Monday, May 18, 2009

To Know, and Not Obey

Luke 12:47-48

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

These verses make me wonder where I am. I don't think I have been entrusted with very much - yet if I'm wrong about that, boy!! 

I know God's will is for me to do what He has called - find needs, meet them, find hurts, heal them. Don't let someone who needs help pass by. Don't let someone who needs a hug leave without one. Don't miss an opportunity to minister and to teach.

Looks like I'm in for a beating with many blows. *gulp*

Yet, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thing is, I have to be mindful to REMAIN in Christ.

Yesterday I peeped this book my husband has been reading: From Good Man to Valiant Man by Dr Allan Meyer.  Dr Meyer teaches on sexual purity for men — there really ought to be one for women too. 

In it he talks about how to stay out of sin - how to recognise what causes your thoughts to engage in a sexually charged moment, and how to instantly react so that that thought does not take root. Throughout this entire exercise, one has to be so one with and connected to God that it is impossible to fail. 

If we are not joined with God we cannot know His perfect will for our lives.

Lord, bring me back to that point - I once was there, but now... not so much.

Another busy day - be with me.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Being Kingdom-Minded


Once in a while, You would call me back to a state in mind in which I suddenly remember what I'm here for.

1. Go and make disciples of all nations
2. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
3. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely You are with me always, to the very end of the age.

Often I am not Kingdom-minded. Often, I am self-centred. Often, it's all about me, my husband and my kids.

It's not wrong but even with my kids - am I Kingdom-minded?

You have given me this beautiful, brilliant trio and am I preparing them to be arrows going into the world, to penetrate it with the goodness of God?

Yesterday we had a discussion about how to protect the Kingdom and all the good works we have put in place. One bad AWARE situation can topple a lifetime of good. Look at how the media has mercilessly torn down Ren Ci and Ming Yi, forgetting - totally erasing - the immense work, sweat, blood, sacrifice this man has put into this organisation at the cost of himself. 

None of us wants to have to waste time battling secular battles that we are not called to engage in nor to win. We are to go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16). We just do the preaching. They have to do the believing. And we're not to do the condemning - that's not our turf.

Instead we are to zealously obey Jesus' commands (see previous post). To love, to serve God. To love, to serve all.

I'm proud of the things we are doing - the MS patients, cleaning up and repainting old folks homes and befriending them, helping the intellectually disadvantaged. I'm proud we have a school that tells kids "You have a second chance and we're here to make sure this time you shine", when all they have heard in life is "You're a loser. Get out of my class."

All these good works can be easily destroyed with a poor reputation. As God's child, I must jealously uphold that reputation. Don't do stupid things. Don't say stupid things. Keep up the good work even if I'm so tired already - must not weary in well-doing for in due season I know I shall reap my reward.

Lord, I'd be crazy if i pretend this is easy. It feels like one long fight sequence sometimes. But ... for You, for Your kingdom, for the world to taste and see and feel and hear and know your awesome, mind-blowing, soul-shredding love for each individual - it's all worth it. I'm glad someone (in fact, many someones) kept praying and working and being rejected just to bring me steps closer to You till I finally fell into Your arms.

I live that I can do that for someone - many someones.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

From Darkness into His Glorious Light

Romans 1

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like moral man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be don. 

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 

30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but approve of those who practice them.

I read this passage the day after I was saved in 2003, October. 

It was like reading my whole life story. I was born and baptised Catholic at the age of 16 days. But I never grew up in the living knowledge of Jesus. He was, to me, a good man who died on the cross and somehow, I was supposed to believe that he was the only way to Father God.

Father God, I thought I knew. Many of us - even those who will not subscribe to organised religion (which they utter in the same sort of tone as "organised crime") - believe there is a higher being, a divine force. Somehow, there is something in us that "just knows". Whether Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist — there is a sort of wondering fear of this great spirit in the sky. Better to believe than not. In case, ya know.

It takes a lot of faith and will to be an atheist, but that's another conversation for another day.

Although my mother and my cathecism teachers had taught me all about God, how He made me and the whole world around me, how He loved me, how He died for me... it was not something I made a conscious choice to believe, and hence, although I believed with all my heart that since my magical baptism had already happened, I was ready to go to Heaven anytime.

See, that's what Paul meant when he used the terms "futile thinking, foolish heart darkened".

If one is left without the truth, one will find his own truth. I did that. I was as depraved as they came (okay, so no drugs but there was nothing I didn't know about sin). I was the go-to girl for witchcraft (Tarot cards, palm reading, blah blah blah - weirdly "accurate" said people of my so-called talent). I was the one that if anyone was writing a book about porn, orgies, sex of any sort - call Theresa. (this in fact happened - a year after I was saved. A good friend - no names - called and said "Hey I have a sex compilation to do for XYZ foreign publisher, can you help?" and I was like, "Sorry wrong number!")

Friends who knew me from before - many of whom were involved or instigated the AWARE saga - were amazed at the total transformation in my life. In 2003 Jesus picked up this filthy little girl, so lost in her depravity, who finally, finally gave up when faced with the harsh reality of her dying parents - no more playing games. WHO IS THIS GOD? WHERE IS HE WHEN I NEED HIM?

