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Just something about the newness of the year that make people feel all fresh and sparkly and hopeful. How sad that that gets lost along the way and good intentions just disappear. How about hanging out with somebody who not only gives you new life but sustains it and keeps you new and pure like every single day? 😀

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

John 4:13-15 (NIV) [on the Samaritan woman at the well]

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Really wanna do this but don’t know if head and heart are in the same place. We’ll see.

So I did this back in 2014 but I didn’t get round to it last year because of the whole exchange panic. Really enjoyed doing it tho, plus Sam wanted me to do one so here goes~

Challenge number 1: The biggest lesson you learnt this year.

Hmmz this is a toughie. I don’t think I learnt a big lesson but many little lessons throughout the year, as usuals.

Toughest seasons were adjusting back to life when I came back in June, dealing with my physical health and most recently, trying to figure out what all the open/closed doors placed in my life mean. More commitments, more places to serve in ministry. Hmm. Ok, now that I think about it, biggest lesson learnt is that it is a privilege to serve.

So I’ve been called to step up in a lot of things and I’ve pestered friends for opinions, for them to run through practical pros/cons with me and pretty much advise me on what I should do.

There are a lot of things that come to mind when God opens doors.

In no particular order, if I feel like it’s something I can totally do, I get hit by a kind of self-elevating pride, which consequently leads to a slight sense of disdain for the call. Because sometimes I view it as a liability (it will take up my time and effort etc etc) and I have this not-so-good attitude of “alright, alright, I’ll stoop down and help you poor people. augh I’m a busy person but ok, if you really need people, I’ll do it.” I occasionally do stuff sincerely out of need (i.e there’s no one else to do it and I’m genuinely not confident in it but I’ll help). Most of the time, though, it’s a false humility kind of thing, as if life can’t go on if I said no. Lel.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

Psalm 127:1 (NIV)

Ok, the verse is kind of the opposite. In the same vein of thought, if God has planned for the house to be built, even if I don’t contribute, the house will still be built by other people. So I’m not that big of a deal at the end of the day. It’s an opportunity for me to be called at all.

The other thing that hits me in being called is fear. Fear of inadequacy, of insecurities, of whether I’d be good at it and whether I’ll be able to cope with it since stepping up = more commitments = less time for other things eg my studies etc. I know that God will bless me if I sought His kingdom first for sure but still, it’s difficult to go all in and just say yes.

For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Matt 6:32-33

I was just lamenting to a friend once. “Why does God give me so many open doors? If He just opened one I would just follow and know that that is His will for me and things would be less complicated.” I’d moaned. And my friend just said, “God is trying to teach you how to discern His will. Besides, wherever you decide to serve in, God will use you and grow you anyways.”

Kind of like the Alice in Wonderland thing.

Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

It is a privilege to serve. It really is. I know that but sometimes I don’t act like that. Sometimes I just take God for granted.

It is a privilege to serve. And it’s not just in ministry either. It’s a privilege to be able to love like God. It’s a privilege to be able to know this God so personally and live like Him. The cross is the singular thing that can feel so heavy and burdensome yet light and easy at the same time.

Challenge number 2: One Bible verse/passage to end this year and another to start next year.

For the year that just passed and the season I’m still in:

Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24

I have been called and I will still be getting called, everyday, to die to myself. Service is something I need to acquaint myself with, so that it will become something so second-nature within me. And that’s hard for me. I love myself loads. So I need this. It’s something to close the year but to keep with me as I enter open doors. Need so much grace for this.

For the new year:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

This verse popped up three times recently.

So just got back from a youth camp where one of the highlights was that I was finally kidnapped as a hostage for a game hwaha. I feel a slight achievement unlocked there because I’m never the hostage and I so wanted a behind-the-scenes/slack time while everyone else had to find us. Turns out hostages had to work to escape too. We had to do a series of challenges and that was loads of fun. One of the challenges was memorizing the verse given to you. This was my verse. Much meaningful. It popped up again in sermon (2nd time) and in a Christmas card I received (3rd time).

