O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?

Hallelujah.

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

See, what a morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce, “Christ is risen!”
See God’s salvation plan,
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping, “Where is He laid?”
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty.
Honor and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with pow’r and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

 

 

As humans, we are all enamoured with the idea of superheroes. Perhaps this obsession and adulation points to something far more profound- that we collectively feel a need for rescue by someone far greater than ourselves.

My Jesus saved this world from guilt and sin and hopelessness. My Jesus died that I might live. My Jesus is the ultimate superhero.

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Hello old friend

In a wink of an eye, we are at the end of March 2019 already! This year is flying by so fast! I have neglected this blog massively, so I thought I should come along today and clear the cobwebs.

Where should I start?

Well, there is the very “minor” issue of looking for a job to put bread on the table come August. After a lot of thought and deliberation (and probably not enough prayer), I have decided that I will apply for a consultant job at AH once the advert comes out. My options really are: 1. Go home and find a fellowship/ specialty doctor post there, 2. Apply for a consultant job at AH, 3. Get another fellowship somewhere else like in Canada or Australia, 4. Go on MercyShips to do volunteer work for a couple of months while I figure my life out. It has been a REAL struggle. Honestly, I do feel that this is the right time to be relocating (esp after all the stress of mum’s illness last year which really jolted me into a greater awareness that my parents are not getting any younger and that I need to be nearer to them).  However, AH is desperately in need of consultants, will be advertising “a few” jobs, people there seem to like me and want me to join their consultant body, and they know what my capabilities and limits are so will probably be better at helping and supporting me through the initial insecurities of being a consultant. As such, I have decided to apply- it will be a plus if I get the job- I will be better placed to go home to hospitals in Sg saying that I have worked as a consultant before. If I don’t get the job, then at least I can live without regrets knowing that I have tried, and that I have had a go/ practice at a consultant interview. My back-up plan then will be either a 2nd fellowship or some volunteer work. It is all very confusing and scary, and I am so tempted to ignore this/ not think about it… nevertheless, it really is time to face my fears (and start filling out the consultant job application form this afternoon!) Life is about to change, and change is scary! BUT, hopefully this change will be oh-so-GOOOOOOOOODDDDD.

Speaking of change… Sang Hee passed her PhD viva (which is great news) but has been threatened by the university that she will need to leave the country within 28 days. Thankfully, she has taken this up to the Home Office and she has leave to remain for the next 4 months (until July). I hope she is successful in getting a job in the near future that will allow her to remain in the UK… otherwise, my best friend will have to return to Korea which is far too far away from me!! Having said that, even I do not know where I will end up in a few months time… I just hope and pray that the Lord doesn’t take her too far away from me. I love her a lot and she has been a pillar of prayer for me through some really difficult times. I love that we are so incredibly honest in our friendship and we can literally talk about anything and everything- from our families, to weight and body image issues, to pee, periods and pregnancy, to our struggles with anger and resentment toward others or to God… we also pray together about these issues- anywhere and everywhere (by the roadside, in a cafe, library or even in her kitchen!) I have never had a friendship as real and meaningful as this. I really pray that the Lord continues to grow our friendship and keeps us close together to do so… maybe she can get a job in Singapore? That will be awesome.

Tangential thinking from the topic of Korea takes me to another topic… the most recent and largest celebrity scandal to rock the K-pop world! Big Bang’s Seungri has retired from the entertainment industry amidst a huge scandal in which he is suspected to be have pimped prostitutes to business investors, and where he had been involved in a Kakaotalk chatroom (involving several other Kpop idols) where illegally filmed sex videos were shared. There are many other accusations involving the nightclub that he owns as well… violence, drug dealing, drugging and raping girls, bribing the police, and the list goes on… I am shocked by the audacity of these Korean celebrities… just because you are rich and famous does not mean you can get away with murder! I hope that the Korean justice system will investigate thoroughly, and that the guilty are prosecuted and punished appropriately. I do feel sad that Big Bang will never be the same again, but to be honest I’d rather they continue on as 4 than to have a disgusting criminal who treats women like dirt and the law like dust ruin their reputation as a group. The most important thing though, is that BB even continues as a 4… I worry about them even being able to “come back” once their military service have been completed… YG entertainment is in hot soup amidst all of these scandals after all (they are being investigated for involvement with Burning Sun nightclub, and other illegal activities such as tax evasion as well). I guess only time will tell…

