Bungkus (Takeaway)

A week has passed and I am still singing that song – 10,000 Reasons (co-written by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin). It’s my takeaway tune from this year’s ICPM. More than having a melody which has hit me (and I believe everyone else) with a serious case of LSS, the song has wordings which have left significant marks on my heart. 10,000 Reasons basically sums up my ICPM 4 experience.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning / It’s time to sing Your song again / Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me / Let me be singing when the evening comes

It’s a brand new season. There’s no doubt about that. A new day has dawned upon my personal life, a new day has dawned upon my work and my ministry – sometimes I have to pace myself (and all those involved) so that I (and most often, we) could keep up with all the changes taking place. But truly, it is time to sing His song again. I’ve fallen silent for a time, but I have to keep singing. I’m unsure of the things awaiting me in the road up ahead, but, yet again, I have to keep singing. I have to. I want to. I resolve to be so filled with gladness, to be so overwhelmed by gratitude, to be so overtaken by love that even through lonely or pain-filled nights, I will keep on singing.

Bless the Lord, O my soul / O my soul / Worship His holy name / Sing like never before / O my soul / I’ll worship Your holy name

It’s all about worship. It’s all about pouring out our lives to the King of Kings, showing forth His glory by simply being who we are created to be. I loved Kuya Paul’s session about convergence. He said, “Convergence is the point where all our talents, gifts, experiences, uniqueness, and personalities ALIGN for us to perform our GREATEST WORK.” I am still mulling over my five stones. What are in my hands? What do I have which I can use to topple over giants, to conquer my mountain, the mountains of – *gulp* – education and arts?

I have yet to make those things clear in my heart, but one thing is for certain: I will sing like never before. In all the things I am doing right now, I am determined to give my 100%. 100% in my relationships. 100% in my work. 100% in my ministry. 100% in everything. I want to live a life of excellence once again. I want to start asking questions the way Kuya John Eric asks them, I want to run the extra mile the same way Ate Visiel showed us how.

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger / Your name is great, and Your heart is kind / For all Your goodness I will keep on singing / Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

I shall do all these things because there are ten thousand and more reasons for my heart to do so. Because above all, God is GOOD. During one of the times of worship, I just felt Him saying these words to me – “I have always been faithful.” He reiterated those words when Kuya Lester honored us and asked us to stand up during his session. And I held on to them and saw a glimpse of them coming to life during the parade of nations.

“I have always been faithful.”

And on that day when my strength is failing / The end draws near and my time has come / Still my soul will sing Your praise unending / Ten thousand years and then forevermore

One day, I’ll get married. One day, I’ll have kids. One day I’ll move out of Malaysia, perhaps go home, perhaps move on to the next nation. One day, all my kids would have grown up and would have families of their own. And then one day, all the insurance money Wilbert educated me about will prove to be very useful.

One day, I’ll look back at these moments of my history and see them as significant but nonetheless mere memories.

But still I shall keep on singing. Ten thousand years and then forevermore.

Bless the Lord, O my soul / O my soul / Worship His holy name / Sing like never before / O my soul / I’ll worship Your holy name

And so I will bless Him. Let my life be simply full of praise. Let me be unstoppable, as I was during our amazing race when I tore the back of my favorite blouse just to get hold of the elusive Thai elephant. Let me simply sing like never before.

Heartfelt thanks to all the speakers who poured out their hearts during their talks and sessions. Hats off to the organizers who made all these things happen. Tight hugs to the big ICPM family, you are all my heroes and inspirations. And so much love to all the people who have run this race before me, who are running the race now with me, and who will keep on running with me.

Let’s all sing like never before.

With Cristina Joy. Thanks to Ate Kim and Kuya JM for the mugto eyes photo! :D

With Cristina Joy. Thanks to Ate Kim and Kuya JM for the mugto eyes photo! :D

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Care to Gaze at The Cross and at The Empty Tomb with Me?

She was covered with cuts running deep into her soul. Her face was smeared with disgrace, she reeked of vileness and impurity, and she had been bearing the weight of the “good girl” mask for too long. She couldn’t see where her life was heading, she didn’t know if anything was worth it at all.

But there He was. Hanging on that tree. Gazing at her lovingly, steadily. He had ugly gashes all over his body, too. 39 and more marring His bloody back; uncountable ones scattered all around His head where thorns from His mock crown had dug in deep; two big piercings — one for each hand; and deep, deep punctures on His feet, where nails had been driven to hold Him steadily — yet agonizingly — in place.

