Why David Bothers Me

As a mature Christian, I find it unsettling that after all these years, the biblical David still really irritates and annoys me, and I would daresay even outrages me.

As much as I try to put this conflict in my heart to rest, I still find it very difficult to accept that he has such a place of honor in Biblical history.

Why doesn’t Daniel (of the Lion’s Den fame) get more airtime? He was so much more committed to God, and humble and consistent overall. His testimony is so much more consistent and courageous.

I find it shocking that David committed adultery and was a murderer, yet so many people all over the world see it fit to name their sons after him. Do they know that he willfully inflicted himself on Bathsheba (a woman who just happened to be taking bath in her private estate)? Do they know that he connived to kill off her husband, Uriah, a devoted and loyal servant of his own kingship when Bathsheba told him that she was pregnant with his son, by intentionally asking his military commanders to put Uriah in the frontline?

Does it bother them that David was so unscrupulous? Or do they like the fact that he was able to transgress on such a phenomenal level and yet still be considered ”a man after God’s own heart,” be crowned King of all Israel and have almost half (73) of all of the 150 Psalms in the Bible to his own name?

I came away today from a discussion on this topic with a good friend who has a Master’s in Biblical Counselling. She said that the difference between someone like David and someone like his son, Solomon, was that his heart was turned towards Christ in repentance. Solomon evaded being honest and laying his heart bare before Christ by continually indulging in worldly things, like wine, women and song, and lots of $$$.

David returned to the Lord again and again when he realized that he had strayed.

So can I ask something else?

Where was David’s heart when he was in the midst of conniving to kill Uriah? Where was his heart when he was bedding Bathsheba? Was his commitment and relationship to Christ something that he could compartmentalize and shut-off?

What happened to his conscience?

According to Freudian psychoanalytical theory there are three components to our psyche: the ID, the Ego and the Super ID.

The ID consists of our natural instincts – aggression, sex-drive and the will-to-survive, it is concerned with immediate gratification, the ego is concerned with manipulating the material world and reality as we see it in practical and tenable ways to get the things we want, and enables us to delay gratification, (think ’the blue pill’ in the Matrix) and finally, the SuperID which is concerned with being ’good’ and meeting ideas of morality and respectability within the socio-cultural frameworks we are embedded in.

I daresay, having had a very close look at David life, he was not governed by the SuperID AT ALL. He defied social-norms again and again, refusing to let others define him or social expectations govern his actions. He boldly came forward to offer his services against Goliath, when he was deemed as a lowly and weak shepherd boy. As the crowned King of Israel, he danced in a such a spontaneous and undignified manner to the extent that he inspired contempt from his own wife. He pretended to be crazy to get out a life-and-death situation with the enemy, he worked as a mercenary for many years and killed off many innocent women and children in his line of work. The lows in his life are glossed over for the most part. But David definitely was a social deviant in many ways.

His life was rather defined by a close relationship with God – not someone he viewed as a distant and moralizing deity, but rather as a close friend, companion and provider of all of his needs. Someone that he owed his life to, but someone who would stand by him through the good, the bad and ugly.

Basically someone that he did not need to hide anything from.

Therein lies the rub.

David trusted God completely, even in those moments when he willfully chose to go against God’s will, (or when his SuperID was asleep), when he was confronted with the truth about his own actions, he was not afraid to turn back to God in repentance and truth.

For many of us, even Christians, we like to hold on to the illusion that we are ’good’ or can be ’good’ on our own terms – we try so hard to win people over, to win God over and to live respectable lives – however, trying to be ’good’ goes against the grain of true Christianity. The heart of Christianity says that we are all decidedly ’not good.’ If we were capable of being good on our own, then Christ would never have had to die, and his death on the cross would be utterly redundant.

Our conscience can rest easy because Christ died for all of our sins, past, present and future. But does that give us license to sin more? No, but it does mean that it gives us a freedom from a guilty conscience and the ability to live without a cloud of guilt and condemnation hovering over us. We can stop trying to be ’good’ and we can start living from our truest selves.

We do not have to run away from those internal voices that keep on reminding us how ’bad’ we are. Instead, we can just kindly tell those voices to leave our head. ’Get out, I don’t need you anymore’ we can say nicely to our harsh internal parents, especially if we didn’t grow up in an environment that felt supportive and understanding of our inner child.

