Showing Honour To My Father

In a few weeks’ time, it will be half a year since we leave our father and mother and hold fast to each other as one flesh in our new family nucleus. We are hopeful that God will provide the grace we need to build our lives on Christ as the foundation of our marriage. Sometimes, it is through becoming a husband myself that I understood first hand the high calling God has called husband to fulfill. And often times, we husbands failed. This gave me a greater appreciation and a clearer eye to see the things that are commendable in other marriages around me.

The marriage that is closest to me is obviously my parents. In all marriages, you will surely be able to find fault if we look hard enough (since we are sinners living in a fallen world). But a marriage that last for decades and counting is worthy of praise, and this post is to appreciate my father for raising me up and taking care of the family in the method he knows how to.

Singaporeans like me are not good with constructing sentences to express ourselves. And we are terribly awkward when we hug each other or say words like “I love you”. But that does not mean love is absent. We still express love in the way we know best (though sometimes that may not be most biblical). As awkward as I am, I do appreciate learning how to express love from the culture that my wife grew up in. Here are some ways my father expressed his love.

My father flew in a month before my wedding together with me to offer his presence and financial support. The photo below was taken on my wedding day during a photoshoot.

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My father is thrifty when it comes to spending money on himself, but often willing to spend on others.

My father prepares breakfast for me every morning when I was still a student and living with the family.

One Sunday, my father shared his only breakfast (2 slices of bread) with my mother.

My father provided counsel and shared his views on things that were happening in my life.

My father gave a speech in one of the wedding ceremony in Singapore in English when his first language is Mandarin.

My father is self-disciplined with his health.

My father is praying.

My father is studying the Bible diligently.

My father is involved in church activities.

My father takes care of himself and does not do risky stuff.

My father prioritizes his time when we invited the family over for dinner.

My father tries his best to be faithful in his spiritual live when he is a young believer.

My father learns to apply the Bible.

My father is observant.

My father is hungry for spiritual growth.

My father is thankful.

My father learns to use social media.

My father often do his best to express himself when asked.

My father speaks English when my wife is around.

My father includes my wife in family discussion.

God has blessed me with a father who fears God and is growing in his sanctification daily.

He is not perfect, but he is learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. May my father continues to grow in the fear of the LORD.

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My father is learning to lead my mother not just in this dance, but also in their marriage. And I, too, am also learning to lead my wife not just in this dance, but also in our marriage.

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We are called to encourage one another to be faithful in the areas that God gave us, and today, I’m encouraging my father to persevere in being a faithful and humble servant of the LORD in his own marriage.

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And lastly, my father gave this old school can-opener to us and my wife just recently learnt how to use it after Chin explained it to her.

 

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Christmas is coming!

It is amazing how much Thanksgiving is forgotten now days. It seems like very year I see Christmas decorations sooner than the year before. This year Christmas is a bit different. and even though it is still nearly 2 months away, I have found myself thinking on it more. Therefore I thought I would take a post and answer one of the most common questions I am asked by my US friends this time of year – Do they celebrate Christmas in Singapore?

What a great question! Singapore consists of primarily Asian cultures and in most Asian cultures, Christmas is not a day of note. Therefore, the answer is no. Christmas is not a holiday that local Singaporeans celebrate. It is simply a day that they get off from work.

However! If you were to come visit me, you would within your first hour look at me and say “I thought they didn’t celebrate Christmas here!”  To give a better understanding, I took a walk this week through Orchard, one of the bigger shopping and business districts here. I took a walk and took pictures of what I saw.

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Thats right! Christmas here is in full swing! In fact, because Thanksgiving is an American holiday, there are no other holidays between Halloween and Christmas. Thus I have been seeing Christmas decorations for sale since early October. In nearly all commercial areas, there are signs of Christmas. Each mall having their own theme and decor. Christmas music is piped through every store. Outside the malls at Orchard, the street is Disney themed this year. Complete with spots to take photos with Mickey and Minnie.

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Stores everywhere are having their Christmas sales and are decked with various holiday decor. Grocery stores are filled with candies. And who could forget Starbucks? New holiday drinks and cups galore!

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The question “why?” can now be asked. Why would a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas as part of their culture have such a large presence of this western holiday? Christmas has a presence here because of westerners. It is here because of tourists that come during the winter and because of westerners who have moved here for work. There is a market for these things, so thus shelf space everywhere is dedicated to a fat man in a red suit. They even say Merry Christmas without all the political kerfuffle that it is met with in the US.

Now, many of you may be asking at this point – what about at church? Surely Christian churches must celebrate Christmas. After all, it is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. The answer to this is again – no. While some do, my church, along with a number of others here in Singapore, do not celebrate. No bows, garlands, or holly. No trees or lights. No Christmas carols. Not even a message about the birth of Christ. An additional prayer service is planned for Christmas day but that is about it.

Again, this begs the question “Why?” for many. The reasoning, though difficult to swallow, is actually quite sound.

  1. Christmas was founded upon a pagan holiday. There is a great deal of evidence that shows Christmas being celebrated long before it became part of the Catholic faith in the time of Constantine. It was celebrated by the Romans. Trees were decorated in the time the early Egyptians and the Babylonians. Mistletoe, Holly, Ivy, all were used in worship. I will not go in to full detail here. Saint Nicholas comes from German tradition. Though there are such figures in Norse mythology as well. The following link is a great article by someone who has done much more research than I. It will help for those looking to understand about the origins of Christmas. This holiday was indeed Christianised from pagan faiths.

https://www.hope-of-israel.org/cmas1.htm

2. Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. There are a few passages in Scripture that show this. We are told in Luke 2:7-8 that shepherds and flocks were out in the fields at night. It is unlikely that they would stay in the fields in December. Israel is cold and rainy in the winter months. Were Jesus born on December 25th, the sheep would likely have been in a stable. We are also told in Luke 2:1-4 that a census was happening at the time of Christ’s birth. This is also unlikely to take place in winter. Weather would make traveling much more difficult, not just for Mary and Joseph, but for Roman officials and Tax Collectors as well.

With these two thoughts in mind, some churches here (mine included). Think there is little reason to celebrate this holiday. It is founded in paganism and the foundations by which Christians justify there celebration is false. Thus, in order to separate themselves from the paganism on which Christmas if founded, no mention is made of Christmas. Similarly, Easter, Black Friday, Chinese New Year, and other holidays are not given any special attention.

