Reflections on a week in Beijing

I recently had the great privilege of visiting Beijing with a team from St Helen’s Bishopsgate, my home church in London, to encourage Christians in the workplace and to participate in certain activities of our partner church in Beijing.

Our week-long itinerary included (1) an evangelistic talk in Beijing’s central business district (国贸), (2) joining in the Christian small groups in various companies dotted across the city, and (3) participating in the small group bible studies of our partner church.


If I had to sum the trip up in one word, it would be “crazy”… mostly in a good way!

It was not only the cultural aspects of Beijing that were crazy, like the sheer number of people on public transport (a.k.a. the Beijing Sardine Experience TM), the exotic food (e.g. Durian Pizza and 豆汁), or the fact that one could alight from a bus and be immediately hit by a motorcycle.

More than that, it was “crazy” to see God at work in Beijing to draw people to Him. Here are just two reflections on what I observed.

(1) God has an unstoppable plan for the world

Each morning, the team would meet to read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians together. Probably the most significant idea in Ephesians is God’s great plan to unite all things under the feet of Jesus (1.10, 22). This great plan unfolds through the church — God’s people — who often look weak, but according to Paul actually display the “manifold wisdom of God […] to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (3.10). As the gospel is held forth by Christians — weak vessels (cf 2 Cor 4.7) — and as people are saved and added to their number, God’s wisdom and glory are magnified.

The amazing thing was this: each day, after meditating on God’s great plan in Ephesians, God graciously allowed us to see His plan in action before our very eyes as we went about our various activities in Beijing.

With a population of circa 22 million, the church can look and feel tiny compared to the sheer size of the sprawling city. Add to that the pressure from the government to water down the gospel, or to stop preaching it altogether: on one of the days we were there the government banned the sale of all bibles such that overnight it became impossible to buy a bible — not even on Tao Bao (the Chinese “Amazon”) on which you can quite literally buy anything under the sun (apparently, even a wife so I’m told!).

And yet, despite these odds, God is growing His church; His sheep hear the voice of their Good Shepherd and follow Him, as He calls them by name (John 10; cf 6:44).

We encountered so many people who had come to trust in Jesus in the last month or two, and many more for whom there was a real, tangible hunger to hear the gospel and to know Jesus more.

For example, at an evangelistic lunchtime event (where one of our team gave the talk and another shared her testimony), 50-60 people showed up, about half of whom (I learned later) were seekers and of whom 5-6 said that it was their first time hearing the gospel! When we split into small groups to discuss the talk, two of my group members said that they had just come to Christ on Easter Sunday — just three days before!

These numbers were staggering to me, but according to a pastor at our partner church, this was just another day at the office.

(2) His plan unfolds as the gospel is preached

The remarkable thing about all of this was precisely that what was being done was so unremarkable: as Christians shared the gospel with those around them, as they read the Scriptures with their peers, people who were once dead in their sins were made alive in Christ (cf Eph 2.5). No gimmicks, no smoke machines, no music videos; just the gospel: “while we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.6).

This should not have surprised me, but it did. The New Testament is replete with fairly “non-glamorous” instructions. The Ephesians are told to pray for all the saints that they may be bold to preach the gospel (Eph 6.19). Timothy is charged with preaching the word (2 Tim 4). Most of all, Paul, the greatest evangelist in the history of the world, tells the Corinthian church that he did not come to them with lofty speech or wisdom, but sought to preach Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2.1-5).

My time in Beijing showed me how, at least tacitly, I had become ashamed of the gospel. Even though the gospel seems weak in the world’s eyes, it is the power of God — 神的大能 — for salvation to all who believe (Romans 1.16).

I also saw how simple it was to share the gospel. Our team had the opportunity to train a few small groups on how to use Two Ways to Live (人生二路), a remarkably concise and comprehensive presentation of the good news of Jesus which I cannot commend more highly. (Just as an encouragement, I have since used the Two Ways to Live framework in both English and Mandarin to share the gospel with two taxi drivers, my sister, and my grandma!)


Beijing was a “crazy” (good) experience because I was graciously granted to see, in vivid technicolor, God’s glory and wisdom revealed through the unfolding of his great plan.

