Why Do You Give?

Giving is something we do all the time. We give in the form of gifts, time, energy and finances. But today, I want to ask you (and myself), “Why do you give?”

Because while many of us give in different forms, be it to a cause we believe in, to our family and friends, or to the church, this is a very important question that we must ask ourselves so that we give with the right heart. From what I’ve observed from myself and also other people, there are usually 5 reasons why people give.

1. Insecurity

Some people give because when they look around, they see their peers doing it; and in order to sort of fit in or not appear to be selfish, they give too. And while in a way, it is good because they still gave in some way, this kind of giving gets painful in the long run. That’s not how giving is supposed to feel! I believe giving is meant to be a joyful thing.

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

2. Instruction

There are also people who give because someone told them to do so. Maybe it’s a parent, a senior, a leader or an elder. And while it is good that we obey all these people, we must also have our personal convictions in giving. If not, we will eventually be unwilling to give. Giving by instruction is one of the lowest levels of giving. Let’s not stop here!

3. Intention

Then, there are others who give with personal motives. They give out of their own will but there is an expectation for something in return. Some people give to their “friends” so that in the future, they will lend a helping hand when they need it. Some Christians give to the church and to God because they want to be blessed by Him.

While we will be blessed by our loving family and good friends and God will also honor our giving, we must not give with this dangerous mindset. Because there is always a possibility that we will not get anything in return! Are we going to throw a tantrum and stop giving then?

If we give with expectations to get something in return, it is NOT giving, it is buying. You go to the cinema, buy a ticket with your money and expect a great movie. You go to the restaurant, buy an expensive dish and expect a great meal. You go to the store, buy something with your salary and expect a great product. And if it turns out that any of them doesn’t meet your expectations, you’ll get upset.

But this is not how things work with giving! With hidden intentions or expectations in our hearts, we will not be giving, we will only be trying to buy people’s favor and God’s blessings. We want to be givers, not consumers.


So there are people who give out of insecurity, instruction and intention – motivations that makes the spirit of giving temporal, unpleasant and even selfish. But there are also another two groups of people whom I’ve really seen giving with the right attitude, and we want to be just like them.

4. Intimacy

The first of these two groups give because of intimacy. They give out of a heart of love and thankfulness towards someone. It is natural to give to someone whom we love or are intimate with! Have you ever seen how a loving couple would give to each other?

If you’ve ever wondered how to be a “cheerful giver” as described in the Bible verse above, this is it. When we give out of our hearts to love, we will do it cheerfully. We can give without loving, but we can never love without giving.¬†There is a joy in giving to people we love. We are cheerful in doing so. Let’s give with a heart of intimacy towards our friends, family and God.

5. Involvement

Last but not least, there’s also a group of people who gives to be involved. They give to a disaster relief because they want to be involved in helping people. They give to a loved one because they want to be involved in their lives. They give to someone or something that once helped them and now want to be involved in doing the same for others because they are grateful. They give to a vision and a cause they believe in because they want to be involved in making a difference – in changing the world.

Today, let’s give out of intimacy. Let’s give to be involved in something greater than ourselves. Most importantly, give with a smile on your face. God loves a cheerful giver, but I believe a cheerful giver also loves God.

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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.

message

Happy Father’s Day. :)

Unbelief vs Disbelief

Hi readers! After a 2-week break over Chinese New Year – eating all the food there is to offer and spending all the time we had with our families, all of us are finally back in church! Now it might have been the re-opening weekend for our church, but it is also only our second weekend here in our New Home! If you do not understand what I’m talking about or have not been keeping up with the happenings of Heart of God Church, check out this previous post of mine. If you are on the same page as me (or have just returned from reading that post), let’s get into what I’m going to be talking about today.

What I’m going to be writing about today is basically the message preached by Pastor How over this re-opening weekend. After an emotional testimony was shared by one of the leaders in our church, Pastor How encourages her and takes the stage – the stage some of us now call “Cross Stage 2.0”. Haha, you got to come check it out for yourself. But anyway, he begins his message with the word “humility”. It was a weekend when many people are going to come to God, be it for the first or not. That didn’t matter. What mattered was they did. However for them to do that, they got to first be humble.

