This Fathers' Day, Joe E shares the hard truths about fatherhood and the encouragement he has found in God along this journey: 1. We are imperfect earthly fathers Despite my imperfection, God can and will use me to lead my family and impact my children, said Joe. I need not strive on my own human efforts to be a father. Instead I should daily look upwards to my Heavenly Father and draw love, strength and hope from Him. 2. We will be constantly challenged in our fatherhood journey Busyness, tiredness and failure to place God in the centre of our lives challenges our fatherhood. I have learnt over time that I will need to set aside time to put God first and allow Him to be my anchor and to refresh my soul (Psalm 23:2), Joe said. 3. Fathers can be lonely at times I am reminded of the loving truth that God is my strength and refuge, an ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). My wife plays an important part in affirming and supporting me in my role as a father and lovingly highlights areas I need to work on, Joe said. We are influenced by the people we spend the most time with. I have learnt to surround myself with other fathers who serve as role models and practical advisors in my fatherhood journey. As I observe and interact with them, I observe 5 common traits that I can learn from, said Joe: a. They take full responsibility for their marriages and fatherhood. b. They serve their families with humility and develop a great level of understanding and empathy towards their wives and children. c. They have lots of fun with their families. d. They have regular family prayer times. e. Their fathering lifestyle draws others to Christ. -- Salt & Light wishes all fathers a very happy Father's Day! #fathersday #fatherhood #family
The first time Clement Ee, the founder of non-profit LoveAid, met Simon*, the young boy was hurling Hokkien insults at him in his school. But an unlikely bond grew between the two. Simon, starved of company and attention, asked Ee if he could join the other children in a soccer game. Ee welcomed Simon and also pointed out that the boy’s shoelaces were undone. The then 11-year-old blushed. He still hadn’t learnt how to tie his shoelaces. It turns out that Simon's family life was far from perfect. His father was a fishmonger who worked long hours. His mother got into altercations with strangers. She was also the main parental influence in his life. Simon grew up echoing her anti-social traits. He abused his mum, extorted money from his dad, picked fights with his classmates, and smoked. Driven by compassion, Ee became a spiritual father to Simon, and tried to introduce a semblance of family life in his home. Right before Simon’s dad died of cancer in July 2017, he asked Ee for a favour: Would he be Simon’s guardian? Ee agreed, believing in the call to protect the fatherless (Isaiah 1:17). Raising Simon is mostly about modelling the social cues he never acquired, said Ee. Behind the tough exterior is a tender child aching for affection. His brushes with the law stemmed from loneliness, like the time he peddled illicit sex drugs in Geylang because he was desperate for companionship among the street vendors. It has been six years since Ee took Simon under his wing, and there has not been a miraculous turnaround in Simon. But he still has hope, especially after Ee saw how God restored his own broken relationship with his late father. “Malachi 4:5-6 was truly demonstrated to me,” Ee said, which is why he’s not giving up on Simon, who still plays truant and has been expelled from multiple schools. In fact, Ee believes the adolescent’s destiny is to be a pastor who takes care of his community in the MacPherson neighbourhood. *a pseudonym has been used to protect the boy’s identity #fathersday #fatherhood #love
Jack Koh, 65, was a drug addict for over 22 years. His addiction was so bad that every morning, “the first thing I had to do was to smoke heroin even before brushing my teeth and shaving.” When his first daughter Josephine, was born, Jack stubbornly stuck to his habits instead of caring for her. By the time his third daughter was born, his wife Julie, had enough and left Jack with two girls and a young baby in tow. He was devastated – but that did not change anything. Neither his pending divorce nor bankruptcy made any difference. It was only when Jack discovered God and His love that he decided to join the New Charis Mission halfway house and commit to his recovery. There, Jack grew spiritually. And he eventually kicked his 20-year drug habit for good. After graduating from the programme, he joined the halfway house as a staff. and worked at restoring his relationship with his wife and daughters, including Josephine, his eldest, who had disowned him. Over time, their relationship improved. Josephine shares: “I am extremely proud of my dad and respect him as a true hero … he overcame immense challenges to be who he is today.” Today, Jack is the proud co-founder of the charity @TheNewCharisMission, which he started in 2006 with Don Wong, his pastor and mentor. Don was instrumental in Jack’s personal victory over drugs and gambling, and helped him mend relationships with his wife and daughter. Since then, Jack has helped hundreds of other ex-offenders gain victory over their addiction and re-integrate into society with his own experiences. He has shared his life story with hundreds, if not, thousands more. Every Fathers’ Day, Jack’s three daughters give him presents. He proudly shares that he keeps every handmade gift he has received from them. He says: “To me, there are two things are the most important in my life: my faith and my family. It is not the home that makes a family, it is the people, my wife and daughters, that make my family.”
