Tag Archives: religion

Mid 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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Based on true story.

People watching is one of my hobbies. I love observing people live, how they tell their stories, and when they speak I’d analyze their thought process. I’m constantly fascinated by how each person has their own traits and are wired differently.

While I think this is a generally good hobby because it keeps your mind open to new cultures and ideas, I’m beginning to see a downside for myself. People watching is like going to the movie. I come to this Earth watching a film played out by everyone around me while I sit back and observe. Some days I feel emotionally attached to the movie but most days I’m detached because I’m not part of the story.

I can’t quite put my finger on when exactly I started drifting away from life, but somewhere along the way I got used to being a watcher and analyzer, and keeping all in. But we’re all called to be the salt and light.

“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.

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

Life is not a cinema. It is the movie. You’re not an audience, you’re the character. There’s a story you need to tell, action you need to take. Sitting and taking all in is not the way to go. We need to give back because life begins when your purpose gets bigger than yourself.

At least that’s what I think.

X,
Mel.

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longwinded.

There’s a worship song that goes like this:

You are the holy one
You are the living word
You are the center of my focus, Jesus
You are the son of God
You are the solid rock
You are the center of my focus Jesus

Right now, I’m understanding the meaning of having God as the centre of your focus.

Sometimes the world may offer enticing happiness that could probably last for a while, but I need more than earthly joy to make me truly happy. I need spiritual growth and a sense of close relationship with The Creator. I grow up with God. Being away from my family from a tender age, I learn to seek God for advises. If you have don’t believe in God you might not understand how is it possible to consult God or you might think I probably was just seeking my own conscience. It wasn’t. I felt God’s presence. His presence is like the wind that you don’t see but you can feel. When I no longer sense God’s presence as close to me, I felt my spirit’s dryness and thirst. Anyway, why am I sharing this?

I’m in need of friends who share my faith. I do have plenty of them but perhaps because of the settings or the way I appear as a hedonistic/not-one-to-talk-serious, makes it harder to start a religious discussion. The thing is I hardly take anything seriously and am lacking in sense of urgency. It’s not that I live like life is a big joke but I always seem to think there are more important things to be concern about than results/work/conflicts/any-current-situation. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for not feeling the intensity, especially when I know I should. When it comes to talking about religious stuff, sometimes I tend to talk about it light-heartedly too… after all, you won’t have heavy conversation about how the wind is like, right? e.g imagine two people with straight faces discussing something like “The wind is colorless or is it transparent?” Okay not a very good example. But when it comes to God’s doing in life, then I would be more serious like discussing about news about hurricane/tornado. I’m not sure if I’m getting my point across. I’m sure many of you are lost as to what the heck am I talking about because that’s what I’m questioning myself right now.

Whatever.

What I really wanted to say was I love my God, Jesus Christ. I have wandered away many times but He has always been the same God whom I could never out-love. Happy Father’s Day, Abba.

love,
Mel

P.S: Do you realize I’ve made you read confusing chunk of paragraphs just to arrive at the last three sentences? … my title has warned you. lol.

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