Arise

Based on a sermon by Pastor How.

“The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.” – ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭14:2-3‬

Through the ages, God has always been looking for that one man or woman. He constantly searches for that one person who would rise up to make a difference in their generation. Just one is all God needs. Though not many, there are heroes throughout history who have answered His call.

Today, God continues His search. He looks at our schools, workplaces, army camps, communities, businesses, and even social media for the ones who would make a difference in this generation. It’s time for us to arise.

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” ‭‭- Ezekiel‬ ‭22:30‬ ‭

God is just looking for one! One can make a difference. However, there is a short universal supply of young men and women who will seek God and hear His call. We can be the ones to do so. Instead of thinking it’s someone else or anyone else, why not think it’s no one else… but us?

There is great need around us in these times. And only the love & power of God displayed through us can comfort and restore hope in the people around us.

“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.” – Genesis 2:4-6

In the Bible, rain speaks about revival. God wants to send “rain” into our classrooms, offices, homes and lives. He wants to bring love, joy, peace, faith, miracles and reconciliation, among many other things into our midst!

However, God does not send the rain when there is no man to till the ground and do the hard work. Instead, He sends a mist. A mist is nice, but it’s nothing like rain. So the question is – do we only just want a mist in our lives? Or do we want to experience a rain too?

Don’t be satisfied with just a mist, reader. Arise! Arise to serve, lead and pray. If there is no one to take care of a harvest when it comes, it will all rot and perish! In the same way, if there is no one taking care of a revival when it comes, it will fade away.

God is waiting for us to rise up. If nobody is going to do anything, let us do something. Around us, people are hurting, dissatisfied with their lives, struggling with insecurities, trying to find a meaning for their existence; the list goes on and on.

All they need is for someone to rise up, love them and point them to Christ. Of course, it might not be easy all the time. But with God, all things are possible. He wants to change history and the world through us.

Maybe we won’t change the world as how heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. did. But we can change our world and make a difference wherever we are. It all starts with one. With one, God can multiply.

I believe the church that I belong to already existed in Heaven and in God’s imagination a long time ago. But before it became a reality, He was waiting for someone to rise up. And my pastors did. They worked hard, believed in the next generation and loved people despite their flaws. Even today, their heart for God and for others remain the same.

That’s why God sent the rain. That’s why I have a church now to call Home. That’s why I’m here writing to you today. So if you want great change, miracles and revivals to happen in your life and around you, arise. Seek God & His direction and go.

Never think that you are not good enough to do something significant. Here’s one last verse to encourage you.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” – ‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭

Even though the apostles Peter and John were presumably uneducated and untrained, they could still make a difference! The Bible even mentioned that God impacted 5000 people through them.

What does that mean for us today? It means that it doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, you can make a difference. It doesn’t matter whether you have a diploma, a degree or a PHD, you can make a difference. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in church for a year or 5 years, or if you see yourself as trained or as a leader, it all doesn’t matter! As long as you are with Jesus, He will be with you and you can do anything.

So what are you waiting for? Arise.

Advertisements

Dreams

Dreams. There are so many kinds of them. There are the ones that you get while taking a nap in class and the kinds that you get when you get woken up by your teacher. What’s the word for that again? Oh, I believe it’s called a “nightmare”. 😛

Then there are those that you see in movies, you know? The kind that you struggle to understand? *cue Inception music* 😄 But what about those that you’re having right now as you’re reading this? Maybe you have a dream, and it’s not the kind that you have while sleeping. Instead, it’s the kind that keeps you from sleeping, because you’re just too excited about them.

Well, a wise man I know once said, “if you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it.” I have dreams too. And if there is something I’ve learned from the Bible, my Pastors and the history of my church, it is that dreams require patience, hard work and faith. But believe me, dreams do come true.

We just have to allow ourselves to go through a journey with our dreams! Let’s look at Joseph in the Bible as an example. From his story, we can learn that the journey of a dream goes through 5 stages – birth, delay, death, resurrection and fulfillment.

