Saturday, March 29, 2008

From Leanne's blog entry dated March 26 2008:
Oh!!! I am so alert! Initially i still thought of making coffee to keep me awake so that I can prepare for camp teaching!

However, when i come online msn, catch up with a few people. I felt refreshed and empowered. Especially chatting with weihong and evangeline from NYP. It's amazing that we could share so many things under the moon and personally I benefited a lot from the sharing and discussion over msn. Definitely I can see that the hearts of our people are to advance God's kingdom. Things that matter to hearts are brought up to discuss so that we can see things improve and Kingdom of God advance.

It's so wonderful! I felt God's presence and anointing as we shared our views and thoughts. Why are certain thing matter to us? Why do we bring it up? What did the bible say? How should we respond to certain issue? What kind of attitude are we bringing when we see or think about certain thing?

Indeed the whole msn conversation was so fruitful and encouraging!

Just imagine... everyday the moment we switch on our computer or laptop.. we do not just go youtube/ surf net finding lame jokes/ gossip... but we share our learnings, spar some thoughts, bring up some matters to clarify and discuss, suggest ways to improve and affirm one another's growth, recognise and appreciate one another's effort, support our leaders. Wah... I can see each day I myself get refreshed as we connect with one another in a healthy way! Communication is important.

Suddenly, I was reminded of a dear friend who emailed me recently. She shared with me about how encouraging it was to have like-minded people.

And I'm thinking! Who else in the sub-D is like-minded in extending the Kingdom?

Lord, I want that kind of spirit, as I talk with my dear bros and sisters!

"Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name!
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven!"

I Want To Be a Value-Added Christian!

As I walked back home from guitar practice, I was thinking of something I mentioned to Dehua yesterday.

Think it was something like this: "So, it's when we learn to think deeper, that in a way, it's adding to our 'value'... you know, being 'value-added', which makes people want to talk to us more?"

So was analyzing today the nature of relationships - what is it that causes people to enjoy talking or just interacting with certain people?

Think the answer is because of one's perception that the other person has something to offer you.

Yes, that's the way it is, even in the church... we are naturally drawn to people we perceive who can offer us what we need or want.

It's an observation that King Solomon made in Proverbs 19:6:
Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.

An astute observation of human nature indeed!

And the next verse says:
A poor man is shunned by all his relatives—
how much more do his friends avoid him!
Though he pursues them with pleading,
they are nowhere to be found.

Gifts here don't necessarily mean material things... it can be things like popularity, or humour, or kindness, or intelligence, etc... And it's not always wrong to have gifts to offer to others - especially when these gifts meet others' needs.

Psalm 112:9
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.

So that's one reason I really want to be a 'value-added' Christian - it's in the spirit of being excellent. Like how I was reading 1 Kings in my Bible reading today, about King Solomon gold-plating the interior of the Temple... why the interior, not the exterior for all men to see?

Think it's because the Temple, which in today's New Testament, symbolizes our bodies - God wants our inner being to be gold-plated before Him, to be pure and blameless. To save the best for the inside!

(And methinks it's for a very practical reason too - it's harder to snitch gold from the inside than the outside of the building...)

So it's the spirit of being excellent which I captured from reading about the construction of the Temple. So that's why I want to be a value-added Christian.

So was thinking, in this context of being excellent in my relationships with people... how can I be a value-added Christian then?

*many minutes later*

I've been thinking through a lot of things, but they all seem to be degenerating into inner laments - "God, why am I so lacking in this, in that?"

This isn't good. I can do something about this - to stretch myself, broaden my relevance. I think... God may have whispered to me that He did give me a special gift that has the potential to be powerful and attractive - and He sent Wenjiang before to try and help me cultivate that gift, but I wasn't willing to develop that talent fully - even up to now.

But thank God for His beautiful patience with me - both from Christians AND non-Christians, I have received this affirmation. It's only the inner fear - and to be honest - the constant negative voices of my family telling me that I can't do that.

Cannot! I must listen to the voice of my Good Shepherd, no matter how I feel.

*deep breath*

It's scary, but like Dehua said, "One step at a time."

Oh God, help me grow to add value to other people's lives. Hee. I just realized that my focus shifted from myself to others... in the end, it was never about me being value-added - it was about adding value to others.

"Longing just to bring / Something that's of worth / That will bless Your heart..."

=D Hee! Thanks Father for adding value into my life, that I can pour Your value into others' lives. =) In Jesus' name, amen!
A wave of depression swept over me today. As I sat upon the bed, I was asking God why I'm different from other people. And if even the family of God finds me different - and thus treat me differently, then... where can I go?

So asked Him, "Why am I different?"

I don't understand.

Psalm 22:6-11

So yet will I trust in Him.

That though I'm intrinsically different from a lot of people, I have faith that He will use my difference-ness to bless an entire group of people.

How so, I don't know.

Get up, Yeu Ann. There are so many people out there who need God's love. Don't sit there and mope alone. Be His agent, and follow His Son...
Thank God for the unit prayer meeting today :)

Dehua shared about the need to adapt to changes. And how having a mindset that is being renewed is essential if you want to be transformed (Rom 12:2).

Fast-forward to supper: Dehua and I talked. I shared about what I learnt from the sharing, and Dehua gave me some advice. Let's see. What did he tell me?

About thinking more. What my natural strengths were, and oh yes, Philippians 1:9. About having a love that is wise... to grow in thinking. But to also remember my God-given strengths too. Not to overly focus on my weaknesses, but to keep my strengths in mind too.

Loving God with my mind. To make sense of my experiences. And... to practise thinking together with another person. Thank God for Peter =) He's a very wise brother, someone who'll think through deeply about something and make sense of his experiences.

Oh yes. I shared with Dehua about an insecure thought of mine that kept coming to mind. That people don't like me because of my blurness, my lack of wisdom. It was difficult to say it out, but I'm really thankful that I did. 'Cos the moment I confessed this insecure thought, I felt a burden lifted off my chest. Thank God so much for His help and strength to confess this insecure thought.

And Dehua told me that it's ok. God has accepted me, and used me some more to impact lives. And also, if there is someone who really is overbearing on me, because I'm not wise, even humbly listening to the other person, that is demonstrating the character trait of resilience.

Some thoughts.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Batter my heart, three-person'd God

On the way back from the airport, was talking with HQ. Then he asked me about something challenging. I was surprised, but thank God for His grace to me. =D Because it was an affirmative answer to a secret prayer I made a few weeks ago.