The smell of raw flesh wafted around her nostrils, but a stench far greater than that overtook her — the awful odour of sin. All coming from a Man who she thought had never fallen, never ever sinned.

His breathing came in raspy gasps and she knew He wouldn’t hold up for much longer. She had thought she knew the suffocating pain of breathing. But she realized all the times she had felt overwhelmed by the mere act of inhaling and exhaling were nothing compared to what He seemed to be going through.

Suddenly, He breathed His last. A few words tumbled out His mouth — she didn’t quite catch it yet — and the earth rumbled when He died.

Her hope departed along with Him.

A soldier pierced His side, making blood and water come gushing out.

He must have died of a broken heart.

For who? She thought. For me? No. He couldn’t possibly.

But she couldn’t understand why hot tears flowed down her cheeks, healing places where cuts once were, slowly ridding her of her putrid smell.

* * *

She stood face to face with a tomb. But the stone was rolled to its side. Her breath caught, not daring to believe what it all meant.

And then a Gardener approached her. He was smiling kindly, His manners were friendly, and He was looking at her with a sparkle in His eyes. She realized she knew that look. She had seen it before, in a dream, perhaps in a distant memory.

It was almost the same as the look given to her by the Man on the Cross, but the Gardener’s had a hint of victory.

Then the words she had heard the Man say suddenly came creeping back at her. They resonated in her heart and for a moment, she thought she understood. He had said, “It is finished.” Was it?

The Gardener approached her, showing her the scars in His hands.

She heard Him utter the same thing and, this time, her heart was able to grasp it more firmly.

“It is finished.”

Every cut she once had disappeared, every smear vanished, and a new fragrance took over her being. Her mask fell off, hope filled her being and suddenly she knew —

It was worth it all.

Post a Week: 180

Tell us about a time you did a 180 — changed your views on something, reversed a decision, or acted in a way you ordinarily don’t.

July 31, 2004. Aqua Altria, San Antonio. Los Baños, Laguna.

Me. In my navy blue tee, cream-coloured khakis, large rubber shoes, and onion cut hair.

Him. With His patient forgiveness, unfathomable lovingkindness, and overwhelming faithfulness.

An encounter. One that changed my life forever.

One that opened up my eyes to a whole new world. One that brought me out from darkness into light. One that mended my brokenness and replaced it with sweet, sweet wholeness. One that enabled me to live a life filled with grace and freedom.

180. Thankfully not a 360.

The road is straight and narrow. I shall joyfully continue to press on.

via http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/daily-prompt-180/

You might also like: Binary Numbers | Call me Melancholic

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8 Maids-a-Milking: 8 Songs (Part 2)

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… more maids-a-milking! 

I posted the first four yesterday, now I shall post the last four today. For those who couldn’t take yesterday’s mush and cheese, rest assured that today’s batch of maids-a-milking consists of songs that are more… serious.

Well, hopefully not that serious. We’ll see.

(Or should that be, “We’ll hear”?)

>> Steady my Heart by Kari Jobe

Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart. I will run to You cause I know that You are Lover of my soul, Healer of my scars — You steady my heart… It’s unexplainable, but He really does heal. It’s a mystery, but time and time again I have seen and experienced that even when there’s no one there to understand us and hold us through all the darkness we are going through, He is faithful to see us through.

>> One Thing Remains (Bethel Loft Sessions Version)

Oooooh-ooohh-oooohh-oohooohoo… This might just be our team’s theme song this year. We sang it in Vietnam, we sang it in our celebration this November. And really, it’s so true that His “love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me” — on us. Because when everything is said, when everything is done, it would all boil down to One Thing — His Great and Enduring Love.

>> How You Live (Turn up the Music) by Point of Grace

I’ve learned that we could be so busy with so many things that we forget how to live — like, really live. We could be so busy with work, with our ministries. We could be so busy with our worries. We could be so busy drowning in pits of depression. We could be so busy with, well, being busy. But Jesus said that He came so that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10b). So why not simply live it to the full? Let’s turn up the music, shall we?

>> So much for my Sad Song by Chris Rice

I have been so guilty of this. I’ve been guilty of waking up thinking, “I’m gonna write a sad song today.” But then “love flood[ed] the world right before my eyes” and I, like Chris, ended up singing a love song instead.

