Friday, August 26, 2011

God Of Miracles

As I'm sitting here reading stories of miracles online, I just remembered some miracles that happened to me this week. They may be small as compared to other incredible stories, but these mean a lot to me. They are an indication of God's never-failing love.

First of all, remember the earthquake the struck the U.S. east coast this past Monday? Well, I slept right through it. Didn't feel a thing. None of my neighbours seemed to be affected by it either. It was as if nothing even happened here at all. My parents who work a few miles away from here felt it in their offices though. Somehow, I just get a sense of a shield of protection over my neighbourhood. Even if it's just protection from a spirit of anxiety- God definitely watched out for us. Interestingly, I had felt moved to pray for the whole neighbourhood just a few days ago. I even took my bike and rode round and round at night when every household was asleep and prayed over the houses I rode by. It seems that God has answered my prayer! I feel that He probably prompted me to pray for my neighbourhood because of the impending earthquake. Not to mention, now that Hurricane Irene is predicted to hit us this coming weekend, we will need God's help and protection more than ever!

Also, another cool story...

Tuesday night, I was feeling very down and far from God. I felt as if I'd let Him down. Even though I knew that God still loved me, it was just so hard to even pray or read the Bible. I felt unworthy bringing my prayer requests to Him in the night. It was like I was dying inside... All I wanted was to be reconciled with God again. So I finally broke down and cried out to God. I sat outside on my deck looking up to the sky and calling on Jesus not to give up on me. Exhausted and teary-eyed, I finally lay flat on my back and stared up to the sky. With Hillsong plugged into my ears singing You Are More, I gazed up into the stars. The song went,

"On the day I called
You answered me
And the hope in my soul increased
I lift my hands
And turn my eyes
To the God who heals my heart
And gives me peace

You are more than
My words could ever say
You are Lord over all
Over all of my days
I will see this season through
I will fix my eyes on You

When that last line played "I will fix my eyes on You", suddenly my eyes were opened and I saw a cross shining among the stars directly above me! I couldn't believe my eyes! I've been fixing my eyes on the cross the whole time and I didn't even realise it... I mean seriously, what are the chances of lying directly under this constellation, facing in the exactly correct angle at the exactly right time of the night so that it was right overhead when I needed to see it? I've tried looking for it other nights but it either wasn't the right time of night or just too cloudy.

I was overwhelmed. My heart choked, "why would you do this for me Lord?"
Immediately, a bright shooting star appeared to the right of the cross and I felt a gentle whisper say "because I love you."

And I felt this peace just come over me......

Dear Lord Jesus, I don't deserve anything. But You have chosen to give me grace because Your love is higher than the heavens and deeper than the seas. God as I lay there staring up in the heavens, trying to wrap my mind around what "eternity" meant, it astounded me that You would love me as high as the heavens were. It confounded me that You would love me, this failed wreckage, this worm of a person, enough to abase Yourself and die on a cross for my sins. Lord, I know that each time I sin, I grieve Your Holy Spirit. I know that You weep for the times that I fall short but You still bear with me and forgive my sins. Thank You for still choosing to use me, a sinner. Thank You for making me new and breaking my chains to sin! Thank You for changing my heart completely and renewing my mind so that I am no longer a slave to sin but am now a redeemed child of Yours! I pray that You will continue to use me powerfully, for the rest of my days. Help me not to stumble but to walk steadily in Your Word all the days of my life, guided by Your voice and comforting hands. I give my all to You Lord Jesus Christ. In Your name I ask all these, Amen!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Christ & Music

Recently, I've been listening non-stop to music. I've also been thinking a lot about music- the kinds I used to listen to, the ones I listen to now and about how that relates to my growing relationship with Christ. This is important to me because music has a way of changing my emotions and planting or manipulating thoughts way quicker than other mediums like TV shows. I get into a much more "intimate" state of mind through sounds than through sight. The same goes for reading books- because it triggers my imagination way more easily.

