Category Archives: Quiet Time

Conferring Value on Life

WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD ABOUT SHERLOCK (BBC) SERIES 4 EPISODE 2! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN IT – WELL, YOU’VE BEEN FOREWARNED!!

Watson: “You didn’t kill Mary. Mary died saving your life. It’s her choice. No one made her do it, no one could ever make her do anything. But the point is, you did not kill her.”

Sherlock: “In saving my life she conferred a value on it. It is a currency I do not know how to spend.”

Watson: “It is what it is.”

“The Lying Detective.” Sherlock, series 4, episode 2, BBC, 18 Oct. 2019. Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/title/70202589

Any Sherlock (BBC) fans?

Series 4 episode 2 for me was one of the most poignant of all the others I’ve watched.

The writers were brilliant in the way they prepared and established the relationship between Sherlock and Watson as they began to reconcile with Mary’s death on their own terms.

Friendships, with all its complexities and troubles, can enrich our lives in more ways than we can ever express.

Sherlock wisely pointed out that when Mary chose to save his life, taking the bullet for herself that was meant for him, it showed him his life is of great value. An high price he did not know how to repay or do with.

But both men knew that they had to live somehow, to move on despite their grief. They could not remain as they were – broken, lost, full of bitterness. Both believed that no matter how much time passes, nothing will be the same ever again. Her life – and her sacrifice – forever changed them.

This is what Christ meant when He said: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NLT)

When Christ laid down His life for us, it was done freely of His own accord (John 10:10; John 10:17-18).

He goes on to say: “You are my friends if you do what I command. … You didn’t choose me. I chose you… This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:14, 16a, 17 NLT emphasis mine)

Know this – true friendships are rare. I hope that you not only are a true friend to others, but have true friends in your life as well. Blessings to you.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 NLT)

Covering Wrongs

Imagine that you are assigned to complete a significant project with a partner. The prize for the winning project is huge, and many others are talking about it. Everywhere you go, it seems that people are buzzing with excitement. You hear snatches of conversations of their ambitions – including the concerns about the deadline, the requirements for the project, and so on. The theme looks exciting, and you look forward to brainstorming and developing ideas with your partner.

However, starting on the very first day, you and your partner just do not get along. While everyone else have already gotten their ideas down and have made progress, your partner disagrees with you on virtually everything both of you should do.

You cannot seem to convince that person, even as you try to compromise your ideas, exploring other options. You feel like you are the only one doing your best, while your ideas seem to be dismissed as either being too ambitious for the limited time frame, or too costly or impossible to do.

As the deadline looms closer, neither of you are closer to even making the first step of your plans into reality.

In person, both of you try to work it out as sensible, rational individuals.

However, when that person is not around, you complain bitterly to your friends and family. How disagreeable, uncooperative, irrational that person is. That you wished you never were paired with a partner like that. Somehow, your ideas never seem to be taken into consideration, but only shot down.

Then one day, you overhear a conversation between your partner and someone else. To your shock, you hear the exact same things being said about you that you had ranted about that person to others. Me? Irrational? Unwilling to compromise? Difficult to work with?

But while you listen a bit longer to how that person is talking about you, you realize something. While your ideas have merit, the things your partner brought up – the cost, the amount of time to complete the tasks, the purpose…these things do have importance, too. That person also felt like they weren’t being listened to.

What would you do if you heard someone voice the same complaints as you did about them?

When our lives are disrupted because we just cannot seem to work in harmony with others, our first habit is to complain.

Whether it be in group project, our boss, a church member, family, relatives, friends…we don’t bless. We curse them. Yes, complaining is a form of cursing people.

This is why God hated it when Israelites complained – as a result of their complaining, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. They suffered and died for their constant complaining.

James warned: “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9 NLT)

Instead of complaining, which is from the absence of love, we need to learn to bless and not curse. Yes, bless and not curse, no matter how justified we may feel about ourselves and others (Romans 12:14).

Remember that Christ also loves you.

And truth to be told, have you ever considered that God doesn’t always agree with us? Yet He never complains or bad mouths us behind our backs. Rather, He gave Christ to cover over our wrongs. And tells us directly when we need to get straight with Him and be humble.

When Christ covered our wrongs through His work on the cross and forgave us, we receive it.

But why receive this grace for ourselves and still deny that grace for others (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:31-32; 1 Corinthians 4:7)? Do you not have any respect for God and what He has done – and still continues to do – for each and every one of the people in your life?

We received the Holy Spirit to do onto others what Christ did for us (2 Timothy 1:7).

