Of Dads & Soccer

Father’s Day is here. It has been suggested the best gift for dads is signing them up for 2018 FIFA World Cup. And they will be happy not just for a day but for a whole month.

It seems like Dads and Soccer have a lot in common.Of Dad & Soccer

Dad is the coach of the home brood. With mum as the assistant coach, he tries to get everyone in the home team to play ball, be it going to church, planning a vacation or a sporting activity or simply getting every one ready for dinner.

But the “players” are always testing their boundary lines before Dad calls it a “foul,” like what time they ought to be back home in the evening.

Although mum often cooks to feed the team including the “coach” yet dad sometimes would bring home “takeaways” to keep everyone happy. This is when the assistant coach would contradict the coach and calls it spoiling the team.

Team members often have many extracurricular activities in school and dad will fetch them back and forth from those different venues. He is often mistaken to be the “Umber Driver” for his kids. When he is unavailable, there is always, “Mum’s taxi.”

Dad and mum sacrificially do all that for their children because they want their children to score the “goals” of their lives. Every successful goal and good pass always brings tremendous joy to both coach and his assistant.

The kids may not see it but mum and dad are always pacing up and down the sidelines watching how the children are playing on the field of their study and endeavors.

And with the onset of digital technology to analyze the replay of goal line, dad and mum can now check whether their kids have crossed the “line of acceptability” on their FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram.

Even after a long and hard day at work, dads sometimes have to referee the occasional squabbles among the kids. That is because the assistant coach said, “Wait till your dad comes home.” But despite doing his best to resolve, it still inadvertently ends with one saying, “That’s so unfair!” It’s another way of say, “Referee kayu!”

Being a dad is tough, as tough as being a soccer coach. But this is one coach you cannot sack.

God has tasked every father to do the challenging and yet rewarding work.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) 

We support you coach. The home team needs you. Don’t be discouraged.

Happy Father’s Day!

 

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The Beast

During the Singapore Summit, the US President rode in his state car, dubbed, “the Beast.”The beast

This iconic limousine is a bulletproof and bombproofCadillac that weighs eight tons. It is armored with six features.

  • Emergency oxygen supply in the event of a chemical attack
  • Kevlar-reinforced tyres that are resistant to punctures
  • Steel rims that allow the car to keep moving even on deflated tyres
  • An armour-plated fuel tank encased in protective foam to withstand crashes and small-arms fire
  • A steel plate beneath the car to protect the chassis system from bomb and grenade blasts

The US President sitting in this heavily armored car must have felt so safe and secure that he even showed it off to his North Korean counterpart.

We travel in the journey of life. And sometimes the road ahead takes us through unconceivable dangers, unexpected crisis and surprising challenges.

We too need a protective armor. And God has provided. It is dubbed, “the whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6:11-17.

It too has six defensive and offensive features.

  • Helmet of salvation, worn on the head to guard the mind, which is the seedbed of suggestive evil and wickedness
  • Breastplate of righteousness that protects against scathing allegations, devastating criticisms and demoralizing gossips
  • Belt of truth that prevents being swayed by clever arguments, convincing falsehoods and persuasive lies
  • Shoes of peace that keeps us on toes for fear of discrediting the message of the gospel of peace we bring
  • Shield of faith that is able to counter and extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one
  • Sword of the Word of God, which alone is the most powerful and effective answer to every pull of sin and temptation

You don’t have to be the US President to feel safe and secure. You have “the whole armor of God.”

Wear it everyday and everywhere you go.

 

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Of Roses & Magnolia

Yesterday I was listening out to the news for the latest development in the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore.

What a relief it is for me and my wife who texted, “Phew … Thank God for a good outcome!”

There was no war of words between the two leaders. Instead there was warmth in the words they spoke with each other and to the press.

The two leaders decided to put the past behind them and forge towards a future of peace, unification and denuclearization. The world would never have thought they would press the “reset” button instead of the “nuclear” button, which both sides bragged to have and even bigger than the other.

Thank God for the document signed by both leaders in the watching eyes of the whole world paving the way for a new beginning.

