Friday, November 30, 2007

Of Death and Dreams - A Life Well-Lived for the Lord

Huaqiang and I were talking over supper, when the conversation moved to the death of a sister's friend, and to our own friends' deaths.

And we were reminded of how short life really is.

And I remember reading the article recently about the 5 Singaporean dragon-boat racers who drowned. And highlighted in red above two photos were, in a way, epitaphs of two different persons' lives.

One's epitaph was: "I am a leader and I hope to set a positive example for young people to have the courage to achieve their dreams."

And the other was by a grieving father: "Without a word, he just left."

I'm not judging between the two lives, just by these epitaphs... but these two lines struck me especially, since it was on the day I came back from the HopeKids DreamsRetreat. Strangely timely...

And as I think about it now, what really counts as a life worthy of the Lord's calling then?

  • Is it the relationships that you have built over the years?
  • Is it the accomplishments and achievements that you have done?
  • Is it the number of people you brought to the Lord and discipled them?
  • Is it the quality of the work that you did and your testimony as a worker?
  • Is it the number of poor people that you fed and cared for?
  • Is it the transformative impact you had on society?

For a phlegmatic like me, I'd think that the first question deserves a yes, and let's chuck all our medals and trophies into the trashcan since "he who dies with the most toys still dies".

But thinking further, I think it's not as simple as that. Looking through the Bible, I realise that God looks at every inch and aspect of our lives, and He has made very clear what His standards for a life well-lived are.

A good character in God's eyes and faithfulness with what He has entrusted to me are what truly counts at the end of time. I can't separate the two from each other - they are faith and deeds going together hand-in-hand.

For instance, the more I work, the more I realise (rather belatedly) the importance of being a good and effective worker - not because I want to impress my boss, but because my attitude at work speaks much louder for my God than my words can do.

And thinking deeper, perhaps an even more concise way of evaluating the worth of a life lived is to simply see whether one lived for himself or for others - even to the point of laying down one's life to save others.

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

We All Can Play A Part. But Will You Play?

I was reading Andrew's blog, and was very blessed by his short but sweet posts, when I stumbled upon Zachary's blog from a link on Andrew's blog: Don't Get Lost in the Process

And I'm so awed by Zach's depth of insight and analysis in many small things.

And I'm reminded of Hong Teck's meditative contemplations and Pastor Jeff's inspiring words.

And ... I wonder, asking myself, who am I compared to these men of God? I've already been feeling so inadequate in the past week.

But this quote from one of Zachary's posts encouraged me very much - and I pray that it encourages you too:
Because we are imperfect, we have infinite number of weaknesses; you will never finish solving all the problems. Because God is perfect, He has infinite strengths; you will never finish counting all his blessings. So quit counting your problems. They are infinite as long as you are on Earth.
The day you have no more problems, you are in heaven.
The day you have no more blessings, you are in hell.

And here, I remember that Hong Teck shared during the recent HopeKids Leaders Retreat about his own struggles with his inadequacies when he was serving as a care-leader with co-leaders who were more skillful and powerful than him, and how discouraged he was by a well-intentioned "encouragement" during that time, telling him "not to lead by fear, but by love." He was discouraged at that time, because he already knew that, and here he shared frankly, that even though now, that advice is very good for him, back then, what he would have appreciated more would be some encouragement in helping remind him of the strengths he already had - e.g. his patience and caringness, rather than his timidity and shyness.

I was, and am, especially inspired by Hong Teck's testimony... personally, I think he has been one of the more influential persons in my life in terms of the way he lives. Because think he has a similar personality to mine, with some similar weaknesses... and his life is a wonderful story of God's transforming grace. So I look up to him as one of my key role models, in teaching me to grow as a leader, and in future, if it's God's will, as a good father - sorry! make that the best father (to quote HT) "in Singapore, JB and some even say Batam!" :)

Dear friend! Now is the Christmas season... will you take the time to help someone understand a little more about the Greatest Gift of All given 2000 years ago? Thank God for June reaching out to her colleagues (as she shared during unit 242)... that inspires me very much too. :)

So never mind how weak we are - only let us live up to what we have already attained. And let us keep pressing on every day to God's prize for each one of us in heaven. Let's remember why the Church is still here on earth - to finish what the Son of Man started: to seek and save the lost. And let us remember that Jesus is with us all the way!

Looking forwards to posting even more positive posts!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Processing 1.0 (BETA)

Oh, btw i've been thinking of trying out this language i saw... apparently it combines the best of both worlds - programming and artistic creativity. 'cos it's always been one of my dreams to create beautiful artwork with computers, but... you know lah, programming very tough :P

but hopefully this one works out! (oh dear, i sound like i'm dating a programming language. so lame!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i'm here now at my computer, after an okay's day worth of work.

felt inadequate over many things, but went for a short walk and prayed. and i think God encouraged me with Psalm 73 and this verse: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

need that Divine encouragement, bcos i was thinking about the hopekids retreat that i went to over the past few days. very encouraged and inspired by the lessons that hong teck taught us, even tho, to be honest, as i shared with hong teck, it wasn't easy there since i was the only guy besides another bro (and he had to leave one day earlier).

it wasn't easy, becos there are very few male volunteers in hopekids, and i have a dream. i dream of seeing strong and biblical young men and women of God rising up from this ministry. hee hee... perhaps it's inspired greatly in part by my own sunday school experience... i was the odd kid out, the Difficult One, the Problem Kid, in my sunday school class. and as a result, i didn't like church (to put it kindly).

but Jesus is so good. He helped me see who He really is, and what His Church is really meant to be all along. and i have fond memories of some Christians who shared or imparted to me, as i grew up...

little seeds planted into a child's soul, that God grew in His perfect timing.

hee hee! :D so now, this sunday school dropout is now a sunday school teacher. isn't God so COOL?

which brings me next to Boundaries, the book that Peter gave me for my birthday. it's one of the best books that i've ever read in my whole life (and i don't use that term lightly), 'cos it helped me understand why i behave the way that i do right now, and how to grow, etc etc...

sorry, if this post's hard to read. just in a melancholic-contemplative mood right now... but God help me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

GCF: Thanksgiving Prayer

Thank God for childlike prayers! :D

My family traditionally begins the evening meal with a prayer of
thanks. When they were old enough, we began letting our children say
the meal prayer. Of course at first they would ask for a pony, a new
bike, etc. They soon learned the more important things which should
be included in the prayer.

