Saturday, April 15, 2017

Reflections on Greek 1

My Struggle with Time
Initially, I could finish my readings and complete my assignments on time. However, from March onwards, I knew I was grappling with both. I was juggling between coordinating the two weeks of Missions Convention, teaching “Knowing Your Bible” to the new believers and creating Bible Study materials for care cells in church, coordinating the food logistics for the Royal Rangers Youth Leadership Academy camp and assisting in Hospitality and Manpower committee for the World Assemblies of God Congress. I worked round the clock and struggled to have sufficient sleep, much less to read my textbook. There were days when I had to pop a few Danzen tablets into my mouth because my throat was inflamed. All these affected my pace and understanding of Greek, a friend I have decided to make.

In class, I struggled to keep myself awake and understand the lectures. Outside of class, I struggled to keep up with memorising the vocabulary list and completing my assignments on time. As a language person, I know revising the vocabulary list is a daily commitment. That’s the only way to retain these words. At first, I could revise using the Flash cards apps when I commute to work. However, in March, I really could not do it. When I was in the train, all I wanted to do was to rest my brain and close my eyes as I would have spent my energy staring at the computer for my work. To use my eyes and brain continuously would really push me beyond the cliff. I needed help desperately. This was the first time I saw the red signal light blinking in my mind.


My Achievement
Naturally, one achievement I was most proud of was when I caught up with my readings and my assignments. In early April, when all the excitement settled down, I was determined to pick up my forsaken textbook and revise my lecture notes. I spent a few mornings and afternoons reading my textbook. This included bringing my textbook to visit a friend at the hospital. After visitation, I studied at one of the cafes in the hospital. After reading the textbook and revising the lecture notes, completing the assignments became manageable. I was so glad that I was no longer behind the schedule. Since I had more rest, I also have more energy to study the vocabulary list when I commute to work.  

Invigorating Moments
            I find parsing moments invigorating. Yes. Refreshing my memory on the grammar, flipping the notes and referring to Greek charts can be a hassle. Yes. I had to refer to my vocabulary list at times still. Yes. I still make mistakes. Yet, once I get all the information I need, parsing is like detective work to me and I find it fun. I love English grammar. I cannot explain it but I just find English grammar makes sense and I enjoy dissecting them into parts when I studied it in university. When I faced the Greek sentences on the paper waiting for me to parse them, one part of me was worried if I parsed correctly. The other part of me could feel a surge of energy shooting up to my mind telling me to parse them fast because I wanted to decipher its meaning.

Thank God for Sis Davina and Sis Jen who were very patient and kind to us. I really appreciated their help, especially Sis Davina who gave us extra coaching outside class hours.

How I wish I can memorize all the vocabulary words in a breeze without hours of memory work! How I wish I can remember all the grammar rules without referring to the notes! I guess being consistent is the key to learning Greek and I must not give up easily since I have signed up for Greek 2.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Learning in Christian Community

Significance of this module

I realized the importance of taking this module after our first lecture by Bro Casey. It’s essential for both new and current students because we want to create a cohesive and inclusive learning environment in ACTS College and this module lays the foundation for us. Since we are “a community impacted by Christ, sharing common emotions and values and actively engaging in learning from one another”, we should make sure we live out our spirituality in every way when we communicate with our classmates, in and out of school. This means we express our care and support to one another constantly, even when we are texting each other regarding group assignments. This means we share our resources generously and willingly, be it our “manna and quail” or our scanned required readings from the library. This means we develop deeper friendships and share our lives, building bridges and connections with one another, within the English department and across the Chinese department. As we’re doing all these, we’re seeking out God’s will in our lives because the Lord reveals his plans to us step by step. We will never know he plans to open a door for us through our classmates if we are always holding back and having reservations. After this module, we become agents of change among those who haven’t taken the course. We will rub off what we’ve gained from this module to others and influence them as well. It’s contagious, I believe. With that, we will definitely attract new students to join this Christian learning community.
Practices of Christian Learning Community
Paul reminded us to be grateful, even when we are praying (1Cor 1:4; Phil 4:6). This is an important reminder not to take the things we have and people around us for granted. Thus, I plan to practise what I’ve learnt from one of our coffee theology discussions – DDS. This is an acronym for “Describe what you see; Describe what you feel; Say it to the person”. Many a times, we simply say, “Thank you” without describing the action and feeling. However, I realise that describing them shows another level of appreciation for the kind act and the giver will feel more encouraged by the receiver. Maybe the giver would also be motivated to give more in future.

