Top Stories

Sign Up for our newsletter now.

Turn my pain into passion, keep me on fire

by Darrell Tan | 16 May 2018, 10:22 AM

Growing up in a harsh environment of performance and comparison both in church and school, I entered adulthood filled with self-condemnation and doubt.

“Anything done right and good should be kept to myself, if not it’d be seen as pride.”
“Your faith is meant to be kept underneath your sleeves. Don’t be so ‘extra’ lah.”

Even before recording Keep Me On Fire, I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. Negative thoughts prevailed and feelings of inadequacy threatened to quench the fire in me. But this is exactly why I wrote the song.

In the last days, God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)

The word “vision” is derived from the Hebrew word “chazah“. It means to perceive, to foresee. On the other hand, the root word of “dreams” is “chalom“, which often refers to prophetic dreams or dreams that give a revelation of God and His plan or purpose.

Both words are destiny-related. Therefore, we cannot afford to stop at a dream or vision. God has also called us to respond in obedience (2 John 1:6).

When God gives us a glimpse of our destiny, He also reveals to us gruelling, sometimes painful or even sacrificial “next-steps” with a call to deeper intimacy and surrender. I believe that taking those next-steps are what activating our destinies entails.

As an educator serving in a Campus Ministry, my heart burns for youth and young adults to find the answer to their emptiness and inadequacy in Jesus.

Yet often, just before I am about to act on a next-step, be it in a business or a ministry plan, to activate a God-given vision, something tends to crop up to hold me back.

God was decluttering and detoxing my inner man in order to turn pain into passion.

Once, I found myself lethargic and discouraged by a sense of failure. I was overwhelmed by how the education mountain seemed insurmountable. God surfaced then and showed me how I was inclined to depend on my own effort.

Even in those instances, God was decluttering and detoxing my inner man in order to turn pain into passion.

As I continue to reminisce and look back on my young adult journey, I also recall seasons when the passion that God burnt in me propelled me into the next phase overwhelmed with reckless abandonment to do His will.

There were also those victorious moments when a dream became far too big for my rational mind to comprehend and I stopped churning out permutations of what “might’ve been” to simply carry out by faith what God had said “will be”.

Keep Me On Fire is actually a compilation of the conversations of inadequacy I frequently have with God. It is a testimony of how He has kept my passion burning. My prayer is that this song activates destinies and ignites a passion for Jesus. Giving up is not an option. My fire will not be quenched. Neither will yours.

We need to be a generation that is perpetually passionate, relentless and unstoppable in making our God-given dreams a reality. We cannot be like fireworks, bursting onto the scene for a brief moment, only to fizzle out into the horizon.

A vision may point you in the right direction, but it is passion – a passion for Jesus – that propels you forward and keeps you going.


Darrell is the Campus Director at 3:16 Church. He is also an education consultant who trains teachers and mentors students.

Conversations

We Recommend

Culture

Waking up on the wrong side of the heart

by Jeremy Chin

Do Good

Sewing into His Kingdom

by Alison Choo

Faith

What do rainbows really mean?

by Darius Leow

Relationships

Waiting for the lights to change: My unrequited love

by Anthea Lee | 25 May 2018, 3:46 PM

I stretched my hands out.

Droplets of fresh rain rolled off the edge of the building and danced on my fingertips at a slow, rhythmic beat. The road ahead glistened with puddles of water.

“Looks like it just stopped raining,” my friend beside me commented. “Shall we go?” I looked at the pedestrian crossing just in front of us. “Let’s wait for the green light,” I replied. But as soon as the words left my mouth, the stoic red man on the traffic light turned green with an animated trot. My friend suppressed her laughter. She gestured for us to move and walked off.

I shook my head and smiled – half amused, half resigned – at the impeccable timing. Sometimes I wonder if the universe conspires against me. I crossed the road hastily and caught up with my friend. We walked to the next traffic junction straight ahead and waited for the traffic light to turn green once again.

While waiting, my friend suddenly pointed at my feet. “Your shoes!” she exclaimed. I knew, before looking down at my damp footwear, that my once-white shoes were now muddied. True enough, they were now of a murky-grey colour. My friend continued lamenting how I should have avoided the puddles more carefully.

I wriggled my toes and stared at my dirt-stained shoes, thinking of someone who once taught me that dirt is nothing to be afraid of.

