have i ever

have i ever told you
used my words to speak
instead of songs that nothing mean
masquerading in melodies

have i ever told you
use my voice to say
don’t divide between the sheets
and make that difference seen

have i ever told you
i love the rhymes you write
partnered with our love
distilled my heart to bitterness

have i ever told you
about this dream i had
where the silence spoke, and held your hand
and gave me room to breathe

black holes

for when my heart is cold, my fingers numb – when i think i can no longer repent. read His word and be amazed, be in awe once again.

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I remember being stunned the first time i watched Interstellar; the scene with the black hole left me particularly speechless. I remember hitting pause on my laptop just to stare at the spectacle before me, cosmic vastness captured in 15 square inches. I remember being in awe of the amount of engineering that must have gone into recreating that scene, the work of organizations like NASA that have allowed us to even conceive of what a black hole looks like. The beauty and scale of the scene shook me.

Granted, it is easy to stun a Singaporean. We are a people who rarely look up, because the streetlight-stars we see are too small to shock. Hence, even the smallest flicker of an actual star is enough to set our hearts racing. Who would be surprised that the representation of a black hole would enthrall us so?

Yet even now I can remember moments when the beauty of nature stood before me, but I was left unmoved. Sunsets at the end of tiresome days, my eyes too weak, too drooped to catch even a beam. Days when I am a crescent moon turned into myself, all those moments of beauty I missed. It takes little to distract us, to chill our hearts that they remain cold even under the sun.

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The Hebrews were like us in many ways. Constant in complaint, blind to God’s persistent grace and mercy. They were a people turned inward, people who looked to themselves as gods, who crafted for themselves gods.

Jeremiah 2:13 – ‘For my people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves —  cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.’

Another way of phrasing this: My people have rejected me, the best thing they could ever have, and have instead turned away towards false gods who cannot compare to me.

In other words, they remain numb to God – He no longer excites their hearts, no longer is He our fountain of living water.

The prophet Micah prophesied to Jerusalem, calling out their sin and speaking judgement upon the city of God.

Micah 6:12-14

“For the wealthy of the city are full of violence, and its residents speak lies; the tongues in their mouths are deceitful.

“As a result, I have begun to strike you severely, bringing desolation because of your sins.

“You will eat but not be satisfied, for there will be hunger within you. What you acquire, you cannot save, and what you do save, I will give to the sword.’

We often look at the judgement of Israel and Judah and think, ‘Indeed, the Israelites were horrible, stubborn people. They had it coming.’

For sure they did. Yet do these words not ring true for us today as well, even within the church? What then shall we do with these words of condemnation?

What stands out to me the most however is Micah’s final recorded words in 7:18-20.

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.

He will again have compassion on us; he will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

You will show loyalty to Jacob and faithful love to Abraham, as you swore to our fathers from days long ago.’

Who is a God like you? These are the words of a man stunned! Shocked, laid bare, undone not by mighty power, but by incredible mercy and grace.
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We are rarely stunned by God’s forgiveness because we rarely remember just how undeserving we are of it. The fact that we can repent and again hope in Jesus is amazing news!

It is easy to stun a Singaporean because he so rarely sees the stars, so when it comes he is amazed. How much more should we be stunned by the forgiveness of God when it extends to a people like us!
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We are no different from the people of Israel. Have we not sinned, carving out our own little thrones to sit on? Do we not constantly reject his kingship, setting up our own rules and laws?

We are not a people who deserve forgiveness. We deserve death. Yet God’s forgiveness has extended to us. Who is a God like He? Who loves like He? Who is merciful like He?

Holiness is a summary attribute of God for He is so set apart – there is none like He, in any way, shape or form.
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What then shall we do with the words of condemnation and judgement we read in the prophets?

Let them sink in. Let them strike your heart. Let yourself be made aware of your sin and how much you deserve His wrath.

Then turn to Jesus, and be amazed at the forgiveness God has given to us. Put your faith in Him and remember that He is yours forevermore.

Truly His mercy and love is like no other.

after christmas, before the year ends

Perhaps in no year-end past have I ever been made more aware simultaneously of the glories of Christ, and the depths of sin.

I studied Philippians over the course of 3 days, seeing the wonder that is gospel partnership, the incredible unity there is between those in Jesus Christ. The very next day I am confronted with the realities of church: the abuse of authority, the rebellion against authority, the friction between sinners, the brokenness that is a people waiting for their Saviour’s return. So often we do not look like a church.

I read through 1 Samuel, witnessing a young shepherd boy so in love with God, so enthralled by Him, that he is willing to endure the abuse and evil of men all for the sake of following His king. I think of Jesus the better David, who endured unimaginable abuse and torture in obedience to His Father. Then I turn to my own life and see how proud, how arrogant, how clingy I am to that which I foolishly desire. And I remember that David too fell. There is no hope in men, neither in others or within ourselves.

