The Movies of Q4 2016

Once again, another quarter of the year is around the corner. And with it, comes many more movies we all want to watch. In fact, I think these next three months could be the most exciting season for movies this year, judging by the amount of movies I am looking forward to. There are in total 12 (the most there has been on my quarterly watch list this year) films that I think would end off 2016 pretty well! Here are the reasons why I am going to the cinema this holiday season between October and the end of December.

The Accountant

This year seems to have been a really busy year for Ben Affleck, in a good way. After appearing in Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, the actor is going to appear in yet another three films in the next one year. More than that, he is going to direct one of it as well as the upcoming Batman movie which he is also starring in. The Accountant will be the latest film to feature his talents as an actor and I think the film has an interesting vibe to it and I can’t wait to see it. Watch the trailer above.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Tom Cruise is back and he still doesn’t look his age. Taking on the role of Jack Reacher once again, he gets involved in what seems to be a conspiracy and must uncover it to clear the name of a friend. From the trailer, I honestly think that we will see one of the coolest cinematic heroes of the year from this movie. That confidence and that skill is just epic.

Doctor Strange

As you all would know, every installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets me pumped. And this is no different for Doctor Strange. What’s more, the cast looks amazing. We have Benedict Cumberbatch, one of my favorite actors playing the titular character! What did we do to deserve this? LOL. But jokes aside, I am excited to see a new hero on the big screen, and the film just feels very different from the rest of the MCU films. I can’t wait to see how it’s going to affect and shift the universe around it.

Hacksaw Ridge

Once in awhile, you get one of those films that teaches you something and inspires you. Hacksaw Ridge looks to be that kind of film. Starring Andrew Garfield, the film tells the true story of Desmond T. Doss, an American soldier who refused to use any weapon or to kill during his service in World War II. I can’t wait to see The Amazing Spider-Man actor once again, but most of all, a movie about staying true to your personal convictions would be something I’ll definitely watch.

Arrival

2016 has so many science-fiction films, I’m not even complaining. If you thought that movies like Independence Day and Star Trek are the last of movies like these that we will see in 2016, you’re wrong. I love Sci-Fi movies and would gladly watch a good one any day. So that is why I am happy to say that there are three more science-fiction films to watch just in these next three months alone! The first one is Arrival, and unlike the action packed spectacles we have seen this year, it looks really different and intriguing.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter was my childhood as much as I know it is for most of you reading this. So you would understand the nostalgia that you get while watching the trailer for Fantastic Beasts right? Especially when the recognizable soundtrack plays? How can we miss this film? It is a spin-off and prequel to one of our favorite stories! Set in the same universe as the Harry Potter series, but in an earlier era, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is probably one of the most anticipated films of the year. Got to catch it!

Moana

Walt Disney Animation Studios are back! It seemed like only yesterday that we were talking about Zootopia, and now we have another Disney animated film on the horizon. But I am happy though. It is like a blessing to have two Disney animated films in one year alone. What’s more, it seems that Disney has been doing a consistently good job with their recent animated features. From Frozen to Big Hero 6 to Zootopia, all of these films were so different in concept and plot, yet Disney delivered. I believe that Moana will be the same. New idea, new story, new princess and The Rock. What could go wrong?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The exciting movies just keep coming and coming, doesn’t it? We have Marvel, Disney, Harry Potter and now we have Star Wars. What a crazy last quarter of the year it will be. Rogue One¬†tells A Star Wars Story that takes place between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars saga. If you’re a fan of Star Wars like me, you would know what I am talking about. If not, go watch some Star Wars. You know not how exciting life as a Star Wars fan has been since The Force Awakens last year. And the best thing is that it’ll continue for years to come.

Collateral Beauty

Imagine being able to meet Love, Time & Death as actual people and having a conversation with them. How would your life change? This movie explores that idea and looks really profound; the trailer gave me the chills. If there is a movie that I will watch this Christmas season (other than Star Wars), it will be this one. Love the cast, love the ideas and love the setting. A must-watch for me.

