God is NOT Dead.

I just watched a snippet of the film “God is Not Dead.” It detailed Josh Wheaton’s dialogues with his professor, and his eventual “triumph” over the argument, winning the entire class to declare that God is alive.

During the twenty minutes of that video, I had several things going through my mind. The first was that I was afraid. I would never dare to stand up and argue with a professor like that! Let alone give a lecture with such confidence in front of a class. The second was shame, that I would, for fear of failure, loss of dignity, of becoming a source of constant derision, and being thought stupid, that I would allow the name of my Lord to be tarnished.

Let me provide some background to all this: I attended King’s College in London and Imperial College London. I have a BSc (Hons) Second Upper in Biochemistry, and an MRes in Biomedical Research (Personalised Healthcare), Diploma of Imperial College. I am no fool.

And yet, to an atheist, I am the biggest fool in the universe – someone who has been taken in by the biggest lie in existence. “There is, patentlyno God. So why, for all that is good, would someone believe in some dusty, old, decrepit god, who, if he/she/it does exist, doesn’t seem to care, and is so distant, that really, he shouldn’t count?”

I am no Josh Wheaton. I am no Apostle Paul… I am afraid of losing my face, even when I know, in theory, as a Christian, I have lost nothing. For I consider the loss of all things as nothing – compared to the gain that is Christ! (paraphrased from Philippians 3) I know that. But I don’t really know it. Because I don’t want to lose my face. I don’t want to lose my dignity, and I’d fight pretty hard to show people that I’m not stupid. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is the differing responses to Josh Wheaton’s discourse on evidence for God being alive, and some questions that Christians might have with regards to evangelism .

I’m going to look at these questions:

1. Is it really important that we Christians convince others that we are right? (If not, why bother?)

2. What place does scientific/physical/historical evidence have in our arguments/discussions with non-Christians?

3. Do I need to know the bible back to back to back people up? How much do I have to know?

I cannot claim to have the answers. Pastors and vicars and teachers – anyone who has spent many more hours than me in my chair at home studying the bible, will have much better constructed answers than me. I’m not going to create some complete theological discussion here. Much of it will be personal, and I’ll try to back it up with what bible knowledge I have.

1. Is it really important that we Christians convince others that we are right? (If not, why bother?)

Biblically speaking – no. Because God does all the work. We plant the seed, and only he determines how and when (if ever) it grows (Mark 4:26-29). Planting the seed and then harvesting the fruit is our work. And again, Matthew 9:36-39, where Jesus himself emulates what should be done, by proclaiming the gospel to people. Whether people responded or not, and how they responded, was under people’s free will, and the choice made left up to them. (And as for predestination of who gets saved etc, I shall leave you with a book recommendation so you can decide for yourself: http://www.matthiasmedia.com/little-black-books-predestination)

Is it about winning the argument? Not really. So why bother? I think this needs another question to help: What is the point of talking to people about God and what we believe as Christians? If your answer was something along the lines of: to inform people about the gospel to help them make informed choices, then you’ve gotten your answer. It’s not so much of convincing these people. Because if you continue to pursue your desire to be right, you will often not be able to get to the bottom of the discussion and go in circles. Well, you’ll go in circles anyway in your discussion, but if you insist on your right to be right, then you’re sure to insult lots of people along the way, and worse, go against your initial aim: to win hearts for Christ. Demanding that your viewpoint is the only correct one (even though we firmly believe that the only way is Christ), will turn people away and make people more likely to reject Christ, because frankly, they would really rather not associate with fanatics thank you very much.

2. What place does scientific/physical/historical evidence have in our arguments/discussions with non-Christians?

I think there is definitely a case for when people should be looking into physical evidence for the bible, because Christ as his disciples was a real person who walked on this earth. The bible details places, people, and events. Therefore I think it’s a good thing to know about these outside of a biblical context, so you know what you believe in, isn’t some fairy story. It’s a real thing that happened.

