​To say that ‘Jesus is the reason we celebrate’ goes further than ‘Hooray, we wine, dine & celebrate because it’s Jesus’s birthday!’ to 
He is the reason we want many more to come to that joy of knowing and loving Him. 
To truly celebrate {and treasure} Jesus requires more than a metaphorical birthday cake and the blowing of candles.
It is remembering the reason to why He came and aspiring to do as He did.

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Christmas 

Christmas – Jesus is the reason we celebrate. So what’s next? 

We have parties, we celebrate. 

We post photos of clinking wine glasses, glittery tinsel and bountiful spreads of food surrounded by friend and kin. 

But why did Jesus come? 

So we could have another reason to party, shop for new clothes and have a good time? 

I hope we all (including me) truly learn to embrace the true spirit of Christmas by emulating the Man who is the reason for Christmas. 

Here’s a reflective poem my dear husband wrote many years ago on Christmas day. 

Like the sand, they spread across the beach

Twas’ the night before Christmas, the crowds gathered for

Some choose to spend it with friends

Some with loved ones

All are looking for something to do on Christmas day
Amidst the joyous echoes of Christmas carols

Empty heart are crying out

Eager eyes, look toward the sky,

Looking for hope,

Looking for something to do on Christmas Day
Many do not know, the man that was born this day

Many do not know, the sacrifice he made

Many do not know, the story of love, the story of the cross

Many are just searching for something to do on Christmas
As the clock ticked pass midnight, the crowd began to cheer

Joyous celebration of a day they did not know

Would they still shout, would they still sing

If they knew what they were celebrating for

Or are they just here because they have nothing better to do on Christmas Day
Many do not know, the man that was born this day

Many do not know, the sacrifice he made

Many do not know, the story of love, the story of the cross

Many are just searching for something to do on Christmas
Who will tell them about the Christ in Christmas?

For there is no Christmas, without Christ

And the many can stop searching for something to do on Christmas

Because it would just be another day without Christ

When Words Fail

My heart broke at the sight of her shaven head. Where beautiful black hair was once her feminine adornment, a simple black hat now covered her head.

Lord, what just do I say?

Words are so feeble.

Just what do I say to bring comfort or hope, without sounding hypocritical or clueless about her suffering and pain?

I’m afraid of throwing spiritual clichés at her.

God, help.

What do you say to a woman who has just been sexually abused by her own father?

God, what???

I sometimes forget that you grieve and hurt more over the abuse and pain inflicted on your children than the victims or I do.

Had I remembered your tears at Bethany then maybe I would have understood.

God, help.

You have shown me hope and purpose even through this illness and heartbreak, how do I share this hope and life and peace You have given me?

You’ve got to help me.

For those who have suffered so much more than I have.

Lost a spouse.

Undergoing chemotherapy.

Losing a breast because of the ugly, ravaging disease called cancer.

Raising a child with special needs.

I am inadequate for I have not suffered in such a magnitude.

Your road to Calvary Lord, has to be the answer.

Lord, please.

Please be the answer to them today.

Christmas Has Never Been About Us

We just returned from a trip to New World Supermarket for some grocery shopping here in New Zealand. Crowded with many harried shoppers who were doing last minute shopping on a Christmas Eve, it was a picture of how festivity and commercialism has taken precedence over the true meaning of Christmas.

Back home in Malaysia, a friend from church grieves the death of his father who had passed away two days ago. While friends are posting pictures or hot mugs of cocoa by a Christmas tree, bags and bags of Christmas shopping and parties with family and friends, he, together with his loved ones, will be sending off his father on his final journey today.

Another good friend heads off to the very interiors of Indonesia during this season to reach a group of villagers who have yet heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Traveling for hours by car, boat and foot, he will now spend Christmas there in an attempt to connect with this unreached group in the very interiors of Indonesia. He reminds me of Christ, who came to do the work of His Father. It was never about Himself, but the will of God who sent Him.

While we enjoy the company of family and friends during this season, let us not forget those who may be alone this Christmas. Perhaps, it would be the first Christmas for a widow without her husband, the first Christmas for a missionary away from home or maybe, several Christmases where one has persevered through with unanswered prayers for healing, reconciliation or breakthroughs in their work and family life.

Let us not forget that Christmas was never about us. It’s all about Him – the little baby boy who was born in a stable instead of a royal palace, laid in a manger instead of a crib lined with satin.

How do you intend to share Christ’s love with others today?

