Grand Perhaps

Just when I’m safest
There’s a sunset touch,
A fancy from a flower bell, someone’s death,
A chorus ending from Euripides,
And that’s enough for fifty hopes and fears;
The Grand Perhaps.

This is a poem by Robert Brownings. There was a young journalist who decided to put aside all the things he has been taught about God. He was going to run his life without God. He worked out his philosophies and none of them include God. Robert Browning put it in this poem.

When we think we have got everything taken care of. We plan our life to exclude God. Something happens to intrude.

We see a sunset. It reminds us of the ending of life.

We see the beauty of a flower. We know it’s going to wither soon.

Someone dies, we are faced with the issue of life and death.

And all that tugs at our heart and grabs at our soul. We just can’t escape them. The Grand Perhaps that is God, always waiting to step out in beautiful scenes, relationships, death, you just can’t escape Him.

P/S My appreciation of poems is very limited. Perhaps, MGFs here, like Desi could add in your thoughts…

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Till Death Do Us Part

It is a bitter day for our beloved Prime Minister today. The Bernama news flash –

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 20 (Bernama) — Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Endon Mahmood passed away at 7.55 am Thursday at the Prime Minister’s official residence Seri Perdana Putrajaya, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Bernama.– BERNAMA

It is perhaps the lowest point ever reached by human, and the sunset for him of all earth’s hopes and expectations – the passing on of his dear life companion.

All the dear sweet days. That beautiful girl who captured his heart long, long ago. Those wonderful times. The sunlight glittering in her hair. The radiance of her face on her wedding day. The softness of her touch. The grace of her caress. Love that drew them together. Through the bad times. Through the good times.

Each remembrance brings a heartache in the grief of this hour…

But, it is not the end of the story –

When shadows come into your life, it is a sign that there must be light somewhere. As Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth,” (Colossians 3:2 RSV). With the nation praying for our beloved Prime Minister at this hour, May God grant him this attitude, this state of mind, that gives strength and grace and peace to the grieving heart.

Prayer:

Our Father, as we pray together for our beloved Prime Minister for the loss of his dear life companion, our own hearts enter with sympathy.

We know life can often strike us with terrible blows. At this time we feel the hurt of it and the loneliness of it. We know that we can be shaken sometimes by the things which take place.

But we thank you, Lord, that though there are things that can be shaken, there are also things that cannot be.

When our faith is resting upon you. When our hearts have been captured by one who has said that we can never be fully satisfied with what is here below, our eyes will fix by the light that streams from the city beyond. Grant us that strength to press on toward that so we may be fitted and made ready for that place.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Stuff” of life

I have always taken it as great pride and joy when Chris (my 10-year-old boy) waves goodbye to me after I drop him off at the school gate every morning. He waves goodbye when he closes the car door, and turns to wave goodbye after a few steps, and turn back again ….

Chris is an early bird, and very punctual. We have a great time in the car though it is just a 5-minute drive from home to school. Because we are early, we are always at leisure in the morning. I have heard “horror stories” from friends that their children take breakfast in the car, or wear socks and shoes in the car while the mother/father said, “Oh dear, Oh dear, I’m late, I’m late” like the rabbit in Alice in the Wonderland.

Yesterday morning, Rachel (my teenage daughter) woke up early. She suggested to have breakfast with me outside though it’s a Tuesday. Our usual breakfast date is Thursday when she goes to one morning tuition lesson. She joined me to drop Chris off first. As usual, Chris waved “goodbye” a number of time.

“I never know that Chris is so insecure.” Rachel remarked.

“What makes you think waving goodbye to mother is insecure?” I was much surprised by the remark.

“Oh, he seems like he is not going to see you anymore. I know I’m going to see you again after school.” Rachel answered. She has always been independent. Christopher always says his “jie-jie” is very brave. Like most teenagers, she is vocal. She knows her “rights”.

For which, I told this story over the RM1 noodle that she had for breakfast –

There was a very special teacher whose husband unexpectedly died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death, she shared some of her insight with a classroom of students.

As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, “Before class is over, I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important.

Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves… and none of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.”

Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, “So I would like you all to make me a promise… from now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see – it could be a scent – perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees.

Please, look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the “stuff” of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time… it can all be taken away.”

It is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn’t do.

Waving goodbye may seem “insecure”, but it’s appreciating life and loving life. One never knows what will happen next.

