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Monday, 29 December 2014

The Last Week of the Year 2014! 22-28 December 2014

My last week of the year 2014 would be from 22 -28 December.  I have been a home-body this week.

Got all dressed up on 24 December to attend church service and the taxi-driver couldn't pick me up at the last minute.  
His story:  the police up the road had detained him and were taking their time looking at his papers.  
My thought:  "Poor guy, I hope he makes it home early enough to celebrate with his extended family.  You see, he had planned a Christmas Eve dinner with his family".
My own reaction about not being able to participate in church service:  Disappointment which turned quickly to acceptance.  No worries.


25 December was really quiet - just me, God and a whole lot of peace.  That's what God promised when one accepts His Son, Jesus (romans 5: 1).  With the peace, there was a whole lot of joy.  Inevitable isn't it - joy in His Presence (Psalm 16:11).  My house in Honduras has nothing Christmassy about it - no real or artificial Christmas tree, no presents.  Just a humble nativity scene which I got from Diunsa (the store) for less that US$3.50!!  And a pot of quickly-drying-up poinsettias given to me a month ago.  They were fresh when I got the cheery, bright red flowers though. 

26 December, I was a bit emotional.  Seeing all those fun photos on Facebook was good and sad.  Good because I knew that my family and friends worldwide were celebrating the festive season and sad because they were all too far away from me.  As usual, like my earlier disappointment, my emo status didn't last 3 minutes.  That's me - I sort of have this attitude, "Hey, let's just move on!".  More than that, "Hey, Immanuel!".

27 December, a day before my birthday and one of my sisters and some friends began to wish me a very happy birthday on Facebook posts.  So many greetings came in on my 27th, I was wondering if anyone will wish me on 28th!  Thankfully, there were quite a few friends who did just that:-).  Thank you all!

I noted something today:  In all my life, I don't think I have read as much hate-articles as in 2014.  Well, mostly hate towards Christians but also towards various groups of people.  And I hate to say this but I also see "Christians" hating people.  Err..we are called to hate the SIN, not the person.  

And needless to say, and you know it's true, it seems like the whole world is embroiled in this hate and evil and we Facebook people try to hold onto our sanity with the little beauty in our lives.  We strive to make beautiful memories.  I think that's a good thing; there's enough sadness and problems to cause massive depression and we don't need to flood Facebook with it.  I mean, someone else is already doing it, right?  Plus in the light of major tragedies, my own concerns and challenges seem tiny.

Somewhere else across the horizon, it's already the 28th and friends started messaging me about the Air Asia disappearance and the floods in Malaysia.  Mercy, Lord Jesus!

28 December (no time-zone),  I wake up thanking God for my life.  It has been a great 2014 despite some challenges.  Oh yes, another year older.  Am I happier, wiser, stronger, kinder, more loving, more gracious?  Have I inched closer to my Lord Jesus Christ?  I like to say "Yes!" but I am not perfect.  I suspect most people would like Christians to be perfectly flawless.  Sorry to rain on your parade but that's not true at all.  We are imperfect people trying to follow a perfect Christ and His teachings with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Birthday greetings poured in - it's really nice to be remembered.  It's my day today and I want to share with you three lessons I learnt in 2014, before I go to bed:

1.  God is ever-loving, ever-present, ever-powerful and faithful.  He knows me like no other, and forever and forever.  I have no fear when I know the eternity I have in Christ.  I have a responsibility to live a life of faith, not fear.

2.  Word-power can cause division or unity.  Just take a look at the Media; words are primarily used to pit one against the other; to twist and sensationalize concepts and intentions; to curse; to devalue marriage between one man and woman; to offer 'alternatives' that in the long-run will create more problems to mankind.  My preference is to use words to encourage, cling to godly righteousness, to inspire others to be better or even to rebuke with grace.  I am responsible for how I speak, what I write and even how I listen to  grammatical power.  I am responsible for calling sin "SIN" and not sugar-coat what is clearly wrong by God's eyes.  

3.  Human life-value is decreasing.  No, it's not all about suicides.  It's really about how we treat each other's lives.  I am not talking about the polite niceties and mannerisms here.  I am looking at the ten-year-old who dares to shoot at another, the beheadings to satisfy personal religious zeal, the point-blank murders of policemen serving others or vice-versa, planting of bombs to dispose communities, pointing a gun-to-the-head when war-taxes are not paid, blanket approval to kill foetuses and babies, collecting women and young female children as sex-slaves and prizes, denying basic necessities to communities...etc. (Okay, a point to note - I am not a pacifist but I am against senseless murders and demeaning actions.)

