The Fool’s Bench

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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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Mind Your Own Business

There is a man in Heart of God Church whom I am most honored to share the same birthday with. He’s none other than Garrett Lee, one of our senior leaders! And just 2 weekends ago, he preached a sermon about the power of our minds. I found it very practical and today, I want to tell you what I learned from it.

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Firstly, let me ask you a question. Do you know that our thoughts are very important? What we usually think will eventually become what we believe. That is why, we need to guard our minds with this power we have over them. Because at the end of the day, what’s inside of us in our minds will affect our outside in terms of our life and our behavior. There is a saying:

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

So as you can see, it is indeed very important for us to guard our thoughts and our minds. But more than that, the Bible says that we got to renew them.

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

The scripture above says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. God wants us to be transformed in His image by the renewal of our mind, and not be conformed to the image of the world. That is what Christianity is about! Christianity is not the removal of the mind, but the renewal of the mind.

While our greatest ally – God wants to transform us, our greatest enemy – the devil wants to conform us. Ever faced temptations to say a lie or a vulgarity before having thoughts like “the whole world is doing it, so it’s okay”? That’s just one example of the lies that the devil can speak to you. And if we do not renew our minds, we will fall for it!

People don’t just stop sinning when they become Christians you know? They don’t stop sinning because “Oh, Christians don’t do such things.” If that happens, it’s not transformation anymore, it’s conformation! And I can’t place more emphasis on this, but God is all about transformation. We will only stop sinning because of a mindset shift that results from true transformation! Thus it all begins with the renewal of our thoughts that will eventually affect our destiny.

If you have a Bible with you, flip with me to Ephesians 4:22-32. This long string of verses show us what it means to be transformed by the renewal of our mind. Read it, you’ll know what I mean. Transformation, for good or worse, comes from the renewing of our minds. That is why we need to guard our minds, because they are easily infiltrated. But how? Here are 3 simple ways to do it.

1. Prayer

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Friends, there is a power in prayer. It’s in prayer that we align our thoughts to God’s and lift them up to a whole new level. And it’s only when that happens, that all the wrong thoughts in our minds will go away.

#2 Focus our thoughts

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy‚ÄĒmeditate on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Disclaimer: the meditation here in this verse is not referring to the usual meditations that people do. You know the kind where you “empty your mind”? Nope, that’s not the one that the Bible is referring to here! The “meditation” here in this verse refers to the focusing of our thoughts on the good things –¬† things that are true, pure, praiseworthy, etc, etc, etc!

This is because the devil will come to tempt us with thoughts that are 99% true, to try to conform us. But we must know that truth only works at a 100%. The devil will try to give us dishonorable thoughts; we must set our minds on things of honor. He will try to taint our thoughts with impurities; we need to be just and treat people right. As we reject those bad thoughts and fill our minds with pure ones, the devil will not take ground in our lives. Also, we need to think about things to love others, instead of having selfish thoughts! The last thing that Philippians 4:8 teaches us is to set our minds on good reports. Don’t always be negative and focus on the bad reports! We all have good reports in our lives; it’s just what we choose to focus on. Thank God for all the good things in our lives.

#3 Remember our salvation

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” – Ephesians 6:14-17

Finally as Christians, we have to constantly remember our salvation. In life, we are always fighting a spiritual battle, taking new grounds. That is especially true in this new season, so we got to be ready. In verse 17 above, salvation is described as a helmet. Why? Because helmets protect our head, the most important part of our body. It’s where the brain is, where the mind is.

That is why, in order to guard our minds, we have to remember the eternal grace and love that God has placed in us. If we have a revelation of His love for us and understand eternity, we will have a different perspective. Bad things that happen will not seem so horrible anymore. Good things that happen will not seem that fantastic too! Everything fades in light of eternity. Our life on Earth is only but temporary. That is why and how we guard our minds.

A New Season

Hi readers, it’s a new season! Before I begin writing about the message that was preached by Pastor Lia over the weekend (27th & 28th February), let me first show you in video form the kind of fun we have in church. Be awed.


