Oct 15


If I were to ask you what role ‘video games’ have played in our culture, what would come to mind? Whether it be creating new controversies or providing a depiction of the future, video games has been a productive avenue for creativity, excellence and storytelling for quite some time.

None have been praised more than the recent ‘Grand Theft Auto V’, which released to critical acclaim in 2013 but still continues to be very popular due to the sheer number of things that can be done, effectively giving the player the freedom to do whatever they want in-game. In short, the game has an open virtual world, where players are free to participate in missions, interact with other characters as well as to engage in various sports and other activities.

It is also likely that you have heard that much controversy surrounds the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Since its iteration in 1997, it has been scrutinised for its depiction of violence, the trivialisation of law enforcement, objectification of women and excessive vulgarity. Many of its titles were even banned in Australia, until they were modified to meet Australian regulations on particular aspects.

Nonetheless, games such as these highlight a very human definition of ‘Freedom’ – where we are able to do what we want – when we want to, without repercussion. It could be said that this is reflected in the ever-changing nature of our society – examples being the legalisation of recreational drugs in the US, as well as pressure on countries to adopt the lawfulness of gay marriage.

But let’s take a step back and revisit the word ‘Freedom’. It’s often when we talk about freedom in our relatively safe, happy society in Brisbane that freedom has been afforded to us in multitudes. We are free to choose what we want to eat, who our friends are, what we watch – freedom is almost trivial for us – just stay within the laws set by society. But as Christians who do not belong to this world, but have been chosen by God out of the world (John 15:19), what is our freedom?

As Christians, our journey has begun with the acknowledgement that the sins we have committed are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – We are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), and thus from God’s condemnation and wrath.

Through Christ, we have been afforded freedom from sin unconditionally. We have a new life in Jesus, and are called to live as Jesus did (John 2:6). One of the things that is evident that Jesus did well, was being able to discern between right or wrong within the context of culture. What we can demonstrate is a goodness of thoughts and actions that are alert to that of our culture and society that does not seek self-righteousness in the process. Through our prayers, and in our honest attempts to seek the glory of his Kingdom, the freedom that we have been given by Christ will undoubtably manifest in our heart, our soul and in our mind.

I encourage you to consider the freedoms afforded to you in your life today, and reflect on the thoughts and actions you can take to respond to this freedom that you have been given by the grace of our Lord.

— Victor Koh

Sep 17

The Hardest Thing

It can be difficult to follow a lot of the commands in the Bible sometimes. For me, there are different things that I struggle with at different times in my life, but what is consistently the hardest thing to follow is to love others as I am called to do.

In John 13:34-35, when He knew He was just about to die, Jesus said to His disciples:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

And perhaps the disciples couldn’t have known what the full meaning of Jesus saying ‘as I have loved you’ meant at the time, but we now do: we know that Jesus, in His love, sacrificed Himself on the cross. He suffered the agonising pain of the flesh, and the pain of the Heavenly Father turning His face from Him. He went through all this to bring an unworthy people to God. He lowered Himself from His heavenly place to be among us, teach us, and show us how to live. He shows us that the way He has loved us, and continues to love us, is not an easy road, but something that requires sacrifice from beginning to end. And yet He loves us unceasingly.

So when Jesus tells me to love others in the way He has loved me, my immediate reaction is to draw back. That’s not how I want to live my life, facing difficulties every day. I read my Bible, I go to church, I talk to my friends and help them out when they need it. Surely I do more than enough. But Jesus convicts me in my complacency:

Luke 6:32-36
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

In these verses we realise that God didn’t command us to love and leave it at that. He shows us how to first. God doesn’t love me because I am loveable, he loves me, despite my sins and imperfections, because of who He is. That is how we are called to love – not because everyone else is loveable, but because the God of love has showed us how to first. God continues to show us His love, and that’s why we should continue to look to Him, and not to ourselves, for examples on how to love. So He is who I look to when I speak to someone who I disagree with, when I am taken out of my comfort zone to relate to someone I don’t have much in common with, when I feel frustrated by the words and actions of people around me. I love them, not because I am good, but because God is, and because He showed me how to first.

