To be loved but not feel loved. Is that still love? Most of us love only in our own definition of love, the way we personally receive and understand love to look like.
We speak different love languages and not always each others’, which is why the people whom we love may not truly feel loved. Because of our inflexibility towards expressions of love, we stubbornly choose to only do things that we think are right and loving to us.
So many people see love as a “miracle” that heal wounds completely. As a result, we have the tendency to think that others can “save” me with their love, and if they fail to, they should leave.
But to me, love isn’t the ability to “save”, but more like a “band-aid” – to just be there as healing takes its place.
We live in an age where “convenience” and the “easy way out” are paths most would choose. Sadly, this has what happened to love as well. When misunderstandings arise, when we come to a point of disagreements, we choose convenience over conversation, we’d rather move on than press on.
Love these days has been commercialised, its worth reduced to something that we use to profit ourselves, that we pick and choose like consumers.
Everyone wants to love and be loved, but not everyone is willing to go through the hassle of sticking it out through thick and thin, growing through trials, desiring to reach that elusive “forever”.
And very often I have to remind myself, “Your forever-kind-of-love isn’t for just anyone, but the right ones will stay“.
I believe that the word “love” was never so carelessly thrown about in the past. People didn’t say it unless they meant it. But not today, and so many of us hurt because of it.
Love these days has been commercialised, its worth reduced to something that we use to profit ourselves, that we pick and choose like consumers.
Honestly, there’s absolutely no way we can truly love without knowing God’s love for us.
God’s love doesn’t bind and blind you. It is freeing, and it gives you sight. Sight to see our flaws, but also to see beyond our ego and desire to change for the better. It is patient, it is kind …
And it never lets go.
This is a submission from a participant of our Christmas Gift Exchange. From now till the end of December 2017, we are giving away a limited edition Thir.st Tumbler in exchange for every story on the Christmas themes of love, joy, peace, hope and giving. Click here to find out more.
I’m at a time in my life where I’m figuring out for myself what it means to be a woman — and one who is after God’s heart. Topics like being a girlfriend and eventually becoming a mother seem to be permeating most of my conversations nowadays.
Which begs the question: I wonder what kind of woman I am, what kind of girlfriend/wife/mother I’d be and if I’m doing a good job so far according to God’s standards.
I then thought about the person whom I feel is the epitome of a godly woman in my life: My mother. While she isn’t perfect and her temper does flare on the rare occasion (especially when my room is in a mess), my mother has walked out a life in holiness to the best of her abilities.
I’ve been privileged to have had the front row seat in observing her walk out her faith with God and every time I look at her life, I find the encouragement and inspiration that I too can do the same.
Here are two major lessons I’ve learnt by looking at the life of my mother:
1. MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)
From the outside, my mother appears to be a soft-spoken and reserved woman. She’s anything but. She may not feel the need to be the center of attention, but a conversation with her will tell you that she is a woman of opinion and is confident on where she stands.
You’ll rarely hear her rebutting anyone should they question her, but she douses the intensity of the situation calmly, usually with laughter. And instead of confronting the other person, she states her own thoughts in a way that still manages to refrain from discrediting the other person’s opinions.
In some cases, it’s wiser to keep silent than to pursue a matter — and not every challenge is an invitation to a debate.
I, on the other hand, take after my dad. I always felt like it’s my human right to defend my views and values if they are being prodded or challenged. But with my own eyes I’ve seen my mother choose silence over confronting the many people who have outrightly challenged her. I never understood why she would allow people to walk over her like that.
But I’ve been taught (by both the Holy Spirit and my mother) that it takes strength and courage to walk away from a situation where you feel like you deserve to be heard and where you feel like you need to protect your values.
The Bible says that women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers (1 Timothy 3:11). I’ve learnt that in some cases, it’s wiser to keep silent than to pursue a matter — and not every challenge is an invitation to a debate.
2. CHARACTER TRUMPS BEAUTY
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
A hot button topic among me and my friends, the subject of beauty and its relevance in today’s culture has made me more annoyed than anything else.
Personally, I disagree with the way beauty has been made into something that the world constantly holds over our heads as women. It’s as if to say that if we don’t look a certain way, we’re deemed as less worthy as compared to someone who fits into the stereotypical definition of what beauty is.
