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).


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).


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).

The Paradox of Forgiveness

If you have lived in this sin-stained world for some time, you would have experienced being sinned against by others. The sin committed against you may varies in intensity, sometimes it is rather painless, but sometimes it hurts so deep that you are unable to function for days. When your best friend lied to you, when your classmate stole your pen, when your spouse cheated on you, when your children got killed in a drink-driving accident, when you are sexually abused by a relative, how is it possible to forgive the perpetrator when it hurt so badly?

The Costliness of Sin and of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not free, it comes with a steep price. The actual definition of forgiveness is to “cancel a debt”. The problem is, this debt is placed on you (the victim) who is already suffering the pain and the natural consequences of the person’s sin against you (e.g. STD from being raped, permanent injuries from assault or accidents, loss of property from theft, etc). To forgive, means to say, “I will cancel the debt you owe me” (Matt 18:23-35), “I will not hold this against you”, “I will not demand the debt to be repaid”. Though forgiven, the perpetrator will still suffer the consequences for breaking the law of the country, and is also answerable to God.

Our Feeble Demand For Justice

However, there is a paradox to forgiveness.

  1. Justice demands that the penalty of sin be paid.
  2. Forgiveness cancels the debt.

We would logically come to the conclusion that forgiveness is unjust.

We are created knowing right and wrong, both believers and non-believers when they see injustice will get furious. We are indignant when people receive unfair treatment, even little children knows how to yell “It’s not fair!” when they don’t get the same treatment as their siblings. We long for fairness, we long for justice. When we are sinned against, there must be punishment. This is fairness.

But how much fairness can we get out of a situation by ourselves? When someone lost his wife and both his legs from a drink-driving accident, how do we restore fairness in this situation? We can’t bring his wife back to life. We can’t give him new pair of legs. Killing the wife of the driver does not make it fair. Breaking the legs of the driver does not make it fair. Taking the life of the driver does not either.  But even if we sentence the drunk driver to death, it is still unfair for the man who lost his wife and his legs. There is a limitation to how much the law can do, or how much we can do to right a wrong in this sin-stained world. With men, it is impossible to cancel the debt of any sinners and still satisfy our desire for justice to be served.

God’s Perfect Demand For Justice

One reason why it is hard to forgive others is because we are not trembling in the presence of our holy God (Isaiah 6:1-5). God’s holiness demands that everyone will be judged according to their works (Romans 2:6-11). No bad deeds will go unpunished, and no good deeds will go unrewarded. However, we have a fundamental problem – the problem of sin. God’s standard of justice is so high, it exceeds our highest standard. He judges our hearts: all our thoughts and desires. We all stand guilty before God that we have sinned against Him not just in our actions, but also in our hearts.

God has ordained two ways bring justice to everyone who have sinned.

  1. We pay our own debt in hell eternally (2 Thess 1:9)
  2. God pays our debt through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:24)

The debt of the penalty of sinning against God has to be paid to fulfill God’s righteous demand of justice. If we consider what God did to forgive us our sins while maintaining perfectly just, we would tremble.

Biblical Forgiveness Does Not Overlook Justice

Eph 4:32 – ….forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

God’s forgiveness does not negate justice. In fact, for God to forgive you without compromising on justice, He killed Jesus. If there was any other way to forgive you, Jesus would not have to go to the cross (Luke 22:42). This is the only way God can forgive sin while being perfectly just, it is His will to kill Jesus so that you may be forgiven.

This is the right place to start, meditating on God’s saving grace. If you have experienced his forgiveness, tasted the sweetness of being reconciled to God, enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God in prayer and Bible reading, and when we understood how unimaginable the sufferings in hell will be, you will also be able to extend this grace to others.

3 Persuasion Techniques Not To Use

We practice persuasion all the time. Parents persuade their children to eat their vegetables. A salesman persuades people to buy his products. Politicians persuade people to vote for them. Friends persuade one another to skip classes, watch a movie, study for exam, or do something stupid. We use words that leads others to do something all the time. There are many workshops that will teach you how to market yourself or your product better, how to uses the right words, how to fake body language, etc.

We see a character in Genesis 3 who is the master of persuasion and he did so with merely 2 sentences. This is a narrative passage of the serpent and Eve talking in  the garden. These are 3 persuasion techniques that he used:

1. Faking Concern

2. Mixing Truth With Lies

3. Stirring Up Fleshly Desires

Faking Concern

The serpent is knowledgable. He knows an enormous amount of facts about God. He knows how to approach someone so that they are not on their guard. He knows about human behaviour and relationships.

