Hi readers! Today marks the 7th month of Fool’s Bench existence! If you still remember, it was on 22nd of September last year that this site was launched. Ever since then, many people have visited and shown a lot of love and encouragement, and today if you’re one of them, I want to thank you for your support.
But today is not about celebrating another month of Fool’s Bench! Today is about going back to its origins. Because today is also the birthday of a woman who a year ago, preached a message that inspired the name of Fool’s Bench. If you’ve been here long enough, you would know that I am talking about my spiritual mother – Pastor Lia.
So as I was thinking over the past few days what I could write about today, I thought there could be nothing more appropriate than to share with all of you my notes that I took down for The Fool’s Bench message more than a year ago; since you know, today’s about Fool’s Bench and Pastor Lia (who preached about The Fool’s Bench). Haha, ready for a #throwback? I present to you, one of the most important messages I’ve ever heard – The Fool’s Bench.
“The Fool’s Bench” by Pastor Lia
The first thing I remember Pastor Lia saying was that if we want to be world-changers, there are 2 questions we need to ask ourselves.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2
Am I a Thermostat or a Thermometer?
Because if we blindly follow everyone else in the world, how can we change it? There is a huge difference between a thermometer and a thermostat – a thermometer measures room temperature, whereas a thermostat controlsthe room temperature.
Just look up Roger Bannister as an example. He set the temperature, a new standard, a new record. He is a “thermostat”. He changed the “rules” of the mile run forever. But what about us? Are we blending into environments or are we showing others how to live? World-changers are thermostats no matter where they are! They hold on to their convictions despite peer pressure. And in fact under pressure, their convictions are strengthened.
Look up another hero named Samuel in the Bible. He lived in an environment of corruption, but kept himself pure. In a time when God was clouded out by the world, Samuel lived differently. He too was a thermostat.
“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” – 1 Samuel 3:1
And because he was a thermostat, God noticed Samuel and called him when He wanted to change the world. Just as how Samuel was different from the people around him, we can be the same too.
“that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”” – 1 Samuel 3:4
Am I Heavenly-minded or Earthly-minded?
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2
My pastors always say that Christianity is not the removal of the mind, but the renewal of the mind. So we want to lift the thoughts of our minds towards the things of God. And as Christians, we got to ask ourselves what exactly is on God’s heart.
And it can be safe to say, knowing my God for a few years now, that His heart is always for others; especially those who do not yet know Him. So if we want to change the world, we got to start with the people in our world. We got to live for others, not for ourselves. Of course, it isn’t as easy as it seems. Sometimes we might even feel like fools for living for others, reaching out to them and loving them. But that is why we have to be heavenly-minded.
To many people out there, the idea of “living for others” is a foolish one. But to God and to those who are heavenly-minded, it is a beautiful thing. Because money, possessions & success on Earth cannot be kept forever. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Heaven & Hell or not, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in Jesus or not. One thing is for sure – all of us will one day depart from this world in death and all those things we have accumulated for ourselves in our time on Earth will be left behind.
Now I do not mean that success isn’t important. However, we should have both success and significance in our lives. And this can be done by being the “fools” that people may see us as. But it’s all about perspective. We aren’t just any fool on the street. We are a special kind of fools – fools for Christ. And I truthfully believe up till this day that fools for Christ are amazing. They are willing to make a difference in any way they can and see it worth their efforts – even if it means only one person getting touched.
In closing, Pastor Lia shared with us a story of a certain church in South Barrington, Illinois that has interesting benches in its lobby. Every weekend, there will always be a handful of members from the church sitting there, waiting for their friend, relative or colleague to show up. They have probably earlier in the week invited someone to come join them in church to experience all that they have experienced, which has impacted their lives in a certain way.
Fifteen minutes passes. Half an hour passes. An hour passes. A lot of these people that they are waiting for have said “Yes” to their invitations. But some of them never show up.
Thus, these church members waiting on the benches sometimes end up looking & feeling like fools. But I’m sure if you visit that church the very next weekend, they will be there again at the very same spot on the same bench, waiting. Because they are heavenly-minded and they don’t mind it. They know that what they’re doing can possibly make a difference in a person’s life that money cannot buy, and death cannot take away.
And so after awhile, these lobby benches that these people sit on every weekend became known throughout the church as “The Fool’s Bench”. That is where the name originated from. It’s so inspiring, isn’t it? I want to be able to live like these heroes, who nobody might even know about, but are the real thermostats and heavenly minds that are changing our world for good & for God. I leave you today with one last quote by missionary Jim Elliot that perfectly sums up this entire message into one sentence: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
In every story In every season Jesus You’re always here Through every Journey In every blessing Jesus You’re always near
We’ve come this far Like You’ve promised In You there is no fear With grateful hearts We raise an anthem Our song our joyful tears Your love has brought us here…
In You we stand victorious In You we’re more than conquerors Let our Church arise Our hearts are on fire We live to glorify
We lay our lives On this altar Jesus You’re worth it all We bend our knees, We surrender. Jesus You’re all we see. Jesus You’re all we need…
To God be the Glory To God be the Glory To God be the Glory He shall reign forevermore!
Hi readers! If you’ve been following me on social media over the past week, you would have known that my church has just moved into our New Home! It was such an emotional and significant weekend for all of us, especially for those who have given in one way or another to the building of Heart of God Church over the past decade (and even before).
So in light of all that, the songwriting team of our church worked really hard especially over the past month to produce Victorious for the commemoration of this momentous day. And yes, those words you just read at the beginning of this post are its lyrics.
For myself, over the past few days, I’ve also been thinking on how to dedicate this week’s post to this historical weekend. But even after cracking my brain for a long time, I still couldn’t decide on the best way to approach it. Well that is, until now.
When I saw an Instagram post by Pastor Lia just awhile ago, I knew this was the way to go. Because seriously, this song captures & expresses every single thought and feeling that we all have as Christians in this church. Every line that we sang with this song during service just resonated so strongly with me. Allow me today to explain to you why.
