Friday, 11 September 2015

I'm right at home in the unknown!

With the final year of my degree lingering around the corner, I've been hit time and again by the million dollar question, 'What next?'
My friend and I were mulling over how our stories would unravel - the careers we'd choose, the places we'd visit, the people we'd meet, the men we'd marry (just to clarify, one man per woman!), most importantly, what would our God-given missions look like? We were so excited for the future that we couldn't wait for it to unfold; we wanted to know every detail of it, NOW!
Where would we live? What would we look like in 10 years? How much would we earn? What would our husbands look like - is he going to be short, tall, bearded, man-buned, dreadlocked, spectacled, tattooed? What would we have accomplished for God? Would we have kids - if so, how many?


As my mind raced wildly through the many possibilities, I realised that where I am at present greatly differed from my dreams five years ago. I wanted to be an Oxford medic pursuing a career in cardiology, but here I am marvelling over the DNA and naked mole rats at Queen Mary with little clue as to what to specialise in, and I honestly love every second of it! If my 15 year old self could foresee the future however, she would've freaked out - she'd consider it a failure and embarrassment. In hindsight, I am grateful that God helped me steer clear of a massive mistake. At 15, I was driven by pride and was not mature enough to choose what was best for me, let alone see God's hand at work in and through me. It took a series of events for God to break me, and change my desires, passions and perspective, and prepare me for what He had in store all along. At 20, I am still not mature enough to handle what God has in store 5, 10 or 15 years down the line.

Hence I've resolved to making a few changes...

I have decided to read my book of life, one page at a time and quit trying to peek into the rest.
As I recently read 'Nineteen Minutes' by Jodi Picoult, I often found myself having to re-read a page because I just could not concentrate; my mind wandered, longing to find out what happened next! I believe the same happens when we pump all our efforts into the future. My friend puts it beautifully in an article he wrote for Open Doors Youth, 'As a young Christian I often place these big expectations on my life, and when the future is uncertain I forget to live for God in the here and now. I get wrapped up in the fine details of my ‘calling’ and miss out on the adventures He has for me every single day. I measure my worth by the things I do, rather than by the One who loves me as I am.'
Right now, there are people all around us, waiting to be fed, clothed, loved and saved - what are we waiting for!
Every grand ending, starts with a humble beginning and many steps of obedience.
What need in the world does your heart break for?
What step is God nudging you to say, 'Yes!' to?

I have decided to embrace the mystery, for it has given me the freedom to dream.
I haven't stopped dreaming; I haven't stopped aspiring - but I do it all at the feet of Jesus. Wise King Solomon said, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it's the LORD's purpose that prevails" I can rest assured that my future is in the hands of the One who seeks the best for me. If my dreams are for my good and His glory, they'll come to pass, no matter how far-fetched they are; and for those dreams that stem out of my 'selfish ambitions and vain conceit', He'll humble me and give me the grace to rise above them and accept His, 'No'. While God sifts through my dreams, I'll continue to faithfully serve Him wherever I am.
I know that I hinted at being weary about dwelling on the future but PLEASE DREAM; whatever you do, DON'T STOP DREAMING, because 'without vision, people perish'

"I don't know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds my future" ~ someone wise


Ultimately, it all comes down to trusting God in complete surrender. As we step into the unknown, be it a new academic year, career or relationship, we can feel at home, knowing God will meet us there.

To end, here's a little something to reflect on from Francesca Battistelli:

Keeping Me Guessing
 
Coffee cup waking me up
I've got to board a plane
And fly away sometimes
I feel like I'm going the speed of light
Can't relax I'm moving too fast
I want to find the gold but I don't have a map
I wish that I could know what you've got in store for me

I try and try
To read your mind
'Cause I forget that patience is a virtue
You're teaching me to hold on tight

'Cause I don't know how the story ends
But I'll be alright 'cause You wrote it
I don't know where the highway bends
But I'm doing just fine
'Cause You're in control
Even when I don't know
Where my life's gonna go
You're keeping me guessing
 
So slow me down
Show me around
I want to see the world
That I've been without
I am here and now
The future is out of my hands
 
I'm trusting you
And how you move
I won't forget that patience is a virtue
You're teaching me to hold on tight

Seasons come
And seasons go
But you decide
 
You're keeping me guessing

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Dear Mr. Holy Spirit, Why Aren't You Ministering To Me?