Like many, I’ve struggled with issues of self-worth and grappled with whether or not my ordinary looks meant I was inferior compared to a girl who was prettier. As I was growing up and navigating the choppy waters of puberty and my insecurities with how I looked, my mother has never stopped reminding me that God is not concerned about my outward appearance but He looks at my heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
I’m taught that a heart that is hungry and in pursuit of God is more attractive than a perfect body ratio and a stunning face.
I’ve been blessed to have parents who have never made me any less worthy because of my looks or the way I dressed. My mother constantly knocks it into my head that my character is worthy of more investment than the curation of my wardrobe.
She tells me that I can either choose to worry about something that is fleeting (like charm and beauty), or I can be more concerned about what God thinks of me. I’m taught that a heart that is hungry and in pursuit of God is more attractive than a perfect body ratio and a stunning face.
She once told me; “You can jolly well look the part of a model, but if your character sucks and if you have no capacity for compassion or love for anyone else apart from yourself, you’re as good as nothing.” Harsh, but I couldn’t agree more.
My mother models for me what a reverend fear of God looks like: It’s choosing to do His will, even if I may feel like I would be looked down upon in the world’s eyes. And I do this not because of legality, but because it is out of an authentic love for the One who gives me my worth.
It was impossible for me to believe this a few years ago, but I can now safely say that I am becoming who God has intended for me to be — slowly but surely. And although it doesn’t feel like it yet, I know God made me wonderfully and fearfully and completely.
I see God asking me to trade in my hard and strong-headed exterior for a tenderness He wants for my heart. Womanhood is an exciting thing to discover, but it’s even more fulfilling when I discover the God who fleshes out the woman in me.
Shuffling up the grotty stairwell of People’s Park Complex, I had no precedent of what to expect. I only carried an open mind and a seeking heart. Gently opening the last door to my destination, the prayer meeting had already started.
I crept quietly to the back of the group so as to not interrupt the person speaking. There was nary a familiar face, as I smiled and acknowledged the person who’d invited me here.
Thinking back, that meeting carried such a scent of the divine.
A mentor once shared that in many a youth’s chase to find their life’s mission, they must first know their Maker. This sagely advice deeply impacted my then 17-year-old heart, but also fell upon deaf ears, as purpose was blindly pursued without the wisdom of experience.
Destiny was redefined as what I was comfortable doing, rather than what my heart burned for.
In the seven years that followed, obstacles were faced, criticism was received and discouragement abounded. Dream after dream was burnt up and buried. Destiny was redefined as what I was comfortable doing, rather than what my heart burned for, what I yearned to make a reality.
Things took a turn in 2015, when I attended Bible school, and a very motherly classmate prayed and prophesied over me.
“Keith … God wants you to dream again.”
That day at the meeting, I felt a fresh dream stirring in me again.
THE WORD BEHIND THE WORDS
Ephesians 4:1 has been on my heart for a majority of 2017, to “walk worthy of the calling” of which I’ve been called. What does it mean to walk worthy? I always felt this was one of those things you wouldn’t and couldn’t really know beforehand – you’d just have to walk it out with God to find out.
Another line that I’ve held onto for the longest time since my poly days is to “aim to make an impact that outlasts oneself.” These have been principles and beliefs that guide my life in my pursuit of purpose and destiny.
And as I’ve spent time observing the current perspectives and standards that our society holds, another resounding thought comes to mind: There must be more than this.
There must be more to this life than how it currently is right now; there must be more to life than just chasing after pieces of paper; there must be more to life than hustling to achieve the millennial version of the Five Cs – and what were they again?
There must be more to life than just striving for a comfortable one.
There must be more than this rat race of chasing after fame and fortune. For a life lived “better”, richer, louder than your peers, climbing mountain after mountain, only to realise the striving never ends.
There must be more than this paper chase, where numbers and letters weakly define your value and your worth, insinuating that you are only made of this and for that, based on what you’ve academically achieved in the first 12 to 20 years of your life.
There must be more than this “dog eat dog” world that is driven by what benefits “me” the most.
There must be more to this life than just #goals that provoke envy and pride, that insidious need to prove that I’m somehow better than everyone else because I have more Instagram followers and likes.
There must be more to this life because you are made for more than this life.