The problem is that you will have two different camps of scientists and historians and scholars who will argue that Jesus either did or did not exist. In other words, it’s best that you examine the evidence alongside the bible and then decide for yourself. Remember, the point isn’t to be right. The point is to learn and gain knowledge about the person named Jesus, and decide for yourself if you want to follow him, or not. Remember, it’s not about shoving things down people’s throats and forcing them to hear you out. We need to emulate Jesus in his gentleness, patience, and compassion. We must bear in mind that people need Jesus, but not everybody likes to be told that, and not everybody likes Jesus either.

Opposition to the gospel message is not surprising (see reactions to Jesus in the gospels), and therefore if people choose to not want to listen to you despite your finely crafted discussion, they will come up with as many counter points as you come up with points. It’s less common that people will react like those people in the philosophy class in “God is Not Dead”, but it isn’t impossible of course! See Acts chapter 2 for evidence of a large number of conversions. The word is alive, and God breathes it out – nothing will stop it, and numbers are certainly not representative of its success or failure.

Acts 2:37-41- 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers,what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

3. Do I need to know the bible back to back to answer people’s questions? How much do I have to know?

No you do not need to have a degree in Theology, nor be a pastor to answer people’s questions about Christianity. Be honest about what you do not know, but do look up the answer, or ask someone for help with answering it, and then update the friend who asked. Bear in mind, there are some people who are not actually willing to hear the answer – they are the kind that like stirring up trouble and are not interested in Christianity at all. You will learn how to discern between people who really are interested in knowing more about Jesus.

As for how much you have to know, well, that’s a hard question because you can’t always anticipate what people ask. But it’s important to always be prepared to defend what you stand for.

1 Peter 3:15 – “ but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”)

Read books, attend seminars and talks regarding your subject of interest, or why not hold a dialogue supper and invite a staff worker from church or your christian fellowship to give a short talk to spark some discussion?

Realisation about Giving

The church I used to attend in London is currently undergoing a review. That means that they are reviewing how they use their resources, such as money, people, and digital media, to make sure that they are being efficient and not wasting the resources that God has given.

One of the issues that inevitably comes up with reviews is this: the subject of giving. For a long time, I have heard over and over, that God wants cheerful givers, that there are some things that we may have to give up if we truly wish to put our money on what we believe lasts forever. Money will burn; only the souls of those who are saved will survive. In other words, if money won’t last forever, and we can’t take it with us when we die, what is the point in spending money on futility? Not to say, obviously, that we can’t buy nice things every now and then, or that we should starve ourselves.. far from it! Things that we enjoy, and taking care of ourselves – these are all good things that God has given us. It isn’t bad to enjoy God’s gifts. However, when God wants us to use the gifts he has given us, who are we to withhold them from him?

I have also repeatedly heard the cry going up, to “give up your daily starbucks”, or to “eat out less”.. things like that. And I always thought to myself, “Well, I don’t really have a problem with those things do I?” And yet, I always found some excuse or another to not give (financially), when I could have. (Before you start getting riled up about legalism, I ask you to read on…)

Of course, one can always give of other things, such as time, and love, and hospitality. It is not like money is the only thing we have to give. Indeed, for those who cannot afford to give – time, love, and hospitality are just as precious!

Which leads me to the realisation that I just had about money and giving.

I will not hesitate to say that I have recently purchased the entire set of Sandman graphic novels in one go. I have saved about 50% of the money I would have spent if I had 1. Bought it in Singapore, and 2. Bought each comic individually from a bookshop. This in itself isn’t a bad thing (or so I tell myself!) because I love these comics and will read them over and over and over! I’ve saved some money, AND made a relatively sensible purchase, since I will be happy with these comics for a long time. But the purchase left me wanting yet more. I turned my mind to other things that I wanted: More comics – Hellboy, B.P.R.D… and the list will go on. (This is quite interesting to note of myself, since I have been wanting the Sandman set for a long time, and thought I would buy one every month to reward myself for work. But now that I am waiting for it to be delivered, I found that I “needed” a new goal) Again I must emphasise that goals in themselves, and rewards, are no bad thing. There is nothing wrong with rewarding oneself with something nice – giving yourself something to look forward to besides a pay check.

So what is the problem?

