Blessings

I made a trip to Inland Revenue Department this morning.

Last week, I was served with a letter printed on a red paper saying that I still owe them some money. I was naturally very uneasy with such letter. I called a good friend who is working in IRD and asked for a favour to check how such “law-abiding” citizen who pays tax for every taxable “sense” could owe money. My friend said, “We call that love letter.”

Love letter? It did put me on fire at the moment I read the letter. But, that was definitely not that nice feeling of loving someone or being loved.

At the meeting, we settled the case. I still have some money to pay. I brought along my cheque book. But the nice and efficient officer said I had to pay at Public Bank.

I did not quite see the logic of how the system operates. Why can’t IRD just take my cheque? Anyway, I thought of …having a “quiet heart” that is not distraught with internal regrets nor frenzied by external circumstances (read my post yesterday on Heart Matters).

I proceeded to the bank right from IRD Office. Another good friend at the bank attended to me. It was natural for her to smile and asked if I felt angry having to pay tax. I replied with my biggest smile,

No, I feel blessed that I still have tax to pay. It means I am employed. There are many who are unemployed.

Indeed, it has been a good day. Good things always come in abundance –

I shall be joining some women from Asian countries for a Girls’ Brigade Meeting in SingLand starting tomorrow until Sunday! I extended another two days for some business meetings… Back next month!

In the meantime, leaving you with this link Spiritual Breathing.

The Heart Matters

One of my favourite books is Sacred Rhythms. Today I “re-visited” the book and found something new. Ruth Haley Barton in this book describes how a busy executive keep his spiritual heart healthy:

…having a “quiet heart” that is not distraught with internal regrets nor frenzied by external circumstances

…having a “circumcised heart” that is cut free from having to be right and is free from attachments to sports, food, recognition from others

…having a “burning heart” that is focused on pleasing God

…having a “dancing heart” that serves others with joy and gladness

I thought that’s simply wonderful! And can we do it?

Facing Your Grief

The world is in shock. Not just In Virginia, but Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur and the streets of every city of the world…

I have found this one by Max Lucado, for sharing and thoughts –

Facing Your Grief
By: Max Lucado

“David sang this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, and gave orders that everyone in Judah learn it by heart.” (II Samuel 1:17-18 MSG).

David called the nation to mourning. He rendered weeping a public policy. He refused to gloss over or soft-pedal death. He faced it, fought it, challenged it. But he didn’t deny it. As his son Solomon explained, “There is…a time to mourn” (Eccles. 3:1, 4 NIV).

Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and – one more – face your grief with truth. Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didn’t want the Christians to “carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.” (I Thessalonians 4:13 MSG).

God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, he will tell you the truth about your loved ones. They’ve been dismissed from the hospital called Earth. You and I still roam the halls, smell the medicines, and eat green beans and Jell-O off plastic trays. They, meanwhile, enjoy picnics, inhale springtime, and run through knee-high flowers. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth? They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in heaven.

And won’t you see them soon? Life blisters by at much speed. “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalms 39:5 NIV).

When you drop your kids off at school, do you weep as though you’ll never see them again? When you drop your spouse at the store and park the car, do you bid a final forever farewell? No. When you say, “I’ll see you soon,” you mean it. When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, “I’ll see you soon,” you speak the truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.

So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands. He knows the sorrow of a grave. He buried his son. But he also knows the joy of resurrection. And, by his power, you will too.

From: Facing Your Giants
Max Lucado

No, I am not guilty

Are we robbing our kids (children) of their childhood?

There, it’s NST’s lead story today. I do not like to use the word “kids”, I call my children, children. I treat them as lady and gentleman. So, I have added in the word “children” in brackets to NST’s headline.

There, my 11 going on 12 year-young son, Chris joined the inter-primary school choral speaking competition. I have been hearing his earnest pleas over and over….

Please, please, dear parents, give us back our childhood
We need space to grow
I have my lunch in my mum’s Mercedes Benz
I change my clothes in my dad’s Hilux
Attending tuition classes evening and night
Can’t you see that we need something which spell S P A C E?
How would you like to be in our shoes?
Being nagged upon reaching home from a long tiring day?
Huhhhh???
Arghhh!
We hope you are able to see us as someone who is brought
into this world not just to make life better
but also live happily with a happy childhood to be remembered

There, the teacher-in-charge has prepared the script for the students to present during the competition. These are not actual wordings, but recollections of what I heard from Chris while he was trying to memorize the script. For presentation, yes, for presentation.

I asked Chris, “Is this how you think of your parents? Is this what you want me to hear?”

Chris said, “No, I do not have such pressure from you. The teacher said this is for competition only.”

I thought would words become thoughts, thoughts become actions?