Keeping Fidelity  
Being faithful is expected of me because God is faithful (Ps 15:4). It stabilises the relationships I made, especially in the school context. My classmates would not be able to trust me if I break my promises easily. That’s why I always think carefully and only make a promise when I’m sure I’m able to fulfil it. I’ve also learnt to take periodic reminders of God’s faithfulness in my life. Doing this keeps me in check to keep fidelity and even show gratitude to God.

Living Truthfully
Honesty is very important to me. That is why I cannot even accept half-truths. To me, telling half-truths is equal to telling a lie. God desires and expects honesty from us and this is found both in OT and NT. Of course, this also means we need to tell the truth in love. This is why building relationships is important in a Christian learning community because the receiver will be able to accept our words of truth positively when we have a close relationship. The receiver will be able to hear our heart when we speak. Over the years, I’ve learnt to be transparent and vulnerable to those I’m close to because I know they will also reciprocate by being transparent and vulnerable to me. It takes risk because it involves confidentiality but it’s worth it. I believe relationships can only be deepen when we’re open. I’m not fearful because I know God will protect and guard me.  

Even though I’ve taken Biblical Hospitality taught by Sis Davina last year, it’s always good and refreshing to be reminded the biblical basis and the importance of practising hospitality. Treating and respecting everyone as a “limited edition” is interesting. It helps me to appreciate their diversity in personality and needs. I found doing the “Y” organiser where we discussed the pros and cons of how it sounds, looks and feels like when we practise hospitality very enlightening. While we want to extend our hand and heart to others, we must also admit there are inconveniences and sacrifices to be made. It is real that we have to sacrifice our time and personal space to others. Yet, we still choose to do it because we want to and we ought to. Practising hospitality is a command. One of my principles in life is, “Good things must share”. The last few statements made by Sis Davina closed the session beautifully. She said, We were strangers but God welcomes us. We’re still aliens in this world. And because God welcomes us, we welcome our classmates.” With this, I will continue to extend my hand and open my heart to welcome fellow ACTS classmates into my life.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Small Groups Encounter

       I started attending cell groups since I was 17 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I grew and matured spiritually and socially as it was a place to grow and make mistakes. When I took this module, I told myself I want to relearn what I know and experienced about small groups or cell groups as I believed I would gain fresh insights and perspectives from Bro Casey, Ps Lindsey and fellow classmates during our sharing sessions. I was not disappointed.

Power of Facilitation
       It’s a skill to ask the correct types of questions to generate deeper discussion. The leader should know how to ask the opening question and when to ask the launching and guiding questions. Knowing and understanding the members well helps. However, there will always be an element of uncertainty because facilitating a bible study is spontaneous. To me, this makes facilitation fun and exciting. I feel application questions are important because it helps members to relate the Bible to their personal life. If the small group is still at the forming stage, asking application questions will allow the members to open up. Summarising the discussion is important as it enables each one to bring home the key point and forms a closure to the topic discussed. I must remember to toss these kinds of questions around to different members in order to bring everyone to the highest level of communication, which is openness and self-disclosure. Yes, the leader should set the example by sharing openly and vulnerably first. Then the members will feel comfortable opening up. Of course, this highest level of communication is only achievable after the group has moved on to the Storming or even the Action Stage.

