Top Stories

Sign Up for our newsletter now.

I was my own villain

by Amedee Goh | 30 May 2018, 8:41 PM

I grew up in a volatile household where, like a time bomb waiting to go off, seeming peace would be met trouble. When my mum was pregnant with me, my dad requested to have me aborted. And throughout my childhood, he would intentionally hurt me too.

He was physically abusive to my mother at times, and frequently verbally hurled insults at her. It made me fearful that the same would happen to me. This led me to avoid getting too close to anyone in my friendships altogether.

While I was well-liked within my social circle as I grew up, I was never the goody-two-shoes girl people thought I was. In my eyes, I was pretty much an awful person on the inside – a villain, almost.

Because of my stormy household situation, I longed to release the anger, bitterness, hatred and jealousy I harboured deep within me. I envied my friends who seemed to have complete, happy families and frequently compared their lives to mine.

As a young person, I hid much of these pent-up feelings inside. I never trusted anyone enough to tell them my “secret” feelings. And while I did not terrorise my peers, I found myself putting on a superior front to my classmates, finding ways to manipulate and control them to my favour.

But in my late teens, I began to meet people who called themselves Christians. They seemed so different from me. They wore their scars on their sleeves and were real with one another about their faith and struggles. I kept asking myself, why am I different? So I decided to accept Christ too.

I remember going down on my knees and simply telling Jesus, “I don’t think I know You at all. In fact, I don’t know anything at all. But the Bible says You save. I’ve seen it in the people in the church, that could only be You. So help me with my feelings. Help me to understand.”

Yet, life as a Christian was still on the surface for me. The tension in my family was too great for me to bear. When my mum contracted tuberculosis, a saliva-transmitted disease, my father chose to distance himself for fear of his health. The emotions I kept inside could not be suppressed anymore and I lashed out at my dad.

But my Christian friends helped me realise it was time to grow up and let go of these childhood frustrations. And so I decided to work out my problems with Him little by little.

Painfully, I revisited memories from my past, the hurts and pains, everything. I prayed again, “Help me to let go of what I cannot control anymore – the things in my past. Lord, Your yoke is easy, so take my burdens.” And He did. Each time I feel these feelings inside me fester, I prayed and they left.

Of course, there were times I simply gave in to pity parties, yet slowly but surely, the old wounds disappeared once and for all. I do think about them at times, but they no longer have any hold on me. I also keep a close group of friends who are there for me and cover me in prayer.

I also notice that for a person who used to bear grudges easily, I’m find it easier to let go of emotional burdens. Of course, it all still takes some time. I began to open up and let people around me into my struggles, knowing that they care for me and would not hesitate to speak truth into my life.

I still do struggle with the desire to have control, especially when things go south. I may do things to fix the situation, which I usually regret, and end up feeling guilty and unforgivable. But the Holy Spirit has helped me tremendously in avoiding time-consuming battles inside my head – He is gentle but firm, and never condemning. Each time I fall, He helps me up.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

Because of God’s faithful growth and guidance, my faith has been made much stronger; and as time passes, I find out more about what freedom in Christ means.

By His grace, I wouldn’t say anymore that I’m a villain, but I have come to realise that the greatest enemy, at times, is yourself. As fallen humans, we all have darkness within us. Mine manifests in a cruel, hardened heart craving control.

Yet thanks to all that has happened in my life, I can proclaim that Jesus saves. I may not be able to overcome darkness on my own, but with the Holy Spirit, as well as the saints who are my friends – and now even my family – coming alongside me, I can press on forward, overcome my fallen nature and reach for the prize (Philippians 3:14).

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Worship is not about us

by Lim Jun Heng

Faith

The Church is not perfect, but it is beautiful

by Jonavan Lee

Faith

Being bullied ruined my life, but I found a way out

by Natalie Tay

Culture

How to get the rest you need

by | 16 October 2018, 6:37 PM

I am an ISFJ, which means I’m often a ball of contradictions.

Though introverted, I can be outgoing and I have good social skills. That explains my constant packed schedule – the last time I had some time alone was nearly a month ago!

Because of my introverted nature, an accumulation of social activities drains me out when I don’t get time to recharge. Now, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, having enough time to rest and recalibrate is crucial for physical, mental and spiritual health.

But how do we do that in fast-paced society?

Source: SharperIron

If there was a “busiest person” competition in the Bible, Jesus would have won it hands-down.

