Left and Write.

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” – St Augustine of Hippo

It doesn’t make it right even if all your social media “friends” put a like to it, or retweet to it, or tell you how great you are. Not everyone who strokes your ego is helping you.

Closer to home, let us ponder on what our primary school teachers used to say…

“Cher, I was following him… Not my fault what…”

“He jump, you also jump issit?”

“…”

Choose your cause wisely; choose what you speak and write for. Some things are worth living for, but not everything is worth dying for.

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Christians are judgmental… Why?

It’s like how if someone gets a divorce, and instead of being concerned and caring, we talk about the children being affected by it, or we discuss how it is not biblical! But you see, the Bible is not a litmus test for good or bad morals – the truth is that we all should know that we are sinners.

So why are we so judgmental? Check this out by Pastor Tan Seow How.

This is just a preview, you can watch the entire OOPS Series here: http://www.pastorhow.com/oops-series

T-Rex. Triceratops. Brontosaurus (maybe not).

Hunching my back, I bent my head down. My arms locked closely to my chest. Opening my mouth, I let out a coarse roaaaaaaaaaar.

That was me imagining to be a T-rex when I was a small boy. My family would ignore me as I T-rex-ed around the shopping centres, carefully following behind them… Ready to chomp up anyone who came along.

Is anyone else as excited about Jurassic World? I mean… I would have traded in my gameboy to be the one who could make a velociraptor yield to me (see: Chris Patt, and his riding alongside some mean raptors).

p.s. after watching the trailer, I secretly hope the giant leviathan is not manipulated by the genetically modified rex. Rather, as a mysterious, deep sea lurking, sentinel sort of creature, it would return balance versus the evil creature. Cue: DINOSAUR FIGHT.

If you’re wondering about the title of this post, read: http://www.geek.com/news/the-brontosaurus-might-be-a-real-dinosaur-again-1619776/

The Brontosaurus fights like Pluto to be back in their list.

Friends and Foes

Friends.

I may not have had many of them, or many true ones when I was in school. For me, it was easier to turn on Steam or Battle.net and face off with “friends” on TF2 and WC3. It didn’t help that my surname was Yong, and based on the alphabet my register number, my seat was always the farthest away from everyone.

Sometimes, I wondered if I could just fit in (the real world) – have that clique that I could always go to in the canteen. To never have to worry that I would have to walk around school alone. At first, I found that camaraderie in Scouting. Man… The things we did, and the time we spent together.

It felt as if I didn’t choose them, but they chose me. While that’s pretty true, and I thank God for them, we started to drift away as we grew older. Scouting is now but a faint, nostalgic memory. As I’ve started working… I’ve had my share of working with people all around… And I understand what Pastor How meant when he taught us when we were younger: some people are friendly, but they are not friends. You know, like an air stewardess? They smile at you and serve you your lunch, but they’re not going to recognise you on the streets and give you a friendly high-five.

Too many a time I’ve stuck around with the wrong group that drifted me further away from God and what I really want to do. It’s hard to describe how hard it is to want to be part of something fun and exciting. So why the need to decide to have the right friends? Why do we choose to live a good life, rather than have all the fun in the world? Why is it while I was having all the fun in the world, I felt I was walking away from God? Couldn’t I keep my values while having fun? Well…

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

What, evil company? My friends are not evil…

Here’s the same verse in another version (NLT), that might be easier for us to swallow.

33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”

Say what? Well the previous verse before 33 said this… “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 

Isn’t that what most of us wish? To be happy and enjoy our lives before we die?

Not always…and it’s never easy trying to stay away from old friends that you’ve shared many memories with… But a choice has to be made between having good character and sticking around bad company. Do not be fooled, it doesn’t say good character saves the bad company. It says bad company corrupts good character. Seen my share of friends who stuck to the wrong people too. Tough choice huh…

Pastor Tan Seow How shared in a Checklist for a Great Life when dealing with complicated relationships:

Don’t cut what you can untie
– Complicated relationships are like a knot
– When you cut it you can never put it back together
– Don’t untie what you should cut
– If God says cut don’t be sentimental
– Think of  Lot’s brother and Potiphar’s wife
– A lot of times we are too sentimental and too nostalgic
– To live well you need to live wisely
– Wisdom is hearing from God and knowing which are the ones to cut
– And which are the ones to untie

After many years, I’ve learnt that what I need more than fun. What I’ve really been searching for, are not just friends, but family.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Friends are very different from family. There’s little obligation to stick it out with you when things go south. But when it comes to family, they’re with you through thick and thin. In Heart of God Church… I’ve found more than friends. I’ve found family.

Mr Iscariot?

As a young Christian, one of the things I was very intrigued by when reading the gospels was about Judas and the betrayal. I wondered… What went through his mind? Why did he choose to do it? Questions like these often make me feel a deep sonder.

I had the chance to ask this question to Pastor Tan Seow How once. I asked, why did Judas betray Jesus for 30 silver coins? Was it a significant amount of money? If he had been Jesus’ treasurer, didn’t he have access to much more money? (Something along those lines). 

