Tri Rambling: I can swim!

I haven’t done a triathlon for more than 10 years now. But lately, I feel like I need to put some of my thoughts down on my experience with triathlon and endurance sports. I am not a pro or age-grouper. I participated between 2005 to 2011. During that time, I did an Ironman and raced in multiple sprints, Half Ironman (70.3) and marathons. My favorite distance was 70.3. A full Ironman requires a lot of commitment. Whereas with a 70.3, I can compete in the morning and be back home by the afternoon.

I am going to write a few more blog posts about my experience and lessons I’ve learned from triathlon. My main goal is to jot it down before they faded away from me from old age :P. I also hope that someone new in the sport will find this helpful.

When it comes to triathlon or endurance sports, it can be very complicated. There are so many science and technology involved. Lactic acid, training in wattages, carbon bikes, nutrition, and what not can get your head spinning. The reality is that the sport is straightforward. It is not complicated. It looks complicated with three sports in one, but it is not.

The first point I like to make is that triathlon is for everyone, and I do mean everyone. I am never an athlete. In high school, I was the kid who is always picked last. I couldn’t run for more than one lap in the track (400 m).

So how did I end up going into triathlon, let alone doing an Ironman (3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and 42.2 km run) and loving it?

The most important aspect is the mindset. For some crazy, more like naïve reason, I really thought I could do an Ironman when I first started this incredible and crazy journey into endurance sports. 

 Instead of telling myself, “I can’t do it,” I asked myself, “how can I do this.” When I first started triathlon, I could not swim freestyle for more than two laps (that’s 50 meters). I remembered after surviving the two laps in the pool, still huffing and puffing and asking myself, how can I swim 3,750 meters more in an Ironman? At that point, I knew I need help. I found a coach who helped me learn how to swim freestyle in a method known as Total Immersion.

There were five of us in the class. The coach split us into three groups: the fast, the slow, and me. While the coach critiqued the other’s swim technique, I was learning how to kick. My hips and my legs were so stiff that whenever I kick, I went backward. 

I didn’t give up or feel rejected. Instead, I worked even harder. I went to the local swim pool before and after work. All I did was drills. I wasn’t even swimming. I took every opportunity to go to the pool to practice to the point where I showered more in the local pool than at home.

 After about four months of practicing to swim and meeting with the couch once a month, I swam 1 km for the first time. At that moment, I knew swimming 4 km was not impossible, it is very possible. Of the three sports, swimming is my weakest, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve learned freestyle!

To Walk Away

Recently a few well-known ministers announced they are walking away from the Christian faith. Many friends gave their two cents on this through Facebook. What I surprise is the lack of mentioning the consequences of walking away from the Christian.

I have two disclaimers before I start. First, I haven’t read too much about these ministers and their stories. This post is not critiquing them on what they should have none or analyze why they come to such a decision. There are many articles online already discussing that. I don’t need to know these matters because they are trivial and sounds like Christian gossip. No one knows the truth except themselves and God. Frankly, what matter is themselves and God in the end.

What I want to write about is the consequences of walking away from one’s faith. Here’s my second disclaimer. I am not referring to someone new to Christianity or someone who is exploring Christianity. I am writing specifically about ministers, leaders who walked with the Lord for a Long time.

I am also not going to talk about theology on Calvinism versus Arminianism or predestination. There is a time and a place for that, but it is not in this article.

I am referring to those who deliberately walk away from one’s faith after following Jesus and was His fellow laborers.

The Bible never once mentioned someone who walked away from Jesus is innocent or not know what they are doing. In every case, those who knew Jesus, the Truth, and walked away always suffer negative consequences.

Here’s how Peter described false prophets and teachers who knew Jesus and ended up rejecting Him:

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” – 2 Pet 2:20-22 NIV

Peter didn’t mince his words. He described them like a dog returning to its vomit. The truth is not because they lost hope or are confused. The truth is that they rejected Jesus because they loved the sins of the world more than the One who saved them.

