Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mastering Conversation

I have to say I’ve been dissatisfied with the current self-help information on communication. Much of the material I have read focuses on how to become a more empathetic listener, problem solver or better transfer information. Very little focus is put on what is probably the most common form of communication, the conversation.

Learning empathetic listening skills and effective communication of your ideas is great for when you need to understand and relate, especially in high intensity situations. Unfortunately, most of the time you talk with others it isn’t to find solutions to a mutual problem or to gain a deep understanding but simply to relate or entertain.

People don’t judge you so much for who you are as they judge you for how you communicate yourself. And most of this marketing is done through conversation. If your conversation skills are poor you will appear boring, humorless and unlikable. Conversational masters make friends easily and others genuinely enjoy spending time with them. [read more...]


How true it is. *thoughtful pause* This is the post that I've been looking for for a very long time. Hits the nail on the head. Thank God...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gee. I was thinking after my meetup with Peter today. Because I asked him what areas I need to grow in.

Peter told me. One area of course is handling my emotions and expectations. And well, I was thinking about it. But Peter reminded me not to be worried. I told him by nature I'm an emotional person. He simply said with a smile: "Pray."

:)

I really really do need to live the Word of God with deeper conviction in my life. Just feel a desperate longing in my heart to be more like Jesus. Waaah. God knows that I am SO not the person that He wants me to be... yet He completely accepts me. Wow. :) He's so good. He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...

Haiz. Lord, I really feel dissatisfied with myself. I do wish I were a better person, more Christ-like. I admire those who live out their lives according to what the Bible says. Just feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction. But yeah, I remember something... I remember that You chose me, even though I'm so unworthy. You sought me, when I was lost. You think the best of me, even though I epic-fail so many times. :P Let me choose to live a life of godliness, a life of Christ-likeness. A life that loves You and loves people more and more.

And I know I can't do it on my own. But as I seek YOU for who You alone are... not even seeking You to make me a better person... but seeking You because You are Lord, my God... I know You will abide in me, to make it such that I can live the crucified life: "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me..."

Just one thing that I ask... help me obey Your command to love my fellow neighbour as Yourself more and more each day. It's not easy... but well, You hear and will answer prayer. :)

And remind me of why I want to grow more godly... is it because I want people to admire ME? Or is it because I love YOU?



Asked Peter what my strengths were. He enumerated: "Listening, supportiveness and sincerity."

Inwardly, I felt disappointed. Told Peter, "I wish I had more strengths."

"Aiyah! Don't be so anxious. Growing takes time. Anyway, these strengths are very important!"

I frowned anxiously.

He smiled and said, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition..."

And oh yes, I realised that there is one area that I still have old fears in. Ah. I feel glad and grateful actually... 'cos it's yet another area for the Lord to show His redeeming power and glory in! :) So can work in this area here.

Still... am feeling inadequate again. But let these feelings of brokenness and inadequacy draw me even closer in dependence to God as a result. :) And then we'll see what He can do through jars of clay like you and me!

"Not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit!" :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

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Walking with Clarence

Charming Clarence jio-ed me to go walking in Southern Ridges today (Saturday). So romantic of him. Bwahaha... It was a great time of sharing, talking and what-not... sorry bro, I was so tired the night before... but very blessed and encouraged by your sharing! :D Thanks for being such a dear bro to me, and to many others!

Joyce's Birthday Celebration at Plaza Singapura

I'm not going to post the photos that I took at Joyce's 21st birthday bash on Friday night... because seems like her other friends already posted tons and tons of photos. Haha...

But some of us (e.g. Xinying, Guannie, me, etc...) went to spring a birthday surprise on her today (Saturday) at Secret Recipe. Here's the photos of that moment...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Close Friendships Are Not Enough

It is not enough to have close friendships. Rather, these friendships must help draw you closer to God.

Consider on what is the foundation of your close friendships. Is it common interests? Shared experiences? Shared vision, even? Or ... is it Jesus Christ? A common love for our Saviour?

Let us not mistake cement for concrete. Both are essential to building a strong house, but the foundation is necessarily more important than the cement.

If you're feeling envious of people who have so many, many close friends... then think of whether the friends you have - be they near or far - have helped you become more godly, more mature, wiser, more Christ-like. If you really want to be more Christ-like, that is.

Consider carefully the reason why you like this person or that person as your friend. Is it because he/she makes you feel good? Because he/she can do a lot of things? Or is it because he/she has the right spirit? One who can be trusted, lives a righteous and godly life, walks in wisdom?

