Friday, April 17, 2015

Divine Chaos

Of all the word pictures Jesus painted, I can’t think of another that engenders the peace of spirit that comes from feeling secure in God’s loving care more than this: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. If God so clothes the grass of the field, will He not much more clothe you?” Can you see those lilies now? Tall and straight, perfectly formed and laced with dew, each a polite distance from the next, they sway as one to the sweet strains of songbirds and a gentle breeze as it sweeps through an open meadow awash with morning sun. At least that’s how I would have had them grow, if God had asked me.
A very different scene hangs above my desk—a hopeless tangle of wildflowers and weeds, grasses, thistles, and who knows what, some flourishing, some beginning to fade, and some gone to seed. The photo was the reward of a long, hot trek through the Texas countryside in search of a scene that matched a mental picture that had come to me months earlier while praying about my part in a new project that involved quite a few people, each of whom added his or her particular needs, opinions, aspirations, quirks, and hang-ups to the mix.
The amazing thing about that scene when I glimpsed it in prayer was how it instantly set my heart and mind to rest. I had the distinct feeling that God not only had it all under control, but that He delighted in the complexity and diversity, in each and every element and its place in the hodgepodge. The Creator in love with His creation. Things weren’t as I would have had them, but as He would have them. That realization made all the difference. I titled my photo Divine Chaos, and I study and draw from it whenever I work myself into turmoil over some new problem. “Consider the flowers of the field, how they grow.”
Hebrews 1:3 ESV / He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Colossians 1:16 ESV / For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for hi
1 John 1:5 ESV / This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

5 Senses Thanksgiving

Every day is filled with happy moments that we could thank God for, if we paused to acknowledge them. This thanksgiving exercise is based on what we perceive through our five traditional senses.
Sight: Many things are beautiful to behold, whether natural sights such as trees and flowers, created works such as art and architecture, or the sight of a friend or home after an absence. What pleasurable sights lined your path today? Thank God for them.
Hearing: The warble of birds, the sound of music, or a loved one’s voice on the phone can bring a smile. What were the sounds that brought you pleasure today? Thank God for them.
Taste: When God provided food for the Israelites during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness, it seems He was not only concerned with providing sustenance, but also something tasty. The psalmist later called manna, the mystery food that appeared on the ground each morning, “angels’ food.” In another passage we are told that “its taste was like the taste of pastry.”
Think back over what you ate and drank today. What flavors and textures did you enjoy? Thank God for them.
Smell: The sense of smell is evocative. Freshly mown grass reminds us of summer; a certain perfume or cologne may remind us of a loved one or friend; the smell of a certain food can conjure up places and experiences from our past.
What good smells came your way today? What happy thoughts did they trigger? Thank God for them.
Touch: We see only with our eyes, smell only with our noses, taste only with our mouths, and hear only with our ears, but the sense of touch is transmitted through tiny nerve endings that cover us from head to toe. Each fingertip alone has around 2500 receptors.
Our days are filled with touch. We brush our child’s hair and feel its softness. We hold a mug of warm tea or coffee. We splash cool water on our face on a hot day. What special experiences did you have today thanks to your sense of touch? Thank God for those.
To develop this exercise further, consider starting a sensory thanksgiving notebook. Each evening, jot down your day’s experiences of each sense. Just a word or two may be sufficient; it’s the moments of appreciative reflection that make this exercise valuable.
Romans 8:28 ESV / And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Psalm 107:1 ESV / Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 50:23 ESV / The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When Good is Better than Best

There is an adage, “Good is the enemy of best” The point is that settling for something that is merely good may mean that something better is never attained. It seems to be a cultural imperative these days that we never settle for less than what we believe will prove to be the absolute best for us. But I’m coming to a different conclusion.
In my personal quest for the best possible outcome in each and every situation, I’m seeing that I have sometimes passed up some good possibilities; because I was worried that just around that next corner could be what I really, really, really wanted, I failed to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. In such cases, it seems to me that “best” is really the enemy of “good.” Going for the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow caused me to miss the beauty of the rainbow. I would probably be happier if I embraced the journey, rather than always being fixated on reaching my next goal.
While thinking about this, I was reminded of something that Peter said about Jesus: He went around doing good. Jesus took advantage of opportunities to do good whenever they presented themselves.
There is also the classic passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans where he writes that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I have often taken solace in that verse when things didn’t seem to be going at all well. But lately I have been thinking deeper on that scripture and how all things work for good, not necessarily best. I am not sure I am in the best situation right now, but I know it is good, and rather than fretting about what I don’t have, I could be finding and enjoying the positives in my present circumstances.
Solomon apparently came to a similar conclusion, because he wrote, “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor … for this is his reward.” If that’s so, a constant search for something better can cause us to not appreciate the good thing we already have.
So should we be happy to settle for the good? Perhaps not all the time, but I think we might be happier overall if we often did. After all, good is not a bad thing!
Acts 10:38 ESV / how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Romans 8:28 ESV / And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 ESV / Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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.

Monday, April 13, 2015

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;

Sunday, April 12, 2015

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.

Payer Points

1. Please intercede for Corps Family: Bro Ooi Chin Kheng, Sis Ong Ewe Kheng, Cindy, Eng Soon, Eng Heng.

2. Please continue to intercede for one another for spiritual growth, good health, friendship and family.

3. Please intercede for Sis Rachel for health restoration and recovery.


Announcement

1. Candidates Secretary Visit
19th April, Sunday Speaker: Major Irene Chang

2. Helping Hand Project - Women's & Children of Bangladesh.
Projects: Home League Rallies, Sewing Project, Girl's Camp, Women Officers' Conference, Fruit for Integrated Children's Center. Plan and date will be announce later.

3. Territorial Music & Arts Camp 2015
Date: 9th - 13th June 2015 (Age: 13 - 30)
Venue: Eagle Ranch Resort Port Dickson
Fees: RM160 until 20 April 2015 / RM210 (Normal Rate)
Closing Date: 4th May 2015.

4. Cell Group
Venue: Community Hall
Date: 17th April / Time: 8:00pm

Saturday, April 11, 2015

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.