Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Reflection on the one thing I love"

I read this article, and it is one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time. Think there are many things to learn from it.
When I came to know the Lord, I was introduced/brought into the wonderful family of God, besides also entering into a loving personal relationship with Him, the man Himself. The church, the fellowship, has always been a place of refuge for me, a safe haven, somewhere with people whom I know I could rely on, I could go to, and whom I can trust. I wanted very much for many people around to also experience such a family, such altruism, that it is indeed possible to do good to one another, to love one another unconditionally and it all perfectly makes sense.

Alas this was to be greatly tested in these recent days. My trust and confidence in church would go down, my assurance that things work, that things make sense in church was to be deflated. My understanding was this: if the church were to be made up of Godly men and women, who make sound-minded decisions, who hear from God, who obey God, who is led by the Lord, wouldn't church be the best place where things make sense, where things happen excellently, where real work gets done and accomplished? That the work of Jesus Christ be powerfully and greatly done and accomplished through the church? I have come to the conclusion that this way of thinking is in error. The Lord wanted me to place my trust in Him and Him alone, in His sovereignty, sovereign plan, that He is still in control, He is still the boss, that all things happen not without His foreknowledge and foresight. Even though the church may fail, God does not fail. Because the church does and will fail. So where does my trust and confidence lie? Ultimately, when it comes to the crunch, when the rubber meets the road, in church or in God? [read more...]

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In the past two months, I had been starting to think about the idea of starting a Writers' Circle. 'Cos I was inspired by how C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and a bunch of kakis would go for a drink of beer and discuss about writing.

I think it was Tolkien who inspired Lewis to start writing children's literature. But Lewis did so well with Narnia, that Tolkien got jealous, and didn't talk to poor Lewis until Tolks came up with Lord of the Rings. Then Mr. Tolks was very happy. And the two were good friends again.

Anyway! Something very gobsmacking just happened. A sis from my same church suddenly posted this comment:

I'm a fellow member in the church, currently in tertiary. Anyhow, thought you'd be interested in the "First Time Writers & Illustrators Publishing Initiative 2009" by MDA. It's for the Children Category.

Check it out at

Denise :)

Whoa. As Clarence would say, "All right, bay-bee!"

Children's book! Hmm. Time to assemble a task force! See what we can do! Pens ready! Tablets up! Forward march! This is ... Spartaaaah!!!

(Hey, I think even Spartans dig children's books...)

It's very interesting. When God calls you to do something, often you are totally unqualified or don't have the necessary skills, knowledge or resources. But it seems to be God's habit to choose the things that are not, to shame the things that are. So that none can boast of their own strength.

And it's thrilling to see how God suddenly plonks a signpost right from nowhere in front of me, telling me directly where to go.

Lord, You know, You totally and absolutely rock. P. Daddy rocks! ;)
John 14:1-3
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
Peter messaged me this verse just now, out of the blue. I don't know why, but I just felt a sweet sense of peace when I read it.

Maybe it's because the Lord's telling me that He simply understands. And He cares. And that's all that's enough, and shall ever be. And He's prepared a place for me, and one day His face I shall see.

How timely. Because I've been sensing a season of dryness coming on. Like the dry wind that rises up from the desert. When prayer is hard, and the Word of God feels like stale bread. Ah. After many seasons of walking with Him, it's a nice thing to be able to recognise an upcoming dry season, so that we can prepare ourselves, and dig in. Like the tree that digs its roots deeper in dry times, so that it can grow even stronger and more stable in the wet seasons. =)

Yes, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. :)

Lessons From Mr. 2008 - The One Thing That We Should Never Forget

'Do you know what the secret to life is?' asked Jack Palance in the 1991 movie City Slickers.

'No, what?' says Billy Crystal.

'One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else dont mean spit.'

'That's great, but whats that one thing?'

'That's what you've got to figure out.'
Suffice it to say that I think not everyone is called to be a marketplace minister all the time. Perhaps we have been too enthusiastic about it, and for a good reason - we want our members to know that they can serve God not only in church, but also in the ordinary things. However, it would be good to keep a balanced view of things, and remember the one thing that we shouldn't forget, even as we aim to raise up more leaders, or succeed in our careers, or do greater things for God:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age."
I was very encouraged by Robert sharing about his care leader, Yufen, who has done something very well, even though she's very young as a CL in the Adults ministry: She's very solid about getting the caregroup to get the basic foundations right - prayer and the Word of God. And God has blessed their caregroup a lot.

The Lord called us to go and make disciples of all nations. Not just converts, but disciples. Otherwise you may end up with nominal Christians... like, for example, in Kenya, where some pastors incited their flocks to take part in the ethnic riots. Or, in the Bible Belt of the USA, where divorce rates tend to be higher than the non-Christian areas. Or, in Nazi Germany, where the majority of the churches actually supported Hitler and his policies.

The one thing we should never forget is to follow Christ wholly. Love God, love people. Everything else hangs on these two.
We don't make disciples in order to make leaders.
We make leaders in order to make disciples.

Lessons from Mr. 2008 - How to Help People Grow

Thinking further, I think 2008 has been a crucial year in helping me understand human nature and the human condition better. Because of all the roller-coaster experiences I went through, especially in relationships, I think God has given me a lot of very valuable practical experience and insights, which will be very helpful in counselling and encouraging and building up disciples after His own heart.

Often we look so much at changing the behaviours of a person, but if only we really stopped to take a closer look, and to listen more carefully... we'd be able to discern that small cry of the heart that lies underneath. Then we would be able to help lead that soft, still heart to Jesus, that great Shepherd, and that heart would finally find its rest in Him.

It is so important to understand that people almost always do something for a reason, even if that reason is wrong. And it's not only a case of isolating the "root attitude" as so many of us like to say... because attitudes have values as their roots. And our task as disciple-makers is to discover that value, and help the person to replace his worldly values with godly values. Because we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Love Beyond Reason

Am re-reading this book. Every chapter brings fresh new tears to the eyes. Even the title alone makes me want to cry. Win already lor... Tamar last time told me that she also cried when reading this book.

There are two truths about human beings that matter deeply. We are all of us rag dolls. Flawed and wounded, broken and bent. Ever since the Fall, every member of the human race has lived on the ragged edge. Partly our raggedness is something that happens to us. Our genes may set us up for certain weaknesses. Our parents may let us down when we need them most. But that's not the whole story. We each make our own deposits into the ragged account of the human race. We choose to deceive when the truth begs to be spoken. We grumble when a little generous praise is called for. We deliberately betray when we're bound by oaths of loyalty.

Like a splash of ink in a glass of water, this raggedness permeates our whole being. Our words and thoughts are never entirely free of it. We are rag dolls, all right.
2008 has been a very deep year for me, especially in understanding and accepting other people, in learning how relationships work...

There were times of great joy, and great sadnesses. Some dear friends left Hope; I witnessed a very, very bad case of fallout and bitterness by a certain Christian; God moved my heart to start shepherding another brother; I tried initiating a BGR relationship, but in the end, it didn't work out as I had hoped; I learnt to work together in a missions team (and experienced first-hand spiritual warfare, both emotional and physical); a close friendship became much less closer, but another friendship grew much deeper; a brother recently asked me to be his accountability partner; the Spirit helped me help another friend confess his struggle with a certain sin...; made friends with more and more people; the Spirit supernaturally gave me the opportunity to share my conversion testimony with my colleague; grew in covenantal friendship with Clarence, Kin Wee and the list goes on and on.

Relationships. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name!