I had the best week serving at Soul Survivor, for Open Doors Youth. It was my first Soul Survivor experience, so I made the most of everything - the sunshine, serving at the ToolShed, tent times, Big Top meetings, seminars, late night worship, name it!

Every meeting was followed by a time of prayer, where the Holy Spirit was moving among people in ways I don't generally see; He would release Himself through shouts, bursts of joy, physical movements - it was wonderful to see but the problem was, I felt nothing!
When people were having dreams and visions, I had nothing. When everyone around me seemed to be feeling something, I was merely still. I grew so frustrated that I eventually cried out, "God, have you forgotten me? Why have you left me out!" At that moment, Beth Croft belted out the words, 'You have not forgotten me' - call it coincidence, but to me it's got heaven written all over it! Suddenly I was so overwhelmed by the presence of God that the waterworks began and I had to sit down.

I don't know about you, but I often box the Holy Spirit up. I look for Him in the powerful wind, the earthquake and the fire, when He prefers to show up in a gentle whisper.

The Holy Spirit is free to manifest Himself in any way He pleases - be it tongues, visions, dreams, prophecies, healing or just an overflow of tears and joy. We are in a relationship with Him - He knows our deepest, darkest secrets and still loves us, above all He knows exactly how to speak to us. His ministry to us is personal. God didn't go around distributing coal-tongue therapies, neither did He give out an open invite for His transfiguration (I'm sure the other disciples would've loved to see that glorious sight too!). This is not a case of holier than thou, but of personalised manifestation. Salvation is not affirmed by the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) we display, but by the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) in our lives - both of which are facilitated by the Holy Spirit!

My attitude at the start of the week, was much like Peter's in the last chapter of John's Gospel, when he seems far more interested in John's death than his own. Jesus responded with, "What's it to you?" - I believe that's exactly how He would have responded to me! From day one, He was ministering to me, draining away insecurities, hurt and grudges, replacing them with His love, and opening my eyes to see a little more of Him. I was so caught up in comparing the way He moved in others that I missed everything He was doing in me.
Friend, if you resonate with me on this, let us resolve to quit confining, comparing and complaining, instead, let us praise God for His work in others, and tune every cell in our body to however He chooses to minister to us.
Let us let God, be God.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A Piece in the Puzzle

I realised something was wrong when I chopped my fringe off and started welling up at the site of a rather messy, and 'boy-ish' looking thing staring back at me...

I like my long curls, but they're too much work and at the moment, I'm just not about that life so I prefer this pixie freedom. However, not everyone is a fan! I'm not surprised, I mean I've sported short hair for a few years and of course I've had the 'Is this your son?' moments (what still baffles me, is the fact that I wore a skirt when this was asked!).
Once I hit that big old 20, my immunity to the suffocation of cultural expectations eased. I am Asian, and Asian girls are 'expected' to dress a certain way...long hair, jewels...you know what I mean! I love the occasional bling but my staple is a baggy top and a pair of jeans. The occasional frown never really bothered me, in fact, I've always found the stares at Asian gatherings rather amusing! This time around however, the comments became more frequent and I even had a little 5 year old ask me if I was 'becoming a boy' - that was a first, and for some reason it shocked me so much that insecurity finally kicked in.

I became more conscious about hair, my not-so-slender physique, and just about everything - but it was so subtle that I didn't recognise what was going on until I stood in front of the mirror with some hair I had chopped in an attempt to make me look 'girly' - ironically the chop was so horrendous that I now look more like a boy!

I let people's opinion of me distort mine. I was letting them change the way I dotted my i's and crossed my t's. I was too focused on winning their approval that I forgot about what the most important person in the universe thought of me.

God knit me together, from the bases in my DNA to my passions and dreams, He put it all together before the beginning of time. He thinks I'm wonderful and that's all that matters. My preferences, likes and dislikes have nothing to do with being a woman, my sexuality or even my relationship with God (I can't tell you how many people struggle to place my short hair alongside my love for God); I need but one approval - as long as it honours Him, why care about what anyone else thought?

I am not defined by any of this, neither are you. Our identity is in Christ.
The quicker we believe this, the more effective we'll be in pursuing our God-given mission.

