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That’s My Dad!

Title: That’s My Dad!
Artwork by: Paulina Sangar (@caramel_art) X YMI
Description: 
Fathers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are loud and funny, while others are sporty and adventurous. Your father might embarrass you at the supermarket, or he could be someone who makes you proud . . . Regardless of what kind of father you have, what’s most comforting is to know that we all have a perfect Heavenly Father who lavishes His love on us and calls each of us His child (1 John 3:1).

As you take time to honor and celebrate your Dad this Father’s Day, let’s also remember what a privilege it is to be called a child of God, and thank Him for that.

 

He is incredibly proud of his dad jokes. A day is never dull with your dad, and some of his jokes are so cheesy, you wish he would keep them to himself. But alas, he loves socialising so you can guarantee he will be telling his dad jokes to your friends when they come around your house. Your friends think he is a riot, and you secretly love his jokes (you will never admit this to him though). But these dads aren’t just for fun jokes, when you are down in the dumps, you turn to them for a comforting hug, or a word of advice that will have you smiling in no time.

 

Your adventurous dad made you sign up for cub scouts the moment you started school. In fact, he has also set eyes on the local football club you could be part of. A fan of sports and the great outdoors, your dad can be found attending outdoor games, or could be found fishing, hiking or camping. Your weekends with him are spent discovering new trails to hike, or revisiting your favourite ones. He might be rough and rugged, but under it all is a big softie, and you appreciate the bear hugs he dishes out when life gets a little gnarly.

 

You think you know your food, but your dad trumps you in this department. While you may be filling your Instagram with your latest food, your dad is flooding WhatsApp group chats with pictures of his favourite breakfast, or the delicious noodles he discovered at a new restaurant. He loves long-distance driving – not to the great outdoors, but to try the food at that newly opened cafe. If he isn’t critiquing food, he is creating his own in the kitchen with you as his guinea pig. Fortunately he is not just about food though, and when life gets a little uncertain from time to time, you appreciate his little food for thought anecdotes about life to get you through the rocky road that is life.

 

Maybe your dad has disappointed you in the past, or you never really had a dad you could be proud of, or your dad has passed on. But there is a perfect Father in heaven who lavishes His love on you, and calls you His child (1 John 3:1). His love for you outrivals any love your earthly father can give. Let us turn to God today and bask in the everlasting and unconditional love He has for us.

 

5 Reasons I Believe in the Trinity

Ten years ago, I rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.

I grew up with the concept that there is one God who eternally exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was a doctrine I took for granted, until I studied theology in my final year of high school. What was supposed to help me understand God better became an overload of information. I couldn’t wrap my head around the teaching on the Trinity, and started to question its veracity. But instead of earnestly searching for answers, I brushed it off as a man-made idea.

Some time later, someone introduced me to the Oneness doctrine. This states that God is only one person with three manifestations. From that premise, it posits that Jesus Christ is not only the Son, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit. It suited my thinking then, so I accepted it.

My new belief began to tear my close family apart as we argued daily. My parents desperately tried to convince me otherwise, but I refused to be persuaded.

Until God spoke one day.

“Who is Jesus?” my dad challenged me.

“Jesus is God,” I said simply. Wasn’t it enough that I still believed in Jesus? That I still believed that God came to die for my sins and had redeemed me for eternity?

Then my mom quoted Matthew 16:15-16:

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Son of the living God.

Have you ever heard God speak? I didn’t hear God’s audible voice, but those words came alive like never before. It made my heart beat faster and I couldn’t speak. I was terrified, because I knew that God was speaking right to me.

And I knew that I was wrong.

God continued to speak in the months following that episode. Every time I opened the Bible, a verse or passage popped up proclaiming the triune nature of God. It was a fear-inducing experience—the holy fear kind. But finally, the scales of pride and stubbornness fell, and I could see God more clearly.

The journey was humbling, and has taken me 10 years to share it. There are other sources that extensively describe the Trinity well, like this one. But for here, I shall list the few points that spoke to me personally.

 

1. God is love

God doesn’t just know how to love. He is the origin of love. He is the definition of love itself (1 John 4:8).

But true love cannot function with only one person involved. That would be narcissism. True love is selfless. And this must be in the context of relationship.

Since God is love itself, it means that His love is self-contained within the Godhead. He is love from the beginning of beginnings, before angels and mankind were created. If God were only one person, whom did He love then?

In his book, The Pattern, Singaporean pastor and author Dev Menon defines the Trinity this way: “If you take a snapshot of God, what you would see is the Father loving the Son, and the Son responding in love to the Father—all this through the Spirit. . . At His core, God is love. That means different Persons loving one another in a relationship.”

