I’ve moved quite a lot in my life (4 countries, 3 continents, 10 cities and counting), and moving in my adult life as a Christian, one of the first things I would do is to look for a church community. When I was younger, typically I would just look for the local Chinese Church because it’s what I was used to growing up, and usually there’d only be one.
However, before moving to the States, I received some solid advice on how to choose a new church. I took this advice, and by the grace of God it led me to my previous church family that I loved so deeply I almost didn’t want to leave, and is the criteria I would consider if I ever had to move again.
There are only 3 things I look for now. If I write it down so that I don’t forget, perhaps it could help you too.
I actually made a cover of this song because I wanted to use it as relaxing background music for a video at a later date, but also I do like doing worship song covers that I can listen back on too.
Eventually I hope to have enough relaxing covers for worship songs that I’ll be able to put together a playlist that I can personally listen to when I’m working or reading or for quiet time. Hope you enjoy to :)
I really got into recording more for YouTube. Realising that I somehow gained an audience of over 1.3k subscribers over the past decade while trying to figure out how I can do my part to share the gospel in this time of quarantine has led me to feel convicted to use it as a platform to do just that.
I don’t know if anything will come of it, or if it’ll even serve its intended purpose, but at the very least it gives Jacky and I more opportunities to worship together, while also giving me something to upload with a faith angle behind it.
I am rarely vocal about my faith online outside of my blog – shame on me – so, God willing, I think it’s time to change that.
Circumstances are really difficult right now for many people. I’m coming to realise that I’m one of the (fewer?) lucky ones who have really found rest, restoration, peace and joy during it. God has been very gracious to us in providing everything we need, and we are blessed that Jacky still has a job and income to support us both. I live in comfort and privilege and I am becoming ever more aware and grateful for it (though may I also be wary of the dangers of idolatry that come with it).
However, regardless of circumstance, it is always a good time to come before the throne of God above and worship Him, to bring our struggles, our desires, our darkness, sins and despair to the feet of Jesus — and remember just how good our God is.
No matter what, we who are trusting in Jesus have a great hope: that the sinless Great High Priest has indeed died for our sins and saved us from the wrath of God that was rightly due to us, and He is alive today! He is risen, death is defeated, and He lavishes grace upon grace over us by granting us eternal life and, one day, eternal glory with Him.
This life is not all that we have. In this life, may we be grow in spiritual maturity, ever more conformed to the image of Christ, to live out a life that glorifies Him. And through it all, may we not falter in our hope of eternity with Him, not forgetting that one day, we will stand before the throne of God in Heaven, in the New Jerusalem, where we will reign with Christ; there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death. No COVID-19s, no need for vaccinations… all things will be made new.
That is what we hope in, and Jesus’ death and resurrection proved His authority as God, His authority to bring all these things to pass, and that His promises will never fail. Our hope is in Jesus, not in this world. So let us not grow faint or weary, or fearful, but let us cast our anxieties onto Him who grants everlasting peace. And now, more than ever, may Philippians 1:21 ring true:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21, ESV
Filming this song made me realise just hoooow out of tune I am when I try to play and sing at the same time. Sigh. I don’t like my singing voice in general, but this one really highlights how shrill my voice sounds. Nevertheless, I hope it can be of encouragement for others who also don’t have a perfect singing voice – worship is from the heart, to our Lord, and as long as that is fulfilled, He is pleased.
(I do feel sorry for the listeners though, sorry. I cannot promise I’ll succeed, but I will still strive to improve!)
Looks like part 2 took longer to churn out than expected! I do typically try to set aside time to review sermons and write my reflections on a Tuesday though so I suppose I am still sort-of on schedule.
4. How has it challenged my thinking? I do actually recall being quite challenged by this the first time I heard it, especially given the changing names part.
At that time, Jacky and I were still discussing marriage and whether or not I was going to change my name after we were married. He wanted me to change my name, I did not want to. We eventually decided that I would change my name, but just not immediately after getting married. Regardless, I wouldn’t mind being referred to as Mrs. Chan.
This time, hearing it again so soon after doing my reflections on Christ’s Family First I was really struck by the significance of being adopted into the bloodline of Christ – especially as a woman – and just how dramatically that should change our mindset.
Jesus embodied it first – he declined going out to see his ‘blood relatives’ in order to be with his new spiritual family. Do I, now that I am married – do we, Jacky and I as a married couple – still put Christ’s family first? And are we honest to our single friends about the struggles of marriage and singleness? Have I also fallen into the trap of idolising marriage, or at least inadvertently suggested that it is a natural result for all quality Christians as long as you are not gay?
Post for another time, but I am convinced that you can be a devout, God-glorifying Christian while struggling with same-sex attraction by choosing to remain single – and I believe that while there are many who are heterosexual that continue to have the gift of singleness for the rest of their lives, God calls all His homosexual followers to a life of singleness of celibacy if they remain homosexual and still desire to follow Him.
