Garbage In, Garbage Out

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In the past 2 months of Circuit Breaker, people have been nuahing at home the whole day and glued to anything rectangular – TV, phone, tablet and laptop – as a keyboard warrior on social media, posting on Instagram or Tik Tok, or drama or FB Live, bingeing die die also must have potato chips, ice cream or snack on hand to feed itchy mouth. Cannot tahan, the whole pack sure gone in no time and you grab more and raid the fridge. Alamak, with such lazy-bum lifestyle, little wonder all complaint kings and queens cry father cry mother that they are getting bui bui from being chronic couch potatoes. And aiyee, the pot bellies gets deeper and the muffin tops spill out more…

(P.S. Sounded like you and it is time for a detox: Garbage in, and garbage out? Let me offer you some slices of “bread” as a healthy option that won’t tip your weighing scale- Eat bread and live life to the full!)

“I (Jesus) am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35

Ever since I embarked on my newfound joy of making bread with my new toy as part of my “keep-me-sane” therapy, I have learnt a lot from “Bread”: from studying recipes to creating new inventions and learning about the entire baking process. It is not as simple as I thought which I once dismissed that bread is simply a clump of flour. Only when I am hands-on, did I discover that each ingredient, the quality right down to the quantity affect the outcome- each loaf turned out differently with different mixture, shape, size, colour, aroma, texture and taste. Individual ingredients need to be mixed well to form the dough, and the success of the bread lies in the kneading process that tested how well the dough is made.

The bread maker by default comes with preset menus for different made with its minimum duration. From time to time, I love to peer over the status monitor to check on the progress. I thought being mindfully watchful ensure the bread will be in good hands. I can’t hurry nor short-circuit the process otherwise the bread will not be baked well and the outcome may be ruinous! The entire process is long but somehow I have developed greater patience, as a result- Aren’t good things worth waiting for after all the hard work? Imagine the indescribable joy of witnessing the final product with satisfaction. 

Bread may be a simple staple food for everyone, but to me, it holds a deeper meaning – not just my love for this carbohydrate, it is a visual reminder that God, as my Provider, whom I can go to Him with a child-like petition to ask for provision each day:

Give (me) today (my) daily bread (Matthew 6:11). And which of you, being a father, will give a stone to his son, who makes request for bread or for a fish, will give him a snake? (Luke 11:11 BBE)

While physical bread represents an essential for survival, so God will ensure we are fed in order to live; Spiritual bread represents a necessity for sustainability, so God will provide all that we need to survive well. 

…for man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Matthew 4:4

The kneading process also bring me to a deeper realisation that God’s handprints are in every details of my life- He is intimately aware of the ongoing situations; every pull, every tug, every grind, every turn, every pressure, every processes: He knows all my pain and counts all my tears. Each journey may be fraught with challenges and often offer new learning experiences, but God is always there and with us all the way. We can be assured that we are in His good hands, and will be provided for if we trust Him, day to day.

P.S. Never say bo jio – wanna taste my bread, private message me ha!

#SGUnited #StayHomeStaySafe #SinglishQT Series (2) Labour Day Special QT: Mai Kan Cheong, More Than Enough- Stockpile Treasures From Heaven. 

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(Be warned: Singlish overloaded! Cheem local ‘vocab’ may stretch you! Power siah!)

When the local government raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange as a result of increased cases of the novel coronavirus on February 7, sending signal that the disease was deemed severe and infection might be contagious. This news was enough to drive Singaporeans into a panic mode, worrying about their livelihoods and the top-of-the-mind response was, “Food!”. You got it- Singaporeans went siao chiong-ing to raid the supermarkets. Worried over food scarcity should the country follow suit to lockdown nationwide, they die-die must stock up the necessities. And wah piang eh, the situation was really sibeh jialat, the shelves for toilet rolls, kitchen towels, wet wipes, maggie mee, rice, eggs, canned meat and hands sanitisers had been wiped out almost clean! I simply don’t understand such mentality especially with paper products which are not edible! Wah lau eh, like that die already loh when the aunties with mountain-full trollies of those essentials made the headlines with our infamous Singaporean symptoms: Kiasu-ism and Kiasee-ism. I myself malu as a local to witness the snatch and hoard culture. My fellow Singaporeans, tolong leh, steady pompipi, it is not the end of the world lah! This kiasu virus is even more potent than COVID-19 and soon the buay tahan virus would evolve even stronger. Sian, I had to join the queue just to get a few simple essentials, but no choice leh before the stock kosong! And sibeh suay to have to jostle with the crowd, the snaking queues really had me flipped!

