Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Seeking Heart

We live at the risk of too much rationalization. People like to argue and debate over the spiritual things of God. So they never pause to really soak it in, listen, and believe.

Nowadays I am becoming more cautious about praying certain seemingly ‘outrageous’ prayers too. I tend to brush it at the back of my mind for a while. Somehow, it isn’t as easy to go to God and ask for His help anymore. I feel incredibly sad at the thought. It is not that I don’t want to ask God, it is more like I’ve forgotten that I could. And I can.

Faith is a gift of God. No one can say, “I have great faith because I can somehow muster up great faith.” No, faith is a gift of God. We each begin our journey of faith by the miracle of God Himself first giving us the ‘measure of faith’ to believe in Him and His word.

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3

Perhaps one of the scary things about growing up is the beginning of our ever-decreasing faith in God. The ‘reality’ of the world caves in on us and we struggle to go to God and ask Him to save us! Even when I do, there’s usually something holding me back, and I misguidedly think that God cannot really save me.

When the ‘carefree’ days of childhood are over, it’s harder to believe that God really answers prayers because our minds are often blocked by our own clever rationalizations. Without even considering going to God, we plunge into the problem and try to figure it out ourselves. No wonder the world’s a mess. It’s not a child’s world.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16

The adults were hindering the kids from coming to Jesus. They probably thought, “Nah, these kiddos wouldn’t be able to grasp Jesus’ teachings.” They thought they were clever and the kids wouldn’t understand. Yet time and again, Jesus spoke in parables, and not many understood. People try to figure out the Bible intellectually, with all their age-old philosophy and clever ideas. But it never works. Faith is a gift of God. Jesus didn’t call for the wisdom of the world in order for one to receive Him and enter the Kingdom of God. He called for the simple, yet great, faith of a child.

He called for a seeking heart.

Not a knowledgeable brain filled with great rationalizations and worldly wisdom. Not a righteous man with many good works to show for. Jesus called for a seeking heart of a child. Eager to receive, quick to listen, ready to learn – with a measure of faith to pray seemingly unthinkable, outrageous prayers that all the more God will answer to show His power to those whose hearts are seeking Him.

But as we all get older, we get caught up with pursuing the things that draw us further from the still, small voice of God. The light fades dimmer and dimmer until we no longer even realize that we actually no longer truly believe that God is able. I wrote a poem yesterday and one of the stanzas read,

‘Success is often short-lived
Riches ultimately meaningless
Beauty inevitably temporal
& Philosophy often faithless’

I looked up at the stars one night and in a moment of lucidity, realized with shame that,

“My great God is not limited by the four walls of my home,
Nor by the four walls of the church or by any other building!
His majesty surpasses even the clouds and the sky above
His power goes beyond my faults, fears & failures
My awesome God is not limited by the opinions of this world
His grace and truth is not caged by the doubts and unbelief of men
His peace surpasses all understanding
And who am I, a tiny good-for-nothing in His marvelous universe, to not believe that He is able???”

Then I am reminded of the man, whose son was tormented by an evil spirit, who said to Jesus,

“If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“’If you can?’” Jesus replied. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the man exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:21-24

Jesus is saying the same to us. Don’t just pray, “If You can, you can help me.” We must pray that same prayer of the man who exclaimed, God, I do believe, I want to believe; so help me overcome my unbelief!

Carpe diem,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Camping in the Prom Country!

17th - 21st January 2011

For the summer holidays, our family planned a camping and cabin trip to the mountain ranges of Grampians, west of Victoria! But unfortunately, we had to cancel it since it had turned into a FLOOD ZONE. So one day before the 17th, we decided to take a last minute 'gamble' and drive to Wilsons Promontory instead!

We knew there was no chance we'd find any accommodation or even a proper campsite since it was last minute. So I checked the internet and found a remote FREE camping spot at Cape Liptrap Coastal Park right beside the beach overlooking the mountains of Wilsons Prom! The campsite is called Bear Gully. We decided to take a risk and hope & pray there'll still be a spot for us at Bear Gully. The setbacks were there wasn't going to be any power or electricity and clean water for drinking or bathing! And those are the basic requirements for most people when they go for holidays... 

But we were so eager for an outdoor crazy adventure that we took the chance! It would be our first time camping in Australia. We didn't know if we'd even last 2 days camping without showers or electricity or a warm bed, but we ended up staying 5 days! Haha J Every night was very cold, with the wind howling and the distant rumble of the waves by the coast. When we woke up, we couldn't even wash our faces or brush our teeth because the toilet water was brown & it wasn't much of a toilet anyway... Hahaha. 

