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Tailored For Glory

Title: Tailored For Glory
Materials: Photography
Artwork by: The Blessed Run
Description: All of us are under the meticulous craftsmanship of God and are His work-in-progress. Nothing is incidental in His eyes–our specific background, interests, skill sets and conditions, all serve a glorious purpose for His kingdom. No two persons are alike, and not one is better or less worthy than the other. You are tailored for glory.

 

 

 

SELECT

The Lord has carefully selected His materials for the creation of our being. Where we come from, our unique experiences and challenges, what we can or cannot do, what we like, who we hang out with. We aren’t factory-made pieces but special editions of an individual, glorious calling. Do not compare what we have, but discover what we were made for. For God, for His people, for His Kingdom.

 

 

PREPARE

Before we were created, God prepared the materials in the right quantity, measurements and cutting, ensuring that everything comes together to work for the good of His purpose for us (Romans 8:28). Our design is made such that it fits our fields, and has durability through the tumbling and stretching of life’s processes with the high thread-counts of truth from God’s Word. The materials are measured with such precision that we will not be given more than we can bear. Whether we are an XS or a double XL, linen fabric or cotton, God prepares us for our calling and handles us with care.

 

SEW

God-sewn pieces, you and I. Each step, each stitch, every hem and every snip. Though some pieces may be adorned with sequins and pearls, while others are of a minimalistic design, the way we are personalised shows how much God values us through the making and how we serve different purposes–equally important but for different contexts. Realise the Tailor’s concept for you and live out your purpose.

 

SHOWCASE

God does not make us to be folded up and kept aside as “faulty” pieces. We were tailored to glorify Him through our lives. It isn’t about maintaining a seamless track record or achieving the typicalities of a stain-free life. It is about allowing ourselves to  testify His goodness, faithfulness and authenticity through us and to reflect His glorious image. Yes, we may have some holes on us–dangling threads, loose buttons and damaged zips–but our constant faith in Him will fix our unbelief and transcend the struggles of our flesh. Embrace ourselves as we are and praise the Tailor, all the days of our lives.

 

Why Must I Wait?

We live in a society of instantaneous information, fast-food, and the automated everything. There is little choice but to become tech-savvy, productive, as well as highly efficient. The downside for a generation like ours is that even a five-minute wait may be unbearable.

So we find things to do while we wait. Waiting for a bus? Queuing for lunch? Time to check your email and refresh that Facebook feed. The problem comes when there’s nothing to distract ourselves while we wait. This makes waiting an absolute pain.

Yet, aren’t we always waiting for something? Like the single waiting for a God-fearing spouse. The anxious student waiting for her university entrance results. The young man in National Service waiting for his release date so he can go back to civilian life and grow his hair out again. Married couples waiting for their first child.

It has been 16 years now since I first heard God’s call to serve Him in the mission field. This call has been affirmed by church leaders, prophesied by youth camp speakers and reinforced during my own quiet time with the Lord. Yet here I am, stay-home mum to a toddler in my home country, married to a would-be pastor who will have to fulfil a four-year bond upon graduation from the seminary.

To be honest, the wait is frustrating. Even though I know none of us in the family is ready for the field, I still can’t wait to be sent. Every year, our church has “Missions Month” and the speaker invariably calls for a response on the last Sunday of the month. As a youth, I used to run down to the altar with my hands raised. In recent years, I have walked to the front in quiet obedience, all the time asking, “When Lord, when?”

This year went very differently. I decided not to step forward, after reflecting on a couple of lessons God was teaching me about waiting:

 

1. Waiting is for every Christian

As difficult as waiting may be, all of us are called to wait.

We are all passing through our earthly lives as pilgrims, waiting to be taken home to that eternal resting place Jesus promised to bring us to. But this time of waiting is not to be an idle one. Instead, Jesus commands us to make disciples and accompany the Holy Spirit in doing the Father’s work.

A single missionary I lived with for a season while serving in Thailand recently celebrated her 60th birthday in Singapore. Whenever she’s asked why she isn’t married, she simply replies that God might still be preparing her to be the best bride—and if not in this lifetime, then for an eternity with her Lord in Heaven.

But instead of sitting around, she’s someone who exemplifies the saying “never waste a single moment”. She wakes up at five every morning to pray and prepare breakfast before going on her rounds to visit the villagers. She goes about the Lord’s business faithfully—discipling, praying and serving those around her.

While waiting for the fulfilment of our human desires, why not eagerly pursue the things upon our Heavenly Father’s heart? For most of us who have been believers for some time, it could mean investing time to conduct Bible study, counsel young believers or even mentor the youth in our church.

