The Forest Speaks, Is Anyone Listening?

The people hiking through the MacRitchie trails for recreation often bring their problems with them. What an irony. Chatting loudly as they walk past, one can’t help but overhear their worries about their job, their colleague, their boss, etc. One man used his mobile to talk business in Mandarin to his colleague in China!

Others walk alone, but with grim faces, determined to complete their 10,000 steps or whatever goal they’ve set for themselves.

Except for a few pockets here and there, there is little joy in the groups I’ve come across. And fewer still pause to admire the beauty in the forest.

I prefer to walk to a different drummer, and let the forest speak, recording my experience in photographs if possible. Here are a few shots I’ve taken:

Stairway to heaven
“Peace, be still.”
“Fish of every kind” — a big, beautiful black one swims placidly in the shallows
“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6)
How long did it take for this tree to have such beautiful lines?

May we pause long enough to hear what the forest is saying.

The Draw of Silence

So one of my readers asked, “What is the draw of the silence?

The silent gaze of the One who loves you conveys tenderness, understanding, compassion and so much more.

It’s pretty tangible, just as if He is standing or sitting beside you, enjoying your company, even as you enjoy His.

This cannot be imagined. It can only be experienced.

Sometimes, He speaks; and whatever He says will come to pass.

Most times, I am content just to know He is there.

Many are uncomfortable with silence and that is a pity, for God is often found in quietness. His Spirit calls to our spirit; His Deep calls to our deep.

And when we respond, He rewards us with His unwavering attention.

Each silence has its own innate quality; some silences have the essence of peace; some convey strength; others, understanding. Each silence is different. But Love is embedded in every aspect of the silences of God. That is how we know the silences are of Him.

And my reader asks, “What is the purpose?”

I have no purpose except to enjoy being with the One who loves me.

MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore

Deep diving with Jesus

The deeper one dives in the spirit, the quieter the inner waters become; I am alone, and yet not alone for His presence is always with me. The deeper we dive, the more silent it becomes — the more silent we become.

The world and its demands fade away as I sink immeasurably down into the depths, allowing the silence to draw me like gravity. But I do not live in a vacuum. Occasionally, the cacophony outside insists on my attention and with a sigh I cut loose, surface and deal with it; and then I turn and dive again, into the deep, deep waters of the Spirit who dwells in silence.

His silence is intimate, yet non-intrusive. He is present, calm and assuring. He gives me a sense of the eternity where He lives, where time has no beginning or end. In fact, He is Eternity.

So I dive deeper down into the depths of silence where it’s quiet, not even a ripple, but teems with life.

MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore

A Season of Quiet

I have been cutting down from social media activities since the beginning of this month, and it has led to an increasingly greater quietness within. I don’t know how long this season will last — the last time God led me into this, it was for 10 years — but I’m enjoying it. I wonder if this is a little of how the saints of old felt when they retreated into the cells of their monasteries or into their caves to seek Him.

“A little” as I’m not living the ascetic lifestyle they lived, but as I cut down on my activities, I become more aware of how social media saps our soul and distracts us from ourselves. Conversely, as we step away from all the noise, we become aware of the inner stirrings of our heart and so can tend to them; as we tend to them, a greater wholeness and quietness settles within.

Most people I know live in frantic interaction with others and pay scant attention to their own selves, and it’s to their loss. Frankly, I think many people don’t want to look at what’s in their heart. But as we do, as we pay attention and tend to our own heart, the reward is peace and quiet within and a greater awareness of the presence of God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8, ESV)


(Picture was taken at the Learning Forest, Singapore Botanic Gardens).

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Today, I will share the story of Joseph, who was pledged to be married to Mary. From the Gospel of Matthew, we know him to be a righteous man, one who followed the law. When he found out she was pregnant, I guess he didn’t accept her explanation that it was all part of God’s plan. Caught between his sense of righteousness and his love for Mary, he decided to take a path that would protect his reputation and protect Mary — he decided to divorce her quietly rather than expose her to public disgrace. It took an angel to convince him that what Mary said was true. 

So, here was someone with a good reputation, a good Jew following all the traditions, a kind man as well as a righteous one, shouldering the burden of marrying someone already pregnant. One can imagine the whispers going around; and if he or Mary even tried to explain, one can imagine that the whispers would become a roar!

So my question is, what would you do if your reputation was ruined, like Joseph’s, and it’s for doing the right thing? What would you do when your integrity is being questioned, and — it’s God’s handiwork? 

