Christian Living

In this series, you will find out...

Some thoughts and perspectives of believers from different walks of life. 

Through these bite-sized thought videos, we hope to shed perspective across a range of issues from our identity and the way God sees us, what a follower of Christ looks like, to ministry and more. 

So check back with us, and stay tuned for more! 

Christian Living: Holiness

Carla Peña

Meet Carla Peña, a professional interior designer in Fitnesscape Creative Studio and part owner of Undiscovered Freedom, a community-building platform for people to get to know Jesus.

A graduate of the BibleMesh certificate of theology program, Carla is also part of a Woman’s Forum—a channel that champions women to walk in their calling through engaging in cultural and biblical conversations. Through her passion in sharing Christ through videography and photography, Carla hopes to reach the lost to show them the forgiveness, joy, and freedom found in Christ alone.

From separation to sanctification

“After I became a Christian, God began revealing more and more of Himself to me. The more I read the Bible, the more I became convicted and could see my sinfulness,” Carla shared.

The word ‘sin’ tends to leave a bad taste in our mouths. We associate it with being evil, not being a good person, and we don’t like to think that we ‘sin’. But in Romans 3:23 it says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. 

All that really means, is that we are broken and imperfect people who are unable to reach a perfect and holy God on our own. 

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Stemming from our brokenness, sin can take on many forms—but the thing they have in common is that they separate us from God.

But God didn’t just leave us there—“all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Knowing that we couldn’t on our own, He made a way for us.

Carla continued, “I could see He was sanctifying* me. It was hard, because I needed to stop holding on to that favourite sin. That's when I found myself asking for God's forgiveness, mercy and grace. Because I knew that I needed to be saved from my own self.”

 

*Read more about sanctification here and here

Carla’s turning point came when God opened her eyes to see what was hindering her relationship with Him. “For me, the sin I knew I had to repent from was my homosexuality. I knew that was me missing the mark, and that I was experiencing a separation with God.”

“It was hard for me to even say it, because that was where I placed my identity. But the more I read God's word, the more I wanted to put Him first in my life—to live a holy and righteous life,” she recalled.

Lifelong process of holiness

As Christians, we want to grow not just to be better people, although that is a happy side-effect. We want to grow to be more and more Christ-like. To love as Jesus loved, to serve as He served, to be holy as He is holy.

Holiness then, is what every believer is called to. To first be aware and repent of their sin, no matter what that sin is. And to begin the lifelong process of surrender and being transformed to be more like Jesus.

“Before I came to know Christ, I hated hearing about the Bible because I felt like it was hindering me from my happiness. I saw the church as a group of hypocrites, who hated the LGBTQ+ community. I was so angry and broken that I thought the only thing that could really satisfy me was coming out to the world. But even after I did, I still felt empty and broken,” Carla shared.

“But after coming to God and seeing His love for me, I could see my sinfulness. Knowing the truth of the Bible, I see how I’ve been redeemed and set apart. Holding on to His truth as the manual and foundation of my life, it’s helped me understand how to live, how to be Christ-like, how to bear His image.”

To Carla’s friends, the transformation in her life was obvious. From her outward appearance and style, to her words and actions in treating friends and family, there was no disputing the change that had happened to her.

Dia and Ssiala, friends of Carla, shared that they have seen such a difference in her attitude—how she has grown to love difficult people, people that she previously might not have associated herself with. How she has become more empathetic and compassionate in her words, loving in her speech, and being kind and gentle.

Growing through the community of believers

The process of continual surrender and learning to be more Christ-like is never easy. As Paul writes in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

In our weaker moments, our sinful nature can get hold of us before we even realise. In times like this, Carla has found that “God has given us the church as a gift, a means of grace—especially when I’m weak and struggling with sin. The church has really helped me through my sanctification process. They encourage me, build me up, and point me back to Christ.”

Dia adds on, “It is so important to have accountability and a group of people to help, encourage, rebuke, and improve you—whatever means necessary. To show you love and encouragement in times of difficulties. That’s how gracious God is, He never leaves us alone in this journey.”