The answer that came back to me was simple enough. It blew my mind, but also got me thinking about the circumstances I’m in at times.

Sometimes when we are given a responsibility, it is not because we are good at it, but because we are bad at it…God is giving us a chance to change.

When we’re stuck in a rut, or facing the same test and challenge again and again, it could mean we aren’t doing it the way we’re supposed it. You could be stuck doing something that isn’t exactly your favourite thing. But… Each opportunity is a chance to change and do better, and also to seek repentance.

How is it that repentance is a big part of the lives of our heroes of Faith – to turn away from what is wrong, and seek to do what is right – while we are more accustomed to raise our fists to vindicate ourselves? It’s time for a change in perspectives.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Keep on keeping on.

Others may, you may not.

by G. D. Watson (1845-1924), Faith is the Victory

If God has called you to be really like Christ in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility and put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Others can brag on themselves, and their work, on their success, on their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

The Lord will let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hid away in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His glory, which can be produced only in the shade.

Others will be allowed to succeed in making money, but it is likely God will keep you poor because he wants you to have something far better than gold and that is a helpless dependence on Him; that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day – out of an unseen treasury.

God will let others be great, but He will keep you small. He will let others do a great work for Him and get credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work you have done, and this will make your reward ten times greater when He comes.

The Holy Spirit will put strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do what He pleases with His own, and He will not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle you in His dealing with you. He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and let other people say and do many things that you cannot do or say.

Settle it forever, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that others are not dealt with.

Now, when you are so possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this particular personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven.

Rules, but not Conditions.

Reflecting on today, I remembered what Pastor Tan Seow How shared in Heart of God Church a few weeks back during the OOPS Series. It was about the difference between having rules and conditions. Here are some parts from my notes.

First up, Rules. We need them! Children cannot be disobedient and dishonouring of parents. You can’t have your brother running around with a knife at home, right?

Without rules, family become dysfunctional, and society would descend into anarchy.
There are rules, but they are not Conditions. You may break the rules and face the consequences, but your value doesn’t change.
There are Rules in this house of God, but no Conditions.
Whether you keep the rules or break the rules… Rules do not mean God’s love is conditional. God loves us no matter what.
My thoughts
#1: I am loved
So, on some days I make really big blunders. I mess up. When I mess up, there are two ways to go – fight or flight.
Either I take myself on, to search deeper inside of me and find out what’s wrong with my character… Or I would run away, pushing the blame on someone else instead. I hope it’s obvious which is the easy way out, and which is the correct way to go.
However, no matter how big the mistake I’ve made. I’m always given a chance to change it. If I break out of my own fears and insecurities, I realised that the love for me is unconditional. No one’s giving me the weird eye, or looking down on me. I’m still loved and valued the same, mistakes made or not.
God’s love is unconditional.
#2: I must fight the right battle
Ask yourself some questions… Do you think others look down on you? Do you feel that you are judged? If you do, whose voice are you listening to? Is it the voice of truth? Or the voice of your own fears?
When I break a rule, I want to make sure I learn and grow from it. I remember that correction is not rejection. It’s never a personal attack.
You see the enemy is never another person… The enemy is not your family. The enemy is not your friend. The enemy is not your boss. And the enemy is not your leader either.
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
You see, if you are always going against people or a person in your life, you may just be fighting the wrong battle. 
 
God, I pray I grow in my character always… To be more and more like You. 

Tonsils.

Tonsils. Everybody’s got a pair. Except for me.

When I was in primary school, I had bouts of fevers, coughs, and sore throats. My tonsils were always inflamed, getting infected – a constant source of pain and discomfort.

Tonsillitis. That’s what the doctor said.

It got so bad that they told me I should have them removed.

People were cool showing off their scars after they removed their appendicits. Tonsils? I would have liked to have something to show off too.

So, before the operation, I remember asking the doc or my parents if I could keep them in a jar after they were out. They laughed it off. I mean, I was a sentimental boy… These things have been a part of me for a good ten years.

The day finally came, and I was rolled into the operating theatre. It’s pretty scary for a ten-year old. The nurses were friendly. They put a mask on me and said, “let’s count to ten!”

“Ten, nine, eight…”

I was out cold. Anesthetic. I felt cheated… Counting to five would have done it.

In the middle of the operation, I had a few seconds of consciousness.

“We’re going in.” The doctor said, as I felt the icy cold metal apparatus reach into my throat. As a ten-year old I always imagined they were going to cut them tonsils out from the outside. Thank goodness the sleepy gas kicked back in, knocking me out in time.

I woke up with a terrible sore throat. It was as if I was in a desert – a parched throat and eaten some sand by accident.

Apple juice. That was the first drink the nurses gave me. I loved how it felt going down my throat. Till today I still have fond memories of apple juice. I know I can count on a good cup to save me from anything bad.

I missed my tonsils. I missed feeling my throat with my fingers to see if they were inflamed.

