Thursday, August 30, 2007

Can the Bible Really Tell Me What To Do When My Computer Crashes?

Would you first consult the bible when faced with a co-worker’s question concerning a problem he’s having with his teenage son, or would you first consult an “expert,” a secular book on the subject, or another friend? ... Few people are aware of just how practical the Scriptures really are and therefore just how useful they really are for helping us to answer every day questions or deal with every day situations. [continue...]

Read this article, and it was like a breath of fresh air. :) 'Cos I was reading the Bible with another friend over lunch yesterday, and think something in common is that we both (to be honest) find the Bible quite dry at times.

But thank God for His patience with me... even before reading this article, I was praying to God to give me a renewed love for Him, for His Word... somehow there's been quite a number of things happening recently that all serve to point me toward His Word as THE TRUTH. Like a Ravi Zacharias recording that I happened to come across on Ellson's harddisk when I recorded it... the Bible itself... and just a deepening burden that I need to make God's Word more part of my life.

Because each day goes by so quickly in the working world, that it sometimes feels like I'm in the movie "Groundhog Day", in which the character finds himself waking up to the same day as before. Like an endless loop in which you are helpless to break out of. And willpower is, frankly, not very helpful, because if you don't have clear guidance on what really to live for, you'll naturally choose what brings you most pleasure.

But one wonderful thing is that when I start thinking more and more about what God's Word says, I find that I start knowing what is the general direction that I should walk in. Like the Lord says in the book of Jeremiah: "Stand at the ancient crossways, ask where the good way is, walk in it and you will find rest for your souls."

So I decided to start this morning to just wait upon God again... and fell asleep. :P But never felt so renewed, so refreshed. 'Cos there's this verse that reminded me that God looks at my heart, whether it waits in eager expectation.

And something that God's Word is starting to change me in is in the area of sleeping earlier. Because I normally stay up late, anxious that I can't sleep if I go to bed early, and am anxious about all the outstanding tasks that I have/want to do.

But Psalm 121 spoke to me today... it reminded me, "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those He love." This is a promise from God that He will grant me sleep, if I trust in Him to take care of what I cannot do today. So the Word of God even transforms my sleeping habits.

Thinking... my mind's starting again to feel more peaceful, because I've realised that God's Word really has the answers to every single problem in life, including my computer crashing. :) (Hee. Think I'll share more abt that next time.)

And thank God for Peter's reminder that God's Word is VERY practical.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

First Workplace Lunch-time Fellowship...

Now sitting here again. Melancholic, because I've been thinking about how much I haven't been reading the Bible really, letting it dwell richly in me.

Hmm. Well, there's tml, but Lord, I hate this melancholy in me. Because it tempts me to start doing other things to fill that heart hunger in me... be it reading, surfing the net or sleeping or playing computer games.

Nah... thank You Lord that it's never too late to pray to You for help. I don't know very much, Lord... I am young and have a long, long way to learn. But I will look to You, to You and Your strength always.

For I do know You... and I don't want to be ashamed of You.

Tomorrow's the first lunchtime fellowship that I'm organizing for Qiannuo in the workplace. Gee. It's a mustard seed planting, and to be honest, I'm quite... don't know how to put it - maybe "unsure" is a good word to use - how this lunchtime fellowship will go. But Qiannuo's not been attending church for a long time... but I do see that he has a very good heart for God, just that he Can be very melancholic too. :) Hee hee! Two mels getting together... ok, i'm more phleg than mel I think. Ah... anyway so much abt "personality types"... when it comes to being used by God, personality's simply just another tool that He can use.

I'm not sure, Daddy, how this'll go. But I'm doing this because I feel prompted, convicted even, by Your Word, which I read in the book of Acts how Barnabas found Paul and discipled him, and Paul in turn found Timothy and discipled him. And gee, to be honest, I really am the least of the Christians, 'cos I really don't know how to disciple very well. Or rather, disciple in the first place.

And I'm very, very encouraged and inspired by Swee Leong's example, how though he's still quite a young Christian (but growing, praise God!), he took his tentative steps to reach out and disciple the younger ones, even though he was quite fearful and uncertain about what to do next at times. Armed with nothing much but the Word in his hand, and a lot of "noobie" faith, he did what he could do.

So dear Swee Leong, even though you're still uncertain at times, and the road of discipleship ahead is hard and challenging, full of tears and sorrows at times, you still keep running the marathon of life faithfully. Don't give up discipling and passing on the Word of God to the next generation of Christians! As was prophesied over you after your water baptism, be a Timothy - be a man of God who preaches the Word of God in season and out of season, and who handles correctly the word of truth, who does not need to be ashamed.

For you are setting an example for the other believers in the faith even though you are young. And God's grace and hand is upon you, to do what you must do, man of God. :) Because one life that you have inspired to take up the staff of discipleship too - is me, an "oldie moldie" Christian.

Lord, I don't know how... but teach me as I do my best to know what's going on in the lives of my CG people, and grant me the grace to be humble in the light of my failings. For You Are Who You Are, and just as You Are sent Moses... so You send us to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything You have commanded us...

... You are with us always! even unto the very end of the Age! Amen! :D

So who knows what'll happen tomorrow? But God knows how tomorrow will turn out. As for me, I'm going to turn in now. Sleepy! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Insults and Sufferings

Romans 15:2b
"The insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me."

Am sitting here just ... thinking about many things today.

But yes, in particular, I'm thinking about some very insulting remarks that I got today. Obviously, I was fuming, and to cut a long story short, I scolded the other person.

But at the same time... I was praying silently too, because I really felt like taking revenge and getting back at the other person. Thank God for His grace, that we can always pray to Him at any time for help to walk right, even when we are steaming hot with anger.

So now the anger's cooling down, and dissipating away. And I was pondering over my temper. I know that I'm generally quite easy-going, but there are moments where you feel so insulted and angry - especially if it's a totally uncalled-for remark, one that is so wrong.

And there is pride too that you have to fight in your heart - the pride that says, "Who is he/she to talk to me like that?" And yet, you also wonder whether you should correct the person on the spot, or remain quiet and avoid further conflict.

I think my case is a unique case, because it's a family thing. Whereas in the outside world, and perhaps even church, you can simply steer away from these conflict zones. But in family, it's well-nigh impossible, because of the sheer proximity. That, and the fact that a "Cold War" is probably worse than a "Hot War". At least in a "Hot War", you're still interacting, if even your anger's driven by unmet expectations - which implies a mutual relationship.

But a Cold War may be worse, because you may be saying to the other person, "I hate you so much that I don't give a damn about your existence." That's the worst one. But of course, there are other motives for a Cold War. Such as playing "hurt, brooding victim" to make the other person feel guilty, so that he/she'll take the initiative to build the bridge back. I know, because I'm guilty of that quite a few times. :P But it's immature to say the least, and puts a great strain on the other party.


So here I am, thinking. It's been quite a cycle at home. Anger, harsh talk, and brooding after that, with a determination not to repeat the cycle again - which lasts till the next cycle.

So I was thinking, do I really want to take the initiative to grow closer to my family? Or am I taking the easy way out, by avoiding conflict, but not bothering to care for them? That's the key thing behind it all - do I want to love them in the first place?

And I think of Jesus... and how he was insulted by his very own people, rejected and crucified. And yet He prayed while dying on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."

So I've been asking God to change my worldly values in managing anger and resolving conflicts. Because from this cycle of anger, I realised, with the Holy Spirit's help, that I've been living in a very worldly sense.

It's just like what Paul scolded the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians:
"1Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"

As I've been reading the Bible these few months, I've been realising more and more just how little of my values and convictions are actually based on the Word of God. Of how un-Christlike my life really is.