Because it is not our strength that will bring us to God, but our humility. And in that case, humility becomes our strength. Many people would need just that to believe in God and His power that can change their lives. But I know for sure that there are some who needs more. Maybe a little evidence? Maybe a personal encounter? Well to me, Imaginarium isn‚Äôt just a place,¬†it‚Äôs a story. In fact, it‚Äôs God‚Äôs story. I know I’ve said this before, but the very existence of our New Home is an evidence of God‚Äôs¬†faithfulness and a memorial that glorifies Him.

As I stepped into this place for the first few times, I couldn‚Äôt help but be¬†reminded again and again of the journey that God has brought us through. If not for Him, we will really¬†not be who we are today. So if anyone asks me, ‚ÄúHow do you know God is real?‚ÄĚ I will bring them to this place, show them around¬†and tell them, ‚ÄúBecause I see Him here ‚Äď at every corner, in every person, in every life.‚ÄĚ

So really, if you have never stepped into our church before, come and see it for yourself. Let it be an inspiration for you; we had such humble beginnings. If God could do for us what He did all these years, then He can do anything for anyone who has faith – including you. Pastor How used the scripture in Mark 9:17-27 (NLT) to illustrate this.

‚ÄúWhat do you mean, ‚ÄėIf I can‚Äô?‚ÄĚ Jesus asked. ‚ÄúAnything is possible if a person believes.‚ÄĚ – Mark 9:23 (NLT)

In these verses, we find a man coming to Jesus for help because an evil spirit has possessed his son. To cut the long story short, Jesus successfully cast it out. The boy also regained consciousness and recovered. But within this story lies a few interesting things that we can learn from. Firstly, note what the desperate father says to Jesus in verse 24.

The father instantly cried out, ‚ÄúI do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!‚ÄĚ – Mark 9:24 (NLT)

Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? You must be wondering whether this father believes or not. But the thing is, sometimes we do this ourselves too. Sometimes, we find ourselves having a conflict between our mind and our heart, just like the father! Maybe you’re a Christian, maybe you’re not. But you can definitely relate to being in a situation whereby your heart wants to believe in something, be it for a miracle or a breakthrough, while at the same time your mind is full of doubts about it. Well you know what? Christianity is that kind of faith; the kind where at times, our hearts and minds go into a conflict, where we experience a little of what the man in verse 24 had – unbelief.

doubt-tolerance

What is unbelief? It is a lack of faith or trust, most commonly appearing in the form of doubts. For example, you may have heard that Jesus can heal, that He wants to have a relationship with you, that He can change your life for the better. But because you’ve never personally experienced those things before, you find it hard to believe in them. And as a result, you may not believe in Jesus too. Fortunately, that is normal. Let me repeat myself. It is totally normal to oscillate between faith and doubt, even as Christians! One thing you must know is that our God is doubt-tolerant. He will not release His wrath & curses upon you just because you have some doubts. It’s not Him.

That is why sometimes Christianity is called the Fight of Faith! We constantly fight doubts in our own mind. Even the Bible contains multiple examples of this fight. You see, the Bible is not propaganda. It doesn’t exaggerate the good and cover up the bad; it tells us both and everything in between. In it we see the victories & the defeats, the good men & the fallen men. In the same way, our Christianity is not a “bed of roses”. We find ourselves at the mountaintops where believing is easy, and we also find ourselves in the valleys where having faith is difficult.

If you have your Bible with you, just look at the Book of Psalms. It is an emotional and spiritual journey of a man, consisting of both the nice and not-so-nice parts. Flip to chapter 23 and you’ll see the faith, the joy and the praises. Flip one chapter back to 22 and you’ll see the struggles, the frustrations, the pain. Just a chapter apart, and the contrast so huge. So once again I must say, it’s normal. Some days we’re at chapter 22, some days we’re at 23. For the man in Mark 9:24, he was swinging between these two. What’s most important was that he was honest with God about his feelings. We should do the same.