But he does not love God, and neither does he love Eve. His objective is to stir up doubts  about God in Eve and cast Him in a bad light. Of course, he needs to do it subtly in order not to awaken the defense mechanism in Eve. The serpent said:

Genesis 3:1b “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

He pretends to have heard God wrongly and asked for clarification from Eve if God really put such an unreasonable restrain on Adam and Eve that they “shall not eat of any tree in the garden”. He portrayed himself as a concerned friend on the same team as Eve and cannot believe that God is so stingy. He knows how to make himself look and sound truly concerned about the “unfair treatment” that Eve is in, but he is not genuinely concerned. His question is leading Eve exactly to where he wants the discussion to go without him first mentioning about the one restriction God commanded them.

Mixing Truth With Lies

Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

After Eve replied to his question, the serpent immediately challenged What God said in Genesis 2:17. The serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). This contained some truth because Adam and Eve did not die immediately after eating the fruit. But the truth is that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), they did not die immediately because God is merciful.

Stirring Up Fleshly Desires

In the same sentence when he challenged God’s authority, the serpent also stirred up in Eve’s heart a perverse desire.

Desires are good, we are created with desires. Without desire, we cannot enjoy food, or pleasure, or sex, or relationships. God is honored when we desire and choose to love Him, not because we are programmed to do so. It is a good thing to have desires. God is pleased when we desire Him above all things, and He is pleased that we enjoy His blessings that He gave to us in life for His glory. However, when our desires for good things become inordinate (disproportionate), when we are willing to sin against God to satisfy our desire, we have sinned. God is dethroned in our hearts, and we become our own god. Eve is suddenly given the idea that she can be autonomous from God and be like god herself.

Genesis 3:5b – …and you will be like God


Anything can become our idols. We can want respect so badly that we are willing to manipulate others to get respect. We can desire money so badly that we are willing to be dishonest by hiding an important truth, by exaggerating the benefits, or by reporting fake statistic or testimonies when selling products.

The biblical way to persuade: Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Labour hard to make sure you communicate the full truth without hiding the unattractive bits. Labour hard to love the person you are communicating with, genuinely love your neighbour. Selling products to your neighbour is not a neutral activity. Your sales pitch speaks volume about your theology. Satan knows the best persuasion techniques, has a solid theology of God, understands human behaviour, but he does not love God or others.

Is humility inefficient?

Paul exhorts believers to “…in humility count others more significant than ourselves” (Phil 2:3b). Is it applicable in all scenarios? It make sense for employees to consider their bosses more important than themselves, and for students their teachers, and for children their parents. But what about the other way round? How can a busy leader of a company consider their staffs more important than themselves or teachers their students without becoming inefficient and unfaithful to the limited time we are given daily? Is it even practical for leaders who are visionary and highly capable to consider their interns more significant than themselves?

Humility listens to others, but listening takes time. Young people lack experience and you can easily point out their errors or inadequacies. Older people used up a lot of your time telling stories of their past and are fixated with their way of doing things. How do you justify giving them your time? Isn’t it fair to be impatient with them? Isn’t it fair, for the sake of efficiency, that we do not waste time listening to incapable people?

Such a conclusion is logical, but unbiblical. Our impatience and failure to listen to others well reveal to us our functional theology.

Our Biblical Understanding of Man

Christians believe that “God created man in his own image” (Gen 1:27). This fact has major implications to how we relate to others. The interaction between two people is the interaction between two beings created in the image of God. An image in a mirror is a reflection of the real thing, likewise, we reflect God’s glory. Man is created to reflect God’s glory. Knowing this fact should change significantly how we relate to others because the other person is created by God and for God. When we dishonor another person, we dishonor God.

This should change our entire view of relationship. To the rich or poor (Jas 2:1-8), to the educated or the uneducated, to the old or the young, to those who are athletic or disabled, they are all created in the image of God. How you treat them matters, especially those whom Christ has died for. It matters to Christ so much that He takes it personally for how we treat other brothers and sisters in Christ (Matt 25:34-46).

Mt 25:35–40 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Does your relationship with others corresponds to the theology you know? Or does your actions speak of a different theology from what you say you believe?