As the good news of God’s great love is proclaimed, sinners are ransomed, the church is built, and Jesus Christ is glorified. Although the gospel looks weak in the world’s eyes, it is the power of God to save.

And He is saving.

Not just in Beijing, but across the world He is gathering a people to Himself from every tribe, tongue and nation (cf Rev 7.9).

What a glorious plan — let’s get behind it.


a prayer for exams


I recognise this feeling. It’s Dread. Fear. Worry. Trepidation. Anxiety. It has many names, but the generic emotion is the same: a weight which presses down on my heart, telling me I’m not good enough; I’m not ready; there isn’t enough time; I have lost all hope.

Some of these things might be true. Indeed, I might not have enough time. Indeed, I am probably not going to be able to finish or master the material to a requisite standard. But one thing I know is true: I have a hope. My hope, my identity, my value, is built on Jesus Christ. He is my cornerstone.

Father, I need not fear – You are with me. I need not worry about the exams – the outcome is in Your hands. I need not trust the sweetest frame – I wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Because of Jesus I have found favour in the eyes of the only one whose opinion matters: my creator, my God, my Father; who loves me immensely more than I could ever imagine. And neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation – and that includes exams! – can separate me from Your irrepressible love.

O Father, help me to remember this. Help me, when darkness surrounds, and when the situation seems bleak. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear. Why? For You are with me; Your rod and staff comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me, all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the house of my Lord, my Father, forever.Where I am meant to be.


the story of my job offer – a story of God’s grace & sovereignty unfolding in my life

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve kinda delayed writing it on the pretext that I wanted to tell my close friends in person rather than compel them to read a lengthy story. I realise now on hindsight the silliness of that excuse! To my friends who I have not yet been able to meet in person to convey this story, I apologise for both my unavailability, as well as for this unwarranted delay.

This is the story of how I got a job offer from Linklaters in London, one of the top law firms in the UK and (dare I say it?) the world. But unlike most success stories, the protagonist in this one did not succeed on his own strength or merit. In fact, I vehemently oppose anyone who tries to convince me that I ‘achieved’ this by my own ability. Rather, I give all the glory to my heavenly Father. This is a story of how God worked His sovereign plan, often behind the scenes, in several events culminating in the “happy ending” of the job offer. All glory to him!

Some of you might know that I flew up to London from 10-19th September 2011 for a series of job interviews with a number of solicitor’s firms. I had Slaughter & May scheduled for the 12th (Monday), Freshfields for the 14th (Wednesday), and Linklaters for the 16th (Friday). After I had completed all the interviews and visited all three firms, I decided that I liked Links the best. Unfortunately however, my interview with Links went the worst out of the three – in fact it was so bad that I was resigned to never hearing from them again after I left their offices. So you could imagine my surprise when the HR lady from Links called me up the following Monday to say that the firm was offering me a training contract! As I look back, there are just so many things to thank God for. So let me begin!

(1) The night before my interview with Links I was terribly tired and jaded, and had given up preparing for it. By way of background, a typical interview with a solicitor’s firm spans about 4 hours – usually it comprises a written test, a general interview (“what drives you?”, “why do you want to be a lawyer?”), and a technical interview. Understandably, each interview thus warrants a sizeable degree of preparation – reading up on recent deals concluded by the firm, the expertise & strategy of the firm, and general current commercial awareness. By Thursday night I was exhausted, having completed two gruelling interviews. I couldn’t bring myself to prepare for the 3rd, so I, quite literally, gave up, hoping that the knowledge I had acquired while preparing for the first two interviews would leave me in good stead.

Now prior to this I had been in contact with one of my seniors from University, WY, who was already at the firm (Links). He had been giving me advice on the preceding applications process, and we had been trading messages on FB. My final message to him read something like: “Hey I’ll be at the firm for my interview on the 16th, will you be there?” WY failed to respond, and I left it as that. But for some reason God prompted him that very night, on the eve of my interview, to remember our exchange. He called me up immediately, just after I had decided to forgo further interview preparations. We chatted for about an hour and he imparted loads of invaluable tips on what to say when they asked certain questions. Most companies, Links included, love to hear why they’re so great and better than their competitors, and it really helped to have the views of someone on the inside, someone very well-inculcated with the firm’s values. I can say with utmost confidence that if not for this phone conversation, I would have died a far worse death than I already did at my interview – so thank God! (and thank you WY!)