None of us can go through this alone. Even Jesus had His 12 disciples. As we persevere on towards holiness, we need to know that we don’t walk this journey by ourselves.

“It is such a privilege to have a relationship with the God of the universe. As He reveals more of His holiness to us, we will continue to be convicted. Challenges and difficulties will surface. And we need community to point each other back to Christ. To remind us how loved we are despite our sins, to not judge our mistakes, and to just love and care for each other like Jesus would,” Carla ended. 

Christian Living: Purpose

Lee Huiwen & Kenneth Lau

Meet Huiwen and Kenneth, the happily married owners of Studio Asobi.

Having been around for six years, Studio Asobi has gathered quite a following through their artisan pieces (most notably ceramic dishes for well-known Chijmes restaurant, Whitegrass), beautiful installations and workshops. They have also been known to give back meaningfully to different causes through their art.

What Does it Mean to Find Your Purpose?

“It’s not like God whispered in our ears ‘be a potter’, or anything like that.”

“We came across Ephesians 2:10 in a bible study, which says that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.”

“We felt there was a plan and purpose for each of us and that we needed to discover. That started our journey of exploration before we became potters.”

But none of this would have happened without Huiwen and Kenneth’s step-by-step decision to leave their corporate careers in pursuit of what God was stirring in their hearts

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It starts with surrender

It’s not always glamourous. Most times, it’s the quiet obedience no one sees. The result we see can be misleading, because we just focus on the ‘success’ or ‘achievement’.

But what we didn’t get to see is the process. The wrestling with God, the faithful toiling, and the necessary pain of surrender.

“I think when it comes to following Christ, we need to be attentive to what God has placed upon our hearts—not these ideas about what we ought or not to do,” Huiwen shared.

In considering starting over to be a potter, she recalled, “As I was asking Him, ‘God what is my story? Where are you leading me?’, I had to let go to many things that I was clinging on to as part of my identity.”

“One of the biggest things I had to shed was needing a steady paycheck. If we really understand what Christ has done for us, we will realise we're not slaves to what society thinks,” Huiwen continued.

Adding on, Kenneth shared, “It’s this idea of the new has come and the old has gone. When you work with clay you start off with a lump, but it becomes different as the potter transforms it. The clay becomes drier and drier. Then after the fire, it turns into a totally new thing.”

“In the same way, it's not so much about our craft and making something out of it. But as we let go and let Him mould us, our lives will show how much we have been transformed by Him.”

The God of your process

In His love, God uses our journeys to reveal facets of Himself that we might otherwise not know.

“For me, it was about God being faithful throughout my life. That same analogy of the potter and clay—how He journeys with us, continues to mould us, even if we think that we are already perfect.”

“When I think about God's character, it’s really that abundance of love and faithfulness. He never just leaves us there to fend for ourselves and He is always transforming us,” Kenneth pondered.

Drawing a parallel to their craft, Huiwen observed, “As a potter, you already have in mind what you want to create. So when I think about God and us, the psalmist says that even before I was in my mother's womb, God already knew me, conceptualised how I was to be.”

“He’s seen all of us—how we will stray and hurt Him, our flaws and failings. Yet still wants to create us. It shows me the heart of the Father. To know how much He loves me, it’s such a comforting thought.”

The secret to a flourishing life?

Kenneth explained, “Flourishing may mean different things for different people. And we might flourish in a way that the world doesn't recognise as good or successful. But when we allow God to shape us, and we listen and surrender ourselves—I think He has a great plan to help us flourish.”

Huiwen continued on, “John 15 talks about how we are to abide in Christ and how apart from Christ we can do nothing. So whether you’re a creative, in the marketplace or in fulltime ministry—the answer is the same:

The only way that we can flourish is to abide in Christ.”

How do we know when we are abiding, or not abiding in Christ?

“I think that we know when we are not,” Huiwen chuckled.