Sliver by sliver, gentle as a leaf, God brought me to His holy Word. I drank the Scriptures like I was going to die of thirst. Being jobless gave me much time to do this - I would read my Bible for hours, amazed that I never saw, never read, never understood all the incredible truths that were in there. My eyes were blinded, but now I could see (ah, so that's what that line in 'Amazing Grace' means). And line by line, my God, my Lord Jesus became more and more real to me, and it became a BURNING, URGENT NEED to really know Him.

What was I doing with my life, squandering my days when I could have been living according to His will, doing the things He already planned for me to do before I was even born! AUGH! The thought of those wasted years, all 36 of them!

Before my parents even met, before I was even a thought in my Mom and Dad's mind, God already knew me. We are all spirit beings - and God is spirit, and He knows us so intimately it is almost scary He knows our innermost thoughts, our desires, our dreams. That's why, apart from the atheists and their Jedi mind tricks, each human being somehow has this inborn knowledge that there is a supreme being. Of course you do - you were made by Him, you carry His DNA.

I was separated from my God - the Daddy who made me. Because of sin, I was a child of sin - and I was particularly a very ripe example of a sinful child. How to get back? Only through the saving knowledge of Christ. It took me a long time and probably 70 Sinner's Prayers, but finally, finally, God was good, and He sent legions of angels (some in human form) to pray with me till my stubborn, scar-covered heart finally opened up and let Him in.


The light began to break me. Piercing holes like laser through my darkened thinking. Illuminating my eyes my mind. Purifying my body. It felt wonderful, terrifying, powerful. When I received the fullness of the Holy Spirit I felt 20 feet tall! I could chase demons from my house, I destroyed the binding items from my past, burned my Tarot cards, my witchcraft kits. It was like my body and my mind could not stand to have even one bit of filth around me - I felt scrubbed so clean - I had repented and God had removed my sins from me as far as the East is from the West. He doesn't remember all the things I have done - it's wiped clean. I felt so, so clean, so right. 

I knew that I knew that I knew - this is the truth. This is my God. This is the life I'm supposed to live, not what happened before.

I never want to go back there. 

Friends who knew me from my BC days said, "What is it with you? You're glowing!" It's the light of Christ. 

Is being a Christian easy? I'd be lying if I said yes. It is a daily walk - you have to keep walking or you'll get lost. I have to put on the mind of Christ - I work at no longer thinking only my way, but Jesus' way. It's not easy, but it is rewarding.

Now, I read the newspapers and feel ... poignant is probably the best word. Because had this happened before 2003, I would probably be in the front row of that Suntec hall, pelting Josie Lau with spit balls. I was so sure, so "PC" - of course every human deserves to be, do as he/she wants. I would have said, women must fight for the rights of homosexuals because they are a minority group - but now, I honestly think the homosexuals (if they really want to classify and dichotomise themselves so) are perfectly capable of fighting for their own rights. 

I would have called this saga a fight between human rights and fundamentalist intimidation. But it is in fact, a fight between right-wing frightened mothers and a left-wing group of individuals who have become an organised religion unto themselves. Their religion is secularism. 

Who's fighting for human rights?
Josie and gang are fighting their human right to protect their young from what they consider ill influences.
The old guard, representing (by some unfathomable reason) gays and lesbians, is fighting its human right to exist and not be judged or coerced.

Homosexuality is not the issue - it is the propagation of homosexuality that is Josie's issue. Leave our kids alone, we'll leave you alone - that's what they really wanted to say.

But instead, this true motivation has been snowed under a whole bunch of baloney about civil rights, religion vs secularism... it's none of that. Right at the bottom of this is a bunch of moms who, like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens 2, will not let any b*tch hurt her kid. She will fight. And I guess, maybe, Josie and gang just fought without really thinking. And this time, the alien ate her up.

"For God has given us not a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind."

Unfortunately, this saga demonstrated the complete opposite of this. When anyone - even a Christian - acts out in fear, you are giving away your power, love and your sound mind.

This is a watershed event - one that has divided society. The media makes it seem like most Singaporeans support the old guard - I dare say that's not exactly true. The old guard may be more vocal, but at the core of it, Singaporeans are simply, family-loving people. Any threat to the "moral fabric" of society will not be taken lightly - and any perceived threat by gays and lesbians to "coach" their kids into a homosexual lifestyle will not be accepted.

Ultimately, as PM Lee said in Parliament a year and a half ago:

“'Among the conservative Singaporeans, the deep concerns over the moral values of society will remain and among the gay rights' activists, abolition is not going to give them what they want because what they want is not just to be freed from section 377A, but more space and full acceptance by other Singaporeans. And they have said so. So, supposing we move on 377A, I think the gay activists would push for more, following the example of other avant garde countries in Europe and America, to change what is taught in the schools, to advocate same-sex marriages and parenting, to ask for, to quote from their letter, "...exactly the same rights as a straight man or woman.' This is quoting from the open letter which the petitioners wrote to me. And when it comes to these issues, the majority of Singaporeans will strenuously oppose these follow-up moves by the gay campaigners and many who are not anti-gay will be against this agenda, and I think for good reason". LEE HSIEN LOONG in Parliament on 23 Oct 2007

As much as the old guard says "Leave us alone", so do Josie and other parents have the right to say, "Leave our kids alone."

