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 – 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!

What Heart of God Church Means to Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. “found Somebody that gave up everything,”

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

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

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

The answer is Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

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

Of course, that was only the beginning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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