One key moment that stands most of all in my memory is Huaqiang telling me that if I expect others to show me grace, I need to show others grace too. It struck me how big the plank was in my eye. "If we only love those who love us, then we should be ashamed to call ourselves Christians!"

This year, I've seen with my own eyes the fallenness of fellow Christians - even those who are regarded by others as being godly, mature and so on. And God has also shown me my own fallenness too. I've seen pastors in their weaknesses, leaders in their weaknesses, fellow members in our weaknesses. I've come to realise that we are all of us broken and fallen creatures. I've seen a dear couple (not my mum and dad, btw) actually start arguing before my eyes. I've seen leaders disagree before my own eyes. I've seen a leader send out an angry email. I've seen bitterness and unforgivenness from a brother whom I had (unjustly) burst out in anger at. I've experienced the pain of prejudiced mindsets from certain brothers and sisters, curt words and insensitive comments from a brother and a sister, and the pain of non-communicative silence from friends whose words I had come to treasure.

And I realise that I myself am equally guilty of all these too. We are all of us broken creatures.

And yet God's love still works upon us, for us and through us. And I realise that through this year, God has been teaching me what true Christlike love really means. To bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we may have against one another. And He showed me that no CG is ever perfect, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is made complete among us.

And my eyes have been increasingly opened to see that for all the very different personalities in my CG, there is actually a unity that already is among us, that others can see. :) A unity in how we welcome visitors, and enfold. A unity to being open and sharing our lives. It is a unity deeper than that based on mere joviality and jocularity. It is a unity borne out of the Spirit, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Not just so, God also helped me understand that I reap what I sow. I have learnt to be more sensitive, more careful and more gracious and forgiving with my words. And I realise that words are like paper money - they need the gold of actions to back them up! God helped me learn to be more forgiving and more gracious, praying for the people who had hurt me, be it intentionally (1% of the time) or unintentionally (99% haha), to be more understanding and patient, to be gentler and humbler... and to understand better why certain situations leave me very agitated and angry. With that understanding, I've learnt to control my emotions in a more mature way.

Wow. I want to laugh too - it's so funny. I struggle with patience, but God has supernaturally enabled me to be patient with the children, even when they literally step on my shoes... I did something like conflict management and counselling... God gave me the wisdom to tactfully defuse an angry scolding by a colleague (which was actually quite accurate), and how to encourage a very discouraged friend...

Hee, all this is God's redemptive work in even someone like me. :) I've been wondering if I might have the spiritual gift of pastor, since quite a few people have been saying that I have a shepherd's heart. And I so do love and enjoy caring for people haha... And for even the most difficult children, God has given me the heart and burden and ability to handle them. Whoa. Totally the work and power of the Holy Spirit...

And yet when I see Christ's love and mercy, the greatest and most perfect expression of God's love... then together with Auden's shepherds, I can only bow down and say: "O here and now our endless journey starts."

A Christmas Memory

Another klog from 8:04 PM 12/23/2008:
I've always loved Christmas. That tiny little thrill that made your little toes shiver in excited anticipation as you counted the days left.

My earliest memory of Christmas was probably when I was about five years old. I was in my parents' bedroom, and it was a drizzly December evening. I think it was about half-past six, when I woke up the next morning, and looked excitedly outside my window. 'Cos that year was the first year I had heard about a rotund elderly man who went around dispensing gifts to little children all over the world.

And of course, I embraced the whole idea wholeheartedly. Who wouldn't? Free gifts from a jolly grandfatherly figure who loved little children... and in a way, it was a comforting feeling to know that he wasn't someone to mess around with, even though he was jolly and generous, for he had this "Naughty/Nice" list. A grandfatherly figure you could snuggle up to, safe and secure in the knowledge that he was good. Not a pushover, nor a disciplinarian, but Someone Good.

So that morning, I wondered if Santa had come to my place to give gifts, for the newspapers and TV shows had prophesised so. Although I did reason that if he didn't leave gifts for me... well, it was probably because he only did it in places that had chimneys for him to enter. And perhaps he went only to places that had snow. For prithee, don't you see, wherever snow blows, oh there Santa shall be.

But! That would mean Singapore wasn't a ratified signatory to the Worldwide Santa Claus Clause that obliged all signatory members to (i) provide chimneys for every house to faciliate gift drop-offs (it was either that, or the rubbish chute...) (ii) provide snow for Santa's sleigh to land safely - I mean, you don't want to catch a nasty cold in the December rains, right? And, lastly (iii) ensure that everyone in Singapore - regardless of age or working class - went to bed before midnight in order to prevent Santa taking any evasive manoeuvres to avoid visual detection.

So, with that wise and mature voice of reason, soundly laid out in my five-year old mind, I hopped out in eager faith, and ran down the stairs to our glittering Christmas tree in the living room. And I called out to my maid, "Auntie Julietta! Did Santa Claus come down today?"

She chuckled, "No, Yeu Ann, he didn't."

I was perplexed, but decided that my prepared apologetic for Why Santa Doesn't Come To Singapore was sufficient justification for the continued existence of an invisible jolly old man who gave good gifts to little children simultaneously the world over - laws of space, time and weather be damned!

And a hearty Christmas breakfast quickly suppressed any remaining dissenting thoughts gurgling in my little tummy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Met Robert for a belated birthday dinner treat. Robert brought Melissa along too. Wow, Robert shared a fantastic testimony about his CG having 4 new believers. Whoa. He shared that Yufen is really solid about getting everyone to establish strong spiritual habits, namely: fast and pray and meditate on the Word of God daily.

His CG didn't do anything spectacular - they simply were faithful to seek God daily. And the Lord has done marvellous things for them! Whee...

Lots of other very helpful advice from Robert. Very timely! Since I had prayed to God earlier, renewing my consecration to Him. And He sent along Robert and Melissa at the right time, giving me very useful and helpful counsel that will help me accomplish what He wants me to do.

Anyway, bro, I know you'll be reading this. Thank God so much for you, bro. :) Even if that last part about BGR was really nonsense. LOL!

The Chronicles of an Overnight Shepherding Session Last Night

12 am to 2 am: Harmed 1,862 zombies in a frantic LAN game of Left4Dead. Whee!

2 am to 3 am: Strolled down from Somerset to...

3 am: ... SMU, where we decided to settle down for the night. And there, we took out my guitar and start our mini-worship marathon. Sang Christmas carols too haha. Jon's real good! :)

5 am: Jesse and Manmi groggily walked down the hallway, and saw us. Apparently they had just finished some planning for an event. We were so surprised to see each other, but had a nice chit-chat with them for a few minutes.

6 am: Delicious breakfast at the Kopitiam opposite SMU.

7 am: Home... almost. I fell asleep on a bench nearby my flat - too concussed to go any farther.

11.30 am: Finally make it back home. Hohoho.

What Is Maturity?

Maturity is the ability to control anger and settle differences without violence or destruction.

Maturity is patience. It is the willingness to pass up immediate pleasure in favor of the long-term gain.

Maturity is perseverance, the ability to sweat out a project or a situation in spite of heavy opposition and discouraging set-backs.

Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat, without complaint or collapse.

Maturity is humility. It is being big enough to say, "I was wrong." And, when right, the mature person need not experience the satisfaction of saying, "I told you so."

Maturity is the ability to make a decision and stand by it. The immature spend their lives exploring endless possibilities; then they do nothing.

Maturity means dependability, keeping one's word, coming through in a crisis. The immature are masters of the alibi. They are the confused and the disorganized. Their lives are a maze of broken promises, former friends, unfinished business, and good intentions that somehow never materialize.

Maturity is the art of living in peace with that which we cannot change, the courage to change that which should be changed -- and the wisdom to know the difference.

