Monday, July 26, 2010

Losting Sight of our Core

As part of my work requirement, I have to read up on restaurant operations, F&B costings, marketing and hospitality. Recently, I was particular drawn towards an article entitled “Losing Sight of Our Core!”.  One of the main reasons why restaurants failed was that the operator had lost sight of what made it successful in the first place! In my heart, I was thinking: “How silly is this? You mean someone can be so accustomed to being successful, that he had forgotten what gets him there in the first place!?” I sniggered at the thought.

But then again, this is perfectly logically too. After having “made-it”, we took life for granted, thinking that we are above the game. I can confess to a daily checklist that I used to make up as a benchmark to measure “my happiness”! Good health – checked; Children with good exam results – acceptable and checked; Wealth building up – could be better but checked; Fine weather – checked!

And when most of our checklists are checked, it is no wonder that we thought that we could be invincible! However, we are mistaken and I have erred. I, as a mere created being, have no control over the status of my health. I can’t even lessen the strands of hair that fall off every day! As to my kids, I could give them many dull hours of tuition but if they couldn’t wise up and improve on their results, there is nothing I could do about it too. Wealth, majority of the world’s population is living below poverty’s line, so what made me different from the rest? Could it be pure chance that I was put, of all places and countries, Kampar in Malaysia? Finally, I can’t even prevent leakage caused by torrential rain in my house and therefore, I will confess that I am no weather woman.

Having evaluated my own checklists, I realized that I too, have lost sight of my core. I am in fact trying to build up wealth in this world more than accumulating rewards in heaven! This is a struggle that Paul had been through. Having spent so much time pursuing what he thought to be important, he finally realized that his CVs, credentials, and praises earned were rubbish (or dung!) compared to knowing Christ. Its through Christ that we gained a new lease of life and a new standing before God. Its through Christ’s death, that we are guaranteed a place in heaven. Therefore, we must not take our salvation lightly and continue in our sin. Afterall, what we amass on earth would only be temporary, but what we accumulate in heaven, would be eternal. Its easy to lose sight of eternity and focus on the “for now” but trust me, once we passed on, we would have an eternity to regret on the “what ifs”.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” Philippians 3:7-8

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Street Appointment

During my student days in the UK, I joined a church nearby for their weekly street evangelism at an underground station. I found that approaching strangers to talk about Jesus was a struggle and had always admired those who were articulate. Loss for words, fear of saying the wrong stuff and of rejection were amongst the many constraints that I faced when deciding whether to step forward to intercept a pedestrian and start an “out of this world conversation”!

“Lord, I don’t know how I should do this, but I would like you to take the lead!” On some occasions, I didn’t manage to speak to anyone, probably due to my hesitation and fear; On others, I was told to go away in not so many words. However, there was this incident that made me looked at evangelism differently – that it was definitely a divine appointment.

On one particular winter Sunday, Grace and I have been standing at the entrance of the underground station for some time. To keep ourselves warm from the icy cold winds, we were hugging ourselves and occasionally, jumping on the same spot. Just then, a spectacled Chinese walked past us. “Excuse me, could we speak to you for a moment?” The conversation started with Grace telling him about Jesus, how he came to the world to die on the cross, so that we could be reconciled to God. During the conversation, we discovered that he was sent by his country on a scholarship to pursue a PhD at a renowned university in London.

Almost immediately, I started to feel small. Here we were talking to a person with exemplary academic results, hand-picked from a nation with a population of 2 billion (or thereabout). He must be cleverer than both Grace and I put together! Much to my amazement, he was very interested in what we had to say. “What do I have to do to be saved?” He asked earnestly and unexpectedly. At that very moment, I quickly whispered to Grace “People like him probably need to think about it. Why don’t we invite him to our Mandarin speaking church and ask him to go there to find out more?” I asked Grace who concurred with my view.

Almost immediately after he had left, I began to regret that I didn’t pray the sinner’s prayer with him on the spot. Afterall, a good PhD student would find very little time to attend church, no? So for six months I prayed and hoped that he would find his way to church. 