“When you just don't have energy and you just don't feel life in you. That's a sign that we need to go back to God. In Psalm 127, it says unless the Lord builds the house all labour is in vain. It's vanity if you just try to toil, stay up late and get no rest. This idea of flourishing is to have restedness in our soul,” Huiwen affirmed.

In agreement, Kenneth said, “As the Potter brings us through this journey to becoming a beautiful vessel, the best response for us as the clay is to just relax. Just let the water of life wash over us. When we resist, when we try to be hard or harden our hearts—that’s when we struggle with our master Potter.”

“That's an ongoing lesson for us as well. To trust that God makes things beautiful in His time, and we just need to be still and know that He is God. We need to know that the battle is not ours. We don't fight on our own strength, but we need to understand, like what it says in Isaiah, that in quietness and trust is where we get our strength,” Huiwen reflected.

“In the end, all that matters is that we are found faithful in God’s eyes. That He will call us a good and faithful servant,” Kenneth concluded.

Christian Living: Beauty

Josephine Lam

Meet Josephine Lam, a faculty member at the East Asia School of Theology (EAST), and avid speaker to empower women and advocate for beauty.

Josephine has been involved in various ministries with Muslim refugees, Chinese orphanages, local church outreach programs, and other women ministries. Her passion is to teach and reach out to women from various backgrounds, as well as to evangelize to the people from different nations. 

Is Beauty Really in the Eye of the Beholder?

It tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

There is a beauty in everything that God has made, which includes us. But can we see this beauty in our lives? Do we struggle to see ourselves, or our lives as beautiful?

“I love to create beautiful things. When I create, I catch a glimpse of how God sees us.”

Josephine’s deep interest in beauty and creativity led her into the world of marketing, fashion and interior design, before she went into full-time ministry. In 2013, she completed her Masters of Biblical Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where she concentrated her studies in Women Ministries and Cross Cultural Missions. 

Now based in Singapore, Josephine and her husband have been serving at EAST since June 2015. She is passionate about the Partner-In-Ministry programme and her heart is to serve women from different nationalities.

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Not about who you are, but Whose you are

The way we perceive beauty in our life, in our world—is tied to our identity. Where we find our identity and worth determines our ability to see beauty.

Each of us have different versions of what a “beautiful life” looks like. Certain things we want to achieve, certain things we want to happen, before we decide, ‘yes, my life has worth, my life is beautiful’.

For Josephine, different phases of her life held different places where she found her worth.

“When I was a senior in high school, I thought I had to look beautiful so people would treat me differently. When I was in university, I thought I must get into the right degree, right programme, so that I can get the right career and make lots of money. When I graduate, I’ll marry a good husband and start my family,” she shared.

All these milestones, these goals are not wrong—but a beautiful life is more than that. So much more than just achieving those goals and getting what you thought was so important.

“It was when I moved to Canada and went back to church that I found my true identity. Where I understood that my true worth is who I am in Christ,” Josephine remembered.  

She continued, “I love what it says in Ephesians 2:10. The Bible actually calls us God’s masterpiece and tells us that He has good things planned for us.”

A beautiful purpose even when life gets in the way

“Before I went back to church, I honestly thought I was having a great time. I had freedom, I was doing what I wanted. But I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t have a purpose” Josephine reflected.

She continued, “But when I began to put my trust in Jesus, I started to realise that it’s not about how much I own in this life, how many degrees I have, or who I marry. He gave me a new purpose in life.”

However, the process to that beautiful purpose is not often an easy one.

Drawing a parallel to her artistic creations, Josephine explained, “When I create something, I get to see how God sees us. My eggshell earrings, for example—it starts with the average, everyday eggshell. But in the right hands, through a process, it can be made into something beautiful.”

She continued, “In the same way, such ordinary beings like us, can be transformed into something beautiful through His mighty hands. But sometimes, it requires us to go through a process of breaking; to be re-formed into something greater.”

“Maybe we’re too proud, maybe we lost our focus, or maybe we’ve walked away from God. Through whatever breaking process we go through, He allows us to go through it to gently break these hindrances away from us, so we can refocus on Him.”

