Our motto in the United States Marine Corps is “Semper Fidelis”. It’s a Latin phrase meaning, “always faithful”. This means delivering on what is promised, being ready and available to serve selflessly, conducting ourselves with excellence and integrity to best accomplish the mission, and representing ourselves, family, country with pride. It’s a motto that has shaped me since I was a teenager, fresh out of Marine basic training, and it stands today with deeper and broader meaning.
On January 1st, Diana and I took a brief break from packing (we were in the middle of moving between apartments during the Christmas/New Year holidays), reflected on 2015, then set a theme for 2016.
The theme for 2016 we came upon is: faithfulness. Faithfulness today builds tomorrow. In other words, today matters – and we’re going to live like it. Not only are we striving to be faithful, but our faithfulness depends on God’s faithfulness.
Personally, God’s Word has been exposing more of WHY I’m unfaithful, more than just simply revealing that I need to be more faithful.
I’ve realized my own fault of over-committing and thinking I need to be everybody’s hero. Being a leader has been teaching me that while I must be fully responsible and the “buck stops with me”, I am not and cannot be responsible for literally everyone and everything. Additionally, if I just keep adding on to my plate without subtracting, I won’t be able to sustain much at all.
One step further, thinking that I need to be everybody’s hero revealed my deep-seated thinking and belief that my performance is pivotal to who I am and will deeply influence others. I’ve become so obsessed with performance, and worrying about how I would affect other people, that my every action and inaction was crippling me with guilt and disappointment. Instead of doing what I need to be responsible for and humbly learning lessons, I equated doing a “good job” with flawlessly executing “the perfect job”.
Jesus taught a story about two faithful servants and one unfaithful one. I relate to the unfaithful servant who was so worried about not being able to live up to his master’s high expectations that he didn’t bother doing anything at all. Fear of failure, being driven by people’s approval, comparing himself with others, and his arrogance in not trusting his master’s trust in him led to his downfall and revealed that he was unfaithful.
God has been teaching me that when my sins and character are exposed for what they are, that this exposure and me being convinced of my sins is actually His holy and good work. While heavy-hitting, I don’t need to avoid or hide from God!
Recently, I preached through what Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you…” (John 15:3). I’m thankful that I don’t have to be afraid and driven by guilt of not being “good enough” anymore. God knew I wasn’t good enough, so He did something about that and sent His Son, Jesus, to be good enough on my behalf.
I can strive to be faithful because Jesus is perfectly faithful – and as I identify with Jesus and have new life in Him, Jesus remains in me and empowers me to make today count.
That’s Good News.
1. “Less of Me” Retreat
We had our very first “in-house” congregational retreat mid-December. Meaning, in years past, we relied more on inviting guest speakers and outside help to lead and run our retreats. While partnering together with our sister churches has been awesome and helpful, this past retreat was a milestone for us because we’ve been steadily maturing as a local church and getting more used to functioning as our own community in a new season.
2. One Desire Fast:
Our family of churches in HMCC fasted together for a couple of weeks to mark the beginning of the year. The fast introduced the important spiritual discipline to some newer church members and it also helped center our church back on our relationship with God.
3. Missions Week:
We held our annual “Missions Week” in January with messages focused more on evangelism and reaching the world with the Gospel.
Since then, we’ve seen our LIFE Groups take steps in reaching out to our local communities, inviting new people to experience God, and commit to our missions projects. This. Is. Awesome.
Diana and I recently moved to a different apartment in a different part of town. Crazy story – more on it later!
For now, we’re thankful that we can make a new home together as a young family, and for the love and support of our community in Singapore.
(Day 1 at our new apartment, right after moving everything in)
Diana and I will continue updating our prayer blog and give regular updates about our church in Singapore plus things we’re learning about Singapore and the people here.
You can be sure to check out and follow Diana’s thoughts on her calling and journey through her new personal blog (dianajyun.com). She’s great, she inspires me, and I love her. 🙂
Until then, here are two prayer requests:
1. Pray for faithfulness for me and Diana. It’s easy for us to think that we need to accomplish everything and anything new and exciting that comes our way on our own… RIGHT NOW. Instead, pray that we’d remain focused and faithful over the long haul, patiently.
2. Pray that our church would continue making bold (big or small) steps in investing in reaching out to our friends, family, and meeting new people to share the Good News of Christ!
God. Always faithful.