Redirecting My Focus

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Welcome, 2018!

Farewell 2017, and welcome to 2018!

So as you probably have guessed, 2017 was an painful year for me. And if you have read ‘Renaissance’, you know that the Lord impressed on my heart that my past has no hold over my future. I’m a new creation, and it’s time to live a new beginning yet again! A restored friendship with my close friend, a restored closeness with God, and a fresh perspective on the days ahead.

The theme of 2018, impressed by God via songs from Matt Redman’s album, is:

2018 the year of his glory

(Thanks May Ann for the awesome calligraphy!!)

There isn’t a specific verse to back this up, because the Bible is chock-full of God’s glory. Also notice that the best adjective and/or definition of ‘glory’ is God. Where God goes, His glory shines. God’s glory is the result of Him being the all-set-apart creator.

On the Friday following ‘Renaissance’, the Lord impressed on my heart, together with a Bible study from 1 Corinthians 13, that He is glorified when I love the people around me. John 13:35 declares that “All men shall know that you are My disciples if you love one another”. God is glorified when people know and are drawn to Jesus by knowing that I follow Him, and that happens when I love them, the people around me.

So far, I’ve felt God restoring my heart and making it more secure. The sense of clingyness is losing its clingy grip on my heart, and I am being set free from this far-too-long condition. I talk to girls whom I consider are physically attractive and fun to hang out with, but am freed from the need to be validated by them. God has continually reminded me that He wants to bless me that I may be an overflowing blessing to the people around me.

I’m really excited to see what God has prepared in 2018. My horrid past is over—I’m moving forward: into the Year of His Glory.

—Joel Kindiak, 12 Nov 17, 1247H

Leaving My Clique

“I assume y’all are busy in the afternoon?”

(inserts many yes’es)

(leaves the group)

To be honest, I left the group in impulse. Ting Wei is probably pissed af by now, since I have haunted him for the longest of times. He most likely has little if not no more love to give me, as well as my two other friends whose friendships I screwed up big time.

And yet, after wrestling the thought of whether my decision to leave was good or not, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a good thing. And here’s why.

In praying about the new adventures that God will take me on in 2018, I notice one common thread in all of them. I was willing to love sacrificially. For example, in meeting for bible studies, I would loooooove to meet. Yet, I’m quite certain that there will be instances when people are unavailable, as per life’s random nature. By God’s grace, I’m prepared to accept that as such, we will not be able to always be available, and I’ve thus found rest in God and contentment in that. God is in control of this bible study project, and I will rest in Him to make it work out incredibly well. As such, I’m willing to accept that things may not always go my way, and thus, I can love sacrificially in this venture.

What about the clique? Well, in retrospect, I believe that were I to stay in the group, I would continue to impose my desires on their group, even though they have the freedom to say no. In them saying no, I would feel sad, and in actuality not respect their decision, be it my lack of trust in their honesty (i.e. mucking up a stupid excuse to not hang out) or just not being their priority. If I loved sacrificially, I could accept that these happen. However, I can’t. And just like until I can learn to love my two friends with truly sacrificial love again, I’ll need to be able to love this clique with sacrifical love before I would even think of re-joining the group. In many ways, I don’t think I want to, not at least until I’ve settled myself.

Also, one key insight is that 2013 was awesome because the Person I turned to when I had so much free time was God, and I spent a lot of free time with Him vs. anyone else. I want to re-cultivate that habit before I am willing to grow close to people again. I want to sacrifically love because He first sacrificially loved me.

Speaking of closeness, I might load up another post on that soon, on why I am very watchful of my texting frequency or displays of concern, even though it seems harmless at first glance. Tune in for that.

All in all, it was their ‘no’s that did trigger me to leave the group, but I had a much better reason on why I should have, at least for now. I need time on my own before I can really begin to love others sacrifically again.

—Joel Kindiak, 30 Dec 17, 2258H

Thanksgiving 2017

The Year of Abundant Joy was anything but. This would be one of the worst years of my life, save for my lower secondary days in AHS (2010 and 2011). I’ve been shattered as shattered can get, and all the encouragement I’ve given basically dodged me from the sorrows of reality. Yet, in the midst of sorrow, God eventually showed me joy in sorrow, and why He called this the Year of Abundant Joy. Here are the many lessons I’ve learnt throughout this awful year.

  1. Loving Myself

The first of the many seasons begins, ironically, with loving myself. I compare my life to others and feel it is relatively mundane—office, math, church, repeat. Sometimes I wonder, what if I went cycling more often or caught more movies or enjoyed the innocent pleasures of teenhood instead of following Christ and His plans for my life? Then I compared what I supposedly lost with the abundance I gained in Christ, and I’m thankful that I’m who God has made me to be, with no regrets attached.

