Saturday, January 31, 2009

An Earworm Prayer

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I walk from earth into eternit

This song, I've been singing it again and again yesterday. Not just a earworm; it so echoes what I long to pray for in my heart.

I really love the part where we sing, "Break my heart for what breaks Your..." And can you sense the urgency, the holy desperation to throw everything into His kingdom's arms? And the part about walking from earth into eternity... I wonder how it looks like, to step into eternity. Eternity. It sounds so ethereal, but it is so real.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Learning To See Through A Child's Eyes Once Again

It's really fun. And really painful. It's like giving birth. (Though I can't say I really know...)

No, I haven't given birth, but the mental pain is like that. Worse than constipation. (This one I really know...)

But the joy of delivering a story... gosh! it really feels like your very own baby. Which it definitely is. =)

But on a more thoughtful note, writing a children's book is really one of the toughest things to do. You need to exact a severe austerity of words, and yet ensure that the vocabulary is so simple that a little child can literally understand it.

Writing a children's book has forced me to get down on my knees, and to practise thinking like a child again. To throw out high-level abstract reasoning, and to put on the eyes of a child. To see wonder in the simplest acts: "He opened the door..."

John Ortberg described the different levels of wonder for his three children. I think he wrote something like this:
"He opened the door, and behind the door was something. To his surprise, he saw a _____!"
He said that his 9-years old daughter showed surprise after he had read out the entire sentence. But for his 5 years old child, he was surprised that something actually lay behind the door.

And his 2 years old son? "He opened the door..." The child was filled with awe and wonder at the very act of a door being opened.

And I think, from time to time, we need to learn to see the beauty of life again as God created it to be. To stand together with Him in holy appraisal, and put our hands on our hips, and smile, and say: "It is very good."

To learn to see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower.

TH and I were star-watching the other night. And TH asked me whether there is life on other planets. I said, "I don't know..."

Suddenly, it struck me that ... what if the stars themselves are alive? After all, stars are born and they die. In a sense, they can give birth to more stars, if they collapse into black holes.

And the Bible did say that stars have a heavenly kind of "flesh". And more metaphorically, God did ask Job, "Where were you... when the morning stars sang for joy?"

Maybe the stars really are alive. It's just that we don't know how to see them as they really are. We just see burning balls of fire. Hardly the ancient sentinels of the skies that they might be. After all, God does knows each star by its own name. Cool! :)

Maybe, just maybe... this world is more alive than we ever could think it to be. The Bible does give a whisper, a hint of a broken world that is groaning... and perhaps it was more alive than we ever knew it to be. Maybe, maybe... all of creation is whispering for the day when it shall be truly alive once again, and the mountains and hills shall burst forth into songs - the hills are alive with the sound of music! - and the trees of the fields shall clap their hands...

And on that glorious day, we shall literally hear the stones tremble out, "Worthy is the Lamb!" And every fish, every bird, every amoeba and every bacterium shall cry out in one huge crescendo, "Worthy is the Lamb!"


Just my imagination, but I think sometimes, the world we see it as of now is actually the Shadow World, the World That Was Not Supposed To Be. Earth as Thulcandra, the Silent Planet. A world gone mute, after the Fall. But it's waiting to sing its song once again, as it did in the days of Adam.
"Lord, the world is waiting
Let all creation see the coming of Your day..."
Maybe, maybe... who knows? :) Maybe the truth is stranger than fiction.


Plucking Blackberries

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The fruit, not the phone. :)

Let's Barely Thrive! (Breakthrough, not Breakdown)

Hong Teck messaged some of us this SMS this morning:
Don't be 'barely surviving'. 'Barely thriving' is a better state. We allow situations to bring us to the brink of breakdown. Instead, it is wise to intentionally place ourselves in the verge of breakthrough. We should also be in a place that we are not there yet, but 'anytime now'.
And I think it came so timely. 'Cos I was writing to a dear friend just before I got Hong Teck's SMS:
Gosh! [I have] a lot of ambitious plans for God this year. But I don't want to be so caught up with doing things that I forget Him. And yet... maybe it's His fire in me that inspires me to get off my lazy bum and start living a life worthy of His calling.

And a thought just struck me. I said my plans are ambitious. But... are they really ambitious? I'm reminded of what Jesus said, that when we have done all we are supposed to do, we should simply say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

Gosh. I'm still doing less than my duties actually. At the least, I should discharge all my duties, like Paul exhorted Timothy. Sobering thought, that we dream so big (or at least we would like to think so), and it turns out that all along it's what God simply assigned us to do.

Am I making sense here? Haha...
And my friend's reply was thought-provoking:
I have the exact same thoughts. We should do what God assigned us and gifted us to do, not more, not less. I guess people who do big things didn't set out wanting to do a big thing, but it was simply what they felt in their hearts that they wanted to do. Then again, big or small is not for us to judge, and is not important. Let's be faithful with our call.
Aye-men. :) I'm not sure if you can see the link between Hong Teck's SMS and my email, but, well, to me, they're very strongly related.

Maybe I can summarise it as:
"We're not there yet now, but let's get there anyhow, 'cos we'll get there somehow."

Deeply Grateful

Just want to really, really, really say thanks from the bottom of my heart to all my dear friends who have given their precious feedback, comments... and encouragement for the story draft that we emailed you.

I totally don't deserve all your kind and encouraging words, but they are really a great joy - each one of them, I'm offering them as a thank-you bouquet to God in my prayers. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength! Aye-men. All the glory goes to our Papa in heaven, for He's the Master Storyteller, the Dream-Giver, the History-Maker. And all the mistakes go to us, for we're just leaky pens and broken pencils in His perfect hands.

