Prayers change things

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NIV)

One of the spiritual disciplines a Christian should cultivate is prayers. Prayer enables us to build a relationship with our Father in Heaven who loves us.

When Apostle Paul wrote this letter, it was meant for the church at Colossae. It seemed that the Christians at Colossae were on the verge of losing their understanding of the power by which the Christian life is lived. Paul wrote this letter to encourage them as well as to remind them that there is power and joy as Christians.

Paul’s prayer for the Christians is that they might be strengthened according to God’s glorious might. Paul was in the prison when he was writing this. Being in the prison did not discourage him. He was still joyful because he himself had been strengthened by God.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (verse 2)

Devote ourselves to prayer means we priority prayers regardless of the circumstances. The situation around us does not dictate our joy. Regardless of whatever the circumstances, there is something that we can be thankful for. Make a commitment to pray because prayer connects us to God, our the source of joy and strength.

(1) Prayers Change Things

One of the comments we often hear is this: why do we pray when God is in control? Why do we still need to pray if God already knows everything?

God is not a robot that will do what He is programmed. God is a compassionate God, Who is slow to anger and abounding in love (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8). In various accounts in the Bible, we see that God will change His mind when His people prayed.

For example, Exodus 32 tells us Moses was up in the mountain to be with the Lord. That was when he received the tablet of the 10 Commandments from the Lord. The Israelites saw that Moses had not return to them so they gathered around Aaron and demanded Aaron to make a golden calf from the gold jewellery they had so they could worship it and said this golden calf brought them out of Egypt. They worshipped it and offered sacrifices to it. God was so angry with them that He wanted to destroy these rebellious people. But Moses found favour with God and so, Moses talked to God and asked for His mercy upon the Israelites. Then, God changed His mind and not destroy the people. Verse 14 of Exodus 32 tells us, “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”

Another example is found in Jonah. God sent Jonah to the great city of Nineveh. It was a very large city and the people were wicked. God wanted to destroy the city and so He sent Jonah to warn the people there. The king and the people of Nineveh heard God’s warning and they repented. The people fasted and prayed and repented.  “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10)

Prayers will change the course of events. God will change His mind when His people come to Him in prayers. Apostle Paul reminds us that we are partners with God.

“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9) We partner with God. He is not a task master that orders us to do His assignments but He is merciful and compassionate.

As God’s co-workers, it is our responsibility to pray. May God have mercy and hear our prayers for our nation.

(2) Prayer transforms us

When we pray, we move closer to the heart of God. We will see clearly what God loves and know what God hates. We will then begin to care about the things He care about, to love the things He loves and to hate the things He hates. It is not about me anymore but we will think about our action and consequences whether they are they pleasing to God.

Prayer is life changing. It changes our lives. Prayer allows God to transform us. James 4:3, we ask but we do not received because we ask with the wrong motives. Prayer is also a way God is shaping us and molding our character to be more like His Son, Jesus and to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  

Apostle Paul urged the Christians that there should be transformation in our lives as followers of Christ.

5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV)

Prayers change our behaviour. We also pray so that we will be wise when we live our lives in the society so that we can give glory to God. Prayer helps us to seize opportunity to be good witnesses for the Lord. Prayer changes the language we use towards others and towards ourselves. We don’t use language or words that accused and condemn others but our conversation will be full of grace, edifying, uplifting and encouraging wherever we are: at home, in school, at the workplace or in the society. 

Prayers let us know the heart of God so that we can answer people about the God Whom we love and serve.

(3) Prayer is a journey

My dad loves to watch boxing matches. The boxers did not jump into the ring to fight without training. They did not just train for a day and then compete in the championship. They trained for a long time. Singers do not record music without musical training. They too had been undergoing training for a long time before recording music in the studio.

Same goes with prayer. It is a journey. It is a learning process. We will not be able to pray immediately. We need time to learn to pray. The more we pray, the more we will know how to pray. The more we pray, the more we will know the character of God. Don’t be discouraged if you think you don’t know how to pray yet. Think about your own children. When they first learn how to speak, you don’t get upset because they can not talk to you well yet. You will be overjoyed if they speak the first vowel because they are learning to communicate with you. Because they can’t talk very well yet, that does not mean you love them less. You know it will take time for them to learn words. You know it will take time for them to have a conversation with you which you can understand. 

