This day, choose Christ

Capture

My friends, Jesus came to draw us into a RELATIONSHIP and to destroy RELIGION which cannot save us from the dark influence of sin. Only through CHRIST, do we have the power to overcome sin in our helplessness.

So how do we know we are in a religion called Christianity and not in a relationship with Christ?

One word- FEAR.

1 John 4:17-18
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Are you living or practicing your Christianity out of fear or out of love? For ie. do you feel fearful or guilty when you do not pray / read the bible / evangelise / attend your church service / tithe?

I’m not saying we should not have these practices in our walk with God. But the question is “why do we do what we do?”. We are saved by grace to do good works. We do not do good works to receive grace to be saved.

The good works that we do ought to flow from the grace of God in our lives. And that produces faith and TRUE obedience that has power and not just the form.

How do you and I keep our relationship with God strong? 

Seek to know the truth (through the bible) as it reveals the character, thoughts and plans of God. With the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of the saints, He puts the truth into an encounter to experience His tangible love and know His GRACE. This takes place from glory to glory.

As you grow deeper in His love, what you do won’t be determined (or coerced) by rules or law as you understand the principle and flow with His spirit. What you do will be driven or compelled by His love for you.

Religion is cold. It’s about following rules and presents a false sense of salvation and righteousness. What you do (including the good works or church work) is driven by fear. There is no life in religion but death. More importantly, you won’t find LOVE in religion. And certainly, you won’t experience GRACE in religion.

This day, choose CHRIST. Experience His love and know His grace for you.

Galatians 2:19-21
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Now I am Andrew

andrew-1Unknown to most, Andrew is actually my rebirth or baptized name. My birth name, which was given by my parents is Kelvin.

It was God who gave me the name “Andrew” during the period when I was due to be water baptized.

While spending time with God, I was reading the scriptures and came to the part where Jesus Christ invited Peter and Andrew to follow Him.

As I read my spirit was stirred, it felt as if Jesus was calling out to me as ‘Andrew’, “Come, follow me.” (c.f. Matthew 4:18-19)

I had an encounter with Jesus!

Although I knew He was calling me, ‘Andrew’, I hesitated to assume that He wanted to change my name. Thus, I told Him if it was His intention to change my name that He somehow confirm this to me. And boy did He!

The first confirmation

That same week at a church service, the passage that was preached was… YES you guessed correctly! It was about Andrew!

The preacher taught how Andrew was evangelistic who brought people to Jesus including his brother, Peter.

I didn’t really want to believe this as a confirmation and regarded it as a coincidence.

The second confirmation

The next following week at the church service. My younger brother joined me for the first time upon, he responded to receive Jesus Christ during the altar call.

As like most altar calls, my younger brother left his seat to approach the stage area to where the pastor was. I accompanied him. And after he prayed to receive Jesus with others as well, the pastor walked towards us and spoke to us.

He asked my brother’s name and mine. And we told him we were brothers. At that remark, the pastor shook my hand enthusiastically and affirmed me saying, “Wow! You are an ANDREW!”

Could you imagine that???

The final confirmation

If that was not convincing enough for me, God pulled another trick just for His own pleasure just to prove a point.

I have always been a huge fan of Manchester United Football Club and follow closely to their games and developments. Therefore, I know the names of every player of this team.

That following week while reading the papers on the team, I realised the name of their prolific star striker, Andy Cole had suddenly changed. And that was the name he was known as since he started his career!

Now make a guess to what name it now read? That’s right… ANDREW Cole!!!

Till today, there hasn’t been a clear explanation why Andy Cole changed his name from that time onwards. And it had to happen during that period!

What are the chances of that happening?! God truly knew how to get my attention and to convince me to accept the change of name!

My new identity in Christ

Now 15 years as Andrew, I understand and appreciate why God took all that effort to change my name.

Like how He did so for many of the biblical characters in the Bible such as Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter and so on, He did so to establish a new identity for that person.

The old me (Kelvin) is now no more and the new has come. Now in Christ, I am Andrew with a new mission in life ordained by God and I embrace His call.

I know for a fact the kind of person the old me called Kelvin is. And there’s nothing good in him. This new name not only reminds me that this new life that I have I now live consecrated for Him, but also to firmly anchor me in my new destiny in Christ.

I’m no longer looking back, I’ve decided to follow Jesus!

My best Christmas was…

My best Christmas was ironically my saddest. This took place ten years ago.

I remembered being overly enthusiastic about inviting my close group of friends to the Christmas service.