But well, if God can use a wooden staff, if He can use a twig, if He can use a donkey, if He can feed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes... I reckon using some clay worms like us shouldn't be too tricky - if we're willing, that's all. =)

Dear friends, let's dare to dream such big dreams for God, that without God, they will utterly fail! Then can it be seen that our God truly is a great God, and richly blesses all who call upon Him, for everyone who calls on His name will be saved. YEAH!

We Live in Public (and the end of empathy)

It's a very long post, but I think it's terribly worth thinking about. So I've pasted an excerpt from the post:

The Breakdown

Back in the late ’90s, one of my best friends was a guy named Josh Harris. He formed a company called Jupiter Communications which wrote all those crazy research reports in the Web 1.0 days that said Internet advertising, broadband and e-commerce would shoot to the moon like a rocket over the first decade of the Internet. And they were right.

Josh had a front row seat to the Internet Revolution writing those reports, and he made around $80 million when Jupiter went public. He lost it just as quickly when he started experimenting with technology.

One day, he came to my office and couldn’t look me in the eye.

It was one of those horrible, ugly New York City winter days. The ones where it’s not cold enough for the dirty snow to completely melt from the pounding sleet, making the walk to get a cup of coffee feel like theIditarod . Josh rocked back and forth in a chair and repeated a couple of random phrases to me: “The jig’s up, can’t do it, jig’s up, can’t do it–gotta get off the grid.”

I tried to comfort him. I explained that he used to be one of my favorite people to break bread with, that he had inspired me to try and do great things, and that I’d learned more from his outlandish failures than I ever did from my modest successes. However, he had become boring and obsessed with his press clippings. “Did you see Vanity Fair? We’re in the Post tomorrow!,” he would tell me toward the end. I’d ask what the press was for, and the answer placed him directly between Andy and Paris on the unknown-but-famous-anyway spectrum: “For being me!”

Later that slushy day, Josh took a couple of bags and the last of his dwindling fortune to his newly acquired apple farm in upstate New York. He had literally–two beats, please–bought the farm.

The Background

Josh had spent the last couple of months working on two art projects examining what happens when you put yourself under non-stop Internet surveillance.

One was called Quiet and one was called “We Live in Public.” The first, Quiet, was an art project that was famous in New York City’s downtown circles around the turning of the millennium. Josh had a couple dozen folks in a bunker for 30 days living in “pods” (bunks) that included cameras watching their every move. He tried to get me to move into the “hotel,” but I knew it wasn’t a good idea when I saw the people running around naked on psychoactive drugs, firingsubmachine guns. That’s not an exaggeration–that was happening in the basement of this Tribeca building.

You’ll see all this footage if you see the movie. It was madness.

Quiet was shut down by Giuliani’s nightclub task force as a millennial cult 18 months before 9/11–the milestone by which most New Yorkers, including myself, mark our lives. For me, everything in my memory is eitherpre- or post-9/11. Quiet, Silicon Alley Reporter and my adolescence are all pre-9/11. Adulthood, gravitas and the fallout from the undiagnosed PTSD are all post-9/11. (But that’s for another medium, perhaps one with covers as opposed to headers).

In the second experiment, “We Live in Public,” Josh put a couple dozen cameras all over his loft and recorded the inevitable breakdown of his life with the love of his life, Tanya. It was after “We Live in Public” that Josh came to see me, a character witness to his nervous breakdown, before heading to the farm.

People in the chat rooms for “We Live in Public” were vicious to Josh and his then-girlfriend Tanya. They lost their empathy for the people living under video surveillance, and what had started as a fun time playing with technology turned into a nightmare. The audience tortured the subjects in the box–Milgram would have been proud.

It took Josh five years to recover from the “We Live in Public” experiment. I’m wondering how long it will take the rest of us to hit rock bottom and recover.

Godwin’s Law Meets Harris’ Law

Josh’s experiments in 2000, during which he and his cohorts became obsessed with their view counts, parallels today’s blogging, social media and YouTube “arms race.” In his experiment, the technology robbed the subjects–and their audience–of every last ounce of empathy.

Digital communications is a wonderful thing–at least at the start. Everyone participating in digital communities is eventually introduced to Godwin’s Law: At some point, a participant, or more typically his or her thinking, will be compared to the Nazis. But that’s only part of the breakdown. Eventually, you see the effect of what I’ll call Harris’ Law: At some point, all humanity in an online community is lost, and the goal becomes to inflict as much psychological suffering as possible on another person.

Harris’ Law took effect last year when Abraham Biggs killed himself in front of a live webcam audience on life-streaming service JustinTV. The audience’s role? They encouraged him to do it.

Harris’ law took effect in October of 2006, when Lori Drew, a grown woman, created a fake alias on MySpace (”Josh Evans”) in order to psychologically torture 14-year-old Megan Meier. Drew started a online love affair with Megan as “Evans” before pulling the rug out and viciously turning on her victim. This “cyber-bullying,” as the press likes to call it, resulted in Megan killing herself.

Harris’ Law took effect in October of last year when Choi Jin-sil killed herself, reportedly over the fallout from Internet rumors. The bullying in Korea has become so intense that you’re now required to use your Social Security Number to sign up for a social network. This lack of anonymity is one of the most enlightened things I’ve heard of from one of the most advanced–if not the most advanced–Internet communities in the world.

Ownership of one’s behavior? Who knew?!?!?

I’m sure some of the wacky Internet contingents will flame me for saying that anonymity is a bad thing, but the fact is that anonymous environments create the environments in which Godwin’s and Harris’ Laws apply. What’s the point of starting these communities if they eventually end in pain and suffering? Anonymity is overrated in my book. (Whistle-blowers are an exception, and last time I checked, anyone can anonymously drop an envelope in a mailbox, so it’s not like the Internet needs to be there for that).

Internet Asperger’s Syndrome (IAS)

I’ve come to recognize a new disorder, the underlying cause of Harris’ Law. This disease affects people when their communication moves to digital, and the emotional cues of face-to-face interaction–including tone, facial expression and the so called “blush response”–are lost (More: ).

