Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Feeling a bit off. Hmph. Lord, why so? Dear Lord...

Thinking. Does it seem to me that the more people grow, the holier they become, the less approachable they'll be?

Or is something wrong with me? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Lord, Your ways are the ways to life. I'm... tired... of... being... bad.

Why does holiness look so undesirable, so unapproachable to me now?

Don't I desire the things of God?

Create in me a clean heart, O God...
And renew a right spirit within me...
Create in me a clean heart, O God...
And renew a right spirit within me...

Cast me not away from Thy Presence O Lord
And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me
Restore Unto Me the Joy of Thy Salvation
And Renew a Willing Spirit to Sustain Me...
Very tired after sitting down at my comp, supposed to be typing my resume.
Then took out my Bible. My eyes fell on this verse.

Prov 18:9
"One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys."

God takes a serious view of slacking. Yeu Ann, God is being very patient with you. Stop making excuses, and get up and move on!

Quite reluctant to post this on my blog, 'cos I know that there's this dear bro who's been chiding me for my slackness. Frankly, feel quite irritated when he does that. But I do need his tough love.

Proverbs 27:5-7
5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.

6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.

7 He who is full loathes honey,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Scientific American - Filmmaker shows Jesus "relics"

Interesting post, haha...

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Titanic" director James Cameron presented on Monday what he said was evidence the tomb of Jesus had been uncovered, but some scholars dismissed it as a publicity stunt.... [continue]

Oh, someone from The Register cheekily commented:
"Given the historical "accuracy" of _Titanic_, and his belief that he alone knew what really happened, I can't wait for _The Gospel According to James Cameron_."


And here's a real killer from another wag:
"Please Mr Cameron, just don't cast Leonardo DeCaprio as Jesus."


LOL!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How to Rescue Your Precious Essay From Your Dying/Burning/Exploding Hard Disk (Your Megabytes May Vary)

Am now retrieving data from Jitsy's hard disk. Whoa. Her hard disk is seriously KO-ed.

But really want to thank God for Weizhu's astute observation that, since I can load Windows (even though it Blue Screens every time it loads), that means that the partition table is still intact. =) Wow, really thank God for WZ's priceless guidance.

So used this Linux-based rescue CD from www.sysresccd.org.

It's really quite fun, doing something like this for the first time using Linux. Never felt so 'pro' before, haha... =) Ah. The inner geek in me is happy!

But seriously, thank God for Peter, who told me to go and help Jits 'cos her essay was due the next day. To be honest, I was telling Jits that I wouldn't be able to go over to help her 'cos Peter was shepherding me, but Peter overheard my phone conversation with her, and said, "It's ok, go and help her tonight. We'll meet again tomorrow."

Was really surprised when he said that, and so I learnt something from this - being thoughtful to the needs of others. Realised my shepherd's very wise in this area - whereas I was being inflexible to meet the needs of others (esp desperate), I was very impressed by how Peter was able to assess the situation at hand, and put others' needs above his own time and convenience. :)

So now, am still extracting the data. Some interesting things that happened:

The hard disk, at one point, suddenly started making a grinding/buzzing noise - oh, look, it started buzzing again! Figured out how to resolve that... Just gently shift the laptop around until the buzzing sound stops. And then copy the data over ASAP. I think the most likely explanation is that the drive head that reads the hard disk is jammed or something. So gently tilting the hard disk will help get the head back in alignment again. At least, that's my theory. Tried whacking the laptop too, to get rid of the buzzing sound from the hard disk, but it didn't work very well. Tilting works much better.

Oops. I shouldn't have said that. I think Jits is going to start whacking me upside down if she finds out what I did to her laptop. Oh man. It doesn't help that she's got a belt in martial arts. :S *dons helmet and body armour*

Okay, where were we now? :)

Ubuntu Linux is great for bypassing corrupted Windows systems, but when it comes to bad hard disks, you need more powerful stuff like the Linux rescue CD that I mentioned above.

And never ever try to read Word documents using Linux command lines. The screen chars go crazy when you do that.

dd_rescue is a groovy Linux tool for resurrecting dying data, or so I've been told.

[tongue-in-cheek]
A fire-extinguisher is pretty handy for burning hard-disks.

Oh, look at that small label on the laptop: "In case your laptop catches fire, please do not use water as it will damage the components inside."

Wow. Isn't it a bit redundant to worry about water damage when your lappie's burnt to a toast?[/tongue-in-cheek]

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"May We Quote You?": Movies, The New Literature of Our Age



Matt Winslow of Infuze Magazine writes,

Some days I feel like I was born in the wrong century ... actually, most days I feel that way, but some days more than others. I'm a book nut. I love books: not just for what they contain, but also the feel, the smell, just being around books both excites me and comforts me.

But many of the social critics are pointing out that we are living in a post-literature age. Yes, we may communicate a lot via words because of Internet technologies and text messaging, but that's not really the point: the point is that our great ideas are not communicated via literature much these days. Think on it: when was the last time we had a great novel that captured the nation and made it think deeply? No, "The Da Vinci Code" doesn't count, because the discussion that it created was more about how poorly it was as literature than because of anything inherent in it.

No, literature is definitely waning and it is film and television that are becoming the new literature. Again, think on it: think how many catch phrases do you know from "Monty Python" sketches or how much of "The Princess Bride" can you recite? Most people know who Jack Bauer is, but how many can name King Lear's three daughters?

Yes, this is a bit of a lament, a jeremiad, but only a bit, for you see, I like movies. I'm lamenting the literacy of our culture, not the advent of movies. But as movies become the literature of our age, they are also becoming the sermons of our age. It would be easy to pretend that "it's just entertainment" but only the truly naive would believe that. Behind everything there is a worldview and that worldview cannot help but come out in movies. There are two main ways to respond: we can hide and pretend that by isolating ourselves we are somehow immune to another worldview, or we can recognize that all men have within their hearts some inkling of God and His nature and that that comes out – for positive or for negative – in the literature of our age, in movies.

God Encouraged Me Today! (Through a Friend) :)

Thank God! So touched. =) I felt that I really needed a word of encouragement today, so as I went out to meet some friends today, I prayed to God and asked Him to give me a word of encouragement for today.

And you know what? Zhiwei messaged me on the very same day this SMS:

Hey man, just wanted to send you a word of encouragement: as hard as it is to customise your resume, do not falter! For they say, no pain, no gain! Your toil will be rewarded in the long run! So, jia you! Gambatte! God is with you!


Wow! :D Daddy knows exactly what I need even before I ask! :D Very timely, Zhiwei's encouragment... and thank God so much for His hearing my prayer.

Luke 12:24
Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

RJC Drama Feste

Went with Xingcong and Mich today to see it. Good, very impressive, the drama productions. Enjoyed myself a lot. Also a good time of nostalgia, and catching up with XC and Mich too. :)

Something that Mich said also reminded me: even though we're apart in different ministries, we still have something in common to talk about - GOD! :D aMeN! haha...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Kindness Begets Kindness


"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

Quite a few things happened to me today. And because of that, felt moody and angry with myself especially.

But, in my anxiety, God sent me some people who were kind to me. Even those who weren't initially kind, somehow, they became kind to me, and my heart felt so lifted up after that.

Funny how all these things start happening after I pray to God to humble me, to renew in me a humble and contrite spirit. :) God's so good.

Realised something about today's incidents: "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." And I realised that kindness is something that I need to show more to others, just as others have shown kindness to me - esp in the midst of my anxiety.

Because kindness helps bring joy to others, including me too. =) "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemn. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you... For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

As the song puts it so simply:
"Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations..."