The question I must ask myself is this: Why, if I am so willing and happy to spend money on myself, for an item that will make me happy for a(n optimistic) maximum of the rest of my life before Christ returns, do I hesitate when it comes to spending on something that will build up a lasting heritage through God’s word being made known?

I realised that I do actually have money to give (though it is difficult to budget as it is not a consistent amount each month), and I am just being lazy in not wanting to think about giving/budgeting giving in.

But let’s back up for a minute and review:

I earn a certain amount of money each month, as I get paid on an hourly basis for my work. My dad sends me a sum of money every month, which is generous of him. I live with my mum, who pays the household bills. My dad pays for my phone bills. Expenditure wise, pretty much all of my salary gets pumped into paying for sessions with my psychiatrist and my psychologist, as well as medication. This is a worthwhile spend for several reasons: I don’t want to struggle with mental illness forever; therefore it is not unwise to invest in therapy. Secondly, I do not need to worry about other bills, as my parents have generously provided for me. Which should leave a small sum (if I do my maths each month), for leisure, travel, dog care, and giving to the church. Sometimes there might not be a small sum left over each month (depending on how many sessions of therapy I’ve had). Sometimes I seriously worry about not having enough money (though I am well provided for now, I should really be thinking about the future)

A personal financial review will be different for everyone. Not everyone is in the same situation. This is obvious, but perhaps an often forgotten fact when people consider the sermon they have just heard about giving money (or maybe I am just being thick?). I might not struggle to not have a starbucks everyday (because I don’t drink coffee!), and I might not struggle to eat out less (because someone at home buys and cooks delicious food for me!), BUT I realised that I will struggle when it comes to a great weakness of mine: books and art materials. But I had not really stopped to think about it when I thought about giving, and smugly went on my way, thinking that I had no money to give, and was spending wisely. After all, I was giving my time and love and hospitality wasn’t I? And that was probably enough for God anyway.

But wait.

God gave me everything, my life, a new heart, and above all, the promise of eternity in perfect relationship with him. God gave me his only son…

So why am I withholding money from him? God does not DEMAND money; as if he needed it anyway. No. But if God gave me everything, then who am I to deny him anything? I know I will always deny God something, for I am still a sinner, and Christ has not yet come. But God doesn’t demand perfection; he demands the right attitude and heart (that he has worked in us – see Ezekiel 11:19-20).

In closing – then, it is not a bad thing to enjoy material things; since they are all gifts from God. However, when our enjoyment and pursuit of it exceeds our desire to invest in the growing of God’s kingdom, it is then that we should review and consider our attitudes in how we use our money.

Settling in, Church – 8 months later

I’m currently writing this in London, as I am on holiday. I am encouraged to hear that a few people still read my blog (sometimes), although it’s not always worth reading since I don’t seem to update so much. (I have three other blogs because I am mad like that: an Art blog, a “depression” blog, and a private blog for when I am more MAD than usual and nobody needs to see all that) ANYWAY.

Things have changed a lot in the past 8 months. If you’ve not bothered reading the previous previous post, you can read this to be brought up to speed. I’ve settled into church. I help design church flyers sometimes. I am part of a team of 3 people who are involved in designing things. I am part of a bible study group that consists of newcomers. I have moved groups since my last update, since the last one was getting really big, and a new one was opening. Since I was a bit of a newcomer myself back then, it slowly became a better idea to join the new group. I’ve made many good friends whom I can be honest about my struggles in life, as well as in my faith. We can discuss things like struggling to forgive, rejoicing in adversity, and the freedom we have in being confident in our God.

In short, God has really provided for me in the past 8 months. I also have been seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist to help treat the depression, and guess what? I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s been a long slog with all the tablets, talking therapy, praying, and even (especially) not praying when I was at my most miserable. Praise the Lord that I am reaching the end of the tunnel – I can even see the light now, and my sleep has been the best I’ve ever had in 3 years. Of course, things still aren’t easy. I still tire quickly, and really should exercise a bit to try and help bring the energy level up a little more.