Haha, have I ever mentioned before how much I love my pastors and my church? If you thought what you saw was cool, wait till you come and experience them for yourselves! Alright. Today we are talking about seasons, and I’m going to once again do my very best in bringing you my pastor’s message. But trust me, nothing beats hearing the man & woman of God for yourself. First scripture of the day:

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

After showing us how cool our “runway screens” can get, Pastor Lia begins her sermon with this scripture. Because there is a season and a time for everything in God’s calendar, as well as our lives. In our school, in our families, in our friendships – all of them go through different seasons. What’s important is doing the right thing in the right season. Because if we flow with God and His seasons, tremendous blessings will be poured out over our lives.

However if we don’t flow with Him, our lives might turn out to be frustrating and disappointing. Today, I believe we are all in a new season; not just for my church as a whole, but for you and I as individuals. And this is how we can all enter into this season and flow with our God.

#1 Don’t get stuck in a season

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Firstly, we got to learn how to flow and move together with God. Don’t let past seasons determine our destinies, no matter how good or bad they were. People are held back in their lives because they can’t seem to get out of a season. For some, it could be due to nostalgia. You know what I’m talking about; their favorite phrase is “those good old days…” Now it’s totally okay to have fond memories of the past, but it’s a whole other thing to hold on to it and refuse to let go!

Sometimes, people also cling on to old seasons because of fear. They fear and worry that the coming seasons will not be as good as their current one. If you’re feeling this way right now, let me just say that God will always bring us to a better place in a new season. As long as you and I walk faithfully with Him, we will go from glory to glory and faith to faith. We will not go from glory to sorry or faith to failure!

There are also those who hold on to these seasons because they can’t forgive themselves for their past mistakes. Maybe they’ve made foolish decisions in this past season and feel condemned, unable to let go and move on. Or maybe it was a season of loss and grief, when they experienced the death of a business, a dream, or a loved one.

‚ÄúMoses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them‚ÄĒto the Israelites.” – Joshua 1:2 (NIV)

“Now then, you…” God spoke to Joshua after the death of Moses. He was trying to tell him and all of us here today one thing – it’s a new season. It doesn’t matter whether it was good or bad, it’s time to move on! Don’t let nostalgia, fear, self-condemnation, grief or even friendships and relationships get in our way. It could have been that way for a long time now but it’s time to let go.

Don’t try to resurrect things such as past relationships that God has allowed to die in our lives. Flow with Him, or else everyone except for us would have moved on to a new season. We can then be compared to people wearing fur coats in summer and swimsuits in winter – out of season. That is why we got to not only move on, but also learn to act & talk for the season we are in.

#2 Put away childish things

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When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11

After moving into a new season with God, the second thing we have to do is to put away childish things. As humans, we have been designed to improve,¬†grow and develop. Just look at things around us (or on us) like our hairs & nails. They keep growing, and it’s the same for kids! You don’t see them for a few weeks or for a month, and when you finally do meet them again, you’ll be shocked at how much they’ve grown and how different they now look!

So as you can see, we have all been designed for change, increase and progress. But though we were made to desire for growth, we got to know that it is one thing to desire, and another thing entirely to grow. Change is inevitable. Growth however, is intentional.¬†If you sit around long enough, your hair will naturally turn grey. That’s change. But for growth, intentional plans have to be put in place. Especially so in this new season.

Childish things for example, have to be intentionally and deliberately put away. They do not automatically leave our lives. When we grew up, we knew to put away our dolls, toys and games. But it’s not those things that we are talking about here. It also does not mean that we can’t have some fun and recreation once in awhile. What Pastor Lia is referring to is childish ways. These childish attitudes can destroy so many things in our lives, but what exactly are they? Here are some examples:

  • Needing to win all the time
  • Childish ways of responding to rejections and conflicts
  • Needing attention all the time
  • Moodiness
  • Childish ways of handling offense

Let’s go through some of the above. Are you a person that can’t take “no” as an answer? Do you always have to get what you want, be it from your parents or from your friends? Then most probably, you have a childish way of responding to rejections and conflicts. Next, are you needing attention all the time? Are you always so self-absorbed that in every conversation, you’re the only one talking? Time to ask somebody “How are you?” How about being moody? Your kiddish emotions can swing from one extreme to the next within minutes. You’re like a land mine and a time bomb. And in case you didn’t know, people find it difficult to even be around you, not to mention approaching you!