Hee. Thank God so much. I think He's teaching me to be a kinder and gentler human. =) And I didn't even know that I needed to grow in kindness, despite all the subtle hints that He'd been saying through the Bible. But that's our God and Saviour - so big-hearted, so kind, and so wise and wonderful. Our Father knows what we need to grow in even before we ask Him to help us grow! :) aMeN!

So I think I know what I need to DO now... do some kind deeds and say some kind words to those in need today. :) My parents and my friends need a lot of it. =)

The Bible says, in Ephesians 4:32:
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Think some role models whom I can especially learn from in the area of kindness are Weizhu, Peter and Shuyi. Zhiwei too! :) Thank God for you guys - you've been beautiful examples for me in kindness...

Ruby stones Java, C, C++, C#, C-blunt, C-program-crash, C-what-C and the like...



After Java broke my heart, spirit, will and sanity during my honours year project, I've finally fallen in love with programming again.

At last, a programming language that humans can really understand. The Force is strong with this one.

Why's Guide to Ruby (the programming language) (don't ask me why the title's "Why". ;)) [And nice whimsical drawings of foxes too. Reminds me of Ziwei's Doe.]

Yoda says: "Doe or Doe not. There is no Try."
YA says: Make I will, Doe's anti-thesis: A Try! ;)

Procrastination: The Good, The Bad and The... Urgent

Procrastination! That unpardonable 'P'-word, the bane of teachers, clients and bosses the world over!

Ironically I'm writing this post, when I'm supposed to be looking through the Net for more jobs. Hmm... I'm getting quite irritated with my procrastination. It's not I don't have things to do - au contraire - I've lots of animation and design ideas that I'm itching to try out.

So, in the spirit of tackling this procrastination, I checked out Wikipedia, that famed haunt of procrastinators the world over, and found this nice entry on Procrastination. Obviously it wasn't done by a procrastinator - he or she wouldn't have gotten around to doing it. ;P

The Good
But Paul Graham argues that there's also good procrastination. He aptly puts it this way:
Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.


I like that one. :)

The Bad and the Urgent
The most dangerous form of procrastination is unacknowledged type-B procrastination, because it doesn't feel like procrastination. You're "getting things done." Just the wrong things.


And the Urgent
Another reason people don't work on big projects is, ironically, fear of wasting time. What if they fail? Then all the time they spent on it will be wasted. (In fact it probably won't be, because work on hard projects almost always leads somewhere.)

But the trouble with big problems can't be just that they promise no immediate reward and might cause you to waste a lot of time. If that were all, they'd be no worse than going to visit your in-laws. There's more to it than that. Big problems are terrifying. There's an almost physical pain in facing them. It's like having a vacuum cleaner hooked up to your imagination. All your initial ideas get sucked out immediately, and you don't have any more, and yet the vacuum cleaner is still sucking.

You can't look a big problem too directly in the eye. You have to approach it somewhat obliquely. But you have to adjust the angle just right: you have to be facing the big problem directly enough that you catch some of the excitement radiating from it, but not so much that it paralyzes you. You can tighten the angle once you get going, just as a sailboat can sail closer to the wind once it gets underway.


I'll Stop Procrastinating... Tomorrow!
Haha... actually not lah. I found that the fastest way to stop procrastinating is just get into it when you're in the best mood - which is at the beginning. It may be procrastination of sorts, but ... I think ... if it fits in with your passion, and you're not sacrificing any essential time (essential as in, say, the house's on fire), then go ahead and procrastinate on the small stuff, even if it's urgent. Save your sweat and joy for the Big Stuff, what you were meant to do.

Because Urgent does not always equals Important. =)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bye, Sis!



Just came back from Changi Airport. Saw my sis and bro-in-law off. Very glad, really want to thank God for the wonderful time spent with them the past week.

I'm so encouraged by how my heavenly Daddy has answered my prayers this year for me to breakthrough in depth of relationship with my family, esp my eldest sis and bro-in-law. Just a few hours before she left for London, we were chatting in the living room, and hee, we talked abt deeper stuff, eg. BGR, etc... hee, think that's the cool part about being the youngest - you can get to ask your elder siblings abt the growing-up parts of life. =)

I realised that my eldest sis really is someone you can feel very comfortable sharing with. :) She's a good listener, and someone you can trust to be sensitive to your feelings too. And she also gave me her 'big sister' advice into What Women Want... ;)

And we went over to my comp and started browsing through my photos. Then my other sis and my mum came up behind us. Wah, paiseh, but think God let it be, 'cos we all had a good time looking and laughing at the various photos... sweet shared memories! :)

But I think one of the sweetest things that happened was after that, when my parents and I gathered to pray together for my sis and bro-in-law's safe flight back. Think God assured me that she's in safe hands, and He'll take care of her, both physically and spiritually, even while she's back home in England.

And you know what? When we were at the airport, my sis showed me a Bible that she had brought to Singapore! That Bible looked quite familiar... and I think that was the Bible I gave to my bro-in-law three years ago when I had visited both of them in England! :D w00t! :D Jesus rulez! It's v meaningful, 'cos my sis and bro-in-law's not attending church very much at the moment... So feel very touched, 'cos my sis actually brought a Bible all the way to Singapore... I believe that's an encouraging start on her drawing back closer to God.

God is so faithful - Jesus rulez! =) yup... really hope to see them again soon... am praying for sweet blessings upon my sis and bro-in-law! =)

The Aftermath of CNY...



That's one of my family members' weights after stuffing ourselves disastrously during Chinese New Year. :P

No, the display's not like that because of the person's weight... (at least I like to believe so.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Accepting Our Children: Putting the Person Before the Performance

Meaningful... this quote struck me especially:
"Young people need to know they are accepted as unique individuals. This is not a new concept... Too often, however, parents and teachers misunderstand... that as long we have daily family devotions and make sure our kids attend Sunday school and youth group, they will never depart from the faith."


And this too:
"We put such importance on acceptance because it seems to be God's first building block in developing His children. Much like earthly fathers and caring adults, our Heavenly Father wants to see His children change and be successful. But before He endeavors to change us, He first meets us right where we are - with acceptance and grace."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Little Girl Who Was Forgotten By Almost Everyone (Even The Postman)



I watched this animation after following the link from mrbrown.com... and wow, I really wanted to cry after watching it. Watched it twice. It's very stirring, the story and the animation... because unfortunately it's so true - there are so many children forgotten even by their living parents - the orphans with living parents.

Like what Mother Teresa said, the greatest poverty is not that of food or water, but of the feeling of being utterly unloved, unwanted. That is the worst kind of poverty possible. The narrator didn't say why the girl was unloved, but upon watching it a second time, I saw perhaps it was because of her looks, or features... that's the beauty of the story - it suggests subtle clues in the pictures...

And also even her best friend loved her because he was SUPPOSED to love her, to do the nice thing... not because he truly loved her for her own sake.

Go watch the ending... it's heart-rending. http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/21423447/

Maybe I could ask Hong Teck to take a look at it too? :)
Hee, just really want to thank God for the good time yesterday with my family :) and oh yeah, really enjoyed getting to know my bro-in-law more too =)


My paternal grandparents from a long time ago. My grandma was a Peranakan Nyonya. Discovered this photo after chatting with one of my aunties, which made me curious about my family ancestry. Especially so, since I'd never seen my dad's parents - they died before I was born. And apparently my great-great grandfather was a capitan of industry in Singapore i.e. he was a rich towkay. =)

And I found out from my mum that my maternal grandma (born in Singapore) was adopted at a young age, so she didn't know who her real parents were, whereas my ma's father came from Guangdong (Canton). But surprisingly, my grandpa could speak more English than my grandma, and I think my grandpa served as a police constable during the Emergency, and was awarded some certificate in recognition for his service during that difficult time in Singapore's history. :))) And I remember hearing first-hand from my grandpa that he was nearly taken away to be executed during the Japanese Occupation, but for some strange reason, the lorry that was supposed to take him to the killing fields was too full, so the Japanese soldier on duty waved him away.