I view this universe as one grand puzzle. Changing a piece disrupts the picture; trying to press it in up-side down delays the outcome but missing a piece altogether, leaves it incomplete. Like a piece of a puzzle that's shaped to fit into a specific space, God fashioned each of us with our little quirks to occupy a niche that no one else can. Let us be that piece God made us to be and see His grand plan unravel.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

God's Smuggler

I recently finished 'God's Smuggler', a book that vividly depicts the life of Andrew van der Bijl, better known as Brother Andrew. I highly recommend reading this book, as it no doubt leaves you challenged, inspired and totally in awe of our awesome God!
Brother Andrew is the founder of Open Doors, an organisation that supports persecuted Christians around the globe. Last week marked 60 years since the first time he smuggled Christian literature into a no bounds country - communist Poland. Brother Andrew refers to his ministry as "combative, confrontational, controversial...[and] compassionate" He is driven solely by love - love for God, His Word and for His people. He is a man of controversy, faith, courage, prayer and discipline; I believe there is a lot we can learn from him and his heart for God. In this post, I'd like to share three 'Brother Andrew qualities' I'd like to see every Christian replicate (myself included!)

DISCIPLINE

One of the first things that struck me about this Dutch man was his unwavering discipline when it came to spending time with God.
I struggle finding the 'right time' to have a quiet time - even when I allocate a time, I end up compromising. I used to have it at 10pm but during the holidays, it is hard to keep my nights free. I tried having it at 5am but my sudden love for sleep has made it rather impossible to wake up...but here is a man who is 87 and never once missed his 2 hour long quiet time at 5am! Folks, this is dedication at its finest!
Brother Andrew doesn't just understand the importance of prayer in personal spiritual edification, but in global spiritual edification. It wasn't his fearlessness that has helped us cater to the needs of our persecuted family, neither was it his prowess, it was God working through Him because he put God first, come rain or shine. Here is a man living out the words of Oswald Chambers when he said, "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work"

Behind every breakthrough, there is prayer.
Behind every miracle, there is prayer.
Behind every revival, there is prayer.
Prayer brings us closer to our Father; it tunes our hearts to beat with His and better acquaints us with the voice of His Spirit in us.
We want to see our nation saved. What is stopping us from pursuing a healthy, consistent prayer life? If it truly mattered to us, we will make time for it.

DEPENDENCE

There have been moments in my life where I've been helpless, situations only God could help me out of. We are taught to secure our lives, be it our futures or finances; none of us choose to be helpless. However a sense of security can often lead to pride or self-reliance; it can also make us vulnerable to fear. To trade that for helplessness eases the fear as we solely depend on God. His strength is made complete in our weakness.
Brother Andrew is a man who intentionally made himself helpless, to ensure all glory belonged to God alone. In his book, he speaks of times he had to queue, waiting his turn at some thorough security checks, in a car literally bursting at its hinges with Bibles:
"Lord," I went on, "I know that no amount of cleverness on my part can get me through this border search.  Dare I ask for a miracle?  Let me take some of the Bibles out and leave them in the open where they will be seen.  Then, Lord I cannot possibly be depending on my own stratagems, can I?  I will be depending utterly upon You."
While the last car was going through its chilling inspection, I managed to take several Bibles from their hiding places and pile them on the seat beside me.
It was my turn. I put the little VW in low gear, inched up to the officer standing at the left side of the road, handed him my papers, and started to get out.  But his knee was against the door, holding it closed.  He looked at my photograph in the passport, scribbled something down, shoved the papers back under my nose, and abruptly waved me on. 
Surely thirty seconds had not passed.  I started the engine and inched forward.  Was I supposed to pull over, out of the way where the car could be taken apart?  Was I ... surely I wasn’t...I coasted forward, my foot poised above the brake.  Nothing happened.  I looked out the rear mirror.  The guard was waving the next car to a stop, indicating to the driver that he had to get out.  On I drove a few more yards.  The guard was having the driver behind me open the hood of his car.  And then I was too far away to doubt that indeed I had made it through that incredible checkpoint in the space of thirty seconds.
My heart was racing.  Not with the excitement of the crossing, but with the excitement of having caught such a spectacular glimpse of God at work!
This is complete surrender, and one of my favourite parts of the book!
 
FAITH
“In the years of living this life of faith, I have never known God's care to fail.”
Jesus said that a mustard seed of faith can move mountains. I often struggle to even have an iota of it as I am blinded by doubts, logic and reality. Faith is a spiritual gift that goes hand in hand with dependence; I seek more of it in my life, hence I admire how full of faith Brother Andrew was (and still is!).
 