“Hi Auntie, my name is Don. This is my friend, Thea,” Don was speaking to a dishevelled old woman in a wheelchair. Her hair was matted with grease and her clothes were unkempt. He motioned for me to come over.

I plastered on a smile as I reluctantly willed my feet to move. “Hi Auntie …” I greeted as I approached her.

She nodded in response to me and I caught a whiff of something unpleasant as she moved her head. A few flies buzzed around her. I swallowed hard. I tried not to wonder when was the last time she showered.

Don, however, seemed unfazed by the pungent smell. He was busy striking up a conversation with her. We found out that she lives near the hawker centre we ate at, in a one-room flat.

Auntie slowly warmed up to us. Then, as a friendly gesture, she offered us some bread someone had given her earlier that morning.

Waiting isn’t about stopping. It’s about running till someone runs at your pace.

I watched as she broke the bread, my eyes transfixed on the dirt and grime under her nails. When she handed the pieces to us, I tried not to scream in horror. I was still scrambling to think of ways to reject her when Don did the unthinkable. He reached out, took the bread, and ate it without missing a beat.

“Thanks, Auntie!” He smiled. And for the first time, I saw the purest form of love that I had only known through the Bible: Acceptance.

I could have been ashamed of my own wretchedness. But Don’s tenderness filled the atmosphere and enveloped me all at once. See, when love finds you, it doesn’t come in thunderstorms or crashing tides. It inches towards you slowly, like the soft waves on your feet along a sandy shore – gentle, comforting and warm all at the same time.

I fell in love with Don that day. And then over and over again, every single day.

It wasn’t too difficult for me to see him on a daily basis. We studied in the same school and once, I caught a glimpse of his timetable and memorised it by heart. Knowing the exact time he would be in the study lounge, I would wait for him there every day.

Sometimes we would talk about random stuff over lunch. Other times we would wordlessly revise our homework together. But every moment I was with Don was time well-spent. I felt like I could wait for him forever – It didn’t matter to me how long it would take for him to notice me.

But by waiting for him, I was simultaneously letting other things slip by.

“Sometimes we think God placed us in a season of waiting when all along, we’ve been waiting at the wrong place.”

I wasn’t able to concentrate on my studies. I would pretend I was doing my work when I was with him, but all I could think about was just how close he was to me. I got distracted in my ministry too. Instead of going all out for God and pursuing Him wholeheartedly, I slowed down and I waited – hoping by human means things would move.

I knew my obsession with Don was crippling me, but it’s not easy to pick yourself when lovestruck – blind to the degree of preoccupation he was taking up in my life.

Until a mutual friend confided me in that she liked Don too.

She talked about how she felt around him: How her heart would flutter, how she couldn’t concentrate whenever he was near – feelings all too familiar to me. She had also begun to lose her focus in life.

Like looking into a mirror at my own reflection, I saw everything with a sudden clarity: I had stopped running after God in my pursuit of Don – everything now revolved around him.

“Thea, we’ve been waiting at the wrong junction! The crossing is up ahead!”

I snapped back to reality. I looked at my friend and then at the junction where we stood. She was right. There was no pedestrian crossing. We had been waiting at the wrong place this entire time.

Laughing, she continued, “Isn’t it just like life? Sometimes we think God placed us in a season of waiting when all along, we’ve been waiting at the wrong place.”

Her words went deep into my soul – there was truth in it.

Someone once told me this: “God just wants you to run after Him. Don’t look to the left or to the right. Run the race that’s set before you. We’re on a marathon of our lives. And when we run a marathon, don’t stop for the guy that’s calling for you in the sidelines. Run until there’s someone running at your pace with you.”

We often think waiting for someone requires a compromise on our other commitments. We stop attending church, stop serving in cell group, stop investing in our relationship with God just to develop a relationship with someone else. All that had once driven us now takes a backseat.

But waiting isn’t about stopping. It’s about running till someone runs at your pace. And I realised I’ve been waiting at the wrong place this whole time.

I should be running instead.


Names have been changed in this article for confidentiality.

Conversations

We Recommend

video

“She told me she couldn’t have children”: Menopause at 26 and the miracle after

by Christina Wong

Faith

The secret is in the secret place

by Jason Chua, Burning Hearts

Culture

In this perilous age we live in, we too are the Avengers

by Ada Chua

Faith

There is a prescribed way to love

by Pastor Lim Lip Yong, Cornerstone Community Church | 25 May 2018, 3:03 PM

Something concerning in the Church today is the attitude where one does whatever is right in his own eyes.