Praise God for His mercy... or else I wouldn't have been here today.

Wow. It's really very interesting, finding out more about your family history. :)


Some of my extended family :)





One of my uncles (one of my favourite uncles :)) and his granddaughter aka my niece (she's very adorable!)



My newest nephew. He's so sweet. :) Prayed a little prayer of blessing for this little child of God when I was carrying him my arms. :)



Three generations in one photo - the father, the son and... one spirited lil' granddaughter. ;)





Two of my other uncles in a lively discussion. The one on the right is an ubergeek of sorts - he's in the computer security business and is an avid shutterbug too... he's been making his own LED flashlight to do extreme macro closeups of two centimetres only!



My dad, mum, sis and bro-in-law. Took this in Chinatown.


A family reunion steamboat dinner at home :) Initially, Nick was reluctant to eat quite a lot of the Singaporean food when he first came, more because he's a fussy eater - he likes potatoes a LOT. But he opened his mouth to try the food, and well, suffice it to say that he's enjoying himself a lot now - while reminding his wife not to eat too much too. ;)

*******
Thank God for my family - didn't realise how much was missing until my sis came back from England again. And something that I learnt from this experience was that a family really isn't complete until each and everyone of us is together, one in heart and spirit. Somehow, there's a great unity that arises when every one of the family is present. If one suffers, the rest suffer too, and if one rejoices, the rest rejoice too. :)

Wow... really thank God for the timely sermon on family ties last Friday. Praise God - He has really really answered my prayers for me to deepen my r/ps wif my family... =D Also got the opportunity to listen to my bro-in-law share about his dreams, aspirations and passions... very enriching time! :D And got to keep in touch wif one of my fav cousins, Elena... gave her my blog address. She's been a great encouragement to me as a fellow sister in Christ! :D Hee hee... And found out that one of my aunties has been faithfully praying for me (without me even knowing abt it) regarding my life and my job search and other things... she's a very godly woman who really loves the Lord a lot. :D

ok very late tink i log off now... Elena, if you're reading this, just want to say thanks a dozen for all those testimonies that u share wif me - they bless me very much! :D tk care, praying for ya too! :D

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Gentlemen..."

Just came back from another round of visitation. So impressed by my brother-in-law, heh, he's very gentlemanly to my sis. 'Cos I've observed, for instance, when my sis struggles to put on her shoes, he gets her to sit down and he helps fit the shoes onto her feet, just like Prince Charming did with Cinderella. ;)

And I don't think he's doing it to "impress" my parents, 'cos from the way I see my sis respond to her husband, I can tell clearly that he really treats her like a princess. :) And they're not newlyweds. :)

Reason I'm writing about this is, well, because I want to learn from my bro-in-law how to be a gentleman. 'Cos Ps Jeff told the brothers in the church that the sisters want the bros to be more chivalrous, to be holy gentlemen.

I'm not writing this, with the intention to "score points" with the sisters, even though we do joke about this. On a more serious note, we have to take care of our sisters, as men of God. Fact is, a lot of the sisters in our church, no matter how godly they may be, do have this desire for intimacy, an emotional need in their hearts. And if they can't find godly men who make them feel like princesses, they'll be so much more tempted by men outside the church - especially those who treat them like princesses.

Hmm... I guess this post's also spurred by a few things that I witnessed very recently. Gives me an extra burden. =) I remember some bro joking with a sister about her being very "brotherly". Even though I think she's fine with it and doesn't mind, but I think that deeper down, she'll be really touched if we bros really treat her as a sister instead of joking about her "brotherliness" so much. That, and a few other things.

That's something I realised too... sisters can be VERY sensitive to words. We guys talk all sorts of nonsense with each other, behave like kids with one another (hey, this kind of stuff is perfectly fine for us guys - I've see our male pastors do this kind of nonsense with one another before haha), etc. etc. But the things we do with one another, we can't necessarily do with sisters. Heh. Correct me if I'm wrong here... :) it's just my personal thoughts on it. But I'm pretty sure you'll agree. ;)

*******
I think Jesus sets an example for us men to be a true gentleman. For starters, He's the one who is "gentle and humble in heart", and I'm listening to this song, "Mighty to Save". I wondered why I love this song so much, and I think it's because the song reminds me of a God who is so gentle, and yet mighty to save.

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

We focus a lot on the first part, "mighty to save", but we mustn't forget the second part too. I think He's teaching us brothers how to be true gentlemen, conformed to the very likeness of a gentle and gracious God. =) And which sister wouldn't love a man who takes great delight in her, quiet her with his love and rejoice over her with singing? :)))

I'm still learning. Come join me too! :)

Something really sweet... thank God so much! =D

Just want to share something very exciting... wow, when you have something in your heart that you really, really want to do for God, and you pray to Him, God can really provide far beyond our wildest dreams!

'Cos I emailed one of my ex-professors recently regarding her being my referee for a job application, and on the spur of the moment, also shared with her my dream to set up a social enterprise to help the less fortunate people (something that I've been itching in my heart to do for God for quite a while already)... and thank God for her reply, it's very encouraging. :)

Hi, Yeu Ann,

Sorry to reply your email late. I have been having busy schedule and dying to take a few breaths. :)

Can you let me know the deadline to send out this letter? Let me know where I should send it to and I will make sure a good reference letter arrives to help you locate a good job.

I like your ideas about social entrepreneuriship. There are some people talking about helping children in the nearby area. People are doing it. Even Yahoo South East Asia is also working on social community project to add social responsibility into their profit making plan. So let me know more details and of course I will be happy to brain storm with you if I have some ideas to add.

Thank you for your valentine's day's wish. You have been very sweet and my proud student!

Happy Chinese New Year!


And what she also told me in person, besides the email, when I bumped into her on 14th Feb (just as I got off the bus) really staggered me. Seems that she was talking with some big-shot industry people, and there's some really exciting possibilities opening up... Thank God so much! Feel so blessed also to have good, supportive and encouraging teachers like Dr Chung... really thank God for her! :D

And I realised that this really really really has to be the hand of God Almighty - if we want to do something good for Him, then no matter how difficult or impossible it may seem, He has already promised in Revelation 3:7b,
"These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.


Yeah... just really want to encourage you, bros and sisters, do dare to dream something so wonderful for God... and ask Him to help you implement it! "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!"

Yup, so let's eagerly and thick-skinnedly ask God to show each and every one of us what His vision and plan for your own life is... because He richly blesses everyone who calls on Him!

Dear friend, you have a very unique and special purpose in this specific time and space that no one else can ever fulfill. "What you are is God's gift to you; what you become is your gift to God." :) Would you like to know your specific purpose and meaning of your existence in life? Then, if you know God already through His Son Jesus Christ, then i really encourage you to ask Him to show you what His specific purpose and plan is for your life... He WILL show you gradually, more and more clearly as you obey His general purpose and plan for your life...

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
I have a destiny I know I shall fulfill
I have a destiny in that city on a hill
I have a destiny it's not an empty wish
For I know I was born for such a time as this...