God is our Father in Heaven. He is delighted that you, His beloved child, come to Him in prayer. Prayer is heart to heart conversation with God.

Let us devote ourselves to prayer. Prayer is communion with God. Prayer is to know the heartbeat of God. Prayer changes things. Prayer transforms us. Prayer is a journey. Let us go deeper into prayer and experience more of His grace, love, provision and strength.  

Sales and Contentment

A couple of days ago was 11.11, a day which was made special by marketers to give us consumers many reasons to buy more. It is also called Global Shopping Festival, or Singles’ Day, or 11.11 Sale. Shops and online shops are offering tempting discounts. You can find everything: household items, kitchen appliances, electronic gadgets, laptops and phones, toys, books, jewelry, clothing, cosmetics and so on at very good discounts. 

I too, took time to browse through my online shopping app and discussed with my friends what we were planning, hoping or thinking of buying.

Christmas is coming soon. This is the time where most of us are thinking of presents for our family and friends. Presents and things make us happy but most of the time, this happiness lasts only for a few months or a few years, before we forget about them and replace them with something newer and shinier.

Our self-worth does not come from the things we have. In my younger days, I used to collect action figures. I burned holes in my pocket trying to get my hands on the latest model of Transformers’ Bumble Bee, Batman figures and Star Wars figures. Do they satisfy me? Yes, but only for a short while. Soon, my Bubble Bee is but a forgotten toy with its joints slowly rusting away. A wheel fell off from another tinier version of Bumblee Bee, and I couldn’t find the wheel—it is missing. Without the wheel, it is a handicapped robot. I can’t play with it. It is now officially a junk which I had chucked it in a box in the store room.

Pre-loved things give us additional stress and take up storage spaces at home.

As Christians, how should our spending be like? Material things will starve us because they are never meant to fill us. God did not design us to be satisfied in material things. He designed us for something much greater — a relationship with Him that satisfies our deepest longings and hunger.

God designed us to be filled by Himself—the fountain of living water. This fountain is forever flowing. It never runs dry. We can drink as much as we want from it and be deeply satisfied. Let us not get too carried away with consumerism. It will be like hewing out broken cisterns that do not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). The more we set our minds and hearts into it, the more energy we will put into something that will not last.    

One helpful question to ask before buying something is: Do I really need this? What benefits will this give me? Is this God honouring and glorifying?

If we make Jesus our joy, we will spend less time stressing and worrying about what we should have. God provides all our needs. Contentment in God will open us to new joy that is found only in Him. And we will be able to taste more of His goodness, faithfulness and greatness in our lives.   

Knowing “Why”

For the past 2 days, I had attended 3 meetings. As we are approaching the end of the year, there will be more meetings to come to plan for the coming year.

Meetings can be draining but knowing “why” in what am I doing will help me to approach it with a better attitude and with desired outcomes to achieve. Like a boat sailing in the ocean, it will drift around aimlessly, blown to and fro by the wind and the crashing of the waves if the captain does not have a destination in mind.

If we ask ourselves “why” we are doing what we do, our eyes will be opened to the significance in life. Have you seen a person with a purpose in life? You can feel passion and joy in what they are doing.  Their eyes sparkle and they work with intense focus and joy. You are drawn to their energy and admire their love for their craft.

On the other hand, there are those who hate every minute of what they do. And it shows in their bad “I don’t care” attitude. It is painful watching them at work.

There were times when I was served by cashiers and waitresses who make it a point to make the customers feel that they are a nuisance and troublesome. I was trying to be as polite as I can as customers should. Unfortunately, their frustrated faces, the unfriendly tone of their voices, their sluggish body language— I can’t help but to feel so sorry for them. They were wasting 10-12 precious hours each day, 6 days a week, to do something that they do not enjoy. What a tragedy! I feel sorry for their manager too because I will not be a returning customer, no matter how good the food or the product is.   

How do you discover your “why”? Ask yourselves these questions:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What is important to you?
  • What are you passionate about?