(2) In the course of the conversation, WY asked me if I knew how to make my way to the firm. I had already researched my route on and so I told him I’d be taking the tube from X to Y and walking from there. “You know, you can actually take to Z and walk from there,” came the response. I thanked him but in my mind I had already plotted out my route and I planned to follow it.

The next morning, I headed to the tube station and horror of horrors, the line from X to Y had broken down! I remember it vividly: the train was in the platform, the doors were open, passengers were inside the train, but the train was not moving. I initially boarded the train, waiting for it to move off, only realising that something was amiss when it didn’t, and even more so when passengers began milling off the train to alternative routes. Providentially, armed with the knowledge of the alternative route via Z, I was able to get to my interview with time to spare (I actually managed to grab a quick coffee before it!) Had I not known that I could walk to the firm from Z, I would have been in a right mess (to put it euphemistically). At worst, I would not have made it to my interview, and at best, I would have arrived late, flustered, and in no state to perform. So, yet another thing to thank God for!

(3) As briefly alluded to above, my interview with Links went horrifically. To be specific, this was the “technical” interview, where I had to prepare for a case study and brief one of the partners. The guy who administered this technical interview (let’s call him Q) gave me a really difficult time. To be fair, I made a number of mistakes. But what exacerbated the situation was that Q responded to everything I said with a sceptical / doubtful reaction. (I now wonder if he was doing this deliberately to try to unsettle me, but during the interview itself I genuinely thought I was being destroyed.) My confidence waned with every question, and by the end I was spouting gibberish. (I exaggerate.) I even apologised to Q for my “incompetence”, as I put it. Q politely insisted that there was none such incompetence, but I could tell that the damage was done.

Now, prior to the interview, the HR team mentioned that my original interviewer was held back at the last minute and was unable to conduct the interview; Q was his replacement. Which is why after the interview with Links I felt especially resigned to my fate: I thought since God had arranged for Q to take over (and destroy me), that was Him closing the door.

But the funny thing is God works in mysterious ways. When the HR lady called me up the following Monday to convey the good news, I mentioned my shock at the result as I thought my interviews went disastrously. To my (pleasant) surprise, she recounted how she had just sat down with both my interviewers (including Q) and both of them mentioned that they were impressed with my performance. “You must have done something right,” she said. Well, who knew that this divine appointment of a different interviewer would actually work out? (God knew, of course.)  

(4) I now arrive at the 4th thing I want to give thanks for, which I personally feel is a miracle in itself. I had been deliberating for quite a while about whether to fly up to the UK or not for the interviews. As I wanted to spend more time back home, I was reluctant to fly up and stay for a month before school term commenced. I was thus looking for a cheap return flight (i.e. both ways). Each firm I was interviewing was willing to provide a small reimbursement for travel expenses (GBP150 each), leaving me with about GBP450 to play with. But flights during that period were ridiculously expensive, going in the region of GBP1,300. (Yes, even Air Asia!) Dismayed, I sought the Lord in prayer and asked Him to provide. After some more research and recalibration, I found a return flight, on a decent airline, Lufthansa, for the mind-bogglingly low price of GBP446. That is a ridiculously miraculous fare. What else can I say but all glory to God, again, for His provision!

The best part was that I made a net profit too. Heh.

(5) What makes the story of this job offer all the more providential is that I nearly forgot to apply for jobs to begin with. I had a busy summer, returning back home in mid/end-July. I spent about a week helping the family move back into our house which had previously been emptied due to the renovation work being conducted. It was sometime during this week where I was on Skype chatting with my friend, E, from Cambridge. I was having a good rant about how “tired and busy I was from moving house”, which she could relate to as she was “tired and busy from doing all the job applications.” Wait. Job applications? Yes, the deadline is on 1st August. Aw crap. At this point I only had about a week to complete all the online job applications for law firms in London; tedious online forms comprising questions like “what are your greatest weaknesses?”, “name an experience where you exhibited leadership qualities”, and other similarly irksome questions. By the grace of God, I completed about 6 or 7 sets of these forms within the space of a week. And anyone who has completed forms like these (or applied to US universities) will know that such applications are mind-numbingly arduous. But nothing is impossible with God.

