Monday, June 30, 2008

A Sad Testimony

This is the opposite of a joyful testimony. I hope it encourages you in a reverse kind of way - to be bold and courageous, so that you won't be kicking yourself inwardly. "...and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."

'Cos last week, think God impressed on my heart that He wants me to invite a certain friend for this coming ESS. But I wondered how to go about doing it, 'cos not very sure how to go about doing it. Planned to meet him face to face over dinner, but he wasn't free.

Finally, when I left him a msg, he called me back. I asked him whether he was free to go out on Sunday morning.

He said he's not free, but Sun afternoon onwards he's free. So inwardly I was disappointed, 'cos I had fasted and prayed for him to come. Then at that moment, I had this little voice telling me to ask him what he's doing on Sunday morning. But I thot I'd better not push too far.

Yah right. I should have listened to the Spirit. 'cos the next day, at service, gosh, all the points that Ps Jeff spoke... and especially the Bible verse, were SO RELEVANT. I was inwardly hammering myself - Lord, if only I had...

And then my friend joined me for lunch. Over conversation, almost immediately, he mentioned that his uncle had invited him to church last week, and he had gone with his uncle. But at present he's not an active seeker.

Oh no! The sermon this week could have opened up his heart to the Gospel!

And the worst thing was, he said that he had gone out on Sunday morning... from 7 am to 9 am. And the service starts at 11.30 am!!!

*deep sigh*

And then just now I read this article by Kenny Luck... this paragraph struck me so much:
Fight or flight?

Your new neighbor needed to borrow a dolly to move his fridge. You helped him and got to talking. He’s just moved here from back east. You’ve got a lot in common and, it turns out, his company is a vendor for guy at church you know from Bible study. "Wow, what a coincidence!... Small world!" You sense a pull to ask if this guy he has a church family and, if not, tell him about your men’s group that meets on Thursday mornings. "You just met the guy," the dark side calls out. "Step into the water – it’s warm. Go for it!" says God’s Spirit.


And I realise something. I'm very eager to take risks to invest in what benefits me personally, BUT. When it comes to investing, risking everything, to extend the Kingdom of God, even at the risk of looking like a fool for Christ's sake... I shrink back. With such a cowardly, self-preserving attitude like that, how can I be a man of God then?

Lord! I keep on charging or holding back... not at Your command, but at my own initiative! No wonder I fail so many times. Like the stubborn Israelites who tried to attack the Canaanites when You explicitly told them NOT to... I often try doing my own things. And when You tell me to do something, to take a divine risk... I hold back and rationalise, making excuses.

Sigh. It's a sad testimony. But really thanks Father for pointing it out to me. I want to be fully Yours, fully surrendered to You, and fully obedient to You. To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams! Amen!

I Try Too Hard

It was an eye-opening weekend. Not a very easy weekend, but think it's a week of growth.


Thank God for the talk with Peter. Also for the book "Every Man, God's Man". About how a man's pride and/or fear can stop him from living by faith in God.

Points to ponder:
1. I must trust God to provide for all my needs, including the need for close relationships.

I was reflecting what is the real root issue... I think it's fear. If I start fearing that close relationships will never come to me unless I do my part, that people will never like me unless I behave very nicely to them, make thm laugh, smile, etc...

Then I begin to take matters into my own hands, lose faith in God's ability and grace to bless me with close relationships, be it with fellow Christians or my colleagues or even BGR. I start thinking of ways to please them, make them like me. But people can sense when I'm not being myself.

I think, for me, I respond in the same way a man in deep water fears drowning: he starts grabbing on to the people around him, even those who are trying to help him. I try too hard in building relationships. Of course one should water and fertilize the grass, but if you pull it to make it grow, you damage or even destroy it.

"Perfect loves drives out fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

Yes, God's Word is so true. Amen.


How to say... It was a time of enlightenment. It's, like, a fresh new dawn awoke in my heart this morning. It came last night after a time of prayer. Actually... it wasn't very much of a prayer. I just found it very hard to tell God what I was feeling, because there were so many things. So had no words. Just knelt there, with intense feelings that I don't know how to describe or express accurately. And to be honest, I didn't really feel God's presence very strongly. But I just knew He was there, listening, and He really understands how I feel, even when I don't have the words to describe it.

Yeah. That's why Pastor Jeff's sermon today was so meaningful.. it was on Psalm 25... (Matthew 6:8 - "your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.")


As Peter told me, "Sometimes it's ok NOT to do anything."

Haha. I think I understand what he was talking about. There are times I have to do my part... and there are times I do NOT have to do my part, but just be still and trust God to do His part when I've done mine.

It's possible to do too much. Just like how Abraham rushed to have a baby with his wife's maid (his wife told him to do it - some ancient customs were quite the different you know...), instead of trusting God to give him a son through his wife herself.

So I must learn not to give in to my fears and start trusting God more. To make a decision to trust God more in faith.

I'm really very grateful to the Lord that He still has so much mercy on me. Because for all my fears and insecurities, He has blessed me with not one, but a few close and closer friends who actually initiate not only commitments, but covenants before God in prayer to be stronger and closer friends. And these are men and women who love God and desire to walk well with Him. God blesses me so much even though I clearly do not deserve any of these blessings. And he still gives me, even though at times I still become very clingy and insecure due to my fears.
Psalm 34:4-10
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Jesus is so good. He is so incredibly Good. Even in the darkest valley He is the Shepherd of my soul, and He shall my Comforter and my Encourager be. Even in the coldest, darkest night, He has, is, and always will be our Eternal Sunshine. He is the brightest star who outshines a trillion galaxies. He is the Light of the world, He is the Bright Morning Star, the Joy of the universe, of whom all the very stars sing with joy. Whoa, what a Friend we have in Jesus!