But hee, I'm not sad - on the contrary, I'm more and more glad as the days go by, because the Bible tells me that the very fact that I realise my spiritual poverty is in itself a wonderful act of God's saving grace - the conviction of my sins by the Holy Spirit! :D I know it sounds stupid, but really, I'm very grateful to God that He is showing me more and more what I really am like without Him, and what I am in Him now, having been redeemed. :)

So I'm praying that He will help transform me by renewing my mind as I input more of the Word of Christ into my heart. Because I really am convinced that the words of Christ really, frankly, are the wisest words ever in the whole history of mankind. If the Wise Men of the East (renowned for their wisdom) bowed down and worshipped the baby Jesus that Christmas, then methinks I better bow down before the Wise Baby too. :)

And... I guess... thinking about how to respond next time... I remember that clip during Holy Comm a few Sunday services ago. How the Korean Christian was being beaten for his faith, and how his faith moved the Japanese officer's heart, and how in the close-up we saw Jesus reaching out to this brother even as the brother was being beaten up... and when the clip zoomed out, we saw Jesus being beaten at the same time by a Roman soldier.

It was so ... deeply moving. And something that struck me too was that I wasn't being persecuted for my faith. But in a sense... Jesus wasn't being persecuted at that time when He was being beaten up. He was simply being beaten up, just because his guards could.

Think there's nothing so hurting than to be the subject of wanton insults and harassment... if it were because you are fighting for something, at least you have the dignity of fighting for a cause, a reason.

But I think the worst kind of suffering is when you are doing nothing wrong, but the other person inflicts insults on you, simply because he/she can. Which looks so meaningless. But I look again at my Lord Jesus, and I know that He fully understands the pain of unjust suffering. Just because He went through it too.

And He still prays today, interceding through His church, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

So I've forgiven the other person today. And when it happens again, I'll remember my Lord Jesus, and pray for strength too.

Because I know that it helps prepare me for even greater challenges, even real persecution next time. Jesus promised that following Him would never be easy, but He did say that it will well be worth it. Like how when you run a half-marathon... the only thing that keeps you going is the thought of your friends and family waiting for you at the finishing line. And Jesus Himself waiting for you there. With a crown of glory for each and every faithful finisher. :)


After praying that prayer, I logged in, and saw this article: The Ultimate Reality: American Teens Experience Persecution In Vietnam

During the trip, says Nettleton, each of the teens had to wrestle with his or her own faith and what it means to follow Christ. The film shows one of the girls saying, “I don’t know if I would keep going to church and keep following Christ if people were sticking a gun in my face and threatening to kill me." At different times during the trip, all of the students had to answer the question: "What would I do?”

That’s really a crucial question for all Christians to ask, Nettleton says, but particularly for these young people, who are at the beginning of their lives and at the beginning of walking with Christ. "It's a powerful and important question and the answer to it can be life changing."

And I also read this BBC article: PNG Aids victims 'buried alive'. This paragraph made my heart ache:
Margaret Marabe, a known local activist in PNG, carried out an awareness campaign in the Tari area of the Southern Highlands earlier this year.

"I saw three people with my own eyes. When they got very sick and people could not look after them, they buried them," she told reporters.

She described how one person called out "mama, mama" as the soil was being shovelled over their head.

Villagers told her that such action was common, she said.

Two articles, both talking about the pain of unjust suffering. But thank God for the church there in PNG. I believe they're doing their best to comfort and rescue as many AIDS victims as possible from their killers.

There's so many things I'm thinking about, but gee, I really want to:
"know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

:) Morbid? Maybe. But the mysterious thing is, those who have been through the most intense suffering, more often than not, experience some of the greatest joys ever. =)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What is Expressiveness in a Computer Language

Read this article... think it's v interesting if you're into linguistics, be it of machines or men.

In languages human or computer, there's a notion of expressiveness.

English for example, is very expressive in manifestation, witness all
the poetry and implications and allusions and connotations and dictions. There are a myriad ways to say one thing, fuzzy and warm and all. But when we look at what things it can say, its power of expression with respect to meaning, or its efficiency or precision, we find natural languages incapable.

These can be seen thru several means. A sure way is thru logic,
linguistics, and or what's called Philosophy of Languages. One can also
glean directly the incapacity and inadequacy of natural languages by
studying the artificial language lojban, where one realizes, not only
are natural languages incapable in precision and lacking in efficiency,
but simply a huge number of things are near impossible to express thru

One thing commonly misunderstood in computing industry is the notion of
expressiveness. If a language has a vocabulary of (smile, laugh, grin,
giggle, chuckle, guffaw, cackle), then that language will not be as
expressive, as a language with just (severe, slight, laugh, cry). The
former is “expressive” in terms of nuance, where the latter is
expressive with respect to meaning.

Similarly, in computer languages, expressiveness is significant with
respect to semantics, not syntactical variation...[continue]

Functional Programming in Imperative Languages

This post is a bit techie here... bear with me! :)

I've been toying and experimenting with functional programming these few weeks. Ever since I got into a bit of trouble for not debugging my software properly, I've been thinking: "How come software engineering is SO difficult to debug? and integration is every software engineer's nightmare. We keep having to do regression testing again and again and again till the cows come home, and even then, we can't be reasonably sure that we haven't missed out some distant but destructive bug." Scary.

And part of the reason is due to the heavy use of stateful variables, which keep on getting changed as the program executes. Functional programming (FP), in its purest form, is super-easy to debug, as it is impossible for unforeseen side-effects to occur (due to its inherent property of referential transparency).

So I was thinking, "There must be a better way to write software than to have to do all this testing - it's simply... not effective enough. Unit testing is NOT the way to go - it's the entire foundation of writing software that's not good enough."

The main problem with using FP to write commercial-level software is that for the past 40+ years, the most widely used programming languages to write commercial languages are imperative languages. And I bet you that at least 90% of all software engineers have to write in imperative languages. And functional languages, to put it mildly, have very exotic syntaxes and grammars. Imagine the huge costs to organizations if they have to retrain an entire generation of software engineers. So the companies prefer to keep the status quo.

So why don't we use a balanced approach? We can borrow the key principles of FP that make them so useful, and apply them to our favourite imperative languages (e.g. C++, C, Visual Basic, Delphi, etc. etc). That way, we gain the best of both worlds - and even better, we don't have to learn a totally new language (like switching from writing English to writing Chinese) just to benefit from FP.

So I've been trying to apply FP principles to Visual Basic 6. Yes, THAT toy language. And it's very interesting. Like making sure that I do NOT change the value of any variables within a function. And I'm thinking of how to implement higher-order functions (functions that accept other functions as parameters) in VB6.

And hee, thank God, the code is so much more readable, cleaner and more predictable! And... even more cool is the fact that the number of lines of code is cut by between 1/3 and 2/3!

Of course, there's a slight disadvantage - performance issues due to overhead of function calls (esp recursion). But that can be resolved by judicious usage of stateful variables to cache the output of any function.

Hence, using FP principles in imperative languages should help reduce the complexity in any given class that tends to balloon when you keep using member variables to cross-reference other member variables... anyone who's tried to do software maintenance on a class that's been inherited (pathetic pun intended) from the guy before him, who in turn inherited it from another guy... ad infinitum.

Cool. :D my first ever techie rant/proposal on this blog. if you're a fellow techie, what do you think of this idea?

Lunch-time Fellowship? :D By Faith!

Hee, just want to thank God... been inspired by the first Christians's lives while reading the book of Acts... so have been thinking and praying about having a lunch-time fellowship. But wasn't sure how or where to start, so asked God for ideas.

