scorched again.

I feel that same strange fire again. I feel aflame, but I can see the ashes forming. Scorched land, scorched again. O, but I want my warmth to be good, to be genuine! I am no life-giving sun, only a burnt-up tree turned to charcoal.


It feels impossible, O God. How can I live now? How can I sleep? I can see my sin, but feel helpless to lay it to rest. Shall it get easier? Or harder?

What shall I do with my sinful heart? I will lay at the cross of Christ, and trust my Saviour sees, knows, loves.

Who else shall I turn to for salvation? I am made holy, whole, in Christ alone.

waiting for the sunrise

whose words could bid the sun to rise
or set? outside its time
to give of its own warmth and life;
a slowly burning bright.

yet painful does the morning wake
ahead of dawn’s first light;
a tender care is needed for
the un-rest in the night.

toss and turn, the body makes
the sleeping hard to find.
but better mornings do await
those trusting in His might.

lead out the sun in Your own time,
in wisdom You appoint
the time for daybreak will arrive –
together, we’ll rejoice.

romans 6:20-23

// For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. //

there are things i care about that i did not care about before. moments come where i find myself burdened by new responsibilities, new priorities, new ways of thinking. but think not of egypt, that place of death! no, no – look forward to that God-promised land. what did i have before this? surely only endless dying, yet now Christ has broken in with life.

no, no – look forward to that God-promised land!

hope deferred

Proverbs 13:12 ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.’

Do not all aches and pangs point to You? Even now I see in part the sins You are uncovering.

The pain is still real, O Father. Help me endure with much patience, pure love, and gentle understanding.

You work all things, in the past, present and future, for the good of those who love You.

the hope of Jesus in the death that COVID-19 brings

COVID-19 has shoved the reality of death into our faces. Singapore recently reported its 6th COVID-19 death and at the point of writing the world total is now at 74, 697; it is now undoubtedly higher. The fear of death has driven us to extreme measures like social distancing and obsessive hygiene. Whole economies have collapsed as the entire world attempts to hinder the spread of the virus. Nations fight over limited resources, engage in political and moral posturing, all in an attempt to preserve their own lives. Nobody wants to die.

Then there is the kind of ‘death’ that we experience on a more regular, but no less real, basis. For some working adults, there is the death of whole careers that might have otherwise spanned a lifetime. For university students, end-of-semester celebrations are replaced by a solemn and premature eviction from campus housing . For citizens under the new ‘circuit breaker’ measures, there is the death of personal freedom as we are confined to our homes. For everyone around the world, there is the death of general security, with our plans for the future having been thrown into disarray. Death knows no boundaries and encroaches into every area of our life. Even our attempts to flee death themselves bring about death.

The writer of Ecclesiastes knew this well. After a lifetime of searching out meaning in life, he came to the sobering conclusion that man is no different from a beast, resigned to becoming dust.

‘For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from dust, and to dust all return.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

Death makes everything meaningless. The career you built your life upon will fade away and collapse. Your wealth will go to another and will no longer be yours. The people whom you love and have invested in will either forget you or themselves be taken up by death. ‘Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.’

The Bible’s sober reflection on death is disturbing, but not surprising. From the very beginning we see that death is an encroachment on goodness. Genesis 3:19 tell us that death is a consequence of sin, a disruption in a perfect world. Death should make us uncomfortable, because we were not supposed to die; it was our sin that brought death into this world. God’s perfect world was one where His people dwelled with Him, delighted in Him, worshipped Him forever (Revelations 21:3-4).

But now, death is what surrounds us. It is the ultimate answer to human pride, for it has no respect for status, wealth, relationships or any other number of things that we might build our lives on. Certainly, we should continue to fight it as we have done so in the face of COVID-19 with our various measures. Even the writer of Ecclesiastes urges his readers to live wisely and enjoy life despite the abiding threat of death (Ecclesiastes 4:13, 7:4-5, 9:9). But we cannot remain ignorant to the main message of Ecclesiastes: as long as death holds power over us, life is vanity, a striving after wind. COVID-19 highlights the reality and power of death with cutting clarity and technicolour vividness.

It is perhaps our unfamiliarity with death that explains why we often don’t treat the words of Jesus seriously, or see them as spectacularly bold and supernatural. When Jesus claims that He has come to bring eternal life, we look towards our health, our wealth, our comfort, and in our hearts we think, ‘I am going to live forever, what need do I have of eternal life?’ We might not profess it with our mouths, but we reveal it through the way we live. We behave like little children taking pride in the sandcastles we have built, blind to the incoming tsunami on the horizon.

But Jesus was not blind. He was crystal clear on why He had come. This is what he says: ‘this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on that last day’ (John 6:40). He came to reverse the destructive effects of sin by taking it all upon Himself, taking on the death that should have been ours. And while others have died and remained dead, God raised Jesus up and did not let him see the corruption that the rest of the world faces (Acts 13:36-37). Jesus not only lived, but lives. And He is calling us now to Himself, to turn away from every other dying thing we have put our hope in and instead, trust in a risen Saviour who brings real life to His people (1 Cor 15:20-24).

We live in the in-between, where the promises of God have been made but not fulfilled. Until the Lord returns, we will have to continue burying our friends and family. We ourselves will return to the dust, whether sooner or later, by virus or by natural causes. The ‘mini-deaths’ we experience like the end of careers and disruption of our plans are ones we will have to endure for as long as we are on this earth. But the hope that God gives to His people is this,

‘He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ (Revelations 21:3b-4)

This is the hope that we as Christians have, that this temporary world will soon give way to the bright reality of God’s kingdom. If death is no more, than all the consequences of death will also be no more. No longer will our labour feel futile, our relationships fleeting. In a world without death, there will be perfect work, perfect love, perfect satisfaction. And who can save us from death, to be our living bread and water? Only Jesus.

