Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Changing of the Seasons

It’s remarkable how quickly things change. A week ago this time; the temperature was 28 degrees Celsius, and in a course of a day, it dropped 10 degrees. This week, I had to rummage through my walk-in closet to look for my sweaters, break out the warm comforters.
Mother Nature has a way of reminding us of some of the important lessons in life.

All living things grow – growth requires change.
Some change comes swiftly and suddenly.
Resisting change sometimes just prolongs the pain.

(These photos were taken 5 minutes apart.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

“BER”

One of the blessings of living in a multicultural society is that you can learn a lot of new things. One of the pleasant things that I discovered about the Filipino culture is that when the months ending with the letters `ber` come along, they start putting up the Christmas trees and decorations.

Before that I had always been told I was silly to put up my Christmas tree in October. Now I feel totally at ease setting up my Christmas room and know I`m not the only Christmas fanatic.
I have three reasons for the early Christmas decorations and festivities:

· Christmas is my favourite religious celebration
· Life needs to be celebrated – why limit it to just one or two days of Christmas
· Strong families have strong traditions

All my best memories have revolved around Christmas celebrations.
All the strong values and principles I`ve developed have in one way or another to do with Christmas. (We were taught very early in life that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I still remember the first Christmas present I gave to my oldest sister when I was barely six yrs old.)
The Christmas season has also been my busiest time of the year, but it is the most rewarding in terms of my mission and personal fulfilment. Gotta go dig out the decorations for my Christmas room…

Friday, September 25, 2009

WORSHIP

I was listening to some worship music on the way into work this morning and the issue of “hymns versus contemporary worship music” took over my quiet meditative drive.

For many older Christians, it just isn’t worship if the music sounds like a rock concert, or if the songs have not been sung for the last 200 years.
For those who do not know me, I appreciate both hymns and contemporary worship songs.
Worship is not merely what we are accustomed to singing in a church Sunday service. Worship songs are but one aspect of worship. There are so many elements of worship; it would require more than a sermon series to cover them all. I believe, more important than the style and type of songs, is the “heart of worship.”

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1, 2

King David possessed a “heart after God” and his Psalms and poetry flowed out of that desire and devotion to Him. The next time you hear a hymn or worship song, consider your passion for God. Let passion determine your expression of worship and you might be surprised to find that it really doesn’t matter the type of music, but the heart of worship that counts.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When Pigs Fly

What a strange sight to see in a church? The day piggy went to church must have created quite a stir. Well! Not quite as much as it would if it were in another place of worship that belonged to a different religious group.

You see, pigs in certain cultures and traditions are viewed as unclean creatures, and adherents of certain faiths are still not allowed to consume them.
So much for ham and bacon!

Cute as this stuffed pig was; many words and clich├ęs used in the English language have a negative bias and are derogatory in most of its applications.

Happy as a pig...pig out...when pigs fly...in a pig’s eye...pig-headed...sweat like a pig...etc.
When President Obama was responding to another politician’s policy, he reached for a farm analogy: "You can put lipstick on a pig," he said. "It's still a pig."
In the story of the prodigal son, the bible illustrates the depth of his depravity by demoting him to a pigsty. (Luke 15)
Pigs make for a good sermons topic and hence we’ve used it for our sermon theme for the month.
One thing for sure, pigs are smart enough to know that they rather not live with demons in them! (Luke 8:26-39)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

God’s Providence

You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy! Psalm 65:9-13

We don't have to wait till thanksgiving to remember God's goodness and providence. Just looking around us should cause us to give HIm praise and be appreciative of all his blessings

Friday, September 18, 2009

In the blink of an eye

20 years ago on September 14th, 1989, I preached my first sermon in Vancouver in a downtown hotel conference room.
Then my girls were very young, one barely old enough to start kindergarten – now, the nest is empty. Back then, I’ve never traveled out my own little world – now, I’ve seen much of the world and have not regretted all the sacrifices made. I’m grateful to God for watching over my family and prospering us along the way. 20 years went by very quickly...some things changed dramatically,
while others remain the same. It’s strange how once the only home I knew was my birthplace;
but that first home is alien to me now!
I guess we’re really just pilgrims passing through.
I want to thank all who have stood by our side, loved us unconditionally, supported us through the flood and the fire, and helped create a community of committed Christ followers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summer’s Bounty

The one thing that excites me most about the end of summer is a bumper harvest.
I love the sight of a fruit-laden tree, and the uniqueness of an orange, Pokka-dotted pumpkin patch. It’s so strange to see apples fallen from trees untouched; when we once paid a dollar each when we were living in Taipei – Taiwan.
It still amazes me how a single tree can produce so much fruit. I leave my apples untouched on my espaliered tree just so that I can look at it every day and be remindered of the providence of God. With so much farm produce and fruit, it creates choice-overload for most shoppers.
At the farmer's market, I decided to take some pictures instead of pick fruit leaving the wife to dirty her hands. Those who wait for perfect weather who never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops...Plant early in the morning, and work until evening, because you don’t know if this or that will succeed, They might both do well. Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

Thought for the day: Sowing seed is the most elementary act of faith – believing and hoping that something will grow and bear fruit.
You never really know the extent of a harvest – but you can do your part to sow as much seed as possible.

When you sow seeds of life - Nothing is ever wasted!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The End of Summer

This has been the most beautiful summer in the 20 years that I’ve lived in British Columbia. Warm sunny days since early April and we’re still getting fantastic weather in mid September. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best place to live in the world. The world seems different when the sun is out and blue skies dominate the horizon. Flowers seem to glow and waters shimmer as if dancing in the light.
I went for a walk along False Creek during the weekend and I was surprised at the number of people that flocked to the area. So much has changed since the last time we took a walk in this well-planned neighbourhood. We used to frequent this location when the girls were younger so it brought back great memories.
Just like the tides that come and go; just as the season changes; live moves on!
Time to prepare for the next phase of life! Time to make the most of every precious moment!

Sunshine is sweet; it is good to see the light of day. People ought to enjoy every day of their lives, no matter how long they live. Ecclesiastes 11:7, 8 (NCV)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cattle Crossing


When I first came across these cows on one of my walks, I was surprised that there was a dairy farm right in the middle of a busy residential neighbourhood. I guess it must be a remnant from the past when this entire area was farmland. I thought about cattle farming and it made sense to me that this would be a perfect location for it, since the area west of it was undisturbed and uninhabitable grazing land for the cows. Free and unlimited food! Though some people might be turned off by the smell of mother-nature, I find it calming to my soul. Somehow, the thought of cattle always reminds me of God’s faithfulness.

“For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” Psalm 50:10 (New International Version)
“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth.” Psalm 104:14 (New International Version)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Edmonton

The “city of champions,” known for the famed NHL Oilers dynasty and the “Great One.” The last time we were there for a day trip from Calgary, was 15 years ago, and it has quietly grown to over a million in population. This time around, the city seemed different; it appeared to have morphed into a grander and greener place.
Every city has its own appeal and hence its nick-name. Other than the hockey team, most people are familiar with one of the largest Shopping Centers in the world, West Edmonton Mall. Housed inside the six million square feetof space are 800 stores, restaurants, an ice rink, a water park, an amusement center and a hotel. On one of the days while out doing grocery for my daughter, I happened to get onto Wayne Gretzky Drive and came across Rexall Place, the home of the Canucks arch rivals, the Edmonton Oilers. I had to get a picture of myself in front of this indoor stadium. Perhaps I could come back during spring and take in a game when the canucks are in town. Thought for the day:

Other than the name, I wonder what my church is known for?
I wonder what people remember when my name is mentioned?