(Ok, let’s turn sane with proper English now.)

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (Matthew 6:32) Do not be like them (the pagans), for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8) 

So, the question is, “Are you the type of person who see half a glass of water as, half full or half empty?” 

Insecurities. It is what drive us to react and response the way we did. Living in today’s world which prizes achievements, social status, material comfort and wealth, that equate success, has bred a downhill trajectory ethical culture. Failing which or fallen short of such benchmark, we may feel insecure like social misfits. And this label left many of us a disgruntled lot with a “hoarder” mentality- the constant need for covetousness and accumulating possessions to feel safe in the least. Sometimes, even the more than enough is not enough…

Because, insecurities will always breed insecurities. This fella will always precipitate:

i. Fear, so we worry. 

ii. Lack of faith, so we get anxious.

iii. Distrust in God to provide or can provide, so we take matters into our own hands.

But the best counter-measures to overcome insecurities: 

1. Turn on the power of prayers

Because worry and prayer cannot co-exist at the same time, either you expend energy worry or better utilise the time to pray- which is useful?

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. – Matthew 21:22

2. Magnify God instead of zooming in on the situation

Turn your focus to our infinite God who is much bigger and can handle anything and everything.

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ – Jeremiah 32:17

3. Meditate on God’s Promises

Rehearse the truth of His Promises over and over until they sink in, for example, one of the good reminders from Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …”

4. Allow God’s Peace to rule in our heart

If God’s Peace anchors our heart, insecurities will not rock or cause a rippling effect to our soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

5. Recall how God has met our previous needs and be reassured that God still care

We are all forgetful beings, so we need to make conscious effort to recall how God had previously provided for our needs. In so doing, we will be more assured that God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, still care to meet our needs.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

6. Trust God to supply as He knows our needs

God, as our loving Father cares for His children, will take care of what we need.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. — 2 Corinthians 9:10

7. Learn to live in contentment

Keep life free from having to want more, and learn to live with what we have at present.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

8. Seek to live one day at a time

Worry does not serve any purpose for good, just as Corrie Ten Boom aptly put across, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

Therefore, take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof. – Matthew 6:34 

So, stockpile the treasures above instead and the inventory will keep us in good faith to fight a good fight, over the long run. 

BE INTENTIONAL (11): If You Can’t Trace His Hands, Trust His Heart- Live One Day At A Time

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Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure.

– Psalm 16:5

April 2020 marks unprecedented moments in this little red dot where our government had implemented the temporary 1-month “Circuit-Breaker” measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 within the communities: 

i. All staff to be deployed to work from home.

ii. Only takeaways from any food establishments.

iii. No social gathering allowed, even at home.

iv. Schools and retail stores (except supermarkets) are closed.

Almost everything has come to a screeching halt, and the downtowns look like ghost towns. Never in my lifetime did I witness such an impact nationwide, and for the first time, I felt so peaceful not having to jostle with the crowd on public transport and along the streets. This pandemic indeed has the world on tenterhooks: Feeling the blues from threatening financial security? Feeling the stigma of rued chances of “If Only…” for the times we have taken for granted? Grappling with great anxieties of the unknown that life is so unpredictable? Doubts assailed our minds and fears plagued our souls like relentlessly that we are left with all the “why?” that has no answer. And it is often said that life exigencies or adversity are God’s manure for spiritual “drawing-near” or callings to repentance or a greater intimacy with the Lord. 

That be true, we may also have forgotten momentarily that God’s perspective is way superior to ours (Job 42:1-5). His thoughts are so much higher than ours, that we do not always see His Goodness in painful situations, and instantly disregard His Goodness. His permissive will may allow bad things to happen for some reasons or for His Higher Purposes, but that does not diminish God’s Goodness. If we can’t trace His Hands in crises, but we can trust His Heart, eventhough we may not understand His ways- For those who love Him, He can bring good out of the worst circumstances (Romans 8:28). 

