Time to Repent, Reset and Refocus

I am writing this blog while preparing for the prayer meeting for this coming Sunday. The passage on which I will be sharing during the prayer meeting will be from Luke 9:1-6, with the title, “Jesus Sends Out The Twelve” (New International Version).

“9 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”

Jesus sent His disciples to preach about the kingdom of God. They were to heal the sick so that people would know about God, the ultimate healer and praise Him.

Jesus had given His disciples these things: the power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases.

The disciples were to take nothing for the journey, not even item of necessity—they were to travel light—because God would provide for them along the way. They were to depend on the kindness of strangers and by doing so, experienced the grace and provision of God. They would face rejection by others but they were not to take it personally because these hearers were rejecting Jesus Himself.

These disciples obeyed. They went out to preach. They healed the sick. They were welcomed warmly by some and rejected by others.

Looking at this passage, I feel embarrassed. The disciples in the Bible went around preaching, healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. I, as a disciple of Jesus, also have been given the same power and the authority to preach, to drive out demons and to heal the sick. I am supposed to travel light too and not worry about the necessities of life which weigh me down. I think I have been living too comfortably in my little shell. I think I am getting too cozy in my little office. I need to step out more and into the lives of the community for the sake of the Gospel.

I praise the Lord for showing this passage to me so that I can repent, reset my vision and refocus on my pastoral ministry. William Carey (17 August 1761- 9 June 1834), a British missionary to India, once said, “expect great things from God; attempt great things for God”. I want this to be my prayers: to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for Him.

Has God called you out of your comfort zone so that someone will hear the Gospel? How did you respond? I would love to hear from you.

O Lord, may You give us the courage to do great things for You so that people will know you are the real and living God!

What I Learnt From Making Videos Every Week

Due to the lockdown, I have not seen my church members face to face physically. To stay in touch with them, I am shooting a video every week.It is a challenge to do videos—at least for me! Preaching from the pulpit and talking to the camera are two very different things! It takes time to adjust to speaking to the camera. For the very first video, a friend was talking to me on Zoom so that I would appear to be more natural in my video. Shout out to my buddy SB for standing by me! For another video, my mum was sitting across from me when I was talking to the camera. The next videos were done when I was alone in my parsonage, and I had to gone through many retakes.Shout out to my Heng Dai, Alex for encouraging me and supporting me with the video edits for the first few videos! And making the thumbnail look presentable! I would be lost without your help and guidance!Apart from these, there are the hardware to take care of such as getting the tripod, finding a space with natural lighting (I prefer natural lighting so I shoot my videos in the morning). Before I had my tripod, I was holding the camera and it was just my big head on the screen. It must have been hard for church members to watch. I shot the videos on my phone Honor 9X.After videoing myself, I sent the videos over to my friend to edit it. After that, we will post to the group chat and on YouTube.After a few weeks of doing these videos, I am speaking slower than usual (I speak very fast when I am nervous). I block my Friday mornings for shooting so that it will give my friend time to edit before we send the video out.My videos are still cringe-worthy, but they are still works in progress. Friends who watch the video will give me advice so that I can improve on this craft. I do take their advice to heart and hope it will get better as the weeks go by! It is definitely a new way to do ministry!

5 Joys of Being a Pastor

Pastor’s Appreciation Day came early this year. The Pastor Parish Relations Committee of the church which I am attached to sent me one of my favourite foods: pizza, to celebrate Pastor’s Appreciation Day.

I stumbled upon a website: describingwords.io

What do you think are the words that are used to describe the pastor?

Here are what I found https://describingwords.io/for/pastor

I picked out a few interesting ones from the list: useful and beloved; affectionate and vigilant; pained and pious; solemnly sulky and glum; loving and laborious; enlightened and vigilant; well-trained, tactful; cheery, shabby.

My favourite one from the list: “now gray-hair”, which is true for me.