I BELIEVE, THEREFORE I SPEAK
Making an impact that outlasts yourself is not about KPIs, the digits in your bank account, the stamps on your passport, or things that glorify “me”. There must be more to this life than just placing temporal things on a pedestal instead of striving for the eternal.
True impact is about making life better in so many different ways for people of the present and children of the future. You are made of greater things and for greater works.
You aren’t here just to find your place, but to make your mark on this generation.
Christopher Chng is a 27-year-old Youth Worker at a local Methodist Church. Prior to his entry into full-time ministry, he was part of a discipleship training programme with missions organisation YWAM (Youth With a Mission) after graduating from the University at Buffalo, New York with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication studies.
I was 22, fresh out of military service and at a young Methodist leaders conference when I first received that much-spoken-about burning sensation in my heart. That struggling-to-respond moment when a speaker called forth young leaders with a passion to serve God full time.
I did not want to accept it at first, but in the mix of confusion and excitement – mostly confusion – I responded and stood up for prayer.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, in fact, in my zeal, I shortly wanted to head straight to the nearest local seminary, but both my Church mentors and parents told me to wait and pursue a local degree first. This was the first testing of my full-time ministry calling.
What followed was a testing of my faith and identity. During my two years in university I started to lose sight of this call and, furthermore, was growing discouraged in my faith in God. I was starting to make plans to live a “normal” life with a job that wasn’t full-time ministry, not traditionally anyway.
It was in early 2014 – amidst the uncertainty of what I wanted to do upon graduation – that I had a prompting in my heart to join YWAM and do a 6-month discipleship programme with them. After praying about it and processing my decision with my Church, a few days after the last exam paper of my university life, I flew to join YWAM Perth in July 2015.
After the six months, I joined YWAM on staff and was based in Perth. There, I participated in a worship ministry, joined the staff team of the same programme and led a 3-month outreach.
Outdoor worship with YWAM Perth
But being a part of YWAM Perth had been an uphill battle. I was battling against my parents’ wishes for me to stay in Singapore and against a culture of financial stability as I had to raise support for my finances every month.
In my parents’ pre-believing eyes, I was begging for money and they had no idea why I had to travel so often to other countries, many of them unsafe in their eyes.
My friends and mentors from my Church also had differing opinions. Some discouraged me from going, others encouraged me to think about it carefully so as to not regret anything. It was a tough decision, but after God’s divine provision of the necessary finances, I made up my mind and officially joined YWAM in 2016.
My time in Perth were some of my best years. Being able to pursue my passion in music and getting trained by some of the best musicians I know, all while living and breathing the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations with a vibrant and loving community … I was living the life. The full-time ministry life.
I received hurtful comments like “welcome back to the real world”,as if life in Perth had been an illusion – or my delusion.
But soon after I was unexpectedly re-routed back home due to a family emergency. It was the second test to my full-time ministry calling.
I had to make the painful decision of leaving my YWAM family and coming home. And if that weren’t bad enough, I even received hurtful comments like “welcome back to the real world”,as if life in Perth had been an illusion – or my delusion.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, God had different plans. While I was wallowing in my frustrations of being back in Singapore, He opened the door for me to join my local church as a Youth Worker. One thing led to another, and I found myself still able to serve full-time in Christian ministry back home.
Of course, there were still many new challenges that presented themselves. Here are a few lessons I’ve carved out for myself.
Campus ministry time
LESSONS FROM A MILLENNIAL MINISTRY WORKER
1. Expect some loneliness
One of the early challenges I faced was the loneliness of full-time ministry. If you work in Church, you might not see your volunteer team mates from Monday to Friday. I found it hard to work and move things forward when I could only see my team on the weekends.
And when I started to apportion my weekends for meetings with my youth, I stopped meeting up with my peers, who also only had the weekends to hang out and chill.
It’s thus important to surround yourself with like-minded Kingdom warriors who carry their crosses for the sake of Christ. They will be your most loving and understanding support group.
2. Know the point of your work
I had to reconcile within myself that the work I’m doing, despite not being a regular 9 to 5 job, has eternal significance. The work of discipleship that Jesus calls all of us to is investing in relationships – in people and their spiritual growth.
We can miss this crucial point when we busy ourselves with too much programme, especially as ministry workers. You could very well become an efficient events coordinator and an ineffective minister of God’s grace.