“Boringlah”

Reading Tun Mahathir’s stories have never been boring. Whether when he was the Prime Minister or after he retired. Today’s lead story of The Borneo Post started with this statement from Tun, “We just close down Proton if this is what the people want.” I am not going to comment on that. This little remark towards the end of the article –

When it was suggested that the AP controversy had been going on for months, he said: “Yes, Boringlah.”

is the reason for today’s thoughts.

I remember in the 80s, there was an institution called “The Boring Institution of …..” (Oops, can’t remember the name) who picked the most boring people of the year. I also remember Michael Jackson being picked the “Yawn of the Year” at one time because of his over-exposure in the media.

Perhaps, Tun is suggesting AP’s over-exposure in the media with that little remark!

We do get bored with life sometime, somehow and some what! Why do we get bored? I learn this from my two children, we get bored easily. Children get bored with toys. Do you have a basket of toys at home that your children are no longer interested in? They have got bored playing them. They are looking for something more exciting, a Gameboy? a PS2?

AP’s issue has been on for months. Tun gets bored too!

Boredom comes when we demand satisfaction from some instrument or activity, or even some people, outside ourselves.

There is no doubt about it.

Look inside yourself and draw resources from there, and you will never get bored.

I have seen many Christians who are deeply rooted in their faith live day-day-day and are seldom bored. To them, everything is exciting. Even in difficulties and trials they regard that as adventures. They look forward to how God work them out. They do not grumble, complain and criticize. It means they are thankful in everything.

It looks difficult to be thankful in everything. But, I am always inspired by this little story of Dr Matthew Henry. Dr Matthew Henry is a Bible Commentator. Many Christians have a copy of his commentary. The next time you use the commentator, remember this story –

Dr Henry Matthew was robbed as he walked along a highway. When he told his friends of the incident, he mentioned four things for which he gave thanks. First, he was thankful that it was the first time he was robbed and that he had never been robbed before. Second, he said that he was thankful that they did not get very much though they took all his money. Third, he was thankful that they took his money, but they did not take his life. And finally, that is the most amazing one and an eye-opener, he said, “I am thankful that it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.”

With so much to thank for even in such situation, will his life still be boring? No, it’s a life filled with zest and excitement, every moment of it!

Adam and Eve

By Christopher Lau

 

Adam and Eve are my two tortoises. Two weeks ago, my mother and I went to a pet shop. The owner had only two tortoises. I was praying very hard that my mother would take both of them. One tortoise will be too lonely. Thank God, my mother thinks one is too lonely. She bought two. I was so happy that I forgot to thank my mother for letting me to keep pets. Thank you, mummy.Adam is slightly bigger than Eve. He is a big eater. He gobbles up the food once I throw the food into the tank. I think he has to be strong in order to protect Eve.

Eve is smaller and timid. She withdraws her head into the shell every time I come near. She does not like to eat. She follows Adam closely most of the time.

I put them in a small tank. I collect some pebbles and grass and put inside the tank. It looks really like a small pond. Perhaps, I should call it Eden Garden since Adam and Eve lived in Eden Garden.

Every morning before I go to school, I feed them. When I come back from school, I bring them out for sun bath. I talk to them, “Adam, Eve, it’s not good to be in the cool place all the time. You need some sunshine. I am bringing you for some warm sun ray.” The tortoises seem to nod their heads happily.

I also clean the tank in the evening. I think tortoises also like to be clean like us before going to bed.

Taking care of tortoises makes me understand how my parents take care of me. It is really wonderful to have a happy home.

Adam and Eve live happily ever after in their Eden Garden.

Gates

Yes, it is Bill Gates. It is also the gates. It is all about gates on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Last night, I picked up an old issue of Fortune magazine. Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick spoke to Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie on “How to escapte Email Hell”. The interviews was done in June 2005. Microsoft bought Ozzie’s Groove Networks in March 2005. Gates has called Ozzie “the best programmer who doesn’t work for Microsoft.” Now, they are working on collaborating software to help workers to get beyond today’s email travails.

We used to work at a specific time. We come home at specific time. Now, with emails, it seems the gate between our work and home is being torn down. Even as we travel from office to home, we are still being bombarded by emails!

Not only that, with people just a “click” away, the gate that guarded us from some legal issues is also being weakened. Bill Gates himself has been nailed in court through email that was found in legal discovery. Gates said,”I live an examined life. Basically every email that I have ever sent has been looked at by something like 30 to 40 lawyers to see if there’s anyway it can be misconstrued.”