This Good Friday, remember too what He has done:

“Nails didn’t hold Jesus to the Cross. 

Love did.”

– Anonymous

We have not been forgotten, we are still loved yesterday, today and forever, so we can be at peace anchoring on this unassailable Truth. So let’s turn our raw guttural prayers into prayers that truly express what is in our hearts. We should not be seeking to remove ourselves from the pressure cooker of life, but adopt a heavenly perspective to use such pressure cooker to reveal the power, glory and grace of God through our lives to others, Galatians 2:20 reminds us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

“It’s not how long you live, but how well you live.”

-Anonymous

P.S. How about taking this time too as an invitation to take stock of our lives to reconsider what is truly important and review our priorities, for life is more than just work, getting pay checks and chasing after the status symbols of this world.

BE INTENTIONAL (5)- Be Grateful and Contented

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Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor. — Ecclesiastes 7:12

As my company book closes for the month, it is also the time of the year for me this day to review about life- June has been my most stressful month where my brain usually launched into overdrive and my soul seems trapped in an undercurrent of discontentment:

I cannot count the number of gripes I grumbled and the many complaints I mumbled; 

the mistakes I fumbled and the fall I tumbled; 

much less to track the sins that had me crumbled and the pride that called me to be humble.

June is the month to account for the state of my finances, whether healthy or unhealthy: my brain crunches numbers each night long after I am supposed to be asleep, accelerating my pulse. Issues at work jab me from the right, shove me from behind and punch me square in the nose. As the adage goes, it never rains but pour!

In our rapidly volatile and uncertain present-day economy, money matters and work can drastically elevate our stress. And the double whammy of living in a consumerism culture where instant gratification is celebrated, mankind of the fallen nature categorically do not like to wait: We want instant gratification; we want life’s knottiest dilemmas to be dissolved immediately; we want everything chop-chop.

I guess I am sane, for I am not alone… 

During such challenging times, when my strength wanes and peace eludes me, the thoughts of I-don’t-know-what-is-the-heck-I-am-doing assailed me relentlessly with discontentment gnawing at me ferociously. Temptations of calling quits or running away beckoning… I got real last Monday, coming to terms with my inner struggle, my Spirit started singing away Don’s Moen’s song, “Take Me Deeper”,

‘There is a longing only You can fill,

A raging tempest only You can still…

My soul is thirsty Lord

To know You as I am known

Be in Your Presence 

Forever satisfied…’

Indeed, there was a very deep yearning I had not felt from time immemorial. My soul has been very parched as I got distracted by the cares of this world… And I can’t seem to hear God very much recently, but I knew my spiritual antenna isn’t working well. Interestingly, past online devotionals touched on money matters. And God spoke with a Rhema word, “Continual”:

His continual Presence will be my comfort and strength;

His continual Guidance will direct my every steps;

His continual Infilling of the Holy Spirit will empower me;

His continual Protection will be a canopy over me wherever I am;

His continual Healing will be a living testimony of His Power over my weaknesses;

His continual Faithfulness will be reminders of His never failing Love;

His continual Forgiveness bears the hallmark of His Grace;

His continual Provisions are wrapped in blessings, big or small, each day.

I am very thankful God rein me in. Since I can’t change my circumstances nor ignore my emotions, it takes greater wisdom (since we are more inclined to trusting our own “smart aleckness” and relying on our own strength) in knowing who is the Ultimate safety net to fall back on, and trusting God to bring us through.

The reward for perseverance is – God is faithful- I have received much surprises this week that made nice birthday presents today. I am learning to be grateful for the big and small alike, and count my blessings so that I can cultivate contentment.

BE INTENTIONAL (1): Complete Surrender

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“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry”. – Job 11:13-18 CEV

We are already a few weeks into 2019, and it feels like 2018 passed not long ago… Many of us are probably still looking back and counting the misses or the whatnots- which may affect our outlook into the new year with hope or apprehension. Therefore, the Lord has birthed this word in my heart, “BE INTENTIONAL”, to embark on a new series of writing for the year. And the first key to unlocking God’s promises of an abundant life is, “SURRENDER”.