I think I wrote a post about the kind of music I used to listen to in the past, but I don't remember where it is or when I wrote it. So I'm just gonna go ahead and write another updated version.

First of all, I will say that the type of music that I listen to has changed drastically over the years. The biggest and most tremendous period of change however, began since I dedicated my life to Christ sometime in 2008.

Some of you will remember that I used to listen to A LOT of trance and techno. So much so that I became one of those geeks who could tell the difference between melodic trance and ambient trance (yes there are many different sub-genres of trance). But that wasn't all I listened to. I also enjoyed a nightly dose of heavy metal, rock, alternative, pop and classical. Some of those singers that I can recall now are P.O.D., Ayumi Hamasaki, Sean Paul, Beyonce, SlipKnot, Massive Attack, Craig David, Britney Spears, OceanLab and so on.

My preferences may have variated over time, but trance/techno almost always remained a constant.

When I became Christian, I didn't stop listening to those artists overnight nor did I stop listening to trance/techno immediately. In fact, it took me about a year and a half to get to a point where those songs simply were not attractive to me anymore.

A part of why this happened is obviously because I decided to stop listening to songs that weren't holy. That meant no more swearing, cussing, singing about sex, drugs, suicide or anything of that sort. What a reality check! As I was deleting and throwing out all those songs, it occurred to me that almost all of what I listened to had lyrics glorifying that stuff. Yet even as I got rid of those albums and became more conscious about the lyrics I was listening to, I would still keep certain "innocent" sounding songs by secular artists. Mainly, they were songs that either had no lyrics or songs that weren't singing about anything harmful. As a result, you'd still find Ferry Corsten or Armin Van Buuren CDs in my collection. They enjoyed tremendous playtime too especially when I had to stay awake on long drives home.

Yet something didn't feel right, but I quite couldn't put my finger on it.

Later, I realised that I was not depending fully on the Holy Spirit to guide my listening choices. Only He can give me true discernment and wisdom about the songs I was listening to!

He finally opened my eyes sometime early in 2010 to see that even though certain songs weren't outright offensive to God, they were pulling me away from Him. For example, even though many trance songs have no lyrics in them and therefore aren't obviously offensive to anyone, they were detrimental to my growth in Christ. The reason for this is a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit; so what it may mean for me may not mean the same for another who is listening to redeemed music (more on that later). But what I came to understand was that immersing myself in trance/techno tunes always left me in a sort of hypnotic state where I often felt depressed, empty or needy. Once in that state, I would be more susceptible to all sorts of temptation.

Once more, I had to reevaluate EVERYTHING that I was listening to, watching or reading. Instead of being legalistic about them (is it breaking any of God's commandments?), I checked myself to see what kind of effects that music was having on me. Was it bringing me towards or away from God? Did it encourage my faith or discourage it? What kind of seeds was it sowing in my spirit?

I guess this was the point where I truly just fell out of love with trance/techno and all the other seemingly "innocent" bands I was still listening to. So, I cut them all out not because they were wrong, but because I just didn't enjoy them anymore.

Today, I was testing out my new headphones that just arrived in the mail and decided to listen to an old OceanLab tune in them. The last time I had headphones, listening to that song gave me goosebumps, so hearing it again after all these years was really interesting. I could actually see the beauty behind it objectively while a voice warned me that this was a seductive song buried in subtleties. I could feel the strings of my emotions starting to get played on......

Interestingly, the Youtube suggestion that came up on the sidebar was for Christian trance and I decided to check that out. Now I've heard Christian trance before and two years ago in its Youtube infancy, it was just plain terrible. Now, things are a little better but nowhere near great yet.

But since I liked trance/techno, wouldn't it be okay for me to listen to Christian trance/techno?

For me, the answer is still "No".

Just because a song uses Christian jargon/imagery does not mean it is of God nor honours Christ. If the song or band promotes a sinful spirit of "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies" (Galatians 5:19-21) instead of a Holy Spirit of "LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL" (Galatians 5:22), chances are, it is not a good idea to listen to.

