Cock-a-doodle-doo, 3 strikes and you’re out!

Peter

Peter was one of the 12 disciples and there were many accounts on his encounters with Jesus in the gospel. One of them was the rooster crowing as a reminder of Jesus prediction of Peter’s denial of him. It was at the time when Jesus was betrayed and was about to be arrested and the following account was written in the book of John 13:36-38 ESV:

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

And indeed, soon after Jesus was arrested and was being taken away to be brought before the High Priest, and subsequently to Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor. The accounts about Peter’s reaction was recorded:

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (John 18:15-18 ESV)

Peter Denies Jesus Again

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. (John 18:25-27 ESV)

Peter seemed like an impulsive and impetuous chap, at times `cocky’ (maybe this was how that term came about). For example, when Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet:

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:8-9 ESV)

He was the one who drew a sword and cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus. He was also the first to walk on water to approach Jesus:

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:28-30 ESV)

Usually such a person in our company of friends will get shunned or made fun of for being arrogant or `cocky’. Often they will be caught in fights or arguments and get into all sorts of trouble. However, how did Jesus relate with Peter during his time with him?

There were several crucial times where Jesus had chosen 3 of his disciples, Peter, James and John to be with him when he went to the house where a child laid dead with her parents (Luke 8:51), and when he went up a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28) just before he was going to be arrested. Jesus also said to Peter, “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). It was expected that Peter would respond by saying, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33 ESV) and thereafter, he denied Jesus 3 times.

Look again at what Jesus said to Peter “and WHEN you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” He knew the heart of Peter and loved him warts and all. Later we will find that Peter became one of the great apostles and wrote some of the letters in the bible. There was a transformation over his life, he repented and was changing from being that `cocky’ chap to a great teacher and apostle of that time. Although snippets of his character do come about, he was learning and changing, ever obedient to the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. For example when Peter had a kind of a vision and saw on a sheet, all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:12-15 ESV). Later Peter was told by the Spirit to meet a centurion (non-Jew) and to share the good news to him and the people around him. Peter realised what God was teaching him:

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34-35 ESV)

A life touched by Jesus should be one that leads to change and transformation towards being more like Jesus and abiding in his word more and more. Peter was clearly moving in that direction and indeed brought glory to God for all that he did till his death.

My prayer is that my life will continue to be transformed to be more like Jesus. That I will be able to turn and strengthen others. That through it all, I will be able to love and cherish God more and more for who he is and what he has done for me.

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The Will of God

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How do I know that I am doing the will of God?

Do I want to do the will of God?

These are simple yet the most difficult questions for me to answer.

Attempting to answer the first question, I began to look at verses that cited people who choose to do the will of God, for example;

In John 4:34 Jesus said, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

In Galatians 2:20 Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The following are more verses that touch on the will of God:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Peter 2:15 – For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Romans 8:27 – And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Ephesians 6:6 – not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Here are some other verses that were implicit on what the will of God is:

Proverbs 2:5 – then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 22:37-40 – And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

It has to do with the heart of man first, to seek His kingdom, then the deeds should follow suit. Sounds rather straightforward and not something that requires much reasoning or discussion to understand.

The second question is much harder for me to answer. Do I want to do the will of God?

It is so easy to stand and put up your right hand to take an oath of allegiance or pledge loyalty to a country or cause you believe in. To stand and say I will do the will of God is about the same. It’s easy to say it but will it be true? Will it stand the test of time? Will I succeed and remain true to the call and not waver or falter? Seriously, I do not know and cannot guarantee that I will or will not succeed when put to the test. I can say I am willing and want to be true to God no matter what but when put to the test, will I be like Peter who denied Jesus, or like Thomas who doubted even when Jesus was right in front of him?

Already, I find myself wavering when uncertainty strikes over what lies ahead, be it career, finance, family or relationships. Fears and anxieties are not far when such times arise and I get all shaken up, often depressed and pessimistic in conversations or outlook on life. One thing good out of this is that I get to see the real side of me, my true colours. How I turn myself around by the decisions I make at that time will also reveal my heart’s desire or condition. If I am a coward or a fraud, it will show. If courageous or faithful, it will show too. It is not through the outcome of events but made known perhaps by conscience or when one choose to reflect on the true intent.

I realised that seeking God’s favour and pleasure do not come naturally to me and that is telling on my current heart condition. The song lyrics come to mind, “My heart is a stone and it’s chipping away, every piece that goes is making me OK.” but what really cheers me on is what God can do for and to me, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 NIV. Thank you Lord for your unfailing love and mercy upon me.

Reflection

I pray the following verses for my heart to be true:

Psalms 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalms 51:10-12 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The Fear of the Lord

http://www.sabecorse.net/giftfearofthelord.htm

This is an often quoted phrase especially `the fear of God’. The word fear has been used in many ways and interchangeably with the words `afraid’ and `phobia’. It is often an emotional reaction towards something unpleasant or repelling but it can also be more extreme like being gripped with dread over something or someone that may cause harm or death. To help us relate better, an opposing term may help such as, courage. So when you are gripped with fear, you would flee or run away, but when you are courageous, you would fight or face the situation.