Jesus taught in the synagogue in the morning, healed the sick in the afternoon and cast out demons at night! Yet despite his busy schedule, Jesus was never flustered.

“At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42-44)

Already, you may have glimpsed some secrets to Jesus’ ministry. So how do we stay rested and composed amidst a hectic life? Here are some handles for doing so that I’ve learnt through my walk with God.

3 RULES FOR RESTING WELL

1. PROTECT YOUR TIME

The verse starts off with Jesus being by Himself. It wasn’t uncommon for Jesus to withdraw from people to be alone.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to give away my rest time when other things vie for my attention. One week it’s a friend who’s only free on this day. Another week it’s family commitments. On yet another it’s ministry work.

For a long time, I saw rest as less important and urgent in comparison to such activities. But this way of life quickly proved ineffective and unsustainable: I found myself extremely drained and moody. My relationships with people were affected badly, and I ended up complaining to God all the time.

God, why do I have so many people to meet? Why did you give me so many tasks and responsibilities?

But God isn’t responsible for how we handle the tasks we have been given – we are. And a good leader knows when to serve and when to rest.

In Mark 6:31-32, the disciples were so busy ministering that they did not even have a chance to eat. Jesus saw what was happening and invited them to get away with Him to a quiet place.

What about us? Do we know when to stop serving and start resting? Do we protect our time with God?

… a good leader knows when to serve and when to rest.

2. THE POWER OF SAYING NO

In the following verses we see that the crowd wanted Him to stay, but Jesus declined.

Matthew 14:23 tells us, “After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.”

And this wasn’t just any crowd that Jesus dismissed. These were the first few people who accepted Him since His ministry began! In the previous town, where Jesus had demonstrated miracles, the people had actually wanted to throw Him off a cliff.

If you were a leader trying to start a following, this would have been a good opportunity. Why would anyone leave proven, fertile ground to grow a following elsewhere?

But this actually wasn’t a selfish decision. It was a deliberate choice based on Jesus’ priorities, which brings us to the next point.

3. PRIORITISE

Immediately after saying no, Jesus explained why He decided not to stay on: “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

It wouldn’t have been wrong for Jesus to stay on and minister to the people there. Thing is, He was very clear on what his priority was. His mission was not just to go to that particular town – but to the entire region. Jesus had to say no to the important in order to say yes to the vital.

Saying no is difficult when we have to choose between options which aren’t necessarily bad. In such times, it’s important that we know what our mission is because we have limited time, energy and effort.

And since we are called to be good stewards of our lives, we have to learn how to prioritise where we want to invest our resources. Without having a clear focus, we will be easily distracted.

Above all, we have to prioritise our rest time; God didn’t tell us to keep the Sabbath for nothing. Even the Lord Jesus thought it necessary to say no to the crowd’s demands in order to pray.

So don’t you think we should learn how to do the same?

/ siqi@thir.st

Siqi often loses her footwear in the office. She is also known for her loud sneezes, huge appetite, and weird sound effects. Happens to be a writer too.

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Why I gave church another chance

by Nelson Lum

video

Taking the heart of Singapore to Batam

by Joanne Kwok

Faith

I was obsessed with being self-sufficient

by Eunice Tan

Faith

Why I gave church another chance

by Nelson Lum | 16 October 2018, 4:11 PM

At the start of this year, I left my previous church of six years.

It was a heart-wrenching experience, but I had been wondering for months about the purpose of the church and why we even need churches at all. I asked many Christian friends and pastors about the theologies of sacraments and worship, and whether I could sit at home, listen to a sermon, and worship with my guitar in my room.

Ultimately, it seemed to me that I needed to realign myself to God first, before I could even try finding my way back to the body of Christ.

So for half a year, I read the Bible and prayed as per normal, and it felt like everything was alright. Having been brought up in a non-believing household, and being an only child, I was used to a solitary faith. I used to joke that CS Lewis and St. Chrysostom were my cell leaders.

However, St Augustine’s words kept coming back to mind: “He cannot have God for his father who will not have the Church as his mother”.

God soon gave me another opportunity to give church a chance.

A friend came back from studying overseas and invited me to join her church. I reluctantly obliged. A part of me was still afraid of what I might find, but another part of me agreed with my friends that I should trust God in His unfailing providence. After all, “faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, despite your changing moods” (CS Lewis.)

Thankfully, my friend brought me around and introduced me to everyone, and I found that I could connect with a lot of them pretty quickly. I joined a cell group very soon, which considered problems of the faith and engaged in lively discourse, in stark contrast to my previous church.