In this syndrome, the afflicted stops seeing the humanity in other people. They view individuals as objects, not individuals. The focus on repetitive behaviors–checking email, blogging, twittering and retiring andys–combines with an inability to feel empathy and connect with people.

Now, I’m not using this new term to make light of Asperger’s Syndrome. Far from it, I jsut can’t deny the fact that the evolution of people’s behavior online eventually parallels Asperger’s. I feel I’m within my rights as pundit to reconstitute the idea of Asperger’s to explain my own experiences and thoughts. Although I’ll understand it if you, as someone affected in some way by Asperger’s, claim your right to flame me for “hijacking” the disease. Such is the life of linguists in the age of sound-bites over debate, and skimming over reading.

If you do choose to flame me, I’d ask that you attempt to throttle back your IAS and see me not as an email-producing object, but rather as a 38-year-old searching for answers at the mid-way point in his life, when his collective experience equals his remaining time to experience life. That’s really who I am–just another kid on verge of being old who spends a lot of time thinking about the half-way mark. Be gentle with me.

Back to the point: In IAS, screen names and avatars shift from representing people to representing characters in a video game. Our 2600’s and 64’s have trained us to pound these characters into submission in order to level up. We look at bloggers, people on Twitter andpodcasters not as individuals, but as challenges–in some cases, “bosses”–that we must crush to make it to the next phase.

The dual nature of Asperger’s, from my understanding, is that it makes the individual focused on very specific behaviors–obsessively so in many cases–while decreasing their capacity for basic empathy and communication. It’s almost as if you trade off intensity in one area for common decency and communications in another area–not that the person has a choice.

Well, trading off people’s feelings for page views and Twitter followers sounds familiar to me.

What’s the Damage (Partner)?

One of the reasons I stopped blogging was because the dozen negative comments under every blog post I wrote started wearing me down. I’d write for an hour and the immediate reward was four people, under 12 different accounts, slamming me. Some were people I had fired, others were mentally unstable folks but, in many cases, they were normal people suffering fromIAS.

As you know, I moved to this email newsletter to get away from the IAS factor on blogs. It worked for the first four months, but last month, someone flamed me, calling me an idiot and my missive “garbage.” It was the first time any one of the 12,000 or so people on the list ever flamed me.

Now, I consider myself a fairly thick-skinned, tough person, but I realized that I had not emailed you in a month, and that it was probably because of that short email. The 12k suffered due to a three sentence flame by just one person, probably suffering fromIAS.

I’ve had a couple of folks introduce themselves to me in the past couple of years and say something to the effect of “Oh, I wrote this horrible thing about you but I didn’t really mean it. I really respect your work.” They are normally very uncomfortable when this happens. Sometimes, they are even shaking and stuttering. I typically pretend I don’t know what they’re talking about and tell them it doesn’t matter–a complete lie. Typically, I know exactly what they said, because you remember when folks say something nasty. I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is forgive them and move on.

The switch, from an initial lack of empathy to cowering in shame from their own behavior, is telling. It proves to me that otherwise normal folks will lose their empathy online, only to regain it the instant they face the “object” (aka real person) of their scorn.

What’s at stake?

We’re all canaries in the coal mines now, like Josh Harris was back in the ’90s. We’re harvesting our lives and putting them online. We’re addicted to gaining followers and friends (or email subscribers, as the case may be), and reading comments we get in return. As we look for validation and our daily 15 minutes of fame, we do so at the cost of our humanity.

Today, we’re destroying each other with words, but teaching ourselves to objectify individuals and to identify with aggressors will result in more than psychological violence. This behavior will find its way into the real world, like it did when Wayne Forrester murdered his wife Emma over a change in herFacebook status, from married to single.

It’s only a matter of time, sadly, until this loss of empathy will hit the real world. We’re training ourselves to destroy other people, and there’s a generation growing up with this in their DNA. They don’t remember a world when communications were primarily in the real world.

The threats we’ve seen against women online are a warning sign of what’s to come–we’re all going to face this aggressive behavior and we’re all going to withdraw from these communication services.

I’m 100% convinced that the trend in 2010 and forward will be people trying to remove their virtual presence on sites like Flickr, YouTube and Facebook. Already, I’ve noticed people are moving their settings to private–perhaps something they should have done from the start.

What a shame, because there is so much gained from sharing.

Rafe Loses His Empathy

No one is immune to IAS, I’ve learned. Just yesterday, one of my old friends, Rafe Needleman, got suckered into the blogging trap of trying to get page views. He printed a story entitled “How to be the most hated person on the Internet: Five role models.” [Here: ]

Yes, you guessed it, he included me in the piece. My crime? As he describes it, I’ve “taken to acting like a new-money rock star, publicly buying flashy cars, strutting around the conference he produced with Arrington with his two mascot bulldogs, calling his Twitter followers the ‘Jason Nation,’ and then telling bloggers he’s too good for the medium, opting to write instead to a private e-mail list. His weapons of choice: arrogance and money.”

Wow, thanks, pal!

First off, I bought the Tesla because it’s better for the planet. Oh, heck… Who am I kidding: I bought it because it’s really sexy and fast–and good for the planet. Probably in that order. Guilty as charged! Also, I show it to everyone, Twitter about it constantly and I could care less if people have a problem with the fact that it’s expensive. So what? Who cares? It’s just a car, and it’s drool-worthy because of the technology, not the price tag.

Also, if you’re going to hate on me because Taurus and Fondue are the most lovable dogs in history of dogdom, well, I think that’s kind of low.

Since the time of Rafe writing his piece, I’ve been involved in a very long thread with the other members of the “most hated” list, including Mike Arrington and DaveWiner. Rafe regretted doing the piece. However, I’m not surprised he did it.