disbelief

But while it’s okay to have a little unbelief in us, disbelief is a realm we should never step into. Disbelief is when a person decides NOT to believe. It is very different from unbelief, because regardless of evidences, people of disbelief have already made up their minds. They don’t listen to explanations, they only think about arguments. The Bible describes this as a very dangerous hardening of the heart.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‚ÄúToday when you hear his voice, don‚Äôt harden your hearts…” – Hebrews 3:7-8 (NLT)

Never harden your heart, reader. Big problems arise for those who do so because they have already closed & locked up the doors to their minds and their hearts. Even if good things are presented to them, they see it as bad. When testimonies and stories of changed lives are shared, they see it as a¬† scam. When churches are mentioned, they immediately think they’re all bad. Indeed, a quote from Stuart Chase could not be more true.

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” – Stuart Chase

What is faith? It is believing in something even though there may not be a physical proof of it yet. That’s called faith! If we need proof to believe in Jesus Christ, then it’s no longer faith anymore. I can tell you, I have never seen Jesus physically before. I’ve never heard His audible voice. Haha but you know what? My life has been changed by Him since I believed in Him. I have had many of my prayers answered. I have felt His love and His presence. And I’m not alone. Sometimes, you just got to believe first before you see.

If you harden your heart, you will go from unbelief to disbelief. Just think of two of Jesus’ disciples for a minute. Peter had unbelief and so did Judas, but both of them had witnessed the works & miracles of Jesus in the flesh. One of them repented and became one of the greatest apostles ever. The other one betrayed Jesus and committed suicide. You know which of them moved into disbelief. Unbelief is fine. Disbelief is not. Unbelief says that “I want to believe but I can’t!” Disbelief says that “I simply do not want to believe.” They are very different.

faithfulness

“If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful…” – 2 Timothy 2:12-13 (NLT)

Today as you are reading this, you might be a believer, a non-believer, or an ex-believer. But one thing you must know is that there is a difference between denying God, and losing faith. Denying Jesus is a very serious thing, but I don’t think any of you reading this would deny Jesus in disbelief and hate Him. Even if today, you’re no longer going to church or hanging out with your friends whom you met in church, I’m sure that deep down in your heart, you still believe in Jesus. You just simply went through a season when you were unfaithful. But just like the verse above says, even if we are faithless, God remains faithful. It’s just who He is.

So come back to Jesus. He loves us regardless of all the sins we might have committed. Look at some of the great men in the Bible, they all had their past! Abraham slept with his maid, but now we call him the father of faith. Moses had anger issues, so much so that he killed a man; but we now know him as the one who parted the red sea. Noah was a drunkard, but we know of him as the one who built the ark. Told you the Bible wasn’t propaganda, right? David committed adultery and many more atrocities that broke at least 4 of the 10 commandments. Now we call him the man after God’s own heart. Peter denied being affiliated with Jesus, but as previously mentioned, moved on to becoming one of the greatest apostles ever. What does that mean?

saints-sinners

It means that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. And it is only possible because of the love & the power of God that we can have in our lives when we believe in Him. We are all not perfect. But with the power of the blood of Jesus Christ in our lives, we can be redeemed and have a future, just like the saints in the Bible. All we got to do is to be humble, put away all the pride that we have and come back to Jesus.

Let me end this post with one last analogy by Pastor How. If you’re driving towards a certain destination today and you find yourself making a wrong turn somewhere, what would you do? Would you get all frustrated and beat yourself up against the steering wheel for making such a mistake? Would you stop the car, get out and give up driving? Or would you keep on driving in the wrong direction? No. You make a U-turn. It might cause a little bit of delay, but at least you turn around and rectify that wrong turn. In the same way, most of us will not have a perfect path to our spiritual destination in God. What matters is when we make a “wrong turn”, we repent and turn around to go back on track. If you need to, make that U-turn today.

p.s. Pastor Tan Seow How & Pastor Cecilia Chan, more affectionately known as Pastor How & Pastor Lia are the senior pastors of Heart of God Church ‚Äď my spiritual home.

