Monday, April 30, 2007

Wow, it's been quite a while since I last updated this. Been very busy with my freelance work.

Turned down the NCS offer, because OT's too extreme - including having to work on Sundays. The horror stories I heard are too many to be taken lightly. Asked Peter, Huaqiang and Alan for their advice. Peter and I prayed together to God for guidance... and yes, the reply from God is very clear: Have faith in Him, and choose to make the decision to honour Him.

And the decision to honour Him here is not taking up a job that means working on Sundays. Because I really want to set aside Sunday for God, and also time to serve Him and fellowship too. And God put the same verse (it's from 1 Samuel) into Peter's mind and mine at the same time too: "Those who honour Me, I will honour..."

And thank God, I've got another interview. This Wednesday 10 am. And I'll be starting on a temp job of sorts - though it could be a full-time one if I choose - at a startup company next Monday. :) It's in NUS... so give me a call for lunch if you're around in the area!

Excited, and waiting with bated breath, to see how God is going to work everything out for His glory. That reminds me, had lunch with Winnie today. She has the same attitude too... really thank God for her heart to honour Him in her work - I'm praying that God will bless her likewise too!

And also was chatting with Huanyan today. Very encouraged to see how the younger brothers are rising up to take care of God's people in the NUS ministry. As HY was happily saying, we have more MALE leaders... PRAISE GOD!!! It's not the skills or the knowledge... it's the broken heart of willingness indeed that God is looking for. Who will He send? And who will go for them?

Think God's challenging me to rise up too. Not in aspiring for a title, but to learn the necessary life-skills of making good decisions, growing in wisdom and the like. Stirred in heart, because this verse keeps coming to my mind: "Don't let anyone look down on you bcos you are young, but set an example for the believers..."

Stirred in heart, because I see my life as inadequate, falling short of God's standard... but full of hope now, because with His Spirit, all transformation is possible. We will not be disappointed when we trust in Him. "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be disappointed."

I feel an increasing conviction that the Word of God really is so powerful and so rich, full of wisdom. I really want a heart that child-likely accepts His Word, takes it as it is, and just claim it and act according to what it says. Because I see this in the lives of the younger ones - and with these young believers' childlike faith in God and His promises, there's really hope for the next generation to come! They set an example for me...

There's so much more to write about these past few days. :D Especially about how God is helping me take a step of faith to trust Him. I guess it may seem a very small thing to others, but personally, for me, it's a big breakthrough - very very very exciting!

Think this is one way how we can prevent staleness from hindering our walk with God... when we choose to take God at His Word, and step out of our comfort zones in obedience to what He says... then you can really really experience the thrill and excitement and even nervousness when choosing to stand up for Jesus! And the joy and delight when you see how Daddy answers your prayers... often it's beyond what you barely dared to imagine!

Just really feel His assurance in my heart that He will give me the best job for me, that fits what He intended me to do. Because since we are going to work for one-third of our lives, why not make our calling our work? Kill two birds with one stone...

(It's not make our work our calling; it's make our calling our work!)

We must, we must, we must not be afraid to trust God to provide for us in ways we cannot imagine. If we know what His calling is for us, then we must NOT be disobedient to His calling! Because that is how we can discover what exactly our life's meaning is!

And if we don't know our calling, then we must seek God in faith! Because He has already promised to reward those who earnestly seek Him!

And we DO know our grand calling as followers of Christ... the Great Commission! To make disciples of all nations! To help them experience the Trinity in all His fullness! And to teach them to obey the life-transforming commands of Jesus Christ!

Hee, it's really so exciting when you choose to have faith in God... no matter how small the faith is, Jesus said it can move MOUNTAINS, if only we believe! For nothing is impossible with God! :D Amen and Hallelujah!

Was Jesus Mean?


"Was Jesus mean? No, but he could be very, very tough. I admit there is a fine line here, but I also say that Jesus never came close to crossing that line. He was tough when he needed to be tough and tender when he needed to be tender. He knew how to treat each person exactly as they deserved to be treated. That includes blind beggars, sincere questioners, little children and proud Pharisees. Everyone got what they needed from Jesus. Some of them, like the rich young ruler, went away sorrowful, others marveled, the common people loved him, and many of the rulers hated him for his honesty.

So why are some of Jesus'followers so mean? I can't answer that question, but I know I need to look into the mirror and think about my own life. A mean Christian is not just a contradiction in terms; it is a terrible slander on our Lord. When Christians are mean, when we raise our voices in anger, when we use cruel words to hurt and not to heal, we give outsiders yet one more reason to disregard what we believe."

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Now sitting back here in E1A, trying to finish up one of my freelance projects. Stressed.

And thinking too, taking a quick stock-check of the past 3 or 4 months of my life.

Just feeling quite... not sure how to put it.

But I guess the biggest question lies here: Am I being faithful to God in what I'm doing at the moment? Very soon I'll be starting work - it's now only a matter of which offer I choose.

But another question that is in my mind - with a dose of guilt - is that perhaps I could have spent more time meeting up with my dear bros and sisters in Adults.

Something that a dear bro said to me when I asked to meet him up for lunch this week, besides saying yes, was: "Not much chance [to meet up] once you start work. :)"

And it just struck me suddenly. Adults life is already so hard to build relationships - and in all my free time looking for jobs, one thing that I think I really could have done more is to spend more time with the brothers and sisters in my current ministry, the current station of life that God has called me to be in.

And I'm being disobedient to Him by not following Him fully - I have chosen to stay in my comfort zone, going back to fellowship with the bros and sisters in NUS ministry. It WAS good, no doubt about it... but was it the place that He wanted me to be there? For the past 4 years, yes He wanted me to be there, and through the ups and downs, I'm glad I've stayed true to Him through it all, by His grace.

But now, I am not in the place that He wants me to be. No wonder I feel this vague sense of disappointment in my heart - an aching emptiness, that something is not as it should be.

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. What good is it if a man gains the whole world, but loses his soul?"

I am not ministering to my bros and sisters in Adults as fully as He wants me to.

Hmm... "I am not ministering"... I'm not sure if it's a good thing to be thinking that thought. Perhaps I do need to receive from God first before I can give. But yeah, one thing that I have experienced is that when I choose to minister to others because of Jesus, I feel His pleasure deep, deep down in my heart, and it's a true joy that no one can ever take away.

Shirley was right. It's not healthy for me to stay in this comfort zone anymore. :) Even though I know I'm more than welcome back to visit the NUS people... it's not whether this or that person says it's ok that counts so much rather as where God wants me to be right now.

As Paul told a king the reason why he went so far and through so much just to bring the gospel to Rome: "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven..."

So Lord I'm stepping out
Of the comfort zone
Letting go of me
Holding on to You...

Ah. Just feel better after writing this. Haha... maybe it's more of a matter of balance. And oh yeah, after meeting up with Huaqiang for lunch, think I have a clearer idea where to go to from here in helping build up this Adults ministry.

Think in the end, it's a matter of being whole-hearted in whatever God has called me to do, whether it's work or family or ministry or personal walk, etc. A matter of having the right priorities.

Hee. Maybe I'll summarise here:
What I learnt from my WFL: A Balanced Church = Biblical balance is having everything in the right proportions. Not equal proportions, but the right proportions.

Lord, help me grow in knowledge of what are the right proportions... It's still something I haven't grown much in yet in this area (after so long...). But I know that You'll help me out with this. :D Thanks Lord! In Jesus' most precious name, Amen!

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit..."

I'm writing this down to remind myself of something that God reminded me while I was feeling very down again.

Oh dear my mind's gg blank again. Lord help me write this down!

Have been finding it very hard again to be considerate of others' feelings and feeling very guilty and angry with myself again. And have been comparing myself constantly with others, whispering to myself enviously, "Wow, that person is so mature. I wish I had his/her maturity."

As those who read this blog regularly will know, I struggle daily with being considerate of others. It's not something that comes to me naturally, and I keep feeling very frustrated. I also think this is a powerful breeding ground for pride too. Like those mosquitoes, only much worse.