At Thanksgiving we had the whole family over. My nine year old wanted
to say the prayer. It went like this:

"Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the turkey, the rolls, the mashed
potatoes, the red jiggly stuff, and the bread stuff even though I
don't like it. We ask that You not let us choke on this food."

(Most of us nearly choked just trying not to laugh!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Got back from OT at 11 pm. (whoa.) Thank God for Sharon and Peter's prayers for me today :) Sweet drops of grace like manna from heaven... Sharon called me up first to ask me about something, then she offered to pray for me. Peter called me up to see how I was doing in the office... and both of them prayed for me over the phone. :D very blessed by these dear friends...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wisdom, Knowledge, Service: Take Your Place in the Kingdom of God

T.M. Moore

“Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)

Nurturing and advancing a biblical worldview requires a great many things, but none more than the two things Solomon sought from the Lord—wisdom and knowledge. David’s son inherited a huge worldview challenge—to rule Israel so that the goodness of God would flourish among His people in every area of life and every city of the land. Who, he wondered aloud to God, was sufficient for such a task? Who is sufficient for ruling even his own life according to the broad demands and exceeding great and precious promises of the revelation of God?

As Solomon felt helpless before the calling God had set for him, so we all must feel at times as we contemplate the calling to nurture and advance the biblical worldview within our own spheres of influence. We shall need much wisdom and knowledge from the Lord if we are to know success in this effort. Solomon can help us in learning to acquire and use these precious commodities, for unless we understand the distinct nature of wisdom and knowledge, how they are to be gained, and to what ends we must put them, we may not expect the Lord to bless our pursuit of them, nor our efforts in biblical worldview living.

Knowledge: The Prerequisite of Wisdom

What’s the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Clearly, the two are intimately related. In fact, it is impossible to separate them. One cannot be said truly to know something until the wisdom that knowledge engenders begins to be in evidence. Nor can one practice wisdom without the requisite knowledge and information that requires. There is an ineradicable overlap between knowledge and wisdom, and this, at the very least, demands that we not separate the two, or try to gain the one without the other, but that, like Solomon, we seek the two of them as part and parcel of one another and together integral to fulfilling our worldview calling. But first we must make sure we understand what we’re seeking.

Let’s begin with knowledge. The nature of knowledge would seem to be fairly straightforward: knowledge is what someone knows. But that’s not entirely true, and concerning this we may make three observations. First, the very idea of knowledge assumes that things have an identity by which they can be known. That is, we assume, in presuming to know something, that it already exists as something possessing a distinct identity which, to know, is to acquire knowledge of the thing. Nothing is a simply neutral thing. Everything has an identity, and this is especially so when we consider that everything that is has its origins in the mind of God, who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Things are what God says they are. Solomon understood this and, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, he distinguished between knowing things apart from God—which he referred to by the phrase, “under the sun”—and knowing things according to God—which Solomon meant by the phrase, “under the heavens.”

To know something according to its merely temporal and material existence—“under the sun”—is vanity and feeding on the wind. Trying to know things apart from God, Solomon insisted to his son, does not result in true knowledge at all, but merely half-truth, disappointment, and frustration. To know something truly, Solomon explained, you must see it according to the divine perspective, from God’s point of view, as He, the Maker and Sustainer of all things, intends it should be known.

So, in the first place, to know anything truly we must establish some link, some identity, between the thing we are seeking to know and the God who made and sustains it. Only from His point of view will we be able to approach true knowledge of anything. Information gained about anything apart from God may be true, at least to an extent, but this will be in spite of the perspective of the knower rather than because of it. Further, such knowledge of anything runs the distinct danger of being misunderstood and put to uses for which God never intended the thing.

Second, Solomon tells us that we must be prepared, in our search for true knowledge, to be content with only partial knowledge. We cannot, he insisted (Ecclesiastes 3:11), know anything exhaustively or completely. We cannot see things with the perfect mind of God, but only with a reflection of that mind, a mind informed by the worldview of Scripture and the counsel of the Spirit of God. Paul says we see things in this life darkly, as in a mirror; full, complete, and entirely true knowledge must wait for the day when we are glorified in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 13:12).

This does not mean that we can’t truly know. We can, but only in degrees of truthfulness and completeness. So we must always be seeking to “upgrade” our knowledge of anything, and be open to other perspectives, insights, and ways of thinking about familiar knowledge of anything and everything, if only to offer a critique of those views when compared with our Biblical perspective.

However—and this is the third point, already mentioned—even though we cannot know exhaustively, we can know truly, as Solomon indicates throughout Ecclesiastes. The knowledge we gain concerning anything whatsoever will be true to the extent we are able to establish the link between that thing and the design of God to glorify Himself in all the things He has made. Moreover, the true knowledge we have of anything can always be improved; therefore, we should be always involved in seeking more and better knowledge of everything, always, of course, from the perspective of “under the heavens.”

This, in fact, is what Solomon sought to do. Having prayed for knowledge, and been assured by God that he would possess it, Solomon set out to acquire knowledge, as he says in Ecclesiastes 1:13, by applying himself diligently to the task of seeking and searching out by wisdom all things that are and are done “under the heavens.” He set a course of study for himself, in other words, devoting himself to the investigation of God’s Law, keen observations on the creation, on culture matters, and on the ways of human conscience and conduct. All the observations he made and studies he pursued he referred to God’s self-revelation in Scripture, in order to gain the divine perspective on such things.

The Book of Proverbs is a wonderful collection of just a small portion of the true knowledge Solomon gained through his labors. True knowledge, knowledge that is becoming more and more complete, doesn’t come easily. Solomon said that God has made this a “difficult task” and has appointed it to us so that we might fulfill the purposes of His Kingdom (Ecclesiastes 1:13).