 

2. God was and always will be three persons

Throughout His time on earth, Jesus communed with the Father. Even as He hung on the cross, He cried out to the Father (Luke 23:34, 46).

If Jesus were also the Father, was He speaking to himself? Would we not label that schizophrenia or split personalities? Some argue that it was the human part of Jesus talking. If so, where do we draw the line of distinction between divine and mortal?

I have heard one explanation that God was Father in the Old Testament, Son in the New Testament, and Holy Spirit in the church age. But Hebrews 13:8 says that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” James 1:17 declares that our Father “does not change like shifting shadows.” Hence, the Father would have to be as much the Father today as yesterday. The Son would have to be the Son from the beginning, not only from His physical coming into the world. The same goes for the Holy Spirit.

 

3. God in three persons is essential to the Gospel

The crux of the gospel message is about God meting out His justice against the sinfulness of mankind in love—by sending His son, Jesus into this world to take the punishment on our behalf.

Firstly, justice had to be met. If Jesus were also the Father, He could have decided to waive His law and save the trouble of coming down to earth. But neither the eternal justice nor love of God can be compromised. Through the Trinity—the Father taking on the role of judge, the Son the mediator, and the Holy Spirit binding them in unity—justice and love was both upheld and fulfilled (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:14).

Secondly, someone had to take our place. If Jesus on the cross were only a manifestation, how much of Him was really here? The certainty of the sacrifice would be questioned. Also, where was He for the three days after He died? If He were back in heaven as the Father, where is the significance of waiting for His resurrection over death and sin? God the Son, fully God but His own person, had to be fully here to be nailed onto the cross. Only then could Jesus boldly declare, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Thirdly, there has to be a way for salvation to take effect in each of us. And that is through the Holy Spirit. He reveals the truth of the Gospel, convicts us to repent, and seals us to salvation. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can call Jesus Lord and become God’s children (Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 12:3). It is also He who empowers us to live new lives in Christ, just as He empowered Jesus (Hebrews 9:14; Romans 8:11).

 

4. Each person of the Trinity is distinct

Jesus had mentioned several times to the disciples that He would return to the Father (John 16:5, 10, 17, 28, for example). He then promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, “another advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).

If Jesus were also the Holy Spirit, couldn’t He have said simply that He’ll be back in a different form? Why then all the fuss over His ascension and second coming?

But Jesus spoke clearly that He was to leave, with another taking His place. Stephen confirmed it when, after the Holy Spirit had already come, He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).

 

5. The Bible has evidence of the trinity throughout

One challenge against the concept of the Trinity is that triune or trinity are not found in the Bible. But the truth is, if we only look, evidence of the triune nature of God is everywhere in Scriptures.

There are simply too many verses to include them all here. So I will focus on the unlikeliest passages—the opening greetings of all the New Testament letters. If you’re like me, we tend to run through the greetings quickly, dismissing them as formalities. But they can actually reveal much, and they answered my questions about whether Jesus was also the Father and the Holy Spirit.

For example, the apostle John wrote in 2 John 3, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (emphasis added). We find similar phrasings in the other letters that identify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as separate persons, or Jesus Christ as the Son but never the Father or the Holy Spirit.

This doesn’t diminish who Jesus is. Jesus Christ is still the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). But if Jesus—oh magnificent, wonderful Jesus—is the fullness of God and yet not the whole of God, how great then is God in all His majesty!

How does the Trinity affect me?

You’re probably asking now, “What’s the point to all this? It just sounds like another thing to boggle our minds.”

I used to think that. I had thought that “simplifying” my idea of God would make things easier. But if something is not the truth, it simply will not stand.

In fact, the more I dwelled on it, the more the “simple idea” became confusing to reconcile with. Unbelievable as it may sound, it is the truth of the Trinity that has deepened my understanding of the world, and reshaped my approach to relationship with both God and people.

I wish I could fully express how much this truth means to me. But at the end of the day, it’s a journey each one of us needs to take, a question we each should ask, and the search we each have to pursue.

But it’s not about gaining more head knowledge. We don’t need to know more about God. We need to know God. When we make a new acquaintance or start a relationship, we are eager to know the other person. We ask questions, listen, observe. Do the same with God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Get to know Him, and He will respond.

To Those Not Celebrating Father’s Day

I have nothing against Father’s Day. My family just never had the practice of celebrating it—along with other occasions like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

Maybe it was because my parents were not the sentimental sort. The most we did was to attend the big, extended-family dinners my uncles or aunties would throw for my grandfathers on both sides. But with my dad, we never did anything special. No fancy dinner, no expensive gifts, no warm and fuzzy family photo.

