community

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Breaking Out of the ‘Pai-seh’ Culture

    By Sabrina Ng

    We’ve all been there before, that dreaded ‘Who wants to lead the prayer?’, and in almost telepathic unison, pairs of shifty eyes start darting downwards and bodies start sliding down in their chairs towards the floor.

    I may exaggerate but I’m sure we all know it to be true in one way or another. And if you’re wondering what I’m trying to get at with that illustration; in our local Singaporean lexicon, we call it ‘pai-seh’.

    In proper English, to feel pai-seh is to experience feelings of shyness and/or embarrassment. It is perfectly normal to encounter situations where we can’t help feeling that way − but to be pai-seh regarding our faith and calling, this stems from something much deeper.

     

    The Fear of Man

    What exactly is this pai-seh that is so rampant in our society, and what does the Bible say about it? Essentially, the ‘spirit’ of pai-seh is the fear of man. Pai-seh is not biblical, and will hinder us from fulfilling our destinies.

    ‘For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?
    Or am I trying to please man?
    If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.’
    – Galatians 1:10

    In church, many shy away when asked to lead a prayer, a song in worship, or take up a leadership role, thinking that they’re not good enough, that they would be judged by the level of their skill; this is pai-seh at play.

    When we allow this fear to take precedence in our lives, we succumb to thoughts of intimidation, insecurity, inferiority, and inadequacy. And if we let negative thoughts and fears consume us, we hinder ourselves from fulfilling all that God has called us to be, and robbing ourselves of the blessings we could otherwise have.

    Who are we trying to please? As Christians, we need to be more concerned about God’s business than other people’s opinions (including our own!) Remember, we are created in God’s image for His glory and to glorify Him. And being created in His image, we have been predestined as sons and daughters, called according to His purpose – there is no excuse to say that we are not worthy.

    ‘Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
    Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves,
    but our competence comes from God.’
    – 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

    Through Jesus Christ, we have already been given the confidence to walk in the calling that God has for each one of us. So what if we don’t have the best singing voice or are only able to pray five sentences? It has never been about being the best; God looks at the heart – at our sincerity and authenticity. Practice will make perfect, but ultimately, God is more concerned with our progress than our perfection.

     

    A PK’s Journey

    No one is exempt from the spirit of pai-seh and I’ve come a long way in my own journey of overcoming it. In my teens, I became acutely aware of the weight of expectation placed on me as a PK (pastor’s kid). Though I liked singing, I shied away from the spotlight, preferring to fade into the background (literally hidden behind a pillar) as a keyboardist on the worship team.

    As the years went by, the need for worship leaders in my church arose and I reluctantly agreed to step in to fill the gap. The initial period was challenging and I frequently questioned my own abilities. I was much happier just serving Him behind the piano; there were many people more spiritually mature, more musically talented than me who could probably do a better job, why would God make my life so difficult? Why would He set me up (the pastor’s daughter, no less!) to fail in front of so many people?

    Yet, in spite of my self-doubt and regret, there were occasions when I experienced glimmers of joy while leading worship, and they shone like diamonds in the darkness. God was impressing upon me the call He placed on my life, assuring me of the gifts He has given me to fulfil it. Slowly but surely, I began to walk in confidence and into the fullness of all that God had prepared for me.

    Throughout my journey, and even today, I am still learning that I needn’t be shy about what God has gifted me with and placed in my heart to do, because there is no competition in the Kingdom. God has given each of us gifts, not to bury and hide away, but to edify the body of Christ. We may not be the best, but let us be the best that we can be in our pursuit of God! He has something in store for each one of us in our journey of faith, so let us press forth, no need to pai-seh!

  • Blog
  • How to Be an Encourager

    By Alarice

    What kind of environment did you grow up in? What was your childhood like? Chances are, if you grew up in an Asian family, affirming and encouraging words may have been a rarity. In Asian culture, we tend to show our ‘love’ by pointing out the negatives in you rather than the positives, hoping that you will do better. The idea is that ‘tough love is better than no love’.  There is a silent expectation that if I don’t publicly or audibly express ‘I love you’, you should know because ‘I provide a roof over your head!’ Is this kingdom culture, though? Using fear as a form of motivation is never a good solution. It leads to emptiness, a perfectionist mindset, and a self-hatred when one fails to purge out these imperfections in their life.  Instead, we need to be releasing words of life and godly truth that call out and shape the destiny in people. Through our words, we are calling out the great army of God to fulfill their destiny in Christ across the earth! To do that, we must simply learn to start by being an encourager!