Having said all this, I think my conclusion about David is… it was never about him, rather about how much God’s grace was poured out on his life in spite of his abysmal failures as a leader.

Sure, he had some amazing successes, but it is hard to look past the fact that he was a murderer and adulterer.

It is hard to look past his hypocrisy and pig-headedness on so many levels.

Maybe that is why people name their sons David, because it reminds them of how God’s grace was poured out again and again on David’s life because he kept turning to God in spite of all of his failings.

It is telling that the name David means ’Beloved.’

When we are willing to embrace our ‘inner David’ (Belovedness), we come closer to the heart of Christ.

We come closer to the very heart of love itself.

McLeod, S. A. (2019, September 25). Id, ego and superego. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html

deviance (social deviance)

The Cathedral of Your Mind

What do you build in the Cathedral
Of your mind?

Garbage in, garbage out
What are you watching
These days?

What images play in your mind?
How do you like them?

Does your spirit sense
Something’s amiss
Or is it like sleeping beauty

Waiting for true love’s kiss

Do you feel like you were
Made for something more
Than just another day
Of going through the motions

Which parts of yourself
Do you sell
So you can runaway

Have you considered
That you don’t need
Anyone else

To own your own reality?

Have you realized
That it’s okay to love

Yourself well enough

To let go and ask Jesus for what you want?

Not what you think you should?

Now,

What will you build in the Cathedral of Your Mind?

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Jesus said “Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child, is the greatest in the Kindom of Heaven. And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine, is welcoming me and caring for me.” Matthew 18:3-5

For years as a Christian I couldn’t pray truly honest prayers.

I thought I was being honest, but so many emotions were buried deep within me that I couldn’t access them and articulate them in my prayers to Jesus. A deep sense of shame and unworthiness kept me from accessing my true feelings like fear, happiness, sadness, anger, surprise and disgust that were hidden under a general sense of ‘stress and defectiveness.’

As a result, my prayers to Jesus felt wooden, empty and rote. I felt like I was going through the motions and it felt like a wall was growing between us.

As I have learned to draw near and depend fully on Jesus through this time of testing, I have learned to let go and live as a child, to get in touch with my true emotions and to accept myself unconditionally as a beloved child of my my Heavenly Father.

This means trusting that He is working all things out for me even if I don’t understand how. This means having the peace that passes all understanding even if there is a long-list of things to get done, trusting that I’ll come to each of those items as the Holy Spirit enables and empowers me. I get those things done from a spirit of rest rather than that of worry and anxiety.

This also means not depending on the approval, opinion or validation of others for a sense of internal peace and security, because all I need is God’s approval, and I already have it.

This also means listening to Him and writing down the things He’s saying to me, and also taking steps of faith to do the things He’s asking me to do day by day, even though some of these things may seem difficult and daunting to do.

I do not have a lot of courage or confidence in myself.

I never have, but with the assurance that I can come to Christ as I am, with all of my foibles and peccadillos and be completely accepted and loved, fully as I am, not as I think I OUGHT TO BE, I can find the courage to keep moving forward with honesty and integrity in spite of all the challenges and opposition I face.

In addition to this, I am encouraged to pray boldly for myself, as well as those God has put in my life.

Praise be to God for allowing me to pray freely and live in the fullness of faith!

I do not pray because God is going to necessarily do everything I pray for, but I pray because I know God’s heart is good and He has put it on my heart to pray for myself and others and, as a result I can live in simple obedience to His call on my life. There is so much joy that comes from being able to pray honestly and boldly while releasing the outcome to God’s sovereign will.

In the book of Hebrews, it is boldly stated, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22”

We can approach God in our prayers like little children asking honestly for the things we want. We can also tell him how we really feel about things, like if we feel hatred for someone or wish someone were dead – all these are things that David the Psalmist earnestly and openly shared with God without any shame.

Jesus meets us where we are at and wants the real us, not the ‘good’ (read ‘contrived’) us. Trust God to be big enough to handle you in all your shades and trust Him to bring you to repentance and right-mindedness even as you pour our your heart to Him. So come boldly and ASK.