And last but not least: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT)

Who’s covering for you with their love? Even if it’s only Christ and not people, isn’t it time for you to do the same?

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” – John 2:6 (NIV)

Isaiah 40:6

(Alt text: Background is a variety of flowers, some alive and a few withered. Isaiah 40:6 NIV is placed on top in bold text bordered in white. The church logo, a bold R with a red cross at the bottom right corner of the letter is on the lower right side of the picture.)

(Alt text: Background is a variety of flowers, some alive and a few withered. Isaiah 40:6 NIV is placed on top in bold text bordered in white. The church logo, a bold R with a red cross at the bottom right corner of the letter is on the lower right side of the picture.)

Seeing Our Worth

Very distressing to see news of a girl with disabilities being beaten while onlookers watched and reportedly laughed at her.

This is why children need to be taught from birth to be kind to those with disabilities, not just those without them. The world isn’t so kind – and it seems that it has been getting far worse than better.

Not so long ago, a young child asked me if I was “cursed” because of my disability. She was five. Apparently, her mother told her that the reason why I have a disability is because I have been cursed. Parents, know this: people with disability(s) are not cursed, aren’t a burden or of less worth. What did Christ say? He speaks very clearly on this when the disciples wondered the same thing in John 9.

We can do better. Teach yourselves and future generations that contrary to how society conditions us, we are of great worth. We have skills and talents, potential and passions and dreams. Like our non-disabled counterparts, we are learning how to navigate our way in this world. Only when we all come together to see one another as human beings worthy of respect and care (for we all are made in the image of God), then perhaps, we will learn to truly love in the same way He loves us.

But the reality is, people with disabilities are at higher risk for violence and abuse. There will always be individuals or groups in society who do not change. Without justice to confront them and their malicious deeds, they will continue with impunity. The arm of justice punishes as well as protects. We need to have legal enforcement and protection of our rights.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. – Psalm 82:3 (KJV)

Fully Equipped

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

What do you call a person without sight? Blind.

A person who does not hear? Deaf/HOH.

A person who cannot walk? Paraplegic.

There are more, but all fall under the general term: disabled.

In this, we only see what is lacking. The lack of capability, the loss of potential, the “brokenness” that comes with disability(s).

But what if I told you that all of us have a disability of a spiritual kind? Let’s read:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” – Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT)

One thing that people with disability(s) will tell you is that all they need is to be fully equipped. Whether it be through technology, sign language interpreters, alternative text, changes in the environment, visual aids, etc., these require people to band together in order to support the member of society with disability(s). Equipping people with disability(s) regardless of cost requires compassion. No, it actually requires more – love.

Love is how God treats us, all of us, who are spiritually sick, who are spiritually incapable of redeeming ourselves.

Rather than being apathetic to our wretched state, God sent Christ to suffer as we did, and through His suffering, He is able to empathize with us. He is compassionate towards us.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

Instead of refusing to accommodate for our weakness, God gave all the tools and resources we need in order to live our lives in a way that pleases Him. The Bible specifically states that we are prepared and equipped through His Word!

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

Moreover, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth!

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13 (ESV)

If we receive all these good things from the Lord, how can we not help those with disability(s) in our communities by equipping them with what they need? Indeed, we all are without excuse. Either in our complacency, lack of compassion or laziness, when we do harm to our neighbor, who’s to say that God will provide when we know we have the capacity and the means to do so?

It is written: “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” – James 2:15-16 (NLT)

And again: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:17-18 (ESV)

Since God has equipped us fully, let us no longer actively and/or passively deny those in need. Be filled with His Spirit, moved through love for others in Christ.

Sharing Burdens

Note: This is a raw, honest testimony. Because it comes from a D/deaf point of view, it will be very different from what hearing people understand and experience. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read. This is not a “pity me” post. It is a call to action. Are you ready to join us? We have sign language 🙂

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of our anxieties stem from external factors. It usually comes from people (we all are guilty as charged) looking out for their own interests without considering other’s interests as well. We can practice all the self-care we want, but until the root of the problem is resolved (usually comes from working in concert with other people), anxieties will continue to eat away at us.

Let me give one personal example. Deaf anxiety.

Deaf anxiety – what is it? My first clear understanding of it came from a Deaf activist, Artie Mack.

He articulated many things I experienced as a person who went through all stages of hearing loss (from mild hearing loss to profoundly deaf). Deaf anxiety is hard for hearing people to understand – I think it is one of those things that have to be lived in order to be understood.

D/deaf, HOH and those with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) carry the heaviest burden when interacting with hearing people. To make communication work.