Built two years after the Titanic, the MV Doulos has welcomed over 22 million visitors in over 32 years of service as a floating bookshop, bringing knowledge, help and hope around the world. The ship, affectionately-termed the “grand old lady” of the seas, was used in Christian service by @om_aroundtheworld. Despite the open knowledge of her Christian ministry, the Doulos was welcomed into 108 countries – some of which are closed-access nations, where Christian missionaries are not officially allowed to set foot. In 2009 it was unexpectedly decommissioned when it became too expensive to maintain. But, inspired by Scripture which foretells of Jesus as both servant and light (Isaiah 49:6), businessman Eric Saw bought the vessel for S$2 million in 2010. He renamed her Doulos Phos – “servant light” in Greek. Attracted by the historicity of the ship and her ministry, he had grand plans to refurbish the ship as a hotel. “But to be honest, I was not ready,” Saw said. For nine years, Saw met with one roadblock after another. Certain that God had prepared and led him to purchase the ship, Saw refused to give up. “It was a huge challenge,” he admitted. “Still, I accepted because I knew that it would help me grow as a Christian.” “So we stayed on – doggedly,” Saw said. “And in the meantime, I was pruned.” The Lord had already done much work in Saw’s life – from his uneventful moment of salvation at a regular church service, to the growing desire of doing ministry during his time in corporate life, and even to the season of pruning he was undergoing. Soon, through God's faithfulness and the fruit of one man’s dedicated service unto the Lord, the refurbished Doulos Phos in Bintan will welcome its first visitors in nearly a decade. “Never did I think that this would take nine years,” Saw shared. “But I’m thankful the Lord allowed me to go through these nine glorious years.”
If your relationship with your dad is in a challenging place, know that the Lord cares and wants to bring restoration to your situation. @thrivingfamilysg shares three things that can help: 1. OPEN YOUR #HEART What that means is being willing to let your heart become vulnerable to your father again. There could well be hurts involved, but God can help you to process that in a healthy way. It’s true that, with more vulnerability, there’s a higher risk of pain, but there’s also a greater reward of intimacy. Opening your heart also means being committed to looking out for and valuing his gestures and words of #affection towards you, however imperfect they may be. When we can identify and appreciate what is good in our father’s relationship with us, we’ll be more thankful for him and have more peace in our relationship with him. 2. #FORGIVE HIM To forgive is to release our debtors from the debts they owe us, just as God has released us from the debts we owed Him. Instead, desire to bless your father and want the best for him, and trust that the God of justice will Himself make right the wrongs in your life (Romans 12:19). Forgiving does not always mean forgetting. Even though you’ve chosen to forgive, you can still be reeling and healing from the pain of the hurts. #Forgiveness is not a one-time event, but can be a process of revisiting and releasing the hurts again, as and when needed. That’s okay and normal when it comes to deep pain. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Rather, trust that as you obey God by forgiving your father, He’ll provide for you what you need in order to do so. 3. SEE YOUR FATHER THROUGH GOD'S EYES Forgiveness can also help you to see your father through God’s eyes. Ultimately, loving your earthly father is an expression of your love for your heavenly Father as His child. When we learn how to honour our fathers, we also learn how to honour God the Father.