Several verses from the bible provide insights to what “The fear of the Lord” means:

Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil…

Proverbs 9:10 & Psalms 111:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…

Proverbs 16:6 – The fear of the Lord leads to life…

Psalms 19:9 – The fear of the Lord is clean…

I believe you will find that it is quite different from what was described at the beginning. It is not one of pure emotional reaction towards something or someone. There is clearly a relational element and this is where I find it so amazing. God being our Creator and Redeemer, so wants our relationship with him to be one where we acknowledge his sovereignty (the fear of the Lord) and experience his transforming power over our lives. This fear is one that does not grip us with the fear of death or harm but with the joy of life, restoration, healing and transformation towards his glory!

I am eternally grateful for God’s amazing grace in my unworthiness and failings, he will accept me for he is my God, my Rock and my Salvation. Thank you Lord.

This Silly Little Thing Called Love

As I read a recent post from a series of postings by my niece and seeing The Daily Post’s writing prompt’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.”, this post is made.

The series written by my niece was titled “this silly little thing called love” and you can see the latest post here.

The perspective of someone more than 20 years younger, made me realise that love knows no boundaries to age, gender, race, color or creed, including the knowledge and learning from it. For those who choose to love, they may be scarred, burned, scorned or choked but they may also experience or learn about forgiveness, healing, mercy, grace, friendship, humanity and what really matters and what don’t.

A very old song rung in my head when the title of the prompt was read. It was “To know him is to love him”. Although this does not seem to flow with what was said earlier…. does love always flow that way?

[In response to daily prompt : “I Want to Know What Love Is.”]

Superwoman No. 1 – Patchy was Mama’s love

[This is part of a series of adventures with Superwoman No.1 featured earlier – click here for the post.) 

In 1979, our family had to leave our kampung (village) due to resettlement to allow our small country to progress through urbanisation and town planning. We moved to a high-rise public housing estate in the eastern coastal part of Singapore and only the birds came along as we no longer had a dog by the time we moved. However, it was not long that we had dogs with us again. Yes not a dog but dogs, as you can see my dad bringing three of them out for their daily walk in the following photo:

Dad bringing Patchy, Rusty and Jamie out for their daily walk at the foot of our block.

Dad bringing (from left) Patchy, Rusty and Jamie out for their daily walk at the foot of our block.

Mama was not someone who showed her emotion readily other than when she gets angry and scolds you. She was ours and our dogs great cook and she lovingly and faithfully prepared all our food. Patchy was the first puppy introduced to our family at our new home by me. My classmate bred poodle terriers and I had no idea about breeds or what that meant as I was only familiar with my kampung dog `Tramp’, a mongrel. My classmate somehow convinced me to buy Patchy for a handsome fee of 150 bucks! That was a whopping sum for a school going girl and I still cannot recall how I managed to beg, steal or borrow that amount (poor dad or mom or both). You can see Patchy with my sister in the following photo:

My sister with Patchy our first beloved dog in our HUDC flat.

My sister with Patchy, our first dog in our flat.

My sis and I shared one room and Patchy was our alarm clock every morning and he would run into our bedroom when our dad told him to, so that we could get up for work or school. Patchy would lick our face and if we refuse to budge, he would rub his body on our face as well. It would be impossible not to get up with such `violent’ affection shown. Sometimes we would cover ourselves with the blanket or our pillow but he would trample all over us until we got up. Although we yelled at him, we were never angry because he was just too adorable. Soon, two more dogs were added to his company and they got along well but when Patchy grew older, he became grumpy and would snap at us unpredictably.

When Patchy was `snapping’ (perhaps he thought he was a turtle) at us quite frequently, I realised he never snapped at Mama. One night I observed Patchy walking to Mama who was seated at her usual chair watching TV. He stood up to her knee and reached out his paw to her face and Mama gave him a good rub with both her hands up and down his body. He looked so happy to receive that rub but none of us could even pat him without getting a growl from him. He was about ten years old when an unfortunate incident happened at the groomers. His jaw was broken and the vet who treated him said that it was not possible to fix it due to his age. He has to be tube fed for the rest of his life if we want to keep him. The vet recommended that we put him down as he was in pain and was getting senile. I was devastated to see him in that condition but I brought him home hoping he could eat but he could not even drink and was in great pain. I could not bear to see him like this and brought him back to the vet the next day. I had no choice but to let him go. It was the most difficult and painful decision then and there was much to deliberate on what had happened, why and what could have been done but that is another story altogether.

