Monday, October 25, 2010


In Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado has outshone every other book of his that I had read. This is a compelling book that every serious follower of Christ must get a hold of. The more I turned the pages, the more it stabbed deep into my heart. I have to humbly take off my lenses of self-centredness and “thought-I-have-it-under-my-wings” when I finished the book. Truly it is an amazing book that depicts the very heart of God. If only believers of the LORD Jesus Christ, who gave His all for us, will give our best to impact our world. If only we Christians chucked aside “what’s-in-it-for-me?” attitude to “how-should-I-help?” mentality, then healing and hope would have saturated this broken world. Thank you, Max, for your heart of gold fashioned by the heart of God.

I give this book a five-star!

I want to thank Thomas Nelson publishers for their generosity in providing me the freebook for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


My little Tommy fell asleep in my arms as we watched his favourite cartoon movie together. Twelve this year, he was talkative and playful. As I carried him into his room, I was crying. Those were tears of relief and joy rather than anything. I knelt down by my sleeping boy and thanked God profusely. Carla, my lovely wife, stood by me, as always, cried along.

“Can we take away your baby for some kind of a palliative care?” Those words still rang vividly in my ears when Tommy was born. The cold doctor delivered the bad news to us. We knew our baby had some kind of deformity but shocked at the doctor’s suggestion. Confusion and anguish jammed my mind. Both of us gave him an emphatic no! I still remembered telling God not to treat me like Job. “Please don’t give and then take away,” I prayed with extraordinary fervency.

“Is there anything else we can do about the baby?” Carla implored the doctor and nurses in between sobs. “Yes. Let go,” the doctor said in a tone as if he had seen it all. My wife hollered uncontrollably in my arms as we pondered the next best thing. I finally made up my mind to hang on until God told us to let go. “It’s going to be very difficult for both of you,” one nurse chipped in. Fears gripped us at those words as we were also struggling to make ends meet.

We took the baby home and trusted God. The severe Down-Syndrome child that befell us took a toll on us. But determination and love for our own flesh and blood overcame all adversities. The negative voices were not over yet as murmurings could be heard from our neighbourhoods. Some even called to offer solutions other than the ones we had decided. Carla and I have never been so close to the LORD before as this ‘project Tommy’ (as we used to call it) had brought us. Day and night we prayed for strength and wisdom. At times, when Tommy’s condition didn’t improve, I argued with Carla that we should listen to the doctor’s advice. Other times, especially when Tommy could utter some sounds, they were such sweet music to our ears.

Pastor and members of the church became our greatest cheerleaders. They helped so much that sometimes I felt we have taken advantage of them. Anyway, that was my prayer to God when I complained to Him about my tiredness. “Can you send me some angelic help, God?” Sometimes I did feel angelic presence especially the day we saw Tommy’s first full smile. Both of us cried unashamedly. It was an extraordinary and a victorious day!

Tommy grew up so well it astounded all doctors when we went for his usual check up. They credited the success to the love and patient of Tommy’s parents but we gave all glory to God. By ten, Tommy had become a memory genius. He could remember most of the names of the 300 odd church members. It was amusing to see how he could know all the names of the members who sat at the first few rows without them being present. He was such a joy to the church.

The most incredible moment came when he went up the platform in the church to share his testimony. I promised to buy him his favourite cartoon movie and watch it with him if he shared in the service that morning. There were hardly any dry eyes in the church that morning when he stood to share.

“When I was born, doctors gave up hope on me. They said I would die. Thanks to God and to my dad and mom who loved me so much, they never gave up on me. I know God loves me and He also has a plan for my life. Thank you, pastor and all of you for helping my mom and dad. Thank you. God bless you all.”

The parables of a persistent friend (Luke 11:5-13) and a widow (Luke 18:1-8) are only found in the gospel of Luke.

As usual, Luke writes the gospel concerning Jesus to a wider audience as he is a Gentile. With many Jewish friends, he is considered to have best of both worlds. The poor and the under privileged are common sight to him in the land of the Romans. The Roman citizens enjoy vast support from the governing bodies of the day while other second class people of the land left to fend for themselves. The words of the risen Saviour therefore are vital to these hard-pressed ordinary folks.

Both of these parables tell about persistency in asking for help. One parable speaks of a man who knocks loudly and shouts at his friend’s door at midnight to save another friend. He is not bothered of the commotion he caused to his friends’ family members and the neighbours. His ultimate goal – to save a friend. The other parable tells of a widow whose persistence in disturbing the judge makes her wish to have her case heard comes to reality. These parables tell us about the unwavering urgency in pursuing righteousness and justice!

In both parables, Jesus teaches on prayer. Prayer is God’s method of answering His people. Persistent prayer melts God’s heart. Never give up attitude talks about faith in action and someone who is serious about doing what's right. God stops for all these people! Remember how blind Bartimaeus defies all negative voices, shouts for Jesus! And it makes all the difference. Jesus stops for him. No longer sits in the dirt road begging, he now skips joyfully along with Jesus (Mark 10:46-52)

Children of God, let us never give up asking God to fulfil His will on earth. Not to satisfy our own lustful pleasures but that the whole world may know Jesus! Let us fight for justice! Let us run with righteousness! Let us persevere to hold on to what God has for us!

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it (Matthew 11:12).

Next: Parable of the Rich Fool

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I had never understood pain this great before as when my husband left me for another woman. The arguments and silent treatments I endured could not compare to the day when I signed on the dotted line of the divorced papers. How could he? He promised love forever when we dated and later married. I felt violated and betrayed. I had lost my joy and the sense of security for the future. I wanted out fast of this misery. I looked for quickest and easiest way to end my life.