Sick minds prevail because sick minds have no understanding of human life-value.  People with sick minds treat others as they see themselves - worthless human beings.  Really sad, isn't it? (I sigh, here).

There is love and hope!  Thank God!

We are worth every bit to God because we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His glorious image (Psalm 139: 14).

Here's my take on personal responsibility (works for me) as a follower of Christ:   
I am responsible for loving all those who stand against godliness but also responsible for standing against the ungodly actions of today.  
I am responsible for putting a high value to my life and other lives.  I am responsible for following the teachings of Jesus Christ all summed up in just one Great Commandment. 

Love God.  Love yourself.  Love others.  Value your life enough to deny selfishness.  May the next few days of 2014 and the New year of 2015 bring more Love, more Peace and more Joy to you.

Waltzing with Jesus,
Rachel

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Immerse Me in Your Glory!

My helper Noella invited me to her church last Sunday.  Iglesia de Dios Olympica was re-dedicating herself to the Lord.  What a celebration it was!  The children, youths and adults celebrated with only one thing on their minds:  Sumergeme En Tu Gloria! Immerse me in Your Glory!


It was a long taxi ride for me but I am glad that I accepted this invitation.  This church which still needed some paint was packed.  Everybody worked to make things happen.  The pastor was very humble.

I was impressed with their children's ministry - they had a children's worship team and began the service; a seven-year-old was the intercessor and a five-year-old decked in a suit preached from Acts 2: 17 with authority and power!  
Acts 2:  17
 And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;



I love the fact that this church loves Israel and prays for Israel. It also supports missions overseas.  And to top it, this church has no qualms about dancing with flags or improvising a trumpet so that it is blown like the shofar.  





The youth worship team rocked the place! The twenty-year-old youth preached his heart out, crying out for God's glory.  The hunger was great and His faithfulness was revealed in His Presence.

I left the church after a sumptuous lunch cooked by the women/mothers in the church and served by the men / fathers in the church.  It was indeed a glorious day!

Thank you Jesus for a church hungry for Your Glory in this nation.
Blessed Season,
Rachel

Saturday, 22 November 2014

So, It's Thanksgiving Time Again!

Thanksgiving is really an American holiday.  And I have too many American friends and non-American friends who celebrate Thanksgiving.  So, here's wishing you all a season of blessedness.

Increasingly though, and even in Honduras, the season of commercialized Christmas seems to have superseded the Thanksgiving turkey in all its roasted glory.  I am once again reminded of this season through an overdrive of American retail marketing, the number of likes and re-posts on Facebook.  Don't get me wrong.  I think Americans have a stronger reason to celebrate Thanksgiving than Halloween and it's a great time to reflect on God's goodness.

So, how do I, a non-American, respond to this special holiday in a foreign calendar?

And this is my way of giving thanks to God Almighty - yes, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

1.  Take a breather - chill, sit in my most comfortable chair with my Bible in hand.  And let my mind reflect on this last year's goodness.  I challenge you to do the same.  Your list of blessings will be long! Mine is, all the time.  

2.  Smile a lot - It's just natural when I keep writing down non-stop blessings given by God BUT more so when I reflect upon the Giver of All Blessings.

3.  Pause - yes, there have been instances of pain, anger.  I ask for forgiveness for making God too small in those moments.  Man, He is bigger than my own thoughts about Him.  Thank God that the blood of Jesus shed on the wooden cross in Calvary is enough to cleanse me.  Pause and think of the good that came out of the pain.  God is so faithful to those who trust His Son, Jesus.

4.  Play favorite worship music - I totally love to praise and dance.  So, you can bet that it's going to be fast-paced Spanish worship music, abit of jazz, some reggae and the kind of praise songs in English and Indonesian that literally keeps my hands lifted unto God.

5.   Pause - to Pray.  Prayer is communication, not just my voice to God but His voice to me.  I thank God for every past blessings and then wait....wait to listen to His voice.  

6.  Watch that Bible - God speaks mostly through the Bible.  But hey, I don't put Him in a box, He is God.  He can speak to me through other ways - impression, songs, vision...etc.

