Falling Short

Have you ever went shopping, enjoyed choosing all the stuff you want and chosen to even splurge a bit, only to find at the counter you have no means to pay? Yes, this was me this afternoon. Today is Boxing Day in New Zealand and instead of fighting my way through long queues, I decided to buy make-up at the pharmacy next door.

I was so excited to finish my shift and head on out to get stuff. I double checked my account and I know I have more than enough to treat myself. Little did I know, my card is not with me.

How embarrassing is that? I had cash but because I chose to ‘treat myself’, the cash wasn’t enough. Thank God for good friends who helped cover the rest.

As I drove home, I pondered on what happened. I was being naughty by buying impulsively and I deserve the embarrassment.

I fell short. I tried to scrape off every bit of cash I had and it wasn’t enough to pay my dues. The verse in Romans came to mind, ‘We have all fallen short of the glory of God.’

By ourselves, even if we give every bit and fibre of our beings, we will fall short. I’ve fallen terribly short. It was my own choosing — I deserved this!

But thanks be to God for coming to our rescue. He didn’t ask us to pay part of it, He simply took care of the tab. All He’s asking is for us to trust that He can and He will cover. No condemnation. No paybacks. Just trust and believe in Him.

We’ve fallen short but made complete in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God who has given us His Son for the forgiveness of our sin.

Spilling Ink

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post. Is anyone still out there? I hope someone is keen to hear me out.

Spring has definitely sprung in my side of the world and hibernation has to end. That’s what I’d like to call this, my hibernation coming to an end. I have been away. Life got too hectic. At some point, I actually forgot about my blog!

Today, though, I went to spend some one-on-one time with one of our church’s youth members. She’s a brilliant young lady who is bursting of creativity. A beautiful soul that yearns for Jesus. She and her family are soon to move across the ditch (that would be to Australia, in case some of you don’t get the phrase). It’s quite saddening considering the fact that they grew up with us in the ministry — but life goes on. Anyway, we talked about our aspirations, dreams, struggles, and passions. I found myself talking about my love for writing.

Writing? I have put it aside. Ain’t nobody got time for that, I used to say. But what I was pushing to the back of my mind is actually what’s making me feel purposeful. As I shared with her my dream, I began to realise what I was missing. There was that peace and joy that was slowly bursting out from my heart that I have kept so hidden this whole time. I love to write. To encourage and inspire others through my writing. To let myself be the pen with the Lord as the Author. To let myself spill out on paper like ink just to show beauty that only the Author can create through words. To be an instrument. Purposeful. Beautiful.

I have hidden too long at the darkest part of my hibernation cave but it’s time to wake up from slumber and let the warmth shake me and bring me to new heights. It’s time to let the Author use me again. It’s time to point back to Him. The pen has been trying to make sense on its own not knowing its purpose is to be used to write, to spill ink, and to point back to the Author.

This will be a renewal of some sort. A step at a time. A day at a time. Not my will but the Lord’s be done. Not by my own might but by the power of God.

The Ticket I didn’t Think I Owed

So, it has happened yesterday. I got my first parking ticket ever! It wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t ecstatic about it. I was absolutely bummed about it. It said my offence was incorrect angle parking. I didn’t think I was guilty because I parked in an angle — the same angle all the other cars were in. So, why did I get a ticket?

The whole drive home, I was simmering in this annoyance. Yes, I was slow-cooking in this injustice that I was experiencing — I was getting mad. I asked my Dad about it and he said he’s not too sure as to what the offence meant. He told me to ring the Council about it. I didn’t as it was not a good idea while I was still sour-graping.

I went to Youth Bible Study that night. I asked my other friends and they didn’t understand why I had to get a ticket too. I couldn’t worship because of that. I was doing my best to not let it get to my head but it’s already there. I thought it was unfair. Would this go on my record? My head wanted to know the answers to: ‘Why me? What was so wrong about parking there? Someone should have placed a sign or whatever to explain what it means. Why should I pay for something I didn’t do? Why should I pay for an offence I didn’t make?’ With all that asking, God whispers in my heart, ‘But I have.’ All the complaints in my head went away.

At that moment, I was rebuked, reminded, and humbled. I complain about the thought of having to pay for something I didn’t do/owe and yet Jesus, the Son of God Himself, chose to pay for a debt He didn’t owe — all so that we would be free. He paid for my debt and for the rest of mankind. A debt we can never pay. He didn’t think of the costs and suffering He had to endure. He fixed His eyes on the prize and it was us — to see us free from sin, shame, guilt, and pain. This is my God. He came to set me free. In fact, He came to set us all free.