1. Birth

Joseph had a dream. He knew in his heart that one day, he will be an official, much like the Prime Ministers of our modern day. Do you have a dream? If not, get one and hold on to it.

Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.” – Genesis 37:5

2. Delay

Soon after Joseph told his brothers about the dream that he had, they got jealous of him. They threw him into a pit and sold him away as a slave. Because of this, Joseph’s dream got delayed for many years. Though most of us here will not be sold as slaves or anything like that, we must not be discouraged by delays and frustrations that will come when we chase after our dreams. Dreams do not come to pass overnight!

“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.” – Genesis 39:20

3. Death

You might think that having our dreams delayed is bad enough, but more often than we would like, our dreams get dashed too. Joseph after becoming a slave stayed a man of character and honor. However, he was thrown into jail! That must have been the lowest moment of his life. He must have felt that his dreams were no more.

We might go through seasons when we doubt ourselves, when things just don’t seem to go the way we intended it to. We might even go through a huge setback like Joseph, and feel like our dreams are dead. But you know what? God will use these times to train us and build us in our character. We will learn to fight discouragements. Dream on!

4. Resurrection

As we keep our character and our dreams, God will remember them. Don’t forget that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life. He was crucified and killed, but He didn’t stay dead. He rose again on the third day! The problem with life is that it is has a way of killing our dreams. Sometimes, we just let our dreams die and stay dead. We must know that just like the God that we serve, our dreams will also be revived as long as we keep the faith.

If you feel that your dreams are dead right now, don’t stop believing. Stay true to your character and stay true to God. Joseph, despite being left in jail, continued to keep his heart pure and even cared for others enough that he would interpret their dreams for them. I believe it is because of the way that he responded to the death of his dream, that God revived it.

5. Fulfillment

And most of you would know the story. Eventually, Joseph helped to interpret the dream of Pharaoh and was promoted to become the Prime Minister of ancient Egypt. You know what we can learn from this? It is that when we make the dreams of others come true, God will see our character & heart and make our dreams come true.

So what is your dream? If you have a dream, go tell somebody about it. Find people who will encourage you, cheer you on, and even help you fulfill that dream. If you don’t have a dream, get one! And get a big one. Dreams will change the way you think, the way you act and the way you live. Dreams will change your life. I have a dream, and it is for this dream that I wake up every morning full of joy and full of purpose; it keeps me going.

Dream on, reader! 😉

Heroes

As soon as the word “hero” pops up, a few individuals/characters would come to your mind. If you’re a DC fan, you would probably be thinking Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. If you’re a Marvelite, I would guess Captain America, Iron Man or Spider-Man would be some of many heroes that you will think of.

Or you could possibly be leaning towards more of Japanese manga and anime type heroes such as Goku, Naruto or One Punch Man? All the gamers here would probably mention protagonists such as Link, Master Chief or Nathan Drake. How about all the Trekkies out there? Maybe Captain Kirk and Mr Spock are your favorite heroes? Star Trek Beyond is awesome by the way; go watch it if you haven’t!

And of course for all the Star Wars fans reading this, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or even Darth Vader would be your go-to in terms of heroic figures. Or perhaps you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, James Bond, Indiana Jones, The Hunger Games😄

The list goes on and on and on. And it seems like there is no end to the number of characters we can think of in the fictional world who all share common heroic traits! But today, these are not the heroes I want to talk about. And neither am I going to talk about famous real life people in history who have done heroic things that made the world a better place.

Because while the first heroes we are reminded of are always the ones that are strong, intelligent, charismatic, confident, has a unique look and personality, has a special set of abilities, had great adventures and fights evil, I want to look at another type of hero apart from the ones we are familiar with, a type that might possibly point towards a certain reader looking at this post right now – the unlikely hero.