Rafe has a goal: To get more traffic for the withering CNET brand. We are just objects to solve this problem. Rafe dehumanized his friends in order to make them objects that get him to the next level.

It’s classic IAS.

We’re Donkey Kong to him. These big, sad gorillas that he needs to take down to get to the next level. It’s all a game, but the hurt feelings can be real. Rafe now has to go to bed for the next couple of nights knowing that he’s taken someone who is his friend–namely, me–and thrown him under the bus. For the next couple of years, folks will reference that I’m “the most hated guy on theinternet” when, in fact, my life is filled with love and joy.

Next time I see Rafe in person, he is going to do the whole nervous, coy “I really didn’t mean it, you know I respect what you’ve done” thing and I’ll say “Don’t worry about it, it doesn’t matter.”

Didn’t you ask for this?

The classic argument when someone “famous” gets beat up is to say “Didn’t you ask for this?” Well, actually, no. The reason I got into blogging was not to be famous or to get attention. It was simply to have an intelligent discussion with people I respected. The people I thought were interesting were debating stuff in the blog format, so I was drawn to it.

Now, the entire blogosphere has collapsed on itself to the point at which a respectable journalist like Rafe is so desperate to get to the top of Techmeme, he has to rip his friends apart. Not to single Rafe out; this is occurring daily. People find the 20 people at the top of the hill and rip them apart, hoping to move up themselves.

Steve Jobs has had his personal life ripped apart by otherwise normal journalists who are obsessed with invading his privacy, under the guise that he should bear his soul to us. It feels to me like these Jobs-obsessed bloggers and so-called journalists won’t be happy until they can just stream Jobs’ next doctor visit.

Oh, the humanity of it. It’s really disgraceful.

Wrapping up

Thanks to the 17 people out of 12,000 who made it this far. I know this has been a rambling email and it could have been constructed better.

In summary, how we treat each other does matter. It matters because, without empathy, our lives are shallow, self-centered and meaningless.

The Internet and technology are turning on us, just like the story in “We Live in Public.”

Right now, I’ve got over ten thousand of you to share my thoughts with, until such time as you decide to crush and beat me down by hitting the respond key to this email and flaming me. If you do that, I’ll have to retreat again, but I’m not sure what’s left except the real world. Are we going to destroy ourselves to the point at which we unplug the Internet? Are we going to have to create private areas for discourse and lose the “Open Web” gestalt?

These are just some ideas I’m putting out there for you to consider. If you like, hit the reply key and share some thoughts with me.

Did I mention, I love you all? Each and every one one of you, including the guy who flamed me last time.

best regards,

Jason McCabe Calacanis

PS1: Mike Arrington was spit on in Germany this week, and had death threats last month. He’s now taking a month off from blogging.

PS2: Some press regarding “We Live in Public”

PS3: Today I started “empathy day” on Twitter. The concept is simple: say something nice to someone and put #empathyday at the end. You can do this on Facebook or your blog if you like as well.
Wow. The depravity of everyone. Civilization just helps to suppress our brokenness and fallenness.

I like what the writer wrote:
In summary, how we treat each other does matter. It matters because, without empathy, our lives are shallow, self-centered and meaningless.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nothing Less Than Total, Abandoned, Absolute, Unconditional Surrender

Read Huanyan's latest article: "Is there not a cost?"
And I'm so with him on this.
When someone stands up and say 'let's go and build something', someone will stand up and say 'let's go and destroy'.

Christian life is not a rosy one, especially for those who want to serve God with one whole steadfast heart, with one that refuses to compromise with God's values and standards. The world will definitely at some time stand up and obstruct our effort. I cannot fathom but think about this, that I can identify with that, despite the environment that I encounter. What else would that missionaries in other countries, the closed countries, be encountering?

Is there not a cost? There is a cost. Seeing the people who served their hearts out over the centuries makes me wonder what the modern world has done to the believers on the road. No offence but really, is studies, career and BGR all there is to life? What is God's burden? Come on, tell me what is God's burden? I tell you, the answer is in the youtube video I posted earlier. I can only think of the time when Jesus said that He came not for the righteous but the sick.

I guess the idealist side of me refuses to accept that the Christian life is called to be a stable, happy and well-balanced life. To paraphrase someone, "You can't be considered very well-adjusted and balanced by a world that leaves you nailed naked on a cross."

And then, I was thinking about us guys going off to play computer games after church service. And of course, I enjoy games a lot. But there is still this twinge of dissatisfaction in my heart that we are not giving our utmost to our God. Perhaps we could be pouring more time, money and effort into more sharing, more Bible studies and so on? Activities are nice... but God's Word is ultimately the foundation and cement that holds us men together.

Ultimately, when it comes to building relationships... only the bedrock of Christ and His Word are safe, strong and sure enough to bond very disparate personalities together. After all, weren't Jesus' 12 disciples very different men too?

I need to hurry up with establishing the men's ministry on my side, together with Peter. Time's not exactly on our side... but God is! :)

Radical? I think so. Zealous? I reckon so... Fanatic? Maybe! After all, the cross says that God is crazy enough to come down and die for us... and the resurrection shows that all this Christianity business actually has something to it.

Even the lazy, ill-disciplined phlegmatic in me says that this life is not enough for a great God. I may not be able to do many big things in the eyes of the world, but I just want to do God's things God's way.

And I think that's more than enough for a lifetime.
Only one life, 'twill soon be past
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Isaiah 55 speaks to me! :) I read it during my quiet time. Believe God is whispering some things to me from this passage. Shall sit and chew on it for a few days...
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
I remember my literature teacher, Mr Edwards de Cruz, when I went back to RI for a visit, happen to see me holding my Bible. So he borrowed it and browsed through it, as though he were looking for something. Then he paused and grinned widely. He began booming aloud in cheerful cadence from Isaiah 55. And I remember his rich and deep golden voice, as he metered out the rhythms, reciting Isaiah as though he were Shakespeare incarnated in a different time and age. Wow.