I was talking a few years ago with a dear bro (let's call him R). R is a very intelligent and capable bro, who received an award from NUS and on top of that, is very charismatic, sporty and dynamic. So there I was, affirming him (I think it was for his birthday), when suddenly he looked at me and exclaimed, "Yeu Ann, what you said really touched me."
"Huh? Why?"

"Because a lot of people affirm me for what I can do, but you affirm me for the spirit behind what I do."

R's words touched me very much, not because I made him feel good... but because I saw in this bro a wise heart. More than that, what he said showed that he values the heart behind the actions. (Not to say that he doesn't value action - on the contrary, he is someone who believes strongly in walking the talk, and living our lives to the maximum possible - especially if you are a Christian.)
Proverbs 13:20
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Consider carefully what are the treasures, the values that you hold so dear in your heart. Because you will end up being drawn most to the people who share your values. For where your treasure is, there your heart is too.
Just came back from Joyce's 21st birthday celebration. Wow, it was very nice. =) And got to catch up a bit with the other bros and sisters from NUS side. Even Alan our Vietnamese friend too (we got to know each other through Joyce).

Anyway, I had CG before that. *pause* It's ... a very meaningful and touching caregroup. I'm so proud of my bros and sisters in this CG - this is a WONDERFUL CG!
Thank God for Sharon, Jeannie and Shawn. Thank God for Jeannie's advice, and for Shawn's writing down prayer points for me even as I was sharing how I felt. Thank God... I was also very surprised when Sharon said that what I had shared was exactly how she felt.

Whoa...

And on my way to the birthday celebration, a thought just struck me: This is grace in action. When I am at my weakest, and most broken... then that is where the unconditional love and grace and acceptance of the Church really shines most powerfully.

It's a humbling experience to be on the receiving end of grace. Because by definition, grace is undeserved favour. People show kindness and love to you, not because you deserve it or because you've done anything good or even because of who you are... and that is quite a humbling feeling...

But hooray, that is the way that God wants our caregroups to be. A living, breathing, pulsating, moving, throbbing, flowing, smiling and loving Body... a place where we can throw off our masks and stuffy airs... where we see one another just as we REALLY are... and then love one another anyway.

Gosh. That is so powerful. And frankly, I think my non-Christian friend enjoys joining us again and again - the CG - because he, even though he hasn't said it out directly, enjoys our company. =) And it's not only because of my own friendship with him... sometimes he calls Huaqiang, sometimes he calls me... Gosh. I really do earnestly hope that one day, no matter how long it takes, he'll understand how real God's love is for him. And that even now, we the CG can be a family to him, to be always there for him, as God would have us be... a family always there - to be strong and to lean on. :D

I guess this is where Jesus really commanded us: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you too must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Not because we've gone for missions trips.
Not because we've performed top-notch in our jobs.
Not because we're the most socially relevant or intelligent people around.
Not because we've faith that can literally move mountains.
Not because we've the biggest church buildings.
Not because we've the most dynamic and exciting and spiritual caregroups.
Not because we've brought hundreds and thousands and millions to Christ.
Not because we've done miracles and raised the dead.

But because we love one another, as Christ has loved us.
The world will know whether we truly are His disciples, by how we love one another.

Hee!

Anyway, about grace... I've been thinking for a long while about it. Why does God like grace so much? I think it's not only a nice Christian thing... or even just accepting the odd-looking sister or strange-behaving brother... the hot-tempered workaholic or the lazy drunkard...

I think God loves to show grace, because it also has an incredible power to transform even the coldest of hearts like nothing else can. Because... I guess... it's when you realise that though you deserved nothing and even worse than nothing... you get so many good things, so much love, so much care, concern and acceptance... that it melts even hardened hearts full of hate. Like... the persecutor Saul, when Jesus met him directly.

Even the coldest ice has to melt before the littlest flame.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just came back from shepherding with Jon. =) Feel very thankful to God for him =)

Tried something new... we went through the book "Christian Living Vol. 1" (it's an educational resource that you can find in Hope Resources). Had been thinking how to go about teaching him... but felt that maybe God was suggesting to me that it would be better and more engaging if we made it a discussion instead of a teaching.

And thank God, it was a good and fun time... Jon shared quite a lot, and actually I was v blessed by his sharing. =) "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Something I realised from the discussion is that Jon may not be a very "wordy" person (in his own words), but he can describe his thoughts and ideas much more precisely and concisely than I can do. So am learning from him too how to be more concise. :D LOL...

Anyway, I think this is an interesting and less boring way of learning together. I was thinking, the old model of giving teachings as in sitting down, the shepherd telling the sheep point by point as the sheep scribbles down... that may not be the most effective methodology, especially for discipling adults.

