Sunday, August 31, 2008

Go Forth Follow-up Event 2008 (30 Aug 08)

(Edited 8 Sep 08: This post has been edited since one of my friends said that she can't read it due to formatting problems.)

I went for the Go Forth Follow-up Event 2008 on Saturday morning with Joyce. We thought no one else from our church were going, since Jason's in Europe undergoing HR training (praise God for this wonderful opportunity!) and Yufen's unable to make it. But ah, there's this sister from our church - she asked a question during the Q&A panel discussion, pertaining to how the Business Life Ministry can help to support missions better.

So encouraging. :D Anyway, I've been thinking and starting to pray regarding whether to explore Vietnam. Might or might not be going for another missions trip to Vietnam in December. If so, I'll need to trust God for the leave provision... but well, wherever God calls me to go, I'll go!

Anyway, I asked during the Q&A session about how can children's ministry play its part in helping our children to start catching the fire of God's passion for the nations. Gosh... ALL the panelists took turns to answer. Their replies are below.

Some important things I learnt from the GoForth followup events were that we MUST prepare ourselves in every aspect of our lives, because we are literally marching to a battlefield. The stakes are even higher than a physical war - eternity lies in the balance. There have been missionaries who were inadequately prepared, and as a result, became burnt-out or even worse, converted to other religions!

Scary... truly. But yah, thank God that His preparing us is wise and well-balanced and exhaustive. If the Father took 30 years to prepare His Son before sending His Son to 3 full years of full-time ministry... then I think hor, we no need to cepat-cepat pack our barang-barangs...

Like how the SAF trains its soldiers properly before sending them off to exercises... and if necessary, war.

Ok! Here's the notes that I took down... copy-paste from MS Word. Exhaustive... but excellent!

Exhortation by Rev Barry

Philippians 1:3-18a

“I don’t know whether we’re being brave or foolhardy.”

“It’s not easy being a Christian. So if you chose to become a Christian, you’re either very brave, or you weren’t thinking much when you made that decision…”

Philippians – Paul in prison

Paul didn’t care about the hardships – he cared more about the advancement of the gospel.

What matters is whether someone is into the kingdom of God. What matters is whether he can proclaim the good news. Pauls not talking about pple preaching heresies… ‘cos in the other letters he comes down very hard on the false teachers.

But rather, he’s glad that people are preaching the true Gospel… even if their motives aren’t exactly the best.

We all would like to be rich, to have peaceful lives, good careers, good families… but do we also aspire to advance the gospel of God?

Being a missionary may not be the greatest thing you can do… it may be the most painful thing you’ve ever done.

We all will have to carry a yoke each. Qn is: is it the yoke of Christ we’re carrying or is it our own yokes?

Live Dangerously! :)

If Singaporeans start to love God, the grace of God will not stop; it’ll continue.

“I am sure of this: that He who began a good work in you will bring it on to completion till the day of Christ Jesus.”

God uses men who are feeble and weak enough to lean on Him!


Being steadfast

– to call of God

– to position of being a missionary.

There will not be many to encourage you to missions. The road of a missionary is very lonely…

“So I encourage all of you: When the call of God is very clear to you, you need to hold fast to it. Of course there’s a price to pay. But God’s presence is with us, His promises to the ends of the earth.”

Steps Into World Missions

Practical steps:

Ms Joyce Faith Chi says: “As children of God we’re always growing.”

Preparations needed:

- Spiritually

- Intellectually informed – we’re going into a cross-cultural situation – we MUST have the intellectual capacity to relate to different cultures

- Skills

o To minister and touch lives

Share with your pastor/elder/spiritual leadership your call to missions.
In the larger churches, it may be harder for them to support you because the rest of the congregation don’t know who you are.
i. Even Barnabas and Saul were accountable to their church…

Recognition and affirming your call
i. The church will have the time and opportunity to observe you… they’ll know where you stand now…

Encouragement and support
Godly counsel
i. God may say something to the leaders/overseers He’s appointed over you.

Be sure you’re growing spiritually
It’s not enuff to relate to God in your comfort zone… you need to also learn to relate to God in the difficult war zones, away from sources of accountability…
We’re going out to make DISCIPLES… so how can you make disciples if you yourself are not a disciple?
i. Discipleship is a daily thing. Learning to submit daily to Christ’ leadership and authority.

ii. Consistent quiet time with God

1. Not only spiritually, but also emotionally.

a. There are people who are not emotionally prepared to go for missions. They’re willing but they’re not emotionally strong enough to handle the stressful situations.

b. Personal note: To take note of this… learn to draw emotional strength from God more and more… hmm… that’s something I learnt I need to do in my Kenya missions trip.

c. Not just spiritual. You need to be emotionally strong, healed.

iii. In depth study of the Word

iv. Prayer partnership or prayer group

v. Establish a mentoring relationship

vi. Serve in the local church

1. Especially in those ministries that will help me cross over…

a. E.g. ministries to teach English to expat workers…

i. (Gosh! That’s an idea that’s been in my mind for a while already…)

Get training how to be effective in cross-cultural ministry
Cross-cultural studies… contextualization… NUS is great for this kind of stuff… but I’ve already graduated haha.
Perspective course
i. Local missionary agencies

ii. Hope Sem? Haha :D

Learn about Missions Agencies
i. Which MA I like?

Expectation of Care
Communicate with Missionaries
Start by finding out what missionaries your church supports
Get advice, wisdom and counsel from them
Know their needs and pray for them
Get Missions Experience
Go on short-term missions with church or agencies
Consider a 6-month or a year of internship (maybe required by church or missions course)
i. Personal note: See if I can ask my manager to send me to Botswana…? :P

Read about Missions and Missionaries
Hudson Taylor, Cameron Townsend, etc.
We can learn from the wisdom that God gave them…
Read mission agencies’ newsletters and prayer letters
Read missions journals and magazines and from the Internet.
Learn about where you want to serve
Learn more about he part of the world where you want to serve, if you know where that is.
Learn some of the words of the language.
Pray for that place or people group
Try to find missionaries serving there
Personal note: Catch up with Cuong…
Be a missionary now. J
Ask what kind of activities do you see yourself doing as a missionary?
Develop skills and share your faith, especially if you can find the people group in Singapore.
Taking more leadership
i. Sometimes we need to rise up in leadership to

Support Raising
Friends raising, build relationships
i. Buy raisin buns….

Raising a support team


- Attend a mission camp by one of the agencies

- Committed to setting realistic goals 1-2 years to be out.

- Keep a journal recording the steps you’re taking as you connect with mission agencies, pray, meet people in the discussion area, and reflect on your journey.


Mobization and Sending Trends in Singapore

!. Maturing Church: Self-governing, sel propagating, self-finacning…


The Challenge of being sent out and supported by your Church.

The Primacy of the Church
“And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
i. The Church will smash against the gates of Hades! (Yeah!!!)

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirt comes up on you and you will be my witnesses…”
i. The Lord Jesus was speaking tto the beginning of the church when He said that!

The Purpose of the Church
The Church is SO IMPORTANT to the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Whole Church to the Whole World!
The Church exists for a Mission – the Mission of God to win the world back to Himself. John 3:16!
i. That is why He instituted the Church.

ii. The Church is to reach out to the world around it.

The Partnership of the Church
The Church is a sending agency, true, but it also works with the missions agencies.
i. The missions agencies already have the manpower and support and many years of unique experiences too.

