Where are you headed this year?

As we reach the end of 2018 and the start of another year, it’s a great opportunity to stop and reflect on the past to help refocus and set the tone for the future. This past month has been a time of reflecting and refocusing, particularly as I approach graduation from medical school (as long as I pass my exams!) and starting work as a doctor. I recently prepared a Bible study for the local CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship) student group – although intended for healthcare students, I thought I would share my notes on here as it probably applies to all Christians, whatever their field of study/work.

Where have you been running towards this past year? What have been your personal, professional/academic, relational and spiritual goals? Have you achieved any of them?

Philippians 3:8b-14 tells us that Paul’s goal was to know Christ. To fellowship in his sufferings through identifying with him. To live in the power of his resurrection. To become more like Christ in his death and resurrection. To be one with him.

8b … that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Our identity is first and foremost as a citizen of God’s kingdom (Phil 3:20-21). We must keep reminding ourselves that we are not defined by our work or study, our role in society, our achievements or failures; we must keep focused on eternity. Whatever work we do, let us remember that it is only a temporary role in which we serve the Lord. He has called us to run this race towards the completion of our salvation. It is not a personally-set target that we achieve through our hard work, but we run (note that we must still be active, not passive) towards a heavenward call from God to us, towards His pull of grace.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of life and lose track of where we’re actually going. When you feel like you’re surrounded by mountains of things to do, or things aren’t going the way you expected, lift your eyes to refocus on Jesus and remember why you’re here – to love and serve the Lord, because He loved us first.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

We must daily fix our eyes on Jesus. A daily intentional refocusing at the start of the day. Our hearts are inclined towards self, pride, others’ opinions, achieving good results. We need to make an intentional effort to set our minds and hearts on heaven. To know Christ. To fellowship in his sufferings through identifying with him. To live in the power of his resurrection. To become more like Christ in his death and resurrection. To be one with him.

Were your goals last year in line with your higher calling? Do you need to shift focus or adjust your goals? What targets will you set yourself for the next year? How might you live it out? What might that look like in your day-to-day life at work, home, church etc? The rest of Colossians 3 is a good place to start if you’re stuck for ideas 🙂

I was surprised to find an article posted by Desiring God yesterday that ties in quite well with this post. Check out “When our waiting will be over” by Jon Bloom – it’s about a song that reminds us of the promise of Home we hold on to and stirs up hope in our hearts again.


Can it be Christmas all year?

Happy belated Christmas greetings! What was your favourite part of Christmas this year? Was it the gifts or the food? Time with family? The candlelit carol service?

The story of the Nativity is one we all know – perhaps one we are all too familiar with. Jesus, the Son of God, came as a human baby, born to Mary and Joseph in a stable, welcomed by animals, shepherds and foreign priests. An unusual but nonetheless familiar story. I asked the Lord for a fresh message this Christmas; to open my eyes to what He wanted to teach me about Himself this season. His repeated message to me was ‘Immanuel, God with us – the greatest gift’.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).                           Matthew 1:23

The Lord indeed opened my eyes to see that God’s gift of Immanuel has always been His desire – to be with His people. Countless verses throughout the Bible speak of God being with us. “Fear not for I am with you.” “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” “The Lord your God is in your midst”. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  • God was with Adam in Genesis. He walked with Adam and talked with him – like father and son, like two lovers. Sin separated them and broke this relationship.
  • The Lord established a covenant relationship with the Israelites. Throughout the Old Testament, He reminded them over and over again of this covenant. “I will be your God and you shall be my people”. He chose to dwell among them in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. He spoke to them through various prophets to call His people back into the covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:33

  • Jesus, the Son of God, came in human flesh. He came as the Immanuel to live among us. He died as the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins, that we might be reconciled with God. He rose to life and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for His people.
  • God sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within all who believe in Jesus Christ, restoring His image in us and bringing us in closer unity with Himself. He works through us to bring His presence on earth today.
  • We look to an eternal and complete intimacy with the Lord, a forever of being in perfect relationship with Him – the final fulfillment of Immanuel, God with us.

This is an overly condensed summary but the point is: our most needed gift is His presence. We were created to walk with Him, to know Him, to love and glorify Him. Christ came to solve the problem of sin – the sin that separated us from His presence. So, yes it should be Christmas all year round for all who believe in Christ and hope in the promise of an eternity of Immanuel! For any who are yet to join the (stress-free) never-ending Christmas party, the invitation is open to anyone and everyone who wants to know and believe Jesus and what he did for us.


Homemade granola

DSC_0104I absolutely love making this for breakfast. Healthier, better for the environment (less plastic packaging!), and probably cheaper than buying it from the supermarket. I think it’s actually tastier too – you can personalise it according to your preferences!

