The Fool’s Bench

jim-elliot_quote

Hi readers! Today marks the 7th month of Fool’s Bench existence! If you still remember, it was on 22nd of September last year that this site was launched. Ever since then, many people have visited and shown a lot of love and encouragement, and today if you’re one of them, I want to thank you for your support.

But today is not about celebrating another month of Fool’s Bench! Today is about going back to its origins. Because today is also the birthday of a woman who a year ago, preached a message that inspired the name of Fool’s Bench. If you’ve been here long enough, you would know that I am talking about my spiritual mother – Pastor Lia.

So as I was thinking over the past few days what I could write about today, I thought there could be nothing more appropriate than to share with all of you my notes that I took down for The Fool’s Bench message more than a year ago; since you know, today’s about Fool’s Bench and Pastor Lia (who preached about The Fool’s Bench). ūüėČ Haha, ready for a #throwback? I present to you, one of the most important messages I’ve ever heard – The Fool’s Bench.

“The Fool’s Bench” by Pastor Lia

The first thing I remember Pastor Lia saying was that if we want to be world-changers, there are 2 questions we need to ask ourselves.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

Am I a Thermostat or a Thermometer?

Because if we blindly follow everyone else in the world, how can we change it? There is a huge difference between a thermometer and a thermostat – a thermometer measures room temperature, whereas a thermostat controls the room temperature.

Just look up Roger Bannister as an example. He set the temperature, a new standard, a new record. He is a “thermostat”. He changed the “rules” of the mile run forever. But what about us? Are we blending into environments or are we showing others how to live? World-changers are thermostats no matter where they are! They hold on to their convictions despite peer pressure. And in fact under pressure, their convictions are strengthened.

Look up another hero named Samuel in the Bible. He lived in an environment of corruption, but kept himself pure. In a time when God was clouded out by the world, Samuel lived differently. He too was a thermostat.

Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” – 1 Samuel 3:1

And because he was a thermostat, God noticed Samuel and called him when He wanted to change the world. Just as how Samuel was different from the people around him, we can be the same too.

that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, ‚ÄúHere I am!‚ÄĚ” – 1 Samuel 3:4

Am I Heavenly-minded or Earthly-minded?

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2

My pastors always say that Christianity is not the removal of the mind, but the renewal of the mind. So we want to lift the thoughts of our minds towards the things of God. And as Christians, we got to ask ourselves what exactly is on God’s heart.

And it can be safe to say, knowing my God for a few years now, that His heart is always for others; especially those who do not yet know Him. So if we want to change the world, we got to start with the people in our world. We got to live for others, not for ourselves. Of course, it isn’t as easy as it seems. Sometimes we might even feel like fools for living for others, reaching out to them and loving them. But that is why we have to be heavenly-minded.

To many people out there, the idea of “living for others” is a foolish one. But to God and to those who are heavenly-minded, it is a beautiful thing. Because money, possessions & success on Earth cannot be kept forever. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Heaven & Hell or not, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in Jesus or not. One thing is for sure – all of us will one day depart from this world in death and all those things we have accumulated for ourselves in our time on Earth will be left behind.

Now I do not mean that success isn’t important. However, we should have both success and significance in our lives. And this can be done by being the “fools” that people may see us as. But it’s all about perspective. We aren’t just any fool on the street. We are a special kind of fools – fools for Christ. And I truthfully believe up till this day that fools for Christ are amazing. They are willing to make a difference in any way they can and see it worth their efforts – even if it means only one person getting touched.

In closing, Pastor Lia shared with us a story of a certain church in South Barrington, Illinois that has interesting benches in its lobby. Every weekend, there will always be a handful of members from the church sitting there, waiting for their friend, relative or colleague to show up. They have probably earlier in the week invited someone to come join them in church to experience all that they have experienced, which has impacted their lives in a certain way.

Fifteen minutes passes. Half an hour passes. An hour passes. A lot of these people that they are waiting for have said “Yes” to their invitations. But some of them never show up.

Thus, these church members waiting on the benches sometimes end up looking & feeling like fools. But I’m sure if you visit that church the very next weekend, they will be there again at the very same spot on the same bench, waiting. Because they are heavenly-minded and they don’t mind it. They know that what they’re doing can possibly make a difference in a person’s life that money cannot buy, and death cannot take away.

And so after awhile, these lobby benches that these people sit on every weekend became known¬†throughout the church as “The Fool’s Bench”. That is where the name originated from. It’s so inspiring, isn’t it? I want to be able to live like these heroes, who nobody might even know about, but are the real thermostats and heavenly minds that are changing our world for good & for God. I leave you today with one last quote by missionary Jim Elliot that perfectly sums up this entire message into one sentence: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

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I Believe

Today if you walk down a street and see coins scattered all over the floor, what would you think? You’d probably think the same thing as me, “Someone must have dropped it there accidentally. Finders keepers!” ūüėõ Haha. But let’s change the scenario a little. What if you walk down a street and don’t see a mess but instead you see two neatly stacked coins? I guess you would react very differently. You would think that it’s some kind of trap or that somebody must have placed it there on purpose! That’s exactly how I feel when I look at the world around me.

Reader, I believe the world is not an accident. When I look around and see the beauty of nature, I cannot ignore the great possibility that Someone was behind it all. I read about our universe, its solar systems, our planet, and I know that there is an intelligent design in everything. From how perfectly placed our Earth is in distance to the Sun for us to live to how it is tilted at an axis for seasons to occur to how water falls on land and goes back up to the sky in a cycle, I am so convinced that the world in which we live is not an accident. If I believe that a simple stack of coins is not an accident, it is natural for me to believe that a world which is exceedingly more sophisticated and complex than that has a Creator and a purpose. And even more so for you and I.

Because I believe that we are not an accident. I believe that we are results of something far greater than that of a cosmic explosion. When I look at our bodies, our minds and our systems, I just know in my heart that God has made us and in a way that no machine or artificial intelligence can replicate a 100%. I’ve seen accidents and know they don’t make things better. A car crash will never produce a Ferrari! Accidents make things worse and leave chaos & destruction at its wake. These things left to itself will then decay and decompose into disorder, the total opposite of what we and our world are.

I believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made as we are. When I look at the animals in the zoo, I can see our similarities. Both they and us have a body and a soul. We can feel emotionally, they can too. We can think, and albeit at a lower intellect, they can too. But there is one huge difference I see even between my friends who behave like animals and the animals themselves. Only us humans have a spirit. And only spiritual beings can worship. I’ve never seen an animal with an inclination to pray or look to a greater power even in their most helpless state. But our species has since ancient times looked in many places to find God. I believe that we are different from animals.

I believe that God wants to have a relationship with us. Christianity is not just a religion in which we attain eternal life and are able to go to Heaven. Christianity is a relationship. In fact, eternal life is about knowing God. It can begin right here, right now.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” – John 17:3

I also believe that God is our Father. He is not just a divine cosmic power or a Creator. Because a creator can always create something and throw it away if he doesn’t like it. A creator can create something and give it away if he feels good about it. A creator can make something and sell it away to earn profit from it. A creator can always destroy his creations and start over again. But a father can’t do all that. You can’t father a child and just throw it away. You won’t father a child and give it away. And of course you wouldn’t father a child just to sell it away. Even if a child turns out to be rebellious, disobedient and defiant, his father will never end his life and have another one.

Similarly, I believe that our Father in Heaven is the same. Even though we as His children have turned away from Him, He can never just wipe us out from the face of this corrupted world. Instead, He wants to redeem us, change us and bring us home. It’s always been His plan. I believe that He wants to bring redemption to our lives and to our world.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

I believe we are all sinners! We are born selfish and have to be taught at a young age to be selfless. That is why we need God. But we also need Him because only a Creator knows the purpose of His creation. Friend, I believe you and I have a purpose. Do not ever think that you are an accident because accidents don’t have a purpose. Accidents are unplanned for, accidents are unwanted. When I look around me, at this keyboard that I am typing with, at this screen that I am looking at, at this chair that I am sitting on and at this bottle that I am drinking from, I realize that everything was made with a purpose. And wouldn’t it be the saddest thing to believe that lifeless objects have a purpose, but we don’t? Your parents might have told you that you were an “accident”, but today God is saying to you that you’re definitely not His accident. Because if you are, He would not have come to die for you.

Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ came to die for you and I. I believe that He came to restore His relationship with us that was previously broken by sin – a relationship no amount of success and good works can mend. Just think about it; if today you had a row with your father and you ran away from home, would becoming a huge success or a philanthropist (though all are good things that we should be) earn back your relationship with your dad? No. Only if we were to go back to Him, apologize and ask for forgiveness, would that relationship be restored. It is the same for Jesus, just that He made the first move. Why? Because there is a penalty of death that we need to pay for our sins.

And here is why I believe that our God is both just and loving. Imagine that you got yourself into a car accident due to drunk driving.  You end up in court and to your horror, your father who is a judge is sitting right there on the bench. As a judge, he has to mete out justice & punishments and cannot be biased towards you just because you are his son or daughter. So in all fairness, he reads out all the penalties that you will get including a fine and a suspension of your license. But at the end of it all, something interesting happens. He gets down from his bench after the court session, walks towards you and puts his arm around you. He then tells you not to worry, because he will pay the fine for you and drive you around until your suspension ends.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

I believe that is what God has done for us. God is not just a judge in Heaven who metes out punishment, but He is also our loving Father. That is why God became Man to die on the cross on our behalf to pay for the penalty of our sins. Now, if we accept that love and just believe, our sins can be washed away and we can be made clean in this relationship with Him. That is why I believe. I believe that He gave His life for me. I believe that He rose again. I believe that He is 100% Man and 100% God. I believe that He is good. I believe that I am forgiven. I believe that I have a purpose. I believe in Heaven and I believe in the name of Jesus. Do you?


If you want to believe, all you have to do is pray this prayer with sincerity:

Dear Father God, I admit that I am a sinner
And I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe that Jesus Christ died for me
On the cross and rose again.
I confess that Jesus is my Lord and Savior.
Holy Spirit, help me to obey and follow God.
Change me from the inside out.
In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.


p.s. If you happened to have stumbled upon this post and have just prayed the prayer above, I want to congratulate you because you have made the best decision in your life! This is only the beginning for even greater things to come and I would like to tell you more. So if you have just believed in Jesus through this post, don’t stop there! Let me know by messaging me through Facebook, and especially so if you live in Singapore! Hope to hear from you soon! ūüėĄ

Light

Light. It brings with it warmth, comfort, vision and direction. What would we do without it? With no light, there is no sight. But there’s more. In this world full of darkness, light isn’t just an illumination, it’s an embodiment of truth, hope & life. It’s what we use to see, to navigate, and to fight in and against this darkness.

Think about it. Light is everywhere. It’s found in the screen you’re looking at, in the lamps along the street, in the Sun that brings us day. Yet without darkness, light will not be obvious or necessary. Of course, I wish that the life and the world that we live in would just be perfect. But you and I know that’s not possible.

So what can we do? I say we can either curse the darkness, or light a candle. Today on Good Friday, I don’t just choose to recognize the darkness in our world; I choose to remember. I choose to remember on this day what it’s all about. Easter is not about the bunnies or the eggs. Easter is about the Light of the world – Jesus Christ.

The Light came to our imperfect world two thousand years ago to die for our sins. He took upon Himself the sentence we all deserved on this Friday many many years ago. But He didn’t stay dead. On the third day, He rose again defeating even death itself.

Jesus Christ did all that because He wants to bring His light into our darkness, into our lives. And it’s only when we first let Him light up our lives, that we can then be a light to others. It doesn’t matter what kind of light we are, we were not meant to stay in darkness.

We were created to shine brightly like a city on a hill! And the beautiful thing is that all of us are different kinds of light making a difference to the world in our own unique ways. One light is all it takes. But before that, just as how light needs a source of energy, we need a source of energy no matter who we are.

You could be an LED, a flashlight or a wall lamp; nothing changes the fact that Jesus is the source of the light in us. So today, come to God. Recognize the darkness in this world but also remember the Light of the world. He wants to bring His light to us so that we can bring His light to others. This Easter, let’s light up our world together.

Unbelief vs Disbelief

Hi readers! After a 2-week break over Chinese New Year – eating all the food there is to offer and spending all the time we had with our families, all of us are finally back in church! Now it might have been the re-opening weekend for our church, but it is also only our second weekend here in our New Home! If you do not understand what I’m talking about or have not been keeping up with the happenings of Heart of God Church, check out this previous post of mine. If you are on the same page as me (or have just returned from reading that post), let’s get into what I’m going to be talking about today.