We either walk in the light, following Jesus or walk in darkness, by disobeying Him. There is no neutral position in this. No matter how sincere someone described why they are leaving the faith, it is because they love the sins of the world more than they love Jesus.

In John 3:19-21, Jesus stated that those who do not receive Him, the light, loves the darkness because their deeds were evil. One can say someone may not know Jesus; therefore, they reject Him. But what about ministers, those who know Him for a long time? We can tell someone is burnt out or push into ‘stardom’ too early and therefore they lost their way. I have no problem with someone burnt out. Take a break or set boundaries to protect yourself.

They may be doubting their faith. It is not wrong to doubt as long as the doubt is healthy. But for one to say to walk away from Jesus after serving Him, knowing His ways, for so long, is more than doubt. No matter how sympathetic we can be or how sincere the minister is, the crux of the matter is their heart loves evil deeds, sins, and walking away from Jesus, the light, so they are not exposed. The eleven disciples who followed Jesus also doubted, but they also worshipped (see Matthew 28:17).

Knowing the consequences of walking away is a sobering thought. I am not writing this article because I am angry or bitter when ministers leave the faith. I am writing because this is the truth which none of us want to discuss. The Bible states this very clearly. We live in a politically correct culture where we don’t want to anger others.

In short, no one ‘accidentally’ walks away. The hearts of these ministers, having found light in Jesus, are darkened with sins again and intentionally walk away from Him.

Demas, the minister who walked away

Demas is an example of a minister in the Bible who’ve known Jesus and walked away in the end. Demas was part of Paul’s ministry team (Phil. 1:24), and Paul commended him alongside Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke. These men were leaders and ministers. At the end of 2 Timothy, Demas deserted Paul because Demas loved the world (2 Tim. 4:10).
Demas is an example of a sad truth. Ministers who leave Jesus, or the faith, do so not because they doubt or are not sure. They rejected Jesus because they love the things of this world more than Jesus.

When a minister, especially a prominent one, left the faith, we are often in awe and confused why he/she can do such a thing. It is when he/she loves something more than Jesus and decided that Jesus is not worthy to be pursuit. That thing which the person adores more than Jesus, no matter how good it is, is a sin because it became an idol in his/her heart.

Is there no hope?

If a minister left the faith, does he/she forever condemned? Not necessarily. John Mark is an example in the Bible as someone who walked away from the faith and came back in the end. John Mark was a Barnabas’ cousin and joined them on their first mission trip. Because of the pressure of the mission, John Mark deserted them (Acts 13:13). The desertion had a substantial impact on Paul and Barnabas. When Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on the second mission trip, Paul rejected. John Mark caused Paul and Barnabas to separate from each other (Acts 15:37-39).

Despite Paul refusing to take John Mark back when Barnabas suggested in Acts 15, eventually, Paul took John Mark back. Paul mentioned John Mark in his epistles as a faithful laborer (Colossians 4:10). Paul asked Timothy to bring John Mark to him in 2 Timothy 4:11 because Paul found John Mark to be useful. The Bible didn’t say much, but we see a beautiful ending of John Mark missing the mark and restored in the end.

What does this mean?

There is a belief that once someone walks away from Jesus, he/she can always come back. Yes, some come back after walking astray. However, some walk away and never comes back.

We have to be very careful about this. We never know who will come back and who will be lost forever. It is wrong to assume that if we walk away from Jesus, we can always go back to the Lord whenever we feel like it.

We often think we are in control of our soul and our emotions. But we are being controlled by them. Every action and decision we make in life is either walk toward Jesus or away, light, or darkness. When we commit a sinful act, it messes our consciousness and distorts our mind from telling right from wrong. A person can end up loving sin, darkness, then Jesus, the light.

In Romans 1, Paul described those who knew the truth but refused to accept it. Instead, they committed themselves in sinful actions, and their mind became more corrupt. Their consciences are seared. They can’t even tell what’s right or wrong.

