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Faithfulness of God

There was absolute silence in the car when we first entered the worst hit tsunami town of Kesennuma, Minami-sanriku.

We were driving through a familiar scene that had been on the TV news since the disaster happened in March.

However, just like watching the TV news on the evening of 11 March 2011, it still felt surreal, despite being there in person, in the middle of the tsunami wrecked town.

The place looked more like a movie set than reality. The coastal line was left bare except for a few buildings that had withstood the devastating waves. It seemed that nothing man-made nor natural had a chance to overcome the waters on that fateful afternoon.

I asked myself, is God here in this barren, lifeless and destroyed land?

YES! The Psalmist reassured us that there is no place in the world that we can run to where God’s love and faithfulness will not meet us (Psalm 36).

God is committed to love His people in Japan.

He sent us.

He sent many others who don’t speak the Japanese language, but who want to help Japan to stand up from where she had fallen.

During the trip, we proclaimed God’s faithfulness in our lives and the lives of those we met daily with the song  云上太阳  “The Sun above the Clouds” by 赞美之泉 

无论是住在美丽的高山  Whether you live in the beautiful mountains

或是躺卧在阴暗的幽谷  or lie in the dark and evil valleys

当你抬起头  when you lift up your head

你将会发现  you’ll realise

主已为你我而预备  the Lord has prepared for you and me

云上太阳    它总不改变  Like the sun above the clouds that never changes 

虽然小雨洒在脸上  Although the rain may fall on your face

云上太阳    它总不改变 Like the sun above the clouds that never changes

哈啊    祂不改变 God doesn’t change

When the problems in our lives seemed too heavy and pressed us down, if only we look up, we’ll see God looking down from the heavens and smiling, “My child, I am always here, everything will be alright.”

I pray that more Christians will volunteer in Japan, and show more of God’s unchanging and unconditional love to the Japanese.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Scribbles

 

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Strengthened to serve

It was the first sunrise for the crisis relief team in the land of the rising sun.

The morning sun rays beamed in through the glass door of the church and nudged me out of my sleeping bag to see its full glory.

I was reminded once again, that His love, like the rising sun, is new every morning, and that I can draw strength from Him to start each day afresh.

Indeed, it was His strength that saw me through the days at ground zero daily.

Before we departed for Japan, God had promised the team through Psalm 121 that He’d be our helper.

詩編 / 121

1節 わたしは山にむかって目をあげる。わが助けは、どこから来るであろうか。

2節 わが助けは、天と地を造られた主から来る。

3節 主はあなたの足の動かされるのをゆるされない。あなたを守る者はまどろむことがない。

4節 見よ、イスラエルを守る者は/まどろむこともなく、眠ることもない。

5節 主はあなたを守る者、主はあなたの右の手をおおう陰である。

6節 昼は太陽があなたを撃つことなく、夜は月があなたを撃つことはない。

7節 主はあなたを守って、すべての災を免れさせ、またあなたの命を守られる

8節 主は今からとこしえに至るまで、あなたの出ると入るとを守られるであろう。

    

This church was our base camp. It couldn’t be built on a better spot.

The rising sun shines directly at it every morning. I felt that it symbolises that the church (family of God) that receives His light will carry it out to the world.

And I heard that the ground on which this church was built on, is extremely hard and stable. It had withstood earthquakes up to magnitude 7 without any damage.

When I was there, there were at least 2 earthquake alerts sounded on the Japanese mobile phones. One was in the middle of the night, but I slept through it without a stir. Another was in the morning. I could hear the glass and things shaking outside the church building, but sitting inside the building, I didn’t feel any shaking at all.

When we’re wise and build our house on the Lord our rock, it will not be shaken!

With Him on our side, as we serve Him and the people in Japan, what and who can be against us?

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Scribbles

 

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Books read in March and April

1+1 = 3

How so? Well, when a goat and a unicorn come together there are 3 horns.

Let’s try another sum.

1+1 = 14

Did you get it right?

1 ant + 1 spider = 14 legs!

This is a colourfully illustrated picture book that teaches the basic mathematical concept of addition whilst engaging the children in some creative thinking.

E and his mother introduced this story collection to me some years ago. I remember him chanting the long dinosaur names from memory at 3 years old, whilst I had trouble telling Apatosaurus and Anchisaurus apart. When I chanced upon the audio book collection at a bookstore, I had to grab it for myself.

To my surprise, the audio book collection is also available at the NLB.

                   

Follow Harry and his pet dinosaurs on their little adventures.

Peppa’s pet fish is unwell and she has to bring it to the vet.

The bus journey to the vet is full of fun, song and laughter.

There’s a new twist to the classic ‘The wheels on the bus’.

Join Peppa and her friends onboard their train journey.

Help them to spot a signal box, a tunnel and a boat.

There are two reading levels in the Peppa pig story series, boardbooks (above) for the young readers and paperbacks (below) for the slightly older readers.