What I’m going to be writing about today is basically the message preached by Pastor How over this re-opening weekend. After an emotional testimony was shared by one of the leaders in our church, Pastor How encourages her and takes the stage – the stage some of us now call “Cross Stage 2.0”. Haha, you got to come check it out for yourself. But anyway, he begins his message with the word “humility”. It was a weekend when many people are going to come to God, be it for the first or not. That didn’t matter. What mattered was they did. However for them to do that, they got to first be humble.

Because it is not our strength that will bring us to God, but our humility. And in that case, humility becomes our strength. Many people would need just that to believe in God and His power that can change their lives. But I know for sure that there are some who needs more. Maybe a little evidence? Maybe a personal encounter? Well to me, Imaginarium isn‚Äôt just a place,¬†it‚Äôs a story. In fact, it‚Äôs God‚Äôs story. I know I’ve said this before, but the very existence of our New Home is an evidence of God‚Äôs¬†faithfulness and a memorial that glorifies Him.

As I stepped into this place for the first few times, I couldn‚Äôt help but be¬†reminded again and again of the journey that God has brought us through. If not for Him, we will really¬†not be who we are today. So if anyone asks me, ‚ÄúHow do you know God is real?‚ÄĚ I will bring them to this place, show them around¬†and tell them, ‚ÄúBecause I see Him here ‚Äď at every corner, in every person, in every life.‚ÄĚ

So really, if you have never stepped into our church before, come and see it for yourself. Let it be an inspiration for you; we had such humble beginnings. If God could do for us what He did all these years, then He can do anything for anyone who has faith – including you. Pastor How used the scripture in Mark 9:17-27 (NLT) to illustrate this.

‚ÄúWhat do you mean, ‚ÄėIf I can‚Äô?‚ÄĚ Jesus asked. ‚ÄúAnything is possible if a person believes.‚ÄĚ – Mark 9:23 (NLT)

In these verses, we find a man coming to Jesus for help because an evil spirit has possessed his son. To cut the long story short, Jesus successfully cast it out. The boy also regained consciousness and recovered. But within this story lies a few interesting things that we can learn from. Firstly, note what the desperate father says to Jesus in verse 24.

The father instantly cried out, ‚ÄúI do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!‚ÄĚ – Mark 9:24 (NLT)

Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? You must be wondering whether this father believes or not. But the thing is, sometimes we do this ourselves too. Sometimes, we find ourselves having a conflict between our mind and our heart, just like the father! Maybe you’re a Christian, maybe you’re not. But you can definitely relate to being in a situation whereby your heart wants to believe in something, be it for a miracle or a breakthrough, while at the same time your mind is full of doubts about it. Well you know what? Christianity is that kind of faith; the kind where at times, our hearts and minds go into a conflict, where we experience a little of what the man in verse 24 had – unbelief.

doubt-tolerance

What is unbelief? It is a lack of faith or trust, most commonly appearing in the form of doubts. For example, you may have heard that Jesus can heal, that He wants to have a relationship with you, that He can change your life for the better. But because you’ve never personally experienced those things before, you find it hard to believe in them. And as a result, you may not believe in Jesus too. Fortunately, that is normal. Let me repeat myself. It is totally normal to oscillate between faith and doubt, even as Christians! One thing you must know is that our God is doubt-tolerant. He will not release His wrath & curses upon you just because you have some doubts. It’s not Him.

That is why sometimes Christianity is called the Fight of Faith! We constantly fight doubts in our own mind. Even the Bible contains multiple examples of this fight. You see, the Bible is not propaganda. It doesn’t exaggerate the good and cover up the bad; it tells us both and everything in between. In it we see the victories & the defeats, the good men & the fallen men. In the same way, our Christianity is not a “bed of roses”. We find ourselves at the mountaintops where believing is easy, and we also find ourselves in the valleys where having faith is difficult.

If you have your Bible with you, just look at the Book of Psalms. It is an emotional and spiritual journey of a man, consisting of both the nice and not-so-nice parts. Flip to chapter 23 and you’ll see the faith, the joy and the praises. Flip one chapter back to 22 and you’ll see the struggles, the frustrations, the pain. Just a chapter apart, and the contrast so huge. So once again I must say, it’s normal. Some days we’re at chapter 22, some days we’re at 23. For the man in Mark 9:24, he was swinging between these two. What’s most important was that he was honest with God about his feelings. We should do the same.

disbelief

But while it’s okay to have a little unbelief in us, disbelief is a realm we should never step into. Disbelief is when a person decides NOT to believe. It is very different from unbelief, because regardless of evidences, people of disbelief have already made up their minds. They don’t listen to explanations, they only think about arguments. The Bible describes this as a very dangerous hardening of the heart.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‚ÄúToday when you hear his voice, don‚Äôt harden your hearts…” – Hebrews 3:7-8 (NLT)

Never harden your heart, reader. Big problems arise for those who do so because they have already closed & locked up the doors to their minds and their hearts. Even if good things are presented to them, they see it as bad. When testimonies and stories of changed lives are shared, they see it as a¬† scam. When churches are mentioned, they immediately think they’re all bad. Indeed, a quote from Stuart Chase could not be more true.

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” – Stuart Chase

What is faith? It is believing in something even though there may not be a physical proof of it yet. That’s called faith! If we need proof to believe in Jesus Christ, then it’s no longer faith anymore. I can tell you, I have never seen Jesus physically before. I’ve never heard His audible voice. Haha but you know what? My life has been changed by Him since I believed in Him. I have had many of my prayers answered. I have felt His love and His presence. And I’m not alone. Sometimes, you just got to believe first before you see.

If you harden your heart, you will go from unbelief to disbelief. Just think of two of Jesus’ disciples for a minute. Peter had unbelief and so did Judas, but both of them had witnessed the works & miracles of Jesus in the flesh. One of them repented and became one of the greatest apostles ever. The other one betrayed Jesus and committed suicide. You know which of them moved into disbelief. Unbelief is fine. Disbelief is not. Unbelief says that “I want to believe but I can’t!” Disbelief says that “I simply do not want to believe.” They are very different.

faithfulness

“If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful…” – 2 Timothy 2:12-13 (NLT)

Today as you are reading this, you might be a believer, a non-believer, or an ex-believer. But one thing you must know is that there is a difference between denying God, and losing faith. Denying Jesus is a very serious thing, but I don’t think any of you reading this would deny Jesus in disbelief and hate Him. Even if today, you’re no longer going to church or hanging out with your friends whom you met in church, I’m sure that deep down in your heart, you still believe in Jesus. You just simply went through a season when you were unfaithful. But just like the verse above says, even if we are faithless, God remains faithful. It’s just who He is.