Does family devotion with your young children look like a poorly managed circus act? It did for @thrivingfamilysg's Judith Alagirisamy in the early years of embarking on this daily routine. But with perseverance, Judith and her husband began to see the fruit of their efforts. She shares some ideas on how to get started. 1. KEEP IT SHORT Family devotion is a way to introduce your young child to the sweet pleasure of communicating with God. The younger the child, the fewer the elements to include. For a toddler, you might sing a favourite song learnt in Sunday School, followed by a short prayer. As your child gets older, you can gradually add on Bible reading, memory verses and Bible study. 2. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND RELEVANT We learnt early on to pare back the content of our family devotion and simply let it be a time to meet with God as a family, says Judith. Family devotion can be a wonderful time of helping our children connect their life experiences with the living God whom we love and serve. Encourage your children to lift up their requests to God – there is nothing too big or small that He cannot do. 3. KEEP IT REAL Not every child will embrace the idea of family devotion. If you face a meltdown, take a step back to prayerfully assess the reasons for your child’s response. Do they simply want to be different from their siblings, or is there some underlying reason for the behaviour? Once you identify the issue, remind your kid why having family devotion together is important, and let them know that they need to stay in the room with you during the stipulated time. After devotion is over, take time to address the underlying issues of your child’s behaviour. Including your young children in your devotion time certainly takes effort and a whole lot of patience, but it is sure to draw you closer together and to God. Stay the course; in time, you will see the results.
For those of us who want to relate to Jesus as the God of immediacy, two-staged miracles are cumbersome. I don’t want fluctuating vision. I am leery of winding roads and long journeys. I want to live knowing that He is the one who makes all things new – NOW. And He is. But Christ also makes us ready to handle it. My experience has been something more like the blind man’s experience from Bethsaida. “Do you see anything?” Jesus asked after placing his hands on his eyes. The man looked up and said: “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. “Then his eyes were opened; his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (Mark 8:23-25) My vision of Christ has been far from immediate. It has been much closer to a fluctuating timeline of beholding and squinting, seeing, not-seeing, and straining to see. God is working that we might be able to stand in the very midst of the One who makes all things new — and apparently we are not always ready. Seeing takes time and patience. Though undoubtedly, we are slow learners; all too often we are satisfied with walking trees. “Do you have eyes but fail to see?” It is another vision question Jesus placed before many he encountered. The blind man knew enough not to settle for people looking like evergreens. Though partial sight was itself a miracle, the One who touched him had in mind something more. In our best attempts to consider God, wrote Augustine, we are essentially asking the everlasting Light to “lighten our darkness”. Perhaps the miracle of sight is less like a light switch and more like a series of lights God strings together until we can finally see. God is always at work in the process, even when all we might be seeing are walking trees.
God is constantly on the lookout for His children. He sees the needs, burdens and #pains we carry with us. When we go through a #difficult time, His ever-sufficient #grace reaches out to us. Our eyes do not have to be on our own circumstances, but on the One who sees everything and works everything out for our good, in His time. While man sees only the external, God looks at the internal. Like a new mother whose ears are constantly tuned to the cries of an infant, God is constantly tuned to our heart cries and the unspoken pain inside. The #Creator and Sustainer of the universe is attentive to our prayers. He listens patiently to us and empathises with us when words do not fully express our prayers. It is in prayer that we still our hearts to listen to God. We need to hear His heart and His assurance that He is in control.
When parents lead the family well in faith practices, they nurture their teens’ spiritual lives and become respected spiritual role models to them, writes Cheryl Ng from @FocusOnTheFamily. Yet, research has found that few Christian parents take spiritual leadership at home: 58% of Christian teens report that they don’t read the Bible with their parents, and about 41% don’t pray or worship together. What can we do to build our children’s faith through their teenage years, especially when they waver? 1. #Surrender to God I've learnt that we must trust the Holy Spirit to continue speaking in His still small voice through all the noise our teens face. Even as they grapple with issues we ourselves sometimes struggle to answer, God will reveal Himself to them. 2. Spend #time with them Showing them that we love and want to spend time with them even when they’re rebelling is an act of #grace; this is inspired by the same grace that God shows us when we continue to assert our human will over His. We can demonstrate God’s unconditional love that we’ve been telling them about. 3. #Connect with them It’s always good to find out what’s troubling them, but we also give them the time they need to process their issues and let them come to us when they are ready to talk. When the time is right and they are receptive, we encourage them with a biblical perspective. 4. #Pray for them We call family prayer our family conversation with God. We endeavour to stay connected with our maturing adults so that they witness God’s grace in our lives and family. By His providence, we continue to model authenticity in our faith — from the importance and commitment we place on our relationship with God, even through the dry and weary seasons. Our #children are such a #blessing from the Lord, and He deeply loves and cares for them. It is our prayer that they will naturally see His goodness and faithfulness, aspiring to discover as much in their own faith.