In missionary school, he was taught to uncomplainingly depend on God for his every need. He speaks of how he prayed, knowing God will but not knowing how He will. From providing daily necessities and meeting his fees, to answering his prayer for seeing eyes to be made blind to the Bibles he carried, he clung to God with child-like faith.  
“That's the excitement in obedience, finding out later what God had in mind.”  
Such faith helps us stand firm in the face of adversity, as we are assured of God's sovereignty. It leads to unquestioning obedience, as we can be certain that whatever God asks of us, wherever He calls us, He will be with us and work it for our good.
 
 
There is a lot more I want to share, but I don't want to spoil the book for you. I urge you to read (or even re-read) 'God's Smuggler' for yourselves - you can ask for a copy here, or if you prefer a comic, here.
May we, like Brother Andrew, be driven by love, to walk the paths God has etched out for us.

If you'd like to know more about the work of Open Doors, here is a little film they've just released:
Images credit: Open Doors Youth UK

Monday, 6 July 2015

A Man Like Peter

Over the past few months, I have fallen in love with Peter. He's just so relatable - he is as impulsive as I am and has a mouth that gets him into a lot of trouble! That aside, I love him because his life is filled with lessons we can all learn.


Empty Service

When I see people serve vigorously in churches, lead worship, defend Biblical truths (sometimes without grace!), write articles on God, passionate about evangelism or even just meticulously observe religiosities, I tend to categorise them as pretty solid believers. My na├»ve assumptions were soon challenged while meditating on Luke 4 and 5.

The first 11 verses of Luke 5 give an account of Peter's salvation.

v.8 When Simon Peter saw this he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
 
Although, he previously saw Jesus heal his sick mother-in-law and offered his boat for Jesus to preach from, this is when Peter actually recognises his sinfulness and acknowledges Jesus as the righteous Lord.
This change was the result of a little personal miracle in v.6.

Way before I became a Christian, I used to drop tracts into people's houses. That tract dropping (let us not call it evangelism!) helped me fake a goody-two-shoes persona, when in reality I did not even know my need for a Saviour. It was a personal and rather low-key (compared to Peter's) encounter with the Holy Spirit that opened my eyes to the mystery of grace.

Work in Progress

I remember the day I was baptised. I thought I will never sin again, let alone face temptations...to my dismay, the moment I left the church, I lied!

Peter was much the same. Even though he was by Jesus' side, witnessed the transfiguration, confessed that He was the Messiah - he did not have the plans of God in mind, he impulsively cut off a man's ear and even denied Jesus three times.

I struggled to grasp that Jesus' blood paid it all - past, present and future. Now that does not give us a license to sin, but a license to be freed from the clutches and condemnation of sin. Both Judas and Peter failed Jesus, and no doubt they were both broken by guilt. The difference between a by-name-Christian and a born-again-Christian is in how they respond to this guilt; Peter let the guilt move him to a state of repentance, while Judas sadly let it condemn and kill him. Our human selves are incapable of repenting, much like salvation, this too is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Friend, Jesus' blood has made us perfect forever, but is making us holy as we journey through this fallen world. (Hebrew 10:14)

History Maker

Despite his failings and even his denying, Jesus destined Peter to be a history maker - it was imperfect Peter who was chosen to be the 'rock on which [Jesus] will build [His] church'
Isn't it wonderful that God didn't give up on Peter because he was impulsive!
Isn't it amazing that God did not disqualify Peter from serving Him because of his lack of qualifications!

We all have one assignment: to tell the world about Jesus. God opens doors of opportunities for us to fulfil this assignment; when we take a step of faith, the Holy Spirit takes control (Luke 12:11-12).
Peter, a fisherman, became an apostle who eloquently preached the Gospel to high and lowly alike. Not only were people astonished but many were saved and added to their number.

I don't know about you, but all this reflecting has made me crave some quite-time with our awesome God! Let us get down on our knees and let God transform us into history makers!

Here's one of my all time favourites from Delirious? to set the scene:

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Big Stones - Bigger God

Second year at university done; it's been exciting and eventful but one of my big regrets was not spending enough time with my Christian Union brothers and sisters! During the little time I did spend with them, one of my friends engraved a question in me that still echoes in my head during those reflective walks in the park, or those times when my car stalls somewhere and I have a queue of angry honkers yelling abuse at me, or when a particularly nasty set of questions appear on an exam paper...life sometimes hurls us into these dodgy situations, or worse. It is easy to wonder where God is in all of this but,

Do we even know how big God is?

