The Awards, The Rewards

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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.

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“Picnik” Inspiration

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The internet connection was extremely slow last night. Managing two other sites of the Church, Wesley 40DOP and Wesley Golden Jubilee, temper could grow short.

One the jpg files just did not fit in the page. I decided to edit the picture right in flickr.com. this is the first time that I edited a photo on flickr.com. Flickr has integrated the “Picnik” photo editing tools. As I clicked on the photo editing tool, on the screen it showed that I am in “picnik mode”. For a time like eternity, the screen did not show anything. Just as I wanted to “escape” from the mode, and lo, I was really brought to a “picnic”. On my computer screen, I read as “picnik” was loading –

Fluffy Clouds
Warming Breeze
Growing grass
Applying Sunscreen
Sparkling dew
Planting trees
Cueing birds
Floating kites
Colouring flowers
Painting sky
Laying blanket
Picking blackberries

I imagined each of the process, and truly enjoyed a “picnic”!

Yes, so often we are disinterested between the poles in our lives. But it is a process God actually puts us through before we launch on the next station. This period can be unpleasant of long silences and unbearable loneliness. But we can make it beautiful by the de-tour to a picnic!

Indeed, as the hymn sings,

While I am waiting,
Yielded and still.

6 Armed Robbers, A Murderer, A Mom and A Miracle

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Kuching, Saturday, March 29 – Ex-YB’s house robbed
Six robber armed with a homemade pistol and machetes stormed into the residence of former Samariang assemblywoman Datuk Sharifah Mordiah Tuanku Fauzi and tied up 10 family members, including her husband, son-in-law and grandchildren, before escapting with RM40,000 worth of items.

Kuching, Monday, March 31 – Home-storming robbers strike again
A couple operating a landscape design company suffered losses amounting to RM40,000 worth of cash and jewellery after falling victim to a gang of armed robbers.

Kuching, Wednesday, April 2 – Dr Chan’s house robbed
Six masked men armed with guns broke into the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan but only managed to leave with a watch, a gold ring and a few hundred ringgit. Dr Chan, who at the time was sleeping upstairs, was not disturbed but a security guard was assaulted and sustained minor injuries on his face and leg.

Consider this – this is an email I received last night,

XXX’s (name withheld) house was broken in last week. Both husband and wife were not in. Lucky for them otherwise they could have been beaten up for not having enough to take away. The thieves took away 2 lap tops only.

Make sure you keep things in the house for the thieves to take away lest they turn hostile as the breaking in is already a big effort on their part and they do expect to bring away some loot.

This does not make sense to me at all though, seemingly, it makes sense.

Our church is going to start 40 Days of Purpose (40DOP) campaign in July. Presently, we are actively planning for the event and also praying for the campaign. I am in the communication committee. The main task is publicity. Last night, I was preparing some reading materials and picked up this book, Rick Warren and the purpose that drives him. I picked up this story.

Consider this story of 34-year-old Brain Nichols – a murderer – and 26-year-old Ashley Smith, his hostage for seven hours.

A Murderer, a Mom, and a Miracle
This story of hope in the midst of hopelessness began in Atlanta, Georgia, starting at 8:00 am on March 11, 2005, when Brain Nichols, who was on trial for rape, escaped from authorities while on his way to court.

Before midnight, the desperate man had killed four people. How or why he ended up in a truck parked outside Ashley Smith’s apartment, no one knows. But when she returned home from an errand at around 2 am in the morning of March 12, Nichols was waiting. He got out of his vehicle and approached her before she could enter her apartment, then brandished a gun, warning her, “Don’t scream.”

“Please don’t hurt me,” Smith pleaded, “I have a 5-year-old little girl.”

The two entered the apartment, where they remained until after dawn. But the situation did not develop in any way that was typical. Smith not only continued begging Nichols to not kill her, but she told him of the murder four years earlier of her husband, who had been stabbed. And she spoke again of her daughter, who was staying elsewhere, telling her captor that “the little girl didn’t have a daddy anymore”; and that if she, too, were killed, then her daughter “wouldn’t have a mommy either.”

Nichol’s heart kept softening, until smith finally asked if she could pass the time by reading her 40-day devotional guide, The Purpose-Driven Life. Nichols said yes, even allowing her to read some of it to him. She began,

“We serve God by serving others…In our self-serving culture, with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept. Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status.”

Nichols stopped her, “Will you read it again?”

She read the passage again, this time going on to another section that, as she reported, “mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was.”

Miraculously, by 9:00 am, Nichols had decided to release Smith. Bet before she left, he asked, “What do you think I should do?”

“I think you should turn yourself in,” she responded.

And that’s exactly what he did. After her release, Smith proceeded to call 911, believing that Nichols just might do the right thing, especially in the light of her conversation with him early that morning. He had implied to her that all he really needed in life was a little hope, explaining he felt like he was a dead man.

But she had disagreed, “Do you believe in miracles?” she had asked him.

“You are here for a reason. You’re here in my apartment for some reason. You know, your miracle could be that you need to be caught for this. May be you need to go to the prison and you need to share the Word of God with all the prisoners there.”

