Monday, 16 January 2017

My Soul is Downcast

Hello All,

There are moments in our lives that overwhelm us with grief.

It seems as if things couldn’t get any better than the current state we are in.

We’re tired, not just physically but emotionally as well. Our souls are downcast within us.

My Soul is Downcast
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (5 November 2016)

My soul is downcast within me
My eyes are weary from weeping
My heart is faint; Lord, have mercy
Restore my faint heart that's failing

My soul is downcast within me
My hands are weary from working
My faith is weak; Lord, have mercy
Restore my weak faith that's failing

My soul is downcast within me
My eyes are tired of seeing
My strength is gone; Lord, have mercy
Restore my faint hope that's failing

My soul is downcast within me
But Christ is present in suffering
He gives me grace; He shows mercy
He gives me a sweet song to sing

Points for Reflection:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(Psalm 42:11 ESV)
·         Why does the future seem so bleak? Why are your hope and strength nearly gone? Why is your soul not at rest?
·         This may seem like the darkest of times. But it is in the darkness that the light of Christ is most evident. It is in the hardest of times that we learn to depend on God, casting all our cares on Him.
·         Our hope is not in ourselves or in anyone else. Our hope is in the One who calmed the storms, healed the sick and cast out demons. Jesus is the Rock upon which our hope and salvation rest.
·         Christ may or may not deliver us from our earthly troubles but He has delivered us from the jaws of eternal death by dying in our place. When all earthly resources fail, we know that Christ has won the victory over sin and removed the sting of death.
·         Allow God’s comfort and love to pervade your downcast soul. Let His joy lift your sorrowful countenance.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Closet of Shame

Hello All,

What are you ashamed of? What aspects of yourself do you hide from others?

Are you afraid of opening your heart to others? Are you afraid of getting hurt?

Closet of Shame
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (31 December 2016)

Hiding in a closet of shame
Ashamed of what comes with our name
Shielding ourselves in steel armour
Hiding our feelings from others

Hiding in a closet of shame
Hiding is no longer a game
Not a game we played as children
Our deepest fears are well hidden

Hiding in a closet of shame
By hiding, what do we gain?
We gain the protection we crave
By locking our hearts in the grave

Hiding in a closet of shame
Why are we hiding from our pain?
Why are we hiding from the Light?
The bright Light that renders us sight

Hiding in a closet of shame
We're sinners and we're all the same
Why hide our weakness with pretense?
We're all sinners under God's lens

Hiding in a closet of shame
Hiding from Him who took our pain
Hide no more; Christ has set us free
He's vanquished our shame on the tree

Now, open the closet of shame
Embrace Him who calls you by name
Open your heart; receive His love
Share the love from heaven above

Points for Reflection:
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2 ESV)
·       Since the fall of men in the Garden of Eden, we have been hiding from God and each other. As much as we try to deny it, shame is deeply embedded in our unconscious mind.
·       When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and reject Him as their King, they felt ashamed of their rebellion and hid from Him.
·       In a dangerous and ruthless world, we were taught to armour up, hide our weaknesses and protect ourselves from getting hurt.
·       Although discretion should be used when revealing hidden parts of our lives to others, many of us take precautions to the extreme. We hide from God and our loved ones. We even hide from ourselves, denying truths that we wish to evade.
·       We’re all sinners and we’re all the same. Shame is a by-product of sin. But Christ took our sin and the shame that comes along with it. He has vanquished them on the cross.
·       The Gospel liberates us from the closet of shame. Open the closet and embrace the freedom you have in Christ. Open your guarded heart to God, your loved ones and the Body of Christ.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

I’m Not as Youthful

Hello All,

What are you looking forward to in this brand new year? Any plans? Dreams? Aspirations?

Some may view New Year’s Day as an opportunity to press the ‘reset’ button and try harder at achieving resolutions that they could not keep a year ago. It’s like turning over a page of a thick, voluminous book.

However, celebrating New Year’s Day year after year can get rather disheartening for others. I do not mean to bring down the celebratory mood but allow me to explain my thoughts on this.

Each year brings us closer to decay. We grow older, not younger, each year and as much as we contrive to slow down the aging process, it is virtually impossible to recapture the essence of youth.

I’m Not as Youthful
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (24 October 2016)

I'm not as youthful
As I used to be
Am I still beautiful?
What would you say to me?

I'm not as youthful
As I'd like to be
My muscles are painful
My back aches constantly

I'm not as youthful
As I hope to be
To God I'm beautiful
That matters most to me

Points for Reflection:
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)
·         Before I begin talking about the inner self, let me be clear that I do not have anything against taking good care of our physical bodies, our outer self. God has created us with amazing physical bodies, with efficient and complex biological systems, that we should not abuse.
·         God created everything good. However, when sin entered the world through the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, perfection has become a long, forgotten dream. We fall ill, we age, we suffer and then we die.
·         If this life is all we are living for, then we are to be greatly pitied for investing all hopes in the temporal.
·         For those who trust in Jesus Christ, we do not need to fear decay and death. Christ died to give us new life in Him.
·         Despite the aches and ailments that come with age, we can rejoice that our inner self is being renewed day by day. As we read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit renews our minds, softens our hearts and transforms us each day to become more like Christ.
·         Are you anxious about growing old?
·         Are you still youthful on the outside and taking pride in that?
·         Do you place more value in nourishing your outer self or your inner self?

·         Why don’t you make it your resolution this year to nourish your inner self by immersing your mind in God’s Word?

Saturday, 24 December 2016

A Danish Christmas Tale (Chapter 8)

Hello All

What gifts are you hoping to receive this Christmas?