So come back to Jesus. He loves us regardless of all the sins we might have committed. Look at some of the great men in the Bible, they all had their past! Abraham slept with his maid, but now we call him the father of faith. Moses had anger issues, so much so that he killed a man; but we now know him as the one who parted the red sea. Noah was a drunkard, but we know of him as the one who built the ark. Told you the Bible wasn’t propaganda, right? David committed adultery and many more atrocities that broke at least 4 of the 10 commandments. Now we call him the man after God’s own heart. Peter denied being affiliated with Jesus, but as previously mentioned, moved on to becoming one of the greatest apostles ever. What does that mean?

saints-sinners

It means that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. And it is only possible because of the love & the power of God that we can have in our lives when we believe in Him. We are all not perfect. But with the power of the blood of Jesus Christ in our lives, we can be redeemed and have a future, just like the saints in the Bible. All we got to do is to be humble, put away all the pride that we have and come back to Jesus.

Let me end this post with one last analogy by Pastor How. If you’re driving towards a certain destination today and you find yourself making a wrong turn somewhere, what would you do? Would you get all frustrated and beat yourself up against the steering wheel for making such a mistake? Would you stop the car, get out and give up driving? Or would you keep on driving in the wrong direction? No. You make a U-turn. It might cause a little bit of delay, but at least you turn around and rectify that wrong turn. In the same way, most of us will not have a perfect path to our spiritual destination in God. What matters is when we make a “wrong turn”, we repent and turn around to go back on track. If you need to, make that U-turn today.

p.s. Pastor Tan Seow How & Pastor Cecilia Chan, more affectionately known as Pastor How & Pastor Lia are the senior pastors of Heart of God Church ‚Äď my spiritual home.

The Miracle Thief

Hi everyone! Merry Christmas! Before I begin my¬†article for today, I would like to just thank all my readers for your positive responses and support for Fool’s Bench over the past 3 months. I first “announced” and launched this site on 22nd September, 2015. And in case you haven’t noticed, this past Tuesday¬†marked the third month of its¬†existence! Your encouraging comments and shares on social media, especially over the past week, really keeps me going, so I would like to thank you for that.

Today, I will be writing to you my last post for 2015, which is a¬†detailed account of Pastor How‚Äės message over the weekend of 12th & 13th December. I have saved it for now because I believe this message is the best for the¬†holiday season¬†-and the best should always be left for the last. So after this, you will not hear from me again… until 2016! Hahaha don’t worry, I am just taking a break from here to allow for more time with my church, family & friends over Christmas and¬†New Year’s Day. I’ll be back.

But for now, let’s begin, shall we?

Pastor How takes the stage once again and¬†begins his message, a sequel to¬†The Miracle Maker. If¬†you haven’t heard The Miracle Maker before, you can read about it here¬†first.¬†Continuing from where we left off last time, Pastor How does a quick recap about the events in Luke 8:40-56.

There was an influential man named Jairus who came to Jesus Christ in desperation, inviting Him to his house to heal his dying daughter. Christ being who He is, obviously agreed. But as they were on their way to the house, an unnamed woman with a blood issue came forth and touched the corner of the robe that Jesus was wearing. Immediately, she was healed.

Although it was a great miracle that ought to be celebrated, it also inadvertently interrupted and delayed Jesus for awhile. Indirectly, because of this woman’s actions, Jairus’ daughter died before Jesus could reach her. Thankfully, the miracles did not stop there. Jesus assured Jairus and in the end, rose his daughter from the dead, giving this short (but true)¬†story¬†a happy ending.

From this, we know that¬†sometimes God is teaching us to wait. Even if our miracles seem to have been hijacked, we just got to put away all our fears and believe. And as we faithfully¬†do so, the miracles will come to us, and sometimes so suddenly,¬†we don’t expect it. With Jesus Christ our Miracle Maker, miracles do happen. But there’s also another thing that we need to have for that to be¬†true.

34¬†And he said to her, ‚ÄúDaughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.‚ÄĚ‘ – Mark 5:34 (NLT)

What we need to have is what the woman with an issue of blood had – faith. If we want a miracle and want to “steal” one like how this woman did, then we got to have faith. Because miracles only happen to those who put themselves in a realm & atmosphere¬†of faith.

faiths

“A little faith brings us to Heaven, but a great faith brings Heaven to us.”

What Pastor How said was so true. It just takes a little faith to believe in Jesus and have a relationship with Him. Just a little. And the Bible says that when we believe in Christ, we will have abundant life on Earth and everlasting life in Heaven. So in a sense, it just takes a small amount of faith for you and I to go to Heaven.

But on the other hand, you will understand¬†it takes so much more faith to believe for a miracle, especially when our situations seem like they¬†can’t get any worse. Yet again, if we were to really have that much faith, it will bring Heavenly miracles upon us.

You may then ask, how can we get such great faith? Well, to have a great¬†faith like that, we must first start with having a little faith. We can only go from faith to faith and glory to glory! To have a great faith for miracles, we need to first have a little faith in Jesus.¬†So today, if you’re not yet a Christian, I urge¬†you to have that little faith in God. Believe in Christ first and soon, your miracles will come.

27¬†She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.’ – Mark 5:27 (NLT)

But if¬†you have never really heard about Christ¬†before, begin today! That’s what the woman first had before she got her miracle. She heard about Jesus and came to have knowledge about Him. But hearing isn’t enough. What really matters is our first reaction¬†when¬†hearing¬†about Him. For some, they react with hostility when they hear Jesus’ name. For others, they react with openness, they receive Him gladly. No matter whether you’re a Christian or not, you must have an open heart to Jesus. Because it’s only when we open the doors of our hearts, that¬†we will open the doors to our miracles.