And He impressed on me this friend's name - he's a Christian too, but isn't currently in a church at the moment. So we had lunch together today, and I broached the idea of a lunch-time fellowship to him. Thank God! He's quite interested in the idea... so we'll be starting next week. Thank God! :D Hee, really hope and pray that I can disciple him in the Way, just like how Priscilla and Aquila, an ordinary working-class couple, discipled Apollos, a learned scholar who hailed from Alexandria, the premier university city of the ancient world.

Just feel very encouraged by God's help... and for His guidance and spurring me on through His Word. :D So have lent him my book, "God is closer than you think"... think he'll find it very useful too, to help him experience God more. :D From what he's told me, think he experiences God strongly through nature too, just like I do. w00t! :D

Excited at what Jesus can do through me... yet not I, but Christ who lives in me! :D Amen!

Father, I really want to thank You for Your wonderful works, how You can use anyone whose heart is willing to be used by You... and how You have opened a door. Father, I really want to obey what Your Son, Jesus Christ, commanded us in Matthew 28:19-20... and I commit this plan, this idea, this hope, that this little seed of a lunch-time fellowship will in time take root and grow, and help draw many of our friends and colleagues in this workplace to come to know Your goodness, mercy and love. In other words, to taste and see that You are good! :D In Jesus' most wonderful name, amen!

Seeking God

Dear Lord, help me thirst for You. Just Your presence alone, that is all I need. I know.

Went jogging today and took my dog along too. Hee, thank God, it was a wonderful time, and just time to pray to God along the way. Quite a few things on my mind, but when I went out into the open, just looking at the stars and the skies, I'm reminded again of Psalm 8 that said, "When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"

Wow. :) Hee, you know, I think somehow, being in the midst of God's creation really helps me open up to God's presence much, much more strongly. It's been like that, even before I became a Christian - for me, evolution wasn't an issue, because I looked out the window from my books, and really, God's fingerprints are so strongly imprinted in His creation. That's why I love reading the book of Job - when God describes what He made in nature to Job - wow - you can't but help be awed by the sheer goodness and generosity of God! And that's why I enjoy reading about space and physics and the like... it's so amazing to find out what God has made in the heavens and the earth!

Love this quote a lot by William Blake - it's so true:
"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

Oh yah. Back to jogging... I took Volvo (that's my dog's name) along with me. But since he'd been cooped up at home for most of the day... and I was jogging for quite a distance, he became (pardon the pun) dog-tired. Woof! But felt a lot of joy, knowing that God is with me all the way. :)

Sigh. God, it's been so so so long. How I want to go somewhere sweet, somewhere deep, just to touch Your face. To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and seek Him in His dwelling place.

Oh yes! It was a fruitful time of meditation for me too. I was meditating on the two greatest commandments in the Bible: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart... and love your neighbour as yourself..."

And something that struck me today was this - "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Like pegs that hang higher than the objects that are suspended from them. So think this verse spoke to me, reminding me that all the things that I DO, and that I hope to achieve... whether at work or in family or in church or in ministry, etc... all ultimately gotta hang on simply loving God and loving His people.

Mother Teresa was once asked how in the world could she do what she did. She very simply replied, "Love God."

So checked out the commentary and various translation. Some say "hang", others "based". Maybe it's a foundation, maybe it's a peg. Maybe it's both. But what does that matter? The two GREATEST commandments are as clear as they can be - "Love God with everything that is in you, and love your neighbour as yourself."


Work's been real fun too - enjoying myself lots. Thank God, had a quick chat with my manager, who asked me how's my work coming along. Told him I enjoy it :) And I do enjoy it - very fun. Had a good time discussing the merits of functional programming with my colleague - planning to experiment using FP with Visual Basic 6. (Yes, WZ, it's VB6... not .NET... even though VB6 is 6-feet under... haha)

Been praying too that UpThere will come DownHere in my office, my family. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN." And God is giving me renewed confidence in getting to know my colleagues more. =) Thank You Jesus!

And thank God too that I managed to learn more about how to rescue data from a dying hard-disk these 2 weeks. Invaluable experience for blessing other people!

And also that I'm still quite fit enough to enjoy running even after so long! God has been good to me indeed. :) Actually, He always works for the good of those who love Him in ALL things.

And for my mum's wise advice to me to pass her my bankbook so that she can help keep me accountable on my finances. Because I spent quite a lot last month, so my savings were less than what they could have been. Realised the blessings of accountability to those whom God has put in charge over your life. And also that I'm now a stakeholder in my family finances, so accountability REALLY helps minimize any conflicts in financial disputes. Really. And realised how much pride - e.g. refusing to own up to your own excessive spending can really worsen the situation, where you try to make excuses... - can bring on quarrels. But God is so good... my mum was wiser than me, suggesting that I simply pass her my bankbook. She's quite detail-oriented and meticulous, so this is her natural strength. My dad's the opposite, and I think I inherited this aspect from him :P...

So feel more relaxed now, knowing that I have support in a weaker area of my life - financial discipline. Think it'll be a real blessing if my future wife has a natural strength in being detailed and systematic... she could be the "financial manager" in the family. Think Ps Jeff and his wife have a similar arrangement.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My Job - and its Purpose

I happened to drop by to join KC, Jinghe, Peifang and Lisiong for a quick bite. Then Peifang asked me, "Are you enjoying your new job so far?"

Told her, yes, work's fun, etc. etc...

But my reply made me think. Actually... what am I in this job for? I know that God has blessed me with this job - it's a really good one, and I enjoy it... but... it's not exactly a media-related job, and I'm wondering how does it fit into God's plan for my life. But after Weizhu prayed for me, I think I can see how it fits after all...

Because I've always wanted to help out in missions. For God's heartbeat is for everyone, from every nation, tribe, people and language, to know Him as Lord and Saviour. It's like what Pastor Johannes (whose sermons I personally enjoy very much and have impacted me a lot) said today: The true riches that Christ was telling us about is not Money, but, people. People are of infinite value to God - in fact, He loved us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross in our place, that we might be forgiven if we choose to accept His incredible sacrifice for us.

And this job seems to be a very wonderful open door by which I can help support the missions team. Personally, I think God is giving me an increasing burden and desire for a certain country in Africa. Amazing... I'm actually praying to God to send me to Africa! :D Isn't my heavenly Daddy so COOL? :D I wouldn't have even wanted to go there a few years ago... but now I find myself increasing in burden as the days go by. I'm not sure how's He going to work everything out, but as Sharon shared with me this morning, "Trust God to use you."

Amen! :D
Inspired to write down a thoughtful blog entry of thanksgiving to God after reading Yufen's blog on her spiritual bday:


Just came back from dinner with Weizhu. It was a very heartwarming and refreshing time catching up with him. What a joy and blessing, how God brought us together as friends and brothers in Christ over these years - and how He helped us grow and grow.

I remember: back during the JC/NS ministry days, one of the most interesting memories is of the two of us walking back to Kreta Ayer People's Theatre one Sunday afternoon, when our church was originally there, and we espied Julian talking to the DMM team. At that time, both of us weren't in the DMM team, but we decided to go over and say hi to them. I still remember Julian's sharing - it was about the blessings of obedience to God and consequences of disobedience, and even the Bible passage he expounded on: "If you obey the LORD your God... you will be blessed when you go in and go out..."

And... Weizhu, me and two other brothers all went through the same JC-NS ministry. The time of NS ministry was especially memorable... lots of memories come back to me here.