It might work with students, but I think... adults prefer to engage in dialectical discourse and conversational inquiry. To explore and find out the truth for themselves.

It's really fun - and challenging - to help someone experience God more... especially when it comes to teaching from God's Word. And I. am. so. in. need. of. help. :P

But this verse still pushes me on, despite my fears and inadequacies: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Hee. Especially after my first attempt two weeks ago to teach Jon something from 2 Corinthians... gosh. Just can only thank God that Jon is very patient with me, even though he jokes sometimes that he's my "guinea pig", for me to make my mistakes upon... (Sorry poor sheep... I treat you to something delicious for your birthday... Bahahaha... fresh grassssss!!!)

Thank You for ... still believing in me, dear Lord, even after You saw all my fears and past failures. In Jesus' name... amen. Thanks... again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Getting more and more tired now. Lord, help me push on - it's a fruitful time of ministry...

Jonathan shared with me enthusiastically about what he learnt during WFL Bible class last night. Gosh. Thank God for answering my prayer for him, that God'll open his mind to understand and capture the lesson taught during the Bible lesson. :) Very encouraged and thankful too.

Especially because I'm feeling increasingly tired. I need to sit down and just have a good time of prayer. Fasting wouldn't hurt either... =)

Prayer. What a joy to pray. Knowing that if we ask anything in His name, it'll be done for us by our Father in heaven.

Mercy too. I need His mercy too.

Anyway, to share a testimony of answered prayer that I shared with WZ on Monday. For quite a while now, I've been walking to work, and as I passed by this beauty shop, there was a huge poster of a barely bare-chested woman. I had to divert my eyes and walk much faster everytime I passed by that poster (you know lah, flee from temptation, take cover etc...).

So I was quite worried about the children who'd be seeing this poster. I mean, this is borderline pr0n... (WZ said at this point, "Actually I'd be worried for the adults!" Haha...) So was complaining to God about the beauty shop displaying such a pr0nic poster, and wondering how to make that poster disappear. No, vandalism with strategically placed black paint is NOT a good idea... even if the intention is good...

But Jesus' words came to mind: "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt 17:20b)

So prayed everytime I walked past that poster on my way to work for a few weeks.

Then... I got posted to my company HQ for a few months. Then I returned back to my branch office after that. As I took the bus back from work, I passed by the beauty shop. Remembering the poster, I took a quick glance at the beauty shop.

The poster was gone.

And it was replaced by another lady, much more well-covered this time. ;)

Wow. Thank God for answering my prayers, even though I didn't have any power or authority to make the beauty shop owners take down their poster.

So when we see injustice and degrading of people in today's decaying societies... let's not lose heart. Let's pray together with the Lord: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...

From Huichun's blog:
Everytime I pray
I move the hands of God;
My prayer does the thing
My hands cannot do.

Everytime I pray
Mountains are removed;
My paths are made straight
And the nations turn to You


:)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Learning what it means to wait on God

Am having quiet time now... have been reading Psalm 27 for the past few days. Somehow it's a psalm that gives my heart encouragement and rest, even though I've been continuing on with the rest of the Old Testament and reading the book of John.

I visit and revisit it again and again, because I'm wondering whether God may be inviting me to meditate on this Psalm for a while longer. I dunno, maybe it's just me that just wants to linger in this psalm for a moment. Hee.

But yes, as I was sharing with Yufen over coffee today after Sunday service, this verse has been steadily helping to strengthen my heart with regards to waiting, especially with regards to BGR. :) Hee. I do know about the part about trusting God, which some dear bros and sisters have been faithfully reminding me and encouraging. It's just that I need the Word to strengthen my heart. 'Cos my spirit is willing, but my flesh, my heart, they are weak.

But God is so good and kind to me. Even though I'm very weak, He is so strong. Wow. I'm experiencing more and more the joy of His presence, the truth of what is written in 2 Corinthians 12:
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

It is so true. I find that the past few days, Jesus has been filling up my heart with increasing peace and strength. Wow! "When I fall down You pick me up / When I am dry You fill my cup / You are my all in all..."

:)


Thank God for this psalm. He reminds me again and again to seek Him for who He is, not for what I want. I miss Him a lot. Just need to spend more time talking with Him. =)




Anyway thank God for the meetup w Yufen today over coffee. Was very blessed. :) And for the meetup with Joyce over breakfast yesterday. Was also very blessed. And for the Sports Day at Tanjong Beach, Sentosa, yesterday. Very fun too haha. And today's sermon. It was good! On work. Looking forwards to work! And for CG too. Need to pray for the younger ones who came over from poly side.

