August 18, 2012


This is not really related to my counselling posts from before, though I have to say that it is the process that brought me to listening to John Piper's sermons on Romans. He preached through the whole book from beginning to end and didn't just do chapter by chapter, but verse by significant verse. I thought it would be good to not just listen to it, but also take notes because it is a long process for me to get to the point that I can believe that God really does love ME and that He called ME for His purpose. It seems like Romans is a good place to learn about all of this and what grace really means.

Anyway, I am only on sermon 4 and that is just Romans 1:6. I'm not going to give you a blow by blow on the the whole sermon, just what came to my mind as I was listening and taking notes on the sermon.

The sermon focussed on the phrase "called of Christ Jesus". Now I don't know what your views are on predestination. For those who believe that we choose to come to God and everyone has an equal opportunity to be saved, this post is going to be strange for you. I don't want to act as someone trying to convince you otherwise because I think it is a conclusion I came to by seeing what the Bible says - even as far back as Genesis - and you need to come there for yourself. I do have to say though that I think it is God that led me to that, but not just because it is the truth, but also because I need it to have a better relationship with Him and grow closer to Him. I need to know it inside out before I can be really healed - at least that's what I think...

Ok, "called of Christ Jesus"... So for me, the main thought I had is "Why don't I live like this is true?" I mean the whole sermon focussed more on how it is the grace of God that enables our salvation and not our own merit. Yes, there is the temptation to despair and saying, well, if I'm so terrible then what hope do I have, well, um, I have hope in God's saving grace. And there is also the temptation to have a bruised ego and be offended because you aren't as good as you thought you were, which, um, is also true. But it is a difficult concept to grasp all the same.

For me the problem is that I don't hate my sin. I mean I know that sin is wrong, but I have no real idea of how disgusting it is in the sight of God. I've read the verses - I think Ephesians 2 does a good job of dealing with what life without God was like - but I don't see the reality of it in my life. I think it's mixed up with knowing that my sins past, present and future are all forgiven and so I suppose I think, well then, it's ok. So, I'm looking forward to Romans 6 when it talks about grace not being about us sinning and then just thinking, well, it's ok because I have grace. At the rate the sermons are going though, it won't be for a while...

So going back to my earlier question - "Why don't I live like this is true?" I think part of it is that I have no concept of my own sin. I think if I had been like Paul, grace would have had a bigger impact, but that's also making excuses, isn't it? Because if the Bible is to be believed, that it would seem like my sin is just as bad as the sin of a persecutor of the Church. And it is, whether I like it or not.

Maybe it's clear to you which way I lean when it comes to the two temptations I talked about earlier - it leads me to despair, which ironically is also pride... Pfff! Why am I despairing? Well, because I feel like I'm missing out on something BIG. The fact that I can't seem to grasp the evil of my sin makes me feel like I'm missing out on the truth of how amazing grace really is. I'm not sure if I'll really see how great it is on this side of heaven, but I have to live in context of Phil 1:6 - I am a work in progress - and trust that God will show me what I need to persevere in this life toward growing closer to Him and becoming more like Him.

The other reason is that I feel like if I could understand this fully, it wouldn't be so difficult for me to forgive the people on my list. I am working through it, but I suppose I think that the list wouldn't be so long in the first place if I knew just how much it means that God has saved me, forgiven me and made me righteous in His sight. 

Anyway, I just pray that this will become real for me and I will learn the truth about God's forgiveness and grace so that it can lead me to repentance daily and I can forgive freely as He has forgiven me, knowing that His grace is undeserved. The next sermon is about how we are loved by God. That will give me another perspective too. I just want to get to the point that when I ask, "Why should I?" I can answer, "Because God..." and it won't just be like a Sunday school answer, but a reality that convicts me and brings me a deeper understanding of what Jesus went through for me.

August 10, 2012


Ok, so in my last post I said I was going through counselling and the next homework was going through my baggage and reliving those memories and then forgiving those people. Well, I've avoided it a lot. But I eventually made a bit of a dent in my list. I went through and forgave the people from Calvary who hurt me and also the ones who have hurt me from MICC - my current church. 

Both experiences were really different. The first group made me cry, and I mean body-wracking sobs! There was so much grief and so much pain. It was unnerving. Of course that made me want to put off working through this stuff even more! Tonight I finally kicked myself up the bum and worked through my current church. That was really, really different. No tears at all, but a lot of anger, which I had to repent of. In fact I also had to repent of my sense of entitlement and my pride. Totally eye-opening.