The People of the church
The Church – from cradle to coffin.
The Church is the only institution that will last for eternity.
Am I witnessing to my neighbours? My local Singaporeans?
The Prayer support of the Church
It is crucial for us at home to support our missionaries in prayer.
The Church sends
The Financial support of the Church


Tentmakers: How to support them?

How can we help support missionaries who have returned for furlough (‘cos want to understand better the issues they may face upon return…)?

- Reaffirm the missionaries

- Missionaries are supposed to be “super-heroes”… :P but thank God that’s where the missions agencies can help…


How can we use media more effectively to help mobilize ppl / support overseas missionaries?

How to mobilize tertiary students for missions in future?

- We’re losing our cutting edge here…The campus ministries… Hmm! How?

- Share the passion… Yeah!!! :)

How to inculculate children…?!!!

- Can get the Family ministry to bring their children along on missions trip! :D

- Can invite overseas speakers to come and share with the children…

- Hope Joburg? :D

- Children can be really more passionate about going overseas…

- Get them to go on missions regularly... impart to them!

- The way we relate to our domestic hlpers, to ppl different from us… we model for our children to follow.

- *We need to help our children see that God has brought the whole world to our doorsteps in Singapore*

- Pray for the children….

- Missions Sunday for HopeKids service?

- Invite the missionaries to come to children’s service to tell the children stories… bring movies, pictures, souvenirs, books, etc…

Mobilization and Sending Trends in Singapore

1. Mega and large churches / denomoinations:direct sending structures

2. Misisona gencies

3. Missionarns partnerships: Key factors:

a. Character

Questions I need to ask myself… the challenge of leaving the status quo.

Are you at life’s crossroads where values and perspectives are often challenged?
What is my life built on?
Ask God to show me how can I move in tune with the Holy Spirit
How can I refocus my life from chasing success to developing significance?
We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation… so how shall we live out our divine calling?
Significance: What do you want your life to be remembered for?

“Only he who believes is obedient; only he who obedients believes.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The call to salvation is the call to discipleship (Lk 14:26-27; Jhn 10:27-28; Gal 2:20)

A commandment to daily followership

A commandment to make disciples for Jesus

A commandment to be in mission with God

Challenges for preparing for fulltime missionary service

WHY prepare?

Failure to prepare can have disastrous results

- On yourself

- On your family

- On the ministry

- On those you want to reach

Missions is not easy… Missions is WAR!

Missions is a marathon, not a sprint.

- Personal note: Train bit by bit… build up!

HOW TO prepare?

- Aspects

o Yourself

§ Character…

§ Personality

o Teamwork

o Community

§ Learn to minister grace to one another

o Culture

§ Learn the culture of the country you want to go to

§ Learn the language

o The Gospel

§ Learn the cultural points of the gospel

§ Learn to contextualize the gospel

§ The gospel is more than a tract – learn to apply the gospel to my own life

o God’s Word

§ Learn to share, teach and preach the Word

Bible School and pre-field cross-cultural training

- Don’t be in a hurry! God is never in a hurry.

o Even the Father took 30 years to prepare Jesus for just 3 years of full-time ministry.

- It takes TIME. A 2 hours seminar alone is insufficient.

The parable of the monkey helping the fish out of water… the moral is: you better know what you’re doing before you try to help…

Missions is about the gospel transforming their culture, so that the culture’ll make it easier for people to come to know Christ.

If the SAF does not send their soldiers to overseas after just one week of BMT… likewise, we shouldn’t just send our missionaries anyhow without proper training.

There’s nothing wrong with living in a high-class house in a Third-World country if you’re employing a lot of locals to work on your house…

What matters is the fruit that is produced. Jesus said, “Wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

We need to understand the cultural context… to live in a house that is commensurate with the cultural expectations of the locals.

WE MUST HAVE GOD’S WORD PLANTED DEEPLY WITHIN OUR HEARTS… there are missionaries who got burnt-out… and those who even converted to other religions. L

* Ignorance is a very dangerous thing. *

What is my role/niche in missions?

Church planter, evangelist, teacher, discipler, shepherd, counselor, strategist, consultant, coach, trainer, tentmaker, pilot, etc.

- We don’t need to go overseas to reach out to different cultures… we can simply reach out to our neighbours… Missions is about crossing cultures.

- Lord, help me get to know my Indian neighbours today… In Jesus’ name amen! J

Serving in health care, development, relief, orphanage, education, IT, publication, media and communications, etc.

Where? Who? With Whom?

- Which country and city?

- Which people group?

- Which agency to go with?

The question is not about numbers….

How am I influencing them for Christ? How am I influencing my colleagues for Christ?

Presence AND strategy… It’s important to have a STRATEGY…

The fruit of our ministry… AND also the fruit of our lips… giving praise to God. Salt and light : Presence and proclaimation
I'm just wondering... a bit puzzled actually.

I searched for 'character' on, but got only 8 results returned.
I searched for 'righteous', and got God knows how many entries.

Is this significant, or what does this mean, really? Does God want me to focus on being righteous before Him, or to work on my character?

I'm asking this, 'cos I want to see what the Bible has to say about character. From my understanding so far, it seems that God is not so much interested in a person's character rather than that the person has God in his heart.

Is righteousness = character? I don't know what the Greek/Hebrew translations say, so I'm stuck with the good ol' English versions....

I'm still investigating on this - feel free to drop any insights regarding this topic!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Character: Reclaiming Six Endangered Qualities

Courage. Discipline. Confidence. Patience. Endurance. Contentment.


Friday, August 29, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Just taking a break from work.

It's not been easy, making this decision to be single-minded for Jesus. And it's been a week of up-and-downs... not to mention the fact that all around you, wherever you go, there are couples here and there.

Recently, I met two dear friends, who've gotten together. Was very surprised, because didn't expect the two of them be together, but also very happy for them. And very thankful too that they both sought God in prayer. :) As Proverbs 30:18-19 says,
"There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.

So, perhaps it's a fast of sorts for me. I've been learning to surrender more and more each day this area of my heart to Jesus - this desire for a mate. And just now, while on my way to get a drink, I started humming this old hymn to myself:
The more I get to know You,
the more I fall in love.
The more I sing Your praises,
the more I fall in love

With You my Jesus, my Jesus
I'm falling in love with You..
With You my Jesus, my Jesus
I'm falling in love again..

With You my Lord...

That hymn set me reflecting. Perhaps the way things are, they are because God really wants me to fall in love with Him completely. I think I've been hearing this soft, still whisper within me, asking me this question: "Yeu Ann, are you willing to be single your whole life... walking life's road alone as a single, but married [in spirit] to God Himself?"

That was such a soft whisper, I almost missed it. But I guess, thank God, this decision to be single for Him... it helped to open my spiritual ears to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me.

And to be honest, I realised that ever since young, I'd never wanted to take a full look into the Valley of Singlehood.

And I'd been asking this question, "Lord, what if I don't marry? What will happen?" And my imagination conjured up a scary vision of lonely apartments and old age... you know, the works.

But yah, thank God, am learning to let go of this desire for a wife, and to focus my heart's desire completely on Jesus Christ Himself. It's tough... especially when my emotions and desires start jumping at me like wild animals every day.
The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other Voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day.
C. S. Lewis, 1900-1963

But I do want to follow my Lord Jesus completely with everything that's within me. I want to love Him with all of my heart.

"Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Yes, YA. You must learn to delight yourself in the Lord... He's really better than any sister =) Learn to love Him more and more... to think about Him more and more... to walk with Him more and more...