I have also come up with a list, but my list is my “joyful” list. They are about my joy of being a pastor:

  1. Seeing people come to know Jesus

…especially when they had been struggling in life on their own. It is so wonderful to see the change in them after they had accepted Jesus Christ. They are now filled with hope, love, peace and joy of the Lord. I have been blessed to see these transformations. Apart from these, baptising people are touching moments for me personally. I have baptised the elderly in their homes, baptised people in the river during missions trip, and baptised people in the church service. These were meaningful moments to me.

  1. Serving together with others who love the Lord

One thing I am always grateful for are the brothers and sisters in Christ who serve the Lord together with me with one heart, one voice and one mind. It is always so joyful serving together with them. They had made a lot of sacrifices in ministry as well as putting in their time, effort, sweat and tears, and money. It always amazes me how much they love the Lord and they in turn encouraged me in my ministry.

  1. Sending out full-time workers

It brings me great joy when a young person confided that they would like to be a pastor in the future. I would talk more to them about the ministry and get them more involved in serving.

  1. Overwhelmed by love from church members

Often I received messages and texts from church members. I know they are thinking of me. During the lockdown, we received food, messages and love. My parents and I are ever so appreciative of their love.

  1. Preaching of God’s Word

When church members told me that my message spoke to them, or they learned something from the Bible studies, it brings me great joy. To me, it is the greatest thing in the world: we are getting paid to read God’s Word, and to preach from the Holy Bible. That is the best part of my calling.

Looking at this list, all that I can say is, “Thank you, Lord!”

The Person and the Functions of the Holy Spirit

Photo credit: Jordan McQueen from Stocksnap

The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Therefore, He is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son. After His resurrection and before His ascension to Heaven, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. (John 14:15-17)

What does the Holy Spirit do? The Holy Spirit:

  1. Searches all things (1 Corinthians 2:10-11)

The Holy Spirit is given to believers so that we may know God better. He reveals to us the heart of God. He opens our eyes to the salvation and inheritance we have in Jesus.

“..these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:10-11, NIV)

  1. Lives in the believers (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The Holy Spirit lives in believers. He leads us and guides us in our daily living.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor. 3:16, NIV)

  1. Seals Us (Ephesians 1:13)

The Holy Spirit has sealed us as children of God. In the ancient world, a seal was a “legal signature” of ownership. The Holy Spirit has sealed believers so that that we are confident of our salvation and that we belong to God.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13, NIV),

 

  1. Gives gifts to believers (1 Corinthians 12:11)

Every believer has at least one spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. We are to use the gifts to bless others, build up the church and to glorify God.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor. 12:11). More gifts are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.

  1. Intercedes for us (Romans 8:26)

There are times when we are feeling weak and helpless and we don’t know what to do. That is when the Holy Spirit will pray for us to God the Father. What comfort it is to know that someone is interceding for us so that we will continue to journey on in our Christian faith!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

  1. Teaches us all things which Jesus has taught us (John 14:26)

The Greek word “Parakletos” in this passage is translated as “Advocate” (in the New International Version). “Advocate” means “legal counsel.” The Holy Spirit gives believers wise counsel. He will remind us of the teachings of Jesus so that we can follow them.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26, NIV).

 

  1. Convicts us of sins (John 16:7-8)

Sin separates us from God. Sin will grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals to us of our sins so that we can confess them and ask for His help not to commit them again.

  1. Renews us and gives us eternal life (Romans 8:10-11)

The Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers to renew and sanctify us. He makes us holy. Just as the Holy Spirit raised Jesus Christ from the dead, the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to all who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.

  1. Enables the believers to bear fruits (Galatians 5:22-25)

The work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is an on-going process. Not only does He convicts us of sins (Galatians 5:16-21), He helps believers to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

The passages above show that the Holy Spirit is active in teaching us to obey God. He reveals to us our sin, convicts us to confess them so that we can live a life that glorifies God. He is also praying for us as well as empowering us to do what God has entrusted to us. There are so many more passages about the Holy Spirit in the Bible. We shall look at them in future posts.