But as I was reading Shuyi's latest entry, her words encouraged me a lot:
And the essence of humility - don't think I'm so important, that without me, at my best, things will go wrong. God is greater than this. Like sometimes, you're so tired, you can't do things really well, you only can do your best. This is enough for God to do His miracles. I used to ask God. You know, the way I am, I am surely affecting a lot of people. Please help me not to be this way. Not let my lack, prevent others from achieving their utmost for You.

After reading that, I sat back and prayed... ok, more of ranting to God again why He'd let me have this lifelong weakness - these words came to mind again:

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit."

Think God was patiently reminding me again that one reason He allowed me to have this weakness is because He wants me to walk by the power of His Spirit, not to rely on my own natural strength. And I think He's already provided me with the supernatural solution to my natural weakness: His Holy Spirit.

He reminded me of this truth: Keep walking BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Don't try to walk in your own strength; WALK BY MY SPIRIT. NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY HOLY SPIRIT.

Galatians 5:16-18
"So I say to you: Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."

(Oh! I realise I forgot this key verse from the passage that I'd memorised: "... to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if..."

Thank You dear Lord. I feel much, much more strengthened again, and can get up again emotionally. Ready to go back into the battlefield, the boxing ring! :D

Yeah, our enemy the devil may be the biggest and baddest heavyweight of them all, but he's a defeated foe... 'cos he tried to knock Jesus out, but well, Jesus rose up again after the count of three... and disqualified the devil once and for all! ('cos Satan cheated on that Friday so long ago, you see... but a very bad idea, because he tried it against none other than the Referee's Son - Jesus Christ!) ;D

Yes... think I shall pray this prayer too, inspired by Shuyi's prayer too...
"Father, You know, the way I am, I am surely affecting a lot of people. Please help me not to be this way. Not let my lack, prevent others from achieving their utmost for You. But please let Your Spirit take over me, let Him shine brightest in my weakest spots, that others can see that it is YOU, and YOU ALONE who has done this good work in my life. In Jesus' most powerful name, aMeN!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Latest Massively Multiplayer Online Game? Birdwatching.

On 23 April, 2007, a new website will allow players to earn points by taking live photos and classifying wild birds. CONE Sutro Forest (CONE-SF) combines a remotely controllable robotic pan-tilt-zoom video camera with live streaming video, image database, and point system.

Conceived by Ken Goldberg, artist and professor of engineering at UC Berkeley, and Dez Song, professor of computer science at Texas A&M, and funded by the National Science Foundation, CONE-SF automatically computes the optimal camera viewpoint that satisfies dozens or hundreds of simultaneous players, including both experts and amateurs. Managing large communities is the specialty of craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who will host the camera from his San Francisco residence overlooking the Sutro Forest.

CONE-SF is free and open to the public. To play, visit:

Trusting God to Work Things Together for Good

Hey dear bros, sisters, do read this article... it's 3 pages long, but very, very inspiring and heart-stirring. When I read this article, I found myself identifying with a lot of these struggles that this dear brother had, found myself saying "Amen! Amen! Amen!" Reminded personally how God has so faithfully broken my heart over the past few years, that He may set and mend my own heart right before Him...

Do read this!

During this time, I discovered what it means to give to God out of my poverty rather than out of my surplus. In the 1970s, Susie and I had volunteered two years of our lives to a form of missionary service. But the gift of those two years in the 1970s paled in comparison to the effort of even one week of walking with God during the tough times in the 1980s and saying to Him, "I still love You. I still trust You. I am not complaining. I am doing the very best I can to believe You are working everything out together for my good." The two years were given when I was on top and life was good; each week was given when I was on the bottom and circumstances were bleak. In a fashion similar to the widow and her mite, I believe a single week of "hoping against hope" can be more pleasing and glorifying to God than a two-year missionary journey.

Perhaps you have had occasion to survey the landscape of your life and found very little evidence that God has "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." May I encourage you to immerse your mind daily in words that will help you to know God more intimately and that will remind you that your God is always present, invariably loving, inevitably faithful, and absolutely worthy of all your confidence.

Consider the promises of God found later in Jeremiah: God is revealing in greater detail what it will be like when the trial His people are going through in Babylon has served its purpose. God declares in Jeremiah 32:

"They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul" (Jeremiah 32:38-41).

Those are tremendous promises. In sharing His father's heart, God promises He will "never stop doing good" to His chosen ones. In The Pleasures of God, John Piper looks at the passage this way:

He will keep on doing good. He doesn't do good to his children sometimes and bad to them other times. He keeps on doing good and he never will stop doing good for ten thousand ages of ages. When things are going "bad" that does not mean God has stopped doing good. It means he is shifting things around to get them in place for more good, if you will go on loving him. He works all things together for good "for those who love him" (Romans 8:28). "No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Psalm 119:71)....

But the promise is greater yet. Not only does God promise not to turn away from doing good to us, he says, "I will rejoice in doing them good" (Jeremiah 32:41). "The Lord will again take delight in prospering you" (Deuteronomy 30:9). He does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. God is not waiting for us, he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life." God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. . . .

Testimony! and Reflection...

Just really want to thank God for today's interview. :D Very touched... and it's not only because of the outcome, but a record of how God miraculously answered not only my prayer, but also Stanli's prayer (he's my prayer partner in my CG... and a wonderful bro to boot! :D) for me.

'Cos yesterday I was still feeling quite ambivalent about the NCS interview, thinking that it would be something more on Java programming, which I'm reasonably proficient in, but it's not something that I'm very passionate about as a long-term goal. Not at all.

But prayed to God last night, that if it's His will, He'll grant me my heart's desire, which is to work in web development stuff, since it's one of the possible options in line with the vision to impact the media industry for Christ.

Then the next day, I was at NCS, and starting to feel nervous again. Sweaty palms and dry lips - the classic signs. Told God that I'm feeling nervous again and I know I can't do anything much to control what's essentially a physiological reaction. Found it rather hard to stay focused in my prayer too. But hee, that's when I needed to pray most... when I least feel like praying! :)

Then a few minutes later, I was browsing through some NCS brochures when I decided to start praying in the Spirit. Just prayed, and when I sat back down, I suddenly realised that I wasn't feeling anxious anymore, even the physiological symptoms were so much better, and best of all, I was able to really stay focused in my prayers! :D

Then, suddenly, I got a beautiful SMSed prayer from Stanli. :D Hee, he had just prayed for me and my interview. :D Wow, think the sudden peace that I felt must have something to do with that prayer of his 'cos of the timing...

Thank God so much! :D

Oh yes... and the interview itself? Turns out that one of the interviewers told me that the job scope'll involve quite a bit of web development stuff, exactly what I want to do! :D Thank God so much for His grace... :D

Hee, so I'll know the outcome in 1 or 2 weeks time... pray for me yeah? :D That I'll follow Him in the path that He wants for me...

Just reminded again of this verse that God impressed on my heart about one or two months ago, when I was seeking Him for a clearer direction regarding His plans and direction for me, especially regarding my job search...

Psalm 37:3-6
"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.

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."

I think each verse listed here is God's answer to me regarding His specific guidance for my life's direction, and the one in bold, that one was regarding my job search. Can see how God really is faithful, how He generously rewards all those who seek Him in faith, no matter how weak or small we may be.

I was thinking, perhaps could it be that each verse in Psalm 37 is meant as a signpost for my life ahead? Hee, not sure... but when you choose to walk in the centre of God's will, then you are in the safest place to be, even if God's will involves putting you right smack in the bottom of a 3000 degree-hot furnace (a bit hot, that)...

Daniel 3:13-18
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

The outcome was a great miracle that every top Babylonian official, including King Neb, could see with their own eyes...

Yup, feel very encouraged by this testimony of God's faithfulness.

Hmm... thinking now... what principles can I extract from this experience?

1. Think the first principle I can learn from this interview is not to 'smoke', but just be myself ... let my 'yes' be 'yes' and my 'no', 'no'. 'Cos when I started 'smoking' - i.e. using vague and impressive-sounding terms - one of the interviewers started asking me more specific and difficult questions to see what exactly I'm talking about.

Think something that caused me to want to make myself look bigger and more impressive in my interviewers' eyes was this fear that I might not get the job if the interviewers found out that I don't have the necessary knowledge or can't answer this question correctly. But Proverbs 16:13 came to my mind at that particular moment, "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth."