Yup yup. :)

I think I'm starting to miss my walks with Him. One of the sweetest memories of my life is the time I took a very long night walk in a thicket in the northern part of Singapore. It was very dark, and the streets were poorly lit. But that experience was so precious to me, because I had just started returning to God after a very long patch of spiritual dryness. And even though the woods were dark and deep... I told myself, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me..." And I sensed God's presence so real and sweet that night.

I really miss that time. Perhaps I should go for another walk in the woods again, just Jesus and me. :)

I'll walk closer now on the higher way
Through the darkest night will You hold my hand
Jesus guide my way

O You mourn with me and You dance with me
For my heart of hearts is bound to You

Though I walk through valleys low
I'll fear no evil
By the waters still my soul
My heart will trust in You

You counsel me and You comfort me
When I cannot see You light my path
My heart will trust in You

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kenya Missions Trip: Photos! (Finally)

Kenya Missions Trip 1 - 11 Aug 08

Sorry for the super-late pics... :P

Becoming Ready

Met with Clarence for dinner today. So blessed! :) We shared a lot. =D

Also just feel so glad for two friends who've gotten together. LOL.

Ah, matters of the heart. It's amazing how, despite my natural inclination towards being in a BGR, God is strengthening my heart to stay focused on His plans and purposes for me.

Missions + children. God, how? How? Excited!!! Saw the latest Gen-ACTS website - they're setting up the Gen-ACTS Kids' Club! WOW!

Lord!!! Where??? Africa, Asia, or America???

Told Clarence I wanna make movie from the video footage of the Kenya missions trip. I'm getting very excited. w00t! :D

Haha... Clarence and I were sharing with each other about missions. So blessed to have a fellow bro who's also willing to go into missions!

We both talked about preparing ourselves for missions. I wonder how to prepare myself. What do I need to take stock of... oh gosh.

Talking with another friend too. He's into a relationship now. He's mature enough to confess that he knows that he's not that ready... but I encouraged him that God is the one who makes us grow. :D

Lord, help me count the cost... and help me after that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A short video of the missions trip. Yeah, I've been putting up a lot of posts on it. Haha...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kenya Missions Trip: "Here, we all belong to one tribe..."

This video was shown at yesterday's service when Lisa shared her testimony of how God worked in her caregroup. It was a very touching sharing about the power of Christ, in the midst of ethnic rivalry and tensions in Kenya, to unite two sisters from two warring tribes.

One line that Lisa shared touched me: "There shall be no talking about tribes in our caregroup... here, we all belong to one tribe: the tribe of Jesus Christ."

I really wish the tertiary students could hear her testimony. I know Joyce'd be very inspired! :)

Anyway, meeting the two church planters with the rest of the Love Africa team tomorrow - and Shunrong's coming too! He was telling me I should have told him about the missions trip... he also wants to go! Thank God for his heart...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Today was a very encouraging day! :) Just want to thank God for the sermon today... it was preached by Pastor Jo (I look forward to listening to his stories - he's an excellent storyteller :D).

The sermon topic was on evangelism as a foundation of our Christian walk. Was refreshed and felt the burden in my heart starting to increase for the lost again.

So at the end of the service, there was an altar call. Asked HQ about what they were praying for (since I couldn't hear Pastor Jo's invitation clearly). He asked me what I wanted to be prayed for. I told him, "For a greater burden for the lost."

He broke into a big grin, and said, "That was my prayer request to the House of Prayer team (our unit intercessory team) for today."

Wow! :)

So anyway, I went down to be prayed for. Two sisters prayed for me. They asked me what I wanted to be prayed for. I told them, "For greater burden for evangelism, and for increased skills."

Wow. Very blessed by what they prayed for. And, even more encouragingly, they shared these encouragements and exhortations to me:

June (one of the sisters, who's also church staff): "It's not the skills but rather, God working through you, that counts. Rely on the Holy Spirit for discernment to see whose hearts are open to Him."

And the other sister there added, "You must have faith to trust God to see these people come to know Christ."

Faith and discernment. Wow. So so so excitedly and deeply encouraged! :D

Praise God... and oh yes, Tai Heng called Huaqiang this week to join us for lunch. Very thankful to God that he not only calls me, but also Huaqiang. In fact, he enjoys the company of our caregroup. Anyway, some of the caregroup spent time chatting at Macdonalds and then TCC before going to watch Money No Enough 2.

Hee! It's really a great joy to evangelise, and share the good news! :D And evangelism is NOT a burden... when we are in continual close contact with the Father... praying and listening to Him through His Word, such that we can sense His Spirit telling us who's open, who's not... who's hungry, who's thirsty.... who has needs that we can help meet, and those whom we reach out to later.

It's a great delight to be working together with the Lord himself, in joint operation in sowing and reaping! :D Yeah!
Lord, I find it hard... so help me get through each day. In Jesus' name I pray amen. :)

Usain Bolt Celebrates Early ... Very Early

This is super-hilarious man...

I Surrender (Finally)!

And ... after some thinking about Rob's sharing...

I think, from tonight onwards, I shall make the decision to enjoy my singlehood fully. :)

Which is about time, actually.

I'm tired of chasing pretty rainbows
I'm tired of spinning 'round and 'round
So I'm wrapping up all the dreams of my life
And at the feet of Jesus laying them down.


Am talking right now with God even as I type this out. It's such a sense of relief, and a heart of joy, because I know I'm going to go all out for Him... to be fully on the battlefield as a good soldier of Christ. Not involved in civilian affairs, for I want to please my Commanding Officer. :)

Actually, come to think of it, it's been a gentle whisper in my heart the past few days. This gentle whisper asking me, "What am I doing here?"

I've been asking myself, ever since I came back from my missions trip to Kenya: "Lord, what am I doing here?" And where shall I go from here? What is Your role for me in fulfilling the Great Commission? How do my talents and skills and life experiences come together to finish the work You have given me?

And er... what's the work You've given me again? :P

To get into a relationship? Or to bring others into a relationship with the God of the universe?

You are the voice that called the Universe to be
You are the whisper in my heart that speaks to me

And I'm thinking about Jim Elliot and Eric Liddell. Men of God, who gave themselves fully to Him, whatever and wherever they were.

I just want to throw myself more and more fully, again and again, into His mighty hands.

And not to be afraid anymore of singleness, even if one day I become old and single. (I must confess, this is one of my deeper fears actually.)

But I hear the voice of the Lord calling, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

Life's really short. And it can be gone just like that. I should know. After that accident in Kenya, I mustn't take God's grace and mercy for granted.

I'm alive, because He has something for me to do here on earth.

Mm! :)

Holy Spirit, fill me anew. Fill me once again with Your burning zeal for the lost. Fill me once again, with the passion of the Christ. Fill me once again, with Your love for the lost, for the whole world to come to know You. Fill me once again, with your compassion and desire, to see all the nations at peace with You and with one another. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

Renew my first love for You, Lord Jesus. Renew this vision, the Great Vision to see all the nations of the world come before You. Because You really love the world. Renew my strength, my desire, to live life to the fullest. To live in every way possible, to be happy and enjoy the days of my youth, while they last - like what Pastor Ajith Fernando shared in the GoForth conference... to use every ounce of my youth to burn for You, Lord Jesus!

Remember me while I am young and single. Remember me while I am old and, if You so will it, married. Remember me even if I don't. Remember me with favour, oh my God. Remember me, Lord.