If this is the case, then how can someone like John Mark come back? It is only by the grace and the mercy of God. We are not to ‘test’ God in this. Our goal is to remain in Him as close as we can.

If God, all-knowing, will not bring someone back to Him when they turn away from Him, does this mean that God is not all-loving? Absolutely, not. God desires everyone to turn to Him. But at the same time, He gives everyone the freedom to choose. Those who do not follow God is because they love the world and love darkness more than they love Him (John 3:19). Those who rejected Jesus choose to do so, and God accepts that choice.

What about those who walk away?

For anyone who walked away, our goal is to help them come back to Jesus. James 5:19 teaches this. By doing so, we save them from death. If we know them, we are to encourage them back to the Lord.

The key is to pray for them. It is easy to read a lot of articles and talk about it with others like celebrity news. We need to intercede and pray for them. If we are in the position to do so, gently bring them back to Christ.

“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
John 12:47-48 NKJV

Side note: When we talk about walking away from the Christian faith, we think of apostasy. In this article, I didn’t use apostasy because they are only used twice in the Bible and not relevant to what I am discussing.

The Greek word is, apostasia, and it means to revolt or defect. It appears in Acts 21:21, when the Jews accused Paul leading the Gentiles to forsake (defect) from Moses’ ways, and in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, when Paul described the ends times when many fall away (defect) from the faith. In both cases, they are not talking about ministers who left the Christian faith. For more info, please see https://biblehub.com/greek/646.htm.

Papa Got You

Sarah-Faith’s first swimming lesson.

I held Sarah-Faith as she went into the pool for the first time. Ever since she slipped and fell into a deeper part of a pool, she was afraid of it. She would point to the water and cry, “Too deep! Too deep!”

Last week, we took Sarah-Faith for her first water lesson. At 2.5 years old, we are not expecting a Joseph Schooling. What’s important is for her to be comfortable in the water and not freak out.

Sarah-Faith held onto me like a Koala bear as we slipped down into the pool.

“Don’t worry, Sarah-Faith. Papa got you.”

I keep reassuring her that things would be ok. Holding onto her with both hands, she felt the awkward sensation of floating in water.

“Go back. Go back to Mama.” She wailed.

“Papa got you,” I said.

The swim instructor took out some toys and we started to fetch them in the water. From fear to fascination, Sarah-Faith clinged to the toys with glee.

In the short 45 min lesson, we started to see the swim-bunny inside of her come out. By playing different games, Sarah-Faith was becoming more confident in the water. We quickly ditched the floats because they were getting in her way to the toys. Instead of clutching to me like a Koala bear, she allowed me to let her float on her belly.

Then came the ultimate challenge. The instructor put yellow duckies on the other side of the pool. The kiddies were to ‘swim’ over and pick them up.

Now, there was no more fear. There was no more doubt. With excitement and determination, I held Sarah-Faith on her tummy as she kicked her way to get the duckies.

The fear melted away. With smiles and laughter, she held onto the duckies and swam back to the edge.

I am learning that one of my roles as a father is to help her overcome fear by encouraging her and building her confidence. I found that was the most effective way. Often the hardest thing is journeying with her step by step.

I don’t blame her for being afraid of water. Who wouldn’t be? Yes, water is to be feared if she is by herself without any swimming skills. But when Papa is with her, there’s no need to fear.

Fear is overcome when there is something solid we can lean on. What I find most puzzling in our culture is the idea that fear can be overcome by stating it is not there. To declare you are not afraid without anything to back it up, is pointless to me. It is the same as if I put Sarah-Faith in the water by herself and as she cries, I keep yelling, “Don’t be afraid. Fear doesn’t exist”. Fear cannot be overcome in a vacuum.

How did Sarah-Faith overcome her fear? It wasn’t because of the floats or a great program or fancy toys. It was when she realised her Papa was with her and things would be be ok. I don’t need her to be unafraid. She didn’t need to be afraid because I am with her. We are in this together and she knows I will not let her go.