The Seasons of Life

Wow, there's really so many things I want to thank God for, but I'm not sure if I can write down everything in a reasonable bite-sized post.

Psalm 40:5
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. ... were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

It's been a really wonderful time with my family, and I think really want to thank God for the sermon that Ps Jeff preached on loving my family... there really is such joy when you put God's words into practice! :D

John 13:17
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Talking about blessings, I went with my parents to their church service today, together with my sis and bro-in-law. Quite reluctant, initially, partly because I don't really like new environments - guess that's the phlegmatic aspect of me. :P But thank God so much that He still spoke to me there. =) How comforting to hear Daddy's voice in an unfamiliar environment! It wasn't anything audible, but think the impression and the thoughts came into my mind, and as long as it's good, it's true and it doesn't contradict His Word, I'll take it on faith that God could be trying to speak to me through that experience.

So I'm reminded that during this time of Chinese New Year, it's important to remember that God is the giver of all good things.

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

There's so many good things that He has blessed me with - e.g. my family, my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters in Christ, the angpows that I receive, the abundant food that we can enjoy, the sweet titbits and a super long weekend to rest and relax... so many small but beautiful things to thank God for!

*******
And I think God was impressing on my heart through the past few days that this period is like spring. Think it's very timely - I mean, CNY is also a celebration of the new spring that comes each year, and I'm now in a new ministry, a new phase of life, and to be honest, I must say that things are going pretty sweetly at the moment... as in there's a vision, dreams in my heart, youthful vigour and idealism... Lord, I'm raring to go! etc. etc. :) A season of pastel shades, of sprouting blooms and fresh new possibilities.

And why not? Cherish this season of spring - it is a season of new possibilities, a season of promises, a season of the old year going away and the new year coming in... I'm still settling down and need to stabilize first, but I do have faith in God that He'll root me and establish me strongly in this new phase of life.

Because I'm thinking of summer. Summer is a season of activity, of hustle and bustle, and since it's hot too, things can get awfully heated up too. Like what my shepherd told me, in my own CG, there'll definitely be conflicts, etc... who hasn't felt irritated on a hot, hot day? But it also is the season of vividness, of bright colours and zestful energy.

Then autumn will come - the mature shades, and the coolness. It's also the season of fruitful harvest and fellowship as one walks with friends in the cool of the days among the trees.

And finally, winter - that season when sometimes you feel like you've lost your sense of purpose, skies are grey and gloomy, days become shorter and nights longer, and it feels cold in the soul. But I think the beauty of winter is that it also is a time of rest and reflection, to let God be God - because you're not! And the seasons go on again.

I think it's important to remember that in life, there are seasons, just as nature has seasons. Perhaps one reason why God created seasons is, as C.S. Lewis puts it:
"The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, [God]... has made change pleasurable to them...

But... He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together on the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm.

He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before."


And as I was reading my Bible today, I was reading Psalm 1, and these words "delight" and "in season" spoke to me:
Psalm 1:1-3
"Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers."


Hee, think these verses are very meaningful and precious to me. Really treasure my relationship with God - esp when I recall how much it cost Him to pay for all my sins on the cross... not just those that I've committed, but ALSO those that I will commit in future...

And looking at my own life - I was reflecting again - wow... I think God really did something marvellous in my life in the NUS ministry... Think I'm out of the woods now - the prophecy came true - for now I can look back and see that EVERYTHING that happened to me in the NUS ministry, both the good and bad times, have served not only to draw me closer to God, but also to prepare me for the rigours and challenges of working life. Yes, it's going to be difficult, but I have confidence in God that He is able to strengthen and sustain me through the next 40 years of life - even to my last breath. :D aMeN!

Psalm 27:1
[Of David.] The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Perhaps, in conclusion, I think He wants me to delight in Him and stay pure to Him, no matter which season of life I'm in. =)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Family Bonds

Just came back from yet another lunch outing with my family. We were having lunch with my sis and bro-in-law. Hee, think my bro-in-law's a pretty cool guy - from what I've observed, he's VERY caring and tender towards my sis, through these years that they've been married.

Heh, thank God that my parents are quite fine with him, even though he's an Englishman. At first they weren't that happy about my sis marrying an 'ang-moh', but thank God, when we all met up, my dad clicked pretty well with Nick (that's my bro-in-law's name) He's working as a computer games reviewer, and yes, he gets to keep all the games he reviews for FREE. Even though he's a tourist here in Singapore, he can still drive a pretty hard bargain at, of all places, Sim Lim Square. Yes, not those front-end shops, but the shadier back-end shops. ;) Impressive indeed. He's also assembled his own computer before and did overclocking and all that. So I guess, though he's not a geek 'god', he comes pretty close - geek 'guru'? ;)

Well, was typing this, 'cos inspired by Ps Jeff's sermons. Lately I notice that his sermons have grown in depth of conviction and passion and depth. Praise God for this wonderful brother and man of God! =D At Touch Community Theatre yesterday, we Adults listened to him preach on Ties That Bind.

It was a very touching sermon, and as I shared with Huaqiang, I'm sure that this sermon is God's direct answer to my prayer before the sermon (which I had no idea what it was about before I prayed) to help me grow in love for my family more. =D Praise God for His perfect timing! =D He's so sweet! =D

When I ruth Read 1:8 onwards, how Ruth clung to Naomi, her widowed mother-in-law:
At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her. "Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her."

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.


when I read those words of Ruth, I started tearing. I realised just how little I really love my family, when I see how Ruth loved her mother-in-law. But thank God for His grace and forgiveness, that He showed me the way to grow in love for my family. =) I really love those words that speak of such loyalty and devotion: "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried..."

Like Ps Jeff said, this is a really MACHO woman... =D more macho than some men, actually!

Reflected also what God impressed on my heart the first week I went over into my new CG. I tink He impressed on my heart that this new CG is my new family, and even though it's much harder to meet up, and conditions are harder, He wants me to be loyal and devoted to this new family - like Ruth, "where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay..." Even though not everyone in the new CG I may be able to connect very well with or even relate, this calls for love and commitment. "Love is PATIENT, love is KIND..."

Kindness. Hmm... I remember Peter's example about two years ago, when he was angry with me for some stupid things I did... even though he was angry, he was kind to me, and I was very touched by his Christlike love to me. =) So I realised that it is possible to feel angry, but respond kindly. 1 Cor 4:13 "when we are slandered, we answer kindly..." Thank God for this dear friend and bro in Christ!

*******
The bond of sacrificial love and the bond of covenantal loyalty... you know, it just struck me. How many of our relationships, be it family or friends, have this bond of covenantal loyalty?

And how much do we treasure our covenants? If one wants to grow in a truly deep and meaningful relationship, we need to honour our convenant with one another. I think that's why I really treasure the bros in the MACHO Turbo group. There's this covenantal loyalty that we have, to be completely open and honest with one another, and to speak the truth in love into one another's lives. And of course, to keep confidental the deep secrets of our hearts. =)

You know, maybe that's one thing what every man longs for. Otherwise why do you have gangs forming and the guys in the gang willing to go fight for their 'brothers'? Maybe I'm seeing just the surface of it, but I think every person does long for friendships where one can be completely open.

But in order to be open, we need to establish covenantal loyalty with one another. Because that helps to lay the foundation for open and honest sharing, otherwise people'll get unnecessarily injured emotionally.

Hmm...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

God's love is wonderful! :)

Today bumped into Dr Chung. Wow, praise God - v timely haha. Some very significant things that she mentioned to me. Shared with Jan - he's one of the few people who can understand just how meaningful this particular experience is to me. Remembered RF's words: "Walk right with God, and He'll walk right with you!" And Jesus reminding me that we, his disciples, will stand before kings and governors in His name... "On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them..."