See it doesn't matter what they're singing or not singing about in those songs. Those beats recall deep longings for things I have struggled with. Those melodies recall memories of a past I wish to leave behind. Each time I hear any sort of trance or techno song, I can feel my guard being slowly let down because it's almost like a siren's song to me.

Interestingly, the one genre I've never taken a firm interest in- hiphop and rap, is fast becoming a favourite genre of mine.

Like techno and trance, the culture attached to hiphop and rap is one of worldly sin. Hiphop and rap artists are notorious for promoting sex, drugs and alcohol as well as blatant hedonism. Even worse, many rap stars claim to be Christian yet mislead millions by the ungodly lifestyles they lead. However, praise be to God, there are now talented artists such as Lecrae, Trip Lee and Tedashii who are "redeeming" this genre for Christ by writing songs that are packed with the power and grace of the gospel.

When I listen to those songs, all I want to do is get closer to Christ. It also reminds me of the hard work I'd put into running track all these four years since everyone on the track team listens to hiphop. In short, Christian rap and hiphop moves me and uplifts me in a way that Christian trance and techno never will.

For someone else who perhaps grew up smoking pot while jamming to a Jay Z song, Christian hiphop may not be wise. I don't know.

All I'm saying is, be careful little ears what you hear. For the Father up above is looking down in love. And since "our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour," (1 Peter 5:8) it would be wise to always be on guard in our spirits with the Holy Spirit guiding us and giving us peace about everything we set our hearts and minds on.

Again, I am also not claiming to be perfect or any more perfect than any Christian out there. I still have Russian songs in my music collection that are techno-sounding. I don't feel convicted to get rid of them because they are the only last songs I have to help me learn Russian (I did throw a chunk out though). Sure, I may listen to a little old 16 year old Britney once in a while, but I refuse to let my music define me. However if one day the Holy Spirit leads me to see that what I'm listening to is causing others to stumble, then I will gladly stop.

Listening to godly music will not make God love you any more than listening to secular music. However certain kinds of music can lead you further away from Christ and living according to His Word. And if we choose to pursue those things over His voice of truth, that's when the devil gets to call our bluff and pounce on us unsuspecting sheep who have wandered far from the protection of the Good Shepherd.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Uncertainty About Singapore

The countdown's getting closer with each day... All of a sudden the past seven years seem so unreal, like they never happened at all. How different things were back then.

Sometimes I sit in my bedroom and remember how I felt looking out the window back when I was fourteen. I was bored, angry and always felt empty. When I remember that feeling, my heart cringes. How did I ever get through those days without any love, without any light in my life? I cannot imagine life without Christ now that I've tasted what true joy feels like.

I'm on the verge of returning to Singapore- which would have made me extremely happy even five years ago. But now it is with a trembling, scared feeling that I will fly back. Although Singapore will always be my childhood home, the U.S. has also become a home to me too. Again I will have to leave behind friends and family that I've grown really close to in the past years. Again I will have to say goodbye to the little blessings that God's given me; like my cat, my car and even random things like nice wooded trails to run on nearby.

I don't think my friends and family in Singapore quite understand...... I am going back a brand new being. I am not the same Mindy that I was even last summer. I am afraid of how they may react to my passion for Christ. I am scared that I won't be able to find fellow Christians who are willing to be broken for Christ. And not to mention the darkest cloud which looms in the distance- having to look for (and decide upon) a job.

In a sense, I feel as if I were an alien moving to another planet. I dread that same old bored, angry and empty feeling that comes from being alone in my thoughts.

Why oh why do I forget that the Lord is always with me?

On Saturday Steph passed me a beautiful picture of the burning bush in Exodus which she had painted that day and wrote "I will be with you" on it. When I saw the painting, I realised that God had already seen the worries welling up in my heart like Moses had back then.

Moses was married, he had a job (shepherding) and was probably satisfied with his calm life in Midian with his new family. However God chose to jolt him out of his comfort zone at just the right time to return to Egypt- the place of his childhood home. Moses was afraid... just like I am. But God said "I will be with you".

