It’s Not About My Performance, it’s all about Christ’s Perfection

Psalm 84:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

Sometimes waiting for God’s will to come to pass feels like fighting the temptation to eat the first marshmallow–but if we would just wait for His appointed time, we will have two marshmallows instead of one.

And my God is faithful, whatever He has promised, He will surely deliver.

Love this song by New Creation Church.

Being Christian: What It Means to Me

Inspired by my pastor’s preaching on praising God this morning, I searched Youtube for Christian praise songs and found this beautiful number by Singapore’s New Creation Church.

Unto You, be all glory and all praise–indeed!

This song got me sentimental and thinking of what a wonderful God and Saviour I have chosen to follow. And an amazing journey I have had since the day I began to follow Him–the God who loves me despite my imperfections, mistakes, and rough edges.

And that really should not be a surprise at all because there is no command in the Bible for the followers of Christ to be all saintly and perfect. If we could achieve that there would be no need for Jesus in the first place.

I guess Christianity becomes controversial and offensive–when Christians forget their own humanity and need for Christ, and go around trumpeting opinions and dishing out do’s and don’ts in His name. Maybe it’s easy to blur the lines between becoming like Christ, and wrongly thinking that we are already like Him and therefore have the right to impose our views on others.

Being a Christian, to me, is simple. It simply means I have a source of guidance to turn to in times of troubles and doubt. I have a Higher Authority to whom I look for hope when things happen that defy explanations, and when prognosis for the future looks bleak. I have a point of reference when I am not sure what is right or wrong. It means I have knowledge that shapes  my beliefs, principles, and ideals. The rest — like the fun worshipping in church, the peace and joy and boundless optimism —  are the happy by products of my walk with Christ.

So this is how it works for me–my relationship with my Saviour, and learning to become a better person. It may work differently for others, and the good news for me is, I know enough about the Bible to be absolutely sure that I am only called to follow Christ, not to be on His law enforcement team–if there is even one in the first place. Ha!

 

Being Patient Can Be Effortless…If Only We Know How

Patience is a virtue that not many of us seem to have. But I believe if we see it as a skill that can be acquired, it won’t be all that hard to be patient, both with people and situations.

Here are three ways to be patient that have worked for me:

1. Find worthwhile things to do while waiting for an undesirable situation to pass
I seldom get frustrated during traffic jams (unless I am late for an important event). It’s because I get to listen to my favourite CDs, and sometimes I make use of the time to learn a foreign language by playing an audio CD. And everytime I go to the bank, or anywhere that I may be required to wait, I usually have a book with me.

2. Practise counting to five before reacting when someone else’s actions rub us the wrong way
With enough practice we can make responding thoughtfully (instead of reacting viscerally) a habit. Walking away to give ourselves some space to regain rational thinking also works — if only we would just do this instead of giving in to the temptation to react.

3. Celebrate progress no matter how small, and see setbacks as part and parcel of the journey
This especially applies when we are waiting for major changes to take place or goals to materialize, like recovering from an illness, repairing strained relationships, losing weight, getting an MBA, and getting out of debt.

It’s like solving a big, complicated jigsaw puzzle. It’s exciting to fit a piece correctly, but there will be times when we get it wrong and then have to go back to the pile to search again for the correct piece. If we see every setback as part of the journey towards the end goal, we will be able to embrace the long haul more optimistically.

So being patient is actually not that difficult. We just have to find the right things and the right attitude to give us a sense of momentum–because as long as we feel progress no matter how small, we will cease to be frustrated.

The Five Cs: How is Success Defined?

Another old post, from 2007. This was written after my friends jokingly teased me about the kind of guy I should go for – someone who has all the “5C’s” and therefore fits society’s shallow definition of success. This is a prevalent joke in Malaysia and Singapore about materialism – that in order to be deemed “successful” one must have all five Cs’ – career, car, credit card, condominium, and cash. So I wrote a counter perspective, a Christian perspective, albeit one I am sure anyone can relate to, Christian or not.

