Category Archives: Spiritual Journey

Word of the Year: Sacrifice

My Word of The Year 2017 was Responsibility and as if that wasn’t dreary enough, this year’s Word is Sacrifice.

Last weekend I was scheduled to serve as usher in church. I had the day planned out in the morning, then I watched Netflix longer than what I planned for, grew tired from lying on bed whole morning and decided to take a nap 10 minutes* before getting ready to go out. I snoozed till I either get up rightaway or missed my reporting time. I chose the latter, continued sleeping and woke up too late to report for duty but, to alleviate my guilt, made it to church. That day, one of the sermon’s key message was “The price you pay for worship will correspond with your breakthrough”

Ouch.

I have been coming to God asking “why am I not having the same level of intensity that I had for you?”. The problem is I come to Him whenever it’s convenient; the leftover of my time, when I’m waiting in line and had nothing to do, or when I’m bored. It cost me nothing to spend time with Him.

In 1 Chronicles 21:18-30 King David wanted to purchase a site to build an altar to the Lord. Araunah, the owner of the site, offered him for free yet King David replied:

“No I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

King David (1 Chronicles 21:24)

Jesus died for us. He showed us the ultimate sacrifice out of His love. He doesn’t demand anything in return but His act of love caused my heart to stir and bring transformation to millions. That’s what a sacrifice can do.

What Sacrifice Isn’t

A sacrifice has to be sincere. It cannot come with strings attached. If you sacrifice something with the mindset of gaining something else, then that’s a bargain not a sacrifice. Lent is starting soon and we’ll hear many people giving up something till Easter. It is an admirable practice but I hope those sacrifices are not mere tradition or a “by the way” (e.g. I’ve been meaning to lose weight hence giving up sugar).

We sacrifice to set our heart right before God. When you love someone, don’t you want to spend time or buy gifts or write letter for that person even if you have to inconvenient yourself to drive to where he/she is, set aside time to shop, research on nice restaurants, etc? (P.S Valentine’s Day is coming – this is a hint how to treat your girl/boyfriend)

This year I want to learn to be a good lover of God; to give Him 1. My time – which could mean less time on Netflix, 2. My finances – not getting another pair of sneakers and giving to Mission Trip instead, 3. My attention – abiding in Him and listening. Stop treating Him as my Psychiatrist, 4. Myself.

This year may (you and) I learn to truly live a life of sacrifice unto the Lord.

X,
Mel

*There’s no such thing as a 10 minute nap.

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Are you open for Jesus Monday to Sunday?

You’ve heard about Sunday Christians. You see them on Sundays. They don’t get too involved with the church and if you bump into them on a weekday, they behave like a different person. You’ve also seen Devout Christians – people who follow God wholeheartedly and the familiar faces who show up at almost every church events.

Then there are Christians like me who are a little harder to distinguish. I attend service and small group, serve in church, read bible, and do whatever I can to inch closer to God. Yet when my leader texted if I’m coming to the church’s monthly Prayer Meeting on that very day, I hesitated. I’ve always thought Prayer Meetings are for the holiest members of the congregation because the people who attend are usually the devout and it falls on a Wednesday night. The latter might not sound like a solid reason but you see, I’ve planned God’s activities to be on Sunday and Friday – the days I attend church and small group.

So I started having a mental debate whether I should come to the meeting. The argument centred on the questions if I don’t go to church tonight, how will I spend my evening? Will it be more useful or meaningful? I’d spend time with my family at home which is a strong case because I don’t spend enough time at home, and I would be reading this book called Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science. Then I began to see the irony. I was about to choose to stay home and read about the evidence for God when I could be in church experiencing the evidence for God. I decided if I can get off work on time, I will make my way to church. And yes, God made it happen.

SURRENDER MY DAYS

Standing in the church hall that night made me feel out of place. I was not used to worshiping God in church among the “stronger” Christians on a Wednesday night. Sure I listen to sermon at home on weekdays but it’s not the same to seek God on your own time and comfort versus rearranging your schedule to be at His altar. I clapped and lifted up my hands during praise and worship like I usually do on weekends but deep down I was wondering if the awkwardness of being in God’s presence that night will go away. Finally I did what I need to do. I prayed and invited Jesus to be Lord over my life Monday to Sunday.