(6) Throughout this summer, as I went through the process of applying for jobs and thinking about what to do post-graduation, I kept asking God for His clear direction. At crucial junctures in my life in the past, God has never failed to show me, clearly, where / what He was calling me to. Which high school to go to, which university to go to, etc. It was the same this time around. As the episode of this summer gradually unfolded, through the little things, He was revealing His sovereign plan and direction to me. Funnily enough, though I felt that my interviews with the first two firms went quite well, they rejected me, leaving just one door open. Yet again, He faithfully answered my prayer for clear direction.

(7) And finally, my last point. This summer, I was attending a Bible Study course at my church on the book of Esther. (If you haven’t read the story of Esther, I strongly recommend it!) One of the unique features of this book is that God is not mentioned at all in the narrative. Not once. But if one were to read the story carefully, he would be able to see God working behind the scenes, unfolding his sovereign plan through often unexpected agents, to ultimately deliver His people from what was effectively genocide.  

Similarly, this story that I’ve shared in the preceding 1,883 words could equally be told without mentioning God at all. You could even attribute all these coincidences to ‘Fate’, or some idea of karma; or perhaps the more “scientific” of you might christen it randomness. But I respectfully disagree. (And this is my blog.) Rather, I believe that God was working through all these little things in my life, not least because He was encouraging me over the whole summer through the story of Esther – a similar story of His sovereignty and grace working behind the scenes.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage you, friend, wherever you are in your journey of life. Trust in God’s sovereign plan for you. He takes an interest in who you are. This is not mere “fate” or “destiny”. Unless by “fate” you mean a Person, who came down to earth as a man, to give Himself up for us that we may have life to the full. (John 10:10)

Soli Deo Gloria.


I fear that this post will be, after 3 glasses of whiskey earlier tonight, rather incoherent. hopefully it’ll be funny as a result. well, maybe sad & funny.

when I come back to SG for my breaks, I really look forward to meeting up with my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while. I treasure the time we spend together, catching up on the parts of our lives which we’ve missed out on due to the long distance.

this time it feels different though.

for some reason I feel rather foreign. an alien life-form, almost. (or perhaps more accurately, an alienated life-form?) it feels like the embers of the relationship, with at least some of my friends, are close to being snuffed out.

have they changed? I think so. somehow it seems like they don’t value the same things as they did before. somehow my memory of them from years gone by doesn’t correspond with the reality of them which greets me in the present. this makes me feel disoriented. like I need to wake up from a dream.

but equally, I think I’ve changed as well.

as the train of life choo-choo-ed along, the years have somehow, insidiously, warped our perspectives and mindsets, changed the things we value in life ($$ instead of satisfaction in Christ; mammon instead of God)… the draw of the world is just so strong.

maybe I’m just being judgmental. legalistic. assessing the degree to which others continue to treasure and delight in Jesus. if so, I join the tax collector in praying: “have mercy on me Lord, a sinner.”

but part of me fearfully concedes that there is an element of truth to my suspicion. that i’m not entirely wrong or misguided. and this saddens me.

however, one thing is for sure:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8

and just prior to this, in the same chapter:

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5b-6

God is the only non-arbitrary reference point.

everything else, including me (no surprises here), is subject to change. even if only subconsciously. as human beings we are temporal creatures and have to put up with the associated difficulties: time, changes in seasons, (old) age, sickness, death, et al. but if we cling to Him, fixing our eyes on Him as we run this race with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1), I am convinced that we’ll be ok. more than ok – we’ll have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

maybe I’ve been clinging to Him more, whilst my friends have drifted. or maybe not, and I’m a hypocrite. but all this is immaterial. we are not to become judgmental and condemn others for “straying”. that would be Pharisaic.

we should instead start by looking at ourselves. do we treasure God as we should, by placing Him at the centre of our lives and our existences? or have we replaced him with idols – girlfriend/boyfriend, academic pursuits, money, material gains, family?

only when we find our true joy / satisfaction in Him, can we truly share this joy with others.

not least our friends who have lost sight of this first love.


