Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Rough and Broken Road (Episode 3)

Hello All,
The part of the poem that we will be emphasising on today is highlighted in blue. The black colour text in the poem is a recap of what we have already done last week.
Let us now continue our journey with the third episode of this poem…













The Rough and Broken Road (Episode 3)
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (10th September 2014)
The rough road that lies before me is uncertain
The future stays hidden; it’s veiled by a curtain
If only I could clearly see what lies ahead
But all my eyes perceive is a thick fog instead

I glanced behind at the broken road I’ve travelled
Painful wounds from the journey have left me shattered
‘Oh Lord, please give me endurance to carry on
Soothe my aching feet for the journey has been long’

‘Help me now to put the broken road behind me
Beyond the disappointments, lift my eyes to see
Your purpose in putting me through the trials and pain
For Your refining fire has brought me much gain’

‘Although I cannot see what lies ahead of me
I trust in Your love, providence and sovereignty
Jesus, may Your rod and staff lead me safely through
The darkest valleys when I know not what to do’

As I trudged along the rough and perilous road
My legs gave way; I fell under the heavy load
My eyes brimmed with tears of anguish and agony
I was too weary to continue this journey

‘Hey, are you alright?’ I heard a voice behind me
So I turned around and saw Geoffrey and Jinny
My friends were looking at me with concern and care
They said, ‘Tell us what’s wrong; let us your burden share’

So I unslung the bag from my aching shoulders
I said, ‘My burden has been getting heavier
With each passing day till I can take it no more
My poor hands and feet are bleeding, wounded and sore’

Jinny reached into her pouch and drew out a vial
‘This balm called, ‘prayer’, your wounds it will soothe and lull
Let us apply this salve on your feet and hands
Rest in the Lord till you are strong enough to stand’

‘Prayer’ was applied to my wounds every day and night
Till I was strong enough to continue the fight
Geoffrey lifted up my weighty bag from the ground
‘This is heavy, how did you carry this around?’

He chuckled and said, ‘There seem to be many stones
That weighed you down as you travelled this road alone
Come, let us head off to a place where you can lay
Your burdensome stones. Come now, follow me this way’

We came to a serene bay with quiet waters
The beauty of the landscape was like no other
My eyes caught sight of a great, massive rock on land
Geoffrey motioned me, to come over, with his hands

‘What’s this rock?’ I asked as I sought to understand
‘This is the Rock of Jesus on which His Church stands
It is the solid Rock which our faith is built on
This great Rock stands firm even when all hope is gone’

I saw many stones of various shapes and sizes
Inserted and tucked within the Rock’s recesses
I saw words on them upon closer inspection
Words like, ‘fear’, ‘grief’, ‘disappointment’ and ‘rejection’

Geoffrey handed my weighty bag of stones to me
‘Look at your stones while I take a walk by the sea
I will give you time to talk to God on your own
Cry and unburden to Him the words on each stone

You would know what to do with the stones thereafter’
He whistled gaily as he left me to ponder
I peered into the sack and ‘grief’ was my first word
‘Disappointments’ was my second, ‘fear’ was my third

‘Trauma’, ‘rejection’, ‘hatred’ and ‘unforgiveness’
‘Failures’, ‘hopelessness’, ‘anger’ and ‘bitterness’
Were the other stones I emptied out of my sack
Tears streamed freely down my face as I looked back

At the broken trails of the years left behind me
And the future ahead with its uncertainties
My eyes turned from the stones to the Rock before me
Which was much greater than my stones of agony

‘Dear Jesus,’ I whispered, under my breath, a prayer
‘Help me to lay down these heavy stones over here
Enable me to let go of my painful past
And the fears of my future which I have amassed

In my predicaments, shift my gaze to the Tree
On which you suffered to redeem sinners like me
My sorrows cannot compare to the agony
And pain you endured on the Cross of Calvary’

