I’m so pleased to be here and honoured that I may come to be a part of this. This week, I was on iTunes and I bought 2 songs that I can blast while I’m at the gym. I just love the beat. Let’s see how many of you recognize the lyrics…
Here we go, come with me;
There's a world out there that we should see;
Take my hand close your eyes,
With you right here I'm a rocketeer,
Let's fly... – Far East Movement, Rocketeer
When people meet me, one of the first questions I get asked is “where are you from?” I’ve lived in many countries and have traveled to many different places, so I’m often tempted to say “I’m from this planet” because home is more than one place to me. However, when pressed for an answer to why I speak the way I do, I say I was born in Singapore which used to be a colony under British rule for 123 years. So I am the fortunate holder of two different passports.
Objects: Singapore Passport/ Canadian Passport
How many of you have a passport? You don’t really need one if you plan to stay in Canada the rest of your life, but if you want to travel, you’re going to need one. Tonight, we’re all travelers from some place going to some place else…We’re all on a journey, and tonight, I’d like to rocketeer us into the world out there for 20 mins.
Who was born in Canada? What does it mean to be a citizen of Canada? It means you have full rights to all the benefits of living and enjoying all that Canada has to offer. It also means you will need to abide by and follow through with the laws of this country.
If you have your Canadian passport at home, go home and take a look at page 4 because there’s this interesting section that has to be filled out: It says
“Bearer’s Permanent Address” and “In case of accident or death, please notify”.
Now if you spend any time with me, you’ll find out quickly that I am a very rational, highly practical person, I am a bit of a skeptic and I ask a lot of questions. But it is in asking really good, hard questions, that I’ve gotten really good answers in my life.
Page 4 of my passport made me ask two questions:
1. Where is my permanent residence?
2. In case of death, where am I going to? Heaven or that other place no one wants to talk about?
I have moved 14 times the last 23 years. I’ve concluded that my permanent residence is actually very temporary. What I really want to ask is this: In case of death, how do I make sure my permanent residence is in heaven? Maybe the question is: Is there a heaven?
To answer that question, I’ve got to use this!
Object: Mapbook to Europe
No heaven is not via Europe. Bear with me…When my husband and I lived in Switzerland, we had to apply for a visa to visit France. We drove from our tiny city of La Tour-de-Peilz in our dinky little car all the way to the South of France using this to navigate our way.
When we finally arrived in the outskirts of Nice after what must have been a 10 hour drive (my husband never learned how to drive), I was exhausted and lost and wanted nothing more than to find our hostel. So being the woman driver, I asked Monsieur Gas-pump-attendant who would surely know the way. He gave me the clearest general directions possible.
Tournez a gauche pour 2 minutes,
et puis continuez a droit at the fountain,
et ensuite toute droit passé le marche and le voila! Youth Hostel!
A piece of cake!
After 20 minutes of going around 3 fountains, and two exits, and I don’t know how many supermarkets, I decided we’ve got to ask somebody else. So we stopped at the grocers and asked Mademoiselle. This time we got names of roads as well as directions! However this didn’t seem very helpful when it started to get dark and I was getting hungry and my husband couldn’t quite follow names of roads like
Avenue Villemont, Rue Diderot, and Rue de la Liberte…it was all very unliberating!
Finally, I stopped a gang of foreigners who gave me the best direction possible. You see, they had just come from the same hostel we were going to, and one of them decided to get into our car and personally show us the way.
I learned this important lesson that day:
The clearest direction comes from someone from the hostel and was committed enough to come along for the ride to show us how to get there.
Now I’m aware it’s a hostel, not Heaven, but here’s the logic of the enquiry. Is there someone who is from Heaven who could show me the way. So I checked. Buddha, Guru Nanak, Mohammad, Confucius, no religious leaders of any lasting reputation said they came from Heaven, let alone show me the way. All except one.