Interactive Bible Study
       I enjoyed the breakout sessions as I find these interactive Bible study materials engaging and refreshing. The Bible study on ‘Are you living “in” the Spirit?’ left a deep impression on me because the definition on the “fruit” of the Spirit was different from the usual ones. I had to ponder for quite a while before I could circle the number which represented the evidence of the fruit ripening in my life. For example, the definition of patience is having the “strength of will in the midst of trying circumstances and frustrating/ irritating people-not easily threatened when things don’t go your way”. It was rather amusing to see how different individuals in my group respond to it. A few didn’t read the definitions properly and circled wrongly. The sharing sessions were mainly non-threatening and open. We were willing to open up and share our weaknesses and bad habits. When we shared the “one thing I would like to do in my life” on the topic of ‘Greatest Desire’, we were able to encourage and affirm one another’s strengths, gifts and talents as seen evident in our lives. It was through these honest sharing and sincere prayers that the different pairs grew closer and the bonds between the members in my group became stronger too.

Philosophy of Small Groups
        The life cycle of small groups was something new to me. It never occurs to me that there is such a concept as life cycle for small groups. As we shared our feelings, experiences and leadership needed for each stage in our pairs, I could not help but reflected on the three cells I led in the past. It was an emotional moment for me. I took over and led my first cell when my cell leader answered God’s call to become a missionary. There was a re-forming as new members joined us. We struggled a while in this transition but eventually, this small group stabilised and new leaders were raised up. We organised many evangelistic parties, did prayer walks in the neighbourhood and the cell grew.
         Very soon, I knew it was time for me to start a new cell in another zone because of a need. There was no young adults cell in the north. From the current cell, two other leaders followed me to start the cell. The forming and storming stages of this north cell was almost painful. We had to align our expectations and open our hearts all the time. Those who were committed to join initially stopped coming due to various reasons. This small group nearly died when we were down to only 4 committed members, including myself. I told them honestly that we could regroup and join another cell. We tried. Then the three decided they would stick with the group. God honoured our commitment and revived this cell. We grew in numbers and it lasted for more than ten years, bringing much joy to our hearts. Eventually, I had to hand it over to my successor when I too, answered God’s call to become a missionary.
        I started a cell in the northwest part of Singapore after I returned from Japan because once again, there was no young adults cell in that area. We struggled with punctuality and commitment level initially. After a few evaluation sessions and bonding sessions through games and food, the group reached the storming stage. We had to end this cell when our church did a cell restructure.
      Throughout this small groups roller coaster adventure, I was greatly aware of leadership training and made sure everyone was given opportunity to learn and grow. Succession planning was also consciously in my mind from the time the cell started. I thank God for his grace and strength to lead each cell and for supplying good leaders and committed members to support me. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pastoral Explorations

One practice I found useful: Partnership
Paul started his ministry with Barnabas and then Silas. Throughout his different missionary journeys, he was usually with a partner-in-Christ. In the Pastoral Epistles, he was writing to his partners whom he called “true sons”. Timothy and Titus were his travelling partners to Crete and Ephesus.

The power of partnership cannot be overlooked in our ministry. We are not called to be lone rangers. That’s the reason why we need friends and co-workers to come alongside with us when we serve God. Each of us has been given different gifts and talents to edify, encourage and comfort the believers and we can only be effective when we recognise we are a body of Christ. That’s how we can last long in the ministry too. I thank God for the different friends He has placed and positioned in my life to walk through life’s journey with me. As a Sanguine, I need friends and I function well in a team. Born and baptised in the same church, I’ve served in various ministries since I was 17 years old. I am thankful that I have never been alone. There is always someone I can find to share my joys and sorrows with. In partnership, trust is involved. I believe Paul trusted Timothy and Titus enough to hand over the churches in Ephesus and Crete to them. Their friendships have solidified into blocks of trust that can be used to build the Church of Christ. And this brings me to the next point.