So while I always strive to shower my homosexual friends with as much love and fellowship as possible to encourage them in singleness if they are believers, or share the love of Christ if they do not believe in Jesus, I am ashamed to admit that have definitely used language to suggest my beloved heterosexual brothers and sisters should be married.
p. Nick wrote:
“One thing you will not find anywhere in Scriptures as God’s will for his people; as a goal or purpose for which believers to strive, is for single people to get married.”
And I highlighted this in my previous post but I think it’s worth repeating:
“Can you imagine if our community were so focused on reaching the lost, discipling the saved, and living out the gospel that questions about whether someone should wait to date or get married were influenced by that urgency?”
“If we would do that, then we would have something meaningful and even attractive to offer those whom we would call to live their entire lives in chastity.”
These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:
What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
How has it challenged my thinking?
What practical applications can I take from it?
Full disclosure: I actually listened to this yesterday and did part of these reflections yesterday, but my brain hurt too much to process it all and I had a small group to attend before I could finish it. So here we are.
1. What sermon did I listen to today? Singleness of Purpose (Part 2 of 2 of a series on Identity in Christ and Singleness) – p. Nick Hsieh Unfortunately this recording did not start from the beginning of the sermon and I’d say about 1/3 of it was cut off. I got the sermon manuscript from p. Nick and would strongly encourage others to do the same, to read and follow along whilst listening to the recording. There is one part that he chose to cut out from his sermon message, which he left in the original manuscript that included examples of how people can and have lived out their lives with the principle of Christ’s Family First.
2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences. Both singleness and marriage are states in which we are to pursue the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, to live out the will of God, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. They both come with their own set of challenges, and NEITHER are goals or purposes of the Christian life, nor should either of them be venerated as an ideal, focus or priority because you can and should still accomplish the will of God in either of those states.
3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
Here are some key quotes that really struck me (most of them are taken from the manuscript verbatim, though I’ve summarised some of the secondary bullets):
It’s not whether you have a gift, but whether you are being a gift to the church. The question isn’t, “Do you have the ability to remain single?” The question is, “Are you exercising it?”
The “gift of singleness” is not a spiritual gift. 1 Cor 12:4-6 seems to suggest it is equated with services and activities, rather than abilities.
You don’t determine whether or not you have a gift based on whether you’re lacking a normal drive or desire.
Having the gift of singleness or not is not determined by how strong your sex drive is.
Everyone has the gift of singleness until they are married.
[The] phrase “aflame with passion” (1 Cor 7:8-9) most likely pictures the idea of being consumed in or by sin (and its accompanying judgement).
Typically in the Bible, fire is used to refer to God’s presence, His acceptance of a sacrifice, or judgement, but not passion in a positive sense – so whilst most people nowadays understand “passion” to mean something good, Paul probably means it to relate to judgement.
What is good in Paul’s mind is to remain single – by which he means single and chaste. However, marriage is preferable to fornication for those who have chosen to engage in sex.
We need to put marriage and singleness in right perspective as equally valid gifts from God, and stages of life from which to glorify Him and edify others, and Biblically, one is not better than the other.
Each stage comes with its own set of challenges. Marriage is wonderful, but the effort and intentionality required to cultivate a solid marriage is bandwidth you no longer have to invest for the Kingdom.
What do you call a marriage that doesn’t involve lots of time, effort and heart? A divorce.
Justification, sanctification, the spread of the gospel, and the spiritual maturity of the church — these are all goals to which we are called as Christians. Marital status is not.
Some places in the Bible that tell you what the will of God is:
This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. — John 6:29
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9
Paul says in a number of places that he has been made an apostle of Jesus Christ “by the will of God” — 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1
1 Thess 4:3, 1 Thess 5:18
1 Pet 2:15
Eph ch 4 – purpose for which God equips the church and saints for ministry.
God has called us to a reconciled relationship to him through discipleship to Jesus Christ first and foremost.
We can — and even should — change our circumstances if the opportunity arises to better match the values of the Kingdom.
Can you imagine if our community were so focused on reaching the lost, discipling the saved, and living out the gospel that questions about whether someone should wait to date or get married were influenced by that urgency?
Loyalty and belonging in a family is drawn from the father’s bloodline. Blood relatives are closer than even a spouse. Early Christians reflected this inclusion in the family of Christ by calling even their wives their sisters in Christ.
In Asian culture, a wife did not take her husband’s surname because she was not considered worthy to be a part of his family. But we as Christians have a shared bloodline in Christ. Let’s not lose sight of the significance of that — we are a part of Christ’s family first and foremost.
Have we in the church inadvertently played into that lie with our idolatry of marriage while being pejorative and silent to wards singleness? If singleness is unfair, then it’s no wonder marriage has become a right.
God has called us to live out the gospel in such a way as to experience for ourselves and show the world that discipleship to Jesus Christ means belonging in a community where singles have value and singleness doesn’t mean a lack of intimacy and connection.
If we would do that, then we would have something meaningful and even attractive to offer those whom we would call to live their entire lives in chastity.
Honestly I think there is so much there that I need to take another breather. I’ll try to finish questions 4-5 tomorrow.