I heard this sermon at St Helen’s Bishopsgate when I visited London in February 2016. I remember that God spoke loudly to me that day, and made a few notes on a scrap piece of paper then. It has only taken me 3 years to finally dig out that piece of paper to revisit what I learnt and share it on this blog…
Romans 12: 1-8 (By Kevin DeYoung)
You can be holy.
Christ doesn’t just save us from sin’s penalty, but also from sin’s power.
Don’t just wax lyrical about what Christ has saved us from. What about what Christ has saved us to?
To be passionate in our pursuit of holiness, we must first establish that holiness is possible, that we can present ourselves holy and acceptable as God’s children.
Why do we not take being “holy and acceptable to God” seriously? Is it because we equate obedience to “sinless perfection”? (and as a result not believe that holiness is possible) Don’t. You can be holy and acceptable by works that are TRULY good, albeit not PERFECTLY good.
Our good works are accepted through Christ because God is a loving Heavenly Father. Consider a child who promptly and cheerfully responds to requests to clean up his/her room- the corners of the bedsheets are not properly tucked in, the toys are dumped messily together in a box, the clothes are folded but wrinkled. Yet, despite the imperfections, the parents do not reprimand but seek to praise the child.
Yes, the work may not be perfect. Yes, you could have done it much better yourself. Yet, it was truly good and pleasing to the parents. Because it was done sincerely, cheerfully and obediently.
Why is it so important to seek holiness and believe that obedience is possible?
1. If you don’t, you will give up in sanctification
2. You will relativise all sins as being equal in God’s eyes
3. If we don’t understand the possibility of holiness, we make it difficult to hear the warnings in scripture
4. If we do not understand the possibility of holiness, we will be robbed of one of our means of assurance.
5. If we do not have this understanding of holiness being possible, we will flatten and impoverish our relationship with God.
Don’t live your whole life with a low level sense of guilt and shame. This is not how God meant for us to live. If you are truly guilty of unrepentant sin, you run to the cross, ask for forgiveness and know the sweet serenity of a clean conscience. And when you are walking with Christ in humility, repentance and obedience, you ought to know the smile of your Heavenly Father.
God is not unmoved by our attempts at obedience. You are allowed and expected to be obedient. You never will be perfect. You cannot do anything to earn justification. But as a born-again sinner, you don’t have to be a spiritual failure. By the mercies of God, you CAN present your bodies as a living sacrifice– holy and acceptable to God. There is no righteousness that will make you right with God except for the righteousness of Christ. But for those who have been made right, by Christ and through faith alone, by undeserved mercy alone, your righteous deeds are not filthy in God’s sight.
Your obedience is precious, pleasing and possible.
I have been listening to Jam Hsiao over the Christmas and New Year period and have now decided that I really like him!
His voice is magnetic and mesmerising- and I quickly find myself lost in his magical music. This video started it all…
One video led to another
He also seems like a really lovely, considerate and gentle man.
I also love a man who embraces his inner child (but not too much) and is hilarious in the process!
Thumbs up from me! I shall be following him more closely and enjoying his music more!
I was chatting to a friend from church recently about the immense enjoyment that I get out of getting “in the zone” with brush-lettering and creating pieces. At that time, she introduced me to the concept of “flow” which I am now fascinated with.
What is flow?
“It is the mental state when the person performing a task is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. It is characterised by complete absorption in what one does, resulting in the loss of one’s sense of space and time.”
Here is a TEDtalk by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, the Hugarian-American psychologist who described it.
I don’t necessarily agree with him that Flow is THE secret to happiness as JESUS is the ONLY way to truly satisfying, life-changing happiness. However, I do agree that getting into Flow can contribute to emotional well-being. It puts us in a state of ecstasy where we no longer have any spare energy or attention to give our other problems and troubles.
I experience flow when I am creative (painting and lettering) and when I am exercising (even though the inertia is ALWAYS so great to start myself moving). I know that performing gets me into flow as well- I just don’t get enough chances to stand on stage to sing and act.