For all the Christians here, we read the Bible and we see the men of God who has lived before us. And if we want to talk about heroes, you would immediately think of great men like David who slayed giants, men like Moses who parted the Red Sea, and men like Paul who spread the Gospel far and wide.

And sometimes we can focus so much on their heroic deeds that we forget that actually, many of the great men chosen by God didn’t start out that great at all. David was young and inexperienced, Moses couldn’t even speak properly and Paul was anti-Christian! These men were all (less than) ordinary and were the most unlikely to be used by God for His purpose and yet God still picked them. See? Unlikely heroes.

Another unlikely hero in the Bible is a man named Gideon. And you must be thinking “who is this guy?” or “what does he have that God would choose him to be His hero?” Well I guess by now you wouldn’t be surprised, but honestly he didn’t really have much! In fact, all he had to offer when God sent an angel to him are these 4 things: worries, insecurities, doubts and fears! 😛

Haha if you don’t believe me, you can take a look at the scriptures in Judges 6:11-24. It is clearly written that Gideon asked questions in worry and doubt and didn’t even believe that God was there with him when an angel was literally standing in front of him. It is almost hilarious just reading all that.

But jokes aside, maybe some of you who are reading this are feeling the exact 4 things that Gideon was feeling. You can totally relate to him. Maybe deep down on the inside you know that the life you’re living now isn’t all there is to life. Maybe you feel that you are meant for greater things. Or maybe God Himself has even given you a great dream and a vision.

No matter what it is, you are hesitant to follow your heart, to chase after your dreams or to obey God. You ask yourself questions in worry, insecurity, doubt and fear. “What if I fail? How can it be that God has called me? Why would He choose me? Am I really strong, intelligent, charismatic, confident, good-looking, talented, experienced and holy enough to be used by God?”

Well, if you are having thoughts similar to the ones above and completely understand Gideon’s feelings, I have great news for you. You are a person with an incredibly high potential of becoming a hero for God, albeit an unlikely one. 😉

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27

Here’s the thing. God doesn’t see the way we do, He doesn’t see the way the world does. We might have tons of worries, but God doesn’t. We just got to learn to listen to His voice and obey it. In reference to the previous scriptures in Judges 6, God didn’t even take Gideon’s worries into account and just told him to rescue Israel from its enemies! We just have to see from God’s perspective and His word will triumph over our worries.

To us, we might think that we are not the heroic type and don’t have much to offer in terms of making a difference in the world. We might feel insecure even and disqualify ourselves from becoming the person that God has created us to be. But God sees beyond all that. He sees beyond all the insecurity – a hero within. He would rather pick a person that seems to have nothing but is humble, than another who has everything and is boastful.

It’s interesting how the angel of God addresses Gideon as a “mighty hero” even before he has done anything heroic. We might not see anything mighty or heroic about ourselves, but I believe that God is seeing a mighty hero within us just as He did in Gideon. Humans might only see problems in their lives, but God sees otherwise. We see our problems but God sees our potential.

What else? Maybe today you are doubting God. You doubt the dreams, visions and promises He has placed in you. Or maybe you doubt yourself. You doubt that you have the ability to do anything significant. It doesn’t matter, just know this. Our doubts do not deny God’s divinity.

Just like how the law of gravity, no matter how much you try to doubt it, cannot be denied, God is the same. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Our doubts cannot change the fact that He is real and has chosen us to be His unlikely heroes.

But maybe even after knowing all that, you still fear what’s to come. You know what, if you need peace, just invite God into your life and whatever situation that you’re in. Because God doesn’t just bring peace, He is peace.

“So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.” – Judges 6:27

So how did Gideon become a hero despite everything he was feeling and the low chances he had? He took a leap of faith. You see, faith isn’t the absence of worries, insecurities, doubts or fears. Faith is having the courage and desire to see from God’s perspective and to make a move forward despite all that. Read the verse above, it is clear that Gideon was still afraid when he obeyed God’s command! But it didn’t stop him.

