Yet another Perspective – The Heights and Depths of Life

A long-time friend in the medical profession writes –

Been out of touch for a while. Thought I better send you an idea of my recent 2 legged “distractions”.

(He sent me a link to his photography works on oriental birds, I think a hundred of them)

Most around me feel it must be part of a mid-life crisis, dreaming to achieve what one did not in ones’ youth. However, my thrust is that splashing out a few thousand on a camera and lens is not the equivalent of getting Ferarri or Porche, and more creative.

Hope you like the results.

Yes, I like the results. Here is one –

swallow

Yesterday, as I viewed the magnificent works of this long-time friend, it brings me to new understanding of the Scriptures. The Scriptures mention two types of birds in particular.

Swallows are one of them. During my teen years I lived in Sarikei. There are many swallows in the town. Every evening I could see them darting about. Now in Sibu, the town where I live now, there are also swallows. Swallows are the swiftest of birds. They exemplify restless activity. Are we not like the swallows sometimes? We are restless, we are forever on the move. But, the Psalmist says, even the swallow can find in God a home, a place to build a nest and to raise the young, a place of purpose and fulfillment.

“Come unto me, all who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Looking at the peace shown in the birds through the lens or eyes of my friend, whether resting or soaring high, I know these are not mere words. It is not just beautiful language for stir our emotions. These are words designed for life.

“Your father knows that you have needs of all these things. Do you think he is unable to supply them to you? If he can feed the birds of the air and cloth the lilies of the field do you think he cannot find some way to meet your need as well?” (Matthew 6:26-28)

Life is difficult because we refuse to believe that our Father can supply what we need!

Even the sparrow finds a home
And the swallow a nest for herself
Where she may lay her young
At thy altars, O Lord of hosts,
My king and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in thy house
Ever singing thy praise! (Psalm 84:3-4)

The sparrow is another bird mentioned in the Scriptures. The sparrow is always regarded as a symbol of insignificance. However, the Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples referred to the sparrows –

“Not one of them will fall to the ground without your father’s will.” (Matthew 10:29), he further said, “you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31).

He also said, “Are not five sparrows sold in the market-place for a farthing (the smallest value of money)” (Luke 12:6).

The Psalmist says that even the insignificant sparrows finds in God a home, a place of warmth and security, a place where life is fulfilled and overflows. How many times our Lord bypasses the proud, the haughty, the powerful and chooses some insignificant individual and uses him to accomplish his purposes. We are never to feel how insignificant we are. You will find through God a wonderful sense of purpose, if you go to Him.

I salute my friend who is very successful in his profession finding time to look at the beauty of God’s creation through the lens. Being a photographer at my tender years, I can understand the long wait to capture a scene. I have never been able to capture a satisfactory photograph of birds. My friend has reached the heights of his profession, and now the depths of his life.

The song writer has said:

Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green,
Something lives in every hue,
Christless eyes have never seen.
Birds with gladder songs o’ver flow
Flowers with deeper beauties shine
Since I know as now I know
I am His and He is mine.

(This is a recycled post with some modifications following my heart now. I will be away for a week, and may not be able to update the blog. Leaving some thoughts here. As my darling daughter said, I am like my article.)

Another Perspective

loving difficult people
photo credit: lipkee

How do you look at this picture? The photographer has described these Great Egrets as “Adult and two very demanding juveniles”. It is a prickly, thorny experience.

I did a search of the bird and found this interesting fact:

The male great egret chooses the nesting site and builds a nest platform of sticks and twigs in a tree or bush before he selects a mate. Both the male and female aggressively defend the nesting territory. They nest in colonies, often with herons and ibis.

Now, after reading about their habits, I look at the picture differently. It is not “demanding juveniles”. It is an awesome sight to behold – just aesthetically perfect of great egrets living in colonies playing with each other!

Often it’s our perspective. There are prickly people, thorny problems and thick carpet of troubles in our everyday’s life. What do we choose to see? Do we allow God to brighten our days with His perspective?

Rick Warren in his email devotion today titled “Loving difficult people” shared this verse,

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NIV)

He shared four methods Jesus modeled when He encounter difficult people. Let’s allow Jesus’ ways to transform mundane and troublesome daily events into a personal spiritual encounter with Him:

1. Realize you can’t please everybody. Even God can’t do that! Refuse to play games (Matthew 22:18).

2. Learn to say no to unrealistic expectations. Confront them by “telling the truth in love.”

3.NEVER retaliate (Matthew 5:38-39). It only lowers you to their level.

4.Pray for them (Matthew 5:44). It will help both of you. Let God speak to them.

(Note: This post also appears in my Church’s 40DOP here.

The making of a journalist?

I left a comment at the tent that I read while on my cross-trainer. Today, I am very delighted to read this once-upon-a-time doc in my small town Sibu thought “reading while on a cross trainer” made a good journalist. Not kit-kat and Astro (for the benefit of non-Malaysians, Astro is the paid TV channel here).

I not only read when I cross-trained, I also think of all the good things in life. Remember the song “All kinds of everything” – those are all the good things that I think of, plus one more – blogging. Today, just before sunset, as I exercised on my cross-trainer, I had my camera strapped over my neck. And I took this picture, that’s how you read on a cross-trainer – a large print bible! You can’t read the small print book. Only a large print bible.

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The Bible, the sunset, it’s really heavenly though you are working on a cross-trainer

Or I could scan through the newspaper if I am exercising in the morning.

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Now, I am looking into eternity from my cross-trainer over my front garden. You have seen the other corners of my garden. I have kept the front part of it for future blogging. Now, the moment of truth!

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Why eternity? The huge building is a theological school, at the other side is Children’s Home kindergarten and at the back further in is my Church!

Now, I might as well let you see what other machines I have in my open-space gymn –

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For the steps

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For the muscles

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For walking and also reading, notice the reading light?