Speaking of being messed-up… remember my old friend C2? The guy who betrayed our close friendship with lies, and who lived a double life before eventually coming out as gay? The one who married his gay partner and then bashed the church and all his old Christian friends with horrible tweets on twitter and FB? The one who burns his bridges every time  he decides that he has moved on? The one who made me cry so much from the hurt of his betrayal? Well, I have been told that he is in the process of divorcing his partner. His ex is claiming sole custody over their adopted children and demanding a heck of a load of money as alimony. The divorce is messy, and apparently C2 is sad and angry and helpless all at the same time.  I have not personally spoken to him directly about it yet- these are things that mutual friends are telling me. I do not gloat over his situation, but am seriously pondering how I should respond to this. I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to offer out my hand of friendship again, though I have to admit that I am cautious about how deep and true a “renewed” friendship can be given his history of harming and hurting the people who love him. Nevertheless, I have believed from day one when he chose this road of self-destruction that no one can be too far from God’s reach. I remember writing in this blog that I believe God can fix him, even if he should come back shattered into 1000 impossible pieces, completely messed up and seemingly irreparable. With God’s grace, the church can help him piece his life back together. If God can forgive him, so can I. If God can love a prodigal son, who am I to say I can’t? I now need to figure out how to speak to him about this issue, to tell him that I know about it and am praying about it, to let him know that I am here for a coffee and company when he is struggling. I need to figure out how to show him love without seeming to preach at him. I want to love him so much that he comes back to asking about the God who powers this. I cannot wait for the day when he asks to come back to CCL with me. Dear Lord, hear my prayer.

Onward to another completely unrelated topic: tidying. I bought the book “The life changing magic of tidying up” by the famous Japanese tidying consultant Marie Kondo. The book was incredibly easy to read and truly inspired me to tidy up my house and my life! Her advice? Tidy up by category, not location. Pile everything up together so you can see just how much you have, then handle every item and ask yourself whether it “sparks joy.” Keep it if it does, discard it if it does not. Finally, discard first before thinking about storage (and store everything upright so you can see them!). Inspired, I have started to make a dent at the clutter in my house. So far, I have thrown out 5 50L bin bags full of stuff that I will never miss. The folders upon folders of notes and drawings from medical school have also finally been thrown out for recycling. I have had them for 10-15 years, moved them with me from house to house, and never once looked at them again. When I finally confronted them this time, some of the paper clips and staples have already gone rusty! These papers needed to go- so off they went. I still have stuff from the FRCA to face (these will be harder to throw as they are much more relevant), but I will have to sort through them when life gets a little less hectic and my oomph for discarding returns. I am also thinking of taking some good quality but unwanted items to a car boot sale in the summer time- it will be an interesting experience, and I will hopefully be able to earn a few pounds back from these unwanted goods. Nevertheless, I am excited to tidy up KonMari style so that eventually all I have left to surround me in the house are only things that spark joy!