But there is so much to give thanks for. Now that I’m back in London for a while, it’s been a little overwhelming to see so many friends and to catch up with them in such a short amount of time. I’m quite tired, but happy. It’s been good weather so far, and at least I’m getting some walking in, even though I’m pretty slow now that I’m out of practice (and my bag is heavy because I carry a water bottle wherever I go now – so I stop drinking juice and coke and all that [in theory!!], but I had a coke today anyway. HAH)

I’m so pleased that I don’t wake up dreading the day, and that I enjoy my sleep now. I hope you can join me in prayer and thanksgiving for all these good things. 🙂

However, I do need prayer for other things: I still really struggle with forgiveness, especially past hurts, and I hardly pray, and I hardly read my bible if I can help it. It often leaves me wondering: If the bible is supposed to be so precious to me, why do I not read it more? As a depressed person, perhaps the lack of desire could be explained away.. but not completely. Sin also contributes to laziness and not wanting to do what God wants. Some ways of coping include me making short prayers as and when I remember, or even on the spot/in the moment when someone asks for it. God doesn’t demand prayer as payment for our salvation – I am already saved, and God knows my struggles, so in response to that, I will try, and so what I can do will be enough for God. It is a comforting thought.

At least, when I question the purpose of all this, I can look to the cross, and forward to the new creation, and think that some day, it will all end, and not be like this anymore. No more pain, sadness, or struggle. God does not need us to run to the end; indeed, sometimes all we can do is crawl, or be dragged/carried by others. Ultimately we know that God brings us through all this, and it is not with speed, but with perseverance, that we reach the end.

And there is every confidence that those who are in Christ will make it.

Alex Greaves

Where else can we go, if Jesus is the only way? We had a think about this during the easter sunday service..

Grace Encountered

Alex is a third year English student at Trinity Hall.

Fact: I hate Christian blogs.

10331806_10152118475143348_838939224_nSorry if you are a Christian and write a blog – I don’t hate all of them. Just the other day I read a helpful blog on depression, which was by a Christian. But so often Christians are so tribal, writing things not even for the good of other Christians, but for their approval, leaving anyone who isn’t a Christian totally isolated even as we pretend to reach out to them. My facebook history is all just me posting about Christian things, in a Christian-witty way; and I look through my likes, and guess what? Christian, Christian, Christian.

So why am I writing this?

  1. Hypocrisy
  2. I am writing more for me than for you.

I hope that it will help sort out my head. Right now I am going through a significant period of doubt…

View original post 557 more words

So… Hello again?

Been aaaages since I updated.

long story, don’t think you all really want to read it. you know how much I ramble on anyway.

Short version.

– joined a new small group, it’s great! getting to know people who are new to the church, great for establishing new friendships. But still feeling very distant. Please pray for growing friendships.

– settling into church well, thanks to small groups/community groups (CGs), even though I am always tempted to just continue calling it RML for no good reason!!

– got a great opportunity to make use of my art skills; I’ve joined the church flyer making team! Every sermon series we print postcard sized flyers that are easy to give away. We aim to make them attractive, clear, clean cut, and accessible to non-christians. This is so we can invite our friends to church more easily. Such a sweet idea!

– saw a psychiatrist. doing ok. just need a little help with aftercare and management.. all that stuff.

– got a part time job. feeling weird some days.. not just awkward, but as if a part of me is threatening to scream in the back of my head. the dr. said it’s because i’ve shut myself away from things for too long, and my mind would like to keep it that way thank you very much. So when I try and go outside and do things that are good for me, occasionally I have a bit of a scream in the back of my head. So nobody else hears.

– my CG is great, we have a whatsapp group and encourage each other throughout the day, with articles, or thoughts, or questions. Really enjoying the fellowship with my new found brothers and sisters.

– I’m trying to reset my sleep and it’s 3AM. not really doing what the psych said when she gave me sleeping pills to help reset the schedule. PANTS. anyway.