What gets you into your FLOW?
I hope to get into a state of FLOW much much more this coming year.
What a year 2018 has been. So much has happened.
In addition, I have also improved tremendously in my brush lettering. I can now do bouncy letters, flourish my letters, paint floral wreaths, and have even tried my hand at foiling. My work is by no means wonderful, but the progress is very visible and I am extremely proud,
OK, enough reflecting on the events of the past year. How did I fare with keeping my 2018 resolutions?
What do I hope for in the new year? Well, my motto for next year is to:
BE LIKE WATER.
Fluid and flexible: Be all things to all people. Receive change with a smile- don’t sweat over it.
Be cool and refreshing: Help others feel alive and inspired simply by being present.
Be strong, powerful and fierce, yet capable of calm stillness
More measurably, next year I hope to:
Here’s to a joyful and fruitful 2019!
2018 has been a bit… MUCH.
So much has happened in the space of 365 days.
There have been snippets of rejoicing and gladness, but also a great deal of sadness and anxiety.
Let’s say I’ve had enough of the year and am more than happy to ring in a new one!
Whatever lies ahead, I know the Lord holds on to my hand.
He gives me strength, courage and hope for every day to come.
May 2019 be a year of exciting adventures and unadulterated joy.
Isn’t Christmas such a wonderful time of the year?
Everyone is being kind to one another. People are being generous in buying and exchanging gifts. Delicious food is served. Houses are beautifully decorated and countless fairy lights are twinkling away against the black canvas that is the night sky. The warm fireplace radiates a cosy warmth that is in stark contrast to the bitter winter cold outside. Families are gathered together and there is love, laughter and happiness all around.
But Christmas can be really difficult when you are a “stray”, like me. One living in a foreign land far away from family during this family-oriented holiday time.
Every year, as Christmas time comes around, I get quite anxious when conversations come to the inevitable “What are you doing for Christmas?” I used to find it SO incredibly hard to say “nothing”… I have too much pride to tell people that I have no one to spend Christmas with, that I will not be enjoying Christmas merriment the way everyone else is. I do not want the asker to pity or feel bad for me, or worse, to feel obliged to invite me to spend Christmas with him/ her (esp if I don’t know them well).
Over the years, with much practice and a thicker skin, it has become a little (just a teeny wee bit) easier to tell people that I will be spending Christmas alone. It seems sad, but I cannot lie. So I just have to put on a brave face and say “nothing, probably watching TV at home alone.” (Cue sad, depressing music). I absolutely hate it.
And so it is always lovely when someone comes to me early in December asking “Do you have plans for Christmas? I’d like to invite you to come and spend it with our family.” Note: it has to be early in December, as this shows a thoughtfulness and genuine desire to have me round, which makes it VERY sweet. Obviously, it is nice for people to extend invitations up to and including Christmas Day- it is good enough to be picked up, whenever that is (and I am very thankful). I just prefer not to be an afterthought, whereby the kind asker is just doing their best to pick up any “leftover strays”.
Being a leftover stray really hurts my pride, and often makes me wonder how much of a social failure I am to not have any friends care about how I am going to spend Christmas. It hurts to be completely forgotten (which has happened a few times). It hurts to be an afterthought, receiving invitations from people I don’t even know well on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day itself.
I guess what I really want to say is: J, I want you to remember how much you hate being a stray at Christmas and how difficult it can be. When you have your own family in future, please be generous, please be kind, please be thoughtful and sensitive. Consider the strays and welcome them into your home (early). Nobody likes spending Christmas alone. Nobody likes being an afterthought. Share your family with the strays, because you have been a stray yourself before.
P.S. I got picked up 2 weeks before Christmas this year, by a couple of friends whom I have known and loved for years… so it really wasn’t bad at all for me this year, thank God!