Hmm, actually, people have mentioned that to me before quite a few times. To be honest, I'm afraid to share this, because I fear that those who know that they have shared this to me before will judge me. But think will share this anyway 'cos there may be others who also struggle with this, so I hope this encourages you, that you too are not alone.

2. The nature of our fallenness.
As I was walking to church today, I was reflecting on how self-centred even my most sacrificial attempts to care, they can be indeed. I often try to care for people, but with a subtle expectation of reciprocity in the same degree...

And the irony is, all these attempts to care for people were in response to last time, when I was so bo-chup, engrossed in my own little world, doing my own things.

How true it is, what one writer wisely wrote:
"Even our deepest tears of repentance have to be washed clean in the blood of the Lamb."

3. The nature of struggles - in my discussion with Peter, something Peter pointed out to me is that different people have different struggles. Actually, it's an important discipleship/mentoring principle. What may not be a struggle to me may be a great titanic struggle to my sheep. And vice-versa.

For me, it's the struggle with being emotional. Though to him not being emo is not a problem - he is able to be objective in his thinking, the fact is, there are others who do not find it easy at all. These struggles are deep-seated struggles that will most likely take your entire life just to be able to stand up against, let alone overcome. So last time he used to scold me for being emotional, but now he just accepts it when I'm in an emo state, and just wait for the storm to clear. :) Thanks bro for your patient and understanding love with me.

4. That I've grown in recovering faster whenever I'm emotional.

It's just an assessment of myself... hopefully a sober one! :) 'cos I was REALLY REALLY emo when I was a baby Christian - and even worse before I became a Christian. But Jesus forgave me all my sins, and washed me clean. :)

But thank God so much that ten years down the road, the Spirit has borne in me the fruit of patience and gentleness and self-control more and more. It really has to be the work of God in me - no other way! (Especially faithfulness and kindness and goodness... which I'm pretty sure was never the old Yeu Ann. But that is all the more glory to Jesus alone!)

5. Find out what is the inner fire in a person, and use that to motivate and inspire him/her!

6. Boldly going where someone else has gone before. (Sorry Star Trek...)
As Peter was sharing with me his mentoring advice... I realised that what I'm sharing to Jonathan, Peter had previously told me before. I'm thankful to God indeed :) And now what Peter is sharing with me... it's from a new level, a new strength, a new knowledge that he is now sharing with me. "And the gift goes on." Spirit begets spirit. :)

Haha. I told Jon b4 once that discipleship is very simply, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." The simple reason I'm his mentor is simply because I've been there before. The same struggles, disappointments, failures, stumbles, etc. Not because I'm necessarily better or wiser or stronger... on the contrary, it's simply because I've gone into the minefield first. :P Stepped on a lot of mines. No wonder I'm so lame. :P
A: Your mines?
B: No, I'm not yours.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Character more than Comfort

I have an unmarried friend who prays earnestly for God to lessen or even remove his sexual drive. It causes him constant temptation. As gently as I can, I tell him I doubt that God will answer his prayer the way he wants. More likely, he will learn fidelity the way anyone learns it, by relying on discipline, community, and constant pleas of dependence.

For whatever reason, God has let this broken world endure in its fallen state for a very long time. God seems to value character more than our comfort, often using the very elements that cause us the most discomfort as His tools in fashioning that character. This was true in the life of the apostle Paul, who prayed fruitlessly that his mysterious “thorn in the flesh” be removed (2 Cor. 12:8).

In my own life, I am trying to remain open to new realities, not blaming God when my expectations go unmet but trusting Him to lead me through failures toward renewal and growth. I am seeking a trust that “the Father knows best” in how this world is run. I see that the way in which I may want God to act does not achieve the results I might expect.

When God sent His own Son—sinless, full of grace and healing—we killed Him. God Himself allows what He does not prefer, to achieve some greater goal.
— Philip Yancey

So timely, thank God. He is so faithful. I've been praying to Him to help me grow in character, with some other dear friends praying for me too... and gosh, this article comes so timely. And it's so relevant to me.

Currently, I'm reading "Every Man, God's Man" by Stephen Arterburn and Kenny Luck at the moment. It really is a great book to be read if you're looking to learn to be a man of God.

Feeling an increasing conviction of my sins, and reading this book has led me into a deeper thought about who I really am and what I really am like. Realised that with the increased freedom as a working adult, be it in church or in work or in personal life, I've also been starting to compromise, in very small ways, certain convictions - esp in the area of purity, honesty, courage and integrity.


It's none the easier when those around you openly pad their claims, or engage in negative speech... or in slipping in their walk with God, preferring to maintain a form of godliness, but denying its true power.

You could be a missionary to Africa, but if you don't have the heart to stay true to your God, nor loving justice and mercy, or walking humbly... what does that count in His eyes?

Reading Jesus' words again in Luke, and the exploits of David's mighty men, men renowned not only for their prowess, but for their loyalty, dedication and commitment... I'm thinking again about what does it really take to be a man of God.

And even the sermon last week - the verse speaks to me very much.

Thinking about purity. While looking for a potential life-partner, I learnt that I also would have to honour her, like what Weizhu pointed out to me before. Honouring is more than physical purity - it is also about emotional and mental purity. It doesn't just extend only to the girl you're interested in - it applies to every sister, every young lady I come across. As Paul exhorted Timothy, "Treat... younger women as sisters, with absolute purity." So true... there are times that I keep on being so distracted by all the pretty ladies around me.

But thank God for the company of brothers that He's given me, and also for the Word and prayer... I remember that when I was a very young Christian, I was struggling so heavily with a desire for BGR. But over the years, God has been purifying my heart - and not just that, giving me a direction, and a purpose, to channel all my energy into. Now is the season for war, the season to go out and push shields against the numerous hordes. Now is the season of Total War, where the stakes count literally for eternity.