– made a new blog: http://afrequentsadness.wordpress.com to share some of my depression doodles. tempted to do more setting up now. But I’m going to be good and sleep. Even though I know I’ll lose the motivation to update the new blog once the new day comes. So maybe this will make me want to try a bit harder. or something. words evade me. i’m not eloquent at all today. Today is a image day. visual day.

feeling less lost in my country.

still very, very lost in the world. bombarded by images and ideas of what the world wants you to be.

and as always, tempted to be worldly. God’s opinion matters the most. Whether Jesus comes back to claim me.. matters the most. That I seek a life to serve God, despite my human reluctance… matters the most.

Sin makes me hate serving God. I’d rather serve myself. That’s sin. God, help me turn back to you.

Our Generation, and Morals?

Whilst at dinner this evening, I was part of a conversation where my mum and some of her friends (so, think 40s to 60s) were talking about the internet and internet threats. My mum complained how people could do anything they wanted because they hid behind their computer screens. It made me think about how my generation and her generation see the internet. Whilst nothing new, it continues to be an interesting phenomenon.

So far, the internet seems limitless – we can do what we want on it, a globe’s worth of knowledge and information (for better or worse) is available in duplicate, triplicate, and so on. We wonder how we’ve ever managed to live without it. We can chat instantly with people around the world, anytime, anywhere, and for a fraction of the cost!

It all seems to sound good. So what’s the problem?

Well, I’m sure you do not need me to tell you about spam, bots, viruses, adverts, and many more things that irk us no end, and no matter what we do, we will always have these things. The insidious and hurtful practice of trolling has taken the interwebs by storm; and whether we like it or not, there will always be people who feed the trolls.

Which brings me back to my mum’s generation. Most will know how to avoid chain letters, delete spam, avoid virus infections, and so on. But none of us can avoid the internet flaming and flak. For every well intentioned and opinionated comment, there will be a very angry someone somewhere, who is compelled to reply. It brings us cheer and disappointment in equal measure to see the best and the worst of humankind celebrated on the internet; where people are amazingly generous, and horribly selfish. My mum is still shocked by some of the horrible things people can get away with online, and disapproves of what she calls a “lack of morals”. I think she’s right, but I wasn’t as shocked as her. I’ve come to expect this kind of thing. To take the good with the bad, and to just learn how to navigate in the online ocean. I mean, if you want to go diving, you’ve got the beautiful corals and fish. Then you also have sharks, and poisonous urchins. You know the dangers and get used to being careful and avoiding them. Habit.

I’ve grown up in between times. A time where there was no publicly affordable/accessible internet, no mobile phones that did not break the scales, and the computers we lived with were rudimentary to our 2013 eyes. Now we have the world at our fingertips. We don’t even need to leave our chairs to see the world thanks to software like Google Maps, and hardware that can provide and cope with high internet speeds and the transactions of many many many bits of data. I’ve grown up with the internet. My kids and future generations will never know a world where the internet did not exist. Lack of morals or not, the internet is here to stay.

We’ve seen so many health and social problems appear alongside this convenience, and some wonder whether it’s even worth it. (I think it is.) Like the sea analogy I used earlier, you just learn to avoid the sharks. By trial and error, or by the warnings of the more savvy netizens, we gain more information on how to protect ourselves, and increasingly, our ideas and our minds. In world history, the internet is still a very young milestone, and I feel that we have barely begun to explore how that changes our rights and our freedom. Some day someone will have sorted it all out, but for now, we continue to fight against all sorts of misdemeanours and crimes for the “betterment” of society. Mums the world over will continue to complain about the lack of morals, and how “nobody seems to be doing anything about it”, or “nothing can stop these crazy people”. I can understand this. As for us millenials, we have grown increasingly callous to these problems. This is our sea, this is our world. We swim in it. We might not know every inch of it, or understand how it works, but it’s a familiar trip each time we plug ourselves in. We are so used to seeing negativity that we just ignore it. Which explains my lack of concern – even a rolling of my eyeballs, when I hear my mum complain about the “lack of morals these days”.