My heart was changed with those words: ‘But I have’. How kind and loving, is He? Instead of getting all mad and annoyed, I asked forgiveness for my attitude and gave thanks for the lesson I learnt. So, yes, it was an offence to reverse park on an angled parking. I thought I did a good job in parking reverse but oh well. I didn’t know that it was wrong then but I sure know now. If He’s given me this kindness, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, what makes me think I shouldn’t show the same to others? If Jesus turned the other cheek for me, why shouldn’t I do the same? Often times, we think we’re innocent, guilt-free, and untainted. But we have all fallen short of God’s glory. We think we’re innocent and all the injustice we experience is so unfair. We forget the One who was completely innocent, the One who took the blame and punishment on Himself to satisfy the offence.

It was an instant-lesson on God’s grace right then and there. Yes, there’s a debt we all owe but we are now able to live for God’s glory in freedom knowing Jesus has taken care of the tab — He’s paid it all.

Broken and Chosen: Reminiscing Yesterday’s Events

I have had the great privilege of attending Hillsong Young and Free’s Worship Experience in Auckland last night. It was such an amazing time. To say that I am blessed is an understatement. My expectations were beyond met not because Y&F is good but because God is good. For me, the message for the whole event is summed up in these words: Broken and Chosen.

Omega Levine (Parachute Band’s former frontman) opened last night’s event. He has shared his testimony. He grew up in a Christian family but he often get teased for how he looked. When he was a teen, he made a decision, out of depression, to end his life. But God intervened then. God revealed Himself to him and now he’s sharing how good God is. The lyrics to his songs speak of hope, life, and God’s mercy. It’s such a contrast to how he was then. God breathed life into him and he was never the same.

When Y&F came out, I was super stoked. I was super excited! More than being super hyped with the fact that Y&F are playing, I was so excited because I am able to praise and worship God with all these people. Their songs narrate about God and His love for us — it is really the gospel. Even though some of their songs don’t directly say, ‘I worship Jesus’, the fact that the songs invoke of His grace and mercy makes my heart, body and soul worship God. It was amazing.

Their Y&F Pastor, Peter Toggs, went on to share God’s word a bit. It was spot on. He shared about brokenness: broken hearts, broken backgrounds, and break-ups. As a youth pastor, he mentioned that most of the guys he has counseled told him that the break-up is mutual. He’s shared about his break-up with his ex-girlfriend, who is now his wife. He then went on to share about the biggest break-up that wasn’t mutual — it all happened in Genesis 3. God wanted to be in a relationship with man. Yet man didn’t want to. They thought they can go their own way. Man, who should have been the reflection of the image of God, is now shattered all because man thought they can go their own way. With the broken pieces we try to make sense of life. We take a piece and say, ‘this could be love’. We take another piece and say, ‘this could be happiness’. We try to make sense of everything but we can’t — we’re already broken. But God, in His love and goodness, didn’t throw us out. He had all the reason to just throw us out in the bin but He didn’t. Instead, He took all the broken pieces, even at the cost of getting His hands pierced and feeling the pain, He put us back together. That’s His specialty. To take brokenness and turn it into a masterpiece. Time and time again, as we read through the Bible, we see broken men and women made whole in the hands of the Almighty God. It is the same for us now. We are, then, Broken and Chosen.

After the message, the pastor called for an altar call and 300+ people have decided to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Everyone in the auditorium was cheering them on. We were all welcoming them and thanking God because this is the start of a great journey with Jesus. I was overwhelmed at the fact that I feel joyful at the salvation of people that I don’t even know. How much more in heaven? With the Lord knowing them all by name, how much more was it for Him? It must have been one heck of a celebration up there. Really, praise be to Jesus!

It was one thing to listen to their songs, another thing to see them perform/worship lead live, and another thing to actually meet them off stage. I was blessed because they are all so down-to-earth and humble. When we met them, they were like the friends we have in church — we took photos and they made faces — it was so much fun. They were ordinary young people. It made me realise that Hillsong is made up of ordinary people. These young men and women have given their lives to serve the Lord. I’m sure that the little that they have, they chose to gave it to the miracle-working God, and now they are being used greatly. It’s not just them, though. It’s the same for all of us. As Christians, we are equipped with the Holy Spirit — the same power that conquered the grave. Therefore, all of us have the same anointing and empowerment but we have different platforms and assignments. Their platform may seem bigger than for some us but they are all equal. After all, we are working under the same Kingdom and the goal is to make the King of kings known through all the world — every bit of work, be it small or big, is vital.

So, this is how my weekend has started. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that God gave me to spend with these beautiful people. I am so thankful for the words that have pierced my heart and it is just humbling me. We are broken and chosen. Our God is truly great. There is no one like Him — no one on the heavens above or on the earth below. God is so good! And we are young and free in the love of Jesus Christ!