Why? One word we usually fear the most is “Surrender”. Because the last thing we want is to give up control. The world associates “surrender” with defeat, humiliation, and losing, thus pride can be a barrier in surrendering to God. Another reason why we are fearful to surrender to God because surrendering to God requires obedience. And if we are completely honest enough, it is just that we don’t trust God thus we resist surrendering to Him. 

But, if God is going to do His deepest work in us, it will begin first with surrendering. 

So what happens when we do not surrender to God? Everybody eventually surrenders to something or someone. If not to God, we will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, fear, pride, lust, ego or emotion. Without surrendering, we will be led to more frustration, disappointments, and self-destruction. WE cannot fulfill God’s purposes for our lives while focusing on our own ways, plans and methods. 

So what does it mean to surrender to God?

1. Surrender means to yield ownership, relinquish control over what we consider ours: our possessions, our resources, our rights, even our dreams. When we surrender to God, we are simply acknowledging that what we “own” on earth actually all belongs to Him, we are just His stewards entrust with a responsibility to take care for Him. 

2. By surrendering to God, we admit that He is ultimately in control of everything, including our present circumstances good or bad. It helps us to let go of whatever that has been holding us back from God’s best for our lives. Through surrendering, we make the conscious choice (be intentional) to let go of that control.

3. When we surrender, we “give over” to God all that has kept us from wanting God’s ways first, and put the focus back to where it rightfully belongs to God. 

4. Obedience is demonstrated as the best answer- “Yes, Lord” to whatever He asks of us. We cannot call Jesus our Lord and refuse to obey Him. God demands 100% obedience.

Surrendering our lives comes on a daily basis, and is the only way to live the abundant lives God has for us. If we often find ourselves living defeated, it is simply because we have not truly come to the end of ourselves in surrendering fully to the Lord. We will know that we are surrendered when we do not react to situations emotionally, we do not demand our rights, and we are not self-serving.

The Bible is very clear about the benefits of a fully surrendered life unto the Lord:

“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry”. – Job 11:13-18 CEV

In surrendering, we are intentional to give up our sins, including our deepest hidden sins. Thereupon, we can experience freedom without shame nor fear, and all that has a hold over us will be shackled by the power of this divine exchange. We will no longer be engulfed by nights of darkness and be embraced by the light of hope. This freedom promises safety, security, hope and a worry-free life when we are able to walk in victory with the Lord.

It is better to choose (be intentional) to obey Him, even if we do not feel like it. The sooner we surrender to God, the sooner He can start getting our lives straightened out. We can trust that an All-knowing, All-mighty and infinite God can run our lives far better than we do now and the future. And being a loving God, He wants only the best for us. But He won’t step in until we ask Him. Nothing can be out of control if He takes control.

The Pain Of Contentment

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Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. – Philippians 4:11-12

In the midst of some household chores, I chanced upon this quote in the Chinese newspaper that read,  “不知足的人,永远不会福。” (which literally translated as, “Those who do not know how to be contented, will never be blessed.”) resonated deeply to me.

During times of lack in my journey of entrepreneurship, I struggled the most with being contented. I seem to be consumed by thought of “Will I have the money this month?” day in and day out. I do not trust my Heavenly Father to provide? Perhaps. I lack faith? Perhaps. I worship money more than God? Perhaps. I am getting worldly? Perhaps. I am relying on my own strength instead of God? Perhaps. It is just part and parcel of being an entrepreneur? Perhaps. Thousand of possibilities.

And there is always this great void in me that can’t seem to find peace. Perhaps, it is a sense of insecurity. At such, the word, “contentment”, was never found in my dictionary. After prolonged seasons of seeking after “more securities or assurance”, I seemed to distrust God more and more. Perhaps my value system in believing that if I work hard, I will get what I have worked hard for. But nothing is further than the truth- no matter how hard I tried, the return of “investment” (time and effort) did not commensurate with what I had consecrated to. Didn’t the bible say, “one reaps what one have sown”? (2 Corinthians 9:6)

That was how I discovered something is not quite right with my mentality. Little wonder, blessings elude me because I never learnt to appreciate the little and be contented.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways. (Proverbs 14:14) Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)

It was high time to let go and let God. But it took me years to really learn from Exodus 16 to live day to day and taking one step at a time, where God provides just enough for the day. I have to daily exercise my faith muscles and work on my trust issue- imagine I receive a mandate from Jesus, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25) Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15) Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for you brought nothing into the world, and you cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these you shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

In whatever situation, good or bad, we are to count our blessings even in the little things, and learn to be contented. Only then will we realise how blessed we are for God’s mercies and love are often disguised in what we deemed insignificant. We are forgetful beings and need constant reminders that God will supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

God doesn’t just bless us with bigger things all the time, but often the little things that made us learn to depend on Him more, and more.