One achievement I am most proud of: Mentoring
Mentoring brings me joy and pain. They seem to go hand in hand when we mentor others. I believe Timothy and Titus brought Paul more joy than pain since he entrusted them with such heavy responsibilities of pastoring churches. He wanted Titus to join him quickly at Nicopolis and longed to meet Timothy before he departed from earth.

God places different people in my life to mentor and invest in. This started after I graduated from the Missionettes programme (an A/G all-girls uniform group) at 19 and taught little girls aged 10 between 12. There were happy moments when we learnt God’s truths, do crafts and go outings together. I shared their family problems and sibling rivalry. We struggled over selection of different secondary schools and post O Levels routes together when their grades and dreams didn’t coincide. Those short rebellious moments which happened during their mid-teens were painful but I persevered and prayed through. One of them even became my colleague when I was still a teacher. I remembered going to NIE with her after her A Levels to decide whether she should go to NUS first or NIE directly. We decided on NUS. Most of them are young mothers now. We still laugh over what they did when they were young. Mentoring is walking life’s journey with my disciples.

Simultaneously, I became an assistant cell leader at 18 and eventually the cell leader when my cell leader answered her full-time calling to become a bible school teaching in Iloilo and eventually a missionary in Cebu, Philippines. These cell members were a pain to us. Haha… They were in secondary school then and struggled with laziness. We were used to them telling us an hour or just before cell started that they overslept (They had gone home to take a nap!), needed to do homework, sick or would be late. Many a time, it’s just my cell leader and I. We cried and interceded for our cell together. Haha..I believed she became my unofficial mentor from then on too. Hahaha… Of course we shared many happy moments together as they grew older and became more sensible, responsible and reliable.

Yes. Mentoring is for life. We cannot give up on people half way just because they disappoint us or even leave God. Like Paul who hoped to have Timothy’s company before his death, I once wrote my will at 18 that I would like my Missionettes girls to be my ushers and my cell girls to do a song item for me at my funeral. One of my closer cell girls was even supposed to pour my ashes into the Mediterranean Sea. Hahaha… Yes. They know. I’ve told them. These girls have blossomed into beautiful warriors for Christ. A few became my successors when I went to Japan for mission work and many of them have become my partners in the various ministries in church currently. I pray that God will continue to enlarge and expand my heart to love and mentor the new people He places in my life.

One idea I have found challenging: Appointing elders and deacons
Paul warned Timothy not to be hasty in laying of hands and he gave both Titus and Timothy the criteria for the selection of godly leaders. There is much wisdom in this because leaders are proven and tested over time. We also discussed this issue during class that we have a lack in church leadership, especially in the church deacon board. Even after careful selection through a nomination committee, the nominated leader may choose not to stand for the position. What then should we do? We can only pray that God will move the hearts of these leaders.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. As I sat there listening to this topic, I couldn’t help but remembered how I agreed to be a deacon at 26 years old. I was the youngest in the board and the oldest was over 70 years old. There was much fear in me when I took up the position but I knew God wanted me there. I stayed for three years and I sat in every meeting clinging tightly to God because I knew I wouldn’t have survived without His assuring presence. I prayed that I would not be stumbled and I also learned to be assertive when the meetings went overboard.

We need more godly leaders in the Church to build a strong community of believers with sound doctrine. May they hear and obey the still small voice of God that resounds and crescendos until they submit to His will. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hospitality begins with me

