Category Archives: Christian Faith

Christmas Greetings


Dear friends, I wish you a Blessed Christmas, one and all.

I haven’t sent out a Christmas card in years but if I did, perhaps it would be one of these…..

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Christmas Decoration – Canadian Style! Way to go my Canadian rodent brother! (credit: Ace Burpee)

Or maybe something more traditional……….

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Outside Looking In


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My blogging friend, Debra – She Who Seeks, just put up a post entitled “Blue Christmas”.  Apparently, it is a tradition at her church to hold a “special service of meditation, quiet reflections and readings which acknowledge and honour the fact that Christmas is not always a happy time for everyone.”

How strange,….. I was just thinking about posting about that very thing (or what another blogger described as serendipitous convergence); that Christmas can be especially cold, sad and lonely for many who do not have the support of family or friends around them  or are going through difficult times.

None of the churches that I have attended had a ‘Blue Christmas’ service.  However, for most of my life, until recently, I have always preferred to avoid all the festivities like going carol singing or attending loud joyous celebrations and parties.  There was a time that apart from attending church, I would prefer to just have a quiet night and sleep early.  I didn’t do any of the exchange of cards or presents either.

It took me a long time to understand that this shunning of festivities at Christmas was rooted in my own hangups ………specifically, that I felt that I did not deserve to be happy.   As a foreign student in the UK many years ago, I was on occasion invited to people’s homes for Christmas lunch or dinner with their families.  I always felt uncomfortable and was mentally squirming the whole time I was there.  Only years later, I understood that I felt uncomfortable because I believed that I had no business being there in their happy family gathering.  I felt like an undeserving interloper.

Regular readers will know that I went through a period of depression at one point of my life and this kind of thinking comes from that dark well.  Today, instead, Christmas reminds me that God loves me and that is all I need to chase the dark clouds away.

But all this is my way of saying that I know how it can feel to be the disenfranchised, the lonely, the foreigner, the migrant, the hurt, the grieving.  It is being outside and looking in.  Out in the cold with an empty stomach and looking through a window at a feast inside.  Seeing others celebrate but being left out.

So, I believe that the way to celebrate Christmas is to do our part to show God’s love to those around us.  Celebrate by serving, just as Jesus ‘did not come to be served, but to serve’ (Matthew 20: 28) and gave of himself.  Sure, it’s okay to have fun and celebrate at parties and dinners – I do so nowadays too but do more……..serve others too.

This year, I will be joining others to go caroling to those who are ill with cancer as well as to residents at a nursing home – to come alongside them, share their problems, pray for them and share joy.  At my church, we will also be opening our church on Christmas Eve for people to come in off the street for some food and drink.  We are making the church available to some of the foreign workers near us so that they can invite their friends to come in and join the festivities.

At Christ’s birth, the angels declared about peace and joy.  Perhaps, we should continue to pray for peace and help spread joy in this flawed world.  Blessed Christmas folks.

Being a Watchman


Things are bad in my country these days.  When I remember the country from the time of my youth and consider it now, the thought that comes to mind is “how far we have fallen”.  Corruption, racial disharmony, falling education standards, injustice and religious intolerance all seem to be on the march. Sure the country could be worse but it was certainly once a lot better.

For a number of years now, Christian leaders have been urging Christians to come together and pray and to take part in a 40 day fast for the nation; to cry out for God’s mercy and transformative power to restore the country.  In the past, my involvement in this had been rather patchy but this year, I am committed to take this seriously, to be a watchman for the nation as described in the bible (Ezekiel 3).  A watchman keeps watch and warns of danger.

Now, I am a novice at fasting.  Before this, I have only fasted a couple of times.  So, trying to fast for 40 days is a big deal.  I mention this not because I am seeking praise or recognition but to encourage all Christians to take on the role of watchmen and to pray for their countries with serious commitment.

How does one fast? Some I know refrain from eating for 24-48 hours at a time while others understand fasting as giving up something for that period like meat or chocolates or these days, even internet.  There is nothing magical about the act itself or the form that it takes.  My understanding of fasting is to refrain from eating and to give that time over to seek God, to wait on Him, to read His word, to pray and to listen.  The key is time in prayer with God.

For me, I try to give up one meal or sometimes two meals a day and spend 1-2 hours in prayer.  Currently, I have fasted 6 days out of the first 8 days.  Last Sunday, I attended a wedding and dinner and did not fast ……….and last Friday, I gave in to the weakness of my flesh.  Ahem.

But what I really want to share with you here is that despite the hunger pangs, it has been a wonderful experience.  Whenever we set apart time to be with God, He meets us and even as we pray for transformation and restoration for the country, He transforms and restores us.

So, I urge all Malaysian Christians to make the commitment to join the 40 day prayer and fast; it is our responsibility but it will also be our joy.  Most of us find it easy to criticise and to snipe at our leaders and to complain about conditions in our country and yet treat it like it is someone else’s problem and we don’t need to lift a finger.  That is wrong.  The country’s problems are our problems.  We are the country.  So instead of criticism and sniping, let us pray for our leaders and our country, for wisdom, integrity, grace and justice for all.  (click here to get the NECF booklet that guides our fasting, prayer and reflections for the 40 days)

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For readers from other corners of the world, pray too for your own countries and light up the darkness.

For other adventures of a fasting squirrel (some voluntary and some forced), read “Adventures in the Fast Lane“.

I look but what do I see


old or young
This famous drawing asks us what we see – the young woman or the old hag?

Last week, I attended a funeral with some friends.  It was for an eighty year old lady who had been sickly for awhile and had finally succumbed.  I did not know her at all.  She was a distant relative of one of my friends.