18¬†Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.‚ÄĚ’ – Luke 8:18

The woman with an issue of blood was desperate for a miracle in her life. How about you?¬†Do you need miracles in your life? Be open. It’s not about what we hear, but how we hear it that will determine whether we get our miracles or not. Be open and have a heart of faith, especially if you have been a Christian for a long time!

There are some of us who were¬†even born into Christian families. We have been hearing the name of Jesus our entire lives and sometimes, we can lose the novelty of it and take it for granted. We think that we know everything there is to God; we think that we have “been there, done that”. Today, let’s believe again in the name of Jesus and let faith arise in us. There is power in His name.

’28¬†For she thought to herself, ‚ÄúIf I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.‚ÄĚ’ – Mark 5:28 (NLT)

You know what else is powerful besides the name of Jesus? Our thoughts. Miracles begin with the thoughts that we have. Just look at the woman; she thought to herself in faith the best possible scenario, and it happened for her. We are all movie directors in our own heads, telling ourselves stories all the time. Be it when we are in the midst of waiting for our exam results, army postings, job offers or medical checkups, we are by nature, horror movie directors. We got to change that and have faith!

17¬†So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ – Romans 10:17

How do we get faith? By hearing the Word of God. With the Word of God in our hearts, we will be able to replace the director of horror movies in our brains, with a director of epic fantasy films. And as we do so together with prayer and a belief that breakthroughs are coming, miracles will happen. Fill our thoughts with good things!

30¬†Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, ‚ÄúWho touched my robe?‚ÄĚ’ – Mark 5:30 (NLT)

Pastor How moves on to talk about the next verse in this passage that we’ve been studying. If you read the New Testament enough, you would realize how interesting this scripture¬†is. In every other scripture where Jesus performs a miracle, He is always the One that initiates it. Well that is, except for this one in Mark 5:30.

This time, it wasn’t Jesus who initiated to perform a powerful miracle. It was a person who came to pull out this power from Him! The woman that we’ve been talking about had so much faith that it allowed her to steal a miracle. You see, faith has the power to activate God, to activate His power. It can pull down and pull out the power of God.

So many people were crowding around Jesus that day, yet He was able to tell apart the¬†very different touch that someone had in the crowd. What makes the woman’s touch so different from the rest of the multitude? Her faith. Jesus could feel the touch of faith that came from the woman with an issue of blood.

Today, many people are also “touching” Jesus; many are¬†calling out His name, many are worshiping Him, many are doing His works. But will we have a different “touch” that will catch His attention? Will we have that same touch of faith that will stop Jesus in His tracks, that He would stop and look from Heaven and notice us?

Jesus touched many but only one touched Jesus.

That day, many people came into contact with Jesus, yet only one truly touched Him. Most of the time, we always hope for Jesus to touch our lives and change us. Bur maybe what we need to do first is to touch Jesus. God can always touch us, but we must first touch God.

So in essence, stealing miracles has to do with 3 kinds of faith Рfaith in our hearing, faith in our thinking and faith in our actions. Why? Does faith move God? Not as much as it moves us.

move-to-god

Faith doesn’t move God. Faith moves us to God.

The thing about faith is it isn’t a formula. It definitely isn’t¬†arm-twisting or manipulating God. God is God, we have no control over Him. But who we do have control of is ourselves. By having faith, we actually move ourselves closer to God and into His realm of faith. This is because God’s thoughts and ways are always higher. By having faith, we lift ourselves in our thoughts and ways closer to His, and that’s when the miracles will¬†happen. To get a miracle, we need to move into its¬†very zone where God belongs. He can and He wants to¬†bring a breakthrough in our lives.

But if God is so¬†good and generous in His blessings, why then do we still have to “steal” His miracles at all? Exactly – we don’t need to. Pastor How explains why the woman had to do what she did. Firstly, she thought she was not worthy to receive a miracle. Back in those days, women were unfortunately considered to be of lower status than men, almost seen as¬†second-class citizens. Furthermore, they¬†don’t usually talk to men, much less touch them. Secondly, women with bleeding conditions such as this were considered unclean.

That is why this woman wanted¬†to sneak behind Jesus secretly just to touch Him and hopefully steal a miracle. She did not understand the heart of God. Look, I’m sure if she were to present herself openly in front of Jesus, He would be more than happy to heal her. Why? Because we will never be too dirty or unworthy for Jesus and His love for us.

8¬†But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ – Romans 5:8

In fact, He loved us so much that He died for us. Not when we were perfect (we will never be 100% good), but when we were messed up. The Bible describes Jesus as a physician, who came for the sick and not the righteous.

17¬†When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‚ÄúThose who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.‚ÄĚ‘ – Mark 2:17

What Jesus said was so true, wasn’t it? When do we need a doctor? When we are sick. When do we need Jesus? When we are sinners. I know what some of you may be thinking in your heads today. “I will only go to Jesus after I’m holy.” Just like the woman with an issue of blood, you feel that you’re not holy enough or good enough to become a Christian. But that’s the point isn’t it? It’s exactly because we are not perfect that we need Jesus.

And just like the verse above says, Jesus came and died for us not when we were perfect, but while we were sinners. To say that you’ll only go to Jesus after you’re a better person is as good as saying you’ll only go to the doctor when you’ve recovered from your sickness. All of us needs God. No matter how smart, capable or attractive we are, there is one thing we can’t deny – that we are all sinners deep down on the inside.

But there is a New Hope whose name is Christ that will help clean up the mess in our lives, big or small. He will transform us from the inside out; we must let Him do so. Just as Jesus allows us to touch Him, we must allow Him to touch us.¬†Then yet again, why did Jesus allow the woman to touch and interrupt Him? Why did He allow Himself to be hijacked and delayed? Jairus’ daughter was dying and He knew it.

I personally believe there are 2 reasons for this. The first is simply because Christ is in control. He probably knew¬†that whatever happens to Jairus’ daughter, she will still be healed in the end. But I also believe in a second reason for His attention to the woman with an issue of blood. He was trying to show us something about Himself.

Pastor How uses a few examples to illustrate his point. At the bank, there is a queue for priority/preferred banking and a queue for normal banking. On a plane, there is a business class and an economy class. At the theme park, there is an express queue and a normal queue. From here, you can see that sometimes, certain¬†people¬†get more privileges. The rest of us¬†ordinary kids would love to have that kind of priority too where there is little to no waiting involved. But sometimes, that’s how our world works. When you’re richer, more influential, or more famous, you get these “first class” privileges. But that’s not how God works.