— Lynn Lai

Aug 05

Consuming Fire

Hello everyone,

Welcome back from camp! I hope you all had a wonderful time at youth’s biggest event of the year ☺

I was a bit sad to not be going this year (work ☹ ) but I have been to quite a few youth camps in the past. I will never forget the awesomeness of it all: being at a Christian retreat with my wonderful brothers and sisters, singing praises to God and building up relationships with new friends. It can truly be a life-changing experience. You leave the camp feeling buzzed and burning with love and passion for our almighty God. You feel ready to go out and change the world! Anything is possible! *pumps fist*

But camp comes with challenges as well. The biggest challenge surrounding camp for me hasn’t been trying to fit all my massive fluffy jumpers and sleeping bag back into my suitcase, or trying to keep up with all the young’uns during sports, or valiantly trying to stay up late on the last night.

The biggest challenge is when camp has been over for a month, and you’re back at uni/work slogging it out, and the fire you felt in your heart during the week of camp has died down to tiny cold embers. Maybe it’s because your family and friends aren’t Christian, and you don’t have the shared joy and beliefs any more. Maybe it’s because you’re completely swamped with responsibilities and aren’t getting enough time with God. Maybe you’re mentally chalking the whole week up to “just a phase”.

Whatever the reason may be, I want to share this Scripture passage with you.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel… Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:22-24,28-29

Read it again. Let the passage flow through your heart. This is God speaking right now, to your soul.

Our God is an Almighty God. When we worshipped together at camp, it was like a Mount Zion. Angels rejoiced as we came together and sang praises to Him who takes away our sin. Maybe camp was your first time coming to a Mount Zion and worshipping God, then you kind of descended the mountain again back to your everyday life. Or maybe your spiritual life as a Christian has felt like a walk through the dry desert. Don’t let it stay that way!

If you are feeling the post-camp dullness (or maybe trying to prevent it soon), meditate and think about the greatness of God and what you’ve been learning and thinking about after camp. This is the Father who loved YOU so much He sacrificed His only Son to take our place in judgement. Your attendance at camp (or at youth) is no coincidence, nor the people you have met. Don’t forget it!

Consider with thankfulness all the blessings He has abundantly provided and the lessons taught along the way. Make some daily time and start communicating with God. Tell Him know how thankful you are to have Him in your life (or to have started hearing about Him) – and listen out for His quiet voice in your soul.

Our God is a God of consuming fire. Whether the coals in your heart are flickering faintly or burning steadily, let His Spirit renew your life in Him. I hope your love and passion for God will burn like a great fire that draws people into its warmth and light. Remember, coals stay warm and burn for longer when they are placed together. ☺


— Heidi Yau

Jun 18

Dealing with Stress

As exams are in full force at this time, as students, we will be obviously feeling some stress, where we can’t decide whether we want to curl up in a ball and cry, eat the entire fridge/pantry out or burn all our text books, along with our degree. We end up staying up late, eating less/more, procrastinating, regretting procrastination, and then in the worst-case scenario, perhaps ultimately giving up (ie, hitting rock bottom).

In a sense, we have turned our ‘study mode’ on and focused our sole attention on getting that 7, or A+, locking ourselves in our room, making notes, flicking through the textbook pages, scanning Facebook™, watching irrelevant Youtube™ videos and then back to the textbook and writing more notes. It becomes a time where the first thing we think about when we wake up is “that exam” and church activities no longer become a priority. We suddenly realise the time we normally allocate to God, our relationship with Jesus and the fellowship with other Christians has been disregarded for our study, and the phrase “I haven’t seen you for a while!” has popped up numerous of times.

Coping with the stress of exams and assignments is not easy, but one thing as Christians that can encourage us through the stressful times is our faith in Jesus Christ. However, for many of us our relationship with God is pushed aside during this time where we may need Him most. In John 14, as Jesus is about to face His crucifixion, He encourages his disciples in their time of stress and anxiety. In verse 27 He reminds them that through Him they will find peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” –John 14:27

From this verse we know that the peace we find in Jesus Christ differs from the peace we find in the world. So relevant to our study situation, our peace in the world can be binge eating, procrastination, letting out frustration and so many other things. But the one peace we must receive is the peace found in Christ Jesus, where it is gained through keeping up with reading God’s word throughout the stressful times (it can be through devotions, bible study), having fellowship with other Christians in church/youth and quiet time with God. And I know some of you say that you don’t have time, but it’s all about putting the effort into making that time available and setting it aside for your relationship with God.

