Category Archives: Spiritual Journey

Mid Year New Year Resolution Review: 1. God

Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Not anymore. But I am ashamed of how I’ve neglected my New Year Resolution #6. Now that we’ve reached the mid year mark, it’s the time to take stock of my resolutions before it’s too late!

New Year Resolution 1: God
I’m re-cultivating the habit of morning prayer as a symbol and reminder to start everything with God.

As of this moment, I’m happy that I’m back on track with my morning prayer (except today because it’s Sunday which is sleep-in day…) Waking up early hasn’t been easy. I started the year with morning prayer/quite time and then shifted to night time for most part of the year. I don’t think God gives more merits to which part of the day we set aside for Him because ALL of our day belongs to Him anyway and but I realise a few pros and cons –

Morning Prayer
Pros
– There are less distraction as my mind hasn’t been bogged down by the day’s busyness. Also because of “time limitation” (I eventually need to go to get off the bible to go to work), I am more mindful in making every minute counts therefore less distracted.
Cons – There were few instances when I had to read the verses a few times to digest because my brain was still loading in the morning and the urge to fall back to sleep is very strong.

Night Prayer
Pros
– There’s no time limit! I could pray, worship, have a long meditation on God’s words. It’s nice to dwell in God’s presence limitless and because it’s the end of the day, there are more things to be thankful for and to talk to God about.
Cons – Sometimes I ended up giving Him leftover of my time and rush through my prayer because I want to sleep.

At this point, I want to commit myself to spending time with Him in the morning because it is harder for me to wake up earlier than to sleep later to pray. I am not setting myself up for failure but I want to do something that would change my day and shake up my priorities. In order to wake up early I have to sleep early which means I have to be at home earlier than I normally would. By choosing to have a morning time with God it makes me include Him in the decisions I make during the course of the day – e.g. when going out with friends “If I go for more drinks, I would be in bed late and I probably can’t wake up early next day”.

I’m not saying morning quiet time is better than night quiet time. But if I were to quote King David’s “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” , the more we effort we put into spending time with God, the more we grow from the experience of sacrifice*. It’s just like spending time with friends or loved ones. The more effort you put into the relationships, the bigger the trouble you went to help someone the more likely the recipient will be touched. Of course it has to be out of sincerity, not a grouching heart. Imagine someone doing you a favour and he/she rubbing it in your face or humble brag about it – that’s really annoying.

I may not have re-cultivated the morning prayer habit a 100% but I’m on my way and as long as I’m still trying I think it’s a good sign.

Sunrise at Jogja

On a side note, I love watching sunrise.

X,
Mel.

*Spending time with God regardless time of day is a privilege and honour, not a burdensome sacrifice. I’m human. I battle with the urge to sleep or to be disciplined but in the end, I know it’s a joy to be invited to spend time with God.

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Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

I work in the central business district and it’s common to see TV crew (mostly from news TV stations) stopping passerby for opinion on current affairs. Last week I was rushing to meet a friend for lunch when I was halted and shoved with a question:

“A man and his son got into an accident. During the operation the son died and went up to heaven. The surgeon said Don’t take him! He’s my son!
Who is this surgeon?”

I may not have recalled the story exactly but that was the gist of it and the first answer I had in mind was “God!” and then I paused and thought is it weird to mention ‘God’ on TV? Can I think of an alternative answer? So I asked her to repeat the question to stall for time but nothing else come to mind. In the end I just replied “God?” and she gave an expression which made me think I wasn’t the first person who gave that answer and she said “The surgeon is the mother!”.

That was a very random question and I still don’t understand the point of it. I wish I was asked about the recent tax hike instead (though my reply would very likely be edited out). But anyway, I walked off wondering “Why am I so hesitant to say ‘God’ in front of the TV?” Am I ashamed and embarrassed and why?

I think a part of me wanted to fit in with the World. We don’t talk about religion in public. In Toastmaster meetings, we are discouraged (or may even be prohibited) from speaking about politics and religion. These are seen as taboo topics that could potentially incite arguments. However people are getting more vocal about their political stand especially since Trump became president. Politics is now an everyday topic – Even mentioned at the Oscar. So why haven’t we start talking about religion?

Part of the reasons I think is because we don’t know how to disagree well when it comes to religion. When we talk about religion with someone of different belief it could turn to an argument of who is right and wrong, my God is better than yours and escalate into attacks very much like what we’re seeing around the World today (one of them here). When we speak to someone with a different belief, instead of seeking to enlighten the other party of what we believe in, listening to understand their viewpoint, we just want to bulldoze them into adhering to our beliefs. It’s our way or no way.

Pray

Coming back to the question in my title. Maybe I was afraid of proclaiming the gospel, maybe I fear of being seen as too holy or speaking of God would make me an outsider. But if I say that I am a believer of Jesus that means I have a duty to speak of the gospel – not to argue who is right or wrong but to give everyone a chance to have what the gospel carries.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.

Romans 1:16”

You may not agree with what I believe in but that doesn’t make us enemies. Honestly, sometimes my fellow Christians are the ones driving me nuts but that’s another topic for another post.

X,
Mel

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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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