To be honest, I think people are just going to be more and more depraved. That’s what will happen in a broken world and a world of sin. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we should cut ourselves off entirely and then know nothing. Neither does it mean ignoring the sin and the bad that goes on around us. It means learning not to get heartaches and chest pains and anxiety when we see something horrible on the internet, there are enough depressed people in the world, and we do not need to harm ourselves needlessly. But it also means that we must practice compassion, and learn to be gracious when replying to vicious comments, or to pray for those who have been hurt. It means practising basic internet safety too, and that includes helping our parents and/or grandparents learn how to do this as well. With patience, might I add. My mum might know how to pinch and swipe on an iPad, but she doesn’t know how to click and drag to select. She also does not seem to be aware of keyboard shortcuts. But let’s not laugh. Let’s help. It will make our surfing/swimming trips in the internet sea much safer.

The balance

Today marks the fourth or so time ive been going to bible study group. And each time there has been lots of anxiety in the hours that leads up to it. Sometimes I have bad anxiety dreams. But each time God shows me that I have nothing to fear, and by giving me the strength to travel to small groups I get to know my fellow group members better, and to not feel so bad about speaking up. This is of course, in part because I’ve slowly gotten used to the dynamics of the group, and that is much to be thankful for.

Its also nice to be able to travel part of the way home with some of my group mates so we can get to know a bit more about each other. It helps to dispel the lies that my anxious mind believes so easily. Its been really enjoyable, and helps me settle in home as well, especially since I’ve now got friends who are more han just acquaintances.

I’ve been enjoying reading Marks gospel, and been amazed and excited by it. At the moment we have been understanding how Jesus is the sacrificial lamb. My knowledge of the old testament from last year’s bible overview has also helped me feel a great deal more gratitude for what Jesus did for me. How marvelous, how wonderful,  is my saviour Christ to me!

And how marvelous that I do not need to be swallowed up by my guilt, that I can stand up after I’ve fallen down, because even as I am conscious of my sin,  I can be thankful that I am no longer facing God’s wrath. What a difficult balance to strike!

I am still not sleeping well.. its my fault cos I dont have a regular sleeping pattern.. and don’t feel inspired to do much. But even doing stuff. . Makes me tired pretty easily. So hopefully I’ll be able to get over that when I find a job.

I don’t feel like blogging much these days..but it is good that I write a bit now and again.

Boxes

A small request: please pray for me, that I won’t be afraid of going to small groups next week. For a few days (not today) I have been consumed by anticipatory anxiety about going to small groups and church. I also had a cold, which made it easy for me to not go (because obviously I didn’t want to spread my germs). Of course, the main reason for not going was because I was inexplicably scared. And I don’t mean daunted scared. It was more irrational I will totally go crazy if I went kind of scared. And so it would be better for me not to go. But I need to obey Hebrews 10 and continue to gather with fellow Christians instead of trying to slip through the nets and try to go unnoticed. Please thank God for Sonja, a staff worker at the Crossing who is meeting me for lunch this Friday to catch up. I think she will understand my feelings a little as she herself has only been to the Crossing for a year.

I have actually stumbled across a rather interesting analogy for Christ’s return. And it is this: I returned to Singapore from London, sans quite a lot of my worldly belongings. I had to wait about… two and a half months before my boxes arrived on my doorstep. As I unpacked a few of my things – I could not help but feel really pleased that everything was intact, (security in material things.. I know), because now I have all my art things and my books and other things that are precious to me. But what had I done without these items in the meantime?

I felt that waiting for my boxes was a little little bit like waiting for Jesus to come back. I knew that the boxes would come, as I had packed them carefully, and done all the paperwork, and paid the bills and taped and double taped the boxes. I also knew that the shipping company was reliable (most of my friends used that company without complaint). In the same way, I know that Jesus is going to come back. Because he rose from the dead, just as he said, and did many other things, and many things happened, just as he said. And did not many people see him after he had risen? So I knew that my boxes were going to come.