So realised that trying to make myself look more impressive in people's eyes to cover up my inadequacies is not good in God's eyes, because it reflects a lack of faith in Him to provide for me even when I am not able to provide for myself.

I found that when I simply said, "No, I don't know this particular piece of knowledge, but I want to learn it" or something to that effect, it does help make the interview much less stressful. Of course, I think the important thing here in interviews for fresh grads is to let the interviewer(s) sense your enthusiasm and sincerity, so do let them know that you are eager to give your best or whatever else is required.

2. Proverbs 16:26:
"The laborer's appetite works for him;
his hunger drives him on."

Think this proverb seems rather tautological (or as my Army officer would say, "motherhood statement!"), actually, think it's a powerful observation of what helps to motivate people - including phlegmatics like me. :)

Asked myself, do I have a hunger to want to do great things for God? A hunger for the spiritual things of God? As Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

A hunger to glorify God through my studies/work? To be honest, I think I didn't have very much hunger to glorify God in my studies, only till my 4th year. By then it was a bit late in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of our Father in heaven, it's never too late! :)

And hee, just want to share, just realised that I'm reaping the benefit of being a good student, even in my last semester, by causing one of my fellow group project mates to have a good impression of me as a result of my hard work in the group project... something that encourages me very much is that this friend is someone who has the potential to be a successful businesswoman in future... perhaps a future high-flyer... so really hope that I can be a good witness for Christ, not only on campus, but in the workplace in time to come! :D

Yup, think this is something that a dear brother in Christ who graduated from the uni ministry - a very brilliant high-flyer - shared with me last time, that to be honest, he feels that quite a number of Christians in the uni ministry that he knows are quite laid-back, and not wanting to do great things...

He was exclaiming that if non-Christians can be so driven and powerful, then we the people of God, especially since we have GOD HIMSELF with us, should be even more driven and powerful, hungrier to attempt even greater things for God!

Maybe it's idealistic... but I am sure it IS biblical to expect great things from God, to attempt great things for God. Because the apostle Paul, as he was praying that the Ephesian Christians would be powerfully impacted by the love of Christ through faith:
"For this reason I kneel... I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God..."

He suddenly burst out into a magnificent doxology:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

So dear friends, let us be hungry, hungry, hungry for the wonderful things of God... Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God! :D Amen and praise the Lord! :D

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Value of Faith

We talked about the value of faith in our unit 242 on Thursday. It was very meaningful, especially Peter's testimony of how God is helping him find a job that is in line with the vision that He's given Peter. Think at quite a few times, he almost teared, because of how God was so faithful to him.

'Cos had been talking today with Weizhu and Benaiah, and somehow the conversations got onto the topic of achieving our dreams for God, and our long-term plans - where is God in the picture?

So thought about it when I got back home. Was talking to God about this, and think it's been a while since I last seeked His face and His career guidance :). Even freelance work is work, with deadlines to meet.

And as I was praying, think God reminded me of how Abraham obeyed God's command to leave the safe comforts of his home, and went to a land only God knows where.

Genesis 12:1
The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."

Hebrews 11:8
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

There are detours, to be sure, in the journey of faith. Like how most likely I'll have to take up a job unrelated to the vision I have at the moment. Like how Abram and his wife went down to Egypt for a while because of a famine. Yet God is faithful.

When Peter shared about how sian he felt when half of his resumes didn't get replied, and the feelings of uncertainty that he felt when pressing the 'Send' button for the umpteenth time...

"It won't be easy [to impact the media industry for Christ], but I have faith in God that it can be done."

This verse came to mind as I was praying. Psalm 32:8. I think God is telling me that, do not fear, my son, I will teach you what you need to know. I see your heart for me, and even though, yes, you really know very little, I AM WITH YOU. DO NOT FEAR!

This is His promise to me that I want to claim even as I continue to look for not just a job, but a purposeful job that allows me to fulfill God's calling for me:
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you."

Don't know, but I feel quite... angry... when people dream very passive and safe "dreams" for God. I mean, I feel like shaking them and asking them, "Oei! Where's your faith in God?"

Not that I have great faith - on the contrary, I am a person who struggles to have faith even in very small things daily. But one thing I do know is that it is not the size of the faith that is so important as the One in whom we profess our faith in. So I think that's why I feel angry, because when we have a certain amount of faith already, but do not want to exercise it... in a way, we are belittling God's power and indirectly, insulting Him.

I know it's strongly worded, but the Bible's v blunt about this... Hebrews 11:6 - "And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

That's the value God puts on our faith in Him - of greater worth than gold (1 Peter 1:6-7)...

So maybe that's why I felt angry... not because our dreams are not big enough... nah, that's not what He's looking for... not because we have done a lot of things... maybe it's important... but simply because we as older believers don't want to believe God even when He has already shown us what He can do...

And what really displeases Him is when we already have a sizeable measure of faith that He's already given us to enable us to believe in Him, but we still stubbornly refuse to use it.

Hebrews 3:19
So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out].

But not to fear! Because Hebrews 4 says, after warning the believers about the consequences of refusing to believe in God:

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Find it so comforting and encouraging... and inspiring!!! I simply love the book of Hebrews... every time I read Hebrews 12, it simply stirs up my blood and rouses me to keep on running the race for our Lord Jesus.

Thanks so much, Daddy, I'm so amazed at Your infinite grace to me, how You are still so with me, even when I clearly clearly clearly do not deserve Your presence at all. But, wow, You really love me so much. Even after almost 10 years as a Christian, I still can't even begin to just touch the surface of Your immense depth of love for a wretch like me... in fact, it makes me feel quite overwhelmed to think how ... deep... is Your love. Oh man. I'm not even overwhelmed enough. Haha...

Something that I was praying too - Lord, please purify my faith to be more and more childlike as the days go by. And yeah, please make it grow too. To be less childish and more childlike. :D Because faith pleases You very much Lord. :)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wow, another interview! :D And I almost missed it... but God is gracious! :D

Just really want to share a testimony of God's goodness to me... :) Yesterday I was half-asleep, when I saw this number on my handphone: 65565440.

Since I was half-asleep, I thought it was my own home number, and wondered why someone was calling my handphone from my own home. As I was thinking about it, I fell asleep again and forgot about it.

Then, this morning, while working on some freelance project, I saw the same number on my handphone again. At first I thought it was my own home number again. Then took a second look at it, and realised that it wasn't my home number after all... So answered the phone call. Turns out it was a job interview offer from National Computer Systems! :D Wow! Thank God so much...

Realised the confusion was because my home number is very, very similar to NCS's number... Wow. and I almost missed the phone call... really thank You Father for Your grace indeed...

Hmm... so what can I learn from this experience, recalling yesterday's unit 242 in which Dehua shared about the value of faith, and Peter's wonderful testimony of how God rewarded his faith in Him?

Hmm... think the first thing is that... God really has been very kind to me. This verse comes to mind:
Psalm 37:23-24
If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Even though I tend to be very blur at times and make stupid mistakes many times, it's really such a joy and peace to know this promise of God, that as long as our hearts are set on following His way, then no matter how weak we are, He will catch us and uphold us safely again.

Then... second thing... think something I'm reminded from Peter's testimony about his job search is that when we stick true to God and hold on to our dreams to do something good for Him, no matter how difficult it is, He will reward our faith in Him in due time. Hebrews 11:6... "...for He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

Then, third thing... hmm... I was asking God for a sign too, to show me exactly what area of media does He want me to excel in... so far think the only sign I have so far is that He's given me a strength in doing videography and documentaries. And I guess, also, programming is something that is an essential skill that I think He wants me to sharpen, 'cos new media requires quite a bit of knowledge of programming and technology. And this skill complements other peoples' talents in other areas e.g. Peter's design talents.

It strike me that there is one more principle that I can extract too:
If we want to impact the media industry for Christ through excellence of skills... we need to do it as a team. For instance, Sijia's very talented in music, and Ziwei's very talented in artwork... Peter's very talented in design and illustration (and his trademark humour too)... and I do have programming skills and video experience... so hee, if we were to set up a media company next time, wow, Together Everyone Achieves More (T.E.A.M!). Hey! We could make that the company name... T.E.A.M. (or M.E.A.T., if you're feeling carnivorous...)

