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The girl without the husband

by | 27 October 2017, 7:37 PM

My GrabShare pulled up in front of an old terrace house in the same neighbourhood. There was a girl waiting outside the gate in a black razor-back dress, hair barely dried off and stringy. It was almost 10 in the morning and despite the world-weary scowl on her face she looked young enough – so I immediately assumed she was one of those college students trying to get to a morning class.

Settling into the front seat with barely a word in greeting to the driver, she pulled out a compact from her handbag and started applying her makeup. It was only then I realised she was wearing an engagement ring, its solitaire diamond glistening as she deftly patted her face, cushion in her left hand. Nestled on the same finger was a wedding band.

I was suddenly conscious of what I looked like from her perspective – Uniqlo jeans, simple plain tee and barefaced. All of 28 years old. No ring.

I’ve never been in a relationship and am not particularly enthused by the young adult dating scene, but recently I actually feel kinda bad when I meet other under-30s who are some form of married. Married for one or two years, just married, going-to-be married … Just the other day it was married with children. Children!

Then comes the inevitable thought: What am I doing with my life?

I am, glaringly, the girl without the husband.

The year most of us turned 26, five of my cell members got married. Closer to home, my cousin – also an ’89-er – got married. A JC classmate got married. Earlier this year, two members of the younger cell group I lead married each other. Next year, I will marry off two more.

“When will I get the honour of walking you down the aisle?” My dad likes to ask when we head off to another wedding dinner. All my other dad-friends have, with their own daughters.

My mother is less patient. “What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t even get married?” She’s repeated at various levels of frustration. “I think you’re too proud for marriage.”

On darker days, I wonder if she’s right.

With only one year of my 20s left to go, I am what the mainland Chinese will term “剩女”, a term I learnt from an SK-II ad about women over the age of 25 who don’t have husbands – literally, “leftover women”. These single women are commonly “advertised” by their parents at Marriage Markets, in hopes of being matchmade to other parents’ single sons.

When one of the “leftover women” being interviewed talked about the pain of disappointing her parents with her relationship status despite being gainfully independent, I cried. 

It’s not that I don’t know all the commonly cited exhortations to single people in the Church. It’s a season of unimaginable freedom to do your own thing. To pursue God without any distractions. That marriage is super hard and won’t solve any problems. That Jesus really is more than enough no matter how you feel otherwise.

It’s not that these things aren’t true. But when the ones who are married are labelled as “taken” – where does that leave the rest of us ringless ones who … aren’t?

I cried with the 剩女 not because I desperately wanted to be married, but because like her, like them, I wasn’t married not because I didn’t want to be married – and how does one tell her parents the truth?

I am not married, because nobody wants to marry me.

There is a phrase in Mandarin – “没人要” – nobody wants. I heard it used as I was growing up, usually as a joke to describe singleness.

We all know Paul said that if we could help it, stay single (1 Corinthians 7:8). That would be the real joke; I don’t think I know any women in Church today who’d second that wholeheartedly. It is human to want to be chosen and loved. It is hurtful to consider even for just a moment that we belong in the Rejects Pile. The Bargain Bin. 没人要.

And I’ve seen too many women try to preserve their sense of self-worth by doing either one of two things in response:

1. The Spoilt Milk Mentality: Escaping the dreaded– and very imaginary – Bargain Bin by lowering their standards as they approach “expiry date“, settling for whoever is willing to take them
2. The Fine Wine Mentality: Compensating with power – inflating their standards and working hard to be better than men, believing they are too good for most men in the first place

Neither is helpful, and both choices have their own consequences.

But even if you’re not taking advice from Cosmopolitan, trying to remain as Christian as possible in life’s waiting room is admittedly harrowing. When my friend caught the bouquet at a wedding and I congratulated her with the traditional “You’re next!”, she quickly corrected me that it was God who determined who got to be married and who would remain celibate for life.

“Just moderating my expectations,” she said, and it broke my heart to know she was really just guarding herself against the familiar sting of disappointment.

“Do you ever want to be married?”

He was barely 21, and we weren’t exactly close friends. I wonder if my face coloured at the question. What’s the point of my answer, if wanting something doesn’t actually mean getting it?

But there was no judgment in my young friend’s eyes, no thinly-veiled accusation in his voice. I realised suddenly, in the safety of that moment, that I’d never allowed myself to even think of my own answer. I was always too busy smoke-screening the embarrassment with modern-day wisdom for singlehood, Christian version included.