But whilst I was waiting – I still needed some things to live on, clothes, some books and craft materials and things to occupy me, so it wasn’t like I lacked anything to live, just like the Bible tells us everything we need to know to live right now before Christ returns. But then I got unhappy and bored with what I had packed, and felt that it was not enough to keep me amused. Note: as material things go, this is actually OK because it’s not like I’m worshipping another god before Christ returns and all that, but I was sort of trying to live as if the boxes weren’t going to come. Sure, sometimes I did remember how inconvenient something was that I didn’t have this special material, or tool, or book. But half of the time I was trying to live without my boxes. Note: this is also OK because this is common sense IRL, and one can’t possibly go around whining about why your boxes haven’t arrived yet. They will come, so in the mean time sort something else out. But, this is only an analogy, and as analogies go, they can only go so far.

This made me see more clearly how I was actually trying to do the same without Christ. Life isn’t just inconvenient; it continues to be cursed and tainted with sin. Instead of waiting patiently for Jesus to come back, and doing the work I have been given, I do try to find other things to fulfill myself – despite the fact that I am already saved. I try to “redeem” myself in front of others, to make myself seem better than I am.. and so on. I am often living as if Christ isn’t coming back. Yes, sometimes a huge problem or global catastrophe or a sad event makes me really wish that Jesus was here, right NOW. But more often than not, I continue to live quite happily, forgetting that judgement is coming, and that I need to tell people about Jesus. From waiting for my boxes, I saw how easily put off I was, even for two months (which felt like forever I tell you). I started to worry, irrationally, that maybe they would never come. And following that, thinking: well, if they don’t, I’m ok because I don’t need those boxes. But imagine my huge joy when I opened each box and took out things, sketchbooks, pencils, little stuffed toys that reminded me of my friends.. How much greater will my joy be when Christ comes? I will truly be comforted and saved physically from all pain, sadness, and suffering. But above all, I will be saved from my own sin, and I will be really free to live without it.

Here is where the analogy falls apart. In a good way.

The awe and happiness and fulfilment Christians will have when Christ returns, will not just be a, “oh, I am so relieved that all my stuff is here and now life is more convenient because I have been wearing the same 5-7 t-shirts and same 2 pairs of jeans, but now I don’t have to.” (but yes, that is what has been happening, but that is not important!) It will be more, “Christ has come, and we are going to be with him, to share in his glory, and also, to actually understand what sharing in his glory and inheritance actually means. WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS YOU GUYS.” I don’t even think I can comprehend or imagine what that means! To see the world in a different way… to actually love without requiring cost, to serve without suffering, to not be tied down by worrying about money, to not have to worry about being tired, to not worry about ANYTHING, because we are complete in the Lord.

How amazing is that? The perfect society we all dream of, and know, deep down that we cannot have it now, because we are all inherently selfish, and really, sort of like hurting each other just to make ourselves feel better.

I hope that I will see my boxes and continue to anticipate Christ’s coming, not because he might, but because he really is.

Small group, and a job (!?!?)

Wooo another blog for my friends who don’t actually mind hearing a blow by blow account of my life 😉

I attended my first ever small group for bible study on Friday last week, and was elated and humbled in equal measure. My group (it feels so weird and great to be saying that!) consists of mostly girls (there are three boys including Paul who is one of the leaders). We are studying Mark, and are at chapter 12 (wow I have missed a lot) I was really anxious about attending small group – so anxious that I got the day wrong and went on Thursday (thinking it was a Friday)! But once we got started on reading the passage and studying it together, I was no longer anxious, and felt really happy talking about the passage. One thing that was a bit awkward was that I talked a lot more than my group mates.. I think I need to learn to keep quiet and let others answer first. The group was welcoming and friendly, and it wasn’t just me talking (but I did talk a lot..).

It was a humbling experience because I had forgotten quite a lot of what I had learned from Mark, and still find some of the language confusing. (We were doing the Sadduccees questioning Jesus all the way to the offering of the poor widow.) It was really interesting to see that although Jesus clearly pronounced judgement on the scribes and teachers of the law who bullied the people and misused their authority, he did not actually say anything about the widow – whether she was saved or not. But the main point was that Jesus knew the scriptures best, and had more authority than the religious teachers of the law. The application was to not be like the teachers of the law who looked only to “knowing lots” and “looking awesome” as their way to heaven. In other words for us modern day Christians – to not just rely on our own (small) knowledge of the bible and to think that we know everything. Also, that it’s not all about attendance at church or small groups.

