To be able to take up and also set things down

Today I almost blew my top, that person was just way too unreasonable.

Then I remembered, is this how a person who is walking in Christ should behave? Is this how I wanted others to see me when being provoked? I sighed a thousand times before I took a step back.

To die is to live. To deny myself and to pick up my cross daily to walk with You is the challenge put forth by the most gracious and glorious Lord and to follow You daily is the goal.

Although I did not explode, there were still lingering feelings of anguish and frustration held within which are unresolved. I’m trying to put in effort to put these emotions, these feelings and these disappointments down.

May Your loving and gentle nature be the guiding light and leading example in teaching me how to be even more like you, Lord.

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Your grace is sufficient for me

Many times I fall and stumble, but your grace is sufficient for me.

Many times I fail in Your eyes, but Your love fills me whole.

Many times I sin and waver, but Your mercies abound in me.

Many times I cry out to You, and You renew me in Spirit and in Strength.

Many times my faith is small and weak, but You show me miracles nonetheless.

Many times I cling onto You, yet You never fail me, You never will.

A flight to ponder

It started out with a flight, on a plane, and as the plane was nearing its destination, the flight captain announced “Dear passengers, we will be landing in KLIA soon, please fasten your seat belts and prepare for landing.”

We all thought that it would be a short flight, from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is about an hour’s flight and we thought it would be relatively safe considering the distance and that it was a flight that flew multiple times throughout the day.

It came as a surprise that when the plane started to dip its trajectory to prepare to land on the runway, that there was a sudden jerk upwards and the next few minutes were fraught with rampant speculation.

Why did the plane sudden jerk up? Was there some technical issue at hand? Was the pilot possibly going to crash the plane?

What followed next, was the thought that Death could come at anytime for us all. Even though we may seem all well and protected due to our external environment, we may suddenly pass on due to our internal body deficiencies. We know not when our time is up.

Thus, prompted the next thought: Have I done enough for the Lord? Am I ready to face the Lord with my current self?

In all honesty, when faced with such thoughts, it would be a resounding no. But it is not about our good works, what matters more, are we living the life God commands us to? Are we following Him fervently, faithfully and sincerely? Are we committed Christians or are we just “Sunday Christians”?

Let us not forget that we are saved, not just for ourselves, but for a much bigger role which is ingrained in our identities as children of God, the role to spread the Gospel, His good news to the world, in a way which conveys truth and love, to make disciples of nations across all lands of the earth.

In closing: I would like to ask two questions for thought –

1) Have led a life that is pleasing to the Lord?

2) Are you walking in line with His will in mind?

“And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭14:36‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The struggle of the Flesh and the Spirit

Amidst all the societal tensions between keeping Section 377A Chapter 224, a.k.a criminalizing the sexual intercourse between 2 males, I have seen views from both camps, however I’m not here to make my stand on whether we should keep or repeal it. There has been enough stance on this issue; enough intolerance, anger, label-calling and backlash from both camps. Rather, as a follower of Christ, what should we do? Simply and succinctly said in Matthew 5:16:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

If people don’t see how we as Christians constantly go out and love others instead, we rebuke them, won’t they think that we’re having the “Holier than thou” mentality? As Christians, we are called the elected exiles, elected meaning chosen by God, exiles means to be away from one’s home (Heaven). We are chosen by God, set apart from the world’s view of things. But we are also called to love God and to love others, explicitly stated in Matthew 22:36-39:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

If others do not see our good deeds (in Christ’s name) , how will they give glory to our heavenly Father? If we do not love others, then we would truly conform to the world and we would be contrary to our identity as sons and daughters of God.

I once had a privilege to take a Grabshare ride with a driver alone, I don’t think at that time I was Christian, but while speaking on the topic of religion with the driver, he said something which shook me. He said that he was happy that there are Christians in the world, that there were followers of Christ. Puzzled, I asked him why he said that, and he said that Christians generally love people, and are positive, helpful, slow to anger and to judge. These qualities are in essence what we call Christlike attributes or character.

We are called to love, not only God, but to love others. If the ones which we are to love, do not feel genuine love from us, then something is very wrong. We are called to be the light of the world, just as Christ was the light then.

It is not easy for me to come out like this… I have issues with sin, as everyone does. I was (or am from time to time) deeply entrenched in lustful desires and thoughts, in pornography. I struggle in between the war of the Flesh and the Spirit, I have had thoughts of desires towards other people. I do not know why. If you were thinking: “Eww, disgusting”, Imagine me: How much more do I struggle thinking that this is not right? That I didn’t ask for these thoughts to be birthed in my mind. I do not want these thoughts to be here, yet they exist from time to time, they exist to tempt me to fall back into the sin, they tempt me to fall back into my old ways.