What was most difficult was actually not the grief for the loss of Patchy but to realise how it had impacted Mama. It was about a month later, Mama was watching TV at her usual chair and she burst in tears and questioned why I must let Patchy go since he was such a good boy and had no medical problems. I was shocked by her reaction and I thought she knew what had happened. I gently explained to her what had happened and why we had to let him go. It was too sudden. It was difficult and painful for Mama as she loved him dearly. Here’s a photo of Mama with Jaime who lived a long 18 years and she was actually Patchy’s sister from the same litter… yes they do not look alike but that is again, another story:

Mama with Jaime

Mama with Jaime

[Check out a previous post about Mama with Dragon, our pet parrot – Click here.]

A mother’s love is shown by a dog

I decided to post this encounter which showed us humans how another creature looks after their young. I was with my god brother and his older brother and sister at a large canal at the north eastern coast of Singapore. While we were there fishing, we observed that the opposite side of the canal was a restricted area and there were obvious signage and billboards to WARN us as you can see in the photo below:

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A canal near the sea off Sembawang.

It really made me wonder whether they will shoot you if you entered that area and it looked deserted. After a short while, we observed there were dogs loitering at the opposite side and there was a dog with 5 puppies which stood under that large sign for awhile and then they went away. They looked like beagles but we know they were strays and wondered how they survived at the other side. I wondered whether they might get shot or whether there was anyone at all to feed them.

About an hour later, we saw a man on a bicycle who came by from our side of the canal and he started to look across to the other side and rang his bicycle bell loudly several times. Soon, the dog we saw earlier with her puppies emerged to look at the man who waved a plastic bag at her and gestured for her to come. We were all thinking this man was crazy as how would you expect the poor dog to get the bag which we assumed was food for the dog. We stared at him and murmured among ourselves that this man was cruel to do this. We were wondering what other ways could the food be sent across to these poor doggies and imagined using the fishing rods to cast the bags across to the other side. Of course it would be impossible unless our rods had bazooka ability as you can see the great distance across the canal from the photo below:

Distance dog has to swim (2)

So we emphatised with the man’s effort to help the dogs since we ourselves felt helpless about these dogs well being. Then suddenly, we saw the dog whom I would refer to as Mama dog from hereon, started going along the canal to be directly across where the man had placed the plastic bag and started to swim across the canal towards it (the arrow in the above photo was near where she swam). You need to be a strong swimmer to cross this canal as the waves and current were quite strong. This Mama dog just swam across, went up to our side where the bag was and then ate a piece of bread that was inside the bag. Then she carried the bag in her mouth and then swam back to the opposite side with the bag in her mouth above the water and then went towards her puppies behind the bushes. We heard some squeals believed to be the puppies fighting over the food and we felt pity for them and thought that one small bag of food may not be enough for all of them. You can see Mama dog bringing the bag of food to her puppies after she managed to swim across and head back to them.

Dog feed puppies 2

Well, we were moved by the courage of Mama dog and her dedication to her puppies. Our fishing was lack lustre but we enjoyed the time we had and my god brother said that this encounter with Mama dog made the day special and I agreed with him. As we packed our gear and walked back to our ride, we realised the man had again summoned Mama dog to come over for another bag of food. So our walk back would pass by where Mama dog would pick up her next bag of food. Yes, Mama dog had to swim across AGAIN to get this second bag! We were already amazed the first time she had to swim across and it was tiring just to watch and yet she came back for the second bag. When she emerged to our side of the canal to where the food was, we saw that she was quite frail and lactating but she seemed determined to get the bag and she quickly took the bag and swam back towards her puppies again.

Two of her five puppies followed her to the point where she swam across to take the food and one of them wanted to swim and submerged its paws in the water. We were so afraid for the puppy who was still small and we do not think he or she could make it due to the strong current but fortunately, it did not happen. I was quite a distance away but I managed to take both a photo and a short video of Mama dog bringing the second bag of food back to her puppies as you can see in the following photo:

Dog feed puppies 1

And here’s the video clip which I hope will give you a glimpse of this courageous Mama dog :

Crossroads or Intersection

This is where in life’s journey you head in another path. It is not the opposite direction but it will be a different terrain, obstacles, temperature, weather and so on (metaphorically speaking). I can’t help linking stuff to nature trails or treks 🙂 The schedule has changed and the routine has shifted to something I have yet to put my feet on the ground on but it is happening even as I type.

I am grateful for getting through this stage or phase but at the same time, am wondering what lies ahead as the view is not as clear as I wished it to be. Nevertheless, I am hopeful for another adventurous, fruitful and meaningful journey and look forward to strengthening bonds with family and friends that I meet face to face, as well as family and friends I meet in cyber space.

Most of all, I am thankful to God for seeing and carrying me through this journey and letting me realise how much more I need to trust and desire His will and plan for me. As much as I hope to bless others, I know it would not be possible without God’s love and grace in my life.
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So here’s to a new page 🍺