A Tale of Two Birds

yingks asked,

I am a positive pessimist. Are you?

According to this young man,

a positive pessimist is one who envisages the worse possible situation and plans how to avoid it. He anticipates a glommy tomorrow, and thus does what he can today to make tomorrow a bright and lovely day.

That leads me to the tale of two birds. These two birds react differently to the threat of a storm. First, the turkey. The turkey reacts by running under a barn, hoping the storm won't come near.

Then, the eagle. The eagle rides the air currents of the approaching storm knowing that it will be carried higher in the sky and it can soar on its own.

Which are you? A turkey or an eagle?

I have just sent a young journalist to A'Fomosa for a working trip. He came back and tell me, "I can fly!"

I said, you did not fly. Obviously offended, he said, well, at least I dare to embrace the wind.

It really takes a lot of faith to be an eagle! On this last day of March, looking back over the 31-day period of loss and uncertainty in my life, in the life of friends, I find the new meaning to the tale of the two birds.

Should I live in content in the barnyard of comfort pretending that all the securities I need is there? Or should I soar like an eagle out of my comfort zone beleving that God wants me to soar higher in my relationship with Him?

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Keep Me In Your Heart

This is not a good month. A number of things happened. And the month is not over yet. And even in April, it’s Ching Ming!

First, it was the death of Ker-May, a dear friend in Girls’ Brigade. Ker-May was only 38.

It followed with the death of my auntie, my late father’s sister-in-law. She was 88.

My colleague’s father died of cancer at the age of 59 the following week.

The husband of another dear friend in Girls’ Brigade met in a road accident with head injuries. At this moment of writing, he is still in ICU.

Then, this morning, the father of a dear friend also passed on. I have wanted to meet him during the coming Easter week in person when I have a trip to Sing-Land. I want to meet this fine man who has raised such fine child as this dear friend and probably to learn some secrets from him.

Are you hearing about a lot about people dying these days? Again and again, we say, “Life is so fragile.” Yet, we continue to waste so precious a gift as life.

May be I am getting old. Well, I am getting old.

Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart has not been more meaningful to me any other time than today –

Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while

If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile

There’s a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-li-li-lo
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-li-li-lo
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house
May be you’ll think of me and smile

You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view

When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you.

Warren Zevon is a singer-songwriter who died of lung cancer in September 2003. A year before his death, his friend David Letterman asked what he intended to do with the time he had left, Sevon replied that he intended to enjoy every sandwich. There is really much wisdom in learning to “enjoy every sandwich”. During Zevon’s last year, he spent much of his limited time with his two grown-up children.

This post is specially for this dear friend in Sing-Land at the time of his loss – I’m sure he will keep his father in his heart for a long, long time.

I have earlier sent him a poem, I am Not Gone, and thought many of my friends here would be touched by this poem, copyright of wisehearts.com:

I am not gone

I am not gone, I am changed.
Have faith and please believe me.
God did not take me away from you,
He split the skies and received me.

Now …

I'm an echo in your laughter,
a reflection in your tears,
an extra thread of strength
to help you overcome your fears.

I'm an added ray of sunshine,
more joy for you to share,
a fragrance of the life you live.
Wherever you are – I am there.

Only Human!

"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 ….

"Stuff of Life" was posted on October 19 last year. Chris continues to wave goodbye to me every time I drop him off. This morning, I dropped him off right in front of a traffic police. After the usual "goodbye", as I was about to leave, the traffic police knocked at my window.

I thought, a warning that I should not stop for too long to say goodbye? But, his smile did not give a hint.

So, I pressed the button (power-window lah!) to wind down the window.

With a big smile, he said, "Your son is so cute. I have not seen another child waving goodbye to their parents here at the school gate. He is not even scare of me standing right here"

I remember fishtail commented that Chris was not being insecure for waving goodbye to mummy so many times. He said Chris wanted to stay connected till he met mummy again after school.