Ladies Talk

This online talk (Talk 4) was exactly a week ago. I am blessed to be a part of it and it was so much fun working together with the other awesome speakers, host and the amazing IT team behind the scene! We are already friends for many years so that added to the fun!
This is the link to the replay of the 4 talks:  https://fmc.org.my/blog/category/live-stream/talks/a-little-god-time-for-ladies/ Check it out. 🙂

Blessed

This is my 9th year of full-time pastoral ministry. There is nothing else I would want to do with my life than to serve the Lord.

Of course, the “working” hours are longggg! We work in the office during the day and we have ministries at night (visitation, small groups, prayer meeting, teaching, etc). There are also urgent things: church members admitted to hospital, etc. There are times when I am envious of friends who hold office jobs and are working from Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm and then they are free for the rest of the evenings.

My office in the church. Not much in my room yet— just a desk, a good chair and a desktop computer to work on at the moment. Oh yes, there is the McDonald’s coffee. I need coffee to start the day!
This is my home office set up. A big, comfortable desk, a Xiaom Yeelight Indoor Lamp that changes colour, a “blink blink” pink notebook and a Wonder Woman mug.

But, to me, it is such a great blessing to serve the Lord and His people. I read from somewhere that pastors get paid to read God’s Word. How great is that!

There are challenges, frustrations and difficulties along the way too but God is so faithful.

During this MCO period, my family and I have been experiencing blessings and so much love from our church friends. Some of them sent us delicious cooked food: curry chicken, pork, rice dumplings, Kentucky Fried Chicken, three layered pork belly, sweet and sour pork. Someone sent free range chicken. Yesterday, a church friend sent me a feast! Some of these were made by her, with love.

What a feast!

All that I can say is, “Thank you, Lord, You are so so good to me”.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They can not be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” (Psalm 139:17-18)

The God that we serve is a God that enjoys giving us wonderful surprises. May you experience His love and blessings today and everyday!

Day Off

Since we were talking about the Sabbath rest yesterday, I would like to talk about my off day, which is today. Monday is my off day, and it is also the off day of the other pastors in the conference. The purpose of the off day is to obey God’s command to rest and to keep the Sabbath day holy. On Monday mornings, I will have my Quiet Time, then, I will visit my grandma and aunty. Before the MCO, I would visit them with my parents. After that, I will have lunch with my parents, and go grocery shopping for the week. In the afternoon, I will read the newspapers, read a book (usually not the whole book, but at least a few chapters), catch up with some friends or family members, strum on my ukelele and have an enjoyable nap. Sometimes, I hang out with fellow pastors on Mondays. But I do that less now since I am back at my home town. I hang out with my parents instead. We are a close-knitted family. In the evening, I will have some time to read. Monday evenings are when I am most relaxed. I enjoy the peace on Monday evenings. I may also watch a movie. And then, I will start to plan for the week ahead, slotting tasks into my “to do list”. I enjoy my Mondays. It is a gift that I treasure. It relaxes me from the demands of ministry and also prepares me for the week ahead. It is a time to enjoy my parents and puppies as well as my hobbies and interests. So, on Mondays, I make sure I have time to rest physically and emotionally and to spend more time to worship God. Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27) What about you? What are some ways for you to rest?
A picture of a box of Macarons which I had when I was in Australia. Such is life. There is a different flavour for each day. Each day is to be savoured and enjoy. Let’s give thanks to God for our gift of life. He ordains our days.