Thank God for my country, Singapore in giving their best to host the Summit. June 12, 2018 is a historic day to remember for a long time to come.

I recall the national flowers of these two countries on the blink of a nuclear war two months ago.rose

Magnolia_sieboldiiRose is the national flower of United States of America. Magnolia or specifically Magnolia Sieboldii is the national flower of North Korean. The Koreans call them “Mokran” after the suffix “ran” given to beautiful flowers.

Put them together and you get the sight of the beautiful hue of red and white, besides the scent of sweet fragrant. As such I viewed the newly forged relationship between DPRK and US.

Flowers or the giving of flowers is always indicative of the putting away of past hostility, the end of conflicts and the hope of a peaceful future.

I pray these flowers and not missiles will come to the fore whenever we think of these two nations.

These flowers ought to remind us to trust God. Remember what Jesus said.

“Why should you worry …? Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth. But I tell you that Solomon in all his greatness was not dressed as well as one of these flowers” (Matthew 6:28-29 NLV).

Today whenever I think of Roses and Magnolia, I thank God for hearing our prayers and bringing two nations on the path of conflict and hostility to a new path of peace and reconciliation.

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Singapore Summit

Come June 12, Singapore takes centre stage in the world.Singapore Summit

People and leaders all over the world will be watching, hoping and praying for a good outcome in the Summit held in this tiny “red dot” island city of Singapore.

It is a historic meeting between two leaders from nuclear weapon capable nations. It is a “faceoff” between two rather erratic, volatile and capricious personalities. The world watches and waits with abated breath for no one could fully predict the outcome in the myriad of possibilities.

Will these two key leaders of United Sates and North Korean ever come to an agreement to denuclearization? Is there hope?

For me, my hope lies with God who has said in His written Word.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.Like the rivers of water He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).

We should therefore not just watch but also pray for a positive outcome. After all, we have been urged to make that number one prayer call.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:1-4).

Will you join me to pray?

Dear God the Lord of all nations.  

You have urged us to make intercessions “for kings and all who are in high positions,” especially for those who can make decisions that impact people, nations, even the whole world.

 We bow before You in earnest prayer for the Summit in Singapore on 12 June between the US and North Korean. 

We pray Your eyes to be on the Summit; Your hands to block every untoward incidents and malicious group that seeks to undermine and disrupt the Summit; and Your Spirit to hover over and influence the decisions of the Summit.

We pray for good outcome. We pray for positive development. We pray for the Summit to be constructive, cordial with concessional compromise.

You said in Your Word, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. Like the rivers of water He turns it wherever He wishes.”

And so we lift to You the two key leaders in the Summit and pray Your hand of influence will govern their hearts. And like rivers of waters You will turn them wherever You wish for the good of the nations, for the peace of the Korean peninsula and for the greater good of the world.

We pray this in the Mighty Name of the One whom one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess He is Lord, even Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior. Amen.

 

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Pig In Pot

Pig in PotMolly was one of 57 Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs in an animal sanctuary in British Columbia.

She was painstakingly nursed back to health by the rescue workers.

When a couple from Vancouver Island adopted her,it was hoped she would live a happy and healthy life.

But her new owners could not cope with looking after her. They had trouble training and managing her. The work of caring for her was just too much.

Consequently this pot-bellied pig ended in a cooking pot. Who would have thought this cute, adorable and precious pig would one day be eaten by her new “trusted” owners? (I assure you they are not Chinese).

It brought a shocking outcry from readers like me, “Poor pig!”

“Poor Pig” – those words of anguish has a familiar ring to it. We say in similar disheartening cry, “Poor Soul.”

Owning a pet pig is one thing. Taking good care of it is quite another. As with caring for any precious pet, caring for one’s precious soul requires effort, time and dedication.

So Jesus says, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) 

Jesus is saying the soul is precious and there is danger of losing it.

We lose it by putting our soul in storage as we pursue personal success and achievement. The demands of modern living and the priorities we give them eventually drain the life out of our soul. And suddenly one day we are awakened to the feeling of being spiritually dried up for we have not prayed, read the Holy Scriptures, attend Church and fellowship with other Christian believers for weeks, months or even years.