  1. Impossible Promises

As I continued my emotional battle and the longing for God to intervene, the Lord brought my mind to Chris Tomlin’s “Impossible Things” via Spotify. Interestingly, the first line began with healing “the broken hearted,” and I knew immediately that this song was for me. My God can do impossible things, and the scriptural reference for this word is strewn across the Scriptures of God’s impossible acts that save, heal and restore individuals, families, tribes and nations. And God fulfilled two impossible promises—a restored friendship and a restored body—purely by His grace, nothing to do with my efforts. My God does impossible things!

  1. Fear of Rejection

The Lord then led me to face one of my biggest fears—the fear of rejection. Be it rejection from friends, leaders or even the girl I like, it is not rejection that will leave. No doubt there will be times of rejection. Hence the issue isn’t rejection but the fear of rejection that grips me from doing the works of God, like blessing my peers or sharing Christ with them or inviting them to church. Overcoming this fear is key to unlock even more of the fullness of His abundant joy.

  1. Misplaced Identity

Soon after in reflecting a lot about friendships, as well as discussing them with my colleague, I find it peculiar that I did not have any close friends who aren’t Christians whereas many of those close friends I have do. What is the issue with me that I am extremely exclusive with my circle of friends? The Lord revealed to me a misplaced identity in my friendships and not in Him, and thus when they let me down I become incredibly crushed, because my identity falls with the people who did let me down. My identity has to be in Christ if I want to be a huge blessing to the people around me, so I can be real and authentic to people who do not necessarily follow Christ. This will take some time even as I write this nearing the end of the year.

  1. The Purpose of Godly Friendships

As the year progressed, my close friend and I, though we have zero romantic attraction to each other, became an effective couple. We texted daily, called each other daily and did our very best to maximise our time spend together. Eventually she felt uneasy and decided to suspend our interactions for a while. I was shattered, because I had lost my best friend, the one I depended on to be happy in the year. Twice this happened to two different people, and twice it happened to the second one. I was shattered. Why would God allow that to happen? Can God restore and even if He does, does He want to restore? The Holy Spirit over weeks of depression showed me why this happened—I shifted the focus of the friendship from how I can bless them to how they can bless me. Both times the friendships got destroyed by this simple reason. Now, my focus is to build them up and point them to Christ. My focus is no longer how I can gain, but how they can.

  1. Sovereignty 

I’ve always struggled with the idea that God is sovereign—why would He practically be sovereign in a situation of sickness or depression or lack? I have not and doubt will ever find a complete answer, but at the very least this is my conclusion: because God is sovereign, this present suffering is not final word, but God’s promises are. Thus, He will fulfil the good promises He has made, and this suffering will end sooner or later (hopefully sooner). The Holy Spirit taught me to experience joy in sorrow—sorrow at the current state of my friendship in shambles but joy in Christ who will restore as promised. The heart of God is to restore, 120% much more than whatever we’ve lost, and what He said He will do, even if the sorrow lasts for just a short while more. Whilst I grapple with the fear of no escape, I trust in God to make that a way out.

  1. God’s Fatherly Discipline

Like a little child, I whined and whined and whined until I got what I wanted. And what I wanted never came. The frequency of calls and texts from my close friend have faded away. As a child who didn’t get what he wanted, I got angry with his dad. I threw a tantrum at my Father, and didn’t want to draw close to him. I told a different close friend about it all, and his prayer seemed useless as I wasn’t feeling better. As the days of misery went on, the Lord reminded me that His love never fails. Meaning that if I felt that there was love that I felt failed, it wasn’t from God. I pondered over His discipline for a few days, refusing to acknowledge that He’s right and, well, I’m wrong. Eventually, the root discovered had been similar as before: emotional attachment, i.e. finding love in something or someone other than God. Also that we probably aren’t talking cos’ I haven’t found something interesting to reply her text with. Returning to God felt tough but relieving, after a long time. I have peaceful thoughts to my close friend. I’m at rest and trusting God that we will be close even if our interactions aren’t as frequent, as with many of my other close friends, as a matter of fact. I think I’m ready to share the story and encourage people to keep looking to Jesus even though it’s hella hard. In a strange way, God did give me what I want—freedom from the bondage of emotional attachment.