Dear Lord, I have no idea what the future holds. When doubts come to haunt me, I pray that You will wipe them away with Your hands. Heavenly Father, even though I may go to the ends of the earth, whether it be Washington State, Cape Cod or Singapore, You are always there with me, whispering in my ears, comforting my heart. Although my friends and family are but fleeting shadows in my life, You will never leave my side. You give me strength and courage to face whatever comes my way. You shine light unto my paths so I know where to tread. Dear God, I give you all the uncertainties and bad feelings about moving back to Singapore and ask that You will fill me with Your amazing peace. Grant me a safe journey home and continue to fulfill my every need as You have been doing. God You are just so wonderful...... You are the best thing, the only thing in my life that holds any value whatsoever. Help me to focus on You all the days of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God Is So Wonderful

When we pray, we ask God to do the work we cannot. So much more gets done when we bring our weaknesses to Him, when we confess that we need Him to be here. When we knock and He answers, that's when strongholds are torn down, evil flees and His great light shines through!

I am so in awe of His power and mercy...

Why would the God who created this universe bother to listen to my pleas? Me, this little speck of nothingness. Here today, gone tomorrow. And not just that- He deemed me valuable enough to suffer and die a shameful death on the cross! Him, Jesus Christ... The One who did not deserve to be mocked, spitted on and crucified... He willingly gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us, because He loves us so much......

Thank you God, for everything You've done for me on the cross. Thank you God, for pulling me out of the deep darkness and shining Your light in my soul. Thank you God, for the guidance, comfort and love of the Holy Spirit.

Without You, I am nothing...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Beautiful Dream

Last night, after reading Eileen's post about her dream, it made me rather distressed before going to sleep. So of course I prayed that God would protect me in my sleep. I ended up having a really beautiful dream about traveling on foot to some place that I'd dreamt about before- a gorgeous mountainous area with clear rivers and great open caves.

The only thing was that in this dream, I was worrying about what to pack for this day-long journey on foot. I was worrying about how to get to my resting site before it got too dark. I was worrying about getting enough food and supplies to last me throughout my stay (I was planning to camp out there)... I worried so much that I eventually got side-tracked in a city on the way...... Then I woke up.

Hmm. What a subtle parallel to real life!

Sometimes I wonder how such amazing landscapes that I've never seen with my own eyes before manage to surface in my dreams. After I wake up, I often find myself wishing that such a beautiful place did exist so that I could visit it someday...

Well I guess even if I'll never get to see those dreamscapes in real life, I still look forward to the new heaven and new earth that God has promised us- the one that we cannot even begin to fathom! It must be awesome beyond comprehension...

Dear God, show me Your ways which are higher than mine! Even one grain of Your wisdom is too wonderful for me to bear. Even a whisper from You sends my heart fluttering. One touch from You sends my spirit soaring. I thank You for Your unconditional love at all times of the day and through the watches of the night. Continue to speak to me as You have been God and help me to listen for You... In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Night At THRIVE

I just looked at the time...... 02:46?!?!?!


I've been suffering from insomnia recently both because of my unwillingness to shut my computer off and from the whole house being in a complete mess. My room is so covered and filled with clothes and stuff that I am packing- that my mind feels messed up as well.

Tonight was my first night going to THRIVE, a young adults' worship night at Keystone church near my house. There weren't a lot of kids today (supposedly they get around 200 most nights) but still a lot more than C.L.I.M.B..

I've actually always wanted to attend one of THRIVE's worship nights but I never got around to going because of one reason or another. I finally made my mind up to go today over the past weekend though. And wouldn't you know it... on Saturday, something happened that made me really not want to go to THRIVE anymore, but Becky told me that I shouldn't let that keep me away.

So I prayed and prayed and prayed about it. Even while I was driving to THRIVE, I prayed and asked God to just make things right. Not only did God answer my prayer, He also showed me why I was feeling hindered from going to THRIVE.