If anyone asked, we would just say, “Nah, it’s just a commercial gimmick.” After all, we didn’t need to wait for an occasion to have a nice dinner together; if we wanted to, we just had one. And the same applied to the giving of gifts. My dad gave us gifts whenever he felt like it. So birthdays were never much of a deal in my family, either. And we were all happy with the way things were.

Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. I have hardly gotten emotional during Father’s Day in the past four years since my dad passed on suddenly after a massive stroke. Sure, the banners and electronic displays screaming “Father’s Day Lunch Promotion”, “Father’s Day Discount”, or “Father’s Day Gift Ideas” trigger memories of my dad, but they don’t choke me up with emotion. And I’m thankful for that. I miss my dad enough, so I don’t need another occasion to get me all weepy.

You may identify with my situation. Maybe your family just doesn’t have the practice of celebrating Father’s day, or you lost your dad some time ago. Perhaps your dad has been absent in your life, or is an abusive and irresponsible figure you want nothing to do with. Perhaps Father’s Day brings you more pain and frustration than any other day, and you cringe at the mere mention of it.

Whatever your reasons for not celebrating Father’s Day, here’s what I’d like to say: You’re not alone. I know, I know, it’s clichéd—but it’s true. And it’s not because there are other people out there who are in the same boat as you. No matter how similar our circumstances may be, each of them is unique. No one can fully empathize with what you’ve been through, even your own family members. But one person can and that’s all that matters.

Mourning over the loss of my beloved father brought me closer to God than ever before. I remember nights where I wished my dad were still around so I could tell him about all that had happened during the day. But I couldn’t, so I told it to God instead. And then there were other times I would find myself tearing over a memory of my dad triggered by something—a dream, a place, or an item—and I would end up pouring my feelings to God. Each time, God never failed to comfort me with the reminder that my dad was safe in His arms, in a much better place.

Over time, I realized that what my earthly father had shown me was a glimpse of how wonderful and good my heavenly Father is. My father’s generosity, his gentle disposition, and his protective nature—God was all these and more. Regardless of how our fathers have been or are like, let’s take comfort in the ever-abiding presence of our ultimate father, God Himself. He’s the father who will never leave, disappoint, or abandon us.

 

 

Doctor Who: The Unlikeliest of Heroes

Written By Karen Kwek, Singapore

I can’t wait for The Doctor to return in August 2015. No, not any of the medics in Scrubs or Grey’s Anatomy—this is The Doctor who pre-dated them all. I’m talking about Doctor Who, the British science fiction series that has picked up a worldwide following in recent years.

In 2013, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special was broadcast simultaneously in 94 countries. Not bad for a millennium-old, space-and-time-travelling alien with an average physique and no supernatural powers whatsoever! That’s right, The Doctor, in his various regenerations (he takes on a new form when he “dies”), is more like your bumbling, eccentric Physics professor or the techno geek next door than Superman. You’d be hard pressed to find a more unlikely defender of Planet Earth.

“When they made this particular hero,” says series writer/producer Steven Moffat, “they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t give him a tank or a warship or an X-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And they didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like The Doctor.”

What kind of hero? Someone who fixes broken things, who’s just a phone call away, and whose physiology speaks an overflow of love.  Because, when you think about it, isn’t that exactly the kind of hero that the human race will always need?

Think about it: Some of the disasters we suffer, like earthquakes, tsunamis and pandemics, come from nature, but our moments of greatest suffering—genocide, terrorism and racism, just to name a few—are caused by human strife.

We don’t need a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space, the Doctor’s time machine masquerading as a blue police call box) to see that this has been true throughout human history. Even at the individual level, petty rivalries and unkindness mark our everyday lives. To God, the Divine Doctor, we are terminal cases: condemned and unable to save ourselves.

But God has done something about it. He stepped into time and space as a man, and as the unlikeliest of heroes, at that: a nobody, the son of a carpenter from a backwater in Galilee, with no beauty or majesty. He was despised and rejected by humankind; he was not a man of steel but of suffering, and he was familiar with pain. (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Yet such a man came to heal the broken, the lame, and the blind, taking upon himself the punishment for our rebellion against God. In this life, disaster will still plague us from within and without, but as Jesus’ sacrifice reconciles us to God, we can face suffering with the certain hope of a perfect eternity with God. In Christ, God has given us the ideal remedy for our terminal illness.

And so, this August, when I’m watching The Doctor on his manic missions to save the planet, I’m going to be extra grateful for the salvation that Jesus, our ultimate hero, has won for us. “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)