Furthermore, as Christians, we need to be careful in these times that we do not lose focus of our identity in Christ and not get carried away with our potential careers. Our sole purpose for studying, and studying hard, should not be getting that job or having a good career for money/security alone, but instead we should be glorifying God by diligently studying. Then if we do achieve a good career and get that job, we are able to glorify God with our work and His kingdom. This doesn’t only include our money, but the opportunities we are able to gain to spread the Gospel and influence the world around us.

I pray you all have a good and productive study period, not only academically in studies, but especially spiritually in your relationship with God.

— Zoe Lam

Feb 13


Everyone worships something. The only choice you get is what to worship. – Tim Keller

We’ve heard the warnings about idolatry in the Bible and in church so many times that it seems to roll off our backs whenever we hear about it. We read the sermon titles and we already know what the preacher is going to talk about. “Idolatry isn’t just bowing down to a statue. In these modern times, it looks like greed of money or desire for beauty.” We politely listen and intellectually agree but more often than not we walk away from the sermon unchanged and our life continues on as it did before we heard that message. One of the most tragic dilemmas in the church is people that profess to have experienced conversion or accepted Christ into their lives but do not live any differently to the culture they live in (except maybe attending church services if you’re the “good type of Christian”).

The apostle Paul had a way of adapting his preaching to target his audience. He presented the Gospel in a life-changing way that was relevant to specific people and their specific idols. Many examples in the Bible show that God meets people where they are but He doesn’t leave them there; meaning you can’t accept the Gospel and be left unchanged. In Acts 19:23-41, Paul addresses the people of Ephesus, where silver shrines of Artemis (an ancient Greek deity) were made and sold. Paul discerned, exposed and challenged the idols of that time and culture. To understand the Gospel message, you have to identify and confront your idols because that’s what the Gospel addresses. Yes, God heals past hurts. Yes, God offers unconditional love. Yes, God can give us a spot in heaven. But that’s not the whole Gospel because the point of salvation does not end with us and what we get out of it.

The point of the Gospel is to give God the praise and glory that He deserves. This means that nothing else can take His place. For the individual, this means seeing God as number One in our lives. Unfortunately, sin blurs our vision and we don’t see God for who He really is. We see God as smaller than what He is and created things as bigger than what they are. We look to things or people to find our value and worth. We want to lift up these things to save us from feeling lonely, ugly or worthless. Essentially, we put our hope and trust in these IDOLS. Anything can be an idol: your family, friends, romantic relationship, career, studies, skills, and reputation, even your religiosity and ministries in church! If you imagine losing the most important thing or person in your life, and you’re not just sad but you lose all hope and meaning in your life, then you have identified an idol.

Once you’ve identified an idol, you can also identify a fear. Someone that wants to be cool more than anything fears rejection. A person that would do anything for romance, fears being alone and unloved. People that hunger for money and things, fear failure and worthlessness. Christ not only sets us free from worshipping idols, He also sets us free from fears that cripple us and control us. Even doctrine, holiness and ministry can be turned into idols, especially for those that find it easier to be saved by their “Christianness” than Christ.

We Christians are not supposed to read the Bible just to know more than younger Christians or to be able to argue with non-believers. The Gospel is for the world as it is for the Church. It is possible to accept Christ and still struggle with idolatry of the heart. A husband that lies in bed next to his wife but thinks of another woman may indeed love his wife, but he longs for another woman more. A Christian that attends church may love God but longs for other things in the heart. He/she still needs to have the Gospel to be preached to them, still needs to pray for God to change them, and still needs to repent and turn from their unfaithfulness to God. When you realise (over and over again) that you are in need of a Saviour that can take on the punishment that you deserve for idolatry and reconcile you with God, your true love; your life will not remain unchanged.

-Frances Dong


Disclaimer: Most of the content of this article is adapted from Tim Keller’s sermon ‘The Gospel and Idolatry’. You can watch it on this link:

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