2017 Reflections

by Saturday, December 30, 2017

I recalled past conversations when my older friends would often say, “Once your age hits 20, you will start realising how time passes quickly.” It is so true! Albeit a fast paced year, this year has a meaningful one, filled with breakthroughs that I am thankful for.

My Walk with God
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

I received this verse as a theme for this year. I had opportunities to revisit the basics of my Christian faith, understanding Jesus for all His worth, and learning to behold Him. I realized I was used to solving my problems with my own strength without truly depending on the Holy Spirit. I did not understand what it meant to yield / depend on my Father. I prayed and went through a humbling process, often admitting that I have no strengths in certain areas, but He has and will empower, so I fix my eyes and trust. I am thankful for this process helped me grow closer to Him.

Job Blessings
As I am working in a recruitment firm, our industry rides on how the job market fares. With a slow market, my colleagues and I have found it tougher than usual to close cases. It affects the commission we can take home every month. At the start of the year, I declared in faith while praying that I will close X amount of sales per month and obtain X amount of basic salary upon salary review in the end of this year. I am thankful as God answered the desires of my heart. The amount I hit for my sales (each month except 2)  was way beyond my expectations – beyond what I have asked for. Also, I received a salary increment at the end of the year. Upon reflection, I came to understand that the children of God does not ride on the current market that fluctuates; we ride on the economy of heaven that is ever prosperous.

Driving License
This was long overdue, but I finally got my driving license! The hardest part about this process was to overcome the fear of failure. I was so resigned to not passing in the first try due to previous experiences, that when my instructors told me I would, I could not believe / fear to believe. I knew I had a wrong mindset, but just could not shake it off. When I managed to get the license in 1 try, I was really happy about that. It was significant in breaking the previous episodes of failures I experienced previously.

Various Overseas Trips
Manila Mission Trip (Feb 2017)
Aonang, Thailand (May 2017)
Paris (Dec 2017)
Thank God for a fast paced, yet peaceful and fruitful year. With constant blessings pouring in the coming years, I hope I can be a good steward of what I have been given. I hope this year has been a great year for you as well. God bless! :)

“Who Are You, God?”

by Wednesday, September 20, 2017
There were countless bible studies and sermons I listened to that emphasised on the 10 commandments. Because of the many times I had to memorise those commandments (so I can have a can of potato chips or sweets from my bible study teacher - yeah thank God for creating food hahaha), I formed the idea since young that God expected people to have a high level of moral standard. In my life, as far as God's words were concerned, it was only about do-s and do not-s. In my imagination, He appeared like a stern Man with a rule book and cane.

In journeying and discovering what Christianity is, I find myself having to redefine my mind's image of who I think God really is. In one of my constant prayers, I voiced out how much I don't really know, but long to know Him. I may not have arrived, but I have to say that I am really happy because God's word is readily available as a foundation for my understanding.

As I read Exodus 20 today, verse 2 stood out for me:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

I come to realise how important it is for me to view God's commands in the light of who He is. I thought that God was a taskmaster, only concerned about my moral conduct. I had never focused on the reason behind the commandments God gave, which is out of His loving protection towards me. He does not wanting any unnecessary danger or bondage in my path. God is my Father who lovingly protects me.

Your Strength Is My Song

by Thursday, September 14, 2017

Scripture Reference: Exodus 15
God had just brought Israel out from the land of the Egyptian oppressors. With the miracle at the back of where they were standing, they praised God with song. The song lyrics anchored upon their experience of God's mighty hand. God's strength was their song.

3 days later, Israel grumbled at Moses because they had no water to drink. Compared to the intense hardship they endured for years, that thirst would have been but a mere hardship. 3 days was all it took for them to start complaining.

How easy it is for one to complain upon facing hardship. How easy it is for the hardship to blast with loudness that the strength of God becomes muted and cleanly forgotten.

May God's strength be our song in times of difficulty.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”
Psalms 103:1-5 (NASB)

​ When You Cannot Love Anymore

by Monday, September 04, 2017

Over the years of preparing for some sharing on different biblical topics, I have found that God always likes to test me in that particular area first before I share. Somehow, I will come to realize that I cannot match up to the standard. I can never boast that I have arrived; I can only say that I am still journeying to be better. As I share to people, I often feel the most benefited as it seemed that God is sharing through me, to me instead.

Recently, the recurring theme God has been bringing me through is on loving others. I am able to love and term them as friends when they are very easy going and accepting. However, I hesitate to associate myself with those who possess my pet peeves or has an / some / many annoying trait/s. They are just not like me. God has been challenging me to love such people and call them my friends.

I was extremely tempted to burn those bridges. I did not feel like fighting to keep those friendships. I thought I had a big heart. I thought I had the capacity to love everyone.

I found God breaking my pride to the ground. I have to acknowledge that I am not as good as I think I am. My recent prayers to God were in these words, "Father, my love is indeed not perfect. I cannot love XXX, XXX, XXX... Will you teach me how to love them?"

Guess what God said?

God brought me back to the very words I prepared for a sharing on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is defined by what it does, and what it does not do. Love isn't just a strong feeling - it is more than just emotions; it is about actions - what we give. It is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

Love is a decision and a promise. It is something we choose to do again and again until we no longer have to choose, and this becomes part of our character.