Courtesy photo from a friend who visited Canggu, Bali, on 1 October 2017.

The Wilderness: A Call To Trust

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” (Psalm 35:27) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. God is in the midst of us; we shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. (Psalm 46:1,5) “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27) And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

An emotional season in the pit in the late 2015 to early 2016 had derailed me from the track of faith and incapacitated in my regular routines- I neglected my business while cowering under self-pity blankets. I thought I’d left Egypt eon ago, instead of being whisked into a promised land of milk and honey, all I could see was mountains and snakes at every turn. I had trod into an unfamiliar territory- another wilderness! When I finally jostled from my “deep slumber”, reality hit that the economy was taking a downturn, I began to feel the heat when the company registered negative cashflow for almost a year. Insecurity set in when the uncertain future loom in and fears seized me. Alas I was standing at a verge, with the army of Egyptians hot on my heels, facing me was the Red Sea, with no other way of escape.

At that crucial moment, I cried out as hard, as much, as long, to the Almighty to save me and deliver me from my helplessness. By a bat of an eyelid, I found myself on a Rock, my enemies no longer pursued me. God finally broke the long chill of the silent nights, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.” (John 14:1) reinforced with Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He’ll make your paths straight.” His voice resonated with the word “Trust”.

In the silent mire of abyss, my impatience got the better of me, I doubted God had heard my prayers. But I ended up with a megaphone blasting my ears, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?!” (My hairs really on stand…) By this, God had shown me that even a mustard seed of faith could move mountains and they shall be moved! Thence, my faith skyrocketed to a new level.

Much as “snakes” tempted me into discouragement, God had in the same breath faithfully sustained me with His one-step-at-a-time blessings and His day-to-day-double-portion of Strength. By His Grace, He gave me a gift of an encouraging Spirit that I could be optimistic; He gave me a vision in conquering the “Goliath(s)” in my life; He spoke to me His Life-giving Promises that I could profess victory; He had shown me that He is a God of Multiplication when He impressed me with a scenario where Jesus multiplied 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5000 people full; He inspired me to compose a poem that Jesus can still a nasty storm (“Anchor Deep”); and He led me to pray with prayers I had never prayed before.

God is still teaching me something about “Trust”; and no doubt that He is bringing me closer to Him so that I can hear Him better; He is disciplining me through His refining fire to keep me going from strength to Strength and from faith to Faith; So that I can rest unto God’s Peace, “Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) and His Faithfulness, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7).

I am thankful that God had been there, and even the present. I counted my blessings for the people who has eased my burdens in some ways. I marvelled at how God had provided despite the impossibilities. There is always a miracle every day- big or small, it is how you see them.

God is not hard of hearing- Our tears are precious to Him for He is especially close to those crushed in spirit. Just be still and let God be God. He will walk on the water and grabbed you before you could sink just as Jesus rescued Peter from drowning when His faith failed him.

“The more secured you are in Christ, the stronger you stand even if your whole world came crushing down. Your security is not found in transient things but in Him alone.”

P.S. And one thing for sure- Every time I pray, the Supernatural always happen in the spiritual realm- that we cannot see now but will happen later. So keep praying- P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens).

The Green-Eyed Monster

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A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30) It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else. (Ecclesiastes 6:9b GNT)

Many years ago, I used to love this perfume, Envy, by Gucci. I simply love its scent, and the green colour was soothing to the eyes too. It was the only perfume as a self-confessed brand loyalist, that I would stick to for years. The second generation after the popular Envy series was, Envy Me. I was contemplating then to try it out, until a remark from a close friend in the church,, “Are you sure it is a good idea to fall head over heel in love with Envy? Are you not aware that Envy is a green-eyed monster?” (My friend was trying to raise her concern without malicious intent on the product, for she knew I struggled with envy……)

Envy reared its ugly head in the early stage of my life because of my own imperfections that I seek perfection elsewhere in order to compensate for the gap: Where I should be in my career; What I should possess in life; And how I should appear to others. I was always on the pursuit of “bigger and better things”, failing which, I was green with envy whenever someone had what I could not have. I once held a conviction that I needed to have certain things to be happy, and envy bred a competitive spirit in me, “Look what they are getting? Why did they deserve it? I deserve what they have! So I am going to get more and have it better!” to a point that I secretly wished they would fail, because it made me feel better that they could not have what I could not have.