Yup, just thinking... :D and thank God, whatever happens! :D

Inside a Mass Murderer's Mind

Read about the massacre at Virginia Tech, and just felt so angry with the murderer... it was clearly a premeditated mass-murder done in cold blood. Even serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmers do have twinges of conscience over the acts they did, but... cold, deliberate mass murders planned over months???

God, what do we do? I feel so angry... Then was thinking, how does God Himself feel about this? Think, to the best of my knowledge, He too is really angry at how the murderer planned the whole thing, and I think His heart too really burned with anger when He saw how the murderer went in, shooting systematically his victims.

Think some would have asked, "Where was God when all these murders happened? How come he never protected them?" I think that's a reasonable question... and from what I know, He did let it happen, just as He allows other evil things to happen e.g. the Holocaust... but He did promise that He will NOT let those mass murderers go scot-free, not even after they die by their own hand... that He will grant justice to their victims, 'cos He judges the living AND the dead too.

Just feel so angry... 'cos it's something that really... is horribly evil.

Hmm, to be honest, there are other factors e.g. brain damage, traumatised childhood experiences, etc, that will affect a person's state of mind. But the Bible said that God will judge justly, because He not only judges a person's deed, but the heart and intention too...

Feel so angry... especially after reading survivors' accounts of what he did... to be honest, I'm so glad that You will exercise justice for the victims in heaven... because I know You will resurrect the dead, both the righteous and the wicked... to reward or judge them accordingly.

Just recalling Abraham's angry prayer to You in Genesis 18... I just like his frank outburst so much... :)
Then Abraham approached [God] and said:
"Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
What if there are fifty righteous people in the city?
Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?
Far be it from you to do such a thing — to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Yeah! That expresses exactly how I feel at this moment... ha, sorry, am ranting right now, but I don't care, 'cos I know You are the Righteous Judge! :D

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Becoming More Courageous

Took this from Ps Jeff's blog. It's a very rousing teaching. :D Thank God for him! :D and oh yes, thank God for Himself! :D

Courage is a very important quality for leadership and for life. Courage is the opposite of fear. Fear can cause us to be angry, insecure, to lack faith, to be negative, to be critical in a bad way.

Courage is a distinct quality that all leaders need to have in their lives. Courage enables us to do what is right, to stay our course, to lead our people to new heights, to persevere, to have growth points in our lives and our ministries.

David versus Goliath (1 Samuel 17) is a story of courage. It is a story of God working through someone who decided to be courageous.

Israel was at war with Philistines. The Philistine champion was Goliath and he was calling for a one-on-one battle with anyone from Israel. Goliath was over 9 feet tall (that’s 2.7m tall!... slightly taller than me...)

The obvious person from Israel to fight one-on-one with Goliath was King Saul (he had both the positional and physical stature to do so). He was the king and he was described “a head taller than any of the others”.

Saul might have the position and he had the external appearance but he did not have courage. And because of his own cowardice, it caused the whole Israelite camp to be fearful (they were taunted by Goliath for 40 days).

Let’s look at the circumstances that cause David to develop courage in his life.

1) Through The Challenges That We Face In Our Everyday Living (1 Samuel 17:34-37)

David could have run away and no one would have known. He could have fabricated a story of how fierce the lions or the bears were (like Joseph’s brothers) but he did not.

David did not say that it was his own strength, his own knowledge that helped him but that it was the Lord who helped him out and would help him out again when facing Goliath.

It was in the everyday moments when nobody was watching that David built his courageous heart.

2) Through The External Criticism & Opposition That We Face (1 Samuel 17:26-29)

Eliab, David’s eldest brother, was burning with anger with David even though David did nothing wrong.

David was sent by their father; the sheep was left with another shepherd (v20). David was just being obedient to his father’s instruction.

Why did Eliab mistreated David in such a way?

It could very well be that Eliab was angry with himself. In David, he saw his own cowardice (when he was with the other people who were also afraid, he did not feel too bad about himself).

Perhaps, he felt ashamed of himself. Perhaps the fear of facing his true self caused him to be negative and angry.

How did David respond? David merely stated his position and then he moved on to do what he had planned to do. He did not go into a verbal war and argument with his negative brother. He did not allow unfair criticism to have much power in his life, he moved on with his mission.

Having said that, criticism is either true or false or a mixture. If it is true, then we fix what needs to be fixed and then move on (don't be a self martyr). If it is false, just dismiss it and move on (don’t allow it to cause you to lose heart).

3) Through Resisting The Pressure To Conform (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

Saul dressed David in his own tunic (Saul was a big guy physically while David was a small young man).

David did a really courageous thing to say no to Saul. Saul was the king and a renown warrior. David was unknown and a shepherd boy. It would have been really easy for David to say “Saul should know more than me. I should think that he must be right, what do I know?”

David knew his own gifts and served God in the way that God has called him.

4) Through Facing The Crisis Moments Of Life (1 Samuel 17:41-50)

David had been trusting God in his every day challenges and it made him even stronger as he gone through the crisis period. David faced Goliath head on and he trusted in God and God delivered him.

The summary of the whole story is really found in verse 45. With God, we can indeed be courageous. We need to face our Goliaths, we cannot run away from them.

At the end of the day, this is not really a story about David’s courage or his skills with the sling or his willingness to take risk, it is really a story about God. It is a story about how God is faithful to help us when we trust in Him.

Remember the principles, not just the events.

Was talking just now with Peter regarding the job offer that I got. He asked me a number of things to consider... and then after that, I mentioned to him that I already said "Yes".

(A dramatised version of our conversation...)
"What?! You mean you just said yes just like that? Without knowing how much you're going to get, without knowing how many days a week...?"

"Uh... yeeeeees."

"What if the guy offers you only $400? What if he wants you to work 7 days a week? Ok, I'm just being dramatic... but you see what I mean?"

"Mmm... yesh... that means I might have made myself a slave of the company..."

"My dear Yeu Ann, you may have just made yourself a PEON of the company..."

Yeu Ann lands his first job... and here's his job description.
The label of Peon denotes the lowest station amongst those in the Orcish Horde. Inferior in all skills of worth, these dogs are relegated to menial tasks such as harvesting lumber and mining Gold. Their labor is also required for the construction and maintenance of buildings necessary to support the vast undertakings of the Horde. Downtrodden, the Orc Peons slave thanklessly to please their overseers.

But on a more sober note, thank God for Peter. He suggested that maybe I might need to change the way I learn from my experiences. Because currently how I try to learn from my experience is via remembering past events that happened - e.g. social boohoos... but the problem is, when I enter new situations with a twist, I end up making the same social boohoo.

And like how I made decisions hastily on the spot - repeating the same pattern again after a "near-miss" Cuban-Missile-Crisis style experience a few weeks ago due to some hasty decision on the spot...

So the better way to learn from my experiences is through thinking about the incident, and what principles I can extract from this.

Now that I'm typing this, an example of what it means to extract principles can be found in Proverbs 24:
"I went past the field of the sluggard,
past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone walls was in ruins.
I applied my heat to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw...

You know, it just struck me. This principle of extracting principles can also be applied into studying. Hee. Like how some people keep on mugging but they end up getting slaughtered in the exam halls. It's not because they didn't work hard enough. But it could be because they didn't capture or understand the principles behind what they learnt.

Perhaps that's one thing about the Singaporean education system - while it does well on knowledge, it needs to help students learn to extract principles on their own. Sorta like teaching a man to fish, not just giving him fish.

Peter also observed that my journal tends to list a lot of experiences, but is pretty low on making sense of my experiences, especially the principles that I can learn from these experiences.


So something I want to thank God for today is that I finally realised how to most effectively learn from my past experiences is not by trying to remember events - but rather, the principles that can be learnt from these experiences.

Melancholics like me would tend to start dwelling on the events themselves, and missing out on the invaluable principles that can be learnt from these experiences. Best if you can also learn from other peoples' experiences (bad experiences too!)... just like what Prov 24 advises.

