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What Do We Do Now With All Those Christmas Gifts?

Can you believe it? Christmas Day has come and gone—just like that.

Over the last month or possibly just this past week, you probably spent a great deal of time writing Christmas cards—purchased from a store or handmade with love—and choosing the ideal gift. The latter is an art in itself. Sometimes, it might even feel like you’re treading through a minefield—getting the wrong gift is akin to setting an explosive off.

You thought long and hard about what to buy for your friends and family, hoping that they would love what you got them. After getting the gifts, you wrapped them up in the fanciest or cheesiest wrapping paper you could find and topped them all off with a ribbon and possibly a beautifully calligraphed tag (that you spent hours trying to master).

Next comes the gift exchange and finally, the time to open the presents you’ve received. You approach with the subtle hope that as much thought and love had been poured into them just as you did for the gifts you prepared. Whether you are a ripper or a peeler, you finally get to the moment of truth—the moment you find out if you like what you see.

So . . . are you happy with all the Christmas gifts you have received?

Well, there are bound to be some presents we absolutely love and some others we’re a little confused by (to put it mildly). Based on what I’ve observed from all my Christmas experiences, here are the three most common ways Christmas gifts are dealt with. I’m curious to know what’s yours.

 

1. Use it.

If you’ve received something that you like and are able to use, my heartiest congratulations. It could be that new lip tint that is trending this season, or that new book that you’ve had your eye on, or that latest gadget that everyone has been dying to get their hands on. But let’s be honest. Even those have a shelf life. Give it a couple of weeks and soon our attention will be drawn to something else.

Nothing seems to truly satisfy no matter how useful it is, does it?

 

2. Shelf it.

These are the gifts that befuddle us and make us wonder why anyone would spend money to get them or whether any thought has been put into them. You know what I’m talking about—those liquor chocolates, tacky socks, and bath bombs etc. They are usually left where we last placed them and tucked in a corner till the next spring-cleaning. Out of sight and out of mind. I have seen this happen too often in my own home. These gifts are tricky to handle and often leave us helpless because it seems rude to throw them away and yet we have no use for them.

Is the value of the gift determined by the giver or the recipient?

 

3. Recycle it.

Yes, you read that right. Some of us are guilty of this (the more practical lot). The unwanted gifts are nicely rewrapped and placed in someone else’s hands the following Christmas. Or we might donate them to the local thrift store to appease our conscience, believing that at least it will go towards a good cause.

Should we ever give given gifts away?

 

 

Whichever option we identify with, if we are honest with ourselves, there can never be a gift on earth that can truly satisfy (what with our endless material wants and earthly desires).

However, we know that there is a gift from above (James 1:17) that truly satisfies and never disappoints. It is an indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15) that we can unwrap and unpack over and over again for the rest of our lives—revealing more truths and wonders each time we do so.

It is a timeless gift that never goes out of style. It is original and uniquely ours—written with our names on the gift tags. A gift that keeps our interest piqued at all times and that we desperately need, not just want.

And that gift is Jesus, my friends.

He’s the perfect and irreplaceable gift that must be received and shared.

If you have yet to receive this gift, will you open your hearts to receive it today?
If you’ve yet to share this gift, will you do so even though Christmas is over?

5 Challenges Second Generation Christians Face

Is there any difference between the struggles faced by first generation Christians and second generation Christians? (I shall refer to the latter group as SGCs.)

To be honest, this question didn’t cross my mind till recently when I had a conversation with a friend who shared about the struggles she faced growing up in a Christian home. It got me thinking about the issues that many SGCs like me are likely to face, and how they might be hindering us in our walk with God.

No defining moment of transformation in life

I am in fact a third generation Christian. My grandparents became Christians after they got married.

Growing up in church, being involved in the youth ministry, attending church camps and having people come round to my house for Bible study were all part and parcel of my growing-up years. Each of these components played a part in shaping the Christian I am today. But because of my constant exposure to the Christian lifestyle, I can’t say that there was a defining moment in my life when I was “transformed”. As a result, I’ve often felt that my faith journey has been insignificant, uneventful and unremarkable. And I struggle whenever it comes to sharing my testimony with others.