How Not to Get Baby to Sleep

Very useful knowledge and info for next time... not only your own kids, but also if you're taking care of your baby nephews/nieces! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thank God for these holidays - they're a great chance to rest, retreat and reflect. To spend time with family, and to focus on the things that really matter - love God and love people.

Very thankful for how He's changed me in relating with the rest of my extended family over the years: more genuinely interested in the lives of my parents and my relatives, taking the initiative to serve them - so unlike the old YA.

But dissatisfied, because I spent several hours playing Company of Heroes. It's amazing how games are an excellent form of escapism. They're narcotic. You play games to forget your stress, but you forget the One who wants to spend time with you.

Have been reflecting. I think I need to bring my eyes back to Jesus. To hear that sweet, sweet voice once again. Not to run and play computer games when I feel uncertain or stressed, but to just stop, be still, and know that the Lord is God.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

I don't want to be a Christian who professes Christ but practices atheism. Because God knows how often I forget Him.

God, how I need You. I need to turn my focus back to You. Renew my first love for You.

Yup. Shall just take some time off to just be with Him. =)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anyway, the children's storybook is in progress. Huili's drafted some stuff already - gosh! she can draw very beautifully and artistically. Looking forward to more works of art from her!
Finally... it's back.

Thanks to all my dear friends who asked me what happened to my blog. I took it offline for a while, because I was thinking, what am I blogging for, exactly? So decided to go 'cold-turkey', since actually I'm hooked on blogging. Thought through already, so I'm back. Haha... something I learnt from my reflections in the past few days is: "Take God seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously!"

And do make backups of your blog. :) All the contents and comments will be restored, but the template'll be gone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peter Proposed! :)

Today's also a memorable day for another reason: Peter proposed to Sharon! :) Hee. We helped him to make a heart out of glowing light-sticks at the foot of Sharon's block before midnight.

Photos soon!

"Let us brave once more the icy currents..."

With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.[more!]

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Dream of a Day

Obama will be inaugurated as the President of the United States. The first black president, and on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. And Martin Luther King would have wept for joy if he were still alive.

And I thought about how such dreams can come true, even when you do not live to see them come to pass. For these dreams were never our dreams all along - they were birthed from and rooted in God's own dream. Thus will they last beyond us, thus shall they endure - we are simply stewards of these dreams, and we must pass them on to the next generation.
"To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high."
(From In Flanders Fields, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD)
I was sitting on a chair last Saturday, telling a story to a class of children, Chinese, Malay and Indian. And I felt a sense of joy, because I was reminded of my nation's pledge: "We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion..."

I dream of a day when I can share with an entire new generation of the love of Christ. Though I may not be able to share the gospel openly, I pray that God will use me to sow many, many little seeds of His love, grace and truth into the hearts of all these little ones.

And a lot of these children come from poor families, and some even from broken and/or abusive families. But seeing them respond so happily, so joyfully... I know that this is what my Father in heaven has called me to do on earth. To be a voice of one crying out in the desert, preparing a new generation to be ready for the Lord.

I dream of a day when every child shall hear the good news that he or she is not worthless. That he learns that he is truly loved, and is preciously unique in God's eyes. That he learns the truth that there is a wonderful plan and an excellent destiny that awaits him, if only he will be willing to take that step of faith.

This is my story; this is His glory.

I dream of a day when a new generation shall arise with selfless faith, out of the smouldering ashes of apartheid and prejudice. A new day that we shall no longer be divided by race or language, but to declare with one voice that we are fellow brothers, bound by hope and bonded by love. That we shall no longer be judged by our skins nor by our status, but simply by our characters. That all men are made equal in the hands of God. That God Himself shall be our peace, breaking down every wall of hostility.

And so we shall, hand in hand as one, proclaim peace to the nations.

Then will the eyes of those blind to the poor be opened,
And the ears of those deaf to the oppressed be unstopped.
Then will the legs of those who sit, leap up to serve in love,
And the tongues of the silent, speak up for justice and truth.

I dream of a new day. And it will come one day.

How Do You Speak to Me?

Lord, was it the wind that carried Your words
Like ethereal leaves whirling 'round upon the air?
Or was it your touch, light as the essence of sunshine
Bold as a moonless night, that You show Your care?

Your gentle whisper every time,
now here now there

Like the wind that comes and go, we know not from where
Yet I hear Your still small voice, now here now there
So that my soul may know that You do know and care.

Dear Lord, I remember that Ps Jeff yesterday shared that You speak to each one of Your children in a different way. And I was wondering how You speak to me.

And it seems that when You speak to me, most often it is through a soft, gentle yet persistent whisper. And it brings tears to my eyes, because it's so like You - humble and gentle in heart.

You know my personality, You know how sensitive and frail I am when it comes to a harsh rebuke, and You know my lack of strength here.

For some people, You speak tough to them, because You know that they need this kind of voice - the nuclear voice that shatters ten thousand cedars, and devastates forests into desolate moonscapes.

But yet it is the soft, still whisper that You choose to use on me, faithfully calling me to You.

And You speak to me so gently, Father, that I'm ashamed of myself. That the King of all the earth would choose to stoop down and whisper into the ears of my deaf heart. I have so much to learn from Your humble and gentle heart, oh great Shepherd of my soul. I am crude and rude, but You are meek and gentle. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out..."
I tremble at Thy mercy so unthinkable that I must bow down and weep
I shudder at Thy grace so unimaginable that even the angels dare not peek
And yet, to Thy throne of unapproachable light will I humbly crawl
Behold Thy beautiful nail-scarred feet and kiss them in wondrous awe.