The boys play football against the girls.

Which team do you think will win?

You’ll get to discuss the rules on how to score a goal in football.

Pitched at a higher level of comprehension than the boardbooks, this paperback book discusses social themes such as negotiation at the playground and feelings of being left out.

All books were borrowed from the NLB libraries.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in Scribbles

 

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Reset button

今日のデイリーブレッド

 名演奏家

2011年3月2日

 
聖書のみことば Ⅰコリント10:31-11:1

 
こういうわけで、……何をするにも、ただ神の栄光を現すためにしなさい。
―Ⅰコリント10:31


アメリカの有力新聞は、クラシックギターの演奏家のクリストファー・パークニングについて、「音楽の奥深さを解する感性と、完全なまでの技術を兼ね備えた、今日の卓越した演奏家」と称しています。しかし、パークニングには演奏活動から退いた時期があります。絶頂期の30歳で引退し、モンタナ州に牧場を買い、釣りをして暮らしていました。しかし、この悠々自適の生活は、切望していた満足感をもたらしてはくれませんでした。

カリフォルニア州に行ったときのことです。ある教会に招かれました。その教会では、福音が分かりやすく語られていました。彼はこう記しています。「その夜は、横になっても眠れませんでした。自分の罪に打ちのめされたのです。私は、自己中心的に生きてきて、少しも幸せではありませんでした…そのとき、イエス・キリストにお願いしました。私の人生に入って、私の救い主、私の人生の主になってくださいと。そして初めて、『主よ、あなたがして欲しいと望まれることなら何でもします』と言ったのです。」
 
パークニングの好きな聖書のみことばは、第一コリント10章31節です。「こういうわけで、あなたがたは、食べるにも、飲むにも、何をするにも、ただ神の栄光を現すためにしなさい。」彼は演奏活動を再開しましたが、その動機は、神の栄光を現すことでした。

私たちは一人ひとりに才能が与えられています。その才能を神の栄光のために用いるなら、人生に満足感と喜びをもたらしてくれます。 (Dennis Fisher)

私たちは、神の栄光を現すために創られた。

~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~* ~*

I read the above from Our Daily Bread on 2 March, and it was a lesson I took with me throughout the month of March.

Although I don’t have the riches and status comparable to my peers, which are also what society expects from me, I am so indifferent to it that it’s baffling to the uninitiated. I just have so much contentment and satisfaction resting on the Rock of my life. I had consciously chosen to slow down my pace of life to channel my time, energy and resources to what I value: God, family, friends and serving.

Yet over time, I had unconsciously allowed myself to be lazy and self-indulgent.

I may not hanker after luxury goods but I chase after the luxury of time.

I don’t drive around town in a racey car but I drive the freedom of schedules.

I don’t own priced properties but I have full reign over my hours.

Lest you think I’m not working at all and just wasting away my life, that I’m not. I do put in 200% in the work and life that I have.

But somehow I’ve allowed myself to fall into a trap of settling for less than God’s will in my life. I got complacent and comfortable, and stood still.

How do I know that?

I sometimes have this nagging sense that I’m not living my life completely and fully used by God. And sometimes caring folks around me would remind me that I should consider certain options. I’ve learnt that when more than one person voice out the same concern that I’ve been hearing within myself, I should sit up and seek God more seriously about the matter.

I know that I’ll only be truely satisfied and joyful when I am moving in God’s will. Whatever gifts He has granted to me, I want to use them to glorify Him, in wherever He’s calling me to.

With that conviction, I took a bold step to press the reset button, and it’s incredible how quickly God has been moving ever since.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Scribbles

 

Shaken but not destroyed

Today is the third day since a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan around 2:46pm on 11 March (JST). I am relieved to know that all my friends in Japan, some of whom are as close to me as my family, were shaken but safe. I thank God for His protection over them.

When I first watched the news outside a telco shop that evening, I couldn’t believe my eyes as the live footages of the impact of the earthquake in Tokyo were played. Tall office buildings in the metropolitan city were swaying and workers inside those buildings were petrified. At the street level, there were deep cracks on the roads and power failures were reported in many parts of the city. The public transport services, including bullet trains (shinkansen), local trains and buses, were forced to a halt. As night fell, many people were stranded on the streets and they had to walk home or stay overnight in the office.

In Northeastern Japan, the situation was even more appalling. An hour or so after the earthquake was felt in Tokyo, tsunami waves as high as 6 metres gushed over the coasts of Sendai, Fukushima and Ibaraki. I stood transfixed as I watched a footage of the sea washing ships ashore over the roofs of low rise buildings, completely drowning parked vehicles on the land, and breaking through windows of buildings. Cars and houses were floating on the waves and smashing into bridges.

The next few days, I followed the news on tv and on the internet as the aftershocks continued and the disaster zone expanded. To make the situation worse, fears of leakages in two reactors in a nuclear plant in Fukushima were confirmed. The nuclear plant had since been shut down and scheduled blackouts had been implemented to conserve energy.