I think to continue in something is really hard, sometimes much harder than starting to do something. It can be so tiring to carry on in a way of life that is so contrary to the world, so contrary to yourself. Instead of doing what you want, you have to humble yourself and put yourself aside for someone else’s will, someone else’s way of life. Sometimes, I’d like a break from that, even though I know that He is the only one that fulfils and satisfies and is good. Sometimes, the weight of holiness is so heavy.

But I think that’s where roots matter, constant building up (instead of stagnation) matters, strengthening and using the faith we have been given matters, and in everything, to be thankful. Being thankful is so underrated.

I was playing this card game with a couple of friends once. It was an interesting game, in the sense that you didn’t count the score as the game was being played. You tally them all up at the end of the game. So I could never tell if I was winning or not. And maybe it was meant to be played that way, or I just couldn’t get the rules, but every time it was my turn, I kept asking “Am I winning? Am I winning?” (competitive weenie alert) I got tired of the game pretty quickly because I couldn’t tell if what I was doing was right, and I didn’t get the instant gratification of winning/losing whenever someone did something. I had to wait till the end to find out if I’d won and it made the playing of the game boring.

Walking with God’s like that, methinks. Sometimes, the small things that everyone reminds you to do is boring. Pray, memorize verses, do devotion, etc etc. It’s hard to keep up with that over an extended period of time. But when it comes down to what’s important, when you get into one of those tug-of-war struggles between your shoulder angel and devil, all that suddenly matters, all that suddenly adds up to a lot. The points which you never saw in real time suddenly appear and makes a difference. Those are the roots right there, under all that soil. Those are the bricks you’ve placed one at a time that have become a wall, a fortress.

So those are my two verses, both from Colossians. This review preview wasn’t as short as the 2014 one but oh wells, I needed it, I guess. Hope I’ll remember my verses.

Lastly, just to tease in one of the Desiring God podcast I was raving about: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-makes-my-life-significant

It’s a very concise pod/transcript, methinks, on what I really believe in and live by and it makes so much sense to me. It’s good stuff. Check it out.

Ok. Go have a great new year friends.

Love love. ❤

Remembering the time I…

was worked up into this worried wreck (either on a Sunday morning which I was serving or an exam) and I prayed and God took it all away and His peace which surpasses all understanding just came and covered me.

woke up feeling unprepared for an exam and had two verses come to me almost immediately one after the other:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 (NIV)

wandered out twice in deep, dark evenings with only my other girl friend for company in the UK through deserted parks and parts of the city where anything could have happened and maybe almost did but was kept safe.

was constantly surrounded by good friends and company wherever I went in whatever season.

failed to enrol in three out of four of my modules for the next semester and wormed my way into a couple of others as the numbers went up and down so that I could take a decent amount of credits and hopefully graduate on time.

was given words of wisdom from different people on different occasions that just shed the light I needed.
Continue reading “Remembering the time I…”

Children of the Trains

Overly expired post coming through

Just finished my last lit paper (oh yay), half of which was about trains, railway stations and what that kind of modernity meant. Works referenced: Cafe Lumiere and Newlywed. Was going on about the foetus in a womb of trains in Cafe Lumiere and about how the train modernity was changing people’s values and relationships.

Got on a train. A child starts to cry.

I just watch. I don’t know what I was hoping for really. I know it was along the lines of why, why you crying child, and eagerly anticipating this movie perfect parent-child debrief that would enlighten the child, assauge his worries and make everyone else sigh at this beautiful sight.

Ha. Too many movies girl.

I’ll never know why he was crying because his parents used the one universal solution to address a child’s 101 possibilities of crying.

Oh the smartphone. Why am I not surprised/bored by this uninspiring narrative already?

I used to think understanding the whys to something was the way to fix things. Guess that’s old fashioned.

They say we don’t have creativity.

Yep. You can say it again.