At the same time, I know it’s a privilege to have been brought up in a Christian family. I’m also learning to see that while a spectacular life-transforming story can draw someone to Christ, so does a simple testimony about God’s faithfulness. All I need to do is to share how Christ has been constant throughout my life.

 

Having to meet many expectations when growing up

Anyone who is a pastor’s kid, a missionary’s kid, a church leader’s kid, or simply a second or third generation Christian, will understand the pressure and expectation to live like a “devout” Christian. You may have heard at least one of these comments before:

“Don’t your parents encourage you to join Sunday School?”

“Why is he not attending church when his dad is so active in church?”

“You’ve been in church for a long time, maybe it’s time to take on a leadership role.”

Sometimes, the pressure and expectation can have a reverse effect. I know of SGCs who have left church because of various reasons, including disappointment with other Christians or even themselves.

Growing up, I was all too familiar with the feelings of guilt and inadequacy whenever I failed to do my daily devotion or attend church regularly, or to serve in a ministry. By God’s grace, I am thankful that the expectations of others did not hinder my relationship with Him. We all have a personal journey to take with God, and we need to be responsible for our own faith.

 

Finding that I’m still a spiritual infant

Going to church can feel like a routine, especially if we’ve been doing it since young. I’d be the first to admit that waking up early for church often felt like a chore, and staying for Sunday classes after service, a bore.

Despite having grown up in Sunday school and having to memorize Bible verses, I’m also ashamed to say that I’ve only a surface knowledge of the Bible. Sure, I can tell you the stories of Noah, Moses, and Jonah, but ask me what deeper lessons these accounts teach, and I’d be at a loss for words. Considering the number of years I’ve been a Christian, I know it is not acceptable. I’ve also noticed how I have great difficulty sharing the gospel with non-Christians simply because I do not know the Bible enough.

Recently, I started listening to sermons more intently, and I now find myself more interested in what the Word of God says. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

 

Struggling to find meaning in service

As SGCs, many of us are probably serving in church in one way or another. This might be the result of our parents’ persuasion or the expectations of others. But serving without a true conviction can feel like an obligation instead of joyful service.

Having served in many areas in church, from teaching toddlers at Sunday school to singing in the worship team to designing church collaterals, I know there’s always a place to serve and use the talents and skills that God has given me. But I’ve been reminded time and again that it’s more important to consider carefully why I serve instead of where I serve.

In Colossians 3:23-34, it says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

 

Lacking passion for missions

Recently, I met a few first-generation Christians who exuded so much passion and zeal for God that it got me wondering about my own enthusiasm (or lack of) for evangelism. That’s when I realized that throughout my life, I’d always been surrounded by Christians. As a result, I had lost sight of the need as well as the urgency to spread the gospel to others.

Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 has been be a good reminder of what it means to be passionate about missions. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

 

I know that this list is not exhaustive. But regardless of what struggles each of us face, I’d like to encourage us to consider making these three responses:

  1. Be thankful for the privilege of being brought up in a Christian family. Christ has lovingly provided us with much opportunity to know Him better each day; we should never take that for granted.
  1. Be proactive. Go out to the world to share all the amazing things that God has done in your life, even if you don’t have the “best” testimony.
  1. Be diligent to read His Word, serve with purpose, and find your passion for missions.

Let’s deal with our struggles today and strive to be better Christians each day.

3 Unexpected Benefits of Being the Third Wheel

Are you a third wheel (or light bulb, as it is known in some cultures)?

For those clueless about what this is, a third wheel is a person who hangs out with a couple—and who can become an awkward addition to a romantic date.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve become a third wheel, here are some hints. You’re a close friend of the couple and spend a lot of time with them. Or, a good friend of yours starts to invite his or her other half to tag along in your regular hangouts. Or, you’re the only one left with a couple after everyone else leaves.

Like it or not, a third wheel is usually unwelcome, and is seen by many as a lonely, single person who has no choice but to play gooseberry (that’s what a third wheel does).