7.  Ask - I ask God to reveal the person(s) to bless and the specific ways to bless.  More importantly, I ask God to pour His love into my heart for those whom I will bless.  Come on, try it.  Ask Him.
8.  Act - my obedience is dependent on my response to what I have been asked to do.  Obedience to His exact instructions brings great glory to God.

9.  Get real - we are so human.  Sometimes, I can get too proud and think it's about what I can do for someone else.  Really? It's about Jesus Christ, my friend.  It's about who He is and what He can do through me.  So, let's get real and remember who enables us to be a true blessing.

10. Remember - remember that Thanksgivng, like Christmas or Good Friday or Resurrection Sunday, is really everyday.  We are so capable of missing this point: Give thanks daily for God is good!!


Quietly thanking God for Who He is in my short life,
Rachel

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Dough-ing the Honduran Way

I thought I would try making some tortillas today.  Well, I might as well get used to the food that my Honduran friends are accustomed too.

So, I invested in the masa de maiz.  Added some hot water and got to making the dough.  All good now.  Let it rest.


Thirty minutes later as my stomach growled "lunch...grrr", I started making little balls of dough.  My helper, 72 year-old Noella said, "Hmmm, I think the dough needs to be softer".  Oh well...added some more water.


And she helped me shape four balls of dough into true, off-white tortillas.  The new iron skillet was super-hot.  The shaped dough was thrown on it and it came out in great tortilla character.


Served it with frijoles I had attempted yesterday, crema from the store and scrambled-omelette.  I passed my own test.  Noella seconded it.


Loving the experience in Honduras and Dios es bueno todo el tiempo!
Rachel

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Grace Shield

People often associate Christians with good moral values.  We are the do-gooders, the prim and proper, the uptight conservatives.  True?

I don't think so.  I think true followers of Christ value good morals, give sacrificially to others and know how to have good, clean fun!  But I tell you, this 'morality' thing is bugging me.  I spent a week thinking about this word. I mean, I see and read about daily assaults on Christians and their moral values!  

So, how do I respond under the grace of God?  Hey, feel free to stop reading anytime.  The power of choice that God gives us:-)

Right and Wrong, Good and Bad
The major dictionaries define morality as "a particular system of values and principles of conduct", "principles concerning the distinctions of right and wrong, the good and bad behaviors".  These days, it seems, liberality and deception has distorted the distinctions of right and good behavior.  Then again, it's an age-old problem that has become more evident in current times.  Everything is relative.
And as C.S. Lewis states:
Toughie or Softie?
Do you see the weakness that bombards and assaults our eyes, our sense of morality on a daily basis?   

When 200+ Nigerian girls and young women are kidnapped by Boko Haram, morality is assaulted.  Boko Haram uses its weakness and lack of moral values to instill fear, attack the bodies of young females, force conversion to Islam.  Boko Haram may have weapons and booming voices but it is a group without morals and value for life.

Right up with Boko Haram, is ISIS.  ISIS is a personification of Evil.  ISIS has no concept of morality.  Their intention is to wipe out lives regardless of Christians or not.  Their understanding of good and value of life is misplaced and warped.

And of course, we have government leaders around the world who rub their hands in glee for endorsing the perverse, for caring so little about the lives of their own people, for defiling the sanctity of marriage (while they remain married to an opposite sex), and yes, even the sanctity of creation! These leaders operate out of weakness, not strength.  They stand against what is good and noble, and remain deceived.  Their own morality hangs in a balance even as they try to take the place of God.  Their endorsement of evil assaults the goodness of God.

In short, when you see evil and perverseness and weak leaders endorse or force it, they operate out of their fears, out of their sinful, weak beings; not strength.  I mean, how can anyone be seen as 'strong' and 'powerful' when they are beheading, murdering unborn babies and kidnapping Christian girls?

So now, what would you call a person who fights for another life? Like soldiers sent to war, or ordinary people who stand against abortions, or people who would not back down and be forced to accept perverseness?  What would you call a person who truly values life, not just their own but another life too?  What would you call people who rescue modern-day slaves because they value other lives? How do you see someone who fights, loves, rescues, values another life?  What title comes to your mind?

Hero? Savior? Yes, and these people who love goodness, not perverseness or evil, operate out of strength.  It takes a strong person to live through tough times.

Seriously? Seriously!
Seriously?  Evil has been present since the Fall (Genesis 3).  Deception and evil has only increased  in current times.  And no, God did not create evil because God is good.  He cannot contradict Himself.

