for his mom and sisters.
When it was time to catch our bus, Jeffrey prayed for Emmanuel and his family and then gave Emmanuel one of the gospel tracts we had with us, along with some money for his family.
“Mom,” Jeffrey whispered as we took our seats, “that was a hundred times better than ice cream!”
Sometimes when we are upset or discouraged, all it takes to make us forget our frustration and feel better is a little giving of ourselves.
Galatians 5:1 ESV / For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Acts 2:38 ESV / And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 5:8 ESV / Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 - Good Friday


































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Joy—the Sunshine Fruit

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
We all know what it’s like to have our lives beset by problems. Financial difficulties, inclement weather, or even rush-hour traffic can cast a pall over our spirits.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Holy Spirit can help us rise above our problems, big or small, and cause us to be happy and cheerful in spite of circumstances.
The secret to having the joy of the Lord is taking the time to fill up on God’s Word, so that you have a reservoir of His Spirit within to draw from in stressful times. “These things I have spoken to you,” Jesus told His disciples, “that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
So if you feel down or discouraged, try spending more time with Jesus, reading and studying His Word. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make!
It also helps greatly to count your blessings, to think about all the good things the Lord has given you and done for you. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
It is the consciousness of the threefold joy of the Lord, His joy in ransoming us, His joy in dwelling within us as our Saviour and Power for fruitbearing, and His joy in possessing us as His Bride and His delight; it is the consciousness of this joy which is our real strength. Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change.
—James Hudson Taylor
Be merry, really merry. The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity.
—Théophane Vénard
Psalm 16:11 ESV /
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
John 15:11 ESV / These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Philippians 4:4 ESV / Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Friday, April 14, 2017

He’s Alive!

It had been about three years since they had answered the call to follow Jesus. Each had his own story. Nathanael was told he was “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit.” Peter and his brother Andrew heard the words, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men,” while casting their nets into the sea. Matthew was sitting at his tax collector’s booth. The years that followed had been the most exciting and intense years of their lives. Jesus was the most incredible person they had ever known, and they loved Him deeply.
The things they witnessed were incredible—many miraculous healings, deliverances from demonic forces, the feeding of thousands with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish. There was also the day when a funeral procession was coming down the street, and the Master was so moved by the dead man’s grieving mother that He stopped the procession, touched the coffin, and the young man sat up alive. And that wasn’t the only time that Jesus brought the dead back to life. There was the girl who was dead when He entered the room and alive when He left it, and also Lazarus, who had been dead for four days when Jesus called him from his tomb.
There were times when He told such insightful stories—stories that held deep meaning and revealed great truths to those whose minds and hearts were open enough to understand them. Sometimes He taught the multitudes who gathered round to hear what He had to say, and at one point those people were on the verge of taking Him by force to make Him king. At other times, He took His closest followers away to a quiet place where they could rest and He could give them personal teaching.
These were heady days indeed.
Of course, not every day was full of such wonder and excitement. Sometimes there was opposition. His religious enemies disagreed with what He taught and continually challenged Him, but His answers were filled with wisdom, power, and most of all love. Everything about Him was rooted in love and compassion.
As time went on, the opposition grew stronger and His enemies more determined to stop Him. But then, right in the middle of all that, there was the day when crowds from Jerusalem, joined by thousands of Passover pilgrims, met Him outside the city walls, waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” His religious opponents were afraid to touch Him because of His popularity, and feared that if the civil authorities had to step in, that would cost them their positions of prominence.
Those days had been extraordinary—full of wonder, hope, excitement, learning, and love. His followers probably expected that things would continue that way for many more years.
Then suddenly, everything changed. Jesus was arrested, and less than 24 hours later He was executed as a criminal. Their dreams were dashed to pieces. The One they loved so deeply was gone. The life they had lived for the past three years was over. It seemed the future He had spoken of wouldn’t work out. He was dead.
Sad, confused, and afraid, they hid behind locked doors. How abruptly it had all come to an end—the work they had participated in, the love they had come to know so well. Everything changed almost instantly. The future was bleak.
On the third day after His execution, early in the morning, some women who had followed Him visited His tomb, but His body wasn’t there. When they told the other disciples, nobody took them seriously except Peter and John, who ran to the tomb and confirmed the women’s story. He wasn’t there! They didn’t understand what had happened, but His body was gone.
Suddenly Jesus appeared in the midst of the room where they were hiding, behind locked doors. The Man they had loved and followed, who had been brutally tortured and killed, was standing before them.
He was alive!
He had risen from the dead and was back with them. His presence changed everything. Though He had been executed as a criminal, the fact that He was standing there alive validated everything He had told them about Himself: that He was “the resurrection and the life,” that He would be killed but would be raised to life again three days later. The truth of those words was now evident, because He was there, alive. His presence totally changed the context of the preceding days, and they knew their faith hadn’t been misguided. God’s plan hadn’t been defeated after all.
Forty days later, Jesus ascended into heaven. He was no longer with them physically, but the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell within them—a constant presence guiding them in truth and love and in the sharing of all He had taught them and all they had witnessed during their time together.
The wonderful days of living and working together with Him had come to an end, and the days of branching out and reaching out to others had begun. His being alive empowered them to move beyond what they had been used to, to let go of how things had been and to dedicate their lives to spreading His love and salvation to others. While it took time and adjustment, they did what He had instructed; they went to different cities and countries, meeting new people, making new friends, leading others to Him. They built communities of faith, they taught others what He had taught them, they engaged in the mission He had given them, day by day, heart by heart, year after year. They faced difficulties, trials, and tribulations, but they carried on even at the cost of their lives. In so doing, they profoundly affected the world of their day and every age since.
Although things had changed, and Jesus was no longer present bodily, He was still able to do miracles; to bring the dead back to life; to give incredible answers to those in need; to show love, compassion, and mercy; to bring the good news of salvation. Only now, instead of Him doing it in person, He did it through them. He continued to dwell in them and work through them, and He’s been and continues to be just as alive in those who have loved and followed Him ever since.
Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a celebration of His defeat of death and hell and Satan. Jesus redeemed us from our sins. He lived and loved and died for us as individuals, and He’s with us today in spirit just as much as He was with those He walked beside two millennia ago.
There was a short time when His disciples despaired, after Jesus had been crucified and was no longer with them, but that crisis was short-lived. The confusion, fear, and uncertainty passed once they realized that He was alive, and that His love, truth, compassion, words, and power were still there with them, even though their physical circumstances were different.
No matter what circumstances we are in, no matter what changes have occurred, no matter how difficult things may be, He’s also alive in us. Wherever we are, His power and Spirit are with us. In whatever circumstance, in whatever situation, whether we are in our hometown or some far-flung country, He is with us and will work through us as much as we allow Him to. Let’s show others that He is alive by letting them see His Spirit in us, by letting them hear His words through our words, and by letting them experience Him through our loving actions, compassion, and empathy. Let’s show them He is alive, even in today’s mixed-up, messed-up world, by helping them connect with Him.
Pardon Granted—Thoughts on Easter
We don’t have a Jesus on the cross; He’s left the cross! We have an empty cross. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” We don’t have a Christ in the grave; we have a live Jesus living in our hearts.
He rose in victory, joy, liberty, and freedom, never to die again, so that He could redeem us as well and prevent our having to go through the agony of death of spirit. What a day of rejoicing that must have been when He rose and realized it was all over. He had won the victory; the world was saved!
The miracle of Easter is that because Jesus didn’t remain in the grave, we don’t have to, either. We don’t have to suffer in hell to pay for our sins, or experience eternal separation from God. He took that payment for us, and then rose to a new life. And His new life can be inside us, giving us hope and peace, as we are filled with His love.
John 1:47 ESV / Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
Mark 1:17 ESV / And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
Matthew 9:9 ESV / As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Living Hope