So, what I've had to do is write down the names of the people and give an account of the hurt they caused or any perceived or real offence committed. Then I had to grieve it. How I dealt with it was to type it all up and then to read through what I'd typed and then pray. It's been HARD, but also I think good. I do feel a little bit freer. The next step is to go back a little further to the people in my life after I left university and Glasgow. I think that will probably be a mixture of tears and anger, but once that is done, I will be another step closer to freedom. I will probably leave my family to last. That will be the hardest one and to be honest I am really scared.

A few people have already said they were proud of me for being so brave. I don't really think it has anything to do with courage or bravery. I think what it is is that God has brought me to a point where I realise I really need to deal with all this unnecessary baggage I've been carrying around me with me my whole life, so that I can finally experience freedom in Christ. So that I can finally live life to the full (John 10.10).

Forgiveness really is a funny thing. Funny in the sense of weird. It is so very difficult to do, especially when you think you didn't deserve to be hurt or treated that way. That's only when you look at it from your perspective. If you look at Jesus and His life, you see that of all people, He really didn't deserve how He was treated on earth by both His friends and enemies. And He cried, "Father forgive them" from the cross!!! Looking at it like that, I feel like an idiot for not forgiving sooner. What could anyone have done to me that is worse than what I have done to Jesus?!

On the other side, or maybe not the other side, but related... Anyway, MY sins are FORGIVEN. Not just past sins, but present AND future! I'm really starting to see just how amazing that is. I'm also starting to understand Jesus's command of forgiving as God forgave you (Col 3:13). God's love really is ludicrous.

My hope is that I will finish this process with a deeper knowledge of God's love for me, His grace, mercy, goodness, protection and wise leadership over my life. I want to finish this free of my burden and equipped with a new strength to pursue a fuller relationship with God and with the people He'll put in my life. I also hope for wisdom and discernment in being able to choose my friends. I don't think praying for this is against God's will.

Anyway... This forgiveness thing will take a while. I'm not going to push myself to do more than one 'group' a week. It's too hard and I really need to work myself up to it and I need the time to be able to work through it, pray and deal with it. Work is just too busy, so I only have the weekends. But it will get done and I will be free of my bitterness. I just have to be patient and be willing to do the work. Pray for me to persevere and not give up.

August 04, 2012


After years of carrying unnecessary baggage, I have finally admitted I need professional help and am seeking it. I thought I only had baggage from the time I had cancer, my grandmother dying really suddenly and the subsequent years of living a life apart from God. Upon starting, I've realised that a lot of my pain started early in my childhood. I mean, I had a difficult childhood, but I thought I had dealt with it. I really haven't dealt with a lot. It makes me really sad. 

My first task was to write a letter to God about how I thought he had abandoned me and why I didn't trust Him. I thought it would just be about the cancer, but a lot of things came up that surprised me. My second task, which I've avoided until now, is to look back on my life and relive the hurts and forgive those people. The first thing I did about it was to make a list of all the people who hurt or I perceived hurt me. I think there is an overwhelming list of about 50 people!! Ok, so I went back far - right to my childhood when I still lived in Malaysia - and if you take in the fact that I'm nearly 30, 50 people makes sense. The task is even more overwhelming though. Just remembering those people hurt me makes my lips quiver, my throat tighten and my eyes fill with tears.

I mentioned earlier that realising I had had decades of pain on my back in an invisible burden made me really sad. Well, I see now that the pain held me back in a lot of things. Not so clearly. I would say that my vision is still distorted. Even so, it makes me think of the passage in Joel (2:25) about the years the locusts have eaten and I wonder if - I'm too afraid to hope - God will replace those years. I wonder whether I will ever be really free from this burden. This whole process terrifies me and has petrified me. I'm walking into unknown territory and I feel completely lost.

All this pain has affected my friendships over the years. I think it definitely is the reason why I am not even sure who my friends are. I feel totally at a loss. When I go to sleep, I see myself as a little girl, sitting in a dark, dirty room in white pajamas all alone and I'm just sitting there. Sometimes little girl me is also crying. She feels numb. She feels afraid. She feels alone. She wonders if anyone is coming to let her out of that prison.

I really feel like I'm losing my grip on reality. Somewhere inside I know that that is a good thing because it is my 'reality' that has kept me prisoner all these years. Losing my grip on it and letting it go will hopefully lead me to a genuine 'reality', one where I'm living in the freedom God has promised me in His word. One where I have a new awareness and knowledge of what it means that He leads me, He walks with me, He goes before me, He prepares the way, He saves, He rescues, He guides, He loves, He protects. I will have to go through a lot before I, who am heavy and burdened, can take up his yoke (Matt 11:28-29).