 

2. Waiting is commendable

Waiting at the feet of the Lord gives Him pleasure—which is what Mary did while Martha busied herself in the kitchen. Jesus said that Mary had chosen what is good and that would not be taken from her. This I believe, refers to the words of the Lord Jesus, God Himself.

We all wait upon the Lord differently. While some prefer to scribble in their leather-bound journals, others plug-in and listen to Bible passages on the go. Whether you are the type to pray in a quiet room or while you prepare dinner for your family, what matters most is waiting on the Lord. His words have life, and in receiving them, we will experience much joy.

In observing godly sisters waiting for a child, I’m put to shame by their display of faith in God. Rather than choosing to get angry or blame Him, they instead fully depend on Him to give them strength as they wait. I see how God rewards their time spent with Him and how He personally ministers to them in their tears, giving them immeasurable joy from His word.

 

3. God Waits Too

God Himself is waiting for us to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

So this month, instead of asking God “when”, I learned to ask Him “why” instead—Why am I still here? That’s when I realized that the Lord a role for me now, right where I am. There’s still my extended family I have yet to reach out to. The youth in my home church and my ministry to fellow young mothers. The foreigners in seminary I ought to welcome into my home. And so many more.

 

For those of us waiting for whatever it might be, may I encourage you with this: don’t wait, because God has work cut out for you right now.

Pregnant at 18, what was I thinking?

Written By Breonna Rostic, USA

There was a time I believed that I had it all together.

In my mind, I was the epitome of cool. On top of being an academic all-star—I had just been accepted into several amazing colleges at the time—I was a popular cheerleader and was dating a college athlete. At that moment, nothing could stop me from taking the world by storm and creating the change I wanted to see.

The only problem was, the only change I really wanted to see was me. I wanted to be thinner, prettier, smarter and more popular—like all the celebrities on television. My plan was to pursue a career in the entertainment industry after college. And although some may have thought I already had a life worth leading, I wanted more. I wanted to be better. Like the girls around me who wanted to be thinner, taller, or more beautiful, I fell into the trap.

But everything in my life changed when I started college. Instead of growing smaller, I grew larger. Instead of feeling prettier, I felt uglier. I got tired easily, and that caused my social life and relationships to suffer and my academic results to slip. I just couldn’t seem to get my footing. What was going on with me? I had no idea, and I continued to struggle for months.

It turned out that I was pregnant . . . how could this be? Well, I knew how—but I never really thought it would actually happen to me. I never thought that such a huge fall from grace was possible. I was a role model for young women, coaching cheerleaders, volunteering in youth ministry . . . and now, pregnant three weeks shy of turning 18.

Suddenly, everything I planned on accomplishing had to shift. What would I do, what would my family think, how would my boyfriend respond? And my mom? I had given abstinence and purity a high value, always saying “a no now is a greater yes later”. Now I had to tell her that I had failed her. Not only did I feel like I failed her, but I failed God. My mind began to throb at the magnitude of what pregnancy meant, let alone raising a child.

For the first time in my life, I realized I didn’t have it all together. Every time I thought about the needs of my-soon-to-be-child, I found myself thinking: But what about me? That’s when I realized how selfish I was and how obsessed I had become about my appearance and the things of the world.

One Sunday while attending church with my mom, I felt convicted of my sins. In fact, just being in the building itself made me feel condemned. There were many people there, but I felt alone. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed God. But I didn’t think that God would have anything to do with my sin—with me.

But something happened that evening. The Holy Spirit ministered to me and comforted me, and I gave Him my all. I dedicated my life as well as my child’s life to God. I asked Him to never leave me, to guide me in this process. That night, I laid all my burdens at His feet and began to truly follow Him.

I didn’t see a drastic change in my life immediately after that, but there were small changes. I began to read my Bible and pray. My thoughts started to shift as well: they were no longer centered on myself; they were focused on my son, on my boyfriend-turned-fiancé, and on God.

Today, my son is eight. He has been attending church and learning and growing in a community of believers with my husband and me. I serve on multiple ministry teams at church and work in full-time ministry helping others understand the life-changing wisdom of the Bible. I’ve had opportunities to speak, teach, and minister to God’s people.

Through this journey, I have learned this: God knows that we will make mistakes, but He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to redeem and restore us. His Holy Spirit instructs, teaches and guides us in love; all we have to do is follow. It took a while for me to realize that my pregnancy did not just birth a child—it also birthed new possibilities in my life.

