The Art of Weaknesses

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The Beginning: A stark white piece of paper.

In the Process: When passed through many hands over the years, the paper aged in yellow, got the crinkles, the creases and the bad stains.

In the End: A crumpled paper- A pair of hands out of curiosity unravels the crumpled paper, all he sees is many holes and cracks, any further dealings with it however gentle, will tear the paper. “Useless paper, trash it, it is getting in the way!”

The Making: Another pair of hands picks the crumpled paper from the trash bin, though he sees the holes, he sees the cracks, he wears a smile in delight as if he had found a treasure, “Great! I found it, this is what I want!”. He tears the paper into small pieces, throw into the blender to blend into a paper pulp. The pulp when mixed with water surfaced the impurities, the dust, and the fine sands. Whoosh! A recycled paper is created, but it speaks volumes- the right weight with the right strength, the even surface and the beauty of the paper texture, all in a perfect finishing touch.

This art of paper-making lies the eyes of an appreciated master and his pair of skilfull hands. He turns waste into beauty.

The Art of Weaknesses: Isn’t our life like that crumpled paper? A paper of mishandled holes and the cracks of life? No one knows the process of how each of us went through, all we see is just a crumpled paper, and soon be condemned as useless paper and shoot it into the bin.

Everyone of us has our own weaknesses, and all these weaknesses usually have a link to the past- an inheritance of the growing up years. Unfortunately, our responses and our actions often put people on the judgement seats without further cross-examinations of how these triggers came about- “Why are you like this and that…” Unfortunately, that paved the way for misunderstandings, impatience, anger, frustrations, disappointments and even weariness- “I have enough…”  Unfortunately, weaknesses tested all relationships- “I give up…” Unfortunately, so often the prosecution did not even look within themselves- “Nothing to do with me…”

If you counsel a girlfriend, she will share with you the problems and the weaknesses of her boyfriend. If you counsel a boyfriend, he will confide in you the same problems and the weaknesses of his girlfriend. Apparently, their problems have to do with each other weaknesses.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that they are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)” As we learn about life through trials and tribulations and grow, likewise we learn strength from our own weaknesses as well as from others. It is always easy to love someone who does not give you much problems, but God especially uses weaknesses to reveal each other vulnerability and grow in strength together through problems.

Everything that happened, there is always a purpose, a reason and a message. In every relationships, God always uses each other weaknesses to teach the other something. God does not use weaknesses to hurt or destroy each other, He uses weaknesses to do His work. God could be teaching each of us the limits of our own strength, our attitudes, our patience, our tolerance, our level of understanding and sensitivity to each other and thereon.

God in His New Testament has taught many truths that edified a relationship, here is a 7-keys checklist:

1. CHECK YOURSELF

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eyes? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-4)

We are always quick to remonstrate others’ weaknesses without even first look at our own. And problems do not merely existed as one-sided. Always first check yourself.

2. CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

All of us has a past. Our thinking, attitudes and actions were shaped by our upbringing, especially those with unhappy past inflicted a deep wound in their lives, there is always a struggle with the emotions. But instead of letting such weaknesses consumed us, make an effort with God’s Strength to crucify the old self and put on the new self, the other party should be encouraging and try to help in whatever ways he or she can.

3. ARE YOU LISTENING?

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Sad to say, most of us have ears but do not listen. More sad to say, all of us are quick to speak without listening first. The big picture would be incomplete with those missing little pieces, thus it gives way to so much misunderstandings and frustrations.

4. ARE YOU GENTLE WITH YOUR WORDS?

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31) Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:23)

When we are frustrated; in a bad mood; or in anger, our tone and manner definitely will be harsh. Harsh words can be an outburst of rejection, such insensitivity may hurt the other person than you realised it. Bear in mind also the mentality of the recipient whether he or she is in a foul mood, simple words may misconstrued as otherwise. Quarrels are usually sparkled off from careless and harsh words, the gentle your words expressed, the less sensitivity will be induced.

Learn to be sensitive with your words for there is power when professed, they either bless or curse; or build up or tear down. Bad attitude is definitely not a language of love, therefore exercise self-control and gentleness, “encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)”

It is always better to talk face to face, or over the phone than through emails or sms as the tone and manner of words and the style of expression can be ambigious. When you voice it out personally, you can grasp the tone and manner better and also determine the receptivity of the receiving end.

5. HAVE YOU BEEN PATIENT?

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

Weaknesses of one teach another patience and tolerance. If God has been so patient with us and longsuffering with all our sins, what makes us to be less tolerant and patient with others? Love is patient and patience perseveres in love.

6. HAVE SELFISHNESS STANDS IN THE WAY?

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

“Why should I make the first move?!?”, “It is all her fault, I have nothing to do with it!”; “You can think what you want to think and say what you want to say, I don’t care!” Sounds familiar?