Being able to question and engage with the materials used instead of simply accepting wholesale what the cell leaders presented, I found that I was right in my element. But beyond that, I found a genuine sense of koinónia (communion and fellowship) with the cell group genuinely loving and caring for each other.

This is not to say that there aren’t any problems with my new church, or that I have found the perfect church for everyone.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we cannot hold the entire religion hostage because of one church. That’s easy to say from an outsider’s perspective, but I’ve been there.

What got me back to church was a trust in the love of God, and to separate the people in a single community from the people of God. Sometimes we don’t fit into communities we are placed in or stumble upon, but we have to recognise that the church is made of fallen people – sinners just like you and I.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we cannot hold the entire religion hostage because of one church. That’s easy to say from an outsider’s perspective, but I’ve been there.

God is holy, but His people are not, and we have to give them a chance.

It’s a great thing when a group of friends can come together and share openly without feeling like they “need” to. These friendships take time to cultivate and do not happen spontaneously.

We need living mentors we can talk to, laugh with and cry together. Mentors who can share their experiences in the faith with us and advise us when we walk down wrong paths.

The Christian life was never meant to be walked alone; Jesus had twelve friends with Him!

Just like ants forming a nest, everyone in the church builds each other up (Ephesians 4:16), and they mature together. With teamwork, they can fend off much larger enemies and build bigger things. As iron sharpens iron, every person needs to constantly build their spiritual lives in genuine fellowship others.

It’s difficult for an introvert like me to even start a conversation with people, much less make friends with them.

But we do find instances in the Bible where God brings reluctant people to meet other reluctant people to do His will. Think of how many times Paul admonished the churches for their lack of unity!

I realised I needed to take the initiative: to start meeting new people and getting to know them on a deeper level than just saying hi or bye. I needed to find a mentor I could trust, to whom I could lay my joys and failings bare – free of judgment.

If you’re not currently in a spiritual community, my encouragement is to have a Christian mentor who you can at least speak your mind to about spiritual matters.

Eventually you will, by God’s grace, find the church He wants you to be a part of.

Conversations

We Recommend

Culture

The pursuit of sexual purity

by Stella Lee

Culture

Stricken with PTSD and depression after my mum suddenly passed away, I thought my life was over

by Jeremy Chan

Culture

She wanted to be a boy, and I loved her

by Meng Hui

Faith

Jesus I come, I surrender

by Alarice Hong, Awaken Generation | 16 October 2018, 3:13 PM

If you’re calling me, I will answer
If you’re bidding me to come, I will come
If you’re leading me into deeper waters
May I not refuse

When I song write, I record all my voice notes on my phone. Jesus I Come had been on my phone for the longest time, for over two years.

I was just plucking away at the guitar when a feeling of being drawn to something came over me. It’s reflective in the chord progression of the opening verse, how this was written in my response to the calling of Christ with my whole life.

Jesus I come, I surrender
All for Your glory, I give my life
Here in this moment
I’m marked forever
I am yours

One day during our song writing season I brought this to Ian and asked how he felt about it. He told me that the chorus could be even better if it was written as a declarative answer – as someone saying, “Okay God, I’m here. Here I am, surrendering my life.”

If you’re drawing me closer
If you’re lifting me higher
If you’re bringing me into greater purpose
May I not refuse

We thought that this would be a really powerful altar call song – the kind you respond to after you’ve heard the word of God, sensed His presence and have decided to really give your heart to Him. A song you sing when you’re running to the altar, that gives words to what you’re feeling in your spirit.

Just a glimpse of Your glory
And in my heart I know
That I won’t let go
No, I won’t let go

I feel that it’s so powerful and important for us to have these moments of God-encounters. The kind that change you for the rest of your life. And my hope and prayer for everyone who sings this song would be that it releases God-encounters for them as they make this declaration, and to be empowered by the Spirit for the destiny God has already written for each of them.

Just a taste of Your goodness
And in my heart I know
I’m not letting go
I’m not letting go


“Jesus I Come” is a song from Awaken Generation‘s latest album, “Our Light Has Come”, which will be released on October 18, 2018, on all major music platforms.

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Shouldn’t you know better?

by Alvin Tan

Faith

Being bullied ruined my life, but I found a way out

by Natalie Tay

Do Good

Palu in pain: We cannot remain unmoved

by Jeremy Chia

Culture

An inconvenient death: What does “dying to self” mean?

by JH Kwek | 16 October 2018, 11:53 AM

There is a certain kind of absurdism we bring to arguments with our parents.

