Why Waiting Is So So Hard……

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“God does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what He is doing” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 NCV

Living in today’s fast-paced world where everything is a quick-fix, quick-gain, quick-grab, quick-bite, quick-sale, quick-fly, quick-quit and quick-confirm (a Singlish terminology), little wonder that people are a lot more impatient now than ever. Nobody likes to wait — except Singaporeans’ unflinching penchant for good food that long-long queue means die-die-must-try (speaking in Singlish again) — as waiting always challenge one’s patience, and is always the hardest and perhaps painful, especially when we are in a hurry.

And it hurts to know that God has never been in a hurry- He is never too early nor too late – His Timing is always perfect. But we are the problem – how do we hear His answer, nor know His Timing? 

Wait, wait and wait… Delay after delay… And yet God is still silent. We all have such seasons in our lifetime. But God has His reasons that we are not able to grasp His infinite incomprehensibleness.  

So when we are in a hurry, we are susceptible to commit the fallacy in taking matters into our own hands, thinking that God will still bless us if we think our decision is right. Little are we aware that impatience really means it is a lack of trust. When we are impatient, we are implying that we do not trust God enough to wait any longer, because time is running short and we reinforced our decision, thinking that God does not care enough to answer on time in our best interest, or perhaps, we think that God’s way is not the best. And here’s another pinch to our already bruised soul- God never reveal His Timetable nor His plans for us, ahead.

Sounds familiar? 

I had been there, and it took me donkey’s years to really learnt that trusting God’s timing is always a maturing of character and testing of faith, that I need to discern between hearing God says, “No.” and “Not yet.”. And delays are not necessarily His denial. (And yes, I often wish God can simply say, “Yes!” and make my life easier, but I guess I would not have learnt what it means to differentiate discernibly His Will in so doing.)

From time to time, I often have to remind myself how God had prepared Moses for 80 years, including 40 in the wilderness from a somebody (he was born a Prince) to a nobody (he became a refugee from murder) then to be somebody He had intended Moses for (leading the Isrealites to the Promised Land). I am sure, like Moses, we all have wondering and wandering times, struggling with “What is next, God?”, “When, God?”, “Is it time yet, God”, “What is this, God?”, “Are you there, God?”…… And God’s “Not Yet” took Moses 80 years in waiting… Woah, it is a-gulping-long-time…

God can do any thing any time, time is never a factor to Him. But He is far more concerned in our Character than our comfort; that we act in Faith than respond in fear; and that we preserver in Trust than we panic and tumble. Common to the adage that great souls are birthed through seasons of pain and suffering, our learning path will be shorter so long as we do not short-circuit our process of God’s refinements. Just as James advised, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (James 1:4 MSG).

Just remember where we are standing now- how far we have come, we are not yet where we want to be, but at least we are not where we used to be. 

Here’s God’s golden rules:

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act – Psalm 37:7 NLT

Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs.- Proverbs 19:2

Last but not least, LEARN to be patient and WAIT in trust for God’s Best in His perfect Timing.

When A Dream That Seems Too Big To Even Dream

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“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'” – Judges 6:12

A few friends ever asked why I quitted my job to come out of my own eight years ago when it had been comfortable and I loved what I was doing then. Honestly, I didn’t plan for it, nor even dream about starting on my own, as such a decision to face an uncertain future unnerved me. Somehow an opportunity presented itself then, and after weighing the decision with my cell leader and the Body of Christ, I embarked on the entrepreneurship journey with peace of mind.

However that decision did not come easy, given that it would be an uphill task for me with my present physical limitation, and having to venture into the unknown left me feeling insecure and apprehensive. It was indeed a huge step of faith to take the leap: I had no back-up plans, no blueprint to follow, neither did I have a very sound financial safety net to fall back on should my business encounter some financial hiccups. I literally started on ground zero. Despite all odds, I believed that so long God was with me in this, and had commissioned me for such an assignment, He would provide and supply the means to get me through.

It was a great paradigm shift from being an employee to a self-employed, where more challenges await and fear of the unknown beckoning. I couldn’t count the number of times I felt intimidated, inadequate and unfledged. More often than not, I had been threading on a very thin tight rope, ready to topple any time.