“In every story In every season Jesus You’re always here Through every Journey In every blessing Jesus You’re always near”
Some of you may not know this, but our New Home did not come into existence just like that. Our church has been through a long, sometimes arduous but mostly exciting journey to get to where we are! Throughout my 4.5 years in Heart of God Church, I’ve witnessed many things. I’ve been through many seasons with the church – mostly ups, but also some downs. I’ve heard and have been a part of many incredible stories that have birthed forth from the lives of others. There are so many different experiences we all share, but one thing remains constant – Jesus.
No matter whether we were journeying through the valleys or celebrating at the mountain tops, Jesus has always been there. At our highs, we have Him to thank for bringing us there. At our lows, we have Him to thank for lifting us up again and turning it all around for good. Looking back, Jesus has been the center of every story and every season in Heart of God Church!
“We’ve come this far Like You’ve promised In You there is no fear With grateful hearts We raise an anthem Our song our joyful tears Your love has brought us here…”
Even for our New Home, He has already given us a vision of this place since a long time ago. Our pastors and leaders would tell you how God has spoken to them and promised us this land. That is why none of us feared even though it took such a long time for our dreams to come into fruition. We always believed that with man, it may not be possible; but with God, ALL things are possible.
And indeed, after a long wait, He has fulfilled His promises to us! The road here may not have been as easy, smooth-sailing and quick as we’ve imagined, but God’s timing is always perfect, and the results that we got – more than anything we’ve imagined. Throughout this time of praying and waiting, we’ve also seen how God has moved for us in many different ways. It’s now not just man’s hard work that brought us here, but God’s love for us. That is why we are so happy and thankful to give Him all the credit and all the honour.
“In You we stand victorious In You we’re more than conquerors Let our Church arise Our hearts are on fire We live to glorify”
During the opening service last weekend, everybody’s hearts were just so unified under one cry – the cry of our hearts that was amplified by the chorus of this song. Because even though it was a weekend of celebration, victory and joy, it was also a weekend of thanksgiving unto God. Without Him, we would not have conquered all our battles as a church and as individuals.
Yet even after all these triumphs, we all knew that this is only the beginning of the great story that God is penning for Heart of God Church. This isn’t our destination and place to get comfortable in. It is our launching pad to the world and into the destiny that God has put in place for our church! As we begin this new chapter of our story, we’re going to change the world even more for Jesus.
“We lay our lives On this altar Jesus You’re worth it all We bend our knees, We surrender. Jesus You’re all we see. Jesus You’re all we need…”
Now, let’s talk about Imaginarium. Every single corner of our New Home is amazing and beautiful. I love all of it; you got to come check it out for yourself to know what I mean! Haha, I ain’t spoiling anything for you here. But beyond just the physical structures, I choose to see more. I see that beyond a chair, there was someone in church who sacrificed and gave their best financially. I see that beyond a room, there was someone in church who sweat buckets fixing and cleaning. I see that beyond a stage, there was someone in church who spent hours planning and working.
This is not just a building, this is the House of God and more. To me, Imaginarium isn’t just a place, it’s a story. In fact, it’s God’s story. The very existence of our New Home is a testament of God’s faithfulness and a memorial that glorifies Him. As I stepped into this place, I couldn’t 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, “How do you know God is real?” I will bring them to this place, show them around and tell them, “Because I see Him here – at every corner, in every person, in every life.”
But what about you? What do you see? If you have never stepped into Heart of God Church before, join us for our re-opening on the 20th! Come to this place and see it differently; you’re stepping on holy ground. Behind the tangible structures of wood, concrete and steel, lies the intangible stories of sacrifice, hard work and faith. There is so much I can tell you, but to write down all the stories here would mean
this little entry would never be completed, haha.
So today, I just really want to dedicate this post to God and to all the heroes that I count my privilege to be amongst every single day. Thank you Pastors, leaders and fellow church builders for giving your all since the beginning. Truly, every cent, every second, every effort was worth it.
“To God be the Glory To God be the Glory To God be the Glory He shall reign forevermore!”
As the late-January sun cast its light on my face,
I walked to the gate that led to that place.
Realizing now that it’d be my last,
I took a good look before I walked pass.
Walking through excitedly, I recalled the past.
I entered without purpose but departed with one.
For it is in these grounds where I encountered the One.
Took the path I trod for four and a half years,
Then entered the elevator with many others.
We used to fit in just fine in this space,
But now we’ve grown too big to have breathing space.
In no time I found myself inside the hall.
It’s here where I learnt He gave me His all.
Jesus died for me so now I can live for Him.
After a right turn I came to the shelves,
The place where I bought the first Bible for myself.
Then another turn up a unique flight of stairs.
These spiral steps led to a few rooms upstairs.
The Lounge was the first of them all that I saw.
It once was just a walkway, now not anymore.
But what I wanted to find was outside that door.
The door led outside to a place named Alfresco.
It was there I had Bible studies a long time ago.
Before I knew it I was inside a big room.
It was none other than the Henderson Room.
Inside this room I remembered our beginnings.
Not only was it meant to be used for our meetings.
In here I was believed in and trained to serve,
Even though none of the above I had deserved.
Next I found myself by the cafe.
It always filled me when I served for the day.
Turned around and headed on the path to the gents.
Here as an Usher I used to spend moments with friends.
And of course there’s that one room all the way at the back,
Where I spent hours at times, back to back.
There was where my gifts were discovered,
There was where my dreams were uncovered.
The Media Room was what all of us called it.
Creativity and life always burst out of it.
In there was where all the magic happened.
But without the power of a team, nothing would happen.
Soon I found myself in a tight space.
Though cleaning equipment were stored in this place,
We used to worship and pray here before we had space.
Last but not least I came to the cross.
Not just a stage shaped like a cross.