But hey, I am not exalting morality here but pointing out that there is no possibility of being and understanding Good without the Grace of God.  That's what Christianity is about - an acceptance of God's gracious invitation to accept reconciliation through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Christianity is about accepting this grace of God and living out the grace of God.  And the grace of God is good, all the time.  The grace of God allows Christians to enjoy and embrace truth, sanctities of life, marriage and detests perverseness and unrighteousness in all it's forms.  It's a pathway to freedom - a freedom that values other lives, loves people but not sins, honors a Great God.

Christian apologist Ravi Zachariah states "Here we must bring a different caution. Christianity is definitively and drastically different from all other religions. In every religion except Christianity, morality is a means of attainment. No amount of goodness can justify us before a sovereign God. The Christian message is a reminder that our true malady is one that morality alone cannot solve. A transformed heart by God’s grace is the efficacious power that lifts us beyond mere morality. It is the richness of being right with God. His grace makes up for what our wills cannot accomplish." (http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking/think-again-beyond-mere-morality/)

By God's Grace
Come on fellow Christians, we are not perfect people but we know the grace, forgiveness and wrath of God.  We do know what is good and noble, what is right and wrong by God's standards.  We are called to love the people because God loves all but not the sin in or acted out by anyone. God hates sin.  We are called to keep away from evil and be steadfast in the ways of God.  

Can we adorn our spiritual armor and fight the good fight till our last breath?  Aren't you tired of how we are assaulted on a daily basis?  Can we gather in groups in homes, in schools, at work-places and be on our knees for so many assaulted and deceived by Evil?  In the first place, do we care enough to stand against what is evil?  Do you even know how to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad within yourself?

Let the Holy Spirit of God help you.  Dwell in the Scriptures for a better understanding of God's ways.  Seek wise counsel and never back down from what God has already determined. Operate out of God's love, strength and boldness, not out of fear, weakness and deception.



I stand for Christ,
Rachel (using the grace shield)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

What My Parents Taught Me. . .

These verses got me thinking about my non-Christian parents (still living in Singapore).  

Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.

9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

A long time ago. . . .
My dad taught me to:
1. live within my means.
2. to owe no one no debt (I had to borrow some money from him for my studies, tho')
3. to honor elders
4. to be respectful to guests.
5. to do my best.
6. to speak my mind.
7. to take it easy.

My mum taught me to:
1. to serve elders.
2. to be respectful to especially elders.
3. to be polite to all guests.
3. to never talk back to elders (lasted for awhile, then it became debatable discussions as I grew older).
4. to eat all food on my plate (no questions asked).
5. to behave myself...(oh dear!).
6. to cook rice the traditional way when I was ten years old.
7. to tell the truth (or face the cane).

I thank God for my parents and am praying the Peace of Christ to be real to them.

Blessings,
Rachel

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Finding Peace amidst Chaos


If you read reports regarding Central American nations, it can sometimes be depressing as the media highlights the negative news - corruption, murders, rapes, trafficking and so on.  
Are you telling me that first world nations are clean of these unrighteousness?  Unrighteousness, wickedness as well as some good happens in the world around.

We are as safe as can be any where in the world, provided the government cares enough about their people.  

There is a better, safer place:  to be safe in the knowledge of who we are in Christ, safe in knowing that God goes before us.  Even when something bad happens, we believe Romans 8: 28:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  

How can we then find our windows of peace amidst chaos and disorder? 

I don't think anyone needs to be in an idyllic environment to see the beauty in God's creation.  Still, I cannot deny that God, the Creator, the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscience One created this gorgeous sunrise in Guetemala.


Or in super-busy Singapore, when we take time to catch the beauty of a new day among a designed green environment.

Even when Ebola spreads, ISIS slaughters, governments break down and we experience personal loss and struggles;  A new day brings new mercies, new hope and creative beauty sheds a light in various ways - sunrise, sunset, helpful friends and loving family.

The point is:  We have the potential in us to appreciate the beauty of God's creation amidst the chaos, sufferings and pains.  See the hope.  Embrace the peace.

My hope and peace is in Christ Jesus,  Against all odds, in Christ, everything is good and perfect.  I can be at peace in and with God despite the chaotic madness around me, and see how to bring that hope and peace of Christ so the goodness of God prevails, not the stirrings of disorderliness..


Blessings of hope and peace of Christ to you,
Rachel



Thursday, 2 October 2014

Travel Thoughts (written on 30 Sep 2014)

The sun and the rain,
mountains and sea,
hospitable friends
and helpful Hondurans
greeted me.