Gosh! I realise I've been "hard-coding" myself with a whole bunch of situational "if-else-then" clauses since young... when wisdom says that it's far, far better to extract the principles from what you experience... that's something I learnt in Artificial Intelligence too. So I guess a computer may be smarter than me sometimes... :P

Thank God also for Peter's encouragements during that time. Really really felt very encouraged. Because he encouraged me that I'm not a goner, I'm simply learning in progress! And that even though I had to "retake" the test... hee, it will come around again - and I will pass the same test this time around, by God's grace! :D

So one principle of encouragement I learnt from this experience: help the person know that even in his/her current state, it's ok - it's never too late to get up and keep moving on.

Peter also reminded me that reflecting on my experiences to see what principles I can extract is a HABIT. And this good habit can be done in very small pockets of time... e.g. when I'm waiting for someone, or travelling or etc...

Hee, so something I also learnt about making sense of my experiences is not just looking back to see where God has been leading me too, but also looking forwards, to extract as many principles as I can learn... no wonder the book of Proverbs is so full of principles. :D

So touched, because I can see how God has been faithfully answering my prayers to give me wisdom and maturity.

Just feel that this experience today is going to be the start of a quantum leap in my growing in wisdom and stature. :D And I know I'm not alone in this struggle to grow, because when I do my part, Daddy will take care of the greater part!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just some reflections from my quiet time today - of Grace and Peace

Was reading John 1, and while I was reading it, was thinking again about my dear friend. Then think the Lord spoke to me this verse regarding my friend and me: "[John the Baptist] himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."

Think He told me that I'm not the light; I'm only a witness to the light. My responsibility, really, is simply be a witness to the light.


And I think He also brought to my attention the verses that spoke about grace and truth. Especially grace.

"... who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

Think this also confirms the thought that I had in my mind when I was praying one or two nights ago. That God wants me to show more grace to more people.

Feel paiseh sharing this. But think it's good for me to remember that Jesus is the God of all grace after all.

And I think He's showing me grace too, even though He knows I've failed already.

Yeah, think that could be it. After sharing with Shawn (sorry to trouble you bro... and thank you SO MUCH for listening... I'm super-touched by how you literally set aside everything to listen to me share my burden) last Saturday, I took some time to sit back and search my heart. To allow the Spirit to examine my heart.

Then think it's a gradual revelation of sorts. That I am seeing where I failed, and didn't give my best... and where the problem is not mine, but the other person's. And giving AND receiving grace, on both sides, and being thankful to God for what is still there. Beauty from pain, I guess you could say that. :)

Grace. I think He really wants me to be full of it too. Not just truth, but also grace. "...but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

... and Peace

Maybe it's that sense of loss and pain in my heart, that I'm finding it hard to let go and trust Him.

So appropriate then, what Ps Jeff shared during Sunday that Jesus gives us PEACE.

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

Ps Jeff continued: "We are fearful because we are not in control."

Yah. Think I just need to let go of this issue, and just show grace... not forgetting that this really is one of the most powerful things of God that can... prayerfully... touch a person's heart, where truth has failed to enter. Think the grace of God is the key that helps to melt even the coldest and hardest hearts. It's the wildcard, it's the royal flush, the coup de grâce (pun unintended!) of God to Satan's worst tricks. Where Jesus took the full blow on the cross, died... and rose again on the third day, putting even Death to death. :)

Because this is not my battle. This is the Lord's battle. And I would do well to remember on whose side I'm supposed to be on. He's my Shepherd... and my Commander! :)

Yes, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Amen and praise the Lord! :)

To quote WZ...

Haha, posted here with his permission: verbatim!

"Retrospection is a very powerful but useless thing."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Heart of Social Entrepreneurship

Was walking back home, after visiting some of the bros and sisters in NUS mugging for their exams, and thinking about the future career path.

Very thankful to God that He has allowed me to do some freelance work that, by His grace, will give a good boost to the efforts of some church-planters setting up a company. Think this is the kind of work that I REALLY love to do. Knowing that what I'm doing for Him has eternal value, and to boot, I get paid while doing something I love which will help to make an impact of ETERNAL value too! w00t! :D It really is sweet and proper to work for the Lord!

So this set me off on a trail of thinking. I realised that, actually, the path that I'm becoming more and more interested in is the path of social enterprise, where you run a business that is first and foremost, self-sustaining, and secondly, able to help provide consistently, whether in terms of educational or financial or other types of value, for a target group of people.

And also, I hope to, in the course of running a multimedia design company next time, be able to provide support to other fellow social entreprises too. :) After all, a multimedia design agency's primary role is that of a support service... and also, hee, help support the Kingdom of God in whatever way possible. Of course, financially is one way, but think can support in terms of expertise and skill too.


Then it struck me that actually, social enterprise has already been mentioned in the Bible. The principle of social enterprise can be seen very clearly from Acts 20:32-35, when Paul, in his farewell speech to the church in Ephesus that he had helped plant, told them:

"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Then it struck me that philanthropy, volunteer work and social entreprise are all simply fellow agents on the same continuum - based on the same underlying principle: working hard to provide for oneself, and also to help the weak - remembering the Lord Jesus' words: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Gosh. Both capitalists and communists really can learn from Christ. :)

Think this is one of the experiences that I've been going through, how God has been helping me understand that my current way of understanding and seeing the world is inadequate. I've been learning that I have this tendency to shoehorn my understanding of what I should do and shouldn't do - whether it's in social manners, or relationships, or work, or graphics designing or family, etc... - into a framework, a model, a set of algorithms.

And it's inadequate, because (as WZ would put it) this being overly pedantic makes me ill-equipped to handle new situations and challenges.

So thank God for my dear shep who has been helping ... ok, pushing me... to learn and apply principles for living... and all these principles can be found in the Bible!

Still learning. It's not easy to change my mindset - but I know my Daddy in heaven will help me grow in this area of wisdom, because He has promised already in James 1 that if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it WILL be given to him. :) Amen!
Luke 22:39-46
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

Just struck me as I was reading this verse today. Think the Lord's telling me not to let my sorrow exhaust me. Rather, He wants me to get up and pray - this is a far more constructive and effective thing to do.

And felt a whole lot more hopeful after finishing the last chapter of Luke. When I read of His resurrection, and His ascension... and His blessings and promise to send the Holy Spirit to be with us, just felt so much more encouraged and joyful. :)

We are not alone. For He is with us always, unto the very end of the age.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just feeling tired

Feeling tired, and insecure. Just can't seem to keep it down. It's gripping me again - this selfishness, and insecurity. A creeping disease, insecurity. Just feel so ashamed of myself. I've seen the damage insecurity can do - both to me and to others - e.g. you start becoming clingy and possessive. Just feel so helpless.

How long, O Lord?

Sorry to all my dear friends who had experienced a taste of my irritation, insensitivity or inconsideration recently. Just feeling quite tense inside. Be good if you can remember me in your prayers. And please point out to me too - it's an act of love ok. It's a weakness of mine - when I'm tired and irritable, my insensitivity shoots up for miles. Hmm. No excuses here, just need your grace and forgiveness and correction.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Father, I place into Your hands...

Father, I place into Your hands
The things I cannot do.
Father, I place into Your hands
The things that I’ve been through.
Father, I place into Your hands
The way that I should go,
For I know I always can trust You.

Father, I place into Your hands
My friends and family.
Father, I place into Your hands
The things that trouble me.
Father, I place into Your hands
The person I would be,
For I know I always can trust You.

Father, we love to see Your face,
We love to hear Your voice.
Father, we love to sing Your praise
And in Your name rejoice.
Father, we love to walk with You
And in Your presence rest,
For we know we always can trust You.

Father, I want to be with You
And do the things You do.
Father, I want to speak the words
That You are speaking too.
Father, I want to love the ones
That You will draw to You,
For I know that I am one with You.

Just really want to share how God touched my heart just now, and really spoke to me...

Because I've been increasingly troubled by a dear friend and my family this week. To be honest, it was something in my heart building up over the week, till today I was feeling very frustrated in heart. Found myself becoming increasingly critical and angry towards many people... and in a way, because of the burden and helplessness I felt in my heart for my friend and family. Somehow felt like my heart's a frayed rope, snapping strand by strand, with the burden. Not that I would be exploding or breaking down so dramatically... but just felt so burdened and heartbroken for my friend and family.

