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It’s Not All About Us, Ladies

I recently found myself grumpy and tired after a day of taking care of sick kids, cleaning the house, and doing laundry. My sweet husband Andrew knew it had been a long day and I thought that maybe, just maybe, he would surprise me with flowers, a sweet note, or something, anything, to make me smile.

Well, he didn’t, and that was my tipping point. I had a massive pity party—after all, it had been quite a while since he had done anything romantic for me. I became lost in my own thoughts. Flowers, undivided attention, a handwritten note, a date, a back rub, chocolate—something simple. That’s all women want; is this such a big ask?

That’s when I stopped myself. “Woah. Hold on just a minute, Stacy. How long has it been since you’ve done any of this for him?”

My selfishness immediately repulsed me, but the very real frustration lingered. I knew I was missing the mark, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to sort out all of this in a God-honoring way.

So, I opened my Bible. As I began to read, the first verse I came across was Philippians 2:3, which encourages believers to humbly count others as better than ourselves—that is, to not look out for our own interests first but for the interests of others.

Instead of thinking about how long it had been since my husband romanced me, Philippians tells me that I should be asking how long it has been since I had not only romanced him, but considered his very well-being above my own. This, as 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, is a mark of true love, which is not self-seeking. This means I need to take simple but active steps to show my consideration and love for Andrew as part of our everyday lives.

As wives, we need to learn what speaks love to our husbands; striving to love them sacrificially through their languages of love. Romance for him may come in the form of planning a scavenger hunt, eating out at a new place, planning get-togethers with his friends, lighting candles after the kids go to sleep, making him coffee in the morning, writing him surprise notes, or even what my husband and I just began doing—putting down our phones at night so we are together with undivided attention.

Now, I know we wives are sinners, who are also married to sinners; we have husbands who are selfish, and some are simply very hard to love. As I considered this matter further, though, God opened my eyes to what romancing our spouse should be founded on: obedience and sacrifice to our Savior. That was the bigger picture to be seen here.

When loving our husband sacrificially seems impossible, may we remember the example we have in Christ—the One who, even having lived perfectly, died a brutal death to make it possible for us to spend eternity with Him. That is true sacrifice, and this is the way in which we have been loved by our maker. Believers are called to follow the example of their King—the One who emptied Himself for His glory and our good, being obedient to the point of dying upon a cross.

These are not easy words to even type, for I fall so short. My selfishness is enslaving. Yet, we must try for the sake of following the call of Christ to live a life giving of ourselves for others—and in this instance, our husbands. Even if we are never thanked or acknowledged, serving can be done with joy because ultimately we are not serving our husbands; we are serving and being obedient to our Savior.

Hannah Yeoh: Becoming Malaysia’s First Woman Speaker

Written By Janice Tai, Singapore

Despite being the minority as a Christian Chinese female in Malaysia, Hannah Yeoh became the country’s first female speaker in a state parliament—and its youngest—at the age of 34 in 2013.

 

To date, Hannah has seen the faithful hand of God guiding her through a decade in politics as a representative for the town of Subang Jaya and five years as the speaker of Selangor State Legislative Assembly.

The former lawyer’s unlikely foray into politics started with a dramatic love story.

During a supper with a pastor friend in January 2007, he dropped a bombshell prophecy on her: You will get a marriage proposal in June.

“It seemed quite far-fetched then, as I was single and not seeing anyone. Even up till May, there was still no romantic prospect in sight,” Hannah tells YMI.

She continued to go about her daily life, helping her father and friends with his event management business and serving God in church. By then, she had stopped practising as a lawyer.

In June, Hannah, who was then serving in her church’s ministry for new believers, preached from the pulpit for the first time. Unbeknown to her, fellow church member Ramachandran Muniandy, an IT engineer, was sitting among the congregation and listening with rapt attention.

She had caught his eye, as God had been giving him visions in the last few months of his future wife preaching in church.

Ramachandran and Hannah were already friends at the time, but from then on, he saw her in a different light. He told her to pray about the next stage in her life. That same month, he proposed to her and she accepted the proposal 10 days later after praying about it. The prophecy was fulfilled. But God had even greater plans for the couple.