So rightly grieve the current state of this world. Mourn with those who have lost much during this season; it might have been the death of a loved one, separation from other members of the church, or the collapse of personal plans and aspirations (Romans 12:15). They are real consequences of death that rightly warrant our sorrow. But I pray that what will be more real than the pain is the abiding peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone stands in victory over sin and death. Though our sin had called us to death, He has in His mercy and grace called us to life in Himself.

PS: (For a more thorough reflection on death, I highly recommend Matthew McCullough’s Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope. The ideas and thoughts I have expressed in this piece, though processed through my own experiences, were deeply shaped and inspired by this book. It is a wonderfully encouraging read that goes into much greater, God-glorifying detail regarding what the gospel’s answer to death is.)

week 1, monday

Adjusting fairly well to the time difference. My mind feel tired but alert, my body cold but awake.

Still though, I still haven’t grappled with the fact that this is my new normal for the next few months. I kept telling people that 6 months wasn’t long and that soon we’d see each other again. But maybe I’m just telling that to myself. For now, my calendar seems to stretch on endlessly, summer weather long away, humidity still under 60.

How do you do it? You who study overseas?

Perhaps it’s because those who study overseas do so with the end in mind, a goal set to be achieved. I sort of stumbled into Vassar, exchange being a sort of ritualistic attempt made by every student to embark on an exciting experience. I have never felt the sort of desire to go overseas that Jo has. Why?

Whatever it is, I have been far too cavaliar and unintentional about this experience, especially with regards to prayer. Teach my heart to be humble, to obey, especially when obedience does not line up with my personality. Guide me away from fake humility and give me godly ambition for the gospel.

week 15, y3s1

coming out of a test, and all my mind can think about is the two submissions i have coming up.

this semester has been a continual sprint. i feel my mind not so much stretched but pressed, someone else pressing down, through, in, within. i feel like a log along a river, drifting towards an unending end.

am struggling to be excited for VBS camp on thursday. think of all the children who will be hearing the gospel during those three days! think of the eternal joy that may befall those who not only hear, but believe! what grace the gospel brings, what peace it can give to a young soul.

yet my eyes are still turned toward the earth. give me the heart to love Your Word, and the passion to teach it.

Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Which word of men will stand? None, but Yours endures forever.

new birth

i was thinking of writing about my current experience changing church, but somehow my heart has been led to meditate further into the past, specifically the night where ‘my eyes were open’ – so to speak.

i remember distinctly the agony of that moment. the words of Ephesians 2 were now alive to me, but i was still unable to accept them. my mind shattered into a million pieces and i felt as though i was not only dying, but being deconstructed, right down to my core. then among those sparkling ruins i lifted up my bleeding hands and held them there. then came a small, tiny assurance, that truly i has been saved. there was no dramatic display, no bright light or golden hands, but it was there. that night, i felt for the first time like i was truly a child of God.

then the next day, i fell into sin. and so i did for the next year and the year after, all the way till today. and all throughout those many years i continued to doubt if His Spirit really dwelled within me. yet for some reason – i use this phrase to remind myself how blind i am to His sovereign, working hand – i continued to cling to the cross.

and now i am here, about 1.5 years later, and only now can i see clearly how my heart has been changed; how my heart *was* changed. only now do i see that i have been led to a deeper understanding of the roots of my sin, and so the remedy for it.

the expectations i had in fighting sin back in 2017 were so shallow, so inadequate! i thought it was my actions that were wrong, but more than that – my very heart was wrong. i wonder what would i would’ve become had i only dealt with my actions and thought that to be the end all of obedience and holiness.

i just read through Piper’s ‘Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ’, and i remember being deeply uncomfortable with his argument that God not only allowed sin but planned for it that His grace might be displayed, because that is how He so desired His glory to be revealed.

are You really like that God? do You really rule and reign over *everything*?

yet i read Your plan for Jewish kingship even though it was *sin* to ask for a king, Your will to crush Your son through the sinful actions of proud Pharisees, Your destiny for vessels of destruction.

the only response is, ‘why me?’

and the only reply is, ‘Who is a God like you, forgiving iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not hold on to his anger forever because he delights in faithful love.’

keep me humble and sanctify me daily for Your name’s sake. Your will is where i must dwell.

forgetting myself

today my heart was so distracted.

perhaps it was the lack of sleep. i’ve been waking up in the middle of the night for the past month. last night i woke up 4 times – 1:38, 2:43, 4:48, 7:30. strange how my mind is more active when it does not rest.

perhaps it was the end of the week. more specifically, the end of my bible study with the bbtc leaders. i’ve held on to human glories far more tightly than i care to admit. i am afraid of leaving, because who know whether i will be glorified before men in this new place?

perhaps it was because i didnt like the songs sung today. why didnt i like them? why couldnt i sing them with my whole heart?


there were so many reasons i could not heave my heart to worship you today. but at the core, it is because i forget that it is not me who heaves it, but You! i stare so much at my own hands, my own heart, my own sin, that i forget that You have redeemed it all.

help me forget myself. help me stare so hard at the cross that my vision beside blurs. help me cling so hard to Jesus that my fingers are free to do Your will. help me be so humble before You that i can recieve both criticism and praise without destroying myself. help me be so secure in who You say i am that i can both date and be single without my ego collapsing into itself.

help me forget myself, and look to You!