So struck by God's faithfulness. Think it's something I won't be able to share in full yet, but amazed at how true His promises are.

Psalm 37:4-6
"Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."


*******
CG today at Vivocity. Wonderful - we made roses for the sisters. =) And got to know a new friend there. He struck me as one who has been through very deep experiences, and as a result of that, has very meaningful insights into life. We had this presentation on what we think love is, and when I heard him share: "Love is not taking others for granted," it wasn't just the words, but the way that he said it that really makes you realise that what he says is very true. Reminds me of "Tuesdays with Morrie". =)

Wow, life in Adults ministry is so much more different, in surprising ways than I expected. You really get to meet people from very different walks of life, and you realise that the human race is made up of more than just university students. ;) And you realise how little you really knew all along, and how much more God-given wisdom some of these people have. If only some of my shallower friends could get to know these people...

And not just so, I realised that frankly, our cultural and differences can be so big that only the blood of Christ is powerful enough to bond us together. But, Lord, what a glorious bond!

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility..."


Life as an adult IS very much more challenging. But I realised - it can also be so much richer - if I'm willing to open my eyes and see life as Jesus intended me to see it. For He said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." =)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today's Homework: Make Good Games

Interesting article. Recently, there's been a huge surge in developing the games industry, as the news in Singapore have been telling us.

Something that struck me - initially, I'd been very sceptical about the usefulness of the games industry, bcos to me, it just seemed like another entertainment thing - fun, but in the end, not very useful when you see it from a larger perspective. 'Cos between doing something more "useful", say, helping people learn something educational, as compared to just spending the time playing games... *tsk, tsk*

"Boy, get off that computer! Aren't you ever going to do anything useful besides spending the whole day playing computer games?!"

But after reading the Wired article on games, I had a change of heart.
Serious games are quickly becoming a seriously big business: $60 million a year, by some estimates.

The United Nations got the word out about its food-aid programs with a game called Food Force. Student-resistance leader Ivan Marovic is using games to teach strategies for nonviolent protests.

...

Bringing together so many different disciplines is a challenge. While the power of serious games stems from their ability to reinforce a message or reward a desired behavior, putting together a successful game requires skilled designers and people educated in the science of learning, as well as the specific subject matter. And it's not always easy for them to work together.


I realised that computer games can simply be another medium through which we can transmit stories and messages that we want to communicate to our audiences (well, the more serious games, that is. I haven't managed to unearth any profound storyline in Minesweeper... lemme know if you find any good plot in there!).

In fact, we have to consider that we tend to learn a lot more things e.g. values, skills, knowledge, from the things that we find fun the most... I mean, it's amazing how one can memorise the entire history and squad names and what colour and shoe sizes that a football team from 1997 wore on a particular match and who got red-carded for what... and in the same go, forget the answer to some exam question on the same day. :P hee...

I think that's how our brains tend to work. :) We learn the most things from the things we enjoy most. So I'm thinking of cross-media communications - how can we use games in conjunction with videos, books, etc., to tell stories or messages etc.

Just some thoughts! =)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mister, Are You God?

This is such a beautiful story - stirs my heart very much. Lord, I know my heart is not big enough - please make it bigger like Yours!

Weizhu commented that I've a privileged life, and I fully agree... and I know that to whom much is given, much is expected. God has given me so much, I want to give back... Feel ashamed when I think of how little love I've given - but encouraged by the fact that TODAY is the day that I can start. And not just today, but tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, I can start giving again... till Jesus comes back!

*******


Mister, Are You God?

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

Dear Children, let us not love with word or tongue, but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 (NIV)

A story has been told how shortly after World War II came to a close, Europeans began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by the war and was in ruins. A common, yet sad sight was that of orphaned children starving in the streets of war-torn cities.

Early one morning, an American soldier was making his way back to his barracks in London. As he passed a doughnut shop, he saw a little boy staring into the window. The soldier turned the corner in his Jeep, got out and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window the boy could see the mouth-watering doughnuts as they were being prepared. The boy released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them into the glass-enclosed counter.

The soldier’s heart went out to the orphan standing beside him. “Son would you like some of those?” the soldier asked. The boy startled. “Oh yes, I would!” he exclaimed.

The soldier went inside the shop and bought a dozen doughnuts, put them in a bag and walked back to where the boy was standing. He smiled, held out the warm bag and said, “Here you are young man.”

As he turned to walk away, the soldier felt a tug on his coat. He turned around and the child asked quietly, “Mister, are you God?”

This is a great reminder that we are never more like God than when we lovingly give to others. The world, much like the boy in the story, will recognize you as a child of God when you show His love through your actions.

Today, will others see God in your life by how you love and how you give?

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Ramly Burger

Hmm. Quite frustrated by an auntie just now at the Ramly Burger stall. Ordered a special burger, then found out that got cheese, so 50 cents more. Told her i didn't order the cheese, so she was ok about that and said sorry.

But got quite frustrated, bcos i told her that i wanted special burger, and _seems to me_ that she assumed that she can add cheese.

So, started feeling quite pissed off, and when she took a while to answer a phone call, and handle money with her gloved hand (hygiene!!!), I started becoming very critical of her and considered going to another stall to spite her.

But think God reminded me to understand her, put myself in her shoes - i mean, it was probably a genuine mistake.

Then when she handed me the burger, i realised that i didn't get back 50 cents change from her (from what I remembered). So asked her about it. She was confused, and I was getting quite upset with her.

Decided not to get into an argument, esp since there were others waiting for their burgers, and walked away, telling her it's ok. But I distinctly remember my facial expression saying the oppositie - very unhappy.

Think she was quite affected by what I did.

Realise that i'm responding in the same way as my mum... and wonder if it's the best way, since these confrontations at a stall in a public place really isn't pleasant.

So now I'm here, typing and thinking about this. Think I'm becoming increasingly rude... and I'm afraid of that. Esp if you become a Christian, and people tell you that you are becoming increasingly rude, proud, etc... that's a shocking realization, esp since the life of a Christian is meant to shine brighter and brighter, sweeter and sweeter, not the other way around.

Or could it be that God is purposely putting me through all these experiences to bring out the real side of me, to let me see for myself the darkness in my heart, so that He can bring this to my attention?

Even though it's not wrong to clarify and even insist on getting your change back - esp if it's a genuine wrong, i think i should approach this in the right spirit - with the spirit of gentleness and patience and respect. Because God doesn't look at the actions so much as He looks at the heart attitude. I could ignore the missing change and walk away, but despise and put the person down in my heart, spreading bad words about the auntie and her stall. Or I could do the opposite, clarifying with her gently, and being GOOD-spirited about it... giving her the benefit of the doubt - perhaps it was an honest mistake... and in the end, the conflict would bring us closer together, and make this a sweeter experience.

Humility... how I need it again. I need it everyday, like a beggar needs his daily scraps to live each day.
Just really want to thank God for a wonderful time of prayer just now. =) Was just sharing with Him things on my mind, plus asking Him for directions and guidance regarding my life and future career, and hee, my future wife too. :)

So think Daddy is encouraging me with Psalm 37:3-6, with regards to my job search and life vision (not only about the future wife part haha).

v3-4:
"Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart."