Today, I learn that traffic police are only human who want to stay connected with the people. So, the next time if a taffic police stop you, do not flash your "press card" so fast, give him a big smile. He may only want to stay connected with beautiful people like you and me!

Whom Should I Love More?

The Borneo Post carries this AFP story today,

British men love football twice as much as their women

London: British men show far more loyalty, commitment and self-sacrifice towards their favourite football team than towards their partners, according to a study.

Some 94 percent said they would never stop loving their team no matter how bad they were while 32 percent would galdly ditch a relatinship that was not going well, the survey of approximately 2,000 men across Britain found.

Psychologist Aric Sigman said: "If men showed the same fidelity, commitment, self-sacrifice and honesty toward their partners, the divorce rate would halve overnight. In an age where politicians' loyalties are seen as chameleonic, where jobs and relatinships come and go, loyalty is now reserved for something men feel they can actually believe in: football."

The story continues with like a quarter of men admitted they would miss a family fineral to watch a game…

God commands us to love Him and people. There are times when you need to love God more than people.

Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.: (Luke 14:26 NIV)

Jesus is using hyperbole – hyped-up language – to teach two things:

Your love for God is to be greater than your love for any person – even those closest to you.

You need to obey God rather than people.

That's it – love God more than people. God wants us to have an enormous love for every person in your life. But he wants you to have a love for him that's even bigger!

Well, how about that for a Monday morning? I am off to Cats City for two days!

A matter of Life and Death – and Life!

I read a very thought-provoking post titled Irony of Life by Vagus. I was linked to the story from Malaysian Medical Resources.

While I was much "nearer" to death itself this month, I posted the following comment at Vagus' site at that spur of moment –

Hi, linked here from MMR. Actually have been reading your blog for quite sometimes, not so regular, but frequent enough to have a glimpse into your “world”.

Perhaps to answer what’s life, we have to ask what is death. Life has four basic things opposite to death.

If death is fear, life is trust, hope and confidence.
If death is guilt, life is acceptance, security and assurance.
If death is hostility, then life is love, friendliness and even reaching out to others.
If death is emptiness, then life is fulfillment, fullness, good feelings.

I "experienced" three deaths for March alone.

The first death was a dear friend in Girls’ Brigade. She was 38, not married, dedicated one third of her life in the Girls’ Brigade Ministry. Attending her funeral service were hundreds of young girls whom she had nurtured and as the motto of Girls’ Brigade, bring girls to be followers of Christ.

It was trust, hope, confidence, acceptance, security, assurance, love, friendliness, fullness of life. It was not death.

The second death was my auntie. She was 88. The pastor shared on “Going Home”. The auntie was received by the Lord to His Home!

The third death was my colleague’s father. He was 59. The pastor shared an evangelical message, probably most of the family members and relatives are non-Christians.

I also attended a memorial service of my uncle. This uncle fought a good fight with the cancer cells for 5 years. He was 80 when he died in January 2006. At the memorial service, his book was launched. It was a colourful life, dedicated to family, society and especially towards the Chinese education. He was a millionaire. He did not die a millionaire.

These were totally different experiences.

If you have to look at what is death – fear, guilt, hostility, emptiness. Death is actually not the one waiting at the end of our life, it is something most of us experience right now. Can I say many of us are dead even if we are alive!

Just some thoughts to share!

Not long ago, I read a story of a very wealthy and well-liked man. Let's call him Ted.

When Ted died and his will being read, the family found Ted's plans for his own funeral! More than anything else, Ted wanted to be buried in his prized possession: a gold-plated, diamond-studded Rolls Royce convertible worth over a million dollars. Ted's family loved him dearly, so they followed his funeral plans exactly.

The day of his funeral came. Just as he wished, Ted was propped up in the backseat wearing his most expensive suit. His eyes were glued open and his mouth was pasted in a huge smile. The funeral procession through town to Ted's burial place included marching bands and Cadillacs full of VIPs. As the chauffeur-driven car came into view, the crowds cheered and clapped wildly for Ted.

