“Everything has its season and if you don’t know when that season is over, you end up shrinking and becoming small and protective and boring.” – rlp

Ahh…rlp, he never fails me, even in his final words – there is something that speaks to me. But he has recently hanged up his cloak and so will I. I have known, for quite sometime, that my season of writing is over. At least for now. I look back at what I have written over the years and I know I’ve poured out from the deep recesses of my heart. I cringed at many of them and marveled at some others. It’s been all worthwhile. Thank you for reading, sharing and thinking together with me.

If anything stirs me to write again in the future, I will be sure to drop in.

rk

I’ve served as an usher at my church for two years ever since the previous ministry I was in merged with the usher team. So now on ever third Sunday, I get to welcome and greet people at the door and show them to their seats. When you are an usher, you really meet all sorts of people. Most are nice, polite and warm but there are some really difficult ones. It wakes me up to the sobering truth that the church is really for imperfect and broken people like you and I.

I’ve also greeted and welcomed many LGBTs into my church and I always marvel at their courage to step into a place where most people think would be hostile towards them. To me it simply shows that they love God more than the pain or fear of being rejected. And I thought their just being there is already a testimony. When many would walk past me without even a glance of acknowledgement to my greeting, they are the ones who made eye contact and returned my smile.

So when I read this from Seth’s blog this morning, I just have to share it.

To all my LGBT friends and family, I am sorry we did not love you more.

rk

Just want to share a song I am enjoying currently. It’s alright if you don’t understand it. The emotion in the vocals makes up for it.

rk

Direct youtube link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw5woVfn-OY

The original song in the video, With One Heart, is written by Karen Lim, a songwriter and music arranger our my church. Penning her love for Singapore into a heartwarming song, the piece not only represents the unity of our nation but is also a prayer of blessing over Singapore.

The song was sung by our worship leader Angie Lesmana alongside Elise Tabensky, Dominic Chin and Ong Zheng Kai at all our English services on Sunday, 8 August 2010, the eve of National Day.

rk

I wrote this to my daughter’s class teacher this morning.

Dear _______,

I appreciate all the effort you put in to update us on the expectations of the school and the progress of our children.

May I offer some feedback as a parent. Both my child and I have found the year particularly burdensome in terms of expectation and amount of homework and assignments. There is hardly time left for us to relax and just be, and to have some good fun together without the burden of homework, assignments, spelling, oral and various class assessments and exams hovering over us constantly. When I come home from work, I really want to be able to enjoy my child but find it very difficult because there are bound to be some school related task to complete, be it to guide her in certain class assignments or helping her with her spelling, or preparation for oral assessment and various class assessments etc etc. Even art projects have become a chore. The list goes on and never ends. All of these have killed the joy in learning to a very large extent. Both of us get frustrated with each other when we realize we could not keep up with the demands and expectations of the school. I do not know how my child is internalizing all of these. Sometimes she seem to be able to shrug them off, sometimes she just accepts them as the way things are, sometimes she is able to rise above them but sometimes, more often than we like, both of us are exasperated to tears. I feel like an incompetent parent a lot of the time and I am not even the sort of parent who compares herself or her child with others. Neither does my child has any enrichment or tuition classes to further compete for time. This is just trying to keep up with the expectations and demands of the school alone and already we are both worn out. I really do not want my both of our lives to revolve around school. There is so much more in life that we want to enjoy but we are finding it increasingly difficult.

Please do not take this personally. I understand the school wants to provide the best education for the children and I appreciate that. Teachers have their own share of goals and demands to meet and a lot of you have the children’s interest at heart and I appreciate that too.

I don’t even know why I am saying all these. I just know I need to say them.

rk

I wrote yesterday about a friend’s bad experience with a visiting evangelist at an American church. She highlighted two key areas that really bothered her about that evangelist. I am sharing it here because it reminds me of similar occurrences here. I think there is something we can learn and I want to address those two issues. First being the evangelist’s one sided preaching and secondly, the judgmental and insensitive way with which he preached his message. I reproduce my response to my friend here, with a little editing to fit the local context.