Yup, think God is assuring me that as long as I keep Him in the centre of my focus, and continue to do good, to take delight in Him, He'll bless me with the best kind of job that I will enjoy... =)

And also, while I was praying, these words came to my mind: "All God's Children."
Think it's very meaningful, bcos I think last time, God showed me a vision of me taking care of a large group of children, and telling them the story of Jesus... and I think this could be a clearer revealing of His calling for me... 'cos I find myself having an increasing burden to take care of and defend abused and hurt children. Think maybe if I open an orphanage next time, I'll call it "All God's Children". :)

Think these verses may be confirming the words and vision together:
v5-6:
"Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."


And I think He showed me how the callings for media and children can come together: I could do media that show the plight of abused and hurt children... not just that, but also help to educate children in future, etc. etc. Honestly, I've no idea how this is going to be done, and if this is the way that God wants me to do it. :P

But I take my inspiration from others who have stepped out in faith, e.g. Mother Teresa... Jim Elliot... William Carey... etc... hee, tho I really am very, very, very below them in terms of character, strength and godliness, I know that even if I'm just a very small jar of clay, well, Jesus can use any kind of vessel for His purpose, as long as it's a clean and faithful one. :)

Hee, one thing for sure - I guess this does help narrow down my options for my future spouse... she must love children, that's for sure! But thing is, I think a lot of sisters love children, so I guess that narrows it down a bit.

Yup, let's commit our ways to the LORD, and He will do great and wonderful things that we can't even dare to think of! =D aMeN!

"Friendships that anchor our hearts"

while praying for some frens today, i was just struck by how friendship is such an important anchor for me. somehow, the thought and knowing that you have close frens who remember and shows u care in the busyness of life, injects such a dose of strength. And i know this is not just a surge of warm feeling that lasts only for the moment, i'm glad that these friendships are based on real foundations, set in place through the years of serving together, and sticking by one another through the bad times. We don't get to meet often, but the moments we spend together energizes us for periods ahead (e.g the saturday late nite karaoke :p). Am so glad to have frens like this.


Read this from Shirley's blog, and I'm reminded as well that I have so many blessings to count! I've been so very supported emotionally by my dear friends back in NUS ministry, especially the MACHO Turbo bros, who have been my "life support" while I adjust to Adults ministry. Special thanks to Zhiwei, who is far, far, far more than a "follow-uppee" to me - you are a very, very, very dear friend to me, and I truly thank God that I got to know you as my friend AND brother. :) (Are you melting now? Haha...)

And it's not only the NUS ppl too - I mean, c'mon the bros and sisters in Adults are not that jialat lah... :P oops my fault, I think I make them sound very jialat...

Thank God also for my dear CL Huaqiang, for my shep Peter, for buddies like Robert and Weizhu, and also ppl in my CG like Sarah and Sharon and Shawn... very blessed too by Jack's friendly pat. =) Seriously, I think it's true that very simple things like a warm smile, a friendly pat or a kind word/deed really go a long, long, long way in helping someone feel encouraged and supported. =)

Have you encouraged someone today? =) It's never too late to let your friend know that, at this very moment, someone out there is loving him/her.

Philippians 1:3-10
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Looking Forward

Today Ps Jeff preached a really good sermon. Very timely. Could tell Ps Jeff really really preached from the depths of his heart against the dangers of sexual immorality, and his burden for us, to walk right with God, whether we're in a r/p or not. And honestly, I think this is one of his most heartfelt sermons that I've heard him preach before.

The first point was about making sure that I don't lose sight of God's special mission for my life. The old adage, "Maker, Ministry, and then Mate" still holds so true. Very straightfwd, the point. Think God spoke to me that though He's given me a vision and a mission already, my future life partner may not still not be ready at this point in time. So I need to wait for God to initiate, to bring me a dear sister in due time, who will be able to join me together in this specific calling that God's got for me in my life. "Delight yourself in the LORD and He'll give you the desires of your heart." :) aMeN!

Thank God for what He spoke to me! :) Shared wif Sharon immediately after the sermon ended, and later on with my CG over lunch.

Ps Jeff also shared that friendships are the foundations of all healthy and romantic relationships. How true! One lonely person marrying another lonely person does NOT equal a couple, but rather TWO lonely persons. And also, the most significant reason why marriages don't work well or fail is due to lack of good communication.

Huanyan wrote a very good post on this, so I shalln't write more on this. Just read his post - and be encouraged! =)

*******
Hee... sitting back, I'm taking a look back at what God's been doing in my life, as I try to make sense of all the things that have happened recently. And I think God is helping me put two and two together regarding my life's mission and calling.

'Cos I've got a burden to see the media industry impacted for Christ - and when I responded in 2005 during the church camp to impact the media industry for Christ, God anointed me and opened the way for me to serve Him in increasingly bigger-sized multimedia productions, and also gave me a dear shepherd who shares the same vision as me - and he challenged me to go even further. :D

And I've also got a burden to see children discipled and taken care of, especially the poor and fatherless children...

And I wonder how these two burdens can be reconciled into a singular calling. Then, while walking back home yesterday, and reading a particular library book that I borrowed for training my tertiary MM team, I think God has given me an additional insight into how the dual callings of media and children actually fit together into a single grander strategy.

God's so cool, praise Him! :) Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

*******
Finally, why the title "Looking Forward"? Well, 'cos I was reflecting - to be honest, I'm still in the process of adapting to the new ministry that God has put me in, and slowly bringing my heart over from the NUS ministry to the Adults ministry. I think if one is to be faithful to the calling God has given him, he must put his whole heart into it, and never look back at the "good ol' days".

'Cos Jesus said that no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.

And I'm inspired by those whom Hebrews 11:15-16 commends:
"If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."


Of course, not that I forget the dear friends I've made in NUS ministry... but I must not fall into the trap of getting stuck in the past, and not wanting to move on in the new ministry. So something I've been doing recently is to increase the no. of times I initiate meals and SMSes to my new CG, even if it means cutting back on the no. of times I meet up with my NUS bros and sisters. I think it's necessary, if I'm to, in Calyn's words, "must cheong all the way in Adults ministry, ok?!" ;)

Met Hon Loong, my dear old ex-shepherd, in S11 today. So happy to see him back in Singapore again - and so sad to hear that he'll be going back to the Philippines on Tuesday again for a few more months. He's still a real sweet-corn as ever (sweet and CORNY). ;)

Yup, there's many exciting things that God has stirred up in my heart, even a lazy heart like mine - so powerful is He - and I'm getting started on these things. But as always, I want to remember to keep my desire for God central, to delight myself in the Lord, knowing that He is good FOREVER, no matter how things may seem now, whether good or bad, joyful or sorrowful.

We serve a wonderful Saviour indeed! :D

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Agonizing Problem of the Assurance of Salvation

Guoxiong mentioned this topic to us the other day at HQ, 'cos the Catholic Students Society of NUS was having an exhibition about this. Very interesting and thought-provoking - seems that the Catholics believe that we are justified by faith in Christ PLUS works, whereas the Protestants believe that we are justified by faith ALONE.

It's a tough question, because there are verses in the Bible that seem to support BOTH positions - seemingly contradictory. So what gives? Assuming that the Bible is 100% true and contains no errors, then what really does the Bible say about salvation?

I read this article, "The Agonizing Problem of the Assurance of Salvation", by John Piper, and while it's pretty theoretical, I think I get the gist of what he's saying.

So I wrote this post to try and understand better what it really means to be saved. Not like this:

So my thesis wasn't saved after all...


Agonizing Assurance (so much for Blessed Assurance...)
Piper begins with a very relevant intro, writing,
The most agonizing problem about the assurance of salvation is not the problem of whether the objective facts of Christianity are true (God exists, Christ is God, Christ died for sinners, Christ rose from the dead, Christ saves forever all who believe, etc.). Those facts are the utterly crucial bedrock of our faith. But the really agonizing problem of assurance is whether I personally am saved by those facts.