This was an altar where we laid down our lives,
With many of us committed to Christ.
On this platform testimonies were shared.
Through the miracles people knew that God cared.
From here the Word was preached without falter,
By the man and woman of God we both call “Pastor.”
Indeed we’ve been through much as a church.
As we closed this chapter, emotions surged.
But many would know this is only the start,
As we enter our New Home all with filled hearts.
To my children and their children these stories I’ll tell,
And with these words I’ll begin my tale,
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.
“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.
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, “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.
‘4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our 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 – 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.
Hi everyone! So today is the day. The day that the Force has awakened once more – in North America that is. Some of you (especially those in Singapore which had an early release) have probably already caught the premiere, are going to watch it tonight or are simply waiting for the weekend to come before doing so. For me, I’ve to wait a tad longer, but I have already gotten my ticket to watch Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens with a huge group of friends next Monday.
And while I noticed that most of them, or rather all of them are very excited for the film, I also noticed that a small group of them know absolutely nothing about Star Wars. Like nothing, literally. I bet they are thinking it’s a movie with a lot of Hollywood celebrities & violence, and involves one of them being woken up forcefully from their sleep. 😆
So I figured, for the sake of them (and all of you Star Wars newbies), to come up with this sort of beginner’s guide that will let you have a better trip to the cinema and to the galaxy far far away. Prevents a load of awkwardness too when interacting with the pros. Can’t you see? I love you guys. LOL.
But before I begin, I must WARN you that there are SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars Episodes 1-6, which basically means EVERY single Star Wars film so far before The Force Awakens. So if you’re looking to watch the entire Star Wars saga for yourself first before going to see Episode 7, then this post isn’t for you. In fact, I recommend you to do so and watch all 6 episodes for yourself to get the full intergalactic experience. I mean, that’s what I’ve been trying to do over the past week. Haha!
But if you’re like some of my friends, who don’t care about spoilers, but instead needs them and just want a brief introduction and quick background to what has been happening so far in the Star Wars cinematic universe, then this post is for you. I must say however, that many details have been left out, especially those provided by the backstories of Episodes 1-3. I’m not a hardcore fan of Star Wars, but I’m also trying to make it as simple & relevant as possible for the average moviegoer to understand what’s going on when they see The Force Awakens. So most of the information you are about to see are the more essential ones from Episodes 4-6. And of course, my knowledge is limited and I have only had time to re-watch Episodes 4-6 so far! But what you’re about to read SHOULD be sufficient.Let’s begin.
1) The Timeline
The very first thing that I feel needs to be addressed for any Star Wars newbie is its sometimes confusing timeline. And this timeline does not so much refer to the events in the movies but more of the order in which the movies were released. Let me explain.
Here are the Star Wars movies arranged in chronological order. Basically, “what happened first” to “what happened last”.
It’s pretty simple, the events of Episode 1 happened first, followed by 2, 3, 4, 5 and eventually 6. Easy to understand, right? But here’s the “confusing” part.
The following was how the Episodes were released in cinema over the years, starting from A New Hope in 1977 and ending with Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
As you can see, Episodes 4-6 were released before Episodes 1-3. Also, there was a distinct gap of time between the release of Episode 6 and the release of Episode 1. And obviously, there is a change of cast too. This separates the Star Wars saga into 2 parts we all know today as the Original Trilogy and Prequel Trilogy.
Here’s what happened. Back in the day, Star Wars creator George Lucas had no plans on returning to the series after Return of the Jedi, the last film in the Original Trilogy. It’s not only until years later did he gain interest in creating a prequel series due to technological advancements in CGI. This trilogy would eventually tell of the stories of events that happened before the first 3 films.
So actually, the films in the Original Trilogy were re-titled. At first, they were just called Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But to accommodate the 3 new prequel films into the overall saga, all of them were renamed episodically.
Now do you get why a lot of people are so excited for the new Episode 7? Because it will kick off a new Sequel Trilogy that many people have been waiting for since 30 years ago! It will continue the story from where the Original Trilogy last left off.
So it’s really up to you in which order you would like to watch the films in. For me, I am watching it by order of release, starting with A New Hope and ending with Revenge of the Sith. My reason is pretty simple – the graphics get better that way. LOL. But there are others who also prefer watching it chronologically or even mixing it up here and there! As long as you watch & understand everything, it’s your choice!
2) The War
Alright, with the timeline out of the way, it’s time to talk about the more important stuff. Now obviously just by the movie title, you can tell that there is some sort of war going on here. In actual fact, the whole of the Original Trilogy centers around a galactic civil war. The question is – who are the parties involved and what are they fighting for?
There are 2 main sides -the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. As to which side you’re on, I have no say about; but generally, people consider the Empire to be the bad guys and the Rebels to be the good guys that are trying to overthrow them. Let’s talk about the Empire first.
The Galactic Empire
There are many bad things that you can know about the Empire, but in short, they were basically the galaxy’s main governing body during the events of the Original Trilogy. It was however, never always the case.
Before the Empire’s reign, it was the Galactic Republic who ruled the galaxy for thousands of years. They believed in democracy, and managed to keep the worlds in peace with the help of the Jedi Order (we’ll come to this in a minute).
Then came a man who conspired great conflicts in order to supplant himself as the Galactic Emperor. His name was Palpatine and he managed to rise to power, establishing the Empire and at the same time, replacing the Republic. Under the Empire’s rule, the galaxy have since been oppressed by the dictatorship of Emperor Palpatine, who enforced his authority through intimidation and fear.
Notable characters of the Empire include: The Emperor, Darth Vader, and of course our “favorite” Stormtroopers.
The Rebel Alliance
Thankfully, the Empire did not reign forever, and were eventually defeated by the combined efforts of brave individuals in the Rebel Alliance. Also known as the Rebellion, this resistance movement was formed as a direct reaction to the Empire’s tyranny.