Running This Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Today, I had the chance to try and tail my Dad to drive to a place I’ve never been before — this was my first time too. The whole experience reminded me of Hebrews 12:1-3. I knew that the whole time, God was trying to teach me something.

When we decided to follow Jesus, we have to chase after Him. It is an endless pursuit to a destination we have yet to see.

During my experience today, there were times that I lost sight of my Dad but my gaze is ever fixed on finding him — to see where he has gone. Even though I have yet to see him, I know he’s not too far ahead. He had to take some turns and I’d be left behind but when I keep his direction in mind, I know I’ll eventually be able to follow through. I know that he will always be before me. Even when I was about 5 cars behind, he stopped to the side to wait for me to catch up. This reminded me of our race as Christians — true followers of Christ.

We just have to really fix our eyes on Him. Even though you have to be mindful of your speed, of the road code, and other motorists, you have to keep your eyes set on the Father. Before you know it, you’ve reached your destination.

We ought not to stop halfway because we can’t see Him anymore. When we feel really lost, we can call to Him and He will answer us. We have to keep on keeping on because our destination is not here — it’s with the Father — and the only way is through Jesus.

Let’s keep our eyes on Him and fully follow Him with everything we are!

I Got to See the Stars

It has been a week since we went on a Summer/New Years trip to Whakatane (it’s in the Eastern Bay of Plenty of New Zealand). And yes, we have a very summery Christmas and New Year on the Southern Hemisphere. As part of our itinerary, we got to see the Whakatane Observatory. It was, by far, the best experience I have ever had. It was that same day, the second day of 2014, that I went horse-back riding for the first time, I also went trekking through the beautiful Kohi Trail and yet, this star-gazing experience trumps everything else I’ve done in the trip. I got to see the stars.

While we waited for the sun to go down and for the sky to get dark, we were given the chance to watch several video clips about the universe. We watched videos about the different sizes of stars, different kinds of satellite, what astronauts do in space, etc. The stars got me, though. Oh yes, they got me good I just had to write about it. After all those videos, we were then given the chance to peek at the sky. We were shown the Southern Cross, Jupiter and its four moons, and a new-born star. They were just so beautiful!

I believe that God was speaking to me then. Other people want to find what’s out there and yet here God is — the Creator of all things — revealing Himself through His creation. The whole time I was thinking of how teeny tiny we are. I’m not an astronomy fan so for me to find out that our Sun, which is the biggest star in our galaxy, is a dot compared to the biggest known star in the universe, I am just blown away. I can’t remember the name of the biggest star but I’m just left in awe at this fact. We are just so tiny! We must be microscopic compared to the whole of the universe. In all these stars and planets, only Earth has life, which means that though we are small, we are not insignificant. We are so small and yet we are dearly loved. I was so moved at this realisation.

To a great God, I am so minuscule but yet I am precious in His sight (Psalm 139). For a big God, I can easily be deemed as insignificant and yet I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). It is so illogical. It does not make sense and yet this is the truth. We just can’t wrap our heads around this truth — that’s how small and limited we are. The God of all loves you and me. You and I are precious to Him. This is our God. The very same God who made the stars we marvelled at is the same God who looks at you and me and finds us irresistible. We tend to be amazed at His creation — the mountains, the seas, animals, etc — and yet He looks at man and sees us as His beloved masterpiece.

If He calls all those stars by name, how much more are we loved by this God who gave His Son to die for our sins to set us free (John 3:16)? We are not unimportant. The God of all creation thinks we are to die for, and He proved it (Romans 5:8)! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are His and He is ours. He is God.

Now it really makes sense when it says in Psalm 103:11, ‘For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.’ In the vastness and beauty of the stars and universe, it all points back to how God loves you and me.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

This Little Light of Mine

A few months ago, I have written about an experience I’ve had with a rude guest. I’ve learnt a lot since then. I would listen as much as I can and try and find out the best way to help them. However, I find it disappointing at how we would blow off on other people when we could have just remained calm all along. Unnecessary words, comments and ramblings come out in the heat of the moment but it leaves the receiving party hurt and offended. With such impatience, there is condemnation, hate, and chaos when there should be forgiveness, love and peace. So, yes, I have had a complaint again today.

The thing is, during the whole process, I was calm. It was such a change. The old me would have dreaded this very moment — to face a guests’ complaint over something I never had control over. And yet, there was peace and calmness. This is one of the things that would have driven me to see myself as a failure and yet, I didn’t think that way. There was this feeling of fear and worry about this whole thing and yet it just stood at bay as if I’m protected by this invisible shield of peace. At the back of my mind, I wanted to panic but I was able to handle it with grace and confidence. I didn’t get mad at the guests at all. I may have felt a little hurt but I still did my best to help them.