I thought
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo
and I saw
on a truck 
Si Dios es por nosotros, quién contra nosotros?



Meanwhile 
thousands of kilometers away
my sisters were at the hospital
attending to my dad.
I did the inevitable,
prayed and mobilized prayer.

Prayer rose up from different parts of the world.
Afew hours later, I saw a text message.
Hallelujah! The 'hero' is fine.
I think
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.

Powerful prayers.
Concerted prayers.
To an Almighty God
in Jesus' Name, Name above all names.
I think
of an answered prayer
when God honored 
our request for healing
a teenager in ICU.

I think
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.
Si Dios es por nosotros, quién contra nosotros?

As I blog now,
I am on the road
heading to another
Honduran city.
It is pouring
sky juice in abundance
I ask my Father in Heaven
to send some to Texas.

Then I pray
for safe travel
In this heavy downpour.
Still I think
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.
Si Dios es por nosotros, quién contra nosotros?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

God's Goodness during My Asia Trip

Psalm 145: 8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, LORD; your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
+++
It's a quiet Sunday morning in Texas. I am taking time to remember God's goodness throughout my last three weeks of staying the course through some Asian countries.

Stop 1 - Seoul, Korea (I lived here for a short time a few years ago)
How good God has been to my friends despite life challenges.  It was pure joy to meet my South Korean and Canadian friends.  

At one lunch meeting at a popular Korean restaurant, a South Korean friend made a reservation for lunch in my name.  But my name was written in Korean.  That was special.  So many people around the world pronounce my name differently.  I wonder how God would call me.  Rachel? Raquel? Or 레이첼?  Still, how special it is to have my name and yours called by God?  

My name in Korean.

Stop 2 - Singapore (Proudly my birth-nation)
I returned to celebrate my younger sister's significant birthday.  I loved that the birthday girl was surprised at my return.  My sisters are wildly funny.  I was further blessed with catching up with my friends.  A tight schedule meant that I could only meet friends selectively.  And we did exactly that.  We made time to meet at a popular Indian restaurant, a hotel lobby and food courts.

One former military buddy was so kind to think that I might miss some Indonesian food and decided to provide gado-gado (Indonesian salad with peanut sauce) and nasi rawon.  
It was wonderful to spend some quality time with family and friends.


Salad, fritters, custard pies, steamed buns and gado-gado with peanut sauce.

Stop 3 - Transit in the Middle East
I spent afew days with friends.  My hostess welcomed me with a beautiful pot of colorful flowers.  I don't think I thanked her enough for such a surprise.  But it was the time spent with her and other friends that I valued most.  I must have stayed with 3 families during this transit period.  All of them hosted me well.  With the second family, I got to know them better and enjoyed exchanging Christ-centered true life experiences while with the third family, it was good to catch-up on new life happenings.


My welcome gift from my hostess - a pot of flowers.

Currently in USA
I reached my destination before another final destination.  Since I returned, I continue to hear of how God is working among my friends in Asia.  Indeed, His presence is real to those who trust Him completely.  

As I prepare to move on to Central America, I look forward to what God might do in Latin American nations.  One thing I do know - Dios es bueno todo el tiempo!!

With every miracle of friendship, I praise God.  With every miracle of provision, protection from God during my travels, I praise God...yes, even despite terrible flight moments!!

I got wings on my feet,
Rachel


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Waiting Made Easier

Stopping by Seoul to visit with friends was a really good decision.  I don't know when I might see them again.  Breaking the journey to Singapore helped with my jet-lag.  After all that eating,talking, praying, it was time to dash to Incheon airport.  I decided to check-in early. That was another good decision.

While waiting, I witnessed the 'King' and his 'Royal family' walk around the terminal with their entourage in tow.  Wow, so many passengers stopped to photograph this 'family' in their royal outfits.  This was Incheon Airport's way of showcasing Korean culture.  
I was thinking, "What interest and fanfare for a fake 'king'!"

The 'King's family' at Incheon Airport
  


Psalm 135:5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.


How do you think people will respond to the True King of Kings?  Would people be curious, gather in large crowds?  