Taking for granted God’s love, grace and long-suffering nature – believers pursue whatever they please, expecting a loving God to condone and celebrate His children notwithstanding.

But this is far from the truth. The fact that God left us 66 books for our study indicates that He’s very meticulous about what He approves of and what He doesn’t. A key misconception that we must deal with is that we can love God however we want or choose to express that love for Him in whichever manner we desire.

Because God is very particular about how we’re to express our love for Him.

In the Old Testament, the Law would show a clear contrast between the prescribed manner of worship acceptable to the Lord and the way pagan worship was conducted. Integral to the pagan worship of those times were the offering of child sacrifices, tattooing, temple harlotry, divination and other reprehensible practices.

The Lord made it clear in Leviticus 19 that He would not accept such practices as a legitimate expression of worship and love towards Him.

We must never emphasise an aspect of God to the detriment of other equally valid virtues of the Lord.

Instead, He instituted five sacrifices in the Old Testament. One of them is the Burnt Offering.

The Burnt Offering was a voluntary offering – an expression of love from the giver of the sacrifice to the Lord. Interestingly, the way in which the Burnt Offering was to be offered was given in great detail. In other words, God is very particular about how we express our love for Him.

And we’re told in Leviticus 1, that the Burnt Offering is to be given in four parts: The head, fats, entrails and legs. My interpretation is that these represent our mind, strength, affections and our walk respectively. So the expression of our love for God has to be done through these four aspects of our lives.

Part of loving God comes from knowing Him. The more we come to know the Lord, the more we are drawn to love Him. He’s both merciful and severe. He’s full of grace and also full of truth. We must never emphasise an aspect of God to the detriment of other equally valid virtues of the Lord.

As we give our intellect to know Him and also to know that He cannot be fully understood, we direct our minds and thoughts towards Him more and more. Loving someone also requires for us to give our strength to express that love to them. So loving the Lord requires us to give ourselves to serve Him and to serve others.

One of the fundamental principles in God’s Word is that we cannot say that we love God (whom we cannot see), when we do not love the people around us (whom we can see). How much we love God can be seen by how much we love people – that’s why giving our strength to serve others is such a big part of our faith.

The third aspect has to do with our affections. This relates to our emotions and where our attention is focused on. Affections are often seen through the amount of time we spend with someone. We long to be with the person we’re in love with. Is God someone we desire to spend time with?

Finally, there’s our walk. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Obedience is the by-product of a loving walk with God. When we love the Lord, we won’t want to displease Him. We’d instead want to find out what pleases Him and walk in the same manner that He walked.

I pray that we’ll not have some fuzzy idea about what it means to love God, but understand that He has expressly shown us a prescribed way to love Him.


This article was first published on Cornerstone’s website, and is republished with permission.

Conversations

We Recommend

Do Good

Saving Earth: How one man gave up everything for a street child’s future

by Wong Siqi

Faith

This wasn’t the life I’d planned (and it’s much better this way)

by Paige Lee

Culture

Waking up on the wrong side of the heart

by Jeremy Chin

Faith

Learning to let go

by | 25 May 2018, 1:43 PM

I’m a control freak.

I’ve always wanted things to go according to plan, and to make sure it does, I’m usually one the one who makes a conscious effort to plan meet-ups with friends. From reservations for the café to getting ideal seats – middle seats of the middle row – in the movie theatre, I made sure things were well-planned.

But in the occasion things didn’t go according to plan … I’d get really anxious and frustrated.

I’ve always believed in the importance of organisation and structure. The world would surely collapse into chaos without meticulous planning! Whatever I did, wherever I went, I made it a point to ensure there was a plan for everything.

According to the Myers Briggs personality test, about 44% of the world’s population are planners by nature. We are especially fearful of the unknown. We want to safely know what is going to happen in the future.

But I had to draw a line. Yes, it’s a good thing to have structure and plans. And it’s a good thing to have one eye on the future, but not when it causes anxiety.

When things don’t go as planned, we can take it as a timely reminder that we’re not in control of everything. But God is!