Author Unknown

The March of the Unqualified

"It's the March of the Unqualified. Get in line."

*Lump in throat*
Seen on a tagboard just now:
"Knowing that we're not mature enough is a sign of maturity!"

Friday, December 26, 2008

Transcendence Supersedes Senescence

I was also thinking: Now that we're in adults ministry, I've been told a lot of expectations have to be changed.

Perhaps the terrain has changed from the plains to the hills, but isn't the God of the plains also the God of the hills?

Oh. I remember something else. Hilly terrain is obviously harder to traverse. So more time and patience is needed.

Still, shouldn't the heart and will still be the same - "I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

When our eyes are set upon the Lord, then it is possible for Him to give us physical strength, just like how he enabled Moses to climb a mountain even at the geratric age of 120, and Caleb to be a fierce and fit fighter at the tender age of 85.

Transcendence supersedes senescence.
Someone told me a few days ago: "Maturity is being able to do the rational thing in spite of how you feel."

I think it makes sense, and sheds light on a lot of things.

But perhaps that statement is not sufficient... what is rational may not always be the right, or even good thing to do. But again then, doing what is right requires a sound mind. And a sound mind is so important to being a godly person.

It is so easy to confuse feelings with faith.

Going to Church on Christmas: A Vanishing Tradition

Millions of Americans go to church on Christmas Eve. They crowd shoulder-to-shoulder in pews to sing "Silent Night" and light candles and listen to soloists belt out "O Holy Night." More than a few watch nativity plays that recreate the birth of Jesus with a cast of 10-year-olds in bathrobes. When the service is over, they exchange hearty "Merry Christmas!" wishes before getting in their cars and heading home.

And they stay home the next day. Or they drive to Grandma's, or go to the movies. But however they spend Christmas Day — "the feast of Christmas" on the Christian liturgical calendar — one way most Americans don't celebrate it is by going to church. While demand for Christmas Eve celebrations is so high that some churches hold as many as five or six different services on the 24th of December, most Protestant churches are closed on the actual religious holiday. For most Christians, Christmas is a day for family, not faith. [read more...]
How timely! I was thinking about this since Christmas Eve, and was chatting with KW over MSN, and it turns out that both of us were thinking about this.

I mean, it's rather odd to be celebrating in such a big way the birthday of Jesus on Christmas Eve... and then the next day, not celebrate the day for Him. And later on, I met another friend, as I was passing her my Christmas gift. It turns out that she had also thought the same thing too.

So, when I woke up on Christmas morning, I felt a deep sense of longing to go to the Family service today, just to join them for the Christmas service. I did go for the HopeKids party, and had a GREAT time with them... but still, I was rather sad that I missed the Family service.

In fact, I had seriously thought about going down to St. Andrew's Cathedral yesterday to see if they were holding Christmas services, 'cos I really, really miss singing Christmas carols and listening again to the story of the Nativity. I really want to honour Him who laid aside His majesty and gave up everything for me, to become a baby in a manger.

In the end, I decided to spend some time reading Luke 2, and meditating on it. That passage was so beautiful, and so real to me that day.

So I've been thinking. I think next Christmas Day itself, I'll organize a very special Christmas Day party. Not a family gathering, but a meaningful Christmas where everyone can just really take time to celebrate the Lord of love, and sing Christmas carols, to just worship God and adore Him.

Oh come let us adore Him
Oh come let us adore Him
Oh come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord...

And I think it's a proper AND sensible biblical response too, actually. 'Cos didn't the angels sing for joy when Jesus was born? And didn't the wise men just bow down before Him and worship Him? And didn't the shepherds rush to see the King of glory where He lay... and then tell everyone about it?

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Yup, I think Christmas Day itself should be a special day to be set aside for the Lord, just to worship Him and adore Him for who He is... He's so beautiful!

Hee. Actually, I think nothing wrong with not setting aside Christmas Day as a sacred day... it's just my own personal way of loving and honouring Jesus.

Romans 14:5-6a
"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord..."
It's like what my friend said, that the Lord sees the heart... just like the little drummer boy. :)

Yup... and it can be evangelistic at the same time too! :) So... yup, just want to commit this plan into the Lord's hands... see how things go... it's so amazing to think that the eternal God actually has a birthday... He truly is the God over everything, including babies and birthdays! He really is God...

Anyway, shall end with this very thought-provoking article from the article:
The idea that Christmas Eve is a prime marketing opportunity to attract new members is widespread among pastors. In online forums, they give each other advice on crafting services that are broken down into digestible segments that will "hold the attention" of infrequent church-goers. (They also devote considerable space to trading concerns about the fire hazards posed by those Christmas Eve candles their congregants love holding.) One pastor said he considered regular Sunday services at his church to be "seeker-friendly," but holidays like Christmas and Easter were "seeker-focused." The irony is that by holding Christmas Eve services that cater to first-time visitors and shuttering their doors on Christmas Day, churches often fail to meet the spiritual needs of their longtime members on one of the holiest days of the year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesus! II

O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth.
And praises sing to God the King.
And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him,
still The dear Christ enters in.

Where children, pure and happy,
Pray to the Blessed Child;
Where misery cries out to thee,
Son of the Mother mild;
Where charity stands watching,
And faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
and Christmas comes once more.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in;
Be born in us today!
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

Phillips Brooks(1835-1893), 1868
I love this carol very much. It helps me remember that in the midst of an uncertain year, with all its turmoils and fears, God really is with us, as He was 2000 years ago.

Come to think of it, the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 is a major transition point. We can't put our trust in money, for Wall Street and Lehman Brothers have shown us so. And on a more personal level, I just received a mass e-mail from a brother whom I respect a lot... I was totally taken aback, because I sensed a lot of pain and anguish, bitterness even. And I was afraid for the flock under his care. And my own job, the wonder whether I will be able to meet my employers' expectations next year... the wonder whether World War III will happen in my lifetime... global warming, political succession in Singapore after MM Lee moves on to the Great Beyond, and so on and so forth.

And the story, the glory, of the baby reassures us that the Prince of Peace born unto us understands our fears and worries, on a very ordinary and human level. "And the government will be on His shoulders."
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

And the mystery, the magic, of Christ-mas tells us that sometimes, God is closer than we think. He is closer than the breath we breathe, the air that tingles our skin. Yet we do not see Him, we do not hear Him... as my friend TH said to me last night, "Perhaps He is working in my life... but I don't see Him doing so at this moment!"
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.

I guess Christmas is so different from all the other festivals and so on. Instead of us giving Him gifts this Christmas, He gives us the gift of His presence.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him,
still The dear Christ enters in.
Come to think of it... isn't it hilarious that the only people who offered Jesus gifts were called Wise Men? Hmm! :) I think we'd be wise too to bring ourselves before Him and offer our lives back to God once again!
Jesus brings warmth like a winter fire, a light like a candle’s glow
He’s waiting now to come inside, like He did so long ago
Jesus brings gifts of truth and life and makes them bloom and grow
So welcome Him with a song of joy, and when He comes you’ll know...
I'd like to chip in together with the Wise Men, and offer my life anew to Him. You too? :D Come!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! :)

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.
U.A. Fanthorpe
Excerpt from How Silently, How Silently, The Wondrous Gift is Given: Christmas 2008:
The Christian liturgical calendar observes "special" times of the year as "extraordinary" feasts (or fasts). These are times that punctuate exceptional moments in the rhythm of the year.