So now Lord, like Nehemiah and Ezra in the Bible, strengthen my hands to join in with my district's vision to reach out to the young adults and the young internationals too. This is missions work! Whoo-hoo! :D Lalala... sing a happy song... Lalala... praise Him all the day long...

Oops. Sorry Lord, I think I'm going nuts already. Haha. Delirious? :) Maybe. But why not? We've only one life each to live for Jesus... so let's live fully for HIM each day, that if He comes back suddenly today, He'll not find you or me napping on duty!

So... ok, I've got work to finish tonight. I'm supposed to help put up a website for the Hope Chile team some days ago, but I was doing the MM clip for the Hope Nairobi team... whoo-hoo! :D I'm so thankful to Jesus that He wants to use even a... classic procrastinator like me to do His wonderful work... I'm just a messenger, but oh wow, to be a messenger for my King... =) it just makes me want to sing...

Ok ok... work work... dulce et decorum est pro Dominus laboro.
Just came back from a good dinner of pasta with Robert. :) Then we drank at Gloria Jean's just outside Cineleisure.

We talked (or rather, he talked haha) about a lot of things. Really enjoy listening to him share and share. Lots of good stories, and insights too. :) And discussions about growing strong and biblical men. Which is a topic that I really want to learn more about.

Anyway, he shared about a very vociferous taxi driver who was unjustly lambasting a certain church... and then Christianity in general. So he and Yanjie felt compelled to speak up for the truth - especially since they'd just finished the Men's Ministry Seminar where we had talked about the importance of taking a stand for the truth.

Another interesting thing. We were talking about that all-time favourite topic of all men: BGR. Haha...

Then he asked me, "Do you enjoy your singlehood, or do you constantly think of getting into a relationship? 'Cos if you're ready and willing to be single for the rest of your life... then it's ironic, but you'd be very ready for a relationship!"

(Ha, sorry bro, hope I quoted you correctly... :P)

Then the parable about the old and new wineskins. About how everyone was saying that the 1999 wine was better than the 2008 wine, when in fact, it wasn't. But they said it was better than the 2008 one, because it was supposed to be OLDER than the new wine. But the 1999 wine was rancid, confirmed by Robert's colleague, a former wine dealer. Whoa.

To me, that story was a metaphor for how we tend to hang on to old traditions and mindsets, even though they may be rancid. Not all old wines are bad. But from time to time, we gotta know what we're doing... and why we're doing what we're doing today.

Has our relationship with Jesus Christ stayed fresh? Or has it gone sour, rancid?

Just some thoughts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What the World Really Needs

From Shirley Melinda's blog:
“the world doesnt need more money. the world doesnt need more oil. the world doesnt need more food.
God, what the world really needs is Your forgiveness.”

2 Corinthians

I was starting to feel low again last night. And felt that even my breakthrough testimony was no testimony at all - felt it was totally useless and that I should go back and delete it. (One of the bro/sister had said something that made me feel quite hurt.)

So I called Weizhu after supper with my caregroup. Asked him to pray for me. After we hung up, I felt a sense of peace, and more importantly, becoming more clear-minded, so that I could pray more sound-mindedly. And then I started reading 2 Corinthians, because of a verse that I wanted to read up.

Wow. Very ministered by 2 Corinthians. Thank God for Weizhu's prayer for me, which helped draw me to the fresh springs of God's Word. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective! :)

2 Corinthians is starting to make a lot of personal sense to me. I find it so real, and thank God, the verses are very encouraging to me. He encouraged me (yet once again) that yes, I have weaknesses... but so what? To Him, I'm a jar of clay, so that the more beaten I am, the more Christ's death and life pours out of me.

There are so many more things that God barraged me with from 2 Corinthians - barrages of strong, powerful words. But so heartening! :) I learnt that when God comforts us in our troubles... He doesn't always take our troubles away from us, but He does give us the strength, joy and peace to keep walking on in our troubles. He does this, so that we can in turn strengthen others with the same fortifying we ourselves have gotten from Christ.

Comfort. I think a better word to use: Com-fortify. :)

God really spoke to me clearly through this book. He reminded me that it really doesn't matter who I am, but who HE is. His power really is made perfect through our weaknesses. I'm deeply encouraged when I see the hope that the Lord offers us: the hope of transformation for the better. :D Amen and hallelujah!

Just an impromptu testimony here of an example of Christ's power made perfect in oen of my weaknesses:

God has helped me grow in becoming more emotionally stable now. The way that I respond now is very, very different from the way I used to react last time when I was emotional ten years ago. Greater degree of self-control.

And also, my colleagues said this of me at work that nothing can make me panic. I was, like, wow, thank God. Because I'm naturally a very anxious person. But when I face problems at work, nowadays, this verse comes naturally to mind: "Do not be anxious about anything... [but pray about it to God.]" So prayer, over the years, has become an automatic response whenever I face a crisis.

And after I pray, I have this sense of peace that doesn't make rational sense to my colleagues ("You should be stressed/panicking about this!"). But I know that my God is with me - He is mighty to save. So am very thankful to God for how His command to pray has produced visible fruit in my life regarding overcoming my natural anxiety. :)

So that's why my colleagues have said that nothing can make me panic. Actually... truth is, I wanna panic. But I just remember that the Lord Almighty is with me. So cool, right? :D Thank God indeed.

Hee. Same here with my mum.

(Which reminds me. The best praying I ever did wasn't on my knees or in an overnight prayer meet. It was when I was hanging upside-down in the overturned van after the accident in Kenya. LOL... so funny now.)

So looking forward to living more and more of the new life that I have inherited from the Father through Christ Jesus my Lord and Saviour! :D Amen!

Olympian and Missionary

Talking about the Olympics, and Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who recently busted the world records for 100 and 200 metres sprints... and his now-famous "Lightning Bolt" dramatics that had the IOC understandably piffed...

I'm reminded of another Olympian almost a century ago, who broke the world record for the 400 metres for his time, and did what Bolt didn't do - shake hands and encourage his fellow athletes. Not only so, but he also was marvellously salt and light to his community, giving evangelistic talks and using his God-given talent for running to attract others to Christ.

From the Wikipedia entry on Eric Liddell:
During the summer of 1924, the Olympics were hosted by the city of Paris. Liddell was a committed Christian and refused to run on Sunday (the Sabbath), with the consequence that he was forced to withdraw from the 100 metres race, his best event.

The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games began. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400 metres, an event in which he had previously excelled. Even so, his success in the 400m was largely unexpected.

The day of 400 metres race came, and as Liddell went to the starting blocks, an American masseur slipped a piece of paper in his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honor me I will honor."

Liddell ran with that piece of paper in his hand. He not only won the race, but broke the existing world record with a time of 47.6 seconds.

A few days earlier Liddell had competed in the 200 metre finals, for which he received the bronze medal behind Americans Jackson Scholz and Charles Paddock, beating Harold Abrahams, who finished in sixth place. (This was the second and last race in which these two runners met.)

I've got a biography on him - do borrow it from me if you can. His life is so very inspiring, especially for all those who want to be salt and light in their spheres of influence, and for missions too. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

jedimindless Channel

Jon just sent me this link to some YouTube guitar channel by a local Singaporean:
Just an average guy trying to use my God-given talents to the best of my ability =) Hope everyone can benefit from it.

My aim is to teach people the songs that I know how to play. However, note that this is the way I play the songs. I don't follow tabs others have put up online.