    Encouragement is a prophetic gift. I’m not talking about complimenting or flattery, for true encouragement is not self-seeking or motivated by an agenda; true encouragement chooses to see past flaws and instead calls out God’s destiny over the person’s life. It takes prophetic eyes to see what how God has originally designed the person, what gifts they operate in, and their unique contribution to the world.

    Words carry the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). It is how we access the spiritual realm. We get saved through HEARING the gospel! In the same way, wield your words like a weapon of warfare and ensure that you use it for the glory and kingdom of God! Here are 3 tips on how I’ve learned to be an encourager:

    1. Share with your brother and sister how they have been a blessing to you. Be as specific as possible. 
    2. What gift do you see in this person? (It can be a skill or a spiritual gift!)
    3. How do you see them using their gift to impact others?

    Once you learn to practise this natural act of simply being an encourager, you will soon find that it becomes supernatural! When the Spirit of wisdom and revelation comes upon you, God will reveal the secrets of His heart. Perhaps the Lord will download a vision or specific Bible verse to you for that person that will greatly strengthen them in their season!

    Remember as worshippers or even worship leaders, we are releasing songs that will encourage, exhort, and edify the church. Let us learn to be an encourager on and off the stage, using our words to lift up one another and the name of Jesus!

  • Blog
  • Discipleship: Where Do I Begin?

    By Calvin Hong & Shawn Wong

    ‘Disciple’. There are multiple times in the Bible where this word is mentioned. But what is the essential meaning of the word ‘disciple’? Quite simply, a disciple is a disciplined follower of Christ.

    In Jewish culture, where Rabbis (teachers of the law) are well-respected, the children would already be memorising the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, around the age of 8-10. Yet being a disciple is not just about reading the Bible, but being disciplined to live the life it describes. So what does it mean to be a disciple in our current day? Are we true followers of not just His teachings, but in how we choose to live our lives? Let’s explore this.

    ‘Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?’

    (Luke 14:25-28)

    A Single-Minded Decision

    At events, in the midst of ‘large crowds’, people tend to get excited. The atmosphere, the lights, the music! But I love how the words of Jesus always cut right through all the hype and go straight to the heart. It may be easy to say ‘yes’ when everyone around you is doing so. When all the hype is stripped away, without the influence of crowds, how will you choose to live? Being a disciple means to single-mindedly dedicate yourself to follow Christ, without being tossed back and forth. Luke 9:62 says: ‘But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”’ It’s a firm decision; a decision that is your own to make, without regret (looking back). Know that it’s no longer about you or your preferences, but about complete obedience to God.

    Carrying Your Cross

    It’s interesting that Jesus mentioned the cross in this passage, even before His crucifixion. He was talking about the pain, suffering, humiliation, and sacrifices that may come upon giving God your ‘yes’. The Kingdom of God is not for the faint-hearted. To truly know Him, there are things we have to be willing to go through. Jesus made it clear for us so that there need not be any second-guessing; if we want to follow Him, there is a cost.

    Pain brings an understanding that there will be struggles, but also that our strength is not our own. Humanly, it’s impossible to live this life without the power of the Holy Spirit. Pain keeps us reliant on Him as the source of all our strength and ability – it refines and humbles us.

    Accountability to Spiritual Authority

    Godly governance is done in the context of Family. That’s why God implemented spiritual authority – our fathers and mothers, leaders, elders, etc. As we grow as disciples, it’s important that we maintain accountability to those in spiritual authority over us. Their authority is not given so they can rule over us, but to help us grow in maturity and teach us to obey the commandments in the Bible.

    So let’s ask ourselves: Am I willing to lay down my rights and agendas for His? Am I willing to turn away from my old lifestyle? Will our decision to follow be half-hearted or single-minded? Our responses to these questions will determine the trajectory of our discipleship journey.