Gifts come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are neatly packaged and others are haphazardly wrapped. Some givers couldn’t even be bothered to wrap the gifts they bought.

But there are gifts that cannot be contained in a box. Those gifts are given to us by God. Let us ponder a while about such gifts.

A good night’s sleep is a gift we often take for granted. Those who struggle with insomnia will understand the value of a good night’s sleep.

Our talents and intellect are gifts that are to be used not for our own glory but for God’s glory alone.

Even our five senses – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste – are wonderful gifts that we don’t even give a second thought to.

Relationships are also gifts from God…

A Danish Christmas Tale
Chapter 8: Christmas Eve
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (17 October 2016)
Dedicated to a dear friend who inspired the poem.

A church service was held on Christmas Eve morn’
To commemorate the day when Jesus was born
He came to earth to bear our sins and He was scorned
He was abandoned, deserted, mocked and forlorn

The service ended with people leaving gaily
Ted breathed a deep sigh of relief, ‘Well, finally!’
He took off his tight reverend collar casually
Laura said, ‘It’s Christmas Eve! Let’s get ready!’

Everyone prepared for the family dinner
Ashley sat down for a while, looking rather somber
Cindy came and sat down quietly beside her
Sometimes, no words were needed for one to feel better

After a while, Ashley found some words to utter
‘I wonder what has become of my bad father?
We used to leave him food supply in the gutter
Where he is right now - I do not have an answer’

‘Maybe God knows it’s for the better,’ said Cindy
‘It may be time to release the bad memory’
Tears of trauma flowed from Ashley’s blue eyes freely
She was kindly embraced by her dear friend, Cindy

Delicious food was served for Christmas Eve dinner
Paul and Claire cracked jokes and Ted had fun with banters
Laura, Ashley, and Cindy were cleaning platters
The house was filled with singing, music, and laughter

‘I have a gift for you,’ said Ashley to Cindy
‘That’s nice. Thank you so much,’ said Cindy gratefully
‘Giving gifts reminds me of God’s gift of mercy
Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift to you and me’


Points for Reflection:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 ESV)
·         The friendship between Ashley and Cindy was God’s gift to them. Cindy’s quiet presence comforted Ashley in a way that words could not.
·         God has created us for relationships. No Christian is meant to be an island.
·         Take a moment to thank God for the relationships that He has blessed you with. Do you know of someone who needs to be comforted? How could you be sharing God’s comfort with others?
·         Many of us tend to be so focussed on human relationships that we forget about the most important relationship - our relationship with God.
·         Jesus Christ is God’s greatest Gift to us - a free Gift that did not come cheap but cost Jesus His life.
·         Our sins have separated us from a holy God and made us His enemies. It is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we have been reconciled to God. Because of God’s mercy, those of us who trust in Christ have no fear of death for Christ has removed death’s bitter sting. In place of death, we can look forward to an eternity of bliss with God in heaven.
·         Have you lost the excitement of being a recipient of such a wonderful Gift? Has your heart been distracted by all the other gifts in the world? Rediscover your joy this Christmas in God’s greatest Gift – Jesus Christ!

Monday, 19 December 2016

A Danish Christmas Tale (Chapter 7)

Hello All,

Have you ever counted down the days to an anticipated event? Do you remember the excitement you felt in the process?

Advent is a period of anticipation for Christmas Day. It constitutes four preceding Sundays before Christmas.

Are you looking forward to Christmas? What is it about Christmas that excites you?

A Danish Christmas Tale
Chapter 7: Advent
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (17 October 2016)
Dedicated to a dear friend who inspired the poem.

Christmas was closing in and just a month away
Folks in town were busy preparing for the day
Many were excited, jovial, happy and gay
Preparation for the big day was underway

‘Remember to blow out the calendar candle’
Laura told the girls who were reading the Bible
It was a tradition for the Danish people
To countdown to Christmas each day with the candle

‘This month should be free from protests!’ laughed Ashley
‘No liberals’ demonstrations in the city!’
‘You look troubled. Is everything alright, Cindy?’
‘I’m fearful of those demonstrations, Ashley…’

‘But they have been peaceful so far, right?’ asked Ashley
‘Things can go wrong. My mom and dad died…’ said Cindy
‘I’m so sorry. That must have been painful, Cindy’
‘I still dream about my mom and dad… frequently

It’s like they’re still somewhere in the vicinity
I can’t process their death. It feels unreal to me’
Ashley said, ‘It hurts losing those you loved dearly
On this earth, we grieve, but not for eternity

On this earth, we mourn, but not like those without hope
On this earth, we groan, but not like those who mope
On this earth, we weep, but God’s grace will help us cope
We cling on to Jesus Christ, our life-saving rope’


Points for Reflection:
Come, Lord Jesus!
(Revelation 22:20b ESV)
·         Christmas is the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into this world.
·         Advent is a period that represents the anticipation of Christians for Christ’s return to earth, not as a baby, but as a glorified King.
·         We know that life on earth is brief. It is like a candle that burns down and eventually burns out.
·         The candle of Cindy’s parents burnt out too soon. They were too young to die. Their death brought her much grief.
·         But her grieving was not from a position of hopelessness. Deep in her heart, she knew that they had gone home to be with the Lord. They were in a better place and in God’s perfect timing, she will likewise depart from this earth to be with her Lord.
·         Are you grieving the death of someone you hold dear? Do you know of someone in grief?
·         Grieving is a process that should not be rushed. It is a period of healing that God has granted to us. Grieve, but not without hope. Grieve with full assurance that they are with the Lord.

·         This assurance enables to say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’