This is the same when we follow Jesus and know that our Heavenly Father is with us.

After Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, He gave the disciples the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus reassured the disciples that He will be with them until the very end. Jesus could have told them that God has the ultimate victory in the end or He will send them armies of angels to fight for them. Or motivate them that they will receive heavenly reward. Instead, Jesus simply stated He will be with them.

Jesus being with me is more than enough.

I’ve been following Jesus for almost 15 years. Even now, there are times when I am afraid. As someone who had a liver transplant, one of the greatest concerns is health care. Who will take care of me if my liver fails? Is there a plan that can cover my costs? What if something happens to me when we are doing missions?

The fear is legitimate and it is real. But just as Sarah-Faith was afraid of the water and her Papa reassured her things will be fine, Jesus is with me (and my family) the whole time as we go in the water. And this is the most reassuring of all. To know that my heavenly Papa is with me even as we go into the deep end.

By the end of the lesson Sarah-Faith didn’t even want to leave the pool. She knew that when her Papa was with her, being in the water would be ok (and fun).

For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. – Psalm 18:29

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
-“God knows” by Minnie Haskins

A Box of Chocolate

This happened a while back, but it is still fresh in my memory. 

“Can Mama have it back?”

Standing on the other side of the living room, I could see that our toddler, just shy of two months to being two years old, really wanted another one.  She had a box of chocolates in her lap, her little hands wrapped around the box and her head tilted down staring at these little goodies.

After all, this was the first time she had chocolate. 

Calmly and warmly, Wai Jia asked Sarah-Faith for the box of chocolates back.

We waited to see what Sarah-Faith would do next. 

She continued to stare at the box.  Her hands were holding the box of chocolates very firmly.  After all, who wouldn’t want another one?  Especially after trying it for the first time.  She really wanted to have more.  

Then, after pausing for less than a minute, but what probably seemed like an eternity in our almost two-year-old’s eyes, Sarah-Faith did something that would make any parent proud. 

She returned the box of chocolates back to Wai Jia.

There was no fuss, no tears.

Being her parents and being much bigger, we could have simply yanked the box from her.  We could have yelled and commanded her to do so.  As her parents, we had every right to do so.  But this time, we waited and see.

I was amazed.  What could drive her to do such a thing?  We had not yet taught her right or wrong.  She had the freedom to disobey and have another.  We probably wouldn’t stop her if she had done so.  I am sure her mind wanted another piece of chocolate.  But another part of her knows that it is better to obey her Mama. 

As a father, I was very proud of Sarah-Faith and filled with joy to see that she chose to obey even though she could enjoy another tasty treat.

Recently, I did a study on blessings.  In the church, we talk about blessings all the time.  The benediction is commonly spoken over the church at the end of the service.  In fact, every night, after we pray with our children, we speak the benedictions over them.  The benediction starts with, “may the Lord bless you…”

As I look at blessings, especially from Jesus’ teachings, it is not simply about receiving stuff or happiness.

When we look at the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), Jesus taught that we are blessed when we choose specific attitudes.  Yet, these attitudes are not those the world desires or seeks. 

Take being meek, for example.  It is an attitude that is highly regarded in the Kingdom of God, but the world never deems it valuable.  No one ever chooses a successful CEO or leader because of their meekness.  No one ever chose someone in a team or in a relationship because they are meek.

The question I ask myself is, how are we blessed for following these attitudes?  You don’t get a bigger house, a happier life, a promotion for being a peacemaker, for being merciful or getting persecuted for Jesus’ sake.   So how can Jesus say we are blessed for seeking these attitudes?  In other words, what is the motivation for seeking and developing the Beatitudes within us?

As I dwell on this, I realized that being blessed is not just about getting stuff or having a good life.  Instead, we are blessed when we choose certain attitudes in our lives because it brings joy to our Heavenly Father.

When Sarah-Faith chose to return the box of chocolates, I was filled with joy.  Why? Not only because she chose the right thing.  But because she was willing to deny her own desires to have another piece of chocolate in order to obey her mother.