Yes, I drag my feet to work on some days. I suffer from Monday Blues (or Tuesday, since Monday is my day off). But a strategy I am using is to spend more time to do the work that I am gifted in and lesser time on the tasks that drains me because I am less competent in doing them.  

God gives each of us gifts. The more we practice and cultivate these gifts, the more joy and fulfilment we have in life. These gifts point us to the purpose of our lives. We do not live just for ourselves, we live in a community: we take and we give back to our community. Our gifts will also inspire others to cultivate their gifts and find joy in daily living.  

God is a God of order and not of chaos. Without a sense of purpose, our lives will be chaotic. It will be dictated by the to-do-lists and someone else’s agendas instead of living in fulfilment and purpose.  

As you seek God, may He show you the things that bring you passion and joy. Cultivate them and may those around you be blessed by your gifts and your life.    

Feeling Overwhelmed?

The moment I stepped into the office this morning, I was overwhelmed by the mountain of  tasks I needed to tackle: reports to write, forms to fill in and submit, sermons to write, prayer points to prepare, preparation for Sunday worship, people to minister to, appointments to keep and those unexpected things that popped up which needed to be taken care of. This will be a packed week and I am only at the beginning of the week.

As I reflect on my ministry, whenever I was overwhelmed and overworked, I remember that I had experienced the goodness of God. God had been there to guide me through an extremely busy week. And I am certain that He will guide me through this one.

Here are three basic steps to take when we are tired and overwhelmed in life:

1.Spend Time in Worship and Prayer

Throughout the years, I realized that if I do not start the day with God in worship (reading the Bible and prayers), then I would not have time for God until bed time. I would be spinning from one task to another and do everything without joy and love. I would be easily frustrated too.

Spending time seeking the Lord in the morning and asking Him for wisdom in time management and to do my tasks effectively give me the peace that He is with me. Time with God quiets my mind too. It is true that God is our refuge. We can come to Him regardless of what condition we are in and we can rest in Him.

Jesus got up early in the morning to pray to His Father in Heaven.

2. Say “No”

When we are overwhelmed, one of the possible reasons is that we do not know how to say “no” to people or things especially if they take up more time than we can give. Someone once said that when we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to other things. When my friends asked for help, I was hesitant to say “no” although I had my own tasks to complete. As a result of saying “yes” to them, I had to say “no” to my own responsibilities. In the end, I had to sacrifice my sleep that night and burn midnight oil just so I could complete my own work on top of helping them. When we do not learn to say “no”, we will stretch ourselves too thin.

Being overwhelmed during most of our waking moments is not God’s plan for us. He wants us to enjoy Him, enjoy His creation and enjoy the people in our lives. If you look at your calendar, what appointments can you say “no” to? There will always be someone needing help or someone wanting to meet up. Everything can seem important. But let’s learn from Jesus. He did not spend all His time ministering and healing everyone who needed Him. Instead, He focused on what God had called Him to do. While it was still dark in the morning every day, Jesus would get up and would spend time in prayer. His time with God set the direction for His day and life. He only needed to respond to what God was calling Him to do. We don’t have to be everything for everyone. We only need to take a step back and see what are the things God has set for us to do.

3.Self-Care

After creating the universe in 6 days, God rested on the seventh day. Rest is a part of our natural make-up as created beings. God the Creator rested, so should we.

Taking care of ourselves

(I had written a post on self-care. Do take a look if you have not read it.) Take time to unplug. Take a break from our phones. Create time in your calendar to do something you enjoy: reading, watching a favourite TV show, playing with your pets, doing gardening, cooking, meeting a friend and so on. When we take care of ourselves, we will be more able to take care of the needs of our family as well as being more efficient in doing the tasks we need to do.

Our generation is busier and more stressed out compared to the previous generation. Don’t let our work overwhelmed us to the point of making us grumpy, tired and emotional. Take time to ask God for wisdom, plan our calendar wisely, say “no” when our plates are already full and remember to slot in pockets of time for us to relax and recharge. 

Anointed, Fruitful and Flourishing

The title of this Psalm is: A Psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day. This psalm was the only one that was titled as such. Perhaps it was meant for the Israelite community to meditate and sing on the Sabbath day. In Old Testament times, the Sabbath was a day of rest. Not only that, it was also a day of corporate worship.