Our Biblical Understanding of Christ

The argument that Paul presented to the Philippians regarding how they are to relate to others points directly to Christ and what he had done:

Php 2:5–11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We think we are very powerful and important, and people around us are less capable and not worth our time listening to. But that was not what God did. God is the most powerful and the most important being in the universe. There is nothing that He can learn from man, but He listens to His people’s prayer. What can I tell God that He does not already know? There is nothing I can say to God to improve his efficiency. God’s economy of efficiency is entirely different from ours.

And what exactly are we trying to be efficient in?

We often desire the wrong things. And to be efficient in doing the wrong things, is unproductive. Before Paul exhort us to humbly count others more significant, he instructs us to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” (Phil 2:3a). In our own understanding, efficiency is about getting the things we want done fast. If we want money, the method that can make a lot of money is the most efficient. If we want sales, the method that can close the most deal is the most efficient. We can be very efficient at doing the wrong things altogether. That is why we must heed Paul’s warning to “do nothing from selfish ambition.”

If we desire to do the most important thing efficiently (that is to glorify God), we are to love people. We can only love people well by humbly consider others more significant, and look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:4).

Without humility, we cannot get the most important thing done. Without humility, we will be inefficient in loving people. Without humility, we cannot love God.


Two things you risk losing when becoming an “adult”

What does it mean to be an adult? Adulthood has so many definitions that we no longer know how to properly become an adult. There is a biological age that increases by one each time a year passes by since the day you are born. According to the law, does it makes you an adult when you turn 18 (or 21 depending on which country you are in)?

There are lessons we can (and must) learn from children. The Bible uses strong statements like, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

We have different sets of assumptions when we think of what constitute an adult. Many would agree that a person has truly turned into an adult when he is financially independent. It is true that a man needs to learn to provide for himself and his family. But is the size of one’s bank account a good benchmark to decide whether someone is an adult?

Losing Our Reliance on God

In the process of becoming independent and self-sufficient, we lost something valuable. Because we have the money and the ability to solve many things independently, we lost our reliance on God. Why pray when we can make a phone call and the problem gets resolved? Why pray when there is always food on the table? Why ask God for something that you can do it without His help? You suddenly realised that you become independent from God as well. You used to treat God as your genie, but now you don’t even need God to be your genie because you think you are self-sufficient and has the power to be god yourself.

Losing the Ability to be Amazed 

Children are amazed by stories of unicorn. To some, becoming an adult means one must no longer believes in anything immaterial. Everything visible is true, and every invisible is not. You must not believe in what you cannot see. Adults do not believe in unicorn. And this includes everything that are invisible, such as God, heaven and hell, angels and demons, miracles, and love.

Our hearts have become calloused by broken relationships, betrayals, and people who have sinned against us. So much so that we cannot imagine it possible for any being (including God) who will love us perfectly. All the experiences of life’s losses, of sickness, and of discouragement have taken away our power to imagine what a world without sin would look like. Rather than believing that God will right all wrongs and will forgive anyone who will repent and believe, we come out with our own methods of getting into heaven. We cannot believe that it is so easy, that all it takes is to believe. Experience tells us that life is not so easy, it is impossible that all it takes to enter heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ. That is a solution too simple for an adult to believe. Only a child will believe.

The Importance of Childlike Faith

We are never meant to live our lives independent from God.  The fact is, whether you believe that God exist or not, He is the One who is sustaining your life (Col 1:17). Your gold and silver, your intellect and skills, will not save you. Every rich person dies, every intelligent person dies. Our growing up should not cause us to put our trust in things that perishes but on God who saves. He choose to save sinners like us, not because we are wealthy or intelligent, but because He is gracious. He was gracious to you even when you are a sinner (Romans 5:8). You are dependent on God for everything. Spiritual maturity is to understand that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Growing up into maturity is to grow in wisdom, and that begins by learning the fear of the Lord.

Have a childlike faith. Repent and believe.



When Man’s Logic Becomes the Ultimate Source of Authority

Two weeks ago, I was playing a board game called Resistance with a couple of friends. In brief, this game consist of 2 spies in a team of 5 whose objective is to jeopardize a space mission, but the good guys (the Resistance) do not know who the spies are and need to figure that out fast. Which ever side wins 3 missions, wins the game.