The rest of the year is relegated to so-called "Ordinary Time." But the affirmation of the incarnation is that there is no such thing as ordinary time, ordinary place, or ordinary people. Nor is there any ordinary school, soccer team, or job. There is no ordinary marriage or friendship. The implications are endless. If the son of God gasped his first baby breaths while screaming in a feeding trough, if tax decrees by pagan emperors, and if ruddy shepherds working the night shift all played their role in the redemption of the cosmos, then no one and no thing is "ordinary."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Set in Our Ways: Why Change Is So Hard

Millions of us dream of transforming our lives, but few of us are able to make major changes after our 20s. Here's why.
All the more why we Christians who are still young must train ourselves in godliness before we hit that Big Three. And why Young Adults ministry is so critical. And why children's ministry is so crucial. Gosh... time is so little... discipleship is so crucial!

The Apollo 8 Christmas Eve Broadcast

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis. [read more...]
Wow, thank God.

I blessed my colleagues with some nice chocolates today, wishing them Merry Christmas. They were pleasantly surprised - note to self: chocolate is a universal gift... works on guys too haha.

Then, after lunch, my colleagues suddenly blessed me with a very handsome-looking personal organizer. (Haha, they know that I'm not a very organized person... quite a lot of jokes about it.) But am touched by their thoughtfulness - especially since we're all guys, and guys don't usually do very sentimental stuff haha.

Praise God for His goodness... am praying still for them to come to know Christ one day... and that, in spite of all my imperfections and slowness as a worker, I pray that God's grace and mercy will be upon us all, that He will richly bless everyone of us this season, and for the seasons yet to come.

'Cos Christmas isn't Christmas, till it happens in your heart.
Somewhere deep inside of you, is where Christmas really starts.
So I'm praying that my friends will give their hearts to Jesus
And when they do, they'll find
That it's Christmas, really Christmas
All their whole lives 'round.


Finding Jesus in London

The Alpha Supper at Trinity Brompton

I read this article in TIME magazine. Gosh! I'm so encouraged. Especially the part where the church tried to grow, but faced opposition. But God showed them who is the victor!
Nestled between London's Natural History Museum, a monument to scientific secularism, and Harrods department store, Holy Trinity Brompton has not always fit easily into London's society. In 2006, local residents blocked church plans to build a large theological study center. And secular groups have raised concerns about the course's content: Concerned about the influence of Holy Trinity Brompton on Britain's future ruling class, the British Humanist Association recently partnered with Richard Dawkins, secularist Oxford professor and author of The God Delusion, to raise funds for advertisements to counter the Alpha course's own advertising campaign, with posters on buses carrying an inscription with a similar font to the Alpha's posters: "There is probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," they state. Within a few weeks, the fund raised $180,000 after setting a target of just $7000.

Judging by the success of the HTB, however, the humanists may be fighting a losing battle. Once considered a stalwart of rural England, the Anglican church has found new life in the largest of Britain's supposedly godless cities. And the new converts are perhaps even more fervent than their small town equivalents. HTB's Sunday services include singing, dancing, and speaking in tongues. "I've looked everywhere for the answers to my deepest questions," the philosophy major Mumford says. "It took me a while to realize that I'd find them in a London Church."

When I read the above passage, I was instantly reminded of Psalm 2:
1 Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.

3 "Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

5 Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 "I have installed my King
on Zion, my holy hill."

And the early Church also prayed the same kind of prayer: Acts 4:23-31.

I remember Ps PK Tse of Hope London sharing recently in an email that he emails friends of Hope London... he sounded quite excited. Think I can see why... :D Haha-halellujah! :D His truth is marching on!

Personally, I've been thinking of starting a Bible study fellowship in my company. I know a couple of Christians, but not sure when or where or how to get started. But, an Alpha course... hmm! That's very interesting...

Let Courage Rise With Danger

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

-G. Duffield Jr.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Feel Like A Very Hyper Hamster! Haha-hallelujah!

Wow! Super-excited! Don't know why, but after days of praying and fasting, consecrating myself to Him, and interceding for my friends, I just feel the fire of God so strongly in my heart.

I was talking with Joyce on MSN just now, and she was sharing with me so many testimonies abt her recent missions trip, I was afraid my comp'd run out of memory before she could finish... *just kidding, sis!*

One key thing she shared was about how real spiritual warfare is - she experienced it a few times during the trip. And as I fast and pray for our CG's outreach, I think the Lord has been increasing my spiritual senses...

And I sense that Satan's secret agents are really doing their worst to undermine the atmosphere of faith, hope and love among my dear fellow soldiers in Christ. (The unholy scumbags!) But they shall not prevail, for we shall overcome them by the blood of the Lamb, and the words of our testimonies! Amen and hallelujah!

Just to share how real the spiritual warfare is at the moment - my CL just told me that he's having a cold. It came upon him suddenly yesterday. Not just that, I sense discouragement and apathy are starting to be upon quite a few people - not only my CG, but also other bros and sisters in other CGs too! One CL told me that he/she has been experiencing negative thoughts since the start of the week, and it's getting him/her down.

Gosh. But honestly, I'm feeling very excited. Somehow Rhino the hamster's words (I loved the movie Bolt!) resonates a lot with me. Everytime there's danger, he gets so thrilled that he starts hyperventilating. And I think one reason he's always so thrilled, is because he has complete confidence in Bolt to save the day.

And I was thinking, if a crazy hamster could be so excited and courageous in the face of mortal danger, because he has his utter confidence in a deluged dog... then how much more, we as children of God, should be thrilled to be engaging in a battle that we cannot lose! For our God is a truly awesome God!

So dear bros, sisters, wanna encourage you not to lose your heart, nor your spirits. Keep on sowing, and fighting the good fight of the faith. Let's always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because we know that our labour in the Lord is not in vain! Amen.

Taking Hamburger Hill

Enough of my procrastination. Tonight is the night I finish the website. God, help me...

Thank God. I'm done with the first version... after several months past thousands of dead/smashed/broken/incinerated deadlines.

Procrastination is a terrible monster.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Greatest Gift of All

I was walking back from a long meeting at work today, when I saw a bright shining planet in the night sky. As I was feeling awfully drained, and finding it hard to pray anything much while walking, I thought I'd just sing a Christmas song to the Lord.

But what could I sing? "Jingle Bells" sounded a bit too trite, "Silent Night" a bit too solemn, "O Come All Ye Faithful" not really that much about Him in a way...

Then this old song that we had sung back in Dec 2005, during NUS days, came to mind.
He Gave The Greatest Gift Of All
Jon & Jane Sherberg

The winter’s chill crept o’er the stillness of the evening;
The day had past at last the city slept in peace.
An evening star watched from afar and shone so brightly,
As if to say this day would bring a love that would not cease.

In days of old it was foretold a time was coming
When wondrous things would bring a new and glorious day;
When God the Father would now offer life unending,
To those who came to claim the Gift in childlike faith.

He gave the greatest Gift of all when He gave Jesus
He sent the greatest Gift of love wrapped in His Son.
He brought us hope when we had nothing left to hope for
Redemption's story had begun

He gave the greatest Gift of all when He gave Jesus
He sent the greatest Gift of love wrapped in His Son.
He brought us hope when we had nothing left to hope for
At last the long awaited promise,
The Gift the world was waiting for had come.

The sky was gray, the clouds turned daylight into darkness
As if the earth itself were mourning for a Son.
A mother’s heart was torn apart in grief and anguish;
The day she saw so long ago had finally come.

He stood accused, His body bruised, hands pierced and bleeding;
Who once had known the lowly comfort of a stall.
The babe that angels once proclaimed as King and Saviour
Gave up His life to be the greatest Gift of all.