After inviting most of them, my final list had at least 20 of them. However, on the actual day none of them showed up. Not one.

I was utterly disappointed and devastated. During that Christmas service, I wept.

But right there, God revealed His heart to me. I was also feeling His disappointment and devastation. And I got a glimpse of His amazing love for us.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

John 1:10-11

Despite our hostility and shortcomings, God never condemns us nor does He gives up on us. He just keeps on loving us into His kingdom. 

I also understood better that the rejection that I faced was not directed at me, but at Jesus (c.f. Matthew 10:40). And like Jesus, I should keep on loving with no strings attached.

That Christmas, it was my best because God aligned my heart with His. That’s what made it special and memorable.

God is love.

My 2008 in a Glance

1. My unforgettable answered prayer

It has to be meeting that special someone in early 2008. Not only was it unforgettable, but also an unexpected prayer that was answered almost immediately that caught me totally off-guard. LOL…

2. My greatest breakthrough

In 2008 I had experienced scalability in sharing God’s love with greater influence. Last year alone I had opportunities to share to an audience and two major occasions were on Easter and Christmas.

In my early walk with God, I usually share my testimony in one-to-one sessions more frequently. Now, God has increased that level of outreach where I can share to a wider audience in one single session.

3. My memorable experience

This has got to be the period when I was in the valley of decision-making towards moving to another church. The process was agonising and draining.

That experience was memorable as it was tough in every aspect but also served as a good test on my relationship with God. It also helped me to see the true substance of my love, faith, values and beliefs in Jesus; what my relationship was built upon and whether or not it was dependent on the ‘safety net’ of religious routine, obligations and culture.

4. My happiest and elating moment

It has to be my ‘big brother’, Thomas’ salvation in June 2008. Actually, his salvation is another unforgettable prayer that was answered after more than 8 years. The other has got to be my recent spiritual conversation with my 7-year old niece, Jacqueline.

5. My lessons learnt about God

Never limit God. He is full of surprises and He has great plans that will blow your mind and imagination away if you are open to Him. He is ever-ready to bless us exceedingly and abundantly if we only dare to believe and ask!

6. My lessons learnt about my own-self

I’ve learnt how I cannot stand the status quo. I’ve also realised that I have been gifted with an entrepreneurial spirit which I intend to put to good use for His kingdom purpose.

The Christmas ‘Angels’

The picture below was taken (by me) during a candlelight segment at a Christmas service of City Harvest Church on 24 December 2008.

If you observe carefully, the lights of the candles especially those at the back seem to resemble a horde of angels taking flight.

* Click over image for larger version

Divine or coincidence leh…? I also don’t know what to make of it.

It is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive

Despite finding myself becoming more of a ‘boring’ person with each passing Christmas, but on the contrary I actually find my life becoming more exciting.

This year’s Christmas has been very low-key one for me but an extremely meaningful one.

A season of giving

First, I broke my personal record of giving away a total of 100 Christmas gifts to my list of family members, colleagues, church mates, friends and associates.

Whether recession or not, God has blessed me much to be a blessing. I am thankful that I had enough to give as an expression of my sincere love to those around me especially my family.

Second, I served my community. I took time to host a Christmas Party by my Resident’s Committee (RC) for the residents living in Clementi. I found it a great platform for me to use my talent, gifts and skills to serve my neighbours.

On a separate occasion, I joined some of my fellow TOC members to distribute Christmas hampers and gifts to needy residents living at Old Airport Road. It was really satisfying to bless those families with no strings attached as we mentioned nothing of any organisation that we could have been representing.

Personally, this sort of engagement through serving my community is humbling as it puts my life in His perspective with His love.

Blessed to give than to receive

Looking back, I am amazed how God has increased my ability and capacity to give as I walked in His ways over the years.

I know I desire to give more and foresee that He will provide me the scalability or upward mobility in order to be a greater blessing.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35

Though I no longer bask in parties with all the booze and glitter like how I used to enjoy, but I’ve now discovered the secret of attaining true joy; one that will not fade after the ‘high’ from the partying wears off.

That ‘secret’ is through giving and serving those (regardless of religion, race, gender, age or background) around me.

How I spent Christmas- FINAL part

Finally the last day and the day of celebration…

25th December

1:00pm

A nice delightful ‘reunion’ time with NG5A3 at Apple’s place.

6:00pm

Had some family time at my dad.

10:00pm

Last stop was at my old buddy’s place and where I had some play tine with his kid, Wayne.

Phew… that was how Christmas was spent this year, with close people that matters to me =)