Ask, Seek, Knock

Ask and it will be given to you; 

Seek and you will find;

Knock and the door will be opened to you. 

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

Matthew 7:7-11

I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe.

Psalm 116: 1-2

Lone Tree

A solitary silhouette
You stand,
Against the stark backdrop
Of azure blue
And feathery white clouds

What makes you prevail
In this sun-scorched earth
Inhabited by thorn
And thistle?

All by yourself, you grow

What desires have you housed
In your tent
Other than the thirst for life?

Each rare instance that rain falls,
You receive as a kiss of grace
Quenching your thirst
With a vision of heaven

Every branch and woody sinew
Turned towards the light

Watered by a quiet stream
We cannot see
All through the year

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Epitaph

As if life wasn’t hard enough
You and I danced a beautiful
Dance of dysfunction

As I look back
There were all these signs
But why did I ignore them?

Was it because I was
Drawn to the fire
As a moth is drawn to
The flame?

You told me life was precious
But you didn’t know
Just how precious it was
Until you walked out on me

You sang a song of freedom
But there is no
Freedom without surrender

I’m tired of running from the pain
My love
So I’m letting you go

The story you wanted to
Write of a nuclear family
Tight and close knit
Constricts my soul,
Like a vice around my neck

Because that’s not what I was designed
For
I fought so hard for us
But now it’s ashes in the dust

Hot coals in the fire
The forgers fire
Is calling out to me

I must surrender to His call
And you must reckon with
Your creator

Broken eyes
Broken heart
Broken soul

I’ll see you again on the
Other side

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals into flame
    and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
17     no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54: 16-17

Everything

Everything I am
You see it all
There’s nothing
I can hide

Nowhere I can go
Which you
Do not already know

Everything I think
You see it all
Even at my worst
You love me still

How great is your love
So deep I cannot fathom

Even when I fail
Even when I feel far from you
You are here with me
You draw near to me

You never stop knocking
You never stop seeking
You never stop asking

Your love for me
Knows no bounds
You love for me
Is deeper than I
Can ever know or understand

Your love for me
Exceeds all expectations
Your love for me
Is deep, real and
True

How I long for you
How I love you
How I need you
And adore you

This is actually a piece I wrote planning to turn into a song.

I have not put any music to it yet, but I wrote this when it struck me how there is absolutely nothing I can hide from Jesus.

He sees all of my thoughts, feelings and actions and loves me, absolutely, completely. He embraces me and sings over me.

He knows things about me that I do not even know myself. That is the deep mystery of His love for me, He knows me better than I know even myself.

I am His beloved, His creation and I am created for Him, and Him alone.

25 To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
I trust you, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame.
Do not let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who waits for you will ever be put to shame,
but all who are unfaithful will be put to shame.
Make your ways known to me, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me
because you are God, my savior.
I wait all day long for you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassionate and merciful deeds.
They have existed from eternity.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my rebellious ways.
Remember me, O Lord, in keeping with your mercy and your goodness.

The Lord is good and decent.
That is why he teaches sinners the way they should live.
He leads humble people to do what is right,
and he teaches them his way.
10 Every path of the Lord is ⌞one of⌟ mercy and truth
for those who cling to his promise [a] and written instructions.

11 For the sake of your name, O Lord,
remove my guilt, because it is great.
12 Who, then, is this person that fears the Lord?
He is the one whom the Lord will teach which path to choose.
13 He will enjoy good things in life,
and his descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord advises those who fear him.
He reveals to them the intent of his promise.

15 My eyes are always on the Lord.
He removes my feet from traps.
16 Turn to me, and have pity on me.
I am lonely and oppressed.
17 Relieve my troubled heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
18 Look at my misery and suffering,
and forgive all my sins.
19 See how my enemies have increased in number,
how they have hated me with vicious hatred!
20 Protect my life, and rescue me!
Do not let me be put to shame.
I have taken refuge in you.
21 Integrity and honesty will protect me because I wait for you.
22 Rescue Israel, O God, from all its troubles!

Nice Girl

You try to be kind
You try to be good
But have you been kind
To yourself?

Have you thought
About how much
You can bear
How much you can carry?

The only cross
You ever needed to carry
Was your own
Yet you had no time for that

You see the sadness
And loneliness in others
But do you see
The devastation in your own heart?