And I keep dilly-dallying around in the mess, in the camp, huddling down for shelter when the enemy casually lobs a few flaming arrows into the camp, just to suppress us once in a while. This is not what God had in mind for me! "Endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ."

Shouldn't I be out there, steadfastly crawling up Hamburger Hill under withering enemy fire? Shouldn't I be out there, digging in doggedly, even under Satan's taunts and incoming lies? To refuse to yield a single inch of my heart to sin's relentless march? For every inch the enemy took, with God's help, I'll push back one metre!

Shouldn't I be striving for maturity, for wisdom, for the fruit of the Spirit? To flay the old sinful nature daily, refusing to compromise? "One shall stand, one shall fall." The old man of sin must die, the new man of Christ must arise!

Shouldn't I be courageously sharing the gospel with my colleagues, and being secure even if I'm rejected? Rejected not because of irrelevance, but solely because of the name of Jesus! Is it not an honour to suffer disgrace for His name? If the apostles rejoiced because they refused to stop telling people about Jesus... then what excuses do I have?

If anyone wants to live a godly life, he WILL be persecuted. Is it not even more true today? If I want to live for the truth...

Paul expressed it so succinctly:
1 Tim 6:11-12
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Character above Comfort. Honour above Desire. Truth above Beauty.
Jesus #1. Others #2. Me #3.

"Do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be stronger men!
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks."

- Philip Brooks

Interestingly enough, I was fasting and praying for various things today, such as my CG, my sheep, my own life... and one more thing that I also asked God was about which sister He has in mind for me. Hee. :)

Then, while I was waiting for the lift to take me down from the rooftop garden that I'd prayed at, this thought suddenly came to mind: "Yeu Ann, what would you like your dream girl to be like?" Somehow had this impression God was asking me that question.

That was a very interesting question! I was reminded of a similar situation where the Lord appeared to the young King Solomon, inviting him to ask Him for anything he wanted. Sorta like requesting your very own custom-made wife, made by none other than God himself! :P

So I just shared with my Papa what I looked for in my dream girl. :) I think He was smiling... I know it must have sounded very silly, some of the things I said, but nevertheless, I think He was delighted all the same just to listen to me share more with Him.

So I asked for a wife of noble character, and oh yes, someone who'll complement me in vision, etc... and it'd be a great bonus if she were very pretty too! Most of all, must love God wholeheartedly... be humble too... can compensate for my weaknesses, and tt I'd be able to care for her and help her grow too.

And I think He smiled at me, and said:
"Son, you want a wife of noble character, is it? :)"

"Yeah... that would be nice! (Who wouldn't??? Haha!)"

"Then you have to be a man of noble character, so that you can lead this wife of noble character, you know."

"Oh. Gee..."

"Haha... because to whom much is given, much is expected, you know. I want to be able to entrust my precious daughter to a man I can trust. Will you be that man?"

Gosh! This conversation's not exactly an audible conversation, but very much a mental one. But, yeah, it's biblically true, the principles... I think God really must have been talking directly with me. :D Thank You Pa! :)

So I dunno what's going to happen next... in any case, it really was very nice of God to ask me... even though He didn't have to! But yeah, think He wanted to know more of me, to get me to share.

Just some reflections to make sense of this week.

And I do need to reflect, think deeper.

Night, Pa.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Caring for Others: The Value of Encouragement

"In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing."

Vincent van Gogh
Letter 136
24 September 1880

Vincent van Gogh originally had a very deep burden for the poor, as a Christian missionary, and had a deep desire to enter the ministry. Some even compared his charity and compassion to that of St. Francis of Assisi. In one of his letters, he wrote:
"You know how one of the roots or foundations, not only of the Gospel, but of the whole Bible, is `Light that rises in the darkness`. Well, who needs this most, who will be receptive to it ? Experience has shown that the people who walk in the darkness, in the centre of the earth, like the miners in the black coal mines, for instance, are very much impressed by the words of the Gospel, and believe them, too."
However, the established church at that time was scandalized by his seemingly improper conduct, such as giving up his bed to a poor person and sleeping on the floor... and they forced him to resign!

Vincent was so demoralized and discouraged - not to mention his natural melancholic self, coupled with depression... that (some say) he left the faith, and eventually committed suicide, after many episodes of sadness and depression.

Who knows what this man, after God's own heart, could have done if only, if only, a fellow Christian had encouraged him?

Such is the necessity of encouragement.

Personally, in the children's ministry where I serve in, there are quite a few kids who are very mischievous. Not only that - but some are lost in their own worlds, and others are very aggressive, and some are extremely shy.

However, never judge a seed by how it looks. You see that big aggressive boy whom you have to stop from hitting the other kids and teachers even? In the hands of God, if he is properly encouraged, he may become a great sportsman, or even a powerful warrior of God - a powerful preacher, the next Billy Graham, commissioned by God to preach the gospel to all the nations.

You see that shy, bright, but reclusive boy sitting in the corner, refusing to play with the other kids? He may one day be one of the finest minds in the country - or even the world. He could become the dean of a university, or a theologian, or a prime minister. But how he will choose to use that mind - to defend the faith or to attack it - lies with you, the adult, who shows him what Christ looks like.

You see that girl, lost in her own world, socially inept and rejected by all the other kids? One day, God may call her to be the next Mother Teresa, so full of intense compassion and mercy, such that millions of poor people will remember her name, calling her a saint of God. And she will be the epitome of God's joy to the nations.

And all these three children are in my class.