[repeat chorus]
At last the Gift the world was waiting for had come.
He gave the greatest Gift of all!
And as I sang it, I think the Holy Spirit spoke to me through the song. Just felt a very deep burden come upon my heart... and I was wondering, why? Why does this song bring tears to my eyes?

Realised it's because Jesus really, really, really is the Greatest Gift of all... the Greatest Gift of love... but that's not the only thing that made me very burdened. I also began to feel a deep ache for my friends who haven't come to know Jesus yet... they are painfully alone... they haven't personally experienced how beautiful the Greatest Gift of all really is.

I especially felt a very great burden for a particular friend. So I understood why this song is so painfully meaningful to me. I really do want him/her to know my dearest friend, Jesus. He really, really, really is the Greatest Gift of all. A Gift so dear, so precious, so wonderful...

He gave the greatest Gift of all when He gave Jesus
He sent the greatest Gift of love wrapped in His Son.
He brought us hope when we had nothing left to hope for

When God wanted to show us what the greatest love of all really looks like, He gave it to us in the form of his one and only Son. Just thinking about how God so loved us that He dared to give us His one and only Son... it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. (And I'm typing this in Bishan J8 McDonalds. What a terrible place to tear.)

Jesus gave me hope when I had nothing left to hope for. And now I really have a living hope, one that can never perish, spoil or fade. Wow...

So now I know why I'm so burdened this Christmas. I really really really want my friends and colleagues to come to know of God's love for them... it's like a fire that won't stop burning in my heart. OMG. It's such a deep pain that I feel, that I want to just find a corner and bawl before God for their salvation.

And I'm so amazed. Because I realised that this kind of burden and compassion can only come from the Father Himself. It's such an awesome feeling to find out that you actually felt just an infinitesimally tiny bit of His vast love, intense burden, agonizing pain, deep compassion and desire for a lost world, a lost race to come back to Him again.

Wow. Thank God so much for the bros and sisters who prepared the prayer and fasting guide. Thank God for His allowing me to taste even a tiny drop of his tears for a world that has gone astray.

So starting from today, I'm praying and fasting too for this particular friend of mine, who's very dear to me too, personally. Really praying for him/her to experience the Father's love this December.

I really really really want him/her to come to know Jesus, the Greatest Gift of All, this very Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Magnetic Life

Putting everything together... I think what God's calling for a person looks like is something like one huge arrow. However, this huge arrow is made up of several small arrows all aligned in one direction.

It's like the magnetic domains in a piece of iron. In the absence of an external magnetic field, all the domains are randomly pointing to anywhere. Thus the iron bar has no net magnetic force.

However, when an iron bar is put next to a powerful magnet, the magnetic domains all start aligning themselves to the magnetic field exerted by the magnet. And the iron bar is now capable of acting with the same power of the magnet, simply because the magnetic field from the magnet is now flowing through the attached iron bar too.

And give it enough time, the iron bar will itself start becoming a magnet too.
Wow. Thank God for a very surprise blessing just now. Had just come back from the Christmas party cum Huaqiang's birthday celebration, when I met two bros from the poly side: Leslie and Andrew. Both of them are ULs.

And whoa, Leslie's very interested in writing too - he kinda raved to me about CS Lewis' biography, and I want to read it too!

And Andrew stays in the same neighbourhood as me... so we chatted, and he said he'd walk with me to my block. We chatted, and chatted... at the void deck till 1 am.

Wow. Thank God for the time of fellowship... I really learnt a LOT from him. He's only 21, but I learnt so many things from him - he's a walking example of what it means to be young, but setting an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Funny leh, but just felt very comfortable sharing about stuff with him. :) And had the opportunity to pray for him too.

Thinking back on it, think God really is answering more and more of my prayers, especially in making His direction clearer to me. It's really amazing, how ever since that day I started praying - I think it all started when I prayed that prayer for consecration during the GoForth conference.

And God increased my desire and burden to be consecrated unto Him. Till last month, I had such a deep conviction from God that I must, must be fully consecrated to the Lord. 'Cos I see the necessity of this. It's a decision that I made to the Lord.

And after praying, God has been teaching and training me. Sending me people to cross my path like Peter Truong, Andrew, Leslie, and the Campus Crusade team through the Atria Unconference...

People like Clarence, Kin Wee and Joyce too...

Ministry like the recent planning for HQ's bday celebration and the BBQ... workplace responsibilities... acting week after week in HopeKids service...

I just sense God's confirmation is becoming clearer and clearer. Wow. How true it is in Psalm 37:4-6:
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

"He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." The imagery that comes to mind is that like a dawn breaking into a full-grown noonday sun. So it's the same with God's work in our lives - as we grow in Him, in consecration, sanctification and dedication to the Lord... He grows our light to increase and increase...

Wow. So beautiful. Thank you Father. In Jesus' name amen.

One important thing that Andrew shared with me was that I can expect spiritual opposition if I'm going to do something big for God, but I must persevere on.

I'm hungry! I want to learn more, so that I can grow more for God! But yet, Andrew somehow sensed that I'm very eager... which means that I can also be very impatient for God to grow me. And that's true... still, I'm not ashamed at all to be hungry for the things of God.

Because I've spent quite a long while not being hungry for the things of God, to the point my old CL sat me down and rebuked me for my spiritual indifference back in year three. I guess if there is something that I'm impatient for... I do hunger to grow in Christlikeness. Not because I think myself capable - God knows that I'm totally unable to... for I'm less than the least of all God's people...

But because I, by God's grace and mercy, have tasted a little bit of the goodness of God. And it's so thrillingly delicious. "Now show me Your glory," Moses asked the LORD. And the LORD said, "I will show you my glory, but my face must not be seen..."

And all Moses got was to see God's back. And yet that was something so incredible. And Job said to God, "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

I'm a spiritual baby. But I want to increase in my craving for God's pure word, so that by it I may grow in my salvation, having tasted that the Lord is good! Precious! God's Word! Amen!

Anyway, to backtrack, I think I see how God is leading me so far. The writer's circle idea, the children's ministry - to be faithful with the small things and also God might be calling me to intercessory ministry too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Prayer & Fasting: Testimony

Just want to fire off a quick thanksgiving testimony...

My district has been going through the prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4. We've been praying, seeking God to bless us as He wills, and to increase our desire to do greater things for Him and to grow in holiness and consecration to Him...

And God has really been answering my prayers, especially for Him to expand my "territory" of influence... be it in work or ministry or shepherding or evangelism...
Like, today, I went for my company's community care event. We were supposed to be meeting a group of children from Student Care Services. So us volunteers were looking forwards to a great time with primary school kids.

Then the event I/C told us that the children are from 13 to 18 years old.

Gosh. Their definition of children a bit the stretching it leh. Haha...

But realised that this is a "Jabez" moment, where God could be expanding my sphere of influence... to go beyond my comfort zone to bless those outside my age group.

And long story short, really praise God. Ended up making friends with a group of rather tough-looking boys. We seem to have hit it off well; two of them asked me to give them a call when I'm free to catch up again.

Thankful to God who has taught me through my bros and sisters about building up trust and so on. Wow.

Anyway gotta run now. CG potluck dinner + HQ's bday celebration.

Visa Travel Happy

And... the video that started it all. Last I saw, over 14 million views!

You must simply see Matt dancing in the Demilitarized Zone in Korea...

And was reminded that that's a little glimpse of heaven - all the peoples of the world dancing together for joy one day. :D

I wonder what made him do that awesome kind of thing? Idealism? Adventure? Just daring to seize life to the fullest?