Have you ever wondered why we think this way? Why do we give the third wheel such a bad name?

This question could be answered by an apt analogy I once heard, of a kid learning how to ride a bicycle. Most of us start by riding a tricycle, but once we’re able to handle a bicycle, we can’t wait to get rid of the third wheel.

I’ve been a third wheel on many occasions in the past three years and believe it or not, I’ve come to see the bright side of it.

Here’s some unexpected benefits I’ve received from being a third wheel:

1. You learn to be more sensitive and aware of others’ needs

What do you do when there’re three of you but you’re given a table for four in a restaurant? It’s obvious, isn’t it? You let the couple sit next to each other, while you take the chair opposite. And what do you do when the meal comes to an end? Well, move aside and give the couple some space for their displays of affection.

But what if you notice that the couple are struggling with issues like miscommunication or unmet expectations that they themselves might not even be aware of? You could find the right opportunity to point out these issues (gently), encourage them to talk about them, and point them back to God.

Sure, this is no easy task. But think of it as caring for the needs of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, which includes to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) and to “look out for the interest of others” (Philippians 2:4). A word of caution: this should be done with much care and sensitivity, so you don’t come across as judge or arbiter.

Being a third wheel can help you sharpen your awareness of what’s going on around you and teach you to discern what’s best to say or do at any given point. It can help turn you into a more sensitive and considerate person—important traits that will help you relate better to others.

2. You learn the do’s and don’ts of a relationship

When you witness and take note of how a couple relates to each other, you’ll get a realistic picture of what being in a relationship entails.

I learned the importance of affirming each other and knowing when and how to say the right things at the right moment on a recent shopping trip with a couple. Midway through, the boy offended the girl and both of them got into a disagreement. This started a cold war, with me caught in between. After I talked to both sides and tried to play the role of mediator, the boy took the initiative to apologize to the girl—and things went back to normal.

Or, you could just ask the couple for relationship tips and advice directly. You’ll be surprised by how willing most couples are to share about their relationship journey, including their quirks and habits.

Discovering that relationships are not all sugar and spice will go a long way in helping you prepare for your own relationship in future. You will be more aware of the potential pitfalls as well as good habits or practices to adopt.

3. You learn to be satisfied with your own life

Wondering how that’s possible? Well, if you’re a person who is prone to feeling envious of others who are in relationships, being a third wheel can teach you a lot about life and help you see beyond your own little bubble. You have the opportunity to witness and understand the joys and woes of different stages of a relationship and life by observing the couple, without even having to go through them yourself.

If nothing else, you’ll start to see that everyone has different lots in life and that we should learn to be content with what we have. Thank God for where He has placed you presently, and make the most out of the season you’re in.

 

As third wheels, we can be used by God to benefit others. Let’s heed His call to “be devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:10) and to “encourage one another and build each another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Over time, I believe you’ll come to a greater appreciation of your role as a third wheel—just as I have.

Post a card of Hope

Title: Post a card of Hope
Materials: 12 Hand-written Designed Postcards
Description: 
It’s Christmas Day! Olivia and Vania invite you once again to remember the hope Jesus brought to us through His coming and death on the cross.

Here’s how they spread the message of hope this Christmas — by designing a series of 12 postcards. Each card comes with a scripture-inspired phrase which captures a glimpse of the joy and hope of Christmas – perfect for anyone to receive this Christmas!

Find your 2 exclusive lock screen wallpapers below. Download them today!

Postcards

joy-to-the-world

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Luke.2:10)

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The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John.1:14)

peace-on-earth-goodwill-to-men

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke.2:14)

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans.15:13)

gloria-in-excelsis-deo

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke.2:14)

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He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him all men might believe. He Himself was not the light; He came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John.1:7-9)

o-tidings-of-comfort-and-joy

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2.Corinthians.9:15)

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James.1:17)

rejoice-o-world

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke.2:11)

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The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Psalm.126:3)

he-was-born-that-we-may-have-life

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name. (John.20:31)

Image-6

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” (Matthew.1:23)

Download 2 exclusive lock screen wallpaper here:

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Lock Screen 1

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