Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Refuge

This is for Angeling, my friend who is facing some major decisions in life…

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge, his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge, then no harm will befall you, no disaster will com near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

(Extracted from Psalm 91)

Ready for an adventure?

Recently, I attended a sports carnival organized by the local council in Kampar. The emcee of the event went up to one of the participants and asked if he believed in miracles. He answered a firm “no”. I was taken aback by both the answer and the person answering it. He was only a student and yet his view in life is cynical.

If I was given the question, I would have said yes straight away. The events that took place in my life for the past 6 months had been nothing short of miracles. I summarized them here again:-

  1. Clarissa recovered from H1N1 within 1 day;
  2. I didn’t contract the virus despite the fact that I was with her 24/7;
  3. I was healed of sinus myself! I have not been taking any medication since end of July;
  4. My dear friend Liz was healed of her stage 4 lung cancer (see Liz's Adventure);
  5. Joseph has been undergoing tremendous changes in his character.
God is at work in our lives; in fact, the scriptures say that not only is He watching over those who know Him, He also watches over those who do not know Him.

A few years ago, when I was still working in the field of Corporate Finance, my colleague MC confided in me that she could not conceive. She had consulted 2 different specialists and was offered 2 options: She could either give up having children or spend a fortune on trials but there was no guarantee. At that point in time, I was conceived with Clarissa and could truly empathize with her. “I will pray for you” I told her as those were the only words I could say. 6 months later, she got pregnant! “How did you manage to get pregnant?” I couldn’t hide my surprise. “I am also not sure” she said with a broad smile. And the miracle didn’t stop there. Now 7 years on, she is a proud mother of 2!

I met up with her during this period and told her that it must be God who is working in her life. Although she couldn’t deny this fact, especially when the specialists had not offered any hope, she couldn’t bring herself to God totally too! The fact is God works miracles in our lives. May it be addictions, infertility, sickness, bitterness, relationship problems, when we bring them to God, He will do something about them for sure, because He loves us. We may be powerless to change our circumstances or the people around us, we can definitely turn to God just as we are.

If you have a need, irregardless of whether you accept Jesus as your saviour, try this prayer:-

Dear God, I don’t know what to do but I have been pushed to my limits. I have problems that I can’t solve (say them out one by one). I am tired of trying and I would like to come to you to give you my load. Help me, give me strength, give me wisdom, give me healing. Show me that You are for Real. Amen.”

Then, buckle up and be prepared for a great adventure coming up in your life! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Need a New Pair of Eyes

When Joseph’s teacher, Ms Teoh, informed me that he has volunteered to give a speech on his kindy’s concert day, I was more than eager to offer reasons why he couldn’t make it:-
  1. in the last 2 concerts, he was either crying or distracted on stage. Therefore, it would be unlikely that after 1 year, he could “transform” into a mature being;
  2. he had a poor memory, as with all men (sorry guys) and would take more than 2 weeks to memorize 5 long statements;
  3. he has poor pronunciations skills. Words like “responsibility” and “opinion” are just too difficult for a 4 year old;
  4. he may appear mature in school but in “reality” at home and especially in front of his mummy, he is immature and loves to stomp his feet and cry endlessly when upset;
  5. I don’t think I could practise with him as so far, after 2 minutes of practice, he would end up stomping his feet;
  6. I really don’t think I can “make” him behave on that day and spill the 5 long statements without making mistake.
Guess what Ms Teoh had to do after I had spilled the beans? She called Joseph’s class teacher and together, both of them had to assure me that Joseph could do what he had set out to do! “As his teachers, we have observed that Joseph had a major breakthrough in the past year. Despite how he had behaved in school previously, he is now a big brother in his class, taking care of others and doing his work independently. So, don’t worry Mrs Wong, we believe that your son could do it!” Ms Teoh said confidently.

Such assurances from the teachers took place not just once but twice in the past week! The final straw came when I had to attend my 2nd VBS training last weekend. This time, I met not one but two of Joseph’s Sunday school teachers. Having seen and experienced how Joseph had behaved in their class, both of them nodded confidently that he would do well in his concert.