How about dealing with offense? Do you get easily offended all the time? Do not let offense dwell in your heart. In life, we will always have conflicts and confrontations. The key is how we handle them. Because sorry to burst your bubble – there is no end to criticisms. I mean come on, even the best artists, leaders and politicians get criticized. There’s always that small 0.01% group of people who are 24/7 unhappy. Even three Happy Meals a day can’t solve their problem. *ding*

I mean seriously, they complain all the time. Paramedics call such people in an accident “screamers”. You know those people who shout out in pain and agony? Fun fact: the paramedics are trained to go to them last. Because if they are screaming, they are pretty much still alive! So they would “skip” them and go to the ones who are lying by the road lifeless or against the steering wheel silent. Because these people are in so much pain that they don’t even have the strength to call out for help. Some of them might even be breathing their last. So what can we learn from these heroes? Never give our attention to the screamers first. We go to the ones who need us first, the ones who are suffering in silence, the ones who really need our attention.

I have to put in a clause here though. THIS DOES NOT APPLY to people who are correcting us out of love, like our mothers! You might feel that they are nagging at you all the time but please don’t see them as “screamers”. They genuinely care for you. They’re not criticizing you! But regarding those who live to criticize and manage to find a way to speak some of their “kind words” to you, this is how you handle them.

Evaluate

First and foremost, we got to evaluate ourselves based on the criticisms that we’ve received. Ask questions like “Could I have done better?” or “Does the critic have a point here?” The last thing we want to do is to be so proud of ourselves and not learn to change (if the criticism was truly constructive). We have to make criticism work for us and use it to our advantage. See it as a way to make ourselves better!

Expel

Next, we have to expel whatever poison that the criticism might have put in our heart. A lot of criticisms come out of a jealous or cynical person, so we got to make sure to remove the “sting” of what we just heard from them. Take in only the factual part that we can learn from, but never the emotive part. Because that will cause us to take offense and grow bitter over time.

Entrust

In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer.” – Psalm 109:4

Finally, we have to learn to entrust all these criticisms into God’s hands. The Bible says that God is greater than our hearts, and that even if we condemn ourselves, He won’t. So if we ever feel any tint of negativity from these criticisms, the one thing we must do is to lift them all up to Christ. People may judge us easily, but Jesus knows the intents of our heart and that our abilities are limited. He loves us no matter how people criticize us.

So that is why we must entrust these criticisms to God. Because even if our heart condemns ourselves, God is greater than that. He has an amazing future for you and I. Don’t let these criticisms linger and cause you to be sidetracked by offense. Especially if you just came back to Jesus not long ago due to past offenses; put away childish ways of dealing with them, let them go and walk strong in Christ.

#3 Start sowing in this season for the next

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Last but not least, after we’ve moved into a new season and put away all the childish things in our lives, we have to start sowing. Our God is a God of seasons. And these seasons are constantly changing and moving. We need to have a “Harvest Mentality”,¬† where we not just live for the pleasures of today but also for the fruits of tomorrow.

You never get what you want in life. You only get what you prepare for. Wishful thinking about what you desire for the future wouldn’t help!

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
– Proverbs 6:6-8 (NLT)

Have you ever observed ants work? There are lessons we can learn from these tiny creatures. They know how to prepare for the next season! So in the same way, we shouldn’t squander everything that we have in one season and find nothing to harvest in the next. Look at clothing stores. They always sell clothes for the next season! Why? Because people don’t buy clothes for a season only when they’re in it! It would be too late. You wouldn’t wait till winter comes before you prepare to get some warm clothes, would you?

The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing.” – Proverbs 20:4

In the same way, we must learn to plow in the “winters” of our lives so that in the “summers”, we can be harvesting and reaping what we have sown. So what do you want to sow for the next season? Or rather, what would you like to reap next season? Start sowing. Could it be better grades that you’re looking to reap? Study seriously. Could it be healthy friendships that you’d like to have in your life? Sow healthier conversations that are less frivolous & judgemental but more serious & encouraging.