Part of deaf anxiety is feeling as if I’m a burden. People may not necessarily say it out loud, but the way they have treated me shows differently. The deep sighs when asked to repeat. The eye rolling as if I should have known better and should be keeping up with everyone else. The “never mind”, “I will tell you later,” “it’s not that important”…..The dismissal attitudes. I am always placed in situations where I have to meet the expectations of hearing people around me to process and respond in the same pace as they do – without support. Without any accommodation.

Deaf anxiety is not related to our identity of being D/deaf, or the challenges related to our disability. Rather, it comes from the fact that we constantly overwork ourselves to function, communicate, respond and connect with others as a hearing person would without giving any consideration to our own needs. In my perspective, deaf anxiety is mostly a result from the widespread belief and attitudes that we D/deaf people have to accommodate the hearing world. In other words, we constantly challenge ableist attitudes. We live in a society that doesn’t respect us, and teaches us that we have to be like a hearing person. Our anxieties come from external factors, and therefore requires external solutions in collaboration with hearing people to address them. We live in an inaccessible society!

I’m told that I lip-read pretty well. But the truth? There is always the chance that I misunderstand. And I have seen the ugly side of people who have used that against me. The problem is that while speech accommodates hearing people, lip-reading does not accommodate D/deaf or HOH. When D/deaf or HOH people lip-read, they are actually accommodating hearing people as well.

When society tells D/deaf or HOH to just lip-read instead of taking the time to learn sign language, finding alternative as well as appropriate means to communicate, or refuses to hire an interpreter, this leads to problems. These attitudes and ideas are based on the assumption that lip-reading is an acceptable way for D/deaf or HOH to communicate. It also is rooted in the belief that hearing people don’t have to make any meaningful effort to communicate with us. That’s why we say the main difference between D/deaf, HOH and hearing people is privilege. This is not the way Bible teaches us to treat others.

As Christians, whenever it is in our power and capacity to act, please do good to others (Proverbs 3:27). Meet other’s needs even if it means going out of your comfort zone to do so. This is what it means to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

I encourage you to start being more mindful of D/deaf and HOH communities. Try learning more about sign language and take the journey to understand how it is a language equal to spoken and written language. Try to understand how D/deaf and HOH’s experiences are shaped with challenges from learning spoken and written language. Just as you would struggle with learning and communicating through sign language, we too struggle with communicating in spoken and written language. Despite the fact that our language and method of communication is not considered to be “normal” by hearing people’s standards, it does not make sign language any less significant or fully expressive.

If you’re an employer, I strongly recommend you to accommodate the D/deaf or HOH’s needs the best you can in a manner that helps them work and communicate fully without hindrance.

We are all made in the image of God. We all are here for His purpose. We are not a burden. We are your blessing in disguise.

“Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? “ – Exodus 4:11 (NLT)

God’s Mercy

“Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”” – 2 Kings 19:14-19 (ESV)

One of the faithful kings of Israel, Hezekiah, was known for walking sincerely before God. However, he made a mistake during his 14th year of reign. When confronted by Assyria, he took the silver and gold from the temple of the Lord and gave it to the king of Assyria in hopes that the king would be appeased. But as we can see, the appeasement failed. At that time, Assyria was the most powerful nation in the world. Their military conquests were nothing short of impressive. They toppled nations and slaughtered powerful kings.

 When the appeasement failed and the king of Assyria threatened to destroy Hezekiah, mocking the nation’s faith in God, what did Hezekiah do?

He went before the Lord.

I love that Hezekiah went to God. He recognized that his alliance with Egypt (no small power at that time) would not help.

There will always be many times in our lives when we face situations beyond our capacity and resources to handle.

Psalm 46:1 (NIV) declares: “God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.

Hezekiah’s situation was impossible. The king of Assyria wasn’t full of pompous wind when he said that Egypt’s military alliance would not save Israel.

Despite Hezekiah’s initial mistake of trying to appease the enemy, God answered his prayer.

Why? Because Hezekiah completely gave himself and the fate of Israel up to the mercy of God. Hezekiah recognized the best course of action and took it. The world will always mock our faith in the Lord, but we need to stand firm.

When things in life bring us to the brink of destruction, when we feel like death is near, let’s remember God’s response to Hezekiah. And have faith.

Are you ready for His mercy?

The End of the Line

It is written that I was made to overcome (Romans 8:31-39). But I do not see it. What use is hope, when the battle has gone on too long and there seems to be nothing left? What use is having hope when all evidence points to the contrary?

Paul wrote: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV).