To be honest, was feeling a bit tentative and nervous about this. But these words came to mind: "Fear not, for I am with you."

And something even sweeter after that: As I was starting to be a bit worried again, I looked out of the cab window, and saw this bumper sticker on a car in the next lane: "got Jesus?"

Hee :) So timely. I think God was saying to me, "You've got Jesus - 'And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"

But dear Father, please help me keep my heart always true to You and worship nothing else but You and You alone. Help me daily guard my heart against secret self-exaltation, against pride and don't know what else... humble me Lord whenever I become proud, 'cos the momentary pain of being humbled is nothing, when it comes from You, but the pain of experiencing being cut-off from You because of my pride is terrible, worse than death. Like how John Donne so said: smash, batter, hammer, pound and pierce my heart, three-person'd God... that my heart may always stay loyal and true to You. In Jesus' name, let it be so.

Good ol' John Donne. I read this poem from Guan Zhen's blog last time - these words express so much his intensity and thirst to be right before God.


Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 165.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Waiting for A Departure, Waiting for An Arrival

Sitting under a palm tree in Changi Airport right now. =) Waiting to see Shawn off. Guitar presentation due on Saturday. IBM OOAD course test on Friday. Amazing. I've covered a semester's worth of courses in 5 days. Crazy or what?

And am still waiting for something else to arrive. Actually, feel quite puzzled and annoyed by its tardiness. Patience - you need it most just when you start losing it.

How long, oh Lord, how long? Help me wait for the thing to arrive soon. Perhaps it is Your way of building up my character to grow in patience... or Your answer is no.

A Great Cup of Tea

This is taken from the Dr. James Dobson Bulletin for June, 1998

Have you noticed that children sometimes try to be helpful, but it
makes your life more complicated?

I heard a story about a mother who was sick with the flu. Her darling
daughter wanted to be a good nurse. She fluffed the pillows and
brought a magazine for her mother to read. And then she showed up
with a cup of tea.

"You're such a sweetheart," the mother said as she drank the tea. "I
didn't know you could make tea."

"Oh, yes," the little girl replied. "I put the tea leaves in the
water like you do, and I boiled it, and then I strained it into a
cup. But I couldn't find a strainer, so I used the flyswatter."

"You what?"

And the little girl said, "Oh, don't worry, mom. I didn't use the new
flyswatter. I used the old one."

Engineers Test Highly Accurate Face Recognition

Whoa, this is really exciting! :) Personally, I've always been thinking about how to solve this kind of problem - how do you make a machine recognize a face? And now someone's gone and redefined the rules of the game - finally an algorithm that should be able to do even better than a human at recognizing faces.

Caveat: the algo works only for frontal views so far. But I reckon with sufficient brute force, the algo should be able to figure out side views and back views too.

(The Home Team may want to take note... Mas Selamat had better take note - his disguises aren't going to be much use in future...)

It's (to put it simplistically) the application of some linear algebra (with multiple dimensional spaces). Scanned through the paper and was thinking, whoa, these guys are geniuses.

But what's even more exciting about this kind of pattern-recognition algorithm is not so much that a computer can now recognize faces, but the fact that facial-recognition algorithms belong to a general class of pattern-recognition algorithms.

That means if you can solve for facial-recognition, you can solve for other types of pattern-recognition problems such as identifying spam, terrain recognition, shopping preferences, voice-recognition and so on.

But the dark side is that, since this kind of facial-recognition algo is now proven to be able to recognize faces despite heavy disguises, privacy concerns are going to be a very real issue. How much more harder will it be for innocent fugitives to flee persecution... I read in The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun, a Chinese Christian, that the Chinese police had hidden sophisticated Chinese voice-detection devices at the airport counter in an attempt to capture him.

(But there's a joyful ending to this distressing episode - the Lord had specifically told him not to speak at all throughout the entire check-out process at the airport until he had left China. And when the authorities asked him what his name was (a standard procedure), he simply glared hard at them, until they let him through with a confused expression. Yet another amazing proof that there is absolutely no plan or power or technology that can succeed against the Lord. Amen! :D)

Hee. Anyway, I wonder... if I could try this for Facebook? Hmm. Maybe not... the linear algebra's way above my head.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Season of Spring

Haha, been updating my blog less now, 'cos I've been busy with ministry and just spending time with dear friends. Thank God that work's really much more relaxed at the moment. =)

Am now on course till end of the week - IBM OOAD design. Really thank God for my company sponsoring me - it costs $4K. But bonded for 3 months after that. :P

Went for Love Africa meeting today. Daniel, a bro who went church-planting in South Africa, was there to answer our questions about going to Africa for missions. Feel increasingly excited at the possibility of going to Africa for tentmaking. =) Seriously, have been thinking about the possibility of setting up an IT business over there next time... social enterprise too - perhaps train interns in the latest software development techniques, and help them adapt Western software development techniques to fit the African markets. Just some ideas!

But more likely, I do hope (and have prayed) that when the time is right, God'll open doors for me to be posted to work overseas in Botswana, since my company (ST Electronics) has an office there. It'll be great exposure to learn more things e.g. African working culture and get the opportunity to network with people there =) Plus of course, bless my company too hee =)

Then... went around with Weizhu and Huichun on Sunday at the newest terminal in Changi Airport, Terminal 3. We took photos, and had a very sweet time of fellowship over tea at one of the cafes. Robert and Melissa were there too. Very heartwarming to see these two couples in Christ. =) May they not only fall in love - may they grow in love as God would have them be! Amen!

Actually, talking about BGR, Daniel told us that families and single working professionals are the best kind of people to go for missions in Africa. Because families lend stability and are able to provide emotional and mental support (since husband and wife can care for one another), but are less mobile. Whereas singles are more mobile, and available in terms of time, but potentially more vulnerable to feeling lonely etc. So these two groups complement one another.

But attached courting couples - not really recommended if it mean separation. Otherwise they'd be emotionally distracted.

I'm not sure about God's timetable for me, but I'll trust His heart for me. =) For He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future! :D

And actually, am feeling awfully excited about this year. :D 'Cos now things are moving in terms of ministry... God has graciously and kindly helped me adjust my mindset in adapting to adults ministry, and now I am enjoying the work that I do.