Today no matter what stands against you, take the leap of faith. God is looking for more unlikely heroes in our generation. You can be one of them.

If you don’t yet know Jesus, take that first leap of faith to believe in Him. I can’t talk about heroes without mentioning the true superhero of the world – Jesus Christ. He was sent to our world to save us from our sins. He died for us and rose again to give us an abundant life, a life where anything is possible – including becoming heroes. But we got to first have faith and believe.

Truly in God, heroes can rise out of the most unlikeliest of places.

[Inspired by The Unlikely Hero, a sermon by Garrett Lee of Heart of God Church.]

Pain

Pain. It is something that can come in many forms. It could come in the form of a sickness or a discomfort; you know the kind of feeling that you get when you have a fever or the sore that you have after exercising for the first time in a long while? Or how about that sensation that you feel at your fingertips after playing the guitar for an hour? Accidentally stubbing your toe against something? That’s pain.

Yet beyond all that, we know that pain can also come in less physical forms of disappointments, discouragements and rejections. I’m sure that you and I have had a fair share of all that. But I guess only those who has been in pain will understand it. And only those who understand pain can relate to those who are hurting.

So in a sense, could God use our current pain for a future purpose? Because it is true that we connect to others not by our strengths, but through our weaknesses; that we relate to others not by our personal gains in life but by our personal pains in life. So maybe God can use our pain for a greater purpose – if we have the right perspective and allow Him to do so.

Besides, if there is one Person that we should use as the ultimate example of pain with a purpose, it is Jesus Christ! He was nailed to the cross for the remission of our sins. He was betrayed, He was tortured, He was humiliated, He was abandoned. He went through the most physical, emotional and spiritual pains and suffered more than any of us just so we can be set free. Yet after all these things, He is perfect, He is alive and He is all powerful.

Maybe right now as you’re reading this, you’re in the midst of a painful season in your life. Never think that no one understands your pain. Because even if the people around you don’t, Christ does.

Before I conclude this last post for the week, let me just say one final thing. Pain never lasts. Sometimes it feels like forever, sometimes it might even really take forever to subside. But trust in God and one day sooner or later, He will bring you through it. Jesus came to loose the chains of eternal pain in our lives, and essentially also – eternal death. Of course, I pray that as much as possible, you do not experience pain in your life. But if it does happen, have faith.

And also, remember that there is always the possibility that your pain could have a purpose. At times, your pain can even make you stronger. Out of painful experiences, victors can be made. Go ask any Olympics champion if winning was ever easy. I think we all know the answer. Pain can either drain you, or train you. Choose what it does.

The Test Continues

After 2 weeks of making an impact in Europe, my pastor is finally back home with us! And in case you do not yet know, Pastor How is currently on a new series – The Character Test, which will continue with a second part this weekend. Here are some clips from Part 1 if you missed it:

Enjoyed what you just watched? Well, those were only snippets of the message that we heard 3 weeks ago! And the good news is you can hear the next part for yourself in person. Visit Heart of God Church this weekend and experience it for yourself! 😉

The Character Test: Part 1

“Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted.” – Alfred Adler

That was the quote Pastor How used to begin his sermon last weekend. He was starting a new series on character because it is one of our most important assets as human beings. And just as Billy Graham once said:

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” – Billy Graham

But how do we know if we truly have character? How do we know if it is lacking in some areas and we have to make a change for the better? Well, we just have to put it to the test and we will know. That is why this series is called The Character Test. There are a set of tests that we can put ourselves through, and by how we respond to these tests, we will have a clearer picture of our character. Our responses reveal the real us!

character-test

And it is so important for us to know our own character and the character of the people around us because all relationships are based on trust – every relationship. So if you have even a tinge of doubt about a person’s character, your relationship with him/her will be affected! This applies to God too! If we don’t know His character enough because we don’t read His Word enough or we don’t spend time with Him enough, then we will doubt even our perfect Heavenly Father!