3. Create space for yourself
One of the biggest things that I struggled with in the first few months (and still do) was creating a healthy space for myself to care for my own soul. I tend to pack my schedules with meeting people and never-ending work – and am usually left with little energy to exercise, listen to music or even just rest!
So I’ve had to forcibly create space for self care, and I highly recommend it. Do things that refresh you, whether its art, music, exercise, movies, reading or sleeping. You are equally important.
4. Always keep God in the picture
The most important takeaway that I’ve gained from this journey is that my faith and relationship with God is key to the entire process.
It was through personal meditation on Scripture and spending time journalling my ups and downs that the wisdom and understanding from God came through. It held me through the toughest times and guided my decision making.
As full-time ministers, we have an authority greater than our earthly bosses to stick close to, and that’s the Word of God – and the God of the Word. We need to spend time studying and pondering over what He’s saying in Scripture and speaking into our hearts.
5. Don’t give in to discouragement
I remember one time I preached what I thought was a terrible sermon and was flooded with thoughts of condemnation and discouragement.
When I prayed about it later that night, God deposited a simple truth in me, to not take myself too seriously and to keep my heart aligned with His through the tough times. That it was okay to be discouraged, to not have done well at times – but I needed to go easy on my heart and to follow Him closely through the journey.
So my fellow full-time ministers, take it from our Heavenly Boss: Enjoy the ride and don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot and carry the joy of God in your heart wherever you go. That’s what people will remember you for.
If you are interested in finding out more about full-time ministry, feel free to drop us an email. For those interested in YWAM’s Discipleship Training School, you can visit their page here.
YWAM Singapore is a growing part of a dynamic global movement of mobilising the worldwide Church to reach the peoples of Asia. As a mission, they see themselves serving as a springboard from which many launch off into the Asian harvest fields.
by Senior Pastor Benny Ho, Faith Community Church | 4 January 2018, 8:20 PM
The late Ann Landers who ran the popular Agony Aunt column in the US used to receive some 60,000 letters a month. She revealed: “One problem dominates. People are afraid.” People are afraid of losing their health, wealth, and job. They are afraid of the future, being left alone, rejected and embarrassed. They are afraid of death, and even of public speaking.
While some fears are constructive, most fears paralyse and render us ineffective. Throughout scripture, we are told not to be afraid. Jesus often said “Fear not!” and we are reassured in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
So why do we still have fears?
We are afraid because at the root of our fears is the fact that we find ourselves unable to fully trust God. Fear and the lack of trust go hand in hand.
However, every instance of fear is also an opportunity to trust in God and move from fear to courage.
In 1 Samuel 17, we read the familiar story of David versus Goliath. Picture this: The Israelites and the Philistines are at war in the Valley of Elah. The Israelites are on one hill, and the Philistines on another, with a valley in the middle.
Here comes Goliath, nine and a half feet tall, a giant of a man with a bronze helmet on his head, a suit of armour on his body, a javelin slung on his back – a massive 200 pounds in all.
He stands like an overgrown tree and shouts in a deep voice: “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us. This day, I defy the ranks of Israel!”
Goliath did not just taunt the Israelites once but, like a broken record, he did that again and again for 40 days non-stop! All the Israelites were terrified and gripped by fear.
One of the most powerful weapons that the devil uses against us is intimidation. And I’d like to give you five keys to help you overcome our fears:
5 KEYS TO FACING YOUR GIANTS
1. Guard your eyes – watch what you are looking at
The first principle in overcoming fear is to watch what you are focusing on. Are you focusing on God or your circumstances? Fear comes from focusing on our circumstances rather than on God.
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)
“I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” (Psalm 3:6)
2. Guard your ears – be careful who you listen to
The moment Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him, he said to David, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert?” (1 Samuel 17:28)
But David demonstrated that he was a giant inside. He turned away from Eliab’s discouragement and continued to pursue God’s glory. David did not allow any discouragement to dilute his courage and passion for the Lord.
If you listen to the wrong people, you will exchange your faith for their fear.
3. Guard your mind – remember the right thing
“But David said to Saul: “… When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth…this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he defiled the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37)
To overcome fear, you must fill your mind with the powerful things that God has done in your life. David remembered how God was with him in the past, and it filled him with confidence.