Assassin’s Creed

To all the gamers out there, I know this is one movie you’re looking forward to. Personally, I enjoyed Warcraft earlier this year, so I’m hoping that Assassin’s Creed will be good too or even better! This will be my second time seeing Michael Fassbender this year after X-Men: Apocalypse, and I am looking forward to seeing a cool performance from him as well. To the general crowd, yes, Assassin’s Creed is a video game. And now, it’s going to become a movie too.

Sing

Disney isn’t the only one that are releasing two animated movies this year. The makers of Despicable Me who are most recently known for The Secret Life of Pets, are going to give us another treat in the world of animations. Sing looks to be a movie about chasing your dreams and has a lot of singing too! It’s like The X Factor with animated animals and a story. Haha, looks like we are going to be occupied with animated films this holiday – Moana on Thanksgiving and Sing on Christmas.

Passengers

Remember what I said just now about science-fiction films? Here’s another one, and probably the last one that will be released this year in the Sci-Fi genre. While Arrival has a mysterious and dramatic feel to it, and Rogue One feels big and epic, Passengers comes in to offer a different taste of a science-fiction thriller. Starring beloved actors Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, it seems to be one heck of a ride. And honestly, if this is the last film I will watch this year, I don’t think I’ll mind at all.

So what do you think? Isn’t the last quarter of 2016 the highlight in terms of movies? Let me know what movies you would include in your “must-watch” list!

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Father’s Day

Hi readers! According to WordPress and my “deliberate” calculations, this is my 50th post on Fool’s Bench since its start almost nine months ago! So today as I write this milestone post, I realized two things. One, it’s Father’s Day. Two, I have probably been talking too much to all of you guys and should let someone else do the talking. ūüėĄ

And that is exactly what I’m going to do today. Because Pastor How has also just released a short article through his website! There is no better or more appropriate time than now to share his words with all of you.

More than just being a pastor of my church, Pastor How is a spiritual father to me. Growing up all these years without a father figure in my life, I’ve always felt empty on this day. But all of that changed after I came to Heart of God Church, where I met the best spiritual parents and my heavenly Father – Jesus Christ.

Now, I no longer feel any lack or insecurity on this day. I am eternally grateful to my God and my pastors who are always there for me. In fact, every year, Pastor How will encourage and affirm every person in Heart of God Church who does not have a father or a father figure in their lives! I am one of them; and today, I want to dedicate this post to Pastor How and share with all of you the letter that he wrote to us one year ago.

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Happy Father’s Day. :)

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

Monthly Recap: November 2015

Hi everyone! Happy December! It’s the start of the last month of the year,¬†so what better time than now to have another monthly¬†recap right? Hahaha. So without further ado, here are all the content released on Fool’s Bench in the month of November.

1) For Fun

RL

MGMW

2) For Laughter

OPM

3) For Creativity

FIAF

4) For Christ

AF

OOFON

TG2015

That’s all for the month of November!¬†Hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll see you again soon in this exciting month.

To My Pastors & Leaders – Thanksgiving 2015

Hi everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

Now I know what some of you Singaporean readers are thinking. “We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving!” Yeah I know! But I just thought that it’s a great opportunity for me to use this day to share with all of you some people in my life that I am really thankful for. Besides, you guys aren’t the only readers out there right? Haha!

On top of that, Thanksgiving always¬†falls on a Thursday! And in case you haven’t noticed, I post usually on either Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. So without further ado, let me begin to share with all of you some really awesome people in my life. And specifically, just 2 groups of them.

The first group of people that I am really thankful for are my leaders in Heart of God Church. Wise, sharp, inspiring, spiritual, anointed, patient, joyful, kind, encouraging, loving – there’s just too many great words to describe our leaders in church! These people who are full of character never fail to watch out for us in every single area of our lives, be it in our school, work, relationships, emotional health, spiritual health, (or even) physical health! In our valley-lows and our mountain-highs, they are always there to bring strength and affirmation.