The woman with a blood issue used her worldly understanding to interpret God’s character. She saw herself as a nobody. Jairus on the other hand was a leader of the synagogue (simply put, the¬†Jewish church). He was probably more influential, more rich, more connected, and maybe even more holy. So when the woman saw him approach Jesus, it’s almost like us seeing somebody who’s part of¬†a priority queue. She probably felt like there is no chance for her anymore, that she will never get her miracle ever. But because she was desperate, she decided to steal a miracle instead.

Once again, there’s no need to steal a miracle from Jesus. All we need to do is to ask and we will receive. God does not give priorities to anyone! That’s why He stopped for the woman! Pastor How gives us an analogy:

Now imagine you’re a pastor and one day, you receive a call from the richest billionaire in your country. His daughter is very sick, and he wants you to pay a visit to his mansion, just to say a prayer over her. Obviously, you would be more than happy to oblige. So you head out of your church and start walking towards your car. But as you’re walking, this poor old lady approaches and stops you. She also is experiencing some health problems and knowing that you are a pastor, asks for a prayer over her too. Would you, because you’re on your way to visiting a rich man’s mansion, put her aside and reject her? Exactly.

That is why Jesus stopped. Christ our Lord¬†is not just the¬†God of the rich and powerful, but also the God of the weak and poor. He loves everyone,¬†He died for everyone. What Jesus was trying to show us when He stopped for the woman was that He was not at the beck and call of a rich ruler. He does not give priority to the¬†rich & influential, though He does not despise them either! He went and performed miracles for both the woman and Jairus, didn’t He?

It doesn’t matter today if you’re a socialist, a socialite, or just socially awkward. Christ died for you, rose again, and wants to have a relationship with you.¬†Christianity is not some philosophy or code of moral ethics that only teaches you how to be good or do good. It is a living relationship with Jesus, a supernatural one that also involves having faith in His miracles. This Christmas, you got to start to have a little faith.

4¬†For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world‚ÄĒour¬†faith. 5¬†Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ – 1 John 5:4-5

This world is filled with beautiful things, but also ugly ones. Life will always be full of mountains and valleys. To overcome the¬†world and our problems, we need faith. To get a miracle in our lives, we need faith. But to¬†have faith itself, we need faith first in Jesus Christ. Because this¬†faith in Jesus will activate our faith for miracles. Simply put, the more faith we have, well… the more faith we have!

It’s not rocket science! The more we sleep, the more we want to sleep. The more we eat, the more we want to eat. Something is activated in both cases. For one it’s lethargy, and for the other – appetite. The same goes for giving! The more we give to others, the more we want to do so. Why? Because generosity is activated. This is also one of the reasons why Christians tithe! More than just a sign that we are putting God first in our lives, this giving makes us generous too. Think about it, if we can give 10% of our finances to God, we will definitely be able to give in the same way to our family & friends too!

So that’s why if you need¬†a miracle this Christmas, you got to start with having that little faith in¬†Jesus Christ. CHRIST-mas is about Christ anyways. Today, know that He WANTS to give you a miracle, and you don’t need to steal one. Know that you are never too unholy,¬†too¬†incapable, too unworthy for Him. Know that He loves you no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are. This Christmas, believe in Him and you will receive your miracle(s).

Haha, if you’re wondering where to spend your Christmas at this year, the best place that I know of is of course¬†Heart of God Church! And just to give you a hint, you will enjoy this weekend¬†even more if you’re a fan of Star Wars.¬†We’re going to have an awesome time in church¬†and many¬†people are going to also share about how their lives were miraculously changed by God in this place. If they can experience their miracles, so can you. Take a step of faith, come to church this weekend, and you will receive the¬†greatest¬†Miracle you will ever have in your life.

See you in church, see you in 2016!

p.s.¬†Pastor Tan Seow How & Pastor Cecilia Chan, more affectionately known as Pastor How & Pastor Lia are the senior pastors of Heart of God Church ‚Äď my spiritual home. If you enjoyed this article, or are interested to find out more about¬†our church, do check out my posts about my experiences in this awesome place.¬†

Christ1TG2015

Fire in a Forest

There exists a vast forest named Heart.
It is home to beautiful trees, rivers and wildlife.
But deep within these woods also lived horrible beasts.
Hiding among the shadows, they work to hunt down their prey.
Especially so in the dark of Night.

I live in this forest.
Encountering these beasts many times I have,
But somehow their attacks I survived.
Bruised and frightened I may have been, but still I am barely alive.

It was my forest, yet I could do nothing to protect it
From the darkness that haunts it.
The darkness that never belonged here.
No matter how hard I fought, I lost more than I won.

Sometimes I would look at the goodness of the forest
And wonder if it was created or kept by a Higher Being.
If He exists and had the power to make it this way,
He would have the power to rid me of my predators.
I was weak, but was I alone?

One day I came to the center of the forest.
There I found a desolate campsite.
There I met the Keeper of the forest.

At the camp, He lit a Fire.
A campfire it was that would keep the beasts away.
A fire of Light, Warmth and Safety.
I was finally free from the grasp of evil.
But not for very long I fear.

Before He departed, the Keeper left me with these words,
“The fire can only burn for so long before it dies out.
Call out for me anytime.
I will surely answer and come back with Firewood
That will last you for the coming days.”

These Words I kept and Him I sought daily.
In the darkest of Night and in the brightest of Day.
Sometimes I think that I do not need Him or His fire in the Day.
But I brushed those thoughts aside in gratitude to Him.

As I kept His Word, He kept His promise.
No matter how dark it gets in the Heart,
The Wolves of Lust, Bears of Ferocity
And Serpents of Lies have no power over me.

How have I survived thus far?
Because never once did I ever walk alone.
As long as I have the Keeper,
I will have a fire no darkness can extinguish.

The Parables of Jesus Part 2: The Love of God

Note: The following is a detailed write-up of Pastor How‚Äės message over the weekend of October 10th & 11th. ‚ÄúThe Parables of Jesus Part 2‚ÄĚ is the second of 3 parts in this opening season of¬† a new sermon series, which will be covered across multiple seasons over the next few years. If you haven’t already, check out my write-up of the first part before moving on with this post.

Parables ‚Äď stories that provide earthly analogies for the heavenly messages behind them.