I got to know Michelle and Darren cos I sat between them. I found out that Darren was an art teacher. We got talking about art after the study – and he was able to give me more ideas about where I might be able to further develop my skills. It feels weird having so many girls in a group – despite the fact that I did lead an all girls group last year!! I think it’s because the girls in my group didn’t talk about dresses or outfits as much.. (I miss my overview group!). Michelle really made an effort to talk to me after the study as we all walked to the MRT together, so I didn’t feel so sticky-outy aloney.

It was also really nice to turn up to church on Sunday, and have people at my small group waving to me, and saying hi. I also sat next to Margaret again (girl I met last last week), and really feel like I am actually making friends. Sonja (staff member) called me asking if I wanted to go home together, which was a shame because I was having dinner with another friend. It’s really nice to have a friend to go home with, and hopefully we can travel home together next week.

and YES! after about a month of deliberating and procrastinating, I have finally submitted my job application for the position of a Science Educator at the Science Centre. (It’s kinda like the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum rolled into one). I really hope to get it as it seems like there is a lot of scope in the job, such as workshops and taking visitors round, and even helping to curate exhibits which sounds really exciting! My mum says that this seems like a very short career ladder that I’m climbing.. so whilst I’m looking out for other opportunities, I hope to be able to show her that it’s not about climbing the career ladder. This is an issue that does make me very angry because sometimes I think my mum thinks more about money (she is a Christian). I know she is worried about my future and living in Singapore is very expensive – so I will try my best, but also trust that as I take steps forward, God is opening and closing the doors to guide me.

Please pray:

– That I will settle well in my small group – and learn to take my turn when speaking up so that others have a chance to say something.

– That I will get the job (pleasepleaseplease!!!!!) but also, if I don’t, that I will have a right attitude and keep applying for other jobs. Because God knows best!

– That I will not be disheartened by rejection

Good news!

So the weather has been really hot lately – and I really miss the cool weather in the UK.. but having said that, I really want to try my best and settle in (procrastination included.. meaning settling in might take longer than I would like).

So what’s the news? Well, after lots of procrastination, I have done a couple of small things on my to do list. I have joined the partnership class at the Crossing church, which is a really good opportunity for me to see the vision of the church, that I might better get behind the work that the Crossing is doing in Singapore. The other thing is that I am going to check out a small group this Friday – it is relatively near my house (few stops away on the same MRT line), so it should be ok travel-wise. I am really looking forward to this, because it is really quite daunting to get to know people, even in a small church. This is especially because I think younger Singaporeans (my age range) are either very shy, or don’t know how to be welcoming. I think that since the Crossing is constantly growing, as are its members – it will take a while for people to feel more comfortable in welcoming others. So I am looking forward to getting to know people better. Praise God that his word abounds in Singapore and that there are small groups to join, that sit under God’s word. Praise God that most of the churches in Singapore are English speaking – and I do not have the additional language barrier to overcome if I had been in another country.

In other good news, I am getting less afraid of going to church on my own. The people who run partnership class have decided to split us up (randomly) into smaller groups – that we might have lunch together before class, so that we can get to know people better. Group discussion in partnership class has also helped me meet a couple of new people and not feel really weird about talking to them. Having said that, I think that some of the people I meet find me a little bit too friendly on a first encounter (like I said, shy!) and feel a little strange. But I don’t really care. In the sense that, as long as I don’t harm them in any way, I’ll continue to be friendlier than my normal self, just because it’ll help me get to know people, and hopefully might serve as an example to people who might wonder just how you start a conversation with a stranger.

The bad news is.. (and you knew this was coming..) is that it is really hot – and I have developed some sort of persistent rash as a result. This is awful, so please pray that the weather doesn’t affect my mood too much.

Life in Singapore still feels strange and lonely – because the city and people have changed, and i have missed out on that. (Just like I am missing out on life in London as well now..) Please pray for me to be disciplined to sleep at the right times, despite my natural inclination to stay up late.

How are you all doing in London? Let me know how things are, I’d love to hear from you.