Personally, I have quite a few leaders that have sown into my life. But today, I’ll be talking about one of them as a prime example, just to show you why we love our leaders so much. Hmm, let me just call her “Catherine”, since this is a surprise mention and I don’t really know if she’s comfortable with me revealing her identity! And nope, I’m not talking about the Duchess of Cambridge here. LOL.

Anyway if you know me, you would know how passionate I am in creating videos. In fact, I serve in the Videos Ministry in Heart of God Church! And personally, I have huge dreams of serving God in this area in the future. So knowing that, Catherine always encourages me and the “creative bunch” in our Connect Group to never stop dreaming and working towards our dreams!¬†But earlier this year, she decided to go beyond her words to show just how much she believes in us.

One day, Catherine dropped some of us a text and asked us out for a day at the Dreamworks Exhibiton, which ran for a period of time at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. Of course, as an animation enthusiast myself, I immediately agreed! So on the Friday of July 31st, Catherine and us the creative bunch visited the Dreamworks Exhibition.

I was really¬†excited on my way to the ArtScience Museum and really looked forward to what the exhibition had in stored for us that day. I was a little late though because of school. But it didn’t matter! The rest had lunch, bought the tickets and were just at the entrance as I reached. There, our little adventure into a world of imagination began.

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The overarching theme of the exhibition was “From sketch to screen.” It showcased¬†every single stage of the production process for¬†our beloved animated movies such as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar,¬†Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon. From storyboarding, to modelling, to music composition and to world-building, every stage was equally important. But more than just seeing the importance of every stage, I was just so amazed and inspired by the level of detail that Dreamworks Animation Studios was at. I told myself that in the future, our church will do great productions like this too. Just that for us, we we will be¬†glorifying God!

We truly enjoyed ourselves that day. Every single one of us. We covered every corner of the exhibition, took a lot of pictures and even bought¬†souvenirs for memory’s sake! But it wasn’t until the end that I found out the true purpose of this trip. As we left the museum, I recalled that because I was late initially, I haven’t paid for my ticket to the exhibition. Knowing that Catherine and some of them paid for our tickets first, I approached her to ask her how much it cost.

But to my surprise, she told me that I just needed to return to her a portion of the ticket price. She went on to tell me¬†what she explained previously to the rest while I was on the way. She¬†said that she really believed in my¬†dreams and that as she gave to pay for a portion of my¬†ticket’s cost, it was a sign of her faith in them. She believed that as she sowed¬†into my¬†dreams, one day they will come to pass. As a matter of fact, she paid for a portion of all the tickets of everyone who were there¬†that day. She told us all that as we went for the Dreamworks Exhibition, we must also know that our dreams will work out too in the end. THAT has got to be¬†one of the most inspirational puns I’ve ever heard, haha.

Jokes aside, Catherine’s actions just blew me away, more than any exhibition could. It is one thing to say that you believe in someone, and another to do something and make a little sacrifice to show just how much you mean it. That was what I caught that day, more than all the inspiration and creativity.

Today, I am so thankful for leaders in Heart of God Church like Catherine, who constantly cheers us on¬†to pursue big dreams for God. And she is just ONE of the hundreds of leaders who have made a difference in this place! I’ve witnessed leaders loving their members in so many ways. Some have been a¬†great listening ear in dark times,¬†others¬†have helped people to overcome their addictions,¬†¬†and there’s those that have financially blessed the ones that are in lack. And these aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. So if you’re a leader in Heart of God Church today, or if “Catherine” you are reading this, I just want to say that I appreciate you and love you for who you are.

So that’s the first group of people that I really wanted to talk about! The second group of people that I want to thank on this day are well, two people actually. Every Christian in Heart of God Church would have either seen them¬†or¬†heard them. Some¬†may¬†even know them personally, especially all the leaders above! Haha, it’s¬†obvious who I’m talking about, isn’t it? Of course, it’s our beloved Senior Pastors – Pastor How and Pastor Lia!

pastor-how
Pastor Tan Seow How
pastor-lia
Pastor Cecilia Chan

Pastor Tan Seow How and Pastor Cecilia Chan are not just the founders of Heart of God Church, but our spiritual parents. You will know¬†in awhile, but the reason why all of us can do what we’re doing today, be it in ministry, leadership (as mentioned above), having big dreams for God, or even the simple fact that we have a place to¬†know Jesus and have a relationship with Him is because they first started¬†Heart of God Church. Without them, I wouldn’t even be here writing this to you today! And Catherine, the creative bunch, and all my friends in church would have also not stepped into God’s destiny for them.