I felt ashamed of my lack of confidence in my own son. I might have 4 years of mis-behaviour to back up my theory but unfortunately, this has prevented me from seeing the real characters in Joseph that have developed gradually over time. In this instance, my own eyes have deceived me!

This reminds me of how I was before I became a Christian. I had my own ideals, my own interpretation of God based on what people said and what I read. However, little did I know that what I had believed in could be wrong, until I set out to seek out the truth! In this part of my journey, God chose to use Joseph to show me that my eyes could betray me! Rather, I must see Joseph from God’s perspective and not my own.

That’s why we live by believing and not by seeing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lesson from the Carpark

After being caught in a torrential rain 2 days ago, I am now down with a bad cold and a headache which is slowing turning into a migraine. Today is one of those days that I could neither pray nor read the bible. I felt a constant army of discharge coming on from my nose as soon as I am upright and if I were to move one inch, I could feel my head pounding. In fact, I was downcast and irritated. The only thing that I felt like doing was sleeping; and if either Clarissa or Joseph were to make a demand from me, they know that my answer would not be favorable.

Of course I believe in healing but somehow, today, God didn’t intend for me to be healed instantly like He did for Clarissa. As I was lamenting how miserable I felt throughout the day, it was already dinner time! I felt distant from God as I had blew my top off a couple times in front of my children and Ray; Therefore,  I was even beginning to accept that as my punishment, my sinus is returning. Somehow, my headache has affected my “antenna”.

Over dinner, my spirit was dampened with guilt and was hoping that this day would end soon. As we got into the lift to get to the carpark, Ray had forgotten which floor the car was parked. While we were moving from one floor to the next in search of our car, Ray had walked well ahead of me; Joseph and Clarissa were following closely behind. I was dragging myself slowly with no sense of directions or whereabouts.

Suddenly, my eyes were opened. I saw Joseph and Clarissa dashing across the parking lanes while Ray was too far ahead to hold their hands; and I was too far behind to catch up. As I called out to Ray that the kids were running in the car park with no adult supervision, he realized the danger of moving cars and took their hands. Before I could sigh with relief, Ray found our car and opened the car door just barely 1 cm away from hitting Joseph’s head!

My headache was still there but it was no longer significant; I realized that at that very moment, none of us could have prevented any accident from taking place; only God can. God is in full control of our lives even when we think otherwise. Today, I am very grateful that He protected my children from unforeseeable harm. To describe this aptly, I am quoting my friend, Mr Liew’s email:-

“The agape love of God says, “ I don’t care what you do. I don’t care who you are. I will love you. I will seek the best for you. I will seek the good things for you. I will seek to do the good things for your life. I will lift you up and will bless your life. I will make you a better person than you are. I want to make you better than you are.” That is the agape love of God. It is eternal, it never changes”

No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nothing present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love (agape) of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Different Perspective

It has been sometime that I had wanted to serve in Vacation Bible School (“VBS”) but dealing with children has never been my strength. Therefore, I have let the opportunity slipped on numerous occasions until now. During VBS’s promotion to recruit helpers this year, not only did my children spend a long time in front of the booth, they also gobbled up countless number of sausages served. In between her bites, Clarissa asked if I was going to help out. I could feel my cheeks turning red when I saw how much she has eaten but the crunch came when a thought surfaced “Surely if I could deal with Joseph, I could deal with any child?” That was when Sue passed me a form, and without another thought, I signed my name. Almost immediately, I felt a butterfly fluttering within. Finally, I am taking the plunge, out of my comfort zone.