Let’s sing more love songs.

Give it a hand, folks, for those eight maids-a-milking. :)

A Short Break

Taking a short break from the writing challenge to give you this retelling of Ecclesiastes 12 (New Living Translation). Finding it fun doing this. Perhaps I should retell stories/verses more often? Hmmm. Enjoy. ^_^

Vanity of Vanities

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless. Vanity of vanities — everything is vanity!

I turn my eyes towards the sky, but the sun, the moon, and the stars have all been replaced by this thick blanket of darkness. Ominous clouds swirl about the heavens even though the rain has already long fallen.

This only means one thing. My eyes have grown dim.

My legs tremble. My shoulders stoop. My teeth — as my eyes — they are gone and are no more.

I have nothing more to live for. Every door to every opportunity has already slammed shut in front of my face. I have given up the daily nine-to-five a long time ago. But why do I wake up each morning still? Why, when I do, do the birds continue to sing? But why, though I know they are chirping, do I not hear even a single tune?

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

Heights and falling scare me now, as do danger in the streets. My hair is no longer golden — every strand is as white as snow. They compare me to a grasshopper and aphrodisiacs no longer turn me on.

I shall die later on.

My dust shall return to the earth. My spirit — will it indeed return to the God who made it?

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

I should have remembered Him while I was at the prime of my youth, before any of these happened.  I should have made my Maker my front row and centre. I should have sought Him more than knowledge and books, more than booze and empty fun.

But now all must come to an end. The silver chord has snapped. The golden cup is broken.

As am I.

Would things have been different if I feared God? Would things have found meaning if I kept and obeyed His commandments? After all, it should have been simple — to simply love God with all I am, and to simply love my neighbours as I love myself.

But everything is meaningless. Vanity of vanities — everything is vanity.

Yet I heard God will judge us for everything we do — the good, the bad, the seen, the unseen.

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

End

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When I get to the end of the road, would I want to be like that person crying out in disdain because everything is completely meaningless? Or would I want to be a person who would be crying out for joy having lived a life of abundance, a life of satisfying fullness (John 10:10b)?

It’s a choice. A simple one, really, that would boil down to this: Will I fear God and obey His very commandments? McManus says:

When we fear God, we fear nothing else. It is only in fear of God that we find ourselves free from the fear of death, of failure, and all the other fear that binds us. (from Uprising, page 242)

Misty Edwards also sums it up well in her song, Point of Life:

Knowing You is the answer to the riddle of the point of life. The point of life is You. It’s You. Loving You is the reason that I’m breathing. It’s the absolute — the point of life is You.

Meaningless? Everything is not meaningless. :)

Neighbours

(Day 24 — Something that you’ve learned)

I should never have set my feet upon this road. They warned me, you know. They said that I was likely to get beaten. They said that I was likely to get robbed.

Well. I was both beaten and robbed. What more, I am stripped off the very fabric that just this very morning had clothed and covered my skin.

I’m almost naked. The sun is beating down upon my wounds. I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my arms. I can’t feel my — Oh God, what did they do to my arms?

Water. I need water. If only it would rain. Perhaps that would wash away the blood and grime off my skin. Perhaps that would soothe my parched throat. Perhaps —

Wait! What is that I see? I fear I’m in the state of delirium — but is that a wayfarer there yonder? Tassels in his robe — oh, he’s wearing a robe — and —

Gone. My first hope of rescue. Lost.

I squint at the dust. The brown particles, they lull me to sleep. They fly up into the air, swirl around my nostrils, conjuring up unidentifiable images that only make my head spin.

Linen. They’re forming patterns that look like linen. Linen??? On a Levite? Could it be? Is that a Levite down the road? Oh kind-hearted soul —

Gone. My second hope of deliverance. Lost.

I shall die today in this road I never should have taken.

What will happen to my wife? She shall have to find a kinsman redeemer. Oh, I can not bear it. Her with another man! But I can not bear the thought either of her facing the stigma of being a widow, of being a —

What are these? Hands. Hands touching my wounds. Is that oil dripping on my skin? Are those bandages being wrapped around my shoulders? Are those —

I can feel my feet again. I can feel my arms. My fingers — can I move my fingers again? A tiny twitch. That’s good enough.

The hands. They are lifting me up. Into the back of an animal. I am saved. I am being rescued. I am —

My mind goes blank. After a second, I remember nothing more.