You have a fellow Christian who struggles just to read the Bible? Who seems very apathetic about spiritual things? Who left church even? One day he may become your shepherd, your spiritual leader, even someone who may save you from falling away from God. :)

Because that is what one of my shepherds' life was. :D

Never, never, never, ever dare to judge a seed by how it looks. One day it may become a mighty tree that uproot cities and kingdoms, or it may save nations and provide shelter to the refugees and the huddled masses. So learn to see today the person next to you as Jesus Christ Himself would see him...

"You are Simon the Reed. But I call you Peter the Rock. And on this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

Caring for Others: The Art of Encouragement - Part III

Encouragement - what it is and how it works
One definition of encouragement is this:
Encouragement is the expression we use, either verbal or non-verbal, in helping a person cope with or overcome a difficult time in their life and experience.
Every Christian is called to be an encourager. Hebrews 10:24-25 suggests 3 essential factors in effective encouragement:
24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
From this passage, we learn:

A. We must have the opportunity to encourage. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing..."

B. We must consider the principles of encouraging others: "Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds."

C. We must continue in the ministry of encouragement in an increasing measure: "... and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Something that also caught my attention was that encouragement is meant with a purpose in mind. Ultimately, all encouragement is meant to help someone get from point A to point B. As an encourager, you do NOT carry the person's burden from A to B - you help the person walk from A to B!

As Sam the hobbit said to Frodo in The Return of the King:
I may not be able to carry [your burden] for you... but I can carry YOU!

Caring for Others: The Art of Encouragement - Part II

In the Caring God's Way seminar that I went for last week, I learnt that encouragement is essential and foundational to caring for people.

There are 3 levels of caring for people:
  1. Encouragement
  2. Exhortation
  3. Enlightenment
What do these 3 mean?
  1. Encouragement ministers to the feelings of people. (Supportive)
  2. Exhortations ministers to their behaviour. (Directive)
  3. Enlightement ministers to their thinking. (Transformative)
The reason encouragement is so critical to caring for people is because you cannot exhort an unencouraged person. Have you ever experienced a time when you were in despair or very discouraged about your failures, etc... and then a well-intentioned person came along and tried to give you advice? To quote from my notes (hey it rhymes!):
Caring begins with ENCOURAGEMENT. We can never be fully effective at the other levels until we learn how to function at the first level.

Caring for Others: The Art of Encouragement - Part I

Do you desire to be an encourager to others? Do you want to make a real difference with others? A list of 41 things that might be helpful to know if you desire to live as an encourager.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Caring Seminar

First night - Whoa, it was great, really great. Learnt so much, so many things. I shall blog them down when I've more time. Had a great supper + long group sharing with Jason, Clarence and Zhiyong on the first night.

Second day - had HopeKids hangout at Botanic Garden. Fantastic picnic + great teaching on impacting the new generation by Hong Teck. Then rushed down to City Hall with Eilton (he's now a pilot officer trainee... cool!). Had the Seminar. Bought a book on Coaching With Christ - Jesus as your 'life-coach'. Bought a few more books at Tecman with Jason and Clarence. Met Jonathan after that. We went back to St. Andrew's Cathedral to listen to the open-air concert there. Great time, supplemented by the roar of low-flying stunt aircraft training for this year's National Day parade. Met Joseph after that to celebrate his birthday. A very inspiring and encouraging time of sharing by him.

Then chatted with Shawn for 1 hour plus. He also wants to go for September's Leadership Conference! What a great transformation the Lord has been doing in him all the while he's in Dalian... he's reading the Bible more and more regularly now. Praise God indeed! Very encouraged... God is so faithful indeed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blessed Birthday, KC!

Haha... happy birthday, Kim Chun! :) Thanks for being such a dear brother to me, and to many of us. =D
After reading a dear friend's blog entry on her reflections after a short-term trip to Indonesia, I was very inspired by her faithfulness in reflecting. Reflecting! I have forgotten to reflect, to see how God has been working and how He has been good to me. I need to, to borrow a word from Clarence, offer a thanksgiving offering to my God.

And thank God so so so much for the meetup with Clarence today. I was deeply refreshed and encouraged and just so blessed. He shared with me a 45-minutes testimony of how God's Word has really refreshed him and given him so much joy and peace in his heart... whoa, whoa, whoa. I am so blessed and grateful to our dear heavenly Papa for blessing me with a dear friend and bro like Clarence. And for his initiative and love in initiating and committing to meeting up once a month to fellowship and just share about what God has been doing in our lives... and just enjoying each other's company. And his classic quote about being greedy for the things of God... haha, yes, I think it's very biblical... 'cos in 1 Peter it says, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so tt by it you may grow in your salvation, now tt you have tasted tt the Lord is good."

Amen! :D

We ended with a prayer over hot cups of tea from Starbucks. Bumped into How Joo and another bro too. Also got to meet Eileen and Jocelyn at Raffles City food court too. And also bumped into Jieyun and Peijing. And saw some of the NTU ppl, including Eng How.

And I was very pleasantly surprised by an unexpected answer to a whispered prayer today as well. I was praying to God for a particular person... and to my complete surprise, I met that person a few minutes right after! This is the 2nd time God has answered my prayer regarding that person...

The Lord really is good to those who trust in Him! Hallelujah!

A commitment here after the meetup with Clarence: To wake up half an hour earlier to just read the Bible every morning. Laziness brings on deep sleep, so think it's well worth it to fight my carnal nature, and put on daily my new self.

17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Eph 4:20-24
20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Yeah and amen!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Renewing the Core Values =)

Whoa... just had a wonderful time of reading Luke.

As I sit here reflecting on this week, I'm really touched by how God honoured my response to an altar call last Sunday for those who were feeling far from God. And after that, Daisy sent me an SMS, wishing me God's blessing for the week ahead, that I'd be renewed in joy and God's peace this week...