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.¬†

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Overcoming Our Forces of Nature

Hi friends, I had quite a few revelations recently! Some I got while I was in church attending service, others while I was reading a Christian book, but there’s also those I got while I was reading my Bible. Talking about my Bible, here it is:

my_bible

For some of you who do not really understand what you’re looking at here, let me briefly explain. This book that you see can be many things, but one thing it definitely isn’t is that it’s just a book. No, it’s not just a book. If you have a relationship with Jesus and read this intently, you will realize what you are holding & studying contains power that can change your life. It can shift your mindset, touch your heart and even propel you to action.

Don’t believe it? Well, hopefully by the end of this post, you will have a little teaser of what the Word of God can reveal to us. Let’s begin. What I decided to do today is to compile some of my recent revelations which I thought were really amazing and share them with you here. The ones that I am going to talk about in this post are mainly from exactly a month back while I was reading my Bible.

It was just a Monday night and I was in my room, spending time with God. I held the Bible you see above, and said a little prayer before flipping to the book of John. I went straight there because I am currently on a “New Testament Challenge” I gave myself. I just wanted to continue from where I left off previously. How unprepared I was for the truths that were about to jump out at me! I began reading the first chapter of the night and it wasn’t long before a verse caught my attention.

12¬†Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‚ÄúI am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.‚ÄĚ – John 8:12

At this point of time, you must be wondering why the title of this post is Overcoming Our Forces of Nature. You could be reading this under a tree, by a river, or on top of a hill. But I’m not in any way referring to the “nature” around you. What I am referring to here is OUR human nature. You see, by default and by birth, it is in our nature to sin. Ever since Adam & Eve’s first disobedience to God, they and their descendants leading up to us today have all inherited characteristics & qualities contrary to God’s.

For example, when I was just a young boy, nobody – not my parents, my relatives, my friends (I probably didn’t have many back then anyways LOL) taught me to lie. But as soon as I got into trouble, it would be my instinct to push the blame to someone else or something else to cover up for what I’ve done! You can identify with these experiences, can’t you? Even if it’s not lying, you would have done something before that you know in your conscience is wrong, dirty, unholy . No matter how rich, smart or good-looking you are, this is a fact that you and I can’t change, that we are sinners.

This is why I don’t believe that a person can deny his/her need for God. Everyone needs God, no matter how successful they are. Because by our own brilliance, yes, there are many things we can achieve; but one thing we can never do by our own strength is overcome this power of Sin over our lives. Still, as mentioned, there is always a way out with God!

You know what the verse above means to me? As I read it, I just felt the Holy Spirit saying that we can all live a sin-free life. Maybe not totally sinless, but we can definitely sin less. How? By having a relationship with Jesus and following Him. When we do so, we will not walk in darkness because He does not carry darkness, or evil or death. Instead, He has the light of life. With this, I just felt that God had more in stored for me in the following verses, so I kept on reading. And boy, was I right. Next few verses that totally builds upon the previous one:

31¬†Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‚ÄúIf you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32¬†And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.‚ÄĚ – John 8:31-32

I don’t know about you, but I had a question from the previous verse about following Jesus. “How do I follow You, Jesus? And what is considered “following” You?” That’s what I asked God as I was reading, before He answered me with verses 31 & 32. It says that if we abide in Christ’s word, we are His disciples indeed. “Disciples” at its basic definition simply means “followers”. Are you beginning to see the link? To follow Jesus, it requires us to abide in Him and His word. Because it’s in the Word of God that we will find, know, understand and apply truth that will set us free. Free from what? The chains of sin.

At this point, I was already mind-blown with what the Holy Spirit had revealed to me. But He wasn’t done with me just yet. There was just one last scripture that God wanted me to receive that night, and it’s found in verses 34 to 36 in the same chapter.

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. РJohn 8:34-36

At first glance, I was honestly just puzzled with this scripture. However, after some pondering and digging, I finally uncovered the treasure hidden here. We do not need to be slaves any longer. Let me break it down for you and explain in detail why I felt this was what Jesus was trying to say. Perhaps, some “keys” that I came up with to interpret the verses above would prove useful to help you understand what I’m about to say.

Slave of sin (whoever commits sin) = You and I before following Jesus.
son” with a lowercase ‘s’ = You and I after following Jesus.
“the Son” with an uppercase ‘S’ = Jesus.