That is why today, I want to thank the both of them for first giving their all to build this House. Some of you may not know or realize this, but Heart of God Church has never been built by the brilliance of one man, the wealth of the people or the abilities of a talented bunch. The church started with just 9 youths; our beginnings were humble. But I believe that Heart of God Church has always been built on teamwork, a heart that puts God first and a belief that He will use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. And it all started from our Pastors. The classic stories are the ones we will never forget.

Back in the day, as soon as Pastors felt God calling them to build Heart of God Church, they immediately obeyed. But obviously, this obedience would take some tough choices. For¬†Pastor How, he had to choose between building the church or assisting his father in his business. It’s clear which is the easier path. Along with that, his father even challenged him that if he were to drop his idea of becoming a pastor, he would give him not a quarter of, not a half of, but a full¬†$1 million.

Of course, you know what Pastor How chose to do. But with¬†that in mind, you must also know that it didn’t mean his relationship with his father was compromised. In fact, years later, Pastor How even led his father¬†to Christ!¬†Today, Pastor How has also taken over his father’s business and is both a successful businessman and the¬†pastor of our¬†church.

As for Pastor Lia, it wasn’t easy too. She was working as a journalist¬†and loved her job! Then the call from¬†God came, and it came just as she was going to be promoted and given a bonus. But here’s the thing.¬†Pastor Lia loved¬†her job, but she loved God even more and decided to obey Him immediately, giving up the promotion, the bonus and the job.

At that point in time, their actions must have seemed so foolish and crazy to the people around them. But because they obeyed God and wanted to encounter Him on a deeper level in their lives, we have a Heart of God Church today that is not only impacting all levels of society, but all walks of life. It is also without doubt that that many lives have been changed, and are still being changed by God as a result of Pastor How & Pastor Lia first sacrificing and putting God first in their lives.

But more than that,¬†they also put others¬†before themselves, and are constantly having people on their minds. For example, when they are on vacation, they would always see certain books or clothes or gifts and be reminded of somebody in church! Knowing that this certain thing¬†would bless that person, they would buy that gift and when they are back, love him/her¬†with it. And this isn’t all!

Every year, during Fathers’ Day, Pastor How¬†would write cards and get simple gifts¬†prepared for all the members in our church who do not have a father¬†figure in their lives. Some of them may have lost their fathers at birth or at¬†a¬†young age due to different reasons. Others may have parents who are divorced. And Pastor How would just want to just affirm every single one of them and point them towards their Heavenly Father. In fact, I myself experience¬†this because I am one of them!

And for Pastor Lia, she would do the same too every year for those who do not have a mother figure in their lives. No matter how busy they are, our pastors remember people and love them. They could be preaching 4 services that weekend, but nothing would stop them from being others-centered and caring for the people. Truly, our pastors don’t only preach on stage. They live out the Word of God and genuinely care for, and want to know every single one of us.¬†This is why I said they are our spiritual parents!

Even up till today as the church is starting to grow bigger, they still try to get to know every new person. This is because they believe that even as the church grows bigger in size, it must feel smaller and closer as a family. There was once when a youth in our church bumped into Pastor Lia in the washroom. Not only did Pastor Lia talk to her and find out more about her, but she even took a photo of her, uploaded it onto Instagram and encouraged her through the social medium. She said that she will be a leader of hundreds and change her world. Until today, that youth still remembers that act fondly and is indeed growing and serving in church.

That is just ONE of many things our pastors¬†have personally done for people¬†over the years! Oh and have I mentioned before that they are very hardworking people? They never fail to give their best to God no matter what. One more story. There was once when Pastor How was playing soccer with some of the leaders in our church when all of a sudden, he fell down. It turned out that he actually pulled a ligament in his leg. All the leaders were so worried and immediately helped him to get to the doctor’s.