The sinking feeling that hits when you see them put the phone in front of their lil faces, showing them the magic of a tap and a swipe.

I’m nothing short of unimpressed, though, at how the child’s crumpled face smoothes out and dries up, agony replaced by curiosity, in a matter of taps, and I am relieved that he stops making a public nuisance of himself.

But I’m telling you, this is why their comprehension skills are gonna suck. Cos no one is giving him the answer to his problems, not the right kind anyways. Priorities.

And in that moment all I saw was a foetus in a womb of smartphones, or more like, in a world of VR. Foetuses in the Professor X brain thing, the Cerebro. Kinda creepy.

Sometimes, I wonder if we’re all like big kids and the media our surrogate parents who stuff our faces with all that noise, overwhelming us with too many things that we never cared about but are now influenced to care too much.

Got on another train weeks later, swiping my own phone.

A few seats away a voice filters in through my zombified mind. A little girl is sitting with her mum and she’s asking questions and her mum is answering them.

“This is friction.” I hear the mum say, rubbing the girl’s hands on hers. “Friction.”

“Mummy, what’s this?” The girl points to some sort of label on her bag.

“It’s polyester.” And mum shows the girl which part of the bag is polyester.

And it just goes on, back and forth, ‘what’ questions about everything and nothing in particular, and a patient mother answering them all, perhaps not very comprehensively but in a way a child probably can understand best with their current little heads.

Nearly burst into tears at the hope for humanity.

Just a quickie – God slayed it today and I just want to put this down somewhere to remember.

Thank you as always for giving me the opportunity and the honor to serve with whatever little I have. Thank you thank you thank you.

Thank you for new opportunities and for coming through for me in every way. Thank you for helping me overcome some things and do things I couldn’t do before. Thank you for helping me grow. Thank you for helping me multi task and call out cues when I need to loop a repeated riff. Thank you for this week’s set list which just spoke to my heart when I got it on Wednesday because it was really my heart’s cry in this season of exams. Thank you for giving me this set which doesn’t have overly difficult keyboard parts. And thank you for giving me time, head and heart to prep for service despite mugging. 

Thank you for really nice big people who are willing to help me and pray for me. Thank you for the words of wisdom, encouragement, affirmation and anointing you give to me through them. Thank you for their years of experience, that they can just read my mind and count off without vocal cues. 

Thank you for delivering me from the sin that had crouched at the door, from the the prowling lion that had looked to devour me. I would have fallen into a deep and dark and dangerous place and take ages to claw my way out should I have passed the threshold. Two counts of the seven deadly sins, lust and envy, I’d warped from the blessings you’d given me. Thank you for showing me what the truth was, what righteousness was, and for breaking through my crap to strengthen me against temptations. Thank you for using them for good in the end. Thank you for helping me to not go there.

Please continue to teach me and love me and help me love you and love your people. I may not understand all that you do, but go on doing what you do. 

 

 

All the difference

Slowly catching up with the rest. Weighing my words with this hazy/slightly worried/kinda tired mind.

Oh God help me.

Ok.

There are instruments of God, and then there are servants of God.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:21 – 23 (NIV)

The devo puts it this way: An instrument is a person whom God uses, whether that person is right or not. God will bless His word, whether a saint or sinner preaches it. But the servant of God lives in the fullness of His Spirit, evidencing the life of obedience. (Oswald Chambers’ Devotions for a Deeper Life: A Daily Devotional)

How I see it, instruments of God pretty much means anyone whom God uses to accomplish His will, whether they realize it/intend for it or not. Anyone can be an instrument to God’s will because anyone can be used by God in that sense, even what we consider not-so-good can be used for His glory. It all works out in the end.

Servants of God on the other hand aren’t just people whom God can use to do things in this physical realm. Servants of God are living in a whole ‘nother reality. They’re living in the Spirit and the Spirit is living in them and from that relationship comes that outpouring of obedience to God.

