Monday, 18 September 2017

Beauty in Brokenness

Hello All,

We are wounded people with so much fear inside.

We hide our wounds and brokenness in different ways – a forced smile, laughter, anger, demands, busyness, entertainment, pleasures, apathy, and impassiveness.

The masks we wear are like cloths we drape over the pieces of broken pottery. What was once whole is now broken.

By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

I’ve a favourite bear whose name is Tatty Teddy
He is a grey, tattered bear with imploring eyes
He may seem too insignificant for Poetry
But there’s something about him that’s caught my eye

I gazed at the patches on the grey, tattered bear
They made me think of the wounds they conceal
Were those raw wounds given adequate thought and care?
Were they given an opportunity to heal?

We are wounded people with so much fear inside
The pain of rejection cuts deep into our hearts
Our fragile hearts we try to protect and hide
Forging strong, steel armours became our form of art

If we had a choice, we would rather have no pain
No patches, no tatters, but a heart of steel
But there’s beauty in brokenness, there’s much to gain
There’s purpose in the pain and brokenness we feel

Our hope is found in the deep wounds of our Healer
Christ’s sacrificial love brings comfort and healing
His love gives us the courage to love others
Though we’ve been hurt, our hearts don’t stop loving

Though the purposes of our pain we cannot see
We have messed up and don’t know how to clear the mess
Yet out of this brokenness, God has brought beauty
Despite disappointments, pain, and loss, we’re still blessed

Points for Reflection:
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 ESV)
·       Shift your gaze from your wounds to the deep wounds of Jesus Christ. He knows the pain of disappointments, abandonment, and betrayal. When we have come to a point where we feel that no one understands our pain, He does and He feels them too.
·       When the object that has once brought you joy, meaning, and love has been taken away from you, Christ is there. Sometimes it is the removal of things we hold dear that makes us realise the all surpassing magnitude of His infinite love. When nothing seems to make sense, He does.
·       Christ has redeemed us from the brokenness of sin through the cross. When all is lost, our standing and security in God remain. This certainty is something that nothing can take away from those who trust in Christ.
·       There’s clarity in the fog, comfort in the pain, and wholeness in brokenness. There’s beauty in brokenness, even if we cannot see it now.

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Cleansing Rain

Hello All,

The fight against sin often feels like a losing battle.

Temptations surround us in abundance but it is the desires of our flesh and lack of love for God that cause us to give into them.

After giving into temptation, the wave of guilt washes over us and we punish ourselves with self-condemnation. We hide from God in shame instead of coming to Him in brokenness and repentance.

Some of us are living in denial and continue indulging in sinful desires. ‘Since Jesus has died for my sins, I can just tell Him, “I’m sorry” after giving into sin. He’s merciful and He’ll forgive me.’  

Many of us swing to either extreme of self-condemnation and denial. But the Gospel of grace shows us a different way.

By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

Bright lightning struck the dark grey sky
As great guilt struck my sinful soul
The sky groaned with a thunderous cry
This soul, no counsel could console

In shame, I hid my face from You
I'm full of filth, from head to toe
What I want to do, I don't do
My sin is a ferocious foe

But Your blood is the cleansing rain
That pelted hard against my skin
It has removed my filth and stain
My Saviour has taken my sin

The load of guilt rolled off my back
You've saved me at such a high cost
In Your arms, no mercy I lack
I'm found in You, no longer lost

Points for Reflection:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:8-9 ESV)
·       Have you ever paused to consider the high price that Christ paid to redeem you from the clutches of sin? He went through such excruciating pain to save you from the very poison that was killing you. Are you consuming the very poison that He has saved you from?
·       If we are honest with ourselves, we find that it is a great lack of love for God that causes us to indulge in sin.
·       Abiding in God involves the renewing of our minds through the daily reading of His Word and the softening of our hardened hearts that enable us to grow in our love for Him and obey Him.
·       We will sin now and again but that does not give us the freedom and license to sin. Sin promises us freedom but it is a cruel master that enslaves us. Christ, our loving Master, died to free us from the fetters of sin.
·       When we sin, let us not hide from God but run to Him in humility, brokenness, and repentance. Let us allow His Word to convict us of our sins and His Spirit to enable us to grow in our love for God and obey Him from the heart.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Seashells and Memories

Hello All,

Are there memories you are trying to ignore and push away? Do those memories evoke feelings of sadness, shame, anger, and disappointments?

If we had the power to determine the course of events in our lives, we would only wish for the happy and smooth-sailing times and discard the unhappy and rough times.