At least, this poor mother is being haunted by the strong words in the script, here are some –

Enough is enough!
Please let us go.
Let us have some breathing space.
We are beginning to hate school…

Even Dr Anjli Doshi-Gandhi, Family Development Division director, National Population and Family Development Board is also pointing finger to parents. He said to NST, I quote –

Parents tend to forget that childhood is a time of joy. They must remember that there is a time and place for every development in a child’s life.

Jeremy’s Egg

At my church’s Easter Service, we invited Dr Dennis Ngien (read earlier posts of his sermons here and here.

Today, Dr Dennis re-told this story by Ida Mae Kempel. Read the story, What was in Jeremy’s egg?here

Yes, Jeremy believed in new life. There was nothing in Jeremy’s egg. There was no “WOW!” from Mrs Miller or the children. There was no wonder.

But, Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and me. Have we lost the wonder of such work on the cross?

Finishing the story of Jeremy’s Egg, Dr Dennis said that death has no authority over Jeremy. He probed, what does easter mean to you and me? He said four points –

Easter means funeral of death. It is the greatest funeral of funerals, not the one for you or for me. But it’s the funeral of death. It is the day the death dies. Death has been conquered and buried.

Easter means we are people of future resurrection. Jesus is not only the Saviour who can save us, He is also a Saviour who resurrects us. Dr Dennis said, “One day, if you read in the newspapers in Sibu that Dr Dennis Ngien has died, don’t you believe a word. I am more alive than I am now.”

Easter means at the end of life on this earth, it is not death that snatched us, it is the risen Christ who comes to welcome us. The risen Christ welcomes us home. It should be the greatest news.

Easter means because He lives, we can face tomorrow. Not only tomorrow, we can face today. With all pains and anxieties, we can face today. We shall be people of victory.

Dr Dennis did not tell this story, but I re-tell this story on this Easter morn –

The story is told of a little girl who lived near a cemetery. Even though she had to pass through it after the sun was set she never seemed to be apprehensive. Someone said to her, “Aren’t you afraid to go through the cemetery?” “Ah, no,” she replied, “I am not afraid, for my home is just beyond!”

Indeed, our home is just beyond!

On Saturday

On Saturday
By: Max Lucado

“for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he (Jesus) must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)

John didn’t know on that Friday what you and I now know. He didn’t know that Friday’s tragedy would be Sunday’s triumph. John would later confess that he “did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead” (John 20:9).

That’s why what he did on Saturday is so important.

We don’t know anything about this day; we have no passage to read, no knowledge to share. All we know is this: When Sunday came, John was still present. When Mary Magdalene came looking for him, she found him.

Jesus was dead. The Master’s body was lifeless. John’s friend and future were buried. But John had not left. Why? Was he waiting for the resurrection? No. As far as he knew, the lips were forever silent and the hands forever still. He wasn’t expecting a Sunday surprise. Then why was he here?

You’d think he would have left. Who was to say that the men who crucified Christ wouldn’t come after him? The crowds were pleased with one crucifixion; the religious leaders might have called for more. Why didn’t John get out of town?

Perhaps the answer was pragmatic; perhaps he was taking care of Jesus’ mother. Or perhaps he didn’t have anywhere else to go. Could be he didn’t have any money or energy or direction … or all of the above.

Or maybe he lingered because he loved Jesus.

To others, Jesus was a miracle worker. To others, Jesus was a master teacher. To others, Jesus was the hope of Israel. But to John, he was all of these and more. To John, Jesus was a friend.

You don’t abandon a friend – not even when that friend is dead. John stayed close to Jesus.
He had a habit of doing this. He was close to Jesus in the upper room. He was close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion, and he was a quick walk from the tomb at the burial.

Did he understand Jesus? No.

Was he glad Jesus did what he did? No.

But did he leave Jesus? No.

What about you? When you’re in John’s position, what do you do?

When it’s Saturday in your life, how do you react? When you are somewhere between yesterday’s tragedy and tomorrow’s triumph, what do you do?

Do you leave God – or do you linger near him?

John chose to linger. And because he lingered on Saturday, he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.

From: He Chose the Nails

Posted in Soul Reflections. Comments Off on On Saturday

It is Finished

At the Good Friday Service of my Church this afternoon, the Passion Story was proclaimed. It ended with –

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar,
he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head,
and gave up the spirit. (John 19:30)

It is finished –
the cry of consummation
the cry of victory
the cry of completion

As the congregation wrote their sins on the paper and bought forward to the cross at the ceremony of nailing the cross, I remember many years back, a preacher asked in a Good Friday Service –

Will you stand with me once more before that Cross, and in that deep darkness when God hid His face, and blackness enveloped the earth hear Him cry with a strength of voice and power that made the earth to quake and the rocks to rend and the graves to open, “It is finished.”

Can you say with me, Yes, thank God, it is finished for me?