By God's grace, we're moving on in producing the HopeKids video, and if God wills it, we'll be able to produce movies and videos consistently for the HopeKids ministry. That will be a great breakthrough for the children's ministry since in order to impact the children through media, a constant and consistent flow of media is necessary to influence and impact them. It's about training them, and training them to be godly is not a once-off thing. It's a constant discipline.

I remember Yanjie telling me that he wants to stay single for God at this time in his life, because right now it's "the season for war". He was referring to the Bible in 2 Samuel that says, "In the spring, the time when kings go off to war..."

True, same here. =) To be single-hearted, single-minded for God. It isn't easy, but I have determined to stay the course, to stay loyal to my Lord... I should be giving my utmost for His Highest, yea, pledging fealty to my liege... (sounds very solemn and knightly).

Which is so concidental haha. 'Cos I just finished reading a children's book that I bought from Borders last Friday. It's a story of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's court, and his young squire, Terence. Very well-written, the story - humorous at some parts, gripping at others. Bought the children's book 'cos wanted to widen my literary readings... to get a fresh insight into children's literature. And I discovered that pictures do play a very important role in children's literature.

But not just any kind of pictures. The pictures should help to contribute to understanding the flow of the story. So no "still" drawings (as I read in a very stilted story about some Magic Tree) that had absolutely doe-eyed creatures... doing nothing but staring at you in the face. Creepy, in a kawaii kind of manner.

Asterix and Obelix - dear friends! Couldn't stop laughing at the outrageous puns in the comics - there was an omnibus edition that I stumbled upon. One friend was telling me last time about one of her most favourite jokes from the comic:
Panicky Roman soldier: "Sir! The slaves are revolting!"
Bored Roman governor: "Oh yes, I agree. They are."

Anyway it's been awfully meandering, this post. Lots more stories to tell...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just a poem that brought back memories of Lit lessons. =) Such a warm sweet toned poem, simple, yet elegant.

John Keats
CCLV. Ode to Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease; 10
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Money buys happiness - if you spend on someone else

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Money can buy happiness, but only if you spend it on someone else, researchers reported on Thursday.

Spending as little as $5 a day on someone else could significantly boost happiness, the team at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found. [read more...]

Jesus' words came to mind again: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." And His words, together with the article's words gave me pause for thought.

Was thinking about my financial spending on good food recently.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Singing right now from my heart thanksgivings to God, even as I'm helping my mum right now with her schoolwork (she's a teacher, you see, and teachers - especially MOE teachers - need all the help they can get)...

Singing, 'cos it's a new song - a new song to thank God for how He's changing my heart to be more and more willing to help my mum with her schoolwork - her love language's acts of service, you see, and mine is definitely not. But God has been answering my prayers to grow in this heart attitude of having a servant's heart.

Singing, 'cos an epiphany came upon me just now. A new song to the Lord can only come from a new heart.
To sing a new song of service to my Lord,
To sing a new song of worship to my God
To sing a new song as a praise offering
As a new act of service to the Servant King

:D Te amo, Senor...

Edited to add:
And reflecting on the past few days, it's amazing to see how God, as always and truly, is faithfully answering my earnest prayers to grow in a servant's heart. The main reason I've been praying to grow in servant's heart is because of what HQ told me, to learn to see the needs of others, to become less self-absorbed. Not that I'm not trying, but I have to train myself to grow.

So thanking God for His faithfulness and goodness to me, because He is helping me train myself to become more Christlike to see the needs of others, AND do it with a cheerful and willing heart. Like how my colleague asked me to buy some ice-cream for him from the supermarket.

Realised that my heart was very eager and willing to do so - this can only be the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in my life!

And to help a friend borrow a camera...

And a few things here and there. Gosh, all these scenes of service flash by - I realise now God was prompting me to do all these.

The reason I'm writing all these down is not to show how serving i am, but to remind myself of the truth of Scripture: It is not I, but Christ, who lives in me, and who is doing all the good work that you see. 'Cos the previous tenant in the body of Yeu Ann is now dead and gone. =) And I've never been so alive before haha.

Galatians 2:20
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

What a thrilling joy to witness the exceedingly dynamic transforming power of the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in a sinner's heart! Only Jesus can do something like that in my extremely self-centred heart...

Just feel very happy :) Lalala... But tis' so true, as the Lord Jesus Himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Amen! Amen! Amen! :)

Romans 15:13
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A dear bro currently in the NUS ministry replied me this message when I asked him to help me book a basketball court in NUS...
"Yes bro, i will help u w all my heart! How many courts boss?"

Wow! Thank God for his servant heart, his eagerness to help... really have to learn from this humble childlike servant heart of his =D
A dear bro just shared this with me:
"actually, i'm really encouraged by u bro.
that u dun rush but believe in waiting for God's timing"

Felt very refreshed and encouraged too - it was very timely =) Our God hears prayer and He answers at the right time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Forgot Something Important

Thank God for the pantomime team on Sunday. Their performance was so intense. Again wanted to cry LOL, reminded of how intense the Father's love is for us. How He laid aside His majesty, gave everything up for you and me...

cHiLdReN :-D

Delightfully whimsical.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Come to the Dark Side

"Bet you didn't know the Sith Lords were a veritable cadre of Iron Chefs in the kitchen. By harnessing the power of the Dark Side, they've made these cookies well-nigh irresistible. Can't you almost smell the scent of fresh-baked cookies, wafting through the airlock...."

Just a Journal Entry for Today

A Tale of Two Lovers :)

Just want to write a little post here to thank God for today... =) Actually, it's extremely long and rambling... just an raw memory dump of today. To preserve these memories of God's lovingkindness... =D

With that prologue, here goes...

The First Hour
For the House of Prayer session today. For the thanksgiving prayers that we prayed, thanksgiving for yesterday's miraculous provision of good weather during the event, and that the event itself went so nicely, great and cheerful atmosphere... thank God He really is in charge!

As Peter observed, "I saw the clouds moving parallel to the park, but not around it."

And my own observation of how as some of us went to Zhenzhong's car, the first raindrops hit us just as we opened the doors...

Wow! :D So thankful to God for Ps Jo's sermon on which he exhorted us to speak to things with faith in Jesus' name - like how Jesus Himself spoke to the raging storm like one correcting an unruly child... "QUIET! BE STILL!" And instantly the storm died down.