(/edit) note that this section was added in ex post facto, after some further mulling on the topic.

w.r.t. the above discussion, I realise also that the converse is true. I’ve found that with those friends who have continued to seek God, who have persevered in faith, who have fought the good fight… the bonds with these friends have not eroded with the passing of time.

rather, if anything, the friendships have strengthened, imbued by the knowledge of our one-ness in Christ.

the time spent together with these friends is truly uplifting for the soul. stories of His goodness and faithfulness tend to permeate the conversation, and we are mutually encouraged as we recall the battles won – in spiritual warfare – by His Spirit.

this real, tangible unity in the body of Christ is a beautiful thing, and I am thankful for it.

thoughts on good friday and easter sunday

(These are some thoughts that came to me while doing my QT last Thursday, and which I shared at CG on Friday.)

Holy Week is a time when Christians all over the world remember the pain and anguish suffered by our Lord Jesus Christ in the events leading up to the cross and his crucifixion itself, and this culminates in Easter Sunday where we rejoice in His resurrection – the victory over sin and death.

Good Friday is especially poignant in this scheme of things. It’s the day that Jesus was crucified, the most humiliating, inhumane, and painful way to be killed. (For the uninitiated, it is also where we get the word ‘excruciating’ from. True story.) Many Christians thus take it upon themselves to be reminded of this physical torment that Jesus suffered; they revisit scenes from The Passion of the Christ, visually stimulating within them a sense of guilt and remorse at, and consequent gratitude for, the ordeal that He went through.

However, the cynic in me rejects such an approach. But let me first say that I do not see anything intrinsically wrong with it; not only must we never forget, we must always remember the pain and suffering our Lord endured for us. We were bought at a price, and this price was a heavy and painful one. (But this begs the question: ‘Why do we only remind yourself of the cross on Good Friday? We must not just stop there; we must remind ourselves of it everyday.’ However, I would be well-advised to refrain from developing this point here; this would be the subject of another post for another time, perhaps.)

Now with that disclaimer out of the way, I return to my point. The cynic within me rejects such an approach. My situation is akin to that of the smoker who sees the gory image of the lung cancer / emphysema / skin disease on the pack yet knowingly procures the cigarettes despite the warning – he is desensitised to the gore, to the sensational images. I wouldn’t say that I am desensitised to the gore of the cross – Lord, may I never reach that stage – but like the smoker I simply cannot relate to the image; I cannot relate to the immense pain that my Lord Jesus Christ endured. Living in the sanitised, hygienic, sheltered world of the 21st century, the most pain I’ve ever endured would probably be when I tore my ankle ligament – hardly comparable to having nails driven through your hands and feet, suffering a slow death of asphyxiation.

As I came to the Lord in reflection last Thursday, and as I read the gospel accounts of His crucifixion, the cynic in me prevented me from truly relating to the state of my Christ. However, He showed me something that I’d forgotten about, but something all of us can relate to.

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. – Luke 22:20-23

This is the famous scene in the last supper: Christ announces that someone among the disciples will betray him, and they question amongst themselves who would be the traitor. Now even non-Christians with but a smidgeon of bible knowledge would be able to tell you who betrayed Jesus – Judas, duh. This task is made all the easier when it is mentioned by Luke at the start of chapter 22 that Judas had agreed to hand over Jesus to the chief priests for a sum of money. Easy peasy.

But let me put it to you that the answer ‘Judas’ is only partly correct. Every single one of Jesus’ disciples betrayed him. Not one of them stuck with him to the end at the cross. Not even Peter; he valiantly declared that he would go to ‘prison and to death’ with Jesus (Luke 22:33), but alas, we all know how that story turned out. Jesus’ closest friends and companions, with whom he had discipled, taught, had meals with, joked with, traveled, for the preceding 3 years or so all abandoned Him. With the exception of Peter, they all abandoned Him at the garden of Gethsamane; Mark doing so in such haste that he left his clothes behind (cf Mark 14:51-52)

And if this unanimous rejection was not enough, Jesus had to further endure rejection from God the Father on the cross. As He bore the weight of all sin, past, present and future, the hymn tells us “the Father turned his face away.” God the Father, being immeasurably Holy, had to turn away from God the Son at that very point. Ravi Zacharias put it best when he said:

The incredible truth was that at the very moment His Father seemed farthest from Him, He was in the center of His Father’s will.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And this is the point I wish to make. Though we cannot relate to the physical pain and torment that our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, we can relate to the rejection, the abandonment, the sheer loneliness of the cross. I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that I am terrified of loneliness, of being rejected by everyone – it is a trite saying that “no man is an island”, and we all need companionship, or as Finnis puts it, the objective good of ‘sociability’.