Hannah was then co-leading a cell group with a former schoolmate, Edward Ling. He had a keen interest in politics and believed in its role in effecting change.

Hannah, in contrast, had neither inclination for nor knowledge of politics. She was not even a registered voter. But she wanted to give him her support, so she joined the Democratic Action Party (DAP), an opposition party, with Edward.

In the meantime, God had spoken to Hannah and her fiancé and told them to get married in January. They did not understand what the rush was for, but obeyed Him and tied the knot on January 5, 2008.

 

Becoming Malaysia’s first female speaker

The reason for a contracted dating and marriage timeline soon became clear. Elections were called a month later and the DAP chose Hannah to contest the Subang Jaya state seat. They believed she would appeal to the young, middle-class professionals there. Edward became Hannah’s campaign manager.

“I had no political ambitions so it came as a surprise. But God provided me with a husband who prayed with me about it and supported me even though I felt ill-equipped to speak at rallies during the campaigning period,” says Hannah.

Hannah needed as much support as she could get. She was up against a seasoned female politician. During the campaign period, her opponent distributed a booklet containing a long description of her political experience; all Hannah had was a leaflet with her passport photo printed on it.

Many mocked her for being young and inexperienced but Hannah persevered and leveraged on her youth. She even came up with a tagline that said, “Yes, I have no experience, I have no experience in corruption!” At rallies, she also brought in young people to share their ideas and vision for the country.

Though she could cough up only RM700 (about US$170) from her savings for the election campaign, her supporters and friends raised more than RM100,000 to support her campaign. She won the seat with a majority vote of 71 percent in 2008; she was only 29 then. Hannah was re-elected in 2013 and also sworn in as speaker—out of the 56 state assemblymen in the state assembly—to preside over the proceedings of the House that year. 

 While elated and grateful for the honor, the ex-lawyer nevertheless found the post-election road a lonely one. Young people her age were free to hang out with friends after work, but her weekends were taken up by community events and other obligations.

“God led me on this path and I obeyed, but I also felt discouraged because I felt far away from my own dream to be a preacher,” she recalls.

Press Conference on introduction of Opposition Time in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly

Pressing on in Politics

However, Hannah persevered because she believed God had given her a larger platform to fight for honesty and integrity in Malaysia. Her party’s battle against corruption and race-based policies also resonated with her.

In the last five years, Hannah has pushed for more checks and balances in the political system by strengthening the role of the opposition in her state, though her party is the governing party there. For example, she introduced “Opposition Time” for the Opposition Leader to speak in the State Legislative Assembly before each adjournment of the House. She also saw through changes requiring the Opposition Leader to chair the Public Accounts Committee inspecting the state government’s spending.

In Malaysia, race, religion and politics are often intertwined. But Hannah, while a Christian, sought to institute fairness in land allocation matters. During her term, she successfully fought for land for places of worship for other faiths, representing the different stakeholders in her constituency who entrusted her with the mandate to be their spokesman.

At the same time, she remained passionate and vocal about her own faith. Three years ago, she launched her biography, Becoming Hannah, which traced the hand of God in her life.

Her detractors, however, used her book to play up religious sensitivities. In May last year, a university lecturer lodged a police report accusing Hannah of attempting to “coax, influence and instigate” people to convert to Christianity through her book. It came right after a well-known Christian politician in Indonesia, Jakarta’s former governor Ahok, was sentenced to two years in prison over comments about the Quran.

Hannah was questioned but no charges have been pressed so far. “My opponents usually attack me by playing the religion card, especially in the online space. I have learned to respond by setting the record straight on false allegations immediately and by keeping my hands clean so that they don’t have anything to use against me,” she says.

While numerous duties such as overseeing committees and hosting diplomatic visits as a speaker fill her days, Hannah still manages to run a home. She and her husband—now a pastor—take turns to pray with their two daughters, aged four and six, before putting them to bed every night.