I have observed with my own eyes that every single time I put up my hand to the clouds and pray in Jesus' name, commanding the clouds not to disturb us until the entire event is over... the clouds did exactly as we prayed! It really is so wonderful to see how something so uncontrollable as the weather will quietly and humbly submit itself to the authority of Jesus' name! Oh man, we truly serve a Great and Awesome God!
John 14:12-14
12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Not that we can change the weather as and when we like... or treat Jesus as a divine vending machine. The necessary precondition is that we pray according to God's will, e.g. these events are useful to help share the gospel with others, or we really need good weather... etc.

The IVP New Testament Commentaries explain these verses:
Jesus assures them that I will do whatever you ask in my name (v. 13), a theme that will be repeated throughout the farewell discourse (15:7, 16; 16:23-24, 26; cf. 1 Jn 3:22; 5:14-15). Praying "in Jesus' name" does not refer to some magic formula added to the end of a prayer. It means to pray in keeping with his character and concerns and, indeed, in union with him. The disciples, through their union with Christ, are taken up into his agenda. This agenda, as throughout his ministry, is to bring glory to the Father (v. 13). This verse has been understood by some Christians to be a blanket promise that Jesus will give them whatever they want. Such idolatry of the self is the very opposite of eternal life. "Whatsoever we ask that is adverse to the interests of salvation, we do not ask in the name of the Savior" (Augustine In John 73.3). Rather, the promise is made to those who will pray in Jesus' name and for the glory of the Father. As such it is a great promise for the advance of God's purposes in oneself, in the church and in the world.

Oh! That was just the first hour of the day. I talk so long. :P

The Second Hour
Then, after HOP, had a great breakfast at Burger King with Peter and Sharon. We had a really good time of fellowship together, and wow, thank God for Peter's wise sharing to us about some things... and one thing that Sharon shared with us from the book, "Purpose Driven Life", was that all of life is ultimately about relationships. Even The Ten Commandments are about our relationships - relationships with God and with people. Four commandments for our relationship with God, and six commandments for our relationships with people.

And the book said that if relationships really matter to us, we will not fit them into our schedules. We will make them our priorities.

We so often speak about "making time" for people. But one of the most precious things in life that we can ever give people is our time, because once given, we can't take it back again. The fact is, we've given a part of our lives to others thus. So since ultimately the purpose of life is relationships, we need to work on our relationships. To purposely prioritize building relationships.

It applies even to our ordinary jobs. I think I heard somewhere in one sermon that the main reason people hate their jobs is because they can't get along with their colleagues. And as Ecclesiastes 4 put it so aptly:
Ecc 4:7-10:
Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
"For whom am I toiling," he asked,
"and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?"
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

(On a side note, I really want to thank God for my dear colleagues in my team. Each one of them is really a blessing to me, and I know that God put me in this team to teach me from their lives. As one of my superiors commented, this is one of the best teams he's seen so far. Whoa. Really thankful to God for His absolute grace to me...

So have been making it a point to pray for my teammates, asking God to bless them, for His peace to be upon the office where I work, for God to meet their daily needs and to bless them, and that He will help me grow to be a better blessing to them, to open my eyes wide-wide to see what needs of theirs I can help to meet where possible. Every day is really a learning experience for me, not only in terms of work or development skills, but also of growing in character and personal maturity. It's strange, but somehow God has been sheltering me, protecting me... it's really funny how all my life, I've been protected, but not too protected... but pushed just enough... and there are so many people out there who have to endure (literally) God-knows-what.

And God has given so much to me in this little life of mine. How can I ever give back to Him? And I think His answer is very simple: Lovest thou Me? Then feed my sheep; take care of my lambs. For whether we know Jesus or not, we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way...)

Oh! That was the second hour.

The Third and Fourth Hours
The sermon spoke to me deeply. The worship, the testimony, everything. Thank God for the wonderful ministers who administer God's grace to us via music or songleading or even songwriting (as in sister Jaclyn's song that she wrote). Though I experience God much more strongly through nature than through worship, the songs blessed me very much. =D So thankful to God for these beautiful hymns of the faith.

Oh! back to the sermon. And the sermon was on the true joy that Jesus alone can give. It was a familiar theme... but one of the points struck home deeply. Ps Jeff shared a real-life story about how he recently tried to counsel someone with slight depression, together with a professional counsellor. After a long and fruitless time of counselling, the counsellor at the end of the session simply asked the person:

- Do you really want to get well?

- Uh... yes, I really do.

- Then I want you to do this one thing after this session is over. As soon as possible, you go find someone with a greater need than yours, and go and help that person. Go do something for that person. And you'll find your depression will go away.

And at that moment, Wenjiang's wise words came back to me again, after so many years ago: "Go, Yeu Ann. Go and encourage your brothers. Call them. Show care and concern to them. 'He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.'"

It struck home to me, because by nature I'm naturally a self-centred and inwards looking person. But I recall the times that God enabled me to really breakthrough in my emotional downtimes were the times I made a decision to step out of myself and go meet the needs of others. And as I did so, I started experiencing so many blessings... :D Thank God for His lovingkindness indeed! It's a daily battle to crucify my old sinful, selfish, self-centred nature... but truly, it really is more blessed to give than to receive! Amen!

And the testimony almost brought tears to my eyes. The dear brother who shared his testimony about how God slowly but faithfully brought him out of a time of deep depression... it was so sincere, so heartfelt, so real, that I almost wanted to cry. And I do believe that testimony was powerfully used by God to plant many seeds today in many hearts.


Thank You Lord. You really transform lives very much, Jesus!

The Fifth and Sixth Hours
Such a good lunch... thank God also for the refreshing time with Dehua, who joined our CG for lunch. And Sharon and Jeannie later on shared more with Liwen. Shawn and I went off somewhere to pray together in secret for them. It's really exciting, to see what the Lord can do in answer to our prayers! :D

Also had a short but sweet time of catching up with Weizhu and Huichun. Thank God for this lovely couple in Christ =) And oh yes, I finally figured out why Huaqiang was wearing such a strange-looking Tshirt today with only the letters "VE" on it... Sarah was wearing the same kind of Tshirt with only the letters "LO"...