Over all these years, I don’t think I have really heard preaching on sexual immorality that is so clear and sound as this:
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Do you use the CD drive on your computer as a cupholder? If so then you are going to put your cup of tea on it and break it. Do you use the computer mouse as a foot pedal? Then you will stand on it and break it. When you misunderstand what something is meant for then you are going to misuse it.
Similarly, if we misunderstand what our bodies are for- we will misuse it. At the root of sexual immorality is faulty thinking about our bodies.
(Sexual immorality= sex with someone or thinking about sex with someone who is not our spouse)
2 faulty philosophies
1. Indulging in desire= freedom
2. Sex is a bodily appetite.
BUT don’t have such a low view of your body. Don’t abuse and misuse it by enslaving it to appetites.
4 greater truths:
1. Your body is for eternity, not just now.
2. Your body is Christ’s, not just yours.
So flee from it (v18).
Flee because your body is meant for more.
But what is more?
3. Your body is a temple, not a supermarket
4. Your body is free, not a slave.
Please see that the Christian view of sex is not about being prudish or restrictive or traditional. Instead, it is driven by a very very high view of what Jesus has done for us and what that means for our bodies. The bible does not say “stop having sex.” Instead, it says that the message of Jesus is good news for our bodies. Our bodies are honourable, glorious and liberated. Be joined to Jesus and be transformed so you can know real freedom from desire.
The gospel of Jesus makes a difference to your body.
It makes a difference to how you should view your body in the world of sex.
Believe that your body is for eternity- don’t use it for whatever you want now.
Believe that your body belongs to Jesus and is joined to him, so be careful who you join yourself to.
Flee if there is a risk of joining it to someone else.
Remember that your body is a temple- use it for worship.
Your body is free- flee from sexual immorality and do not be mastered by your appetites.
Your body is SO MUCH MORE.
A lot has happened since my last blog post in August.
Too much, so here’s a quick summary in bullet points (as usual)
02/07/18. I set up an instagram account for my brush lettering! It will serve as a safe space for me to keep track of my progress… with time, hopefully my account flourishes and my work gets acknowledged… some day, when my lettering skills have been honed and are much improved, I hope to sell my work.
19/08/18: Decided to take Holy Communion for the first time. This has been something that I have abstained from for the longest time… mainly because of teaching from the church of my childhood that we should abstain from the sacraments until we have “confirmed” our faith. For years I have let the bread and the wine pass by me… until I was challenged about it again by the pastor of my current church. Now, Christ Church doesn’t insist on people needing to attend catechism classes and publicly declaring their faith before we are encouraged to take communion… they teach that if you believe, you can and should receive. Recently, my pastor found that even after 9 years at CCL I have still not partaken in communion. He challenged me about it. He was clear that he did not want me to do anything that would sin against my conscience, but he also encouraged me to think about it more seriously. He wanted me to share in the joy and the commandment that is communion, even if I didn’t take it every time… he was keen that I partook in it. So after some deliberation, I realised that my hesitancy all boiled down to legalism. “I can’t do it because the other pastors said I shouldn’t.” But the bible doesn’t say no, does it? Jesus’ disciples did not wait for a catechism class before they took communion. Am I following the bible’s words? Or am I blindly following the “laws” set by men? I decided that there was no TRUE biblical reason why I should not take communion as a believing Christian so I took the plunge. I ate the bread and drank the wine. And it was good.
20/08/18. Received some of the worst news I have had in my lifetime. Bad day. Tears. Sorrow. Desperation. More about this some other time…
Since then I have tried fasting and praying for the first time in my life. I fasted for 20 hours once a week. It has been an interesting experience. The hunger reminded me each time that I had to pray. And the fasting reminded me that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word…” It also kind of helped that fasting helps me to reduce my daily calorie intake… (though my weight didn’t really budge much- it has pretty much plateaued out, which is frustrating!)