It is especially during this most painful part of the process, that we need to remember that our God is one of love. That we need to trust Him, and trust that He is who He says He is.

Josephine shared, “In all circumstances, no matter good or bad, I know God is with me. And I have a joy that comes from Jesus—that surpasses all my circumstances, all the problems in my life.”

“So on days when it feels like it’s impossible, I remember—like my beautiful eggshell earrings, I would still remain an ordinary eggshell without the breaking, and my Maker piecing me back together.”

“We are God’s masterpiece. He is able to turn our brokenness into something beautiful,” she concluded.

Christian Living: Ministry

Paul Shi

Meet Paul Shi, a ministry staff of Covenant Evangelical Free Church (CEFC) who enjoys a great conversation over a good cup of coffee any day.

Paul used to work in one of the major professional services firms as a management consultant. In July 2011, he quit his job to attend a Bible college and started leading a young adult church in Melbourne. 

What Does it Mean to ‘Serve God?’

“One of the important things you need in ministry is to grow in self-awareness, which means try different things.”

“When I first started, I was a Sunday school teacher, then a worship coordinator, then the choir pianist,” Paul Shi, a ministry staff of Covenant Evangelical Free Church (CEFC), recalled chuckling.

With the years he’s had in Christian ministry—both as a lay leader and full-time staff—Paul’s no stranger to the perils and joys of Christian ministry.

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Ministry—what it IS and what it’s NOT

To Paul, “Ministry is first ministering unto the Lord, because of who He is and what He’s done. Only out of that place, ministry is then anything we do that extends the love of Christ to anyone.”

“It could be leading a cell group, worship leading, even getting a glass of water for someone,” he shared.

“The truth is, all of us are in ministry for some sort of significance,” Paul points out.

“But we need to be aware of it and give it to the Lord. We need to be able to say, ‘God, I know I’ve got to be careful about this part of my life. Because if it just becomes about more influence, more people, more praise, it leads us down a very dangerous path.”

We need to be able to recognise where the source of our creativity, leadership and identity stems from.

Paul puts it this way,” It’s this fundamental grounding of identity. I am not my accomplishments, I’m not my failures either. I’m not how many people I lead or how many people I speak to.”

“On one hand, Paul says you’re a slave of Christ Jesus. On the other hand, you are co-heirs with Christ. And you’re deeply known and loved by God.”

Before you begin anything

Paul explains that we must first know who God is and understand His Kingdom before committing to Christian ministry.

“The most important thing to know about God is to actually know Him—to experience Him and have a real relationship with Him,” he states.

“Not who we project Him to be, but who He really is. And the most important thing to know about ourselves is that—we need to abide in the Vine to truly bear fruit. We can’t do it on our own.”

Paul continued, “The Kingdom of God is an upside-down Kingdom. Jesus descended from Heaven and washed the feet of His disciples. The Creator is crucified by His creations.”

Following in Jesus’ footsteps then, those who lead, must serve. Those who minister to the broken, must first understand their own brokenness. Those who want to give, must first receive from Him.

“We need to get it into our hearts that if we are a follower of Jesus, He usually went the opposite direction of the world. And that’s the direction we must follow.”

Finding your place, passion and posture in ministry

He continued, “While I was the choir pianist, people told me, ‘Oh your gifting is in music!’ But I knew it wasn’t. I continued anyway, but it was totally not me! After trying more things, from worship leading to organising events, I realised that when I teach the Bible—that’s when I felt most energised and most excited.”

“And I felt that was one of the main things that God wanted me to do.”

As a leader, as someone who’s teaching the bible, I don’t have it figured out. I think there's a healthy sense of being certain of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, balanced with a continued learning and study of the Scriptures." Paul reflected.

“You’re always learning, and you always want to learn from people around you. If you see others through the lens of Christ, you will value the people around the same way He did.”

Because at the core of it, Paul ends off, “Ministry is ultimately about the love of Christ flowing through us towards others.”

Hear more insights from Paul’s insights on Christian ministry in our latest mini-series!

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