Just as how I was filled with joy when Sarah-Faith willingly chose to return the box of chocolates to Wai Jia, our Heavenly Father is filled with joy when He sees us willingly choosing the Beatitudes in our day to day lives.

After all, the biggest blessing is bringing joy to our Heavenly Father and willingly doing His Will.  My joy comes from knowing that my actions and attitudes bring joy to our Heavenly Father.

Amen!

Walking Rightly

This was written a few days before we moved to Singapore.

We are currently in the midst of transiting from Canada to Singapore. I did the same thing back in 2011, and I thought it was difficult. Now having two kids, I realized ‘difficult’ is a matter of perspective.

In the past two months, there were a few stressful nights. Stressful because by the time both Wai Jia and I finished eating dinner and cleaning up the house, it would be 9:30 pm. We would have about 30 min or so to pack, process and prepare ourselves for the big move.

Plus, the amount of paperwork involved. Wow.

By God’s grace, after many nights of doing a bit here and there, we finally saw much progress this morning. Wai Jia has been tirelessly packing our children’s things and preparing for a place in Singapore. I, on the other hand, have been focusing on items we need to check off here in Canada.

One thing I realized about moving to a different country (for us, an average once a year), is that it is easier to ‘take shortcuts’ and just not do things properly. I will expand on this for the rest of my post.

One other thing I realized about Canada is that the system is voluntary. If I don’t tell the system, they probably won’t know. But if I inform them, then I have to submit forms, pay fees, and make sure I meet the qualifications. I love Canada, and at the same time, I could do things improperly and probably get away with it. Of course, it is not wise, but it will save a lot of time and effort.

I will take Healthcare as an example. In order to maintain health care coverage, I need to meet certain criteria. This means going to the local Ontario Service (an office where it deals with driver’s license, health cards, etc.) and inform them. This also involves filling a form and getting a letter from my employer. It is a lot of work now that we have two more children (they are dependent on me).

The easier way is to go without informing them. Of course, if you are caught, you are in trouble. But the trouble won’t be fine or a penalty. I am sure many people do it because it is less of a hassle and so on.

I can go on and on. But something that the Lord has put in our hearts is the importance of walking rightly before Him.

It would be very silly to lie and cheat my way in order to do things for God. It is tempting, but God looks not just what we can do for Him or the results, but what’s in our hearts. Every step and every decision we should be making righteously.

This is hard. It is hard because it is easier to cheat, lie, or not tell the whole truth to move on. It is easy to justify it by telling myself, “well, I have many things to do. I am sure the Lord understands. He will probably forgive me. I need healthcare coverage to do more work for Him.”

No, He won’t. He will hold me accountable in heaven.

A while ago, we read in Psalm 84:11:
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless. (NIV)

This verse is very interesting. A lot of times, many of us, myself included, ask God for blessings like things. I need a new job. I need a favor. I need help with my kids etc.

Yet, this verse is telling us the focus is not solely on asking for blessings.

Rather, when we walk uprightly, when we chose the right decision, even though it almost always will cost us more time, effort, or money, He will not hold back good things from us.

This, for me, is probably, the most important lesson for a Christian in walking in Christ. It ain’t about just asking for blessings (even at times when we are doing His ministry).

Rather, we need to examine our own walk and make sure it is righteous or blameless before God and before men.

AMEN!

Update: We visited Ontario Service to discuss about my health care (OHIP) coverage before we flew out. They informed me the maximum I can take is two years while overseas. This means it is most likely I will lose my Canadian health care when we go to mission. God is still good and He is still my healer.

Rush

Today I went to Toronto General Hospital to see my transplant doctor.

Traveling from Mississauga, I rushed to downtown at 7:30 to make it to the 9:30 am appointment.

Rush out the door and stuck in traffic.
Rush to find a parking lot and run into the subway.
Rush past people to check myself in at the Transplant Out-patient clinic.

