Sunday, June 23, 2013

Got Engaged!

Being single in a world where everybody expects you to be with someone can be frustrating. Imagine how not just the society but the very people you grew up with - relatives and friends tries to measure your happiness and fulfilment by having a partner in life. Seriously? If having a partner would make people happy, help me understand why there are broken families and divorce cases all over the world. I know I am not in the position to give a speech here and I don't intend to do that either. I love seeing young couples exchange vows in their wedding day. I admire married couples growing old together, just like my parents. Reading love stories captivates me, particularly the true to life accounts. But status is just a phase, it is not meant to define you. Your attitude is your real identity. Take pleasure on this liberating facet of life. Single-hood is a blessing. Enjoy it while you can.

Last Saturday, June 22, I had the opportunity to attend Engaged concert organized by CCF Singapore at YMCA for the single people. I thanked God for the freedom to sing songs of worship to God whenever, wherever we desire. I am moved by the hearts of all the volunteers and workers who made the event possible for God's glory.

T'was a delight to see the auditorium packed with 200+ vibrant single men and women from all different walks of life. We might come to that place with different agendas.. some may be there scouting for a possible partner, others might be dragged or invited by a friend, for some they just need to fill their Saturday night with some activity. But as we fill the place with praises, hear the message, witness the testimony and fellowship with one another, we all go home with a renewed and grateful heart. And in the end that's what matters to God.  

Pastor Jay Jackson with the message
One night of celebration honouring God through praise and worship. Different instruments. Different voices. One music. One heart. All for the glory of the One true God.

Set #2 Praise and Worship Team
Set #3 Praise and Worship Team
Here's some of the many great songs in the concert that captures my heart. Songs that reminded me how wonderful it is to be loved by God.

While it is inevitable that I stumble and feel alone along this journey of single-hood, there's one encouragement I take home from Engaged that night. One of my AHA! moment, that is to know that I am being pursued. You and I. The Lord Jesus longs to have an intimate relationship to each one of us. A personal relationship being offered to us not because we are pleasing to God but because He loved us in spite of our flaws and shortcomings. An unconditional love He once proved in the Cross. A relationship that will not break our hearts because God already broke His heart for us. A relationship that will not hurt us because Jesus already took the pain in our place.

Respond to His love and be engaged! And witness how He will add colour to your world and put meaning in your life like never before. 

Dgroup sisters (left-right)
Michelle, me, Kitin, Angela, Belle, Ces and Jovy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Letters from a Skeptic - Correspondence 11: Why would an all-powerful God need prayer?

Moving on let's dissect some more of their constructive debate on Christianity featuring a Christian son versus an atheist father...  sounds clever adventure

Correspondence 11: Why would an all-powerful God need prayer?
Date: December 15, 1989
Dear Greg,
As I said before, I don't see that prayer ever works. Not only this but I don't see how prayer ever could work. If God is all-good and all-powerful, and concerned about us, doesn't He already want the best for us? And so wouldn't he already be doing as much as He can ever do for us? So what are you asking for prayer? For Him to care more? He supposedly already cares as much as He could. Are you asking Him to do more? He's supposedly already doing everything He can. Are you informing Him of some problem so He'll do something about it? He supposedly already knows everything. So you can't inform Him about anything, you can't coax Him to do anything, and you can't empower Him to do anything. So what the hell are you doing when you pray! The whole thing seems like a total waste of time to me.
Love always,

Date: December 28, 1989
Dear Dad,
Now on to your question about prayer. The main purpose of talking to God (that's all prayer really is) has little to do with asking for things, Dad. It's to build a faith-filled, loving relationship with our Creator and Redeemer... The main purpose of prayer is simply to be with Someone you love: to talk, to listen, or to simply “commune” with your Creator.
Asking for things – what's called “petitionary payer” - is simply one minor aspect of this total relationship...
A genuine relationship, I believe, can only occur where there is personal interaction between two persons, where there is “give and take” between two parties. In other words, any genuine relationship requires that both parties are to some extent empower  over and against the other... God doesn't want to be the only one calling the shots... So God ordains things so that we are to some degree empowered in our relationship with Him.
First, Dad, given the complexity of reality. I think it would be virtually impossible to “test” the effectiveness of prayers... If petitionary prayers could be conclusively “verified,” it would turn God into a sort of cosmic vending machine. Make your requests, pull the lever, and abracadabra, you have your wish granted... it takes faith to pray, and faith to see the answer to prayer.
Secondly, I'd again reiterate that, far more important than knowing the mechanics of unanswered prayer is knowing that God's on your side even when the prayer is unanswered.
... And to communicate at all – anything! Is the beginning of a relationship with Him.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Letters from a Skeptic – Correspondence 2: Why is the world so full of suffering?