Ask her if she intends to stay in politics for the long haul, and her reply is: “One day at a time, one election at a time.” Her desire, she says, is to stay in politics not one day longer than what God intends. For now, at least, she has discerned that God still wants her to contest the next elections.

Her parting words for young people: Never lose hope in God’s plans and purpose for your life.

Hannah says: “People have told me that it is impossible to stay clean in Malaysian politics and that the system will swallow me. But Nehemiah sought to rebuild broken walls despite the desolation and ruin. No task is too great if one trusts and hopes in God.”

 

Speakers’ Conference 2017 held at Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, May 2017

It Starts with Believing God is Good

Written By Gabrielle Triyono, USA

We all have probably said “Thank God” or “God is good” many times in our lives. But do our choices and way of living truly reflect what we say? It wasn’t always the case for me.

Growing up as a Christian, I was taught that God is good. I have also seen Him do good things in my life. But even though I’d witnessed God’s miraculous hand upon my life, I still had moments of doubt and fear in what God was asking me to do.

For a while, God had put in my heart to let go of a relationship. I’d seen God’s faithfulness and goodness when He had asked me to let go of things previously, but my desire for this relationship blinded me from seeing God’s way as good. I pressed on with my own will and decided that God’s way wasn’t good enough.

I soon found how wrong I was.

This relationship ended up pulling me away from God. I got distracted and lost sight of what God was calling me to do. The books that God put in my heart to write got delayed, and I was not able to give myself fully to serving in the ministries at my church. Because Jesus was never the center of our relationship, both of us were not growing spiritually.

I came to the realization that if I stayed in this relationship, I would never reach God’s destiny for my life. I finally had the courage to believe that God’s way was best, so I obeyed and let go of the relationship.

Since then, I have seen Him move more in my life than ever before. God opened the door for me to be a leader in the singles ministry at my church (even though I had only attended the ministry for a couple of months). I was also invited to speak, share a sermon, and lead worship for my church’s singles ministry Christmas event. It was humbling to see how my message resonated with people walking in different seasons of life; many shared that it was just what they needed to hear.

I have also been deeply encouraged by how God has used my writings on “Living Revelations” to reach out to others, some of whom have written testimonies to share how they appreciate the relevancy of the pieces as well as my transparency.

I’ve seen Ephesians 3:20 become real in my life: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” God certainly gave me more than what I could imagine. He opened more doors for my ministry. And He was moving more in my life.

That episode helped me realize this important truth: Realizing God’s goodness positions us to walk in obedience to enter into our destiny. Psalm 18:30 reminds us, “As for God, his way is perfect . . .”

I can’t help but wonder about the many times we have missed out on God’s blessing by refusing to obey Him because we refused to believe that His way is perfect. I had to learn the hard way that God’s way may not feel like the best way, but His way is always the best.

Simon Peter’s first encounter with Jesus is a good example of the importance of trusting in what Jesus is calling us to do. In Luke 5, we see Jesus asking Peter to sail to deep waters to fish again. Peter had just spent the whole night trying to catch fish but caught nothing.

His response to Jesus was, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (v. 5). Peter was exhausted, and the way he responded suggests that he did not feel Jesus’s idea was a good one. But despite his doubts and hesitant feelings, he did it anyway.

What was the outcome? Overwhelming blessing.

Peter and his fellow fishermen caught so much fish that the nets began to break (v. 6). Luke 5:8-9 says, “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus . . . For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught . . .” (emphasis mine).

Peter came to a realization of God’s goodness. If he had followed his feelings and not listened to Jesus, he would never have been in the position he was in—at the feet of Jesus, in complete awe of his power.

Maybe we’re like Simon Peter. But just as his experience showed, our feelings don’t make reality. God wants to overwhelm us with His goodness and blessing, but it starts with our obedience.

Will we respond to Jesus like Simon Peter, and say, “Because you say so, I will do it”?

If you haven’t seen the hand of God move in your life, now is your chance to see His goodness poured out in your life. And if you have seen God move in your life, believe that He will do it again.

Will we follow what Jesus is asking us to do in faith, despite our feelings and doubts? Will we come to the realization of this simple truth that God is always for our good?