We've so much to learn from this wonderful fellow! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another blog backlog... ah. To use Weizhu's word: "klog"!

5:33 PM 24-Nov-2008
Billy Graham: His Life and Influence
yesterday, I bought a book on Billy Graham by David Aikman, former TIME magazine senior correspondent. The creme de la creme of evangelists the world over, this man of God is greatly respected, not only by Christians, but even by non-Christians. In fact, he was able to meet up with the reclusive North Korean leader to explain the gospel with him!

And what makes him so loved even by non-Christians is his depth of character, especially his sweet humility, and accountable and teachable spirit.

But even though he used "fundamentalist" Christian language such as "washed in the blood", talked about the reality of hell for those who reject the gospel, and that there is only one true way... people the world over turned out in multitudes to listen for themselves to this most curious gospel.

He was also very relevant - he met up with one of his scathing critics, because he wanted to put into practice Jesus' words to love your enemies. Well, his critic gruffly responded to his warm invitation to have a drink, "Well, you drink whatever you want drink, while I sit here and sin quietly with a beer." Haha! But nevertheless, his critic was struck by how comfortable Billy was even in the middle of a bar, and his good humour too. And the simplicity and sincerity that lay behind Billy's words. He later wrote of how surprised - and touched - he was by Billy's goodness and sincerity.

Also people found him an easy person to talk with. He would keep up to date on the latest news and events, and weave these news into his gospel presentations, which struck a chord with his listeners, especially those in the weary post-war years and in the tense fallout of the Cold War.

Another thing that surprised me is how things always come in a cycle. He grew up in the 1920s, a time of prosperity, moral relativism and a growing sense of spiritualism, and the economic fall that happened after that. Which is so much like our time now. 1928. 2008. Not much difference in the human condition, actually.

Wow. Assessing my current lifestyle, I realised that there is so much more that I can be more effective in being relevant to my listeners. I may not be like Billy Graham (and I don't think God intended me to be like him!), but I can aim to be more and more the Yeu Ann that God has intended me to be. To be fully, absolutely and unreservedly His.
12:06 PM 24-Nov-2008
A Wedding
I attended a wedding last Saturday. It was a sweet wedding.

Then, the customary sermon came along.

In that sermon, the pastor said that a wedding is like salvation, and he went on to expound how God loves us and died for us.

But he said very little to the couple about how to love one another deeper or anything much about marriage, really.

It was a little long, and I started squirming inwardly. The hard wooden pews didn't help very much haha. :P (Sorry...)

I found myself a bit uncomfortable with what the pastor was saying. While all the contents were good... it just felt so out-of-place in a wedding sermon. I wonder what the non-Christians were feeling.

Maybe it was because I had gone for Huaqiang's and Sarah's wedding a fortnight ago, and Michael's sermon on how God intended a wedding to be and the couple's testimony of how God have were so heartwarming. I believe many hearts, including the non-Christians, were sincerely touched and warmed by Michael's sharing, and HQ & Sarah's testimony too (illustrated in a very sweet and charming animation done by Peter).

I think I understand the good pastor's intentions - that he wanted to take the opportunity to use the wedding as a vehicle to share about the gospel. But if it made even the Christians feel a bit uncomfortable... then perhaps it's time to reconsider?
I'd rather be a small stone in the hand of the Lord
than a big sword in the hands of the devil.

I'd rather be a towel in the hands of the Lord
than be a crown in the hands of the devil.

I'd rather die and be with Jesus
than live and be with Satan.

Be unashamedly His.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ETA to Eternity

Was typing out ETA and destination when I nodded off. Woke up a few seconds later, and saw what I had typed...

it was "eternal".

We have an eternal destination, with an ETA.
I shall jot down more thanksgivings here.

Actually, this melancholy only just began yesterday. I think it's a sign that maybe the enemy is trying to stop something wonderful that God is gonna do.

So the enemy has rolled out the Poison Gas of Doubt even as we are about to break out of the Trenches of Stagnation and Stalemate. But it's no match for the mighty wind that is the Holy Spirit. He goes before us and shall restore us. Magnify His name!
"Grace that blows all fears away
Jesus, what a beautiful name..."
Prayer of Jabez. Expansion of territory, as God so grants and gives. God is answering my prayer to grow in unconditional love. And in spiritual influence too. Work-wise, learning to handle more load. And ministry too. God is answering my prayer.

Met up with a very dear brother last night. And he asked me a favour. Felt deeply honoured and touched by his request. It is a good and noble heart that this dear brother has for God, especially in making this request. I have so much to learn from his humility. And God is the source of all this!

Hope and pray to walk right with God - not only loving God more, but loving people more. Loving God, who is perfect, is super-easy, as compared to loving people... who are so fallen. Just like... you and me. :P

Mindsets. Covenant. Communication. Commitment.

Redemption. Sanctification. Glorification.

Am also very thankful too that God has been working in the back-scene to repair a strained relationship. He is the Healer!

I really want to grow beyond my comfort zone. Not only having peaceful relationships, but ... to be a peacemaker. To bring peace to other people. To point people to the Prince of Peace himself.
"And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
It's been a trying day for me emotionally. Couldn't focus on my Bible reading, and ended up ruminating on some hurts.

(I'm ok, don't worry, just tracing out my thoughts and feelings so that I can make sense of my experiences here, and understand human nature in general too.)

Semi-random jotting down:
It was difficult to get started praying, but was reminded that in approaching God in prayer, we ought to pray to Him what really is on our mind, not what we think we ought to be praying.

Hmm. I think it hurts a lot when certain friends and family members have a certain mindset of who you are. The pain of being misunderstood.

But I'm guilty of that too, having fixed prejudiced mindsets against others. Still, it hurts.

And the ugly cycle of conditional love goes on. The grip of ungrace. Sober judgement of myself.

Fear begets more fear.

The desire to vindicate yourself squirms within your heart. You are afraid of the consequences that may follow, yet you still want to justify yourself.

Well-intentioned people who are wise and godly... but do not understand your exact situation accurately. Dispensing pearls of wisdom before you, and you wish they wouldn't do that It's one thing to cast pearls before swine - it's another thing to be that swine. Feeling swinish.

But... after stumbling through a frustrated prayer, and just appealed to God. Reminded of the psalmist's appeals to God. Asked Him to vindicate me, and I entrusted my hurts and bitterness into His nail-scarred hands. It wasn't very politically correct, this prayer, but well... asked Him to search me and know my heart too. To correct whatever sinful attitudes there are in my heart. And to take away the sadness and melancholic cloud from me.

(Still, I believe I'm innocent and my conscience is clear. But that doesn't make me innocent - it's the Lord who judges me.)

Anyway, just to share that right after praying that prayer, a sense of peace filled my heart. And I think the Lord assured me that He would take care of all these things in due time. He is my Shield, my Very Great Reward. So I shall humble myself and give others the freedom to think what they wish to think of me. To do my best, and let Father take care of the rest.

Ah, the fresh, earthy zephyr of a December downpour. And He would know that I love a rainstorm in the night.

Now listening to a dear friend sharing about his problems. I realize... that my troubles are so little compared to his.

So making sense of these experiences... I'm especially thankful for a dear friend who shared with me last time about her own experiences of being misunderstood.

And these experiences of being misunderstood helped me understand better how other people feel when I misunderstand them.

And I realise that through no fault of anyone, a whole chain reaction of misunderstanding can be set off. The human condition, ever since the Fall.

Thank God for these days of learning to grow in mercy and grace. In unconditional love and understanding. It has not been easy, but God is surely hearing my prayers to grow in Christlikeness, in sweetness and gentleness of spirit...