Would you like to be closer to God? Sow some time into Bible-reading and prayer. Hoping to reach out to your family members? Sow kindness. Looking to reap good health? Exercise and diet. What we sow in this season, we will reap in the next. That’s what the harvest mentality is all about. But that’s not all. In closing, Pastor Lia reveals that there’s another mentality that we need to have – the gift mentality.

What is this gift mentality? Imagine giving gifts to children for Christmas or for their birthdays. When we give it to them, they would receive it happily and thankfully. They wouldn’t think they don’t deserve it or that they need to work for it. That’s the gift mentality that is above and beyond the harvest mentality. We need to have both.

God is our Father and He not only wants us to work hard, but He also wants to give us gifts. More than just sowing with our best, we must also believe for “surprises” from God within the gift dimension. For unless we are like a little child and receive the Father’s good gifts, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is not being childish, it’s being childlike.

So we reap and we sow. But on top of that, we must also know that God loves us and wants to give us gifts that we didn’t work for. So you might be studying hard for an examination, hoping for a ‘B’. But God wants to give you an ‘A’. You might be sowing into a sibling’s life, hoping that he/she would one day come to know the love of God. But Jesus wants your entire family to experience Him. We need to reap both the harvest and the gifts that God has for us. The harvest mentality looks to the fruit. We sow, we cultivate, we harvest.

But the gift mentality looks to the gift and to the Giver. It comes free by the grace of God. So if you’re a person that is so used to always fighting for what you want in life, you got to know that with God, you don’t have to live life with your fists raised. You might be used to going against all odds, but Jesus wants to turn your opposition into opportunity. He wants to turn your weaknesses into your weapon. He wants to turn your pain into your promotion. He wants to turn your test into your testimony. Step into a realm where half the effort will produce twice the quantity & twice the quality.

Have faith, my friend. It’s a new season.

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.

Victorious

In every story
In every season
Jesus You’re always here
Through every Journey
In every blessing
Jesus You’re always near

We’ve come this far
Like You’ve promised
In You there is no fear
With grateful hearts
We raise an anthem
Our song our joyful tears
Your love has brought us here…

In You we stand victorious
In You we’re more than conquerors
Let our Church arise
Our hearts are on fire
We live to glorify

We lay our lives
On this altar
Jesus You’re worth it all
We bend our knees,
We surrender.
Jesus You’re all we see.
Jesus You‚Äôre all we need…

To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
He shall reign forevermore!

Hi readers!¬†If you’ve been following me on social media over the past week, you would have known that my church¬†has just moved into our New Home! It was such an emotional and significant weekend for all of us,¬†especially for those who have given in one way or another to the building of Heart of God Church¬†over the past decade (and even before).

So in light of all that, the songwriting team of our church worked really hard especially over the past month to produce Victorious for the commemoration of this momentous day. And yes, those words you just read at the beginning of this post are its lyrics.

For myself, over the past few days, I’ve also been thinking on how to dedicate this week’s post to this¬†historical weekend. But even after cracking my brain for a long time, I still couldn’t decide on¬†the best way to approach it. Well that is, until now.

When I saw an Instagram post by Pastor Lia just awhile ago, I knew this was the way to go. Because seriously, this song captures & expresses every single thought and feeling that we all have as Christians in this church. Every line that we sang with this song during service just resonated so strongly with me. Allow me today to explain to you why.

“In every story
In every season
Jesus You’re always here
Through every Journey
In every blessing
Jesus You’re always near”

Some of you may not know this, but our New Home did not come into existence just like that.¬†Our church has been through a long, sometimes arduous but mostly exciting journey to get to where we are!¬†Throughout my 4.5 years in Heart of God Church, I’ve witnessed many things. I’ve been through many¬†seasons with the church – mostly ups, but also some downs. I’ve heard and have been a part of many¬†incredible stories that have birthed forth from the lives of others. There are so many different¬†experiences we all share, but one thing remains constant – Jesus.

No matter whether we were journeying through the valleys or celebrating at the mountain tops, Jesus has always been there. At our highs, we have Him to thank for bringing us there. At our lows, we have Him to thank for lifting us up again and turning it all around for good. Looking back, Jesus has been the center of every story and every season in Heart of God Church!

