In the Book of Haggai, the Lord spoke to the then governor of Judah and the high priest through the prophet Haggai: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5). The same instruction is repeated in Haggai 1:7, “Give careful thought to your ways.”
Throughout the bible, God cautions His people to ponder and reflect upon our words and actions, such as in Proverbs 4:26. It is also important to note that God also specifically mentions about focusing on the road ahead and not to be distracted whilst we are pursuing our goals. It is biblical to be intentional, to plan and to be focused. In the busyness of our lives, we may plan with the best of intentions but we get sidetracked and in the end, we lost track. If any part of our lives seems like a mess, it is time for us to “give careful thought to our ways.” In our ways, have we been honouring God, as we should? In our ways, did we seek God and conscientiously ensure that we are not straying?
Tomorrow, 1st March 2017, marks the beginning of the Lent Season 2017. Last year, I tried to finish reading the whole bible during the 40-day Lent season, but I did not manage to complete the reading. This year, I am going to join Margaret Feinberg in reading the Book of John during the Lenten season.
I contemplated fasting too, but I do not think that I am ready for that yet.
Are you embarking on your own Lenten journey this year? If yes, what will you be doing?
In the month of November this year, I made a point to spend more time reading devotional materials. I have been very far behind in my bible study and reading of Christian literature, so this is one baby step towards picking up the pace.
This is a round-up of my favourite bible verses, gleaned from the devotional reading last month (not in any order of preference).
#1 Galatians 6:4-5 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
#2 Hebrews 12:1 … let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.
#3 Ephesians 4:26 And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. v29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
#4 Psalm 141:3 Take control of what I say, O Lord, and keep my lips sealed.
As we can see here, there is an emphasis on being focused and moving ahead. There is also a desire to watch out for the words that come out of my mouth, because too often I catch myself saying things which I shouldn’t have, and not saying words which I should.
In this month of December, it is also good to reflect upon the past year, of our achievements, shortcomings and to take note of these life lessons as we move into the new year.
It is already October, which means that we are already in the last quarter of 2016. Before we know it, it will be time to start making resolutions again. But this year, instead of jumping into the resolution list-making bandwagon, I decided to take a step back and to ponder on how far I have come about the focus areas that I listed down early in 2016, and how I could move forward.
Prior to making any new list, I would like to remind myself and you, readers of my blog, to think about the message from the book of Haggai (in the Holy Bible). One of the key content in Haggai is about finishing the building of the temple of God. I refrain from using the word “message” and chose to use “content” instead, because the message is to be interpreted from the content.
I choose to write about Haggai in the post today, because I would like to remind myself and my readers that as we approach the end of the year, we should finish the projects that we started, and to finish them with a heart to please God. It doesn’t matter if our the “projects” are not really spiritual in nature, because who knows what our almighty God can make out of our seemingly unimportant quests.
As for myself, I have a few items on my list which I need to seriously look into and draw a closing to, before embarking on some new projects which I have stumbled upon this year and would like to start working on.
What about you?
As I sat in a fast food outlet a couple of weeks ago, having my late lunch, I saw the grandfather-grandchild pair at their usual places. Grandpa is deeply engrossed in his newspaper, grandchild is doing his homework. I’ve seen them here more than a few times over the past few months, so I can only conclude that they are regular here.
One may jump into the conclusion that grandpa is not feeding his grandchild “properly”, so to speak. Some self-righteous parents may judge grandpa, or even grandchild’s parents. But I just witnessed a moment of tender exchange between grandpa and grandchild. They had a conservation with sincere smiles exchanged. All the time that they’re here, grandchild is very well-behaved and keeping himself occupied with reading and doing his homework.
I do not know their whole story, as to why they frequent this fast-food outlet regularly, why they do not have home-cooked meals, where are daddy and mummy, when, etc. But when I saw that moment of tender exchange between grandpa and grandchild, I realize that raising a child is not about hovering above him all the time. Eating right is very important, none can deny that. But being raised emotionally healthy is of equal importance. A child needs to have the opportunity and freedom to explore and create meaning about all that is going on around him. Our roles and responsibilities as parents or caretakers are to provide the guidance and support, whenever and wherever they are required. As to when such guidance and support are required, and how much to be given, varies from child to child and it is the parents’ wisdom to discern.
God chose specifically us to be the parents to our child(ren); it is no accident or coincidence. It is a plan and God makes no mistakes in His plans. Therefore, sit back, learn to let go when we could and be ready to step in when we should.
I love scribbling and making notes whenever something of interest strikes me. Somehow, I read and understand better with papers (instead of electronic reading devices, despite owning an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and iPad) and I get a better picture of ideas when I put them down.
These past two days I have been digging through some old notebooks and I found bits and pieces of scribbled notes from the past. The first stack was several sheets of drawings which were inspired by the awesome Samantha Lee, who is famous for her food art creations. I remember creating those drawings as I browsed through her posts on Instagram when I was on a quest to get my then three-year-old to eat healthier. Well, although I simply do not have the artistic flair to create such awesome food art, the “face-on-bread” which I put together with bread, blueberry jam, strawberry jam and some chocolate rice managed to convince and convert my little boy to come to enjoy bread as breakfast.
The other stack of papers I just came across were some handwritten notes with reminders and to-do’s, written down when I was preparing my Masters’ research project report. I must admit that I have not gone through the report since I graduated with the degree, which was 10 years ago. As I went through these notes, I was overwhelmed with memories of those years. It was blissful nostalgia, indeed.
There are times when I wonder if thoughts are worth writing down and taking up the space in my drawers and on my shelves. But today, after stumbling upon these two stacks of notes, I have found the final answer. Going down the memory lane with those hand-written notes can be inspiring, liberating and even bring revelations. Meaning self-reflection is triggered by moments such as this. As we put our pen to paper, let us remember that what we create today can leave a legacy for tomorrow. So grab your favourite notebook, a good quality pen and start writing.
One the earliest phrases that my five-year-old learned to say is “That’s not fair”. Well, he doesn’t fully understand the meaning of “fairness” yet, for he used it whenever he didn’t get things his way. His idea of fairness is obviously different, not to say, inaccurate, but it is a wonder to see that such a young child chose this word to express his dissatisfaction.
In Hosea 12:6, God asks his people to “… Act on the principles of love and justice.” Love encompasses many things, and the most comprehensive definition of love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. God is love, and the ministry of Jesus is all about love for God’s people. But what about justice? We know that God is just (and merciful), but what are the principles of justice?
There are times when what we do does not appear to be just or fair, so to speak, just like when I took away the TV control after my five-year-old has had his share of cartoon for the day. Perhaps he felt like his rights has been violated, but to me, I was acting for his good. I was acting on the principles of love.
Whenever we act, let us ask ourselves honestly if we are acting on the principles of love and justice. If we are, then we can always live in confident dependence on our God (Hosea 12:6). If we aren’t, then the next time we caught ourselves red-handed, we should pause and ask ourselves this question, “Are we acting on the principles of love and justice?”