Whenever I wanted to do something terribly drastic, a name kept popping up my fragmented mind. It was Cindy, my best friend. Surely she could at least listen to my desperate cries. I waited for her. I wanted some release. Finally, she bumped into me on the way to work. To my surprise, she asked me casually about how I was coping since the divorce. Why? At least she could do was hug me and perhaps cry with me. I wondered what had happened. You know, I was by her side when she went through a rough time with the back operation. Some said that I did much better in helping her cope than her own husband. I was devastated again. The pain actually intensified.

I asked heaven what was there left to live. Was there hope for people like me?

By this time as I was contemplating another round of putting myself to “sleep”, another name cropped up. It was Chad, my boss. He had been quite an understanding person to me. When I was having marital hiccups, he became concerned. He offered me a good holiday break and lessened my burdens in the company for a time. It was quite refreshing for me just to think of such a person at this hour of agony. But he too didn’t call to offer a sympathetic ear. I understand his predicament because it was dangerous for a married man to console a lady in distress. He took the cautious road. But at least a call of concern, that’s all.

I waited as I sat at my cubicle at work. After some time, his secretary came over with some documents from him for me to peruse. Apparently, she brought along a message from Chad to offer his sympathy for me. Through her, he also reminded me not to put the company at risk with her personal issues. It was beyond sickening. He would usually chat freely with me and bring those documents himself.

I could literally feel the ache and numbness in the heart as extreme frustrations took over. It was unbelievable for those whom I gave everything for to shun me at such a time like this.

Why? I cried so much on that day, my swollen eyes could barely manage tears by then. I felt like a bird with broken wings trapped in a tiny cage.

That’s it, I thought. I felt I didn’t belong in this world at all. This was all too alien for my mind, my dreams and expectations. It’s time to go and bid farewell. What was the best way to leave this earth painlessly?

Just when I was about to spiral deeper into the cycle of depression, I heard few faint knocks on the door. Who could that be? Who cares anyway?

I didn’t even want to open the door. I hoped whoever at the door would slowly slip away as everyone had done on me. But the knocks not only persisted but became louder. Finally, I asked for identity. To my surprise, it was a voice which I was totally unprepared for.

Devi lived next door to me. I shunned her appearance as she would always look like your girl next door. Plain Jane so to speak. One time, I even sneered at her for being alone and I was thinking maybe she was not attractive enough for any man. I looked back now with deep remorse. She would always smile at me and my hubby but we seldom reciprocated.

We disliked spicy food and sometimes we told her not to cook her stuffs so much as the smell was pungent to us. Strangely, since my husband left, I did not smell those cooking at all. Perhaps she knew I was suffering that she did not want to add to my distaste.

The girl next door clasped both hands together to greet me as I opened the door. I could see her eyes widened when she saw my blood shot eyes, swollen almost shut. To my astonishment, she was weeping as she stood there.

Hey, remember me? Hello! I was the one who treated you badly?

Perhaps it was a natural reflex action, I hugged her tightly. At last, I felt warmth in this cold universe. She was apologetic to me for crying but later told me about how she wanted to help but couldn’t find the courage. We chatted and cried. It was a long evening for Devi who was all ears at my long-winded session of blowing hot and cold. I had never found someone as patient as her. She would not speak a word for hours but her silence spoke volumes to me.

Later I found out Devi even took few days off just to help me. For few days we went out strolling along parks, stopped to look at flowers and people walking pass. We went for movies, eating ice cream at the road side stalls. We also went to a hill resort suggested by her just for me to recuperate.

I felt like Devi opened my cage and pulled me out. Although my wings were still broken, I surely sensed healing coming. Whenever I felt the pain again, she would hug me without words! We became best friends forever.

The lesson I learnt from my ordeal was not my brokenness but Devi’s willingness to offer me help even though I treated her harshly.

I found out later that my best friend, Cindy and my boss, Chad avoided me, afraid that I might destroy their marriages since I was still attractive and would be single again.

The parable of The Good Samaritan is only found in Luke 10:30-35.

This parable was told by Jesus in response to a law (Moses laws) expert’s question about who should be the neighbour found in the two Greatest Commandments (vv 25-29; ref. Lev. 19:18).

When Jesus tells a story to illustrate a point, he will often go for the jugular. He is that radical! It is also interesting for Luke to write this as he is a Greek. Perhaps, Luke too has been discriminated against by Christian Jews.

Samaritans are considered impure Jews or even discarded as Gentiles. The religious elites teach people to shun the Samaritans and never to associate with them. The disciples are also taken aback when their Master Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well.

In the end of the story, Jesus forces the law expert Jew to answer Him. And he grits his teeth to acknowledge the Samaritan’s kindness. He says it reluctantly as he omits the word Samaritan with “the one who had mercy on him” (v37). It is exactly this deep seated discrimination that Jesus comes to dismantle. God sees the potential in everyone. Although this story is told to this religious fellow, Jesus nevertheless wants all His disciples to understand His heart. There is no favouritism and discrimination with God. His love reaches everyone regardless. And Jesus wants His disciples to reach out to those who may not be like them. Sharing God’s love to some people that they may find offensive. And to nations that may even persecute them.

Jesus foresees the future of the church with that story.

(Col 3:11-14) Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

In fact, He foresees the ultimate kingdom of God on earth where every tribe and language, every people and nation will fall within His overarching grace. And all will be able to worship God in Spirit and in truth.