As he held the silence that fell between us, the truth that surfaced in my heart was startling.

It was yes. And no.

Because yes, I’ve met and been friends with people whom I’ve wanted to marry. I may not have spoken highly of the institution and its pitfalls, but I’ve never been closed to the idea of marriage, especially when I really liked someone. I was never “too proud” for marriage.

But no, I don’t want marriage if God doesn’t need me to be married for the work He has already prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). I want to be chosen and loved by someone, but I choose and love God and what He wants more.

A sermon I once listened to says it better: We have made marriage all about ourselves and what we want; whether we want to be married or not. But as servants of God it is not about us. If it’s better for His Kingdom’s work that I be married, I want to be married. I will be married. But if it’s better for His work that I be single, then I want to be single. It’s not about what I want. It’s not about me.

The day I gave my yes to Jesus, it was never about me anymore.

When God planted Isaiah 54 like a flag in the ground to mark my new season, it felt like a love letter straight to the deepest troubles of my heart.

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labour! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord … “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced … For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name …” (Isaiah 54:1-5)

For too long I had held the image of my husband in my head as the person who would protect and provide for me, feed and fulfil me. And when he failed to appear, year after year, heartbreak after heartbreak, the panic would mount – and so would the bitterness.

But now He had a name; again, God had given me Himself. I was that childless woman – ashamed, confounded and disgraced – but I wasn’t unwanted or leftover in the eyes of my Maker. Out of society’s Bargain Bin, I was chosen and redeemed at the highest cost (Galatians 3:13-15).

With everlasting love, He vows, “I will protect you. I will provide for you. I will feed you. I will fulfil you.” I am not the girl without the husband.

And in this season, my response to Him is a resounding “I do”.

/ joanne@thir.st

Joanne is a bundle of creative energy commonly heard before she is seen. She believes in the triune power of good conversation, brilliant writing and bold ideas. She also likes milo.

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“Stop window-shopping, it’s time to pay the price”: Will you be the one?

by Thir.st | 23 November 2017, 6:25 PM

He was speaking to a crowd of over 300 young people from more than 80 churches – gathered in an auditorium on a Thursday afternoon at the FOPx conference for youths – but there was someone specific Pastor Tan Seow How was looking for and speaking to.

“I’m not speaking to the 300 of you. I came here to preach to the one man, one woman who is God-ready. Ready to pay the price of surrender. Ready to rise up to change the world.”

Affectionately known at Heart of God Church as Pastor How, he reminded the congregation of something God said to Adam in Genesis 3:9, where He asked: “Where are you?”

“God isn’t really asking where we are. Don’t you think He knows?” said Pastor How. It wasn’t a matter of physical location. God’s question to Adam was one about willingness of heart – was Adam’s heart in the right place, and would he come to God? Where are you spiritually? Are you present? Are you ready?

And the reply He is looking for is: “Here I am! Send me!”

“Perhaps there are only 2, 5 or even just 10 in our midst,” he said, acknowledging that not everyone was going to be respond that way.

Some things look good from afar, but when you go closer and realise the cost, will you still commit to it?

“It’s like window shopping,” said Pastor How. “You see something that you like in the store and it looks good. So what’s the next thing that you do? You reach for the item and you look at the price tag.”

He then drew the parallel between window shopping and surrender: There is a price tag, and not everyone will be willing to pay the price.

“It’s easy to come to a conference or hear a good message and get all excited, but it’s what you do after the conference that counts.

“Surrender is hard work – to serve God you might have to sleep less, be left out of the fun others are having, read the Bible, actively live a holy life …

“Some things look good from afar, but when you go closer and realise the cost, will you still commit to it?”

Drawing reference from The Message version of Psalm 53:2, he asked the crowd again, “Who will be that one God-expectant man, that one God-ready woman?”

For God is looking for the one who is willing to stop window-shopping and pay the full price of surrender. The one willing to till the ground and usher in revival for the generation.


FOPx will be taking place this week from Thursday to Saturday, November 23-25, 2017. It will be held at Trinity Christian Centre (Days 1 and 2) and Bethesda Cathedral (Day 3). Tickets are priced at $40 per person and you can get them here. Night sessions are free and open to all!

Speakers include Lou Engle (co-founder of TheCall), Ben Fitzgerald (Director of Godfest Ministries) and various local Senior Pastors. 