One day, I went to church early while the Mandarin church was still having their worship service. While waiting at the foyer, I started to chat to a friendly lady who was also waiting for someone. “Where do you come from?” I asked. “I came from China. My husband is studying here in London.” She answered. As the conversation continued, she told me that her husband came to this church because someone had shared with him one day at an underground station. I could feel myself choking back my tears as I listened. God had given me great comfort in knowing that the man did come after all. Before I knew it, I could hear a familiar voice calling from a distance. “Hello! How are you? I am so glad to see you here as I have been meaning to tell you that God has changed my life! I am so grateful that you have shared about Him with me!” The man came smiling, extending his hand to me! I was speechless! At that very instant, God has not only redeemed this man and his wife, He has also freed me from my regret! I am so humbled that God has used an imperfect being like me to bring His message to those who needed to hear it.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 1 Corinthian 1:25

Monday, July 12, 2010

Our Common Trademark

Ever since I became a parent, I found myself repeating instructions to my children. The other day, after I had finished showering Joseph who was whiney after a nap, I told him "It is time to get out of the bath tub!" But when I saw him standing stone-like, seemingly oblivious to what I said, I began to get annoyed and repeated loudly "Can't you hear me? It is time to get out of the bath tub!" Upon my second irritated command, he reluctantly stepped out and walked slowly out of the bathroom. "Did you not hear me the first time?" He nodded "Then, why didn't you obey me?" I was vexed by the fact that both Clarissa and Joseph had succeeded in turning me into a CD player that keeps playing the same "tune".

I have always wondered why children do not listen and obey at my first and kindly offered instructions. To begin with, I am normally patient, happy and at ease. Somehow, after a series of seemingly futile string of words, I become uncontrollably vexed, not to mention furious at times! I am almost inclined to think that children tend to react quicker towards an infuriated adult as compared to a loving and kind mummy. As I was digesting this irrational trademark of kids, I was reminded of my own spiritual walk with our Heavenly Father. I wondered if I had also taken advantage of His sound advice and chose to ignore them, whenever I think I could get away with it; and I am not surprised to discover that I behaved just like my own kids!

There is something in each of us that caused us to rebel against authority and it has a lame name called SIN. As much as I thought "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Joseph would just move (like a puppet) upon my first command. He would be happy and my emotions would remain unchallenged!" Unfortunately, as every one of us is not a puppet and is given a free will, we quite often make the wrong choice. As a result, we upset people around us and most of all, dishonored God. Therefore, before I start to wonder why my children do not obey me, I must instead examine myself and pray for His forgiveness!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When Loss is Gain!

Listening to my dad talking about how he survived through financial crisis and business failure is similar to me reading about how God had brought His people to their Promised Land. It is nothing short of miracles after miracles! Although my father is not a Christian (yet), he would often say that "Someone Up There" is looking after him. From his wealth of experience, he developed his unshakable faith.

Whenever an undesirable situation landed on our lap, my first reaction would be to calculate the costs and establish the probability of failure, so that I could work towards the upside; while my dear father would look at it from the most positive angle imaginable! He has faith to pull through any situation as he has been through worst. Ashamed that I am, I realised that God is using my dad to teach me a profound and yet untapped territory in my Christian walk with our Heavenly Father: I must believe in the impossible in every areas of my life, even if this means that my "professional training" might be challenged. Now, it is easy to believe in the impossible on behalf of someone else (like my dear friend, Liz) but to apply such belief in myself and our company's performance, would take much convincing altogether! "Would God be interested in businesses? Surely He would be more interested in those who are suffering because of their faith or involved in great calamities!" I told myself.

Ever since I moved back to Kampar, I have been learning that God is interested in every aspect of our lives, including the part that generates income! If our businesses/careers are going well, I know that we don't deserve such blessings but instead, we must humble ourselves before Him, who gives and takes away freely; If our businesses/careers are going in the opposite direction, we know that everything belongs to Him, and He would only have our best interests in mind. Problems arise when I start to put confidence in our material success and value our earthly dwelling more than our heavenly citizenship.

Recently, the local authorities gave us some problems despite our compliance. The impact could be devastating if not rectified. However this time, I am learning to look at the situation with faith rather than with fear, as I know He is in total control of the situation and steering it for our good. The God who took care of Abraham and my dad, will surely take care of me too.

"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" Philippians 3 : 7-8

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...