I used to be confused about this verse because I think subconsciously, I equated the outpouring of God’s power (prophesying and driving out demons and doing miracles) as being really holy and close to God. I kind of assumed that if you could do these things, you’re probably right and tight with God because otherwise, why would God use you and allow you to do all that? If you could do these things through God, doesn’t it mean you are after God’s will and that He approves?

And yet, He outrightly rejects them in verse 23. He tells them plainly He never knew them. And I’m like whut.

what talking you. contradictory much? What do you mean you never knew them if you allowed them to do all that fancy stuff? Doesn’t fancy stuff = much holiness + much tight with you?

So I’m looking at this verse again, and this is what I’m seeing. There is a connection between the one Jesus approves, the one “who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven” and about Jesus knowing this person/this person knowing Jesus. The actions and miracley stuff isn’t part of that equation. And here, another verse comes to mind:

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

John 14:21 (NIV)

There is a relationship between doing the will of the Father, in the knowing and keeping of these commands, and knowing the loving God who gave them. And I think there’s something really intentional here, which set the instruments and the servants apart. The servants have a direction, they have a master to follow and they have the Holy Spirit who lives in them and shows them what the will of God is that they might follow. And they do want to follow. There is the intention of obeying God, through the working of the Holy Spirit and through grace. And anything that comes from that, whether supernatural or not, is a result of this relationship with God and being changed into His likeness.

The deeds aren’t it. The intention of doing the Father’s will, the actual doing of His will by His grace, knowing and loving Him, those are it. Deeds are one of the by-products of such a relationship.

So it’s not deeds = right relationship with God, but a right relationship = deeds. I.e deeds don’t always mean you’re a servant of God, but being a servant of God and being in that a right relationship with God will, as a natural consequence of obedience, have something to show for them (cos faith without works ain’t faith nya). One of those times an equal sign doesn’t mean equality. The mind games.

On the flip side of things, the people who are using things they “did” (or rather what God allowed them to do) as proof/justification for gaining God’s approval are met by a cold, harsh truth: God doesn’t know them and they don’t know this God either. Because they aren’t servants. They are mere instruments who have no direction/intention to accomplish the will of God. God uses them, yes, but that doesn’t mean anything about their heart for God.

I don’t know if it’s a stretch to say this but I feel like even Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was an instrument of God and he was far from perfect. Because of Judas, Jesus was crucified and salvation was brought to Mankind. So ultimate outcome is good, but was Judas acting in obedience to God to carry out His will? Nope. He wasn’t out to usher in God’s salvation for Mankind. He was more about betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But did God use him for good anyways? Yup. So yas.

Devo ends with this deep thought about what they think God is saying in effect: “when you judge the work someone is doing, don’t judge by the fact that you see Me at work. Judge him by his fruit.” Why? Cos the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit is in essence, character. Many can do the work of God but no one can imitate the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Adapted from Oswald Chambers’ Devotions for a Deeper Life: A Daily Devotional)

And that character and that fruit, that’s what God really wants for us. Always thought fruit meant like “results”, in terms of work and numbers and accomplishing things. But it goes deeper than that. Fruit is in the mature young man and woman in Christ who turn to God constantly, dying to themselves and living for him constantly. They are the ones being good stewards of what He has called them to do. Everything else that happens physically, the work, the outcomes, is God at work anyways, through instruments and servants. It is the fruit of the character that the growing stuff happens and that’s the important part.

I just felt like this was really important. It was really important to me then when I was looking at it a couple weeks ago and it is important to me now although in a slightly different, deeper way. It also tied in with the last post about successful service and our relationship with God. Getting different stuff all the time. Practically grew up with that Matthew verse and am only seeing new stuff from it now. God so amazing.

Anyways, I has more gems and musings on a couple of desiringgod podcasts which I shall endeavour to share soon. Was going to do it with this one but I wanted to take sometime to think and re-think this devo/passage so that’s that. Also, brain is failing and methinks that words, especially those about God, have gotta be carefully written.

Goodnight, friends. Go pray. God bless, always.