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FOPx: Surrender ushers in the supernatural, Ben Fitzgerald urges youth

by Thir.st | 23 November 2017, 5:19 PM

“When God tells you to do something, He’s not asking you to figure out how to do it. It’s up to you to obey. It’s up to God to do it.”

Ben Fitzgerald, leader of Awakening Europe and GODfest Ministries, opened this year’s FOPx Conference – themed “Surrender” – with a simple question: Whose wisdom are we going to live by?

“As a Christian, you’re supposed to be filled with God and His wisdom. It may look irrational to you, but God is not irrational – He is trans-rational. His thoughts transcend your thoughts.

“We only have to surrender and say yes.”

Referring to John the Baptist, Pastor Ben, who used to serve at Bethel Church, Redding, exhorted the 300 young participants of the National Youth Conference to faithfully obey as God calls, to prepare the way of the Lord.

“If you rely on your ability to do something, nothing supernatural will ever happen.

“John had nothing naturally in him that anyone should have listened to him, but he had a yes in his spirit. He had zero – zero resources, zero qualifications – but he was close to the One.

“He simply bent his knee and allowed the Son of God to step across into His destiny. And you and I have the same call on our lives.”

He reiterated his point on this importance of submitting our humanly wisdom to the wisdom of God with the example of King David, who continually turned to God to ask Him how He wanted things done.

And because he always consulted in God’s rationality above his own, King David was able to surrender himself wholly and walk in God’s way throughout his years of kingship.

If you rely on your ability to do something, nothing supernatural will ever happen.

Pastor Ben ended his sermon with a personal testimony of putting God’s wisdom above his own. During a trip to France, where he was due to speak in a local Church, he encountered a woman in a wheelchair on his way to service.

It was just 5 minutes till the service started and he had just enough time to walk to the Church, but something stirred in his spirit to stop and pray for the woman’s healing.

“I heard God tell me that He wanted to heal this woman, but I really didn’t want to be late for my speaking appointment – I almost wanted to tell Him to go ahead and do it Himself!” He said to a laughing crowd.

“But I knew I could either go with my own rational wisdom to not be late, or surrender in obedience to what He was putting on my heart. So I stopped and approached her.”

Although the woman spoke no English, her husband who was pushing her wheelchair did. His wife was suffering from a debilitating muscular disease and was no longer mobile. He allowed Pastor Ben to pray for her, but did not offer to translate.

I knew I could either go with my own rational wisdom or surrender in obedience to what He was putting on my heart.

Pastor Ben went on to share that as he prayed, the woman began to writhe, but as he persisted in prayer, she suddenly went limp, as though something had left her body.

Speaking in rapid French to her husband, he explained that she was confounded by how the chronic pain in her back and legs had disappeared. She could move again! Overjoyed, she leapt up and embraced Pastor Ben.

That night, as the couple attended the service Pastor Ben was preaching at, they received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. What’s more, the woman prayed for another lady in the congregation who was suffering from the same disease, and she too was healed on the spot.

“Imagine if I’d obeyed my watch instead of the watch of the Lord,” Pastor Ben said. “Your rationality should never get in the way of the wisdom of God.

“Whose wisdom are you going to live by?”


FOPx will be taking place this week from Thursday to Saturday, November 23-25, 2017. It will be held at Trinity Christian Centre (Days 1 and 2) and Bethesda Cathedral (Day 3). Tickets are priced at $40 per person and you can get them here. Night sessions are free and open to all!

Speakers include Lou Engle (co-founder of TheCall), Ben Fitzgerald (Director of Godfest Ministries) and various local Senior Pastors. 

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Hope for the suffering Christian

by | 22 November 2017, 2:34 PM

Recently, I learnt from a cell group member that someone in our young adults ministry requires a serious operation due to the presence of a benign tumour. She’d sent a message to several chat groups, telling us to “remember our friend in prayer, and drop her a prayer and note of encouragement” if we could.

I found myself perplexed – what could anyone say to someone in this situation? It didn’t help that the doctor said that there was a possible chance of future recurrence.

Faced with such a situation, was there anything to be said that would make things better? Words seemed like mere platitudes, even hypocritical.

It is difficult to grapple with the notion that Christians may be “perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8) – pain is real and difficult to bear, hence despair seems to be the natural reaction, not its opposite, hope.

SUFFERING IS REAL

Physical death came into the world as Adam’s punishment for disobeying God’s command (Gen 3:19), and has also been passed down to Adam’s descendants (Romans 5:12) – all of us.