Photo by Mounzer Awad on Unsplash

Treasures from the Deep

CREATIVE FRIDAY

Over a thousand years ago, an Arab dhow sailing from China to the Middle East sank in a storm near present-day Sumatra, taking down with it 60,000 pieces of Tang Dynasty ceramic ware and artifacts of gold and silver. There it lay in the sand, mud and debris until 1998, when some Indonesian fishermen found it by chance.

Tang dishes for everyday use

Included in the ceramic ware, made for everyday use, were cups, jugs, bowls and dishes decorated with freehand drawings. Who were those people who created these dishes? And especially, who was the person who made the whimsical drinking cup below? He showed imagination and humor, delighting us even today.

Cup from Tang Dynasty Shipwreck

The majority of us, a thousand years on, will remain anonymous. A minority, like this craftsman, may leave something behind. Most of us will leave imprints on the next generation or two, hopefully for better, not for worse.

The only thing that lasts forever is the Word.

 Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:7c-8)


The Tang Shipwreck is on display in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.


Pictures taken by Kathlyn Tsang

The Journey to Fulfillment

WEDNESDAY’S WORD

“When will the inner healing process be complete?” I was asked the other day.

My answer was, “It won’t be complete as long as we’re alive.” Because the passion of God is for us to be His bride, without wrinkle or spot. Because His passion is for us to “Be holy, because He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

And because of that, He permits the devil to test us. His Son got tested, His disciples got tested. And we believers will get tested.

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
    and the Lord tests hearts (Proverbs 17:3)

God’s purpose for the test is that we be refined and be a better version of ourselves; the devil’s purpose is that we flounder and stay stuck in a rut.

A friend asked about the conflicts that she faces in community. I said these were opportunities for her to discern if:

  1. It’s an old wound or wrong belief that is being surfaced for her to deal with;
  2. It is the other party’s issue and nothing to do with her at all or,
  3. More commonly, both are somehow at fault and both need to do better.

As we become a better version of ourselves, we become more wholesome, showing more integrity, shining brighter for the Lord. What we say and what we do, matches. And God’s purpose for our lives is made manifest.

Photo by Kathlyn Tsang

Joy after the Rain

CREATION FRIDAY

After a heavy downpour, the skies changed to a mellow hue, the air smelled bright and fresh, and this young tree reaching to the sky caught my eye. It spoke of hope, vitality and new life.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b)

Whatever stressors you’re going through, it will pass.

Can Christians take Pilates Classes?

Recently I ministered to two people who’d inadvertently gotten spiritually oppressed after taking some Pilates lessons. As a result, the natural question is, is it safe for Christians take these classes?

Photo by Jordan Nix on Unsplash

My answer is first, I am very clear in my mind that every stretching exercise that benefits us is from God. As the enemy has classified some of the stretches as its territory, I would bring a court case to God and dispute that. Every good thing comes from God. Being responsible stewards of our body, we exercise to tone up, get fit, increase endurance. Stretching classes do that. So we have the right to ask God to intervene if the enemy takes advantage of our Pilates classes to oppress us. When we know our spiritual rights we can fight back.

But I wouldn’t learn yoga, which has a long occult history behind it.

So what do we do when we decide to learn Pilates which is a combination of ballet, gymnastics and some stretching exercises that the enemy claims a “copyright”? First, I would bring a court case to God and dispute that — only God has the copyright as He is the designer of our body and by extension, the exercises that would benefit it. He is the originator of all good things, not the enemy.

Second, the instructor is important. We are subconsciously influenced by our leaders. If he or she has clear occult leanings and I don’t feel comfortable, I would switch instructor.

Third, the environment. If it feels unclean spiritually, you may find another fitness centre to go to. But if you’ve already paid for the classes, go into spiritual warfare mode. Before attending the session, pray aloud appropriate bible verses proclaiming God’s righteousness and goodness and that His intention is always to bless us. It will make a difference.

The enemy has falsely claimed some territory, and it’s our right as Christians to dispute that and draw a clear boundary to keep him out. After all, every good thing comes from God and is to be enjoyed as a blessing from Him — including stretching classes.

Eyes to See Love

CREATION FRIDAY

A friend saw Love in the clouds
Another friend saw much Love in the clouds
What do you see?

For me, I didn’t see — I sensed Love coming through the clouds.

Let me back up a bit for those of us who are still new to the things of the Spirit.

We receive from God through seeing, sensing and hearing. Most of us tend to favor one out of the three ways of perceiving God. I usually sense more than I see or hear God. My friends are usually seers. Others perceive God ministering to them mainly through the Word.

If you don’t know how you receive from God, study the scriptures. There are seers, sensers, hearers and dreamers! From these examples, you can place what kind of a receiver you are.

God communicates with us spontaneously, like the wind, whenever He pleases. All we need to do is learn to receive.