Today, we worship the Lord corporately on Sundays but we can use this psalm in our private prayers and meditation. The pandemic may create mixed emotions in us, but let us find hope and rest in God. There are still so many reasons to give thanks to God.

Psalm 92:1-2, NIV

Give Thanks to the Lord because of Who He is (vv 1-3)

1 It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.

It is good to give thanks to God. These verses tell us:

Because He is the Lord Most High. He is the supreme Being. He was not created. He is the Creator, the Maker of this universe. There is none above Him. As created beings, it is right and appropriate to give thanks to our Creator. 

We give thanks to God because of His lovingkindness and faithfulness. The psalmist urges us to declare the Lord’s lovingkindness in the morning, and His faithfulness every night.

Day and night, God is right there with us. He does not forget us. He showers us in the morning with His lovingkindness. And at night, He remains faithful. The night time is the best time to recall how He has been with us and helped us throughout the day. 

Declaring God’s love and faithfulness  is one of the ways to give thanks to God.

Give thanks to the Lord because of His Work (vv4-5)

4 For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;

I sing for joy at what your hands have done.

The psalmist is rejoicing because of what God has done. It is never about us, but it is about God. The Bible frequently talks about the right hand of God. When the Bible talks about God’s right hand, it is referring to His strength. It also refers to these things: protection of God (Psalm 44:3, Psalm 17:7, Psalm 18:35; Psalm 20:6-7), the promise of God (Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:32-33), God’s provision (Psalm 16:11, Isaiah 41:10).  

We can rejoice at the works of the Lord: His purpose, His protection, His promise, His provision and His wisdom.

5 How great are your works, Lord,

how profound your thoughts!

Give thanks to the Lord because He delivers us (vv 10-11)

9 For surely your enemies, Lord,

    surely your enemies will perish;

    all evildoers will be scattered.

10 You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;

    fine oils have been poured on me.

11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;

my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

The Lord is great. There are no powers greater than His. And His love for us is so great. We give thanks to the Lord because He delivers us. It always seems that evil people are flourishing and can escape their punishments. But they can not escape God’s punishments. As verse 11 says, the evil and the wicked will be defeated. God’s enemies will perish. Evil people will not be able to escape from God’s punishments.

And, we give thanks to God because of the salvation we have through Jesus Christ. 2,000 years ago, God sent His only beloved Son, Jesus Christ into this world. He lived a perfect life—He was without sin. Because of His great love for us, Jesus took all of our sins upon Himself. The punishment that was supposed to be ours was upon Him. Jesus was crucified on the Cross for us, died and rose again on the 3rd day to give us eternal life. Whoever believes in Him will be with Him in Heaven.  Because Jesus died and rose again, He has the final victory. 

In Old Testament times, the horn was a symbol of strength and might. When the psalmist says that that his horn will be exalted (verse 10), that means he will be strengthened. Evil people will perish but the righteous will be exalted.

Fine oil refers to anointing. We need God’s anointing to serve Him. If not, we will lose our joy or get burned out very quickly. Ask for God’s anointing daily. 

Not only does God give us strength, he gives us stability too.  

Give thanks to the Lord because He will cause the righteous to flourish (vv 12-15)

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the Lord,

    they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,

    they will stay fresh and green,

15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;

    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree (verse 12). The palm tree here is the date palm. The tree grows up to 120 feet and the branches extend out to a circumference of 30 feet. These were tall and majestic trees! These trees produce fruits and the leaves were used to make fence and roofs. This is the description for the righteous! They will be strong, stable and fruitful.

The cedar trees of Lebanon were known for their size, beauty, stability, usefulness and they last long. The blessings for the righteous will be like that too: strong, stable, useful, and last for a long time.

For the righteous, they will still bear fruit in old age. Age is not a factor that stops us from serving God. As the psalmist says, the righteous will still be fruitful in their old age. They will stay fresh and green. The righteous will be so connected to God that they are always fresh and will not dry up. I would like to think that their spirit is vibrant, active and alive although physically, they may be wasting away due to old age.

The righteous are always flourishing and fruitful.  Their roots are deep in the ground and yet, like the branches of the tree, they branch out to bless others.