God used it to intervene in my life and draw me back to Him. So now, instead of chasing after material things and superficial happiness, I chase after God, serving Him and loving His people. Instead of dancing in the hopes that I could one day appear in a music video, I dance as an act of worship. Instead of spending countless hours worrying about my external beauty, I spend time working on the beauty of my soul.

I won’t say that my journey hasn’t been bumpy or without challenges. The transition from a selfish teen to a selfless woman has been grueling. I have lost friendships and opportunities. Being a teen mom, going to college, getting married, working full-time, joining ministry and building a new social life has been hard. But I wouldn’t change anything.

I believe God sometimes allows us to make mistakes when He wants to get our attention. But He doesn’t leave us there. Instead, He strengthens us in moments of weakness and adds joy to our sorrows. We can rest assured that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Mistakes can be used to bring us closer to God and make us more Christ-like if we surrender them to Him. God took my mistakes and used them to show me my purpose of serving and loving His people.

As I look back on my life now, I can say I didn’t get the changes I wanted but I certainly got the changes I needed. I’m glad God got the final say.

So You Think You Have the Best Bucket List?

Written By Karen Kwek

A lifelong scribbler, Karen enjoys the company of friends, a great cup of tea and seeing the gospel transform hearts and lives. She worked as a book editor until she and her husband traded peace and quiet for parenthood. It seemed a good idea at the time.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Recently my sons’ school principal addressed his students with this line from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day”, recognizing that with their best years lying ahead of them, life is full of wonder and possibility.

And not just for the young. In the 2007 film that coined the “bucket list” phrase, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson played two terminally ill men setting out to fulfil a list of things they each want to see or do before dying.

Since then, helped by social media, the bucket list has become an enduring thing. The sharing of all kinds of personal experiences, from travel and adventure to the artistic and culinary, not to mention photographs enhanced by every filter known to Instagram, makes for no lack of bucket list ideas and recommendations.

Today there are even specialized bucket lists, so that each of your must-do categories can have its own Top 10—10 Places To See; 10 Bestsellers To Read; 10 Extreme Sports To Try . . . In fact, why stop at 10? Sample the best that this world offers, and you can then die happy!

As Christians, should our bucket lists look the same as everyone else’s? At first, we might ask why not. After all, this world in its present form is passing away, and compared to eternity, our earthly lifetimes will be gone in a flash. Since Jesus has saved us for eternal life with God, what harm can it do to enjoy everything that He’s given us in the here and now? Surely these awesome experiences are all reminders of a powerful and loving God.

On my own list have long been a few special places—the lands where Jesus lived, as well as Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and Petra the Nabatean city in rock. I’d also like to watch an illusionist perform live, navigate a river in a houseboat, and hunt for truffles in Italy with friends and a trained dog!

But as I look again at these things, I realize that although enjoying creation and our God-given life is a valid expression of our relationship with God, the world’s obsession with the bucket list is based on some assumptions that may not hold up on closer examination:

 

1. Those who are not working through a bucket list are missing out.

Now, I know it’s very likely that Galilee, Dorset, Petra and Italy will not last forever. Certainly the apostle Peter writes of the destruction by fire of the earth and heavens and everything in them (2 Peter 3:10-12) when Jesus returns. We are told, however, that “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). The earth will not stay destroyed.

Although the Bible doesn’t go into many details about what the renewed world will be like, we have every reason to believe that it, too, will be a physical, embodied world with, well, impressive topography! Dare I hope that some of earth’s amazing places will be recreated, only even better?

If this is so, no one who is saved by Christ will be missing out on any of these life’s experiences at all. Even if the new earth is nothing like the old, there will surely be even better things to do or see there! To borrow an idea from the world of software development, who goes back to the beta-version once the live release is out?

 

2. Bucket list experiences can be enjoyed only during this lifetime.

The assumption here is that life is fleeting and best spent living to the fullest before we’re six feet under and it’s all too late. Indeed, life is short, but just as the world will not stay destroyed when Jesus returns, Christians will not stay dead! The apostle Paul describes our immortal resurrection bodies as spiritual, that is, not immaterial but instead animated by the Holy Spirit, perfectly suited to the new heaven and new earth that will last forever.

This means that any mountaintop on the new earth could still be fair game for those of us who would like to climb it with imperishable legs! My husband and children also like to imagine the kind of beyond-Michelin-stars foods there might be at the great wedding dinner mentioned in Revelation 19:9!