Commonly used by Jesus, their purpose is to help our worldly minds comprehend and understand spiritual principles more easily. Because naturally, we have no concept of Heaven to begin with.

Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.” – Matthew 13:14-15

Pastor How kicked off the second part of The Parables of Jesus by addressing our hearts. Just as the verse above says, spiritual things must be understood with our hearts. If we do not engage our hearts while listening to God’s Word or reading Scriptures, we will either hear and not understand or see but not perceive. Still not understanding what’s all these “seeing but not seeing” and “hearing but not hearing”? Well, Pastor How gave us an example:

fedex-cropped

This is the FedEx logo. Some of you may already know about this, some of you may not, but hidden within this iconic logo is an arrow:

fedex-arrow

That’s what “seeing but not seeing” means! Before we found out about the arrow, most of us must have seen the FedEx logo like hundreds of times. We’ve seen it online, on TV, on billboards. Yet every time we look at it, we see the logo yes, but we don’t see the arrow hidden within it. Personally for myself, it’s only recently that I found out about the hidden arrow, and it wasn’t even by my own eyes! The Internet told me!

The reason why we normal everyday people would not notice this interesting design is because most of us would not be so interested in FedEx’s logo, as compared to its services, that we would stop and study it intently. To most of us, the logo needs not be taken seriously. In fact, most of us would just have a glance at it. Besides, its the services that count. Why engage our hearts in looking at the logo?

You are starting to get this, aren’t you? To engage Jesus, we need to engage our hearts. Just like in the everyday relationships with our friends, family and partner, the heart must be involved. It is only when our hearts are involved in our relationships, that true understanding can be gained about the other person!

“Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God.”

We always say that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God. If that is true, then our hearts must be engaged. Pastor How shows us something interesting:

heart_sp_how

He said that in order to hear God, we must do it with our hearts. Because it’s within our hearts that we can find our spiritual “ear” that will hear the voice of Christ. With that, he went on to discuss the 5th parable in Matthew 13.

Hidden-Treasure

44¬†‚ÄúAgain, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44

Once again, we have a “traditional interpretation” of this parable here. Usually, we would think that in this verse above, the “man” refers to us and the “treasure” refers to Jesus. So our interpretation of this verse would be something along the lines of us finding Jesus, selling everything we have to buy and live with Him happily ever after. But if you study it closely and engage your heart in doing so, you would realize again that this does not make sense! Here’s why.

10¬†for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.‚ÄĚ – Luke 19:10

Across the pages of the Bible, you would see verses like Luke 19:10 that describes God as the One who is finding and seeking us, not the other way around! For example, how often would you see someone who has never been exposed to Christianity before suddenly realizing one day that he needs to find God? Personally for myself, before I knew about Jesus, I just lived life my way (though it was purposeless) and never had a single thought about God or gods in general. I had to be invited to church. And I was stubborn at first! The Holy Spirit had to persuade me before I believed in Christ. So very quickly we can see here that God is the One who seeks us. How? Through our Christian friends who invite us to church. When? When our hearts are open. Why? Because He loves us.

Now I don’t know about other religions and beliefs, but in Christianity, it’s never about Man looking for God or Man becoming God. In Christianity, it’s always about God loving us and looking for us. In fact, God loved us so much He didn’t just stop at looking for us; He became one of us. God became Man. This is the greatest love story ever told – that God would love us so much He gave up His Godhood to pursue us. If you’re reading this, get this – God doesn’t only love you from the moon and back. He loves you from Heaven and back. Use your heart and you’ll understand this.

Remember the “keys” that were given to us in the previous part of this series? The ones that would help us interpret all the parables? Let’s look at some of them together with what we’ve gathered here today and interpret The Parables of the Hidden Treasure even further.

The ‚Äúman‚ÄĚ refers to Jesus.
The “treasure hidden in a field” refers to us.
The ‚Äúfield‚ÄĚ refers to the world.

In this Parable of the Hidden Treasure, the “man” who found treasure in a field, and for joy over it goes and sells all that he has to buy that field refers to Jesus. We who believe in Jesus are the “treasure(s)” that He has found. And just like in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the “field” here refers to the world. So what does this mean? It means that God didn’t just “buy” us Christians, He bought the entire world.

16¬†For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

As long as our hearts are open, God will find us somehow. If you’re not yet a Christian today, this especially applies to you. When your heart is open, God will somehow find you. For me, it was through a cousin. For you, it could be through a relative, a friend or an article like this, I don’t know. But open up your heart today to His love and your life will never be the same again. Jesus saw us as His treasures so much so that He would purchase us at the highest price of dying for our sins. But it’s up to us now whether we would like to accept that love into our lives and become the treasures that He has always seen us as, or not.

23¬†You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” – 1 Corinthians 7:23

Once again Pastor How emphasizes the fact that we can’t buy God and His love. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). It’s like how a child can never buy his father’s love. A child cannot go up to his father, offer him money and ask for his love. A father loves his child for who he is (his child), not for what he can offer to him! So in the same way, there’s nothing we can sell to buy Jesus.

“There’s nothing good we can do for Jesus to love us more; there’s nothing bad we can do for Him to love us less.”

Jesus is the One who gave up and sold everything, including His Godhood to buy us. But some of you may be wondering, why must He do so? Wasn’t there another way? Take this following analogy from Pastor How as an example:

Say you’re an animal lover on the way home today. As you are walking across the street, you spot a group of puppies and their mother huddled together beside an alley. You thought “Aww so cute! Let me go take a look at them.” So you walk towards them, and as you’re doing so, you notice that they’re all bruised, dirty and hungry. And because of your love for animals, you know of a place called “Dog Heaven” where dogs are clean, well-taken care of and fed with the best food a dog can ever have. So of course, you immediately think of bringing these dogs there! But as you try to carry the puppies, their mother barks aggressively at you. You then try to explain to these dogs that you’re trying to help them and bring them to great place. Here’s the problem, they will never understand your intentions because you’re speaking English, not “Doggish”. As a result, it is almost impossible to lead these dogs to “Dog Heaven”.

But consider this. What if you had a superpower that can transform you into a dog? You’ll take the shape of a dog, speak “Doggish” and of course be able to lead them to “Dog Heaven”! That’s exactly why God had to become Man, giving up his Godhood just to come and lead us to Heaven. We were bruised by past hurts, dirty in our sins and hungering for something greater in life. God saw all that and came to save us.

