THOUGHTS

Some of my thoughts and musings on faith, life and ministry. All that is posted here are of my own opinions and do not necessarily represent any organisation, church or ministry that I am a part of/affiliated with. 

What's So Bad About Dating A Non Christian?

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Depending on the church you come from, you may have heard many sermons or been to seminars on dating and relationships; or it may be something that was never quite broached by your leadership. However, it is safe to say that most leaders would tell you to only look to date or be in a relationship with someone of the same faith. But what if you like someone who isn't a Christian? What's the harm of being in a relationship with someone from a different religion? If we both loved each other shouldn't that be enough? Does the bible really prohibit this? 

I offer some of my thoughts on this subject below:

 

1. UNEQUALLY YOKED

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

This scripture is often used against the idea of being together with a non-Christian. But what does it mean and how is it relevant? 

A yoke is a wooden bar that joins two animals (normally oxen) to each other and to the burden (or weight) they pull. An “unequal yoke” happens when a team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to be pulled around in circles. Sometimes, if two animals with different temperaments are paired together they too will struggle to work well with each other. When animals are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of helping each other and working together, they end up being at odds with one another.

A Yoke 

A Yoke 

An Unequal Yoke 

An Unequal Yoke 

Animals With Different Temperaments Yoked Together

Animals With Different Temperaments Yoked Together

In agriculture, no farmer will put two mismatched animals together. To do so is simply unwise and impractical. Similarly, there is weight to what the scripture is saying here. Two people with different values, beliefs and mindsets will find it difficult to be in close relationship with one another. While we celebrate differences as friends, but it is different when it comes to a romantic relationship.

A relationship should really be growing, journeying and working together. Imagined if you dated or married a non Christian and they have little affinity or interest in the things of God. When you have a really powerful encounter with God or heard a sermon that impacted you greatly, the first thing you would want to do is share with you loved one! But it ends with them either not quite interested or being able to understand it and they just shrug it off. 

Maybe you are trying to make God a priority in your life, and you want to honour Him in all that you do. So you want to attend church regularly, you want to tithe, you want to serve, you want to go on missions, you want to practice abstinence before marriage - and your partner is labelling you a "religious nut" or telling you that you do not have to take this Jesus stuff "so seriously". 

Would you want to get married and do everything together except go to church? You want to be at church but your spouse prefers being at home and insists you go alone. You have children and want them to grow and be involved in church but your partner thinks it is a waste of time and they should invest more in school or other activities. 

See what I am getting at? 

You are free to make choices, but you are not free from its consequences.

As a pastor, I will never tell people what they can or cannot do. I will simply tell them what I believe the word of God says and that by making certain choices you will end up with certain set of consequences. It is the principle of reaping and sowing, you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). Who you choose to date or marry will affect your life in a very significant way. 

"But what if my partner is actually really supportive?" He or she may be supportive, but are they with you on this journey? Can they share experiences with you? Can they help you grow in God? Can they pray for you? Can they encourage you in your faith? Will they spur you on? Will they give you advice based on the word of God and not just their own opinions?

"I will introduce him/her to the gospel through our relationship." A very noble approach - but how sure can you be that their faith is their own and not just something they are committing to so they can be close to you? What if your relationship does not go the distance - will their faith be genuine enough to last? 

"I am strong enough to not let anyone influence my faith and belief in God." A very dangerous declaration - one bordering on pride, and we know what the bible says about pride. The bible tells of people who taught no relationship could cause them to fall (think Samson and King David) and we know what happened to them, so we should not be too arrogant to believe otherwise. 

 

 2. SEEK THE WAY OF WISDOM

The bible talks a whole lot of wisdom. Wisdom is biblical, as it is godly. We can avoid many pitfalls and heartaches in life if we simply choose to live according to God's wisdom instead of our own preferences and feelings (Adam and Eve anyone?). The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart: do we truly trust and believe in God in all aspects of our lives?

James 1:5 (NIV)

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)

15 The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.

 

3. SAY NO TO GOOD, SO YOU CAN SAY YES TO GOD. 

A guy or girl may be cute, they could be nice, they could be sweet, they could be really cool, they could be all that you want - but do they help you draw closer to God or do you find them leading you away from Him? There are things in life that may be good, but that does not necessarily mean it is of God. 