Wisdom: The Fruit of Knowledge

This brings us to wisdom, which is the fruit of true knowledge. Solomon said he tested all his studies and observations “by wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 1:13). That is, he would only allow himself to conclude that he had learned something—that he had come to true knowledge of anything—when it led to wisdom in his life. Wisdom, or “skill in living,” relates to following the spiritual and moral code of God, increasing in love for Him and for our neighbor, and seeking to do all things in such a way as to bring honor and glory to God. We can know that we know something truly when it leads us to greater love for God and neighbor, and when, by the use of that knowledge, we bring honor to God. This is wisdom, as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes make abundantly clear. In order to gain wisdom we must pursue knowledge. But we can only be sure that we have come to know something truly, albeit incompletely, when what we know produces wisdom in our lives. Knowledge is the prerequisite of wisdom; wisdom is the fruit of true knowledge.

But both wisdom and knowledge come from the Lord. Both begin in the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 111:10); without fear of God—that reverent awe and respect that lead to love and obedience—we can’t hope to increase in knowledge and wisdom. And both come from the Lord, who gives them, as with Solomon, in response to our prayers. So that unless our quest for knowledge and wisdom is suffused with prayer, bathed with prayer, pursued and reviewed in prayer, we cannot hope to gain these precious commodities with anything more than a mere modicum of success.

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Service

But we should also note that Solomon’s desire for knowledge and wisdom was entirely selfless. He sought neither fame nor wealth by becoming knowledgeable and wise; rather, he sought the ability to judge the people of Israel well, according to the Law and promises of God. He sought the progress of God’s rule among His people and before the eyes of all the nations. Solomon understood that knowledge is not an end in itself, nor is wisdom. Rather, these good gifts of God, these essential components for biblical worldview living, are to be received from God for the purpose of serving others. If we seek them for any other end—to impress others, or gain some personal advantage—we forfeit the richer blessings God might otherwise bestow. All our studies and all the practical ways we seek to become wise must be to the end of serving others as God Himself would do were He among us as King. In fact, He is King, not among us, but rather, over us, and He accomplishes His holy, righteous, and good rule (Romans 7:12), a rule of righteousness, peace, and joy in His Spirit (Romans 14:17), through faithful servants, like Solomon, who seek from Him knowledge and wisdom to serve others in love.

All of which is to say that biblical worldview requires the kind of knowledge that comes from earnest, devoted study, together with the wisdom that proves that knowledge out in love for God and men. These we must earn in the study and on our knees, pleading with God for the gifts He alone can give. And biblical worldview proves the truth of the knowledge it claims in the wisdom for loving well that knowledge engenders.

So as we take up the further study of biblical worldview, let us never lose sight of these five things: First, such study is difficult and time-consuming. It pleases God that it should be so; nothing easily gained is worth much anyway. Second, such knowledge is only true to the extent that it finds its identity in the eternal purposes and plan of God. Third, all the knowledge we gain in all our study is only ever partly true; our knowledge is always incomplete and can always be improved. Thus, we must commit to lives of perpetual study and review if we would improve the knowledge God grants us. Forth, such knowledge proves its truthfulness in wise and loving worship and service. And, finally, without prayer we shall not be able to acquire the knowledge and wisdom we seek for biblical worldview living.

There will always be more to know and more wisdom to gain for worshiping God and loving others. The challenge to us is to make the time for study and prayer, so that we, like Solomon, might be used in service to others, for the greater glory of God.

For Reflection

How are you presently pursuing growing in knowledge and wisdom? Is your prayer life sufficient to ensure that you will always increase in these commodities?

Monday, November 19, 2007

GFA Seeks Prayer for Victims of Bangladesh Cyclone

GFA Seeks Prayer for Victims of Bangladesh Cyclone
Nov. 18, 2007

Dear Yeo,

The people of Bangladesh--including hundreds of our believers there--have been dealt another devastating blow and desperately need our prayers to sustain them.

Still recovering from the worst floods to hit their South Asian country in 30 years, Bangladesh was devastated by Cyclone Sidr on Thursday, leaving more than 2,000 people dead at last count. In some areas, 95 percent of the rice crop was destroyed. And for these simple farmers, that means they are literally penniless and without hope for the future.

That's why our GFA native missionaries are already on the scene, ministering to the victims and bringing them the hope found only in Jesus.

But even as our missionaries, pastors and Compassion Services volunteers are moving to bring help to the victims, they have reported that in one district, more than 100 homes of GFA-related church families have been destroyed by the Category 4 storm--the most destructive to hit Bangladesh in a decade.

"Many people are thought to have been killed when trees fell on their houses," reported one GFA observer.

I am asking that pastors around the world bring this situation to the attention of their church members on Sunday morning, and that all Christians will join me in praying that God's grace will be poured out on those who have lost so much.

I also ask that you please pray with me about how God would use you to bring relief to the victims. Any gift you can send today will make a difference!

Please also remember our church members who are suffering as a result of this storm, and those who are working around the clock to bring relief in Christ's name to the victims.

Thank you for standing with us as we minister to those whose lives have been so devastated. Click here to make a gift to help the victims of this storm.

Please pray with me that God will use this situation to bring many into His kingdom of grace and love.

Yours for the lost of Asia,

K.P. Yohannan
Founder & President

P.S. So that you can continue to pray with us, we will be bringing you updates on this situation in the coming days on


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

A pattern that I observed in myself today

While reading the Boundaries book, and understanding better what causes certain behavioural patterns in us, I had two similar experiences, with the same pattern.

Basically, when it's with someone - who for one reason or another I feel nervous - i find it hard to make small chat with. He/she'll ask me, "How's your day?" or something like that. Then I'll reply - but nervous. Then after that.... hmm. I know the pattern, but don't know how to describe it properly.

But anyway, why do I do that?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Today met up with Huaqiang and Stanli. Had a good chat with them... :)

Thank God for today. HQ shared with me today about examining my heart's motives behind what I do... and how that advice came in useful after that, 'cos I did something later that day... I was doing something that seemed ok, but after that, just felt that something wasn't right... so asked God to help me check my heart. Lo and behold... I realised that I was putting myself in a not-so-good situation, but had been justifying it to myself, rationalising it. Jeremiah 17:9-10 comes to mind...

Tears are the meltwaters of an icy soul.