TO BE CONTINUED…

Points for Reflection:
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
(Psalm 62:1-2 ESV)
·         Grief, disappointments, failures, rejection, trauma, hatred, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, fear and hopelessness – Those are the common stones that many of us pick up and shoulder along life’s journey.
·         Are you going through a period of grief? Who are you grieving for? Does the sting of death feel too paralyzing for you at this present moment?
·         Have you been disappointed by unmet expectations? Do you find the failures and rejection in life too hard to swallow? How have disappointments affected the way you relate to others?
·         Do the memories of traumatic events still haunt you with sleepless nights?
·         Have you been harbouring unforgiveness, anger and bitterness against those who have disappointed or hurt you?
·         Have the events of the past given you cause to fear the uncertainties of the future? Has the weight of life led you to hopelessness?
·         Take a moment to ponder over those stones you are holding in your hands.
·         Then ask yourself, ‘Why am I finding it so hard to let them go?’
·         Shift your gaze from those stones to the Rock of Jesus Christ.
·         No matter how heavy those stones might feel, they can never outweigh the great love and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
·         He is not a distant God who does not sympathise with us but He understands how we feel.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)
·         No human suffering can be greater than the pain that Christ endured on the cross to die in our place so that we who believe in Him can be saved from the eternal flames of hell.
·         If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, when you look at the cross, remember that your greatest burden of sin has been borne by Jesus. The penalty of your sins have been cancelled and eternal life is your guaranteed deposit at the end of the road. Isn’t that a wonderful truth to be thankful for? Do your little stones feel lighter now?

·         If you have not put your trust in Jesus, I pray that God will open your heart to receive Him. For the solemn truth is that those who reject Christ have to bear the penalty of their own sin and eternal damnation awaits them at the end of the road. Please put your trust in Jesus before it is too late and find comfort in His love and grace.   

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Rough and Broken Road (Episode 2)

Hello All,
The part of the poem that we will be emphasising on today is highlighted in blue. The black colour text in the poem is a recap of what we have already done last week.
Let us now continue our journey with the second episode of this poem…
The Rough and Broken Road (Episode 2)
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (4th September 2014)
The rough road that lies before me is uncertain
The future stays hidden; it’s veiled by a curtain
If only I could clearly see what lies ahead
But all my eyes perceive is a thick fog instead

I glanced behind at the broken road I’ve travelled
Painful wounds from the journey have left me shattered
‘Oh Lord, please give me endurance to carry on
Soothe my aching feet for the journey has been long’

‘Help me now to put the broken road behind me
Beyond the disappointments, lift my eyes to see
Your purpose in putting me through the trials and pain
For Your refining fire has brought me much gain’

‘Although I cannot see what lies ahead of me
I trust in Your love, providence and sovereignty
Jesus, may Your rod and staff lead me safely through
The darkest valleys when I know not what to do’

As I trudged along the rough and perilous road
My legs gave way; I fell under the heavy load
My eyes brimmed with tears of anguish and agony
I was too weary to continue this journey

‘Hey, are you alright?’ I heard a voice behind me
So I turned around and saw Geoffrey and Jinny
My friends were looking at me with concern and care
They said, ‘Tell us what’s wrong; let us your burden share’

So I unslung the bag from my aching shoulders
I said, ‘My burden has been getting heavier
With each passing day till I can take it no more
My poor hands and feet are bleeding, wounded and sore’

Jinny reached into her pouch and drew out a vial
‘This balm called, ‘prayer’, your wounds it will soothe and lull
Let us apply this salve on your feet and hands
Rest in the Lord till you are strong enough to stand’

TO BE CONTINUED…

Points for Reflection:
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2 ESV)
·        Have you been bearing your burdens, worries and struggles on your own?
·        Many times, we think we are strong, smart and capable enough to handle adversities on our own but we will eventually come to a breaking point at a certain stage in our lives.
·        Why don’t you pray for God to guide and lead you to a trustworthy brother or sister in Christ to confide your problems with and support you with heartfelt prayers?
·        Do you know of people who are bearing their burdens, worries and struggles on their own?
·        Have you been keeping them in prayer?

·        In what ways can you be reaching out and supporting your wounded fellow Christians?

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Rough and Broken Road (Episode 1)















The Rough and Broken Road
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (29th Aug 2014)
The rough road that lies before me is uncertain
The future stays hidden; it’s veiled by a curtain
If only I could clearly see what lies ahead
But all my eyes perceive is a thick fog instead

I glanced behind at the broken road I’ve travelled
Painful wounds from the journey have left me shattered
‘Oh Lord, please give me endurance to carry on
Soothe my aching feet for the journey has been long’

‘Help me now to put the broken road behind me
Beyond the disappointments, lift my eyes to see
Your purpose in putting me through the trials and pain
For Your refining fire has brought me much gain’

‘Although I cannot see what lies ahead of me
I trust in Your love, providence and sovereignty
Jesus, may Your rod and staff lead me safely through
The darkest valleys when I know not what to do’

Points for Reflection:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.             
(Romans 8:28 ESV)
·         Many people tend to misunderstand what the word, ‘good’, denotes in the Bible verse above.
·         There is a common misconception that God will not let any difficulties and pain befall those He loves.
·         But God’s understanding of ‘good’ transcends much higher than that of ours.
·         God often uses disappointments, hurt, betrayal, traumas and calamities to refine our character and teach us patience in the face of adversities.
·         Whatever happens, we know that God is sovereign and in control of every single detail of our lives.
·         Reflect on the adversities you have gone through or are going through at the present moment. How have God used them for your good? Are you finding it difficult to trust that good can come out of evil? Why don’t you bring your burdens to God in prayer?
·         Do you know of someone who is going through the valley of despair? In what ways can you be supporting that person?