I grew up in a Christian home and have been familiar with the Easter story since childhood, but it wasn’t until last year that I discovered what Easter means for me personally.
Last Easter, my thoughts were not on the glory of Jesus’ resurrection, the triumph of good over evil, or even the bright morning dawning outside my window. Just one week earlier, my best friend had phoned me with the sad news that her father had suddenly passed away during the night. My mind was still reeling with shock and grief. How could a life slip away so abruptly, with no time for last words or goodbyes? I thought about the grandchildren who will grow up never knowing their grandfather, my friend who will no longer have a dad’s support and advice, and the widow who would miss her husband’s loving presence.
As I read a Bible study on Easter that detailed Jesus’ last hours, crucifixion, and resurrection, it struck me that the death of the Savior must have seemed to His friends and disciples like the worst thing that could have happened. Yet it was transformed into the most wonderful miracle imaginable: Christ’s triumph over death. If hope emerged from such a terrible event, can that hope still be found today? I thought of my hurting friend. Where was the hope in that tragic and untimely death?
My eyes fell on a Bible verse: “God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.” As I reflected on those words, I realized that the miracle of Easter did not end 2,000 years ago with Jesus’ resurrection. It has continued on, carrying a message of living hope through the ages and into the 21st century.
Regardless of how dark things look today, a glorious dawn is approaching. When Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He left them with the promise that because He lives, they (and we) will live also.
Easter is not meant to only be a day of remembrance that comes around once a year, but a living hope in our hearts all year round. As surely as the sun rises every morning, we can leave behind whatever sorrow or pain we are facing and rise again with renewed faith and comfort in the eternal love of God.
1 Peter 1:3 ESV / Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
John 14:19 ESV / Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Philippians 4:19 ESV / And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.