By the time I see my transplant doc, it was 12:30 pm. I was anxious as I wanted to rush back home to supervise a contractor.

The meeting lasted no more than 5 min.

“Your numbers look great. You look good. There is nothing we can do with your medication. Take care.”


There are two ways to look at this…

I can be upset thinking about the fact that I traveled so far and waited so long for a measly five-minute appointment. Do I really need to be in person for them to tell me I am ok? Can’t they simply put me early in line, so I don’t have to wait so long?

On the other hand, I realize I should be grateful. A five-minute meeting means I am healthy. An extended meeting says the doc found something wrong and did more follow up and tests.

There are probably others who need more of the doctor’s attention than me. There are others who would love to hear that they don’t need another test or change/add more medication.

I am learning, after having my transplant for almost 30 years, this is a good type of wait. It seems and feels like a waste of time, but it is a time to give thanks.

Influence

It is not uncommon for Christians to bless one another to be “people of influence.”

What is influence?  What does it mean in God’s eyes compared to how the world sees it?

Influence may be defined as:

  1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:
  2. the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others:
  3. a person or thing that exerts influence:

(Source: dictionary.com)

In the world, to gain influence generally means one has to be popular, wealthy, powerful or be a combination of these things.

When I think of the word “influence”, I think of someone who is charismatic or popular.   Someone who speaks and everyone listens to.  It is the person in class that everyone wants to be a friend with. It is the person in the “in” group.  It is the alpha male. It is the one on social media who has plenty of “likes” and “follows”.

Influence in the Bible is vastly different. In God’s Kingdom, influence is upside-down.  Influence is not a numbers game.  It is not about how many likes, shares or comments your social media post has.   Influence happens when we obey God and God’s will is done on earth.

In the book of Acts, Philip is an example of how God gives and ‘takes away’ influence for His Kingdom. 

In Acts 8, Philip went to Samaria and started a great revival there (Acts 8:5-8).  The revival was so great that Peter and John had to go down to help (Acts 8:14-15).  

In verse 26, an angel told Philip to go to the desert road.   

If you consider the situation, you would likely believe that Philip must have heard it wrong.  Why should anyone leave a city when everyone wants to receive Christ?  It is a revival!  Many need someone to teach them how to follow Jesus.  This revival is every minister’s dream!  Why on earth will you leave?

It doesn’t make sense- Philip had much influence in Samaria.  If we read carefully, Philip was healing people. The lame were walking.  Demons were cast out.  He was showing signs and wonders (Acts 8:6-8).  The city was in joy.  They weren’t persecuting Philip like when Paul preached the gospel.  That’s the kind of influence many of us long to have.

Yet despite all the ‘influence’ he had, Philip abandoned it for a desert road.

The Influence of One

This is where I love the story.  Philip obeyed and encountered an Ethiopian Eunuch.  His influence shrunk from thousands to one.

Logic will tell us that Philip should not have gone to the desert road.  However, Philip chose to obey to go.  He didn’t care about the numbers.  He cared about obeying God.

Wouldn’t Philip be more useful in Samaria, saving thousands, than to save one person?  In our eyes, of course. But God has better ideas. He always does.

By saving one eunuch, the Good News of Jesus Christ spread to Ethiopia.   The Gospel spread went beyond Middle-Eastern and into Africa.

Notice God didn’t explain to Philip why he had to go on the desert road.  He didn’t show the game plan to Philip, that he had to abandon the revival in Samaria to meet an Ethiopian eunuch to point him to Jesus from explaining through the book of Isaiah (Acts 8:32-33). Often God just says, do this or do that without showing us the full picture.

What am I getting at?  

I am not saying we should avoid the masses and live the life of a hermit.  

I am saying we should not worry or be concerned about how much influence we have or need.  Influence is given by God for His Glory.   We often want more influence (as with wealth or power).  

But can we trust in our God that He gives us as much (or as little) influence as we need for His Glory’s sake?  

Can we surrender our desire/worry/fear to gain influence and let Him take control?  