When the first VBS training session took place, I was both relieved and happy to learn that I have been assigned to assist Wee Lee, someone whom I knew for more than 10 years but never quite had the chance to catch up until now. While we were making small chats about our children, Wee Lee asked if Joseph was in the nursery class for Sunday School. “Oh, Joseph Wong is an independent child. He would sit down and do his work quietly until he finished; while his peers would be distracted or playing with one another.” Co-incidentally, Wee Lee is also Joseph’s Sunday School teacher! My heart was filled with awe for God when I heard this. First, I was truly amazed that God has brought me to VBS so that I could catch-up with an old friend. Second, God was speaking through Wee Lee, telling me that “Hey, I am not done with Joseph. I am still at work in his life. Can’t you see it? Well, you should by now, as even his teacher could see it! I have heard your prayers for Joseph and I am doing something about it.”

I was fighting back my tears when I heard that my Joe is very well-behaved in Sunday School. And to show me a different perspective, God nudged me to sign up for VBS via Clarissa and placed me with Wee Lee. I would say that this is definitely a divine appointment, won’t you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Give Me 40 days! By Freeda Bowers – A book review

This is one of the best devotion books I have read, although technically, we are supposed to give God all of our days, I am glad that Freeda encouraged her readers to dedicate 40 days to God, to especially seek Him for certain issues in our life.

What drew me to this book was not the magic “40” but rather, a few months ago, Liz in her blog also mentioned about this book. At that point in time, Liz was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and Clarissa was quarantined for H1N1. Since I was also quarantined with her, I had time to kill, so picking up a book and dedicating 40 minutes a day for 40 days at that point seemed achievable.

Now that my 40 days are over, I could say that it is one of the best moments of my life in terms of quality time with God.  This has nothing to do with my spiritual state (as it was dry and stale) but everything to do with His grace and love. I thank God for helping me to experience His healing and providence over this period:-
  1. Clarissa was healed of H1N1, within 1 day literally;
  2. I didn’t contract the virus although I was with her 24/7;
  3. I found new strength to pray more fervently for my love ones;
  4. Clarissa started to grow spiritually, and even witness to her cousins from China;
  5. I developed a more discipline time to spend with God in reading His words and praying;
  6. Although there were times I felt discouraged, I could experience renewed joy and strength every time;
  7. I started to spend some time each night to have daily devotions with Clarissa and Joseph;
  8. I find myself to be more joyful and positive.
God reminded me that He is our healer, our provider and our strength. Please don’t get me wrong, that giving God 40 days is a short cut for spiritual growth; Rather, it is a beginning for finding yourself in God again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

History, to Read or Not to Read?

If there were one subject that didn’t add any meaning to my student life, it would have to be history. Studying history has to be one of the most mundane brainwork that I have ever encountered: Memorizing dates, events, places etc. The worst part was, my teacher didn’t tell me why it was important to learn about History; and in Singapore where I did my O-Levels, there wasn’t much depth introduced apart from WW1, WW2 and how Raffles City came about.

Recently, I discovered someone in the bible who shared my sentiment. His name is King Belshazzar (or King Bel for short). His grandfather King Nebuchanzzer had established Babylon to be the strongest nation of his time and during King Ned’s reign, God had spoken and revealed Himself to the royal family, to the extent that King Ned proclaimed Him to his entire kingdom (in my blog What Is It Gonna Take?)

Now, meet King Bel who was throwing a royal banquet for his dignitaries, wives and concubines. His intention for this party was to scorn his enemies and despise God! Outside the city wall, the enemies’ troops were gathering for the imminent attack on the seemingly impenetrable city. High on spirit, King Bel ordered for sacred gold and silver cups, which were used by the Israelites in the temple for offerings, to be filled with wine and served to his guests. While they were happily praising the gods of gold and silver, a dismembered hand started to scribble on a wall. King Bel was initially too drunk to stand; now, he was probably too frightened to be able to stand. God’s judgment on King Bel had come and without giving him seven years to repent like King Ned, King Bel’s kingdom fell on the very night.

When I read about King Bel, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t take time to learn from his grandfather. After all, there must be people, books or even letters written to tell King Bel of God’s sovereignty, which should not be tampered with. Whatever the reason might be, he chose to reject God despite all that He had done. Babylon was a fortified city with high walls all around, very much like the Great Wall of China, only higher and wider! Yet at that very night, the city fell.

