Why I’m not dieting for my wedding

I’m not dieting for my wedding.

I’m walking down the aisle as myself: NOT my “best” self – just MY self.

As I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to close out my time in the States in preparation for Singapore, I realized that my wedding preparation is included in my Singapore preparation. And as I was praying, I felt like God was challenging me to walk down the aisle the way I want to “walk” into Singapore.  I don’t want to enter Singapore as my “best” and “fakest” self.  Let’s be real, if I drop 5 lb/2.5 kg right before the wedding, I KNOW i’m just going to gain 10 lb/4.5 kg quickly after that in hamburgers and chili crab.  So I’m going to walk as my TRUE self.

If I crash diet to lose weight, will I convince myself that me minus a few pounds is my most beautiful self? And that when I gain extra weight that I’m less beautiful? When I get to Singapore and a shop owner rebuffs me from purchasing clothes because they don’t have clothes in my size, will I be able to still look in the mirror and know that I am beautiful? Or will it only add on to the instability of my confidence that I had already been shaking months before the wedding?

And how do I want myself captured in pictures on my wedding day?  As an unnatural weight that I haven’t been maintaining this entire year?  Or as the person that PJoe got to know and proposed to in the first place?

Similarly, if I binge-memorize 5 verses from the Bible for missions training, what does it do for my spiritual health?  Does it momentarily make me look good at missions training because I did my homework?  How does it help me for the rest of my life if I forget those verses an hour after the meeting ends? When I get to Singapore, do I want to present myself as holier and more knowledgable than I really am?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to look like a model at my wedding (and I mean, for the rest of my life). I’d also love to have the entire Bible memorized, be super humble and holy, and be basically…perfect.  But I’m not. And I’m still beautiful and I’m still a child of God – and no one and nothing can change that.

Our “best” self is a truly transformed and consistent self.  I’m a big supporter of improving our lifestyle for something healthier.  Working out regularly? Reading the Bible and praying regularly? Yes please! Crash diets and binge-Bible memory? Not for me. I don’t want to conform to the world’s standards of beauty, success, or wedding preparation.  Instead I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind and values (Ro 12:2). I think THIS is the best preparation for marriage and Singapore preparation…or any big life-stage preparation for that matter.

The real question is what are we preparing for?  For one day/moment, or for our eternity?

I want to walk down the aisle the way I want to walk into Heaven: as myself.

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The Vision. The Vision. The Vision.

We find direction and focus in our vision.

What are we doing as a church? How do we make decisions? How do we know if we’re on track? How do we know we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing?

It didn’t take much time before I came a point where I was swept up in trying to “do it all” as a pastor and lost focus. I was meeting with lots of people, networking with ministry leaders in Singapore, and got excited albeit overwhelmed by so many new opportunities. The possibilities – as “they say” – were endless.

Several weeks ago, I was stuck when trying to decide where and how we can meet together as a church. I had multiple options that were “good”, but I was flipping back and forth, unsure of which direction to go. Finally, I was offered some wise counsel from other pastors who I count as key mentors: Remember the vision and mission.

I had also forgotten hard-earned lessons, like:
Opportunities are not obligations.
Leaders are decision-makers.
Church is not a location, building, or an event. Church is the people of God.

When it came to deciding on a meeting location, I realized that we really needed to intentionally pray for a location that was in line with our vision, and not just out of practical convenience. I’ve been part of and seen churches firsthand that meet in buildings and locations out of convenience, but have little intention or impact in reaching the surrounding community. I’ve learned from those experiences that our end goal of a church is not have our own building – but wherever we are, to be intentional and faithful in reaching the lost so that more people will hear and know about Jesus Christ. For HMCC, we want to always focus on making disciples of the next generation – no matter what stage of life we are in.

Ever since 1996 when the first HMCC church was planted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we’ve been focused on transforming lost people into Christ’s disciples who will then transform the world. And we start on the University campus.

Our vision is to multiply churches on campuses and cities to transform the next generation among the nations.

So why do we want a consistent meeting location as a church? We want to provide a good space for people to gather and worship God corporately. We want a consistent space so that our church members know where to invite a friend into our community. We want a meeting location that is accessible to the people group we are trying to reach.

While a working professional is used to commuting, especially in a global city like Singapore, we found that most students so strongly prefer to stay near campus that whenever we met farther away, our students and their friends would be reluctant to participate. So, when there were plenty of other meeting locations available, I knew that it’d be better to hold off, pray for, and work towards finding a location that is more accessible to the college students.

This past Easter Sunday, we got a glimpse of that vision becoming reality. We were able to secure a meeting room right on the local University campus we’ve been reaching out to! This was very unusual because the school is not known to open their facilities to churches for worship. But there was a unique one-time opportunity and we were able to reserve a room right in the heart of campus. As a result, some of our students were able to invite and host their classmates for our Easter Celebration!

IMG_0399Easter Celebration – 5 April 2015

We are unable to officially worship oncampus as a church regularly. But we are praying in faith that God will provide a meeting location that would enable us to continue to make disciples of the next generation. Currently, there is a location we are going to try out that may work for the rest of the year – that is, until we outgrow the room!

An important lesson our senior pastor, Pastor Seth Kim, always teaches:
“Whenever God calls us to do something, He will always provide everything we need to fulfill our calling. A God-sized vision will require a God-sized provision because God is always for (pro-) His vision.”

HMCC of Singapore started with a vision, a few dedicated people, and prayer. Four and a half years later, we have the same vision, some more people, and we are growing in prayer. Please pray for God’s provision and our church’s faithfulness to this vision!