I Have An Inheritance

Read this from Huanyan's blog too:
I was just thinking about it the other day. God intends an inheritance for us. Is there something that's stopping us to claim the inheritance? Looking at the ministry and the church, I think people often stop short of realising that their inheritance is with God. They dun take possession of the land God has given them. This may has something to do with inward-looking and self-centeredness... When people start looking within themselves, they start to miss out on God's very best for them?

How many times do we see people struggling with their own problems without realising that God is bigger than their problems? I wonder for long if there would ever be a day when people realise this. This can happen to leaders too. Sometimes I just wonder why do we spend so much thinking and struggling with our own problems, or thinking that the situation is very 'cui'. But yet, we need to turn our eyes towards God and maintain faith that God is there to guide us as He has overcome the world.

The land is for us to take.
Hee. Inheritance. That's something very thought-provoking. Maybe I should share about some of the wonderful things God has done through me recently... to be honest, I don't quite like to share at times... maybe it's because I fear being thought of as proud or what.

But Scripture tells me to boast in the Lord. To boast of what He has done for me. Because this brings glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

So I will boast of the inheritance He's so generously given me. Not because of anything I've done, or who I am, but because of Who He Is.

Hmm. I was sharing with Peter how God has really anointed me to do storytelling to the children. It's so exciting! In the Nurture programme last Saturday, it was my most challenging storytelling experience to date: more than 20 primary school kids, composed of Chinese, Malay and Indian children. And their age ranges were pretty wide: from Primary 1 all the way to Primary 5. Challenging! But thank God so much - they were all so eager to participate, even the more shy ones, and they laughed, they acted, they played silly - and they listened. Thank God too for Ms Raja, who has been a most excellent, and sweet, and gentle but firm mentor. I really respect and admire her for how she can be so firm, but gentle and sweet too. Wow.

Wow. As I was sharing further, I realised that the vision I saw so many years ago, back in 2005 or 2006, has now really come to pass. In that vision, I am sitting on a chair, telling a group of children from different ethnic groups a story.

And it occurred to me that what I'm doing here is so useful and relevant for working with children from other places too. The heart of a child is the same, whether in Singapore or in Sao Paulo.

And I heard that Mr Yeo, the grassroots leader, was so delighted with the storytelling (and other activities) that he wanted to showcase what the Hope Centre people are doing, showcase it to the Community Development Council. Wow. God is in charge. Amen!

Then, Peter said that perhaps we could make a living out of doing storytelling as well. Since we have to work at least one-third of our lives, why don't we do work that benefits our communities? Why don't we work doing the work God has called us to do?

So this is something I shall pray about. Lord, guide me and lead me, for You have already promised, "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 noon-day sun." Aye-men. :)

And thank God too for His using me to bless my friends. Some of my closer non-Christian friends, we were from the Science Club back in RI. And quite a few of them have now become scholars and they will be the future scientists of Singapore. I hope to be a better friend and encourager to them... perhaps this is why God put me there, even though my science ability is only so-so.

And to think all this started the day I turned my eyes off myself, and turned them fully in unconditional surrender to Jesus. 1 September 2005. What a beautiful day.

Yes, God really has a great and wonderful inheritance for me. And I want to claim it fully, with childlike faith.

And acting. Haha. The HopeKids team say that I can act really well. Wow. This is with God's help. I can do acting through Christ who gives me strength. But I need to work on my faithfulness, and ensuring I arrive earlier, so that I can prepare even more. To settle for nothing less than the best for Jesus. To do whatever it takes to get the job done. I don't want to shortchange my Saviour, because He gave His all for me.

What a wonderful inheritance the Father has in mind for us, if only we would even dare to humbly step up with our grubby little paws and grab His big fatherly fingers. To God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to Him be the glory, world without end! Amen.

I'm so grateful to God. He is bigger than all my problems combined! And He calls us now to come follow Him. Broken hearts, broken lives? He will take them all. Your dreams, your hopes burnt into ashes? He will turn your ashes into a crown of beauty. Despised and rejected by men? He will pour out the oil of joy unto us, and dress us with a delightful garment of praise!
Isaiah 61:1-3
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever! Amen."
And thank God too for the prophecy that Eugene Chong prayed over me during altar call today. It's very encouraging... and strengthening.

I had asked Eugene to pray for me regarding God's guidance and direction in my career and BGR too. So Eugene started praying. Then he prophesised, "I believe the Lord is telling you to wait, and trust in His timing."

(Ah yes. I did expect God to tell me that. It's ok, not my will but Yours be done! I accept Your words!)

Then he went on, praying... and he prophesied that this year, things (regarding career/BGR) will be very obvious. So trust in His timing, don't rush, be patient, and God will make things very obvious for you.

After he had finished prophesying, I asked him, eyes wide-open. "Bro, did you really said this year?"

He said, "Yes."

Whoa. :)

Which leads me on to my next line of thought. What if... God promised you that you'll find your life partner within one year's time? Would you start seeking your "missing rib" ASAP... or would you trust in His promise completely, and since God has already promised, throw yourself fully into serving Him as a single, since you know that your time as a single will run out soon?

Hee. I think I wanna throw myself fully into my Daddy's arms. Since He's promised, I shall wait, and not take things into my own hands. Don't wanna do an Abraham rush-job, where Abe took things into his own hands, and sired Ishmael through Hagar, even though God had clearly promised him that Sarah, his barren wife, would bear him a son called Isaac. And we all know the consequences: millenia of conflict between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael even up to today. (but God was gracious to Ishmael all the same - Ishmael became a father of many nations too.)

Yup yup. "All your promises / Won't let go of me!"