At some point in time, I often remind myself if I can accomplish things in my own strength, where would that leave God? God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called, as such, He requires of us to be in a position of complete faith and trust in Him, more than we could possibly accomplish in our own strength.

That brought me to the story of Gideon (Judges 6:11-8:32). Gideon perceived himself to be the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh and the least in his family, that his own inferiority caused him to be insecure about his divine calling. Even when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior”. Gideon was threshing wheat instead of rising up to the call to deliver Isreal as the Lord had appointed him. God had to assure him personally and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (v. 14)

God knows our own limitations and how much we can do but He always sees our potential, not the failures of our past or present, nor our current “handicaps”. Only He can see our future, ushering us in His Highest Plans for our ultimate good and for His Highest Glory. He desires to work through us to accomplish His dreams on earth only each of us can do.

Is God birthing a dream within you that is bigger than you? God doesn’t put a dream in you without a purpose. Much less to say, He won’t put you through what you cannot handle. Our life on earth is exceedingly fleeting, be mindful that we may be missing out what God has intended for us. So be open and let God lead you through that vision or dream.

Problems. You Have Not Reached Your Limit Yet!

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Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. – Proverbs 20:30 GN

A threesome conversation with friends on how our flesh becomes flabby as we age, that we burst into laughter when we were jesting about how soft our “chicken wings” (the area where biceps is located) are. It is a sad reality that women are more prone to donning “butterfly sleeves” if we do not exercise our arms.

I trained with weights almost every day in order to maintain the toned muscles I had painstakingly built since my younger athletic days. (P.S. Trust me, I am not motivated to exercise all the time when I had my times of lethargy, busyness and moodiness. I would try to find lame excuses to resist training….) It takes daily discipline (certainly a lot of dying to the self) and resolution to take the grind. Just as the adage that goes, “No pain, no gain.”

Weights build resistance. By adding more weights to our training, pressure are applied to our resistance which help to stretch our muscles further. Our muscles are stretched every time we add pressure and our resistance gets better with each intensity. As a result, our muscles are toned according to the weight we can handle.

In the same context, pressures of life, problems, challenges, stresses, troubles and trials help to train us towards building stronger faith-muscles, higher resilience and better character. The more intensified our training, the greater the reward to God’s Glory.

Here are some of God’s purposes in our problems to train us:

We can rejoice when we run into problems they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady (Romans 5:3-4, LB). training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. (Titus 2:12)

  1. They are opportunities to stretch our limits and to rely on Him to help;
  2. They add spiritual dimension to our faith;
  3. They are test to reveal our heart and purify our motives;
  4. They offer difference experiences in order to break down our wrong values and belief system in order to change our perspectives and our heartitude (heart and attitude) for renewal;
  5. They help to direct us when we derail from His plans for us or we are threading on dangerous grounds;
  6. They are showcases for God’s testimonies when we overcome them.
  7. They are temporary and can’t be compared to the eternal glory that outweigh them all.

Remember that God is much more interested in our character than our comfort; He is more concerned how we journey in our race than how well we started or how far we go. He will use trials to refine our character, and until we have learnt what we need to learn, God will always bring back the same issue again (and again…). What is God speaking to you through your problem or situation today?

“Problems are inevitable, but suffering is optional.”, for we have the Holy Spirit living inside us to help us.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)

Money Matters

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Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich. – Proverbs 21:17

I had a deep reflection while on the way home last Friday after cell, because it was a subject that was very close to my heart- Money Matters. I chanced upon Proverbs 21:17 which warns those who indulge in carnal pleasures and sensual gratifications, and spend time and money in such a way, are very likely to be poor, and not rich in or towards spiritual things. Dictionary defines pleasures as extravagant living, expensive feastings, and costly leisures or entertainments, and we have often heard that where our money goes to tell a lot about us. And interestingly, according to Ecclesiastes 5:11 NLT, it also warn that the more you have, the more you spend.