When I struggle with the mundane, I wonder why the God of the universe should be troubled by it. When I face an impossibility, I wonder why God would want to show grace and mercy to miraculously intervene in the life of a flawed being. I'd like to think that my faith is on point...but I know that even though I serve the God of the impossible, logic and reason cloud my mind with doubts and unbelief. God put my doubts to rest recently as I meditated on John 11, where Jesus raises Lazarus to life.

In John 11:16 - I remember shaking my head in dismay at Thomas' profession of unbelief. He says, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" Despite seeing for himself what Jesus can do and Jesus saying, "this illness will not end in death" - how could he still doubt? As I told myself I would have put Thomas right if I were there, I realised that I too, even after I've tasted His goodness and faithfulness, doubt God and His word.

As we continue reading the passage, we see that Martha follows in Thomas' footsteps. Jesus tells her, "Your brother will rise again" - but she understood Him to be speaking of eternity. We think we know God. We think we know His word. We think we know His promises.
How often do we doubt or misinterpret His promises?
We don't fully believe Him. If we did, the hope we would have would outweigh the worry!

Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (v.40)

Our limited understanding of His word, our logic, reason, our set ideas of how we think he is going to work, wipe out the possibility of miracles. Hence Jesus asks us to,

"Take that stone away!"

...'that stone' could be anything that distorts our view of God, anything that blocks our child-like faith, anything that causes us to question the possibility of a miracle - it is anything that stands between us and God being glorified.
Let's face it, we all have preconceived ideas of what/how/when God is going to act. Unless we take those stones away, we won't experience the miracle God has in store, neither will we appreciate it.  It was the Pharisees' preconceived notions of who the Messiah was and what He would accomplish, that stopped them appreciating and experiencing the greatest miracle known to mankind! Let's not make the same mistake.
Let us be expectant, full of faith, trusting in His divine will, because He who promised is faithful. We might face big problems with minds clouded by big stones, but we can rest assured that we serve a bigger God. That makes all the difference!

Friday, 5 June 2015

THAT IS MINE!

That's my plate, and my cereal bowl, my favourite pens, my top three mugs, my duvet, my pillow, my soft toys, my spoon, fork, knife, juice, tea-bags, paper, cream, banana...and that's MY mum!
Okay...I might be a tad possessive!

 
Being the only child, I am not used to sharing my personal belongings. Growing up, there's always been a Cindy's this or a Cindy's that! I value some of my possessions; it could be as mundane as a plate, but to me it is special...I tend not to share these, much, unless I am convinced that the person I give it to will love and treasure it just as much as I do. If I doubt a person's attitude towards any of my treasured things, I will take all measures to avoid sharing it.

This rather unhealthy aspect of my character has been something God's been nudging me to address over the past month. While it is not bad to value your possessions, obsessing over them so much so that you can't even share it, isn't very Christ-like.

Possessiveness enslaves me by robbing my peace and ability to love

I find myself worrying about how to make sure X or Y doesn't take my things. Even if I end up sharing it, I find myself worrying about the wellbeing of that object - it's almost as if I personify these inanimate objects.

Jesus called me to love others, 'as myself' - by hiding my things, or steering clear of having to share something, I am certainly not doing that! My actions show no evidence of love for God or that He is No.1 in my life. My actions reveal nothing but a love for self!

When there are people feeling unloved, my priority ought to be to go out of my way to show them love.
When there are people dismissing the love of God, my priority ought to be to reveal the transformation His love can cause.

Where is that sacrificial love that drove Jesus to the cross?
Without sacrifice, love is just a word. Without love, my profession of faith is just an empty statement.

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other" - Luke 16

"If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" - Matthew 19

These words from Jesus opened my eyes...

As a Christian, my heart's desire is to become more like my Saviour with each passing day. That requires sacrifice. Sacrifice to self and the desires, possessions and longings that go with it. I don't want to be like the rich young man who held on to his possessions and missed out on the opportunity to experience life to the full with Jesus.

I am struggling with this, even today I shed tears for having to share my favourite soft toy with a little boy who came home (yes I am supposed to be an adult but don't worry, I cried in my room!) I am writing this so that as I read over it, these truths the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of, will sink in to change my attitude towards my things, and ultimately, towards others.

If we're in the same boat, I hope this encourages you to die to self and let God liberate you to love those around you.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Holy Green Eye

I love meeting passionate Christians who love God so much that you see it in their understanding of scripture and drive to share the good news...but I recently noticed that although I loved meeting them, I often failed at loving them freely, as people. That was when God showed me that I suffered from the 'Holy Green Eye'.