Honesty time – I have a hard time with this. The two facts stated above are true. I do think Christ was born some time in the spring. I do know that Christmas was founded in paganism. I also understand that Christmas is simply not something that is part of culture here. It has been brought in commercially by and or westerners, but for the majority of people here, Christmas has never been a day for celebrating.

But as this topic has been much discussed in the past few weeks, I have found myself mulling over it more and more. Why do I participate in Christmas? What about other holidays? There are many holidays here that I am just now coming to know. The Hungry Ghost Festival, The Moon Festival, and Chinese New Year are just a few of them! I have found myself thinking more and more about it, because I think the answer to “why do I celebrate Christmas?” and “Why do you celebrate Chinese New Year?” are similar in nature. Many of the holidays I am seeing happen for the first time, are, like Christmas, rooted in their own paganism. Some revolve around demonic spirits and many are rooted in ancestral worship. Yet for many, I think both of these holidays are about family.

As I have thought about these things, I have asked myself why Christmas is important to me. Christmas is the time I get to spend with people I love. I live across the planet from my family now. Getting to spend Christmas with them will be a special and cherished time. I also can say that the Lord will be honoured as I spend that day with them. Pine trees, mistletoe, cakes, prime rib, lights, gifts – all of these things  on any other day would be just things. Things that most would be excited about none the less.  Yet for some reason if they are seen or done on December 25th they must have to do with Christmas and that is pagan…?

As I think this over, I am drawn to the following passage, 1 Corinthians 8:

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.[a]

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Paul is referring specifically to meat that has been offered to idols here. There were some amongst them who felt that to eat such meat was sinful. There were others who saw it as just meat and ate with no issue. Paul tells them that the meat is just that – meat. Yet he cautions those who know eating such meat is not sinful. The brothers and sisters around them were troubled by the eating of meat offered to idols. Those who ate without guilt were then cautioned not to eat when surrounded by those younger in faith who were troubled. For their sakes, so that they might not stumble. This principle can ring true for holidays as well.

I am not a pagan. I do not worship the sun. Or the Roman emperor. Or a goddess of fertility. Or my ancestors. I see nothing wrong with decorating my home with a tree and lights. I find myself guilty of no sin by giving gifts or by having a meal with my family. Yet there are some around me at church who are troubled by this. So indeed for their sakes, I will refrain when they are around.

Yet Christmas is part of who I am. It is part of how I grew up. Now more than ever, it is the only time I may see some of my family. It is a time where we laugh together, play games, worship, learn from the Word of God, and simply enjoy each others company. I am blessed that this year I will be able to return to California for Christmas. I eagerly await it!

I have not yet celebrated Chinese New Year. But I look forward to it this spring. Just as I look forward to many of the holidays that are celebrated here in Singapore. This melting pot of a city is home to so many cultures. It is amazing to see the uniqueness of each.

As this post draws to a close, American, Singaporean, or for any other nationality or race across the globe who may be reading this. I ask you to think about the holidays you participate in. Particularly for believers in Jesus Christ – Do your own investigating. Where does your holiday come from? Are you right with the Lord in the midst of your feasting? Or are you worshipping something or someone else? Or are you struggling with  the idea of meat that is just after all, just meat? I challenge you to challenge your thinking on these ‘holy’ days, these days of celebration.

30 Hours in Cambodia

Bryan and I recently had the opportunity to spend just under 2 days in Cambodia. This trip was part of Bryans work. He will be spending 2 weeks there in December on a humanitarian trip through work.  This past weekend was a vision trip for the larger trip to come. We arrived in Phnom Penh mid afternoon on Saturday along with 5 others from Bryan’s company. We met their main contact and spent the evening getting to know him, trying some local foods, and doing some sight seeing in the city.

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Phnom Penh is a busy city. Cars, motorbikes, and tuktuks everywhere, all full of busy people. We saw places of worship, businesses, and homes. The streets are not clean like they are in Singapore and traffic felt very “every man for himself”. Many people live above their businesses in the city as seen the photos below. Our hotel was across from a mattress business. They used a pully to lower things like pillows down from the upper floors to waiting purchasers below on the street.

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The below photos is of power lines. The power lines are run entirely above ground in this city. There are so many, that at times, it seems like there is a canopy above you. 0c441eb8-7bd3-42fb-ad32-d38c2d94930a

Food was quite eclectic. When we went to a local mall for lunch on Sunday we had the chance to eat Indian, Cantonese, Malay, and much more, much like in Singapore. We looked for a stall that sold Cambodian food as pictured below. I can’t even tell you the name of what I was eating, just that it was leafy greens, pork and egg. I quite enjoyed this lunch though Bryan’s curry was not nearly as yummy.

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The next day we checked out of our hotel and made our way to the Bassac River where the team in December will spend much of their time. The images below are from the market on the city side of the river where the team will purchase food each day. As well as the jetty they will use to come and go.

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Kor Island, lovingly called The Island by those who live and work there, is where the team in December will be. This island is  set in the river and is only reachable by a boat / ferry guided by a local. This boat provides the only means of contact with the world across the river and The Island is a far different place from Phnom Penh. The images below show The Island sights, as well as where the December team will be working.

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The Island is largely a farming community and many of the trees and plants seen in the photos above are fruit trees or vegetables sold in the market across the river. Aside from the cattle and dogs, we saw many chickens and geese owned by the villagers. The homes here are set 5-6 feet off the ground to help them keep clear of the flooding the happens in the rainy season. We met more contacts for the team and spent time exploring the school and vocational training center that they will call home for 2 weeks. I liked the village more than being in the city. Life is simple, the air is cleaner, rather than pavement there is green all around. We met a number of village children who were playing with something we often see in the states. I have a photo below, but how we recognise it.

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Surprised? I chuckled inside as I watched the little girls kick this empty can back and forth like a hockey puck. They were having a wonderful time, playing a game with what Americans would view as just an empty can – trash.

After a few hours we left The Island, had lunch, and made our way to a museum. This museum was to be our last stop on our trip before heading home. We went to learn more about the history of Cambodia and its people. As we walked in, Bryan and I last minute decided to grab the headphones for the audio tour.

