28 March 2011

A Picture of Hope

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
12Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.
Have you ever heard of this old saying to describe hope? “There is light at the end of the tunnel.” Well, I took these photos to give you a visual of what hope looks like.

Can you imagine the view; the grass has as it grows through the “tunnel”, looking up to heaven for the sunlight it requires to survive, even as it draws from the air the carbon dioxide and soil the water and nutrients it requires. Yet, if there is no light, it still would not have survived.

That light at the end of the tunnel is its hope. I can also imagine as it journey, through the dark tunnel, it must have developed some dreams and made a list of things it would want to do or to achieve in life. It might have said something like this, “When I get to the end of the tunnel and into the light, I will grow and flourish till my leaves once again touches the ground”.

That is what hope does, what hope gives, an opportunity to tough out the tough times so that your dreams may come true and with it comes life and joy.

Yes, it is also true that while going through the hard times, you may still experience disappointments and have your hopes dashed/broken by the pains and rejections encountered. Yet there is a hope that does not disappoint and that is God’s love for you. Whatever the challenges you have today, take heart in the knowledge that God loves you.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT)
1Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

3We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. 4And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.

5And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
The word expectation is also synonyms to hope, anticipation, belief, prospect and probability.

Note that in verse 5, the Holy Spirit has come to reveal God’s love for us and when you believe that God loves you, you will have a positive confident expectation of good things happening to you. This is what it means to have a hope that does not disappoint.

The Bible also says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. (Hebrews 11:1) So when we don’t see good things happening in your circumstances right now, have faith, believing that God will turn things around because He favours you as His child.

The following are some additional scriptural verses that inspire hope:

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

Colossians 1:27 (NIV)
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

John 10:10 (NIV)
10… I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

2 Corinthians 4:8–9 (NLT)
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. 9We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.

Romans 8:31 (NIV)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

John 8:12 (NLT)
Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

24 March 2011

Simon's Peiking Duck

No, I did not spell "Peiking" incorrectly. It is how the restaurant is named; Simon's Peiking Duck Chinese Restaurant. The restaurant address is 197b Middleborough Road, Box Hill South, VIC 3128. Phone: (03) 9898-5944

The restaurant speciality is a three-course meal of Peking duck. We ordered two serves in advance when the reservation for dinner was made as there were six of us. They do two sittings only; 6:00 pm or 8:00 pm and they only take cash, no EFTPOS or credit cards. So come with cash.

Word got around that the "Nazi Duck" is back, a nickname that somehow got stuck with Simon, who came out of retirement to open this restaurant in the suburb of Box Hill. Not sure what the story is behind the nickname but he is a personality in his own right. As he batter with us, while he serve the duck, we found him entertaining and humorous as he show us how the pieces of duck skin/meat should be wrapped in a home-made pancake.

Dinner starts with Simon presenting us with a crispy, golden brown duck which he then sliced pieces of the Peking duck, meat and skin and laid them on a platter. The duck was meaty and succulent.

He then proceeds to pass or for some of us, throw the pancake onto our plates. Next, spring onion and cucumber at quarter past three, not three o'clock but quarter past three on the pancake, he says. Put a piece of the duck skin/meat over the onion and cucumber. Drizzle it with hoisin sauce, not to much but to your taste and then fold it first from twelve, then six followed by nine o'clock.

Now that is how a Peking duck pancake should be wrapped. Should you not get it right, Simon in his own way will tell you so.

So we started the first course with the Chinese-style Peking duck pancakes; duck skin with some cucumbers, spring onions, drizzled with hoisin sauce. Next came the stir fried home-made noodle and we finished off our third course with duck bone, tofu (bean curd) and preserved cabbage soup.

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21 March 2011

Christian Revival in the Muslim World - Millions to Christ (CBN)

A photo of a church at Baron Dam, Maku, West Azerbaijan​, IRAN.
A lovely and powerful picture.

Matthew 14:19-21 (NLT)
Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. And he took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave some of the bread and fish to each disciple, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves, in addition to all the women and children!
The following is a short documentary by CBN, on what God is doing to bring the Gospel to the Muslim world.

Isaiah 65:1 (NLT)
The LORD says, "People who never before inquired about me are now asking about me. I am being found by people who were not looking for me. To them I have said, `I am here!'

19 March 2011

Newsboys - Blessed Be Your Name - with lyrics in English & French

Galatian 3:14 (NLT)
Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

Psalm 113:2 (NLT)
Blessed be the name of the LORD
forever and ever.

2 Samuel 22:47 (NLT)
"The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock!
May God, the rock of my salvation, be exalted!

Psalm 106:48 (NLT)
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Let all the people say, "Amen!"
Praise the LORD!