As promised, here are some exchange of opinions between Dr. Greg Boyd and his atheist father which I found tough but very enlightening:

Correspondence 2: Why is the world so full of suffering?
Date: March 23, 1989
Dear Greg:
If God created this world and cares about it, why is there so damn much suffering in it? In your letter your answer was that God can't be held responsible because He gave man the freedom to choose to do right or wrong. But Greg, I don't feel that the question can be swept away so easily. When the freedom to decide to do harm results in pain and suffering to innocent people, God is simply not the “loving” God you make Him out to be!
I though about this when I read about this lunatic down here in Florida who was released from jail after seven or eight years for raping a teenage girl and then chopping off both her arms, leaving her for dead. It was his free choice to commit the crime, but what choice did the innocent girl have?... Why does God value the freedom of the criminal, but not the freedom of the victim?
The point is , this world doesn't look at all like the kind of world we'd have if there were an all-powerful, all-loving God behind it. And I don't see the freedom improves the situation much.
Well enough for now. Look forward to your letter.

Lots of love,

Date: March 29, 1989
Dear Dad,
Well, Dad, I've got to admit that you are raising some extremely good points in your letters. You are raising the most difficult questions atheist can face. This is a good material.
It seems to me, Dad, that if God is going to give free wills to His creatures, He has to allow the possibility of them misusing that freedom, even if it means hurting others. To be significantly free is to be morally responsible to each other. What is the freedom to love or not love unless it is freedom to enrich or harm another? God structured things this way because the alternative would be to have a race of robots who can't genuinely love – but that's hardly worth creating, is it?
So why doesn't God intervene every time someone is going to misuse his freedom and hurt another person? The answer, I believe, is found in the nature of freedom itself. A freedom which was prevented from being exercised whenever it was going to be misused simply wouldn't be freedom.
So too, If God really gives gives us freedom, it must be, at least to a large extent, irrevocable. He must have, within limits, a “hands off” attitude towards it. God creates free people who can do as they please, not determined instruments who always end up doing what He pleases.
I look forward to your response

As always, with all my love,

Gregory Boyd: Letters from a Skeptic

“Letters from a Skeptic” is a collection of letters between a son by the name of Dr. Gregory Boyd, Theology professor at Bethel College in Minnesota, author and believer of the Christian faith, and his exceptionally intelligent, intensely skeptical, very strong-willed, 70 year-old father Edward K. Boyd.

A book that is very useful, not only as a source of hope, but also as a resource of information for Christians who have loved ones who are not believers.

Watch out for more post featuring actual correspondence between Dr. Boyd and his father...

I got this amazing book at  OMF Literature Inc.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Faith in the Morning After

Every once in a while, frustration and distress can find its way to sneak inside your heart and hang out in your head as if there's a room for them.

There will be days when you feel you're not good enough because you did not measure up on the expectation you set to yourself or the world set on you. Days when you snap out over edgy situations in the office or at home. Days when things crumble in your face one after another. Days when you start to loose hope on your dream because you come to meet Mr. Reality face to face. Days when your heart is downcast for no reason at all. Days when you don't understand why you're doing what you're doing. Days when you no longer look forward for the days to come. Days when you feel restless and tired with all the static-roller-coaster-ride-of-life which brings you nowhere.

It is bound to happen. Ready or not. To you or me. It's not everyday that you feel good about yourself. It's not everyday that you feel like smiling to everyone as if you owe them that look. It's not everyday that you feel like lending a helping hand because all your hands are also full. It's not everyday that your creative beans produce the grandest ideas of all.

When that day come, remember that you always have an option. You do. You can choose to accept the bear or nurture the beast. Thinking happy thoughts could be helpful as what Peter Pan suggests but if there's one light bulb moment that brings me back to perspective, that is to know that in spite and despite of everything, there is Someone Greater among us who is in control of all. Someone who understands exactly every struggle we encounter. Someone who sees all our situation including the most gloomy stretch where you and I might be passing through right now.
No matter how dark the situation, all is not lost. There is a morning after.
All your pains and disappointments in your morning after are manageable. For you have God!
There is a morning after. When God speaks His grace. When God manifests His presence. When God shows is that He alone is enough.
And He certainly is!

-- Excerpts from Growing Deep in Faith by Edmund Chan 
Choose to have faith in the morning after. Have faith in a gracious God who gives another chance for all of us to experience the bright morning after the shadows of night.

Image courtesy of Google