Paul wrote in Galatians 5:17:

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

We all fight sin, we fight against it everyday and it comes in many forms. Just because some sins are more commonly talked about due to their exposed nature, like pornography which leads to lust, doesn’t exclude other sins to be more taboo-ed (like homosexual attraction). This is the reality of the struggle between the Flesh and the Spirit. We will always struggle with sin until our fight is finished, until we are called home to the Lord. On days, when we stumble, it is the redeeming grace of God, the blood of Christ which restores us. Thus, I pray that in our struggles with sin, that the Spirit will continually guide us on the path that is intended, to walk in a manner which is pleasing to God. That when we consciously choose to sin, that the Holy Spirit will interrupt our thoughts and guide us back to resisting sin, because we are no longer bound in chains, we are free from the dominion of sin. We must remember that our identity is found in Christ, that we are children of God, who are followers (disciples) of Christ, and if we are followers of Christ, we should as in Matthew 16:24:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

To deny the oneself, to love others, to not conform to the standards of the world. We may be born with desires contrary to what is acceptable in God’s eyes, but it doesn’t give us the right to act upon it. What we can do is to continually work towards what is pleasing to God, that is to be more Christlike. To be more loving to the communities around us, be it whether we stand for or against something, we should love them all the same. Genuinely love them.

I pray that Father, that Your will be done on this earth, in accordance with Your wishes. That you lead me to where I can minister best to people who need love the most. I pray that Lord, You use me to be a light to this world of darkness, that I will be able to put down my own inner sins through reliance on You, to not criticize and judge others, but to love them just as how Jesus did when He walked this earth.

May peace be with you all.

Embracing Singleness

PIC

For as long as I can remember, growing up and growing into adulthood, there has been one question seemingly on repeat – Do you have a girlfriend? Are you currently attached? When are you getting married?

  1. Gossip
    The crux of the issue, is why are people so interested in whether we have a partner? It doesn’t affect them remotely because it’s my private life, it doesn’t benefit them remotely because it’s again, my private life.What do people talk about when they gather most of the time? They talk about other people, gossip! Oh how empowering it must feel to talk about others and their situations. But if we examine Scripture, it tells us to Guard our lips (Psalms 14:1-3, Ephesians 4:29 & Proverbs 18:21) against gossiping and that we should only speak of good things to build up others.
  2. Pursuing God

So back to the root of the question which people ask me: Why am I single?

I struggled with this question a lot in the past and especially so in recent times as I see more and more of my friends getting engaged, married and giving birth to children. I became fearful that I will be unable to find a partner in life and eventually die alone, however much I date or go out with new people, desperately trying to connect with someone hoping that the other person will feel the same, however I always felt something missing inside.

Many times, I ask God to just send a Godly woman to me to marry (that has been my life goal since young, because I always felt that my wife should be a God loving Christian, as I feel that only a God loving woman will be able to support me and care for me wholeheartedly, likewise I would do the same of course).

But thus far, God has not answered my prayers and I have always wondered why and as I dug deeper, I found that I wanted my security to be in a relationship with a God loving woman but not in God. Then I shifted my focus to: 1) Trying to trust God more and 2) To be firm in the security of my identity in Him as a child of God. So now I understand that my identity is in Christ, which means that I should put God first before anything or anyone else.

Why? Because it’s stated in the Scriptures, in Matthew 6:33 –

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”

So what are “these things”? These things basically relate to what we require in life and in Matthew 6 verses 25-32, God is clearly telling us not to be anxious but to simply chase after Him and his righteous first. To just look at the creatures on earth and how He provides for them, how much more abundantly will He clothed us? For God knows that the people on Earth needs these things and that He shall provide for us if we seek Him first.

What does it truly mean to seek Him? It is with regards to the setting of our hearts and minds to continually seek and be sensitive to God’s appearances in our daily life and also when we read the bible.

As to why we should seek God, in Matthew 7:7 –

“Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you”

It takes action for us to receive the blessings of God. Thus through this month long thought process, I realize that I should not look outwards but instead look upwards to God. Moving forward, I will place my sole focus on God until He deems it time for me to have a partner in life. Until then, my goal will be to have an even closer walk with God and my heart will seek Him and draw ever nearer to Him as the days progress!

How do we respond to sin?