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1. Career or Christ?

Career – you love what you do (or you may not), you are good at it, it gives you status and money, albeit often at a price. You have to work at keeping it, you need to please your bosses and customers, and for many of us our careers dictate our lives and the major decisions that we make.

Christ promises:

Freedom – free to be all you can be according to His blueprint for your life, free because you seek to please only Him, free because no matter where you go you know it is Jesus you are following therefore ultimately you can never go wrong.

2.Condominium or confidence?

Condominium – nice, classy unit in a nice, classy skyscraper you make your abode.

But you part with a huge chunk of your earnings per month to pay for it (unless you own the developing company or the banks that finance these guys) and there is still no guarantee that your condo would be there forever! (Remember Highland Towers, anyone? And have you bought a leasehold or freehold property?)

Confidence in Christ promises:

Certainty – knowing that there are things that belong to you that will not pass away. Like the dwelling that He has gone to prepare for you in heaven, and the eternal investment bank where your treasures will neither depreciate nor perish.

3. Cash or contentment?

Cash – who would say ‘no’ to this one? It lets you buy that Tag Heuer timepiece without interest-laden monthly installments, it can give you a comfortable retirement. Or at least, if you do not like your nose, with some cash you can still get that fixed (hopefully).

But what if the bank suddenly gets into trouble? Or no thanks to inflation, by the time you’re sixty the money you have is still not quite enough to take you to your dream destinations because AirAsia does not fly there.

Contentment with godliness promises:

Joy – the capacity to enjoy everything life has to offer regardless of circumstances, and how your nose looks. When you lack, you thank God because you know it helps you to appreciate abundance when it comes (and you know it will come because of the God in whom you trust). You are happy visiting relatives in Ulu Selangor although you really wanted to travel to the United States – because you know that ultimately, what matters most is not where you spend your vacations, but where you spend eternity.

4. A flashy car or compassion?

Car – guys, if you pull up the driveway of your date’s home in a gleaming Jaguar, I can almost guarantee that her heart will skip a beat (but I cannot guarantee that she will fall in love with you) and her dad would probably look up from his newspaper to peer at you from behind his glasses.

A fancy car takes you from Point A to Point B very comfortably and stylishly, and the sound system is so good that you forget you’re sharing the road with others. But it also contributes to mountain-high debts (for most people, at least), traffic jams and pollution.

Compassion – it has the power to take you into people’s lives where you really make a difference.

It took a little Macedonian lady to the dirty streets of Calcutta (now Kolkata). It took a princess from the gilded confines of Kensington Palace into the company of landmine victims in war-torn countries. It has taken countless missionaries from privileged countries to reach out to the poor and needy in the Third World.

And ultimately, it took Jesus, the Son of God to Calvary to die for our sins.

5. Credit card or character?

Credit card – something which, I am sure, most of us flash more often than our National Registration Identification Card (I mean the IC). It’s nice to have – just one swipe and you have that Prada bag hanging on your arm. Hey, let’s worry about the bill later because that’s exactly when it’s coming – later.

And the best thing is, you can pay the bill even later than later, that is, if you do not mind paying the interest as well. If the amount you end up owing becomes a little bit too high, just refinance. You might even get a ‘free gift’ from the nice bank.

Life is great – till you have collected seven free mugs from refinancing, and are still closer to bankruptcy than becoming debt-free!

Character promises:

Strength – the strength to choose wisdom over compulsion so that you do not do something with long-term consequences which you will regret. It develops self-confidence because you know that you can trust yourself not to get into trouble in the face of temptations. And you do not give up in the face of discouragement.

And ultimately, it leads you to true success because a person with character will choose to walk in the Spirit even when it is much easier and more pleasurable to choose the works of the flesh.

So, which set of Five C’s do you think you want? Jesus says that if we choose the Godly C’s we will come to have the rest of the C’s as well.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (NKJV, Thomas Nelson).

A super-duper offer – that’s simply too good to resist.