She had traveled half way round the world to my neck of the woods to visit her son and then poor health intervened and prevented her from leaving.  She spent the last 3 years of her life unable to return home. Apart from close family, few people here knew her.  Those that did, only knew her as a sickly, bedridden woman who was totally dependent on others for her care.

But if some of us who attended the small service had been inclined to feel pity for her, we would be chastised.  When we learned more about her, we realised that she had lived a long, love-filled and inspirational life.  She had raised five children of which three were adopted and of different race and cultural backgrounds.  She also was foster parent to scores of other children  over the years.  She was also active in her church and as an advocate for children welfare.  I shamefully admit that I would never had guessed.

Her ashes are being returned home where there will be another memorial service – one that I believe will be attended by many, many people; lives that she had touched, helped and nurtured by her love.

Yesterday, I ran into an elderly gentleman whom I hadn’t seen for a few years.  He was quietly having a meal at a cafe with a friend.  He is a small man with a nondescript walking cane and a hearing aid.  Soft spoken and not one who naturally draws attention, he would easily have gone unnoticed.  Quite invisible to most of the younger patrons of the cafe, I think.

I went over to shake his hand and to greet him.  He was happy to spend a few minutes exchanging news and pleasantries.  To me and those who know this humble man, he is a giant.

He was responsible for setting up a major government department and ministry when Malaysia was nation building after independence.  His achievements garnered international recognition and he was asked to help set up similar ministries and departments in other newly independent nations within the British Commonwealth.  He serve the country for decades with great distinction.

He was also active in Christian charity and church work and he continues to do so till today at the age of 101.   A giant of a man.

Why am I sharing these two stories? Well, I have been kind of reminded that we tend to make assumptions of people based on first impressions and too often our assumptions are negative and frequently wrong.

I grew up in Asia and am a product of the Confucian philosophy that is part of many Asian societies . We are taught from an early age the importance of respecting our elders and to honor our teachers.   So I was surprised when I went to University and one of my revered professors told us lowly first years during orientation week that while he did not know us from Adam, he would always expect that some of us, if not all, would achieve more in our scientific careers than he had.  He saw that each of us had potential that remained undiscovered.  We were not lowly students but potentially Nobel Prize winners.

(Editor’s note: regular readers will now understand why the Lone Grey Squirrel remains obsessed with the Nobel Prize and why he hasn’t got one yet!)

That professor taught me a valuable lesson about seeing the good and the potential in others.  I have always remembered that and tried to do so in my own life.

Indeed, the bible teaches this very thing;

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philipians 2:3-4)

I am still trying and frequently have to remind myself to see others through my limited mindset but to value them and their potential for greatness, beauty and love. I look but do I really see?  You know what I mean?

 

Hallelujah! Christmas Blessings!


‘Tis the season to remember the gift of God to all mankind.

For unto us a child is born, a son is given….. (Isaiah 9:6)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

May you and your loved ones experience the joy and love of God this Christmas – a love that compelled God to send Jesus from the glories of heaven to be born in a lowly manger, to live faultless amongst ordinary men and women, and finally to lay down his life for our sake on the cross of Calvary.

It is reason indeed to rejoice and praise God. This following video is of Kaylee Rodgers, a 10 year old from Nothern Ireland who has autism and ADHD. She began singing as a way to build her confidence. Together with the Killard House School choir of special needs children, she sings a Christmas worship version of ‘Hallelujah’. Jesus would be pleased.

Lyrics for “Hallelujah Christmas” by Cloverton

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The Answer


It is strange how this post came about.  I had a few competing ideas for a post but decided I wanted to share a song here.  But then, there were a few new songs that I thought were “share-worthy”.  So how to narrow it down and pick one?

While I was still pondering my choices, I visited some blogs.  A couple of blogs had posts that made me remember a dark period in my life when I went through a life sapping depression or rather it reminded me of how I was able to escape its chains.

First, Beth posted a short quote by Eugene Kennedy about friendship and somehow it was a powerful trigger for memories of a dear friend whose unquestioning, non-judging, accepting, patient friendship was like a lifesaver that kept me from going under.

Then, I read the post by Caralyn, who has a wonderfully powerful and inspiring blog in which she shares about her journey through the “throes of anorexia”.  In this post, she openly answers the questions that many ask her – “How did I break free? How did I embrace recovery when I was so sick.”  Her answer was “It was God”.  She made the choice to begin her journey of recovery and asked God for His help and found that God gave her all  the strength and help she needed for that journey.  Well, that would be my answer too about how I recovered from shattered self worth and depression.

For these reasons, I would like to share with you this beautiful song “The Answer” by Corrine May.  I only recently heard this song.  Its melody is actually that of “Jupiter”by Gustav Holst from his Planets suite which is probably my all time favorite classical piece.  But the lyrics by Corrine May reflects what I have shared in this post and what I hold true to my own heart. (Incidentally, Corrine is from Singapore which is my part of the world – so go buy her music!)

Hope you enjoy it.

I believe You are the answer to every tear I’ve cried
I believe that You are with me,
My rising and my light. 

Give me strength when I am weary
Give me hope when I can’t see
Through the crosses I must carry
Lord, bind my heart to Thee

That when all my days are over
And all my chores are done,
I may see Your risen Glory
Forever where You are.

Et Tu, Beauty?


LGS: I was thinking about a suitable post for this Easter week and pondering what to share when I came across this post at beautybeyondbones.  Her very personal sharing of what Easter means to her says it all.  The squirrel knows when it is right to step aside and let someone else do the talking…… God bless you this Easter as we remember the pain, the sacrifice, the love and the victory of Jesus our Lord.

See what I did there? Et tu, Brute…Et tu, Beauty? *Air-fives self* 😛 OK, so yeah, the title has to do with Caesar…buuut, I kinda feel like it sets the mood for this piece. Because we&#…

Source: Et Tu, Beauty?