What will the righteous do? They will proclaim the goodness of God (verse 15).

May each one of us not cease to give thanks to God. May you be like the palm trees, sinking our roots into God’s Word and reaching out to bless those around us.  May you be like the palm trees, flourishing, growing strong, bearing good fruits, blessed so that God will be magnified in your lives.

Taking Care of Ourselves

What is going on in the world can throw us into a state of frenzy, helplessness, hopelessness and depression. While our city is facing a spike in the number of Covid-19 virus cases, many of us are experiencing a mix of emotions.

At times like this, I cling on to the words of Jesus.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b, NIV).

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples after a long day of ministry and it was not even over yet. The first half of the verse tells us, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”.  

Jesus told the disciples to withdraw with Him to a quiet place to rest. They had been working so hard and the demand for them was so great that they did not have a chance to eat. Self-care doesn’t mean we are selfish, it simply means we are taking care of our spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health and needs.  God wants us to thrive wherever He has placed us. He wants us to use our gifts to bless others for His glory. He does not want us to be depressed or withered, especially in this season of our lives.

By taking care of our wellbeing and needs, not only are we able to function well in our duties, we will be fruitful.

Below are some of the ways I take care of myself. I hope they will be useful for you too especially we are facing challenging times:

1.Get enough sleep

A well-rested night improves our overall mood. Jesus slept in the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). We too can commit anything which is bothering us to our loving God. Doctors recommend at least 7 hours of sleep at night. Each of us is different. But as human beings, we need to get enough sleep to recharge from the day. Some of us need a nap in the afternoon. Naps refresh us too.

 

2.Eat nutritious food 

Nourishing our bodies with nutrition-dense food will give us stamina for the long-haul. In the past, in order to sustain myself for a long day of ministry, I would just eat junk food so I could go back to work quickly. I would eat instant noodles because it was quick to prepare (and I must add, tasty!). When I was sleepy, I would get a can of Cola from the vending machine or a convenient store. When I was low in energy, I would get an ice cream cone for the sugar to keep me going.

But then I realised that by eating well, I am more alert and have more stamina. Sugary and starchy foods are tasty but they make me bloated or sleepy due to the spike it made on my blood sugar level. Eating home cooked food will always be a great option for our well being and for our wallet.

 

3.Exercise

A walk in the park, doing gardening and watching the plants grow and harvesting its fruits, sitting in nature, taking a walk outdoors, dancing to music gladden our hearts. God knits our muscles together. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalms 139:13, NLT). I often remind myself that exercise is celebrating what I can do with my body.

 

4. Find a community

Engaging in a conversation with our good friends can boost our mood. It is even more so during this pandemic. We should reach out and care for one another. We may not be able to do this face to face but we can always reach out to our friends through phone calls or social media (depending on which is your friend’s preferred mode).

 

5.Take a shower

May be it is something about the feel of running water on our skin, or the sweet-smelling shower wash. Taking a shower rejuvenates me and makes me feel fresher and better.

 

6. Get tidy

A tidy space does wonders to our soul. The process of tidying itself is liberating: learning to let go of a pre-loved item, giving away clothes I do not need (but must be in good condition!) cleaning my space and giving thanks to God for a space I can call home is a blessing.

 

7. Take a break

Don’t feel guilty to take a break. Over-scheduled calendars overwhelm us and take us away from the priorities that God has given to us. Schedule some free time for yourself to do something you enjoy. It can be having half an hour to yourself each day, or taking annual leave to refresh ourselves, or to go for a silent retreat at retreat houses.

At this time of writing, I am already planning my leave to recharge myself.

 

8. Set healthy boundaries

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV). The demands around Him were great but He knew what was most important to His wellbeing, which was, time with God. Without setting healthy boundaries, He could not give the best to those in need of His help. Don’t feel bad when you have to say “no” just because there are some other things you need to take care of. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. There are times we need to take a break from ministering and caring for others. There is a time and season for everything, including a time to serve and a time to rest so that we can be more effective when we serve.

9. Spend time with God 

Spend time with God by worshipping Him, reading His Word, meditating on His Word, journaling, listening to sermons and so on. He loves us the most and time spent with Him not only refreshes our souls but will strengthen us for the day ahead.