Never backing down despite overwhelming odds, the Rebels eventually managed to stand up against the evil Emperor and his army, restoring democracy, but also peace to the galaxy.
Notable allies in the Rebellion include: Princess Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker.
3) The Force
Let’s talk about the Force now. Even if you have never watched Star Wars before in your entire life, you would have definitely heard the phrase – “May the Force be with you”.And you may be wondering what exactly the Force is. Is it luck? Maybe magic? Or a superpower? Well, not really.
In the world of Star Wars, the Force is an energy field that can be harnessed by an individual. When trained in the Force, a person can achieve superhuman feats, such as jumping a few storeys high, moving objects (& people) with just their will and even “influence the weak-minded” to do as they say. But where is the Force found? Everywhere.
According to Obi-Wan Kenobi (don’t worry you’ll meet him soon), “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” From this, we can tell that the Force exists everywhere in the fictional galaxy. So does that mean everyone in the galaxy has the ability to use its power? Not exactly. There are people who are more sensitive to the Force and people who are not. The people who are not usually doubt its existence until experiencing it for themselves. But for those who are sensitive, they are more inclined to learning its ways and tapping into it.
However, even the Force has 2 sides to it – the Light Side and the Dark Side. Throughout the films, you would realize that there are 2 main groups of people who are Force-sensitive – The Jedi and The Sith. They are archenemies and have a conflict that can be compared to that of the The Empire and Rebel Alliance. But their main differences are not just found in ideology, but in the side of the Force that they have chosen to adopt.
The Jedi are on the Light Side, using the Force for peace, wisdom and protection of others. But The Sith are on the Dark Side, using the Force for destruction, power and personal desires. Let’s talk about these practitioners of the Force a little bit.
The Jedi Order
Told you I would talk about these guys. These knights of the Old Republic were guardians of peace and justice until the rise of the Galactic Empire, when the evil Emperor enacted the infamous Order 66, that wiped out almost every single one of them. The Jedi practiced the Light Side of the Force, where their source of power comes from calmness in the mind and peace at the heart. They depend solely on the flow of the Force and usually do not kill unless absolutely necessary.
Notable Jedi Knights & Masters include: Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker and of course, Luke Skywalker.
The Sith Order
Ancient enemies of the Jedi Order, these sons of darkness utilize the Dark Side of the Force for their personal interests, mainly to gain control of the galaxy over time. Fueled by anger, fear and aggression, The Sith will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even if it meant sacrificing countless lives. One of their signature traits is the ability to use Force lightning in battle.
The Emperor Palpatine for example, was actually a Sith Lord in secret. This is why you would usually notice The Jedi fighting alongside the Republic/Rebels (good guys), and The Sith on the other hand with the Empire (bad guys). The good attracts the good, the bad attracts the bad!
Notable Sith Lords include: Darth Sidious (a.k.a The Emperor), Darth Vader, Count Dooku and Darth Maul.
4) The Weapons
Now, it’s time to introduce to you the iconic weapons of the Star Wars universe.
A.K.A the guns: Coming in many different shapes, forms & sizes, these guns are the standard ranged weapons you will find on screen this Christmas. They are also one of the main sources of laser bolts dominating an entire action sequence.
A.K.A the planes: Star Wars is known for its sky/space battles. And in case you get confused as to which planes belong to the Empire, and which to the Alliance, the above are some examples of how they might look like. The TIE fighters belong to the Imperial fleet, while the X-wings belong to the Rebel forces.
“This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
A.K.A the famous glowing swords: The Lightsaber is the symbol of the Jedi Order and its weapon of choice. They also come in a few finishes. You’ve seen the single-bladed & double-bladed ones, but soon, you’ll see one with a cross guard. These swords can cut through virtually anything except of course, another lightsaber (and this thing called the electrostaff). With years of practice, they can even be used to deflect blaster shots.
Though this iconic weapons are like a symbol of The Jedi, most of you would know that The Sith uses them too. How can you tell then again, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Well usually, The Jedi carry blue or green bladed lightsabers while The Sith carry red bladed ones. Usually.
5) The Characters
Alright, you must have been waiting for this. I know I have been mentioning many names over this entire post, so let’s revisit some of the main characters in the Original Trilogy. What’s exciting is that some of them are going to make an appearance once more in The Force Awakens as their older selves (they have aged both on & off screen)! Can’t wait to see what they will be up to.
“The Force is strong with this one.”
Raised as a farmboy by his uncle & aunt, Luke Skywalker lived in humble environments and had no idea about his true parentage. All this changed one day when his uncle purchased 2 droids that led him on the greatest adventure of his life. This adventure, though filled with moments of victory and joy, was also littered with pain and struggle. He met friends, such as Leia and Han, but also lost some on the way. The most significant event on this journey undoubtedly would be him finding out that the Sith Lord Darth Vader was his biological father. Nevertheless, all this brought him onto the path to becoming one of the greatest Jedi that ever lived. By the end of the Original Trilogy, he was the last remaining Jedi.
R2-D2 and C-3PO
The 2 droids that turned Luke’s life upside down. Both of them have their individual mechanisms and feelings, making them one of the most dynamic duos in the history of cinema. For example, R2 can be very optimistic while C-3PO – very pessimistic. But no matter what, they are the best of friends and have together served their Master Luke pretty well. Both of them will return in The Force Awakens.
One of the greatest leaders of the Rebellion, Princess Leia was both tough physically in battle and mentally in dire situations. Her resilience in overcoming the Empire made her one of the greatest heroes in the galaxy. But beyond that, she’s also the love interest of Han Solo and the twin sister of Luke Skywalker. A Jedi she may not be, but sensitive she is to the Force. After so many years, she will make an appearance again in Star Wars Episode VII:The Force Awakens.