My hospitable nature

One new thing that I have learned about myself is that I’m a hospitable person to my friends. I didn’t realize I am until today’s session that I don’t have many boundaries when it comes to hosting friends in my house. Since I was young, I love to invite my friends to my house, be it a 2-room flat in Ang Mo Kio when I was seven or my current 4-room flat in Yishun. My earliest memories of me inviting my neighbours to my tiny 2-room flat was during Christmas period. It was our last Christmas in Ang Mo Kio before we shifted to Yishun. I pleaded with my mother to hold a mini-evangelistic party at my home and she was supposed to share the Christmas story because she was a Sunday School teacher. Haha. So my brother and I invited our neighbours, about six in total. We danced around the brightly lit Christmas tree with the Christmas carols playing loudly from the cassette recorder in the background. Then it was my mother’s turn to “preach and give the altar call”. I dug out all the paper-cut characters of Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, the shepherds, angels and flannel board she used for Sunday School during the storytelling. One accepted Christ and she followed us to Sunday School the following Sunday. Praise the Lord!
Thereafter, our home was always open for cell meetings or family gatherings. Maybe this was partly due to my parents’ generosity and our large living room as well. My mother would prepare light refreshments for cell members and cook up a storm during family gatherings. As I became older and more grown up, I would continue to invite friends to come to my place to cook and stay overnight during festive seasons. They would either sleep on our mattresses or bring their own sleeping bags to camp in my living room. During Chinese New Year, they came over to learn how to make pineapple tarts. During school holidays, some friends come over to learn how to cook Japanese cuisine. During Christmas, my youths come over to bake cookies and chocolate molten lava cake. I realized I’m not really bothered by the mess in my house. To me, most people’s homes are messy too. As long as I make a point to rearrange the tables and mop the floor after cooking, that is all right. I’m thankful that my mother trusts me with maintaining the cleanliness of the kitchen and living room as well. If not, I won’t enjoy such freedom. I always tell those who come my house that if there’s ever a war, they can come over because I think I have enough food to last for a while. Wahahaha…
Intentional Marginality

One thing I learned that I would consider a lesson for life – intentional marginality. Indeed, if we are always the host, we would never understand how a guest would feel. This lesson was brought home first when I had to visit my friend’s cell meeting from another church for one of our assignments for this module. How refreshing it was to be a visitor! It has been ages since I felt this way. During the visit, all my senses were sharpened. I began to observe more closely and feel more sensitively the verbal and non-verbal cues. From the first introduction and ice breaker games, to worship and sharing of the word, the hosts made sure I was included. I felt welcomed.
Sis Davina offered some examples of putting ourselves in a new situation to understand how it feels and see how others see things. I find sitting in different positions in the sanctuary quite useful. At times, the elderly would comment that the temperature of the air-conditioner is too cold and they had to sit directly below it to avoid getting the chill. One of them is my granny. I should try to shift my position occasionally even though I have to sit in the front row now.
During our group sharing, we also brought up the point that some of us have been leaders for too long and we have forgotten how it felt to be an ordinary church member. We may have overlooked certain points or explained ideas without giving the full picture, presuming that everyone is on the same page. However, some may be lost along the way because they did not have a clear background of the situation. We may also have neglected certain groups of marginalised people in our midst without realizing it. Thus, it is important to move away from the privileged centre once in a while to feel and see like how a stranger would.
Spending time to eat with people
One idea that I have found challenging – spending time to eat with people. Generally, I enjoy meeting up with friends over meals to catch up with one another’s lives. As a sociable Sanguine, that’s part of my personality. However, when I am under the “stress” mode and has many items in my list to check, I tend to wolf down my food so that I can tackle the first item on the list. However, over the past few lessons, I learnt that it is important to spend time to eat with people, especially those who are dear to me. My presence with them cannot be overlooked. The first victim is my mother. Since we’re both working and I’m also studying, our only bonding time is during meal time. Yet I tend to eat quickly so that I can hide myself in my cave to do my assignments or watch my online dramas. It’s a constant challenge to sit in the living room with her to watch the ongoing dramas on television because I would have finished watching them online months ago. Actually, today’s devotion on Mary and Martha with Jesus convicted me as well. Both were playing the roles as good hosts. Martha prepared food while Mary joined the conversation with Jesus. It would be very inhospitable and rude for Mary to join Martha in the kitchen and leave Jesus in the living room all by himself! Was Jesus supposed to entertain himself? She had to be there. Her presence was important to her guest. That made me realize that my presence is important to my mother. May the Holy Spirit enable me to be more hospitable to the one who is closest to me.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Journey through Corinthians

The cosmopolitan city of Corinth is similar to Singapore in many ways. Besides doing well economically, we both live in a religious environment. Like the Corinthian church, we struggle to live as good Christians. These factors caused me to ponder about the issues raised by Paul and the Corinthian church, and the replies Paul gave because they are still applicable to contemporary Christians.

