Archive for July, 2008

Set Apart


taken outside TGV Sydney

Each time you use the anointing oil, this is what you are saying: “I am set apart by God.” This is not an empty statement, nor an archaic ritual that has no place in the present day. Just as the holy communion – Jesus’ broken body and shed blood – represents our wholeness in the physical and spiritual, the anointing oil is the power of the Holy Spirit that is enabled in and through us.

David in 1 Samuel 6:13 was anointed by the prophet in front of the brothers who scorned him, before the father who thought so little of him, and as the oil was applied on the shepherd boy, the Spirit rushed upon him in power.

The anointing of oil is a declaration: you are set apart, unto God, made holy by the abundant grace of the gift of Jesus Christ who died on that cross at Calvary for our salvation. And that gift is made manifest through the working of the Holy Spirit. Chains are broken. The sick are healed. Yokes lifted. Broken lives and hearts restored unto God’s perfection. Life breathed into dead bones. Standing unscathed in the fiery furnace. Undevourable even in the lions’ den.

This is the ancient truth, alive as it was two thousand years ago. We can walk in power, authority and freedom as priests and kings, simply because of the incomprehensible grace of the God who loved us so completely, without measure, that He sent his only Son to die for our sake.

Every Night

Poetry is exactly unlike what the word suggests. It is the haphazard cobbling of bits and pieces of emotions, sensations and imagination. The slide on a blues guitar. Colours caught on film negatives. The sound of ivory. The briefest of glances. How skin creases as her face forms a smile. The chance sparkle in her eyes and all the promises held within. Each night a prayer rising towards heaven, and a whispered ‘alleluia’.

Tonight the words don’t form up like they usually do. But all I need is to close my eyes and learn to dream again. You find me once again, needing Your breath, your touch and your quiet voice in the stillness, with every hope and future held in Your hands.

A Little Bit of Heaven

And I miss Sydney.

The morning chill creeping into every pore, with steaming mug of coffee held gingerly with both hands; the glint of gold caught in our hair and sunlight warm on our faces; the fiercely cold evenings, walking under brilliant starlit skies and catching the moon in a puddle; being seated alone in the balcony, watching the drifting clouds and speaking with You, each word whispered under my breath; all these things I miss, and more.

Now I’m reliving those moments as I begin scanning from my piles of negatives, coming alive in grainy, overexposed glory. I’m not my usual nitpicky/perfectionist self (this particular quirk only surfaces when it comes to photography or writing), merely smiling as each scan plods its way from the tangible into the intangible. It’s like magic appearing across my screen.

Beauty, however flawed, still captivates and fascinates. Life as we know on this earth will never be perfect, but it’s really just a question of perspective. Yes, we may deal with an assortment of death, loss, pain, heartache, heartbreak, yearning, fear, disappointment, melancholy or inadequacy on a daily basis. There is no belittling that, but even so there is so much more of God’s abundant life to be experienced in greater measure.

Maybe the litany of bad things I mentioned aren’t so much problems as they are distractions; our multitude of issues always seem to loom larger and more ominous when we begin wondering how in heck it’s all going to go away. But this is the thing: big problems, bigger God. So it really boils down not to self-delusion, but perspective.

What do you see?

Whenever I look through the lens of a camera, it’s not buildings, landscapes, flowers or bugs that gets me all tingly. It’s people. It’s as if I can finally get why man is considered the crown of God’s creation (though I’m sure we meet many examples who disprove that statement), and then I realise the only way for me to describe what I’m seeing is simply to hit the shutter release button. Framing, composition, aperture, shutter speed, angles – they’re all really the furthest things from my mind when I’m taking a photo. All I can think is, “I’ve got to take this shot”.

Everything really does point back to Jesus. Each time I take a photo of you or you, I see that little bit of heaven shining from within. And you are all beautiful.

Majesty

If the last few days have been something not unlike curling into a ball on the floor and crying out to You, choking out prayer in between sobs and barely intelligible words, then tonight comes to the point where it is only about being thankful.