Longing for a Saviour
A hopeless world would wait,
Sin demanded justice
At a price we could not pay
But God displayed His mercy
The greatest gift of love
When we could not reach heaven
Heaven came to us

He made a way in a manger
A way to the cross
Messiah the Promised
Before time had begun;
For God so loved the world,
Though He knew what love would cost,
He made a way in a manger,
To make a way to the cross.

– Lee Black & Steve Merkel

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Mary’s Prayer

Mary’s Prayer

By Max Lucado

GOD. O Infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.

Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:

To touch a leper’s open wound, to wipe a widow’s weary tear, to claw the ground of Gethsemane.

Your hands, so tiny, so white–clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.

You will see our nakedness, for we cannot hide.

You will see our selfishness, for we cannot give.

You will see our pain, for we cannot heal.

O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince… sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.

Lie still, tiny mouth. Lie still, mouth from which eternity will speak.

Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead, that will define grace, that will silence our foolishness.

Rosebud lips–upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you–lie still.

And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead for you.

Do you taste the dust of the trails you will travel?

Do you feel the cold seawater upon which you will walk?

Do you wrench at the invasion of the nail you will bear?

Do you fear the steep descent down the spiral staircase into Satan’s domain?

Rest, tiny feet. Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow in your steps.

And little heart … holy heart … pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you?

You’ll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.

You’ll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.

You’ll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.

And you’ll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.

Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.

And there you’ll rest again this time in the embrace of your Father.

“Irreversible and hopeless”

Have you ever found yourself in a position where your mistakes are irreversible or the situation hopeless? It could be the death of a loved one, your personal failure which led to irreversible consequences or even handling a difficult child or ageing parent.

Nothing could have been worse for Mary and Martha when their dearly loved brother died. The sisters had sent a message two days before his death, asking Jesus to come. They made a desperate request, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” They were expecting something out of their Lord, they believed that their bond between siblings and Jesus was close enough and therefore had the freedom to ask freely. It was also an appeal to Jesus’ compassion… He whom you love is ill

Have you ever pleaded with the Lord for something? For hours? Days? Months and years? Don’t despise a few hours of fretting as compared to days of suffering… Three hours can seem like forever if your child goes missing or your loved one is in the operating theatre undergoing major surgery…

Well, Jesus response was to tarry. John 11:5 says “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”, but what was His response? He stayed longer in the place where he was! Seems like dear Jesus was dilly-dallying. Have you ever felt like God was too busy? Or you begin to think it’s the lack of faith that causes unanswered prayer…

When Jesus finally arrived at the hometown of Lazarus, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Now Mr L could not have been any deader, for want of a better word. 🙂 Martha said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” I can hear the grief in her voice, disappointment, and maybe even slight resentment at Jesus’ apparent apathy towards their pain and desperation.

Jesus continued by saying, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha must have felt quite irritated by now, and replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” There are times when we feel frustrated, tired of being given cliche answers… Here are some samples – “God has a purpose and plan for you, just trust Him.” “He has gone to a better place.” “Look at the brighter side of things”… Haha, annoying isn’t it when people do not seem to understand your pain and throw out careless, thoughtless advice.

Jesus, still patient and unfazed by Martha’s emotional state continued, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha replied, “Yes Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Martha called for Mary who then quickly left her home and ran to the village street where Jesus was. When Mary saw Jesus, she fell to His feet and wept. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, along with her Jewish companions, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. (John 11:33) What was in Jesus’ mind? Deep grief and love for His brethren. Very likely, He was also thinking about His impending death on the cross. Anger could have been present too, anger at death and the thought of how He would be the answer to conquering death and evil…

Jesus wept. Jesus wept.

What sacred words. Our Lord. Whom we judge as far away, inattentive, too busy, neglectful.

Our shepherd weeps. He hurts. Do we even feel His pain, or are we so focused on our own pains and sufferings? Do we share our Lord’s grief when we see our fellow brethren suffer, when we see injustice in this world, poverty, suffering, brokenness in families? Maybe we are the ones who are really apathetic.

The story goes on about how Jesus commands Lazarus to arise… and how a miracle was performed that day.

My purpose in this post is to draw more attention to what happened prior to the miracle, because that’s where many of our struggles lie. We focus so much on wanting answers and solutions, when God is really more interested in the journey of our faith. If we resist these challenges, we will fail to learn about His goodness and character. We will fail to see His loving provision even in the moments of silence.

Let these moments of desperation, despondency, utter helplessness throw us down at the feet of Jesus. And lest we forget His humaneness, ponder on these words – Jesus wept.