There was an occasion when I was assigned to cover a media event with my friend. She overslept and failed to answer my calls. I, on the other hand, was early and already waiting at the location. After 12 missed calls, she finally picked up and told me she would be cabbing to the location.

When I found out she was going to be changing the plan, I could feel the frustration and anger simmering within me.

We’re going to be late! This isn’t fair, I could have spent more time in bed. 

Although I was frustrated and stressed because of the uncertainty she introduced into our assignment, I decided instead to make use of the waiting time.

So instead of grumbling and lamenting like I usually do, I pulled out my unfinished assignments and worked on them. Because I realised had two choices to make.

  • Spend time fretting over the problems that might happen
  • Make use of the time to complete other tasks

Ultimately, though she was late, things actually turned out not so bad. So I was reminded of God’s sovereignty over everything that happens. When things don’t go as planned, we can take it as a timely reminder that we’re not in control of everything. But God is!

Ever done a “trust fall”? It takes faith to be able to trust that He is in control: That all that happens – happens for a reason. It takes faith and humility to believe that our finite human mind is unable to comprehend God’s greater plans. We simply have to trust in His timing and ways.

We can always choose how we will respond. When things don’t go the way we want them to, we can choose to trust in God or try to change the situation by our own ability.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

God has His plans for each and every day. If you’re a planner like me, don’t be anxious about tomorrow. Learn to trust in His plans for our future.

/ helene@thir.st

After surviving the chaos of Poly life fighting the evils of sleep deprivation and academic stress, Helene now spends most of her free time repaying her three years accumulated debt of not doing household chores.

Conversations

We Recommend

Relationships

Waiting for the lights to change: My unrequited love

by Anthea Lee

Faith

Full-time under 30: I didn’t think I was ready to commit

by Wong Siqi

Studies

Your identity isn’t tied to what you do

by Woo Jia Qian

Culture

The most important thing in the Church: Unity

by | 24 May 2018, 4:35 PM

“What is the one yardstick we can use to gauge if a mission trip is successful?”

This question was posed to us by the pastor who led a recent mission trip I was on. We offered various answers in response, mostly centred on salvations.

Instead, his answer was unity. His reasoning: “The ministry of love must first exist among us before it flows out into the nations.”

I believe it. If there’s no unity, there’s no blessing. Work not done in the bond of love and peace is mere work, not worship.

And here’s the thing: The devil is using thorns like miscommunication, misunderstanding or misconceptions to steal, kill and destroy our unity. But God can also use these thorns to shape us at the same time.

He wants to posture us. To make us unoffendable. To make us more and more like who we’re destined to be.

I believe unity must be the highest value in any church, and it should be the highest value in the Church.

As believers, we are connected to one another; we are part of the larger family of God.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)

We are the body of Christ (Romans 12:4). We can have unity without uniformity. I’ve spoken to many fellow millennial Christians who are tired of the divisions. One tells me, “We are so deep in our holy huddle, we fail to see we’re not just one church.”

What would Singapore look like if we stopped focusing on being merely right, and instead became entirely devoted to being right with God?

It’s easy to refuse to accept that many other churches can co-exist within the larger Church. And it’s easy to feel the divide because there are so many barriers to unity, like pride. It makes resolving theological differences such a challenge, especially when they are addressed in antagonistic ways.

Yes, we have many differences – but we have much common ground as well! What would Singapore look like if we stopped focusing on being merely right, and instead became entirely devoted to being right with God?

“We are often divided, because we’re not desperate enough. We’re not desperate enough because we fail to see God’s agenda for deep change and wide horizons.”

This was Pastor Edmund Chan’s encouragement to local church leaders at the LoveSingapore Prayer Summit this year. One thing he said really stuck with me:

“The Church is unstoppable when it’s under God’s hand. We have to receive the commission from God and arise as the Church of God.”

He was talking about the need for the larger Church to arise in its outreach initiatives in the years to come, and how disunity was one recurrent “challenge” faced by the Singaporean church. In my view, “challenge” is putting it mildly; we have the grave problem of disunity.

And again it makes me wonder what would the Church – or Singapore – look like if we dropped our personal agendas and picked up God’s agenda? What if we swapped boasting about our knowledge and traditions – for boasting in God alone? What if we traded pride for humility?

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Unity is not mere tolerance. Adopting a mindset of “you do your own thing, I do mine” is the surest path to a chasm. Instead we are to make every effort to do the will of God within the bond of love.