We don’t have to be afraid of what is to come. As long as we are walking with God, His goodness will always follow our lives. Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.”

There is nothing better than living in the will of God.

 

This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.

Are We Just Having Coffee Dates with God?

Sometimes, after a good, long time of Bible study, I go right into sinning. When I am alone at home, those sins that prey on solitude can easily sneak in. For me, it is often lust.

And sometimes I don’t stop it. It feels good so I feed it. But afterwards I tell myself, “I spent some quality time with God this morning, and I know He forgives all our sins, so I think we’re still cool.” And I continue my day without a second thought— with no regret, nor a plan to change.

But a little while ago during my quiet time, I came across Matthew 7:21 where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

That was sobering.

Growing up, the main message I got from church was that having a relationship with God was the most important thing. And I thought the right relationship mostly meant just getting quality time with Him each day.

But that verse got me thinking. Maybe I had been looking at my relationship with God in the wrong way. The messages from the pulpit made me think God was soft and happy and doesn’t care too much about little sins. The contemporary worship songs I was exposed to were mostly about God’s grace and love for us. Sermons were often about God’s love, how we should love others, and about God’s infinite forgiveness.

I learned that Jesus is “super relatable” because He has gone through everything I have gone through. I got the idea that God was my buddy. He’s cool with me just the way I am. The vague message seemed to be, “It’s okay if you sin; you can be forgiven. What’s important is relationship, relationship, relationship.” I seemed to have convinced myself that although God was super powerful, He was ultimately my nice, and infinitely forgiving, buddy.

In my nice, Christian, American culture, staying in right relationship with my “buddies” usually just means hanging out every now and then. Grabbing coffee from time to time. I think that’s what I projected onto my relationship with God. I just had to get some quality time with Him every day or so. Even if I continued in my favorite little sins, we were still pretty much in good standing.

But as I considered this verse on doing the will of the Father, I started thinking that maybe my relationship with God was meant to be more than just hanging out every now and then.

 

The true nature of relationships

I thought about how relationships were before social media was the norm, and when families and neighbors didn’t disperse across the country. I thought about societies before this independent, ever-changing, quick-in-quick-out lifestyle we live today. I thought about when communities depended on each other to survive and neighbors were neighbors for generations. Those times required deeper, more multifaceted relationships. Relationships were a lot more than just getting coffee once a month.

I think a key element of those old relationships was honoring and respecting the other’s requests. If, in a moment of weakness, I stole one of my neighbor’s sheep and ate it, that wouldn’t be cool. And if I simply didn’t care and kept stealing his sheep when he asked me to stop, I definitely wouldn’t be doing my part of the relationship very well. It would make being neighbors very hard.

This principle applies to present day relationships as well. If it were my very own father who asked me to stop something that was hurting him and I didn’t even try, I would not be honoring him.

I’m also reminded of John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” And this was recorded by the disciple who called himself the “disciple whom Jesus loved” and who was such close friends that he laid his head on Jesus’ chest at the last supper. They were buddies, but this commandment-keeping-love isn’t what comes to mind when I think of hanging with my buddies. What I think this means is that a relationship with God is also about a deep respect and obedience because He is powerful and sovereign.

It can be likened to the relationship that kings had with their servants. In modern terms, it’s like getting a phone call from our most respected world leader asking something of us. Or a little closer to home: think of the relationship you have with your best teachers or your parents. I think our unique relationship with God is not just having a close friendship, but includes the most honoring elements of all of these as well.

So what do I do about these sins that I keep returning back to? Romans 7:19 recognizes this tendency: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” But it certainly isn’t saying that we can and should continue in our sins.

To me, part of the solution involves picturing God as more than just our “buddy.” When we deeply value someone and hold them in high esteem, we take their requests of us seriously. In the context of our relationship with God, that means we start to take our sins more seriously.

I’ve since started to pray for God to help change my desires, I’ve made a plan, and I’ve partnered with one of my buddies to help keep me accountable to my commitment.

Thank God, it’s helping.

 

This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.