*i don't know if anyone actually reads this, but at this moment, i have a long list of requests which i have not completed. what i usually do is to listen to the song, if i feel i can learn it, i will eventually post the song up with the instructional. don't be too sad to see your requests unfulfilled because i simply cannot play all songs.*
Feel free to subscribe to my channel if you want to know the latest videos i have put up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time and Space

Very frustrated by my slowness in doing the video.

Was in a do-NOT-talk-to-me mood.

Then my dad came into my room, and kept talking and talking, asking me how come I'm frustrated.

Gosh. Told him I need to concentrate.

He talked even more. Said he just wants to see whether I'm all right.

I understand, Dad. But can we talk later please? I need time and space.


And it struck me too that there are people who also need time and space too, just like me. My dad meant well, but I was even more frustrated.

I know now how Peter feels at times. And how another friend might feel.

The plank in my eye is very big indeed.

Oh God. Have mercy on me for my double standards. Judging others but not judging myself.
Was exchanging SMSes with a friend just now. Becoming increasingly annoyed at how someone else has been too busy to keep in touch with this friend. Think need to talk to that person soon about his/her attitude...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Art of Talking Anyhow

Today, just called WZ to chat with him. For what reason... just to chat with him. LOL. Rediscovering and relearning the art of just picking up the phone and talking about anything with a dear friend. :)

Such a sweet pleasure. I remember I used to do this a lot back in school with my good friends. As ICQ and eventually MSN moved in, the phone got used a lot less. Think the last time I remember just talking cock on the phone was when Bowen called me just to "talk nonsense". Haha :)

Now's it's less so. In the age of insta-messaging, when was the last time one just picked up a phone to talk "nonsense"?

Surprised By Joy!

Wow, I just feel so happy. Really want to thank God for all His goodness... hee!

Got a testimony to share how God has suddenly spoken to me, and healed me, over the weekend. It was so surprising - I was surprised by joy... :D

(No, it's not my hearing problem, though that would be an equally wonderful testimony!)

Think a lot of you will know that for many years, I have had a deep struggle with insecurity. Hence every time I made a mistake, especially if it was a social mistake, I would become very depressed and emotional. And if people rejected me, I would be very emotionally affected and take a long time to recover. Hence, I struggled constantly with the lack of joy, and that affected my confidence level - it would go up and down like the stock market.

This lack of confidence affected me in more than relationships - for starters, it affected my university grades, and even caused me to screw up very badly in an interview for an NUS scholarship interview in my first year.

Of course, by God's grace, I had my up moments of confidence, and God used me and another brother when I was in my first year in NUS to wonderfully share the gospel with a fellow freshman. He received Christ, and years later, he is faithfully following Christ, and even discipling others. That is the power and importance of being confident as a minister of Christ.

Still, for me, I still struggled very often with low self-esteem and constant feelings of inadequacy, rejection, incompetence and even uselessness. These feelings only served to hinder my effectiveness as a minister of the gospel, and especially in blessing people around me relationally.

Over time, as I received more of God's grace in my life, especially in 2005 and 2006, God answered many prayers of mine for breakthroughs in emotional stability, relationships, character, and even answered my prayer to take care of a sheep. Still, I often felt low and broken in spirit, often feeling inadequate and incompetent as a man.

But Jesus is so good. :D

Recently, I went for a missions trip to Kenya. One of my objectives was to be transformed, that I would come back a different and better person.

God really answered my prayer. During the trip, I struggled a lot with insecurity again, because the rest of the team was so much more competent than me in many things, that I felt increasingly inferior and down.

So I met up with Jason to share this feeling of uselessness and downness with him. He counselled me, and one question that he asked really struck me:
"Yeu Ann, where does your joy come from? Is it found in your relationship with Jesus, or is it found in your relationships with the people around you?"

I knew that my answer was the latter. No wonder my joy as a Christian kept on fluctuating... not stable at all, and not very effective in ministering to others some more!

Then, during the trip, I had the opportunity to borrow a book from Lisa and Lichuan, our two church planters. Also, Huaqiang had lent me a book too to read. Both books spoke strongly about God's work in our souls, and the power of God's grace to transform, strengthen and renew our lives. These two books made me start thinking even more.

And then... last Friday, God spoke to me through two more channels. First, I went for Men's Ministry Night and Pastor Jo shared about what makes a real man of God. One verse in particular that he shared pricked my heart.
John 5:19
Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Ps Jo shared that a real man of God is not one who can do everything. He told us that the Bible says in Isaiah 53 that Jesus was not a handsome man. On the contrary, he "had no beauty or majesty, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." And that he faced rejection: "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering..." And that Jesus himself said that he could do nothing by himself.

But he went on to tell us that despite all this, Jesus had this confidence in Him that drew many men and women to Him. And even though he had this confidence, he readily admitted that by himself, he could do nothing, but only what he saw his Father doing.

So that sharing by Ps Jo really spoke to me, because in my heart, I whispered a prayer to God, "Dear God, I really want to have this kind of confidence that Jesus had, that I can be a real man of God too."

Then... later that night, when I returned home, I talked with a friend on MSN. And she shared with me a testimony. Her testimony really touched me very much. She shared about how God turned her from an insecure and bitter person into a loving and caring soul.

That part really, really made my heart very envious, because inside me, I was asking God...
"Lord, she has experienced this transformation... Oh, why is it that I haven't experienced this peace of heart and overcome this insecurity that has been plaguing my heart for so many years? Why so many years?"

And I stayed up until very late, just thinking about this question that my soul was asking.

Then... the next morning, I woke up. Or rather, Weizhu woke me up, calling me at 9.30 am, 'cos I was supposed to go down to his place to have breakfast with him. I rushed down in a cab.

And I decided to have a quick quiet time in the cab. I resumed my daily reading of the Gospel of John. And as I read John 5, my eyes popped upon this verse: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."

It was the same verse that Ps Jo shared with us the night before. I felt a soft stirring in my heart.

So after I had breakfast with Weizhu, and had taken a nap, I decided to read again John 5, because I felt God wanted to say something more to me here.

I read, in that chapter, about Jesus meeting a man who was invalid for thirty-eight years. "Thirty-eight years! That is a very long time," I thought to myself. I continued reading on:
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

That verse suddenly spoke straight to me. I felt the Lord was asking me too, and directly... "Yeu Ann, you have been struggling with this crippling insecurity for a long time. Do you want to get well?"

I was shocked. I'd never really seen it from that angle. The Lord challenged me: I have the power to heal you. But do YOU want to get healed?

And then as I read on, these words rebuked me:
[Jesus said:] "I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?

He showed me clearly what was my heart's attitude.

So I sat down and pondered. Finally, I put all the pieces together. I think I knew what Jesus was trying to get across to me: That I have to make the decision to just accept what God says about my identity and worth and competence by faith.

I looked at Weizhu, who was working on his computer. I turned to him and shared with him what I thought the Lord was telling me. He listened attentively, and after I had said everything, I asked him, "Hmm... well, I don't know. I could be wrong in my understanding... but what do you think?"

He pondered, and then replied: "Well... I can't think of anything to add at the moment, because it seems whatever that needs to be said, God has already said to you."

So asked him to pray for me. And he prayed. After he finished praying for me, I felt a sense of gratitude and peace in my heart. :)

And since that time... somehow I just have this new sense of security, that my identity is truly in Christ. That even though I'm still far from perfect, my joy really is found in Christ. Now I really understand in my heart that I am free to walk in the new life that He has given me - free to live as a new man of God. :D

I don't know how I understood this truth finally in my heart after so many years.