 

 

Jesus Christ came to save and yet He did not neglect looking after His wellbeing. He made time for rest. He prioritized His prayer times. Taking time to nurture our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health is important for us and to those around us. When we are healthy, we will thrive in the gifts God has blessed us with.

What are your self-care activities? I would love to hear from you!

The Joy of Feasting on “Vegetables”?

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17, NIV).

I had a picnic lunch with my buddy, Su Juan, today. We enjoyed the scenery, the melodic chirpings of the birds flying above us, and the soft and gentle breeze blowing on our faces.

As a full-time pastor, I realise what I eat and drink is important to optimise my health for ministry. What we eat and drink are important for our well-being but our attitudes when we are receiving our food are equally important. We may be having an abundant feast with the finest of food and in the grandest of place, but if we are not thankful for what we have, or if we do not get along with the people we are dining with, we will not enjoy the meal.

The next time we sit down together for a meal with our companions, thank the Lord for them. It may be a simple meal, it may be with your parents, it may be with your closest friends, it may be with your colleagues. It is the companionship that counts. Look them in the eyes. Pay attention to what they are saying. Show that you care. Minister to them.  Enjoy each other’s presence.

Life is short. We should treasure the people in our lives and appreciate them while we still can. Don’t take them for granted.

Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle?

I learnt how to ride the bicycle as an adult. To be precise, I learnt how to ride the bike eight months ago. I was so blessed to have my good friends, Christine and Chew Yen, by my side to cheer me on. Chew Yen taught me how to ride the bike. She would push me from behind and asked me to keep peddling. She would let go once I could balance myself. And Christine was my cheerleader.

From learning to ride the bike as an adult, I think I can use this quote life is like riding a bicycle.

Start Peddling

Once I got on my bike, Chew Yen told me to look straight ahead and start peddling. I had to keep peddling so that I will not fall. Once I stopped peddling, I would lose my balance.

Interesting enough, I came across a quote by Albert Einstein. He wrote, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

We may face obstacles and challenges in life. They may come one after another. But, we have to keep going. Don’t give up on ourselves. We may be scared and fearful but, keep going. I like this quote by Mark Twain, a well-known American writer, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear”. So, keep going.

Look Straight Ahead

I had to look straight ahead when I am peddling. Initially I was nervous and so I kept looking at my front wheel, but that was not the wise thing to do. I needed to see where I was going.

In life, we need to keep track on where we are heading for. We should have a vision in life so that we will not waste our time away. Hour turns into days, days turn into months, months turn into years. Time slips by very quickly. Our vision will help us use our gifts and time wisely.

Almost every year, I would be given the opportunity to teach secondary school students about the importance of vision casting. We would do an exercise on setting specific goals for the coming year, the next 5 years and the next 10 years so that we achieve our targeted dreams.

One of my favourite verses from the Bible is this: “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJB). We need to have a vision and know what we want to do with our lives.

While cycling, I don’t turn my head and look to the back. I have to keep my eyes to the front. We can’t dwell in the past either. The past gave us rich lessons which would make us into better people. The past does not have to define who we are in the present. Let us not let our past entangle us from doing what God is calling us to do.

Turning

After mastering cycling in a straight line, the next thing I learned was to turn. And turning was hard to do! It will be impossible to keep riding in straight lines; there will be corners, turnings and curves on any roads. Eight months ago, I fell when I was moving too near to a pole. I injured my left knee and it took eight months to heal! I could not bend my knee for several weeks (I could not kneel to pray for eight months). It was difficult to climb up and down the stairs or getting in and out of cars!

Life is seldom as straight forward as we hoped. There are different seasons in our lives. God leads us through the different chapters and seasons in life. There will be times when God asks us to do something which we had never imagined. It will be like taking a turn in our life. He nudges us out of the comfort zone in His great plans for us. We need to obey, step out and readjust to His plan for us. It is often such a blessing if we obey Him.

Brake

The last step was to brake safely. If we do not put the bike to a stop in the right way, we may fall (yes, if you want to learn how to ride a bicycle, you have to expect a certain degree of falling off the bike).