I believe with all of my heart that God wants us to be happy and have the right kind of partner - but at the same time there is nothing more precious in this life and the next than our relationship with God (I am so sure of this). 

It is completely OK and normal to want to be in a relationship - God created us for relationship! But I am reminded of His original plan in the garden... where it is relationship between man and woman as well as with God, all together. 

Search for the right things in a person, and trust God to bring you the right one. :) 

But ultimately, the choice is yours alone to make, no one can make decisions for you - just as no one can alter the consequences that will result. 

Choose wisely! 

How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship

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Long distance relationships (LDR) are getting more common in this day and age. People move abroad for studies, work and so forth and this opens doors to new experiences and even new people, with whom some we eventually fall in love with. But it is also normal for people to not settle in a place permanently and after some time move on to another location This can be tricky when we are leaving someone behind (or are left behind), but sometimes it can be beyond our control: visa runs out and we have to leave, we go to further our studies, we get transferred for work etc. 

I for one can speak from experience. I met my wife while I was studying in Australia; she had been in Australia since her teens with her entire family. At that point of time I had little to almost no thought of coming back to Malaysia till I felt the call of God to return to serve. This led to us having to be in a long distance relationship for 3 years (we have been dating for 7 years) up till the point we got married. Below are some of the things I believe can make a LDR work. 

 

1. HAVE A STRONG FOUNDATION

Building a relationship and trust takes time. My wife and I were dating for 4 years before I had to go - so we had time to get to know one another. When I was in college I got into a LDR too, but we were only friends for a month or two and together for a month before she had to go off. Sometimes, it may be wiser to not get into any serious commitment if one party has to go somewhere soon. This is not to say that it will not succeed, but it does make things harder.

 

2. HAVE AN END GOAL

Ultimately, nobody wants to be in limbo in their relationship forever. You would want to be together eventually and having an idea of when that would happen helps A LOT. This goes without saying that obviously both of you have to agree on a same place (which sometimes requires one party to compromise). Having a clear timeline and an agreed location is something that can get you by during the hard times and a goal to work towards to. 

 

3. HAVE YOUR OWN LIFE

This is quite important, as you really do not want your life to be centred around Skype calls and FaceTime sessions (especially if you live in opposite ends of the Timezone). Keeping busy not only takes your mind off missing your partner, but it is a good opportunity to pursue your own interests. 

 

4. GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE

This is related to (3.) and trust has to play a big part in it. Being in a LDR naturally means that you cannot keep track of your partner's whereabouts or activities; and being extremely suspicious and investigative would not help your relationship. Having said that, if you struggle with being secure about your relationship, a LDR is definitely not for you. By all means make plans to stay in touch via Skype and FaceTime - but apart from that let them (and yourself) live!

 

5. PLAN VISITS

This is probably more of a "good to have" rather than a "need to have." Visits are always good, and flights are a lot more affordable than they have ever been. Frequent visits are not always possible as I understand budget and schedule constraints, but I do advise planning once or twice a year. 

 

LDRs are never the best thing in the world, but I have survived it and now that I am married to her I can say I have succeeded at it! Hope you got something of this article and if you are in a LDR I pray you guys will make it. :) 

Signs That You Should Let A Friendship Go (Part II)

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I wrote a on some signs on when we should consider letting a friendship go, here is part two:

 

1.  THEY ONLY WANT TO USE YOU

Have a friend that only calls you when they need something? A friend in need is a friend indeed. You will only hear from them if they want something from you or they want to sell you something. The minute they get what they were looking for from you, it is as if you never existed to them - until the next time they need something again.

Friends should always be willing to help one another, but be cautious of the person who always have a hidden agenda. Be even more wary of friends who are not willing to extend any help to you in return when it is completely within their ability to do so. 

 

2. THEY CAN NEVER SAY "SORRY" 

Nobody is perfect, and sometimes people let you down or even hurt you. While mistakes is sometimes seemingly beyond our control - apologising always is. There will be times in life when people say sorry not because they were at fault - but maybe the friendship just means more to them than their ego. 

If you have a friend like that, treasure him/her. If you are that sort of friend, you are precious to those around you. But those who refuse to ever take the blame - they are not worth having around (ESPECIALLY if they only blame you). 

