It’s a beautiful Sunday here in Adelaide – it’s been a cloudy day today and the air is cool. I’ve just checked the Bureau of Meteorology‘s website and it says that the maximum temperature was only 20.6C at about 4.40pm. It’s about 5.15pm at the moment and I’m drinking some delicious Indian chai tea – Bob Koehne from UniSA gave some when I invited him and Jill over for a barbeque last month. It’s spicier than the normal chai that’s sold here in Adelaide – so it’s almost similar to the Indonesian STMJ (susu-telur-madu-jahe: milk-egg-honey-ginger). I’m also listening to some soothing music, played by Norwegian Radio Orchestra – at the moment they’re playing Edvard Grieg’s “Lyric Suite, Op. 54”.
It’s a nice break after I washed the dishes, threw some papers and rubbish out, did the laundry and watered the backyard – the house is still in a mess, but it’s tolerable mess. It makes it homey. Haha. I will get it nice and tidy again sometime soon. I started today by going to my morning service at ‘The Edge‘ church – I really like it there. Great teachings that do not focus on wealth and prosperity – they encourage the churchgoers to give, but do not push nor consistently hammer the plea. There’s another big church here in Adelaide who I used to go to much more frequently in the past, and it disappointed me when one of the pastors once said that our offerings were akin to investments (which I don’t disagree with), but then he said that we should invest in the right place to give us the returns that we wanted and that the right place was *that* particular church. Hmmmm – where did Jesus ever tell us to give our offerings only in one particular church?
Today’s sermon was delivered by Pastor Gary Rucci with the key message from John 3:27-30. He spoke about us having to be more Christ-centred with a focus more of what God thinks about us rather than worrying about what other people’s point of view. I am going to get the DVD because there are so many great points that are covered within the sermon. One thing that hits home is the point that God the Father says that He is well pleased with Jesus (Matthew 3:16) even before he did anything miraculous. Ps. Gary said that God loves us if we perform well, or even not so well, if we are up on the Hill, or down in the Valley.
The message came at the right time as I have been pondering something silly in the last couple of days – I sometimes felt that people stared at me when I was walking down Rundle Mall. I would then become self-conscious and tried to look at my own reflection – was there a bit of food that was left on my cheek? or a booger on my nose? Then I thought, was the face that I thought I had, also the face that people saw? What if I actually looked more ghastly than I thought I was? What if I had a growth on my cheek? I know that that is such a silly thought – bizarre, even. I like to ponder and think as I walk, and sometimes my mind does question and think about ridiculous matters such as the one that I have just described.
On another serious note, I had been feeling less than 100% last week – mostly because I had been tired with work, and there were some personal things and work things that were plaguing my sense of peace. Let me digress for a bit, when I was younger, I had a strong sense to seek approval from others – especially my Dad. Because I was such a star performer at school, I consistently craved for a praise from my Dad. He didn’t show it to me nor tell me directly but would tell others about my achievement. He would share about what I had done to the customers who went to the shop. I also craved for approval from my sisters – my brother was and still is, considered to be very mechanical – he can cook well, tinker with stuff well, and well, very handy around the house. Whereas I was (maybe still am) considered to be the ‘brainy’ one who is hapless with tools or daily chores. I remember one of my sisters scolded me for folding my trousers incorrectly and said “How come you couldn’t even do such a simple thing?”. A simple phrase like that is stuck with me for years and years – and when I built my own desk in Singapore, even when it was purchased from Ikea, with pieces already cut perfectly and all I had to do was to follow the direction, it gave me such a sense of achievement. I felt that I was a man! I can laugh about it now, but at that time, it was a big achievement, I felt.
Even now, sometimes I crave for approvals from others – Have I spoken my mind enough? Have I been a good listener enough? Have I shown that I can also be assertive? Have I shown my sensitive side? Am I too tough? Am I too soft? As I get older, that quest to gain the approvals of others has diminished somehow, but it is still there, I know it. If it’s totally gone, I wouldn’t have cared about others who seemingly stared at me. The message this week has given me strength, that I should not need to worry about others’ approving or disapproving looks/opinions – I need to put God’s approval first, and then count everything else as a bonus … at the end of the day, I need to live up to God’s expectation in my life, not others’ …