Thursday, 6 December 2012

Let the little children come to me

Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

When Jesus says "come to me", He gives us full access - which means 24/7 - 24 hours a day for 7 days a week.

When I found out that I was pregnant I told myself that I would be like this to my kid. A 24/7 mom, which means being available to my child 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. And it worked well for the first few weeks, trust me. I would be out of my bed at his first cry even at odd hours during the night. After a few weeks, the 24/7 mom was exhausted.

As Lukas grew so did his demands. Many times I feel like I can't keep up with his growth. Lukas is now 3 months old. I still struggle with his night feedings. His craving for regular attention. His need to be hugged and touched when I have my own agendas. He wakes up at 1 AM and doesn't fall asleep till 4 AM - this is his "play time"; he wants mommy or daddy to play with him, attend to him. I felt like my time is not mine anymore. I can't do the things that I like to do. Everything now includes Lukas. He is part of everything. He is not a pet that you can lock up when you go off to work. He is an entity that goes shopping, evening walks, dinners and even to parties. He has his own likes and dislikes too. I confess that there are times when I avoid eye contact with him so that I do not have to carry him. There are times when he wakes up from sleep and I go "uh-oh", I am not sure how Lukas feels when he hears that.

 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me": It means that he is saying I will not neglect you. I will not avoid eye contacts with you. I will carry you any time you want. I will hug you and love you all the days of your life and beyond. I will meet your needs. I will feed you. I will change you. I will clean you. I will bathe you and I will not get tired of it.

 "and do not hinder them": Christ says there will be no hindrance between us. You are my top priority. Your urgency is my urgency. I am your God who do not sleep nor slumber (Psalm 121:4). I do not leave nor forsake (Deut 31:6). I am your ever present help (Psalm 46:1). I will not be stressed. I am always readily available.

"for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.": If Christ wants us to enter the kingdom of heaven like these little children then we better learn to crave for his attention. We better learn to make eye contacts with him. We better learn to demand hugs and personal touch from him. We better learn to have "play time" at 1AM and learn not to let go of him until you have had enough - for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Inter-Faith Dialogue 2012

Would like to both inform and request for prayers to cover this event (in Malaysia):


Theme: The Afterlife (i.e. Life After Death)

Date: 19 September 2012 (Wednesday)

Time: 8-11pm

Venue: Kolej Yayasan UEM, Lembah Beringin, 35900 Tg. Malim, Perak, Malaysia (about 1+ hour drive from KL)

Faiths/Religions represented: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam

Attendees: About 1,000 students expected to attend this year - from the organiser KYUEM, and International Institute University Malaysia (IIUM), Kolej Tuanku Ja'afar (KTJ), and Taylor's University.

I'll be going with my bro-in-law by car (from Cheras, KL). If you are currently in Klang Valley area and would REALLY loooove to go but have no transport, then please do let me know. We have got 3 more seats in the car :-) First come first serve only!!!

P/s: I'll be representing the Christian faith. Please do keep this event in your prayers :) Thank you so much dear readers!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Redeem my time, Lord!

Both Oliver and I are seminary students (since Jan 2011). Three weeks into our marriage - we came to MBTS for theological education to equip ourselves for future missions.

When we celebrated our first wedding anniversary (Dec 2011), we were done with one year of our seminary education, had started our weekend ministry and were settling in a church and had wonderful, godly friends who would and could speak into our lives. We told ourselves that one more year and we will be in the mission field.

We were planning a mission trip in August 2012 with few other friends who shared the same burden. We were meeting mission organizations to inquire and learn more about long-term mission possibilities. It was as if the desire and calling God had placed on Oliver's heart a decade ago was finally coming to completion. We saw things happen and pieces coming together. Things were planned and the plan was smooth.

But when things are smooth is when something is not quite right.

God intervenes: For us it was our pregnancy. We were  overjoyed, overwhelmed, happy and delighted but at the same time we were confused. Suddenly our next few years became uncertain. It was like we had to take another route to reach our destination - which would mean a delay and would require more time. We always imagined 2 of us in the mission field - but now there was a blur picture of a tiny someone.
When we face difficulties and feel weak, we realize God's goodness, mercy and might. We were trying to "speed" things up in order to be in the mission field. But I had to take a break from my studies - due to my pregnancy. Though this was not our plan, I believe this was God's plan. Though I had lost sight of things and was confused - God was still in control of my life.

I guess this was a much needed break. For the last 18 months both of us had been so busy and caught up in various activities and events: Preparing for the wedding, the wedding itself, trip to India for another wedding celebration, shifting to Penang - new people and new place, back to student life - with assignments, duties, ministry and a lot of readings, a new married life - adjusting to one another as well as to a new life as a married couple. Not that I am complaining, we enjoyed all of this - but it was all too rushed.

God allowed my pregnancy to bring the balance that was needed - especially in me. Oliver needed to slow down and I needed a break, a pause, a venue to reorganize my thoughts, life and many other aspects. If we didn't have this break - I would have collapsed before entering full time ministry - we would have burnt out!!

But thank God that He is always in control and sees things in order and perspective. We might not be very happy when things do not go our way and plans fail - but trusting God is what we must do.

Christ is our Redeemer - and He will redeem the time I think I have lost. 

