Saturday, 29 August 2009

Weak and glad!!!!

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."
1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Being bad at the language you have to use all the time has one advantage - it's not so easy to get proud! When I try to explain things clumsily in Thai, full of mistakes, full of fear and lacking any kind of eloquence it's like there is a big flashing sign on my head saying 'WEAK'.

This can be uncomfortable.

But, today it hit me - if I am weak there is much joy and freedom to be had!!

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Wow!!! Do I delight in weakness? Only if I have the right perspective - that it is Jesus who is the focus, not me! If I really want people to see that it is God who has the power then I need to be willing to be weak, and not only willing, but JOYFUL, joyful that God will get the glory. So while I do hope that my Thai skills will improve and I will be able to explain things properly one day, I rejoice that my weakness in this area at the moment enables me to remember that it is Jesus who is strong, not me!

So I hope the big flashing sign on my head doesn't just say WEAK, but:


May God be glorified in all my weakness.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Storm (pictures and words)

Last night we had a storm. It started around 7pm. The Youth House was full of people as usual. The wind and rain were so strong that power cables blew down in front of the Youth House (with a big bang and impressive explosive power!).
Plunged into darkness. Scrambling around looking for candles. P’Daaw was away, but, organised as ever, was able to tell us quickly where we could find the candles. We all felt very small huddled around candles in the Youth House with the storm raging outside and no electricity inside or out. Panicked people were all around. But if you were there you would have found it hard to forget that God was bigger than the storm, bigger than our fears. All night songs rang out from the Youth House, of God’s love, of His power, of thankfulness to Him, of His wonderful mercy that falls on us like rain. I am grateful to Best, who didn’t put that guitar down for hours, who kept playing, kept singing, even though all was chaos around.

And I am thankful that we worship a God who is bigger than storms and power-cuts and panicked students. I am grateful too for the opportunity I had to sit and read God’s word with a student for most of the evening, songs of praise to God ringing in our ears, reading by candlelight, in 3 different languages, she in Chinese, me in English and both of us in Thai, using Thai to discuss what we understood. God’s Word: a rock in a world of flux.

Last night was an unexpected but truly amazing evening.

I felt like I caught a glimpse last night of what it means for us to be a light to those around us. May the Youth House truly be a light in this dark neighbourhood.

On a more humourous note, one of the highlights of the evening for me was when the storm had passed over but the electricity was still out, and Best decided to go and make a cup of tea.
Best: (merrily filling the kettle)
AJ: Best, how are you going to use that?
Best: huh?
AJ: how do you think you are going to make tea using that!?
Best: (looks blank)
AJ: We have no electricity!!
Best: D'oh!!

Here is how he ended up making the tea (note the ladle!! I love the ladle!!):

Monday, 17 August 2009

Thai Cultural Lessons #5 [Sweet or Savoury?]

These tiny biscuits that you get with a cup of tea or coffee in most coffee shops in Thailand are a perfect example of the great 'sweet or savoury paradox'. This is a sensation one often gets in Thailand after eating any given food. At first you ask yourself every time - is this sweet? Or is it savoury??

And eventually you stop asking yourself that question because it happens every day. It took me ages to work it out with these coffee-biscuits...but now I have just accepted it. They are both sweet and savoury at the same time.

It sort of reminds me a little bit of the whole 'God's sovereignty and our free will' paradox...but slightly different...