I retrospected my life now to the time I was steeped in debts before I gave my life to Jesus. It was a joke that my best subject in Accounts had flunked me in life- poor financial decisions reaped bad consequences. That catastrophe had forced me to live the other spectrum of life: back to the basics- one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes, one bag and one tee-shirt. (Lest you wonder, irrespective of style, cut, type, colour, function, it was just one item only.) Believe me or not, I literally wore them like a set of uniform. Plain Jane? Boring? Sure, but I had no means to indulge. I even had to stay away from shopping lest I be tempted. Till a time my mum had to encourage me that it was high time to change my wardrobe a little as I seemed to live like a tattered beggar. Whenever I needed to make a purchase, I had to prayerfully consulted my Chief Financial Officer (God of course) a few times, “Should I or should I not?” Now that my life is better, I no longer lived that pathetically. However I have to guard myself against all covetousness with a “want versus need” evaluation. But of course I still do make imprudent decisions at times.

Last Friday night after some insightful revelations by the author, I was nudged spiritually, and stumped by a myriad of questions I could not answer:

“Why do you need another pair of shoes?”

“Why do you need another top/ bottom?”

“Why do you need to travel to so many countries?”

“Why do you spend money on immaterial things?”

“How do you spend my money? Have you consult Me?”

“What do you think pleases Me?”

I am no Saint to be sharing this, but I felt in my Spirit to pen down what I had received: Whether we all like it or not, if we are honest, how we spent our money only seek to indulge the “self”: I want to look good; I want to feel good; I am entitled to spend the money because I have worked hard for it; I deserve to reward myself; I need comfort food or things; I want to achieve my dreams; and all on the wanted list.

Some helpful questions to ponder:

  1. Are you sure the money you have are yours?
  2. Who give you the right to spend what pleases your flesh?
  3. Are your “want”s your “need”s? So are they necessary or rather essential for you to live?
  4. Are you doing what God wants you to do?
  5. How have you been sowing in the Kingdom of God?
  6. Why are you so uptight in giving generously to the kingdom purposes of God when you can spend extravagantly on what you love?

Look at Jesus: just a pair of well-travelled sandals, perhaps a few pieces of weather-beaten garbs, and a basic appetite for simple meals.

I am sure some of us will rationalise that Jesus lived in the old era but now we have much choices, therefore the application is not relevant in today standard of living; some of us may also justify “I don’t spend on expensive things” so it won’t hurt, but I do concur that it isn’t about the value, it is our attitude of the heart: what if God asked, “How about you give what you supposed to spend it on, to bless someone who needs it more?”

Listen to how our heart respond, we will get the answer.

Money is the second most referenced topic in the Bible, where it is mentioned more than 800 times. God had first laid the blueprint so that we would not get consumed by the world. We will need God to help in our weaknesses in this area- be humble, God will spotlight the areas that we need to work on.

Do You Know You Can Lose A Skill You Have Not Use For A Long Time?

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Always remember what you have learned. Your education is your life — guard it well. – Proverbs 4:13 GNT

Do you know that when you have not cycle for donkey’s years, you will lose the skill of cycling? Kid you not, I have not been cycling for 17 years, and to my horror, I now struggle balancing the bike! I reminisced how I used to cycle along the stretch of East Coast Park in my heyday, and loved speed. Not long ago, I picked up cycling, and it unnerved me. After rounds of flustering attempt, I finally managed to cycle a short distance.

P.S. How did I get going? I simply recalled how I first learnt cycling myself when I was in my adolescence, without any help nor affixing the bike with additional wheels.

Similarly, if we have not utilise our God-given talents or apply the knowledge we have picked up from the bible regularly, they can easily dematerialise.

Proverbs 19:8 (GNT) says, “Do yourself a favour and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper.”

Therefore, do not take it for granted, it is to your own benefit to guard what you have learnt well- continual learning and application will keep you in good stead in your personal and spiritual life.

All You Need Is A Change Of Perspectives

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The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. – Matthew 6:22-23A

As a visual person, my eyes are trained to capture what I see with my eyes; and as a creative person, I can paint a picture with a thousand words. But the flip side of this talent is, I am often challenged in walking in faith since I see, read and visualise with my eyes.