Thank God the day we arrived, after driving through a winding dirt road, we found a nice cozy spot with some gnarly low-hanging trees. We pitched 3 tents! Dad & mum shared one, me & Janna shared another, and Jirene had a tiny tent for herself!

Since it was our first time at the rather unknown camp spot, we had no idea what the conditions were gonna’ be like. Funny thing was, we searched the place all over and to our dismay realized that there were NO SHOWERS! Oh no, so how are we gonna survive even 3 days without showering? Especially when we'd be getting sweaty and salty from hiking and beaching!

Thank goodness me, we managed to find an open tap shower at the beach in Venus Bay. And none of us complained about having to wear our swimsuits and take a quick 1 minute cold shower outdoors! Boy was it freezing, since it was at the beach and the cold wind blew continuously! But it was very funny seeing my dad shampoo his hair wearing his swimming trunks and doing it all by the side of the road. Hahaha. The great thing was we had no choice & no one complained cause' at least we had clean water!

It was freezing at night & we had to ration water when cooking because there was no clean water tap. But we had lots of fun sitting by the 'Campfire' – also known as the portable gas stove and the lamp. My sisters and I played the ukelele, recorder and harmonica while we all sang praise and worship songs and simply improvised. It was a fun way to pass the night time when we had no light!

Our thirst for adventure took us hiking and beaching to explore the heights of Mt. Oberon at Wilsons Promontory, the beautiful Cape Liptrap Coastal Park, the Squeaky Beach, Venus Bay and the Limestone Kilns. All in all, it was an amazing and memorable family adventure!!! =) Can’t wait for more family camping trips in the future :D :D :D

On Mt. Oberon overlooking the clear blue seas at Wilsons Promontory! =)

 Dad stopped the car and I jumped out to capture this beautiful shot of the pastel-coloured skies and the rising full moon by the countryside! =)

The endless blue sea and swirly clouds above.

It was an amazing experience with my adventurous family once more! Thank God for everything. Love dad and mom, and my quirky sisters to bits!!! =)


Written from my heart, while sitting in a park near the Warrandyte River. Cool and breezy, quiet tranquility.

Swirling ideas
Truths untold
Promoting false hopes
And many tall tales

What is right
What is wrong
All muddled up
In the throng

What is light
What is darkness
Who is good
Who is heartless?

Hear the laughter
And piercing screams
Hear the crying
See scattered dreams

While there is life
Barely life
There is death
Cold, dark death

Children orphaned
Families torn
People hungry
Spiritually worn

How to tell
What is truth, who is lying?
How to tell
What's alive, who's really dying?

Keep a straight face
While inside you're wavering
The outward is a farce
Nothing but mere acting

In the deafening chaos
Full of noises
We lose our own voice
And all purpose ceases

Why are we here?
Many aimlessly drift
Why do we fear?
In the carnage we grieve

Success is often short-lived
Riches ultimately meaningless
Beauty inevitably temporal
& Philosophy often faithless

Often we miss the point
Life flying past
Before we know it
Time's up in the Hourglass
Yesterday was a gift
Today is a present ;)
Tomorrow is not a promise
But a chance graciously given

A chance to speak truth
An opportunity to do right
A day to reach for heaven
A chance to walk in the Light

In spite of confusion
Strive to know the Truth
Despite the dire situation
Seek to find Him in your youth

While the world thinks,
'We've got all the time in the world'
We should say,
'Let's not place our hopes in tomorrow!'

Live today
Savour the moment
Pray and pray
Don't just go through the motion

Trust not in power
Nor simply in might
Trust not in men
Nor live by sight

See through the lies
Sift through deception
Open your eyes
And see past the confusion!

By Janielle :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Inevitable End

‘All share a common destiny…
The same destiny overtakes all.’
Ecclesiastes 9:3

Although Maximus – the Gladiator – the hero of the movie, ended up dying, he was not defeated. In his death, he won, he triumphed. At the same time, the death of the Emperor, the schemer, the man who hated all the world and who hated Maximus the most; who cheated in the battle and tried to tear a good man down without reason – this man died a death of pain, loneliness and shame. And I felt sorry for him.

[Watch the epic movie The Gladiator if you haven’t!]

Is death ever a good thing?

No, of course not... Right?

People mourn and cry in sadness over the loss of life. Death is never good – even if it means “release” for some. Death is the final enemy. We do not welcome death. We live our lives ignoring it. We shut it out and shun its lurking existence. Right?