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

And also, in reflecting, I think He has allowed me a peep into the calling He has for me. To minister to the difficult children. The rejects and the outcasts. The misunderstoods and the rejecteds. It's so exciting.

To learn to bear with one another. Thank God for what Peter encouraged me. This is part and parcel of the process of transformation. Am thankful too that Peter knows the situations, and that he does know and understand me as a friend and shepherd.

Ah. How I need to grow more understanding as a shepherd too.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A good leader is not one who can do everything well.
but who can get everyone to do one thing well.
i'm wondering. where do you draw the line between helping someone, even if the other person demands your help, and refusing to help that person, because you think that the person needs to take ownership of what he/she is rightfully supposed to do?

'Cos I'm thinking of Jesus' words: " 27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you."

So trying to make sense of what He said, and ... well, you know - people who demand help from you when it's something that they are clearly expected to do by themselves.

(Rant: it's a difficult feeling to handle, when that person is extremely demanding and rude - without a single shred of repentance or humility. Lord, i still make the decision right now - heck care about how i feel, to hell with my pride - to love that person and do good to him/her. In Jesus' mighty name i pray amen.)

Would really appreciate input and advice on this question. Teach me pls! Thanks so much!


when someone accuses you of being arrogant.

God, help me cool down and think clearly. in my anger do not sin....

reminded again of Jesus' words: "love your enemies. do good to those who hate you... if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to him the other...

if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?"

Father, I've failed You again and again in this area. but please help me humble myself and to be more Christlike in this area. unconditional love, just like how You love me unconditionally. In Jesus' name amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just really want to thank God for Atria Unconference 2 last Friday. It was wonderful - God answered my prayers for me to learn as much as I can from the brothers and sisters there!

In fact, I had the wonderful privilege of being able to meet the Campus Crusade media communications people... these are wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord who have given up promising media careers to pursue lowly-paid full-time jobs in Campus Crusade... they could have gone on to gain more working experiences, more money and so on to mobilize more resources...

but they heard God's calling and chose to respond to His work, to trust in Him to provide them with the necessary provision, labour and skills.

In fact, they were the same team that gave a talk on how to use media for missions during the GoForth conference!

Deeply blessed - I'm thinking of signing up with them next year to try on a filmmaking project to gain some cross-ministry experience... it'll be a wonderful experience to get to work and serve together with more like-minded bros and sisters in Christ who have the same passion to communicate the timeless gospel of Christ to a new generation... and for me personally, to every nation, tribe, people and language.

Media, missions and children. I'm starting to see how all these blend together into God's calling for me.

Deeply excited and encouraged. Even the skills I learn in my current job are God-sent - my team leader's very particular about following the proper processes. I don't like processes, but I've been starting to realise how important proper processes are in order to ensure that we can actually come up with consistently high-quality and regular products.

Idealism, innovation and industriousness - the trinity of a powerful creative ministry team.

All the way for Jesus!
Had just been feeling rather stressed about all the looming and pending ministry stuff. It didn't help that I had taken refuge in a good book, "Marley and Me" (which Sandy so nicely lent me...), and thus had let the hours tick away.

So felt even more stressed when I saw the long, long CG prayer list that I'd committed to praying over, for my CG.

But really want to thank Daddy for His unconditional love. Was reminded that I don't have to go through the prayer list like it's a checklist - for it's simply a framework to help me pray for my dear caregroup.

For prayer is not so much an activity than it is a dialogue, a mutual conversation with a caring Counsellor.

So when I finally just threw off the shackles of niggly little worries off, and just shared with Him what was on my mind... hee, He helped me pray for each one, giving me words to intercede for them when I had no words of mine.

And just feel calmer and more peaceful as I continue praying. For I know that the government of the world, of the church, of the economy, of my family, of my friends, of my sheep, of my relationships, of my destiny and life and hope and future - they are all upon on His shoulder. And I know that He is the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Thank You Daddy. :) In Jesus' name, amen.
One bro asked me today: "Are there times that God wants me to fail, in order to show me that He doesn't want me to carry on this area?"
What is success? Is it making it big in the workplace? Is it having huge numbers of people in your church? Is it

having even a huge number of descendants or nations at your feet?

Not necessarily.

Success is making it big in the work God has given you to do.

"We are not called to be successful, but to be faithful." Mother Teresa
"My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work." Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Don't Buy Lenovo S10 ideapad.

Don't buy it. Its keyboard is not good.
And, its durability cannot make it. Within one week, its keyboard was already creaking.
And now the Wifi seems to have overheated and can't work properly now.
And! they used FAT32 for the filesystem, not NTFS!!! That is... inexcusable!

Gosh. IBM is NOT Lenovo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Atria Unconference!

It's at the Living Room, Kum Yan Methodist Church! Went with someone last time for the GoForth follow-up conference held there, and the living room's really really lovely. =) Not to mention a super-cool soccer table in a nearby room too - my friend and I played like crazy haha.

Edited to add:
Gosh, just got a message from Sharon asking whether ok to meet for CG tomorrow instead of Sat. Haha! I'll see what the rest have to say...

How You Feel After A Bad Day At The Office!

Was looking at the website that I'm supposed to be doing for the Chile team. And was feeling really overwhelmed... and praying, when suddenly, a reminder came to mind that this could be the work of the enemy, trying to discourage me from doing God's work! Because the longer I delay, the more held back the missions team get!

So this to you, Satan: In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, away from me! For this is what the Lord says to me:
"Fear thou not! for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Isaiah 41:10

I can't do this on my own, but the Lord has sent reinforcements, and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Amen and hallelujah! Therefore, go, Yeu Ann, and make webpages...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Busy in December

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(From "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", Robert Frost)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And I just really want to thank God for the meetup with Joyce today at the airport. Gosh! Both of us encouraged and shared testimonies with one another... and we prayed for one another too... and even prayed prophetically too over one another.

Really am very excited to see what God can do with our lives as we continue to consecrate and dedicate ourselves more and more to Him today.
Joshua 3:5b
"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."


Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving Testimony for Nite Cycling

Wow, really want to thank God for last night's cycling. It was great! Could really see God at work keeping us safe and blessing us with SIX visitors - and all of them are guys! PTL!

And praise God, TH's ok to come for the Christmas service on 24 Dec! (Of course have to confirm later on, but still, it's the heart that counts!)

And GH said that he enjoyed himself a lot. He wants to join us for more!

As I was cycling, I was reminded of Ezra 8:18. The verse reminded me that God's gracious hand was upon our entire event. Could sense His Spirit watching over us every step of the way. Wow.

And another example of God's perfect planning tying in together with our plans: We had prayed for no rain in front of our visitors, but the rain came anyway. However, when the rain came, it came only when we were very near a petrol station, which happened to be very near a shopping mall.

Thank God the downpour didn't start when we were on the expressway! Yet another example of God's gracious hand upon us as we commit our plans to Him in prayer.

And because of that heavy downpour, we were able to spend about two and a half hours just talking and playing hilarious icebreakers! Thank God for Sarah's hilarious ice-breakers that got us into stitches, and that everyone really enjoyed themselves very much! It was such a sweet time.

It was so heartwarming, because everyone, including our faithful visitors - Ah Muan and TH - helped out too! Thank God for Ah Muan's help in the planning - he was a great blessing to us. And TH was talking with Dennis all the night long - TH has incredible verbal stamina. Gosh. It's very fun to talk with TH - he has this ability to make seemingly dry, academic topics very interesting to listen to! :)

And one sister said:
im so glad my friends can click with u guys
cos i did thought at e back of my mind that somehow they might not
but it seemed so natural
And she added, it wasn't only the fun, but also the caring, the watching out for one another that really made it so meaningful.