Yet Christ endured all of that, for our sake. He was rejected by His closest friends, the disciples, and then He was abandoned (for that very moment, at least) by the closest friend of them all, God the Father.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. – Hebrews 4:15 (emphases added)

I can relate to this. And I will respond to this. Have a great Easter.

two transforming truths (#nwa2011)

As mentioned in my earlier blog post (“reflections on New Word Alive”, 16 Apr 11), this is the second in the series of reflections on nwa2011.

Why did I choose the phrase ‘transforming truths’? Yes, there is a purpose other than the (intentional) pleasant alliteration! In my walk with God, I had come to inadvertently pick up and accept certain lies or half-truths about Him, and in my intellectual arrogance and self-sufficiency I failed to realise that something was amiss. Such is the nature of spiritual warfare; it is the battle for your mind, for your thought-life, (more on this in the next post on #nwa2011) and if the devil is able to get you to believe anything but the truth about God, he can deny your finding joy in Christ.

During nwa2011, God impressed upon me two truths which set me free from the shackles of certain subtle lies, and has jolted me back onto the path of transformation again.

So without further ado…


TRUTH #1: We grow in faith in the same way as we first came to faith.

Needless to say, this statement has to be unpacked a little. 

What happened when we first come to faith? We placed our trust in Christ, and were filled with the Holy Spirit.

How then should we walk and grow in faith? By placing our trust in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit daily.

At this point what I’ve said may strike you as being obvious and hardly anything ‘transforming’. But perhaps the power of this simple truth will become more apparent when I describe the lie that I had come to accept over the past few months. I had come to believe something like this:

“Sure, I believe in salvation by faith. But after that, once we’re justified, we’ve gotta put in our side of the deal haven’t we? We’ve gotta do steps A, B, C, D, and try to transform ourselves into Christ’s likeness. We have to work towards our own sanctification.”

You could fill in steps A, B, C, D, with things such as “doing my QT”, “reading my bible”, “prayer”, “going for CF”, etc. Does this seem more familiar to you now?

Now the problem with this thinking, other than the bare claim that it’s wrong, is that we are completely powerless against sin. Often times we think we can handle it, but we often forget that if not for Christ’s work on the cross, we would still be in sin’s grip, unable to change ourselves.

Walking with Christ and growing in Him thus is not by one’s own effort – a lie that I had unknowingly come to accept – and this was killing my ability to find joy Christ. So many times I came to Him in prayer, asking “why can’t I change?”, “why can’t I become more like You?”, “what am I doing wrong?”, “what am I thinking wrong?”, before reaching the inevitable conclusion – “Ok, I must do A, B, and C, better. That’s the problem.” I frankly cannot recall the number of times I went through this cycle of sin, confession, seeking repentance and change, and sinning again. Each time I analysed what I was doing wrong, and tried to change it. I had completely missed the point.

How then are we transformed into His likeness? Is there a happy ending? I can tell you assuredly, there is.

And we all, with unveiled face,beholdingthe glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same imagefrom one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

It is by ‘beholding the glory of the Lord’, or by contemplating upon Him, that we grow to have His heart, His attributes, His desires, His goodness… that we are transformed into His likeness.

This in turn begs the question, how then do we behold the glory of the Lord? It is about continually reminding ourselves of the truths of the gospel, the good news; the story of Christ who has rescued and saved us in his infinite grace. It is about remembering God’s supreme goodness with respect to our fallen-ness, about rejoicing in Him, praising Him, worshiping Him with our lives in light of this truly amazing, good news.

And it is at this juncture where the spiritual disciplines come in – steps A, B, C, et al. alluded to above. Spiritual disciplines in and of themselves will never work in any way to make us holy. However, spiritual disciplines assist us in contemplating, in dwelling, in abiding, in remaining in Christ. And the more we remain in Christ, the more our heart and our desires become unified with His heart and His desires, and we will bear fruit, fruit that will last, fruit that is to the Father’s glory, and fruit that show us to be His disciples. (cf John 15:1-8)

We must not forget also the role of the Holy Spirit in this transformation. Consider the second sentence of 2 Cor 3:18 – “For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” If not for the work of the Spirit, this would just be an effort of spiritual brainwashing or hypnosis – the more you force yourself to remember that God is good, the more you’ll believe it? – and this is ultimately futile. As we contemplate Christ, the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts, changing us into His likeness.

