Everlasting Father

The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, “Destroy them!” (Deut 32:27 UKNIV)

Another comforting characteristics of God is that he is eternal and everlasting. When we are facing adversaries, it feels like it will last for eternity. But God’s everlasting arms are longer and greater than adversaries, and he will bring the victory to those who love him. The interesting part is that he commands to “destroy” – which suggests to me that he is inviting us to take part in his victory with our actions.
Indeed, there are many parts in the battles described in the Old Testament that the LORD says “I will give so-on-so into your hands” and yet the Israelites still had to go and fight. If the enemy is already defeated, then why go and fight instead of doing nothing? Perhaps we are to take part in God’s mission.
Through our God we shall do valiantly; it is he who treads down our enemies. (Ps 108:13) And yet, we take part in treading down and share God’s victory. While we are battling, we may get hurt. However, he has promised us that we can take refuge in him. Just like an eagle trying to protect its eaglets.

Counselor – John 1:14-18

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (NIVUK)

A good counselor is truthful as well as gracious. Jesus’ Apostles also emphasize the point in their Epistles. (eg: Eph 4:15). Counselors guide others with words. The words can be wise or they can be unwise. The words can help or hurt people. Therefore the speaker or  writer must take great care before expressing them. Eloquence can certainly have strong effect on the listeners or readers, but the power of words lies in the fact that once uttered or published, they cannot be taken back – one cannot unring the bell.

If human words are powerful, then how much more powerful are God’s words? His words created the whole universe, and the beginning of time. His words are actions at the same time. Such powerful words without grace could destroy us all. How can humanity withstand bare truth from God?

“He rules the world with Truth and Grace, and makes the nations prove…” goes the 4th verse of “Joy to the World” Christmas carol. Jesus rules not with a rod of discipline but with love and gentle spirit. (cf: 1 Cor 4:21) He will not destroy us with his words but calls us to action. What is his counsel for us in this season of Advent?

 

Psalms in Summer: Exodus 1:8-2:10

Read: Exodus 1:8-2:10 : Birth of Moses and his circumstance

In this passage, we see how women played significant roles surrounding the birth and growth of Moses. Were it not for the courage and compassion of these women, the story of Exodus would not be.

First, the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: they feared God and disobeyed Pharaoh’s decree, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” By shrewdly avoiding this cruel and inhumane decree, the midwives were later rewarded by the LORD to have their own family.

Second, Moses’ mother: she also defied Pharaoh’s order, “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” and nursed him for 3 months. She was later given a little consolation by being able to care for Moses until he was fully weaned, knowing at least he would be alive.

Third, Moses’ sister (Miriam): she watched the fate of Moses afar. She took advantage of the situation to have Moses nursed by his own mother.

Then lastly but not the least, the Pharaoh’s daughter: she, too, defied her own father’s order. “She opened it (the basket) and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said.” Then she decided to adopt him as her son.

The LORD was not only on the side of Israelites but also there is some irony here. The Pharaoh intended to annihilate the Hebrews and yet his plan was thwarted by his own people, most significantly by his own daughter.

Reflect: Psalm 128 : Escaping Near Death

Psalm 124 seems like singing about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, but it is also referring to Moses when he was 3 months old. He could have been drowned there. He was drawn out of water as one comes out of baptism. We symbolically die during the baptism, but we come out alive escaping the Death. We are not always aware how close we are to death. Yet, only by the will of our LORD, we wake up in the morning, as if “we have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!” So each day when we wake up, we are given a new life as a free person – how should we spend our day?

 

 

 

Summer in the Psalms: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Read Genesis 37 : What comes of his dreams?

 

Jacob favored Joseph the most among his sons for which Joseph was already the envy of his brothers. Subsequently Joseph had dreams of ruling over his father and brothers. This ALMOST killed him. Joseph narrowly escaped his immediate death since his brothers spared his life by selling him to Egyptians as a slave. His plight is also vividly described in Psalm 105:17 & 18. What will happen to his dreams? (see verses 7 and 9) He was as good as dead.

If you read the story from Genesis 39 to the end, you will notice that Joseph found his vindication NOT when his dreams came true, when his brothers had to humbly come to him for food (Psalm 105:19 – 22). Rather the true vindication for Joseph was when he was united and reconciled to the rest of his family to preserve the lineage of Judah for David. Joseph’s words of forgiveness to his brothers exemplify the act of God.

What became of Joseph’s dream? The purpose of his dream was not for Joseph to gloat over his brothers who sold him into slavery. Without Joseph’s position to show his favor to Israel, the line of Judah would not have survived to later include King David and ultimately Christ Jesus. Joseph’s vindication and the preservation of Judah are not the end of the story. These forefathers of faith did not receive God’s promise during their lifetime because God’s plan has been to include us all to the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – Israel.

 

 

 

Summer in the Psalms: Genesis 29:15-28

Read: GENESIS 29:15-28

Here is another controversial and disturbing episode in Genesis. In this passage it’s disturbing to know that Jacob was in love with Rachel because of her appearance. This passage exemplifies the superficial nature of men, and how easily they are deceived. Laban took advantage of Jacob’s weakness to appearance of Rachel and made him work another seven years for her.