And things did come to pass. I experienced God so strongly and powerfully on Monday, as I sat there, just watching and watching the skies pouring out their endless declaration of God's everlasting love... "The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

Then, reading the Bible has been a great joy too. I've been reading Philippians, and reading the book of Luke with Jonathan... think God is encouraging and correcting me too.

Why the title Core Values? Think it's because of the emotionally-trying times that I've been experiencing. But think God spoke to me through the Bible, that I must "keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:5)

And it's been a good time revisiting what Jesus taught us... the Sermon on the Mount. The things that he said, such as loving your enemies... going the extra mile... not judging others... obedience... I realised how much of his words I've forgotten in my heart. So yeah, I want to renew my first love for Him. To let His wonderful words cleanse my heart and set me right again before Him.

For He is good, and His love endures forever. :D

It's such a joy, realising experientially what the Bible says... I really do want to grow in obedience to Jesus and what He says... because I don't want to have to keep rebuilding my house every time the floods come. By practising what he taught us, I will be able to dig and lay a stronger foundation for my life, so that when the next storm comes again, I'll be able to stand firm and become more mature and stronger. Amen!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day! :)

Before the world began
You were on His mind
And every tear you cry
Is precious in His eyes

Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

Nothing you can do
Could make Him love you more
Nothing that you've done
Can make Him close the door

Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come

Come to the Father
Though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives
He will take them all

The power of the Word
The power of His blood
Everything was done
So you would come

Who Am I

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Met up with Peter to talk about something today, with much tears and ranting on my part. Truly thank God for his encouragement. And for the 2 real-life stories that he shared with me to encourage me to continue trusting in God, even though it's been a very long struggle up "Hamburger Hill" indeed.

And for his classic one-liner:
"The finest gold comes from the hottest fire."

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
When you can't see the future
When you can't see His hands
Trust His heart...

It's amazing. During church camp, Peter asked me to pray for him that he may be an even stronger and better friend to me, and it really is coming to be so. God is honouring his prayer. And I am learning so much about being a true friend from this dear brother's life example.

He lived out for me Christ's unconditional love - he never taught me, but I saw it bright and clear in him. There are really very few men like him - I'm so blessed by God to be his sheep.

Caring God's Way: How Do I Really Care for Others?

Wow, feel very blessed :) Tk You Lord. I came across this brochure at St. Andrew's Cathedral today... it was titled: Caring God's Way: How Do I Really Care for Others?
so I signed up for it.

Then right after I walked out and was reading the brochure, someone came up and laid his hand on my should. It was Jason! Turns out he and his sheep had all signed up for the same seminar too! It was such an amazing "concidence"... how encouraging it is! :)

And God has wiped my tears away and let me know that He is with me always...

Thank You Daddy for reading my written prayer just now... I really appreciate it very much. Esp when i find it hard to speak in prayer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Next Narnia Movie! :)

Kroah: Now, in all, there are seven in the series in all that Lewis wrote. Are there any plans that you can talk about for what’s next?

Flaherty: Now in the next film, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Prince Caspian, along with two of the Pevensie children are able to go off and they have great adventures as they try to get some of the exiled rulers of Narnia that have been exiled under the previous regime and they try to bring them back together.

So, that is on tap to be the next one—and it’s great. You still have two of the Pevensies—Edmund and Lucy—and I think Lucy lights luminous. She has the faith of a child, but kind of the intellect of a grown up. She’s savvy, but she also has that boundless faith. She is well- named, and she is my favorite character and she’ll be back next along with Prince Caspian. [read more...]

I love Lucy! =D Hahaha...

Dawn Treader was the first Narnia book I read. :) Loved it lots... I still read it from time to time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Thanksgiving for the Church Camp :D

Slowly, as I read the awesome flood of thanksgivings fill up Ps Jeff's blog, I recount all the little sweet things that God has lavishly peppered...

Gosh! It's more than just fun... it's... a serious time for me actually. 'cos I experienced quite a lot of frustrations along the way. E.g. coordinating... doing things like getting a table first before getting dinner first... (yes, you'd think this way... but I got it done the reverse way.)

But I'm thankful! 'cos when shared that with Huaqiang about the frustrations of coordinating, he said, "I've been through the same thing as you... now you can understand how I feel too." :D Ah I see! :)

And one of the sweetest memories I have is that when Peter and I prayed together during the extended P&W, Peter's prayer request was that he will grow to become a stronger and better friend to me. That prayer request brought tears to my eyes...

And personally, it's a time of breakthrough for me. Learning to be more serving... I observed Shuhui, and whoa, I realised how serving she is, making tea and coffee for us so often. And that inspired me to follow her example as she follows Christ's example. At first it wasn't easy... my heart kept on grumbling inside, "It's stupid... it's not ME... why am I doing this... can't the others appreciate other things about me... etc..." But persevering on, I felt the self-centredness in my heart starting to die away. Sorta like an ugly tumor that gets melted away...

And thankful to God too that my CG graciously accepted my acts of service, bumbling tho it was. Hee. Thank God for their grace and acceptance. :)

Dying to self really isn't easy to do. But it's so rewarding.

Oh yes! Thank God also for the time with Ps Lawrence! It was great getting to know him better... whoa, when he shared that he's not really a people-person by nature, I felt very touched that he went the extra mile to get to know us better. And it was great getting to know him and his wife better, about how he came into Hope and started serving more and more... hahah...

Aiyah! we should have taken photos with him.

Actually, after digesting the entire church camp thingy, I remember the spirit impartation from Ps Jeff (the one about unity in CG). One thing that I have started applying already is to have a positive spirit... LOL! thank God for Zhenzhong's affirmation and encouraging words: "Hey Yeu Ann, thanks for having such a positive spirit." Haha... it motivates me to go even more! Tks ZZ... your words really make a great impact, brother!