How well is your soul these days?

It was not for no reason John Wesley required the leaders of the early Methodist Class Meetings to enquire about the condition of the soul of everyone. Those small group meetings opened with the leader asking, “How is it with your soul?”

More than asking, “How is your physical health? How is your family or how is your work?” the one most important question is, “How is it with your soul?”

Are you caring for your soul? Is your soul healthy? Can you say with all honesty, it is well with my soul?

We cried with sickening disgust when we learned about the pig in pot. Shouldn’t we feel the same when we see our soul in storage of neglect?

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Pain of Pain

It pains me to see my mum in pain.Mum's portrait

Mum was at the end stage of life. Every time I visited her in hospital I find her coping with great pain.

We could hardly move her without her grimacing and hollering in pain. She was someone with a high pain threshold. But this time the pain was way too much.

For months I had been praying for God’s mercy to be new, fresh and sufficient for her every morning.

I clung on to Lamentation 3:22-23 NLT

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease.Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

I prayed for effective management of pain. I prayed for God to administer His divine painkiller. And I found myself struggling with my theological understanding of pain. Where is God in our pain?

A flurry of troubling thoughts ensued. Eventually the settled conviction is we live in a broken world with a broken body. And that means there will always be pain in life.

But in the midst of pain, our Lord is present.

He was there at the painful loss of Lazarus. As Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus, He saw Mary, Martha and many others who had been mourning and grieving in pain over the past four days.

And the scriptures recorded for us how our Lord felt.

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

Those two words say it all as to how much God understands our pain. God knows our pain. God is in touch with our pain.

And He is not a helpless God who can only sympathize with us. For within an hour or so, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

At some point all of us will journey in pain. My mum did.

But the ultimate answer to pain is not the infusion of morphine. Rather it is the resurrection of Christ.

That resurrection of Christ is our hope over the grave. The resurrection of Christ guarantees us a new “pain-free” body that is incorruptible to all kinds of painful sickness and diseases (I Corinthians 15:53-54).

On May 29, 2018 all her loved ones surrounded mum as we sung her favourite Hokkien Christian songs.

At about 1.50pm, her laboured breathe slowed to a halt as she slipped into the promised peaceful and painless place we call our eternal home.

As the song goes, she has finally crossed the river and fought “life’s final war with pain.”

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

That was the moment she had looked forward to – no more pain!

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Hoping for a Hero

Today I went to watch with my kids the blockbuster movie, “Avengers: Infinity War.”Hoping for a hero

I must admit that I came away feeling rather sad because many of the superheroes vaporized to dust. Despite their combined effort and strength, they could not bring down the villain who eventually achieved his goal.

It was sadly tragic for me.

Deep within me is a longing for a superhero that triumphs in the face of evil and injustice.

Perhaps it is reason why so many of us love to watch superhero movies. We are fascinated with superheroes because we crave for them in our lives.

We live in a broken and troubled world torn by political, economic and climatic upheaval. Greed, pride and self-survival seem to rule the hearts of those who have the power to decide changes for the good of the world.

We need to be rescued from hopeless despair. We need to be delivered from mad men and mad policies in this fragile world fighting for survival.

We need a hero. Aaron Waters and Ryan Taubert express in songs that deep longing in our hearts. Bonnie Tyler also sang:

I need a hero

I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night

He’s gotta be strong

And he’s gotta be fast

And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

I need a hero

I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the morning light

He’s gotta be sure

And it’s gotta be soon

And he’s gotta be larger than life! 

Come to think of it, I found my superhero.

He is strong. He has power over the elements. He commands the winds and the waves. He drives out evil forces, legions of them.

He is wise. The wicked and cunning tried to put him in a spot but they could not trap him. People clang to every pearl of wisdom that comes from his lips.

He is good all the time. In him there is no hint of darkness or shade of moral greyness.

And He says to me:

“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

His name is Jesus, Saviour of the world.

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