There, Pastor How got a cast on his leg and had to use crutches to get around until¬†he recovers. But here’s the catch – he was supposed to preach that very weekend. I think¬†all of us would guess¬†that he would have asked¬†Pastor Lia or one of the senior leaders to take his place. But that wasn’t the case. That weekend, with crutches, he went up on stage, took a seat and preached the Word of God with his best. Do you now see why we respect our pastors¬†so much?¬†The reason why the leaders and myself can be who we are today, is because we have great pastors as our role models. We model after them as they model after Christ.

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Last but not least, I love my pastors for their simplicity.

“We know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
We know the price of a house but not the value of a home.
We know the price of dinner but not the value of fellowship.
Our children know the price of an iPhone but not the value of communication.”¬†

– Pastor How

In Pastor How’s recent article, My Answer to Prosperity Theology, he talked about how he and Pastor Lia have decided to live simply.¬†For 20 years since their marriage, Pastors have lived in probably the cheapest neighborhood in Woodlands.¬†Pastor How explains why:

“In the early years, that‚Äôs what we could afford.¬† But now we can easily move to a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood.¬† The first reason for choosing to live simply is our personal covenant with God.¬† Inspired by the words of Haggai 1:4, we made a commitment to build God‚Äôs house first, then build our own house. ¬†So perhaps after Heart of God Church moves into our new Home, then I will move my home closer to church.”

“The second reason for choosing to live simply is our decision to give one million dollars to our church‚Äôs Building Fund a few years ago.¬† Pastor Lia received a big insurance payout because of her cancer.¬† Together with profits from my business and all of the insurance money, we took that leap of faith.”

Yes, in case you didn’t know, Pastor How & Pastor Lia did¬†give $1 million to the church in 2012. I was there¬†and I¬†witnessed that significant event. But it’s interesting isn’t it? How God sees our sacrifices and honors them? If you remember,¬†$1 million was exactly what Pastor How gave up¬†back then to start the church. But¬†now, after being faithful to building¬†God’s house for so many years and also¬†with¬†a habit of saving, Pastor How is able¬†to¬†give $1 million to the church together with Pastor Lia.

You see,¬†God never shortchanges us. When we take Him seriously, He will take us seriously.¬†But what I am also really amazed with here are¬†Pastors’s attitude towards blessings. Whenever they are blessed in their lives, instead of keeping everything to themselves, they are always found pouring these¬†blessings back into the church, just like how they poured back $1 million back into Heart of God Church. And they always say this:

“When God blesses you financially, it is not just to raise your standard of living but your standard of giving.”

Yup, so that’s my pastors and leaders for you!¬†Just thought of really taking this day to really appreciate them and give them double honor.

17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. Р1 Timothy 5:17

I also think that having a spirit and heart of thankfulness is really important. People tend to complain a lot when they’re not thankful. But in Christ and in thankfulness, we can be different. I shall end off today’s post with one last verse.

“12¬†Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13¬†bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14¬†But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15¬†And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12-15

Thank you for reading.

The Movies of Fall/Holiday 2015

Just to Share: I know it’s already a little into Fall season right now in terms of movies, but better late than never right? Haha so without further ado, here are some movies I am personally looking forward to for the remainder of the year!

1. The Martian

Remember me saying previously that I have a thing or two for science-fiction? Yup, that was enough to get me interested in this movie. And of course, it looks really good with an interesting fresh plot. Based on the novel of the same name, we will be brought on a journey to Mars where an astronaut gets stranded on, finding means to survive while his crew mates on Earth struggle to return and rescue him. Seems like the kind of movie that would be engaging from start to finish.

2. Pan

Childhood fantasies will be relived this October when a new origin story is birthed forth on the big screen for Peter Pan. I mean seriously, the last time I watched a Peter Pan film, I was only 7 years-old! And like I said, I would always love a good movie about adventure. But that’s not the only thing that I’m looking forward to in the movie. I’m also looking forward to Hugh Jackman’s performance as Blackbeard, which so far, looks oddly interesting.