Discipleship. It's so important. I need to start a plan to study the Bible in-depth soon. Thank God for the HopeSem course coming up!

Oh yes! Finally I'll be going for a TV production course, starting from tomorrow. :) Dream starting to come true! God is faithful indeed!

Lead me, Lord, I pray... and guide me in Your ways... so that I may know You better... and become more like Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Love ya, Daddy. :) In Jesus' name, amen.

*hopeful*

Friday, September 19, 2008

Operation DOD!

the photo tt started it all...
I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?
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What a Man Brings to Marriage

I read this article just now, and it's really very thought-provoking. For all my friends who're reading this, whether you're a Christian or not, do read this article... it's very helpful, even for those who are single and unattached! :)
We often focus on what we will get out of a marriage relationship: Is this person my soul mate? Does she speak to me? Does she affirm me? Do her strengths compliment me? And so forth.

Perhaps it’s time to start focusing on what we men can bring to a marriage relationship and to start working on these areas right now in our lives, so that we will have something to bring to the table (a man’s dowry, if you will) before making a lifelong commitment.

“It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity lays upon my own sex. I am crushingly aware of how inadequate most of us are, on our actual and historical individualities, to fill the place prepared for us.”

— C.S. Lewis from God in the Dock

As men, we are expected (by society) to be cool, dress fashionably, make a lot of money, drive a sports car, have chiseled looks, and have it all together in order to be “marriage material.” As Christians, we are to be God-fearing, prayerful, seminary scholars on the path to eldership within our church. Since most of us fall short of these so-called expectations, what can we do to bring the most to our marriages and where do we start? [read more...]

Two Lessons from Nature

I read Shuyi's latest posts, and was very blessed by what she shared. I'm simply amazed at this sister, how God has given her such big eyes to see big truths in very small things. Her childlike faith and ability to see God's lessons in the little everyday things of life is a constant source of joy and encouragement, and I'm sure not only me, but to so many people around her! :)
God makes the grass grow
Psalm 104:14-15
You cause grass to grow for the cattle.
You cause plants to grow for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth -
wine to make them glad,
olive oil as lotion for their skin,
and bread to give them strength.

:)

I was very pleased when I came upon these verses. Wine to cheer me, oil for my beauty regime, bread for my daily carbohydrates.

It is a heart of thanksgiving. How often do you thank God for the Aloe Vera in your facial cream/wash that you daily put on your face? Or that cup of fruit juice or coffee you drank just now? What about that pau(bun) you ate or the cornflakes you drank with milk?

All these only possible because God first made the plants grow. Rejoice and give thanks, every time you encounter a plant product!!


What we learn from animals
In this line of Biology, killing is our business. I walk along the corridor, I see fish being killed, butterflies, crabs...

(I see the potential of this post being controversial and shocking, as there are many animal lovers out there, but don't want to hide the truth. In order to conserve and protect these animals, research that involve loss of life are often conducted.)

And...

What truely touches me was when I saw the crab being killed by ethanol. He struggled with his might to come out of the ethanol, he held on tight to the mouth of the jar with every leg and pincer he had.

Some people call this survival in evolution. Others say it's cruelty to animals.

But what I captured was this preciousness of life. Life meant everything to the crab and he struggled with every ounce of energy to retain that precious gift God gave to him.

It means a lot to me, cause sometimes I let go a bit of my life when the going gets tough. I want to slacken and not really "live" my life. Sometimes I still struggle with meaning and I see others who totally give up, whether physical life, through suicide, or spiritual life, through renouncing of faith.

Contrast this to the crab and consider.

Even crabs know it.

Your life is precious. Every life around you is too. Don't walk out the door without first knowing this in the deep recesses of your heart.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mambo

Mambo's a content management system. Not a dance. =) I'm trying it because I've been trying to set up an expandable, flexible and easy-to-use website for some friends in Chile (David, Pui See and some others): AlwaysAsia.com. The current (and first) version is a static HTML website. Not easy to extend and updating's a royal pain, esp for non-techies. It's a bit too much to handle - especially when the requirements call for Spanish and English... *vomits blood*

So was crawling up the hill using Wordpress. It's a lovely blogging platform, but absolutely pathetic when it comes to handling multiple languages and customizing... *weeps blood*

But thank God... Mambo looks so much nicer. Considered using Joomla and Drupal, and Drupal does have the ability to handle multiple languages too. But Mambo got more positive reviews, as I can see so far. So I'll give it a shot. And so much easier to customize than Wordpress, that's for sure.

I think I'll use Mambo for my own website next time... if I ever get around to doing it! :P