God is Green

There is a jiggle that got stuck in my mind. It’s called “Save My World.”

save-my-worldAlthough this month-long Saving Gaia campaign by Mediacorp is over yet there remains the cry to preserve a greener world for the future generation and the call to go green.

The impact of climate change is observable. Its magnitude is felt in many ways around the world – rising sea levels, more drought, heat waves, stronger and more intense hurricanes and typhoons. As a fisherman, I have seen the impact of climate change. The pattern of monsoon season and fish migration has somewhat changed because of global warming.

Today, there can be no more crucial issue for our generation than to protect God’s Creation from our human destruction of the environment.

We need to care for God’s creation. It is not just for our survival but also for the sole fact that God is green.

In Genesis when God created the world, He places great value on His creation by calling it “good” more than half a dozen times.

“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). 

God is green for He tells the humans He placed in His creation “to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).

After the Great Flood, God made a covenant between Himself and creation (Genesis 9:12-17). God cares for His creation enough to make such a covenant.

God even stipulate a law to protect the soil and give rest to the land (Leviticus 25:4). God is definitely green.

In the book of Job, God gave a long soliloquy about the glory, majesty and splendor of what He has created (Job 38-41). That alone tells us God is green. He has vested interest in the beauty and well being of His creation.

God is green. Just so we need to go green for “the earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1).

Commenting on Romans 1:20, John Stott wrote:

“The creation is a visible disclosure of the invisible God, an intelligible disclosure of the otherwise unknown God. Just as artists reveal themselves in what they draw, paint and sculpt, so the Divine Artist has revealed Himself in His creation.”

Not only we have the moral obligation to protect and preserve God’s green creation but also we have the spiritual motivation to let a greener earth display the glory of His handiwork that the disbelieving world may join us to declare “How Great Thou Art!” 

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.

When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

 Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,

How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

God’s creation is truly His revelation. “The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

We need to practice environmental stewardship because God is green!


Fish Choir

Believe it or not, fish sing. Fish do sing. The sounds they make form a fish choir.

Robert McCauley, marine researcher at Curtin University in Perth, Australia has been “listening to fish squawks, burble and pops  for nearly 30 years.”

Like birds in the forest, fish sing at dawn and dusk in their underwater environment.

McCauley was able to identified seven distinct fish choruses.

Most of these underwater choruses are repeated over and over.

unknownBlack Jewfish make low “foghorn” sound. Grunters make grunting calls quite like the “buzzer in the Operation board game.” Batfish make “ba-ba-ba” sounds like a ballad.

Perhaps these sounds play a role in staying together, hunting together, reproduction and territorial defense.

But I want to believe they are singing praise to the Creator in their undersea environment.

The Psalmist in Psalm 148 talks about all creation joining together in a grand chorus to praise the Creator. And that includes not just the cosmos (Psalm 148:1), angels (Psalm 148:2), humans (Psalm 148:12) but also the fishes as well.

“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths” (Psalm 148:7).

If fishes, which we least expect, are able to praise God – how much more should “a people near to Him” (Psalm 148:114)?

The Almighty God, our Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer alone is worthy of our praise. There are no exceptions and no excuses.

“All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name” (Psalm 66:4).


The Battle Belongs to the Lord

The world watches the fiercely fought battle that rages between the Democratic and the Republican Presidential Nominees. The cut and thrust are verbally brutal and scandalous. The polls rating fluctuate.

b7_elephant_and_donkey_2011_bPeople in every nation, particularly in the US, right down to the individual family are divided as to their choice of candidate for the US Presidency.

The election appears to be a close fight. The winning margin will be narrow. We may not see a clear-cut landslide victory for either party.

As the Election Day draws near, the whole world, especially the smaller nations in South East Asia watch with grave concern, fear and trepidation the outcome of this election that determines the Commander in Chief of this superpower nation.

As we watch with bated breath, let us also pray remembering those words of scripture:

“Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed … for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chronicles 20:15).

The battle belongs to the Lord. And it will only be if we pray.

Our Lord, the God of all nations we join the Christians in United States to pray for their coming Presidential Election.

While the general electorate seems geared up for strong-headed than sound-minded leadership to implement change and betterment for the people, we remember the words of the Psalmist telling us: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

 Help the electorate to see beyond the chariots of strong rhetoric and the horses of status and experience.

Turn our eyes to look to You in faith and believe Your Word that says, “By You princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth” (Proverbs 8:16).

We pray that the elected US President will one who will promote peace, good foreign policies, sound trade relations and establish a strong measure of stability and security in that country and countries beyond.