Envy was eating into me every time I compared myself to others- it didn’t make me feel superior but rather painfully lousy. And my heart could not be at peace because I was obsessed with covetousness. And contentment was never found in my dictionary.

It took me years to learn that making comparison is the root of all envy. And the very key to overcoming envy is to stop comparing yourself to others. I have to recognise that the Bible says, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need.” (1 Corinthians 4:7-8 The Message) For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man. (Mark 7:21-23)

Instead of focusing so much on the-never-haves and the-never-happens, I should be grateful for what I do have, since life itself is a blessing, and what I have been given not others can have. There isn’t anybody like me, for God made me to do which others can’t. So there isn’t really any basis for comparison. When I knew the truth, the truth sets me free indeed.

The Bible also tells us that we already have more than we need and far more than we deserve. Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God. We can pick a leaf from the Apostle Paul who said, “I have learned to be content.” So being content is a learning process that we have to exercise continually- when we are content, there is no room for envy.

The Tunnel. Hope.

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Delayed hope makes the heart sick… (Proverbs 13:12 HCSB) Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid… (Job 11:18-19A)

The front cabin of the new Downtown Line train has a glass window which allow passengers to peep through the underground tunnel. The tunnel is fairly dim and it takes considerable effort to observe what lies ahead. As the train approaches a destination, the tunnel is aglow with light, brighter and brighter. While half drowsy from the sleep-inducing passage underground, a small still voice jolt me, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Do not lose hope.”

God really has a way in distilling life lessons through things around us- the tunnel is a great reminder that no matter how long the tunnel is, no matter how long it takes to catch a glimmer of light, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The only way out is to keep walking, for the longer I sojourn in the tunnel, the more overwhelming darkness seem to enshroud me. But having hope is stronger than entertaining fear.

When hope is delayed at any length of time, the mind gets uneasy and the heart will sink, ultimately it fails till our inner man gets dispirited and ready to be dejected, giving up all hope.

There is this quote that goes, “We can live about 40 days without food; about 3 days without water, and about 8 minutes without air, but not a second without hope.” And another, “Hope is the last thing to lose.”

The bible warns that heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop (Proverbs 12:25A), and a crushed spirit saps a person’s strength (Proverbs 17:22). And when strength is dried up like a potsherd, the tongue will cleave to the jaws; as if we are laid in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:15). The antidote to a sick heart is, to have joy, for a cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul (Proverbs 17:22). And having hope engenders joy.

We may be fallen on bad times, but as we set our eyes and heart on the God of all Hope, He promises His encompassing Presence (Jeremiah 23:23-24). We can take comfort because as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Never lose hope, because tough season won’t last but tough people do. And we have hope in God who never fails.

P.S: Do take the train through the tunnel, and observe the passage.

Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifices

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“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT

I had a catch-up with an old friend, Jae, whose sharing got me in deep rumination:

Snippet 1: When was the last time you can feel that you have grieved the Holy Spirit?

Jae shared about an argument that his 13-year old niece had with her mum who was so upset over her words that she was sent off to her room, “You better think over the words you have just said to me…” My friend knew his niece would cry badly as she had a very stern mother, so he went to check on her. True enough, she was crying badly, so Jae went to comfort her and tried to offer the usual niceties… But guess what was the response of his niece upon receiving his comfort? “Uncle, I do not blame my mum at all, I cry because I have grieved the Holy Spirit…”

I was absolutely stumbed for words to hear that coming from a 13-year old girl. It got me thinking when was the last time we could really FEEL that we have grieved the Holy Spirit by the things we said or did? If it has been a while to have such sensitivity like his young niece, it means that we have not been walking in the spirit closely in our daily lives. So often we pointed fingers and go around the blaming circle, without reflecting whether the problem first lie with us.