The key is our obedience to God.  We don’t have to think our influence is small just because we are not popular, don’t have a vast network, don’t speak well or are not good-looking. We don’t have to strive to gain influence.  Rather, all we need is to trust and obey what God is telling us to do.  Whether it is influencing thousands or one person, we must follow willingly.

 Let God take care of our influence, for our job is solely and simply obedience.

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is such an encouraging one. It tells me that I need not be the most eloquent speaker like (insert your favorite pastor/preacher). I need not have the most followers on Facebook/Instagram. I need not even strive to achieve those performance indices to be considered influential or faithful. 

Side note: this doesn’t exclude me from studying the Bible and preparing a well-crafted answer to the hope that we have in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2)

Because all God requires of me is to focus on what He is calling me to do and to obey Him. 

Let us let God be God and allow Him to weave a beautiful story for His Kingdom and His Glory!

Quote: A. B. Simpson on renouncing our rights

I solemnly believe that most of the blessings that have been given to me in my life and ministry have come because of the evil things people have said of me, and because God made me willing to allow them to say them.A. B. Simpson

Unlearn

Before I did my first triathlon, I went online and asked others for help. The forums were filled with ‘wisdom’ and lots and lots of to do lists for the first-timer.

Some say you have to bring a bucket filled with water so you can get the sand off of your feet after your swim. Some say you have to bring this or that. Some say to get this gadget or some widget to help you finish the race.

The best tip I read was to learn by watching the pros race. When it comes to transition (when you go from swim to bike and from bike to run), the pros keep things simple. They don’t have a gazillion and one gadgets. They just have the essentials.

In a race, you don’t want to be complex. The more things you have, the more likely you will forget something or mess up. In a sport where every second counts, you don’t want complexity because it slows things down. The simpler you are, the better.

So for race day, I learned to keep things simple.

I learned that for shorter races I can ride and run without wearing socks.

I learned that I don’t need to pack the bike with 2-3 bottles of water (that’s extra weight!)

I learned that I don’t need to bring a bottle on the run because I can drink from the water station.

Did it work? Well, my transition time went from 2 minutes down to less than a minute.

When it comes to Christianity, we often think we need to learn more in order to become mature. To a certain extent, that is true. We need spiritual truths ingrained into our hearts especially when we are new believers.

Today when I read Oswald Chamber’s devotional, he said that perhaps God wanted us to unlearn something so our faith can be as simple as a child’s.

What if part of following Christ is to unlearn things?

The world will teach you that if you want to get ahead you have to be the alpha dog. You need to be aggressive and shut down all your competitors. You need to dress and walk and talk success in order to be successful. Fake it until you make it.

But Jesus never taught that. Jesus said blessed are those who are meek for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

What if in order to grasp the idea of meekness, we have to unlearn the idea of being aggressive? They are polar opposites.

You can’t live following these two principles. One of them has to go. In other words, you have to unlearn the alpha dog mentality in order to be as meek as sheep.

A while ago I talked to an American missionary who served in China for 15 years. He told me about how he had a bunch of health problems while he was in China. I asked him what his health plan was and what it covered. Because I had a liver transplant, health plan was very important to me. Many missionary organizations and missionaries will buy some sort of overseas health plan just to be safe.

He told me his health plan was Dr. Jesus. For a while, I really thought there was a health coverage plan covered by a Christian organization called Dr. Jesus. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a few minutes to realize that he meant Jesus was his healer as he shared how God healed him through divine appointments at the hospital.

It was then that I realized I had to unlearn the reliance on health coverage in order to trust more in Jesus as my healer.

I am not saying I have reached the faith of a child yet. But I am learning or I mean, unlearning things which don’t help me grow my faith in Christ. Having child-like faith does not equate immaturity. Rather, it is to strip down all the unnecessary baggage that stops us from trusting Jesus in a simpler way.

Simple is good.

Simple faith is a better way.

What is one thing God is trying to help you unlearn today?