Determined to be utterly His. Aye-men.
Two Thanksgiving points...
1. For the simple but great time spent with TH today after Shawn's birthday celeb, and TH taking time to read through the Bible while I took a nap. And! he told me that he found a special section at the back of my Bible that gives you specific verses for specific situations. Whoa. And I hadn't noticed that! Wow. And God used my friend TH, a non-Christian, to help me see what I was missing out on in my Bible. Haha... God works in mysterious ways indeed. Aye-men.

2. For the great time of shepherding, and for Peter's super-encouraging advice. Actually, I shared with him that I felt envious of another bro in my CG, because others can connect so much better with him, and that I don't think I'm being a good support to my CL, because I don't do certain things often, or very slowly.

But Peter asked me, "You mean that just because you don't do this certain thing, you're not a good support to your CL?"

"Oh, yes, I think so."

I think he wanted to laugh, or something like that. But he said, "So in a way, you feel a sense of unfairness... 'cos this bro can do better than you in this area, but you somehow are lacking in that area..."

"Yes!" I shot out immediately. "That's what I meant. You've put your finger on the pulse. It's like, well, you know, my personality isn't, you know, suited to talking with so many people. I'm better with one-to-one, for listening's one of my strengths. But when it comes to talking... *sigh*"

"Hey, everyone is unique (in a good way)." And he encouraged me, reminding me that there are certain groups of people that only I can connect to. A niche group. A minority group. That no one else but me can relate to.

But I said to him, "But... you know, I feel like I can relate only to the outcasts. (And what would that mean about me then?)" For I remembered the words of another brother a few years ago during uni times, though well-intentioned, did ... hurt me, because I sensed what his mindset about me was.

Peter laughed, and said, "Yeu Ann, don't ostracise yourself lah! Everyone is unique."

"Haha... yah, come to think of it... I can connect with people like Weizhu, Yufen, Joyce, Robert and so on... and they're not outcasts... haha..."

"Yes!" He paused, and then continued, "Think of yourself as a commando. Can a commando take on an entire army? No. But he is unique. He goes out in front of the army to do the special tasks, to help pave the way. Or like a minesweeper. How it paves the way for the tanks to follow. You have your role that God gave you, and no one else can do it."

He continued. "In fact, I think in Singapore, the culture is too much about KPI (Key Performance Indicators). We tend to look at whether a person meets certain criteria - 'tick, tick, tick... oh! you never meet this criteria! bad!' - and forget to look at the actual person himself."

He thought a moment, and then looking at me, he said,
"Let God define you, not men. Be careful to differentiate between what is from men and what is from God. For when you let God define you, you are set free."

Wow. Thank You Lord for Peter :)

And he reminded me too, "Give thanks for your uniqueness."

And he also said,
"Giving thanks is a simple but very powerful habit."

Ah yes. So true. Amen! :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Discovering God's Will

One of the most important prayers that we need to ask God:

Having Faith Isn't Enough

From Hong Teck's blog:
Leaders, having faith ain’t enough. To make your calling and election sure, you have to add things.
2 Peter 1:5 says to make every effort to add to your faith these 7 things

-) Goodness
-) Knowledge
-) Self Control
-) Perseverance
-) Godliness
-) Brotherly Kindness

My tips to do all these

-) “Goodness” is found in many things, you have to see it. Practice looking at bad things or bad people in your life. Spot the good. You can do that for these things, you can do it for anything.

-) “Knowledge” is biblical knowledge as well as truth outside the bible (like the skill how to make your marriage work). It is also applied knowledge which God gives us called wisdom.

-) “Self control” is exercised during your daily discipline of prayer, exercise, fasting. How about Morning club? anyone?

-) “Perseverance” is not quiting things God called you to do. This one… hmm I suggest just heck it through. God is with you.

-) “Godliness” is how you are becoming more like Jesus… wear a robe or cloth yourself with righteousness. One works better than the other, guess which one?

-) “Brotherly Kindness” ….. join a care group and love your church mates even if they are unlovable. Warning: Most of them are unlovable… including yourself so they have to love you too ……….. See how it works? God’s a genius.

Conversion Diary: The story of a friendship - The diary of a former atheist

This is such a heartwarming story about how God put a group of children into a woman's path... do read it! :D Conversion Diary: The story of a friendship - The diary of a former atheist

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Funeral

The funeral. Seeing her mum sob, then weep, and then burst into wailing, it was heart-wrenching. And my heart was deeply moved. I wondered why I also felt like crying too, even though I didn't know her son personally.

But realised that it's because she loved her son, and now her son is dead and gone, wheeled into those solemn doors to be cremated. And once the doors close, they are closed for ever, never to be opened again. For Death's doors open only one way.

Yes, Jesus did open the doors the other way before. But at present... the doors are still there, for He hasn't come back yet with His key.

Hands that rocked a cradle, now embrace a coffin. Hands that opened a child's eyes to awake, now close these eyes to sleep. Hands that opened the door for him in joy, now close the lid for him in grief.

Then it struck me. This is also how God feels for each and every one of us. We are not alone in our griefs and sorrows. He really understands. "No father should have to bury his own son." And yet even He went through that experience.

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.

And I realised this is how much God loves us. Not because of any achievements or anything we've done. Nothing to do with our characters or talents. Not even if we were the kindest or best people on earth. But his heart simply aches for us, simply because we are his children. Like how a mother grieves for the child of her womb, simply because he is her son. No more, no less.

Wow. God's unconditional love and compassion. Thank God for his Spirit in me, that enabled me to feel the same way that He did - only that while I feel for a single soul, He feels for untold trillions of people, from the first man to the last man, from the first war, to the last of all wars. His heart is just so unimaginably big.

"For God SO loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
Here I am in St. Andrew's Cathedral, reposing in prayer. And as I start nodding off, I perceive a man wearing a dark-green polo tee, crisply tucked into his pants. And he goes from aisle to pew, and pew to aisle. He swiftly sweeps the floor, and gently dusts the hymnals and the books.