History was meant to forewarn and teach us so that we will not make the same mistake as our forefathers did.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guaranteed Guilt Free

For a long time, I couldn’t understand why Jesus had to die for our sins, and to add on to this, we have to believe in Him in order to experience salvation and eternal life. I was brought up believing that if we do good deeds, we stand a chance to go to heaven, else the next stage of my life could either be hell or becoming a humble animal, like mouse.

Both are theories that I found quite hard to fathom. To begin with, I didn’t ask to be born so that I could make such decisions. I was confused with issues like if I believe in reincarnation, then should I question who I were first to get to who I am now? Or, who decides which theory is right anyway? My late uncle, who was an atheist, liked to engage in the discussion of the “technical aspects” of all religions. In fact, I considered him to be one of the most well read people I knew; and his conclusion was “the purpose of any religions is to teach us to engage in good deeds and maintain high moral standards”.  However, on his death bed, his wish was that his grandchildren be brought up as Christians.

One thing I did now for sure was I had a burden, making up of a cocktail of sins, guilt, hurt and rebellion against my loved ones. In my heart and mind, I really wanted to be a righteous person but somehow, my actions betrayed me. And the guilt thereon kept on accumulating and I could feel the load. I could not help myself to be a better person and neither could I get rid of my load. Then I found the answer in the bible:

“As far as the east is from the west, so He removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us”

It was as though God cared that I was carrying a guilt load and He knew that this has to be removed, before I could start my life anew again. The removal of guilt could only be done supernaturally by God, not via human means. We could choose to ignore it and distract ourselves by other issues in our lives but we are powerless to remove guilt.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took away both our guilt and sins, so that we could start life anew again. God initiated our salvation and accomplished it. Now, He gave us a choice to decide, whether to accept or reject the gift of salvation. My heart had come home; my burden lifted.

“Now to one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited righteousness.”

When we choose to believe in Him, that Jesus came to save us, so that we would not perish but have eternal life, God proclaim us to be righteous.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beware of our words

Recently, I have been busy dealing with bad publicity in relation to one of our subsidiary companies. I decided to do a google on the company, and guess what? The search that came up 1st was a blogger who complained about our management service! As I took time to go down the list (that lasted nearly 2 days), I realized that there were numerous positive remarks made by others but the one that drew the most attention, was the blogger who complained!

A friend commented to me “Bad news spread like wildfire” How sad but true! Centuries ago, King Solomon wisely wrote:
 “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose”.
We may not be aware of this, but what we speak can kill or give life. And in this secular world where people are willing to pay for getting the latest gossips, bad news seem to “sell” better than good news! This is in direct contradiction to what the bible teaches, as we are called to speak life and positive words.

For some time, I find it hard to believe that positive words could have such power until I tested them on my son, Joseph. Instead of my normal replies “I am not happy with you kicking Clarissa today”; I have decided to embrace some positive words “I am very happy that you have kept your toys” and “I am very happy that you have not stayed angry for a long time”.

Gradually, I notice that Joseph became more receptive towards what I had to say. The best part of it is, he starts to speak positive words too! Whenever we traveled by car, Joseph has a tendency to bring his toys, more than his hands could carry with him. The worst part would be when the car is moving, Joseph would drop one of his many cars. Normally, I would need to twist and turn, get myself into all kinds of awkward positions in order to retrieve the toys for him. However, this came to a point when I was getting car sick and I had to tell him firmly that he will not be getting his fallen toy until the car had stopped. For a few months, he would be crying and screamming his head off. Finally, in our last trip, the same thing happened again. Before I could tell him the “bad news”, he said “Daddy, when you stopped the car, could you pick up my toy?” 

Speaking positive will bring about positive changes to both the person who said it and the one spoken to. And to stay positive (as this may not come naturally), is to read His words and dwell in His promises as by so doing, we could find strength, both mentally and physically.

“No human being could subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same tongue came blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters”

Joseph restoring joy to a friend

We were at a family retreat at Cameron Highlands. Children were having a fun time playing frisbees when one child, Ashton, threw the frisbee...