Feeling delicate

November 29, 2008

“Why you’d sing hallelujah,
If it means nothing to you.
Why you’d sing with me at all?”

Almost Christmas

November 23, 2008

Running through Orchard Road at night reminds me that Christmas is coming.  The twinkly lights and Christmas sales.  It’s a festive time for most.  All the more so if you are Christian.  Then it’s also a season for Christmas carols and evangelistic musicals.

A couple of weeks ago, someone in chuch shared about some evangelistic video that was made with the intention of engaging non-Christians in discussions about God.  I had mixed feelings about it.  Now, I agree wholeheartedly with evangelism and I’ve thrown more than my fair share of outreach events.  But I’m starting to really wonder about the wisdom of holing people up in room on the pretext of giving them food and drink and then forcing them to watch some video about some dude they don’t know who apparently loves them enough to die for them.  I’m all for different media platforms as a good way to start spiritual conversations but frankly, if my friends needed a video at Christmas to feel comfortable to talk to me about God, I’m doing a pretty shitty job as a Christian.

(By the way, I was asked recently what I pray for when I pray for my non-Christian friends.  My friend was surprised at the answer.  “You mean you don’t pray that their souls are saved from eternal damnation?”  No, I don’t.  My prayers are fairly pedestrian.  I pray that I’ll be a good friend, that God will be able to use me to love them, that I will be a blessing to them somehow and that through me, they will understand a little more about this God I claim to serve.)

All this made me think about my evangelism style – hopelessly flawed as I’m sure it is.  I think it comes down to this:  My life.  The Jesus video.  24h a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Too much of me.  Too little of God.  Too much angst.  Too much swearing.  Too much ranting.  Too much self-centredness.  Too much sin.  But a lot of grace and a lot of love.  Too many mistakes but always redemption.  Too many flaws but always transformation.  Sometimes fleeting but nevertheless always hope in uncertainty, calm in chaos, strength in weakness and peace in strife.  A work-in-progress, dynamic and real.  Tragically imperfect but this is what all that Bible goobledegook looks like real-time, raw, uncut, unedited.  Watch that.

Passage: Psalm 46; Mark 4:35-41

Church has started a new sermon series on the theme “therefore, we will not fear troubled times”.  It’s pretty apt given the economic crisis and overall uncertainty that we are facing at the moment and today’s sermon was perfect for swirly-brained Cheryl. 

A couple of disjointed thoughts about the passage:

  1. Mark 4: 38 “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing”  I have prayed some version of this prayer many many times.  It is so true that it is the fear of drowning that leads us to panic.  I know I’ve made many a decision (rightly or wrongly) because of that fear.  In that sense, my fight-or-flight instinct is very strong.  Being still goes against my nature.
  2. Psalm 46:1 “A very present help in trouble”  The idea that God is a very present help is quite reassuring.  The interesting thing for me is that God’s track record of being present makes it easier to trust him for the future. 
  3. Isaiah 43:1  “You are Mine”  Enough said.  🙂

At one point in the sermon, the pastor shared about his past stuggles with depression and that sometimes the battles within are harder to fight that the battles outside.  Let’s face it.  I hardly have any problems.  But I always find it very hard to quieten the thoughts in my head.  The last few weeks have been pretty bad so when the pastor issued the promise that “God can still the storm of thoughts in your head”, I felt God’s gaze fall on me and a voice in my soul say, “I’m talking about you, kid”.  That was pretty cool.

Also cool was the reminder (following the theme from last week) from Philippians 2:4 to “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  I’ve been feeling extremely transactional and selfish for most part of the year.  It is a real struggle to prefer another’s needs over your own AFTER you realise how much it is actually going to cost you.  But cost is hardly a factor when it is the right thing to do.  Hmmm…

Afterthought:  Blogging about the sermon is actually turning out to be a pretty good discipline.  For one, it means that I actually went to church (which is a minor miracle in itself) and paid attention to the sermon.

A million swirly thoughts

November 22, 2008

For someone who has a million swirly thoughts in her head, I’ve got to say that I’m actually feeling pretty relaxed and happy.  It is interesting to be facing a tomorrow that is uncertain with possible future scenarios that are not pleasant and yet still feel calm and confident. 

Is this what the peace of God that surpasses all understanding feels like? 

Is this what it means when it says that all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Interesting…

2 emails

November 22, 2008

2 emails found their way into my in-box today.  The first was sweet.  Full of empathy and understanding.  Unconditional affection.  Choices deliberately made to edify and encourage.  Built bridges.  Strengthened relationships.  It was addressed to me and it brought a smile to my face and thankful tears to my eyes.  The second was curt.  Full of hurt and disappointment.  Transactional.  Choices deliberately to cut losses and walk away.  Burnt bridges.  Severed relationships.  It was addressed to someone else and had ended up in my in-box by mistake.  I felt sad for the recipient and also for the sender. 

A couple of disjointed 1am in the morning thoughts:

  1. Words contain amazing power:  the power to build up and the power to tear down.  If I ever wanted a spiritual gift, it would be to the wisdom to know what to say and how and when as well.  To have the gift of the gab, not to be verbose, but to be able to leave someone little better than I found them.  (This is from the girl who about 2 months ago swore she would never do “basket-case” ministry again!  How quickly I forget the sacrifice praying these prayers entail.)
  2. One of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me was that they would be there, whatever I decided to do.  Even if things all went to pot.  It is interesting how the “liberty” to do whatever the hell you want somehow makes you want to be a better person.
  3. A little competition to see who can thank / appreciate the other first is a fun little game.   People should play this kind of games (not the hurtful, evil kind)!
  4. I can be too quick to go in all guns ablazing.  Brute force isn’t the only way to get things done.  Sometimes charm works well too.  Subtlety is a skill.  And I really really really need to be more patient and self-controlled.

A lot more thoughts but my brain has realised the time and might just conk.  So just to end off to say that I’ve had an email sitting in my draft folder for a couple of days now.  After reading that second email, I promptly deleted it.  Even though it was graciously and carefully written, I decided that its only purpose was to clarify my thoughts.  It wasn’t appropriate as a vehicle to communicate innermost thoughts.  There are other ways to do that.

Look at my new pretty shoes!

November 21, 2008

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Today, thankful…

November 17, 2008

  1. For the message that made me laugh out loud.
  2. For the luxury of an afternoon nap on a lazy Sunday. (Naps?! What’s that!?)
  3. To hear you say for the first time that you are praying for me. It put a smile on my face
  4. For the messy blessings that are bittersweet but blessings still the same
  5. That I still remember (without effort) how to play the guitar. How I have missed you!