* * *

“Well look at you. I was thinking you’d never get up. You’ve been out for three days now, you know.”

“I was? Wait. Where am I?”

“Jericho Inn, my dear friend. Jericho Inn.”

“How did I get here?”

“A Samaritan fellow took you in. Haggard fellow, really. Kept fishing around his pockets for some denarii that could at least keep you here. Said he’ll come back. Got some more expenses to cover. Was that guy your friend? You mightn’t see him anymore though. Dunno if you’ll catch him. Or if he’ll catch you. You’re good to go by this afternoon, you know.”

I imagine my eyes are as wide as saucers as the innkeeper and I engage in this exchange. A Samaritan? A man from an opposing camp? A Samaritan fellow helped out a — a Jew?

How totally unreasonable.

Moments later, I hear footsteps. My heart jumps in my chest. Seconds after, I see him.

“Innkeeper, is he well?”

I clear my throat. My eyes meet those of my deliverer.

“Yes, I am well. Thank you. My life is indebted to you.”

End.

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be the neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

The Good Samaritan. The Helpless Jew. It’s a well worn tale I grew up with in church and in Sunday School. But revisiting the story this Sunday gave a rather fresh learning — and yes, a fresh stirring — to my soul.

The lawyer had asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit life eternal. Jesus had asked him in turn, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer knew this well. It showed in his reply — “Give your all to God. Give your all to your neighbour as well.” (See Luke 10:25-28)

But who is my neighbour? And — this is a tough one — based on the story and based on Jesus’ and the lawyer’s exchange — am I a neighbour?

“The neighbour is the one who showed the man mercy.”

This be my Sunday learning. Truly, it is not right to say that you love God but not love His people. Indeed, it is incomprehensible if you give your whole heart to the Invisible but withhold every part from those visible around you.

So. Today. Tomorrow. Will I be like the priest, like the Levite, who just drifted by? Or will I be a neighbour? Will I be like that Samaritan guy?

Forever Faithful

(Day 5 – What song inspires you?)

“You know my future like You knew my past, Your word concerning me was made to last forever…”

The song starts to play and I cannot help but melt. This is it. This is the song that would never fail to bring me to the place of absolute dependence, absolute trust, of pure worship and adoration to Abba Father in Heaven. This is the song that would never fail to break me, but at the same time, inspire me.

I first heard the song mid 2006. I chanced upon someone’s old collection of CDs and immediately fell in love with the song. Apparently, the “Faithful” by Hillsong Australia has been around since 2002 (being the 5th track of their “Amazing Love” album), but I’ve never heard the worship team play it before. And so I tried looking for the lyrics in the net. Google failed me though and I came up with zero relevant search results (six years ago, yes).

But where there’s a will, there’s always, always a way. I transcribed the song lyrics on my own, made up some chords to go with it, and found myself whispering the lyrics whenever I got on my knees:

You know my future like You knew my past,
Your word concerning me was made to last forever
And I know Your word is Your integrity
And that You’d do just what You said You would
You are faithful

Heaven and earth will pass away
But Your word will remain
Your word will remain faithful

Now all I have be stripped away
But to you I remain
To You I remain faithful

I know that Your love is forever strong
And I will sing about it all day long
Forever

I know that there is no one else like You
And no one else can do the things You would
You are faithful

There were seasons of brokenness when I found myself trying to hold on to words and promises so impossible, so unattainable at the time. Will the dreams ever become reality? Will His words ever really, truly hold true? Or was I just disillusioned – believing, hoping, for something that was never meant to be?

And, to add to that, there were also months when I simply felt like I was stripped away of all the things that I had, all the things I knew, all the things I could find security in. I had absolutely nothing to hold on to. Nothing to hold on to, that is, except for God and His word.

I sang the song. I held on to Him. I believed in His word. I banked up on His faithfulness.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NIV)

Yes, His words will never pass away. He is faithful, faithful, faithful. Faithful to the very end.

I’m singing this song again. There are a lot of things in the future that seem so, so uncertain. But like it says in the song, He knows our future (Jeremiah 29:11), just like He knows all the things that happened in our past as well as those happening to us at present (Psalm 139:1-6).

I have nothing to be afraid of. You have nothing to be afraid of. If we love God and are in Christ, we are certain that all of the cosmos will work together for our future and our good (Romans 8:28).

And we have this simple assurance.

