Alive

Hi everyone. Today, I have officially existed for two decades! 😄 Haha, I know that’s an unconventional way to put it. But more than just growing another year older, I also realized this year that I have been a Christian for a quarter of my life! 5 years ago, I stepped into Heart of God Church as a 15 year-old boy and my life truly began.

It’s funny because you can be breathing physically and yet not really be alive. As I looked back on the past 5 years, there’s just so much to be thankful for – my church, my friends, my family, those are just some people I never want to take for granted.

But if there is just one person that I need to mention and thank on this day, it would have to be Jesus. Over the past 1800+ days, God has changed my life so much and given me a purpose and a destiny greater than myself.

The reason why I could elevate my mindset, grow in my character and change as a person from the inside out is because of Jesus. Without His grace, I would never have become who I am today. I mean 5 years ago, I would have never thought I will be writing like I am now!

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

So today, I just want to thank Jesus. I am a sinner and I never deserved the life that I am living now – the life that He has given me. But that is what grace is all about, isn’t it? We were all doomed for death because of our sins. We had no choice; we had to go down the pit; we didn’t deserve life. But He still came for us, showed His love for us on the cross and pulled us out of the darkness.

I never once regretted having known and accepted this amazing grace & love that our God has for us. Because now, I am no longer in captivity. I am no longer a prisoner held in chains. I can now have the ability to let Christ cleanse me from all unrighteousness and come into an intimate relationship with Him.

Grace does not say “I am allowed to sin”; grace says “I am free to change.” His overwhelming love for us does not remove our necessity to lead a holy life – it gives us the freedom to do so!

Grace does not give us the license to sin; grace gives us the power to change. That is why I want to change and grow in my character – because with God, I can. And think about it, anything that is alive and healthy grows. 

Today if you have never known the love of Jesus, the empowerment of His grace and the joy in being in a relationship with Him, know that you can have all of it. Don’t just breathe. Live. Eternal life is about this relationship of knowing Jesus. And today, it is a free gift that He is extending to you. But like I said, gifts have to be accepted. So the question is, will you take it? :)

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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). 😉 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, “Here I am!”” – 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.”

What Heart of God Church Means to Me

“Church is a place where a nobody like me who knew nothing, found Somebody that gave up everything, so that everybody & I would know this thing – that in Him we can be somebody that has something.”

This is what I wrote recently on an Instagram post that I had, which summarized very much what church means to me.

For this last post of the day, I’ll be expanding on that whole idea, breaking it down to give you a clearer picture of what God and Heart of God Church has done for my life. This also is what I feel, the most important post out of every single one you’ve seen today about Fun, Laughter and Creativity. Because this one is about Christ.

1. “Church is a place where a nobody like me who knew nothing,”

Before I came to Heart of God Church, I was literally a nobody who knew nothing. I was just like any other typical teenage boy, and had no greater purpose in life to live for. Each day was about having school and having fun. I played computer games with friends & surfed the Internet all day long after finishing a day’s homework. I was satisfied with my life! I never thought about my future, how much potential it holds, and just lived day by day.

I knew nothing that I could hold on to for life and had no skills that I could anchor my hopes on. I was just a 15 year-old boy! I mean I knew some martial arts and could play some guitar but they were more of just things I was passionate about. Passion and Purpose are 2 very different entities.

I’ve found that if we only got passion, and happiness that comes from that passion, it will run out when we’re not doing what we’re passionate about. Purpose however, gives us a true joy that lasts beyond the times we spend fulfilling it. Even in our darkest times, we can still have something to rejoice about, knowing that we have a God-given purpose and a reason for being alive.

By living for that purpose, we will have a joy that lasts, even after a point of time when we can no longer continue. That’s because we would know that we have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7)! Above all, a God-given purpose has eternal significance. So knowing that we’ve made a difference in such a way would definitely give us joy that lasts.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

Have you ever thought to yourself, why you were born on this Earth and what you are here for? Passion can’t answer that question. Purpose can. God can. For me, I didn’t even think about it. Hahaha how sad! So as a result, I did not really have dreams – for myself or for anything in particular. Or should I say, I didn’t know how to dream?

2. “found Somebody that gave up everything,”

Thankfully, all these changed on May 29th, 2011. It was the day I stepped into Heart of God Church for the very first time. That day, I met the most genuine people on the planet! They were not just friendly, they became my friends.