The Rhythm

As created beings, it is important to find a balance between work and rest. When it is time to work, we are partnering with God to do the work He has entrusted to us. We put in all of our best efforts and attention. When it is time to rest, we rest fully from our work to enjoy Communion with God and His creations. We work to use the gifts God has given to us. We rest to enjoy God’s gifts for us. When we are overworked, it will bring negative impacts our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states. When we are mentally and physically tired, we will produce poorer quality of work. We will also become easily agitated and it leads to strains in relationships, especially with those we care about. When we are spiritually exhausted, we can’t find joy in our relationship with our Creator. Our Creator too, rested after He had created the universe. It says in Genesis 2:2-3, “On the seventh day, God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” In the 10 Commandments God gave to Israelites, God commanded them to rest and keep the Sabbath holy. Sabbath is a day when God also rested, and He wanted His people to be rested too. Sabbath is God’s desire to be in a communion with His people. So, keeping the Sabbath is to live out of this communion that we are God’s people. In Ezekiel 20:12, God says, “I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them”. For us today, we rest on The Lord’s Day, Sunday. This is to rememeber that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. In the New Testament, Jesus encouraged His disciples to rest. Rest is more that just recuperating from a busy week. We can nap and be refreshed but we are invited to a deeper rest in Jesus. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). This rest Jesus offers allows us to surrender everything to Him: our minds, hearts, plans, wills. We let go of this and focus our gaze upon Jesus. With God’s help, let’s have a healthy rythm between work and rest. We work hard and let us “rest” hard too. Let us be refreshed in His friendship and in His love.
Rest and enjoy God’s creation

The Significance of Holy Communion

Today is Holy Communion Sunday. Methodists partake the Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month, calling it “the Holy Communion Sunday service”.

The background of Holy Communion comes from the Passover feast celebrated by the Israelites just before God delivered them from slavery in the land of Egypt. In Egypt, they were forced into hard, laborous work by their task masters. They were oppressed to the extend that it was unbearable for them. They then cried out to God for deliverance.

God heard their cries and sent them Moses to lead them out of the land of oppression and slavery into the Land God had promised them. This land would be a good and spacious land, and it would be fruitful too— “a land flowing with milk and honey.” What a beautiful promise it was compared to their horrible living conditions in Egypt!

On the night of deliverance, God would send an angel of death to strike down all the first born of the Egyptians. God told the Israelites to smear the blood of a sacrificed lamb on the door frames of their houses so that when the angel of death saw the blood over the door frames, he would “pass over” their houses and not strike their firstborns.

That was the original Jewish Passover. It is recorded in Exodus 12:1-30.

In the New Testament, on the night before His death, Jesus Christ deliberately celebrated the Jewish Passover Feast with His disciples. ‘And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For i tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). He drew parallel of His sacrificial death to the Passover lamb. As the blood of the sacrificial lamb was smeared on the door frames and the Israelites would be safe in the house, the blood of Jesus would be poured out to save humanity.

During the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus introduced the symbols of the bread and the wine. For those who have been baptized in His Name, we will take the bread (a wafer) to remember Jesus’ death on the Cross for us. We remember how He had given Himself up for us. He was crucified for us. He was just like the Passover lamb; He died, so we can live and have eternal life. We will then take the cup (grape juice) which symbolises the blood of Christ that is shed for us and washes away our sins.

Jesus commanded that this is to be done in remembrance of Him. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19b). We also remember the new covenant which Jesus made through the Cross.

I tell my church members to remember these few things every time we come forward for Holy Communion:

a. The Past

Jesus was crucified for our sins and He died for us. He who is without sins took the sins of the world upon Himself so that we sinners have a new life and a new identity in Him, the Giver of Life. We are reconciled to God the Father. In the past, we rebelled against His love, but through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, our relationship with God is restored.

b. The Present 

Three days after Jesus had died, He rose again. He is alive! He is in Heaven now. The Holy Communion reminds us that Jesus is with us now. It is the time to examine our life: are we living a life that is pleasing to Him?

c. The Future

The Bible tells us that one day, Jesus Christ will come again in victory as well as coming as the Judge of the world. He will come and take believers with Him and we will be with Him in His Kingdom, forever. One day, we will all feast with Him in His Heavenly Banquet. The Holy Communion we partake every month is just a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet in God’s Kingdom someday.

d. Unity in Christ 

Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:17, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (NIV). The “one loaf” here refers to the unity of believers. When we kneel together for Holy Communion, we will realise we are all the same in God’s eyes. We are His beloved children; there is no hierarchy, no class or labels as “richer” or “poorer” people. God loves us all. Jesus died for all of us. There is no distinction. It is also time to examine our relationships and to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with each other before the Lord. God’s love will restore us.

I hope you have been blessed by this brief introduction of the significance of the Holy Communion. 🙂