Reviewing The Year Through My Facebook Posts

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Jesus says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak (Matt 12:34). In our age of social media, we could say that out of the abundance of our hearts, we will tweet, or post.

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought it’d be an interesting exercise to review my posts through the year to see what resonated most in my heart. Unlike the Year In Review generated by Facebook based on posts which garnered the most likes, here are some of my personal favourites with a little commentary of what prompted each post.

You can’t love Jesus and not move forward! This was the challenge I issued to the congregation based on our church’s theme and process. Too many declare their love for Jesus but never move from that at all. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.” And that means doing all He tells us to do.

I’m on cloud nine! My wife said that I preached a good message this morning *beam* Others may tell me that I preached well. But when Serene tells me that, it makes all the difference!

This morning’s message convicted a sister to be baptized regardless being only believer in family. Love it when people respond to the Word! This is every preacher’s desire – when people are convicted by the message and are moved to act on it.

Biblical declarations may sound positive. But without Christ, it’s just another motivational chant and you’re still relying on yourself. This has become such a concern. Christians sure know how to talk Christian, but are they necessarily living a life in Christ? Unfortunately, a trial or crisis usually reveals otherwise.

You can learn from others’ experiences. But what you need to experience personally, only you can experience. No one can experience it for you. At the end of the day, it’s a walk that only you can walk.

After the Transformers ride… Me: “Deborah, you were so brave!!” Deborah: “Do you know why I am brave? Because God is with me. Love these chats with my 6 year old.

Don’t serve because pastor says so. Nor serve because it makes you feel better about yourself. Serve because you love Jesus. Always good to challenge ourselves to know why or whom we serve.

Singlish faith: Ok God, you say one ah! I really love this one! Only Singaporeans can identify with this phrase and how to say it correctly – haha! This is something I say to the Lord often, in Singlish, of course.

The question is not “Is God speaking?” but “Are we listening?I posted this after a series of instructions and affirmations from the Lord. Totally overwhelmed by how clearly He spoke!

It may seem insignificant but that little act of obedience, your response by faith, is what opens the door to all that God has already prepared for you. Believing this for myself. Now, to run through the opened door.

Before faith can be victorious, it must be courageous. Preached “Victorious Faith” and was reminded that at times, it is courageous faith that leads us to victorious faith! Amen!

In our relationship with God, we mustn’t have a contractual but a covenantal mindset. The former is based on terms whilst the latter, trust. Really love this revelation by the Spirit. Stop bargaining with God, presenting your terms or demanding your entitlements. Just trust Him and serve Him. He knows best.

Just dawned on me: God could raise any one of these to become the next Graham, Moody or Spurgeon; and I would have played a small part in speaking into their lives! Yes, Lord! After preaching at a youth camp, I realised my little contribution could be used by God to raise a new generation of preachers and leaders. Wow! Sure bowled me over.

A walk with Jesus not only helps you celebrate coincidences as divine but also to understand them as sovereign checkpoints towards all He has planned for you. Looking back, it is truly amazing how the Lord has led me thus far. Everything falls in place when seen from His perspective. I’m so looking forward to the next leg of the journey in 2014.

Meaningful that the 9 of us spent tonight reviewing 2013 & committing our desires for 2014 to the Lord. Our family held a Thanksgiving & Consecration Service on 29 Dec as prompted by the Lord in the spirit of Joshua 1:11 that “within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.”

Indeed, It’s been a very challenging but interesting year. Yet, all through, the Lord has been with me, sustaining and enabling me by His grace. I don’t really know what to expect in 2014. All I know is that I have a word from the Lord and I will be holding on to that for dear life. For, if the Lord has spoken, then surely He is faithful to bring it to pass. We may face uncertainties and challenges along the way, but we can rest assured that His presence goes with us. Nothing will rock our conviction nor distract us from the call. In the words of Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

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PS: As always, my prayer is that the Lord will use these posts to bless, encourage and even provoke you. For more of my rambling thoughts (revelations?), check out Quotable Quotes. Feel free to share these with others, but please remember to credit http://www.brohenson.org. Thanks!

Here We Go Again

I guess it can’t be helped. As long as the problem remains, it will be headline news, over and over again. In case you’re wondering what I am referring to, I’m talking about babies. Or more accurately, the lack of babies in Singapore.

In his address at the Tanjong Pagar GRC National Day Dinner, our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew urged Singaporeans to “get married and have babies.” Simply, our most senior statesman has raised the red flag. Of course, this triggers a whole new barrage of comments, opinions and suggestions in the media and online. I understand that this will also be the topic for Channel News Asia’s Singapore Talking next week. I wonder what will be discussed or raised? Would it not be the same points, reasons and excuses again? What new discoveries and revelations will there be? Truly, this baby talk is getting tiring.

Anyway, since this is the talk of the town (again), permit me my share of air-time …

Two days ago, I was approached by a friend if Serene and I would be keen to be interviewed by the press. I wonder why? – haha! This friend thought that it would be a good idea for our family to be featured that others would be inspired to have more children. Such optimism, but honestly, I think it will take more than an article with a family of nine to convince Singaporeans to have babies. With present mindsets, a picture of our family might just scare them off … for good 🙂 So, we declined the interview.