So see photo above of the two lovers. =) Tickles my inner romantic. ;)

The Seventh, Eight and Ninth Hours
DOTA session with the bros. =) First time getting a mega-kill. Whee... thanks once again Master Edwin for the tips... ;) but thinking again, wow... playing DOTA does train me in situational awareness and anticipating logically what to do next... especially when given unclear instructions or miscommunication. Like KC telling me to attack the Sand King... but I saw the Skeleton "King" in a far-off lane... so was confused which one he meant. So just cheonged... and got hammered, walloped and pwned by the wrong SK. KC was quite... you get the idea. But thanks KC for taking the time later to clarify what you really meant. And he told me to clarify first if I'm not sure of the instructions. So must learn from this experience -> apply the principles to other aspects of life, especially work and ministry.

Yeah! Thank God for DOTA... especially for the brothers who bear patiently with noobs like me... and Ed and KC "discipling" me in the way of the Tinker. :) Makes me a better Thinker (pun intended lol).

And, The Last Hour of Today
Ah. Now back home. Going to scribble down the fresh (and more substantial idea) for the script that I came up with for the HopeKids video. It's terribly exciting... and delightful to work for the Lord. =)

Psalm 118:24,29 (NLT)
24 This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rambling Thoughts! (on character etc.)

Read Andrew's latest blog post about helping out in the grassroots. Whoa, very pleasantly surprised! And it made me think about what I can do to bless my community, to bless those around me.

Like how David Marshall made a difference in his community. I was touched to read in the ST about how there was a tribute to Marshall even after he died some time ago... pleasantly surprised to see how the PAP leaders affirmed his contributions to Singapore, even though Marshall was an opposition leader before, and his weaknesses as Chief Minister of Singapore, both administratively and politically.

So was wondering why, then, is this man still so highly regarded? Was thinking, a lot of it is due to his character, that makes him so affable and beloved by many people. One anecdote about him said that he would welcome visitors to his place readily, with such a strong and eager sense of hospitality...

And also another bit I read about him was his passionate conviction for social justice, and his humility too. His heart for people too. And I read also how, he refused to take part in a proposed plot by then-Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock to arrest Lee Kuan Yew and his friends so that the two of them could stay in power. His words were something like this: "NO, NO, NO AND NEVER! Have you forgotten what we stand for? For freedom and justice!"

Whoa. No wonder even his political opponents respected and even loved him.

On another note, I read about the fall of (ex)-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, and how his overweening pride was a major cause of his fall - how people were rejoicing over his fall from grace. He said words to his opponents like, "I'm a f****** steamroller, and I'm going to roll over you."

Compare to his new successor, David Patterson. In The New Face of New York, the writer reports:
Few of Eliot Spitzer's peers will miss his style now that he has been felled by scandal. Disdain for the governor's bellicosity was the one thing that united both parties in New York's fractious state government. His successor is Lt. Governor David Paterson — Spitzer's diametric opposite. With his mellow voice, humor and self-deprecation, Paterson has become a popular speaker in New York's political circles. "He has a winning personality," says State Senator Bill Perkins, a Democrat whose 30th District seat Paterson used to occupy. "He's very funny, very witty, and he makes an effort to not just get the job done but to make people comfortable."

Thoughts to ponder... yah, character is so important. And thank God for my dad who taught me that I may not be able to control my circumstances, but I can choose how to respond to my circumstances.

More thoughts. Yah, humility... character is so important. But not self-righteous morality... but genuine love for God and for people. That is what really counts in this life. And I know that's the greatest meaning of life: To love God and love my neighbour as myself. Nothing greater than this.

Also thinking about my workplace. Was praying how can I be a blessing to those around me? Think the Lord impressed on me that I have to learn to open my eyes and see the needs of those around me. What needs? Small needs here and there... anticipating their needs, not just waiting to be asked. And that is one way their hearts will be opened up more.

And now I understand more and more clearly why He put me in this particular CG... it's because half of the people there, their love language is service. To them, seeing little acts of kindnesses are especially valuable in their eyes. And one of my weakest areas is seeing the needs of others... and the fact that I'd rather say words than to do acts of service. But Lord, please humble me and show me how to love not with words or tongue, but in action and truth.

And I really do want to love people more and more. And I know that as I pray to God, who is love, He'll pour out His love into my heart, and teach me to learn to see the dirty feet of others and kneel down to wash them. This is really what I want to be - to kneel down together with my Lord and Teacher, and to wash the feet of others. Lord, help me learn to empty myself, to learn to make myself nothing, just as You made Yourself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant.

This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to come follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The African Hacker

With home-brewed code and a little help from Microsoft, a programmer in Ghana launches Africa's first software empire. [read more]

It's so cool to see how in the face of various obstacles in Ghana e.g. unreliable power supplies, outdated computers, poorly educated users and rampant piracy, this entrepreneur and his team have ingeniously written software that is, in their words, "tropically tolerant". Culturally relevant techniques that successfully adapt their way around these tricky social tangles. :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Of Differences and Season of War

Met up a dear bro today...

Something that he encouraged me very much was that it's true, I'm different from a lot of people, but some of my differences are very good and powerful.

Wow. It left a lump in my throat when he said that.

And we had a good time sharing about our lives. He shared from 2 Samuel about the verse, about spring being the time kings go to war. And how this time for him was a time of "war", in the sense that it's time for him to build himself up, work hard in his career and ministry, and so on. Abt how the "season of love" has passed after February... and also about why he chose to join the Men's Ministry. "It's a movement."

It was a genuine time of fellowship. :D really thank God for answering my prayer, that both of us'd leave mutually blessed and renewed - and it really turned out that way! :D

Facing The Giants

Going to meet Yanjie soon. But thought before that, I'd jot down some quotes from the "Facing the Giants" movie that we watched yesterday.

Here's the synopsis from Wikipedia:
Coach Grant Taylor at Shiloh Christian Academy has never had a winning football season. His car breaks down frequently, his house is falling down around him, and he and his wife are unable to have children. When he overhears school parents plotting to have him fired, he reaches a crisis point and prays. The turning point for Coach Taylor is shortly after an intensive time of prayer. An older man who walks the halls of the school praying for the students shows up unexpectedly in the coach's office with a message of encouragement. The timing of that message overcomes the Coach's reluctance to change focus.

The defining scene in the show was when, in the midst of training, Coach Grant decided to challenge the team captain, who at that time was, despite his natural leadership qualities, quite apathetic and passive. He challenged the young man to crawl across the entire football field with a quarterback on his back - blindfolded.

Here's how the challenge went.

Do watch it - it is one of the most moving movie scenes I've seen in a very long time.

Why Do Children's Ministry?