Dear _____,
I hear you. As I was reading your response I thought of criticisms my own pastor had received for preaching the grace of God. I know it might come across as defending the other side but it is not the case at all and I hope you understand my heart. I have been on both sides in my own experience, so I feel I can offer some insight from both perspective. You see, when outsiders criticize my pastor’s preaching, although it is distressing to hear, I can understand where they are coming from and frankly, I don’t blame some of them for misunderstanding my pastor’s heart and intent. After all, they do not know my pastor like I do. I have heard him every Sunday for 12 years. Although I do not know him personally, I know much of his background, his stories, his struggles, his family and hear from people who know him personally and been on vacations, leadership retreats and teh tarik sessions with him share about their experience together. All these help me know him better and have a more complete picture of the content and intent of my pastor’s message than someone who has only heard him once while checking out the church or a few sessions during an overseas conference, for example. The reason why I highlighted this is because in order to understand the message of a person, we need to know his heart. Just like how God’s word is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us it is the power of God unto salvation. We can’t hope to understand the Bible without first knowing God. We also need to interpret it in the right context. So my point is, that evangelist may appear to not have preached the whole counsel of God because you have only heard him on one or two occasions. He may have preached about the resurrection, the Holy Spirit and other important aspects of Christian living and doctrine over the years to his own congregation where he is based but for that particular occasion, as he is a visiting evangelist, he felt led to focus on a particular area. One point of caution though, beware of ministers or ministries that do not have a home church. This is not to say that they are immediately suspicious. Just that usually little is known about the minister and there may be a lack of accountability since they do not have a regular congregation.

I personally believe God gives different gifts to different teachers. My pastor is good with preaching radical grace, Seth is good with discipleship and getting us out of our comfort zone. Likewise, other preachers are good with some other aspect of God’s complete counsel, etc etc. Together, we make one powerful body. If only we would stop tearing each other up and start recognizing our various gifting. We need not the baby out together with the bath water. There is always something we can learn even from people we don’t agree with most of the time. It is not unlikely that God may have called some to expose heresy in the church. It is a calling that will draw persecutions for sure. It is never easy to tell people they are wrong. Nobody likes that. But imagine if there really is heresy in the church and nobody exposes it, what will happen then? On whether someone is a self-proclaimed heresy hunter with the express intent to divide, damage, confuse and tear down the church or if indeed he is following God’s call to confront the brethren out of love and for the good of the kingdom, we can follow the Bible’s counsel to look for the fruits of the spirit in that person’s life. It says in Matthew 7:16, ” you will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”is there evidence of fruits? This leads us back to the first point above on knowing the person. Since your friend feels very positively about that evangelist and his message, why not have a talk with her and ask her what is it about the man or the message that grabs her spirit.

Among all that you’ve shared about your experience, what made me uncomfortable was not that he was putting too much focus on Jesus and the cross but that he was quick to call those who do not give the same emphasis, ignorant and unsaved, and his mocking of other ministries. I do not feel that was in line with the spirit of God. But then again, if I were to give him the benefit of doubt, he could be doing the right thing the wrong way.

Sorry, no clear answers here from me as I have not heard the man myself. Hope my sharing above helped at little.

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

rk

An American friend of mine and her husband had a distressing experience listening to a visiting evangelist at her friend’s church recently. What she heard really bothered her. She shared her experience with us and wondered how best to approach a situation like this. At that time, we were just coming to the end of our group study of the book of Acts and on the last chapter, we read about people who are “ever hearing but not understanding, ever seeing but not perceiving”. These were my thoughts for our study

“i think sometimes we choose to hear only what we want to hear and see what we want to see because knowing the truth would require some kind of action or change from us and we’d rather not. but it says here that this is a sign of a calloused heart. if we allow this to happen over a period of time, our heart will be so hardened and any change or turning back will be even more challenging. i interpret the phrase “understand with their heart” as “revelation”. knowledge and revelation are different. knowledge without revelation is powerless. revelation without knowledge can result in foolishness. but together, they make wisdom. i believe that is how god wants us to operate – out of wisdom. i think when we feel like we’re going round in circles, feeling stuck, maybe it’s time to ask god for a fresh revelation on that situation and then act on it.”

No believer wants to be in such a position, although many do fall into it, whether knowingly or not.

I’ve had similar experiences with hearing (or in my case, reading) things that threaten to tear down what I’ve been taught for years. It can be difficult and very confusing. After praying about my friend’s experience and asking God for wisdom, I still do not know how best to respond but gave her some principles which have helped me in my own experience.I find these principles essential to learning and especially so when faced with conflicting views and ideas.