An examined life is keeping in repairs the gates of our lives. Gates are means of access and egress in the Scripture. They represent ways of entering other people’s lives and also letting them into ours, of reaching out to others, and allowing them to share our thoughts and feeling.

In the book of Nehemiah Chapter 3, there are many gates mentioned. Now, join me to see the different gates of our lives.

The first one is the Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate is where we begin our Chrisitan life. Remember how zealous we are for the Lord when we first met him? It is as sweet as our First Love. As times go by, the passions fades. Watch up, you need to repair the Sheep Gate to grow into a stronger Christian!

The next one is the Fish Gate. We are to be the “fishers of men”. Be a witness in your deeds and actions!

The Valley Gate is the next one. “Valley” is usually referred as humility in the Scripture. Have we been proud? Have we been arrogant? Time to rebuild the Valley Gate and be humble.

The next gate is the gate of elimination. It is called Dung Gate. It sounds awful. But, this is the gate where all the rubbish and corrupted things in our lives found their way out and be dumped and cleansed.

The next gate is Fountain Gate. A fountain is always overflow with water. It means a spirit filled life that overflows. It cleansed after the Dung Gate. How aptly it has been placed.

Water Gate comes next. When you are thirsty, you need water. In Christian life, we need God’s words to help us grow.

Horse Gate reminds us that we are in the battleground. Life is always full of struggles. Be reminded and repair the gate lest you fall due to hardships in life.

The next gate is Inspection Gate. A timely reminder that we need to give an account of our journey!

The Scripture leads us back to the first gate, the Sheep Gate. It the beginning and ending of our lives.

While Bill Gates is working to re-organize our work life, let’s get organized in our own lives, guard our different gates in life – guard, rebuild, repair and maintain!

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On Being Wrongfully Accused

I was in Psalm 109 yesterday. The Psalmist describes the reactions of a man who has been unjustly accused and wrongly treated. We have all experienced being wrongly accused, whether the matter is big or small.

I was linked by Desi to read the account of a young man (young because I read that he is still single and I assume he is young) being wrongly treated early yesterday morning right after I have my daily reading of the bible.

The Lord always speaks to us through person or circumstances. I attempted to read Psalm 109 the second time. It is a psalm of someone who is deeply disturbed by unjust accusations against him.

Be not silent, O God of my praise!
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me
Speaking against me with lying tongues
They beset me with words of hate,
And attack me without cause
Even as I make prayer for them
So they reward me evil for good
And hatred for my love (Psalm 109:1-3 RSV)

The first part of the three verses tells of the man being wrongfully accused without any reason. The second part relates of the man making an effort to rectify the situation by praying for them. However, this is what he gets in return of his conscious effort, he says,

In return for my love they accuse me
Even as I make prayer for them.
So they reward me evil for my good
And hatred for my love (Psalm 109:4-5)

He describes the kind of treatment he gets for no wrong on his part –

Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser bring him to trial.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few; may another seize his goods!
May his children be fatherless,
and his wife a widow!
May his children wander about and beg;
may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,

and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
Let them be before the lord continually;
and may his memory be cut off from the earth! (Psalms 109:6-15 RSV)

How strong is the language! His enemies even would not spare his parents, wife and children –
What are the reasons for such strong curses even to his generation?

For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted to their death.
He loved to curse; let curses come on him!

He did not like blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat, (Psalms 109 16-18a RSV)

How aptly it describes of our human nature. His enemies curse him and yet return to say that he curses them.

I am amazed by how the psalmist deals with such strong curses and accusations by his enemies. He puts his case in front of God. He admits to God that he is weak and ask God to make his strong.

This is the reward which my accusers seek from the Lord,
those who speak evil against my life!
But thou, O God my Lord,

deal on my behalf for thy name’s sake;
because thy steadfast love is good,
deliver me!
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
I am gone, like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.
Help me. O Lord my God!

Save me according to thy steadfast love!
Let them know that this is thy hand; thou,
O lord, hast done it! let them curse,
but do thou bless!
My assailants shall be put to shame,

and thy servant shall be glad!
My accusers shall be clothed with dishonor;
they shall be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle! (Psalms 109:20-29 RSV)

He ends with thanksgiving and praises –

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save him from those who condemn him to death. (Psalms 109:30-31 RSV)

Thoughts from this Psalm –

When we are wrongly accused and insulted, thank God for the experience, accept it as the wrongful accusations are allowed by Him for our spiritual growth. Put the case before the Lord, He will make everything good.