The World Congress on how not to mess up the Great Commission too much:
  • Aim Lower,
  • Think Smaller,
  • Give Up,
  • and go have a cup of coffee.

How coincidental... I was discussing with Joyce on MSN just now what workshops to go for the GoForth missions conference in July... And they have a few workshops on reaching out to children. Did you know that, according to the video below, 60%-80% of all responses to the Gospel are made by children? And that as the world population grows to 6,000,000 people, children are one of the largest pools of workers in the harvest field - if we can reach them before the world or Satan does.

So, for all who have a heart for missions, this is one video you die-die must watch!

Thank God for this video... found it from one of Hong Teck's websites. Really, if you just want to join children's ministry because you find them cute, then my dear friend, you are missing out on a HUGE potential to extend the Kingdom. They can be the best instruments to share the gospel with their own parents - we have our own examples here in our own church too.

So never, never, never, never, never, never, never dare ever look down on the little ones, and never ever hinder them from receiving the fullness of God's grace! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these! In fact, whoever won't receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Not I say one... the Lord Jesus Himself said it - and very plainly! Amen!

Don't be contented with impacting this generation... impact the next generation too, for they will be the ones who will take our place in impacting yet-unborn generations for the Lord!
Psalm 22:30-31
Posterity will serve Him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for He has done it.

Sallah! I wrote 6,000,000 people... it's meant to be 6,000,000,000 people... Paiseh. I just accidentally wiped 5,994,000,000 people off the planet. :P

Friday, March 7, 2008


Heard from Jitsy recently that she's been doing some sort of social project in Shanghai with migrant children besides her already busy workload as an intern... wow, very inspiring! :D Thank God for her wonderful heart that really desires to touch the lives of others.

On the home front here, so far no trace of Mr Missing aka Mas Selamat. Later going to watch "Never Say Die", some inspirational Christian movie at Nexus later. Tai Heng's coming! :)

HopeKids video production - got a promising storyline up. Planning to meet the rest of the team on Sunday for a quick 20 min or so. Thank God for the willing hearts of all who joined the team. :D Your reward is in heaven!

Soccer match on Sunday.

Oops. Wrong title of the movie. "Facing The Giants," it was. And whoa, it's really a very inspirational movie. :D Thank God truly... I was saying to myself, "One day, I shall make a movie like that too." With God, all things are possible!

UN warns on food price inflation

The head of the UN World Food Programme has warned that the rise in basic food costs could continue until 2010. [read more...]

As I read about all these food inflations, I see a trend... and I'm reminded that Jesus said that these are how the world is going to be like at the last of the last days. And in Revelation 6, the Bible says this of God's judgement on the earth:
5 When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.”

Perhaps the Bible verse above is meant to be literal or figurative or allegorical, or all of them, and then some more... but whatever the above verse means, it does seem to me that Jesus is going to come back very soon!

I don't want to be caught unprepared. Let's help one another be ready for the Lord's return! And if you haven't received Christ into your heart yet, you can find out more here. Feel free to post any questions here on this blog!

Combined CG

Just came back from Combined CG of all the CGs in the NG district. To say it was a CG is an understatement. There were at least a hundred people flocking into Nexus... Ps Jeff met all of us to share about Dynamics of a Life-Transforming Community.
  1. Jesus Is In The Centre of His Community
  2. Jesus' Community Prevents Spiritual Drift
  3. Jesus' Community Allows Us To Be Real

Wow. V timely, 'cos was fasting and praying for my CG and for our friends who are coming for tomorrow's movie event at Nexus.

And also the prophecy during the worship - I still have a lovely lingering memory of that time of worship - how lovely, how wonderful it is to worship God! :)

The prophecy from 2 Chronicles... to humble ourselves and pray to Him, then will He hear from heaven and heal our land... that God was encouraging us who have a burden for some people who are not meeting up regularly for fellowship, to keep seeking Him in prayer... to grow in a bigger heart of compassion for them, that we may pray even more.

And Isaiah 42:9! :D
See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you."

The prophecy, that God is telling us that there is going to be a new era for our region. And He is inviting us to seek His face, to seek Him for the announcement of new things yet to come, that He will declare in advance to us!

It really is very exciting! :D

And thank God also for HQ's sharing with me. I learnt from his brotherly advice - and after some thinking and further asking, I learnt that observing alone isn't enough - in order to make sense of all the incoming "data"...

E.g. if I observe someone isn't looking very happy, I can do a mental "checklist" to ask myself what's the possible reason that he/she isn't looking very happy. If after exhausting the "checklist" systematically, having thought through, then perhaps if the situation and timing is right, I can ask the person how he/she is feeling.

It was a really helpful piece of advice to me, because when I do observe, I look with my eyes, but can't immediately understand what exactly is happening. So I tend to ask others around me what's going on. Honest - that's how my mind really works. For me, I have to burn a lot of energy to keep my eyes deliberately focused and my ears to listen... it IS very physically and mentally tiring. LOL. So I don't particularly enjoy large gatherings... noisy situations literally make me feel lost and confused a lot.

A very interesting analogy that HQ used was this: when you do a technical troubleshooting problem, you systematically plow through a checklist of potential issues. Likewise, you do the same when you observe external situations... be it social or administrative or whatever else. Or solving problems on the spot. It'll help me rely less on others in coming up with solutions, thus training me to be more independent. Not that I must, but that it'll help me be more effective for God and for myself and others when I learn to think on my own feet.

And also, his advice helped me realize one thing: no wonder I struggle with debugging! Because I don't use a checklist to help me troubleshoot systematically.

I often come up with very imaginative reasons for the bug:
"Hmm... I suspect... it's a non-deterministic memory synchronization timing issue."
"Aww. The underlying software framework must have a problem. So not my program."
"Duh! It's the compiler itself!"
"That's not a bug - it's a feature!"
"Hardware fault? Maybe the hamster inside died..."

And it is important, especially now that I'm in the wide, wide world of working adults. And in the Adults ministry, realistically speaking, the men, more often than not, are expected to be more stable, more problem-solving than the women. Women are given more freeway to be emotional, etc... but if you're a guy... even if you are the emotional type, it's just not the best that a guy can be.

Looking, hoping and praying for new growth in this area of my life for Christ... growth in maturity, especially as a growing man of God! Amen! :D

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Zambia miners 'see little reward'

Thomas Mumba loved to sing in the church choir and dreamt of recording a CD of gospel music.