(Not in any order of importance)

  • acknowledge that my knowledge is neither perfect nor complete, therefore I could be in error about certain things. likewise for any other man of god, no matter how great they are.
  • give the other person the benefit of doubt. try to look beyond my own prejudice, assumptions, even the way the argument was delivered and listen with an open mind.
  • try to be as unbias as possible. consider the facts without dismissing the role faith plays
  • be humble and ready to admit you were wrong
  • hear with the intent to understand and not to poke holes. try to see the subject from another perspective.
  • adopt a teachable spirit.
  • agree to disagree.
  • recognize what are foundational truths and what are not. essential doctrines are worth defending and should not be compromised. but do not fall into the trap of majoring on the minor.
  • judge the idea, not the person.
  • check against God’s word and God’s character.
  • seek the counsel of other mature believers, pastor or mentor.
  • watch for signs of dis-ease or heaviness in the spirit. there should be a sense of liberation, joy and peace in the spirit. this is a little tricky because emotions may not always be reliable and emotions are often confused with the spirit’s leading.
  • if you can’t reach a conclusion about an issue, be ready to let it go without passing judgement. but don’t write it off. keep it somewhere in the corner of your mind. if you have prayed and ask god about it, he will bring it to light eventually. i have personally experienced this many times – god answering my questions months and even years later.
  • pray and ask God.

Hope these help.

rk

This is a continuation from Part 1.

  • This is me recovering, following up on my previous comment.

April 30, 2010

“i am the person who wrote that depressing comment above. i just want to let you know i’ve recovered and i want to share this with everyone who has lost faith in the things of God. i had unknowingly allowed myself to become food for the devil. in recent years there has been a lot of outside criticism about my pastor and questioning of his gift of teaching. i was also very affected by a lot of believers attacking one another on the web (it is so depressing) and bad press in the local papers about certain churches and church figures here. it really stole my joy, confidence and hope in the things of God. 2 nights ago i heard one of the best sermons ever. God truly knows my heart and sent a word in season for me. i came out of the service feeling spotless, reborn and full of life and hope! i realize now that the body of Christ has been under attack and we must use our gift of exhortation to lift our brethren up. grace and peace to all of you, the united body of Christ!”

  • This is me back in my element, writing in an email to my disciplers.

May 6, 2010

“….I noticed that as I start on this journey of seeking God and his leading, my original dilemma of not knowing my place in the world and in his kingdom just doesn’t seem so critical anymore. I have this feeling that hey, maybe this is what God wants from me right now, for this season, to just spend time seeking him and be immersed in him. It feels good, it feels right. In fact, dare I suggest that perhaps this is what our life’s purpose is – to seek Him and have communion with him. Plain and simple. Everything else… about knowing my calling and my dream etc, are but fruits of this main pursuit. They will ripen when the time comes. Just stay connected to Vine! I know you’ve probably heard it many times over (so have I) but I just can’t help getting excited all over again. I think it died off somewhere but now I am feeling that life again. Feeling like I am “back in my element” again, and with Kathy’s encouragement, I have started noticing people in a more personal way and ministering to them, just like old days. So I want to thank all of  you for helping push me out of my “wallowing in the dust and self doubt” experience. May God send you his richest blessings, may his favor surrounds you and your ministry and may the light that you carry touch ever life that comes your way like it did mine.”

Lessons learnt

  • Pray for your pastor and your church. When the enemy strikes the shepherd, he is not just targeting him, he is going after you and the rest of the flock.
  • When you tear down another believer, you are making yourself the devil’s advocate. You are helping him accomplish his goal faster.
  • Do not surround yourself with trash. Read enough to stay informed but do not feed yourself with trashy news, mindless gossips and camp around cynicism and negativity. If you do, you’ll feel dusty pretty soon.
  • What to do when you find yourself dusty,
    1st – stay away from trash
    2nd – plunge yourself into God’s word. feed your spirit man with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy.
    3rd – keep company with people who edifies you.
  • Seek God. Stay connected to the Vine. Your path will become clearer in due time.
  • Step out in faith.
  • Recommended resource: The Key to Holiness It teaches you how to stay dust free.

rk

Just felt this is something I should share.