Initially just a sarcastic and proud smuggler, Han Solo came to know Luke Skywalker & Obi-Wan Kenobi as they were looking for a starship to travel to the planet Alderaan. He agreed to help them as he would be paid. But eventually he came to believe in the cause for galactic freedom, stayed on and joined the fight against the Empire. His legendary starship – the Millennium Falcon has seen many battles since and played a part in some of the Rebellion’s greatest victories. Han Solo will also be back in The Force Awakens.
Our favorite hairy friend who is more affectionately known as “Chewie”, is Han’s co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon. A loyal Wookiee friend who would do anything for his comrades, Chewie is big and strong both on the outside and inside. We will see him once again in Episode VII.
Probably my favorite Star Wars character of all time, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a wise, noble and powerful Jedi Master. He trained Anakin Skywalker and mentored his son Luke in the ways of the Force. Facing all likeness of the Dark Side throughout his lifetime, he never wavered and emerged victorious numerous times. In his final days, he was a constant voice in Luke’s life, and even after being struck down by Darth Vader on the Death Star, he continued to provide guidance to him as a Living Force spirit.
Probably the wisest, oldest and most Force-attuned Jedi of them all, Grand Master Yoda trained up Jedi Knights and Masters over the course of more than 800 years. He may be small in stature, but his power was greater than most. He oversaw the Jedi Order, instructed Obi-Wan Kenobi at some points and was personally responsible for training Luke Skywalker to becoming the Jedi that he is today. Due to old age, he eventually passed away and became one with the Force in his hut on Dagobah, with Luke by his side. With his last words, he also informed Luke that “there is another Skywalker.”
Chancellor Palpatine a.k.a The Emperor
Light only shines the brightest in darkness. For the galaxy, the darkness of The Empire looming over them is caused mainly by this one man – Palpatine. Scheming and evil, he slowly manipulated the political systems to his favor with his position as Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Eventually, his plans succeeded and he declared himself as The Emperor of his newly formed Galactic Empire. When his true identity of Darth Sidious was revealed, he called for a major purge of the Jedi Order, killing almost every single one of them in an instant. His rule however, was not for eternity. His own apprentice Darth Vader was eventually turned back to the Light Side and killed him, putting an apparent end to The Sith.
Anakin Skywalker a.k.a Darth Vader
“You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!”
Also known as The Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker was a boy who was discovered by the Jedi Order and came under the apprenticeship of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi believed that he was the one who would fulfill the prophecy of The Chosen One, which was a Jedi legend that described the coming of a being who would destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force.
The prophecy would come to pass however, in a way The Jedi never expected. In the final days of the Galactic Republic, Anakin fell in love and secretly married Padmé Amidala, an influential figure of those times. She soon became pregnant with twins, and though Skywalker was happy, he began to have visions of his love dying in childbirth. Due to the fear of losing her, and with the influence of Chancellor Palpatine, he was seduced by the Dark Side and eventually gave in to it.
He pledged to serve Palpatine under a new alias – “Darth Vader” and together, they wiped out the entire Jedi Order with the exception of a few individuals. Most shocking of all, he also slaughtered Jedi younglings who stood no chance. This eventually led to a showdown between Anakin Skywalker and his former Master Obi-Wan Kenobi after he had the horrible revelation of Anakin’s deeds.
This would become one of the most intense lightsaber duels in the history of Star Wars, as much as it is heart-wrenching. At the end of the duel, Anakin overestimated his powers and lost his limbs by Obi-Wan’s saber. Obi-Wan Kenobi remorsefully left him to die, until The Emperor came to retrieve him and put him in his life-supporting armor we all recognize today.
6) The Story
So as you can see, the entire Star Wars story centers around the Skywalkers. It tells the story of how one man, due to the fear of losing his loved ones, was driven to the Dark Side. But it also tells the story of this same man, who due to the same love for his family, turned back to the Light Side. As most of you would know, at the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader could not stand watching as his son Luke was slowly being tortured by The Emperor. He was slowly but surely dying.
With whatever was left of his strength, Vader lifted the Emperor and hurled him down a reactor shaft, sustaining damage to his armor at the same time. The redeemed Anakin Skywalker would then reconcile with his son before dying in his arms, putting an end to The Sith and restoring balance to the Force as he was destined to.
Here’s the question of the day. Where does that bring us to right now? At the end of Episode 6, The Empire was heavily crippled and celebrations could be seen across the galaxy. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and all of their surviving friends would also be seen reuniting joyfully before the credits rolled. That was 30 years ago. Nobody expected a sequel after that, so it was a happy ending.
But here we are on the day when Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is about to be released. I know nothing about it other than the fact that this is a movie set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. I love being clueless but many questions are popping up in my head, especially after watching all the trailers! For example, what has happened to Luke Skywalker? Has he trained up a new generation of Jedi as Yoda had instructed him to? Also, wasn’t The Empire and The Sith defeated? Not a 100% apparently. And why is there still an ongoing war between the Rebels (now known as The Resistance) and The Empire (now known as The First Order)? WHY IS THERE A SITH LORD WIELDING A CROSS-GUARD LIGHTSABER?
I can’t wait for all these questions to be answered when I watch the movie on Monday (please don’t spoil it for me). I can’t wait to meet the new characters and find out how they are related to the returning characters! And last but not least, I can’t wait to find out why they all seem to have forgotten about the Force, the Jedi and the Dark Side. I guess after 30 years, all those things have merely become distant memories and myths.
So there you have it. The basics of basics of the Star Wars universe. Like I said, many details in this long episodic story have been left out & summarized. But hopefully with just this post alone, you were able to get a quicker idea of the story, characters, and world of Star Wars so far without being bombarded with extra information. Check out the latest trailer for The Force Awakens if you haven’t. Until I see the film for myself, off I go to the Prequel Trilogy!
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:
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, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – 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, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – 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. – John 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. – Hebrews 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. – John 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:
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.
There exists a vast forest named Heart. It is home to beautiful trees, rivers and wildlife. But deep within these woods also lived horrible beasts. Hiding among the shadows, they work to hunt down their prey. Especially so in the dark of Night.