Snippet 2: “If this caused my children to stumble and turn away from the Lord, then I rather forego it…”

Jae’s brother can afford to upgrade his comfortable abode to a beautiful luxurious home as God has blessed him with much wealth over the years. His brother has been planning over 3 years how to build his dream home, that he looks forward to living in it with his family. Until a day he just decided to abort his plan and forfeit a huge deposit. Jae was shocked by his abrupt decision so he sounded him out what had happened. His reply was, “If living in a lap of luxury is going to stumble all my young children, especially the youngest one, that they start to behave like some rich pampered kids, just because they are blessed to have a lot more nice things, I rather forego my plans than to risk them to turn away from the Lord…”

I really salute this father for having a kingdom mindset- A God-loving father gives up all his rights for the sake of the next generation in the fear of the lord! Are there any of our decisions or things that we do will compromise the values of the Kingdom? So often, we thought by doing certain things will better the lives of our family- better house, better car, better things, without considering the true value of living on earth.

“Those who honor me I will honor.” – 1 Samuel 2:30B

When You Feel Small……

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I believe, some of us, from time to time, felt challenged by our own inadequacies or bruised under a barrage of discouragements, that we did question our own identity.

I recalled one instance in my life (as a very young believer) when I was crushed under pressure at work coupled with a personal sting (I was still struggling to recover from my identity crisis resulted from a broken home and emotional turmoils since young), my spirit was grieving. And that one catalyst engendered a chain reaction that maimed my confidence. The next instance, I struggled with speaking for days, fumbling with words.

One night in the midst of that emotional struggle, I distinctly heard a small voice, “The least is more significant to Me…” God was lieterally speaking to me! I quickly turned to my bible in order to tune my spirit to the Truth. Just as I flipped open, I was led to 1 Corinthians 12:22-25 that read “... those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”

Recalling Paul, the great persecutor of his times, who constantly felt tormented by a messenger sent by Satan, yet God empowered him with His Grace and supernatural Strength; Mary Magdeline, the adulteress, whom Jesus saved her from being stoned by the people who condemned her; And not discounting Moses, who once was a murderer, struggled with his own inadequacy and speech deficiency. Needless to mention those hard tax collectors who were regarded as scums of society, had became close disciples of Jesus.

Yet, these are the people who were greatly used by God. Jesus indeed had a special heart for “the-not-so-normal-people”. He saw beyond what men failed to see. Men look at outward appearance but God looks at the heart. People around you may judge you by what you can’t do, but we can take comfort in the God who believes in what you can do.

For he who is least among you all — he is the greatest. – Luke 9:48

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” – Matthew 20:16

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

At times when you may have felt small, Jesus cares.

Those times when you may have felt condemned, Jesus cares.

When you felt no one cares a dime about you, Jesus cares.

He has a special heart for those the world has chosen to disparage.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

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This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths,  ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. – Jeremiah 6:16

My ex-colleagues have always been addressing me as “Miss GPS, can you direct me how we should get there?” or “GPS, is this the correct way to that place?” or “GPS, please direct me, otherwise we will all get lost!” Isn’t it funny that a non-driving-license holder has a better sense of direction than those (I mean, not all drivers have poor sense of direction) who own a driving license? Perhaps, I just know a little more since I was quite “well-travelled” being chauffeured around.

Not long ago, this GPS teaser shed a new light…

The best GPS system is still the One who is omnipresent and all-mighty. He can see a far much better picture and has the “state-of-the-art navigating system”. He is the best Person to get directions, directing our every path; where we should be heading and where we should stop. And He knows best which is the safest route without the unnecessary zig-zag turns, the crazy jams and the merry-go-rounds. And we can trust that we will be in one piece without the mess-ups. Wouldn’t all drivers like to travel safely with no time waste?