He will remain forever faithful.

Mornings.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercy never comes to an end. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)

Credits: Faithful (2002) by Hillsong Australia

Confessions

I’ve been meaning to write someting about this topic for a while now. Thoughts about it seem to pop up unexpectedly when I’m at work, on the train, on the bus – wherever. I’m even typing this out on my Nokia phone’s keypad, because the late KTM caused me to miss the 7:40 Transit. (But that’s another story.)

No, I won’t be writing about trains again. Today, I would be directing the pen to this topic called “beauty”. Thoughts about it have been colliding lately with the strains of Bethany Dillon’s “Beautiful” which in turn has been resounding violently in my mind.

I was so unique, now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong but it’s killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I’m dying for new life

I want to be beautiful, make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart, and be amazed
I want to hear you say who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

(Bethany Dillon, Beautiful)

I want to be BEAUTY-ful. Beauty. What does being beautiful mean? A couple of days ago, an officemate came up to me and said, “You look very pretty today. Do you have a date?” I told her, “I look pretty everyday.” Her reply? “Well, you look pretty-er.” Maybe it was the green eyeliner. Or perhaps it was the red lipstick I have taken into wearing. Or it could have simply been the kiss of Daddy God hovering over me.

I wish could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty too
I was told I was beautiful but what does that mean to you
Look into the mirror who’s inside there
The one with the long hair
Same old me again today

My outsides look cool, my insides are blue
Everytime I think I’m through it’s because of you
I’ve tried different ways but it’s all the same
At the end of the day I have myself to blame
I’m just trippin…

(TLC, Unpretty)

It’s funny. Ten years ago, you would never have elicited an “I’m pretty everyday” response from me. Ten years ago, I felt unpretty. Very, very unpretty.

I grew up being on the pudgy side. That never really bothered me when I was young. Except maybe for the time this kid came up to me and said, “Do you have a pillow under your tummy too?” Anyway, I was comfortable in my skin up until high school.

High school started my journey of insecurity. I kept journals back then. I remember this particular tear-strained entry with the words “I’m fat and I’m ugly” scribbled angrily and repeatedly all over its page. And then there’s this other entry written one dark Christmas eve. In the midst of all the festivities, someone reprimanded me, telling me to lose weight because I was getting fatter and fatter. I went home after all the merrymaking, cried my eyes red, and poured out all my anger on paper.

I went on a crash diet at the age of fourteen.

Looking back, I’m thankful that the whole thing never went to the extremes and never evolved into either anorexia or bulimia. I did get pretty sick though. After days of eating only when I was told to (and barely eating even then), I felt feverish and missed out on a couple of days of school. My fingertips were also turning blue (true story) so I had no choice to but eat again.

I got better after the ordeal. People started to compliment me, taking notice of the shed KGs. I was happy, but not that happy. Truth was, along with all my insecurities, another thing that had drove me not to eat was this obsession with a particular guy. Who, of course, took no notice of me even after my dramatic transformation.

It’s funny. I entered a beauty pageant, won, got the crown, but still didn’t get the guy.

It’s funnier. I entered university and got all these attention from all these other guys… and it was the only time that I realized that I was actually pretty.

But I never really felt beautiful. 

Not until the time that I encountered God (okay it’s not as scary as it sounds) and I heard Him call me precious, deeply loved, and…

Beautiful.

“For You formed me in my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. ” (Psalm 139: 13-14)

I now live in this reality that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Sure, I’ve re-gained the weight that I lost during that dark period of my high school life. Sure, I’ve got muffintops and unwanted curves. But I’m not going on any crash diet just to please anyone. Because I am secure, comfortable in who I am and what I look like now.

I’m not against healthy eating and proper exercise though. I believe that we should take good care of our bodies because God calls it His temple so – believe it or not – this flesh is the dwelling place of God (1 Cor 6:19). But I believe we should be comfortable with whatever our body types are (so what if I’m huggable – that’s a plus!) or whatever we look like physically.

To every girl reading this post, let me tell you this – you are beautiful. You are beautiful because you are a daughter of the King and He finds you worth far more than the lilies in the field. The Creator of the universe created you, and you are His greatest, most magnificent masterpiece, created in the very image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Believe it. You are.

Beauty is not something that we generate from the outside, but something radiating from within.

And so I end with this confession.

I am beautiful. : )

beautiful

Fearfully and wonderfully made

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