4. Guard your heart – be confident with God’s provision
When fear threatens to strike, remember to
1. Do what you know 2. Use what God has put in your hand 3. Stick to faithful old sling and stone
David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalms 56:3-4)
5. Guard your back – cut off the root of your fear
It is not enough to immobilise our giants or knock them out temporarily. We must literally cut them off from our lives. And there is only one way to put an end to crippling gear – by applying the truth of the God’s resurrection to our lives.
The truth is, all of us have “Goliaths” in our lives and experience challenges that intimidate us. There are fears that haunt, accuse, and make us feel miserable and diffident. These fears rob us of courage and cause us to live in a constant state of fear.
However in Christ, we do not need to be afraid. We are no longer bound in fear, but in the security of our King of Kings and our Lord of Lords. He is our victory, courage and confidence.
To find out more about how you can “Manage Your Emotions – Overcoming Negative Emotions for a Life of Abundance”, visit Benny Ho’s resource page.
Imagine this: Your friend is in a bad place. After countless hours of counselling and sharing godly wisdom with them on how they can walk in the opposite direction of further hurt and disappointment, they choose to wander off to places you know will only see more trouble.
How would that make you feel?
CHECK YOUR HEART
I recently became acquainted with this reality after spending time with a friend who was going through a bad time. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, frustrated or worried. We had countless cups of teh, tears were shed and hearts were wrung out to dry over the space of a kopitiam table. This happened many times.
God had given me the grace and strength to walk with this friend through her hurts — but it took a lot of time and effort, both mental and emotional. And what should have been an emotionally draining process naturally, wasn’t for me because I knew I had God’s covering upon me.
I spent hours on my bedroom floor, crying out on my knees asking God to use me to come through for this friend. She still hasn’t come to the realisation that there is Someone who desperately wants to be her Friend and her Comforter. I told God that I yearned for the day and the moment she would know Him.
I reckon this might be how God feels when instead of heeding His shouts of warnings, we stubbornly and blindly choose to walk down our own paths.
In this season, I know God is teaching me how to deal with friends who choose to walk away from seemingly good advice and loving petition that they would steer themselves away from a path of hurt and dysfunction.
I’m comforted by the fact that God has matured me in this process. Truth be told, I had to check my heart with God. Am I upset that she didn’t take my advice? Was I frustrated that my time and effort had seemingly been wasted? To my pleasant surprise, while there was huge potential to make it all about me, I knew that the answer to those questions was “no”.
My heart was heavy because my friend had made a certain decision that would just be another big walk around the issue at hand. I reckon this might be how God feels when instead of heeding His shouts of warnings, we stubbornly and blindly choose to walk down our own paths.
I can’t help but feel sad that my friend’s decisions have somehow postponed her healing process. But in Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” I’m reminded that God will have the last say.
GOD IS STILL GOOD
But through it all, God is so good. Firstly, my friend came to terms with the realities of her struggles and is now open towards resolving them. Secondly, God was still loving and gentle as He taught me an important lesson on knowing when to walk away from a situation my flesh would’ve told me to cling on regardless.
The human reaction — one that is rooted in pride while having good intentions — would demand that I be upset that my friend disregarded perfectly good advice. It would insist that I repeat my words and opinions, and to constantly discuss it until my friend relents and follows what I say.
That is pride; and that is a dangerous attempt at playing god.
Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honour comes humility.” Humility comes first if we want wisdom; humility makes me understand that it is not my wisdom that I am standing upon but my fear of the Lord. That is the very thing that would help me to grapple with the inclination to rely on my own strength when trying to help a friend.
I can never be the person to pull a friend out of a bad situation – only God can.
But I’m learning that while you may purposefully walking away from speaking into a particular situation, you can and should still make yourself available to your friends by loving them with your friendship and with your prayers.
I can never be the person to pull a friend out of a bad situation – only God can. And that reassures me because I am starkly aware of my own human limitations. At the same time, I am also looking at the magnitude of God’s love — this same love that is pursuing this friend of mine, is relentless and I know that in His time, she will come to realise it for herself.
I know that God is not done with her yet.
In the meantime, I will still choose to spend many more hours on my bedroom floor, praying and waiting for the day my friend will come to see the One who has been knocking on her heart’s door all this while.