Michael Gungor’s aural poetry is nothing if but ascendant: glorious traversals into the supernatural, lifting hands and sight towards heaven to see You, both mighty and radiant. Paul on that Damascus-bound road was blinded, and tonight I am left in awe and in worship.

You are still good. Always good. And You show me that it’s more than everything being about me, or keeping up appearances. If it means risking everything and losing it all, and if that is what it takes for me to learn and grow, then I’ll do it.

There’s nowhere else to go but up.

Why So Serious?

Not only will this phrase achieve immortality in the trivia books of comic fanboys, present company included, as well seal Christopher Nolan’s godhood status in our eyes, it’s also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the overall mood and approach taken for The Dark Knight: the tortured, self-sacrificing guardian and avenger of Gotham City, who so effectively creates an aura of fear and mystery around himself, coupled with his own relentless dedication and determination bordering on several personality disorders, that even other superheroes, for all their magic rings or invisibility or mystic staves or super-strength, get the chills even by being in the same room as him.

The film, even with its several flaws in editing, ho-hum fight scenes (dear ol’ Bats doesn’t quite seem like the master of martial arts here, eh?), is carried by its merciless pacing, sheer suspense and the best comic villain ever portrayed on screen (and he doesn’t even have superpowers!), leaving the ten-year-old kid inside me squealing like the first day I removed a comic from its mylar cover and flipped the pages with a reverent awe.

Comics might even start to be considered respectable, shedding the common perception of it being mere pulp entertainment for teenagers or kids; I see my sister picking up Batman trades by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb, and also asking for my Watchmen trade after seeing the recently-released, mindblowing trailer.

So now you think comics are cool?

Crossing Midnight

Listening to ZK and Reen over bad Chinatown food share about their current journeys made me realise how similar the situations we are all in. Refining can be painful, and the sight of your own failing flesh can be a fresh jolt back into Your light and truth, but it is necessary. As they spoke it was as if You were telling me, “You’re not alone in this. I’ve got you.”; and then there was no need for any words on my part, as I walked away feeling filled to the brim and with a grin beaming widely on my face.

You show me that there can even be elegance in simplicity. I was never one for the impassioned, pulling-heartstrings sort of sharing; I may never be, always tripping over the words and the inadequacies of language to fully describe whatever You have planted in my heart. I always wonder how some people do it so easily, to speak and share and with the Spirit moving so powerfully; Your voice comes to me soft, quiet and uninstrusive, tinged with love, always bringing me full circle back again to Your heart for me.

To me, there is nothing else that matters. Everything in the world pales in comparison to You, the beauty and the glory and all the things contained in the cross. Let my eyes be unveiled to perceive more of the entirety of who You are; enlarge my heart to receive more of what You have already given; let the love so freely poured out at Calvary overflow from mine; let me walk in the power of my Helper, the Holy Spirit; let me bear witness to Your name as Jesus is glorified in every aspect of my life!

“Some men are dogs. Others are wolves. But also there are lions.”
– Victor Gischler

Learning How to Die


So much has been said or written of Christopher McCandless’s foray into the Alaskan wilderness. Was he too cocksure, too arrogant, too lacking of common sense, or just plain stupid? Who would give away $24,000 of his savings, burn the money in his wallet, and then march into the Last Frontier with nothing more than a ratty old map, basic hunting and camping gear, five kilograms of rice and a book on plantlore?

Maybe it’s that unnamed, primeval call in a man’s heart that draws him to the great unknown, to test himself against nature’s untameable force, to pit his wits and guile and strength against the elements; a journey with no destination other than to quell that cry from within.

Did Peter quaver at the roiling waves, the storm that blew dark and angry over the sea before him? Did he wonder, “How am I supposed to do this?” when Jesus called him? I’m sure he did, whenever he stared at his powerless hands and feet, each crack of thunder sending tremors of fear coursing up his spine. But when he turned his eyes upon his Lord, eyes so warm and unafraid, Peter must have felt that same fear melt away from his body. And he walked on water.

So if it means that I have to go through these new tests, the breaking, finding my self inadequate and unable, then so be it. Let there be nothing but total and complete surrender in this season of learning how to die.

I’ll be made new in You.