3. Goosebumps

Just as we were on the topic of fantasy, here comes another one in the genre, mixed with comedy and fun. Goosebumps totally reminds me of those Scooby-Doo movies that I used to enjoy as a kid! But honestly, I just want to see what this movie has to offer in terms of story too. Also, it’s been some time since I watched a film featuring monsters on the loose (not referring to those scary ones). So if it’s good, why not?

4. Spectre

Let’s change frequencies a little. 2015 has been a year of spy flicks, with the likes of Kingsman, Mission Impossible and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But one of the most renowned agents, 007 is returning to bring a conclusion to spy films for the year. Well, at least from what I know, there aren’t anymore big ones coming out! And for the most of it, the James Bond films starring Daniel Craig have received great reviews so far, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. That is, after I’ve finished watching the previous installments first.

5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Talking about movie franchises that I need to catch up on, it reminds me of The Hunger Games. But having watched none of its previous installments, I’m already hyped up for Mockingjay Part 2 by this trailer haha. Still, there’s no way I am stepping into the cinema without first finding time to watch the first 3 films! Being one of those movies that first kicked off the trend of films based on young adult novels, I’m confident this last installment in the series would give fans an epic conclusion that will not disappoint.

6. The Good Dinosaur

Pixar. The animation studio that has brought us Inside Out, my favorite film of the year so far, is going to bring us into a world where dinosaurs roam the Earth alongside Man. With Inside Out being such a great success both critically and commercially, it makes me both excited and worried for The Good Dinosaur. With 2 movies released in a year, and having the first one being so successful, people are going to have high hopes for the second one. So much so that it may not meet up to their expectations. But for me, I’m going to have faith in Pixar that they’ll deliver once again. Just look at how beautiful the film looks from the trailer!

7. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

Probably the last big animation film of the year (that I know of); Blue Sky Studios are bringing the art style of the Peanuts comic strip into the larger canvas of a feature film. I’m always up for a good animation film and so far, the look and the animations of this movie looks really interesting. You can tell it’s not just your usual 3D animations, but with a blend of “hand-drawn style” animations as well. I’m seeing it as the kind of movie I would watch with some of my younger cousins & some popcorn during the holidays. How about you?

8. In the Heart of the Sea

Not the most edifying movie to watch I must say, with the kind of “disaster at sea” that it portrays. But I have a feeling it will be a great movie still in terms of plot, acting and visual effects. I’m especially looking forward to Chris Hemsworth’s performance outside of his role as a superhero in The Avengers. And did you know that this movie is directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Rush)? There’s great potential in this movie turning out to be phenomenal.

9. The Revenant

Academy Award¬ģ winner Alejandro G. I√Ī√°rritu is back in the director’s seat after his 2014 film Birdman won the Oscar for Best Picture earlier this year. This time, it seems to be yet another Oscar-worthy film. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, The Revenant feels like a really intense and immersive film. According to reports, the making of the film had gone way over-budget and over-schedule because of certain ways the director wanted it to be shot. It seemed bad but I’m also looking forward to seeing the results of his decisions & everyone’s hard work on set. Who knows? Maybe DiCaprio can finally win an Oscar through this.

10. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

You’ve probably guessed this last movie that I’m most looking forward to right now, haven’t you? Hahaha everyone is looking forward to it! The Force is strong, but the hype for this is even stronger. I watched Star Wars as a kid, and I must say that when I watched the trailer above, just hearing the opening music alone brought chills to my spine. The rest of the trailer did what it set out to do – making us want to watch it again & again until the movie comes out. Oh, and it reminded me to go watch all Episodes 1-6 one more time. Soon I’ll be ready! Going to the cinemas this Christmas will feel magical.

Well, it always seems that my lists of “anticipated things” always ends up being a list of 10. But that wraps up all the movies that I’m really hoping to watch this Fall/Holiday. Hopefully I can suck out all the creative juices that they have to offer too. Haha, thanks for reading.