What is a blog without me talking about my weight loss journey? Well, I put myself on a 12 week challenge at the start of the year- to limit myself to a 1200 calorie diet and exercise a lot more in hopes of breaking through my weight-loss plateau. I managed 8 weeks and then gave up. I mean, I  am still keeping up with the 3x/ week body pump (+ 1 or 2 running/ skipping cardio sessions each week), but what I found hardest to do and had to eventually quit is the calorie restriction. The calorie budget was so low that I found myself “blowing it” quite easily, and once I have failed I just give up and go all out to eat whatever the heck I wanted… I ended up excessively overeating more times than when I was on a 1400 calorie diet. I have since put myself back up onto 1400 cals/ day. The other thing I noticed as well, is just how “triggered” I get by sugary foods. Once I have a chocolate or a sweet, I just want to eat eat eat even if I already feel full. This normally happens late at night, when my resolve is weak… I eat a chocolate, and before I know it I have also dug into half a tub of ice cream, an entire pack of crisps, 2 boxes of pocky, 10 malteasers, and a whole strip of haw flakes. Needless to say, once I decided to ditch the 1200 cal diet, I knew that I needed to ditch the sweets as well. No more shopping at the sweets and snacks aisle… not even a packet of chocolate buttons. I have managed 6 months off all sugary foods 2 years ago… now to get myself back on track…

Finally, I met a cute dentist at work yesterday. A 2nd year SHO called Dan who was born and bred in Saudi Arabia- he is born to white English parents though, so he’s kind of a 3rd culture kid. Very handsome and charming with a nice physique, and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to him. I don’t know if he is a Christian. He is very young though, and probably attached as well (no guy so good-looking is likely to be without a girlfriend).  He is also leaving for specialist training in London come August…. I am not hoping for much- my hopes for love never come true anyway. I just wanted to mention it, because sometimes it just feels so nice to find a nice guy out there.

Holiness is possible

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

  • If you think that God is austere, peevish and highly temperamental, and that everything you do is judged by his stern eye whereby there is nothing we can do to please him, you will give up. If you think that you will be a spiritual failure all the time- why would you even bother?

2. You will relativise all sins as being equal in God’s eyes

  • When every sin is seen as the same, we are less likely to fight any sin at all.
  • There can be the mentality of “Why pursue holiness if one sin is going to make me as bad as Hitler in God’s eyes?”
  • Another example is “why should I stop sleeping with my girlfriend? I will still struggle with lust in my heart.”  Yes, lust is a sin and we must fight against it, but the Lord would rather we fight against sin than giving in to fornication.
  • Yes, it seems humble to act as if that no sin is worse than another. Yet then we lose the impetus to pursue holiness.

3. If we don’t understand the possibility of holiness, we make it difficult to hear the warnings in scripture

  • The warnings in scripture are meant to scare the hell out of us.
  • But if we do not believe that holiness is possible, we will read passages like 1 Corinthians 6 where we are told that the greedy, the covetous, the idolators, adulterers and homosexuals  will not inherit the kingdom of heaven… and yet we will think “well, we are all guilty of these things.” And so we won’t take it seriously.
  • If we think that we are at all times guilty of every one of these sins to the utmost, then we will not hear the sternness of these warnings when we really need to hear it.
  • We need to know that even though we are imperfect and sinful, we can still be sincerely obedient Christians. If not, we will not hear the sirens go off.

4. If we do not understand the possibility of holiness, we will be robbed of one of our means of assurance.

  • We are meant to live in such a way that we manifest the evidences of the spirit’s work in our lives that provide confirming support that we are indeed children of God.
  • Yet, many of us do not give ourselves permission to see evidences of grace. We look at passages like 2 Corinthians 13 “Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith” and often choose to see that as a scary warning.
  • This is really difficult, because the more mature you are in Christ, the more you see your own sin. The closer you are to Him, the further away you seem.
  • Assurance must thus be a community project. Speak to others– ask them if they can see fruit in your life… evidences of grace in your life. Not necessarily perfect fruit, but increasing fruit.

5. If we do not have this understanding of holiness being possible, we will flatten and impoverish our relationship with God.

  • You may think that there is NOTHING you can do to make God more or less pleased with me. Well, this is true and false at the same time. Yes, you cannot make yourself more or less justified… but you can live in such a way that will either please your heavenly father or grieve the spirit. It is like a marriage– the union is fixed/ stable, but the communion can ebb and flow.
  • You have a dynamic relationship with God. God while not ceasing to love us, can still be wondrously angry at his children. Justification does not make God indifferent to our sin- he can be angry and reprove us. On the other hand, know that you can also please 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.