Just finished worshipping the Lord just now... it's been such a long time since I last had a good quality time with Jesus. :D

To be honest, my heart was starting to feel tired and dry again (we all do...), especially after a slowly mounting workload. But thank God so much for His faithfulness, even when I don't seek Him many, many times... He still graciously calls me back to Him.

And somehow, all the songs that I came across in my (borrowed) songbook, were especially meaningful. :) As I played the second-last song, which goes like this,
"It's so good oh Father God
To be back in Your presence..."
, tears started welling up in my eyes.

And it struck me that I haven't been this close with God for a long, long time. Close, in the emotional sense - for we are to love Him with all our souls (emotions) too. And at that moment, this phrase came into my mind: "Tears are the meltwaters of an icy soul."

It just strikes me as meaningful, because all so often we retreat, we withdraw away from the warmth of His love, the steadfast fire of His truth, and into our own little worlds, the winter of discontent sets in, and our souls grow colder and colder. Our souls become like the winter of Narnia, before Aslan stepped in.

But! when we draw back to Jesus, who "is the radiance of God's glory...the exact representation of his being", He melts the icy coldness in our timid souls. And as I think about this... it's like... a glacier melting, and a mighty river of courage begins to flow.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tired of being Tired

*sigh* I'm feeling very tired today. Thank God the project deadline is tomorrow.

I was angry with some people today, especially when I had misplaced something. Then reflected on it... realised that it was solely my own fault, and I simply have to bear the consequences of my own actions. To take ownership of my mistakes.

*muses* It's not good to be tired. And I haven't read the Bible much yesterday and today. Can sense the difference in me... oh God. Bad temper, demanding, blaming others instead of accepting my own responsibility... emotional, judgemental, selfish.

I'm so sorry Lord. Please create in me a clean heart, O God... and renew a right spirit within me.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: on the Church being relevant

Was flipping through another book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Opponent of the Nazi Regime. Very thought-provoking bio of this German pastor's life.

One key issue that he pondered about was the crisis of the Church becoming increasingly irrelevant in the Germany of his time, in the early 20th century - which resulted in its almost complete cooption by the Nazi regime. The salt had lost its saltiness. So he wrote his most famous treatise: The Cost of Discipleship, in which Christianity is not meant to be merely a part of one's life, but rather, to be a Christian means living life as a follower of Christ - in short: total dying to self, and total living to God.

I guess I'm very inspired by his convictions that the Word of God is the absolute standard for all life, in every sphere of our lives, and his keen insights into why the Church of his time was losing its saltiness, and yet his keen belief that the Church is the Body of Christ on earth, and no other institution can replace that. Which is precisely what the Bible says.

So I've been pondering about my own convictions, and I think I need to check my convictions to see if they are aligned with the Word of God. And also, what are my dreams, really? How can His Kingdom come, His Will be done "on earth as it is in heaven"?

And I felt especially challenged, considering the necessity of letting the Word of God guide every aspect of my life, not just thinking or sitting here blogging about it. Again then... love God with all my mind too. :)

Hmm. I've been very helped by the Christian books that I've read, which have all talked about how the Word of God (the Bible) literally has the answer to EVERYTHING in life.

Realised just how much many of us, including myself, lean on our own understanding and reasoning in our daily living - which often turns out to be all too humanly frail.

Hmm. I've been thinking for about one hour plus already on this topic, and think can only reach one conclusion so far: the best way to make an impact in our workplaces, in our daily living, to draw people to Christ... to grow in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and men... can be summed up simply in this:
Luke 10:27
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

Patrick Morely, in his book, The Man in the Mirror, writes on this verse (paraphrased): If all we ever did was to simply live out every day this verse, we would have already made a huge difference in our spheres of influence.

Don't be fooled by the apparent simplicity of this verse. It's an extremely profound statement, and frankly, frankly, I'm certain that you'll find that everything else in the Bible hangs on these two commandments. If you ask yourself WHY the Lord Himself says these two commandments are the greatest, you're already on the road to finding out why.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Am reading this book by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Got this book as a birthday gift from Peter. It's a very good book on when to say "Yes", and when to say "No"... to know where to draw the line, and where to make yourselves more available/open.

And as I read, I realised some misconceptions that I had or have, and how God sent people, especially my shepherds, into my life to teach me the way. A lot of points for reflection - 'cos I realised how many misconceptions I had that stopped me from wanting to mature, to grow... how many false things I believed about myself, and ingrained patterns of behaviours that I only now have started to recognise... and thanksgiving too.

Thanksgivings, because over the years, especially the past two years after I turned back to God and really asked Him to heal my mind, that He began working His truths into my heart and mind in very beautiful ways. It's so true, what Jesus said: "If you hold to my teachings, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

As I thought back upon my life, think, with God's help, I can understand better now why I am the way that I am now... and how to grow into the new Yeu Ann that He wants me to be. *pause*

Lots of things here to think about...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not all cultures are conducive to building close communities.

I read an article in today's Straits Time about an 'ang moh' RC leader, who took up residency here in Singapore. His initial involvement in community work started back in England when he started volunteer work in his church back there.

And on the previous page, there was an article about the Venerable Shi Ming's (sp?) involvement in community work.

Think something that struck me was - regardless of their religious affiliation, or creed, or ethnic group or culture or personalities - was how they are impacting their communities within their own spheres of influence.

Think after reading these two articles, something that struck me was that both men have been involved in their communities. The key word is community. Not culture.

Why community? Because in industrialized/post-industrialized societies, one of the first things that tend to go is the extended family structure with its strongly intertwined familial relationships - e.g. tribes, clans, etc. It contracts into the socially-weaker "nuclear family", and in today's post-modern societies, we have to resort to, in Benedict Anderson's words, "imagined communities" - such is the void in our hearts for a community, a family, to belong to.

And in reading the book of Acts, I was thinking about how the early Christians impacted the people around them... it seemed to me that they essentially reached out to whoever was in their communities - be it marketplace, family, friends, prayer groups, leisure times, etc.

In Ed Silvoso's book, Anointed for Business, he writes about the transforming power of a businessman who applied Christian principles in his business, and lived a godly life... and as a result of his life, an entire town was transformed from a decaying slum into a prospering town!

This is where I'm thinking: the end outcome - a thriving community of people. A city-square full of life. Of people interacting with one another.