“We‚Äôve come this far
Like You’ve promised
In You there is no fear
With grateful hearts
We raise an anthem
Our song our joyful tears
Your love has brought us here…”

Even for our New Home, He has already given us a vision of this place since a long time ago. Our pastors and leaders would tell you how God has spoken to them and promised us this land. That is why none of us feared even though it took such a long time for our dreams to come into fruition. We always believed that with man, it may not be possible; but with God, ALL things are possible.

And indeed, after a long wait, He has fulfilled His promises to us! The road here may not have been as¬†easy, smooth-sailing and quick as we’ve imagined, but God’s timing is always perfect, and the results¬†that we got – more than anything we’ve imagined.¬†Throughout this time of praying and waiting, we’ve also seen how God has moved for us in many¬†different ways. It’s now not just man’s hard work that brought us here, but God’s love for us.¬†That is why we are so happy and thankful to give Him all the credit and all the honour.

“In You we stand victorious
In You we’re more than conquerors
Let our Church arise
Our hearts are on fire
We live to glorify”

During the opening service last weekend, everybody’s hearts were just so unified under¬†one cry – the cry of our hearts that was amplified by the chorus of this song. Because even though it was¬†a weekend of celebration, victory and joy, it was also a weekend of thanksgiving unto God. Without Him,¬†we would not have conquered all our battles as a church and as individuals.

Yet even after all these triumphs, we all knew that this is only the beginning of the great story¬†that God is penning for Heart of God Church. This isn’t our destination and place to get comfortable in.¬†It is our launching pad to the world and into the destiny that God has put in place for our church!¬†As we begin this new chapter of our story, we’re going to change the world even more for Jesus.

“We lay our lives
On this altar
Jesus You’re worth it all
We bend our knees,
We surrender.
Jesus You’re all we see.
Jesus You‚Äôre all we need…”

Now, let’s talk about Imaginarium. Every single corner of our New Home is amazing and beautiful.¬†I love all of it; you got to come check it out for yourself to know what I mean! Haha, I ain’t spoiling anything¬†for you here. But beyond just the physical structures, I choose to see more.¬†I see that beyond a chair, there was someone in church who sacrificed and gave their best financially.¬†I see that beyond a room, there was someone in church who sweat buckets fixing and cleaning.¬†I see that beyond a stage, there was someone in church who spent hours planning and working.

This is not just a building, this is the House of God and more. To me, Imaginarium isn’t just a place,¬†it’s a story. In fact, it’s God’s story. The very existence of our New Home is a testament of God’s¬†faithfulness and a memorial that glorifies Him. As I stepped into this place, I couldn’t 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, “How do you know God is real?” I will bring them to this place, show them around¬†and tell them, “Because I see Him here – at every corner, in every person, in every life.”

But what about you? What do you see? If you have never stepped into Heart of God Church before, join us¬†for our re-opening on the 20th! Come to this place and see it differently; you’re stepping on holy ground.¬†Behind the tangible structures of wood, concrete and steel, lies the intangible stories of sacrifice,¬†hard work and faith. There is so much I can tell you, but to write down all the stories here would mean
this little entry would never be completed, haha.

So today, I just really want to dedicate this post to God and to all the heroes that I count my privilege to be amongst every single day. Thank you Pastors, leaders and fellow church builders for giving your all since the beginning. Truly, every cent, every second, every effort was worth it.

“To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
He shall reign forevermore!”

I Remember

As the late-January sun cast its light on my face,
I walked to the gate that led to that place.
Realizing now that it’d be my last,
I took a good look before I walked pass.

Walking through excitedly, I recalled the past.
I entered without purpose but departed with one.
For it is in these grounds where I encountered the One.
I remember.

Took the path I trod for four and a half years,
Then entered the elevator with many others.
We used to fit in just fine in this space,
But now we’ve grown too big to have breathing space.

In no time I found myself inside the hall.
It’s here where I learnt He gave me His all.
Jesus died for me so now I can live for Him.
I remember.

After a right turn I came to the shelves,
The place where I bought the first Bible for myself.
Then another turn up a unique flight of stairs.
These spiral steps led to a few rooms upstairs.

The Lounge was the first of them all that I saw.
It once was just a walkway, now not anymore.
But what I wanted to find was outside that door.
I remember.