  • This is me two months ago, commenting in someone’s blog.

March 23, 2010

“it’s very disheartening reading some of the comments here. honestly i am beyond tired. if these are comments from christians, i lagi more tired! i don’t want to be pretentious so i will admit that the devil has succeeded in getting people to avoid the church. at least he succeeded with me. i guess that makes me a loser. to hear the constant bashing, especially in recent years, of the church that has been my lifeline in so many ways, is very discouraging and hurtful. when i first got saved, there was this pure and innocent joy to share the good news. i remember inviting a friend of mine to church. she was deeply moved and over the next few years, one after another of her family members came to christ and found new meaning in life. a few years ago she sent me a christmas card with only these words…thank you, thank you, thank you (for bringing me to chruch and introducing me to christ). even now as i am writing this, it brings tears to my eyes. this is what makes life meaningful, to be an agent of change in people’s life. all that was before blogs existed, before i started reading comments and forums and the media. a lot has changed since then. it’s difficult not to be affected by all the criticism and judgment and the spirit behind them. yet it is difficult to avoid them if one doesn’t wish to be a christian living only in her own world. i love to read. i have gained a more balanced view of my faith through reading viewpoints and experiences of other believers. but it has also costs me. fortunately i receive a lot of positive feeding from my church every week. my faith journey might not have lasted this long if not for them. but all the poison has finally caught up with me. my relationship with christ and NCC has become a very private thing. i have no desire to invite anyone to church or mention anything about NCC, church …. or even Jesus. in the eyes of non-believers, they are all the same. with believers, i don’t mention NCC because it makes them run before i have the opportunity to speak. the prejudice is just too great. so i keep silent. i don’t need more people bashing my chruch or my faith. i am done for now. i need time to recover.

many of you ask, how has NCC changed my life? i can’t tell you without telling you how Jesus changed my life because the focus on Christ is central to NCC. yes there are flaws but Jesus is always central. you asked, how has NCC help my faith journey. it is difficult to prove to you in a tangible way. what i can say simply is that the Jesus presented by NCC is the reason why hope is alive even in my bleakest hour. there is an inner buoyancy that sustains my soul when my circumstances are an utter shipwreck. that Jesus is what motivates me to pick myself up and start again when i fail to live up to the christian ideal. when i thought i have completely lost my innocence because i have lost faith in humanity, when there is no one i can trust anymore, that Jesus encourages me to seek beauty in the midst of ugliness. i don’t know if i have personally impacted anyone by these but they sure do keep me from giving up on life.”

but right now, i am really tired. i need to withdraw into my church and behold the Jesus that I know again.

  • This is me having doubts about my calling and loosing passion and direction, writing in an email to M.

April 24, 2010

“….regarding your question about interest and passion, well…I’m afraid I don’t have a definite answer right now. You see, that was the reason why I contacted Seth in the first place – because I feel like my life has lost passion and direction. I thought doing something different and following various impulses might help me see God’s leading clearer. I used to be passionate about seeing people come to see their need for Christ, accept His Grace and be transformed by His love and seeing a new purpose for life. I enjoyed reading up on comparative religion and christian apologetics and enjoyed comparing different worldviews. But all that has faded much. Perhaps I was discouraged by a lack of tangible results and a general attitude of nonchalance among the people here. Eventually I tell myself, why cast precious pearls to people who don’t care.”

rk

coming up next…..my recovery.

(This is part of my ongoing exercise on listening prayer. At the end of Day 4, we write a love letter to God expressing our heart. This is mine.)

 

Jesus
You are the reason
hope is alive in my bleakest hour.
You are the inner buoyancy
that sustains my soul
when my circumstances are an utter shipwreck.
You are the motivation
to pick myself up and start again
when I fail to live up to the Christian ideal.
When I thought I have lost my innocence
when I lost faith in humanity,
when there is no one I can trust,
You are the one who help me
seek beauty among ashes.
Because of You
I have a reason for hope
and an excuse for celebration.
Form everlasting to everlasting,
You are my spring of living water.
In you I find my rest.
My good shepherd,
my faithful friend,
my perfect redeemer,
my wise Lord,
my constant comfort,
my fullnes of joy,
my hope everlasting,
my GOD.
I love you.

 

rk

Calendar

July 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 14,015 hits