Seriously, they were so kind that when my cousin secretly told them that my birthday was just around the corner, they planned a simple celebration right after the service to surprise me with a little cake! They even sang me a birthday song. All these, on the first day they’ve ever met me. Though to many it may seem like just a small thing, to me it was special. Because other than my parents & some relatives, no one has ever celebrated my birthday with me before. I don’t remember any of my friends doing so! But after that day, no single birthday that followed in the years to come was dull or lonely.

I was so touched by the people’s warmth that day. It left a huge impression on me and I was so happy. So although I did not become a Christian immediately, I went back to church pretty regularly for the people (and also because I had free rides from my uncle, LOL). But after some time, I realized that my friends in Heart of God Church are very different, and why.

The answer is Jesus Christ.

As I continued going back to church, I started to feel a love & a peace in the atmosphere that I’ve never felt before anywhere. It can’t really be explained in words, you got to experience it yourself to understand it. As the people praised & worshiped Him, as people shared about how their lives were changed by God, and as Pastors preached the Word of God every weekend, I can’t help but be touched by Jesus’s love for us.

He gave up everything He had. In fact, He died for me and you. Not only did He descend from heaven’s throne to walk this earth as man like us. He took all our sin upon Himself on the cross so that we can be set free from this power of sin – the power that prevents us from having an intimate relationship with Him. That’s right. Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God.

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose again on the third day and offers us now a relationship with Him, the Creator of the whole universe. When I saw that picture of God’s perfect love and the many people around me whose lives were undoubtedly changed by this relationship they have with Him, I could no longer hold back anymore. I had to give it a go. So from that day onward, I became a Christian and my life would never be the same again.

3. “that in Him we can be somebody that has something”

Of course, that was only the beginning.

I kept going back to church even without my uncle’s free rides. I kept going back to church not just for the people, the lights, the music. I continued to go back because of God.

In God, mindsets are shifted, hearts are touched, characters are transformed.

Fast forward to present day. Do I still play video games? Yeah, but not all of the time anymore. Do I still make mistakes & have problems in life? Yes, but now I have faith to conquer them with Christ on the inside of me. How about being a nobody who knows nothing? Well for that, it is no longer true of me anymore.

After being in church for awhile, I started to serve and give back to the house and the Lord that have both given me so much. And that is when I discovered my gifts and talents in video production! Actually when I was younger, I enjoyed using simple tools like Windows Movie Maker to put together videos. But I eventually stopped because there was no PURPOSE in doing so.

In church it’s different. We can all use our different gifts and talents for a greater purpose, to serve God and His people. If I’ve never come to church and God has never found me, my gifts would never have been discovered. I would never have known that I could be creative, much less use these gifts for a great purpose.

The videos that I produce with my fellow Videos Ministry mates are literally being shown to thousands of people on the weekend services! But this is also only possible because of the great leaders in Heart of God Church that never fails to encourage us. Personally for myself, when I first joined the ministry, I really knew close to nothing about creating videos. All I had was an interest for it. But my leaders in church really believed in me and trained me from scratch. That is why I can be who I am today, doing the things that I do!

But why do they believe in us so much? Because Pastor How & Pastor Lia also believed in them, and continues to believes in all of us too! Our Pastors never despise youths, and always believe that young people can do great things for God. They don’t just say it! They mean it by trusting us with expensive equipment in church such as sound consoles & cameras, just to name a few examples. And because of this environment that they have created, all of us can dream big dreams.

I have dreams now, yes. I have a purpose now, definitely. In fact, part of it involves me writing this post you’re reading right now. You see, in God and in Heart of God Church, I don’t just have “something”, I have many things! A great spiritual family is one of them, true joy is one of them. It’s impossible to list out here every single thing that God has blessed me with over my past 4 years as a Christian! This is really just the tip of the iceberg! And I’m only ONE out of the MANY lives that were changed by God here in Heart of God Church.

Today, I’m no longer a nobody. I’m a child of God and He’s my Heavenly Father. What gives me the most joy is not only having a purpose, but knowing that I have a God that loves me no matter what. And because of that, I can now learn to love others. I must say though, that I still see myself as ordinary. But I’m ordinary with an extraordinary God. A God who found me while I was mostly clueless about life ahead. A God who brought me to a church where I can call “Home”. A church where I found a family. A church where my dreams will come to pass. This is what Heart of God Church means to me.