Think the part that I bolded is very true. I remember I heard the Gospel before, when I was very young, but even though I prayed the sinner's prayer on my own, I had no assurance that I was truly saved. And it's really important that we know whether we are truly saved.

Because the Lord Himself said in Matthew 7,
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'

Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'


Scared Stiff
That scared me stiff when I read it the first time around. Felt quite insecure about my salvation when I first believed in Christ.

Just like what Piper wrote,
So the agonizing question for some is: do I really have saving faith? Is my faith real? Am I self-deceived? Some well-intentioned people try to lessen the problem by making faith a mere decision to affirm certain truths, like the truth: Jesus is God, and he died for my sins. Some also try to assist assurance by denying that any kind of life-change is really necessary to demonstrate the reality of faith. So they find a way to make James 2:17 mean something other than what is seems to mean: "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead." But these strategies to help assurance backfire. They deny some Scripture; and even the minimal faith they preserve can be agonized over and doubted by the tormented soul. They don't solve the problem, and they lose truth. And, perhaps worst of all, they sometimes give assurance to people who should not have it.


I think the issues that he addressed are very valid. So how can I know whether I'm truly saved or not?

Death Row - Pardon Me?
Then, I recall the criminal on the cross next to Jesus, saying:
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."


The criminal on death row could do nothing to save himself (and he'd probably done something really wrong to get crucifixion as the death penalty), nor could he do any good works even if he wanted to - his two hands were literally nailed to the cross. And yet, Jesus granted him eternal pardon, even as ironically, both of them hung dying.

Think my understanding then is that God really looks at our hearts, and not what we have done. What we do simply reflects the state of our hearts. You could be a priest, and be totally atheist, and you could be a serial killer on death row, and be truly repentant - and the way you lived would show what your heart truly is made of.

Adrift, Redux
We are totally helpless to save ourselves from the consequences of our sins by any means. Even though we may be totally sincere about wanting to be saved from our sins, and truly sincere in repenting of our sins - the problem is that we, like the six people in "Adrift", cannot get back onto the boat on our own. It is IMPOSSIBLE. And the problem is, it's not a yacht we're trying to get back on. It's an ocean liner. Too tall, too impossible. Just like what the Bible says: "For all have sinned and fall short of God's righteous standards." We have fallen from the ship and can't get back on-board.

But God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus. Jesus is the Ladder by which we can climb back onto the ship, the Lifeline by which we can be saved.

So where does good works come into this picture? It's NOT building our own ladder or rope. In the movie "Adrift", the people tried using their own rope made from their swimwear, but the rope of rags snapped - it was far too weak to hold even one of them. Wow, just like what the Bible says: "All our righteous acts are like ... rags."

Rather, it's staying on the reliable Ladder that was given to us. That's our responsibility - keep climbing the right ladder and don't stray off. That's all. The more we climb the ladder, the more we become transformed into the right kind of people that God meant us to be all along. If we, for some reason or another, start thinking that it's getting too tiring to stay on the ladder, or decide to try climbing up another way, we're falling back into lostness again.

So, the morally weakest person on the strong God-given ladder is far, far, far safer than the strongest person on the weak man-made rope.

For God's sake, there's SHARKS in the water!
The problem is, not everyone trusts in the solid Ladder that has been given to them, and yet others ignore the Ladder, and yet others try to find another ladder, and yet others try making their own ropes. It's useless staying in the water and saying that "there's a Ladder, so I'll be ok, so I'll just keep swimming merrily around in this water." For God's sake, there's SHARKS in the water and you're all gonna be shark's food if you don't hurry and start climbing the Ladder now!

So, I think the best understanding that I've arrived at so far is that, as long as you trust in Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour, you are saved, just like a hapless swimmer clambering up a ladder, away from the hungry sharks lurking below. That's the heart attitude, which we know that we are truly saved from eternal death. Our choosing to get out of the water and grab onto the Ladder - that's our heart attitude. And as long as you're out of the water, you're equally safe from the sharks below, whether you're 1 metre or 100 metres above the water.

Just like what Jesus said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Then the works part is our starting to climb the Ladder - and choosing not to let go, no matter how tired we may feel. I think it's reasonable to assume that anyone who is higher up the ladder can feel much safer from the sharks below. :) Of course, as I've just written, as long as you're out of the water, you're equally safe from the sharks below, whether you're 1 metre or 100 metres above the water. But you do have greater assurance that you're safe from the sharks if you're higher from the water. (What if one of the sharks decides to execute a flying leap? :P)

Sidenote: Incidentally, I think this analogy helps us put whatever good works that we've done into a proper perspective - it's nothing glamourous or scoring points with God - it's simply just like walking safely on a cleared path through a minefield. To do good works is to walk safely on the path given to us. That's all. Nothing glam about that. We didn't even clear the path at all. We are merely ragged refugees, fleeing from death. No room for pride at all. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."


Conclusion
Think I've written a very long post on this. What do you think? Any disagreements or better understanding or any corrections, pls do rebutt or feedback here... thanks! :)

My Sis and my Bro-in-law

They came last night from England to visit us for Chinese New Year for a fortnight. So pity, couldn't go for Hanhui's and Sukfern's wedding dinner. So sad... but thank God, had a good time with them and my family all the same. =)

Chatted with my bro-in-law. Very interesting, turns out that he did his Bachelor's in film narrative, is now working as a games reviewer - he gets to play the latest games AND keep them for free (whee...), and is thinking of doing a PhD in English Literature soon. So cool. He's quite laconic, but nice. Praying that he'll come to know Christ soon... think he and my sister will be going with my parents to church tml. :) Hopeful!

Adrift

Saw this movie with my family just now. At first didn't want to watch it - I saw the trailer and it wasn't very appealing to me - esp when the part about blood came up.

But realised that this is a pretty good show, actually. The trailer doesn't do justice to the movie, 'cos the human drama of the people who can't get back onto the ship is very real.

It's a very good opportunity to learn crisis management - like how when one of the women starts screaming and panicking, it's extremely demoralising to the others, and how her friend comforts and encourages her.

And how the men start getting angry with the fellow who jumped off the boat without checking for the ladder. Very reflective of how we instinctively blame the guy who caused the mistake.

And the genuine sorrow of the man who made the mistake. And his regret and self-centredness - saw how real it can be for me in real life.

And the courage and forgiveness of the woman who rescued her friend in spite of the mistake that he'd caused.

And how the real colours of a band of friends show up in times of crisis situation... everyone feels sad, and discouraged, and in a state of denial. Disaster happens to everyone, but it's what you do in response, that makes the difference between life and death. Regret or Respond?

So I recommend this movie - it's very engaging, the human drama. :)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

News of Great jOY!

Winnie's grandma just received Christ! Her grandma's very old - about 92 years old - and she's very ill - could pass away anytime.

So Win's been burdened for her grandma for the past 2 years or so... and she didn't really know how to share to her the Gospel, 'cos her Teochew's quite elementary, but God helped her share all the same.

Praise God! :D He's so cool! :D

Hee... reminds me of last year, when I was sowing on Zhiwei before he came to know Christ... we had just watched a movie, and I was praying for a way to tell him about Christ. Didn't know how to begin, so we kept on chatting and chatting while I was praying earnestly in my heart for God to make a way. Then, this fellow comes by and tries to persuade us to buy some stuff. Then after he goes off, Zhiwei comments that the would-be seller's quite pushy.