And the thing is, it's such a joy... I have a new sense of confidence - a more sure confidence that is based on my identity in Christ. Think I have finally tasted the goodness of this promise of Jesus in John 16:22
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

This is a deeper and stronger kind of joy - the joy that comes from my relationship with Jesus. The kind that, if even people reject me because of my weaknesses, faults and sins... it is a joy that will still last and endure, because as long as Jesus is alive, my joy is alive too. Wow...

It's a very long testimony, but I must carry on. Because to show that it is not merely a good feeling that lasts for a few days and then fade away (and to satisfy my inner skeptic too), over this weekend, God worked through me to share a relevant aspect of my testimony about the Kenya missions trip. And the sharing was so relevant... it was about CG, and it was just right, fitting the topic that Huaqiang wanted to share. Amazing! God is so good.

And then also, the next day, He used me to bless quite a few people along the way, and I felt so thankful to God. Because it is not I who can minister to the people, but Jesus who lives in me that is ministering to the people around me. I'm so amazed again.

And... wonderfully, there was this brother who was not on speaking terms with me for a long time, because I had lost my temper with him many months ago. But all of a sudden, today, he started talking much more to me and taking the initiative to ask me about things going on in my life, and about the missions trip. In my heart, I was very surprised, and wondered what caused the change in his attitude towards me. Especially since the last time we had contact, we had quarrelled. I think it is totally the power of God. Wow. Amazing again.

And wow, while meeting another friend, and listening to him/her share about a struggle, and I was wondering how to help this friend overcome the struggle. Suddenly, in the midst of this friend's sharing, the Holy Spirit gave me a sharp, specific question to ask this friend.

AND WOW. The Spirit of God is so powerful. Through that specific question, He helped me unearth a major key issue in my friend's life. And we prayed together, and wow again, my friend shared that he/she was relieved after all this time. And what is even better is that this friend thanked God for His power, how He showed His power in such a specific way.

Felt so so happy that when I was walking back home, I started singing, "The Spirit of the Lord is great and mighty / The Spirit of the Lord is my victory and strength..." And I just started dancing along the street... so filled with joy because of what the Lord has done for us! Oh, Jesus is just so so so good! :D (I made sure to look around first to see that there was nobody else around.)

It is so true! 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. AMEN!
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor...

Hee. It's a very, very long testimony, but really, I want to thank God so much for the joy that He has given me. And I believe that just as Jesus told the lame man in John 5 to get up and walk, I believe that He has made me just get up and be a new confident person in Him, just like that. So I don't have to lie on the mat of my old self-pity and negativeness anymore, but I can now walk with a new kind of confidence - not a confidence that comes any longer from my own abilities, but a different kind of confidence that comes from Christ working through me.

Dear friends, just want to end off this testimony with this verse. Hope and pray that this encourages you too!
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

God really loves you! :D

Saturday, August 16, 2008

John 12:27
"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!"

I'm sitting here, pondering over all the things that have happened in the past few months. Trying to make sense of what's going on.

A friend shared her testimony just now with me, and what she wrote struck me:
im really really thankful God allowed all that to happen
it just makes life richer
with all the experience

She also shared about social maturity. Something just struck me here.
i think its a v impt skill
when we want to minister to ppl

It struck me, because initially when I was reading this statement, I suddenly sensed in my heart a disagreement, a reluctance. It was very small, but it was there. And I wondered, why did I have this twinge of feeling?

Perhaps it's because I didn't fully agree with the value of that... for what reason, I am not sure.

But Lord, open my eyes, help me see the value of social maturity and pursue it, to let nothing hinder You from using me to minister to people... as You please.
think ppl see me as quite mature socially in general..
but hope i wont stop there
but to continue to learn ppl
so tt i can be the most effective minister tt i can be

i think its a v impt skill
when we want to minister to ppl
its like sometimes when u speak to spiritually mature christians
and haven u felt at times when every word tt they say speak so much to ur heart?

in the same way, i want to be tt kind of ppl
to make the max impact on others with my words..
so i will need to understand ppl first, in order to speak wisely


And so I asked her to teach me more in the area of relating to people. It's not easy for a guy to bend the knee, to swallow his ego, and ask a younger Christian (especially if the younger one is a sister...) to teach him what he needs to learn - it is not easy at all.

But this promise from the Bible encouraged me:
"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time."
I guess indirectly I am alluding to myself being humble. So be it... whatever humility is in me is solely due to Christ in me, because I am NOT a humble person... I'm just learning to follow Christ.

Humble pie. Bitter to the taste, but oh-so-sweet to the soul.

Hmm. I guess it's not an easy year for me this year, but I am eagerly asking God for transformation of character. And He will give me what is good for me. :)

Anyway, just to share more...

Was talking with my roommate during the missions trip. I was very blessed and encouraged by his sharing, because of his handicap. That handicap broke his pride, and he realised that he wasn't that strong after all. So he sought God, and God was super-gracious to him.

Something this bro said to me struck me. He said that because of his unique experience (he's blind in one eye), God has used him to minister to specific people whom only he is able to minister effectively to, because of his handicap.

And another attitude I learnt from this bro is: He's just a normal guy who happens to have only one working eye. That really brightened up my spirit! Because of what he said, now I'm not ashamed to be hearing-impaired, because I'm just a normal guy who happens to be hearing-impaired.

And yet another attitude - I asked him, "What if your good eye one day fails?" He replied immediately, as if he'd been asked this question before:
"My good eye? I don't worry about it anymore. One day at a time. Life's too important to worry about what's going to happen to my good eye. My policy is - thank God each new day that I've got a good eye, and then go about doing for that day what He wants me to do.

If God decides one day to take away my sight completely, well, I'll trust Him. And I also pray regularly for healing for my bad eye. Faith and discipline. God's grace, one day at a time. "
:) God's sovereign grace, one day at a time.

And you know what? There's this friend of mine who's also hearing-impaired, and as a result, is very insecure about his hearing impairment (since being hearing-impaired is an invisible social disability). He's not a Christian yet, but I believe God put us together, for me to reach out to him, to encourage him that he is not alone in his struggle.

And as a result of my own struggles with social maturity, God has helped me over the years to develop a deeper sense of compassion, understanding, grace and empathy with the social "outcasts" of society. I think He has given me eyes to see the brokenness in people, especially those who are very emotional - and instead of judging them, like others are wont to do, God has enabled me to understand the reason for their brokenness.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners..."

I had been crying out to Peter some time ago, asking him why did God make me this way - to be so ... blur and socially inadequate, and slow in so many things, and even the hearing-impairment that I got so long ago. Peter could only reply, "Trust God."

To be honest, I don't think I have all the answers yet. But at least He's shown me some answers. I must be faithful with the answers that He's already given me. So jiayou, YA!

God has given me so many blessings. Like a good job - which recently was converted from a contract job to a permanent job! Ah. I need to be disciplined to give thanks to God for all the little blessings He gives me each new day.

I'm looking forward to the day I can say this fully in my heart with joy:
im really really thankful God allowed all that to happen
it just makes life richer
with all the experiences

Think these words of Jesus are becoming my own words more and more: Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!

Just came back from Men's Ministry meeting today. "Man in the Mirror". Was very good. Something Ps Jo shared with us: "A man of God is a man of truth."