And. As citizens of a post-industrialized society, we have little knowledge of what a community can be like. We are ignorant. We need to be taught how to live in community.

And that's why the Church is so important to us - both Christians and the world - to show us what true community really is like. Jesus said that if we Christians loved one another, the world would know that we are His disciples. And the second greatest commandment in the Old Testament is this: "Love your neighbour as yourself." To show this, Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan - who was definitely not Jewish - helping a badly-mugged Jew back to safety.

So, after writing all this, what does it really mean?

I think we shouldn't confuse culture with community. Both are important, of course, and inevitability, a common culture can play a very important role in bringing a community together. But not all cultures are conducive to building close communities. Even in church.

You know what I mean? I'll define culture to be (roughly) as a set of common customs, manners and values shared by a particular group. And community to be (roughly) a group of people in close supportive relationships with one another. And the scope of "culture" as I mean it to be can be that of a small group of a few people, or as large as an entire nation.

So, for instance, if a culture dictates that people must always be polite with one another, and never express feelings openly or sincerely, or a culture despises any signs of weaknesses, such cultures are antithetical to the formation of a community. They are like antibiotics to a living bacterial (pardon the pun) culture - they kill off the microbial community.

And vice-versa.

So was thinking... even as I try to be culturally relevant, I need to understand WHY I seek to be so. We are called to bring God's love and community into a lost world hungry for real community. In short, I believe... Christ wants us to bring the heart of community living into our physical communities, especially the church. To love our neighbours as ourselves... literally!

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially the family of believers." (Galatians)

Hmm. What will really draw men to Christ?

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Was doing some personal contemplation, when I happened to find this on Huanyan's blog... think it's very timely! :)

Stay hungry, stay foolish. This is exactly what Steve Jobs said to the graduates during the Stanford commencement ceremony. I was thinking, how relevant is it for Christ believers to stay hungry and stay foolish.

He who is full loathes honey,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
- Proverbs 27:7

God wants us to stay hungry for His Words. He wants us to continually taste Him and know that He is good.

For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
- 1 Corinthians 1:19-21

And God wants us to stay 'foolish' in Him. It does not go to say that we must be fool, but it goes to say that we need to know that we need to be constantly aware that we are fools when we are compared to God's wisdom. We want to stay foolish and hungry in front of God's throne, so that we continually receive His wisdom with humility.

You know, something that struck me very much when HQ and I were having Bible study with a friend (let's call him TH) last Saturday was TH's attitude to willingness to learn and find out more, even though he's not a Christian.

HQ and I were very pleasantly surprised and blessed by TH's answers - because he had a clearer and better understanding of some of the truths in the Bible than a lot of Christians! In fact, I really wanted to exclaim to this dear friend, "Hey! You are not far from the kingdom of God!" In fact, some of the thoughts he shared during that time helped me grow in a deeper understanding and appreciation for the truths in the Bible.

What can I make of this experience? Think the first thing that I learnt from this experience, combined together with Huanyan's blog entry, was that God welcomes all who truly seek the truth. Even though TH's a very intelligent guy - he was a scholarship recipient previously - he has a very willing heart to learn from others... one of the things that he shared struck me: "I don't know everything - that's why I have to ask the experts!" And this from a guy who has gone to some of the best schools in Singapore, and won a big-time scholarship before...

Humility, a hungry heart to learn. And I realise that I don't have a hungry heart to learn. Oh no! But thank God for His timely rebuke... I want to learn all my life... to learn His ways and to seek wisdom all the days of my life. Humility. A hungry heart to learn from others.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's a silvery still November morning, with the sky freshly washed clean, like laundry hung out on the line.

Ten o'clock in the morning.

And I haven't brushed my teeth or washed my face... but it just feels so pure, the air. Reminds me of that winter's morning in my sister's home in Kent, England, three years ago.

I'll go for a walk. :)
"Early in the morning
Will I seek Your face
Drawn by the Spirit
To the promise of Your grace..."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Relationships That Honour

Last Saturday, my CG got to see something very sweet - Huaqiang proposed to Sarah! :D He had told us about his plan to propose to Sarah the day before... so on Saturday Sharon, Shawn, me, Peter, Zhenzhong and Kim Chun went down, together with Guofeng as the videoman...

And it was so romantic! HQ went to meet Sarah at Fuji Ice Palace - and Sarah was skating with her sheep... and she had no idea about HQ's plan to propose to her. So, at 545pm plus, HQ brought Sarah to the middle of the rink, and there he gave Sarah a big bouquet of flowers, and knelt down before her, proposing to her with the most elegant ring you've ever saw. And of course, our Sarah joyfully accepted the flowers, and our two lovebirds hugged... Oh my God... it was so romantic! The entire - I kid you not - the entire crowd in the rink gathered around the two lovers and thunderously applauded!

Wow... we couldn't help cheering for joy, along with the rest of the crowd!

Sarah's own words:
"HQ proposed to me last Sat in the ice-skating ring. Very surprised and touched by the proposal. Touched by the preparation effort, his courage (it was beyond him to propose in the public) and the support and blessings of my frds and my sis. I really thank God for all him and my dear friends and my sis!"

And as we were laughing and congratulating the lovely couple, I was thinking about an observation I shared with WZ the night before.

I was telling him about something that I had observed in Song of Songs in the Bible...
1 Solomon's Song of Songs.

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.

3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the maidens love you!

4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.

We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine.

And so on...

As the Lover and the Beloved sing songs to one another, dancing and all that, making the most passionate Bollywood song-and-dance look absolutely repressed... I note the Friends joining in too.

Whoa! Why do the Friends keep popping up in the book, chorusing and chorusing? Think it's because friends play a very important role in a romantic relationship. Today's modern idea of a relationship is a dating relationship, where the guy looks for an opportunity to spend one-on-one time as much as possible with the girl... and if you're in a dating relationship, you basically say goodbye to your friends as long as the relationship lasts.

But from what I understand, that isn't a healthy way of growing a deep and strong romantic relationship. Frankly, the best and healthiest romantic relationships are those that have the support - not only the man and the woman - but also the support and encouragement and help of mutual friends.