What hope is there for us in this broken world? Is there a king who would unite us? Is there a king who would save us?

Yes, there is. There came a king who would unite us not by political or social means, but by uniting us to His very self, that we might be united to God. And in doing so He has torn down every dividing wall of hostility, every single one of them. A king who came to save us from our sins. To give us a righteousness we could not have on our own.

I was going to stop the post here, but the past few days in the states have given me cause to pause and take stock. Perhaps triggered by the expected tense environment travelling with my family, or the odd sense of unease that comes between Christmas and New Year – either way i have much to meditate on.

Every night I am on the brink of tears as I think back to how much I do not love Jesus, how much He does not factor into my daily decisions. Day after day I find myself angry, confused, frustrated. My family doesn’t read the Bible together. Yet who I am to ask them to? Do I love the Bible? What part of my life warrants that kind of instruction?

My stomach churns at the thought of my family and the state we are in, yet it falls to the floor when i contemplate my own sinfulness. O God how I have wasted my years! Jesus I am in desparate need of you, your grace, your love. Who else can love me? Whose love will I turn to?

I read Matthew 21:16 this morning and thought to myself, ‘Lord, what an obnoxious response! Why didn’t you just tell them that You were indeed the Son of David long awaited?’ Then I remember that more obnoxious is that we have not recognised Him as our long awaited king. Have I not committed the double evil? I have abandoned You the fountain of living water, and have dug cisterns for myself, cracked cisterns that hold no water. O Lord I am in desparate need of You.

And yet I have You. Lord I forget so quickly! Does not Your Spirit dwell within me? Has not Jesus paid the price for my sins? Has He not ascended, and is seated at the Father’s right hand interceeding for me? You are still guiding me, still shepherding me. You are a living God! You have not died and remained dead, but have been brought back to life.

God, this world sickens me. It is hard to remain hopeful, loving, in a world like this. Yet Jesus you are my hope. You have always been our hope. Lord this is not the finality, the end, the world that will remain. This is the world that will disappear, and with it all the sinfulness we see today.

Jesus afix my eyes on You this coming year. Keep me looking to where I will, must be looking for every year to come.

25.5

o Jesus, it is so hard to face the fact that i am not as humble as i thought i was, not as sure of you as i should be, not holy as you are holy. to find my heart still prideful, still hungry for affirmation – o Lord is there no freedom from this? might i find peace here?

yes, and no. help me to know – really know – the peace you give to me, the light and easy burden of fully-paid-for salvation. strengthen my weak knees in biblical theology, fill my broken heart with Christ-love, and stir me to worship you always.

yet not i

I labour on in weakness and rejoicing,
for in my need, His power is displayed.

To this I hold, my Shepherd will defend me,
through the deepest valley He will lead.
O the night has been won, and I shall overcome,
yet not I, but through Christ in me.

I labour on in weakness and rejoicing,
for in my need, His power is displayed.

yet not I, but through Christ in me.
not I, but Christ who lives in me.

3 body

we three bodies, masquerading as two.
when does the sun rise on you.
is the heat just as strong
to melt my heart all the way through.

give me dates, gives me notes
help me, i need to know
when you’re free,
and when i need to believe.

that the sun still rises, from east to west,
that i still believe what i see, though you keep the rest.
when i look to the stars, i’ll remember below
that you’re still here, please don’t go.

the beaches are blackened, our feathers don’t stick
drift, slowly move till you don’t feel it.
you said i won’t die,
but i don’t feel quite alive.

“every day we betray our identities”

telos, end-goal, finish point, the end of means, the means as end

the lord is patient with our different cloaks. every time we put on Christ we are reminded that there is another veil we must remove. every time we are reminded that we are children we make known our other families, our other lovers. there are a thousand other end-points, a thousand other ways to view myself, a thousand other ways to view others – yet this is the one set out for me.

there is no resting from rest. only the relentless reminder that there is no work left to be done to save myself. keep me squarely in this frame, in this mind; any other place and my feet will run away, thinking You are the mist among my works, my place earned by climbing, not resting.

it’s not that i move forward by standing still, but standing still i am lifted up, up and toward – all the running in the world can’t make you fly.

so what is this race i run? is it not toward my prize? yes, yet it has already been won, i know my crown is coming – help me still run, knowing that when the day comes i will not finish and collpase, so much as be given wings and carried to the place prepared for me.

but for now my feet are on the ground, and while i am still i am running. help me to centre on the gospel, where all the paradoxes of the world are made simple.

help me rest in you.