Be Thankful
Thanksgiving to God should have been ingrained into our DNA after we learnt and realised that everything we have, our earthly possessions, talents and even friendships come from God. Yet, I find that it is very easy to take Him for granted. Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with a very God-centred thanksgiving because he wanted to remind the proud and knowledgeable Corinthians that God is their source of these blessings. They are blessed because of their participation in Christ Jesus. Even though they have all the spiritual gifts and think that they have all knowledge, Paul reminded them that they are still living in the “Not Yet” phase. In this phase, nothing is perfect yet. Perfection only comes when Christ returns. Hence their focus should be on God and the coming of Christ. Like the Corinthians, when life becomes comfortable and we seem to have all that we need, we forget about God and Christ’s second coming. Our worldview becomes narrower and we may even relish with the present. This lesson reminded me to be thankful in everything because whatever I have comes from God. Thanks, Jen, for bringing home this point to us right from the start.

God’s Ownership of the Church
Disunity was the first issue Paul addressed in his letter to the Corinthians. They have pledged allegiance to the wrong people and this have led to divided opinions jealousy among the leaders and members. Paul pointed the believers back to God as the owner of the Church and Christ as their foundation, and he shifted the concept of the physical temple to the believers for God’s presence dwells in them. I felt encouraged and comforted by Paul’s warning that God will destroy anyone who destroys the church (1 Cor 3:17). No church is perfect because there are imperfect people like us in it. Often, disunity and division occur when there are issues such as personal agenda and insubordination in the church. Knowing that all I need to do is to focus my eyes of Jesus and recognise God’s ownership is encouraging. Knowing that God will punish anyone who sows seeds of discord is assuring. Indeed, the church belongs to God, not us. We are all co-workers in Christ.

Stumbling Block Principle
            This principle from 1 Cor 8 refers to the “destruction of someone” as a result of our actions and serves as a good checkpoint for believers before we make certain decisions. Although the context of this principle is about whether we can eat food offered to idols, I feel that this principle can be applied in other situations. Bro Casey gave a very good illustration of an alcoholic who became a Christian and finally overcame this addiction. To this alcoholic, seeing Christians drink even a sip of alcohol may stumble him. If we lure them out of faith in God and back into their previous lifestyle, we sin. Some things or habits that are acceptable to us may not be acceptable to others. Hence, Paul exhorted the Corinthians and believers today to limit our freedom for the love of others. We should use this freedom to glorify God. If we know that there are younger believers amongst us, we should watch our behaviour and be careful of our speech, in case we become a stumbling block to them. Like Paul, our concern should always be about the community, not ourselves.


Structural Diagramming
The last time I did such a detailed structural diagramming was in the Romans module last July. It is a useful tool to learn because the key points of the passage will be made clear when the diagramming is done correctly. This will make writing sermon outlines easier too. Practice makes easy. However, I struggled with it for a while as I have not practised it for such a long time. I thank God for the English grammar background I have and this is probably my only saving grace when it comes to diagramming. I started to enjoy colouring the verbs, coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions again. Pressing the ‘enter’ key to break up the sentences and parts of speech was fun. Figuring out whether a word is functioning as an adjectival phrase or a verb was also interesting. Of course, I made mistakes still. But I am glad I can learn this as a refresher course. Hopefully, I will make fewer mistakes each time I learn from Sis Davina. Hehe… 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Reflective New Testament Encounter

I love reading the Bible but I have to admit I tend to lean towards the OT at times due to the narrative and poetic genres it contained. To prepare for this module, I read the NT slowly, chewing and gnawing each book, and finally came to appreciate and love the NT just as how God would desire me to. Now, I would share my reflections on some of the things I have learnt through Bro Casey and Ps Eileen.

