When we think of the word “freedom”, many of us think of the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want.⠀ ⠀ But for Jennifer Heng, keynote speaker at young women’s conference, Not Gonna Lie, a different image comes to mind. Speaking last week at the online event organised by Singapore Youth for Christ and Kallos, Jennifer shared how her picture of freedom is inspired by a passage from the Bible.⠀ ⠀ In Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah prophesies about how Jesus Christ would come to proclaim freedom for the captives and set the prisoners free.⠀ ⠀ Explaining that one of the root words of “freedom” in that verse is the idea of “flowing” (“liberty” or deror in Hebrew), Jennifer says this reminds her of “water”.⠀ ⠀ More specifically, this is what she imagines freedom to look like: A beautiful river that has the freedom to flow wherever and however it wants – as long as it stays within the riverbanks.⠀ ⠀ Comparing the river to our lives and the riverbanks to the boundaries that God has set for us, she explains: “If we, as people who want freedom, decide that we do not want to flow within the riverbanks – we say that this is too restricting, we want to go outside, we don’t like being confined – flooding happens.”⠀ ⠀ Her advice? We have to learn to live, handle and accept the responsibilities of this new freedom that we have in Jesus Christ.⠀ ⠀ Many people associate Christianity with full of rules or limitations, but the fear of God is not fear of punishment, said Jennifer.⠀ ⠀ “It’s not being scared that God will strike you with lightning, so you better do this or that.⠀ ⠀ “The fear of God is to have that holy reverence and awe, knowing that God is much bigger than anything and everything that you could ever experience, and that we can entrust our whole life to Him with no fear.”⠀ ⠀ The fear of God doesn’t mean the loss of freedom either, she added.⠀ ⠀ “In fact, fearing God will help you gain freedom in Him… what better way to experience freedom than from the original creator of it?"⠀ —⠀ FOR THE FULL STORY: Once a serial dater ashamed of her unwanted pregnancy, she finally found true freedom
How would Jesus would tackle the social injustices of His day?⠀ ⠀ At the very beginning of Acts, Jesus is asked if He will “restore the kingdom of Israel”, meaning if He would overthrow the oppressive Roman empire and restore Israel to its former glory.⠀ ⠀ Jesus’ answer is clear in Acts 1:7-8, in that it was not for the apostles to know when such a thing would happen, but that they should be more concerned about remaining in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. The apostles obeyed, and by the power of the Holy Spirit the gospel found its way to Ephesus.⠀ ⠀ Jesus did care about the wrongs that happened, but He was more concerned about changing the hearts of people than the laws that they lived under. Undoubtedly, He could have brought an end to Rome that very day, or at least institute major reforms in its legal and political systems. Instead, He chose to dispatch the apostles to preach the gospel.⠀ ⠀ Again, Jesus is indeed interested in changing the world, but His preferred method is by changing the hearts of men. No matter how good a set of laws or may be, or how well they are enforced, if sin yet remains, then nothing has been solved.⠀ ⠀ We are called to be a voice for the voiceless, to acknowledge that every person is a fellow bearer of the Lord’s image, no matter how society may value them. Change may come quickly, or it may take generations, but remember that the Lord is just and merciful, and will accomplish His purposes in His own time.⠀ ⠀ We are not the ones who will fix the world, it is He who invites us to participate in His grand plan. Never forget that this is our Father’s world, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, Christ is the ruler yet.⠀ —⠀ FOR THE FULL STORY: How should a Christian respond to injustice and social movements?⠀ (Contributed by Shuin Jian)
Some of you may be returning to your offices in the coming weeks, while some of you continue to remain at home.⠀ ⠀ Productive work days are now punctuated with unexpected distractions. You’re in a completely different environment – one that you might be too comfortable with. Some of you might also have to take on extra roles as your parents’ caregiver or your family’s errand-runner.⠀ ⠀ Perhaps you’ve fallen into the trap of “doomscrolling” – the act of mindlessly scrolling through an unending refreshed feed of news, videos and other online content. Or can’t quite get rid of the itch to go online shopping that lurks at the back of your mind.⠀ ⠀ Some of us who struggled with unwelcomed distractions or spent time meeting the needs of the family during the day might have to put in more hours to get work done.⠀ ⠀ How much is enough for a day? How many more hours? Where do we draw the line? It’s like ditching your shadow – you will have to decide on that for yourself, based on integrity.⠀ ⠀ For those of us who are Christians, it’s also time to ask ourselves this: What does it mean to work for Jesus?⠀ ⠀ “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)⠀ ⠀ Whether we’re working 9am-6pm in the office or irregular hours at home, we need to remember the greater purpose behind our work. As we submit to our employers and commit to the work we’re assigned, God is looking at our heart. ⠀ ⠀ So let’s put ourselves fully into our tasks instead of working half-heartedly. When we work, we work hard.⠀ ⠀ If God has appointed us to be employed in this season, we cannot abandon post. Our work honours God. As we approach yet another new normal, let’s choose discipline over idleness, and integrity over indolence. — FOR THE FULL STORY: Working from home or shirking from home?
Serving with Wesley Methodist Church’s Ministry of the Hearing Impaired (MHI), Abigail Chow sees her work of bringing a message of God to the deaf as a privilege. Currently an educational interpreter in a school, the animated 27-year-old shares the signs and paths that have led her on this journey:⠀ ⠀ I was at a crossroads between pursuing a career relevant to my course of study, and my burden for supporting the deaf. Interestingly, a position full-time in the ministry opened up at that time.⠀ ⠀ In all honesty, I prayed little about it and took it as a sign that God had given me a year off to think about where I wanted to go in life.⠀ ⠀ Full-time ministry would simply be a place where I could continue to grow spiritually and earn my keep for just one year. So I joined the church staff.⠀ ⠀ But that same year, God convicted me of my ignorance at how much He had done for me.⠀ ⠀ His grace had picked me up from a stream of ignorant bliss and placed me on a rapid river of learning sign language and deaf culture.⠀ ⠀ I was humbled to realise that bringing a message of God to the deaf was a privilege, and saw that I needed to get serious about God’s work and equip myself in spiritual discipline and specific skillsets for the treacherous waters ahead.⠀ ⠀ The next seven years of serving God in MHI were an uphill climb of learning to be rooted in God’s ways, to love and serve the people around me and to attend to corporate disciplines such as worship.⠀ ⠀ But I’ve been blessed with leaders and mentors in the ministry to help me grow in every way and to correct me in love when there was need.⠀ ⠀ Today, I have embarked on a new season of work to serve deaf children in a different capacity outside the church, and God continues to provide for me day by day.⠀ —⠀ FOR HER FULL STORY: Serving with my hands in a ministry of signs and wonders
Why must I keep waiting? We've all been there. Waiting for something with no end in sight can be really tough. But there are ways to wait well. And if we get it right, something beautiful may just be emerging from the wait. — FOR THE FULL STORY: Why must I keep waiting? (Contributed by Tan Lay Leng)