In almost every relationships, we each have our own expectations of the other, falling short of it, we let selfishness and pride reign and ultimately it gives way to disappointments, resentment and anger. No one is perfect, we should be humble and always think of the others more than yourselves.

7. ARE YOU FORGIVING?

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13) A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Much as it hurts God for all our mistakes, our flaws, our sins, and He still forgives us times and again, do you have the right not to forgive others too? No one is infallible to flaws, mistakes and sins, thus we all need forgiveness one after another. Forgiveness is a gift from God, since He has so freely given us, can we deprive someone else of this gift too?

The Beauty:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 7-8) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:8-9) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:22-23, 26)

It is best to confront issues, talk about them than letting them remain as they are. The more you try to hide or avoid will eventually eat into you. Identify the issues to each other, recognise the triggers, admit your own vulnerability, pray and commit to God and deal with the issues with wisdom and tact. In such round-the-table confrontation, you would probably be in for a surprise of things you may have blindspots to.

No one can change a person but believe that if you have committed to pray for that person and the relationship to God, you can be sure He will be in control and something supernaturally happens in the process. God does beautiful wonders.

But it does not end with us resting on our laurels after the prayers. God works in the process. Each of us should try to learn how to communicate and understand each other better; build better trust and faith; accept and love each other despite the weaknesses; help each other to overcome the weaknesses and encourage each other to be a better person that God has intended for him or her.

The art of weaknesses is a lifelong learning process.

Flickering Candle

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I was encouraging a friend who was depressed from being jobless for a prolonged period. And it happened at the same time that I was talking to another friend why I like candles- because of one particular verse that had been an anchor for my soul when I was in crises eons ago-

A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; – Isaiah 42:3a

A room may be in complete darkness. But the moment you light up a candle, darkness has to flee. No matter how weak the candle wick is, or how flicker the flame is, nor how small the candle is, even the faintest of light can still light up the room. No matter how big the room in the dark is, darkness has to flee the moment there is light.

Watching the candle burning is a stark reminder that Jesus is the Light, whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of life (John 8:12). The question is what do we see in our room of darkness?

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

Even if our physical eyes are (momentarily / temporarily) veiled by darkness, do our spiritual eyes light up in the faith under fire- seeing God even in our moments of darkness?

I encouraged her to really light up a candle to observe, study it and meditate upon these life-giving truths. It is also a great reminder to myself in trying times, with another parallel to Isaiah 42:3a “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

We are called to be warriors of light to the world in darkness; and we are called to be the lamp of light to the soul (can be yourself too) in darkness.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Prison. Your Story HIStory.

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Joseph’s story reminded me of how God transformed a person through the dark prisons of experiences… In retrospection, I was once in a deep mire of crises in my younger days. At the lowest ebb of my life that God became real to me. It was at that painful pivotal point that God changed me to the opposite polar, thence my life was turned around.

We all have journeyed through “prisons” of our lives. Some due to good conduct and obedience, they are released on parole. Some are still living in dungeons because they refuse to repent, and sins got the better of them like chained bandits. Like the stiff-necked Isrealites wandering for 40 years in the desert, they were blind to see that God actually gave them chances, but they refused to acknowledge God’s sovereignty- His deliverance, leading and providence. Eventually, the majority couldn’t make it to the Promised Land… How sad to such an ending isn’t it?

We could have been like the Israelites… You know your own “prison” or “desert”, perhaps you already know what God is trying to deal with you. And the question is- don’t you want to be released earlier? The smell of liberty certainly smell better than the malodorous smell of darkness.

And believe me, we will keep at going through the same testing again and again, as God is not done with us yet, or we have not TRULY learnt His lesson that He wants us to learn.

The bottom-line is, it is really needless to go through a prolonged term in the burning furnace. God promises a life of abundance when your life is aligned right to His plans He has lovingly designed for you. God desires obedience more than sacrifices. (1 Samuel 15:22)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

(An abundant life doesn’t mean a life of riches and forever-happy-days but it means a fulfilling and purposeful life, according to His plans for you.)

If we are humble enough to seek God to show you the area(s) where you may have resisted or rebelled. I am sure God will certainly spotlight for you.

God doesn’t waste your tears nor your pain. Neither does He overlook your sojourning in the desert. There is always His purpose that is skewed towards His Glory. Your story is simply HIStory.

Let go and let God.

Just Believe

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(Jesus says), ”Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1

A conversation with an ex-collegue who is also a Brother-in-Christ last Wednesday, left me in rumination… “Your job is simply to pray and to just BELIEVE. It isn’t your job to find out what God is doing in your life, nor to question His Sovereignty over why things happened as such… You just have to do your part to pray and keep praying, and simply to believe and take God’s Word as it is. You should pray like you believed!”