The reason is because when I got there, I realised that the people there seriously needed to be prayed over and I made a commitment to do that. Could it be that the devil did not want me there? I think it's a high possibility... That's why he tried to manipulate me into not going. But I am so glad that God put His will in me and I trusted Him to make things right.

I am excited to see God move powerfully again!

This walk with Jesus is getting awesomer and awesomer by the day...

But another dilemma is arising...

The pressure to find a job is building by the day. I will have to find some means of making money soon just to support myself. I can't live off my parents forever! However the more I think about possible jobs, the more I don't want to apply to any of them. Not because I've caught the lazybug of summer, but because they are all so distasteful compared to full-time ministry.

I keep thinking about how much nicer it would be to work in full-time ministry these days but I don't know how I would come up with the money to go to seminary in the meantime. I know if this is God's will, He will provide the necessary funds. However, I am still unsure as to whether this is what God wants for me or it's just what I prefer. Perhaps I really DID catch the lazybug and just don't feel like entering the workforce at all!

Whatever it is, I am going to listen for His voice.

I refuse to live a normal life when I've got Christ living in me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Awaken Us

Going around on Facebook, it's easy to feel like the only Christian in the world sometimes. Even reading some of the things professed Christians post on their walls makes me feel even lonelier because you realise that majority of the people who call themselves Christian are simply putting on a label.

Matthew 6:23 says "if then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

Yep. That was definitely me.

Thinking that I was a Christian all the while living any way I wanted. I thought I lived in the light but that thought itself blinded me to the fact that I wasn't living for Christ at all. I lived for myself and to gratify myself. How great was that darkness!

And how deep the darkness, when you try to justify yourself to others by acting like a good person! Although you're quoting Scripture and acting holy, your heart is covered in filthy darkness. Though outwardly shining, I was inwardly rotting in spiritual sin. I hated, I envied, I lied, I cheated, I took the Lord's name and promises in vain by worrying. And soon the condition of my heart would result in an outward manifestation of sorts.

Man, I hate pointing out splinters in other people's eyes because the spotlight always gets shined on my eyes next. I can only imagine the kind of backlash Paul must have gotten, writing all those convicting letters to the different churches. But I get so HOT sometimes reading these lies on Facebook...... and the only thing I can really do is pray for the person and hope that God will be merciful with me as well.

Yes, we are all works in progress- but some people aren't progressing at all. They're just stuck in a hamster wheel rut, imagining that they're going somewhere when really they're not.

I so desperately want my friends to wake up! To stop living for the world but to embrace Christ with everything they've got! Because Christ is all we've got......

Jesus Christ you're all I've got and there's nothing I can do or say to convince these people unless You personally touch their hearts God. So I ask that You will move among them, stir their hearts, convict them and cause a revival among those who are asleep in their faith. Put in their hearts such a burning passion for You that they will put to death their old ways and instead live as new creations in You God! I pray all these in Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Psalm 37:4

Because it's Monday, I spent the whole day cleaning with my little bro.

Luckily for us, dinner time didn't disappoint with beef, squash, mushroom and onion kebabs.

I was really exhausted by late afternoon though and promptly fell asleep on my bed for two hours. During those two hours, I vividly remember the dreams that I had. Although they were cut up into different sections (I woke up in between), they were all sort of connected to each other.

In my dreams I was traveling somewhere to live permanently but brought very little of my belongings with me. On my way to that next city/country, I somehow got separated from the old lady I was traveling with because chaos had broken out in the area. Nobody was safe and I felt hunted in every corner. Eventually, the whole dream turned into some hide-and-seek end of the world kind of nightmare. I found myself in a hospital hiding in the last dream, when the enemies broke into the building and began torturing people brutally. People were screaming and crying everywhere. In my heart, I somehow felt that if I were caught, the enemies would torture me if I didn't renounce my faith- and I was afraid that I would give up for fear of pain. Inevitably, I was cornered and caught; and this is really odd, but my captor began rubbing a small sore on my leg violently to hurt me because I would not give up the fight. Afterwards, I woke up.