LIVE ON GOD’S TERMS

I wake up to pray and listen to sermon every morning, read a Christian book on my way to work, and read the bible at night. On the surface it seems like I have my spiritual life figured out. I even prayed for God to enter every room of my life but I didn’t realize I only hand Him the keys on Sundays and Fridays.

Is God a guest or is He the owner of your life? When we choose to live for God it means He holds the keys and has access to every room in your life. Matthew 16:24 says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  It doesn’t say to follow Him on a specific day because following Jesus is a 24/7 commitment. Jesus is not a counsellor or therapist whom you schedule your time with. He is the leader of our lives and He has the privilege to rearrange our schedule. We live under His terms and not the other way around.

OPEN WHEN HE KNOCKS

If I had said ‘no’ when my leader asked me to come to the meeting I wouldn’t be writing this. It wasn’t the first time my leader asked me to a church event, few of which I declined but there’s one thing I learn – I can keep saying ‘no’ to man, but I can’t say ‘no’ to Holy Spirit forever. Every time you say ‘no’ to God, you’re distancing yourself from Him and disobedience will eventually dull your spiritual senses. Unless you’re ready to live without God, don’t let yourself slips into a place where you’re no longer bothered by Holy Spirit’s prompting. The fact that you’ve read my writing to this point, I hope means that you have the desire to live out the life that God calls us to have and so let your heart be open to Him 24/7.

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Put up this sign for God. Photo Credit: Pinterest, Etsy.com

X,

Mel.

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2017 New Year Resolution

In a true Popcornaday tradition (one that I invented just a sec ago as I’m typing), let me post my New Year Resolution for 2017 before the first month comes to an end!

1. Go on vacations and keep expenses within budget.
Kick the habit of treating foreign bills like monopoly money when on holiday.

2. Be healthy.
Limiting myself to eating 24x junk food/year, having tea without sugar, and aiming to walk 10,000 steps each day.

Strapped and ready to track

3. Learn a new skill.
Driving and/or cooking a proper dish.

4. Cross 1 thing off my bucket list.
I have 100 things to choose from. Anything from sky-diving to spotting a whale.screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-11-26-12-pm

5. Become a Morning Person.
Setting alarm clock at 7 a.m. daily. (With 15 minutes snooze allowance.)

6. Be involved in a community.
There are 2 communities in mind; Cell Group and Toastmaster Club.

7. Better financial planning.
At least 30% of my monthly earning shall go to savings.

8. Try out 24 new restaurants this year.
It’s a conservative number since I tried about 50 new restaurants last year. But because I’m resolved to have better financial planning, I should reduce my eating-out frequency too.

9. Set aside time for things that matters. 
Being intentional in meeting up with people I want to invest my time in. Prioritising Time Alone With God over my Netflix addiction. Setting aside 6 hours of sleep.

10. Volunteer.
I usually donate to a cause I believe in. This year I want to go beyond and put in physical effort to help others or cats.

12. Read 24 books.
Currently reading my 2nd book of the year. I have to finish it this week to meet the timeline.

14. Read the old testaments.
I’ve read the New Testaments last year. Now onward (or backward) to the heavy duty stuff.

15. Buy 1 thing that will make my life more efficient. 
A new laptop would be good.

16. Hold on to my personal mission for the year. 
Matthew 5: 14-16. Light of the World. City on the hill cannot be hidden.

I sense 2017 will be an awesome year, one of breakthroughs and expansion. January is ending and we have 11 months to go. Let’s make them count!

X,
Mel.

P.S: For this year’s resolution I actually refer to an article in a magazine I recently subscribed to. It’s the only magazine that I read cover to cover.