There's a beautiful saying - I'm not sure if it's a German saying - that goes: "Sorrow shared is sorrow halved, and joy shared is joy multiplied." So it goes with a beautiful romantic relationship, especially in the Church. Because when Christ calls us to live in community, He also intended even our romantic relationships to be grounded in community - not to restrict us, but to give our relationships even greater expression of joy and depth. How beautiful it is when friends and family rejoice over two lovers who have pledged mutual commitment and undying devotion to one another for all their days, till death do them part or the Lord Himself returns!

Think the group of Friends in Song of Songs show us how to play the role of supporters to help our two friends' relationship grow in love and devotion.

As friends, we rejoice together with the couple...
"We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine."

We help bring them together...
"If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
by the tents of the shepherds."

We give them time to be alone with one another...
"Eat, O friends, and drink;
drink your fill, O lovers."

We help them examine why they are attracted to one another...
"How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you charge us so?"

We affirm the woman, and support her as she seeks to be with her man...
"Where has your lover gone,
most beautiful of women?
Which way did your lover turn,
that we may look for him with you?"

We affirm the man, and encourage him to lead his woman...
"Who is this that appears like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?"

We delight in them as they prepare for marriage...
"Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
come back, come back, that we may gaze on you!"

We encourage them when they go through dry times together...
"Who is this coming up from the desert
leaning on her lover?"

And we protect and hold the couple accountable, that they may stay pure...
"We have a young sister,
and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
for the day she is spoken for?

If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar."

Wow... I realised, both from the Bible and from observation, that in a relationship of love, friends play a very important and wonderful role in helping that relationship reach its maximum potential.

Hee hee! And today I was talking with another brother... I had this urge to ask him about this sister that he likes... and it turns out a lot of other friends in church have also asked him about this sister... wow! Felt so much joy when I saw how this friendship is growing, and I'm especially inspired by this dear brother's heart to want to wait for God's timing and permission...

It spoke a lot to me. I have observed with my own eyes relationships that went ahead too fast... relationships that went without God's permission... relationships where everything seems ok - except that it's just so... human-based, and God is missing from the relationship. (This happens even for some Christian relationships...) It makes me feel kind of sad, and there is only human happiness. Nothing wrong with human happiness... but it is just so limited... it is a case of choosing the good rather than the better, and choosing the better instead of the best.

And I have seen other relationships that waited for God's timing and go-ahead... and you can sense how great the joy is, when the couple comes together... especially with people like Wee Leng and Wanphing, David and Pui See, Emma and Gerald, Huaqiang and Sarah, Julian and Serene... and even some budding relationships that I see happening right now in my sub-district. These relationships have that extra glow of divine beauty, divine happiness... no such joy so sweet as those that God Himself has brought together!

So that reflection makes me really want God's special blessings in my future relationship... one thing I really desire in my future relationship is one that will bring honour to God and bring joy to all those around me and my future wife. :D I want our Father's beaming smile to be upon us as He bring the two of us together and blesses us - "Therefore, what God has brought together, let man not divide apart."

Hee... still am praying to God for His guidance... and I really want to thank God for my brothers, especially WZ, Peter and Robert, who have spoken into my life... the most valuable counsel that they have given me is this: "WAIT." :)

And thank God especially for WZ's prayer for me for patience and prudence. How I really need and thank God for that prayer WZ prayed for me... because the Lord knows I'm weak, really weak here. As He said, "Pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." I really do want to honour God in all my relationships, especially in my BGR, and to trust Him for His perfect timing. I can't see what's ahead even for tomorrow, but "God has made everything beautiful for its own time."

And now, looking back at the past two years... I'm very thankful to God for His opening my eyes. And He's been showing me great and wonderful things... I can barely hope... oh! I need to trust His big heart in all this, and not lean on my own understanding!

Amen!~ :D We do serve a beautiful Lord, a wonderful Saviour! :D Thank You dear Lord for relationships, especially friendships!

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Life of Faith: A Bold Walk That Speaks Loud

Hmm! I've been thinking about people like Alan, RF, and other people who are inspiring... and I've been wondering about them, what makes their lives so inspiring? Is it because they have achieved more? Perhaps... but I'm not that inspired by CEOs and so on who are more successful in financial terms... Aren't our pastors a great inspiration to us too? There is an air of strength and inner confidence about them that business leaders would love to have.

So then what is it that inspires and motivate other Christians who see their lives? Think I am inspired, because they simply have faith in God. Faith that God can redeem their work fully. That He can redeem every aspect of their personalities and minds and deeds...

There is no life so inspiring as a life totally surrendered to Jesus.

I've been thinking about this. Peter explained to me that in the workplace, it's what the value that people can see in you that will draw them to you. Not the personality. But the value. After all, Jesus was simply a carpenter, and a very ordinary-looking man too. Probably not even ordinary-looking - Isaiah 53 says that his appearance was marred... yet rugged "Ah Beng" fishermen, financially-savvy tax collectors, military officers and educated Pharisees all flocked to listen to this Judean peasant.

And I think there's something that I feel regretful as a Christian - not stepping out in faith last time when I was in JC to exercise my speaking skills. After giving a talk for pre-tertiary students back then, they all applauded me. I write this... not because I want to boast about this... but I write... soberly... knowing that this may be a potential talent God has given me, but I, out of fear and insecurity, didn't want to exercise it by training and developing this skiil.

I remember Wenjiang telling me that I spoke very well at that talk, and he kept pushing me to improve my normal everyday conversation, especially in articulation... and I think up to now I've been very lazy, even now with Huaqiang reminding me to speak LOUDER. Louder, for others' sakes. Even a non-Christian friend in NUS (and she's quite a dynamic and powerful personality) was impressed by my speech, saying that I can speak very eloquently.

I think... to be honest, I kept dimissing all these comments, because in a way, I doubted that I can do this. But after a debate-cum-presentation during a course recently, my trainer told me that the listeners were all very attentive (and he joked that the ladies were especially attentive). LOL... that's really an ego boost! :P (oops guard ur heart YA...)

I'm stunned, to say the least... think my trainer's feedback is true, could see that somehow my coursemates were much more impressed with me after that presentation... I got the feeling I made a positive impression on them. One of them, a straight-talking person who can speak well, actually asked me for my contact number, saying he was thinking of asking me out during the weekend to stay in touch.