In life, we need to take rest seriously and systematically so that we will not get burnt-out. Taking breaks to rejuvenate are important so that we can keep going. Taking a restful sleep at night, have mini breaks throughout the day, and take our annual leave from work so that our mind, soul and body will thrive.

Feedbacks

From time to time, Chew Yen would watch me cycle and give me feedbacks so that I can improve and will not fall. Christine would encourage me.

We don’t live alone. Human beings are social beings by nature (although some may prefer to be alone). Friends enrich our lives. They give us wise advice so that we will stay on the right track. With their encouragement and support, we can continue to improve to be better people and live lives that are pleasing to God.

Is life like riding a bicycle? I think so. Remember: keep going even when it is tough, keep our eyes on our goal, be willing to readjust when God is leading you to a different assignment and take breaks regularly. Life is enjoyable, just like riding on the bicycle.

Basking in Nature

This morning after breakfast, my good friend and I decided to roam around the neighbourhood. She showed me the various plants and vegetables the neighbours had planted. It was early in the morning and I was amazed at how beautiful the landscape was! The air was fresh and the view was breath-taking!For three months, the country had been in a lockdown. I had more screen time due to this too. Now that I am back at work, i rushed through the day without really paying attention to my surroundings.But, what a wonderful change of pace this morning! Being in the morning sun and its rays brushing against my skin bring healing and joy to me.Each bird has a song to sing. Each flower blooms in God’s time. Each fruit from the tree tells us that our God is a creative and faithful God. The creation sings of God’s glory! The creation tells of God’s greatness!“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities —- his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NIV)“for in him all things were created: Things in heaven and on earth, voisible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16, NIV)Praise be to God! His love for us is demonstrated by His creativity in the nature!I am a city girl: born in the bustling city of Hong Kong and spent the majority of my childhood there until my family migrated to Malaysia. In Hong Kong, my family, like most city people, doesn’t plant things. What a joy for the city girl to harvest Ladies’ Fingers (okra), this morning!Being in nature does wonders to my soul. It amazes me to see plants.Why don’t we intentionally slow down our pace and let nature rejuvenate us!

What is a Christian Community?

While we are in the midst of preparing for the reopening of the preaching centre, the members gathered online for a time of prayer, fun and fellowship. Connecting with one another in unity with Christ is the life blood of the church.The book of Acts talks a lot about the Christian community. Below are some of the lessons we can learn from the early Church:

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

1.They devoted themselves

Some new believers among the early Christians might not have heard Jesus Himself. The apostles were taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and now they were passing along what Jesus had taught them to these believers. We could sense their hunger for the teachings of the apostles by devoting themselves to learning from the apostles’ teachings.They must have treasured the time together, breaking bread in remembrance of Jesus Christ and gathering together for fellowship as the body of Christ. They also spent time in prayers. They prayed in the Temple daily. They also met in private homes. They were living a vibrant prayerful and community life because they saw the importance of these and devoted themselves to these things.

2.They loved each other deeply

They loved each other so deeply that they were willing to share all that they had with those in need so that the poor among them were taken care of. Chapter 4 tells us:

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as who owned lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds from what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native from Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of Encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37)

These Christians were different from the surrounding society. They understood that possessions and powers were not for the comfort of an individual but that all that they had was meant to be shared and used wisely to bless the broader Christian community.

3.They had an attitude of praising God with glad and sincere hearts

These believers were so in love with God that their responses were to praise God. They opened their hearts to the Lord and were filled with His joy and gladness. Their sincere love for the Lord is something that we should emulate.

4.They enjoyed the favour of all the people

As a community of faith, they must have shone so brightly for the Lord that the people around them were pleased with their behaviour, conduct and speech. May it be that we as Christians do not repel people from knowing Christ, but rather that we will be channels of blessings to others.From this passage, it challenges me to rethink about community: what does that mean? It means, loving others as you love yourself. It means “…in humility consider others better than yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-5). Apostle Paul, who wrote Philippians, urged us to learn from the example of Jesus Christ. He was in very nature God but He did not use that as an advantage to Lord it over us. Instead, He came to this world to serve us and died on the Cross for us (Philippians 2:6-8).

Let us have the mindset of Christ and look to the interest of those in our Christian community. May we be blessings to the community and the society.