At 23 he did not drink or smoke. He preferred to spend his time worshipping his Lord.

His mother Justina hoped his future would be far from the mines that pockmark the landscape of Zambia's Copperbelt.

"I wanted him to become a pastor, or a reverend," she said, "because of his good morals. People loved him very much."

Instead, Thomas lies buried near the gates of Chambishi mine, which is run by NFC Africa Mining, a Chinese state enterprise. [read more...]

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Training for Maturity, Training for Godliness

I went jogging just now, and wow, thank God, I really enjoy the experience. :D Haha... but more importantly, God was with me through the time of jogging. Learnt some valuable lessons on training for maturity and godliness from jogging.

First thing I realised: There is always pain in growth and in bearing fruit. Like how the seed must first die before it can become many seeds, and like how a woman has to go through the pains of labour before her child is born... so it is with any aspect of our lives. First the suffering, then the glory. "Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" Like the pains of hormonal adolescence, the pains of labour... so it is with my growth in maturity. I need to experience the good pain that comes from labouring to grow in godliness and in denying myself, just like an athlete training for the Olympics undergoes the pain of denying himself/herself chocolates, etc.

It strikes me as true, because I'm someone who has this mindset that I should be protected, kept safe... not to experience pain or discomfort unless necessary. But after talking with HQ on Sunday, I realised this character aspect of myself. So unwilling to die to self - that is why I have taken so long to grow!

So there is pain in the growth, in the maturing process... but there IS joy in the pain, because one is able to recognize it as good pain, or on a grander scale, redemptive suffering. Like how one can be glad when he jogs till he's almost ready to meet Jesus face to face (probably with a blue gasping face). :P

Then second thing that came out of this jogging experience was a fruitful time of meditation of this verse from 1 Timothy 4:7b-9:
"Instead, train yourself to be godly. 'Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.' This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.

The jogging training helped me understand better what it means to train myself to be godly. The nature of training is that it requires:

- consistency. regular work is needed.

- training myself requires that I train myself. At first glance, sounds tautological, but realised it makes a lot of sense. If we want to train others, we need to train ourselves first. Makes sense... I can't ask someone else to do my jogging for me. Or delegate my DOTA training... :P

- training takes place on different types of terrain. Like how jogging on the pavement, jogging on the fields, jogging up over overheads, and jogging across the road... likewise, in our spiritual training, we need to train in different circumstances. if we train only in comfortable situations... the moment difficulties come, we'll be totally lost. we learn to be godly in church, at home, in the marketplace, in our free time, with our finances, with our relationships... all different types of terrain.

- training has to fit with your current level and condition. you can't expect a 3-years old to do marathons, and neither can you expect a person who has just recovered from a broken leg to start doing 100m dashes. or a weak heart, going for an ultra-marathon... it's just impossible. Having realistic, humble understanding of where I really stand...

- but training requires that you strengthen first what needs to be strengthened. if the guy's just broken his leg, he needs to stretch his weakened leg to strengthen the muscles... if you're exercising to strengthen a weak heart, then jogging or swimming would be better than weightlifting...

likewise, if i struggle to grow in emotional maturity, then reading books on the appropriate topics. if i need to grow in depth of thinking, then read deep books, and practise thinking more deeply and wisely...

- training is NEVER instant. it needs time. but the main thing is progress. just go one mile more... that's progress for the day.

- and just as importantly too, training helps us become more aware of what we lack. it helps us know where we really stand. if we think we can run a marathon in 4 hours, a quick run around the block will tell us the brutal truth. :)

think this is something i personally realised as i've walked with Jesus more and more these ten years. am realizing now just how short i fall of His perfect standard for my life... in fact, it seems to me that whenever i overcome or grow in one area of my life, i discover the bar suddenly gets higher! and the Holy Spirit opens my eyes just a little more to see just how much more is still left for me to grow!

it's like... you just finished crossing the highest mountains ever known to mankind. and it took you a few dozen years. then... when you crane your neck over the peak, expecting to see the glorious plains that lie ahead... you see a range of even higher mountain peaks in the distance.

but that's the infinite beauty of God's perfection... and the deepening epiphany of the depths of God's grace to you and me. we thought our sins were like buckets of water... we saw they were actually oceans of blood.

but then that is how we really take one little step closer to just comprehending the utter depths of God's love and humility - the Incarnation, O a mystery unthinkable - that He would take the Fall, just to save our souls - and now to love Him is all, that we can ever know.


- training really brings benefit. especially training in godliness. It really brings so much benefits, not only as rewards for the life to come, but the life here now too. A godly man will enjoy a good reputation with his fellowmen, and be close in his relationship with God and relationships with people... he'll have much wisdom and whatever he does will prosper, because God is with him. And he'll leave behind a rich legacy, better than all the riches of the world, for those around him...


Shall end off here with this passage from 1 Timothy 4 (MSG):
11-14Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don't let anyone put you down because you're young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.

15-16Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.

My Sharing on a Life Lesson

Last Saturday, I was invited to meet a bunch of secondary kids. These great kids were actually on some character-building programme as they were deemed problematic by their teachers.

After being through a similar growing up experience with these kids, I dare say that the problem doesn’t lie in the kids. The real problem is the adults or the people who are in authority.

Not only do they not take the time to listen and understand these kids, they are haste in their judgement to label these kids who do not seem to “flow” with the mainstream as problematic.

Being misunderstood and condemned, naturally these kids would rebel or show dis-interest in their studies... [read more]

Truthful, touching and thought-provoking. :)

Escaped Terrorist Spotter!

Velly useful leh...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Character, The Magic Word

Read this TIME magazine article just now, "Does Experience Matter in a President?". And this passage caught my eye:
"Wouldn't it be nice if time on the job and tickets punched translated neatly into superior performance? Then finding great Presidents would be a simple matter of weighing résumés. Take a Democrat like Bill Richardson — experienced in Congress, in the Cabinet, as a diplomat and governor — and have him run against Republican Tom Ridge, a former soldier, governor and Director of Homeland Security, with the winner chosen by a blue-ribbon commission of all-purpose elders. The Danforth-Mitchell commission, perhaps, or O'Connor-Albright. But it has never worked that way, which is why Lincoln's statue occupies a marble temple on the Mall in Washington, while his far more experienced rival William Seward has a little seat on a pedestal in New York City. "Experience never exists in isolation; it is always a factor that coexists with temperament, training, background, spiritual outlook and a host of other factors," says presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. "Character is your magic word, it seems to me — not just what they've done but how they've done it and what they've learned from doing it."