Knew that God's concerned for them too... but told Him I really don't know what to do next. Should I carry on scolding or correcting or persuading or what? To be gentle or to be harsh? To say what? To do what?

Then somehow, just really felt a longing in my heart to listen to this song: "Father I place into Your hands"...

Played it back, and listened... somehow, the music really soothed my heart.

Finally, just felt so ... at the end of my rope that I just stopped everything I was doing, and just prayed to God while listening to the music.

Then, decided to go look for the lyrics (because I couldn't quite make out the words in the song). And when I found the lyrics... the very first words I saw were:

Father, I place into Your hands
My friends and family.
Father, I place into Your hands
The things that trouble me.

Father, I place into Your hands
The person I would be,
For I know I always can trust You.

These words just make me want to cry. Because I knew without a doubt that God heard my prayers and questions... and answered.

Am so touched, I just want to share this with you, because I know even deeper now, just how much He loves, not only me, but also my friends and family. His heart is really so, so, so concerned for them... in fact, He died for them on the cross to save them from their sins! His love for every person on the planet is very real!

So just want to encourage all my dear friends, whether Christian or not, that God really loves your friends and families... He knows exactly everything that is going on in their lives, and no matter how helpless you may feel... I just want to encourage you that you always can trust in Him. =) Do pray to God when you feel helpless... for He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. =)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Chicago Day In Review - Hey There Delilah - Stop Motion

This is a really beautiful video... Love the song! Kiss MTV-wannabe music vids goodbye; there's a new kid on the blog! (pun intended) ;)

Think a useful principle that I learnt from watching this vid is that sometimes, if you're limited by your equipment (deliberately or not), you can actually make use of your equipment's limitations to create new and creative works of arts that nobody's thot of before.

E.g. a still camera can't do motion at all. But is that necessarily a bad thing? For starters, the very stillness of a photo lends sharpness, clarity and detail to its subject. It freezes the subject in time and space, and helps the viewer to stop and appreciate the ephemeral beauty of its subject for as long as he/she likes to.

Same way with God. Sometimes we feel super-limited as instruments - we don't have this person's talent or that person's intelligence - in fact, we feel as ordinary as an ordinary 2B pencil. But the truth is, God's a far greater artist and creator than we can ever think of. He picks us up, and where we see limitations, He sees opportunities. And he turns our limitations into the very glories of His masterpiece.

"and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor."

But, on the other hand - How to Win the World without Losing Your Identity

On the other hand, after thinking through my previous post, let's look at the other side of the coin again.

Actually, my friend's got a point to make. Virtual worlds do make for hollow satisfaction.

Then, thinking again, I think there's a balance here. There are many reasons people choose to do such things... some really enjoy socializing and meeting people of other cultures e.g. I got to talk with some Japanese dude in real-time in Second Life, and also, it's a great way to learn new hobbies and interests... but also, other people seek community and sexual satisfaction by engaging in cyberfantasies and so on. So that's the dark side.

So, what to make of it?

I think first, we need to identify what's the need(s) that cause people to do this or that, whether it be DOTA gaming or gambling or sports or watching anime or reading or blogging :o). Some activities are healthy, others are ok, and yet others definitely not so.

Then thinking, it's not just the activities themselves, but the cultural and social contexts in which the activities are done.

Adrian Plass thoughtfully comments,
Someone came to see me a while ago and said, "I've done these talks for radio, and I know you've done some, so would you tell me what you think?"

I had a look at them, and they were OK, you know, but there was this one about the lottery. And it was more or less telling people 'You mustn't do the lottery, be a Christian instead.'

And I said to him, "You don't think it's just a little bit negative?"

And he said, "No...."

And I said, "Well, why do people do the lottery?"

He said, "To make money".

I said, "But it's more than that. Why do they really do the lottery?"

He said, "Well, I suppose they want something wonderful to happen."

I said, "Exactly, they want something amazing to happen in their lives. Something different and big."

He said, "Yeah, but the lottery's for money..."

I said, "Hold on, we haven't got there yet. What did Jesus promise his followers?"

He said, "Eternal life."

I said, "Yeah, but what else?"

He said, "Nothing."

I said, "He offered them riches."

He said, "No, he didn't."

I said, "What's treasure in heaven then?"

He said, "Yeah, well, but that's not money."

I said, "Hold on, we haven't got here yet. So you go to heaven, and what is the currency?"

He said, "Well, love, I suppose."

I said, "So you go to heaven, go to the Divine Bank, get a great wad of banknotes worth 5 million loves, and you go and spend them. So what you could say to people who do the lottery is:

'Your instincts are absolutely right. You want something wonderful to happen in your life, and you want to be rich. You are halfway there, to understanding why people follow Jesus.'"

So then I said to him, "Are you going to use that?"

And he said, "No, I don't think so."

Because it feels unsafe, as if you're moving away from the gospel, whatever that is.

That's a rather C.S. Lewis approach, that these delights that can be distractions from God are also gifts from God to point us the way to him. But he also said that he wouldn't recommend a religious writer to use a comic genre, because it's not appropriate to the message. Does that surprise you?

Well, I think that's an extraordinary comment from Lewis, who used comedy an enormous amount to convey truth. I think it was a question of fashion as well at the time. In the 50s would have had trouble telling more than the old Anglican jokes, but in the 80s and 90s it's very different.

But comedy without passion would be a very hollow thing in the church. I think people are sometimes disappointed to find that I am a passionate Christian, rather than a don't-care piss-taker. I can sense they don't like the Christian faith and they'd like me to support them in that, and I can't. It's the most important thing in my life.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Plass says, 'cos Jesus Himself used that approach to evangelise to the Samaritan woman (John 4).

Hmm. To be honest, I think I've been applying this principle bit by bit in my outreach, and yeah, it does seem to work, to make some people more interested in finding out more about Christ (yay! :D)...

Well, different strokes for different people. :) And no matter which approach we take, as long as we abide by God's rules, we're all in this together. :)

In the end, I think it's our own lives that people will look at - simply because it may be the only time they actually get to see the Good News for what it really is - whether it works as advertised.

But just to encourage you all - including myself - even tho we all are inadequate and fail big-time at times, Christ's love is so powerful that if those who don't know His love yet take just one look... I do believe that that's already more than enough! :D if just even a tiny dose of sunshine gives light and warmth to a darkened room... how much more a shining city on a hill! :D

Of helping people find a new life through Second Life ;)

Just read a friend's blog entry on virtual worlds:

"I read from Digital sth sth, abt this virtual world called Second Life. Essentially, you can be who you are not in real life. You can do anything you want, like make art and open an art museum and sell and earn real money. It does sound great. It probably is. Like if you want to design stuff but in Singapore, hard to sell your own designed things, you could do it online. It's where you choose to be who you want (eg male/female..) and do whatever you want, make your dreams true or something.

But I dunno.. there was just sth in it that didn't make me give full approval. It's just that the whole virtual world.. it seems a bit artificial, and unreal. You don't experience pain and suffering, things go too well and too fast, while in reality, problems crop up, difficulties are faced, conflicts arise, and you slowly persevere and overcome them, and grow in character while in virtual world, it just doesn't seem to have that kind of real challenges. It might seem like a second life.. but I do wonder if it truly gives e deepest satisfaction in e soul."

Thought about it, and to be honest, I think her perspective of virtual worlds is a bit incomplete... (sorry ha... just my opinion...)

I think in the next few years, Second Life (SL) and other virtual worlds that come up will grow mainly because it offers good opportunities to make a fast buck - legal or illegal. Reminds me of a Gold Rush / Dotcom.Boom / etc. Some things don't change that much. ;)

And I think it's good if we Christians can get actively engaged in these virtual worlds. Because they're simply the 3D equivalent of social networking websites. In fact, I predict that SL and other virtual worlds will transform into marketplaces, even live drama theatres (all done by avatars acting...), and even musicals... (think Phantom of the Opera 2.0...)

And not to mention the entrepreneurial opportunities there.

Personally, I think one problem that we Christians have is that we tend to be too isolationist and not proactive in eagerly harnessing the latest communications tech and media to win friends. Fact is, yes, people ignore the real world while immersed in the virtual world. They already are doing that now anyway, what with RSS, Web 2.0, podcasting, narrowcasting, customizable portals, etc.