Isn’t it curious that he uses the word “evidence of things not seen”? People say seeing is believing, right? But what if it’s not so? Remember, God Himself is Spirit (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17). And you have not seen Him, but you know Him. And you love Him (John 14:17; 1 Peter 1:8-9)

The greatest battle that Christ faced was not with the powerful and wealthy religious leaders of His time (Matthew 23:1-39; Mark 12:35-40; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 20:45-47), the unbelieving crowds (Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19), His own disciples (Matthew 18:1-4; Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 22) or the Roman government (Matthew 2; John 19; Luke 23; Mark 15).

It was with His own physical body. He knew the purpose for which He came, to give His life to redeem us from our sins (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17). He declared to His disciples when He found them sleeping when they should pray to be able to resist temptation: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41b NIV). Christ Himself is without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:3-4; Hebrews 4:14-16).

Yet Jesus consistently set the example for us to follow. And in that moment, when facing the weight of the cross, He did not turn away. He prayed (Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42). Personally I don’t think Jesus was asking God to remove the possibility of crucifixion. He always predicted His own death and was quite clear in telling the purpose of His death and how it will glorify God (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22; Mark 8:31; Luke 13:33). Rather, I think it was more related to the fact that He was under so much anguish that He suffered while praying, which can possibly affect his physical body to the point of death before He reaches the cross. He sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

There are times in our lives when we feel like even the things we struggle within our own minds are too difficult to bear. Christ said that in this world, we will have trouble – but also tells us to have courage, because He overcame the world (John 16:33)!

By the way, Jesus never promised that we would have a smooth sailing. So if anyone tells you any different, spouting the nonsense that your life will be full of prosperity and ease, that’s not the truth of Christ.  

When we are at the end of the line and there’s no rope to hold on, that is when we need shift our focus off way we feel, off our own minds – and towards the Word of the Lord. No discipline is easy. Think back to the time you first began learning. Be it pottery, martial arts, math, writing. How did you grow? Did it take persistence?

In the same principal, it is written: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV).

Let’s give the end of the line to God. Maybe it’s time that we do His way. Are you ready?

The Purpose of Easter

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:1-6 (ESV)

From the very beginning of his letters, Paul states clearly his identity in Christ. His purpose was centered around who Christ is (v. 2-5) and the authority and power in which Christ displayed His triumph over death. More importantly, Paul knew that without the truth of resurrection, our hope and faith in Christ is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

My prayer is that as you go forward throughout your life in full knowledge and acceptance of Jesus’ complete work of redemption on the cross, you will remember with unshakable faith the eternal life we have through His resurrection.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” – Romans 8:11 (NLT)

(Text is a quote from Luke 24:6-8 NIV version in purple script, bordered in white. A text beneath the Bible verse is a bold "R" with a red "+" on the bottom left corner of the letter. The background is a picture of a tree with pink flowers in full bloom).
(Alternative text: The text is a quote from Luke 24:6-8 NIV version in purple script, bordered in white. A text beneath the Bible verse is a bold “R” with a red “+” on the bottom left corner of the letter. The background is a picture of a tree with pink flowers in full bloom)

The Grace of Being Lost

These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

Everything Is Meaningless

 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

The Teacher Speaks: The Futility of Wisdom

I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

What is wrong cannot be made right.
    What is missing cannot be recovered.

I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.

The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.
    To increase knowledge only increases sorrow
.” (Ecclesiastes 1 NLT)

This world is full of ideas on what purpose we serve. We are often times pressured from birth to death to fulfill a certain role or purpose in society. These expectations may or may not help us discover our sense of self. Yet when we fail or succeed to meet the expectations of those around us and that of our own, we discover that we only feel the same way as King Solomon did. We think: “what’s the point?”

But I wonder, is there some blessing in allowing ourselves to acknowledge that sometimes we get lost?

Maybe it’s okay to be.

Our purpose isn’t found in the way people perceive us, or the standards we set up for ourselves. Having goals and hopes for the future is important, but there’s something even more important.

Through Micah, God teaches us: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV).

And 1 Corinthians 13 shows us the most excellent way; summed up in one word in how we should live our lives with a singular purpose: love.

Love is so difficult. It would be severely understating it when I say that we aren’t consistent in loving others and ourselves. How much more when it comes to loving our Lord?

But through Him, we receive grace. When we are lost to ourselves and the world, God pours more grace into us. And that is the grace of being lost. Not because of what we have done in the past or what potential we will fulfill in the future, but simply because of who He is (Romans 5).

There’s grace of being lost in God’s love. Once we allow ourselves to give up our identities to Him, we discover and become who we are meant to be.