The door led outside to a place named Alfresco.
It was there I had Bible studies a long time ago.
Before I knew it I was inside a big room.
It was none other than the Henderson Room.

Inside this room I remembered our beginnings.
Not only was it meant to be used for our meetings.
In here I was believed in and trained to serve,
Even though none of the above I had deserved.
I remember.

Next I found myself by the cafe.
It always filled me when I served for the day.
Turned around and headed on the path to the gents.
Here as an Usher I used to spend moments with friends.

And of course there’s that one room all the way at the back,
Where I spent hours at times, back to back.
There was where my gifts were discovered,
There was where my dreams were uncovered.
I remember.

The Media Room was what all of us called it.
Creativity and life always burst out of it.
In there was where all the magic happened.
But without the power of a team, nothing would happen.

Soon I found myself in a tight space.
Though cleaning equipment were stored in this place,
We used to worship and pray here before we had space.
I remember.

Last but not least I came to the cross.
Not just a stage shaped like a cross.
This was an altar where we laid down our lives,
With many of us committed to Christ.

On this platform testimonies were shared.
Through the miracles people knew that God cared.
From here the Word was preached without falter,
By the man and woman of God we both call “Pastor.”
I remember.

Indeed we’ve been through much as a church.
As we closed this chapter, emotions surged.
But many would know this is only the start,
As we enter our New Home all with filled hearts.

To my children and their children these stories I’ll tell,
And with these words I’ll begin my tale,
“I remember…”

2016: How To Have a Great Year

Hi readers,¬†Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful 2016 so far because for me, the year looks like it’s going to be amazing. In fact, I believe it might just become one of my best years yet. As for why,¬†I will get to that in a while; but for¬†now, let me begin my first post of the new year by sharing with all of you what Pastor How preached over the first weekend of 2016. For those of you who do not know,¬†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.

And just this past weekend, Pastor How preached a practical sermon on how all of us can make 2016 the best year that it could ever be.¬†Here’s¬†my detailed write-up of what he had to say:

P.H.D¬†–¬†we should all get it.

LOL. I know what you guys are thinking. No, I don’t mean we should all get a Doctorate of Philosophy. And that wasn’t what Pastor How meant too. Haha¬†what he¬†was¬†trying to say is that for us to have a great year, we need the following 3 things.

PHD

1) Make Progress

The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. All of us, no matter how capable, always have areas in our lives that can be improved. So if we are able to make progress in all these areas in 2016, I’m pretty sure the year¬†won’t be that bad after¬†all. Even Pastor How wants to make progress. And¬†over the past year, he did. Firstly, he launched a website¬†last year and started writing. If you haven’t seen¬†it, I recommend you check it out! There are articles over there that really shifted my mindset, and it can do¬†the same for you too. Secondly, if you came to Heart of God Church over the past year, you would realize that Pastor How started preaching without the pulpit and physical notes!¬†These are just some examples of how progressive our Pastors are.

And you know what? They are still making progress today! Pastor How told all of us that he hopes to preach in Mandarin one day, currently a daunting task for him. So this year, he plans to pick up Mandarin all over again. But what about you? Are you constantly pushing & challenging yourself? For me, even as a writer, I want to make progress! I want to be able to produce quality articles in a shorter amount of time this year. We got to move up to the next level. We got to have a relentless drive for progress.

The question now is “How?” How do we make progress? Well first of all, we have to turn our experiences, both good and bad, into wisdom. We have to take some time to reflect and evaluate about 2015. What are some of the things we did right? What are some of the things we did wrong? Did we repeat our mistakes? The thing is, mistakes are only mistakes when we make it once. The second or subsequent times we make the same mistake again, it’s no longer a mistake anymore. It is now¬†a decision.

It is okay to make many mistakes, as long as they are different ones! But if we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, it shows that we have not learnt anything from them, and have made a decision to do it again.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert¬†Einstein

In the famous words of Albert Einstein, do not be insane! We can’t just hope for a better year. Hoping doesn’t make the year better or different. I mean, did you suddenly get¬†all your desires¬†when the clock struck twelve on January 1st? Exactly. You see, the¬†world and the people around us rarely change, and most of the time, we have no power to change them too. The only person that we have power to change is ourselves. And it’s only¬†when we change, do we affect change around us.