You keep walking on eggshells
Believing that
You need you to be
Something you’re not

You try to be strong
Not realizing how
Powerful you are
When you feel weak

Their hurtful words
They don’t define you
Their thoughtless actions
Are not your fault

Their silence
Does not reflect on you
and you don’t have
To live in fear of punishment

Let go and trust
Take all the time you need
To heal, feel and be you

This world is your playground
And you can live in safety
Child, take all the time you need
To grow up

Cakes.

Since my last post in September of 2015, I took a long hiatus from blogging. Ironically, that last post was also my most widely read post. I realised only today that the last post averaged almost 600 views – a huge leap from most of my other posts which would average around 50 views or so. Since that last post, I stopped blogging for a year and a half because I felt discouraged by the state of political events in Singapore, and burnt out from being overly invested in what I thought could be a real and lasting change in Singapore’s political landscape. I felt defeated, not just by the tide of recent events, but also in my personal life as I grieved over the unexpected loss of my father, and started questioning the path that I had taken in my life. But that’s another story…for another day.

Today’s post is going to be on cakes. While I have never mentioned this before, I am and always have been a huge fan of baking. I’ve baked since I was eight years old, prior to even knowing what a ‘cup’ of flour meant. This was in the 1980s in Singapore, where the only measurement standard I was exposed to was the metric standard. It was also before the advent of the internet which would forever put to rest any confusion I had about measurement standards in baking. I remember many failed attempts at chocolate chip cookies, some being too chewy, and some being too floury or salty. They never did look like the picture in the recipe-book I followed. Of course, it was because I never did have a standard set of measuring cups and spoons and would use my mom’s tea-cups and cutlery instead to measure out everything, from flour to sugar and butter. Thankfully, today I have a few sets of trusty measuring cups and spoons.

Since my amateur attempts at baking in the 80s, I have baked hundreds of times for different occasions. These ranged from fundraisers to Birthday parties, to social gatherings and tea-parties, to “just because I’m craving a chocolate chip cookie.” More recently, I have even baked Pineapple Tarts because I felt homesick, and wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year by baking Pineapple Tarts with a fellow Singaporean friend, Dora, who lives in L.A. Dora suggested baking the tarts and I gamely went along with the idea. Surprise, surprise! I never would have imagined myself baking Pineapple Tarts or any kind of local confection that can be easily bought in Singapore, but that’s what happens when you live overseas long enough and don’t have access to the usual goodies. This little baking experiment with Dora will be featured in next weeks post along with a video.

Today’s post is going to be on the German Chocolate Cake. Let it be said that I am not a fan of ugly cakes. This cake is, in my humble opinion, a pretty ugly cake.

 

I have never had any desire to make it and for the life of me, never even knew much about it, except that it looked dull & brown, (strike one)  and had coconut in it (strike two). However, my friend was getting married and I offered to make her a cake for her wedding. She told me she’d love to have a German Chocolate Cake, so I did a little research on the cake and found a good recipe to follow. When I made it and tried the final product, I was surprised by a few things about the cake:

  1. The texture is amazingly soft and fluffy, yet the taste is still rich, decadent and complex.
  2. There is nothing German about the cake. It is a totally American created confection, so named after Samuel German, the English-American creator of the particular type of dark chocolate that was used to bake the cake. German created the chocolate for the American Baker’s Chocolate Company in 1852, and 105 years later in 1957, a Texan home-maker, Mrs George Clay used this particular chocolate to come up with a recipe for a chocolate cake. Since then the recipe became an american favourite, and sales of the dark chocolate created by Samuel German increased by 73%. Soon after the cake’s name has changed from “German’s Chocolate Cake” to what we now know today as the German Chocolate Cake.
  3. It is possible to make a German Chocolate Cake look decent, if you have the time and patience for it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really! But the next time I make this cake, I will plan to ice and ‘pretty’ it up.

I used this recipe from allrecipes.com after reading quite a few comments and reviews on the different recipes of German Chocolate Cake available. The only thing different I did was to double the ingredients for the filling by 1.5 times and to also toast the pecans and coconut as some of the other reviewers suggested. It turned out great, and my friend and her fiancee loved it, and I I learned how to bake a whole new type of cake in the process!