Nevertheless, no man in the history of mankind – except JESUS CHRIST – has ever defied the chains of death. All have fallen. All have been ensnared, often caught unawares, by the jaws of death. None have escaped.

We never think of it. Or maybe we do – occasionally when we read the news. Sometimes when we watch the movies – no good movie omits the presence of death and the epic struggle between living and dying! But somehow, we dodge it. Let it be. Let live until the day comes. For now, we go on as if it will never come. That terrible day when our eyes grow dim, our minds cease to absorb one more memory, our hands grow cold and the world fades to nothing.

For people who see this life as a ‘chance’ existence, death is certainly a fearful prospect. It is the END. Just like that. A whole life of learning and working and toiling; failing and trying; winning and losing; again and again. And then what – to lose it all in one final clean, or not so clean, sweep? Incredulous! Yet true. Finally, regardless whether you’re prepared or not, each man has to face the inevitable end.

Why are you talking about death? You say. It is an unpleasant subject! I know you’re trying to sound philosophical and all. But its best kept forgotten and subdued somewhere in the crevasses of our consciousness. While life goes on, let it stay there and wait. Right?

But mark these words – death is inevitable! Why suppress and shun the very thought of our ‘final act’? Having said that, the mysterious thing about this off-putting subject is it is an unforeseen shadow. No man knows what or when is his end. To attempt to bind and cage this shifting shadow is merely to “grasp for the wind”, as the wise King Solomon said. It is futile. If time is up, time is up. Who can halt the mysterious workings of the universe – who can reverse what the Creator has appointed to each man?

‘All share a common destiny…
As it is with the good man, so it is with the sinner.
Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished.’
Ecclesiastes 9:2, 6

But our meaning on earth is not to contemplate death everyday. (Do not think I am implying that!) Our purpose on earth is not to dwell on our unforeseeable end. We are not to constantly live today worrying about tomorrow. If we worry about tomorrow, we inevitably cease to live today – in the present!

And so our destiny is to live today. While it is called Today, we live. We eat and drink and work. We pray and laugh and love. We cry and share and we reach out to the people who need reaching out to. WE DO OUR PART.

And finally, when the inevitable day comes, we will not be afraid. Death no longer frightens us. Meaningless is its merciless taunting. No longer does it roar in our faces. It is a prowling lion silenced by a muzzle. Although death is still our solemn end, we face no defeat. If we have lived our lives doing our part, living for the glory of God and doing His will for each of us individually, death is nothing to fear! If you and I have such a perspective on our God-given lives, fear not, for death is but a portal to the next incredible journey.

‘So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are IN GOD’S HANDS.’
Ecclesiastes 9:1

Solum deum Timidus,
Janielle =)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The World Needs Silence

This world needs some quietness.

I say that with a tinge of exasperation.

But for the moment, I’m having a very wonderful ‘alone’ time. And I’ve decided to write. It’s raining outside. The sky is dark and gloomy. But for once, I’m enjoying this rainy day! I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything urgent. So the rain doesn’t bother me. I’m just sitting back, looking out my window, and enjoying the strange quietness of falling rain.

It strikes me that all the day, our lives are full of noise. We all know it. But can we escape it?

I think those of us who sometimes choose to retreat into the quietness of our hearts will know how to escape it.

All day we are bombarded by sounds, sights and voices. Information and messages – not to mention the notorious or ardently dull Facebook statuses (!) – invade our minds and dominate our train of thoughts. And sometimes, we too, are full of “noise”; both inside and outside. We constantly have thoughts swirling all over, distracting us – a never-ending stream of consciousness. And not to forget, our external noise-piece, our tongues!

I wonder, when is the only time of the day where you can be totally quiet? No talking, no people around, no music, no reading, no doing anything. Just sitting quiet and “listening” to the silence.

I admit, I find it extremely difficult to find a quiet place and stay silent even for 10 full minutes! Often the house is full of noise. I have to wait till everyone has retreated to their rooms. But I realize that you don’t have to be in a totally silent environment, devoid of sounds, in order to be quiet within yourself.

Often, while travelling to and from school in the train, I would close my eyes and retreat into my thoughts. The external world would fade and blur. Many times I prefer not to listen to my iPod. The music distracts me from my thoughts. All it does is keep the external noise out. But what I enjoy doing is to shut out the noise of the world on my own. I think if we can do that more easily, nothing can deter us from keeping a laser-sharp focus on our thoughts, and on the sounds and voices that are WORTH listening to.  