So why don't WE bring the real world to them? Not just the bad things, but also the good things e.g. music, drama, poetry, humour, etc... SL's filled with a lot of cybercrap - e.g. cybersex and so on. Why don't we go in and be salt in the place? Set up an act there or something... or do the online version of street evangelism... it can be done one. Very easy... or do something more beneficial for society... highlight the plight of the people in Darfur... some people are already doing that! Putting up a gigantic 3D signboard saying, "REMEMBER DARFUR IN THE REAL WORLD" in the middle of Second Life, for everyone to see!

Just some ideas that I have for Second Life (I joined it last year, when I was doing research for a term paper on virtual worlds) - and how we can bring the aroma and joy of Christ into Second Life and other virtual worlds (VWs)... because, in the end, the people using the VWs are real mah. (unless they're bots.)

(e.g. World of Warcraft... yes, it's possible to live out godly lives even in World of Warcraft... e.g. instead of selfishly grabbing the first special item that you see, why not bless your teammates with it? I think they'll be very surprised - just like in real life! [I did something like that before - it was so cool, and hee, my teammates did me a good turn in return.])

Well, the ideas:
- We could set up a drama troupe... or a mime troupe... or a capella group there... or play really good music in a public forum, attract people to come and listen... virtual busking, you see! :)

[Yes, it's technically feasible and quite simple I think to do such things in Second Life.]

- Set up an art gallery there

- Be social activists there... raise up relevant issues...

- Social entrepreneurship - all proceeds go directly to charity! :) Yes, in SL, virtual cash is convertible into REAL ca$h.

- Have a church there... haha, can set up encouragement boards...

Personally, I'm quite excited about the growth of Second Life... mainly because it's got over 5 million PEOPLE... imagine! 5 million people that we are ABLE to reach out to... :) ok, I'm starting with one or two... but heh, we all gotta start somewhere mah.

Hmm, also because I think God gave me this passion to reach people for Christ through media... so hee, want to explore more of this potential area...

But well, I think that's all talk... i must start somewhere... the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few! Lord, here I am, send me! :D


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

4 very meaningful articles that I saw just now

Wow, very meaningful, especially when I've been thinking about the feasibility of venturing into the realms of social entrepreneurship, especially in an increasingly globalized and - ahem - capitalistic economy. :P (Hey, just for the record, I'm not a communist ok...)

Live Deep: Reach Out to the Poor
Poverty is on display constantly in the news. It’s as far away as a distant continent and as close as your local city. But the sheer magnitude of the problem can overwhelm and paralyze you if you don’t see beyond poverty as an issue and get to know poor people themselves. When you build relationships with people living in poverty, you’ll begin to see that you can fight the monster of poverty by making a difference in individual lives.

Here’s how you can reach out to the poor:...

The "Culturally Savvy Christian"
Too often Christian responses to the arts fall into one of two categories: the Christian element is assumed and the resulting work is pale and insipid, not really discussing a Christian relationship to the arts, but merely a moral one. Or, the Christian element is emphasized so heavily that there really is no taking on of the arts on their own terms...

The Disposable Worker: Why Capitalism Needs Christianity
Last week, electronics retailer Circuit City announced that it was laying off 3400 employees.

What made these particular layoffs noteworthy was not their size but, instead, Circuit City's stated reasons. They had "nothing to do with skills or whether they were a good worker or not." Instead, "it was a function of their salary relative to the market."

In other words, Circuit City was laying them off so it could replace them with people who make less. Rotten!

And on a more personal note - this is very inspiring and exciting! Evangelism... :D
One Wallet's Witness
Monday morning found me exhausted even before I began. After flipping randomly through my Bible, I admitted, "Lord, You know how overloaded I feel this week. Please help me to slow down and experience Your presence. Lead me to someone who needs to see You in my life."

That afternoon, I returned a pair of sneakers to the store. “They’re the wrong size,” I explained to the young clerk, “and I can’t find another pair that fit.”

“Too bad,” she responded, as she counted back my refund. “There you go--$37.99.”

“Oh no,” I gasped, handing her back $18. “They were on sale last week for $19.99, remember?”

I heard two young men behind me mumble something about me “either being crazy or just plain stupid.”

“Thanks a lot,” the clerk said. “I guess you’re one of those honest types.”

“Well, I’m a Christian,” I replied matter-of-factly. As I tucked the $19.99 in my wallet, she thanked me again.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

I've been reminded just now, and quite a few times this weekend, just how experiential i have become. While it's one thing to experience God through my experiences, it's totally another thing to let experiences and circumstances drive my view of life.

It's important not only to just experience things, but also to make sense of my experiences.

This inspiration came to my mind as I was reading Jit's latest entry. Am encouraged by how she faithfully does her best to make sense of her experiences, to practise seeing things from God's viewpoint, even when she's tempted to be negative and dwell in negativity. :)

Reminded suddenly of what RF said to me some time ago, when I affirmed him for something in particular. He looked at me and said, "You know what, Yeu Ann? A lot of people affirm me for being so talented, being able to do this and that. But the kind of affirmation that really touches my heart is when people look beyond the surface, and look at the heart, the spirit behind the things I do."

It spoke to me a lot, because I think I'm the kind of person who prefers to be affirmed for being able to do this or that. But RF's sharing helped remind me of what God really delights to affirm: The heart behind what people do.

It's strange, yeah, but in the end, it is God who justifies us, even when we have nothing left to speak of, nothing to cover our shame. Justified simply because of His work on the cross... and He went to the cross in our place... simply because He loved us enough to die for us.

at the cross i bow my knees
where your blood was shed for me
there's no greater love than this
you have overcome the grave
your glory fills the highest place
what can separate me now

Sitting back now. Think God spoke to my heart. I've been very busy and harried in spirit, and as I reflected, I'm starting to look to people for comfort again, for strength from them, instead of drawing strength from God.

Ah. Think He has been telling me to focus on Him again, to pray to Him. Because He will help me. :) Yes and amen!

Good Friday Service - "Why?"

At Good Friday/Easter service, they played a very beautiful animation plus the song "why" by Nicole Nordeman.

It was so unbearably beautiful that I could hardly bear to look at the screen.

As I watch the animation, it becomes more and more unbearable. I scream inwardly and grit my teeth and pray silently: "Stop, stop! Take Him down from the cross... I BELONG THERE, NOT HIM!!!!!!!"

And dear God, I tremble in my heart, knowing that it was supposed to be ME there, carrying the cross for my sins. And yet... He took my place instead. An innocent, sinless Man.

Oh I can't describe just how much it wrenches my heart to realise that there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop Him from taking my place - because He did it already. And yet, the pain is so real... because I know this: "I am why He must die."

And thank God so much that I feel that sense of pain that wrenches my heart more and more each year. I think it's a healthy thing, because it helps me realise that I have really grown in depth of knowing a little more of how much it really cost Him to pay the full bloody price for all my sins.

And if the pain I feel is just for one person - ME - then how, how, how much was the pain that He felt that terrible Day, when He bore the sins of the WHOLE world on His shoulders?


Thank God He is RISEN INDEED! And what a joy to know that ALL my sins, past, present and even future, have been fully forgiven in His name! Wow... I really nodded my head, when Ps Jeff shared from John 8 that Jesus is QUICK to forgive... I still remember that day back in 2005, when I finally turned back to God and confessed my pride and other sins to Him... He somehow helped me understand experientially just how QUICK He is to forgive my sins.

Wow. I'd always known in my head how quick He is to forgive... but till that day when I turned back to Him with all my heart, I'd never known in my heart just really how quick... in fact, He is more eager to forgive us than we are to confess! Never saw such a man like Jesus... He truly is the Son of God!
Just finished typing some stuff for my ma again. :)

On Saturday, went with my dad to visit my old school principal (Sister Anne, from Canossian School for the Hearing-Impaired). Visiting the place brought back many memories. Sister Anne was so delighted to see me. She still looks the same, with her firm no-nonsense jaw-set and sure determination in her eyes, albeit much whiter hair. We chatted a while, and at the end of the conversation, she shook my hand firmly, and said so glad to see you, and how you've been - and embraced me. Touched.