Likewise, sickness occurs as part and parcel of a fallen world – a consequence of Man’s collective rebellion against God. It does not discriminate among individuals (John 9:1-3); no one in this world has a get-out-of-suffering card.

Hence, it is important to note that suffering is valid and we should never downplay the tragedy of it.

As believers in the Greatest Hope, we may not feel permitted to be sad in the midst of trials and suffering; to not see them as such. On the contrary, the Bible tells us God’s people – Joseph in the book of Genesis, Naomi in the book of Ruth, King David, Job, the apostle Paul, among others – faced many trials!

Prophets wept. People of God cried out. Throughout the ages, good people have faced the scourge of suffering. We need to acknowledge that some parts of life truly hurt – and that’s okay because we’re not alone (1 Peter 5:9).

IS THERE PURPOSE IN SUFFERING?

Romans 8:28 tells us that “for those who love God all things work together for good” – the all-inclusive nature of this statement means God is working to use our circumstances to conform us into Christlikeness, even in suffering (Romans 8:29).

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to trust in God’s strength in the midst of their weaknesses – God used his suffering to strengthen the faith of other believers (2 Corinthians 1:6, 7). Paul concedes to be so utterly burdened beyond his strength that he “despaired of life itself”.

Yet, he also acknowledges the purpose in his suffering – to rely not on himself but on God (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9).

We can rejoice because God can, and will, conform us into Christlikeness in all circumstances, including tough times.

In the midst of suffering, we remember that God sent his Son into the world to suffer more than any man ever will. We cry out for help and comfort to a God who fully understands the pain of suffering and never forsakes us even in the fallenness of life.

It is because of this that Paul is able to rejoice even in prison because he knows that when God comes through for him, he will get to experience the same resurrection, saving power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead (Philippians 3:11).

REJOICE IN SUFFERING?

In Romans 5:3, we are told to rejoice in suffering. This sounds both counterintuitive and cruel at first glance. Yet, reading in context, we see why this is worth it – not that we remain happy in difficult circumstances themselves, but to rejoice in the fruit of suffering.

It bears explaining that “rejoicing” is more than being “happy” – even as Paul issues the command to rejoice, it is important to note the object of our rejoicing. On closer reading of Philippians, we realise the object of our rejoicing remains constant and doesn’t change with circumstances – we are able to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1, 4:4).

This contrasts with being happy – an emotional state which fluctuates with life’s circumstances.

We can rejoice because God can, and will, conform us into Christlikeness in all circumstances, including tough times. By looking to Christ’s sufficiency and power when faced with a difficult situation, we avoid giving in to resentment, bitterness and complaining. In this, our faith perseveres and is made stronger.

Furthermore, despite present suffering, we know we can rejoice in suffering because we have hope – we find hope in the person and saving work of Christ (Hebrews 6:19), which provides security and stability for our souls.

In light of this knowledge, this is how I will now respond to my friend’s predicament:

Dear friend,

I’m not sure what I can say – I know my words can’t change your situation. Both you and your family may be feeling scared, possibly also in anticipation of hospital charges and medical bills – which might be hefty. It’s a horrible situation to be in – and it’s not your first time undergoing this operation.

But this is what I hope you’ll remember – God’s love for you doesn’t fluctuate, even though your health does. God is using this for His glory, to grow you in Christlikeness. While that looks different for each person, your friends are encouraged that despite tough circumstances, your faith in God is never lost. I’m sure that pleases God!

We’ll be praying for God’s peace on you and your family.

Love and blessings,
Me

/ eudora@thir.st

Eudora found herself writing on public platforms by chance. Apart from writing, she likes many random things, including spoken word poetry, adult colouring books, tea, stationery and fresh, clean laundry.

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The Modern Sabbath: Separating fact from fiction

by | 22 November 2017, 12:07 PM

One of today’s marks of a good Christian is one’s attendance of Church on Sunday morning.

Stay with me on that one. Why is attendance on Sunday even a benchmark of faith? Well, because of the fourth Commandment: Honour the Sabbath and keep it holy (Deuteronomy 5:12).

That means we have to go to Church on Sundays to sing songs, listen to someone talk for a while and throw some loose change into the bag before real life resumes around lunchtime. Penance paid, duties completed. Hey, maybe God will bless me with a bonus or good grades if I keep this up.

If you’re nodding your head – I hope it’s because you like sarcasm.