Toorak - Swedish Church Fete

We were shown by some friends a short-cut to the city CBD via Toorak's side streets and we came across this Swedish Church in Melbourne. They were having a fete or a bazaar which I later found out is its traditional and very popular Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar, held always on the first weekend in December.

The Swedish Church was formerly the residence of the Governors of Victoria. It served as Victoria's Government House from 1854 until 1876 when the current purpose-built Government House took over that role. The property was bought in 1956 by the The Swedish Church who undertook further renovations, adding to it the chapel on the ground floor. For more history about the building and church, click here.

The atmosphere of the place was festive with stalls full of interesting and colourful items from the local Swedish community and from Sweden, Denmark and Norway, specially imported for the Bazaar.
Scandinavian handicrafts, food, entertainment were on display and there are lots of fun activities for the kids too. The farm animals were a hit with the children.

The fete is the major fundraiser for the Scandinavian community in Victoria. It also provides a place to showcase Scandinavian products. There was even a raffle; the first prize being a trip for two to Scandinavia. Got myself a ticket and if you see a posting of places in Sweden or any one of the Scandinavia countries, then you know who got first prize.

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14 March 2011

Studley Park - A Picnic Outing

It is already the month of March. How quickly has the days gone by. Its early autumn here at Down Under and the days has cooled down somewhat, though a touch humid. It looks like a good time to have a picnic and so a couple of our friends decided to do just that.

There are a number of parks around Melbourne and we chose the Studley Park picnic area, near the Studley Park Boathouse, as it has been awhile since any of us last been there.

Studley Park is part of the 642 acres Yarra Bend Park and the Yarra River runs across the park. It is located 4 km north-east of the Melbourne CBD in the suburb of Kew.

There are a number of shared use tracks for cyclists and pedestrians. The Capital City Trail and Yarra River Trail both pass through the park. There are also circuit trails that take you to Dights Falls and Deep Rock. Organised bushwalking and bird watching tours are available and according to the Yarra Bend Park website, there is even a tour to the Grey-headed Flying Fox colony, a colony that relocated from the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2003.

Canoes, kayaks and row boats can be hired from the Studley Park Boathouse. It is a popular activity along the river, for many, young and old. Fishing is possible along the Yarra River but I notice that the water is brownish and muddy. I wonder if the fish would be good eating or muddy in its taste.

The Studley Park Boathouse offers several choices for the visitors to enjoy the place. The opportunity to dine in the restaurant, relax over a lighter meal in the indoor or outdoor cafe or have a light snack from the kiosk under the shade of the trees surrounded by the views of the Yarra River and natural bushland.

There are short walking trails around the picnic area, but not straying too far from our picnic patch, there is Kane's Bridge to explore. Kane's Bridge was built in 1929 to link Studley Park and Yarra Bend Park. It was washed away by the floods in 1934 and rebuilt in 1935. The bridge was named after Councillor T J Kane of Collingwood, who was a member of the Yarra Bend Management Committee.

Walking over the bridge, it feels strong and stable. It is also good to see the big, thick, strong steel holding the bridge.

The thing about doing any outdoor activity is that you can never quite know what surprises you may find or encounter. On that day, at the bridge was a bridal party taking their photos. They just did not anticipate the many other users of the bridge or the amateur photographers around, not just me.

The bridal party having a bit of fun. Here's wishing the couple a blessed and the very best in their marriage.

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12 March 2011

Oakleigh - Cafe Scene

Oakleigh is 15 km south-east from Melbourne and it is a suburb with a strong Greek cultural influence. The very first thing you see when you come out of the Oakleigh train station is the Oakleigh Junction Hotel. It is one of the oldest buildings in the suburb.

Oakleigh has a Central Business District with an abundance of butchers, bakeries, beauty salons and specialty shops selling sweets. There are also multiple laneways with Greek-themed cafes.

But it is at the pedestrian mall which connects to the Centro Shopping Centre and the train station, where we found all the activities are; cafes, restaurants and retail shops. There were lots of people about, buzzing in and out of the shops or sitting outside the many cafes having their breakfast or coffee and catching up.

And the reason for coming to Oakleigh, one Saturday morning is its cafe scene and for breakfast at the Nikos Cafe. Next to the cafe or as part of the cafe is its very own cake and pastry shop; Oakleigh Quality Cakes.

If you ever not want to be tempted by the sweets and cakes that were on display, this is certainly not the place to be. The colours, smells and variety of cakes on offer are enough to make deciding what to take home for afternoon tea, a very difficult thing to do. Tempting to buy a piece of everything on display but alas, there is only so much one can eat at a time.

You got to try the pistachio roulade and the baklava, among the few we decided on. Sorry, no photos. Finished them before I thought of taking a photo for this posting.

I digress. Check out the breakfast. Generous portions with fresh Greek salad. Coffee is also very good.  We thought it best to skip lunch after this. After all, we got to make room for afternoon tea.

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