I was then led to the verse John 14:1 and a new light was shed- Ever wonder why Jesus repeated, “believe also in Me” when He already encouraged us in the preceding line, “believe in God”, since He is God Himself?

Perhaps to most of us, God seems too abstract a concept to grasp, and He seems like a super-cosmo being that is hard for us to feel or hear Him, let alone to see Him. We have to admit that we are physical being who need to see, feel and touch real things. That is why Jesus has to remind us that He is God in a physical form too- He came in flesh, and scooped down to our level to relate to us so that we can see, hear and feel Him. In other words, through John 14:1B, God is conveying a few key messages:

  1. God in the flesh is REAL AND NEAR so that we know He can emphatise with our present

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; SEE my hands. REACH OUT your hand and PUT IT INTO MY SIDE. Stop doubting and believe.” – John 20:27

God is our refuge and strength, an EVER-PRESENT help in trouble. – Psalms 46:1

  1. God in the flesh arose as an OVERCOMER so that we have the same Hope and Victory

(Jesus says), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” – John 16:33

  1. God in the flesh is the immutable “I AM” so that we can be assured of His unfailing Nature

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). “I AM” is a powerful reminder on the nature of God- “I AM” the Almighty God, nothing is too hard for me (Jer 32:27); “I AM” Jehovah-Jireh who provides for your every need (Philippians 4:19); “I AM” the Divine Healer who heals (Exodus 15:26); and the list goes on…

Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The bible has recorded uncountable miracles that Jesus did in the past, and He will not stop performing those miracles now or in the future. We need to fall back on such history to remind ourselves, forgetful human beings, what God had done and has promised. God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Last but not least, imagine that Jesus posed a question personally- “Do you finally believe?” (John 16:31), and how would you answer?

What Is The One Thing You Would Ask For?

I received this Rhema Word this morning-

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32

If God could give His Precious and only All for us, why wouldn’t He, in His Gracious Nature, give us anything? Matthew 7:7-11 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I heard a very small still voice, “If to ask God for the ONE thing, what would I ask for?” So much further ado, I asked for “TRUST”, tears streamed as I responded.

I could ask for money since it has been my utmost concern; I could ask for healing of my ears since it has been what I have been seeking for… but why did my Spirit utter “TRUST”? Because I simply needed that trust:

(a) as a Father holds my hand when I am lost;

(b) that my Father will bring me bread since it is the staple I need;

(c) that my Father is always faithful when I am faith-less and unfaithful;

(d) that my Father’s Love will not fail me;

(e) so that I can see my Father’s heart when I am challenged;

(f) to go through life more bearable knowing my Father is with me even if I have to go through hardships

TRUST is what I need, and it is something I cannot buy with riches. and that is why I asked as His Child.

What is the ONE thing you would ask for?

The One Thing

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Many of us wake up each morning or through the day thinking or asking, “What should I wear today?”, “What should I eat today?”, “Where should I go today?”, “Who should I go out with today?”, “Which movie should I watch today?”, “What should I cook today?”…

Though God assures in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…” Oftentimes I felt we are inclined to treating God like a vending machine dispensing our wants, expecting our due we think owing to us, or perhaps, even as an ATM machine where we can dispense cash from the Heavenly Bank anytime we ask for it.

The bible is indeed full of promises that God will take care of our needs, and our daily living does matter to Him, but what is the ONE thing that really or truly matters to you? Would you rather have material needs than God’s Presence? Would you rather indulge in earthly pleasures than gaining heavenly treasures? Would you rather be dissatisfied with more than to be contented with the One?

Have we ever try starting our day asking God or think about thruough the day “What do You want me to do today, God?”, “What can I do for You today?”, “How can I please You today?”, “How should I start my day with You?”, “Where do You want me to go today?”, “Who should I bless today?”…

Like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:4 asks, “The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” As Psalm 84:10 reinforces “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wicked people.” (I can relate to this verse that indeed I am most happiest in God’s House (His Church) every Sunday than being at the most prestigious corporations any other day).

Let us be like the Psalmists to seek the one thing that matters most first- God Himself.

B.T.W.

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The past few weeks I have been very very very tested physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. In the fire, I was pointed back to the very basic fundamental of truth- FAITH. I read, re-read, learn, re-learn & meditate, re-mediate, many times…

I summed up FAITH in one abbreviation “BTW”. Yes, “By The Way”.

As we journey along the way, remember that Faith is strengthened:

B = BELIEVE-ing 

prayerfully that our all-abiding God is true to what He has promised in His Word;

T = TRUST-ing 

wholeheartedly that our all-powerful Sovereignty has our lives within His control His Way;

W = WAIT-ing 

faithfully upon an all-loving Father who knows what we need and in time to bring about His appointed Work.

Btw, it is abbreviated in continuous present tense- EXERCISING Faith as we walk.