I live in this forest. Encountering these beasts many times I have, But somehow their attacks I survived. Bruised and frightened I may have been, but still I am barely alive.
It was my forest, yet I could do nothing to protect it From the darkness that haunts it. The darkness that never belonged here. No matter how hard I fought, I lost more than I won.
Sometimes I would look at the goodness of the forest And wonder if it was created or kept by a Higher Being. If He exists and had the power to make it this way, He would have the power to rid me of my predators. I was weak, but was I alone?
One day I came to the center of the forest. There I found a desolate campsite. There I met the Keeper of the forest.
At the camp, He lit a Fire. A campfire it was that would keep the beasts away. A fire of Light, Warmth and Safety. I was finally free from the grasp of evil. But not for very long I fear.
Before He departed, the Keeper left me with these words, “The fire can only burn for so long before it dies out. Call out for me anytime. I will surely answer and come back with Firewood That will last you for the coming days.”
These Words I kept and Him I sought daily. In the darkest of Night and in the brightest of Day. Sometimes I think that I do not need Him or His fire in the Day. But I brushed those thoughts aside in gratitude to Him.
As I kept His Word, He kept His promise. No matter how dark it gets in the Heart, The Wolves of Lust, Bears of Ferocity And Serpents of Lies have no power over me.
How have I survived thus far? Because never once did I ever walk alone. As long as I have the Keeper, I will have a fire no darkness can extinguish.
Note: The following is a detailed write-up of Pastor Lia‘s message over the weekend of October 31st & November 1st.
What is faith? To different people, it may mean different things. For some, it can be a feeling; for others, an attitude. Maybe the best source to find out about faith isn’t ourselves, but the Bible! So let’s take a look at what it has to say.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
There we have it – the most reliable definition of faith. According to the Bible, faith is a strong sense of belief that we can have, especially for things that we have yet to even physically see or touch. With that basic knowledge, we can now move on to understand Pastor Lia’s message even more. Yup, it has only just started!
In life, it is very easy to be fearful. In a hospital room, in an examination hall, on stage. The struggle is not between needles & veins, questions & answers or speaker & audience – but faith and fear.
“11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” – Hebrews 6:11-12
When we are in tense settings like those mentioned above, it is very common for us to respond in fear. It is almost like an instinct for us to imagine the worst that can happen! However, just as described in Hebrews 6:11-12, we should have faith. Because it is through this faith in God that He will lead us to our “promised land”. God is always awaiting to do great things through us and fulfill His promises in our lives. But it is only people with faith – a special kind of faith that will inherit these promises.
Ambidextrous = able to use both left and right hands equally well
Some of you must be thinking at this point, “What exactly is this ambidextrous faith?” Well, Pastor Lia begins to explain with a historical example. Saint Basil of Caesarea was a bishop who lived in the 4th century, when many heretics were preaching and spreading their belief that Jesus was a mere man. In such a time as this, one would normally shrink back in fear. But Saint Basil was different. Though it was difficult, he chose to fight back in faith and spread the truth of Jesus Christ.
As such, his siblings described him as having “ambidextrous faith”. Why? Because with one hand, he held the blessings of God and in the other, the pains and struggles of life. We must understand that both blessings and problems are equally important in bringing us towards God’s plan for our lives! If you read the New Testament, you would realize that the disciples of Jesus understood this principle too. Even they had their fair share of sufferings. Of course, it’s best that we do not encounter such persecutions and tribulations. But if we do happen to, we shouldn’t be surprised! As we accept the good and the bad that is in stored for us, God will use both of them to bring us into our destiny.
“We may never find the reason for our suffering. But we can find the purpose for our suffering.”
Still a little unsure about the concept of ambidextrous faith? Pastor Lia continues with Scripture from Judges 20:13-16 (NLT & MSG). With this passage, she explained that in the olden times, when soldiers are wounded in battle, they have 2 choices. The first is to head home; the second is to stay and fight. The 700 elite soldiers mentioned in these verses chose the latter option, even though their right hands/arms have been wounded beyond function. These elite troops are described to be ambidextrous, deciding to learn how to fight with their left hands and becoming better doing so than they were ever before while right-handed.
How awesome is that? Some of us may have been discouraged in our faith, but we got to choose to be like the 700. We can decide to “go home” and be spiritually handicapped or stay on and continue the fight. Those guys back then refused to quit and became so accurate even with their left hands. The Bible describes them as being able to sling stones at a hair and not miss. They are literally Hawkeye! In the same way, we must keep on going and exercise ambidextrous faith. Sometimes, we may feel like we are neither qualified nor adequate enough to serve God. Or maybe we have stumbled in our faith and feel like we have failed Him. It hurts as much as having our right arms ripped off. But we got to learn how to fight with our left hands. Because where our strength ends, God’s begins.
“15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:15 (NLT)
The other kind of faith that we need in order to enter into the promises of God is none other than child-like faith. Note that “child-like” does not mean “childish”. What this means is that we have to approach God with a trusting & simple heart of a child. A child looks up to and trusts his father. In his eyes, his Dad can do anything and will do anything for him. At this point, Pastor Lia addressed the congregation.
“Before we get a vision for God, we need to get a vision of God.”
Most of the time, we Christians may only think that what matters to God should matter to us. But we must also realize that what matters to us, matters to God. Never forget the love of God and why we want to do great things for Him in the first place. Before Pastor Lia wrapped up her sermon, she shared with us a quote.
“What if faith and not fear is your default reaction to threats?” – Max Lucado
Can you imagine how different our lives would be if our “default mode” is always faith? God will be able to do amazing things in our lives! When we live by faith, knowing that we are children of the Most High King, we will inherit His promises and be fruitful. In Genesis, God just told Adam & Eve to be fruitful and multiply. He didn’t even need to explain fruitfulness to them because they were by default, already living in an environment of faith and fruitfulness! They instantly got it. If we let faith be our default mode in approaching our careers, schoolwork, relationships, sicknesses and life in general, we will walk in fruitfulness and miracles and sometimes not even know it.