I bet that no matter how much you love animals or dogs, and even if you had a superpower, you will never give up your “humanhood” just to lead these dogs to “Dog Heaven”. That shows the scale of God’s love for us. He became the Word in flesh just so that we can understand Him and be led to Heaven.

6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8     he humbled himself in obedience to God
¬†¬†¬†¬†and died a criminal‚Äôs death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT)


Pearl

45¬†‚ÄúAgain, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46¬†who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure is not the only parable in Matthew 13 that shows God’s love for us. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price does the same too. And with the previous understanding of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, we can immediately see more “keys” here in the 6th parable:

The “merchant seeking beautiful pearls” refers to Jesus.
The “beautiful pearls” refer to us.

As you read this parable, you would see its similarity to the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. But why exactly do God see us as “pearls”? Pastor How explains that the pearl is different from gemstones like emerald, ruby and sapphire. It is a product of a living organism. Watch this following video and learn how pearls are formed.

It’s interesting because the formation of pearls are caused by its oyster’s defense against irritation and discomfort, which can be compared to how we go through pains and problems in life. That’s why God calls us “pearls”. Because through life, we can develop strength and character through hardships and struggles (like mentioned in the part 1 of the series) and become “beautiful pearls of great price” to God. As we are tested by pressures and tempted by pleasures, would we still continue to pursue holiness? Man always look at appearances, but God looks at the heart. To Him, nothing is beautiful like holiness.

Whatever that we have gone through, or are going through right now in the kingdom of heaven is for us to become “pearls of great price”. Before Pastor How concluded his sermon for the weekend, he shared with us a story about a great hero – Irena Sendler. Some of you may have heard of her before, some of you may not. But here’s her story:

sendler-compilation

In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Nazi Germany and its allies invaded Poland. About a year after, under Hitler’s rule, a ghetto was constructed in its capital of Warsaw, where all the Jewish population in the area were rounded up at. It’s in this ghetto where the Jewish awaited their deaths – by starvation, disease or execution. Young children and newborn babies were not spared too. It was indeed dark days that these people lived in, and none of them had a future. Their lives were not even theirs anymore. But in this huge darkness, little glimmers of light and hope shone as a woman decided to light a candle and do something about it.

Irena Sendler had moved to Warsaw prior to the events of World War II and worked as a nurse and social worker. Due to her position and occupation, she was given a permit that allowed her to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of diseases that are spreading and prevent any such virus from spreading beyond the ghetto. What she decided to do was to use her job as an advantage and rescue as many Jewish children from the ghetto as possible. Using various means, she entered the ghetto and spoke to Jewish parents about her plan. Having no other choice, these parents would entrust their children to Sendler in the hopes that they would have a future besides certain death.

With the help of her co-workers, she would then take this children and smuggle them out. Sometimes, she would use stretchers with sick people to hide the children underneath them. At other times she would carry these children inside coffins among dead people. When she’s desperate to get as many children out as possible, she would drive an ambulance to the ghetto and put them all inside. She would also bring dogs along on the ambulance. These dogs are trained to bark at the sight of the Nazi soldiers. The fierce barks of the dogs would discourage the Nazi soldiers from checking the ambulance and at the same time drown out the cries of the children within.

sendler

After successfully smuggling out the children, she would place them under the care of good Polish families. Furthermore, she would help make false documents to give these children new identities that replaced their Jewish names. But she didn’t just stop there. She even kept a record of all these children, including their real names, parents’ names, false names and names of the family that adopted them. All these were done in her hopes that one day, these children can be reunited with their biological parents. For fear that the Nazi would one day find these records, she put them all into glass bottles and buried them in the backyard of her home. In total, Irena Sendler and her co-workers saved approximately 2500 children from death. So many lives were saved just because 1 person decided to make a difference.

Unfortunately in 1943, Irena’s deeds were discovered and she was captured by the Nazi Germans. They tortured her and forced her to reveal the locations of all those children, as well as her comrades. However, she refused to do so, even after she was brutally beaten and her limbs were all broken one by one. Eventually, after being unable to gather any solid information from Sendler, the Nazi gave up and decided to execute her. What they didn’t expect was that Sendler’s co-workers would bribe the executioner on the way to her execution, saving her from her demise. The executioner recorded Irena Sendler as being executed but in actual fact, she has not been killed. After being rescued, Irena Sendler went into hiding.

A couple of years later, the war ended and Irena Sendler would return to her old home and dig up all the records that she buried. With her co-workers, they would then try to reunite the hidden children with their Jewish families. Of course, most of these efforts were to no avail, as most of their parents have already died during the war. But it doesn’t change the fact that 2500 kids were saved from tragic death that occurred to millions of Jews. In 2008, at the age of 98, Irena Sendler passed away peacefully and returned Home to be with the Lord. This is how she looked like towards the end of her life:

irena-sendlerThis is what true joy looks like.

You can see immediately from the photo that Irena Sendler had true joy on the inside of her because she knew that she lived a life full of purpose in God. She is the prime example of a “pearl of great price.” Of such, God calls “beautiful”. You know, when I am at the end of my life, I want to be able to look back and smile at the things I’ve done for Christ. I want to be able to smile like Irena Sendler here. But before we become pearls of great price, we must first be Christians that are willing to pay a high price. Irena Sandler paid a high price for her great deeds. Now it’s our turn to do so in our individual ways.

And with that, we’ve come to the end of The Parables of Jesus Part 2. You must be thinking where the last 2 parables (7 & 8) are. Well originally at the end of Part 1, Pastor How did say that the last 4 parables in Matthew 13 would be covered here in Part 2. But he gave us all a pleasant surprise because instead of covering all 4 parables in this part, he will be extending it over to a Part 3 on October 24th and 25th! And he describes that in the next part, a sacred secret will be revealed.

This series has been so mind-blowing and life-changing that I can’t wait to hear the last part of this season already! If you read to this point, you are seriously amazing and I thank you for doing so. But you know what, like I always say, nothing compares to hearing this message for yourself in church. If you haven’t thought about coming to Heart of God Church yet, start now! Just saying, I will not be posting a write-up of the 3rd part; secrets are only revealed to those who seek them. So don’t miss your chance of uncovering the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven on October 24th and 25th! See you in church.