I know the God we serve is a God of peace. If we as believers are not first reconciled among each other, how can we expect to reconcile the nation to God? How great is our need to strive for unity between mainline and border Christianity, across denominations and ethnicity!

God help us strive tenaciously for peace!

Do you want to see Singapore saved? 

If so, I’d like you to mull over this one fact about the 1978 Billy Graham Crusade: Did you know that approximately 230 out of the 260 churches in Singapore at the time took part in the Crusade?

That’s an overwhelming majority – 9 in every 10 Christians – serving a single cause. They were of the same mind (Philippians 2:2), whether they sang in the choir, directed traffic as car-park marshals, or prayed over their brothers and sisters who responded to the call for salvation.

That’s the picture of unity we need to see and surpass in our generation.

May unity be our first recourse — never the last resort.

Do you want revival? Then you need to know happens when a people come together in unity for God’s agenda. It’s found in Psalm 133:3: “There the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”

Life forevermore. If we are right with God as a Church, we can expect to see the greatest blessing – salvation – run rampant through our nation.

Let’s close ranks in the coming battle. May unity be our first recourse — never the last resort.

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Church is family

by Darius Lee

Culture

In this perilous age we live in, we too are the Avengers

by Ada Chua

Culture

Waking up on the wrong side of the heart

by Jeremy Chin

Culture

Make time for important things

by | 24 May 2018, 11:47 AM

I’ll be the first to admit that my schedule is often a wreck.

With a calendar stacked with appointment after appointment, I’m constantly out of time and in a rush. And in an average school semester I find myself falling sick at least 3 times simply because I wasn’t getting enough rest.

It makes me wonder what Jesus’ secret was. How was He able to minister so effectively even while so many clamoured for his attention? And on top of it all, He was discipling 12 men!

3 THINGS TO MAKE TIME FOR

1. Make time to rest

So many of us have a tendency to carry our office desk all the way back home. It’s hard to find the time to rest. Yet we need to remember that God created everything within a 6–day work week. He set aside a day to rest (Genesis 2:2-3) – the Sabbath!

Since God made us in His image and rested on one day of the week, we should follow Him – we weren’t made to work 24/7.

It might not be popular belief, but taking time to rest isn’t counter–productive at all. Intentional rest helps ensure that we are meeting the conditions necessary for us to perform up to design, just as the creator would have wanted.

If we want to step into our destinies as the men and women He created us to be – time with God is the most important kind of time.

2. Make time for family

Working in Singapore, it’s easy to neglect family time. This is the thing I’m most guilty of. I struggle with not being a yes-man, and overbooking my schedule so that I can have time for my family.

“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

How can we honour our parents or families if we won’t make time for them? How do we even get to know them as people if we won’t put down the phone at home and have real and honest conversations?

I realise that relationships only work if you make the time to grow them. The grass isn’t greener on the other side – it’s green where you water it. So take the time to talk to your parents, take the time to play with your younger siblings. These relationships don’t grow without investment.

3. Make time for God

How much time do we give to God? The very best parts of our day or just a couple of minutes here and there? Our relationship with God works in one similar way to human ones – it also needs time to develop.

If you don’t regularly spend time alone with God, or aren’t sure how – you could start by reading a chapter from Psalms every day. Then journal what God speaks to you in that time with Him. We can be confident that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

And if you’re on the move, spend that time in worship. It can be as simple as listening to a hymn in the train and meditating on its lyrics. If we want to step into our destinies as the men and women He created us to be – time with God is the most important kind of time.

Don’t let your work rule your life.

We need to define what is truly important in our lives. We need to know what is worth our time beyond work and meeting our deadlines. So when it’s crunch-time, don’t forget what’s important as well – what cannot be replaced.

If you’re set apart, then your clock should be set differently from the world as well.

/ junheng@thir.st

JunHeng is a 100% extrovert who loves caffeine – lots of caffeine. He also likes HTHTs, jamming and eating good food. Did he mention he loves caffeine?

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Learning to let go

by Helene Tian

Faith

The double life of a mission tripper

by Gabriel Ong

Work

Is there some higher purpose to a working life?

by Christine Ng

Article list

Turn my pain into passion, keep me on fire

Waiting for the lights to change: My unrequited love

There is a prescribed way to love

Learning to let go

The most important thing in the Church: Unity

Make time for important things