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BOTW: The Power of Unstoppable Faith

BOTW stands for Book of The Week. I just coined that but wouldn’t be surprised if the internet has already have plenty of #BOTW posts.

I always have a book in my bag. Yep, am one of those girls. The Power of Unstoppable Faith by Nick Vujicic is a 55-page palm-sized book which only take 2 train rides to complete and it’s also one of the most powerful books I’ve read during my train rides. The content is succinct and direct. I feel so motivated reading it, but of course the point is not just to feel motivated but to be compelled to put my faith into action and fully experience the power of unstoppable faith.

“You can believe in you dreams, but you have to take action to make them happen. You can believe in your talents and have faith in your abilities, but if you don’t develop them and put them to use, what good are they?

You may not have a clue of what lies ahead, but it’s better to act on life than simply let life act on you.”

-Nick Vujicic.

Shall keep this book in my bag, and pick up a new book for next week.

X,
Mel

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2/365

I ended 2016 and began 2017 in the house of God. At first I had apprehension it’s gonna be quite draggy with hours of praying and listening to sermons, but it turns out to be exactly the contrary. I mean yes, we spent time praying and listening the message and direction for the church in this new year but God’s presence was so palpable and spirits were high. Every worship is a resounding declaration of how God has been so real to the 4,000 strong congregation that packed the room. I had no idea celebrating New Year in church could be so refreshing.

The pastor shared his vision for the church in 2017, titled “Decade of Expansion”. He encouraged us to break out of the limitations we have physically or mentally and expand the horizon for our vision. This is especially important since we’re facing what the economists are predicting to be a slow year ahead. We need to discern the fact from God’s truth. Bad economy is a fact but the truth is God is still our provider and in control.

As for my personal direction for the year, the word I have is Responsibility.
I know it doesn’t sound sexy. In fact it sounds like impending hard work. But as I prayed over the word and seek God’s direction, I know this is the year that I need to rise up to the opportunities and be responsible for my own growth be it spiritually, career wise, etc. Events in 2017 are pre ordinate, but how I respond to them will determine the outcome of 2017 for myself. With that in mind, I want to be deliberate in being responsible and doing things as an example for others instead of finding the easiest way like there’s no one following.

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While it’s easy to say how I want to do this and that because it’s still the holiday season, tomorrow my conviction will be put to test as the first work day of the year commences. I’m stepping into the new era of my life in faith for good days ahead (or at least God’s days) and not dwelling on former things.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”
Psalm 90:12

X,
Mel.

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2016 Reflection: Removal of Crutches

We are told to rely on God in all the things we do, yet sometimes we received so much blessings that they become the crutches we lean on. For example, a good career, financial stability, friends and companions may unconsciously become our crutches and substitutes for God. Self-sufficiency disposes people to reject God simply because they don’t see the need to have God in their lives.

I did not realised I first stepped into 2016 with my own crutches. I had a great job where my superior acknowledged my ability and career prospect was looking up as I had just accepted a job offer with 30% increment and better benefit. I was in a long-term relationship that might turn into a lifetime commitment. I had good friends returning from overseas. I hadn’t fall sick and believed my immune system is a ferocious bouncer that can kick any diseases.

But of course 2016, affectionately known as The Worst Year Ever by the netizens, did not let me, along with the rest of the Earth population, have it easy.
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First, I was struck by the diagnosis that I had a 17cm cyst in my ovary and I need to undergo my first major surgery. Although it’s benign, having tumor as big as a 19-week fetus was a slap to my health. I had thought I could live to a 100 years old swimmingly but clearly life is unpredictable and it is foolish to think nothing would happen even with my lack of discipline in lifestyle.

Second, I started my new job which certainly is not the land of milk and honey. I had to unlearn what I knew and refine on whatever unshaped skills from my previous experiences.

Third, broken romance.

Fourth, a good friend left the city to return to her homeland. My best friend who used to travel here frequently found a new job and she had no reason to come here as often as she used to anymore.

