Appreciation is Healing

There’s nothing that heals a broken spirit better than a session of praise and worship. It is the aspirin, the morphine, the weed that brings on a high without rotting the body or brain.

I stumbled upon the full length Christian concert of Michael W. Smith featuring Hillsong with Darlene Zschech on Youtube and enjoyed a wonderful praise and worship session right in my room. Thank God for Youtube and full length videos!

Even though I haven’t been to the church for an EXTREMELY long time, I’m actually a very spiritual person. Not believing is a form of spirituality. I spent much time disproving and seeking evidence for the non-existence of God so that I don’t feel like I’m weak, that I need some higher power to dictate and take charge of my life. I’m not even an atheist who believes there’s no God. Being un-Christian was my religion.

But the more I fight it, the more I find that it is easier to believe. Whether or not He’s real, I’m still struggling with my faith, there’s no denying the change He has caused in my mum and stepdad. Perhaps their change has to do with age, but we can change in so many ways as we grow older. We can become bitter, joyless and suspicious, but I think God has showed them the better through His Word… to have a purpose and be constantly aware and grateful of the blessings they live in. Life is not perfect, but through the grace and promise of faith, life is beautiful. And death no longer fearful.

There is a thirst, a deep, innate hunger that only God can fill. Whether it is that crushing weight of loneliness, the painful embrace with low self-esteem, and/or that irreversible decline due to ageing, God lifts and provides the strength to rise above them all. I came to this conclusion because in the rare occasions that I listen in to Christian songs and feel an unfathomable degree of gratitude, I always feel such a surge of empowerment above the human condition.

It’s a very strange feeling. I cannot rationalise it. But something inside me actually felt good and experienced release from physiological, physical and circumstantial bondage. It is not a bodily escapade through alcohol/drug dependency, or sexual gratification, but a deep-seated contentment and spiritual liberation.

I don’t think it’s the Christian songs or sermons I listened to that brought on the rise above life. It has to do with the ability to appreciate, to allow oneself to be contented. And this ability to appreciate is inspired by Christ’s humility. He is the Son of God but He came down to die so that we may have eternal life.

Maybe the Bible or the collections of the world’s religions are mere fables but there’s no escaping that intrinsic hole that yearns for an explanation of our existence and purpose; a hole that finds its answers in giving thanks and showing appreciation to the Most High.

Believing is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of having been touched. The mind may not comprehend, but the soul knows very well.

Day 360 : John 3:16

Although I am blasphemous and a terrible backslider in faith who constantly denouces the existence of God as much as I affirm the pressence of Him, I am grateful for the Word and lessons in grace, compassion, love, forgiveness, humility and courage.

Merry Christmas to you and I pray for health, peace and a bountiful of the most beautiful things in life to happen to you, your family, friends, and all who can be linked to you 🙂

“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.” John 3:16

Day 344 : Doorbell or Hard Knocks?

Pray anywhere.

Saw a man praying not inside, but outside Jama-ath Mosque’s front courtyard. He was either very spiritual, or desperate. Catching him in his intimate moment of devotion through the closed side gate, I thought about the times I knocked on God’s door but it remained locked.

Prayers are like doorbells. Faith is the batteries that power it so that the chime can sound and call to the Master of the house to open the door. Without batteries, we could still knock, but knocking hurts the hand.

When faith is absent in a prayer, our soul get bruised with all that knocking but receive no answer. I should learn to activate the doorbell.

Day 309 : Resin Peace

Came across this roadside altar honouring the deceased. Not to be insensitive or rude, but I find electric candles and plastic bouquets lacking in authenticity and sincerity as offerings. Without the worry of removing candle wax and replacing dead flowers, I guess the living and dead can both finally rest in resin peace.

Day 277 : 齐天大圣诞

Chinese Opera

On my way home today, I came across a grand Taoist ceremony to celebrate the birthday of the Monkey God (齐天大圣诞孙悟空), which falls on the 16th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (农历十六日).

Of the myriad Taoist celebrations and processions dedicated to the gods, the Monkey God’s has got to be the most gruesome with devotees performing extreme acts of self-mutilation such as piercing the body, tongue and cheeks with spears and knives; self-flagellation and whipping; climbing ladders made of sharp blades; and walking on fire, broken glass, etc.