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We are smiling in this photo. We were not smiling when we finished the tour just 90 minutes later. Little did we know that these 90 minutes of our trip would drastically change our trip. We were so effected that since leaving Cambodia, what we learned and saw has been discussed each day as we both think through and process. Though this was a short stop, in hind sight, I think, at least for me, this was the most important stop on our trip.  I will advise now that what follows in this post speaks of evil. I will give my own thoughts on what we saw at the end, but the next paragraphs will included part of what we saw. This is merely part as I cannot put its entirety into words here. Though it is only part, it is truly evil and I beg that if you choose to continue reading, you do so with caution.

The museum we went to was the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This museum was once a school for teenagers, but when the Khmer Rouge (KR) came to power in April of 1975, this school was converted into a secret prison. 1 of nearly 200 throughout Cambodia. The KR was a communist government. They were supported and aided in their rise to power by the Viet Cong. The war on Vietnam played a role in the rise of the KR. When the US bombed the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, many homes and farms in Cambodia were destroyed. With no homes and their land in ruins, the people of rural Cambodia flocked to the cities, like Phnom Penh. The city was large but not able to support the number of people who gradually made their way from the countryside. Food prices increased as farms were destroyed and farmers displaced. Jobs were not easy to come by in the city because there were so many people looking for them. The government could only do so much to help its people. As people grew discontent, support for the KR grew. When they took control of the Phnom Penh, the capital city, in 1975, things changed drastically. The KR wanted to revolutionise and purify the country by removing all western influence. All people were evacuated from major cities into the countryside.

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All the people were now farmers, regardless of who they were and what they had done before the war. Many of these people would die of starvation as the KR traded the food they grew to other nations in order to supply their weapons. Those who didn’t starve were so weakened by hunger that many died from infectious disease. In an attempt to rid the nation of the western influence, anyone who had been influenced by western customs or thoughts was killed. This included anyone with an education and most people with trade skills. Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, Engineers, Teachers, Painters, Writers, Journalists, and many other vocations were targetted. Simply to be wearing glasses was considered a sign of intelligence and education that could result in the death of the wearer. The KR also desired racial purity. Foreigners were killed. Anyone of mixed race was at a much higher risk of loosing their life. At the end of their reign of terror in 1979, the KR would have killed over 2 million people,  a 4th of the population of the entire country.

The KR was also highly suspicious. They were determined that many people were working with the US and other western nations to overthrow them. This brings me back to the prison we walked through. Bryan and I took some photos but the not many. I have included them below for you.IMG_4576

The image below is the outside of the interrogation building. People were brought to this prison because they were believed to have committed crimes against the KR and thus to be working against the KR. Crimes as small as being educated, working with the previous government, wearing glasses, or picking fruit for your starving family to eat were enough reason for a person to come through the gates. People in this building were tortured into confessing things they had never done. Many were forced to confess collaboration with the CIA, which they had never heard of before being tortured.

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The arch and pot in the photo above were also used as means of torturing people. The buildings we walked through contained photos and paintings of the horrors that went on here. People waiting to be “interrogated” were chained together in mass holding. They laid down with their legs bound on metal bars to 10 or more other people. Although the KR destroyed as much as they could before they abandoned the prison, some records remain. The beds that victims were strapped too in order to be beaten or electrocuted, still remain. The devices used for torture are still there. Water, salt, bugs, fire, electricity, knives were all used in unspeakable ways. In addition, the photos that the liberating army took when they first came into the prison, are also there. What was in these buildings was so gruesome I could not take photos. I had intended to give a full account of what we saw. Yet as I write, I cannot bring myself to put such evil things in writing in full detail.

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Pictured above are 14 unknown graves. When the liberating army came to the prison, the remaining torture victims had been bludgeoned to death on the beds they were chained too. They were bludgeoned, not shot, so that the guards would not alert the liberating army that they were there by firing guns. The liberators buried the people and gave them a final resting place, though we will never know their names.

Of the 20,000 people who came through the gates of this prison, 14 would survive. 3 of them were children. When a suitable confession had been extracted, and the KR had a good enough reason to execute a prisoner for treason, they were taken to the killing fields. I am told that these field can still be seen today. Giant pits containing skeletons of the KR victims. Proof of the heartless and senseless murders that took place. Many who died in these places were not shot because the KR didn’t want to “waste” the ammunition. Rather they were hit over the head with sledgehammers. I am certain, that of the people who came into this prison, they all would have begged for death. For many, they probably begged long before it came.

I ought to also include, that this weekend I read an autobiography by Loung Ung, a survivor. Her book is titles First They Killed My Fathe. She was 5 when the KR came to power and 10 when she finally escaped Cambodia. What I read in her book has greatly added to what I saw. It has given voice and emotion to what began as just images. When we returned home in the wee small hours of Monday morning, I was so haunted by what I had seen and read that I couldn’t sleep. I lay in bed, weeping, hyperventilating, and totally overwhelmed by what I had seen. I have spent more time in my life than I can count learning about Nazi Germany. I have walked through the National Museums in the US and in Israel, dedicated to remembering the more than 6 million people who died. I have read accounts of survivors. I have read listened to eye witness testimony. I have read of both heroes and villains. Yet what I saw this weekend has rocked the core of my being much more than all of that. In my time in Israel, I read much on the Holocaust as I tried to understand how someone could do such unspeakable things to another human being. I ready many books and searched in many ways. I found no conclusion. No understanding ever came.

In the week since then, Bryan and I have sent many hours discussing what we say and trying to process it. The question of how people could do this to other human beings has come again to my mind. I still do not have an answer for my question. I do not think I will ever have an answer. Such things I think only God can understand, and to continue searching for an answer has not brought me any comfort, but only more anguish and confusion. But this time it has been different from my time in Israel. As we have talked, we have been trying to look at what we saw from the lens of faith and trust in a loving God. Below are some of the things that we, I, have come too.

  1. People naturally have evil and wicked hearts. Scripture tells us again and again that this is true:

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?

Matthew 12:34 – You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks

Mark 7:21-23 –  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

 

As we walked the halls of the prison this has resounded in my heart and mind. We are wicked people who need Christ. The men who stood there and electrocuted other people, or waterboarded innocent women and children, are evil people. Their heart and core of their being is evil and wicked. I pray that the people who did these things came to know Christ as their Saviour before the died. If they did not I cannot imagine what awaits them in hell. What is more unnerving as that this wickedness lies in all mankind. The KR are not the first to do such wicked things and they surely will not be the last. There are men today who do such evil things. While the Lord will surely punish such evil things, He sees my sins as just as disgusting and gruesome as that which I witnessed this weekend. Were it not for the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in me, I would be no better off from an eternal standpoint than the men of the KR. We are all wicked in the sight of God and we offend Him even more than the KR offends us. We so so desperately need a Saviour!

