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The Painter

Paint me by daylight,

your brushstrokes sure and fast.

Finish me by moon rise, before 

The pale light erases my canvas,

before she covers me in black

painted white again with dawn. 

 

Paint me in lightness, with highlights and

summits. Gentle wind and birdsong. 

Colour me with sunlight, bright unfading.

Nightfall stains, doubt arising. Will your paint 

transcend the two faces of my coin? 

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A Greater Presence

Back home in Malaysia, I've got two furry friends, Dixie and her baby Lilac who's turning one in human years.

Mum and I took Dixie off the streets as a puppy, and she's been with us for seven years. But that wild, free-ranger spirit of hers still comes through even today. And apparently, Lilac has inherited it even though she was born in our home.

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The Noise Outside my Appointment

After I get into bed and lie still waiting for sleep to come, as my breathing slows and deepens, my ears seem to grow large and take in all the sounds of the street outside. I can hear cars and trucks, trains and airplanes, not as white noise anymore, but as increasingly oppressive sounds.  

When I take the time to notice, I feel the sounds of the world press upon my spirit too. As I live each day the voices of people crowd into my mind, and jostle for attention. The pressures of different areas of my life start up a clanging racket. Social norms and expectations, past experiences and the limits of my knowledge add to the clamour.

Amid it all I find I have begun to lose my own voice, and I struggle to discern the voice of the Lord.

I do not want to mishear Him by trying to listen through all the other noises, and I do not want to mistake another voice for His.

I do not want to repeat what other voices are saying; I do not want to be an imitation of some other voice. I want to be myself, and to speak with my own intonation and expression.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have silence as I fall asleep.  I mean that heart-of-the-forest silence, that everything-is-holding-its-breath silence. For the spirit too, what is silence like?

 

We can experience silence of the heart and mind, but we must set aside time, and make it a priority. It is found in the secret place in God’s presence, where you are alone with Him. You have to leave behind all the competing voices of the world, become still before Him and tilt your ear towards His voice with expectancy. Then, in hearing His voice, you shall find yours again too. 

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My Movements. His Movements.

“There are better ways to move through an ocean than kicking"

-  Andrea Gibson, A Letter to a Playground Bully

 

Have you ever thought about the way we swim? I’ve never realised it before but we actually propel ourselves with quite violent motions. We kick, splash, slice, slap and absolutely assault the water. Have you ever thought about the way fish and dolphins swim? They glide, moving effortlessly and gently. Fish don’t kick their way around. We do that. The way fish swim only reflects their perfect design for their environment. When it comes to swimming, we are not graceful at all! Our movements only reflect the fact we are not made to live in the ocean. But let's go deeper. Just as we kick our way through the water, we kick our way through life also.

 

We seem to go about our days in a constant struggle, always striving to be better, to progress further up the academic or professional ranks. We try so hard to forge a path through life but its storms and waves keep knocking us down. Why do we often find ourselves in places of disappointment, feeling burnt out and hopeless? Perhaps our movements through life reveal the fact that we actually don’t belong here.

 

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20

 

As in water, we kick our way through life because we are not designed to be permanent residents of this world. We belong to heaven. There is no need to kick through God’s kingdom. When fish are on land they move awkwardly – flopping around, gasping for air- it shows they do not belong. When we are going through the motions of life, we struggle, fall down and get hurt – it shows we can’t get through it on our own. Therefore, if our home is in heaven our movements on earth should reflect the movements of God’s kingdom. Although we can swim, we are still land creatures. Although we reside in this world, we are still God’s people, let our actions, words and thoughts reflect our heavenly home.

 

 

Blessings, Viola

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My Spirituality is Attractive

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight.”   – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

 

 

First and foremost let’s debunk the lie that your beauty and your inherent attractiveness are measured by your outward appearance. Beauty is not borne of genetics or socio-cultural standards. What matters is your inner disposition.

 

“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle gracious kind that God delights in.” (MSG)

 

Other versions describe the inner disposition as an “Incorruptible beauty… very precious in God’s sight.” (NKJV); a “lasting beauty” (NET); an “ageless beauty … the greatest value in God’s sight.” (GNB) or the “unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit which, [is not anxious or wrought up]” (AMP)

 

If beauty was defined by our external appearance alone, then an ‘imperishable’, ‘ageless’ beauty is a physically unattainable goal. God does not care much for external appearances as he cares for our inner condition. We live in a society of contradictions. We are taught “don't judge a book by its cover” and yet we do exactly that everyday. We judge people by their covers - their “external adornments.” We even judge ourselves by our covers. How many of us can pin point and list exactly that which we don’t like about ourselves? Trouble areas we love to hate on. Never truly satisfied with how we look. Thunder thighs; flabby arms; jelly belly; big nose; small eyes; dark circles; too fat; too skinny. The list is endless! But what right does the clay have to say to the potter, ‘I don't like the way you made me?’

 

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” – Ephesians 2:10

 

We are hand crafted by God and created to bear his image. We think of image and associate it with external appearances – the first look summation of any one person. God’s definition of image actually has nothing to do with our exteriors. Men and women bear different aspects of God’s image, or in other words, his character. If we look at Eve, we discover how women were created to bear God’s relational side. “It is not good for man to be alone, therefore I will make a suitable helper for him.” (Genesis 2:18) Eve was created to take part in the adventure alongside Adam essentially demonstrating that women play a role in God’s big adventure too. Have you ever noticed how God’s creations get progressively more complex? The first thing he creates on the earth is “vegetation, seed bearing plants and trees” (Gen 1: 11); sun, moon and stars (Gen 1:16); sea creatures; birds (v. 21); land animals – livestock and wild animals (v.25) and finally man (v.27). However, if you read in chapter two, Eve is the very last thing God creates. “Then God made woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22) Eve is the crown of creation. She is the cherry on top. Without her, creation is incomplete!

 

The enemy has fooled us into believing our beauty is purely external. If you focus and believe that your beauty is founded in external appearances then the enemy succeeds in making you neglect the condition of your spirit which is of GREAT value, is VERY precious and of IMMEASURABLE worth. God describes this beauty as a “gentle and quiet spirit.” (1 Peter 3:4) This is a spirit that is found in one whose confidence is in the Lord. She knows that God is always by her side: “Do not be afraid, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). She is not striving on her own accord: “I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). She knows that gentleness is not synonymous with weakness: "You were not given a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) 

 

What is attractive is not your physical appearance but your spirituality. Your heart for God is the most attractive quality you can have. A prerequisite for a gentle and quiet spirit is a hope in God. “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.” (1 Peter 3:5)

 

These Godly women adorned themselves with gentleness and quietness of spirit that was borne of a hope and unwavering faith in God. Their hope was not in the conditions around them, or the success of their endeavours for Christ, the stability of family or the fruition of God’s written love story. Rather, their hope is in God, the work of the cross and the promises of the Bible.

 

“A branch does not attain the attributes of the vine apart from the vine.” (John 15:4) Neither will you attain the beauty of Christ apart from Christ. The fruit of the branch comes from the provision of the vine. Let your hope and your confidence be securely fastened to God. Beauty is a gentle and quite spirit that points every man and woman to the One who is most beautiful. Think about the modesty of spirit. What is a modest spirit? One that is humble and hopeful; rested and reassured and grounded in Christ.

 

 

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:10-11

 

 

Blessings, Viola 

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