God and good sense shall prevail, I'm sure of it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

To Love Is To Obey

1 John 2:3-6 -  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

I struggle with obeying God. I think, I would not be alone in saying this. From the little things like saying sorry when I have wronged someone (but feel righteous in hurting that person), to the big things like not doing my quiet time, not being still to know he is God - I have disobeyed the Lord, and despite all my good intentions, I still do.

I know what Paul means when he says he hates his flesh. All the stuff he wants to do, he doesn't. All the things he shouldn't be doing, he does. Times like these I wonder if the Opus Dei are not so weird for wearing their little crown of thorns around their thighs, just to remind themselves to not give in to the flesh.

Okay that's pretty extreme. I'm not a bondage kind of girl (anymore).

If someone says they know Jesus and Jesus is their Lord, if they disobey Jesus' commands, then Bible says this person is a liar and the truth is not in him.

What are Jesus's commands? When Jesus asked the expert of the law (Luke 10:25-28) he replied:

a. "Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength." I take that to mean, put God first - He permeates every thought, decision, action we take.

b. "Love your neighbour as yourself." Put others before ourselves, find ways to help them, go out of your way to help them (this was illustrated by the parable of the Good Samaritan)

Jesus agreed with these. These are the 2 commands of Christ that have brought our church thus far. 

I  found this study that's quite interesting - it lists the 7 major commands of Jesus:

1. Repentance (Luke 24:33-53)
a. Water Baptism (Luke 3:1-18)
b. Baptism by the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:5-13)

2. Faith (Luke 18:9-17)
a. Letting the Seed Grow in our Hearts (Mark 4:1-20)
b. Persevering Faith (Heb 10:19-12:13)

3. Love (Luke 10:25-37)

4. Pray (Luke 18:1-8)

5. Give (Mark 12:41-44)

6. Communion (1 Corinthians 11: 17-34

7. Make Disciples (Mark 1:14-20)

Our church is built on #3: Love. This is the greatest commandment of them all - because if I obey this commandment in FULL, I would be loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, strength (and I would be repenting, praying, giving, exercising my faith), and I would be loving other people  as I love myself (teaching and making disciples to grow them in their faith, having communion with them in remembrance of Christ, giving, praying for them...).

As Christians, sometimes we get so zealous and jealous for the Lord. I've chilled a lot now, but previously I would get into fights with non-believers about my God. 

As I grew - I began to realise that Jesus really is our best example. He never stormed the temple and mounted a hostile takeover, even though the temple was being used to preach all sorts of heresy and keep the people in bondage. Did He rebuke the temple leaders? Yes, but only when they came to Him and asked Him dumb questions. 

Instead Jesus focused on the right stuff - teaching the people the truth, because the truth set them free. When the teachers of the law try to trap Him with scriptural knowledge and conundrums, He refused to get down to their level. He simply rewrapped the question and returned to sender (eg. the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-1).

Is this the way we should show love? Don't get distracted - do what we are commanded. Don't engage in fights with people who are not of the spirit - that's casting pearls before swine. They cannot understand the things of the spirit - it is foolishness to them.

I'm trying not to climb on my soapbox. What a temptation. But in the light of the AWARE battle, it was not a battle in which God was with the Christians. It was clear that they were going to lose this one big time - I prayed for their protection, that no harm would befall them or their familes, that they would come out of the fire not smelling of smoke (not sure about that one).

It was not something Jesus would have done - no matter how noble their intent, it was not of God. Because it demonstrated a severe lack of love for our neighbours - these are the people that ended up chasing the new exco out of AWARE. We are called to win the lost, not hammer them into submission. 

Gays and lesbians - we know what the Bible says (Romans 1: 26-27; 1 Cor 6:9). But ultimately we too were all sinners that were saved by Jesus' work on the cross. Can one love God wholeheartedly and still be gay? Well, can one love God wholeheartedly and still murder? Can one love God wholeheartedly and still commit adultery? Think about it.

All I know is that, in this arena of gender issues, the battle belongs to the Lord. Where emotions have been invested, there is no easy way to walk away for anyone who has loved, whether you are straight or not. 

Yes, as Christian parents, and responsible parents, we should know what our kids are being taught in school. How much should they know? It's not what they know, but how we, as parents, explain these facts to them Biblically. Innocence is not isolating oneself from the world. Innocence, like Joseph when his boss's wife wanted to sleep with him, is virtue tested and triumphant. Like me, you want your kids, when faced with temptation, to make the right choice by themselves.

So back to obedience: But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. Can I obey God's word? In order to obey it, I gotta know it. In order to know it, I gotta read it and meditate and memorise it. But I know when I do, God's love is made complete in me and I will know how to live my life for His glory.