And therefore we pray for Your divine influence over the voters on 8 November that their choice will be wise, right and clear according to Your divine will and appointment.

May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven for the glory of Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. In His wonderful name we pray. Amen.


Of Elephant & Donkey Apologies

imagesI was watching the Democratic Donkey and the Republican Elephant in their US presidential debates. Both candidates issued apologies for the past mistakes and wrongs committed.

And I saw many shades of apologies.

I feel these apologies are anything but authentic. Here are some (not based on exact quotes).

Attacking Apology

It is an apology that says, “I admit what I did was wrong. I apologize. But you are no saint either. What you did is worse. You have no right to call the kettle black!” Here is a counter attack kind of apology with no true admission of one’s fault.

Comparing Apology

This kind of apology goes something like “I apologize I’ve said some foolish things. But ‘there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people.’ Look, your husband has actually abused women, and yourself has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.” It is a comparing apology implying “I am sorry for what I said. Mine was just words. But in comparison yours were actual deeds!”

Mitigating Apology

Such apology says, “I am sorry. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow.” It is as if my promise to change in the future mitigates all that I done in the past.

Mitigating apology seeks to justify the mistakes. It says, “I am sorry but I thought what I did was allowed and I had acted in good faith.“ Not quite an apology but a plead of innocence and ignorance to mitigate wrongs committed.

Non-Specifying Apology

This apology simply says, “I was wrong, and I apologize.” There was no specific mention of the wrongs commitment and a genuine sorrow for those who have been hurt, wounded, marred and offended.

Blaming Apology

It is apologizing and blaming it on something else, like the circumstances or even human weakness. “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not.” Such apology does not express true and deep sorrow for wrongs done.

There will always be need for apologies in all our human interaction and relationships. The question is how authentic is your apology.

It is interesting the Bible never uses those words, “I’m sorry.” Rather God prefer us to say, “Forgive me.”

Saying “I’m sorry” is so much easier than saying “forgive me.” The former does not call for any response whilst the later risks a response of rejection and humiliation.

Often people may say sorry but never repentant. That’s why the Word of God calls us towards a deep and godly sorrow that brings true repentance and sincere restitution.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (II Corinthians 7:10).


Land the Fish

My fishing rod was in the holder of the boat. I saw it quivered. Suddenly it bent. Fish on!

I lifted the rod. Gave it a yank to make sure the hooks set properly. The fish took off. I let it. Because in a tug of war with a big one, the fish always wins.

The fish put up a fight. The reel screamed as the line spooled out. When the pulling slowed I pumped as fast as I could to reel in the line taken out. But for every ten meters of line I reeled in, the fish pulled out ten more.

This fish was a real fighter. It swam with speed left and then right. I had to move from one side of the boat to another three times. You have to follow the fish or you might lose it. The boatman lifted up the propellers at the back of the boat in case my line got caught in them.

The fish refused to give up. I am told Tengiri are smart. This one is not only smart but also very strong. It dived under the boat. It would easily cut my line. I could have lost the fish if not for the timely advice from my experienced fishing buddies. I quickly dipped my rod tip into the water. I managed to get it to swim out again. By now everyone in the boat could see that I was pretty worn out.

A fishing buddy offered to take over. I was glad to let him. He was after all, a very experienced fisherman. He recently went on a 4-day 3-night fishing trip at the Spratly Islands. He caught giant Barracouta, 6kg Snapper and 30kg Dog Tooth Tuna.

One would have thought that he could easily land this big Tengiri. But it was not to be.

We could see the color of the fish near the surface. It was really huge. No fisherman’s exaggeration here. Easily 10kg.

The fish made a last desperate spurt out, which forcefully yanked the hooks off its mouth. The line went limp.

I could hear the audible gasps of shock, disbelief and disappointment – “What? It got away? How come? What a waste!”

Every fisherman knows the feeling of losing a big one. But nothing is worse than losing the fish your buddy caught with his rod handed to you.

As I reflected I can picture the many that got away after they were caught.

A powerful evangelist came. Many lives were saved. But they soon left the Church. The statistics show the attrition is high. We couldn’t land the fishes. They too escaped.

Most of us are recipients of God’s saving grace through someone who shared the Gospel with us. It is therefore incumbent upon us to share the Good News.

They have passed that fishing rod to us. Paul did that when he said:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3).

Our Lord Jesus has called us to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). He passed the fishing rod to us.

We have the fishing rod in our hands. The fight is on. The struggle begins when you try to bring in the fish. To land a big one is hard.

