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‘s 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, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”‘ – 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.

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“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.”’ – 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, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”’ – 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, “Who touched my robe?”’ – 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 – faith 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.

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, Those 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.”‘ – 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.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 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 – 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. 

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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.