Just a few days back, He brought to remembrance a sharing on John 21:1-17:

Jesus was saying to Peter: “If you love me selflessly, care for the ones that I love. Love them in the same way I have loved you.

Since love is God's highest priority, our highest priority should also be about loving God and others.

Why do we desire and pray to become more like Jesus? In this prayer lies the fact that we are indeed not like Him. We have imperfections and fall short of His standard. Yet, even when we are not like Him, He loved and died for us, and even calls us His friends. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Jesus is the embodiment of perfect love. He made, and is still making this commitment to love us. Knowing how His love feels like, even if I don't feel like loving someone, I will still make a decision to love. God does not require me to love perfectly; He requires me to love to the best of my ability - to make a conscious choice to love whenever I can, even when it is hard. His love has never given up on me, so I will do likewise for everyone - especially to those in the family of faith.

It is not be exactly the easiest thing to do haha (nervous laughter). It is hard to "die". It is hard to love imperfections unconditionally. But I know when I "die", my life will bear much fruit. I can love because my elder Brother loves me perfectly.

The Family Of God

by Wednesday, May 17, 2017

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. - 1 Corinthians 12:27

Deriving at a conclusion is like building a box in your mind. If you had encountered a bad experience while being in church before, and you conclude that "Christians and the church sucks", most probably you will never be able to step out of that box and think otherwise. In your Christian walk, you will rather walk it solo.

Churches are made up of imperfect people. There is bound to be personality traits you do not like, things that you cannot click with someone about, etc. You may not like others; others may not like you as well.

I have encountered something beautiful God has done through the church. He fills me with His love, helps me to see beyond every person's imperfection, and love them nevertheless. These different people are precisely the people I can count on when I need support, wisdom and help in life.

Besides being gifted with a biological family, I now have another family - the family of God. From the bottom of my heart, I can call them my brothers, sisters and spiritual parents.

God wants to show you how being in His family can be a very wonderful experience. But, first and foremost, you must allow Him to step in and break that box. Let Him mould your views and make you a loving person. Part of God's plan for your life is to give you a family of God to supplement your growth in Him.

For differences should not set us apart; they should show us how much we need each other.

The Power Of God

by Friday, February 17, 2017

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
Romans 6:4-7 (NASB)

When I stepped into the waters of baptism years ago, I thought I was stepping in to make a significant declaration to heaven, earth and hell that I am resolving to follow Christ all the days of my life, and that is all there is to it.

Chancing upon these verses, I realised baptism has so much more than just declaring that resolve.

When Jesus died on that Cross, He had to depend on the Father to raise Him from the dead. Now, we who believe Jesus is alive, also should believe that, that very same power that raise Jesus from the dead shall also empower us to walk in newness of life. We depend on this power to help us, and so we do not go by mere willpower.

We no longer desire to sin freely; we desire to live free from sin.

The same power that crushed the enemy is the same power that lives in me. What a comforting and powerful reality!

Loneliness - A Human Experience

by Tuesday, January 17, 2017

This is one of the many reasons why I love reading the bible - I saw it as different books of biographies. Ordinary men and women were used by God extraordinarily because they simply yielded their lives to God, living not for their own gains, but for something bigger than themselves. In every season, I could always turn to a particular book and find a man or woman having a relatable experience with me.

In recent times, I became aware of the deep loneliness I was feeling. To remove it previously, I turned to quick, unhealthy fixes. I tried looking for people to alievate this feeling. I kept a hectic schedule. The feeling would temporarily be shaken off, but later come back in bouts of pain. Sometimes, I just feel like going to a corner somewhere (not to lepak haha) to cry. If you know what I mean, virtual high-5. You are not alone.

I came to realise that loneliness is not something meant to ignored, brushed aside or rebuked (do not say, “I rebuke the feeling of loneliness” haha); it is a human experience we would all go through. Even Jesus felt this way.

I took the time to revisit the book of Jeremiah, and I found great comfort reading his story. He was called by God in his youth to be the prophet to a rebellious and idolatrous nation, Judah. A good half of his messages were about judgment and warnings of disasters. He was unpopular among most of his countrymen, but yet remain courageous and steadfast to speak God's messages.

As I read some of the commands God told Jeremiah to do as an object lesson / message for his nation, it caused me to look towards heaven a couple of times and go, “God, really? Why would you do that? It's crazy!” For instance, in chapter 16:1-2,

The word of the Lord also came to me saying, “You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.”

If Jeremiah wished to have a family of his own (which I highly think so), that command was a tall order. He would never experience the joy of getting married and sharing intimacy with a significant partner. Emotionally, it was not a good place to be in. In many occasions, with tears, he brought his pain, sorrows and frustrations before God. There was no one present who understood what he was feeling. He was acquainted with loneliness.

Jeremiah found comfort as God promised a future restoration for his nation. Though God's promise was not fulfilled evidently in his lifetime, He rested in faith, knowing God would act whatever He had promised in future.

It is perfectly fine to be honest about the feelings of loneliness. The issue is whatever you do after being honest about it. Do you sink and wallow in hopelessness, or do you rise and look towards the God of hope?

I chose, and am choosing again, to look towards Jesus, the Man of sorrows who understands. I found tremendous strength, peace and assurance. I hope you will find yours too.
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