Alright, just leave that at the back of your head for now. Firstly, it is important to know that Jesus is not a slave. He walked this same Earth we walk every single day but you know what’s the difference between Him and us? He has never sinned before. That is why He has the power to set us free! And when He does so, verse 36 above says that we shall be free indeed.

Second thing to note is that Jesus also does not see us as slaves. Only the slaveholder Satan sees us as slaves. How do I know this? Because the Bible says that Jesus is a rewarder.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. РHebrews 11:6

Now tell me, how often does a slaveholder reward his slaves? Exactly. That is why I am so sure Jesus is neither a slave or a slaveholder.

With the identity of Jesus clear, we can now begin to look at the verses in John 8 one by one and uncover the truths behind them. I’m going to go straight to verse 35 because I am sure most of you would understand verse 34 pretty easily. Simply put, we who sin are now slaves to sin.

But verse 35 is the tough one. It can be quite a mouthful when you read it. What exactly does it mean? It took me awhile, but here are a few things I got from this verse. First of all, slaves don’t have the privilege to live in a house. But a son lives in the house. THE Son does.

And this Son (Jesus) has the power to set the slaves (us) free because He does not belong to the slaveholder. As mentioned before, He is not a slave. But in order to set the slaves free, He had to pay a price not of money, but the price of His life so that he can BUY them back from the slaveholder (Satan).

And it is only when He has paid the price to buy them back that verse 36 can come to pass because now the slaves are truly free and can even go back home to be with the Son. “But isn’t He dead?” Well, before I end off this post, let me give you one final overall picture of the story that is painted here. You should get it after this.

In the beginning, mankind was living in the same “house” as God the Father. Adam and Eve literally lived in an environment where God’s presence permeated its atmosphere. And it was supposed to be this way for eternity.

Unfortunately, as you know it, Adam and Eve sold themselves and the entire human race into slavery, into sin. As a result, we could no longer abide in the same “house” as God any longer.

After a long period of time, mankind forgot their identity. We have forgotten that we are sons and daughters of God. But the Bible says that God loved us so much, He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to come and buy us back, so that we will know our true identity and abide with Him forever.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. РJohn 3:16

And the Good News is, Jesus didn’t stay dead! After dying on the cross for our sins, He rose again on the third day and defeated Satan once more. That is why today, we can have a relationship with Him – He’s alive!

Today, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or not. The truth is Jesus died for every single one of us so that we do not have to be slaves to the power of Sin and the acts of sins. Follow Him today, be it for the first time, for the tenth time, or for the hundredth time. You will begin to overcome the forces of your human nature and experience true freedom that will change your life forever.

And can you believe it? This is what God revealed to me in just ONE chapter of His Bible. Imagine the infinite possibilities of what He can speak to you and I through the other 1,188 chapters.

Of course, I have to say that this is MY revelation and interpretation of John 8. God can use the same words here to speak to you a totally different thing. I am not saying this is the only true meaning of this chapter, so by all means, please read it for yourself and listen personally to the Holy Spirit. More than just communicated knowledge, you will receive your own revelation knowledge.

Lastly, if you liked this post, do check out my write-ups of some of my Pastors’ sermons:

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The reason why I am able to get revelations like this, is because my Pastors first taught us all how to approach and read the Word of God. So do check them out too! That’s all I have for you today and I’ll see you in the next post. Thank you for reading and sharing.

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 and the theater of dreams.

The Parables of Jesus Part 2: The Love of God

Note: The following is a detailed write-up of Pastor How‚Äės message over the weekend of October 10th & 11th. ‚ÄúThe Parables of Jesus Part 2‚ÄĚ is the second of 3 parts in this opening season of¬† a new sermon series, which will be covered across multiple seasons over the next few years. If you haven’t already, check out my write-up of the first part before moving on with this post.

Parables ‚Äď stories that provide earthly analogies for the heavenly messages behind them.

Commonly used by Jesus, their purpose is to help our worldly minds comprehend and understand spiritual principles more easily. Because naturally, we have no concept of Heaven to begin with.

Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.” – Matthew 13:14-15

Pastor How kicked off the second part of The Parables of Jesus by addressing our hearts. Just as the verse above says, spiritual things must be understood with our hearts. If we do not engage our hearts while listening to God’s Word or reading Scriptures, we will either hear and not understand or see but not perceive. Still not understanding what’s all these “seeing but not seeing” and “hearing but not hearing”? Well, Pastor How gave us an example:

fedex-cropped

This is the FedEx logo. Some of you may already know about this, some of you may not, but hidden within this iconic logo is an arrow:

fedex-arrow

That’s what “seeing but not seeing” means! Before we found out about the arrow, most of us must have seen the FedEx logo like hundreds of times. We’ve seen it online, on TV, on billboards. Yet every time we look at it, we see the logo yes, but we don’t see the arrow hidden within it. Personally for myself, it’s only recently that I found out about the hidden arrow, and it wasn’t even by my own eyes! The Internet told me!

The reason why we normal everyday people would not notice this interesting design is because most of us would not be so interested in FedEx’s logo, as compared to its services, that we would stop and study it intently. To most of us, the logo needs not be taken seriously. In fact, most of us would just have a glance at it. Besides, its the services that count. Why engage our hearts in looking at the logo?

You are starting to get this, aren’t you? To engage Jesus, we need to engage our hearts. Just like in the everyday relationships with our friends, family and partner, the heart must be involved. It is only when our hearts are involved in our relationships, that true understanding can be gained about the other person!

“Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God.”

We always say that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God. If that is true, then our hearts must be engaged. Pastor How shows us something interesting:

heart_sp_how

He said that in order to hear God, we must do it with our hearts. Because it’s within our hearts that we can find our spiritual “ear” that will hear the voice of Christ. With that, he went on to discuss the 5th parable in Matthew 13.

Hidden-Treasure

44¬†‚ÄúAgain, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44

Once again, we have a “traditional interpretation” of this parable here. Usually, we would think that in this verse above, the “man” refers to us and the “treasure” refers to Jesus. So our interpretation of this verse would be something along the lines of us finding Jesus, selling everything we have to buy and live with Him happily ever after. But if you study it closely and engage your heart in doing so, you would realize again that this does not make sense! Here’s why.

10¬†for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.‚ÄĚ – Luke 19:10

Across the pages of the Bible, you would see verses like Luke 19:10 that describes God as the One who is finding and seeking us, not the other way around! For example, how often would you see someone who has never been exposed to Christianity before suddenly realizing one day that he needs to find God? Personally for myself, before I knew about Jesus, I just lived life my way (though it was purposeless) and never had a single thought about God or gods in general. I had to be invited to church. And I was stubborn at first! The Holy Spirit had to persuade me before I believed in Christ. So very quickly we can see here that God is the One who seeks us. How? Through our Christian friends who invite us to church. When? When our hearts are open. Why? Because He loves us.

Now I don’t know about other religions and beliefs, but in Christianity, it’s never about Man looking for God or Man becoming God. In Christianity, it’s always about God loving us and looking for us. In fact, God loved us so much He didn’t just stop at looking for us; He became one of us. God became Man. This is the greatest love story ever told – that God would love us so much He gave up His Godhood to pursue us. If you’re reading this, get this – God doesn’t only love you from the moon and back. He loves you from Heaven and back. Use your heart and you’ll understand this.

Remember the “keys” that were given to us in the previous part of this series? The ones that would help us interpret all the parables? Let’s look at some of them together with what we’ve gathered here today and interpret The Parables of the Hidden Treasure even further.

The ‚Äúman‚ÄĚ refers to Jesus.
The “treasure hidden in a field” refers to us.
The ‚Äúfield‚ÄĚ refers to the world.

In this Parable of the Hidden Treasure, the “man” who found treasure in a field, and for joy over it goes and sells all that he has to buy that field refers to Jesus. We who believe in Jesus are the “treasure(s)” that He has found. And just like in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the “field” here refers to the world. So what does this mean? It means that God didn’t just “buy” us Christians, He bought the entire world.