I'm very thankful to God for all His goodness, because we can really see how God is working in our CG to bring in new friends and to deepen current friendships. And all this is happening in response to our recently growing prayer life.

TH's willing to come for service and Christmas party; GH, W and J really enjoyed themselves - and our own CGs really had a whale of a time too! Thank God truly for His wonderful provision and protection in answer to our prayers!

So want to encourage us all, during this season of telling others about God's love, let's continue to pray even more eagerly and urgently. Because He is able to do even more than all we ask or even dare to dream of!

To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, thru all generations, forever and ever. Amen!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Great time meeting up with Robert in the morning, then with Joyce, and Yufen joined us later.

Wow, thank God for what Robert exclaimed to me about sharing more with my CG... his testimony about what his CG did to bless someone was so jaw-dropping that I thought, wow, really so inspired!

And Joyce's and Yufen's testimonies about answered prayers and faith, and how God has been giving the go-ahead for Joyce to go for Vietnam mission trip next week... so amazing, so wonderful! :D

How great is our God! Amen, Yes, and Hallelujah!

Then Nurture programme - whoa, it was the best Nurture programme yet so far. And thank God for Alex - it's a joy to find someone else so eager and passionate to impact children too.

Thank God too for His using me to really bless the children with a wonderful storytelling time. We all really enjoyed ourselves! Wow, can really see that God is anointing me in this area. I really want to thank God too for His helping me compose the story on the spot some more. Wow! Praise God - to God be the glory, great things He hath done! I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Hee. Hebe said I could be a speech and drama teacher. LOL. Hmm, but perhaps this is yet another sign from God that I should consider going down this route, or a related route, in time to come... well, to pray then! :)

Anyway, after that, couldn't meet up with my old friend as previously planned. But thank God, it was timely, 'cos I had the opportunity then to drop by and witness Guofeng's wedding proposal to Meiling. LOL. It was hilarious - partly because quite a number of boo-boos. Like we wanted to blow bubbles, but... we forgot to account for wind direction. So the bubbles blew back into our faces! Bubble FAIL.

And Meiling saw us lying in "ambush" for her. She's super-sharp. Ambush FAIL.

Haha... but... when Guofeng proposed, kneeling before Meiling... she nodded yes. Proposal WIN!

Hallelujah, praise the Lord again! :D

And it was so heartwarming to see how GF's caregroup really prepared and poured out their hearts into helping Guofeng plan for his proposal... it wasn't the quality of the proposal, but the love behind it that was so real. Wow! In fact, it was an unspoken testimony of Christ's love to the general public as they walked past... and I realised that in Singapore, it is so rare to see such a big gathering of friends who are willing to come down and support and celebrate a wedding proposal.

Truly, only in the church can you find such a deep and meaningful community of brothers and sisters. And that is the perfect answer to the heart-cry of today's post-modern society. The family of God. Yes, yes and amen!

Ok! Going off to rest.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Setting Priorities and Being Productive in Ministry

In his book The Preacher: His Life and Work, John Henry Jowett wrote: “I am profoundly convinced that one of the gravest perils which besets the ministry of this country is a restless scattering of energies over an amazing multiplicity of interests, which leaves no margin of time or of strength for receptive and absorbing communion with God… We must, therefore, hold firmly and steadily to this primary principle, that of all things that need doing, this need is supreme, to live in intimate fellowship with God.”

I'm surprised. Yesterday my director gave me feedback that I need to be more focused in my work, instead of jumping from one thing to another. (Thank God he said that I'm hard-working though.)

And then my team leader observed me working a lot, but being very inefficient. So he gave me feedback and advice on how to be more effective.

Pondering on the two separate pieces of feedback, I then happened upon this article: "Setting Priorities and Being Productive in Ministry".

And I also reflected on my own lifestyle. It's really distracted. Jumping around from task to task like a badly-written program chock-full of GOTO statements.

I think God may be speaking clearly and loudly to me here that if I want to do great things for Him, I have to first do the small things effectively for Him. And that requires concentration and focus.

Wow. Thank God. Praise God for His answering my prayer (and Tracy's prayer for me too) today - that I may grow in becoming more focused in whatever I do for the Lord, be it work or ministry.

As it stands right now, I'm still very far off from being an effective instrument for Him. I want to be totally His instrument, an instrument for noble purposes. The Lord indeed is faithful to all His promises, and loving towards all that He has made. Amen!

"Sign Up To Be Father of Nations Here!"

From Zachary's blog:
Just imagine this in a typical church camp response to teaching:

Who wants to be an “Abraham”?
(Hands up in the air)

Who wants to be blessed as the father of nations?
(Hands up in the air)

So… who is willing to sacrifice their “Isaac”?
Hands up in the air please.

Procrastinating Again? How to Kick the Habit

Although biology is partly to blame for foot-dragging, anyone can learn to quit.

  • Almost everyone occasionally procrastinates, but a worrisome 15 to 20 percent of adults routinely put off activities that would be better accomplished right away.
  • A penchant for postponement carries a financial penalty, endangers health, harms relationships and ends careers. And yet perpetual foot-draggers sometimes benefit emotionally from their tactics, which support the human inclination to avoid the disagreeable.
  • Research into the reasons people put off projects has led to strategies for helping all of us get and stay on task.

A fantastic article from Scientific American. Read it NOW.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Hard Disk Died. Thank God...

Its power supply died suddenly.

Of course, I was a bit exasperated. My precious backups are gone! It's one thing for your data to be gone... but it's really another thing for your backups to go to that Great Bit-Bucket In The Sky.

But after a while, I thought about it. 1 Thess 5:16-18 spoke to me: "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

I wonder what God may be speaking to me through this experience?

Perhaps He wants to use this hard disk's death to remind me of the sheer evanescence of life. Life goes on the way we expect it to, until suddenly, one day, it just dies. That my power supply is in His hand, and He can remove it, or allow it to be removed, any time He chooses.

Everything is so impermanent. Even heaven and earth will fade. But, Jesus' words will never pass away.

So this incident reminds me that all my possessions and wealth will eventually be shaken, but my relationship with God can never be shaken, and my joy can never be taken.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
And another thing that 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminded me is that there is always something to be thankful all the same. That I have a better-working hard disk, and the important data are still all there. That I have the skill of being able to rescue data, with powerful software to boot. Praise God indeed.

Then, God also helped me see my natural instinct. My natural instinct, when frustrated, is to look for someone to pin the blame on. I immediately thought my sister might have something to do with it, and I was angry at her. When it turned out that it wasn't her fault after all, my next target was the hard-disk manufacturer. But God showed me that this is a sin that I tend to commit - wanting to foist the blame onto somebody. For all we know, it may be nobody's fault at all. And even if it was, why am I angry?

So when I repented before God, James 1:19-21 came to mind, correcting me:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Amen! Thanks so much Daddy for Your correction... :)

Then think another thing I learnt from this experience is how do I respond when I face a personal loss. Do I panic, or do I pray? My initial response was to be dismayed. But I forgot to pray to God to keep my data safe. I could have just taken a few minutes to ask God for a solution to this problem. For all I know, He may give me a better solution in mind.

So thank God indeed for this lesson in learning to rely on Him in every situation. To ask Him to guide my thinking even as I act. Pray and act, act and pray. The two go hand in hand together. So I believe God may be teaching me to acknowledge His wisdom in this way. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

Amen! May I learn to trust in the Lord with all my heart, more and more daily! God is wise and faithful! Hallelujah! :D