Was it Franklin Roosevelt's experience as governor of New York that gave him the power to inspire in some of the nation's darkest hours? Or was that gift a distillate of his dauntless battle with polio? To a keen student of human nature, all of life offers lessons in how to lead, inspire and endure. Lincoln's ability to apply useful lessons from his motley experiences was among his most striking traits. When Ulysses Grant explained his grand strategy to defeat Lee by attacking on multiple fronts, Lincoln immediately thought of a lesson in joint operations learned years earlier on the farm. "Those not skinning can hold a leg," he said approvingly. For other temperaments, no amount of schooling, no matter how specific, will do. Richard Nixon served as a Congressman, Senator and Vice President; he watched from the front row as Eisenhower assembled one of the best-organized administrations in history. When Nixon's turn came, though, his core character — insecure, insincere, conspiratorial — led him to create a White House doomed by its own dysfunction.

Experience, in other words, gets its value from the person who has it. In certain lives, a little goes a long way. Some people grow and ripen through years of government service; others spoil on the vine. At the same time, the value that voters place on résumé is constantly shifting. James A. Baker III is an authority on this. In 1980, he managed the campaign of his well-credentialed friend George H.W. Bush, under the slogan "A President we won't have to train." But the public mood was sour on Washington, and victory went to an outsider, Ronald Reagan, who had never served in Washington. Eight years later, the mood was stay the course, and Bush's experience as Vice President was his ticket to victory. Then the atmosphere turned again, and in 1992 the public demanded someone new. Baker, a former Secretary of State, still believes that a candidate with credentials should certainly tout them, but in the end, "there's no such thing as presidential experience outside of the office itself." The quality we ought to seek "is leadership."

Wow. Thank God. It's very very timely. I was talking with HQ today, and something that he said struck me. It's not about a popularity contest, but one of character, of maturity.

Character is integral to influencing people - especially some people who don't believe in words. They are only influenced when they see action. To be consistent with what you say. Whether I walk the talk.

Ah. Hong Teck told me before - children don't listen to what you say. But they will listen to what you do.

Ah! There's this brother, whom I'm thinking of building a closer friendship with. I find him a brother who holds firmly to his principles and convictions, which I find very noble and admirable - strong words, yes, and it's true. And his shepherd has also confirmed that while we were talking about him. Think I do want to get to know this brother better - I find him a humble bro as well, and feel very blessed to have him as a friend too. =) Hope and pray I can get to learn more from this brother's life... and that God'll bring the two of us together as close friends in Christ. =)

I must confess: The road to building character really feels very very long - and it's upwards some more. To be honest, if you see me at home, you'll know that I can be very impatient and selfish, constantly struggling to help my parents with chores or errands... especially when my parents ask me for help with IT stuff. I struggle with giving up my personal space and own time, especially if they call upon me when I'm blogging (like now).

So many things to think about. I don't want to live an empty, hollow, tombish life - looking good on the outside, but rotten on the inside.

I like how the apostle Paul puts it in Philippians 3:12-14 this way: "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

A prize! A goal! ... do I realise that in the quest to be like Christ, even in the humble and noble attitude of self-surrender and sacrifice for others' sake... there is a goal at the finishing end, a wonderful prize, an eternal crown of glory waiting for me? For you? For you and me? :D

Hmm. I was thinking too. To be honest, I thought before, if I'm making the decision to do something good even though I damned well don't feel like doing it, am I being hypocritical? Is this about being real in sharing my emotions or being good?

Or, can the two be reconciled?

Actually, it's two different things. One can feel emotionally hurt, but make a decision to obey the Bible, the truth, anyway and to bend the knee of one's will to the truth. "Father, if it is possible, take this cup [of suffering] away from me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done." To show others what it means to live by the truth. And the motives behind the deed. God looks at my inside. It's whether when nobody sees, am I still living out what I proclaim?

And that's why the Lord values genuineness of heart so much. And why His harshest rebukes were reserved for people who focus on forms, but not the heart. "You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." Outside and inside. Body and spirit. Both matters equally to Him, but He looks especially at the inside.

Let my walk speak loud
And my words be true
Let my life be whole
With my eyes set upon You

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

The Church and The Marketplace

I just read this article, after HQ showed the rest of the CG this article... it's really very spurring!

Something I felt lifted up when I read this article was this:
The Church cannot forfeit her rightful place and role in the marketplace where she must be able to extend her influence beyond the walls of the church or it will be seen as irrelevant.

For too long the Church has been confined and conforming to the world, it is time that the Church demonstrates the power and presence of God in engaging and transforming the world. If this isolation continues, the Church will eventually lose her God-given authority and inheritence as the head and not the tail.

I was thinking: What exactly does it mean by influence?

One of my good friends shared with me recently that the boss of his company had asked another manager to push his team to an impossible deadline. My friend was shocked when he heard the deadline - it was absolutely impossible. But the other manager simply said, "Ok, no problem."

Something that touched me when my friend narrated that incident to me was his shock and dismay at the boss' impossible demands and the unfair treatment of the overworked team - that "this is economic slavery!" I was touched, because to be honest, I most likely would have thought, "Erm, as long as I'm not affected by the demands, it's not my problem..."

But my friend's heart for his fellow overworked colleagues spoke to me a lot - that this is one Christian who doesn't just look only to his own interests, but cares for the welfare of others.

That is the same heartbeat that stirred the hearts of a few Christians a few centuries ago in England and the USA, to make a decision to stand against slavery then. So thank God for my friend who wants to make an impact in the marketplace - to in future be able to establish fair working conditions for the people under his care next time.

So moral influence. That's how the Church can really be salt and light in the marketplace - even if you don't have the skills to be the next Elim Chew or Bill Gates... ultimately, it is your character, your attitude, your care and concern for those around you that will make a lasting impact on those around you. A refusal to compromise on the truth, even if it means losing a job. A determination to keep my promise to deliver the goods, no matter how painful. A heart for the needs of others. A willingness to go the extra mile, even if it costs you extra.

Then that day in heaven, you'll see with your own eyes, as the song "Thank You for Giving to the Lord" goes:
One by one they came, far as your eyes could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done, sacrifices that you made,
They were unnoticed on this earth
In Heaven now proclaimed.