Although I am not a big fan of Jacob, I give a lot of credits to him because even after 7 years, Rachel was still desirable to him, and he was willing to work for another 7 years to marry her. At least he is a man of honor, and what women would not long for such expression of love from a man? This is a kind of love God has for all his peoples and children.

In a bigger picture, Jacob needed both women in order to fulfill God’s promise that began with Abraham. Leah became the mother of Judah whose lineage was preserved to Jesus. Jesus, on resurrection of the body, characterizes God as “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:38) Through Jacob’s works and struggles he became the decree, and sealed the everlasting covenant for Israel, and the story of Israel begins.

God does not sugar coat his story – he is not afraid of revealing human weaknesses and follies in his book, not so that we feel ok to remain foolish but rather to learn from our weaknesses and realize why we all need Jesus to carry our burden and depend on his grace.

Reflect: PSALM 105:5 – 7

This statement still stands because God is of the living. When we examine what Jacob was like, then we know he was not perfect in any way. All the more reason why all the prophets, even Abraham, Isaac and Jacob waited for Jesus, a perfect son to reconcile us to God, the Father so that we are called children of God and enjoy the inheritance that is more than the land of Canaan.

Summer in the Psalms: Genesis 25:19 – 34

READ:

23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. (Genesis 25:23 – 24 NIV)

God of Israel is often referred to as “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and this passage marks the birth of Israel as Jacob will be renamed as Israel later in the story. One of my Jewish colleagues was troubled by this passage, “Why did God decide to favor Jacob? His way of obtaining the birthright is very underhanded.” This begs a question – why? Actually I don’t have an answer to that. In fact, later on Jacob used deceptions to expand his wealth and power. God’s appointment of Jacob as Israel is NOT earned through Jacob’s personality or righteousness – God has chosen Jacob unlike Noah who was found favor in God’s eyes.

God, in his great mercy has given humans a lot of leeway to exercise their will. We sometimes delude ourselves into thinking human has free will and that therefore we can either control our destiny or despair that stronger human controls our destiny. Corollary to that is if we don’t achieve something, then that’s due to the lack of our determination or training. God is merciful, and it is uncharacteristic of him to leave all of us (chosen or not) to our own devices. He has sent His Son Jesus to show us the way and teach us gently his sovereignty. If we believe in God’s mercy through His Son, then we do not have to be bonded to the bullies of the world or rely on our own strength. God certainly puts us to test but he also gives us a way out – remember His Son came to save the world, not to condemn – failure is not in God’s vocabulary.

Reflect:

Psalm 119:109 “Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.”

God knows that we have tendencies to take matters into our own hands, but let’s remind ourselves of His sovereignty when we come to our senses.

Far Out 60’s and 70’s Program 

Pre-show- Name That Tune

1. Opening Dance Along – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

2. Squad Car 119– Barry and Dan with a cameo from Jerry (Announcer and Radio)?

Triva

3. Summer Nights from the musical “Grease”- Garrett and Katie

4. Proud Mary by Tina Turner Lip Sync – Deshawn

Trivia

5. The Copper Clapper Caper – Barry and Dan

6. Will You Love Me Tomorrow by the Shirelles – Julia

7. Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry – Alicia and Rashad

Trivia

8. Mr. Postman by The Marvellettes – Julia and The Crew

9. It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To by Lesley Gore- Katie

10. Moon River by Andy Williams– Lauren

11. Closing Dance Along – Stand By Me by Ben. E. King

Art 4 NY Wild 40’s and 50’s

Great success on 6/25/2017! Everyone had fun – even the staff!

6/25 Program for The Wild 40’s and 50’s

  1. Pre-show “Name That Tune” – Mimi and Olivia
  2. Introduction of Host – Olivia
  3. Opening Dance Along – “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis – Ensemble
  4. Trivia with Katie
  5. “Who’s on First” Abbot & Costello – Dan and Barry
  6. Trivia with Julia
  7. “Earth Angel” by Marvin Berry & The Starlighters – Elaine
  8. “In the Still of the Night” by Fred Parris and The Statins – Elaine
  9. Trivia with Katie
  10. “Shboom” by The Chords – Alicia and Elaine
  11. “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra – Garrett
  12. Trivia with Julia
  13. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” – Julia, Katie, and Maureen
  14. Trivia with Katie
  15. “You’re All the World to Me” by Tony Bennett – Katie
  16. Swing Dancing – Katie (If time allows)
  17. Closing Dance Along “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters- Ensemble

Worldview

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:13 – 14 NIV)

I would like to live out the Gospel as Jesus Christ taught. Although I still have a lot to learn, I have committed to serve those who cannot reciprocate or have no hope to repaying what they have received.

We absolutely need to invest in educating and nurture children and young people because they are the future leaders. But because they have potential to contribute, there are foundations and associations that are willing to invest in such causes. I support them with all my heart – it makes a business sense.

However, I would like to sustain those who are forgotten and do not have any chance of giving back to the society. It’s not popular but I believe that’s my calling.

I am one of the writers in Ravished By Light for the summer and will write every fortnight. I am hoping to enrich my calling to serve those who cannot repay.