Two weeks ago, at the “Day of His Power” prayer concert organised by LoveSingapore, the time came for all to pray for families. The prayer leader led the way, praying with full conviction as his voice bellowed over the mega sound system of the Indoor Stadium, “LORD, OPEN THE WOMBS…” Indeed, for those who have been trying to conceive but can’t, this is the prayer for them. But I don’t think this addresses the right target audience. The more appropriate prayer, in my opinion, should be, “Lord, open the hearts and minds of those who refuse to have babies …” Unless and until they – Christians included – see that children are indeed blessings from the Lord, nothing is going to happen. I’ve always wondered if the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for Christians is significantly higher than that of society?

So for the next few weeks, let us brace ourselves for more media coverage on this great Singapore conundrum. Already, articles and blogposts have been circulating on Facebook, with many sharing their views and perspectives. Yet, however well presented these socio-economic papers and propositions might be, they remain Man’s attempt at solving the problem, for God is never mentioned, understandably, in our secular setting. And yet, the institution of the family is entirely God’s idea. As such, it can never be solved apart from Him and according to His ways!

Read more closely and you will discover that it’s the same blame game, … blame the government, blame the economy, blame the housing, blame the high cost, blame the education system, etc. Then, in the end, it’s the same hopeful Singaporean suggestion: that the government will do something about it. Really, if the government could manufacture babies for the nation, they would. After all, we Singaporeans expect them to do everything for us, including raise our children on our behalf. And if we are not happy about how our children turn out, at least we can blame someone else again.

Enough said. Until we stop talking and start doing, it’s going to be a very different Singapore in the years ahead. Lord, help us.

Dealing with Disappointments

I’ve been reading quite a few Facebook updates that express disappointment.  Typically, these are posted by young adults who have been let down or disappointed by their boy- or girlfriend hopefuls.  There are, of course, others who are disappointed with life, with careers, with the economy, with the government … the list goes on.

The truth is, as long as we live in this fallen world, we will be disappointed, over and over again.  The quicker we acknowledge and understand this, the better it is for us.  If not, over time, after repeated disappointments and hurt, we can end up bitter and hopeless.  I’ve come across many who dare not hope, trust or love anymore for fear of getting disappointed once again.  How sad.

Let’s explore this thought a little …

For starters, deep within each of us are needs that long to be met.  To fulfil these needs, we look to external things and people that seem to offer the answer and solution.  That’s what expectations are all about!  An employee expects job satisfaction and a good remuneration.  A parent expects a child to do well academically.  A wife expects her husband to romance her with all his time and attention.  A pastor expects his congregation to be on fire for God.  Whilst all these appear noble, the underlying motivation is often fuelled by our need for love, acceptance, for identity, for success, for fame.  In other words, we are looking to others to make us feel better about ourselves, to make us whole.  Put another way, what we are hoping for is this … that our own imperfections can be impacted and improved by others who are as imperfect as we are!  Can you see where this is all leading?  We expect (or are hopeful) that our husbands, our wives, our children, our bosses, our friends will all be perfect so that we can have the fulfillment needed for a better life.  No wonder we are sadly and sorely disappointed!

I may try to be the best husband and the best dad I can ever be to my wife and my children, but I’ve long since realised I won’t be able to meet all their needs.  I may contribute to their well-being and own understanding of self-worth, but I cannot be everything to them.  I may spend time with them but I can’t be always there for them.  It is just not possible, regardless the number of marriage or parenting seminars I attend.  If I think I can and expect that of myself, I have just set myself up for a big fall; for soon enough, I will meet with great disappointment when reality stares me straight in the face.  Similarly, if I expect the same of my wife and children, I will also end up being disappointed with them.  That’s because the selfish and self-centred nature in me will demand more and more of something they won’t be able to provide or meet!  Once again … disappointment!

Does it mean then it is better not to hope anymore; for if we don’t hope, we won’t be disappointed?  As we have seen, it is not hope itself that is the problem, but the object of our hope.

The psalmist understood this very well as he experienced difficult situations, as well as disappointing ones.  His conclusion was simply this … stop putting your trust in men or the world, instead “hope in God!” (Psalm 42:5 & 11)  What wisdom!  Surely, the One who is perfect will never disappoint me or let me down.  Even if His leading may not sit well with my limited understanding, I can still be assured that His ways are still the best ways.  Psalm 146:5,6 says, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord His God.”  This is the hope I’d rather have, than the uncertain ones placed in people however well-meaning they may be.  Hoping is others and the things of this world is never steady.  But hoping in God, and having our needs fully met and satisfied by Him is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” Heb 6:19.