A week later, I felt all healthy again. I’m glad I took them tonsils out. And I’m glad I didn’t get to keep them in the jar.

Knowing my family tried all antibiotics and medicines… It was the only way to save the rest of me, to allow me to lead a healthy rest of my life.

Bye tonsils.

As the saying goes… What’s true for the natural, is also true for the spiritual.

Of Faith, Hope, and Love.

7 April 2015

12.00 am.

Ring~

It’s a Facebook birthday notification from my phone.

I should be celebrating.

Then I see that the name that appears…

Is of a friend who passed away just last year.

I’ve known a few who fought hard for their lives.

In their loving memory,

I choose to live a life of significance.

To not indulge in petty conversations,

Or hang on to grudges that are beyond me.

You see, it’s only in the fragility of it all that you decide what is important.

It’s then that you realise you need God so much,

And others need Him as much too.

Though they are gone, we must carry on. With faith, hope, and love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Teach me, God. In my words and deed, to have faith when all seems bleak; to hope when the road ahead looks treacherous; above all, to love when all else fails.

How to love? We don’t need to be saints. My Pastors asked us this simple question: “After you talk to someone, do they leave feeling faith, hope, or love?” You must understand, our words have the power to build or to destroy others.

What do you choose?

Miss you all bros, till we meet again. Each of you have inspired me and shown my bravery and boldness in the face of darkness. Goodnight.

Easter: He was dead, but now He is risen!

The long Easter weekend just passed. For many, it’s a great time to escape overseas. My instagram was filled with selfies of airports, of friends making quick getaways. While Easter is just a holiday to many, it means much more to me. During Easter, we celebrate Jesus, who rose from the dead after He was crucified.

Okay, so some of you read online about how Good Friday isn’t the day when Jesus died… But, if I love someone, I would still celebrate him/her on whichever date. Wouldn’t you? Haha friends who missed an important date or anniversary, this one’s for you. It’s that simple to me, really!

Well, on one of the years back, I celebrated by getting water baptised on Easter! I first stepped into church when I was fourteen, and would I have loved to been water baptised then. However, I was worried my parents wouldn’t be too open to that idea. I was still young and they may have felt I was rushing into it. It’s the same feeling if I were to tell them about a similar lifelong decision or commitment… Like getting married, or a tattoo.

“Ma, I want to get married!”

“Don’t be stupid… You’re still young…”

And that’d be the end of it. Actually no, I might be nagged at for the next hour, or week. Haha. You know, bad decisions are like bad haircuts – you have to live with it, and it takes awhile to grow out of it. Please don’t quote me on this one. To ask my parents prematurely would have been equivalent to having a really really bad haircut.

I remember then, Charleston told me not to rush into it. He told me to wait it out,  to wait for the day I would be ready, and hopefully my family too. I’ve heard so many people complain about how they’re pressured into doing things. It’s really strange to me because I’ve always given a choice. We always have a choice. You can even choose otherwise (but that’s not license to complain about it all day). Often the right ones I’ve made are those choosing to honour God over my circumstances, despite what I feel. I always have a choice, but that doesn’t mean following God is the easiest one.

Just wait. Advice simple enough. I watched as hundreds of people get baptised every year. Every year the thought crossed my mind, when would it be my turn?

Some people quit too early… Before they discover what God has in store for them. Have you ever had that feeling where everything felt against you, and you just feel like running away? Or when everything you know is going against what you think and know? Instead of complaining about it… About how bad you’re treated or not understood… Or asking why did this person in church say this or that, do this or that? I may not have the answer to your questions — I take that back — maybe I do have the answer, but would you be ready for it? Accepting answers that don’t go with what we understand takes time and guts. That’s a story for another time (I promise I’ll write about it one day). My advise to you… I encourage you to hang on… you might just learn as I did, the difference between a decision you make for yourself, and one that God wants you to make. You just might discover where God is taking you in this journey of Life. 

Luke 22:42 “….let not my will, but Yours be done.”

Fourteen. Fiveteen. Sixteen. Seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty. Twenty-one.

Seven years. Then, on that seventh year, I felt I was finally ready. And what a happy day it was to have my family celebrate with me, as I celebrated with Jesus. You may not know my family… But getting us all together in a church (with the exception of Da Jie‘s wedding) is quite a feat. SEVEN YEARS! And I know and I know, that it would have been different if it had been on another year, earlier or later. But on that year it was perfect.

   Haha no eyes

In the baptism pool with Pastor Tan Seow How and Pastor Cecilia Chan.

 Oh happy day! Baptised by my pastors in Heart of God Church – Pastor Tan Seow How and Pastor Cecilia Chan.

What is that decision right now in your life that you need to make with God? Is it to stop complaining? To wait before getting together with that (candy)crush? To stop spending so much time on your computer games? To start loving people? To start serving? Or could it be to just hang on despite what you’re feeling? Hang on… Talk to your leader about it… Because it just might be the moment that changes your life. It would be different if it happens earlier or later. But in God’s time, it is perfect.

Jesus is the reason for this season. Happy Easter!