By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

The sun’s golden ray penetrates the sand
The warm, soft sand is caressing my feet
With each step, I’m starting to understand
Why God gives memories both bitter and sweet

The waters are calm and the tide is low
The waves have brought back old seashells to me
I picked them up and laid them in a row
I thought I had drowned them in the deep sea

Each shell contains a meaningful memory
I thought I had cast them all away
But God has now brought them back to me
He’s helped me face them with courage each day

I am now beginning to understand
Why He’s made some shells smooth and others rough
He’s refining me with His sovereign hands
He’s using trials to make me strong and tough

I thank my wise God for the hidden good
That He’s brought out from pain and brokenness
Though sorrow and grief taste like bitter food
I trust in His love, mercy, and goodness

My great God is transforming me each day
To be more like Jesus Christ, His dear Son
Though He sovereignly gives and takes away
Into His strong and loving arms, I run

I smiled as I laid the pretty seashells
By the golden shore, neatly in a row
From my dewy eyes, tears readily fell
As I gazed fondly at their lovely glow

Points for Reflection:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV)
·       God is infinitely wiser and more long-sighted than us. He knows what lies ahead, we don’t. He knows the purposes for the trials of the past and present. He uses the rough and hard times to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. He makes us stronger, wiser, more patient, and more dependent on Him.
·       Looking back at the tough times, are you thankful to God for the lessons you have learnt? Are you struggling to see the purpose of your current disappointments and heartbreak?
·       Don’t give up but continue asking God for strength to persevere and endure. You will bear fruit for Him that is beyond your imagination. The fruit of love, kindness, perseverance, endurance, and patience that point others to Christ.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Wait and Hope

Hello All,

Can you recall the last time you had lost all hope in a bleak situation?

You had done everything within the little ‘power’ that you had but all your efforts seemed wasted. It is usually at this point that we think of turning to God in prayer, although that should be the first thing we do in a crisis.

When all our earthly resources are spent to no avail and all hope seems gone, it is comforting to be reminded of our God who is in control of all things.

By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

The unfathomable ways of the Lord
Are beyond our finite understanding
What we know is His Word, the Spirit’s sword
In life’s uncertainties, we can still sing

The unfathomable ways of heaven
Bring our anxious, weary soul to its knees
Our lives may be shattered, our hearts broken
But our hopes and prayers, God knows and sees

The unfathomable ways of the Father
Set our confounding confusion at rest
His perfect wisdom is like no other
He refines and prunes us through trials and tests

With all that is unsolved in our hearts
With all the ambiguity of the future
Love and mercy, God graciously imparts
We’re saved by His grace, of this we can be sure

Until we see our Saviour face to face
We can trust Him as we climb this steep slope
Till He reveals the future by His grace
Until then, we patiently wait and hope

Points for Reflection:
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope;
(Psalms 130:5 ESV)
·       God often (and almost always) does not work things according to our expectations. He is much wiser than us and His ways are infinitely higher. We do not have the full picture but He does.
·       When Jesus died an excruciating death on the cross, His disciples lost all hope. But their hope was renewed and reawakened when they saw their resurrected Saviour whose only way of saving them from their sins was through the shame and pain of the cross.
·       God brings good out of evil, even if we cannot see the good in the evil that has befallen us. But let us continue bringing our hopes to God in prayer and committing all outcomes into His sovereign hands.
·       Until God reveals the future to us, let us wait and hope.
·       ‘Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, “Wait and Hope.” - Alexandre Dumas

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Sacred Shore of Certainty

Hello All,

The shoreline is an unsettling boundary to be hovering over. There is great uncertainty in how high the tide can rise or how far it recedes. The crashing waves upon the shore bring us much fear of the unknown.

We feel helpless in the face of uncertainty. We have so little control over our future. All we can do is watch the sea engulf the castles we have been building.

It is on the shoreline of uncertainty that we realise the impermanence and fragility of life. It is on this shoreline that God calls us to the sacred shore of certainty.

By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

The clouds are looming; the sky is dimming
The tides are rising; my heart is racing
The pounding waves are rolling towards me
Here is the shoreline of uncertainty

On this sacred shoreline, I am kneeling
With helpless hands folded, I am praying
The pounding waves are rolling towards me
Here is the shoreline of uncertainty

Against the pounding waves, I am crying
In the darkness, on God, I’m depending
The pounding waves are washing over me
My body immersed in uncertainty

I am powerless; I can do nothing
I am helpless, but to God’s grace, I cling
I have loved and lost, but He comforts me
He leads me to the shore of certainty

He’s saved and redeemed me, so I can sing
In sadness and sorrow, much joy He brings
I am His beloved child; He loves me
Here I stand on the shore of certainty

Points for Reflection:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)
·       The Apostle Paul expresses absolute certainty in the inseparable and everlasting love of God in Christ Jesus.
·       Even if you have lost everything and everyone you treasured in this world, you will never lose the love of God. He is there to help you pull through the difficult times, even when all hope seems lost.
·       What uncertainties are you struggling with? Does the future bring you much fear?
·       I am powerless; I can do nothing. I am helpless, but to God’s grace, I cling. I have loved and lost, but He comforts me. He leads me to the shore of certainty.
·       He’s saved and redeemed me, so I can sing. In sadness and sorrow, much joy He brings. I am His beloved child; He loves me. Here I stand on the shore of certainty.
·       C.S. Lewis said, ‘He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.’ Of this, we can be certain.