Two lessons I learnt from this Game of Resistance

  1. Man’s Logic is Fallible
  2. Man’s Logic is an obstacle to Faith

Man’s Logic is Fallible

We live in a scientific era known as the “Age of Enlightenment” where science and human reasoning are regarded as the primary source of authority. For many years, researchers have been debating and changing their findings about egg and coffee (and many other things), whether are they good or bad for health, we accept their opinion as authoritative without question. This is a funny (yet true) video of how much faith we have in science: Time Travel Dietician

In one of the game where I was a Resistance, I summoned all my analytical, deductive, and logic/reasoning skills to figure who the 2 spies are. Running through all the possible permutations, studying the history of the passed and failed missions, the probability, and listening very carefully to everyone’s words and body language, I couldn’t figure out who the 2 spies are. There is a lack of information, I cannot confidently draw out who are the spies and who are the Resistance.

These are some of the common methods we use and rely on our logic in many areas of life, including moral and spiritual issues. We use our intelligence to explain everything, and we live our lives as though human reasoning has the ultimate source of authority. Figures and statistics can inform us how widespread an issue is and its trend over time, but it is a poor guide to teach us right from wrong. Science can teach us something about the observable world, but it cannot teach us about the realities of heaven and hell. Same goes for history, we can benefit by learning from the past, but history is unable to tell us how the world came into existence from nothing.

Who defines what’s right and wrong? Can statistics fulfill this responsibility? What do we base on when deciding if it is right or wrong to murder an unborn child? To intentionally end one’s life with euthanasia? To slavery? To every form of sexual immorality (child sex, rape, homosexual, paedophilia, bestiality, incest, adultery, premarital sex, polygamy, pornography, masturbation, etc)? Does it mean that if it becomes a societal norm then it is right to practice such things?

Science teaches us the physiology and mechanics of childbirth and how the DNA from the gametes weaved into a zygote, but do we really know why we are here? Can science explain the meaning of life or our purpose in this world? Can science tell us where we are going after death? Or teach us anything about our souls?

Man’s logic is unable to live up to the expectation we demand from it or to answer all of life’s difficult questions. We need help to make sense of the world we live in. We need help to understand how we are designed to live. We need revelation. In fact, God has revealed the truths we need to know about the world, about ourselves, and most importantly about God Himself in the Bible.

Man’s Logic is an obstacle to Faith

Humanity has made great advancement in technology and science, and this clearly indicates how intelligent God created man to be. Yet our pride in our own intelligence has blinded us from seeing God and we have failed to acknowledge Him or give thanks to Him.

If we try to push science or statistics beyond what they are capable of, we will end up with a faulty worldview (the understanding of the world, of ourselves, and of God). The Bible is clear that everyone knows that there is a God, it is “plain to them” and “have been clearly perceived” (Romans 1:19-21). The irony is that we pride ourselves in our intelligence that was given to us by God but we used it to deny Him. Our faith in our own wisdom has made us foolish (Romans 1:21-22).

We trust in our senses so much that it becomes an obstacle for faith to exist or grow. Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciple, doubted that Jesus has indeed resurrected. He trusted his senses more than God’s Word that he boldly said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25). But God was gracious to Thomas and came to him 8 days later to allow him to do exactly what he asked for. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27).

It was not only Thomas who was having difficulties believing, but in fact, the Bible says the same about the people as well. Their own wisdom has become an obstacle for them to have faith. “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom” (1 Cor 1:22). But the thing is, God’s logic is very different from man. Instead of finding a team of highly intelligent people to His kingdom (which is what we will do), God chose the “foolish in the world”, the “weak”, and the “low and despised” to enter His kingdom (1 Cor 1:26-29).

In the Bible, God revealed to us that all humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), that is why all forms a killing is a sin against God, including the killing of unborn child. The Bible has the authority of God to define for us right and wrong. There are many areas of our own logic are flawed and even sinful. To know how to live our live now, we need to rely on God’s Word and constantly renew our mind with God’s logic (Ephesians 4:23).


  1. Submit yourselves to God (James 4:7). In areas where your logic does not aligns with Scripture, humbly and diligently study the Scriptures to understand what God says about the topic and set your heart to obey them. There are many issues that are different from how the culture set the standard. Our standard should be defined by God’s Word and not by the culture.
  2. Learn humility. Your logic/wisdom is not infallible. You will make mistakes, you will sin against others, and others will sin against you. Be ready to admit, confess, and repent from your sins and turn away from it. And also forgive others when you are being sinned against.