Pushy? Hmm! Idea leh... So I ask him, "Have there been times when people tried to evangelise to you, but you find them being too pushy?"

"Evangelise? What's that?"

So I explain to him - and oh, I happily evangelise to him too on the way. After I finish, he looks at me and wryly says, "I think I've just been evangelised to."

And we both laughed.

God's so faithful, so way cool. (: lolx.

Also reminds me of yesterday, when some of us went down to celebrate Guannie's bday: Was talking with a bro earlier on. We were talking about evangelism, and he shared with me some of his struggles in this area. Thank God for his openness... :)

Think the two chats wif Win and him reminds me that I need to keep on evangelising even now that I'm in the Adults ministry, to help tell others about Jesus too! To be honest, it's all too easy for me to see sharing the good news about God's love and grace as a chore... but one thing we forget: the gospel REALLY HAS POWER TO TRANSFORM LIVES! Amen!

Hee... think that's the main reason that motivates me to want to keep on sharing... not because it's a "die-die must bring converts in" - I mean, that's so LAME... no, it's simply because I've tasted God's sheer goodness, mercy and love... that I really really really want to jio others to come taste and see that He's really shiok! :D

And also because, on a more sober note - it's a rescue mission too - it's really about love. I see so many people, including my own sister, needing God's love - but they go running off after things that can't fill their hearts enough... sometimes I just want to break down and cry - so great is the pain.

And I realise that the pain I feel is just a small, small, skin-prick, compared with the anguish that God feels everytime one of these precious lives are lost.

'Cos God says in the Old Testament:
Ezekiel 33:10-12 (New International Version)
"Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'"


Yup... =)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Don't be Sugar; Be Salt!

Found this quote from Hong Teck's blog very thought-provoking and eye-catching.
Being salt requires us to stop trying to be sugar of the earth instead. Too many Project Superstars or Apprentice or American Idol wannabes around. Pass us those who wanna love God, chase God and be God's, those who Keith Green terms as 'being bananas for Jesus'. We have to be salt as well as keep the saltiness to truly make a impact... [continue]


Think the word "sugar" struck me, because personally, I'm someone who really likes to be on good terms with everyone, to be liked by everyone. But Jesus says to such people like me, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets."

Think what He meant here is not that I go pick fights with everyone - but simply, do I prefer to compromise my convictions and values, integrity and truth, justice and righteousness, just to avoid conflict and get on well with everyone? Such a compromiser is a false prophet - one who will save his skin in order not to confront injustice and wrongdoings.

I was talking with a dear friend a few days ago who apologised to me for avoiding me for many months rather than confront me about something wrong I had done. Very thankful for her humble heart to apologise. :)

But, frankly, I think the people who hurt me most in my life are NOT those who have scolded me and directly pointed out to me what I needed to hear. On the contrary, it's those who avoided me rather than take the risk of confronting me. The opposite of love is NOT hate. It is indifference.

And the opposite is true. Those who confronted and corrected me for the wrongs and mistakes that I did, in the end have blessed me so much, and I have fond memories of the deeper friendships that inevitably resulted from the outcome (provided I responded with a good spirit...).

Proverbs 28:23
"He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor
than he who has a flattering tongue."


Proverbs 27:5-6
"Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses."


A caveat though... From experience, it's really important to give the other party the benefit of the doubt, to be ready to think well of the other person, even while you're confronting. And be gentle. Be VERY GENTLE and RESPECTFUL.

Because most of the time, the other person doesn't mean to harm or hurt you - it's just that he/she was misunderstood or ignorant. If misunderstood, then good lah... you learnt something new about the other person, and your relationship benefits. If ignorant, then good lah... the other person learns something new, and your relationship benefits.

Of course, there's always a risk that the person won't take it well, or respond in the way that you'd like. And I think that's where true love and forgiveness takes place - at least your conscience is clear, and you've done your best, even if you screwed up... just ask God to forgive you for whatever wrong you've done and leave the rest to God to resolve. :)

Lemme know if I got anything wrong or misunderstood... :) Tks!

*******
I like Hong Teck's email signature. It's very short but profound: "Be His." Think that effectively sums up a life totally and recklessly abandoned unto God all my days. A life that a MAN should live.

Be His.

Really sweet, this! :)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Oh God. Can't I have the gift of celibacy? It would be such a gift, seriously. :) No worries, no troubles... and no swinging back and forth, getting distracted. :)

*******
Oh! on a brighter and joyous note, I bumped into Cuong this morning, the bro I brought to Christ in my first year in NUS. Though he decided to commit to the Navigators instead of joining my church, I'm so encouraged by his growth in Christ... he's mentoring a few younger brothers now, and is serving God faithfully, even though he's very tired after his work. Wow... what a joy to know that by God's grace, Dehua and I reached out to Cuong when I was in my 1st year and Dehua in his 4th... and see how Cuong has grown in his conviction and burden for God... He shared with me his burden to see his own people come to know Christ too, even though it will not be easy, esp in his own country.

Wow, so thankful to God... these are the moments when I'm reminded that it really is worth it all, to share and share the Gospel with those around me... when you reach out to one person - remember, in years to come, he could reach an entire nation, and an entire nation could be saved, simply because you were faithful to share Christ with one person. That's the sheer power of God.

Then went for career fair at NUS SRC. :) Was intending to go down with Tamar, but we didn't manage to meet up in the end. :P

Then had a wonderful lunch with Swee Leong. REally thank God for this dear bro, for his sweet spirit and openness - very very refreshed by this dear bro. :)

*******
And was talking with Swee later on today. He shared with me about that night when I shared openly with some of the other brothers about the sisters that I liked - his shepherd was there too, and had told Swee that we should be more open like that too. :) To help build up closeness among the brothers. Reminds me of what Zhenzhong shared with us.

It struck me as very meaningful, because last time, Hanhui and some other bros made me share abt the sisters that I liked, during my bday celebration - (it was a bros' only bday celeb). I was very unwilling to share, but HH explained to me why he was doing that - if I don't take the initiative to share even abt the sisters I like with the other bros (it was a group of bros who are closer than the usual CG gathering), then how can I grow in closeness with the other bros? As Fengqi taught me, "Openness breeds openness."

[Qualifier: Such openness isn't for everyone. It's only for a closer and trusted group. HH had made the bros' group covenant with one another that they would NEVER spill anything that was shared in private in the group. Trust is critical for true openness to grow.]

So the reason I was able to share much more openly with the bros 2 years on was because of what HH did for me. Thank God for you, dearest bro! :) I believe what you did 2 years ago sowed seed, and now a future generation of younger bros are learning to bond and grow in depth of relationship and brotherhood, because of the legacy that you passed on.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What makes a popular blog?

The "Creating Passionate Users" blog is now in the Technorati Top 100. The big question is... why? We're not the brightest crayons in the box, or the best writers, and we rarely participate in A-Lister topics... so it's got to be something else. More importantly, are there lessons learned that can help someone else with their blog (or other content)? I have my own theories (one of them: this blog tries to practice what it preaches in making it far more about you than about us). The only way to make this top 100 thing useful to anyone is to reverse-engineer the blog and try to make some general principles others can apply (if they're interested in having a lot of readers)... [continue]


Found this post very meaningful. And something that struck me was the others-oriented nature of this blog. Which is very much in contrast to my own blog, which is very naturally self-centred. Heh... :) that's the truth of it.

I like this quote that goes: "Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Do read the comments in that blog post - they are very very meaningful. If you don't read the comments, you're missing out on a great learning experience.