The reason why I go to Heart of God Church every weekend without fail is this very reason – it’s an environment of faith. Through the worship, sermons and people, faith always leaps from one corner of the church to another and fills our hearts. This is why I have the strength to conquer every single week that comes. It isn’t just positive thinking! Trust me, if you ever step into our church on a weekend, you will leave it forgetting what “Monday blues” even mean. I dare you to try, especially if you are not yet a Christian. You may be thinking “Let me see God first, before I believe in Him.” But remember what faith is in its very roots? Have faith in Him today and believe first. Then, you will see Him for who He truly is.
“29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” – John 20:29
Before I end off this post, I must say that I did not exactly follow the order of Pastor Lia’s sermon! Honestly, there are also certain parts of the message that I’m very sure I did not include in here too. So if you’re in Singapore anytime soon (or if you’re Singaporean), do drop us a visit and you may just hear the woman of God for yourself! It is way better than reading this for sure.
Now, I am going to conclude this article with a story that Pastor Lia originally shared in the middle of this sermon. It is the story of a young man in our church who possesses ambidextrous faith, and I would like to share it with you here to end off today’s post.
Calvin has been a member of our church for the past few years. He serves in the Videos Ministry and you would often find him in our Media Room, giving his best in serving God. These are a few things in church that he does amongst others that make up his purposeful life. But what makes him so special? What makes him such a man of ambidextrous faith?
Well, until recently, few of us would know that he was born with a deficiency – color blindness. This condition causes him to see certain colors as others, and also renders him unable to tell apart shades of the same color. You must be thinking now if I made a mistake about him being in the Videos Ministry. Nope I didn’t; the church has seen his work before too! Calvin just didn’t let his condition be his conclusion.
Just like the 700 elite troops, he did not let his deficiency be a disadvantage or excuse for himself. As soon as he got a vision from God one day to do videos for Him, he just ran with it with passion. He got trained, got into the ministry, and the rest is history. He has done so many excellent videos to this date and is on his way to doing more, and none of us could ever tell that it was done by a man who has his condition.
In fact, for 4 long years, nobody knew about his deficiency! It wasn’t because he was insecure and wanted to keep it a secret. He just didn’t look at his disability as an issue worthy enough to raise. In his eyes, it’s nothing! He did not look at this disability first and let it stop him from pursuing the dreams that God has given him. With the help of his friends in the ministry, as well as with his determination, he is able to produce awesome videos like the rest.
Just to put you into context with an example, other video crews would usually just work on a video and choose colors for it easily. But for Calvin, if he wants to have a certain color for a video, he would need to go through a longer process of searching up the hexadecimal code of that color (e.g. Gold #ffd700) and pasting it into the editing software, before applying it on the video itself.
Has these slowed him down in producing videos? Maybe a little. But has all these slowed him down any bit in terms of chasing his vision? Not at all. That is why he is our hero of ambidextrous faith.
Why am I so convinced that only God can be responsible for such faith? How am I so sure that Calvin’s story is true? Well, have I ever mentioned before that I also serve in the Videos Ministry? Haha.
It’s been exactly 2 weeks since Destiny: The Taken King came out, and I’ve been totally enjoying it over my first few hours as a new Guardian. But more than just the gameplay which is obviously fun, what continues to interest me are the “Grimoires” you gain throughout your time in Destiny.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Destiny, Grimoires are these little cards you collect over time in the game as you defeat enemies, complete missions and interact with the world. They contain little facts, accounts, and stories which form the background of Destiny and its lore.
So far, I’ve gotten quite a few of them – not much, but enough to give me some basic information about the setting of the game. And together with some “story cutscenes” that I’ve watched over my few hours in-game, I decided to have some fun with whatever knowledge I have as of now.
I present to you a prologue to my own imagination of the Destiny story. Because the story of Destiny isn’t really clear-cut (from what I know), it gives us the freedom to tell our own stories. Whether you’re a Destiny player or not, I hope you have fun reading this as much as I did writing it. So without further ado, here’s the introduction to my story (which may or may not take form eventually) that is set within the Destiny universe:
– PROLOGUE –
We were at the height of biological research and technological advancements. Centuries ago, the intelligence of mankind has brought us further than we could ever imagine. But of course, we were not perfect, and so was the same for our world. Poverty, violence, disease. They all existed. It was also the truth that our advancements came with a price. The resources of our home – Earth were gradually being used up and the “health” of our planet, as many would call it, was declining.
With the fear within them that the Earth would eventually come to a lifeless end, mankind looked towards the stars, in search of a possible alternative for Home. Countless space explorations were initiated and humans were sent to neighboring planets in our Solar System, all with the hope of finding life beyond Earth. One exploration in particular, changed us forever.
Tom Irons, Robert Cross and Leon Woodley were dispatched to Mars after images from robotic orbiters revealed a strange body of mass emerging from the northern region of the planet. Their mission was to investigate the strange phenomenon, and at the same time search the surface of the planet for possibilities of inhabiting it.
“Maybe aliens do exist,” Tom joked as the space capsule approached the planet at incredible speed. “Oh I’ve seen them,” Robert replied with a slight giggle. “They have Irons as their last name.” Laughter was heard throughout their communication systems. “Alright guys, we’re here!” Leon announced as they breached the atmosphere. And before they knew it, the crew made a soft and successful landing.
With a heart full of expectancy but with a slight hint of fear, they stepped out of the capsule and onto the dusty butterscotch ground. Mountains and formations of rock sat in the distance while particles of dirt danced through the air. Something about this foreign world drew them to it. Then it began. The crew trekked in one direction up north, towards the location the large mass was last spotted at. Time passed. It could have been forty-five minutes or an hour.