And the altar call for becoming a CL. I responded... I know I've responded quite a few times before... but I guess this time it's different. I told God that I know I cannot make it as a CL... and I'm not much actually... but if He pleases, I'm available... willing to let Him bend and break and shatter me... it's going to be incredibly painful for me, 'cos i know how self-absorbed and self-centred I am, and how unloving i am as a person. There is still so much of me that hasn't died yet... but yeah, that is a conscious decision of surrender to God. if He pleases, let Him do whatever He wants with me...

Even if He doesn't choose me, it's fine... I rmb I used to want to be a leader, 'cos tt made me feel important, that I finally have worth and value. But after God broke my spirit in 2005... hee, finally learnt that my worth and identity is not in what I do or can do, but simply because God made me and loves me.
Nothing you can do
Could make Him love you more
And nothing you've done
Can make Him close the door

Oh yes. In a way... I'm technically supposed to be a CL... to a group of little tots. Haha! But while my carnal mind will say, what, only a group of tots, I know the Lord commands me not to look down on any of these little ones, for they are precious to Him. To care for the least of these little ones of His is to care for Him himself.

Lots of thoughts about it...

But YES! THE CAMP WAS AWESOME! :D HAHAHA... I'm so looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Cynic's Prayer

This prayer is a real prayer, prayed by a cynical (then) pre-believer... it brought tears to my eyes, because it is so real.
OK, God, I give up. I’m Yours if You want me.
I don’t care how awkward I might feel talking to You, or about You.
I don’t care how much trouble I have accepting some of the teachings.
I don’t care that my entire former self-image was wrapped up in the “party girl” persona.
I don’t care if some Christian music is treacle and the lyrics contrived.
I don’t care what havoc may have been wrought in Your name in the past, or what may be in the future.
I don’t care if some of Your flock seem hypocritical or self-righteous or sanctimonious.
I don’t care if there are times when I can’t feel Your presence.
I don’t care if loving You means I have to at least attempt to love myself.
I don’t care if friends roll their eyes and laugh at my conversion.
I don’t care if I feel like a faker sometimes, and I don’t care if it’s harder to do Your will than it would be to follow my own desires, and I don’t care if I’m less than perfect at it.
None of that matters. I give up. I want You. And I’m Yours, if You want me.

It was probably a week or so before it actually dawned on me that I had been born again. [read more]

Come to the Father
Though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives
He will take them all...

The power of the Word
The power of His blood
Everything was done
So you would come...

Thanksgivings for Today!

Thank God for the refreshing meetup with Joseph today... :) and for the great Kungfu Panda movie today that he treated me to (he's still the same - always so generous and big-hearted) =D

I haven't caught up with him one-on-one for an extremely long time... but yup, hope to renew my meetups with this dear friend and bro in Christ... our friendship goes a long way back since 2001 or 2002.

And the Panda show! Panda kicks Indiana... w00t! :D But more seriously, for all its hilarity... it's actually a very good show on discipleship.

I love the part especially where Shifu's master tells him to believe in Po, the pudgy panda. And the classic scene where Shifu tries to stop Po from running away:
Shifu: "Po! You can't run away! You're the Dragon Warrior!"
Po: "Oh, really? Look at me! Just how are you going to make me into the Dragon Warrior?!!!"
Shifu: "..."
Po: "Well?!"
Shifu: "... er... "
Po: "WELL?!!!"
Shifu: "... I DON'T KNOW!!!"

It touched me a lot, 'cos deep down inside, it reminded me of how Christian discipleship is a lot like that.

Just like how the Tortoise, Shifu's master, declared that Po was the true Dragon Warrior, our Master often loves to choose the weak things of the world. Sometimes, God may choose the least-skilled person to fulfill the most important task at hand...

And another lesson: Po really made every desperate effort possible (with hilarious consequences) just to watch the gongfu tournament... likewise, do I treasure the things of God to the extent of being willing to look like a total idiot in the process? Am I willing to be Christ's fool (1 Corinthians 4:10)? Am I willing to become even more undignified than this (2 Samuel 6:22)?

(Not that I'm saying that we should deliberately make ourselves look like idiots... but the $64K question is: are we willing to sacrifice our pride if it's the one thing that stops us from fully immersing ourselves into God's grace, from throwing ourselves into the river of joy?)

And another lesson: Despite the heavy taunts and discouragements by the much more highly-skilled disciples, Po persevered on, with joy even in the face of constant pummellings and continual losings. "Bring it on man! A true warrior never gives up!"

And a shepherding lesson here: The tactics/strategy that we use to train one person may not work as effectively on another person. Each person has his/her own unique strengths and weaknesses, and also, different receptivities and motivations. For the 5 master pugilists, it was rigorous, systematic training, but for Po's case, it was ... go watch the movie, I'm not saying any more haha.

Then the Dragon Scroll... LOL, this one, you go watch the movie. Else I may get beaten (and eaten) up by a giant panda on my way to work tomorrow.

And Po's humility haha... When at the end of the movie, everyone was calling him "Master", his first thought was not, "I'm Master!", but, "Master Shifu! What happened to him?" No wonder he was the one chosen to be the Dragon Warrior...

And... Shifu's exasperation in discipling Po struck a chord in me. 'Cos when your Master tells you that your mentee has great potential... you scratch your head, and ask Him, "How?" And He tells you, "Just believe in him."

And it's a roller-coaster experience, fumbling along even as you try to find ways to connect with him, and to discover what makes him tick, and what doesn't... and to find the key to unlocking his God-given potential... AND to encourage him when he wants to run away or slack...