And the funny thing is that... it seemed to me at that time in our lives, WZ and I were the slowest growing Christians in the JC-NS ministry. Actually... we weren't growing at all, if I remember correctly. The other two brothers became leaders in the ministry. But... I guess... fast-forward to today... surprisingly, WZ and I are now in the Adults ministry, and serving God happily (yes, I mean it - happily, joyfully :)) in our various areas of life. Whereas the other two bros are not in this church anymore. Actually I think one of them left God already. But the other went to another church.

And I can only sit here and marvel at the sheer grace of God. How He chose people I considered to be the "last", and made them the "first". And I believe, how He made Weizhu my shepherd, I think, partly to humble me for looking down at Weizhu in the past. And how He used Weizhu to help me understand what really was the core essence of following Jesus. "Keep your desire for God central," that's what WZ told me before. And hee, how by God's grace and mercy, after I responded to His mighty humbling, He also lifted me up again, and used me to bless and impact the younger ones in the NUS ministry.

And I've come to understand now (after so long!) that the truly impactful Christian life is NOT in a ministry title, NOT in a set of skills or talent, NOT in an obscene abundance of Bible knowledge alone... but simply in a heart that has a continual abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
John 7:37
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

I think must gratefully thank God for the NUS ministry - it was a very powerful catalyst of transformation in the four years of our lives - he and I not just grew. We experienced a genuine life transformation. Perhaps we could say together with the apostle Peter when he wrote, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." Because we have clearly seen how Christ showed His glory and majesty in redeeming our two poor lives, both physically and spiritually. Two thousand years later, we too are eyewitnesses of the Majestic Glory, Jesus Christ indeed. And "we" includes you and me TODAY. :)

(And hee, WZ also found his sweetheart from the NUS ministry too. Haha! Praise God for all His goodness and grace! :D)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Restoring an NTFS partition using dd_rescue and GetBackData

I'm working on Ellson's hard disk. It's physically damaged - probably a dying motor or something like that.

So I attempted a recovery procedure similar to what I did for Jitsy's hard disk last time - booted up into Linux using a SystemRescuecd (a Gentoo Linux build) CD, and attempted to use the 'mount' command to load up Ellson's HDD. But though it worked for her HDD, it couldn't work for Ell's one, because his HDD was so badly damaged that the partition tables were irreversibly destroyed.

But that's not the end of the story. Even though the partition tables had gone to that Great Bit-Bucket in the Sky, thank God for dd_rescue! :)

Ran it, and managed to capture a disk image of his (hopefully it was D:) partition. But when I attempted to mount the disk image using the following command:

mount -t ntfs -o loop /mnt/ellson_rescue/rescue.img /mnt/rescue

I got an error message that the disk image that I'd captured was invalid. Seems that the partition table didn't get recorded. Never mind, I'm using GetDataBack for NTFS to try creating a virtual partition so that prayerfully I can get a peek at the file structure. So far the recovery process looks promising...

Wow! It looks good. I can see the directory tree of Ellson's documents now...

Only problem is that the software I'm using only allows me to SEE his files... but not COPY the files unless I pay real money to them to enable this copy feature.

Hmm... maybe I should invest in this software? Or I could just copy-paste his Word files... but that'd be vomitting blood. :P

But thank God all the same! The process works! Hallelujah! Now all I have to do is fork out the $$$... or resort to more open-source stuff (read: FREE but ultra-complex).

PS: A harddisk recovery tip - if you're trying to squeeze out data from a dying harddisk, there are two ways you can cajole your gasping HDD:
1. Put your computer on its side. It might realign the HDD slightly. It's worked for me - I read it in a tip written by Peter Norton, founder of the famed Norton Utilities.
2. Cool your HDD as low as possible. Electronics tend to work better under low temp conditions.

Trying out these links!
How It Works: Partition Tables
Mounting disks with Linux's loopback device
TestDisk (a NTFS data-recovery/partition reconstruction software)
Notes on backing up entire hard disks or partitions

Thursday, August 16, 2007

another short note

Thank God for a wonderful time at today's unit 242. Alan taught us about spiritual dryness, that it's an integral part of the Christian life, and more importantly, know what is causing my dryness that i can get out of it asap. There's external and internal causes to spiritual dryness. Elijah, Job and even Jesus all experienced times of dryness (tho I think Jesus less so? :P because He kept in such close communion with His Father... yet in the Garden of Gethesmane... He did pray, "Not my will but Yours be done.")

Something that Alan shared struck me - that periods of sickness, difficulties and hardships are one factor that cause dryness. But the thing is, if your foundation in the Word of God is strong, actually, for him, these difficult times have been the times that helped him draw closest to God!

But to be balanced, prolonged times of hardship and suffering really sap even the strongest believer. Like what if you were one of the Korean hostages, imprisoned for a month in spartan conditions, knowing that your beloved pastor was killed?

Hmm... think thank God for His faithfulness, and Jinghe's prophecy too about the Lord breathing life into the valley of dry bones... wow. thank God. I think... by God's grace, i'm getting out of the valley - but only when I trust and enjoy His Word, and claim His promises.

For me, two things that I want to be watchful for: 1 external and 1 internal -
a. times of sickness, difficulties and hardships e.g. excessive OT
b. disappointments, which can cause me to start engaging in mind-numbing activities (e.g. net surfing till the late hours, playing computer games) so that i don't have to think about my disappointments, which in turn make me physically tired and spiritually dry

oh yes! a very dear friend made for me this wallpaper to brighten up my day. :D it's really very sweet! :D

yup... thank God for all His blessings that flow... and even when His blessings seem a bit sparse, His presence is already the greatest blessing that there is! :D

just a note

wow it's been a real busy time this week. now i understand why robert and weizhu never update their blogs that much nowadays... and huichun? hahahahaha... :P

i hereby join the ranks of the Bogged Bloggers.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Just read Sijia's latest blog entry, and it touched me very much. Gosh, it does read like a devotional! ;)

Attitude Clinic

I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray, till heaven I've found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground!
- J.R.M

During my last cello lesson, my teacher made the lesson a thought-provoking one, making me realise how far I am from 'the best'. In one of the pieces - 'Allegro' (means: fast), 130 beats in a minute is the requirement. In fact, i never reached that tempo since few months ago. My teacher showed me mercy and said that it was alright to be slower. But unknowingly, I compromised on other aspects beyond the tempo. Dwelling in the comfort zone especially when I am physically tired, what I can do I did not persist on, what I cannot do I did not overcome. Zero-articulation was the result.... Forgot about every single note has a way to play it well. Forgot to remember it always and do my best to play every note. It was an attitude lesson to learn in all aspects of my life - Attitude of being excellent.

Sometimes, we are not living to our best. When we see the steepness of the slope, impossibilities arise and fears overwhelmed. We linger at the lowlands and the misty valley. What we lose in our self-indulgence, we do not know. What blessings await if only we courageously persevered on to the uplands of God.

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He enables me to stand on the heights"
- Psa 18:32-33
It has been a difficult time for other people too. Today, while the House of Prayer team was praying and interceding, one of the brothers suddenly began interceding for none other than himself. He prayed a desperate prayer of help to God, and the rest of the team listened in silence as he described his sense of helplessness, confusion and struggle to God.

Then Peter prayed a prayer for this dear bro. He thanked God for this bro's humility to pray for himself, and two others also prayed for him there and then. Just felt the presence of God strongly as He bound us together, a spirit of unity... I think the Spirit was interceding for everyone there and then.

Then after service, I bumped into Yanjie. Yanjie asked me about my week. So shared with him that my work has been fun, but tiring and there's been some other things too. That I'd been feeling spiritually dry too. Then this dear brother shared with me that there are seasons of drought, seasons of plenty. When it rains, we should grow as much as we can, to make the most of the rain that falls from above. And where does the rain come from? Not from ourselves, but from God above. And when there are periods of drought, we use what we have gained and built up from the good times to help carry us through the droughts.