And also how we don't need to have good looks or good brains to be used by God, as long as we trust God. (Not a license to be stupid or look stupid of course haha...) Like how David was a shepherd boy, but he told Goliath: "You come against me with sword and spear and strength... but I come against you in the name of the God of Israel..."

In the name of the God of Israel. That caught me.

Thank God for this meeting. :) May God help me bear fruit from the verse that Ps Jo shared with us: "And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Forget the Weeds in Your Life, Focus on the Flowers

Oh! Just read this email from Jia Huey (a sister from my missions team to Kenya) - thank God so much! It's a very timely encouragement... hope and pray it encourages you too.

Do you ever get discouraged, disappointed or frustrated throughout the day? Do you ever feel like your circumstances are much more negative than positive? Does your outlook seem more pessimistic than optimistic at times? If we are honest, most of us answer yes to these questions. We all experience down times, times in which our glass feels half empty rather than half full. Certainly God gave us all have a full range of emotions, both positive and negative and we are going to have times in which we feel depressed or anxious. But what can we do about it? One of the greatest things we can do to deal with our down times is to grow the African violet part of our lives.

An African Violet Life
Milton Erickson, a now deceased psychiatrist, once went to the home of a friend in Milwaukee. His friend had an aunt there who was very old and very wealthy. She lived in a huge Victorian home with incredible antiques, but his friend was concerned because she was depressed. And so Dr. Erickson went to the home at his friend's request to visit this aunt.

The aunt took him on a tour of her entire home. All the blinds were closed. It was dark, gloomy, and depressing. The last place she took him to was bright and cheery room full of gorgeous African violet plants. It was in stark contrast to the rest of the house. Standing in the beautiful room Dr. Erickson felt compelled to speak, "I can see what your problem is," he began.

"What do you mean?" said the old woman confused.

Looking deep into her eyes he simply stated, "You are not really a very good Christian."

Completely insulted, the depressed woman finally managed to ask, "What do you mean?"

"Here you have this great gift for growing African violets," Dr. Erickson gently explained, "And you keep it all to yourself. If I were you, I would get your church bulletin, and whenever someone had a birthday, or a death, or a wedding, or an anniversary, or whatever, I would take them one of your beautiful African violet plants as a gift."

After that advice, Dr. Erickson left and never spoke to the old woman again. As Dr. Erickson told this story to a group of students, he pulled out an old yellow Milwaukee newspaper article. The headline read: "African Violet Queen of Milwaukee Dies... Mourned by Thousands." As usual, a curious student raised his hand and asked, "Why did you have her give out plants instead of treating her depression?" After a short pause, the wise teacher explained, "I decided that it would be easier to grow the African violet part of her life than to weed out the depression."

Weeds or Flowers... What is Your Focus?
That aunt of Erickson's friend took to heart what he said to her. After he left, she began growing violets throughout her home. More windows were opened and light filled the previously dark house. As her violets bloomed she would take them to people all over Milwaukee. She made friends and invited them over to see her violets. All of this led to her developing an incredible and fulfilling life of ministering to others.

What does this have to do with your negative emotions? Plenty. Whenever you start to experience down times, times in which you feel depressed or anxious, your focus can change. Instead of being able to focus on what is positive or on possible solutions, when we experience depression or anxiety, we tend to focus on our problems. That is the true danger of these negative types of emotions. If we do not deal with them in a constructive manner, our outlook can become negative or "problem-focused." When this happens we run the risk of becoming consumed or overwhelmed by our own negativity or worse, feeling helpless and hopeless.

One of the main reasons why people launch into clinical depression, panic attacks or have suicidal thoughts is when they feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Being problem-focused can certainly rob us of hope and can make us feel extremely helpless.

The key to guarding against having a negative outlook or a problem focus is to become "solution-focused." Solution-focused people deal with their problems in the same manner that Dr. Erickson encouraged the African Violet Queen to do: Don't try to weed out the negatives. Instead, grow the positive parts of your life. In other words, instead of focusing on your problems or the negative emotions, focus on your strengths or on possible solutions to your problems. In order to become "solution-focused" when you go through difficult times, try to remember what worked in the past. You are looking for exceptions to your problems or times when you didn't feel negative. For example, if you are feeling depressed, think back to a time when you weren't depressed. What was different about that time? What were you doing different?

Notice that we didn't ask: "What was someone else doing differently?" The reason is it's probably easy to remember what others do that makes us happy. However, we want the focus to remain on what you can do for yourself. If you believe your happiness before was because of someone else then you run the risk of becoming dependent upon others.

We want you to recognize what you were doing differently that made you happy. We want you to find the exceptions to your problems. We want you to become proactive in looking for things that used to cause personal satisfaction. If prayer, exercise or reading made you happy before for example, start doing those things again. Keep in mind that when someone is depressed they usually stop doing things that gave them pleasure before. In order to guard against this fact, discover whatever you did before that was pleasurable and start doing those things again. Become solution focused instead of problem focused.

Remember, no matter how discouraged, disappointed or frustrated you may get throughout the day, no matter how negative or pessimistic your outlook on life is, you can change your focus. Instead of focusing on how miserable or negative life feels, turn your focus toward solutions.Instead of trying to weed out the negative parts of your life, commit to growing the African violet parts of your life by becoming "solution-focused." The best way to become solution-focused is to review your life for the exceptions to your problems. Remember back to when you felt happy or satisfied. Ask yourself what was different about that time. By doing this, God can use you to minister to many people. Perhaps you are the next African violet Queen (or King) of Milwaukee.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

(Just a personal rambling...)

Sigh. My thoughts are far from comforting. Just a few things in the past few days that made me melancholic again. Heaviness of heart, dryness of spirit.

Hmm. Met up with Peter. Shared with him about my missions trip... thank God that we can encourage one another. Still, had this heaviness and uncertainty in my heart about something in particular. Haha. Think WZ will be able to understand at this time what I'm feeling. :) Looking forward to meeting up with him!

Oh. I should shake off this heaviness. C'mon, Georgia's at war with Russia right now - there's so much more to look outwards, to pray for, have a burden...

Lord, this world's so big and I am so small. What can I do?

Oh. I forgot. You are BIG. And that's more than enough. Praying that G and R will settle their conflicts soon.
Isaiah 2:4
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Anyway thank God for the meetup yesterday with a friend - was very blessed. It's great to have someone like-minded with regards to missions - it really is a great blessing from God indeed. :D Very touched also by this dear friend's thoughtfulness - it's really something that I appreciate very much. Have so much to learn from this friend, especially the cheerful spirit!

And thank God too for Tai Heng. Really had a good dinner with him, and touched by his sharing too.

Two meaningful sharings by two dear friends - I am literally doubly-blessed! :D

Sigh. Haha... sorry, just need to go and seek God. Melancholy setting in again, which makes me start procrastinating and web-surfing again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

May God Bless Us

A friend passed me this blog extract (thanks XJ!):
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back from Kenya

Gosh. What a whale of a time. As Desmond put it, the whole week was a heart-stopper. Especially the road accident. Really amazing how God preserved us - we didn't lose a single hair, even though it was a real stunner.

The Accident
Depending on God's grace is so important, no matter how big or small each task is. As Ronald confessed on behalf of the team, when we were praying after the accident, we took His grace for granted, not asking Him for safe journey mercies the first time round. And God allowed a drunk driver to literally overturn our plans... so we were humbled and remembered how much we must depend on the Lord for each step we take.