Nothing is more agonizing than losing the fish you caught.

Nothing is more gratifying than the joy of landing the fish, especially the big ones.

And even then, you know it is by God’s grace, you land the fish.


Stunning Shore

Went fishing yesterday at Desaru. The tide was low. The boat had to be towed some fifty meters to reach the rolling waves.

I was on the boat. As I gazed at the stretch of sandy shore exposed by the receding tide, I was stunned to see a spectacular sight.

stunning-shoreThe entire sandy shore was drawn with wavy lines caused by the rippling waves.

I have not seen this stunning shore before. Perhaps the tide was high on those occasions. Or I was focused on holding tightly on my seat to avoid falling off as the boat hit the waters.

So often we don’t notice the stunning impressions we leave on the shores of people’s lives.

The gentle ripples of our faithful services and the constant lapping waves of our ministries may not be anything grand or spectacular yet they may leave stunning and lasting impressions on the shores of those lives we reached and served.

A week ago I conducted a funeral wake of a church member who had been in the nursing home for six years. Every time I visited the member, his wife was there caring for him. In fact his wife cared for him for seven years in their home until her health did not permit her to do so. Still she continued to visit him every day, attended to his every need and kept him company.

At the funeral service, the son and daughter, great children and close friends gave more tributes to the living wife than to the dead husband. They saw the stunning shore in the life of a man whose wife had cared for him untiringly. One close friend remarked, “When I look at the man, I see his wife.”

May we leave such indelible marks in the lives of those we love. Don’t for a moment imagine that all our effort to fetch our children to school, buy and cook their meals, guide them in their conduct are all a pure waste of time.

For when the tide of time recedes and the wave of life ebbs, there may reveal the stunning shores caused by the rippling effects of our love and care.

So don’t give up when your efforts and sacrifices are not bearing any visible results.

Don’t quit even when your kind gesture and loving acts are repudiated.

Don’t throw in the towel when the sea is rough and the unpredictable wind of stresses comes your way.

For there would come a day of revelation when people will see the stunning shores.

For thus says the Word of God:

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58).


The Mundane Matters

A student from Temasek Poly shared an encounter he had when he was doing a Hospitality and Tourism Management internship at Maldives. He saw what one of his Maldivian colleagues did.

This Maldivian food and beverage server noticed a mother was unable to have her meal properly because her little girl was sleeping on her lap.

So he went over and made a bed out of two chairs with cushions and towels and helped the mother put the sleeping child on the “bed.” Consequently, the little girl was able to sleep soundly and the mother was able to enjoy the rest of her meal.

He did it naturally, intuitively and not because he expected to be tipped or paid extra.

It seems such a mundane thing. But it matters.

Doing such mundane things for others requires no special talents. It takes no special skill to be able to wash feet. What it does take is a servant heart. It also takes an observant eye to see what needs to be done.

The reason most of us don’t see the opportunities for mundane services is that we are constantly thinking about ourselves instead of others.

We are so absorbed in our own personal wellbeing. We judge every situation, every circumstance and every person according to how it will better or worsen our personal wellbeing. When someone shares with us an earnest and desperate need, we think to ourselves – “You’ve got your problems and I’ve got mine.” So we withdraw into our selfish world, become unmoved and immune to the cry for help.

If we would come away from the orbits of “me, mine and myself,” then we need to cultivate the service of the mundane.

It is interesting to note that on the Day of Judgment, the things God would ask us would not be the spectacular or grand but rather the mundane that anyone can do.

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove. But He’ll ask how many people you drove, who needed transport.

God won’t ask the square footage of your house. But He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your wardrobe. But He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won’t even ask about the soundness of your theology. But He’ll ask how many sick you have visited.

God won’t even ask how much Bible knowledge you have attained. But He’ll ask how many of those imprisoned in pain you have comforted.

God won’t even ask about the intensity of your spiritual devotion. But He’ll ask how many thirsty you have given a cup of water and how many hungry you have fed.

Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, was once visiting Taiwan on one of his overseas trips. During the visit, he hiked up one of the mountain villages with a Taiwanese Pastor to meet with some of the Christians there.

The mountain trails were wet, slippery and muddy. Their shoes were stuck, soaked and caked in mud.

Later, someone asked this Taiwanese pastor what he remembered most about Dawson. Without hesitation, he replied, “He cleaned my shoes.”

The Taiwanese Pastor was surprised when he woke up the next morning to find Dawson had cleaned the mud off his shoes.

The act seems mundane. But it matters. It shows he cares. It left an impact.

The mundane matters!