I waited around my boarding gate and quietly observed a newly-married Singaporean Muslim couple.  They were cute.  The new wife, her henna on the hands still fading, was holding her husband and singing a love song in Malay, her language.  I had an opportunity to greet them with a few words.  I was curious as to how they managed with the food as most korean restaaurants and cafés do not sell 'halal' meat.  The new wife replied, " We just choose seafood dishes, we cannot be too fussy when we are on holiday."  Interesting!  I blessed them as they began their marriage journey.

Practically 70 percent of passengers at the boarding gate were occupied with their phone, ipad or laptop.  Wow, it seems like we have become a people who cannot do without electronic gadgets.

Korean Airlines flight crew was just outstanding.  I wanted to change my seats as I didn't want to be seated in the midst of about 60 schoolchildren on an excursion to Singapore.  Thank God, that I could sit in the first economy cabin.  Sure helped me to get some rest before I reached Singapore.

I wait around in my home airport in a few days.

On the road again,
Rachel



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Gratitude is Not Just an Attitude, It is Fortitude

One of my friends nominated me to share three things that would make me be grateful for the next five days.  It's a Facebook challenge that has been in circulation for some time.  It's a good challenge.  There are so many people and things to appreciate.  How do I narrow it down to just three heart revelations?  In current times where I am challenged with persecution of Christians, repeated injustice, worldly values, it takes courage for anyone to mouth the words, "I am thankful for. . .".

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Glorious Belief
I am thankful that I believe in an Almighty Triune God.  Too many miracles have happened in my life but this one miracle of crossing over from eternal death to eternal life through faith in my Lord Jesus Christ tops them all.  This belief is not nonsense.  It is truth.  It is God's Glory.  This Truth does not bind me.  It frees me.  Faith in Christ has freed me to be all that I can be in Him alone.  It's not positive thinking.  It's about understanding that my personal strength, grace, love, patience, peace and joy is limited but in a Triune God, it is limitless.  It is also an understanding that I am not bound by human expectations but am submitted to God's expectations.  And God's expectations are far higher than what the human mind conceives.
I look forward to and will be thankful for the careful unfolding of God's plans for me in the next few days. 

Psalm 123:  2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.

Loved Ones
Without a doubt, family and friends come next.  While blood is thicker than water, some of my friends are really like family to me.  As a single woman traveling around the world, friends become family at some point of my life.  I love my parents, my sisters, my brothers-in-law, my nieces and nephew. Most of my memories with family and friends are built over the table.  Yes, so much to talk about over food.  And some have been built over memories such as charging up Pengkang Hill with an M-16, pouring over theology books, praying till we hear from God, running a marathon together, traveling together, laughing till our stomach aches and crying over our losses.
I look forward to new moments with my family and new friendships in the horizon.  I look forward to deepening established friendships and enjoying new memories with my family.



Powerful Words
I am thankful for The Word and words.  The Word is of course Christ:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 But words are something else altogether.  I am able to write them, sing them, play with them and memorize them.  I am able to see them, hear them and express myself in them.  I love words but not any kind of words.  The words I love must be life-giving, faith-building, transparent and a real blessing to others.  I do not like swear words, though I heard them a lot during military days.  I reject curses in any form.  I am averse to words demeaning anyone, impolite words and words that are not constructive.  Have I been a culprit using such death-like words?  Yes, I have been and I have repented because of my belief in Christ.
Have I got into trouble for using a poorly chosen word in my explanation?  Yes, of course and it has caused me some pain.
Still, despite the pain that some of my words have caused others or the pain I have received caused by others' words, I still love words.  

My favorite words are:  
God is good all the time.  
Dios es bueno todo el tiempo.  
Tuhan Baik sepanjang waktu.  
Dieu est bon tout le temps.

My gratitude goes beyond my glorious belief, family and friends, and words.  Gratitude entrenched even in the darkest, murderous, hateful hearts has a hope to be a tiny comfort blessing.  These days, we see more evil and injustice because we have lost a sense of deep gratitude for our being on earth, for a sound moral compass, for who God is and whom He loves.

Gratitude - reflection of the past, present and future is worth the time.  It's like resting with a cup of Earl Grey tea in my hand and a smile curled up on my face.

Somersaulting in the love of God,
Rachel 



Saturday, 9 August 2014

Blessed Birthday Singapore on Your 49th!

So far away from you, my Singapore.
I have missed every birthday since you turned 35.
Still without fail,
My heart stirs in pride every August 9th,
As you, my dear, celebrate another year of accomplishments,
achievements, and agonies of a restless people.