And when I wonder, I also wonder what my shepherds all along must have thought to God all those times I didn't want to respond or obey or grow or listen or understand or think or practise. I also wonder too what God thought of me all these years. :) Thank God so so much for His unlimited patience with me... even for a wretch like me.

"Bro, I believe in you... because Jesus believes in you! Amen?" :)

Whoa. Such a great movie. I wanna recommend this movie to Hong Teck for HopeKids...

Then! Also for the keys that I found... it was God's providential answer to my prayers. :)

And! the very funny, yet very meaningful prayers that Ellson and I prayed for each other over MSN today... very, very touching and encouraging. God's blessings come from the most unexpected places. :D

I really should keep up this habit of thanksgiving. I realised, after counting my blessings after church camp, that I had about 7 or 8 sweet blessings for every 1 bad thing that I experienced! Thanks Hong Teck for your habit of keeping a gratitude list. :D

I'm So Narrow-minded...

How could I have forgotten the signs and wonders that I witnessed in the church camp and forgotten all about them? The clear speaking in a foreign tongue by Meihong (and it definitely was NOT gibberish... it was clearly a language, even though it sounded, well, foreign). AND the interpretation that accompanied it... whoa... God's Holy Spirit really has come down to fill the place! :D

And oh yeah, I saw a couple of Malay staff looking quite surprised (and a bit amused) at the praise and worship going on in the ballroom... :)

And the prophecies that God spoke to us! Psalm 23... and also the one from Isaiah...

Open your eyes, YA, and see what the Lord even now is doing among us! You don't exist for yourself... you are only a part, and a part, and what a part, of the church!

Plank in the eye. And in the midst of being with my CG, I was complaining to Huaqiang about some people's attitudes/actions I found hard to accept... But he gently told me, after listening to my complaining and whining:
"The plank in your eye is very big. If you want this person to accept you for who you are, shouldn't you also accept the other person for who s/he is? Do to others what you would have them do to you.

If we only love those who love us... then we should be ashamed to call ourselves Christians!"

That is so true!

Thank God for HQ's gentle but firm correction... it really is what I need in order to grow out of my narrow-mindedness, my self-absorption and worldly sorrow.
Psalm 25:8
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back from Church Camp! =)

Haha... finally got time to blog. =) Now at my desk during lunchtime, waiting for some disk-partitioning task to complete.

40% complete.

The church camp really was great haha. 'cos of all the warm memories of the fellowship with the bros and sisters - esp with Jason and Clarence and Jonathan. :D

And it was a very meaningful time spent getting to know Jon better too... to be honest, he's becoming more and more a dear friend to me too =D

Thank God also for Jason's encouragement to me regarding being a shepherd... haha... it was so timely! =)

And for the small chat with Zhenzhong,

And for the times of sharing with Huaqiang - and esp one time when I felt so overwhelmed by my inadequacies that I just asked him to stand with me as I wept.

I learnt a lot during this camp about what it means to be an adult, and how to treat others as adults, with all the independence and respect that it entails.

It's an old truism by now, but it's worth repeating:

Adults ministry is very different from student ministry.

One of the biggest and most important differences is that we adults have their own independence, their own mindsets. You have to win their trust first. Also, they make their own decisions and find their own solutions to problems - it's what's expected of them.

So after some reflections, I realised that I was treating Jon like a student... but that isn't right. I apologised to Jon for what I'd been doing... and I'm very encouraged again by his humility and willing heart to learn. =)

In fact, I have much to learn from his patience and rational thinking actually. For an emotional person like me, this is a strength of his that I want to learn from him. =D

90% complete.

Haha, thank God esp for the great time of fellowship with Jason and Clarence too. On the first day of camp, we the Fantastic Four met up to discuss our camp objectives. First item on the list: Pillow Fight!

LOL. Second item: Tau-pok!

Haha... thank God for all-brothers' fellowship.

The teachings themselves spoke to me... not that much, to be honest... until on the third day, when I finally just took time to pray and worship God on my own, pouring out to Him all my fears, worries and inadequacies.

Then He spoke a particular verse to me. I read it. No bright beam of light descending on me, but just the knowledge and assurance that the verse that I was reading was meant for me.

Then encouragingly, after that quiet time with God, I was able to sense His presence much more clearly during praise and worship - which I haven't been able to do so for a long time, to be honest. And just felt so grateful to Him for that time of His presence... I really do need His presence more and more.

And the teaching that came after that, every point really spoke to me. It was the teaching on a united CG.

100% complete.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Photos From A Big Camp

From Hong Teck's blog on the children's church camp recently...

“Dreams that are big and scary to do are often nature of God’s dreams”.
“Dreams that are small and safe to do are usually man’s natural dreams”.

“Efforts that are small and steady, done consistently overtime are usually God’s way”.
“Efforts that are big and boisterous, done in a boastful manner are usually our way”

Okay, maybe not always true but usually that’s the case. So dream big, and work on the small things consistently.

A Miracle of God’s Love

This is very encouraging! :D

Last Saturday, a miracle happened before my eyes. My friend, Thomas received Jesus as His Lord and Saviour.

Thomas used to be my “big brother” during our days in da gang. So you can imagine my mix feelings of unbelief (in a surreal manner) and joy when he said the sinner’s prayer! Ha ha….

His salvation is indeed a testimony of God’s unwavering love for each one of us especially those who are considered a lost cause by people’s standard... [read more!]

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How to Survive A Disaster

The recent earthquake in China and the cyclone in Burma, not to mention the battery of tornadoes and wildfires ripping through the U.S. this season, remind us that disasters are part of the human condition. We are more or less vulnerable to them, depending where we live.