I have always known that I needed God in my life, even before I committed myself to Him. Why you might ask? It’s because from a very young age, I realized that through introspection, I found that I had a lot of sinful qualities in me, however as much as I wanted to change, I always went back to my old ways, and I always felt that the Gift of Grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ who came down from heaven and took upon the cross humanity’s sin so that the law may be fulfilled and that we may have eternal life and a relationship with God, was too precious and too holy for such a sinner like me.

I always felt that I was unworthy of this gift and hence I rejected it for many many years despite God putting so many Christians to constantly surround me and bring me to Christ. I always felt unworthy. I came to accept Christ because I came to realize that God is real, that God does have a tangible impact in my life, however at that time, I did not fully understand the meaning of the Grace.

It was not until I had tried to stop myself from sinning that I found it incredibly difficult to actually stop sinning. Being honest here, I have problems with lust and sexual immorality. Even after telling myself not to do it, I still go ahead and do it and I end up feeling guilty. While feeling guilty and guilt tripping myself, I fall back even more into sin. I rationalize that: “Oh well, since I’ve sinned once already a second time wouldn’t change the fact” however this becomes a downward spiral until I almost lost sight of God. Many times I think that I can handle this on my own, that my mind is stronger, that I don’t need to rely on God to stop sinning, however my body is made from flesh, and it is tainted with sin, thus I sin.

Through reading the bible and encountering friends who faced the same issues, God reminded me that it is not through good works (or any works from us at all) that we are redeemed, but through the blood of Christ that we are saved from His wrath.

When we are saved, all our sins (past, present and future) are forgiven by God. Because the law is fulfilled and as we confess our sins, we should thank Jesus (in fact, thank Him everyday) that we are saved through His sacrifice. In John 8:1-11, a woman who was caught committing adultery and was brought by the Pharisees and scribes and they asked Jesus, what should He say, if in the law it states that the woman should be stonned for her sin (committing adultery). However Jesus replied that let the one who is without sin, throw the first stone. One by one they all left. Jesus then asks the woman, has no one condemn her? And she replied no one. Neither does Jesus condemn. In fact, He told her to go and sin no more.

So what’s next? We should stop sinning. Stop the instant you realize that you’re going into a situation where it might cause you to sin. Walk away, turn away and pray to God for the Holy Spirit to guide you that when you realize that you’re about to sin, that you stop and turn towards God for help and sin no more.

Matthew 16:24

In Matthew 16:24 which states:

Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

It tells us that if anyone seeks the Lord, if anyone thirsts for the Lord’s Word, meaning if anyone who wishes to follow in Christ, to deny himself. Firstly, we see that there are people turning towards God and these are the next steps that God has thus set out for us to do.

So what does denying yourself mean? It is to deny our natural instinct to disobey God’s word. It is to deny our minds to be filled with sinful thoughts and our body with sinful actions. It is to deny your worldly riches and inclinations, to deny your inner demons, your unwholesome thoughts towards others (all that gossip, hate, envy, jealous. Even your pride, arrogance, thinking that you’re unfailing and above all and looking down on others). It is to deny your nature to rebel against God who has put in so much love and effort to save you.

Secondly, we look at take up your cross. What does it mean to take up your cross? What does the cross even mean? It represents the pain and suffering of a long journey for Christ. Imagine Christ who took up His own cross when he was being forced to march to his own death, it was filled with pain, torture, suffering, an arduous journey leading to the reunification with God in heaven. So taking up our cross should mean that we should be ready to face temptations, tribulations, persecution, and these things are used to temper our hearts further when we decide to become followers of Christ.

I remember a time, where I first tried resisting sin, it was so difficult to do so, it was like a constant mental battle between my sinful thoughts and behaviors and to obey God and stop sinning. So if anyone thought that being Christian is easy, it will probably be one of the most difficult things to accomplish in life, that I guarantee. But it’s not all filled with gloominess and negativity. Why? Because we rejoice in hope, we rejoice in suffering, we rejoice in pain because through all these things, we are able to more intimately draw closer to God, and that’s the point, to rely on God, to place your burdens at His feet so that He may provide you with comfort during your days of suffering. And that itself is hope, that itself is assurance that you’re on the right and narrow path. Because without trials and tribulations, our hearts would cease to want to draw near to Him, because we will fall into a state where we don’t think we need Christ because we have everything (worldly possessions) in our midst.

So to deny oneself and to take up the cross, is a daily commitment to be a follower of Christ. To resist your sinful nature and to turn to the Lord for support, comfort, wisdom and courage to go through the hard times and rejoice in Him.