So let God has your driver seat. Just admit it, we are all poor drivers (I mean, in life). You will come to a cross-road, a juncture, not knowing if you should turn to the left or the right- His Way or your way? From time to time, you will come to an amber light, should you dash ahead or slow down- wait for Holy Spirit or run ahead of the Spirit? You will at times beat the red lights, and oh dear, you are summoned to face a fine- to be rebellious or be obedient? You will certainly be stuck in a heavy traffic jam that seemed to take ages to clear, and oh no, you find yourself in the throes of mood- be patient for God’s timing or be impatient and miss your kairos moment? You will occasionally miss the correct turns- trust God or trust your own wisdom? Not to mention, you will have to go one big round- how long will it take for you to learn a lesson?

Ring a bell? Remember how the Isrealites had been wandering in the dessert for 40 years. Remember how God called Abraham to a place he did not know and God gave him the Promise. The difference between the two is- trust God or trust yourself? Obey God or rebel against Him?

And one thing for sure, God works for those whose hands willingly let Him take the driver seat, the heart that fully surrender to His Sovereignty that He will take them where they should be going.

So allow God to be your GPS. And He will take you places!

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.  The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” – Luke 3:4b-5

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. – Proverbs 4:25-27

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. – Psalm 77:19

Abundance

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it ABUNDANTLY. – John 10:10 ESV

Cross reference to other translation, is “full” (NIV)’ “satisfying” (NLT) and “everything” (GWT).

I have often wonder aboutt the word “abundance” which implies to me, “richness”. In the World’s dictionary, it literally means “material wealth”, where I can hope for million dollars, successful businesses, dream houses, dream cars, edifying relationships, satisfying marriage, healthy body… That’s abundance!

Until I read and re-read the first liner that Satan steals, kills and destroys. If abundance equates to material wealth, Satan can only steal and destroy but wealth can not be killed.

So in other words, in God’s dictionary, it means “living to the full.” It is a promise that no matter what is going on around us, we can have PEACE in the midst of storms; we can have JOY in times of darkness; we can have HOPE when circumstances seem hopeless; we can have SECURITY when times are uncertain; we can have STRENGTH when our flesh is failing; we can have CONTENTMENT in times of little; we can still partake of His Blessings no matter what, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can live life to the full which cannot be bought or compensated with whatever figures in your bank account.

That is the highest order of abundance.

Have a blessed day looking to God to help you be filled with His Abundance.

P.S. Try apply this- “Satan can rob you of (hope), kill your (hope) and destroy your (hope).

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?

Do You Know That The Bible Is A Book Of Strategies?

While helping a client to strategise her brand growth, I have to come up with a Brand Strategy Blueprint for optimal market roll-out. My role is akin to playing Chess- every move will either be a stalemate or a checkmate.

It then dawned upon me that apart from being a Brand Strategist, I can be also be a Battle Strategist. Do you know that the bible is a book of strategies? The bible originates from the true blue Master Strategist of All times.

We are aware that none of us will be immuned to battles, whether battle of the principalities, the flesh or soul, whether at your workplace or at home. In those challenging times, did we consult the living book of strategies in warring against the opposing forces, or we merely scrapping through on our own head knowledge?

It will be too many strategies to list, but to share an example:

  1. How will God entrust you with true riches (may not necessarily mean wealth. It can be riches of the Kingdom, riches of relationships, riches of sound health etc)?

3 STRATEGIES FROM LUKE 16:10-13

(A) Be faithful with the little things (Cross ref to Matthew 25:21)

(B) Be trustworthy (Cross ref to Proverbs 16:11)

(C) Serve God (Cross ref to Matthew 6:33)

Strategies can be adopted in various ways for multi-pronged effectiveness. When comes to war, a General needs to research and know the enemies well: their plans, tactics, routes, and weaknesses, in order to counter attack with the right strategies, whether require single or multilevel. Similarly, we also need to know who is our “enemy” (physical or spiritual), the deceptions of the evil one, our weaknesses etc, in order to counter the attacks with the Living Guidance of God.

REALITY CHECK 1: Do we know our bible well enough to arm ourselves well?

Do you know too that you can strategise your own spiritual growth? Hebrews 5:13-14 says, “Everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their sensibilities to distinguish good from evil.”

REALITY CHECK 2: From where you were to where you are now- how well are you growing?

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.

God Is.

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God is FOR us = We have the Backing and Protection of an Omnipotent God.

God is WITH us = We have the Presence and Guardianship of an Omnipresent God.

God is IN us = We have the Empowerment and Guidance of an Omniscient God.