It has been so wonderful, knowing how Father loves me so much. Today, while reading through my email, I read through a Bible study newsletter on endurance. And Yanjie's sharing, and Sijia's sharing, and so on and so forth. I sense a pattern here... hee hee... Psalm 119 as well. Surely the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not!

Dear friends, just really want to encourage you, if you are feeling down and depressed too, take heart! For it is in the valley that the Psalmist wrote that the Lord is with him. It is in the deepest night that men talk not about God; they talk with God.

Did you ever talk to God above
Tell Him that you need a friend to love?
Pray in Jesus' name
Believing that God answers prayer?

Have you told Him all your cares and woes
Ev'ry tiny little prayer He knows
You can know He'll always hear
And that God answers prayer

And so let us endure with joy! Let us keep serving God joyfully, seeking Him with all our heart even when we are very dry, like the dry bones of Ezeki. Let us follow Barnabas' and Paul's example, who went around "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said." (Acts 14:22)

Remember, the night will pass away, but the new morning will come, and you will be a newer and stronger child of God! Great is His faithfulness, great is His love, even unto us!

Psalm 30:4-5
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Proclaiming God's Love with Boldness

Read an article about speaking the truth in love.

It just struck me: sometimes love has to speak the truth, even if it's difficult to hear. Especially if it's for the other person's sake.

That involves the gospel. Very convicted when I read this true story:
Decades ago I worked as a part-time secretary at a small church (not the one I attended) that had once burned with passion for Jesus but had since fallen into a deplorable lukewarm state of social acceptance. When the pastor turned over the monthly newsletter to me and told me I could put whatever I wanted into it, I wrote up my testimony and plastered it on the front page. Then I mailed it out to the approximately 250 people on the mailing list. A few days later an elderly man came into the office and demanded to speak to the pastor, and he insisted that I accompany him into the pastor’s office. I did, and as I stood there in the doorway, I watched and listened as that man planted himself in front of the pastor’s desk, slammed the newsletter down in front of him, and demanded, “Is this true?”

The pastor was stunned and asked what the man meant. The gentleman explained that he wanted to know if what I’d said about repenting and accepting Jesus as my Savior and being “born again” was absolutely the ONLY way to heaven. The pastor’s eyes glazed over for a moment, and his Adam’s apple bobbed a bit before he answered. Finally he bowed his head and nodded, admitting without speaking that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him.

And then the old man’s voice dropped and trembled, as tears formed in his eyes and he asked the man who claimed to be his earthly shepherd, “Then why didn’t you tell me? I’ve sat in your church and listened to your sermons for years. Why didn’t you tell me?”

The pastor, his head still bowed in shame, answered, “Because I didn’t want to offend you.”
Then I thought about my colleagues. They know that I'm a Christian. But to be honest, I feel quite ashamed at times to declare with joy that I'm a Christian, because I know that I'm imperfect - and I feel that because of my mistakes, I'm a bad testimony for Christ.

Is being a Christian anything to be ashamed of?

Yeah, that may be so... but... is anyone perfect? And... is the gospel about you looking good for Christ or, in the end, is it about pointing people to Jesus?

A man dying of hunger doesn't care about how nice the bread wrapper looks. He doesn't give a damn - he wants FOOD.

A man dying of thirst doesn't care about who gives water to him - his saviour can be a bandit or a murderer or a prostitute - the fact is that the saviour is giving him WATER.

Because in the end, it is not the person who saves, but the FOOD, the WATER that saves a person. Because Jesus Christ himself said that He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water.

I remember my young days as a Christian, when I didn't give a hoot about my past, my imperfections, my mannerisms - I was so excited about telling others about Jesus, that I just kept telling people. And one of my friends received Him on the spot - she was so hungry to hear about Jesus, whom nobody had told her about! (I was totally surprised, because she was reading the New Paper in the canteen when I approached her...)

But now, I guess sometimes I'm just too scared to show my Bible in public, etc. If we are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, why are we so scared of that? People do respect those who live by Christ's teachings... Gandhi said that it's Christ that he respects... it's the "Christians" that he can't stand!

Oh God... give us a deeper yearning to share the gospel... it is for the sake of telling others about a God who loves us so much that He gave us His one and only Son to save us... that Christ's love compels me to go out and make new friends, to live with joy, to live right before Him... and in turn, I realise that, as I make new friends, I do love them so much that I want them to taste God's love for themselves. It's a beautiful cycle...

Oh God, oh dear. Oh how? Help me, help us, help us all, be men of courage!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"You need quality rest. You can't depend on fellowship all the time."

That's what Peter told me on the way back from Settler's Cafe. Just one line, but wow, thank God, it was very precise and timely.

Especially so when you're the type who experiences God more closely through contemplation. For me, it's a mixture of contemplation, creation and experiential I think.

Peter's the contemplative type, so he rests by sitting down to read a good book, etc. That's why he grew so much during his convalesence period when his leg was broken - he had a really HUGE amount of time to spend with God. :)

And hee, I think just seeing creation, the winds and the stars help soothe my soul... that, and a good book. :) Sitting on an old rock, under a green tree, with a gentle zephyr swaying to and fro, in the midst of green pastures... He really restores my soul. :)

Hee. Anyway, it's so helpful, Peter's advice. :D Thank God! Because I'd been so tired... and had been looking to fellowship to help restore me.

But, if you're feeling very negative because of tiredness, you'll be ineffective... the most important thing is to draw from God's love...

And I think that is something that God was trying to speak to me during Friday, when I was fasting and praying... I waited silently, asking Him to speak to me. Then the first impression that I had was: "REST. Rest from your work, and rest in My work." Wasn't sure whether He was talking about the sub-district, or unit, or caregroup... or me?

But hee, I think He meant it for ME especially.

Wow. I feel so loved by God - especially when He speaks words to me... it encourages me, warms my heart, and restores my soul. :D

Wow. What a long week. But God has been so faithful to me through it all. And I DO NEED TO LEARN HOW TO REST IN THE LORD.

Thinking further, I think that's one difference between the Adults ministry and the student ministries. We're often encouraged and urged to push ourselves to the max in student ministries, because of the high turnover rate - the seniors graduate and move on very fast, and also, when you're a student... honestly, honestly, believe us or not, you students REALLY have it more, more, more relaxed and easier than us working adults. :)

But when you move over into Adults ministry, the gameplan changes. Work tires you out every day. So you need to learn to REST. Like how Jesus rested. If you don't learn to truly rest in His love, you will become disappointed. But Hebrews tells us to learn to rest from our own works and rest in His work, but of course, not slack, but to finish the work He's given us to complete. Just like Jesus. :) "I have finished the work that You gave me to do."

Slow and steady. But sharp and precise. Not rushing about here or there, doing our own things, but determinedly doing the work that our Father gave us to do today. :)
Thank God, He knows what I need most. Decided to take a look at the Hope discipleship resources that I'd downloaded. And realised that the teachings answer all my questions. :) Hee hee! Praise God for the shepherds and leaders who faithfully serve in the ministry of the Word!

And also re-reading "Solving the 24 Problems that Men Face: The Man in the Mirror". Got it as a gift from Shirley, Daisy and Hanhui last time during my birthday in 2004. =D It's an excellent, excellent resource, and I strongly recommend it. Especially for those who are transitioning on to Adults - Die Die Must Try!

Oh! :)

Oh! This verse just came to mind just now: "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."

Wow. God really knows how to encourage and rouse me up again. ;) My complaint is so long, but His answer is so short. My complaint is so discouraging, but His answer is so encouraging. My complaint is so negative, but His answer is so positive.