Quite stunned actually. And feel scared actually. :P But God help me... if I should boast, please help me boast of what YOU can do in me... "Let he who boast, boast in the Lord!" I want that true kind of humility that shines in all its strength, and gives all the glory to God alone.

I must exercise faith... and I'm so scared to be using this ability to speak and exhort... why? I'm confused. Why do I keep fearing to speak boldly and powerfully both in the office, and in church? And that's why I really thank God for Alan's testimony of how God empowered him to speak, even though he naturally fears speaking...

Think the simplest reason is pride... because I'm afraid to make mistakes and look stupid. Because I can't make jokes very well on the spot, etc. etc. Guess that's why I'm so glad to be pushed to tell stories to the children - it has been a very stretching exercise, and lots of things to learn. And children are a very good audience - you can tell how they REALLY think of your storytelling/speech... it's very obvious. (Esp if they throw paper balls at you hahah... no lah not OUR children. ;))

Hee... it's really a joy working with children - they are really sincere and straightforward. I miss them... (after the class, though :P) haha...

Then there's more complex reasons. Which I'm still trying to sort through. But in essence, I think God really is pleased when He sees us willing to step out of our comfort zones (e.g. the desire to be accepted by others), with His confirmation, in response to His calling.

I love this song, Centre of my Life, very, very, very much - the words are very powerful:

"Let my walk speak loud
And my words be true
Let my life be whole
With my eyes upon You
Lord I'm stepping out
Of the comfort zone
Letting go of me
Holding on to You

Freedom comes, when I call You Lord
You are Lord, my God..."

Here's praying that we will live a life of faith, and not be afraid to live boldy and powerfully for Him in the workplace, for when we do, we will be witnesses for Christ in the workplace and everyone will be able to see that we "have been with Jesus".

Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

A Life of Love: A Soft and Big Heart

I was chatting with a dear brother D over lunch today, with some other bros, and the topic turned to talking about relationships. So asked him what values he looks for in his future wife, and what he said struck me:

"Hmm... I think a soft heart for God is what I look for in my future wife. As we grow into adulthood, it's harder to find among the people, a soft heart for God."

It was very simple, but it struck me a lot, 'cos it rings so true... a soft heart for God... and I thought about myself, whether I have been keeping a soft heart for God as I start working. Because I've seen a lot of people enter the world, and eventually cool their first love, settling for a humdrum go-to-church every Sunday... "professing Christians, practising atheists."

It made me pause, because I think recently my heart for my dear Saviour has become justa little less soft to His voice, justa little less teachable, justa little less willing to seek Him...

And all these little justs all stack up.

Wow... I feel kind of scared actually... how easy it can be to fall away from God... But yeah, feel very thankful to God for my dear brothers and sisters who love God - especially those who have made a commitment to holiness and godliness... their lives encourage me a lot to live for Him.

Because I've seen how when people love the Lord, and love His people, really, their lives have impact, depth and meaning. There is an unspoken "aura" about them that blesses people. I think this is what Jesus meant when He said that "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." I remember Oswald Chambers commenting on that verse, saying that if we trust in Him, and put our faith constantly in Him, streams of living water will flow from within us - to refresh others in turn too.

And that's what I want in my future wife too - a soft and tender heart towards God always, and a big heart for people. A heart that loves the truth more than herself, and a heart that loves people as herself. :D

And I pray that I can be that kind of man too... =D

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Raw Prayer for Friendship

A prayer that I wrote down in my handphone today... [edited]

Hey God i feel really discouraged and disappointed again... With this particular friend... I've been trying v hard to deepen our friendship - and this friend is supposed to be a more mature Christian - but i keep getting the feeling this friend doesn't see value in our friendship. In fact I felt cut down and betrayed by this friend's words... Feel very, very disappointed, asking myself, is it worth it to carry on with this friend? Maybe it's not, esp when i know his/her character... And perhaps You agree too... I really feel like rebuking him/her for his/her attitude.

God, will u judge him/her? Will u correct and discipline him/her for his proud attitude? Oh my God, i wonder what to do... I'm reminded of this verse: 'Scorn has left me brokenhearted... I look around for comfort but there is none.'

Dear God, I think i now understand how it feels to be scorned at by someone you love as a friend, esp a fellow Christian sibling. It hurts.

I came across Psalm 55 while praying, and these verses struck me... every word in this verse describes precisely how I see this friend:
'If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
as we walked with the throng at the house of God...

My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant.
His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.'

wow... Lord, these words describe EXACTLY the situation! Praying... Father, please help me guard my heart not to stay bitter towards this friend... And to love my friend as You do.

Actually, while on my way back, with the intention to post this entry, i think God was asking me why I wanted to post this entry. So asked Him to search my heart... and realised that actually i wanted to get back at this person... so prayed to Him to give me the right heart attitude.

Then He reminded me of this verse: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

So repented of my vengeful spirit, and asked Him to give me the right heart...

The 'rational' reason I'm posting this particular post is because i think someday, someone who is going through the same situation may come across this post, and be encouraged to look up to God...

But I think God's replaced my hurt and given me peace... to be honest, I feel so worried for this friend, for this friend's very dear to me... worried for the sheep that my friend's taking care of... worried for my friend's relationships and future... but most of all, worried for his/her heart and walk with God. He/She could fall away, if he/she still carries on with this heart... I feel so worried for him, I feel like I could cry. And I'm thankful that God heard my prayer asking for justice and He gave me mercy instead.

And I'm very thankful to God for His justice and mercy... that though i still struggled with bitterness from time to time... He has graciously given me worthier and more mature friends who will make much better companions in serving the Lord together... in fact, one of these friendships is a birthday gift from God! :D Thank God so much for Weizhu too... I feel incredibly touched and impacted by his life. :D

And you know something? I'm very surprised... right now I'm preparing this HopeTots storytelling, and you know what the topic is? "Friends Love [One Another]".

Dear God, You are so cool. =D help me teach the dear children this truth of Proverbs 17:17 - "A friend loves at all times."