This is my 2011 resolution. Let’s make a point to shut out the noise of this world to hear the only Voice that’s worth listening to – more than anything!

Carpe diem,
Janielle :)

Love's Still Voice

A poem I wrote, inspired by the quote, 'Fiat justitia, et pereat mundus.'

Let there be justice, though the world perish.

The needy plead
Still no one hears
The orphans cry
Who wipes their tears?

Who will go,
Whose hands reach out?
The one who listens
The one who hears

Wrung in grief
Heart filled with compassion
The one who cares
The servant with patience

Ears that hear
Eyes that see
A dying man's
Still, silent plea
Those ignored,
Those rejected
The ones forgotten
No longer remembered

We're too fine
We're too well
Much too far
From their living hell

When will we awaken
To the suffering & strife?
Wait till you're taken
By the last awful surprise

The day we complain
We cease to hear those in pain
When divided we stand
Any kindness is mere pretend

Who are we to sigh
Who am I to cry
For many out there,
Life is no pumpkin pie

How can we fight
Will man ever make right?
If you agree to the latter
I simply beg to differ

Don't give in
Don't you lie
Stand for the truth
Be ready to die

Alas, a scary thought
Still, one that must be caught
While all goes on, all goes on
Many perish without a sound

Who will know,
But the One alone
Searching to and fro
For a heart that's loyal

He who inclines his ear
Silencing the world of noise
Will hear ever so clear
The call of Love's still voice.

Solum Deum Timidus,

Let there be justice, though the world perish.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Jar of Clay

Inspired by John 2:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 4:7.

'But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.' 2 Corinthians 4:7

This jar of clay
A lowly, breakable vessel
What weakness on display
Too unworthy to behold

This jar of clay
A fragile little cup
Seldom does it overflow
With Heaven's steadfast love

This jar of clay
An insignificant vessel
Seemingly too simple
Far from the precious Pearl

This jar of clay
Is not its own
He surrendered his soul
To the Potter to mould

This jar of clay
Fill it to the brim
When it is overflowing
Once more life will spring

This jar of clay
It is simply I
How cracked and fallen
Hopeless & almost beaten

This jar of clay
Nothing worth a penny
Little did I realize
Someone did look upon me

Ah, so here is the miracle
The Saviour saved my soul!
So I chose to fill my vessel
With His love right to the full.

'But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.'
2 Corinthians 4:7

By Janielle =)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Facing the Crossroads

I’ll always remember what I think is a most memorable quote in Harry Potter. It’s a simple challenge posed by the wizened old Dumbledore to Harry Potter. Not to mention, to me and you too.

In a serious undertone, Dumbledore admonished Harry, “We live in dangerous times, Harry. There will come a time when we will have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy.

The people of our generation will choose the easy way out of things – whatever suits their intentions and wants; whatever is convenient at the time. What will I choose? What will you choose?

Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to go the opposite direction, to make a stand when it’ll make us look like fools to the watching world. Are we prepared to look like a “fool” to our family, friends and foes simply because we choose to pursue the truth, and do the right thing?

I have trouble answering that one. It sure isn’t a piece of cake when it comes to real life – confronting real people and facing real circumstances! We all struggle with that.

I learnt in Psychology that when an accident occurs, or someone is in need, most onlookers will stay put. Everyone is waiting for the first ‘someone’ to step out and do something. Most people, in that moment, hesitate to stand up even though they badly want to. They are more afraid that they’ll look foolish to the bystanders. And since everyone thinks ‘surely someone else will do it,’ in the end, no one does it!

When I make decisions, no matter how small, I tend to choose the easy path – the wide, beautifully-paved road, compared to the narrow and rocky path. I know I’m doomed to slip and fall if I go on that pebbly, winding road! I might twist my ankle or break my neck, or tumble off the cliff-side…!!! (The point is to sound paranoid.) Haha. We can laugh about it, but the truth is, all of us often prefer the clean and cobbled street. Less chances we’ll fail or be at our wit’s end.

But suddenly, as I write the last paragraph, I realize that hey, we really shouldn’t be living our lives on the wide and easy road! However, to most, it may seem sensible & harmless. But we should be choosing the road less traveled, in spite of the challenges and failures and “accidents” that might transpire along the way.

Then again, let’s ask ourselves, “Why?” Why be so “foolish” to take the difficult path and risk all the rough falls?