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Coping with Despair: The Importance of Emotional Health

    By August Lai

    A number of years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune disease. At that time, I had been living what I considered a full life. I had a job which I found meaningful, was actively serving in church, plugged into a life group, and had just participated in a major musical production. I felt good about myself and excited for the future. Then one morning I awoke with severe double vision. It persisted, so I sought treatment for it. After weeks of doctors and tests, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.

    In the initial weeks following my diagnosis, I propped up a brave front for everyone around me but behind that sat a bubbling cauldron of despair, anger, and sadness. I started avoiding my friends, withdrawing from my family, and I couldn’t concentrate at work.

    It was in the midst of this that I gave up trying to make sense of the disease. I was adrift in a storm at sea and I realised I was trying to control the weather! I could only turn to God. After weeks of wrangling, I was challenged to release all the control and plans I had over my life. It was as if every bit of control I gave up to God would be exchanged for a small piece of supernatural peace. Months passed before I could honestly declare to myself that my life truly belonged to God.

    In retrospect, one of the most challenging aspects was how this emotional roller-coaster affected my life. When my emotions were ragged and frayed, it was difficult to connect with others, rest well, make good decisions, and be rational. Emotional health is not a state in which there is a lack of stress or problems; rather it enables one to cope well when life unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse. Here are two lessons I learnt which I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

    Community

    In times of crisis, we need others who are willing to come alongside us to share the burden for a season. That’s when friends and family with whom we have strong relationships will rise up in prayer and support; trusted leaders can offer sound counsel when we are too exhausted to make good decisions. Without a supportive network, even a small one, I would be mired all alone in my irrational thoughts and fears. An engaged community can encourage you to anchor daily upon the truth of God rather than despair. Proverbs 24:6 tells us, ‘For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.’ Do not underestimate nor forsake the power and safety that comes with community!

    Identity

    Prior to the diagnosis, I had never seriously considered what it meant to be a child of God. I was not living from a position of surrender, so I would try to fix every problem I encountered with my own wisdom. Eventually I ran into a problem that all my wisdom could not fathom nor resolve, and I was forced to turn to the One higher than I. He then taught me about the heart of an Abba Father and I learnt how to be His child. I love this quote which goes like this: ‘God never promised us a storm-free, life but a storm-proof one.’ Within our relationship with Him can be found all we need to weather the storms of life – and it starts with knowing who we are in God! Isn’t that amazing? When we are assured about our God-given identity, we can then do what Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to: ‘Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’

    By God’s grace, I was eventually healed from my condition. I am grateful not only for my health but also for my purpose which He continues to uncover for my life. There is great value in tending to your inner life, ensuring that you are emotionally stable and secure in who you are. I pray that you will be blessed in your season and discover renewed strength from the revelation of His great love for you!

  • Blog
  • Dealing with Offence, the Number One Relationship Killer

    by Alarice

    Have you ever known a particular ‘easily-offended’ person whom, after a while, would consecutively get offended by every one of their friends and systematically start to cut them off from their circles of influence? It’s not long before you would see them completely isolated, offended by everyone – it becomes them against the world. 

    THIS is the NUMBER 1 strategy of the enemy to steal the abundant life that God has for us.  It says in John 10:10 that the ‘enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy’, and he loves to do this by sowing seeds of bitterness and offence that ultimately lead to the destruction of God-given relationships! Friends, our Christian life MUST be done in the context of relationship, community and family – it is the foundation of Heaven’s culture. There is so much richness to be found in doing life in community – it is where our callings and our identities are affirmed, where we are positioned to fulfil our destinies, and where we are sharpened and experience growth. It’s time we got smarter and realised the enemy’s schemes, learn to forgive, and let go of offence so that we can enjoy the abundance of being ‘set in a family’. 

    So how do we overcome offence? How the Lord has personally shown me, is to ask the Lord to give you a revelation of WHO that person is DESTINED TO BE. Sure, they may have flaws (we, too, have flaws), but it’s not to stumble over who they are not. Instead, we are to celebrate who they are! They are sons and daughters, God sent His Son for them, they are called to do great and mighty exploits in His name! Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities – we have a common enemy and it is NOT your neighbour. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the greatness in that person and you soon will find that you will be able to release your hurt and release that person into the fullness of their destiny in Christ.