Birthday Blessings III

Thank You so much Lord, also for "Uncle" Lee, Swee and Hongtao who 'spammed' me simultaneously with belated birthday blessings... XD haha... it's really super-heartwarming, knowing that even after you've moved on to Adults ministry, and left them behind in NUS... these dear brothers, these fellow comrades in Christ, still remember. Even if they remember late. Alamak. Ok lah NUS exams very near, save memory space for more important things like the exams dates. For that you better get As ok. Muahaha...

Birthday Blessings II

Thanks so much Weizhu for the dinner, and the sharing. How else to describe the time... Proverbs 18:24. =D There are times when words really are not enough to say how you are such a joy and blessing to me every time and moment. :D

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Birthday Blessings

Just really want to thank God for my dear CG, who helped to prepare a really sweet dinner for me... and especially for Peter who went all the way down to be with me. Feel very touched...

Just some thanksgiving that I really want to give... Sharon was the first one to call me and wish me happy birthday. It's so amazing how God has blessed our friendship, as HQ commented, within the space of 4 months... previously we had been at loggerheads, but the defining moment came about when we sat down at Le Meridien to talk things over and resolve some differences...

Seriously, it has truly been a great joy getting to know this dear friend and sister, as a fellow companion, a loyal yokefellow, together in serving Christ and the CG. :D

And I was so happy to see Tai Heng there too. Though I knew in my heart that HQ and Sharon would ask him to come by, I was still very heartened all the same when he came by. Personally, I treasure this dear friend, 'cos though he's very smart and has a lot of knowledge, he's very humble in wanting to learn more things, and knowing that he doesn't know everything. :D This is something that I really have a lot to learn from him, honestly.

Oh yes! I was especially touched by Kin Wee's SMS... especially since it came right after I was reading Proverbs where it says that a man of lowly spirit gains honor. Kin Wee's SMS:
"Yo bro, happy birthday! may many more years greet you with honor, peace and joy, courtesy of the Lord. be a blessed soul so you can bless others, which you do :)"

So surprising, 'cos the word "honor"'s not usually something that you get in a birthday SMS unless it's in the context of honoring God... I think that was the birthday verse God had for me this year - which is especially touching, 'cos a few mins before that, I had prayed, asking God for a special Bible verse for my birthday this year. :D And He showed me this:

Proverbs 29:23
A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

And the touching thing was that He impressed on me the 2nd part of the verse, to encourage me to keep desiring and having a lowly spirit... and He promised me that He will honor me as I continue to humble myself before Him.

Hee. I think to be honest, it's incredibly hard to be humble, for the moment you think you're humble, tada! You're proud of your being 'humble'... so I think the only way one can really start growing in humility is to first acknowledge the fact that you are PROUD! For we are all pride-oholics... there's no such thing as a recovered alcoholic... there's only recovering alcholic. Same for cancer patients... you're never really cured of cancer... you're only in remission. So in the same way, we need to everyday check our hearts, with the Holy Spirit's powerful help, for the daily cancer to our soul.

I'm especially touched by the fact that Kin Wee SMSed me this year, because I think God has helped our friendship grow especially in the past few months... I remember how we had a "cold war" when we first got to know each other... which was my fault actually, 'cos I was very judgemental and critical of him at that time. But from his life, over the years, I realised (and HH pointed out to me) that he has an incredible gift of empathy - he's a walking radar dish I tell you - and his realness and depth of thought. He has a heart that loves God very much... and actually, when I talk with him, I am strangely ministered to. I learnt a lot from him in being real about my brokenness. He has been my greatest role model for me in learning to be sensitive to other people. Thank God for you so much Kin Wee. :D

During the sharing, as the brothers and sisters shared, they shared that he feels very "watched out for" by me... that I would notice whenever he's tired and/or down and ask him how he is. And someone else said that I'm very supportive, not only to the bros and sisters in the CG, but also those outside the CG.

I'm especially encouraged by these two particular sharings, because they are totally what Christ has done in me - through the Church especially... Because I know that I am not naturally a supportive person, nor am I an observant person. In fact, Hanhui last time had to scold and correct me so many times to be a better supporter, and to be more observant of other people's feelings and expressions...

And HQ shared that for this supportive spirit, God will reward me, either with earthly rewards or heavenly (or even both)... And actually, when he shared that, it suddenly struck me that He already has! 'Cos two of my dearest friends (Weizhu's one of them) have been a very great and precious support to me emotionally... and Sharon in particular has been a fellow soldier and companion in ministry... I cannot stop thanking God for her! :D And God has blessed me with a wonderful team in the ministry that He's called me to - they are faithful, loyal, skillful and cheerful supporters, and I know that when the crunch comes, I can count on them to hold the line! In particular I just want to truly thank God for Shunrong - he really deserves a medal of honour for all his faithfulness, availability, sweet spirit and teachability. I am deeply indebted to this brother for his heart in ministry. God knows I have not taken care of his needs, and yet... he still gives cheerfully to the Lord whatever he does. Shunrong, I really owe you big time. Your labour in the Lord will not be in vain.

So this is totally the work of God, and not I... God is so good indeed!

Ah! This is only the start... like what I had shared with them... God put me in this CG - this is the land that He has put me in, the Promised Land, with all its giants and challenges... this is just the first year, and I have only just begun crossing the River Jordan.

It has been a new phase of life, and in a way I felt like I've started an entirely new campaign in a game of Warcraft... After 4.5 years in the land of NUS (which feels a lot like Azeroth I think haha), and going through times of rejection, difficulties, loneliness... I look back now and realise how essential that time in NUS was - it was God's moulding me in every aspect of my life - especially socially and relationally. And the friendships that I've formed there... some of them are so beautiful they bring tears to my eyes even as I think about them. Of course... other memories bring tears to my eyes for the opposite reason... but what does it matter? "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

I just have this deep assurance in my heart that my work in NUS has been done, God has graciously affirmed me, and there is now a very different land to cross over into. I have crossed over from the forests into the Great Plains that stretches as far as the eyes can see. While some old friendships have faded over time, I realised that God has blessed me with newer friendships, and not just friendships - He has blessed me with COMPANIONS, fellow pilgrims, who will help me stay true to Him and His calling until that eternal morning when we enter the Celestial City, the City of the very living God.

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