萧敬藤

I have been listening to Jam Hsiao over the Christmas and New Year period and have now decided that I really like him!

我已成了小歌迷!

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

And 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!

Flow

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.

 

Looking back to move forward

What a year 2018 has been. So much has happened.

    Both my parents retired in February as they turned 67.
    Following their retirement, they decided to busy themselves with redecorating our old flat. That really needed to be done as the house was really dusty and cluttered full of stuff that we had literally stuffed into every nook and cranny we could find. The paint on the wall was dull and even mouldy in some parts. The built-in furniture was old and creaky. The grout on the toilet walls was black. We had a number of broken tiles on the kitchen walls… the house was on the verge of being unliveable. However, since taking the decision to renovate, months of stress ensued (mostly for them, since I left home after a brief period of packing up my own room)… mum was particularly stressed out by the cost (almost S$60 000 as we had to pretty much change up everything!), the packing, searching for a place to stay for 6 weeks, finding storage space, and sourcing a reliable moving company. I, on the other hand, felt the stress via the phone and the internet, as I was constantly sent pictures of  various bits and bobs to make decisions on… the colour of the room doors, the design of the toilet door, the shape and colour of the door knobs, the type of granite for the kitchen worktop etc etc etc. However, the months of emotional agony was worth it… We have now moved back home and it is beautiful! The walls have a bright, fresh coat of paint, the floor is shining, the kitchen is gorgeous, and we have cleared out a large amount of trash that we never bothered to/ couldn’t bring ourselves to throw out (we are all hoarders in this family). Our house feels so much more like a home now.
    In May, I went for my last ARCP and received an outcome 6!!!! It was lovely to walk into ARCP and receive that handshake from SMercer saying “Congratulations, well done. It was lovely having you on the programme.” It seemed almost a bit of an anticlimax though… to have it all finish like that after 7 tough years of training. It felt like there should have been more of a bang and a fanfare… Nevertheless, it is really nice to be freed from training and all the paperwork/ rules that I had been subject to. Now, I can work wherever I want in whatever sub-specialty I want. I can become a permanent fixture in just 1 particular hospital’s anaesthetic department and start building relationships, trust and teamwork in that one place… free from having to rotate & start anew every 1, 3, or 6 monthly. I can even go home if I want!
    Post CCT, I have since started my new job in paediatric anaesthesia. I now work in a wonderful hospital with lovely colleagues who have been extremely supportive through mum’s illness. I am learning lots daily and getting better at handling little children. I still cannot believe that looking after sick children is now what I do everyday (willingly- given that I chose to apply for this fellowship). Just think back on those first days in 2015 when I was absolutely petrified of having to cannulate a child, and when a 10kg fit & well 1 year old child made me sweaty and scared. Think back on those days when I hated children cos I was terrified of them and all they did was cry whenever they saw me. Today, I actually enjoy looking after these young ‘uns. I love talking to them and their stuffed toys, I enjoy blowing bubbles in the anaesthetic room. I love seeing their angelic sleeping countenances, or their drunken faces when they wake up from the anaesthesia. Of course, I STILL cannot cannulate a neonate (God help me!) and am terrified of sick babies and all those with airway issues… but hopefully these things will get easier with time and experience.
    On 20th August, we received the worst news- mum was diagnosed with biopsy-proven lung cancer. The days that ensued were particularly challenging- I should just describe the latter part of 2018 as being filled with fear and anxiety. Everyone in the household was hurting, yet nobody wanted anybody else to know. It was really hard for me to receive the news whilst overseas, unable to share in their grief or offer any comfort and support to them. I cried a lot during that time. Nevertheless, the whole ordeal led me to fasting for the first time. It made me pray so so so much more than I ever have. I grew closer to SH (one of my best friends in the UK) as she shared in my grief and prayed for me every time I broke down from the burden of it all.
    Amidst all the worry of mum’s diagnosis, I studied for the European Diploma in Regional Anaesthesia. I sat the EDRA part 1 in Dublin on 12th September and surprisingly passed, receiving a score of 74.6%! It was a really tough exam, much harder than I was prepared for having only gone through the Masterpass book once. There were so many questions and topics that I had never even come across before, so there was a fair amount of educated guessing/ blind guessing involved. I am hugely thankful for that little shimmering light of positivity at a time of pretty intense darkness. The EDRA congress was also wonderful in that I gave my first oral presentation at an international conference. I also learnt so much from real regional anaesthesia experts who would hold my hand and say “hold your ultrasound probe this way, angle it that way, look for that structure, aim for this nerve.” It was all in all an intensely satisfying experience.
    I also applied and received my Indefinite Leave to Remain this summer. It was an expensive £2000 to have a premium appointment that gave me an outcome on the same day. Admittedly I had left it a little late to take my Life in the UK test, and then left it even later still before I began the application process. I needed to have a valid visa prior to my new job starting in August, and I obtained my ILR only 2 days before the start of my new job! But oh, what a relief it is to finally hold on to an ILR. Now, I am free to leave this country (for a bit) to experience work perhaps in another environment.
    In November, mum underwent her operation and had the damned dirty thing removed. The pathology results showed that all the cancer was removed and no further adjuvant therapy is needed. PRAISE THE LORD, some light at the end of the tunnel.
    In December, I FINALLY completed and passed my Recognition of Prior Learning essay to convert my medical leadership credits into education credits… which essentially earned me the PGCert in Medical Education! Praise the Lord. The essay had been on my mind for a full year, SH had been praying for me to write it since January! After 12 long months of procrastination, eventually being given a deadline, having the essay returned to me because I had not adequately addressed one of the learning outcomes, and a lot of writing about stuff that I had no interest in, it is done. Welcome to a few more letters after my name!
    Through the year, I have also lost 8 kgs through exercise and mindful eating. Bodypump classes at my local gym helped me with weight training. Badminton sessions with SH every Saturday kept me doing cardio weekly. Myfitnesspal was also a true God-send of an app that helped me keep my calories accounted for.