Before I attempt to make sense of that question, we must firstly acknowledge that often that not, “choosing and doing what is right” is equivalent to taking the risky and rocky path. Perhaps it’s all too easy for me to say because I haven’t really gone on that road… But you can say that I’m at the “intersection” or the “crossroads”, as most of us are at numerous junctures in life.

So why take the tough and rough journey?

What first comes to mind is that Jesus Himself challenged us to do just that.

13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But narrow is the gate and difficult is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)
Many of us may rationalize, Oh don’t be so literal! What harm can taking the easy path do?

But I realize that what Jesus meant by “the broad way leads to destruction” is, when we choose what is easy, the “wide highway” the crowd takes, we often COMPROMISE the values and commands that God has called us to live up to! No wonder it’s a ‘difficult road and a narrow gate that leads to life’. No wonder those who take it are “doomed” to slip and fall, and encounter challenges along the way. Those of us who choose what is right will be confronted by others and with our own FAILURE to abide by the standards God has called us to.

Yes, failure! When we decide to do the right thing, when we want to live up to God’s commands, have no doubt that we WILL fail. ‘All man has fallen short of God’s glory.’ But does that sorry fact deter us from seeking the Truth and striving to do the right thing? Does that stop us from embarking on the journey along the rocky road and through the narrow gate?

No! Our human failures cannot separate us from God’s love and grace. Where would we be ithout His grace? We wouldn’t even have the guts to take our first step on the narrow path! What I’m trying to say is, if we choose to take up Jesus’ challenge and traverse the road less travelled, GOD WILL BE ON OUR SIDE. He will not leave us to fall along the cliff. Although God may allow us to teeter a bit… and go through our portion of falls, hurts and weariness, it is not all for nothing!

Despite the difficulties of choosing the do the right thing in God’s eyes, regardless what the world thinks, we must ask God to help us see the challenges ahead not as obstacles, but as HURDLES. What’s the difference? Well, obstacles block you from crossing over, but hurdles are meant to be leaped over!

The time is now. We have to choose between what is right and what is easy.

Like someone said, “Life begins at the intersection.”

Here’s where we choose between the broad highway to destruction (though it may not be so apparent…) and the narrow path to life beyond what this world can offer. May you and I choose well.


Solum deum Timidus,
Janielle =)

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Its all a facade.

Our world is steeped in deception.

For example, see the profile pictures on Facebook?

The majority of us are not really intending to post up & display to the world the not-so-appealing side of us. OBVIOUSLY. Or else Facebook wouldn't be so appealing.

People put up a show of what they would LIKE others to think they are. I admit, I do it too. The urge to project a false but appealing image of ourselves in the cyberworld & even in reality is so unavoidable that its almost intoxicating.

In the media, in the news, in the headlines, its all the same old, same old. Creating a beautiful-enough outer facade to fool the world. Those who cannot see past the surface will take it as true, as truly wonderful and beautiful. But we must SEE. We cannot afford to NOT see!

But of course, if we go around trying to 'find fault' in people & attempting to dig up whatever underlying threat or lie they might harbour, we would become very unpopular and miserable and no one would like us! True or not?

So is it an either-or matter? I think there is one thing we CAN do:

We must DISCERN.

The word 'discern' has its roots in Old French, meaning 'to divide or separate BY SIFTING'.

To discern is the process of knowing right from wrong by sifting whatever we read, hear and perceive in daily life as we interact with people & evaluate ourselves.

But how can we sift rightly? What are our standards of right and wrong? Where is the line clearly drawn? How do we know if we've discerned correctly?

I believe no one can discern unless GOD gives us the ability and the wisdom to do so. Without the filter or sifting net of God's word, we will have no standard of what's right in order to know where the line is drawn. Therefore in order for me to know right from wrong, to see through the deceptive facade in so many areas of life, I must ask God to OPEN MY EYES and give me a discerning heart. I must know His word & see the world in light of God's truth.

Nothing beats the truth. When we put lies, half-truths, and tall-tales beside the Word of God, the delusive words crumble while the Truth firmly remains!

'For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than an double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints & marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' Hebrews 4:12

To know the Truth,
Janielle =)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Living in Light of Eternity


Long gone are the days
To live in ignorant bliss

Still we're blinded by the haze
Never seeing beyond the mist

Oh God open my eyes
To see across the chasm

To envision eternity
And fix my eyes on Heaven

It may sound rather silly
Too far off & a little dreamy

But I'll walk the remaining years
Living in light of eternity!

'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.' Hebrews 11:1

Carpe diem,
Janielle =)

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