Here’s an example: I remember fighting with them over my curfew, insisting that I should be allowed to stay out past 10pm. They said no, because they wanted me to stay at home to study. I replied, “Well, fine, I’m going to come home – but I’m not going to study.”

So much for your rules now! I knew it was stupid, but I wanted to push and press their buttons, proving to them that their rules couldn’t simply bend me to their will.

What I didn’t realise was that my parents didn’t want me to simply follow rules like a robot. They wanted me to learn obedience while trusting in their heart for me.

… flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness …

Hold this thought on obedience with me as we move on to the topic at hand: I’ve been battling lust for close to 11 years now, and one thing I’ve recently been convicted to do is to delete Instagram.

At this point in time, I can’t handle the constant stream of bikini, #OOTD and workout posts that flood my feed, so I decided to do away with it completely.

As expected, it wasn’t a magic pill. I still struggle with masturbation and lust – though I now face considerably less temptation – because the mind needs little in the way of stimulation for me to sin. I still have a lifetime of practice with that.

I remain convicted that this was what I needed to do, to flee from every possible source of temptation, even when it makes life inconvenient. Even when it means denying pleasures and activities I enjoyed.

For a long time, I refused to make an effort to kill my lust. I can handle it. And I ignored my brothers’ warnings. It isn’t a problem for me.

True enough, for many of us, it isn’t. But for many of us, it is – more than we’re willing to admit.

How do we respond to verses like 2 Timothy 2:22, where we are called to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart”?

How do we obey these verses? Do we tell God, “I will stop this, but I will continue to do that?” Do we tell God, “I will try this, but I will not change that?” Or the more common: “I will do this, but not with someone else?”

The Gospel death – dying to self – is going to be inconvenient (Luke 9:23).

Dying to self is taking up the cross and following Christ, no matter the inconvenience – no matter the cost! In calling us to die to ourselves, the Gospel has no boundaries, no limits, no realm it cannot penetrate.

Galatians 5:24 says that “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” The flesh doesn’t just refer to things that are obviously immoral, but every kind of worldly desire.

  • The desire to keep up with others’ social lives.
  • The desire to continually consume popular culture.
  • The desire to let others know how successful we are.

None of these “needs” define us anymore. The lives we now live are in Christ Jesus – bought by His Blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

So the way we go about obedience shows us what we really think about ourselves, and how we relate to God.

If I relate to God like how I related to my parents, then outward adherence to rules and regulations is what I would pursue. But if I relate to Him as a child transformed by the Gospel, then there is no desire, passion, habit, thought or fantasy that I would withhold from Gospel death.

The child of God is radically committed not just to obeying the rules, but trusting and loving the One who gave them. Our obedience was always designed to flow from a loving relationship with our Father.

Note that past tense is used in Galatians 5:24: the flesh has already been crucified. So Gospel living isn’t just about looking for ways to grow in holiness – a big part of it is also remembering who we are (1 Peter 2:9) and what was done for us (John 3:16).

I’ve already been adopted as a child of God – it was past time to act like one.

My desire to cut Instagram out of my life didn’t come about because I thought doing so would put me right before God. I cut it out because I am a child who is already right with God.

I’ve already been adopted as a child of God – it was past time to act like one.

So who are we? What do we do? Those deeds show who we truly think we are! In what ways do we need to die, that we might truly live?

Help us O God to die to ourselves every day. Help us remember the better and greater life we now have in You!

Conversations

We Recommend

Relationships

Should we move in together before getting married?

by Wong Siqi

Faith

Why is it so hard to say sorry?

by Wong Siqi

Culture

She wanted to be a boy, and I loved her

by Meng Hui

video

#THIRSTACOUSTIC: Guide Me

by | posted 16 October 2018, 11:43 AM

Conversations

We Recommend

Culture

She wanted to be a boy, and I loved her

by Meng Hui

Wong Siqi

Faith

God is in the business of restoring families: Pastor Ian Toh at PraySingapore

by Wong Siqi

Culture

The pursuit of sexual purity

by Stella Lee

Article list

I was my own villain

How to get the rest you need

Why I gave church another chance

Jesus I come, I surrender

An inconvenient death: What does “dying to self” mean?

#THIRSTACOUSTIC: Guide Me