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?

  • Joy in the workplace. I want to enjoy my work more and feel less stress, fear and frustration→ Maybe? Not sure. I do enjoy going to work most days, but I think my intrinsic being is just built for stress, especially with neonates and sick kids!
  • Improved brush calligraphy skills→ Pass (as above)
  • Better eating habits and more exercise, hopefully accompanied by noticeable weight loss→ Pass-ish. I have lost 8kg this year and dropped a dress size. However, I am still quite a little way from my weight goal. I am not massive, but I want to be fitter and more toned.
  • More travelling→ Fail. I don’t think I travelled to any new places this year… except Dublin for an exam.
  • More friends and deeper friendship→Pass-ish. I don’t think I have made more friends this year, but my relationship with SH has certainly grown deeper through weekly play and pray sessions (badminton followed by prayer). We share about almost every aspect of our lives with each other and have prayed together in the gym, the library, the garden, by the roadside…
  • Love and relationship→ Major fail. Major fail every single year. I would love to have love, but almost don’t dare to wish for this anymore.
  • Prayerfulness and complete trusting in the Lord Jesus→ Yes. I have prayed so much this year through hard times. Even when the going got tough, I thank God that He has stayed with me throughout and helped me trust him through it all.

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:

  • Practice more brush lettering and experiment more. Get so good that I can start a business selling cards and prints.
  • Learn Chinese calligraphy
  • Pass the EDRA part 2
  • Lose more weight, at least another 8 kg!
  • Listen to more music. Be more receptive of more music genres by more artists. Dance to the music.
  • Go to concerts, musicals, theatre performances. Basically, immerse in the performing arts that you love but have neglected for years.
  • Make a plan– am I going to do another fellowship? Get a consultant job? Maybe move back home? Certainly get registered with the SMC.
  • Rejoice and give praise to the Lord through every circumstance. Don’t forget about Him even in happy times.