For some reason, my dreams have been following such a scary theme for almost a year now.

And whenever these kind of apocalyptic dreams come up, I always get a sense of God being there with me; yet I don't seem to be able to cry out to Him. I used to be able to pray in my dreams but in these dreams I am always running away instead.

I'm not sure what all this is about but I really need to be more diligent about praying about my dreams before falling asleep. This dream probably happened because I was complacent before and did not ask for Jesus' presence and protection in my dreams/thoughts before sleeping.

On another note, I've been thinking about what I would like to do for the rest of my life if I had a completely free choice...... and honestly, I would love to be a missionary.

Whenever the church has a missions trip coming up, nobody knows, but I'm burning inside to go. Yet I never signed up for any missions trip because I never felt spiritually or financially adequate for the task. I also wasn't sure if going would be a part of God's plan. I guess I just didn't bother to ask.

But after working at VBS with the first graders and at Teen Bible Camp, I saw how rewarding serving fulltime actually is. In my mind, I compared it to all the other secular jobs I've ever had in my life and they all just fell short.

Take catering for example- it pays really well and I get to meet celebrities and interesting people each time, which is fun at first, but it does nothing. I don't feel like I've contributed anything to the world at all after each party. But Bible camps? I see how the Holy Spirit can move in the lives of each person. My time there is not wasted.

And not to mention, my love for other cultures and new situations certainly add fuel to the fire for going on mission trips.

I got a little sad thinking that God would probably never let me go on a mission trip. Or maybe just one and then it'll be back to regular life. Maybe I'll just witness to people at my everyday job. But oh how I wish that my everyday job were servicing the Lord! I can't explain this feeling...

Then I realised, that I've been on a mission trip for the past seven years.

I'm here in the U.S. aren't I?

Dude. Since God's promising me marriage in the future, I hope my husband is going to be some missionary guy. I cannot imagine living in the same country for more than a few years anymore.

Dear Lord Jesus, I will seek first Your kingdom above all else. I will not lust after all sorts of things that this world as to offer, but I will chase after Your goodness. I will seek You and find You in the quiet place. Then You will give me the desires of my heart and I will sing Your praises! I am so excited to see all the plans that You have for me. I know that You love me more than I love myself and so I am entrusting my future with You. Better is one day in Your house than thousands elsewhere!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Philly Teen Camp 2011

A week can seem like such a long or short time- depending on which perspective you look through. What just happened this week now seems like a dream.

A very incredibly awesome dream......

Since Monday, I've been at a teen camp for all the Nazarene churches in the Philly district. To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled in going because I didn't think that teens would really respond to or care about God.

I know that's really dumb of me to think that, but that's only because I never took church seriously while I was a teen so I thought that everyone else was like that.

I was there to be a counselor and I was really scared to have such a responsibility.

What if they didn't like me? What if they didn't want to listen to me talk about Jesus? What if I got impatient, angry and acted out at them?

I was so afraid that I would somehow be a bad example to them, so I prayed and asked that God would speak and move through me each day.

What happened next was incredible...

When God moves hearts, the following result is just amazing to watch. I watched teens with broken families, low self-esteem, heavy addictions, hearts filled with pain and fear, surrender their lives to God.

I watched eight boys and girls get baptised because they decided that they wanted to be done with their old lives. They decided to follow Christ to the end. They decided to deny themselves and pick up their crosses.

I had so much fun hanging out and doing all those fun activities with everybody.

That when it came time to leave, I found myself wishing that camp could go on for another week.

God had put such a fierce love in my heart for those kids that I seriously just could not bear to say goodbye.

Yes, I was tired, sore and completely out of my comfort zone, but I was also overwhelmed by the love that the presence of the Holy Spirit had brought.

There really isn't much else to say. God showed up big time at camp and I grew so much.

Praise Him! Jesus Christ- for what He has done for us on the cross!!!