Thank You dear God. :D You really are sweet... "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."

Disappointed Expectations

Hmm, this is a personal sharing, just... want to be a bit cathartic.


Don't know, Lord, how to describe everything here. Feeling emotionally spent, and with the lack of fellowship, feel spiritually ... lethargic?

Sometimes ... sigh.

Woke up depressed this morning, because i was feeling sick and missed this morning's run with some of the other bros and sisters. and felt bad about it because i'd missed another chance to fellowship with them, esp with the other bros in my unit.

Time is so scarce, but, Lord, what am i doing! sleeping in bed

To be honest, i've been feeling quite disappointed with the brothers and sisters in the sub-d, and also disappointed with myself. sometimes when i ask other bros and sisters out for a meal, even after repeated times... it's difficult to meet up with them for various reasons. then i start wondering whether they're actually willing to go out with me, or being evasive.

Maybe the simplest answer is that i don't feel wanted or valued by the others. I feel loved when people ask me out, wanting to spend quality time with me. that's something that really warms my heart a lot. Guess all so often, taking the initiative to ask others out ... it makes me feel disappointed and drained, because i start asking, "How come it is I who have to keep doing the asking ALL the time?"

Hee. Well, sitting back and taking a look, yes, i'm distorting my thoughts. After all, Robert asked me out last saturday and basically yakked 90% of the time. But just felt so loved and appreciated that he wanted to spend time with me. :)

Hee. That reminds me. When HQ asked the caregroup, "What are your (plural) expectations of this CG?", we gave the standard stock answers. but now, i think i do know one of my real expectations: "quality time, ppl taking initiative..."

Dear God, I'm so tired of taking the initiative... and ... especially so, knowing that i'm the type whom quite a few people feel irritated with. They may not say it out, but there's the slight irritation that i sense from them, that builds up over time. Oh dear. i know, i know... sometimes i feel like shaking their shoulders and asking them, "Oei, you're not perfect too, you know?" I think I'm looking for grace and acceptance here. But ... as Peter wisely pointed out, it's very emotionally draining for them in the first place. I also must give others grace too. So i'm working on it.

And oh! happy. :) tk You Lord. I've been making breakthroughs in my situational awareness and consideration for others. dunno how to say it, but i do believe that after praying, and really seeing the value of being situationally aware (it's love for your neighbours after all), somehow, the Holy Spirit has helped me be extra-alert and sensitive - there are times when He gives me early-warning signals very clearly, but softly though. but the signals ARE there - i can sense when i'm about to do something very stupid. but erh, He's left the decision and responsibility to me. and i must say that i've been making the wrong decision abut 90% of the time... simply because of habit. AND bad habits CAN be broken, replaced with good habits.

It's so encouraging, knowing that He is with you always, even in your struggles to grow and overcome. He has not left me alone - no wonder they call Jesus the Wonderful Counsellor! :D

Oh well. Soberly thinking, even if you try to meet up with a lot of people, it doesn't work very well. Relationships take time to build up, and you can't do that by spreading your efforts thinly. Forget about this... I need to heed Huaqiang's advice and spend more time with those I've COMMITTED to spend time with.

Oh no! I forgot to pray for Shawn. :( my own brother in my CG.


Struggling with a lot of disappointments - "fighting within and fears without" - through the difficult Slough of Despair. Disappointed that my brothers and sisters seem to love so little, and disappointed that I love my brothers and sisters so little.

Sometimes you need to physically see someone who's gone through it, who can inspire you not to give up, but to keep pressing on. So I messaged Weizhu :)

Psst! You Got A Minute, Buddy?

if you like it, and would like a nice printed copy for yourself or for your friends/family/enemies/clan/spouse/pet/idol/superhero*, do leave a comment on this post... to pay for the printed copy, just make a donation to UNICEF or other relevant charities and get back to me. ;)

more to come soon... this is just a sampler! personalization requests are welcome too!

* delete where appropriate

testing my rss feedreader :)

hello world!

Friday, August 10, 2007

from someone.

"Dear bro,
It's ok...Just hope that you'll just learnt he mistake and moved on from there.."
yet another thought: it's a horrible thing to break someone's trust even in a very small matter - when you do that, you end up not being able to trust even yourself.
just a additional thought. my slacking on time-critical stuff... is a pattern that i haven't been bothering to change. but thank God He pointed out to me that this pattern is destructive, not only to me, but also to others.


"One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys."

lord, i ... hmm... just to say that i'm glad it happened only in a very small thing in ministry, but it has repercussions on a very large group.

and i've failed You again.

please don't choose me anymore, Lord!
Yeah, made a monthly donation to UNICEF. :) Small, but hope and pray it helps the children there.
Taken from BBC website:

Gee, just wondering whether this is true... if this is true, then I think we should do something - write to ST Forum to highlight this case to J&J, asking for their side of their story...

And boycott their products if they're really doing the wrong thing. Even if they're on the "legally" right side, what about justice and mercy?

Of course, we have to trust that the American Red Cross is doing the morally right thing though... think some might ask, why is a Singaporean being bothered about an American thing? Because I think the values that the ARC stands for are not restricted to "national" boundaries, but they are universal, humanitarian values, given from the hand of God Himself. So whether we're in this country or that country, we need to remember John F. Kennedy's words:
"For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."

Legal fight over red cross symbol
American Red Cross worker helping after the fatal bridge collapse in Minneapolis (Credit: American Red Cross)
American Red Cross says all sales are used to help fund campaigns
Medical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is suing the American Red Cross, alleging the charity has misused the famous red cross symbol for commercial purposes.

J&J said a deal with the charity's founder in 1895 gave it the "exclusive use" of the symbol as a trademark for drug, chemical and surgical products.

It said American Red Cross had violated this agreement by licensing the symbol to other firms to sell certain goods.

The charity described the lawsuit as "obscene".

It said many of the products at issue were health and safety kits and that profits from their sale had been used to support disaster-relief campaigns.

Licence dispute

The lawsuit asks for sales of disputed products - also including medical gloves, nail clippers, combs and toothbrushes - to be stopped and unsold items to be handed over to J&J.

We were very disappointed to find that the American Red Cross started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes
Johnson & Johnson

The firm is also seeking damages equivalent to the value of such goods sold in supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target.

"After more than a century of strong co-operation in the use of the Red Cross trademark... we were very disappointed to find that the American Red Cross started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes," the firm said in a statement.

J&J, best known for its Band-Aid bandages and baby products, first used the symbol as a trademark in 1887, the same year it was incorporated as a business.

American Red Cross was founded in 1881 but did not receive a charter from the US Congress until 1900.

Gauze pads manufactured by Johnson & Johnson
A 112-year deal gives it exclusive use of the symbol, the firm says.

The lawsuit argues that the firm reached an agreement with the charity's founder Clara Barton about the commercial use of the symbol for certain products.

It maintains that the charter did not give the charity the right to engage in commercial activities which would conflict with a private company.

The two sides have been trying to resolve the dispute in private for several months and the lawsuit will bring unwelcome publicity for both parties.

'Sound case'

American Red Cross said allegations that it broke criminal statutes were "obscene", adding that it believed the firm's actions were financially motivated.

"Our outside lawyers have looked at this and think we are on sound ground," said Mark Everson, the charity's chief executive.

"We are helping Americans."

The red cross symbol was adopted by the forerunners to the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863.

The symbol was chosen to denote respect for army medical services, first aid volunteers and victims of wars and armed conflicts around the world.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Reply from UNICEF - and An Idea!

Wow! Thank God! :D Got an email from UNICEF... I can make an online donation.