Meanwhile, down by the railroad tracks, a stranger hopped off a slow-moving freight train hoping to find something to eat in town. Attracted by the noise on Main Street, the man pushed through the crowd. Seeing the marching bands and carloads of important-looking people pass by, he whistled in amazement.

And when the gold Rolls Royce came into view, the stranger's eyes grew side. Seeing the grand passenger sitting in the expensive convertible and hearing the wild applause of the crowd, the stanger could contain his excitement no longer. Pointing to Ted, he exclaimed to those around him,

"Now that's what I call really living."

Majorly clueless, wasn't he? Ted had all the appearances of living well, but as he paraded along in the Rolls Royce, he could not have been more dead!

What is death?

Perhaps, this Bible verse answers,

All who are related to Christ …. will be given new life.
1 Corinthians 15:22

A new life planned for us by Christ is far better than being propped up in a Rolls Royce for a parade!

The Wonders of the Word of God

Since the beginning of the year, members have been assigned to write on the reflection of the sermon and print in the following week’s bulletin. Many members express their fear being assigned such a big task. However, Sundays after Sundays, I am quite amazed by their thoughts and expressions through words. My Reflection on one Sunday is picked up by the newsletter of Sarawak Methodist Churches, called Connection.

Here it is –

Just as the world has 7 wonders, the Bible also has its wonders.

The wonders of its inspirationAll scripture is God-breathed, that is inspired.

The wonders of its formationIt presents a unified portrait of God’s plans and purpose. It is an entire library of different kind of literature. It has its diverseness and uniqueness.

The wonders of preservationsIt is flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.

The wonders of its designIt is described as a sword, a hammer, a mirror, a burning fire and a lamp.

The wonders of its powerSo is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isa. 5:11)

The wonders of its messageThe Word of God is all about hope in a hopeless world.

The wonders of its promisesIt promises salvation, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, Jesus coming again and promises of hope.

There are three benefits of reading the Bible:

The benefits of life – Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word tht comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

The benefits of wisdom – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

The benefits of joy – The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Thoughts/Reflection

Indeed, what a marvel the Bible is. It brings us face-to-face with our God. The relationship is so real and personal that it seems to be a face-to-face encounter. For many, the Bible has unfolded to them the meaning of their lives. It restores when nothing else can do so. It arouses a sense of true worship, grounded in the truth. That’s the marvel of the Bible, the Word of God. How wonderful that we should have it in our hands.

Consider this prayer of Henry Van Dyke and make it our prayer:

Grant us the knowledge that we need
To solve the questions of the mind
Light Thou our candles, while we read
To keep our hearts from going blind
Enlarge our vision to behold
The wonders Thou hast wrought of old!

Posted in Soul Quest. Comments Off on The Wonders of the Word of God

Beauty of God

“I should lose weight this year.” Chris said to his sister, Rachel this afternoon on the way back from school.

Rachel asked, “Why this year?”

“Next year in August I will be 12. I must have a handsome photograph in MyKad. I need to carry that card until 18. I do not want to have an ugly photo to hold and carry for six long years.” Chris answered.

Rachel and I plus Chris all bursted into laughter.

Rachel said, “Why I did not have such idea when I was 11. My photo in MyKad is so awful.”

Mummy said,

Let the beauty of the Lord be upon both of you!

What is the beauty of God?

Why is God beautiful?

God is beautiful because of two things –

TRUTH AND LOVE

Truth is always associated with beauty. What is not true is always not beautiful.

Love is warm. Love is gracious. Love is attractive. Love is beautiful.

So, love + truth = beauty

If your life is characterized by love and truth, it is beautiful!

Where can you get those – love and truth? The only place you can get those is from God. So the Psalmist prays,

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, (Psalms 90:17a KJV)
and establish thou the work of our hands upon us,
yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. (Pslams 90:17b RSV)

If the beauty of the Lord is upon you, Rachel and Chris, you can carry it all the days of your life!