2. All men are wicked and do not deserve good.

The natural question after seeing things such as this is the question asked of God for ages: “how can a good and loving God allow such evil things to happen to innocent and good people”. Surely many people who were innocent in the eyes of the world died for no reason. Many of the people who were tortured in the prison were not in any way guilty of what they were accused of. As I have pondered this question this weekend, I am reminded, as stated above, that all people are wicked and evil until they are cleansed by God. All people have sinned against God, even the smallest of children (Rom 3:23). All people have broken the law in some way shape or form (James 2:10). It is for this reason that Christ was sent to die (Jn 3:16-17). That people might be able to turn from their wickedness and come to God to be cleansed. Each of us deserves to suffer in hell for an eternity. We are not entitled to any good, for we, before we come to Christ are not good and even after we become part of the called out covenant community, we still sin! We continually defile ourselves and need to come back to the Father. This is not to say that any of the people who suffered under the rule of the KR deserved what happened. May this be very clear. No one deserves what happened there. Yet I cannot say that any person is good. For we are not. One person ever to walk the earth can be given such a title and He was crucified on a cross next to thieves for crimes He did not commit.

3. God works everything for His glory.

This is the answer that people hate to hear. This is the answer that brings no hope to  people who do not believe and it seems like not much comfort to people in the midst of suffering. This is the answer that is hardest to understand and even harder to accept, even for me.

Romans 8:28 –  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

For those who believe, we can look at this atrocity and know that God used what happened for His glory. I cannot tell you why God allowed such a thing to happen. I cannot tell you how He will be glorified through it. I cannot tell you when. I can’t tell you a thing about what it looks like. I cannot even tell you that the woman who’s book I read found the Lord through what happened to her. I can tell you that God works in all situations so that HE might be glorified, even when I cannot see or understand it. Sin does not win. Evil does not triumph. I take comfort knowing that the Lord will have His vengeance one day for the countless evils that were done in that prison. The people who perished there were all seen by God and the Lord will repay for what was done.

4. Lord come quickly.

As I sit here, broken by what I know and thinking through all these things, my heart weeps and begs that my Lord might return. That such evil would not be allowed to continue any longer. However, I know that the reason He tarries is so that more people might know what He did for them upon the cross (2 Pet 3:9). So I wait. I pray.

This time as I process what I have seen, I am content with not fully understanding. I realise now that I cannot understand fully. As much as I do not like to, I have to rest in not knowing. I have to trust that it is better that I not know. The Lord, in His sovereignty has not that revealed that to mankind. As I have come to terms with this, I have found a peace.

I was told by a wise woman once that as I began counselling, I would come to know evil that I wish I never knew. After this weekend I can honestly say this is true. I am still shaken by what I now know. I still think more than I want too on it. I am caught off guard each time someone asks how our trip was – I don’t know how to tell people that while it was at times good, overall, it was awful. I learned awful things. I saw things I wish I could unsee. Yet despite all this I have learned things. I have learned things about the hearts of men and the sovereignty of God. I now can better pray for Bryan as he leaves in December. I ask all of you to pray with me! Pray for a nation that still hurts from what happened to them. I now can be part of a generation that remembers what happened there. For only by remembering can we keep history from repeating itself. I now can more than ever anxiously await the return of my saviour. I now must rest in my time here on earth knowing that thought I may not understand such evil, God does. He understands and He will have victory.

I know that for many of my readers, like myself, this concept is not easily understood or accepted. I cannot convince you. This is something each with us must wrestle with and come to peace with God about. I am sorry, that I cannot give more comfort. I am sorry I cannot give a more satisfactory answer. Please know that I share this with you after wrestling with this for myself for a number of years.

I end this post now praying that it will help keep the memory of what happened in Cambodia alive. Praying for the team in December. Praying for the Lord’s glory to shine. Praying for you who read this, and may be wrestling with these questions yourself. May the Lord bring you to peace with this difficult question.

 

Thank You

I wanted to take a moment and thank the many many people who took a few minutes out of their day the past 2-3 days to wish my a happy birthday. This year I really wasn’t looking forward to my birthday. On Sunday night I was homesick and wishing so much that I hadn’t scheduled so  many things to do in the next two days. Yet as Monday and Tuesday passed, I realised how much the Lord was caring for me. In the business of Monday, between medical check ups, grocery shopping, cooking, and running errands, there were moments where I would think of my family, or see a photo that really struck at my emotions and made me really sad. Yet each time this happened, the Lord would brings someone into my life to remind me how much He loves and cares for me. I was reminded all day that He is the reason I am here and He has a plan for me here. I also realised that the Lord knew what He was doing with my schedule. I was so crazy busy that I had much less time to sit on my own and dwell on things which made me sad. Instead He helped me to think about Him, and about how awesome He is. All. Day. Long. Thank you to the sweet neighbour of mine who sent a message knowing what a hard day it must be. Thank you to the sister in Christ  who spoiled me and let me do one of my favourite things – cook! Thank you to my Father in Law for the sweet poem. Thank you to my Mother in Law who spent the day with me yesterday. Thank you to my Mom and Dad, who I didn’t get to talk to nearly as much as I would have liked, but who’s voices I got to hear and who have always been so loving, supporting, and generous to me – even in the midst of days that are so difficult for all three of us. Thank you to the many people in Singapore and the US who sent messages and showered me with love.

Thinking on these things the past two days, I am reminded of what the Lord tells us about the body of Christ.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live withHim. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11.

Over the course of 2 days where I was struggling, the body of Christ across the globe did this for me. They built me up and encouraged me. I am so incredibly grateful to the Lord for each one who helped me to look for the Lord rather than looking inward. The Body of Christ is bound together by the Holy Spirit. What an incredible gift we have that gives us bond with people across the globe, and that the Lord uses to shape each one of us to be more like Christ.

A New Normal

After what feels like ages, I have decided it is well past due that I make a post here. Much has transpired since last anything was written. Bryan and I were married on June 9th.

 

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We spent our honeymoon in Canada. After our brief trip there I have concluded that I should have gone to Canada a long time ago – it was so beautiful!

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We arrived in Singapore on June 23rd.

We held a Thanksgiving Service, Lunch Reception, and Banquet for all of our friends and family in Singapore on July 7th– My family even flew out to celebrate with us!