With this experience, I was reminded of how grace works. When we were unlovable, God loved us. When we were rude and bad, He never failed to show us his kindness. When we fail, He patiently works with us. This is how grace works. The undeserving gets fed with love and compassion. This is what we’re called to do as Christians: to love God and love others. It is that illogical love and kindness that gets through the toughest of people. It crumbles walls and breaks chains — we need to show it and live it. Even though it doesn’t end with us just being loved even at our darkest times, it is the first step into living a new life in Christ.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was actually going to learn all these things. There is no room for fear, worry, anxiety, and panic when we choose to turn the other cheek. We need to step out boldly to show Jesus and be the difference. This is how we shine His light. We lose ourselves and reflect Him. We often worry about not having enough strength to do this and whether we’ll have anything left for ourselves, but that’s the point. This light that we shine, this light that we have, it is not us but it is the Lord as we live to reflect Him. He fills us with Him as we give ourselves away into showing His love, kindness, and mercy.

This is just an encouragement and a reminder for us to shine His light. No flame is too small when we let is shine bright for Jesus. So keep shining!

There are far, …

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. – C.S. Lewis

Resolutions and reflections abound this time of the year. With less than 48 hours left for 2013, we start to feel nostalgic about the things that have passed and we start to think of what’s ahead. So, yes, this will be my 2013 reflection blog.

I came across this C.S. Lewis quote on Pinterest the other day and it struck me. This year has been a blessing and I thank the Lord for every single moment of it. For every lesson, experience, joy and pain, it has all happened to bring me to where I am at this very moment. I can honestly say that I hold on to these words of C.S. Lewis, not because he said it but because I know who holds my future. God had to prune me through and through this past year. The biggest lesson that I’ve learnt is for me to let go of baggage that weigh me down and to find my joy, satisfaction, fulfillment, and love in Him.

I remember, 2012 was the year that the Lord taught me not to fear and that I am forgiven and free in Jesus. This year, He has taught me to lose my own self and find myself in Him. To go so deep into His presence and be lost in His love. To let go and let Him take control.

I look back and I see God’s hand and favour upon me every step of the way. Things weren’t easy. There were chapters that have to be shut closed but I’m looking forward to what’s ahead for me. I am looking forward to what He has in store for me. If I thought that 2013 was a blessed year, how much more will it be for 2014.

More than expecting much from earthly things, I look forward to moving ahead to better things in the Lord. So, I praise Jesus for being with me. Regardless of my circumstance, I know that He is God. I choose to give Him the glory, honour and praise for everything He’s done, for everything He will do, and for everything that He is. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead with my Saviour.

Here’s To You

To you, who shall not be named, thank you.

Odd, I know, but thank you. Things may not have gone how I would have wanted to but thank you. It is quite tempting to say that time has been wasted, energy and efforts have been worn out, but thank you. Thank you not because of the heartache but because of the lesson I’ve learnt.

I’ve read a quote once that said, ‘the people in your life will either be a blessing or a lesson’ — you’re both. The lesson has been a blessing in disguise. It’s through this that I’ve learnt to really see the Lord as my reward. For a while, I have seen you as the prize but ‘for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:21 & Luke 12:34). You were taken away and still I found that the Lord is constant, unchanging, and forever strong.

It is true that God makes all things work together for our good. This whole thing points me back to Him and I have found that He is the reward. He is where my treasure is to be found not on anyone or anything else. So, thank you.

There is no bitterness or hate but forgiveness and peace that comes only from the Lord.

So, here’s to you!

Peace I Leave With You

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27 (AMP)

This is such a beautiful promise from the Lord. It speaks life and truth.

I was reminded of this verse in reflection of my circumstance. Without going into any details, I just feel really sad. My heart is hurting but I thank God because He meets me where I am. I am in need of peace and comfort and He assures my heart and steadies my soul. I am just really amazed at the fact that the Lord has been lavishing me with Him. In my trying times, He gives this peace that surpasses all understanding. I praise the Lord despite of my circumstance because He is God and He makes all things work together for my good — not that all things are good but He makes them all work out.

The best thing about this is that this isn’t just for me. He has promised these things to everybody. Whatever need, whatever pain, whatever circumstance, He can and He will meet us where we are. Let us embrace this grace that is more than enough and cling to Jesus. Let us keep on keeping on, holding tightly to the One who has overcome for us. Praise you, Jesus!