Yet when National Day comes, 
We the citizens of Singapore 
pledge ourselves to be One Nation, One People.
I wish National Day would be everyday, just for unity sake.
Credits to Jerome Lim
10 years ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said:


Indeed, when I am stationed overseas, I am mindful.
Mindful that I am an islander, a red-dotter;
Mindful that I have high hopes and big dreams;
Mindful that I have a Can-do or a Never-say-die spirit;
Mindful that 10 years onward, I have seen a part of this future;

But most of all I am mindful
that without God's wonderful grace,
I could never be known as a Singaporean.
See, I could have been born elsewhere
where as a Christian child, my head could have been 
beheaded by Islamic militants.
I am mindful that as a red-dotter, I carry within me
the blessings of Christ shed blood on the cross;
I am truly covered in His blood.
I am mindful that all of my high hopes and dreams 
are rooted in the plans that God has for me - 
plans to prosper me and not to fail me.
I am mindful that my can-do or never-say-die spirit
is the Holy Spirit of courage and perseverance.
And I am most mindful that I do not make the future
but God makes my future.
I am just journeying with my God in His grace for His pleasure.

Happy Birthday, dear Singapore.  God bless you
with courage to do what is right,
with love to motivate you in all your good works,
with peace that passes all understanding,
with joy and laughter that makes us smile through difficult times.
I declare over you, Singapore -
the peace of God Almighty,
the love of God
and the power to be a blessing to other nations.

With love and blessing for you Singapore,
Rachel

Monday, 4 August 2014

Easy Tempo of Trust

I sit here in the quietness of a Sunday evening.  The dishwasher is whirring, the television is switched off.  I have just had a homemade Greek dinner.  My soul is restless and in times like these, I try to find out why I feel restless. Inevitably, my mind wanders to Christ, the Lover of my soul.

I think of my journey with Christ.  I don't really walk.  I dance.  I love dancing.  The beat of Latin American music gets me most.  

So, there I go - dancing with Christ as my partner to the song "Eres todo poderoso".

He leads me besides still waters (Psalm 23:2) even when the rhythm of life beats faster, and faster.  


At times, my steps quicken as I am led across the dance-hall of life events.  And at times, I waltz with the Lover of my soul.  And yes, we tango through life in perfect understanding.  I follow my Leader.

But it is when my Partner swirls and turns me around that my heart leaps a little bit.  Would I still hold His hands?

Oh, no worries.  He holds my hand tight.  I feel safe.  

My Partner does not miss a single step, even when I do.
I trust Christ.

Dancing joyfully in Christ,
Rachel

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Birthday Boy!

It would be nice to be back in Singapore where it's the 29th of July 2014.
       
A photo taken 4 years ago with Pa


It's my Appa's  (father's) birthday.  Happy birthday, Pa!!  It's going to be a great day!!

One thing I know of my Appa is that he worked hard to put my sisters and I through school.  He would pack an egg sandwich everyday to save some money.  He liked to play carom but he doesn't do that now.  He was a footballer and body-builder in his very much younger days.  Guess our liking for sports comes from Pa. And if there is one person who is current with the news, it's got to be Pa. He still reads the local newspapers from page to page, every morning.  And guess my sisters and I got our reading habit from him.

Here's cheering Appa on towards another year of blessedness.

Loving Appa together with my sisters,
Rachel





              



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Not too Heavy to Carry


In Africa, the little ones are not too heavy.  The other little ones carry their brother or sister.  I have witnessed the other little ones carry their sibling for more than four hours on their little back.  And when the other little ones are given some food, I saw them untie the piece of cloth that secures the toddler to their back, put the toddler down and feed them first before eating what was given to them.  

The beauty of this whole scene is that the other little ones carry their sibling without any complaints.

I was also attracted to the eyes of the other little ones.  What were they trying to say?  Do they know their own worth as a little person, as a child of God?  

  Do we do that for our brother or sister?  Do we do this within the Christian community?  Who would you carry today?


Psalm 119: 73 Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. 74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. 

I am thankful that Jesus carries me through good and bad times.  I am thankful that a Compassionate God always sends a friend to encourage, comfort or counsel during tough times.  I pray that God will use you and me to do the same for another person today.  God's Word is powerful, so may our encouragements, comfort and counsel be based on this Truth.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Dawn Meetings as a Lifestyle, anyone?