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So here we are now. Nearing September. New husband. New family. New church. New culture. New country. New lifestyle. New life. With all that has been happening, it can be hard to really make sense of it all. I have been here just over 2 months and yet it feels so much longer. I have found in my time here, that I often am asked the same questions. Questions that I honestly find rather difficult to answer. Not due to a lack of desire TOO answer, but because I can’t think of how to do so it the 2-3 sentences people are hoping for when they ask.

 

How do you find the food here?

Food in Singapore is delicious. I love how eclectic it is. I can find food from all over the world here and all of it is within 90 minutes of me and the maximum. I have now tried a wide variety of foods that not long ago, I never would have thought I would eat. Some of which I like – braised pig trotter, chicken foot, durian, black carrot cake, congee, murtabak, thorsai, and much more. Others, however, I would rather not eat again – jellyfish, oysters, ika, grass jelly, nyonya kueh, along with a few other oddities. That being said, I greatly struggle with the further question “what do you feel like eating?” The answer to this question is that nothing sounds good. I find that I rarely crave any of the local foods. While I don’t mind eating and I almost always enjoy what I choose from whatever restaurant or stall we end up with, I almost never feel like eating anything specific.

 

How do you find the humidity?

Nearly every person I talk to here is willing to lob a complaint about the heat and humidity. To this question, the answer is – it’s hot. And humid. I like it just as much as the next person. Just like most others here, I do what I can to stay cool in the hottest parts of the day. I enjoy the longer spell of rain when it cools the island off and I do any running or swimming in the evening if possible. I don’t collapse in a puddle each time I go out and enjoy the AirCon when I reach where I am supposed to be going. I will also add, that I enjoy not being cold.

 

Are you looking for a job?

A good friend of mine, who has been through this process herself of marrying and moving to a new country, cautioned me against starting work too soon. My life has largely been turned upside down and inside out. Bryan and I have agreed it is best not to start work too soon but to get used to some of the other new aspects of life before adding something else on top of it.

 

What do you do with your time?

This is a fair question since I am not working, after all. I do my best to keep busy. I make a point to leave our apartment each day. Some days this means I go to Bible Studies and prayer fellowships with various women or groups from church. Other days I go to a coffee shop and library and spend my afternoon reading / studying. I go running and swimming. I go for adventures with a few friends I have made in church, exploring different parts of the city, or just having lunch / coffee. I volunteer at church where I can and there are even a few counseling cases that have come my way. My job in this time is to adjust to a new culture and country, to make friends and become involved in the body of Christ around me, and to glorify God in the midst of it. I do that in whatever ways God places in my path each week.

 

Do you miss your family?

Yes. I miss and think about them every day. And saying good bye to them at the airport in San Francisco was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I take comfort in knowing that the Lord is in control and that His plans are greater than mine.

 

How are you adjusting?

I hate this question. I find this question harder to answer than the rest. I find myself asking in return: what does it mean to adjust? What is adjusting well? Or not adjusting for that matter? My first two weeks here were really difficult. I felt like our apartment had become a prison of sorts. But even when I was out, I felt totally alone. I have never really lived alone. I grew up in a family with siblings. Spent years living in dorm rooms. There have always been roommates or siblings or youth kids around. For the first time ever, I found that once Bryan was gone, I was on my own for the next 8-9 hours. Every day. To add to this, I have no job. I’ve had a job in some form or another since I was 13. Yet for the first time in over 10 years, there is no job to set myself to each day.

 

The first few weeks here, I can say that I knew God was here. I knew that I wasn’t totally alone. And while I found comfort in Him, I still found myself very much alone. I found that it took only small things to put my thinking into a spiral that was hard to come out of unless there were others around. While I won’t say it was depression because I never ceased to do what God calls me to do, I will say that those two weeks were very dark. After the thanksgiving service, the day my parents left, I cried out to the Lord and asked me to fill my days. I told Him I couldn’t go back to the way things were the first two weeks. Since then, He has done just that.

 

I still can’t tell people that I have “adjusted” because I really don’t know what that means. To be honest I think that most people that ask me this don’t know what that means either. I am slowly finding a new normal. Some days are hard, and some days come easily. Some days are busy and filled with laughter. Others are quiet, and that’s okay. Some days I miss home. I long to sit for a while and talk with my siblings and parents. I miss my mom’s cooking. I can’t wait for the day to come where there will be conversations where I know all the terms and understand what others think is so funny. Other days are full of encouragement and new friendships. I don’t think I have adjusted, whatever that means. But I do think that I am slowly finding what it means to live life normally here.

 

Where do you see God in all of this?

Sadly, I don’t get asked this very often, but it is a question that I ask myself all the time. I love Bryan a great deal, but I came to Singapore for God. I firmly believe that God has a reason that I am here. I believe that He brought Bryan and I together, so we might do more for the Kingdom together rather than apart. I see God everywhere. I have learned and been reminded of so much in my 2 months here. My relationship with God is what sustains me. He has been my constant companion and comfort. He has reminded me how important prayer is. He shows me weekly, through my life and others, that He listens too, and answers prayer. He is teaching me what it means to serve, despite how I might be feeling. I see God in the friendships He has brought me. I see Him in my husband who is so incredibly loving and patient, when I am most undeserving of it. I see Him as I watch the body of Christ here care for itself. I see Him in the creation around me. I think more than anything else, I see Him as I He calls me to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. He has revealed things about my heart these past few weeks that make me weep. Yet I am comforted by the grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness of God.

 

I end this long post with a verse, with the prayer that the Lord would continue to grow me as I continue down this new path He has laid before me, and that I might glorify God more tomorrow that I have today.

 

“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:21-22

Packing and Friendship

This week I began the arduous process of packing up my life. Tomorrow morning I will be moving back to Angels Camp. This week I had my last day of work. I changed my address for all things which ship to me, I squared away graduation information, and began saying good-bye to people who in the past three years have been my support system and core friendships in Valencia. I haved dwelled much this week on Eccelsiastes 3 – there is a time for everything. A time for wedding planning, a time for laughter and games, a time for quiet and study, and now, a time for good-byes. I have also caught myself this past week very sad. Sad to say goodbye to this part of my life. It has had its own challenges and adversity, but it has also been a great period of growth. More than anything else this week, God has shown me my friendships. I didn’t have friends growing up. I had two amazing brothers, but unlike others, my summers and weekends were not spent at friends houses. I was the one in the class who kids didn’t invite to the party, and who got made fun of on the playground. I can remember a time in my life where I pleaded with God to bring me a friend.