When I arrived, the ceremony was just about to begin but I was on the way to the gym so I didn’t stay to witness the daredevil acts of devotion. I remember these ceremonies used to draw huge crowds when I was younger but tonight’s celebration was devoid of onlookers. As the younger generation simplify religious rites, is this the beginning of the death of the gods?

The celebration was held by Tian Long Gong. Haven’t seen these traditional big-head dolls upclose in a long time.

A sifu writing a talisman. I wonder if it is chicken or black dog’s blood he is using.

What is this neon runway? Is it a mobile catwalk?

Walk if you dare!

A bed of broken bottle shards waiting to help devotees liberate their faith.

Offerings of paper horses, clothes and servant deities.

Dolls alive! They looked so cute dancing and bouncing around.

No one’s watching but the show must go on.

Huge tentage on an empty field along Race Course Road where the ceremony took place. It has been an otherworldly encounter on the walk home. What a cultural treat!


Day 273 : Amish Grace

I forgive God. It’s an audacious and insolent statement, but that’s actually a declaration of faith. I have made peace with my struggle to believe there’s a God.

I had this revelation while watching Amish Grace, a television movie based on the real-life school killing of 10 Amish schoolgirls in 2006, Pennsylvania, USA.

If like me, you’ve ever teared your heart out and cried the tears dry at God’s impotence to cure an illness, return a love one or make things right, perhaps after watching the movie, you’ll understand why I needed to forgive God. When I let go of my grudge against God, I felt the return of love to my heart.

When I accepted that nothing in this world, be it my parents, dogs, health, possessions, etc. belonged to me but came from God, I was able to let them go. The Lord has given me, it is okay if when the Lord takes back. It will hurt, of yes it will when the time comes, but I will no longer be bitter. I think. I’m not sure because the feeling that came with this revelation is very new to me. But I’m sure I’ll get better at dissolving bitterness because it feels right with my spirit.

I’m glad I stumbled onto this movie on Youtube. It appeared on the right menu column of something else I was watching and I had no idea why I clicked it. I’ve not heard about this show and the title didn’t appeal to me because it doesn’t contain one or all of the following – horror, ghosts, aliens, monsters.

I think the movie has got some pretty good lessons about life for Christians and non-Christians. Here are some great quotes from the show that I would remind myself over and over…

“Hate is a very big, very hungry thing… with lots of sharp teeth. It will eat up your whole heart, and leave no room left for love. We are lucky that God understands this. He is the one that will hand out the punishments so that we don’t have to carry this hate around in our heart if we don’t want to. If we are willing to forgive.”

“It is not easy to forgive. The Lord does not ask us to walk an easy path… But this I know – faith when everything is as you want it to be is not true faith. It is only when our lives are falling apart that we have the chance to make our faith real.”

“Forgiveness comes from an open heart and it comes without condition, or it does not come at all.”

“[We forgive] because it’s the right thing to do, God commands it. We must trust God’s wisdom. If we forgive, God promises that peace will follow.”

Day 270 : Soulflu

I think my soul is sick lately and that led to a nasty flu attack I woke up with this morning. My throat hurts like satan’s having a BBQ party. Sometimes I fear that my soul will not be able to heal because I find it so hard to believe in a God that does nothing or in His own time. It is always a struggle. Sometimes I think He cares, most times I don’t feel He’s there.

If You made me soulful, don’t give me soulflu.

Day 264 : Weak But Not Defeated

Hang in there, Darren. Break those habits and free yourself from them who are holding your health and mind hostage. Sometimes it is better to believe when not believing is causing more misery and pain.

Surrender yourself to God. Not as a sign of weakness but of taking back control of your life. Pass your battles to Him and let His wisdom guide you. Re-awaken the joy that comes through faith.

Day 250 : Cotton Cloak

There is a saying that God is watching. But I think He is too busy weaving magnificent cloaks for the roof over our head and the earth beneath our feet.

Yoohoo… prayers waiting to be answered here! 🙂

Day 241 : Be Still

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3

Day 230 : Holey, Holey, Holey

Faith, Christianity, 圣三一堂, Holy Trinity Church, Hamilton Road

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13

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