Category Archives: Expressiveness

Wishing tree thoughts

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, we were walking through a local shopping mall and saw they’d put up this tree:

It turned out to be a wishing tree – people were invited to write their wishes on a card, and hang them on the tree. The branches were full of notes.

Some were predictable:

I wish for endless love! And lots of money!

Good health for my parents

To find a good job

Some were lovely:

That Josh proposes to me

Dear God, May we love each other just as you have loved us.

Some expressed pain and longing:

For us to fall pregnant with a healthy baby

For my parents to choose who I love

For my son to come home

Some were sad:

For my Mr Grey to find me

For my family to get along, 

For my parents to stay together

I think what kept Cheryl and I there for over an hour, reading message after message, was this: what we wish for is a window into our hearts.

So I started to pray to the Triune God for each card I read. After all, who else can answer our prayers? Who are we wishing to? God? A Higher power otherwise undefined?

I found it hard to stop thinking about the messages afterwards, so jotted a few lines of verse down.


Under the Wishing Tree hopes expressed
dreams declared
reunions requested
and names signed
Among them
Tamara pleads for a family in heaven
A prayer that God in Christ sought to answer
When he too dangled his message on wood
Jesus Messiah laid bare for sinners
Our names bound to him by scarlet thread
His death and revival
Brings the arrival of riches exceeding red packet provisions
This New Year lift your eyes to true prosperity
God’s Son wishing life from his death on a tree.



Hebrew Aleph Bet Song and Vowel Song

Cheryl and I have just started learning Hebrew this year at SMBC. To keep things fun we’ve been using a variety of methods. We learned the Hebrew consonants using this song we found online (here’s us singing it):

Then we came to the pointed vowels (they’re similar to pinyin in Chinese, but in dot/dash form). We couldn’t find a memory song that went through all the Hebrew vowels in our Elementary Biblical Hebrew textbook (Athas and Young)… so I played around with the words from Carole Grover’s song and we came up with this:

Sing to the tune of “Arise My Soul Arise.”


A pair of eyes: tsere

A bar below: patakh

A T-shape is qamets

Or called qamets khatuf

Three dots that make a smile: segol

But if three dots swoop down: qibbuts

We’re halfway through the vowel song

A dot beneath: khireq

That dot on top: kholem

Inside a waw: shuruq

Two dots below: shewa

One dot and yod makes khireq-yod

Three dots and yod makes segol-yod

Those are the Hebrew vowels in song

Hope it’s useful to other budding Hebrew learners, young and old!

May all pay attention to Elisha

A few months ago, I submitted a 2500-word response to 1 and 2 Kings as part of studying the Old Testament at college. The lecturer invited us to be as creative as possible – poems, board games, flow charts, music albums were all fair game. My response ended up being a selection of acrostic poems following the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (à la Psalm 119), responding to the events of 1 and 2 Kings. My favourite part was reflecting on the comparisons between Elisha and Jesus (as others have also done), and how it highlights the book of Kings’ importance in pointing us to Jesus, the perfect Messiah. This response is below, and I hope it whets your appetite to read more of Kings, and the Old Testament, looking for Christ.


Mem מ‎

A maskil. Of the Shunammite woman, 2 Kings 2-6.


May all pay attention to Elisha

Meagre farmboy turned miracle worker

Mouthpiece of Yahweh, whose armies surround him[1]

May all who taunt him be mauled![2]


May all pay attention to Elisha

Miracle worker amidst death in the land

Made meals for the hungry,[3] restores dead to life[4]

Made way for slaves to be free![5]


May all pay attention to Elisha

Minister to Gentiles,[6] he made lepers clean

Master even over Creation’s sway[7]

May all make straight paths for him!


May all pay attention to Elisha

Mother and father he leaves behind[8]

Model disciple who mimics his Master

Might he lay down his life for his friends?[9]


[1] 2 Kings 6:17

[2] 2 Kings 2:23-25

[3] 2 Kings 4:1-7, 2 Kings 2:38-41

[4] 2 Kings 4:32-37, 2 Kings 13:20-21

[5] 2 Kings 4:1

[6] 2 Kings 5:1-16

[7] 2 Kings 6:6

[8] 1 Kings 19:19-21

[9] John 15:13

Technology tells us we can’t sing

ChristianWeek columnist Michael Krahn writes a perceptive column and points out the rising trend in people who say they cannot sing. An excerpt:

“I see a parallel between the lack of confidence in singing and the world of visual images in tabloid and fashion magazines. Photoshopped images create unrealistic body expectations. In the modern era of music autotuned recordings give us unrealistically perfect sounds…

… The problem is not that there are people with uncommonly attractive bodies or uncommonly strong voices; the problem is that we have bought into the idea that unless we possess perfection in body and voice we are in the minority and should keep ourselves both hidden and unheard. This idea is an affront to human dignity and to God, who created our bodies and our voices in all their glorious variety.”

I would whole-heartedly agree that as a solid session of the whole church singing God’s truths can be revitalising, and almost a foretaste of things to come. But it’s true sometimes we can get unrealistic expectations of what good singing is from the pitch-perfect commercially-successful music playing on our stereos. In autotuned recordings, vocal lines are digitally altered so that their singing becomes perfectly in tune (here’s a notorious example by Cher). And if that inhibits our desire to sing, then that’s not good.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that only the talented vocalists sing worthily. It doesn’t say that Mary passed Grade 5 singing exams before praising God with her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). When Miriam and the ladies celebrated following their Exodus from slavery (Exodus 15:21), the Bible doesn’t say they weeded out the bad singers and sang with a hand-picked choir.

The worthiness of our singing, like anything we do, should be assessed on whether it’s done to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31) – why we sing matters more than how we sing. If I’m in the pews and singing because of my immense gratefulness of the salvation I’ve received, then whether I sound as nice as John Mayer or KT Tunstall naturally becomes less of a concern.

The whole article is worth reading:


Do you think auto-tuning has made us more reluctant to sing God’s praises? What else makes you less likely to sing during a worship service?