Ashok Mahapatra 6:13 pm (3½ hours ago)

Dear Yeo,

This is to thank you for the support expressed for the cause of needy
children in India. The same encourages us to work harder for changing lives
of the children. It is with such support UNICEF along with its partners and
government is able to restore child rights to the most marginalised.

Please visit our website for donating online: Also you can send your donation
by sending a cheque infavour of UNICEF to the Donor Relations Officer, 73,
Lodi Estate, New Delhi-110003

Thank you once again for your generosity for the cause of needy Indian


Ashok Mahapatra
Donor Relations Assistant
UNICEF India Country Office,
73, Lodhi Estate,
New Delhi- 110 003. INDIA
Ph: 91-11-24606517 (D)/ 24690401 Ext. 517
E: Click here to donate on-line:
For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection

Actually, after reading Ps Jeff's latest blog entry on how our brothers and sisters in Europe make use of the creative arts to share the gospel, even to post-modern, post-Christian audiences, I was inspired, and suddenly had this idea:

I can draw for donations! Simply put, if you like my drawings (which I'll put up online), you can "pay" me in the form of making a donation to a charity e.g. UNICEF, Red Cross, Mercy Relief. Though I'm especially partial to children's charities - something close to my heart. :D

So stay tuned for an online gallery soon! :)

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."

"S Asia millions face flood hunger"

Read about the floods in South Asia in today's newspapers, and felt very moved. Asked God, what can I do to help? And I've been trawling the Net to see how I can make a donation or something like that. Perhaps I shall ask my bros and sisters, and colleagues to see if they're interested in chipping in.

But meanwhile, I'm not sure how to get started, so I'm emailing UNICEF to ask. That, and a whispered prayer. My conscience won't let me go - how could I be eating at Cafe Cartel, happily stuffing myself, while children in Asia go hungry for the price of my Cafe Cartel meal?

Been inspired by one of the brothers' words, how our church needs to step out and engage this world - like Christ did. And also, the song by Delirious, "History Maker", during Festival of Praise - I was humming it to myself during lunch today. The multimedia that they used for accompanying the song really stirred my heart - it showed photomontages of famous people in history e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Semporo Sugihara, etc. - and the juxtaposition of ordinary people like you and me, together with these sages of the ages - made me see this song in a brand-new light.

History Maker

Well it's true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We'll see miracles, we'll see angels sing
We'll see broken hearts making history

Yes it's true and I believe it
We're living for you

So let there be another flood in Asia today - waves of kindness, waves of compassion. For little drops of water the mighty oceans make. And let the love of Christ flood the nations with grace and mercy. And let us do something to help our suffering neighbours today. Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Monday, August 6, 2007

What's Right with You?

Rather than, "What's wrong with you?", my question is "What's right with you?" Of course, there are times when there are so many things wrong with a person or a situation that it’s clearly time for a change. But I have found that more often than not, our thoughts can be out of balance. The things that are wrong are blown out of proportion. “ . . . Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” the apostle Paul advises in Philippians 4:8.

Wow, what a meaningful insight into Philippians 4:8 :) It's one of my favourite verses, but for a long time, just saw it as something to work on, to think about... But not to forget that in the context of this letter that Paul wrote, it is a letter about joy. :) Joy even in the hardest situations, when you find yourself in situations that seem to not only do you bad, but even worse, seems to hinder the advance of God's Kingdom.

Like how I was sharing about my frustrations last week. But as one of my non-believing friends told me, one impression he has of Christianity is that all too often, we focus so much on sin and Christ's suffering, that it makes him feel even more depressed. (So why would he want to become a Christian and experience even more sadness?)

Truth be told, how many of us feel depressed because of some lack, some shortfall in our lives? Didn't even Jesus, while he was on the way to the cross, focus on the joy set before him, as he endured the shame of the cross? And didn't Paul and Silas sing for joy as they were in prison?

When we feel beset by our sinfulness, let's put it into its proper perspective... let's humbly accept the fact that we are beggars who have been made sons and daughters of God. Let us be as innocent as little children who run around unabashedly, rejoicing not in their own 'goodness', but in the goodness of their Father.

That reminds me. One of my friends, whom I shared Christ with in NUS, said that other Christians had tried to share with him before, but he was struck by my joy and the passion that I shared with him... hee hee! :) So I'll never forget those beautiful words that he told me: "Yeu Ann, I really thank God that He put you into my life!" :D

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

And joy is such a powerful attitude! Have there been times that you felt weak and weary, but upon listening to some joyful news or music or song, you were so energised, that you could do your work with all your heart unto the Lord?

O sing for joy! to God our strength!
Shout aloud! to the God of Jacob!

Joy is a wonderful testimony - in fact, I think it is one of the greatest testimonies that someone can have for Christ. "You shall go out with joy, and be led forth in peace!"

For joy shows the world that while it can throw everything it has at us... and take away everything from us, there is one thing that they can never take away from us - the love, joy and peace that comes from God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thus may the love of the Father, the joy of the Son and the peace of the Holy Spirit be with you! :)


What a beautiful time today. :)

Robert, Shunrong and Yufen all came today. Their help was priceless - it freed me a lot to focus on the more difficult children. We had a mini-skit (thank God for Robert and Shunrong!). And I did story-telling. Hee, praise God, it was fun! =) Got good feedback from Yung, shall keep in mind. Thank You Jesus for helping me!

But a more amazing thing. There's this boy, Emmanuel, who is very, very hyperactive. He was being very noisy, even during worship, so I decided to go and bring him to a corner so that he'd not disrupt the worship time. Was at my wits' ends how to keep him quiet and still. (Think of a wriggling fish - you get the idea. Except that the fish doesn't make so much noise.)

Then decided to pray. Just sat down, hugged him, put my hand on his head and prayed in the Spirit softly. Was reminded of this verse from the book of Zephaniah:
Zephaniah 3:17
"...he will quiet you with his love..."

And wonderfully, Emmanuel became so much more quiet and still, lying on my lap. "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save." Amazing how God can work in ways we cannot see. :)

And while giving out Twisties to the kids, they were raising and cupping their hands in eager anticipation. Then one sister quipped, "They're praying to you!" Ertz... but it struck me how childlike they are in asking... and how they really look so much like they're praying...

Struck me that this is just an illustration of how we should come to the Father in eager and earnest expectation, raising and cupping our hands to our heavenly Daddy. He is a far, far, far better Father than any earthly man can be! Childlike faith in earnest prayer. Wow. The children taught me something new today. Love them so much. :)

Days of Transition

It's been a difficult time. Robert and I met up on Saturday at Bishan for brunch, and were moaning about work life. :)

And was moaning to Huaqiang over the phone before going for FOP. He told me that the struggles I'm going through - e.g. feeling that I can't fit into the new culture... - are normal. It'll probably take me 6 months of working life before I adapt comfortably. He had his own transition experience too. Just that it was easier for him because he was still in the tertiary group when he made his crossing-over.

So nice haha. I feel like I'm traversing a bullet-strewn beach with full battle-pack a la D-Day.

Oh dear. Am very easily irritated at the moment. Especially when my dad tries to show concern for me. Because I don't want him to treat me as a "little boy" anymore. (Hard for him to do, I guess, when it's been so many years.) Transition, transition. God, have mercy on me...

During FOP, shared with Jiaxiang that Psalm 23 tells us that when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, because Jesus is with us. We experience his presence more strongly when we are going through the down times. Somehow it encouraged Jiaxiang. And when I shared that, tears started coming to my eyes as I shared it with him, because I realised that God really was with me through it all.