·         The greatest good that God has brought forth from the most severe torment in history is our salvation through the death and suffering of Christ on the cross. When we are tempted to drown ourselves in our sorrows, let us shift our eyes to gaze upon the cross. Let us immerse ourselves in the depth of God’s love and know that no trials are deeper than His mercy and grace. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Stillness of the Night

Hello All,
Today’s poem is entitled, ‘The Stillness of the Night’.
What keeps you awake at night?
Many of us experience sleepless nights when our hearts are troubled with worries, sorrow and guilt.
But how many of us actually pour our hearts out to God in prayer during those nights?












The Stillness of the Night
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (17th July 2014)
I hear the rustling of leaves in the wind
The gentle breeze stills the turmoil within
This bleeding heart which bears the wounds and scars
Of memories brought so near from afar

The pain is real; the images are clear
The torment of the past fills me with fear
But in the stillness of the night I hear
The voice of love which bids me to draw near

God said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you
My power’s made perfect in weakness too’
His grace and love has brought me safely through
The torrents; when I knew not what to do

No pain is greater than God’s comforting words
With much trials, more grace and love are offered
I will lean on the everlasting arms
That will comfort and keep me safe from harm

Points for Reflection:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
·         Are you troubled by unpleasant experiences of the past?
·         What trials are you going through at the present moment?
·         Are you worried about the future?
·         Why don’t you surrender your burden to the Lord in prayer and find comfort in His infinite love?

·         Do you know of people who are undergoing trials? How could you best support them and constantly point them to the love and comfort of God? 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Living in the Present: With Others

Hello All,
‘No man is an island.’
This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631) who was an English poet, lawyer and Anglican priest.
Although many of us would agree with that phrase, we would most of the time find it easier to accomplish a task alone.
In my university days, I remember the dread that many used to feel when it came to group projects. No doubt there were some groups who worked very well with each other but there were others who fell out with their group members and thus rued the day they had to work with other people to accomplish a task.
Many of us feel that matters would be less complicated with less people involved. This is because of our sinful nature which makes us want to do things our own way.
‘No Christian is an island.’
There are Christians who think that it is sufficient to just keep a relationship with God in fervent, daily prayers but isolate themselves from the Christian community.
God has never meant for Christians to venture out into unchartered territories alone in this world. He has created a community of Christians to remind and encourage each other to live as pilgrims on this earth for His glory.








Living in the Present: With Others
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (3rd April 2014)
Based on Henri Nouwen's 'Here and Now: Living in the Spirit'
Our journey as Christian pilgrims on the road
Is not a solo travel embarked on our own
We are to bear our fellow Christians’ heavy load
In God’s Kingdom, no one ventures out alone

Do you see a brother who needs your prayer?
Do you notice a sister who needs your comfort?
Are you willing to aid your brothers and sisters?
Would you help even if it demands much effort?

The closer we come to know and love our God
The closer we come to those in God’s family
For the infinite love of Christ is shared abroad
Cutting through our barriers and diversity

Points for Reflection:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25)
·         Have you been isolating yourself from the Christian community?
·         You might have literally stopped going to church altogether or pop by whenever you please.
·         Or perhaps you have been attending church faithfully but do not share your life with other Christians?
·         Have you been feeling alone even in the midst of conversations with church friends?
·         Don’t face your struggles alone but seek support from your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray that God will send fellow Christians who are trustworthy and willing to faithfully support you in your struggles.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2)
·         Do you see someone who needs your prayer?
·         Have you been praying faithfully for those who are need your support? How could you be more mindful of others in your prayers?
·         Do you notice someone who needs your comfort?
·         Do you show your care to a fellow Christian who is down and discouraged? Often we are so absorbed with our own lives that we forget that comforting words and gestures can mean so much to a person going through the ‘valley’ experience.
·         Are you willing to aid your brothers and sisters?
·         Would you help even if it demands much effort?
·         Pray for God to help us to be united in the love of Christ and to look for ways to help each other fight the good fight of faith.

“This is my [Jesus’] commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

(John 15:12-13)