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The book corner where we stock some books for easy pick-up, books can be read when you walk

Isn’t it heavenly?

Listen and Share

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Listen + Silent = Better Understanding

Listen + Share = You are important

Yes, yesterday I blogged about listen in silence and looked at a 17-year-old differently.

It was also yesterday that the Engineer (hubby) and the Technician (me) were unhappy over some differences. Before the sun went down, I received not only one card, but two cards. One read, I am sorry. The other read,

You listen to my sorrows
You share my ups and downs

Does that shout “You are important”?

To be more romantic, it’s like Roy Croft’s words (Jim Reeves’ voice over the music is even better):

I love you. Not only for what you are
But for what I am when I am with you.

I love you, not only for what
You have made of yourself
But for what you are making of me.

I love you for the part of me that you bring out
I love you for putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over all the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help dimly seeing there
And for drawing out into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern but a temple
out of works of my every day
Not a reproach, but a song.

Listen and Silent

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Rachel (right) and friend, Elspeth

I enjoyed a “plugged in” conversation of Rachel and her friend Daniel last night. Rachel goes to Daniel’s house once a week for tuition with other classmates. Sometimes, the group of friends make cookies or practice their choir songs at Daniel’s house. Mother is mother- someone who always wants to know what exactly is going on. Rachel assured mum that “nothing is going to happen between her and Daniel”.

Last night, I drove Daniel back home after their tuition at a new teacher’s place. It was quite a long journey. Just coming out from a meeting, I was too tired to say anything. I did not talk to Daniel, neither did I talk to Rachel.

In my silence, I really enjoyed their conversation. They talked superficial things, yet still very heartwarming. They talked little things, yet to me it seemed so profound.

After I dropped off Daniel, Rachel said, “Treating Daniel like a girlfriend, talking of anything is really good. Don’t you think he is a person who is easy to make friend with, mummy?”

I saw a different 17-year-old last night when I was silent.

I picked up from the Text Twist game on my palm that “Listen” and “silent” have the same letters. Perhaps that’s the clue that when you are silent, you are better able to listen!

(Read my other story on Text Twist here)

The Awards, The Rewards

awards

I found an old church newsletter in my office in Kuching yesterday. Many years ago, I was the editor to my church newsletter. I remember I renamed it as “Wesley Matters” with the tagline – Wesley matters to you. You matter to Wesley.

Lately while being “appointed” to the Program Booklet Committee, the souvenior magazine committee of the Church 50th Anniversary and also the committee of the 40 Days of Purpose of Campaign, I put my hands on “Wesley Matters” again. The task is actually to get it organized, layout and printed in time for distribution during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations from 27th April to 4th May.

Side-tracking a little. So, what’s so special about this old church newsletter in my office in Kuching? I re-read this article that I wrote for the newsletter and thought I would like to post it here! It was eight years ago. It was when I first joined the Girls’ Brigade and worked with the young girls. It was the first Awards Day for the girls and officers. I was the MC …..

The captain checked my uniform. It’s the uniform of a Girls’ Brigade Officer, just delivered by my tailor in the morning. The buttons were not right. The belt was not right. The pocket was not right. And, she checked my hair. The hairpin should be black. I wore a blue one. Next, my hand. No bracelet. I took off immediately. I did not have a name-tag. I did not have a tie. I did not have a cap.

It seemed that the only thing that was right was the pair of black shoes.

I remembered the famous writer, my favourite author, Max Lucado related his dinner in a classy restaurant without a jacket during the honeymoon. He was given a jacket by the waiter and ended up with a great dinner and an even greater parable.

Max Lucado shared these thoughts –

I needed a jacket but all I had was a prayer. The fellow was too kind to turn me away but too loyal to lower the standard. So the very one who required a jacket gave me a jacket, and we were given a table.

Isn’t this what happened at the cross? Seats at God’s table were not available to the sloopy. But who among us is anything but unkempt morality. Untidy with truth. Careless with people. Our moral clothing is disarray.

Yes, the standard for sitting at God’s table is high. But the love of God for his children is higher. So He offers a gift.

Not a lime-coloured jacket but a robe. A seamless robe. Not a garment pullout out of a cloakroom but a robe worn by His son, Jesus.

The Captain assured me – all would be alright. I did not tell her that I have skipped two meals to ensure that I could fit into this uniform!

I went on stage to announce the names of the girls to be awarded in respective areas. I have not been so “natural” with almost everything not “right”. Like Max Lucado, I had only a prayer.

I saw radiant faces of our young girls. Many awards were given to the girls. It was a long list. Pastor gave away all the awards.

I have my awards too – an officer came and gave me a warm hand-shake and congratulated me for a good job!

I remember – I am dressed in the “coat of his strong love” (Isa 59:17) and girded with a belt of “goodness and fairness” (Isa 11:5) and clothed in “garment of salvation” (Isa 6:10). He let me wear His own clothes so that I would be properly dressed.

Yes, He did that … just for you and me.

T-Shirts Speak

It was reported by BBC last year that a man spotted wearing a T-Shirt bearing an “offensive” slogan in a city centre has been warned he risks an 80 pounds fine if he is caught again (read it here)

The slogan on the garment read:
“Don’t piss me off! I am running out of place to hide the bodies.”

Are T-shirts an elements of speech? A friend of mine, Bobby, spotted this –

ipod

For a while, I read this as “Ipod” only and thought what has my most-loved Ipod got to do with the person in the picture. It was only looking at it a few times that I realized I missed that extra “O”!

Spotted this one worn by one of my youths in my church! Give me some thoughts.

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Whether wearing it in private or public, I think when there’s respect for differences of others, you would not worn the wrong T-Shirt sending out wrong messages and offend others. Agree?