But seriously speaking, to properly understand the biblical concept of the Sabbath, it’ll be helpful to first consider some of the church’s misconceptions and disagreements over it for the past two millennia.

SABBATH ≠ “WORSHIP DAY”

In Mosaic Law, the Sabbath, or shabbat, was introduced to the Israelites as a holy day on which no work was to be performed following six days of work (Deuteronomy 5, Exodus 16, 31, 35, Nehemiah 13, Jeremiah 17).

In our terms, it actually falls on a Saturday, and till this day it begins on Friday night and ends after nightfall on Saturday. Their “first day” of the week is what we know as Sunday.

There are certain instructions given for a “holy convocation” or gathering to occur on the Sabbath (Leviticus 23), with special rites being performed (Numbers 28). The Sabbath was kept as a sign of God’s sanctification of the Israelites as they journeyed in a foreign land (Exodus 31:13).

However, in this post-captive Israelite community, worship was continually performed by the tribe of Levi, who continually made sacrifices on behalf of the wider community of Israelites. This worship wasn’t just on the Sabbath.

So while the Sabbath could well be an aspect of Jewish worship, they were not entirely the same thing.

For Gentile believers, we do not live by the same covenant. In the New Testament, Christians were recorded meeting in synagogues, not to worship, but to evangelise to the Jews who were gathered there, just as Paul did in Acts 18:4.

Early Christians met often – some every day – to study the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Unlike the Jews who met on the Sabbath, the Bible tells us these Christians met on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2, Acts 20:7), and were not bound to worship on the Sabbath day.

But even though the early Christians didn’t officially keep the Sabbath, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should follow suit. Discernment is key.

SO WHAT’S UP WITH SUNDAY SERVICE?

The Sunday worship tradition practiced by most churches today honours Christ’s resurrection, which took place on the day after the Sabbath (Matthew 28:1) – remember, the Sabbath falls on our Saturday – and was sealed in tradition by the authority of the Church over centuries.

There’s also a theory that examines the politics of the Roman Empire – some 300 years after Christ. In those days, Egyptian Mithraists set aside Sundays for their worship of the sun-god.

Sunday. Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

As Christianity grew and became secularised by politics, Church leaders wanted to attract some of these pagans into their ranks, and incorporated some pagan customs into Christian church ceremonies.

To differentiate themselves from Jews and win pagans over, they decided to appropriate the pagan festival of Sunday and turn it into an official Christian and civil holiday.

As Christians, we honour Christ’s resurrection by baptism – not Sunday-keeping.

Over time, the Catholic church assimilated this practice into their official doctrine, and subsequent generations of believers simply took their word for it.

“The Lord’s Day” soon replaced the concept of Sabbath entirely, reducing it to a kind of personal discipline similar to tithing or fasting. 

So traditions have nothing to do with the biblical concept of the Sabbath. Neither Christ’s death and resurrection, nor the Catholic Church’s convenient strategy should’ve made a difference to God’s original blessing (Mark 2:27).

As Christians, we honour Christ’s resurrection by baptism – not Sunday-keeping (Romans 6:3-6).

So, since I’m not Jewish, should I even bother about the Sabbath? Hold that thought – but prepare it for the gallows.

THE SABBATH IS NOT JUST A JEWISH THING

The concept of Sabbath actually predates Judaism entirely. Meaning “rest” in Hebrew, Sabbath follows a period of work, as seen from the account of Genesis.

Clues of its origins can be found in various languages worldwide, most of which are unrelated to Hebrew.

In over 100 diverse languages throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa, many unrelated to ancient Hebrew, “Sabbath” refers to Saturday, which was a designated day of rest. For example, in Ancient Babylon – which existed centuries before Abraham and the Hebrew race – the seventh day of the week was called “sa-ba-tu”.

Jesus – the Lord of the Sabbath himself – kept the Sabbath throughout his life. If His likeness is your life’s pursuit, the Sabbath is for you.

Despite the evolution of language over time, the original word for “rest” is still fairly recognisable in modern variants of these tongues.

And if you’re tempted to believe you can read the New Testament without the Old, here’s food for thought: Jesus – the Lord of the Sabbath himself (Luke 6:5) – kept the Sabbath throughout his life. 

Jesus understood the importance of the Sabbath when He customarily read Scripture in the synagogue (Luke 4:16). He even honoured the Sabbath in the grave.

If Jesus is your Lord, and His likeness is your life’s pursuit – the Sabbath is for you.