Fifth, I will be moving to a new location next year and that means I will be changing cell group. I have just gotten used to the members and I’ll definitely miss having this leader whom I look up to. But I know that to grow in Christ is to grow upward towards the direction He planned for me, and not just imitating or piggybacking the faith of others.

The list can go longer with my grandma passing away which marks the end of grandparents generation in my life, celebrity deaths, volatile political climate, etc. As I reflect on how 2016 has been, I see how my crutches are being removed one by one and I am “forced” to rely completely on God. I would like to say I do so willingly, but if He hadn’t removed those crutches I would not have realized that I needed Him to be my constant source of strength and to not let anything take His place.

Having the crutches removed is a painful experience. I fell, I cried and I learnt to pick myself up with Jesus’ help. He is my strength and the more I know Him the more confident I am of His faithfulness and that I can run with Him directing my path. I need not worry of what may happen.

2016 has been a lot of downs and more downs. But I’m here to say I’m grateful for each experience and I have never been more excited to step into a new year with God’s promises and Him right beside me. Cheers to 2017.

X,
Mel.

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Reason For The Season

Like most churches in Singapore, my church has 2 big events each year and the congregation is encouraged to invite their family and friends; One of it is Easter and the other is of course Christmas.

It’s been a long time since I sincerely invited anyone to church. I remember telling my leader that I felt I’m not gifted in that area and I will sound like a salesperson who doesn’t really want the job. Then my leader challenged me with this verse:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

We, as believer, are called to be salt and light of the World. If we hide the light under a bowl instead of using it to show the path for others then what good is our light? Living is not about getting the best deal for ourselves, but it’s about sharing the light, joy and peace to all especially in times where terrorism is rampant and the World could definitely use a hope.

I decided to invite my friends to the Christmas event. I had a name dropped in my mind when I was praying but I did not know how I should invite this person and thought it’s better that I invite as many people as possible, cast the net as wide, since I’m expecting a stream of polite rejections. True enough there were last-minute cancellation or non-reply but the person whose name was dropped in my heart, came and through that I see the depth of God’s love for His people and the deliverance of His promises.

I volunteered as an usher this Christmas service. Technically my leader asked if I could do it and I just said yes. There was a lady who came alone. She came early, smiled at me and chose a seat somewhere at the corner in the front rows. I assumed she was a church member, but later she stood up when the pastor asked for first time visitors to stand. Everyone exchanged greeting and the 2 hours musical presentation started. At one point I was bored (maybe because I had been standing for 3 hours straight) and wondered will people come to know Jesus through this? But I was reminded that this event was not created to entertain Christians, but to bring Jesus to others and I trust that God can touch people’s lives through whatever method. At the end of the presentation, the pastor came on stage and spoke about what Christmas is all about and having Jesus as our hope for the season. Then she asked everyone to close our eyes and for those want to invite Jesus into their lives to raise up their hands. Usually I would be very abiding and closed my eyes, but just this time I lowered my head and out of the corner of my eye, saw that lady who came alone raised her hand up high.

It takes courage to lift up your hand at a service even when no one is looking. Sometimes I felt God is tugging at my heart but I struggled to lift up my hands because taking action requires boldness and commitment that follows. I was truly touched by how God has moved this lady’s heart to respond to the call. Truly He is working in people’s lives.

I’m sure there are many others out there who needs Jesus in their lives just like this lady. God might prompt them to come to church alone, with no escort. But most of the time God wants us to partner with Him and be His mouthpiece. I pray that my heart will break at the lost souls and it will propel me to take action. Even if people reject me, at least I want to pray for them. I wanted to approach that lady to bring her to the First Time Visitor lounge just to make sure she doesn’t leave the place not knowing the next step to take but I had to leave the hall. So I said a quick prayer for her in my heart and trust that God will guide her. You never know if a stranger is praying for your life right now.

It’s been a truly amazing Christmas for me, a reminder that Jesus was born to die for our sins so we can have eternal life. It is because of His love for us that He came to Earth. We are indeed the Reason for this Season.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

I wish you a Merry Christmas and may your heart be blessed.

X,
Mel.

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