Thank You Lord, that You take care of us - even when we do not see it.
Thank You Lord, for taking charge of our live.
Thank You Lord, that I am not alone and You share my burden as well as my passion.
Thank You Lord, for family and friends who speak into our lives and encourage us.
Thank You Lord, for Your everlasting love and care, providence and protection.
Thank You Lord, for You will redeem our time.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Salty and Bright

Have you ever wondered...

...why did Jesus ask us to be both 'salt of the earth' AND 'light of the world'?

Not just choose-one-of-the-two-that-you-prefer, but both (signified by the use of the connector 'AND')! And why 'salt'? Why 'light'?

It cannot be further from the truth that salt and light have exceedingly different and contrasting properties. Think about it for a moment. Salt, on the one hand, works silently, preserves, and stays in the background. Its presence is only detected when we interact with it - or else it stays invisible. Light, on the other hand, is obvious, upfront, and stands out from the background. Just try lighting a candle in a dark room and you'll notice the light immediately.

Maybe now we see what Jesus really meant! (Do you?)

There are occasions we are called to be salt: To 'speak' the Gospel via our actions. There are also situations where He wants us to be light: To preach boldly through our words. These are the two ways to share the Good News - and we need to learn both from the Master Teacher.

Faith without action is dead while action without faith is hypocrisy.
Let us walk the talk, and also, talk about the walk.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10

Sunday, 26 August 2012

"Come and have breakfast!"

Have you had your breakfast this morning? (Depends on your time zone I guess :)

Well...if you haven't, then better brace your stomach!!
You know, there are so many kinds of breakfasts!

The 'American kind':

The 'Malay kind':

The 'Hong Kong kind':

The 'South Indian kind':

The 'Japanese kind':

...okay...that's enough of whetting your appetite :-)

"Why the fooooood..?" you might ask! Well, let us digress for a little while...

As Christian ministers teach or preach in their churches, seminars, camps, retreats, and conferences, they are selflessly pouring their lives into those they are ministering. However, we often think that that is either all that they do - or maybe the most essential thing they do.

I think that couldn't be further from the truth.

You see, indeed a huge portion of a minister's time will be spent on preaching and teaching. Hence, that is not what I'm talking about. I'm more of referring to the 'churches, seminars, camps, retreats, and conferences' bit.

If we lift up our fingers and flip through the New Testament's early pages, we'll see Jesus' way of 'being a minister'. Besides teaching in the enclosed space of the four-walls (which is essential I'd say), we can see Jesus spending most of His time outside of that enclosure (seems like non-optional as well!). Of course, we can reason that the modern demands on being ministers have mandated us to spend more time in administration, organisation, and planning. From experience (albeit limited), this is true - but only partially. Let me explain:

Every era has different challenges to overcome. In Jesus' time, people spent so much more time in order to travel from place to place. They had no 'time-saving' technology to write books or copy materials. There was no electricity to continue preparing messages in their rooms at night. In our time, we claim to have resolved all those 'challenges' - and therefore it seems like we should have more time in our hands now than ever! However, do we...? With the onset of modernisation and digitalisation of everything, our time is now occupied by 'modern' things - such as making PowerPoints, maintaining computer networks, social networking sites, and *ahem* blogs, organising an effective filing or library system, and so on. (Note: None of these things are bad in themselves! - in fact, they can help keep our ministries going).

Hence, it is my belief that although in Jesus' time, the people spent more time on certain things, they also have more free time on other things. In our time, although we have learnt to 'save time' on certain things, we end up spending those 'saved time' on other things. The bottom line is, regardless of which era we are in, we have roughly the same amount of 'free time' in our hands. Therefore, we can't say that Jesus was 'more free' than us. He was not. In fact, He could have been busier!

So back to the breakfast bit. You see, Jesus had time for breakfast with His disciples! (See John 21:4-22). This happened after Jesus was resurrected. You would think that if I have died and was then resurrected, I would have gone and do 'more important' things than having breakfast with a bunch of followers that deserted me when I was captured.

But no! That was not what Jesus thought (thank God)! When the disciples came ashore, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread. Jesus prepared breakfast! He spent time to eat with His disciples.

Do you have such time to spare for your disciples? Your friends? Your church members? Your family?

Of course, by focusing too much on 'breakfast' or 'spending time', we run the risk of missing the point.
Jesus did not just have breakfast with His disciples in order to 'spend time' per se (today we might say 'waste time'). He invested His precious and limited time (as He has to go very soon) into them. What He said during and after the breakfast are paramount. In fact, the verses at the end of John 21 are probably some of the most preached of all! You see, in order to converse and ask such important questions and indicate affirmations, Jesus took the time out for His disciples - His friends.

Let us do the same.

Let us spend our 'precious and limited' time with those we love and not just eat and talk about the surface matters - but go deeper.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The 5th Gospel...?

Huh? Really? The '5th' Gospel? 
Before you claim there's a typo in the Heading...let us consider this:

Besides Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, did you know that there is a '5th Gospel'?

That 5th Gospel is YOU. It is Your Life. Your character. Your attitude to life itself and others around you. Some people might not have the chance to read the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John - but they will certainly read the Gospel according to You.

What story are you telling the world, your community, your colleagues, your friends, your family, and your wife/husband?

Is it just your own history, or are you telling HIS Story?

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10