Preheat oven to 175ºC. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl:

  • 360g rolled oats
  • 120g nuts – I like using almonds and/or walnuts
  • 60g seeds e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinammon

Add wet ingredients to the bowl and mix well:

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 120ml honey

Spread the granola mix evenly on a baking tray. Bake for approx. 20 mins until golden. Stir it halfway after 10 mins and spread evenly again before placing back in the oven for another 10 mins.

Once completely cooled down, break into small pieces and mix in 100g dried fruit (I usually add raisins, but dried cranberries are also a great option). Store in an airtight container to keep and enjoy in the morning with yoghurt, fruit and maybe even a drizzle of honey!

Recipe adapted from https://cookieandkate.com/2015/healthy-granola-recipe/ 

Stir me to pray

During my time in Zambia, I read a book called ‘Living Faith’ by Helen Roseveare (short biography & podcast). She was a medical missionary to the Congo, and has written several books to encourage and challenge Christians by sharing her experiences. I could write pages on how inspiring she is – but that’s not what this post is about. I wrote my thoughts after each of the three chapters to help me digest what I had read. This series is about how God used this book to work at my heart and teach me a few important lessons.

Prayer is a major part of my relationship with God that I have been struggling with the past year. I know that it should be a natural part of my faith: like breathing, simply talking to God. But when it comes to actually praying, I get stuck. I don’t know what to say or how to pray – what is the ‘right’ way to pray and how to make my prayers more ‘effective’.

The Lord answered my cry asking Him to teach me how to pray. He is opening my eyes to what I need to learn to set me in motion. Helen writes that the purpose of prayer is not primarily to affect situations, but to learn and understand His will and purpose, seeking to bring my life in line with it for its fulfillment. Prayer is the means by which God works through and gives us all we need to live out His perfect plan.

The need for prayer is great, for those who do not believe in Jesus are perishing. We need a concern for the lost to constrain us to pray – this is where I have been lacking and what has stopped me from praying. I asked the Lord to reveal to me when and why I lost this compassion. I used to be so passionate about the lost! … It was because caring is costly. It is painful to feel compassion for those who are perishing, so I unwittingly chose not to feel at all. I must daily ask God to fill my heart with a concern; a compassion like Christ for those who are without Him. I must accept God’s burden, praying in faith that lives will be set free.

Another key thing to remember is that we do not need to understand why or how God uses our prayers to fulfill His plan. I struggle with this – I usually need to understand the mechanism of how things work before putting it into practice. I guess a helpful way to think about it would be like learning to drive. I don’t understand the whole mechanics of the car, but I trust that if I step on the accelerator it will go; if I pull the brake it will stop; if I turn the handle it will change direction; if I change gear it will allow me to change speed. I do not question how or why – I just do my part. Of course, it is not as straightforward as this, but it helps me understand that it is okay to not understand everything.


Once we start praying, we must commit and persevere until it is answered – whether in visible results or a peace of mind. We must put the needs of those we are praying for above our own, particularly if it is urgent. Don’t count the cost, whether that be in sleep, food, energy, time. Continue believing when praying for longer than 10 minutes. Maintain earnestness. This comes from a heart that is willing to care and love, to suffer with them. Prayer can be painful.

Pray for those who are sick, for God’s healing hand. Lord give me the faith to believe! Do not be discouraged by those who are not healed – simply accept His sovereignty and move on. ‘Our task was to obey and serve to the limit of our God-given ability, trusting Him with the outcome’. Our obedience to the urge of the Spirit to pray, even if specific needs are unknown, may be the channel through which God wants to act on their behalf, for He knows their exact needs. Prayer can be powerful.

When we pray, God may not answer in the ways we anticipate, nor at the time we expect. But when we pray with a heart willing to be available to Him, seeking His will and acting in obedience, He will work out His perfect, pleasing plan. Prayer will turn into praise.

Stir me, oh stir me Lord, till prayer is pain, till prayer is power, till prayer turns into praise. Stir me, till heart and will and mind, yea all is wholly Thine to use through all the days. Stir till I learn to pray exceedingly. Stir till I learn to wait expectantly.

Stir me to go

During my time in Zambia, I read a book called ‘Living Faith’ by Helen Roseveare (short biography & podcast). She was a medical missionary to the Congo, and has written several books to encourage and challenge Christians by sharing her experiences. I could write pages on how inspiring she is – but that’s not what this post is about. I wrote my thoughts after each of the three chapters to help me digest what I had read. This series is about how God used this book to work at my heart and teach me a few important lessons.