 My homestay with my 'family' in Ghana was an interesting experience.  I had my own room but my host family shared their entire family with me.  One Sunday night, my host and brother-in-Christ Mark invited me to his care group's dawn meeting the following day.    This was just the beginning of my morning enjoyment of worship, prayer and being blessed with the Word with other Ghanaians.
Just before light, we sit around
our minds stayed on Christ
our hearts filled with love
for a God whose mercies are new
each moment, each day.

As light breaks we remember the dawn just passed
and know the God in whom our faith lasts.
We remain blessed so that others, we may bless!

I was so privileged to be invited trice to exhort this family and friends.  They met faithfully at 5am from Mondays - Thursdays.  They met to dedicate their life and deeds for the day to God Almighty.  They met to pray for each other.
They called themselves the Generals:-) - they were leaders and upcoming leaders in their Church.  They were concerned about living a righteous life in Christ.
I was privileged to join them.  God is so good!








Psalm 119: 57 The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. 58 I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. 

150 Steps

I climbed those 150 steps just by a vineyard in Switzerland.  They were quite the climb for me.  I huffed and puffed my way up.  Terribly unfit but very determined.  My mind focused on the attributes of a great God - Sovereign, Omniscient, Good, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Divine (SO GOOD).  A missionary friend had taught me that a long time ago.  And God is so much more but it's a good start to reflect on His attributes.



I stopped halfway and turned around to look at Lake Zurich.  Calm.  Beautiful.  God creates beautifully. I stopped to praise God for His amazing creation.  Blue sky.  Green all around.  Blue-green lake.

Huff.  Puff.  Huff.  Puff.  I was tempted to hold the railings for support.  But no!  I can do this and under my breath, I ask God, " More strength, Lord".  I started thinking about my friends in Finland who were engaged in various negotiations related to their house.  "Lord, please make it all right for this couple who love you much.  Intervene, O God".

Just the last bit now.  No, I am not leaning onto those railings for support.  Oh yes, I made it to the top.  "Thank you Jesus for your strength".

I turn left and walk on....praising God.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Reading Club

I walked into the primary school among the urban poor in Ghana and immediately saw the needs.  There are needs everywhere in Africa.  It seems endless.  It is a known fact.

I discovered that the teacher-student ratio is 1:56.  Students in the upper primary classes can be over-aged because they came to school at a late age.  In one class, at least 10 students have been identified as needing help with reading, understanding and writing in the English language.  There are 30 more in the upper primary classes.

Education in this community is not seen as an important priority due to the families' social condition.  The students return home, not to do homework but, to look after their siblings or help their parents to earn money.  Most parents do not attend PTA meetings as they are busy with their chores.


There is hope.  My ministry launched The Reading Club on 9 July 2014.  Twenty-seven students joined us.  I am thankful for our volunteer facilitators, the partnerships of Call of Hope Ghana, Children of the Light, Hope Baptist Church and Manhean Primary School.  Together, we hope to help these students.

If you like to help support The Reading Club, please email me at faithablaze.execdir@gmail.com .

Blessings of peace,
Rachel

Ps/- do visit www.facebook.com/FaithAblazeInternationalMinistries/


Monday, 16 June 2014

Which nation do you support?

My friend Pat asked me, " So which nation do you support at the World Cup?".  Really good question as I am not a World Cup fan.  I had to answer her anyway but my mind took a brief journey to the past.

But I remember during my younger days, my dad and I would watch Singapore and Malaysia kick it out for the trophy.  I knew every Singapore player's name on the team.  As for foreign football, well...I only knew the name of a player if he was cute.  That's the truth!

At one World Cup, I really liked England and knew all the players' names!  Don't even ask me about the rules of football.  No nothing..nada!


Last evening over dinner, I was impressed when my older niece and her sister conversed about football and selection of players for the national team.  Wow!


Anyway, back to Pat's question.  I have to be honest and say, "Really, I don't care much about the World Cup.  But I do like sports and I would support any team that really plays fair, not dirty.  I would support the team that respects the sport and the players on the field.  I would support the team that really plays well for their country and crowd.  I would support the team that does not take any bribe to lose a game!" http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/sports/soccer/fixed-matches-cast-shadow-over-world-cup.html?_r=0

More importantly, as part of my Christian walk, I want to remember each nation in this major sports event before the Throne of Grace and Mercy.

By the way, do note that you can get that colorful football downloaded from www.shutterstock.com.

Waiting to hear my sis and niece scream as Switzerland is playing soon,
Rachel