12/09/18- 15/09/18. Went to the ESRA conference in Dublin. Killed SO MANY BIRDS with one stone. 1. Sat the EDRA part 1 (And passed!!! Woohoo. Scored 74.6%. Honestly, I didn’t think I would manage that at all as the exam was a lot harder than I had expected or prepared for, so I am very thankful!) 2. Attended the cadaver workshop and “all blocks in one go” US scanning workshop (They were so GOOD and useful. I learnt a lot of anatomy that I was unsure of/ didn’t learn in med school. Also, it felt so good to have experts who actually know what they are doing/ talking about teach me and answer my questions. I actually trust them when they tell me how to do infraclavicular blocks… versus at work, when I sometimes get the sense that some consultants are just “winging it” and don’t really know what they are talking about either… At these workshops, I was getting real experts who have sat the EDRA before and who practice thousands of blocks regularly hold my hand and say “hold the probe this way…” “look for the clavipectoral fascia…” The teaching was so good and well-worth the euros. Highly recommended!) 3. Did my first ORAL PRESENTATION at an INTERNATIONAL conference. Yep, another win for the CV! My free paper wasn’t nominated for competition, so I was pretty relaxed about it. There weren’t many people there (I think I presented to only about 15 people in a small room max), and there was no judging/ strict time-keeping. No difficult questions and the feedback on my work was really positive… so I was very pleased! 4. Visited the Republic of Ireland for the first time. Didn’t do a huge amount of sight-seeing as the conference was pretty much 8.30- 1700 or 1800 daily, but the couple of hours after “work” was pretty good (esp since the days are long in the summertime).
26/09/18. 25 weeker. 32 weeks corrected. Paracetamol OD. 5 times. milligrams confused with millilitres. Acetylcisteine. HDU. Apologies and duty of candour. 3 days terror. No sequelae. Now innovation for change. Let’s see how this goes. May be good for the CV and cons interview eventually as a “critical incident” to discuss. Department supportive. SRob texted the next day “Hi Just checking you are ok. No one thinks any worse of you. Personally I would appoint you tomorrow!” Made up that my favourite consultant thinks this way.
Positive feedback. Been receiving some really lovely feedback from consultants. Especially SRob. I personally really like him and respect him as he is really good at his job and attentive to minusci. He’s the block guru and as you know I am interested in regional anaesthesia. Also, he is open-minded and not quite as resistant to change and innovation as some other people can be. I didn’t think he liked me very much the first couple of times I was at AH. However, since I have returned as a fellow he has been dead nice to me. He commented that I have become a lot better than when I was last at AH as a registrar. He has also said that he was pleased with my attention to detail. He still nitpicks at my work and sometimes “big-brothers” my anaesthetic charts (i.e. he would go to recovery and check on the quality of my anaesthetic record keeping for patients I have just delivered to recovery)… but he tells me that it is simply because “good is not good enough” and we need to aim for “perfection.” When I was chatting to some people about maybe taking on another fellowship after AH, SRob commented “don’t put ideas in her head… we have a department to run!” (basically saying that he was expecting that I would apply and contribute as a consultant at AH). And then there was that text that I shared above. When I last worked with him in MRI, he basically left me to see and sort the patients while he went to sit in a separate office within the MRI suite (this never happens!)– to me, that said a lot about how much he trusted me. And then there was feedback from the MRI staff that “he really likes you, and he thinks you are good.” All really lovely feedback. Besides SRob, there is also RishDi… who sat me down and told me that “every one of the fellows who wants a substantive job here next year will most likely be able to get a job (if you don’t f*ck up in the meantime).” With one of the fellows going to work in RMCH, and the another being a pre-CCT fellow… my conclusion was that RishDi was basically telling Hobbo and I that we are liked and people want us in the department. Most recently, I also got a message from my Ed supervisor saying that “you have a glowing consultant’s feedback.” All this feedback is so important to me. I want to write them all down so that I will remember them and let them prop me up in times when self-doubt fills my mind yet again… (which it often does).