But survival is not just a product of luck. We can do far more than we think to improve our odds of preventing and surviving even the most horrendous of catastrophes. It's a matter of preparation--bolting down your water heater before an earthquake or actually reading the in-flight safety card before takeoff--but also of mental conditioning. Each of us has what I call a "disaster personality," a state of being that takes over in a crisis. It is at the core of who we are. The fact is, we can refine that personality and teach our brains to work more quickly, maybe even more wisely. [read more...]

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ok, this post's a very long and rambling post. Just long streams of twittering, undigested. :P

Prince Caspian's a really great show! :D Loved it. I want to buy the complete Narnia series! :D

Had a good Sunday service today too. :) Topic was: "How to avoid being a spiritual counterfeit?"

A few application points I want to jot down for myself to work on:
1. As a spiritual mentor, I need to prepare myself to teach the Word of God well! We are not merely called to be nice... we are called to be biblical.
2. Something tt struck me: Our Hope movement's president, Pastor PN, shared his concern that as the number of churches being planted increases, there is a real possibility of some of us deviating from the truth of the Word of God, that some churches might fall into false teachings.

3. For the young, to learn is an expression of curiosity. For the old, to learn is an expression of humility. I was reflecting, and yeah, though someone affirmed me for being very hungry to learn, I realise I really need to grow in a teachable heart. Instead of arguing so often with my CL... do I really have to argue anyway? Can't I just swallow my stupid pride and joyfully accept the gentle feedback he gives me?

4. What is my obsession? What is the vision God has given me?

For me... I think, to be honest, it's my desire to be in a relationship. I find waiting such a hard thing to do. But as the hymn goes,
Tell me and I'll obey
This is greater than sacrifice
Trusting in You and not myself
Will always lead to blessing...

Ha. But yup, am praying to God for strength to keep walking with Him. After all, only Jesus can truly satisfy my heart like no one or nothing else can. For he is the real food and drink for my soul.

Vision! I told HQ God gave me a vision to reach out to the children. But to be honest, I think... it's simply more than that. It's the Great Commission as shown in Revelation ... people from every nation, every tribe,

This stirred a question in me: What really makes the Good News so good? How does the gospel of Jesus Christ answer the problems of humanity?

'Cos one of my colleagues told me that he believes that education is the answer to humanity's problems.

I replied, "How about the Nazis? They were from one of the most developed and educated and most industrialized countries... and they made the concentration camps too!"

He paused for a while, and said, "I think you have an interesting point there."

Yeah. So education alone is not sufficient to solve humanity's problem. As I shared with my colleague, humanity's problem is that of a desperately sick nature - only God its creator can make it whole again. 'Cos our hearts were made for Him, and unless we have a relationship with the One who made us in love... we can never ever be whole again.

And it's so true. BGR relationships will come and go... there's a friend who had a very long time of courtship... and was supposed to get married... but the wedding got called off.

I was thinking, wow. my friend's really very strong, from how s/he looks. i know that for me, i'd be very heartbroken. but still, it was obvious that my friend was struggling a lot still.


you know, i realise something just now. i realised that God has actually given me strength - and not just that - JOY! during some of the most difficult moments in my life. =) and i didn't remember it!

'cos there was a period many years ago, during NS times, when my parents' marriage went thru such a stressful time, that they even talked about divorce.

i was terrified, to be honest... but as i prayed (and wept over the phone talking to Weizhu, who prayed for me too)... i gradually received joy and peace in my heart. i don't understand how this peace came about, but it was really there.

as i went out for a walk in the park in the next few nights, i burst out singing to God:
"How good it is
To give thanks unto the LORD!
How good it is
To give thanks unto our God!
Oh He heals the broken-hearted
Binding up their wounds
It is good to bless His holy name
I'm gonna bless His name...
I'm gonna bless His name..."

I was walking and yelling out this song at the top of my lungs... haha... thank God no one was around (as far as i could see) at that time of the night.

Thank God also for the brothers in the NS CG then (Shenteng was my UL then), how they supported me then. :)

And praise God for His faithfulness indeed! my parents stuck together, and nowadays, i see how my dad really cares for my mum, tenderly caring for her and giving her massages from time to time... just spending quality time with her. it's not easy, there are conflicts here and there, but i'm proud of my parents. =) together all the way, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, by God's mercy and grace, till death do them part.

Life is hard. But God is always good. :D
To live is Christ, to die is gain! =D

Oh we give thanks unto our Saviour
And with a heart of gratitude
We give Him praise
His mercy shall endure forever
And I will praise Him all of my days!

5. Not devoting myself to selfish gains.
This part really made me think. Will I stay true to the Lord Jesus all the days of my life? Or will I begin to think, "I've served so much... given so much... now can't I just rest and enjoy life? It was: God, Others, then Me. But it shall now be: I, Myself, Me!"

To be honest, I've thought this kind of thought before... subtly, such as... my brothers and sisters aren't loving enough to me... not understanding... they don't meet my expectations, talk with me about my interests...

And to be honest, those times were some of the darkest times in my life. I think it's no coincidence that I felt farthest away from God.

But God is so good. I remember whenever I turned back in repentance to Him, deciding to live for Him fully again... wow, those are some of the sweetest moments in my life! :) Relationship with God, relationships with people, all restored... it's such joy beyond comprehension!

So how can I complain? if He gave His life in love for me... then what can I say? If He DIED for me... then what right do I ever have to complain? who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?

Love beyond all reason.
Caught in the mercy fallout.

It's moments like these when you really, really long to prostrate yourself before God in absolute adoration, amazement and awe.

Still, I need to grow in obedience to God. There are so much of my life that is yet to be fully surrendered to the Lord's control. I don't want to keep on resisting the Holy Spirit (as I shared with Jonathan over Bible reading today).

To remind myself:
A genuine faith seeks to bless,
But a fake faith seeks to be blessed!

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