Here’s to a joyful and fruitful 2019!

Bye bye 2018

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.

Being a stray at Christmas

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!

Your body is made for more

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

  • “I have the right to do anything” (v12)– this is often used to justify sex whenever and with whomever.
    • Saying that I should not have sex before marriage is depriving me of my freedom. Saying that I should not watch porn because I am married is denying me of my right to do what I want.
  • However, Paul wants to turn the issue of rights into an issue of “what is beneficial.”
  • Indulging in your desires can in fact cause you to lose your freedom (see below).

2. Sex is a bodily appetite.

  • “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” (v13)– the reason we have stomachs is because we need food. It is natural and right for me to feed it. Similarly, (sexual) appetite is a bodily desire– it exists to be satisfied.
  • This view considers that the body is an animal and it needs feeding.
  • God is going to destroy the body eventually anyway.

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.

  • Is your body like a non road-worthy car that is destined only for the scrapyard? Is your body therefore something that you can feel licensed to thrash because it is but a transitory shell? NO. By His power, God raised Jesus from the dead– and we will be raised also (v14). Jesus had a physical body after he was raised… he was not a ghost or a hologram. He was real. Jesus did not ditch his body at the resurrection and so neither will we. Your eternal future will be in a physical body… not just as a spirit. Your body will one day be raised. It is not disposable. So stop and think– what will you use your body for today?

2. Your body is Christ’s, not just yours.

  • v15 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” All Christians are united in Jesus and become his physical body here on earth. He is the head and we are the body. You are a body part- a limb, an eye or a hand. Your body is part of Jesus’ body. When you misuse your body in sexual sin, you are misusing Christ’s body.
  • Sexual sin is serious, because it is about uniting 2 people. When a man and a woman have sex– it is a profound act of joining together as “2 will become 1 flesh.” When you have sex with a prostitute, you become joined to the prostitute. If you take what is joined to Jesus (i.e. yourself, as a body part of Jesus) and join it with a prostitute, then you are joining Jesus to a prostitute (or any other person you are tempted to get sexual gratification from)! You are taking Jesus into that person– can you see the perversity of that?!

So flee from it (v18).

  • Take active steps to go wholeheartedly in the opposite direction.
  • Fleeing is NOT going as far as you can but stopping short.
  • If you want to spend alone time together then do it in public. If you want to stay at home together then spend it with friends.
  • Fleeing is moving yourself and your laptop/ phone to a public space.
  • Fleeing is confessing a porn addiction to a friend.
  • Fleeing is moving away to another room from the married person you are tempted to flirt with. Fleeing is going home.

Flee because your body is meant for more.

But what is more?

3. Your body is a  temple, not a supermarket

  • Our bodies are not places for getting. You go to the supermarket to get. To get all that I need– to get what will fulfil me.
  • BUT no, our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (v19)– a place for giving. A temple is where God lives. It is a place of worship- where our best is given as an offering to God. A temple carries an amazing honour, dignity and reverence. Do not belittle your body.
  • Change the question of appetite to a question of worship.
  • Think: what is the best I can give as an act of worship? If you focus less on what you can get (i.e. how it will make you feel, how much you want it), and focus more on what you can give in order to honour God (v20)– you will not be sexually tempted as much.

4. Your body is free, not a slave.

  • If you subscribe to the 2 faulty philosophies (“I have a right to do anything” and “sex is but a bodily appetite”), they will make you a slave.
  • Surrendering to appetite and desires makes you a slave to desire, and a slave to the misuse of our bodies.
  • As a slave, you need to be bought. And that is what Jesus has done through his death and resurrection. He saved us from the teeth of desire. “You were bought with a price” (v20), so you are no longer your own- you are ransomed and can know true freedom.

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.