  1. Moving Forward

October was undoubtedly the most painful month in 2017, the most painful year for me. On the last day of that month, the Lord impressed on my heart that my past is over and has no bearing on the future. I can find grace to look forward and move on, start over on a clean slate and keep hoping for full reconciliation. Thus, I commenced 2018 on 1 November 2017, and declared it to be a 14-month long year. I’m looking forward to the year ahead, as God teaches me to glorify Him by loving the people around me, and to steward well the gift of teaching that He has given me. To remain humble and never brag about this gift that I have freely received from Him, and to be empowered to use this gift well, to be a blessing to the people around me. My past is over, and it’s time to look ahead, move forward, into God’s awesome plan for my 2018.

  1. New Passions

The Lord one day reminded me to hope for friendship restoration, not obsess over it. Just pursue Jesus. He will restore. And thus, the Holy Spirit has realigned my thoughts to Himself as God of my life. Also, my mom had initially planned to surprise me for my 21st birthday with an iPad, but due to unforeseen circumstances I knew that I was going to get one. This sparked a second desire, after the first one about the Bible Studies (i.e. productions, God to multiply this ministry via each person, etc). I have plans to use the iPad to start producing Math videos and hopefully helping people out there understand not just the answer but the thought processes that lead to it. I believe this is one means to really take my mind off the tragedy that is 2017. I really am hoping for the best year of my life, that is 2018.

10. Ending Well

I am humbled by God’s intervention. In recent days, my two friends have made steps to rebuild the friendship. Though my end-of-year plans have been destroyed, and most likely the plans in the year ahead, the Lord has promised to restore and He has shown me glimmers of that possibility. One random day, a friend invited me to dinner and we had a very enjoyable dinner and catch-up. It was a very good closure to the five months of pain. And the person in first friendship I ruined at the start of the year that plunged the rest into a dark spiral in recent days have shown small, but nonetheless existent efforts for intentionality, and when God has worked on our availability, by His perfect timing, in His perfect ways, by His grace and by Him fulfilling His promises, I will see the complete restoration happen in my future days. I am so thankful that 2017 ended much better than I had expected and I really hope that 2018, the Year of His Glory, be the year I see God glorified in every area of my life.

  1. Final Shoutouts

A shoutout to everyone in my life who has made this year better than without them and I do hope we can make 2018 an even more awesome year than 2017: John, Dad, Jason, Jasmine, Joey, Joelyn, Mom, Weizhi, Alvin, Faith, Tamara, Bryan Ong, Benjamin Lee, Samuel Lee, Justina, Cordelia, Olivia, Charlene, Nicole Chew, Marc, Kalista, Ming Sheng, Mark, Xin An, Serena, Jonathan Loh, Joanne, Shun Xian, Ting Wei, Justin, Risa, SFC (2017), Alex, Brandon, Ying Hern, Amadea, Geryl, Esther Lim, Erica, Joseph, Andrew, Glenda, Mr Zheng, Jed, Connie, Benjamin Goh, Mdm Ho, Hui Ting, Daniel, Jonathan Lim, Theingi, Anton, C4G, Prema, COL Roland, MAJ Peh, Sharvin, Yoda, BG Kelvin, Agnes, LTC Bernard, Jeron, Ming Feng, COL Alvin, Encik Koh, ME4 Michael, Jeshua, NS Bravo, Clement, JCNE (2015), SALG (2017), Wenxiang, Jeffrey, Cedric, May Ann, Nat, Marcus, Jun Feng, Samuel Cheng, Nicole Lee, Vivien, Cheryl, Vincent, Jun Sheng, Nichole, Das, Regina, Bertrand, Judah, Isaiah, Onesimus, Esther, Linden, Rachel, Bryan Goh, Hui Wen, Noah, Ethan, Nicole Fidelia, May, Julia, Vivian, Chevlene, Xianda, Jereca, Shijin

Spiritual Slap

Yesterday, on Christmas, a friend of mine had no plans and jioed her other friend who also had no plans to do outreach. On a Christmas afternoon since they were both free. What is so significant is that they are generally introverted and socially awkward.

It felt like a spiritual slap to my face.

Here I am, accumulating masses of bible knowledge and in many ways sitting on the laurels of biblical superiority, whereas my friends are actually obeying the words of Christ and actually doing what He commands. To obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22b) I’m the supposedly more extroverted one, and yet I see my introverted friend doing more outreach than I. I say this not condemningly, but as a spiritual spanking on my spiritual complacency. It’s time I put this extroverted-ness to good use!

I want to talk about the implications of this. Born in a Christian family. Raised in church. Had a born-again experience in Sec 2. Had many opportunities to speak on stage about Jesus. Started bible study groups. And I still doubt the divine command of the Great Commission? To reach out to people I may not necessarily know and share with them about the good news of Jesus? Man, all that I talked about amounts to nothing if it doesn’t lead to obedience to Jesus!