Therefore, in conclusion, we grow in faith in the same way as we first came to faith – through turning to Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, daily. This is such a simple truth that we often forget, choosing instead a series of rules or routines to live each day by, when God is just calling us to focus on His son!


TRUTH #2: Christ as the perfect bridegroom who has come to rescue His bride, the Church

Another truth that really struck me during nwa2011 was the image of Christ as the bridegroom, who came down to rescue His people, the church. So often the devil tries to deceive us into thinking that God is distant, God is in heaven and He’s so ‘great’ that He needs to add as much distance between Him and us as possible. So the diagrammatic result:

—————— God ———————

—————— Us ————————

(Ok this is embarrassingly amateurish, but you get the point.) And this is even after Christ’s work on the cross for us. Even though we have been redeemed by Christ, because we’re ‘dirty’, we need to keep our distance from Him.

This is why I found the imagery of the New Testament which talks about Christ as the perfect bridegroom acutely powerful. Furthermore, Christ was the prince, the son of the King, yet He chose an adulterous people who had chosen to love things other than Him – He came to rescue a lowly prostitute.

And not because this prostitute had anything desirable about her. No no, this prostitute was ugly, deformed, detestable in every way. But He came down to rescue her to make her beautiful.

Personally, I know of no greater love story than this. Greater love knows none other (John 15:13).

Perhaps it is because I am secretly a hopeless romantic that this story of Christ as the perfect bridegroom resonates so deeply within me; but I dare say that you would be heartless if this does not stir up within you any response whatsoever to the Saviour’s love.

And it is here I shall end this post, with the lyrics of a hymn that we sung at nwa2011, which struck me so hard I could not help but break down. It is the 3rd stanza & chorus of the hymn ‘And Can It Be That I Should Gain?’:

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

reflections on New Word Alive

Just got back last night from Pwllheli, Wales, where I attended, along with about 26 other CF members, New Word Alive, described as “a meeting of minds and hearts as we gather with thousands of other Christians, praising God and praying together, united by the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (cf. website here:

Without a doubt, this was by far the most impactful Christian camp / conference / event I have ever attended, and I intend to write a series of reflective pieces in an attempt to document all that I’ve gained from His speaking to me over the last 6 days – both for my own benefit, and hopefully, for you as well, the reader.

Why a series of blog posts (rather than 1 consolidated piece)? There are primarily two reasons: firstly, there was just so much good stuff that came out of NWA that I probably would not be able to contain in a single coherent piece; secondly, I would also like to take some time to ruminate over the teaching, worship, and overall experience before I expound on it, and hopefully this additional contemplation would correspond to a greater clarity in my writing, which would benefit the reader as well.

As a preliminary guide (for myself, primarily), perhaps it would be helpful to give an outline of the subsequent posts I will be writing. There will be at least these 4:

  1. two transforming truths
  2. you can change – how to walk with Christ
  3. evangelism – the heart of Christ for the lost
  4. true worship – singing the gospel truths

before I went to NWA, I asked God to refresh my spirit, wearied by the struggles of work, life, and the walk of faith itself. And He, the ever faithful God, heard my cry, and in His typically abundant grace gave me far more than I needed. To say that NWA was merely “encouraging” or “refreshing” would be a severe understatement; for me personally, it was life-changing. In my walk with God I had unwarily picked up and accepted certain lies or half-truths about Him, and during this conference, I thank Him for breaking these chains, releasing me to finally fully desire Him in the way that I should.

so then, I hope to serve a few objectives in writing this. firstly, I hope to document this experience so that when I am, inevitably, feeling spiritually weary again I can re-visit the Word that He has given me, so as to be reminded of His amazing grace; secondly, I hope to benefit you, my reader and friend, especially if you are feeling weary, discouraged or dishearted in your walk with God; and thirdly, and most importantly, I hope to give all glory to God – for He is deserving of all praise.

to God be the glory.