16¬†For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

As long as our hearts are open, God will find us somehow. If you’re not yet a Christian today, this especially applies to you. When your heart is open, God will somehow find you. For me, it was through a cousin. For you, it could be through a relative, a friend or an article like this, I don’t know. But open up your heart today to His love and your life will never be the same again. Jesus saw us as His treasures so much so that He would purchase us at the highest price of dying for our sins. But it’s up to us now whether we would like to accept that love into our lives and become the treasures that He has always seen us as, or not.

23¬†You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” – 1 Corinthians 7:23

Once again Pastor How emphasizes the fact that we can’t buy God and His love. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). It’s like how a child can never buy his father’s love. A child cannot go up to his father, offer him money and ask for his love. A father loves his child for who he is (his child), not for what he can offer to him! So in the same way, there’s nothing we can sell to buy Jesus.

“There’s nothing good we can do for Jesus to love us more; there’s nothing bad we can do for Him to love us less.”

Jesus is the One who gave up and sold everything, including His Godhood to buy us. But some of you may be wondering, why must He do so? Wasn’t there another way? Take this following analogy from Pastor How as an example:

Say you’re an animal lover on the way home today. As you are walking across the street, you spot a group of puppies and their mother huddled together beside an alley. You thought “Aww so cute! Let me go take a look at them.” So you walk towards them, and as you’re doing so, you notice that they’re all bruised, dirty and hungry. And because of your love for animals, you know of a place called “Dog Heaven” where dogs are clean, well-taken care of and fed with the best food a dog can ever have. So of course, you immediately think of bringing these dogs there! But as you try to carry the puppies, their mother barks aggressively at you. You then try to explain to these dogs that you’re trying to help them and bring them to great place. Here’s the problem, they will never understand your intentions because you’re speaking English, not “Doggish”. As a result, it is almost impossible to lead these dogs to “Dog Heaven”.

But consider this. What if you had a superpower that can transform you into a dog? You’ll take the shape of a dog, speak “Doggish” and of course be able to lead them to “Dog Heaven”! That’s exactly why God had to become Man, giving up his Godhood just to come and lead us to Heaven. We were bruised by past hurts, dirty in our sins and hungering for something greater in life. God saw all that and came to save us.

I bet that no matter how much you love animals or dogs, and even if you had a superpower, you will never give up your “humanhood” just to lead these dogs to “Dog Heaven”. That shows the scale of God’s love for us. He became the Word in flesh just so that we can understand Him and be led to Heaven.

6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8     he humbled himself in obedience to God
¬†¬†¬†¬†and died a criminal‚Äôs death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT)


Pearl

45¬†‚ÄúAgain, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46¬†who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure is not the only parable in Matthew 13 that shows God’s love for us. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price does the same too. And with the previous understanding of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, we can immediately see more “keys” here in the 6th parable:

The “merchant seeking beautiful pearls” refers to Jesus.
The “beautiful pearls” refer to us.

As you read this parable, you would see its similarity to the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. But why exactly do God see us as “pearls”? Pastor How explains that the pearl is different from gemstones like emerald, ruby and sapphire. It is a product of a living organism. Watch this following video and learn how pearls are formed.

It’s interesting because the formation of pearls are caused by its oyster’s defense against irritation and discomfort, which can be compared to how we go through pains and problems in life. That’s why God calls us “pearls”. Because through life, we can develop strength and character through hardships and struggles (like mentioned in the part 1 of the series) and become “beautiful pearls of great price” to God. As we are tested by pressures and tempted by pleasures, would we still continue to pursue holiness? Man always look at appearances, but God looks at the heart. To Him, nothing is beautiful like holiness.

Whatever that we have gone through, or are going through right now in the kingdom of heaven is for us to become “pearls of great price”. Before Pastor How concluded his sermon for the weekend, he shared with us a story about a great hero – Irena Sendler. Some of you may have heard of her before, some of you may not. But here’s her story:

sendler-compilation

In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Nazi Germany and its allies invaded Poland. About a year after, under Hitler’s rule, a ghetto was constructed in its capital of Warsaw, where all the Jewish population in the area were rounded up at. It’s in this ghetto where the Jewish awaited their deaths – by starvation, disease or execution. Young children and newborn babies were not spared too. It was indeed dark days that these people lived in, and none of them had a future. Their lives were not even theirs anymore. But in this huge darkness, little glimmers of light and hope shone as a woman decided to light a candle and do something about it.