Jesus made this outlandish claim in the book of John in the Bible 6:38 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Then further on in the same book He says, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I remember thinking that’s rather pompous, isn’t it? No one goes to God but through him! Who does Jesus think He is? When I was younger, I thought he was some Jewish man who lived 2000 years ago who spoke in a language that nobody speaks now. I am a Chinese woman, born in Singapore, educated in the States and I don’t even read Hebrew, or eat baba ganoush. We’re from two different cultures! Why couldn’t God have come as a Chinese man, spewing Cantonese or Mandarin and eating dumplings with chopsticks? I had thought God was very narrow minded to come as a Jew.
And then I thought -Would it be any easier to believe he came from Heaven if he came as a Chinese man? Then a light bulb went off in my head: The question was not why did he come as a Jewish man, but why did he come at all?
It seems Mr. Bruno Mars knows because he sang it in his song Grenade:
Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked, Cause what you don't understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I'd do anything for ya
I would go through all this pain, Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby ; But you won't do the same
Why would anybody go through dismemberment, mutilation, and death?
One word: Love. You wouldn’t do it for anything less.
What are you willing to lose for the one you love? There’s a cost to everything. Did you know that your body parts can be insured for different amounts? Last year, one of the biggest insurance companies in America stated a quarter of a million dollar policy would pay you the cost of losing:
• One hand, ear, or foot: $125,000
• One hand or foot plus the sight in one eye: $250,000
• Thumb and index finger: $62,500
I mean, would you throw your hand on a blade for me if I paid you $125,000? You wouldn’t. Honest, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t do it for any other reason other than love. The truest love is sacrificial, not a monetary transaction. I don’t think it’s so far-fetched to think that God is conversant in this global language that you and I understand- Love.
This is how the Bible puts it:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son (from Heaven) into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Erwin McManus wrote in his book Soul Cravings, “This is the story of God: He pursues you with his love and you have perhaps not said yes. And even if you reject his love, he pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come. This is the story of Jesus, that God walked among us and he pursues us with his love.”
So this is what I’ve got so far:
One. Jesus came from Heaven. Who does he say he is? God.
Two. He promised to take us to be with Him. Three, He came because He loved the people in the world and He showed it in a way that everybody can understand.
But come now Shirley, you haven’t answered the question:
In case of death, how do I make sure my permanent residence is in heaven? To help explain this better, let me share this with you. This is my
Object: Record of Landing in Canada Document
In order to land legally with my son in Canada, I was given a Record of Landing on 26 April 2000. It is an official document signed and dated and approved. It’s similar to what you are being handed right now, but let me walk you through it. What you have is a Visa Application to Heaven.
I thought this would be appropriate for all of us because a passport to Christmas is really about starting a relationship with God, and applying for visa to Heaven.
What does it mean to be a citizen of Heaven? It means you have full rights to all the benefits of living and enjoying all that Heaven has to offer.
Object: Visa to Heaven (Click on image to enlarge)
The good news is in the Pre-payment section: Jesus paid the price of our death for dying on our behalf. On the cross. It is an exchange: His death for our death. His resurrected life for our eternal life.
What’s important on this Visa is that His signature, Jesus’ name is on this document as the Chief Immigrant Officer.
But what is most important is the decision of the applicant. This is a personal choice that you make. If this expresses the desire of your heart, then I’d like you to bow your heads and say the prayer with me.
"Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me enough to come to Earth to
show me that I matter to you. Thank you that it is a free gift to me
but it cost you your life to find my way back to God. I want to
know you as the way, the truth and the life. Please help me to
make you both savior and Lord of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen."
This is no secret forumla. God is interested in your heart's intent, expressed in the sincerity of your words (or what I'd like to call prayer.) If you said that prayer, you can look forward to some of the benefits you will experience when you go to Heaven. Wouldn’t you like to know what Heaven is like? I would!
If you asked Jesus to come into your life as your first step to believing His love for you is real, I want to welcome you in as a successful applicant to heaven. You can sign right there.
I started my talk tonight with people often asking me “Where are you from?” But I want to conclude tonight’s sharing with the much more important “Where are you going?” Jesus came so that you may have life to the full, and He didn’t mean for that full life to ever end. When you think of Christmas, let me leave you with the words of CS Lewis.
"Aim at heaven you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." May the joy of receiving Jesus keep you satisfied in this life and onto the next.
Bon Voyage and I hope we fly the same skies!