         Discipleship. We are called to make disciples and Jesus sets us the example of how we should do it. Jesus initiates and offers his hands. He is constantly on a lookout to find followers. He told tax collector, fishermen and men from various backgrounds, “Come, follow me.” I want to be like Jesus, someone who is not afraid of rejection because my motivation comes from God’s love and reconciliation. Jesus is approachable and personal. He even spoke Aramaic at times to be on common ground with the masses. I want to be approachable and personal to anyone who comes my way too. This is important in discipleship and mentoring. At times, even painful. As a youth leader to many batches of youths in the church and the Royal Rangers ministry, there are times I struggle with correction and rebuking. What will they think of me? Will they stop coming to me with their issues after I correct them? Will they be afraid of me? Each time, I have to overcome my fear of rejection from them and remind myself that my motivation is love and concern. It took a while for some to be convicted. Nevertheless, I prayed and kept a constant lookout for them. Since Jesus took the initiative to approach Peter and reinstate him after denying Jesus, I learn to humble myself to take the initiative to talk to them after a while.  Over time, they know my heart and all will be well. Praise the Lord!

        Faith comes by hearing and reading the Word of God. In the Gospels, Jesus taught different groups of people - his disciples, the masses, religious leaders and certain individuals. Even though his disciples were considered to be the “insiders” since they are closest to Jesus, eating, sleeping and living with him, they struggled and didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to say most of the times. This jolted me up from spiritual slumber. Have I been spiritually deaf or blind? Has God been trying to teach me something and I didn’t get it? I do want to be spiritually sensitive. So what do I need? Faith. Faith is the key ingredient to understanding and experiencing Christ! I constantly need faith to believe in what God is doing in my life or telling me to do. What is my next step? Is this really the next step? For faith to grow and increase, I need to dig deep into His Word daily and allow the word of God to transform and renew my mind. When faith takes root in my life, it will be evident and obvious in my lifestyle, my words and actions. It takes effort but it’s worth it. I do want “insider’s” news from God and I want God to whisper His secrets to me. Sshhhh….

          Obedience from the heart is all He asks of me. One of my favourite verses is 1 Samuel 15:22, “…obedience is better than sacrifice…”. The purpose of the Law given by God in the OT was to enable His people to maintain a right relationship with God. The Law gives us healthy boundaries and determines who or what is right in a relationship. However, to the Jews, fulfilling the Law was important to them because they wanted to get blessings from God. In Matt 5:20, when Jesus told his disciples that they would not enter the kingdom of heaven unless their righteousness exceeded the religious leaders, he was not telling them to compete with the religious leaders. That would be too tall an order since these leaders are already so pious. Jesus desires us to obey out of our love for God. Instead of looking for an outward form, He is looking at our hearts. He takes the Law one step up. Jesus was telling his disciples then and his readers today to obey because we love. Are we obeying God from our hearts today?

           In one of the reflection questions, we were asked, “Could the four Gospels be a product of different social styles?” The purpose and the make-up of the person you’re trying to reach is important. Thus, we should recommend our pre-believing friends or young believers to read the Gospels according to their make-up. I was reminded of how I accepted Christ. Although I was born in a Christian family and accepted Christ several times in Sunday School, I only remembered the final one at a crusade at the then outdoor national stadium. I was only eight. The renowned evangelist gave the altar call, “Who wants Jesus to be your best friend?” I tugged my mom’s blouse and told her I wanted to walk to the centre of the stadium. There were thousands of people standing there already. We stepped forward. With tears in my eyes, I uttered my most sincere prayer. As a Sanguine, friends are important to me. God knows me and He reached out to me, then and today.