This weekend I realized how much that has changed. God has answered my prayer ten-fold of what I had asked for. I realized this weekend that He has given me friends who do so much more than just invite me to the party. He has placed people in my life who stir me up, who want to see me love the Lord more, and who hold me accountable – Pr 12:17, Heb 10:24-25. He has brought me friends who have been a great encouragment when I have been broken – 1 Thess  5:11. He has brought me friends who seek the counsel of the Lord and who give counsel according to His Word – Prov 27:9. Friends who have been gracious with me when I have wronged them – 1 Peter 4:8-10.

Thinking on friendship, I am taken back to Ecclesiastes:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.    Vss 4:9-12.

Tonight, despite being sad about having to move tomorrow, I am grateful. I am grateful for the incredible friendships God has given me. Friendships that are going to last a life time because they are based in our love for the Lord, and built up on our desire to glorify the Lord first and foremost. Frienships strengthened by struggles and difficulties. Solidified by being there to help each other up when we had fallen.

Chronic Suffocation

Breathing is important.

Breathing in clean air is important.

And that has been at the forefront of my mind for the month of February as I’m exposed to breathing in fumes from renovation work for a prolonged period. While I’m worried about the negative effects it can have on my physical health, there are two lessons I have reflected about spiritual breathing:

  1. Dead People Don’t Need To Breathe
  2. Your Body Absorbs What You Breathed In

Dead People Don’t Need To Breathe

We don’t see the atmosphere that surrounds us. We don’t pay attention to the air which we breathe in 12-15 times every minute. We don’t give a second thought about the gaseous composition in the air, and we don’t consciously focus on the mechanics of inhaling air into our lungs. We simply breathe. To stay physically alive, we must breathe. And God has designed our body to do that autonomously.

Praying and reading the Bible is often described as the spiritual equivalent of breathing, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Breathing is easy, but praying is hard. The comparison is not so much on the level of complexity but, rather, the necessity. A physically dead person has no desire to breathe, a spiritually dead person has no desire to pray. Ironically, if we examine our own prayer life, it is not surprising if we come to a conclusion that many Christians are suffocating.

Your Body Absorbs What You Breathed In

There are many unseen particles in the air. Sometimes, we get infected through our interaction with another sick person because we breathed in the flu virus and it affects our immune system. Our body has its own defense mechanisms to prevent toxins in the environment from harming us, but prolonged exposure will take a toll on the immune system.

Likewise, we are surrounded by the culture of the world. Wherever we go, there are things that will affect our spiritual walk. Magazines, TV programmes, games, conversations, advertisers, salespersons, colleagues, families, and friends who will influence us. If we don’t build up our own spiritual defense mechanism through praying and reading the Word of God, our spiritual walk will be affected (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Jn 17:15–17 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

The point is not to become a hermit, hide away from everyone else and isolating ourselves from the world, but to be sanctified by God’s Word (John 17:17). God’s plan for us after saving us is that we become witnesses to the world proclaiming His love through our lives, that we may become the salt and light of the world (Matt 5:13-16), so that they may give glory to God.

The danger of being in the world is that we might yield and become conformed to its standard (Romans 12:2), since we are breathing in the culture around us. We need to build a strong spiritual defense mechanism by practicing the basic means of grace: Praying and reading the Bible.

Three Points To Build A Prayer Life

  1. Become spiritually alive. If you are still dead in your sins (Eph 2:1), you can’t do this. You need the saving grace of God to give you life. Just like a dead corpse can’t decide to come alive, you need the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (John 6:63). This is most important, if you have not come alive spiritually from the dead, no matter how much oxygen you put inside a corpse, it will still be a dead corpse. Ask a Christian friend to share the full gospel with you or read the gospel of John. You need to be reconciled to God.
  2. Build it into a routine. Your flesh hates spiritual things. A routine can be helpful to make it into a lifelong habit. But there are times when I observed people praying and giving thanks for their meals with the most ungrateful heart. God sees the heart of the one praying (Luk 18:9-14). One way to set your heart right before praying is to read Scripture. Develop a habit of reading a verse or a portion of the Bible, meditate on it, and pray it back to God.
  3. Take radical actions. Sin will stop you from praying. If you knowingly cherish sins in your heart, you will not desire to enter into God’s presence. Repent of your sins. If working in a bar tempts you to drink or to lust, find another job. If the TV or computer tempts you to sin, throw it away (Matt 5:29-30).

Conclusion

The Word of God is so pure and refreshing that it will renew your mind as you meditate on it day and night. It will protect you from conforming to the world. It will heal you and make your heart glad.

Just like oxygen being circulated to your entire being through breathing, the Word of God will circulate in you and fill your heart and mind as you dwell on His Word day and night. If your soul is suffocating, I invite you to dive in with me deeply the pure Word of God and it will be healing to your flesh, and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:8).

Psalms 19:7–9

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

 

 

The Story of Bryan and Jordan

Two worlds collided . . .

Bryan and Jordan met while attending The Master’s University. They began the Master’s of Arts in Biblical Counseling program in the same semester. As they sat in orientation on the first night of class, each student stood and introduced themselves. After Bryan spoke, Jordan couldn’t help but think – “Wow! Someone came all the way from Singapore just to go to school here.” Little did they both know, the Lord had more than just school in His plans!

A friendship began . . .

For the first year of their studies Bryan and Jordan would chat during breaks in class. Both were determined in their studies and were not giving much thought to the idea of finding someone to date. They discussed their papers and homework – made plenty of small talk! One evening in November of 2016, Bryan was in search of a new running partner. He went to each person in the class asking if they wanted to go running in the morning. Each person had the same answer – “no.” Finally, Bryan asked Jordan. Jordan hates running. However, not having any excuse good enough to not get up 30 Minutes earlier than normal in order to get ready; she agreed. Not expecting this and realizing that running in the dark of the morning with a woman he didn’t have much of a friendship with beyond class, Bryan then spent the rest of the night trying to find someone else who would be willing to go running with them at 6am the next morning.

And grew . . .