Just before I began reading this chapter, someone suggested to me that I consider medical mission in the farming villages and rural islands of Korea. Out of curiosity, I searched what the medical needs of these communities might be. They seem to be a mostly elderly population with local access to basic healthcare, but often unable to reach better services until too late. The needs in Korea will likely increase, with a growing population of refugees, foreign workers, and their families. Unification of the two Korea’s will create an even greater population requiring both practical and spiritual help. All this stirred my heart, but I refused to be moved by it. I prayed, “Lord, do not stir me”. I was afraid of being called to Korea – I did not want it.

As I started this chapter, I was afraid I would be pushed into a corner, forced to submit; but the Lord is good and kind and gentle. The chapter was not an urgent call for missionaries, but of how God guides us in life. I was comforted by the fact that often God only asks us to follow Him one step at a time. The ultimate location of where God wants us to be is usually not as important as it seems. We tend to over-complicate this journey of following God’s plan for our lives; when in reality, it is much simpler.

Helen Roseveare challenges us that we must: a) be 100% certain that He has a complete plan, and b) be 100% available to God for whatever that plan might involve. Seek grace to obey Him, as revealed in His word, and He shall guide us. One example she gave was of a boy being called to a people he did not want to go to. She counselled him to simply hold it in his heart and thank the Lord for wanting him in His service. She comforted him saying that when it comes to, God will help him love the work and the people he will serve. What great grace and comfort! He does not push us beyond what we can take. We must simply obey in faith, as He reveals to us His will, one step at a time.

Stir me to give

During my time in Zambia, I read a book called ‘Living Faith’ by Helen Roseveare (short biography & podcast). She was a medical missionary to the Congo, and has written several books encouraging and challenging Christians through beautifully honest accounts of her experiences. I could write pages on how inspiring she is – but that’s not what this post is about! After each of the three chapters in ‘Living Faith’, I wrote down my thoughts to help me digest what I had read. This series shares how God used this book to work at my heart and teach me a few important lessons. I hope it encourages and challenges you too!

Dr Helen Roseveare unravels story after story of how God provided for every need in answer to prayer: sometimes in cash, other times as the exact material needed, much like the answered prayers of George Müller.

God often met their needs through stirring other people’s hearts to give. These people then chose to listen to His Spirit and obey. He stirred Helen’s own heart too, to give her all to Christ in her time, strength, and resources – her everything.

I see that many aspects of her situation in the Congo were similar to what I have seen here in Zambia – financially, culturally, perhaps even spiritually. I wonder if anyone here is praying like she did for every need – specific prayers uttered in complete trust.

Helen’s honest stories of failure, disappointment, disillusionment, and weakness encourage us that it is a constant learning process, even as it was for her. Many of these struggles she had are so similar to mine. Her stories, along with my experience so far of medical mission in Zambia, have shown me how crucial it is to wholly rely on God – generally in life, but particularly so when on the mission field.

On returning from Zambia…

We left for Zambia with the aim to learn, but also hoping to help with the workload and encourage the Zambian staff and international missionaries. We wanted to give our hands and feet in medical service, but the reality was disappointing. Although the official national language is English, we soon found out that this did not really apply to most of the local people who exclusively spoke Tonga – even some of the staff from other tribes had to learn the language from scratch!

As we settled into our new routine, we began questioning why we were there. Yes, we were learning about Zambian culture, and how medicine is different there in many ways. But what was God’s purpose for us in this time and place? How could we be useful in a place where we could not communicate with the locals? We were only there for 4 weeks – insufficient time to learn enough of the language for medical work!

Praise the Lord – God still used us for His glory in unexpected ways.

The Lord revealed to us on our very last day in Zambia how He had been working through us. He showed us that we had been able to give! We had spent time building relationships with some of the Zambian healthcare students on placement there. They too had left the comfort of their homes and university life to spend a number of months learning at this hospital. These friends truly blessed us by expressing how encouraged they were by the friendship and fellowship we shared with them, particularly during what could have been a lonely and difficult time. Praise the Lord for working through us to edify and build each other up! (1 Thess 5:11)

Be open to the creative ways in which God wants us to give – it may not always be how we expect or want to be used. Physical work and financial support is needed, but so is encouragement and our genuine interest in others! Let us remember that sharing the love of Christ should be the heart behind all we do, ‘whether we eat or drink’. (1 Cor 10:31)

My favourite lunch!


This is a filling, balanced meal in sandwich form. I learnt this one from my mum 🙂 I like to have a variety of flavours and textures in a meal, but also try to make sure it is nutritionally balanced. Tasty and healthy = satisfied!

The ingredients are ham, sliced apples, lettuce, omelette, cheese and ketchup. The only prep you really need to do is cooking the omelette. I like to add cheese to the omelette or grill it onto one side of bread. A simple, satisfying lunch ready to go. Enjoy!