Next, don’t blame others! When we experience problems or make mistakes, it is easy to put the blame on everyone else except ourselves. But what we do not realize is that blaming others is as good as giving someone else control over our destiny. When we blame others, we will not take responsibility for our wrongdoings, and as a result not change. And when we don’t change, we don’t¬†turn our experiences into wisdom, and without gaining wisdom, we don’t progress.

An example that Pastor How gave is a person who is always late for appointments and meetings. If this person always blames the traffic for his lateness, instead of seeing it as his own fault, he will never change! But if he takes responsibility for his bad habit, he will take the necessary countermeasures against traffic jams, train breakdowns and overcrowded transport. He will leave his house earlier and never be late again! Progress.

Another common example is a student who blames his teacher for bad results. I mean, come on. If we keep blaming others, we are effectively removing power over our own lives and handing it to those people or things that we blame. We become like a weak pawn that can be manipulated by anything and everything. For me, I want to be the master of my own life. I want God to be the Master of my destiny! How about you?

Another way to see if we’ve progressed as a person is to look at our problems. In life, there will always be problems. That is the hard truth, and it is especially true if you’re moving forward. It’s simple physics right?¬†When you¬†want to¬†move something forward, there is always friction. If you¬†don’t want problems, the only way is to sit still and do nothing! So in a way, it’s sort of good when we have problems. The only thing is – have our problems progressed?

Yes, we will always have problems. But if we have truly progressed as people, so will our problems. For example, a boss¬†can have manpower problems in the first year of his company. But if he has this same issue in the fifth, tenth and fifteenth year of his company, what does it show? It shows that he never learned to manage his staff! He never progressed! In the same way, our problems have to progress. Or else, we haven’t learned anything. That boss can have manpower issues in the first year, cash flow difficulties¬†in the fifth, and welfare problems in the tenth; it’s fine! At least he has learned to solve different problems and progressed. Similarly, we got to think what are some areas in our lives that we would like to progress in. Start the year with the end in mind.

2) Make History

P stands for progress, H stands for history. If we make not just progress, but also history in the year 2016, I am sure it will be quite an awesome year to remember. But what defines making history? Well, ask yourself a question.

make-history
“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

Yes! When was the last time you did something for the first time? Making history does not necessarily mean doing something huge. It can be as simple as trying out something new! You’re making history in your own life. You can do something fun, something adventurous; don’t let your inner child die! Learn a new sport, a new language, a new instrument. Have a spirit of adventure and make milestones this year. For me, I am going to attempt to make a Lightsaber video, just for the fun of it! And also, I am going to read my Bible from cover to cover. But what¬†is it for you? Start the year with the end in mind and list down some things you would like to do to make history. Don’t procrastinate¬†and¬†DARE to make history. As an example halfway through his sermon, Pastor How did something fun with all of us in church. He challenged us all to stand on our chairs. Now it may be something easy for you, but for some, it is history-making! Haha.

history-challenge

3) Make a Difference

Last but not least,¬†for all of us¬†to have an incredible¬†year, we got¬†to make a difference. Sure, making progress and making history on a personal level is a good thing. But life ain’t just about ourselves. Life should be about others. What will make 2016 even more significant is¬†us going out there and¬†doing something to love another person. If you have never done something like that before, maybe this is a good year to start. Besides, if you want 2016 to be different, you got to first do something different. If you want something you have never had before, you got to do something you¬†have¬†never done before.

So in summary, let’s get our P.H.D this year. I believe that as all of us make progress, make history, and make a difference, 2016 can¬†be our best year yet. For me and the rest of my friends in Heart of God Church, this is probably already the best year for us. Oh I¬†haven’t told you, have I?¬†Over the past weekend, we just received the best news ever. After many months and even years of waiting, our New Home has finally been approved!

finished

That¬†is why I said this could be my best year yet! I’m so happy to start the year with such a victory and¬†as a matter of fact, we will be¬†moving in very very soon. On the 31st of January, we will be having¬†our¬†opening service in the¬†new premise! It will be super awesome, so I would like to invite you to come join us (though you don’t need to wait till then!). Especially if¬†you have never visited us before, it’s time to make history. Haha, you’ll be blessed. See you soon!