As time went on, their friendship grew. They, along with a number of other friends, began running regularly. Jordan was asked to be a part of the leadership team for the Young Adults Bible Study of Crossroads Community Church. This study met weekly at the house Bryan lived in. Between leadership meeting, study sessions with Bryan and other MABC students, and game nights – Bryan and Jordan began to spend more and more time together. They spent their time discussing the Lord, debating theology and pouring over Scripture. They began serving together, planning evenings of encouragement for various people in their lives. Jordan would cook and Bryan would host. They spent hours pouring over books, playing board games, flying drones, eating Durian, playing ukulele and laughing together. They spent a great deal of time together each week. Yet both would have said if they were asked, that they were just friends. And they were. They were really good friends who love the Lord and desired nothing more than the friendship they had built.

The end was drawing near . . .

In March of 2017, as Jordan drove home from Bryan’s house, she began to think about the friendship they had. As she thought, she realized that graduation was coming up. Bryan would be returning to Singapore. When this happened, their relationship would surely change. She wept as she realized that when he left, she would be loosing the best friend she had ever had. She had never had a friend like him before. She had never had someone in her life that had constantly stirred her up in the Lord, like Bryan had in the past few months. That night as she lay in bed, she told the Lord “I know it can’t be Bryan because he is going back to Singapore, and we have never been anything but friends – But God, I want to marry someone like Him some day.” In the coming weeks, she chose not to reveal these new found feelings to Bryan. He was going home to do ministry and it was not right of her to try to interfere with that in any way. She decided that instead she would enjoy the time they had left as friends. In May, 2017, Bryan graduated. He would return home in 6 weeks.

One night changed it all . . .

After graduation things began to change. Other classmates began to move away. Bryan and Jordan began spending time together just the two of them. Not seeking to be alone with one another, but their normal group had simply dwindled to two. One night, Bryan decided they should try a new restaurant in town – cheesecake factory. Towards the end of the dinner, he posed a question. “Is this a date?” Jordan sat next to him thinking: “I want this to be a date!”

They discussed that in order for it to be a date, first both sides must agree. Yet at the end of the night there was no such decision. Finally, after much internal debate, Jordan told Bryan – “if you wanted to consider tonight a date, I would be okay with that”

Bryan’s response? “Okay. That was our first date then!”

A weekend in Yosemite . . .

A few days after dinner Jordan and Bryan went with a group of 20 people from the bible study to Yosemite National Park. They had planned the trip months in advance. Yosemite is one of Jordan’s favorite places and Bryan had never gone. During one of their hikes, they broke off from the group. They found a quiet spot overlooking the valley. They began to talk. They talked about the possibility of a relationship. What would it look like? What challenges would they face? Were they willing to face those challenges?

A relationship would not be easy. They only had 4 weeks left before Bryan left. They would face the challenge of being 8,500 miles apart without knowing when they would see each other next. They were from different walks of life. Yet despite all the challenges, they decided that they weren’t willing to leave behind the friendship they had both grown to cherish so deeply. The knew they would need the counsel of older and wiser believers. They knew they would need to rely on the Lord, keep Him the center of their relationship.

As they drove back to Valencia from Yosemite, on May 21st, 2017, Bryan officially asked Jordan to be his girlfriend. She said Yes!

A fast month . . .

The next few weeks were a whirlwind. Bryan went to Angels Camp to meet Jordan’s family. Jordan went to Solvang to meet the women who had adopted Bryan during his time in the US and who had become a big influence in his life. Knowing their time was short, they spent as much time together as they could. Before Bryan left in June, his family came to Los Angeles to see where he had gone to school. They were able to have both their families meet for Father’s Day lunch.

Before they knew it, their 4 weeks had come to an end. Bryan returned home on June 21st.

A long 6 months . . .

Thank God for FaceTime! Bryan and Jordan spent the next 6 months talking each day. They prayed together. They studied the word of God. The made plans for the future. They grew in their knowledge and love for each other. Each day there were new things to talk about! They even wrote letters. Before Bryan left, Jordan wrote him 52 “Open When . . .” letters.

Jordan goes to Singapore!

After countless hours of FaceTime, in December, 2017, Jordan landed safely in Singapore. She spent three weeks seeing the country, meeting new people, and trying new things. Both of them were convinced that it was necessary for Jordan to experience the people, the culture, the weather, the food, and the church that Bryan grew up in before she made a commitment that would possibly last for a lifetime.

Proposal . . .

While Jordan was in Singapore, there were many brothers and sisters from church who willingly came forward and welcome her. That was an incredible load taken off Bryan because he had to be at work for most part of Jordan’s trip, except for evenings and weekends.

While new relationships are forming, Bryan thought that it would be special if good friends from the States could send their blessings during the proposal (though they couldn’t be there physically, but with technology Jordan could still see their faces and hear their voices). So Bryan requested some of their friends from Santa Clarita to each prepare and send him a short video. Their friends at Solvang, as well as Jordan’s family, had prepared a video too, and it was really heartwarming to know that they are so loved.

Here is the link to view it: Pre-Proposal Video

And here is the video of  Jordan While Watching The Proposal Video (Watch this till the end to see Jordan says yes!)

And Jordan said yes, in front of all of Bryan’s family and friends! They are so blessed to have people in Singapore and America rejoicing with us!

The Future . . .

While there are significant changes in both their lives, the future is still unfolding to them a step at a time. They are constantly learning the lesson of putting their trust in God alone and not in their ability to plan.

They desire to be involved in counseling ministry in whatever capacity that God calls them to. They are convinced that the Bible is sufficient to address every issue pertaining to life and godliness. While they are currently not involved in any teaching ministry, they are always seeking to sharpen their biblical understanding of issues of life through their blog as well as our discussion of Bible passages.

Jordan and Bryan are not in a hurry to enter parenthood since there has already been quite a few major changes happening to them during this very short period of time. If God wills, they desire to spend a year or two learning to love each other as husband and wife first before welcoming any additional members to their newly formed family.

They are planning a short honeymoon to Vancouver before flying back to Singapore. Jordan and Bryan foresee that there will still be plenty of challenges ahead of them after they are married, but they are not anxious about them. This is how you can be praying for them:

1. Finding a suitable job for Jordan

2. Smooth application processes for administrative matters (application of LTVP and PR, name change, bank applications, health insurance coverage)

3. Choosing a suitable bed (back pain issue)

4. Unknown respiratory allergies that Jordan is facing in Singapore

5. Adapting to new environment/culture and possible homesickness

6. A growing love for God and each other daily

A Longing For Deep Relationships

No matter how independent or mentally strong you are, I’m sure you have experienced the deep longing for someone (be it your spouse, family, or friends) to be around you and share the joy (or even the pain) of life. This is especially so during festive period. Why do we have such longing?