And yes, I have doubts. I have questions. Will my life really be better under this other burden? Will I ever be free? Isn't this a deep-rooted rut that I will never escape? Will I really ever be able to forgive these people? Will I ever know what it means that God loves me, has chosen me, has made a plan for my life, is sanctifying me and bringing me ever closer to Him and His holiness? Will I ever be able to live as if I believed all of that to be true? I so long for His freedom. I so long for His light. 

Anyway, the truth is, I really won't know until I go through this fire. It really feels like I am going to experience all kinds of 'burning', but it can only be good. I keep telling myself that it is like when Eustace has to be transformed back into a little boy after he had been a dragon (Voyage of The Dawn Treader, CS Lewis). I suppose what will happen is all the unnecessary 'crap' will burn off and what's left will be me. The real me. The one God created me to be. And I hope that at the end, little girl me will no longer be in her dark prison, but free and walking with Jesus.

June 03, 2012

Sabbath rest

Over the last few weeks, I've been so busy and haven't had time to properly rest. I mean like a day where I can sleep in and not have to do much else. I know this probably sounds like hell to a lot of people, but though I am outgoing, I am introverted. I need time alone and sufficient amount before I can charge my batteries. I haven't had that time for weeks and I won't have it again until the end of June. That prospect is giving me anxiety. None of the things that have filled my schedule are things I can say no to.

The biggest burden is work. My timetable is full, which is good because I need the money to pay my bills and it's hard to say no when you are a freelancer. Because it takes up almost all my time and energy, I have very little to give when there are fun things or necessary things like church and bible studies. 

I have been told many times that God created the Sabbath because he knew we would need a day for us to charge our batteries. He knew that without this one day, we would only be running on empty and that ultimately wouldn't be good for us. He also created it so that we could spend time with him. Our schedules are hectic and our daily devotion times may not be sufficient to charge our spiritual batteries. He knew that if our energy levels were low and our 'spiritual' levels are low, we would be prone to attack from the enemy.

I would just like to advise you to take that time to rest physically and especially take the time to rest in God. Take it from someone who is suffering as a result of very little rest. You may be someone who can go a long time with an empty battery. You may be someone who gains anergy from being with people. Nevertheless, take that time to have a day of rest and spend that time with God. You will definitely benefit from it. Don't be like me and learn it the hard way. God created it for a reason. Trust him and take him at his word.

May 13, 2012


It's just occurred to me that this is a big idol that I have. The other one is financial security. I forget that sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zones so that we can grow more dependent on him and less on ourselves.

I really like my comfort and I desire financial security. I'm a freelancer, so work is really important to me, but recently, I have worked so much that I have had no energy left to pursue friendships and to meet my commitments to church. I also am so tired that all I can do is do my daily Bible reading. I really needed that penny dropping moment to see that I was pursuing an idol, when I should be pursuing God and I should trust God to provide for all that I need instead of relying on my own strength and abilities.

I go through highs and lows. In the highs, I am so aware of how much I need God and how powerful prayer is and also how necessary. It is so ridiculous how quickly we forget the most important thing in our lives... But it is equally good to realise how far we've wandered from the path so that we can turn back and head in the right direction again.

How great is it that the God we serve is patient and remembers that we are but dust!

May 05, 2012


I had a really depressing conversation with my flatmate this afternoon. I won't go in to all the details, but basically we were talking about how people get treated differently based on how they look. She thought that it must be different in the church because everybody is trying to be better people. Unfortunately, that's not true... Or at least not in my experience...

Long story short - you can't escape superficiality. Not even at church. It's so sad... But how do you change that??

May 01, 2012

I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed at the moment. Life seems to be getting on top of me and I feel like I'm constantly tired. It's funny how at times like these the first thing that got out is any time spent on God. I haven't read my Bible, done my scripture memorising and I haven't prayed. Though the prayer part is the strangest...

I realised a couple of weeks ago that though I did read the Bible and do Bible studies, I very rarely really prayed. And now I am not doing anything at all... And yes, I do think there is a connection there... 

At Gisselle's funeral - the girl who died in the last post - I learned of how devoted she was to prayer and that was such a great challenge. Though she wasn't a very lose friend at all, she always came across as centred and  at peace and it must've been her constant contact with God. But what I don't understand is why we always stop? We don't stop breathing or eating or even showering when we're tired, but isn't time with God and especially praying just as important as all those things?

It's so much easier to do or to waste time reading, watching movies or playing computer games and just shutting your mind off, but really the most important thing is to spend time with our Father... I mean, then you are less stressed and less frequently grumpy and you have the strength to care... Also, when we're tired, that's when the enemy attacks...

Anyway, I know all this and yet I am frequently here. I need to get back on my feet and start again. And start first with prayer... Pfff! This walking with God business is hard. We - at least I do - so often forget just how vital he is for my life to function properly...