And initiative, initiative! HQ was telling me that I have to take initiative. Often I don't want to take initiative, because I'd rather have others 'spoonfeed' me... it's so much more comfortable. But Christ's good words goad me: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve..."

One thing that HQ exhorted me was, even if others don't want or believe in the vision, what does that matter to me? Just go ahead and do it!

Felt ... mixed feelings about this. But during FOP, God ministered to me, reminding me that "surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age." :) So there's this heavy burden in my heart, and this divine goading to do what is good and right in His eyes.

So here we go - I am still young, and I may not know much, but God spoke to me... in fact, He has been prodding me a lot in the past 1.5 months. So Here We Go! Though none may follow, yet will I go...

Festival of Praise

Hee, thank God so much for FOP :)

Was a very renewing and refreshing time - sorely needed.

Initially was thinking whether to go for the FOP today or go back home - either way I really wanted to seek God, 'cos I really have been very spiritually dry this week.

Decided to go anyway to FOP. 'Cos I do believe that Jesus's presence is really there when two or three gather in His name... and we're talking thousands of Christians gathered to praise Him! :)

And wow, hee, found a quiet spot at a most unlikely location: on the bridge to the East entrance of Indoor Stadium. Really so calmed down by the green trees, the gentle zephyr, and the blue-gray sky. And Psalm 119 spoke to my soul a lot.

This verse really spoke to me when I was confused, asking God which one does He want me to go - home or to FOP? 'cos I really do want to seek His face.

Then this verse came to mind: "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart..." In short, God was replying to me that actually, it doesn't matter where I go or even how I choose to seek Him. As long I really seek Him with all my heart, that is the thing He is looking for. Jesus said, "God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4)

Shared with HQ that think God's Word is really so impt. While I'm going through this transition period, frankly, it is God's Word that will give me the strength that I need so badly. And that's what He has been trying to tell me all along the past few days. I'm so slow to learn. But Daddy is so patient. :)

Then was with Marcus, Jacky and Jiaxiang at the FOP. Jiaxiang shared abt his work too - and what he learnt from the experience. One thing that he shared struck me: We experience God even more when we are going through difficult times. And the article in FOP magazine also spoke to me about the same thing.

Wow, that served as a very timely reminder to me. :) To give thanks to God for more things. Michelle shared joyfully about her new job yesterday - counting her blessings. So starting to count my blessings again. :)

FOP - wow, really renewed fire and passion in my heart for Jesus! :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hope, What A Wonderful Word

Anxiety. Chatted with HQ the night before over a cuppa over some things, and told him about this 'autopilot' thing, or as I call it, going for a 'spacewalk', 'spaced-out', etc. And that I think my anxiety plays a big role in my becoming less situationally aware.

Then HQ said, "Actually, you're not that bad in making decisions; it's just that you let fear and insecurity get the better of you, hence your passiveness. You need to learn to take (bear) responsibility for your actions and decisions."

"And yup, I know you're very easily stressed. Could be other factors too - e.g. lack of knowledge. Oh, add one more thing. Be more observant - of people's expressions etc."

So today's been the day that I was thinking about what he said. And after being alert and watching myself, think it's so true - I'm pretty situationally aware... until I get anxious.

Then I start becoming very "tunnel-vision", and rush off to do this and that. In the process to please people, I forget to do basic courtesy stuff e.g. forgetting to close a bag of food after I'd taken out some food. And could see my colleague tsk-tsking in irritation as he tied it up again. And felt very guilty and anxious about his perception of me.

And then I became angry with God, asking Him, why did You allow this to happen to me? Now everything's ruined, I won't be a good testimony for Your name... all because of this! I don't understand, Lord... if I'm here for Your name, then why do You allow me to disgrace Your name? Why did You make me like this, God? I thought You loved me...

And, while ranting in my mind to Him... I felt very sad, because I guess it really seems to be the first time in my life that I'm struggling in my experience with God...

In particular, I feel very painful about my lack of situational awareness, because it really really really hinders me from connecting with people, impacting them, and helping them draw nearer to Christ.

So often I have cried to God, Why? Why am I so easily anxious? Why am I so often situationally unaware? The good that I want to do, I do not do... the heart is sincere, but the actions... God, I do NOT understand at all!

So was brooding inwardly in my heart... but about some minutes later, two verses came to mind:
2 Cor 12
"...there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

This verse was the Lord's way of telling me He has heard my pleas to Him to take this horribly painful weakness away from me forever... 'a thorn in the flesh' is exactly how I feel about this weakness!

But apparently He has other ideas... in response to my plea, "Why? Why did You let this happen to me?" John 9 came into my mind:
1As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Weizhu showed me this verse in 2005, when he was my shepherd. Gee. Found the verse rather hard to appreciate then. But now, think I understand why.

That tendency, that habit, is part of my fallen nature, family upbringing, natural personality and hearing-impairment. Like the blind man, I can't see very well what I'm doing at times.

But all this is NOT God's fault at all. He didn't make me like this! It's simply just part of the deadly fallout wrought by the Fall. (If you don't know what the Fall refers to, do read Genesis 1 & 2 - it's a CRITICAL piece of Christian doctrine.)

But ... what He's doing is that He is undoing something in me. :) Undoing the damaged me. And He is working through other people to help me kick this bad habit of being situationally unaware.

Some years ago, I read a very wonderful and touching story. There was this man who grew up a full-fledged homosexual, dressing as a woman for a large part of his life, and eventually, he contracted AIDS. But, someone shared Christ with him, and so this man became part of a church, and for the first time, really experienced love like never before.

Now, the beautiful thing is, this brother in Christ was so used to behaving like a woman - he'd been acting like one for YEARS. But the other men in church helped looked out for him, and whenever he did something effeminate, the brothers would instantly feedback to him, helping him sit in a more macho way - "Oh no, no, don't sit with your legs crossed like that..."

Such was the power of the fellowship, that this brother became a powerful living testimony to the visible power of Christ. He even married a dear sister in Christ (though they couldn't consummate their marriage, due to his AIDS), loving God to the last gasp. And before his death, he testified to many, many people about what the Lord had done for him.

So it encourages me - Jesus is redeeming me. I must not despair, even though my transformation seems so far away - hopeless even! But that is why I need hope. Hope. What a beautiful word. It is one of the three key Christian virtues - Faith, Hope and Charity.

It is a virtue that we Christians (I think especially us Singaporeans) forget so easily. We talk a lot about having faith in God. Good! And having love - the greatest of these three - amen! But let's not forget to have hope in God. :) Especially those who are from Hope Church... (duh!)

Because hope will give us the strength to exercise our faith in God. Hope helps us look up to Jesus, face to face, that we may continue running the race. Hope helps remind us that this race we're running is well and truly worth running. No point finishing a race that has no prize at the end, but every point to finish a race that has a prize beyond all wonder. In short, hope helps us stay in the race and press on, not giving up, even if we are running shakily.

And I think hope serves as the key basis of faith. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for."

It seems that faith, hope and love are like a building made out of reinforced concrete. Hope is the concrete that shapes the building, faith is the steel that stays the building, and love is the blueprint that makes the building.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor 13:13

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Buzzword: Web-Based Office Docs Never Looked So Good

Oh wow... it's amazing!

Word processing in the browser was always been "convenient," but rarely has it been called "full-featured," or even "beautiful."

But the web apps status quo is set to change with the arrival of Buzzword, an office-caliber document editor with a visually rich user interface. Buzzword beats current Ajax-based offerings like Google Docs and Zoho Writer in both usability and aesthetic impact. And in a few months, when a desktop version is released, Buzzword will pose a serious challenge to Microsoft Word, the current king of document editing on the desktop.