When God created mankind, He designed us for relationships. God made us in such a way that only through a relationship with Him will our souls be truly satisfied. This design is not only towards God, it is also observable in our relationships with people. He made us for one another so that we can enjoy deep relationships with one another.

This longing is not just a physiological longing. You may have heard that our body releases dopamine or serotonin or other neurotransmitters when we experience something pleasant, that is why we want more of the experiences we get from relationships. However, this is not entirely true, relationship between two sinners is rough. You may, in fact, have more unpleasant experiences than pleasantness. A staggering 40-50% of marriages ended in divorce. We have more heartaches than pleasure in the relationships with have with people. How do we explain this longing for relationships even when there is so much pain?

This longing is not just a cognitive longing. We are logical beings, in undeveloped parts of the world, we need the community to provide protection and food. But in countries like Singapore, the protection provided by police and the food supply from supermarkets have made this reason no longer a valid one. In that sense, there shouldn’t be a need for a community anymore. By this reasoning, we no longer need relationships. But that is not entirely true, we crave for relationships. We crave for intimacy. We want to know and be known. Even a wealthy man who has all the food and protection in this world cannot be truly satisfied alone. In a recent movie “The Greatest Showman”, we can hear the aches of the singer Jenny Lind (played by Rebecca Ferguson) who has both fame and wealth in the lyrics of “Never Enough“.

This is a soul longing. We need a biblical understanding of how we are created by God in His image (Genesis 1:27) to bring clarity to this deep and profound longing for relationships which no science or logic can fully explains. Science can’t explain soul, we need revelation from God.

God did not create us to function independently apart from Him. We think we can and, because we are sinners, we naturally want to live our lives without God. We don’t like the painful truth that God is just and will punish sinners, so we reject and suppress the truth (Romans 1:18). We pick and choose from the Bible the things about God that we like and reject the parts that we don’t. But your opinion do not define who God is. God is who He says He is.

Relationships can easily become our functional gods. When we want people to love us and are willing to manipulate people so that they do what we want, we are blindly enslaved by our desire for people to love and serve us. And we can’t really see it because our heart’s desires are like deep water (Proverbs 20:5). To truly satisfy our longings for relationship, we must start with our relationship with God.  One psalmist’s longing for God is so intense that his desire for anything on earth pales in comparison to his desire for God, “…there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you [God]” (Ps 73:25b).

Another psalmist wrote:

Ps 84:2 – My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

When he longs for God, his whole person is involved. His flesh (physiology) and heart (cognition/desire/will) are firing up in his longing for God. He longs for God so deeply and so intensely that his whole person is engaged and becomes exhausted from desiring God. And God will satisfy such a desire (Matt 5:6; Ps 145:19).

Conclusion

Our longings for deep relationships cannot be satisfied by anything else but God. God has   “put eternity into man’s heart” (Eccl 3:11). We grieve when a loved one died because death puts an end to everything on earth. But God has conquered death through Jesus’s death and resurrection, reconciling the world to Himself. Christians can enjoy an unhindered fellowship with God and other believers the moment their sins are forgiven. We are able to stand before a holy God when we believe that Jesus has paid for our sins, and then we can enjoy Him forever. Nothing short of eternity will be able to satisfy our soul. We are created for eternity. While the whole creation is groaning in pain, Christians have an eternal hope set in Christ as we wait eagerly for the day when we will see Him face to face.

When Everyone Is A Leader, Who Follows?

All those short leadership courses that teaches about styles and techniques has given us a lopsided understanding of good leadership. In this internet age where information is freely accessible online, a 10 years old can become an expert in their own eyes. They think they know it all, you can’t teach someone who thinks they know everything.

Followership is viewed as weakness. You can hardly find schools or training institutions that teach followership (though some may teach about followership). The dynamics of leadership is gradually shifting into a “leaders only” world. If you are not a leader, you are nothing. Both husband and wife want to lead, employees who think they can lead better are upset with the leaders of their organization, children who thinks they are old enough to do what they think is best are frustrated with their parents, citizens who are wise in their own eyes are angry with their government. No one wants to be a follower. No one wants to submit to anyone anymore.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Leadership is not the opposite of followership, in fact, an effective leader MUST be a good follower. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Not every matter is worth debating. Matters are not ranked the same in order of importance. Some are inconsequential while some may have life-changing consequences. An effective leader knows when to speak up and challenge a decision, and when to keep quiet and follow. When time is such a limited resource, some matters are not worth spending it on.

    Eph 5:16a …making the best use of the time

  2. No leader knows it all. A leader of a team, especially a multi-disciplinary team, will not know everything. That is a simple truth, but hard to admit. There are leaders who would rather lead the team to failure than to humbly take the advice of his subordinate.

    1 Co 8:1 “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

    Leaders must always be learning. Life is very complex. No two situations are the same. Just because you have done a good project in the past does not guarantee the same result in the future. There are more aspects that affect the outcome than you realize or can control. Successful business model in one country does not guarantee results in another. There are new factors involved that requires learning. You must even learn from those who are not in leadership position. If I were to enter a battlefield, I would rather follow a private soldier who knows the terrain well than to rely on my own strategies, maps or past experiences.

    Pr 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Everyone is a Follower, Who Do You Follow?

Truth is, everyone is a follower. The Bible is clear about the importance of following. Christian follows Christ. We make disciples not so that they follow us, but so that they follow Christ. If there were any good works done, or any accomplishment achieved, or any success granted, it is not for our glory. We do not teach truths to receive praise from people, or serve to leave a legacy, or build a company for our own name’s sake. We lead others and do good works in this world because we are followers of God. True biblical leadership may even bring us suffering. Leadership is not always glamorous.

1 Pe 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

The moment we stop following God, we follow something else. Our hearts are deceitful and crave after things such as success, relationship, wealth, health, fame, respect, and the list goes on (Ezekiel 14:3). Do you know your heart well enough? What do you desire? Do you desire to get rich? Do you desire for people to find you attractive? Your actions speak of what your heart desires.

Do not follow your own heart. Learn from king David and examine your heart to see if there is any grievous ways (Ps 139:23-24). Repent, and follow Christ. And then you will be able to lead others (1 Cor 11:1).