When police finally arrived on the scene, there was no struggle with the killer, no shoot-out; no suicide. Something had changed.

The hideaway days

During my “hideaway” days, one of the things I have done is re-organizing my photos. The works also include cleaning up the photo files in my computer – choose and develop, delete, keep and write to CDs. As a result, my laptop space increases a whopping 25%!

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I have also spent much time in my garden. You have seen the front part of my garden, join me to the back of my house,this way…

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At the back of my house, there is this pamelo tree. I have been enjoying the fruits, but have not taken a good look at the fruits on the tree.

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It’s really amazing!

From my own garden, I also “invaded” into my neighbour’s garden. Here I am, looking into my neighbour’s garden.

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That’s a nice view, isn’t it not?

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I may not be a cake person, but butter cakes fresh from my own oven when every bite is “butterly” adds excitement to the hideaway days without raised blood pressure!

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His Story, GB Story

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If you have become a part of the story of God,
then you have a story to share
with the people around you.
They are eager to hear it.
They are dying to hear it.
– Leighton Ford

We often learn life’s lessons in surprising places.

When a friend is struck with life tragedies and her faith remains, we learn of God’s grace.

When an elderly couple hold hands and stares at each other with affection, we learn that love can last forever.

When a baby falls while learning to walk and then pulls himself back and tries again. We learn about tenacity.

In Girls’ Brigade, we are not short of such learning experiences and many times we stand in awe the wondrous works of God.

The Girls’ Brigade Malaysia Sarawak Regional Council presented its office to be consecrated to the glory of almighty God and for service in the preparation of God’s people for discipleship. We held a dedication service on 1st March.

We consecrated the office, we also consecrated ourselves anew to that service of humanity in which we perform the true service of God.

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The new GB office is a miniature of what GB girls and officers are doing week after week.

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In GB’s baking class, the fresh aroma of bread wafting from the oven opens a window into that truth – Jesus is the bread of life. Whoever believes in Him will never go hungry.

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In the creative craft classes, the cards personalized by the girls remind us how Jesus touched our lives!

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In the Bible classes, God’s words releases a divine glowing energy! Officers and girls are boosted to carry His message of love into the world by following His footsteps!

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In the drill lessons, the commands teach us to recognize God’s commands, our Good Shepherd’s voice.

Yes, indeed, in Girls’ Brigade, we experience God’s blessings year after year, week after week, day after day. GB opens our eyes to the magnitude of God through its magnificent creation!

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We ended the dedication service with this song of Hope and Promise!

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

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Standing to the right hand side of the only man (the pastor) in the picture is me!

The power of music

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Uncle Robert and Auntie Janet sharing with the power of music!

Music heals.
Music energizes.
Music motivates.
Music changes relationships.
Music changes our mind world.
Music soothes troubled hearts.
Music lifts when crisis sets in.

In this election, the politicians have resorted to use “songs/music” to express their sentiments and messages. SUPP has its rap song, “Who Says?” while DAP promises “Change” in its election song called “Just Change”.

Added to that, for the past few nights in SUPP functions, songs were sung to the tears of many.

I believe that many would have focused their hearts on beauty and love when the candidate like uncle Robert shared on the loss of his mother at the age of 5 and missed mother’s love. Many would have given it a thought when he reminded the people not to become “political orphans”. When he and his wife ended with the song on “Mother’s Love”, an atmosphere of expectation, hope and enthusiasm would have been created with the music!

Solomon was a king who used the powerful influence of music.

In 1 Kings 4:32, “His song were a thousand and five.”

In Ecclesiastes 2:8, “I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well – the delights of the hearts of man.”

And I won’t miss one of my favourite books in the Bible, “The Song of Solomon” which records Solomon’s romance!

Do you have a song in your heart? Today, I have this song from Issiah 55:12 –

For you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands,”

Posted in Soul Quest. Comments Off on The power of music

The balloon man

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Ten Years ago, I was one of the Sunday School teachers in our Church. My students ranged from 5 to 8 years-young. There was one story in the lessons called “The balloon man”. The story goes like this –

One day the balloon man walked into the park with a hundred balloons.

“Come and get your free balloon!” he said to the children there.

But only two boys and two girls came to get a free balloon. The others thought something was wrong, so they would not do it. Soon the balloon man walked sadly from the park with 96 balloons.

The teaching from the story is that Jesus is like the balloon man. He came to give each of us a life that goes on forever. He offers each of us a room on His beautiful home in heaven. But only a few people accept His wonderful offer.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a young boy who was in my class during his young days. He shared with me that he had never liked balloons. While other children went to grab the free balloons distributed at supermarkets or parties, he did not ever want to touch one. Why? He shared,

The balloons are so uncertain. You do not know when they will fly away. You do not know when they will burst.

He went on,

Until I heard the story about the balloon man in your class! I know I really do not need to worry about the “what-ifs”. It’s free. It’s just like the free gift given by Jesus.

I always thank God for giving me that opportunity to spend time with the young ones. There is no more rewarding investment to be made!