I love my wife dearly, but it is inaccurate to think my needs can be fully met by her apart from God.  Similarly, I too cannot meet her every need.  I love my children and desire the best for them, but they are not given to me to inflate my fat ego.  I may hope that they grow up to be great men and women of God, but my hope must still be in God.  In much the same way, their reliance on me as little children must shift to a reliance on God as they grow up and in intimacy with Him.  My prayer for my wife and children is that they too will discover this truth for themselves.  As they direct and place their hope in God, it will help them better manage the expectations and disappointments life throws at them.  At the same time, the great pressure and burden to meet another’s expectation is also lifted.  We are to live as unto the Lord as the only one expectation we seek to meet is that which comes from Him! “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

Will there still be disappointments in my life?  I believe so.  But with this understanding and assurance in the Lord, I see these as needful and timely reminders to always keep my eyes on Jesus, to only hope in Him, for it only in Him can I live, move and have my being.

What’s On Your Mind?

What's on your mindI had previously written a post “Christians on Facebook” where I reminded myself of how I, as a Christian and a minister of the Word, should conduct myself on Facebook.  The points raised continue to be valid.

More recently, as I scrolled through the various status updates of friends, a few caught my attention (and it was not because of the cleverness or witty phrasing).  I noticed over time that each had a particular pet topic, subject or focus.  Then, ever so subtly, I felt a gentle prompting by the Holy Spirit who directed me to the words contained in the status update box … “What’s on your mind?”

I smiled as I realised what the Spirit was trying to say to me.  Immediately, the words from Romans 8:6 rang in my heart …  “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:6

Indeed, you can tell a lot about a person from what he or she writes on Facebook.  More interestingly, you get to discover what is truly on this person’s mind.  What is he or she constantly pre-occupied with? … baby? … food? … holidays? … shopping? … movies? … parties? … men? … women? … things of God?  A mind set on the Spirit and on spiritual things will focus on God and His purposes.  Consequently, daily situations and challenges will then viewed with and commented from this godly perspective.

I am of course not advocating that every Facebook update by a Christian should be crammed with Scripture verses or punctuated with ‘hallelujahs’.  After all, these updates alone do not determine how passionate a Christian is for God and His Kingdom or how spiritually matured one is.

Nonetheless, this is a still a good reminder by the Holy Spirit.  And I love the way He does it … so gently and with such a great sense of humour too.

What’s on your mind? 🙂

Related Post: Every Thought Captive

Christians on Facebook

It’s been interesting, reading the various remarks, updates and posts on Facebook.  These have been wide-ranging … a thought, a desire, a proverb, a riddle, a gripe, a complaint, etc.  For the more graphic (bolder) ones, photos and videos are uploaded … of families, of personal interests, of issues (political, religious, social), of parties, of life, etc.  This online community is abuzz.

The question is, “How should a Christian conduct himself or herself on Facebook?”

I have read comments from Christians that have surprised me.  Quite obviously, these are cases where fingers have moved faster than the mind could have been engaged – griping, complaining, even swearing and cursing.  Then, there are pictures of Christians partying … and I mean, really partying, clubbing … drinks in hand, guys hugging gals, immodest dressing.

These comments and pictures may be directed at certain specific friends.  However, we forget that others in the friends list also read and see everything that is posted.  A Christian may have a majority of Christian friends.  Some Christian friends may be matured, but some may be new or young Christians.  It is also very likely that there would be non-Christians in the same list.

We seem to have forgotten that an online community is still a community.  The words of Jesus in Matt 5:13-16 stay relevant … “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world …”  Jesus’ standards do not change just because it’s Facebook.  In fact, a Christian should be even more careful and sensitive because he doesn’t know who might be exposed to his remarks or pictures.  The probability of offending or stumbling someone is even higher in such a community!

As I write this post, I am reminded of how I also have been careless in my Facebook conduct.  There have been times an update has been released too quickly.  These days, I check myself when crafting each post.  I read it a few times, and again, and then again.  If it still looks questionable, then it’s probably not worth posting (or tweeting) it at all.

May our words, pictures or videos on Facebook bring encouragement and hope to someone out there; and glory, praise and honour to our Lord Jesus Christ!

Related Posts: What’s On Your Mind, Every Thought Captive, Children on Facebook

Facebook App: Message From God?

There’s this interesting application on Facebook called “See what God wants you to know …”  All you do is click on “Read your Message from God” and the system automatically generates a “word” from God for you.  At first, I thought it was quite neat.  After a while, I began to feel a little uncomfortable with it.  I couldn’t quite explain why … something just didn’t sit well with me.

One day, it hit me!

I remember as a kid when I would flip to the horoscope section of the newspapers or a magazine just to find out what my sign had in store for me.  On some days, it would be a word of encouragement.  And on other days, it would be a word of caution.  This Facebook application functions in the same way!  Hmmm … let’s see … what is God saying to me today? … click … oh wow, I am highly favoured … click … oh dear, spiritual warfare today … click … oh my, I need healing from my past … click … oh yes, I will be prosperous this week … I think you get the point.  This is Christian Horoscope!  What happened to waiting upon the Lord, being in His presence and hearing His voice?

I’m sure no Christian really takes this application seriously.  Then again, judging from the short-cuts nowadays, I could wrong.