 

3. THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY

Proverbs 11:13 (NIV)

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
Proverbs 25:19 (NLT)

19 Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble
is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.

Trust is everything in a friendship! If you have a friend that is making it hard for you to trust him/her, it is time to reevaluate. Is he/she honest? Does he/she do what they say they will do? Can they keep your secrets? Can you count on them to be there for you when you are in trouble? 

If you are unable to confidently answer YES, time to move on! 

 

4. THEY LOVE TO BRING UP PAST MISTAKES/FAILINGS

Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)

9 Whoever covers an offence seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

This is a major deal-breaker. The friend that constantly brings up your past failings or past arguments and uses them against you... why do you still have them around? A person that does this is most probably struggling with bitterness and unforgiveness, and true friends will resolve any conflict peacefully and let the past be the past. 

 

Every person comes into your life for a reason: some are blessings, others are lessons.

Signs That You Should Let A Friendship Go (Part I)

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Having friends is an integral part of life, after all we are made to be in relationships. While some people enjoy being alone, nobody wants to feel lonely. However, having the RIGHT sort of friends is important as well. There comes a point in life where we have to let certain people go from our lives - and that is OK. How do we know that a friendship has already run its course? I suggest these signs:

1. THEY DO NOT RESPECT YOU OR YOUR BELIEFS  

Whether you are a Christian or not, your friends should always respect your values and principles. If you do not want to indulge in smoking/vaping, drinking, clubbing, gossiping, swearing (or anything really) but yet you have a friend or friend(s) constantly berating, mocking or making fun of your beliefs or even pressuring you to conform - it's a no go. 

Jokes and name-calling are quite common amongst friends - but there should be some boundaries. If you have a friend that frequently looks down on you (whether subtly or openly) via snide remarks, sarcastic comments, undermining statements - it's time to let go. 

2. THEY ARE INCONSISTENT

Is your friend unreliable? Does he/she struggle with punctuality or consistently breaks plans at the last minute for no good reason? Speak to them openly about it, but if nothing changes you are better off being friends with someone who would actually respect your time. 

Do you find it very hard to get in touch with them? Do they not return your messages (SMS, Whatsapp, FB message, Emails etc) or calls? Do they give you promises of meeting up but no appointments or contact are made? Granted, sometimes people have busy schedules and we should not expect instant replies. But someone who values you will eventually get back to you and not leave you hanging all the time. 

3. THEY ARE EMOTIONALLY HIGH MAINTENANCE

Friends who fall into this category come in various packaging. There is the friend who is extremely sensitive: he/she is always picking on things that you do or do not do, or stuff you say or do not say. You feel like you are walking on egg shells whenever you are around them, and you have to watch your every move lest you upset them. They may even have a habit of constantly reading into things that are not necessarily there... how tiring!

Then there is the drama king/queen. Yes, it is healthy to talk about our problems and struggles. But there are some people who continuously moan and groan about their life and yet do not seem to be taking any positive steps in improving it; in fact they may even ignore sound advice that is given to them. They are perfectly happy to have you as their shoulder to cry on...forever. 

Then there are those who are EXTRA clingy. They want to know what you are doing, where you are at, who you are with... they get very jealous or offended when you are hanging out with other people and are hurt when you do not reply their text in under 30 seconds. Basically, they are not willing to give you your personal space. 

4. THEY ARE NOT A POSITIVE INFLUENCE

Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)

20 Walk with the wise and become wise;
associate with fools and get in trouble.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

 

Do your friends seem to be divert you away from what you actually want to achieve? Maybe you want to focus on your studies, but your friends want you to fill your time up with computer games. Maybe you want to draw closer to God but your friend tells you church is a waste of time. Maybe you want to get fit but your friend is not willing to accommodate your preferences. Basically the friend that is keeping you from making positive changes is more of a harm than a help. 

Are your friends supportive of your choices and dreams? Friends should have the liberty to give us sound advice and correct us when needed - but it is entirely different when they spend every waking moment trying to discourage everything we want to do just because they have a pessimistic outlook on life. 

The people you surround yourself with will have a significant impact on your life. Even Jesus who had a heart for the masses spent most of his time with his select 12, and within that select 12 he had his inner circle (Peter, Andrew, John and James). 

 

You assimilate that which you associate with.

 

Something to think about... part II will come later.