But we are called to “live by faith and not by seeing (2 Corinthians 5:7). So whenever I face issues in life, my mind is always fixated on problems as they are right before me, that often I keep rehearsing fears, worries, anxieties, doubts and insecurities. That is the power of focus, but on the wrong things. It is hard to change my mindset unless I change perspective, and in order to change my perspective, I need to change my position.

One day, I received a prompting to have a walk in the park and to talk to God about my situation. As I was strolling leisurely, and praying at the same time, I kept fixing my gaze to the ground- all I could see was the texture of the asphalted track. When I adjusted my vision to my eye level, the view was vastly differently, somehow I sensed that God was in the details, and showing me that I could see things differently. As I walked around the park, certain angle offered different perspectives with different meaning behind the scenery. While I was tuning my ears to hear what God had to reveal to me, I aligned my Spirit to God through communing with Him in prayers. While admiring the different setting, I looked up to admire the vast skies- even the shape of the clouds are all different. At that instance, it dawned upon me that I had set my heart on things of the world without the correct biblical perspectives. And because my vision was clouded, so my body was in darkness. As Matthew 6:22 says, “If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”.

All I need is a change of perspective- Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (Colossians 3:2) The things of this world, necessaries of life, pleasures, riches and achievements, can be sought after but not to the extent of coveting them and placing happiness in such possession which eventually turn into idolatry when our focus is not on the true Source and Provider of these things. The things of this world are temporal and can pass away, how then should we live? Live no longer with a carnal mind, but with kingdom perspectives- that God is in control and everything will work for good to those who loves Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). Shouldn’t we be focusing on the goodness of God and that the Almighty promises that none of His Words will fail to be fulfilled?

Therefore it is a matter of how we see, and what we choose to focus on. A paradigm shift will require a change of lens in order to effectuate a renewal of mind and a transformation of heart. And yes, reading the bible will correct near-sightedness first. You will then find that God is actually not that far.

Procrastination

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So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17

This morning I jumped out of my slumber when a voice seemed to jolt me hard in my half-awake moment- “Procrastination is a sin!” I felt as if I was confronted. While trying to figure it out if I have issue with being a sluggard or with procrastination, I came across this verse-

How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. – Proverbs 6:9-11

Woah, I definitely do not want to be robbed that way! Isn’t that enough to shake us up?

There are many reasons why we procrastinate, and very often they are lame excuses to justify our inaction. Some of the common excuses are:

1. Just Plain Lazy……

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing – Proverbs 13:4A 

If we are honest enough, we all want things easy, quick and convenient. Anything that challenge our comfort zone will be off on the cold shelf, for a long long time…

2.  Just Can’t Decide……

A double minded man is unstable in all he does. – James 1:8 

We make decisions every day, but some decisions which stress us out will likely be put on hold as we can’t seem to decide simply with a “yes” or “no”. And we end up vacillating with our decision by conveniently citing the reason, “I am still praying about it…”

3.  Just Not The Right Time……

If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done! – Ecclesiastes 11:4LB

The truth is, there will never be the right or perfect time. Things are not going to happen by sitting on it. And the day may come that we won’t even have the time. And who knows, if we get to live another day……

4.  Just Don’t Feel Like It……

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

We are emotional beings who always let our heart rules and mood dictate our feeling for the moment. We will always be on a roller coaster rides if we allow life’s ups-and-downs to control the way we think, feel and act. Does it mean we will be dysfunctional or justifiable to do nothing in the our downtimes or not-in-the-right-mood?

5.  Just Feeling Fearful……

Fearing people is a dangerous trap. – Proverbs 29:25

Although this verse explicitly points to “people”, it can also be things we feel fearful about., for example, fearing the unknown. The acronym of fear actually is, “False Expectation Appearing Real”, and the opposite of fear, is “Faith”. In other word, fear is the absence of faith.

Procrastination is a passive resistance, we do not want to take action because we keep thinking there is always another time or another day… But what if we do not get to live past tomorrow? Therefore it is time, and it is now to get going what you supposed to do or call to do. Look out, God is watching from above too.

“Don’t put off something till tomorrow what you can do today. Just do it!”