I feel like Nicodemus. Knowing so much and yet needing to be born-again. I know so much but feel like I really need a heart transformation ESPECIALLY in the area of outreach!

I’m not saying this as a comparison of worth dependent on our works, for our worth comes from Christ alone. I’m saying that it’s time I put my faith into practice and not just preach. And it serves as a huge encouragement to me too. If the two of them can do outreach, so can I (with a friend, of course). So why not? It’s about time.

A huge disclaimer is to do all these in order to curry favor with God. That’s vanity. Do these out of love and out of the desire to follow His commands, by the power of His grace. Knowledge is good, and much better when put into practice. I look forward to 2018 which will hopefully be a year of much more outreach than all my past years combined. We have Math and Bible Studies locked into the 2018 plan. The next things to add onto that are serving God in and out of church.

In many ways, 2018 could very well be the best year of my life, and I can’t wait to see it all unfold in its full glory. And it will be the best, because God is empowering me with the desire and ability to obey Him and follow His best ways for me. That spiritual slap yesterday was very apt. And sets the tone right for an awesome year ahead.

-Joel Kindiak, 26 Dec 17, 1142H

 

The God Who Suffers

What is pain? When our mom canes us. Or when we have a bad argument with our best friend. Or when our loved one dies. Today, I want to encourage us to thank God for experiencing our pain.

We celebrate Christmas partly as a cultural convention, buying gifts at shopping malls and giving them to our loved ones. We have heard on the origins of Christmas: Jesus being born to save us all from our sins.

Let that sink in.

Jesus is God, and He could have chosen to come to earth however He pleased. God, who is richer than the richest, more powerful than our army generals and presidents, more creative than artists like Da Vinci, could choose how He would enter. He could enter into a rich mansion. Or a powerful position. And yet, He came to a smelly, abandoned, stone-cold, feeding tray for pigs. Jesus could have hung out with the smart people in His day, since He was even smarter than even the best professors of His day. He could hang out with the rich and enjoy food better than Gordon Ramsay’s pieces. And yet, He chose to interact with prostitutes, gangsters, con artists and people we wouldn’t even acknowledge in our society. He spent much time with the poor and the hurting.

We would think that God being all-powerful, would be exempt from pain. But in our pain, Jesus went through the worst of pains. He was completely rejected by His family. One of His best friends wasn’t there for Him when He needed him most, another of His close friends sabo-ed Him so that He was arrested. He was spat at by His whole community, in His face. He was whipped and caned until his whole back was exposed. He was laughed at by his ‘pastors’, harder than our classmates at school. At the cross, Jesus was so disfigured and ugly that no one saw any beauty in His face. His body bore every sickness named, be it eczema, cancer, HIV, and so on. Even His Father turned away from Him, because He bore our sins, that is, our wrong thoughts and actions deserving of death, and God being holy, cannot tolerate sin.

He died, and three days later, rose again from the dead. The One person who died and rose again, never to die again. He suffered much, but He was restored much more. We believe all that He did for us and receive His blessing upon blessing upon blessing, because He took our curse upon curse upon curse at the cross.

Why did I recount all that Jesus done for us? To drive home this one point. In any religion, God knows the pain of His people. In Christianity, God experiences the pain of His people. The other gods may know intellectually of the pain, but only the God of the Bible personally experienced the pain. In our grief and brokenness, Jesus suffered by our side. Jesus has been through every conceivable pain that we have experienced in our lives. And He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promised us grace in our pain and weakness. He freely gives us healing from our sickness. He empathises with us and understands us when life gets very, very bad. He loves us so, so much that He chose to go through the worst of pains to restore our relationship with God.

I mentioned earlier that Jesus chose to interact with ‘bad people’ in our society. From God’s point of view, we are like these ‘bad people’. We deserve to suffer, and yet God chose to hang out with us. He died for us, so that we can know Him personally, enjoy God’s love and joy and peace and find power to turn from our wrong doings so on.

I don’t know about you, but just thinking of how God chose to suffer by my side, I am overflowed with thanksgiving. I’m so grateful that I believe in a God who completely understands my pain and will strengthen me to press on in spite of pain. 2017 was a very bad year for me, but looking back I’m thankful that God never gave up on me even when I was so close to giving up on Him.

When we suffer (not if, since pain is part and parcel of life), I hope you are encouraged to talk to the God who suffers alongside you. You can pray to a million other gods, but only the God who suffers will give you peace that lasts. You can try to psycho yourself to think positively, but only the God who suffers can give you a hope that lasts. That’s because God Himself has personally experienced your pain, and knows exactly how to lead you through it.

What can I do but thank Him? Thank You, Lord Jesus, who suffered alongside me.

—Joel Kindiak