She told us about another Sister, Sister Maria Evan, an Italian nun, who took care of me back a long time ago. Sister Maria Evan? Her name didn't ring a bell. In fact, couldn't even find a bell to ring. ;P

But in search of her, we traipsed over to St. Anthony's Home and found her there. When Sister Maria came into the room, I saw a petite, but lively lady with many laugh lines on her wrinkled face. She looked at me with a slightly puzzled look, while trying to remember who I was. Then my dad told her, "He's Yeu Ann."

And her eyes suddenly opened wide, and she gasped in surprised delight. She embraced me and pumped my hand in delight. I think what they say about Italians being passionate and exuberant really is so true. :)

"Oh! It's you! Look at you! You were so small! Now you are so big! How have you been!"

Wow, can't forget those laughing gray eyes of her... she regaled me with many stories about the past, and about how quiet I was last time, and how I will go running here and there, and how I was so attached to the library, always preferring to read books than to play with the other children...

Then she blessed me with drinks for me and my dad. She's been here in Singapore as a missionary for 43 years already. Wow...

Soon, it was time to say goodbye. And as we walked out, I saw other nuns cheerfully greeting some visitors, and I felt so blessed by their warmth and sincerity. Honestly, the old-age home really felt so warm and so full of love and joy.

I thought about it, and couldn't help but be struck by the stark differences between some of the old-age homes that I've visited before. Each home seems to have a certain flavour to it, and some seem very dreary, while others are so warm, that I think you wouldn't mind staying there. :)

I think it's the love of Christ and devotion in these Sisters that really make a huge difference. That, and also the close sense community that I could see in the residents, and the open-door policy that lends ... a very "campus" feel to the whole place. Hee! Yup, the old-age home reminded me of a certain hall in NUS... :) except that it's much nicer than the hall... haha!

Also very inspired by how these women have devoted their lives to serving God by serving the poor... touches my heart a lot. :)

God and people... Christ and His church... they really do make a difference to this world.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Good Friday Musings

It's very early in the morning as I type this.

Had a good Good Friday :) with my dear CG yesterday. Rayson joined us for lunch, and oh yeah, not forgetting that unforgettable moment in which Peter accidentally tricked me into chugging a bottle of vinegar. Yep, accidentally... haha... Thank God that I didn't spew out the stuff onto him! :P

Then watched The Reaping. Ok lah, but the ending was... well, they tried to put a twist there, but it didn't go down well - gave you that slightly twisted feeling in your stomach. :P

Then had dinner with Tai Heng. Thank God for Huaqiang, Sarah and Shawn who were there too. :) TH's coming for service tml. Thank God also for Guoxiong who asked him too.

Hmm. After all this busy week, just need to take a step back and ruminate about Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross.

Just reminded that God's love is also a very experiential thing. And how I need to draw closer to Him, into His hands.

Knelt down today before Him, partly also because I was getting increasingly frustrated about my slow progress in sending out resumes, plus having to handle errands and so on - which, together with my poor stewardship of time, and other concerns, made me increasingly snappier and more irritated the past few days.

And I think He simply reminded me to go back to Him. "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

And to stay my focus on Him, despite the occasional 'heart-flutter'. ;)

Listening to some beautiful worship songs. They made me think about Him. Of Him, actually. How I need to think of Him even more.

And read this TIME article about Albert Einstein's belief in a God. Though he didn't believe in the God of the Bible (both Christian and Jewish), he did believe in a higher force. Think the most admirable attitude that I learnt from him was his attitude of intellectual humility - that we need to recognize that we are limited, that we do not know everything.

Hee... it's not just a nice, pithy statement that he made, but also something he lived out in his intellectual thinking... e.g. his willingness to admit his 'Cosmic Blunder' - the insertion of a 'cosmological constant' to balance his equations, which he later on said to be "one of the greatest mistakes in [his] life."

And about atheists:
But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist. "There are people who say there is no God," he told a friend. "But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views." And unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in God; instead, he tended to denigrate atheists. "What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos," he explained.

In fact, Einstein tended to be more critical of debunkers, who seemed to lack humility or a sense of awe, than of the faithful. "The fanatical atheists," he wrote in a letter, "are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who--in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'-- cannot hear the music of the spheres."

w00t! :) I guess ol' Einstein really was no fool. =)

And what he said about Jesus Christ in an interview:
To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."

You accept the historical existence of Jesus? "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

Wow... that is really so cool! :)

Just thinking about Jesus. Who is He, really, to me? Was reading about the Son of Man, and I'm just thinking about that too. Who is the Son of Man, and just why that title? Why would God choose to call Himself the Son of Man?

Utter humility, to say that you are the son of something you created. Crazy... and yet so meaningful.

Ha. Just some random musings, but yes, really want to just set aside my thinking for a while, and just ... think about Jesus Himself. Even if I were not a believer... at the very least, I shall go to the roadside, stand on tiptoe and take a look at this wounded man staggering under a heavy wooden block. Just To See For Myself.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Discover Magazine: The God Experiments - and Easter's Answer

The God Experiments
Five researchers take science where it's never gone before.

I saw this article while browsing through the Discover website, and read it.

A few passages caught my eye, e.g.:
"Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, has focused on the tendency of people from different religious traditions to report similar mystical experiences, which typically involve sensations of self-transcendence and "oneness." These commonalities indicate that the visions stem from the same neural processes, Newberg hypothesizes. To test his theory, Newberg has scanned the brains of more than 20 adherents of spiritual practices, including Christian prayer and Tibetan Buddhist meditation. He uses a technique called single-­photon-emission-computed tomography, or SPECT, a variant of the better-known positron-emission tomography, PET.

The chief advantage of SPECT is that it can capture the brains of meditators in a relatively natural setting. The subject meditates not in the SPECT chamber itself but in a separate room. When a subject—a Franciscan nun, in one case—feels her ordinary self "dissolving into Christ consciousness," as she describes it, a radioactive fluid is injected into her body through an intravenous tube; the fluid travels to her brain and becomes trapped in nerve cells there. The nun then goes to the SPECT chamber, where a computer-controlled camera scans her brain. The resulting image reveals levels of neural activity in the moment immediately after she received the radioactive fluid, when she presumably was still immersed in contemplation."

So the key question that popped into my mind after reading this was: are all those experiences that I've been having while praying and worshipping God, simply neurochemical reactions, etc?

And so, it could be argued, back and forth, ad-nauseam, "these physiological effects obviously prove that it was GOD who made us!" "No, it doesn't! Your so-called experiences with God are simply chemical by-products!" "Yes!" "No!" "Take this!" "Oww! Take that!" etc. Wow. "Peace and love to all... now die, you scum!" :P (tongue-in-cheek here)

But more seriously, it made me look for an answer, because if the evidence so far is inconclusive that there's really a God, then wouldn't it be better to err on the side of agnosticism? To say, well, there may be a God, but I'm not sure and I don't want to risk believing in the wrong kind of God etc.

So asked God about this, 'cos was feeling pretty unsure how to answer that question. (Haha... I can imagine it now: "God, I believe You exist, but eh, I'm just wondering... do You really exist?")

Thank God really... He didn't leave me without an answer. (whew) This Bible passage immediately came to mind:

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Wow... thank God for that passage. 'Cos I think you can't get as empirical as actually seeing the execution wounds with your own eyes, touching the nail wounds, and fingering with my own fingers the spear wound in an obviously ex-dead person's side...

So I think, religious experiences do come and go, and frankly, you can't base your faith on warm fuzzy feelings only. It's super-unsafe. Else you might as well go pop some "hallelujah" pills. You need to ground your faith in something that you can be sure is true.

Thus, it's really reassuring to know that, when I am tempted to doubt God's existence from time to time, and the latest scientific findings cast more agnostic aspersions on His existence... I remember that on the first Easter, Jesus Himself allowed one man to see and feel the very truth for himself with his own eyes and hands. And after that, scolded Thomas that blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Still, thank God that Thomas said that famous statement so many years ago... he spoke for all of us die-hard skeptics - and thank God that He answered to every skeptic - past, present and future - that day. :D