And just like every relationship we have in life, our relationship with God is also based on trust; and trust is based on truth. If a person is always full of lies and deception, you will never trust him, would you? But because there is truth in our God, we can trust in Him and have a relationship with Him.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

Now I must say at this point that this message isn’t for us to judge others and criticize their character; this is for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and become people of character. Because the depth of a relationship depends on the depth of trust present in that relationship! As much as we would like to have great friends, teammates, colleagues, bosses or even one day marry a person of character, we must first become a workmate, an employee, a leader, a friend and a person of character.

So how do we know if we are people of character and truth? We got to put ourselves through the following tests; because character is revealed by…

1. How we respond to failure

We are all humans, we are imperfect. And sometimes we make mistakes and fail terribly. But what do we do from there? That defines our character. Because we can either make progress and learn from our failures or make excuses and push the blame. It’s one or the other, we can’t do both!

So don’t push the blame to others, because we empower whoever we blame. If we blame someone else for our failures, we give them control over our lives & our destiny! If we blame the devil, we give him power. But if we take responsibility for our own actions, we will be able to control our lives and grow our character for the better! Because taking responsibility is the beginning of change, which will lead to progress.

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” – Genesis 3:12-13

Of course, it is not easy to take the blame. As seen in the scripture above, it is our human nature to blame. So we got to go against the human nature to be a man of character. That’s one way we can identify a person of character, when we observe him/her when they go through failures and mistakes.


#2 How we respond to success

“Don’t let success get to your head; don’t let failure get to your heart.”

You know, failure isn’t the only way that the devil can get to you. If the devil can’t get to you through failure, he will try to get to you by success. Success is a great thing, but we must guard our hearts and our minds when we are at the mountain tops. Because the danger of success is complacency and pride.

For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.” – Proverbs 1:32 (NLT)

For us Christians, we must always remember to give glory back to God. Staying humble is so important because our talents, abilities, opportunities and education can get us to the top, but only our character keeps us at the top. So to see if a person has character, just look at him/her when they attain success!


#3 How we respond to temptation

Put it simply, if we cannot resist ice cream, we cannot resist the devil. 😄 Haha, I know it sounds funny but it’s true! If we can’t resist the everyday temptations of our lives, we will not be able to do great things. Ice cream is mostly just a harmless and relatable example that Pastor How is giving us, but it gives us a good illustration about character.

Because we need to have a characteristic of delayed gratification – the ability to resist what you want now in order to have what you want most. So for example, if you want to lose weight, you have to resist the temptation of eating your favorite ice cream! Or if you want to be successful one day, you got to resist having fun all the time and instead spend more time on studying and acquiring knowledge & wisdom! That is also how we can have character!


#4 Time

“In the short term, people are won over by charisma; in the mid term, people are won over by success; in the long term, people are won over by character.”

Relationships (like marriages) are supposed to be for the long term. Love at first sight usually never lasts. Because to know the character of a person takes time, and that is especially important when it comes to our future spouses. It takes time to know them, it takes time to reveal character. Beauty & charisma might catch attention, but it’s character that catches the heart.

For the potential husbands & wives, dating is the best time to watch the other person when he/she fails, succeeds or are tempted. Unfortunately, character is not revealed when everything is rosy and perfect. Real character is about consistency, which can only be revealed through time.

The difference between amateurs and professionals is consistency. Just like how we would want our favorite soccer team, hairstylist and local restaurant to be consistent, we should want to have character consistently.

character-test-2

And that is all for part 1 of The Character Test series! If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy Part 2 even more hearing it in person. Come visit our church if you’re in Singapore! We’ll love having you with us, and you’ll definitely have a great experience too. Hope to see you soon! 😉

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 – my spiritual home.

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

newseason-3

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.

“Moses 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—to 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

newseason-1

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

newseason-2

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.