I have been observing all these from the comfort and safety of a high rise apartment home, over dinner in a litted room, with not a sign of threat from nature outside my window. As an observer, I feel affected, so I cannot imagine the extent of trauma the people who are out there in the disaster zone are experiencing now.

The only thing I can do, is to get down on my knees and pray for the nation of Japan.

This is my prayer using Psalm 60:

Dear God,

Save the people in Japan and help them with your right hand,
   that those you love may be delivered. 
God has spoken from his sanctuary: 
He will grant Japan aid against the enemy,
   for human help is worthless.
With God Japan will gain the victory,
   and he will trample down all enemies.

I pray that the churches in Japan will rise up and wave God’s banner high to proclaim His peace, love and hope over the nation.

Japan may have been shaken, but I claim God’s promise in the bible that He is with the people of Japan in the “gentle whisper after the fire” (1 Kings 19:12b).

I pray all these in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

I urge you, please pray for Japan too. A minute is all it takes, but it will be the most valuable minute you can give to a life hanging on the line in the disaster-hit regions.

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land” Ezekiel 22:30

Our prayers can move the hands of God to change history. We have to stand in the gap before our heavenly Father for the Japanese people.

As it is, God is using this disaster to restore relationships between the nations. China had sent a rescue team to Japan and had offered an emergency aid of US$4.6 million, including a relief package of blankets, tents and emergency lighs to be despatched to the rescue operation sites in Japan. South Korea also put aside past resentment of Japan to assist Japan as much as possible in her dire need of help.

You may want to pray specifically for each region by referring to the comprehensive information on Google’s site.

Here are other practical ways you can help.

Mercy Relief in Singapore is accepting donations to procure relief supplies.

Follow the NHK World TV news in English, and these TV stations in Japanese: NHK, TBS, and FUJI

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Scribbles

 

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Obedient O…

Have you ever played one of those ice-breaker games that required you to remember names of many people you’re meeting for the first time?

One version of it goes something like “Hi! My name is James. Joyful James.”

You think of an adjective (a descriptive word) with the same first letter as your name and attach it in front of your name. The second person has to introduce him/herself and the first person. The third introduces him/herself and the first two. And this goes on until the last person in the group gets a turn.

My name starts with O and although I had played the game countless times, I had yet to think of an apt adjective beginning with O to describe myself.

Two Sundays ago, while playing the game, I was much enlightened when a stranger next to me gave me the adjective OBEDIENT.

In the weeks before that, I had been seeking the Lord to help me to obey Him. Hence, when I received the adjective obedient, I immediately recognised that it would be my new identity.

As I was waiting upon the Lord with my struggles, I realised that He wouldn’t force me to do what He wanted. Even when I had said, “Fine, I’ll do it if that’s what You want me to.” Yet, He knew that deep down inside, I wasn’t completely doing it out of my own free will.

He gave me the time and space to choose.

I was surprised.

God who is almighty and all powerful didn’t use His authority to dictate the path that I should take.

Instead, He walks together with me. By His grace I have Him working in my life but He has given me the responsibility of doing the walking. He does not do that for me.

On John Piper’s blog, he wrote that God does not simply require our obedience – regardless of the circumstance. He also delights in our obedience. And for us, this is good news. The obedience He loves is the obedience of faith. And faith means banking our hope on the mercy of God. God never desired a nation to be religiously obedient, or a nation which obeyed because it was forced. God desired a nation which obeyed because it hopes, trusts and loves God.

Piper encourages us that God desires the same for us, not because we must, but because we want to. As we enjoy Christ and His word, so Christ delights in us.

Deuteronomy 10:12–13 says, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

God delights in us receiving deep and lasting joy.

Isn’t this awesome?

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Scribbles

 

Books about love in February

A book about the bond and love between a parent and a child.

It showed a father bear and his baby bear spending a day together, from the time they woke up, had breakfast, went exploring outdoors, took a bath, had dinner, read a bedtime story, and finally to bedtime.

The rhythmic words were in the voice of the father bear to his son, expressing what he had given and had received from his young one.

“I am your way home; you are my new path.”

 

“Today is Valentine’s Day! Tucker’s owner tells him that Valentine’s Day is all about love.”

In Tucker’s world, there were many things he loved. But Cupid had other ideas and was determined to make Tucker fall in love.

It was hard work for Cupid chasing after Tucker and aiming love arrows at him. At one point, Cupid had to “take a little doggie nap” with Tucker.

 

The message from this book is that “love is everywhere” and you just have to take the time to look and find it.

It’s a simple plot of a child’s time with her family to the park, the zoo, the beach, and Grandma’s farm.

On each page are hidden hearts – a total of 75 in the book.

Great for counting!

 

All books were borrowed from the NLB libraries.

 

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Scribbles

 

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