THE SABBATH IS NOT SIMPLY “ANY DAY”

In the creation story, God rested after six days of work.

Now wait a minute. Why does God even need to rest? Does that imply a certain lack of strength or ability on God’s part? Of course not – that would go against His omnipotent nature.

After seeing that His work was good (Genesis 1:31), God set aside a full day (literal or allegorical) for the purpose of rest, blessing it and calling it holy. On Day Seven, God simply basked in the enjoyment of His creation.

And He still invites us to be a part of that practice.

 The Sabbath is a gift from God for our enjoyment and welfare – not a yardstick of our personal holiness.

This seventh-day Sabbath is what the Jews were called to obey in Scripture as part of their Mosaic covenant. The Bible says it carries the special blessing of God.

Remember the hundred over ancient languages we talked about earlier? Among all the languages which used the word “Sabbath”, none of them designated a rest day apart from the seventh.

Perhaps seventh day rest extends far beyond the timeframe and locality of Jewish culture, given the plethora of cultures which point to the seventh day for rest.

THE SABBATH IS NOT AN OUTDATED RULE

In Mark 2:27, after being rebuked by Pharisees for letting his disciples “break” the Sabbath law, Jesus speaks of how their great king David was no different.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

The Pharisees had missed the point. The Sabbath is a gift from God for our enjoyment and welfare – not a yardstick of our personal holiness.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.”
(Leviticus 19:9-10)

It precisely because of this law that Jesus’ disciples were able to be fed physically. If our practice of the Sabbath prevents us from exercising kindness and compassion, then we also have missed the point.

The Sabbath is intended for our ultimate redemption in the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 66:22-23). It is part of God’s blueprint for a joyful, fulfilling and meaningful existence.

When you find yourself running on empty, losing the joy of living, or simply going through the motions of a bleak and meaningless existence – slow down.

Take a deep breath. You could use an injection of some Sabbath essence in your life.

THE SABBATH IS NOT “DOING NOTHING”

Practising the true Sabbath imbues in us a profound sense of responsibility towards ourselves, our fellow humans and the entire world we live in.

It’s more than a day each week – it’s every dayIt’s more than a Jewish thing – it’s for everybodyIt’s not an outdated way of living – it’s past, present, and future reconciled God’s way.

And it’s actually more than making God happy. It’s about trust, gratitude, and true rest expressed through the unforced rhythms of grace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

/ kenneth@thir.st

Kenneth is best understood through his impassioned Instagram posts, composed in the deep of night when the tumultuous world finally lies silent. He probably prefers dogs to cats.

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What do your holidays look like?

by | 21 November 2017, 5:45 PM

For a lot of students in Singapore, holidays aren’t truly holidays.

We live in a culture where the end of the school year is simply a place in time to prepare for the upcoming year.

Parents start their children on enrichment classes to cover the following year’s syllabus, students read the next year’s syllabus in advance…

And I’m not sure it was always like this. When I was a child, my December holidays were spent creating awesome memories like that one time we drove around the region for 2 weeks.

But it seems we’re on a different train now. Constantly in motion, many of us can’t stop to see we need rest.

Certainly, preparing for the year ahead isn’t a bad thing. But whether as parents or students, when it’s done out of a kiasu mentality – at the expense of forgoing rest – and not excellence for God’s glory, that’s when we really need to examine our hearts.

After all, the Bible tells us that sleep (rest) is a gift from God, often spurned by anxious toil (Psalm 127:2). He made sleep as a reminder that we should rest in him.

Rest reminds us that it’s not our work that’s decisive in running the world – only God’s is.

Jesus redefined Sabbath rest for us as a gift of love to meet our needs. It is for us and our good. Rest reminds us that it’s not our work that’s decisive in running the world – only God’s is.

God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4). Living with this truth allows us to rest, knowing that God is always in complete control.

In Ecclesiastes, we read that enjoying life is also a gift from God.

Like the food and drink on our tables, life should be humbly and gratefully enjoyed as a gift God has blessed His children with (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, 3:13).

God is pleased in our pleasure, when we enjoy it knowing only He offers total satisfaction.

After all, however pleasurable the rest and leisure of this world may be, none of them last forever. None of them match up to the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, who came to deliver us from striving.

Happy holidays!

/ eudora@thir.st

Eudora found herself writing on public platforms by chance. Apart from writing, she likes many random things, including spoken word poetry, adult colouring books, tea, stationery and fresh, clean laundry.

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