In Mark 9:38-41, we see John complaining to Jesus about a man (who was not one of Jesus' disciples) driving out demons in the name of Jesus. Why does John complain? He gets the 'Holy Green Eye'. Earlier on in the chapter we see that a man complains to Jesus that His disciples couldn't drive the demon out of his son, so it is no surprise that the disciples were a bit jealous of this other man, who was not one of them, performing such signs! I don't know about you, but I can definitely relate! Here comes the best bit, Jesus' response, "Do not stop him, for no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me. For whoever is not against us, is for us."

"For whoever is not against us, is for us" - these words echo in my head every time I'm on the verge of contracting this spiritual illness!
Spiritual jealousy, or as I like to call it, the 'Holy Green Eye', stems from an insecurity that you are of little use to God than another, or from a possessiveness towards Him and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is a toxin that encourages superiority and creates divisions in a body that is called to be united.

Romans 12:4-6 - 'For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly...'

Do they have a better understanding of God's word? Continue spending time with Him, and you too will get there.
So they speak in tongues! So they lead worship! So they're well read! So they're eloquent! So they're outgoing! So what!
Just because you are not like them, doesn't mean you are useless! We're all given different gifts, called on different journeys, each specifically designed for us and the people in our lives. It is wrong to compare our spirituality and our gifts with others. We might serve differently, but we're part of the same team, trying to achieve the same goal: pointing people to Christ!

Our Christian life isn't a competition. That is a concept alien to my Asian blood! God loves us all, and we have done nothing to earn that love. Instead of fighting for God's favour (which by the way, you already have!) cheer other Christians on, spur them on to serve better, be inspired and challenged by their lives - as wise King Solomon states in Proverbs 27:17, sharpen each other like 'iron sharpens iron'.
Our gifts, or level of Christian maturity do not define our usefulness to God; all He seeks is a willing heart. He qualifies the unqualified! Therefore, the next time you sense yourself developing that 'Holy Green Eye', remember Jesus' words, "For whoever is not against us, is for us".

Friday, 23 January 2015

Where art thou, O City on a Hill?

This week was pretty exciting! On behalf of the Christian Union, my friend and I debated the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society on 'Is Christianity a force for good in the world?'. It was a great opportunity to share the Gospel. Soon afterwards, I was made aware of a public survey that stated that only 2 in 5 people believed Christianity was a force for good in the world. To say I was sad, would be an understatement, but it did get me thinking, a lot!

Christianity is about God's love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, hope, redemption and reconciliation - when the world is well aware of the doctrine, why do they dismiss it? I'm afraid we are to blame! At the debate, the opposition's arguments were primarily centred on Christians, who in my opinion were not very Christian. Christianity is a term that describes the teachings of Jesus Christ, but the world can only acknowledge these teachings if we, who wear the name tag, 'Christian', practise it. They have a point! After all, they are judging us by our fruits...which are evidently not very alluring!

Recently God's been emphasising the importance of genuine, deep love. From a friend's brilliant article, 'Outrageous Love' to passages from the New Testament as part of the 21 Day Challenge, everywhere I turn I am challenged to love like Jesus did...but what does that look like? Prayerfully consider the verses below:

Luke 3:8 - Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
 
Mark 12:30-31 - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is this: "Love your neighbour as yourself". There is no commandment greater than these.
 
Isaiah 29:13 - "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teaching are merely human rules."
 
Matthew 23 - '...you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness...you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'
 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
 
1 John 4:8 - Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The early church didn't care about the legalities or get caught up in trying to sway the government. It flourished in one of the most ungodly empires because it stood out! The world no longer sees people living out the Gospel they preach. They see people who cry out, 'I've been changed' but live lives pretty much like everyone else. They see people who rant about the love of God but seldom express it. They see disputed people, caught up in controversies and arguments on what's right and what's wrong, public slurs and hateful judgements. Is that what Jesus died for? Is that what Jesus meant when He asked us to be salt and light?

Church, the world has cried out, 'we don't see it'! It is our duty to accept the challenge! Let us refuse to pass judgement. Let us channel the grace and mercy shown to us. Let us be people who make the lives of those around us that little bit bearable. Instead of making a public spectacle of the divisions between us, let us focus on being the Gospel. Let us live like Jesus - focused on pleasing God, loving deeply and opening our hearts to the sinner - let God transform them.

Jesus said, 'a city on a hill cannot be hidden' - let us be that city by loving outrageously, pursuing holiness, serving faithfully and believing passionately! If we did all that, who wouldn't see us?