Prov 16:9
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

But let's not talk so much about the road accident. As Eugene wisely pointed out, it's not the only thing that happened during the trip.

There were so many other things that happened...

Slum Ride
Like our slum visit, where our driver, Fred (he's a local), took a detour through an extremely narrow mud road - which happened to be jam-packed with angry market-sellers who were pushed out of the way. They were so close to the van, that it was like standing right next to them. Lisa commented later that we were very, very, very fortunate that they didn't rob us or burn our van there and then. 'Cos the slum dwellers have even burnt ministers' cars before - how much more a van full of Chinese-looking tourists.

We felt a palpable sense of fear throughout the slum ride. And as we were reflecting about that later on, Eugene (our team coordinator) told us that God could be using this feeling of fear that we had experienced to tell us how the Kenyans are feeling.

Fear, isolation... because of the mistrust that has built up among the different tribes, and not only tribes, but also classes. Middle-class, lower-class, upper-class neighbourhoods... there is a very obvious sense of walling-off between the neighbourhoods.

But! There were such beautiful moments too. The safari walk, and the walk through the countryside and the mountain climb... I'll just post photos there. They're so beautiful.

Harassed and Helpless
And as I rode through the countryside, I prayed, asking God for a word regarding the people. And I think He impressed strongly on my heart that He really loves this land. He has great compassion for the people of Kenya.
Matthew 9:36-38 came to mind:
36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

And it's so true. Whether rich or poor, the people there are harassed and helpless, exploited by greedy politicians and pastors alike. Yes, you read it right. There are some pastors who become pastors, not because it's a calling, but because, to them, it's a career. And that has caused not a few Kenyan Christians to be increasingly cynical/disillusioned/disappointed with the churches.

And I read in the Kenyan news on Sunday one of the headlines - "Churches indicted in inciting recent ethnic clashes"... it was so sad. The salt in Kenya is losing its saltiness.

Children - a New Hope
But thank God truly for the children. Kenyan children are a fortunate bunch indeed. Kenya has one of the best education systems in Africa - "8-4-4": 8 years of primary, 4 years of secondary and 4 years of university. Powerful indeed.

But the education system is something like the Singapore system of the seventies - sit down, study and shut up. :P So yes, Kenya gets very educated graduates, but they sometimes lack initiative to speak up and offer new ideas. (A problem with our own education system too.)

But, one good thing is that the children are very disciplined and obedient. Hee. Just a word from a teacher, and the children will obey immediately.

Anyway, the orphanage visit was very nice. We threw a birthday party for the orphans. I've taken a video clip - will post it up asap.

And during the mountain climb, while we were huffing and puffing our way up, dozens of Kenyan schoolchildren dressed in no more than their uniforms - the girls in full pinafore no less, with ankle-length skirts - scampered uphill excitedly past us.

Well! When I reached the summmit, I took video clips of the children. They were all very curious about the Strange Object I was holding in my hand, so I flipped my LCD and let them see themselves on video. Whoa. They instantly swarmed around me, buzzing excitedly like bees in a hive, until the teacher stepped in. (Thank God for teachers...)

So let them peep through the video camera. They were all so so excited. The teacher explained to me that they were all from a school in the rural areas. Most of them had never seen a video camera in their lives before (until a blur tourist showed them).

While they were all taking turns, I spied out of the corner of my eye a girl standing all alone by herself. What made her stand out even more was the huge orange polka-dotted sash that she was wearing around her waist, over her uniform. I wondered why she was standing there all alone, so I went over to her to say hi. At first, she looked away shyly, and didn't say anything in reply to my hello. So I asked her, "You want to take a look through the camera?"

A smile started on her face, and she happily nodded. I passed her the camera, and she peeped through it... and after she was done, she looked at me, and shyly said in clear English, "Thank you."

I was very surprised - and touched. 'Cos all the other kids hadn't said thank you, but this girl, all alone by herself, said thank you. And I was reminded of the one healed leper who ran back to thank Jesus, while the other nine didn't give thanks to Him. I had a small glimpse of how the Lord must feel when, out of all the billions of people he blesses daily, one or two of them stop and pause and run back to thank Him for blessing them.

So many more to share. Well, all in good time... I'm super-jet-lagged now. Pray for me and the rest of the team to recover from the muscle injuries that we got from the accident, and from the jet-lag.

God bless.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blog from Kenya

I'm here in Hampton House - thank God they have internet access. Just came back from a walk in Nairobi - to be honest, it's a bit polluted there, but otherwise fine.

Anyway! There's been a lot of things and a lot of places we went to... but I think the best moments were the times of fellowship spent with our 2 church planters and the Hope Nairobi caregroup. (We just finished visiting them at their workplaces and saw one of them off as she took a bus back to her hometown.)

God has been so good to us. :) And to me too. Last night I had a very good time getting to know Desmond (he's one of the ULs in Adults), and what he shared with me really encouraged me. But that one, have to share more.

Anyway, God has been answering my prayers and my objectives for this trip. Transformation - it's been a very very big eye-opener for me with regards to the culture, and there in the city, there's a big sense of isolation among the people - especially a sense of fear among the slum-dwellers. The feeling is very strong, so this is one need that Kenya has...

Time's running out. Share more soon! Pray for us!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

D-Day Plus 2: Hope Jo'burg

Now typing this from Ps Henry and Lerato's house. So blessed by their hospitality - Ps Henry took us on a few hours' drive around Johannesburg. And his 3 children are very well-behaved - not to mention adorable haha.

Anyway! We recorded a video message from the couple. It's very inspiring. They aim to plant 1000 churches in South Africa alone. And Lerato shared about her vision to see Hope Church SCHOOLS built in SA - and with the SA government's support some more. :D The reason for all this is because they want to impact this generation of young people, since the majority of SA's population is young people. And the vision is to see these young people become men and women of God who'll go on to be missionaries, church-planters, salt and light to Africa and beyond!

At that point, I was reminded of the vision of HopeKids ministry - to fulfill the Great Commission by seeing the renewal of the spiritual generation for Christ.

Jet-lagged, but so so so happy and joyful to see what God is doing!

Oh yes! Got to know a new bro in Christ - Thabiso. His MM skills and design are simply wonderful! I asked him to send me a copy of his designs for Peter and the Hope MM team so that we can learn from his designs... gosh.

And he asked me how to set up a website. LOL. So Hope Jo'burg and Hope S'pore - spiritual exchange programme haha.

And the kids are so cute. LOL. When Ps Henry asked Thato, his youngest son, to say "Hallelujah!", Thato was sucking his thumb. So he just went: "Mmm-MMM-Mmm-MMMH!!" Then Ps Henry challenged him to say, "Praise the Lord!"

"Mmmm. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm."

ROFL. We all almost died laughing. The things kids say...

It's such a great great great joy to see like-minded bros and sisters actively playing their roles in fulfilling the Great Commission in their lifetimes... Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or even dare to dream of, to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, through all generations, both now and forever! Amen!

Ok. Praise God. We got tickets to Kenya finally. Prayer is answered. Thanks to all who prayed for us to get tickets to Kenya. Keep praying for us!

Going off now. Love n God bless, YA

Friday, August 1, 2008

D-Day: At the Airport.

Now in transit lounge. Incredibly and deeply blessed by all the people who came to see us off. Special thanks to my dear dear CG... and also for Joyce who came (she also came to see Ashleigh off too.) Gotta go very soon. Keep us in prayer that we'll come back transformed pple.