 

3. Bucket list experiences make us into better people.

As the torchbearers of a carpe diem spirit, bucket list champions usually come across as people who are keen to try new things, challenge stereotypes, confront their fears or step outside their comfort zones. We’d probably like to think that they’re people who know what they want and can muster the determination to pursue it. We’re tempted to buy into the assumption that these not-to-be-missed experiences will be somehow life-changing and character-transforming, helping us become the kind of people we long to be.

But as Christians, it’s worth asking: What kind of people should we long to be, and how do we suppose this change happens? By grace, through faith, Jesus has already enacted a crucial change in our status before God. We who were once dead in our sin are now alive in Christ, through no merit or effort of our own (Ephesians 2:8). Consequently, the apostles urge us to live “a life worthy of the calling [we] have received” (4:1), making every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with God (2 Peter 3:11, 14). Peter reminds us that we already have in the gospel everything we need to live a godly life, because we know Jesus!

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Although bucket list experiences may provide us with some unique insights, it turns out that growing into the kind of people God is pleased to use won’t necessarily involve swimming with orcas or hiking to the Iguazú Falls. I’m not saying that God never chooses to test our mettle Jonah-style, but most of us will find that training in the virtues of godly living and Christian character comes from practicing God’s Word in our day-to-day relationships with our parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. It is in these contexts that qualities such as goodness, self-control, brotherly affection and love are really tested and strengthened.

 

So, is there a better bucket list?

But before you yell, “Killjoy!” and stop reading, does this mean we should delete our bucket lists and never do or see anything out of the ordinary? I don’t think so, and I am not about to prescribe a one-size-fits-all “Christian bucket list” for you.

Instead, I have been asking myself how my relationship with God redefines my bucket list and my ultimate goals in this life. What does it mean, in practical terms, to learn to “number our days” (Psalm 90:12), wisely “making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16)? The New King James Version translates this as “redeeming the time”, and the apostle Paul goes on in later verses and Ephesians 6 to explain that this concerns understanding what God’s will is and acting rightly in relationships.

Besides His will that we work at personal godliness, God’s will for humanity is also revealed in His  holding back the end of time for us. As Christians we are reminded to live with the day of Jesus’ return in mind. This is the single event towards which all of human history is hurtling! And lest we forget just why God is not bringing it on sooner, Peter writes that God has a very different perspective of time compared to ours: He is not slow to keep His promise to return; rather, He is patient, wanting people to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Human historical time is not random; it is purposed for the unfolding of His salvation plan! God is not simply killing time but filling it with redemptive purpose, calling His people to Him, one sinner at a time. And so, in these times where sin is present, there is redemptive work to be done in the sense that people urgently need to know Jesus.

It seems to me, then, that since God’s will in human historical time is to see as many turn to Him as possible, I can re-evaluate my bucket list in at least these two ways:

 

Time

Is my view of time aligned with God’s? How long would it take for me to achieve every single item on my bucket list, and could that time be more wisely spent on relationships that bring others to Jesus or encourage them in their Christian journey? Writer David Andrew puts it this way in Christian publication The Briefing #273: “Christians should be arguing for seeing life as a set of relationships to be brought under the authority of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the prime relationship. Sadly, however, many Christians act no differently to anyone else in their management of time—they maximize the economic rather than the relational.”

 

Other limited resources, such as energy and money

How much of my energy and income would be spent achieving every single item on my bucket list? Realistically, some of the trips and activities that people seek are terribly expensive. Am I willing to invest some (if not most) of that energy and money (or even suffer a loss in income) for the sake of relationships that bring others to Jesus or encourage them in their Christian journey? These considerations have a direct bearing on the kind of job I might choose, how I spend my leisure time, or even whether I see my time raising my children as an opportunity to make disciples for Jesus. Would I be willing to maximize the relational rather than the economic?

After all this reflecting, I’ve pared down my list, and I won’t be upset if I never get to do everything on it in this life. Those things can wait. I’ve also come to realize that on a few occasions when I tried to seek God’s Kingdom first, He graciously gave me experiences which might even be on other people’s bucket lists! (It’s true—one modest example is how my husband’s Bible college studies took us to another country for several years, somewhere we’d otherwise never have experienced as residents. Ask me more another time!) I don’t say this to boast, merely to challenge myself. I’m certainly not there yet, but wouldn’t it be amazing if redeeming the time meant improving my bucket list so drastically that my life’s passions could be Jesus’? Then, if Jesus were to return tomorrow, I wouldn’t have to change a thing about my “one wild and precious life”!

What’s on your bucket list? How could you make it better?