But it was there and then when they came to the foot of what seemed to be a volcano. And just by glancing at one another with a smile, the three started to make a climb up the slopes with one accord, as if each of them could read the minds of the ones by their side. Well, they were best buddies after all.
“Maybe we can spot the thing from up there,” Robert pointed towards the summit. Tom could see the slight fatigue on his face behind the visor. He turned to Leon as he started to speak his usual words of encouragement, “Yup! Almost there!” The slopes gradually became gentler and easier to traverse. Eventually, it became a flat plain; they have reached the top. And at the top, was when mankind saw it for the very first time.
Looming overhead was the huge body of mass. It was round in form and the color of snow. And it brought with its arrival something unexpected on Mars – rain. “It’s raining on Mars?” Tom looked up at the sky in disbelief and excitement as the first drops of water landed on his helmet. “It is!”
It was a historical day and time for mankind as they watched the sphere move across the entire Solar System. For with it brought miracles and life never seen before. With it brought transformations to our world and what we knew about it. With it brought strength, cure and Light. With it brought The Golden Age.
And of course, we named this embodiment of hope that swept across our stars.
Just to Share: I know it’s already a little into Fall season right now in terms of movies, but better late than never right? Haha so without further ado, here are some movies I am personally looking forward to for the remainder of the year!
1. The Martian
Remember me saying previously that I have a thing or two for science-fiction? Yup, that was enough to get me interested in this movie. And of course, it looks really good with an interesting fresh plot. Based on the novel of the same name, we will be brought on a journey to Mars where an astronaut gets stranded on, finding means to survive while his crew mates on Earth struggle to return and rescue him. Seems like the kind of movie that would be engaging from start to finish.
Childhood fantasies will be relived this October when a new origin story is birthed forth on the big screen for Peter Pan. I mean seriously, the last time I watched a Peter Pan film, I was only 7 years-old! And like I said, I would always love a good movie about adventure. But that’s not the only thing that I’m looking forward to in the movie. I’m also looking forward to Hugh Jackman’s performance as Blackbeard, which so far, looks oddly interesting.
Just as we were on the topic of fantasy, here comes another one in the genre, mixed with comedy and fun. Goosebumps totally reminds me of those Scooby-Doo movies that I used to enjoy as a kid! But honestly, I just want to see what this movie has to offer in terms of story too. Also, it’s been some time since I watched a film featuring monsters on the loose (not referring to those scary ones). So if it’s good, why not?
Let’s change frequencies a little. 2015 has been a year of spy flicks, with the likes of Kingsman, Mission Impossible and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But one of the most renowned agents, 007 is returning to bring a conclusion to spy films for the year. Well, at least from what I know, there aren’t anymore big ones coming out! And for the most of it, the James Bond films starring Daniel Craig have received great reviews so far, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. That is, after I’ve finished watching the previous installments first.
5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Talking about movie franchises that I need to catch up on, it reminds me of The Hunger Games. But having watched none of its previous installments, I’m already hyped up for Mockingjay Part 2 by this trailer haha. Still, there’s no way I am stepping into the cinema without first finding time to watch the first 3 films! Being one of those movies that first kicked off the trend of films based on young adult novels, I’m confident this last installment in the series would give fans an epic conclusion that will not disappoint.
6. The Good Dinosaur
Pixar. The animation studio that has brought us Inside Out, my favorite film of the year so far, is going to bring us into a world where dinosaurs roam the Earth alongside Man. With Inside Out being such a great success both critically and commercially, it makes me both excited and worried for The Good Dinosaur. With 2 movies released in a year, and having the first one being so successful, people are going to have high hopes for the second one. So much so that it may not meet up to their expectations. But for me, I’m going to have faith in Pixar that they’ll deliver once again. Just look at how beautiful the film looks from the trailer!
7. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
Probably the last big animation film of the year (that I know of); Blue Sky Studios are bringing the art style of the Peanuts comic strip into the larger canvas of a feature film. I’m always up for a good animation film and so far, the look and the animations of this movie looks really interesting. You can tell it’s not just your usual 3D animations, but with a blend of “hand-drawn style” animations as well. I’m seeing it as the kind of movie I would watch with some of my younger cousins & some popcorn during the holidays. How about you?
8. In the Heart of the Sea
Not the most edifying movie to watch I must say, with the kind of “disaster at sea” that it portrays. But I have a feeling it will be a great movie still in terms of plot, acting and visual effects. I’m especially looking forward to Chris Hemsworth’s performance outside of his role as a superhero in The Avengers. And did you know that this movie is directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Rush)? There’s great potential in this movie turning out to be phenomenal.
9. The Revenant
Academy Award® winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu is back in the director’s seat after his 2014 film Birdman won the Oscar for Best Picture earlier this year. This time, it seems to be yet another Oscar-worthy film. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, The Revenant feels like a really intense and immersive film. According to reports, the making of the film had gone way over-budget and over-schedule because of certain ways the director wanted it to be shot. It seemed bad but I’m also looking forward to seeing the results of his decisions & everyone’s hard work on set. Who knows? Maybe DiCaprio can finally win an Oscar through this.
10. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
You’ve probably guessed this last movie that I’m most looking forward to right now, haven’t you? Hahaha everyone is looking forward to it! The Force is strong, but the hype for this is even stronger. I watched Star Wars as a kid, and I must say that when I watched the trailer above, just hearing the opening music alone brought chills to my spine. The rest of the trailer did what it set out to do – making us want to watch it again & again until the movie comes out. Oh, and it reminded me to go watch all Episodes 1-6 one more time. Soon I’ll be ready! Going to the cinemas this Christmas will feel magical.
Well, it always seems that my lists of “anticipated things” always ends up being a list of 10. But that wraps up all the movies that I’m really hoping to watch this Fall/Holiday. Hopefully I can suck out all the creative juices that they have to offer too. Haha, thanks for reading.