An Open Letter to Heart of God Church – Part 2

This is the second part of An Open Letter to Heart of God Church. Read Part 1 first if you haven’t.

Okay, where was I again? Ah yes – friends. My friends didn’t love me because they had an agenda or because it was their job. They did it because they genuinely cared for me. Through them, I understood what true friendship means. True friends are not just people you can have fun with, but people you can do life with. True friends talk to you about anything and everything.

They are there in the valleys with you. They are there on the mountaintops with you. They encourage you and propel you towards the best life you can live. True friends are there even when there are no necessary reasons for their presence (school projects, work, common hobbies, etc). At the same time, we all eat, play and laugh with (and at) one another! We make memories we will remember for years to come.

Through these people, I saw what it means to truly belong – what it means to belong to a relationship, what it means to belong to a family. We always say that in church, it is where family becomes friends and friends become family. No wonder Christians call their friends in church their spiritual family. But to me, “spiritual family” isn’t just a nice thing to say. I really see my friends as family.

Just like any good, loving family, they gave me advice on which schools to go to and how to stay positive during my National Service. They taught me how to plan my time better, brought me out, gave me gifts, celebrated my milestones, believed in my dreams, corrected my flaws and spoke faith into my future. They loved me enough to speak the truth and always saw in me potential I never saw in myself.

I gotta be honest, for months, I came to church because of these people. I knew it was out of a good heart that they invited me to church and I didn’t want to reject them. And on top of that, they were awesome to hang out with! But week after week as I heard sermons preached by our pastors and stories of how people’s lives were changed, I had a revelation.

I began to understand that the reason why this people could be so loving to me was because they were first loved by Jesus. They understood and gave others true belonging because they first belonged to Christ. I realized that though these people love me, God loved me even more. Eventually, I couldn’t deny His love any longer, and that is why I became a Christian!

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

John 4:42 (NLT)

Christianity is not just a religion, it’s a relationship – both with God and God’s family. And a relationship is about belonging. I initially came to church because of people, but I stayed till this day because of God. My belonging is no longer just found in Christians, but in Christ; and that is why I want to always belong to Him and His house. 

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Even after close to 8 years, my character is still being molded every single weekend in church. That is why I think it is important to spend time in God’s Word and presence on a daily basis, but also to spend time with our spiritual family (in and outside of church). We were designed to live in communities. Together, we are stronger.  

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)

I am so thankful to have a church I truly belong to. That is why I volunteer in church and give my time, energy and finances. It is my way of giving back to the place, people and Person that first gave so much to me.

But also, I do the things I do because I belong to this family. In a family, if you say that you belong to it and it belongs to you, then it is natural and right to not just receive, but also to give to one another, and to help make the house a better place.

It is the same for church! I do the things I do not because anyone told me I have to, but because I personally want to. In an environment where people live others-centered lives, I can’t help but be inspired to do the same as well. At the end of the day, I guess all these are part of what it means to belong to God, His family and His plan for my life.

Beyond that, serving and giving also helps build my character. Looking back on the past few years, my hope is that I’ve grown to know God’s heart a little bit more, and that I’ve become less selfish and more Christlike. One way to ensure that happens is that I always keep my heart and mind close to God.

It is natural for us human beings to always focus on the things we spend our treasured time and money on. Think about the last time you spent hundreds of dollars on a new gadget, bag or pair of shoes. You just couldn’t stop thinking about it and would even keep it close to you so no one would take it away from you or dirty it, right?

When I give my best to God and to church, it is one way to keep my heart aligned and less focused on myself. It keeps my heart pointed towards God and others. It keeps me close to Him.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “


Luke 12:34 (NKJV)

To be continued…

An Open Letter to Heart of God Church – Part 1

Hi, readers. Today, I am writing and sharing with you a post that is really important to me. In fact, I believe it is the most important one I’ve written yet. It will also probably be broken down into a few parts because I have way too many personal thoughts and stories to share to keep it within one readable post.

But first, before I begin, just a little background about myself; I am a Christian and have been attending Heart of God Church for close to 8 years now. I volunteer in the church on a regular basis and to me, church is a Home.

At this point, you are probably thinking – why did I decide to write this post now? No one told me to do so, nor do I have anything to gain out of this (at least not from anyone I know). Well, I am writing this for myself. I am writing this so that I will always remember to keep a heart of gratitude. Because a sense of gratitude is what prevents a sense of entitlement.

I know – the words “open letter” are commonly used in widely published articles with the purpose of criticism. But I think it’s time for us to redeem the name of open letters! After all, some of the oldest pieces of open letters were not used to criticize or attack, but to bring faith, hope and love to people.

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I am referring to the epistles of Apostle Paul, which can be found in the Bible. Sure, there are many parts of these letters that challenge character growth and change. But all these are done from a heart of love. I really like how Paul begins his letters:

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead. All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia. May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Galatians 1:1–3 (NLT)

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

Philippians 1:3 (NLT)

While I am not an apostle nor anywhere near Paul’s greatness, I certainly feel I can learn a thing or two (or more) from him. We can surely all grow to be people of peace and thanksgiving, don’t you think?

Haha anyway, that was quite a lengthy intro. Let’s begin with the main content of this letter, shall we?

I want to start by saying this: to Heart of God Church, its pastors, leaders, volunteers and members – thank you.

Over the past 8 years, you have taught me what it truly means to belong, to believe and to become. To be more specific, I am going to take the rest of this open letter to explain what I mean. Let me first talk about belonging.