Irena Sendler had moved to Warsaw prior to the events of World War II and worked as a nurse and social worker. Due to her position and occupation, she was given a permit that allowed her to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of diseases that are spreading and prevent any such virus from spreading beyond the ghetto. What she decided to do was to use her job as an advantage and rescue as many Jewish children from the ghetto as possible. Using various means, she entered the ghetto and spoke to Jewish parents about her plan. Having no other choice, these parents would entrust their children to Sendler in the hopes that they would have a future besides certain death.

With the help of her co-workers, she would then take this children and smuggle them out. Sometimes, she would use stretchers with sick people to hide the children underneath them. At other times she would carry these children inside coffins among dead people. When she’s desperate to get as many children out as possible, she would drive an ambulance to the ghetto and put them all inside. She would also bring dogs along on the ambulance. These dogs are trained to bark at the sight of the Nazi soldiers. The fierce barks of the dogs would discourage the Nazi soldiers from checking the ambulance and at the same time drown out the cries of the children within.

sendler

After successfully smuggling out the children, she would place them under the care of good Polish families. Furthermore, she would help make false documents to give these children new identities that replaced their Jewish names. But she didn’t just stop there. She even kept a record of all these children, including their real names, parents’ names, false names and names of the family that adopted them. All these were done in her hopes that one day, these children can be reunited with their biological parents. For fear that the Nazi would one day find these records, she put them all into glass bottles and buried them in the backyard of her home. In total, Irena Sendler and her co-workers saved approximately 2500 children from death. So many lives were saved just because 1 person decided to make a difference.

Unfortunately in 1943, Irena’s deeds were discovered and she was captured by the Nazi Germans. They tortured her and forced her to reveal the locations of all those children, as well as her comrades. However, she refused to do so, even after she was brutally beaten and her limbs were all broken one by one. Eventually, after being unable to gather any solid information from Sendler, the Nazi gave up and decided to execute her. What they didn’t expect was that Sendler’s co-workers would bribe the executioner on the way to her execution, saving her from her demise. The executioner recorded Irena Sendler as being executed but in actual fact, she has not been killed. After being rescued, Irena Sendler went into hiding.

A couple of years later, the war ended and Irena Sendler would return to her old home and dig up all the records that she buried. With her co-workers, they would then try to reunite the hidden children with their Jewish families. Of course, most of these efforts were to no avail, as most of their parents have already died during the war. But it doesn’t change the fact that 2500 kids were saved from tragic death that occurred to millions of Jews. In 2008, at the age of 98, Irena Sendler passed away peacefully and returned Home to be with the Lord. This is how she looked like towards the end of her life:

irena-sendlerThis is what true joy looks like.

You can see immediately from the photo that Irena Sendler had true joy on the inside of her because she knew that she lived a life full of purpose in God. She is the prime example of a “pearl of great price.” Of such, God calls “beautiful”. You know, when I am at the end of my life, I want to be able to look back and smile at the things I’ve done for Christ. I want to be able to smile like Irena Sendler here. But before we become pearls of great price, we must first be Christians that are willing to pay a high price. Irena Sandler paid a high price for her great deeds. Now it’s our turn to do so in our individual ways.

And with that, we’ve come to the end of The Parables of Jesus Part 2. You must be thinking where the last 2 parables (7 & 8) are. Well originally at the end of Part 1, Pastor How did say that the last 4 parables in Matthew 13 would be covered here in Part 2. But he gave us all a pleasant surprise because instead of covering all 4 parables in this part, he will be extending it over to a Part 3 on October 24th and 25th! And he describes that in the next part, a sacred secret will be revealed.

This series has been so mind-blowing and life-changing that I can’t wait to hear the last part of this season already! If you read to this point, you are seriously amazing and I thank you for doing so. But you know what, like I always say, nothing compares to hearing this message for yourself in church. If you haven’t thought about coming to Heart of God Church yet, start now! Just saying, I will not be posting a write-up of the 3rd part; secrets are only revealed to those who seek them. So don’t miss your chance of uncovering the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven on October 24th and 25th! See you in church.

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.