What it means to Belong

When I first stepped into Heart of God Church, I was 15 years-old. I was doing relatively well in life! In school, I was scoring good grades and was also the president of a co-curricular activity (CCA). At home, I lived with a supportive grandma and a loving mother. We didn’t lack anything financially, so whenever I wanted something, most of the time, I got it.

I was living quite a simple life, but I was happy! Perhaps, it was also because I had a good bunch of friends. During school hours, we were serious about schoolwork together. After school hours, however, we became gaming buddies, going on quests and slaying monsters in the virtual world until bedtime.

I talk about all these things because when I mentioned “belonging”, the natural instinct for a lot of you might be to paint a picture of me as some boy from a broken family without love or care. Or maybe you imagined a person without any friends. I personally know people like that whose lives have been redeemed & turned around 180 degrees by the love of God and His people. But that is not my story.

The truth is for me, up until that point in time, I never thought my life could get any happier and have any more meaning or purpose. I was happy just living for the fun and excitement in the day-to-day. Maybe some of you can relate to this. I didn’t think there was a need for God or church in my life.

That all changed on May 29, 2011 when I stepped into Heart of God Church for the very first time. The moment I entered the auditorium, I knew there was something different about this place. Not gonna lie – what really amazed me at first were the colorful lights, cool music and lively atmosphere. But when I left that day, what left the deepest impression on me was the people.

I still remember very fondly that on that day, after service ended, I was about to leave the building together with my cousin who brought me there. But I was given a pleasant surprise by everyone I met that day in church! Turns out, my cousin had previously revealed to them that my birthday was a few days away. So they decided to surprise me with a cake and birthday song, even though it was only their first time meeting me!

Now, to some of you, you might think this would be a really awkward situation. But for me, I was just grinning from ear to ear. Haha, I just felt it was so sweet of these people to decide to do something like that for me, even though we were not close.

Over the next few weeks and months, I came back to church together with my cousin. The people in church got to know me better, I got to know them better. And I realized that these are really genuine people, who weren’t just being friendly with me. They actually wanted to be my friends. And let me tell you, there is a huge difference between being friendly and being a friend.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” 

― C.S. Lewis

To be continued…

What I Learned about Commas

Comma.” I am pretty sure a lot of you visiting this blog are wondering – why that name?

Well, the simplest way for me to begin answering that question is for us to first think about what a comma is. Most of us would know by basic linguistic knowledge that a comma is a punctuation mark that indicates a pause or a short interval between parts of a sentence.

A comma is not a full stop/period. It is only a temporary stop. When we read a sentence off a page, like now, we know that when a comma appears, there is more to be said.

So while we pause to take a short breather at commas, we do not stop there forever. We know it’s not the end of the story. In other words, commas are only a short delay before we move on to the rest of what the writer has to offer.

“Okay, man. Commas are cool. We get it! But are you saying you named your blog after commas because you over-analyzed them?”

Not exactly.

One day, when I was thinking about what to name my new blog, “Comma” just dropped into my mind. And as I thought more about it, it just made too much sense for me to ignore it.

Firstly, I enjoy writing. Using a punctuation mark as my blog’s name just seems so appropriate, doesn’t it?

But secondly and more importantly, the word “comma” reminds me of lessons I’ve learned over the past year. I believe that most, if not some of you can relate to this. We all have certain dreams, visions and goals that we want to achieve. And I’m no different.

But over the past year, there were so many moments that I wanted to give up. It seemed like no matter how much I prayed or how hard I tried, I just could not experience breakthrough on a level I was hoping for.

Sometimes I questioned if I really was living out my purpose and calling in life. It was a season when it seemed like my life took several pauses. It felt like my dreams were delayed. I thought maybe that’s the end of the story for my breakthroughs. “Is this it?” I asked sometimes, having thoughts of putting a full stop to a sentence & story that has yet to be fully revealed to me.

But thank God I did not give in and give up. See, as a Christian, I believe in Jesus and the Bible. And something that always kept me going were the promises He laid out for us in Scripture.

While I experienced discouragement now and then, constantly reminding myself of God’s Word always gave me faith to fight for the things I believed in.

I would probably say my personal Verse of 2018 is the one that says:

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

While initially, I held on to these words with faith, I eventually experienced it in such a real way at the end of the year. I had the best Christmas season of my life and everything I have been hoping for the entire year came to pass.

So why did I name my blog “Comma“?

Because it reminds me of how sometimes, while we think it’s the end of the story for us – our dreams, our blessings, our breakthroughs, our joy… it really isn’t the case.

God is a good God. This is what He says:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

God wants us to have peace! He is not evil and does not place problems into our lives intentionally. He also wants us to have a great future. So if it doesn’t end well, then it just means it’s not the end yet. The Writer – our God has more to offer. He has more to say and do!

These so called “obstacles”, “setbacks”, “delays” and “moments of silence” do not indicate the end of our story. They are only but commas that God has allowed to be placed into our lives to prepare, grow, change and expand us so that our heart, mind, character and spirit will be ready for the rest of the story He has written for us.

The problem with some of us is that we place a full stop in areas of our lives where God has meant for a comma, and place a comma in areas where God has meant for a full stop.

Friends, let us never place a full stop in our lives where God has meant for a comma.

I can’t imagine if I just gave up and stopped believing for my own breakthroughs or stopped trusting in God. I would never have experienced the joy and miracles that came after the “comma”.

Of course, not all “commas” are bad. A short break, a vacation, holidays, recreational activities or a certain nice blog makes up for some pretty “good commas”. But no matter what kind of comma we find ourselves in, let’s always remember – stories don’t end here.