I watch him for a while. He patiently does his unseen, unheard, unknown work, in and out, left and right.

And then a whisper comes to mind. "Do you see this man? How he tucks in his shirt neatly, and does his work with great thoroughness? See his steady, measured pace, the sweeping forth of his broom?"

Wow. The way this man takes care of the church equipment, he does it with such diligence, all the way down to his attire. He does it like a priest handling sacred items.

An object lesson for me.

And one day, you never know, you may be doing your work unseen, unheard and unknown. And someone else may be observing what you do. You may inspire another person to live for God too - if you aim to serve God excellently in whatever you do, even something as mundane and common as sweeping the floor.
I attended a friend's brother's funeral today. We went, because although we didn't know her brother personally, we wanted to show our love and support to her and her family too. And I'm glad that we could bless her family by our presence. Ps Jeff, Claudia, Ps Jo, Michael, Lean Choo, Eugene and her CG and some of her other friends - we were there. And her dad was surprised, but also glad. "You from Hope of God too?" he said to a lot of us.

And it struck me how precious this family of God is. Literally from cradle to grave, the family of God, your spiritual family, is there for you. How good God really is, to be there for us. No matter which life station we are at, He is with us always, making His presence tangibly felt through His Body. And His Body is the Church.

People cry out, where is God when it hurts? And He immediately answers, I am here! The Church is My Body on earth. Here are my hands, my feet, my arms to hold you close. Hear my words spoken through my mouth on earth. And so on.

What a beautiful thing indeed, is the Church. How weak and frail she is, and yet how strong and glorious she can be, if she obeys her God completely. How light, how sweet, the melodious rhythms of her grace, in tune with the Master's perfect song, played out on earth, for all the unseen powers in the cosmic realms to hear.

Holy, Holy, Holy!

Just came back from the Combined Prayer Meet. It's the first time we're having it at Suntec. And Shuhui brought Yuet Ling along too! Was very surprised to see her there.

Anyway, wow. God did speak to me. As I went on my way to the venue, I prayed a quick prayer in my heart, asking God to prepare my heart to listen to Him.

Then as we were worshipping during one of the songs, somehow I sensed an impression on my heart the need to grow in holiness.

As I was wondering about whether this was a prompting from God, Ps Jeff came onto the stage. And he led us in prayer, praying these words: "Lord, we want to grow to become righteous people; we want to live holy lives."

Whoa. God really is confirming His message to me - and to the whole church too, that He wants us to aim for holiness. This year shall become a year of purification, which will bring times of refreshing and renewal in our hearts (as Hong Teck prophesied).

Holiness belongs to the Lord. "Be ye holy, because I am holy."

Wow. God has spoken to me. His will is very clear. Seek to be holy. Holy in heart, holy in thought, holy in word, holy in deed, holy in spirit.

So this year is going to be a great year, a year of growing in holiness. It's very funny, but wonderful... I think the Holy Spirit, as I let Him work in more and more of my life, has increased in me an increasing hunger and thirst to grow in holiness and righteousness.

This year is going to be a great year of transformation. Holiness. Wow. So excited! :) Yes, Lord, here I am - purify my heart! make it holy and useful for Your own purpose and plan! In Jesus' most holy name, amen!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Respect for God

I was reflecting about a book that I borrowed from the church library. I accidentally damaged it, but it was entirely my fault - I didn't take extra care of it. :(

And thinking about it, think this incident shows a certain attitude of mine towards God. This book is dedicated and consecrated to God - it specially belongs to the church, and is holy, set apart for use. And I went and damaged it through sheer carelessness.

Then I remember how Uzzah irreverently mishandled the Ark of the Covenant, which in turn wasn't being transported according to the Lord's specifications. He meant well, but the consequences were still fatal all the same. Like how you handle a nuclear bomb - you treat it with the utmost care, or you're dead, even if you're very sincere in your mistake.

So reflecting on my heart's attitude... how much do I actually revere and fear the Lord? He is a holy, holy, holy God, and in Him is absolutely no sin. Do I love the Lord AND fear Him too? Have I taken the choice grace of God for granted.

Yah, I think I did so... OMG. It's only by His sheer kindness and mercy that I'm not dead, for being so irreverent towards him. I need to show more respect towards the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

And that makes me think further. How about quiet time? How about my work? Time and money? How about my attitude towards others? How about the words I say and use? And so on. Holiness. How I need to desire it, and work towards it. "Be ye holy, because I am holy," that is what the Lord himself has said.

I don't want to take the love and grace of my Saviour for granted again. Forgive me, Pa. Help me, teach me, correct me and train me in all righteousness, so that I can be made useful for You. In Jesus' most holy name, amen.
Attended a wake yesterday. It was such an ache to hear about the circumstances behind the death. What do you want to be remembered for when you die?
How often we rush through the madly calendared years
Through the insane intersections, never to lend Him our ears
But now, to awake, abate and await to hear
That Wondrous Whisper, blowing away all our fears.

Can the Jewish People Survive Without an Enemy?

Avrum Burg is the scion of one of Israel's founding families — his father was the deputy speaker of the first Knesset, and Burg himself later became speaker of the legislature, and a member of Israel's cabinet. His position at the heart of the Israeli establishment makes all the more remarkable his critique of the Jewish State, which he claims has lost its sense of moral purpose. In his new book The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes (Palgrave/MacMillan), he argues that an obsession with an exaggerated sense of threats to Jewish survival cultivated by Israel and its most fervent backers actually impedes the realization of Judaism's higher goals. He discussed his ideas with's Tony Karon. [read more...]

Very thought-provoking, some of his comments. And in a way, I do agree with some of his assertions. I mean, to be honest, there are some churches supporting Israel... but we have to remember, that even though the nation of Israel did miraculously come back into existence after thousands of years of exile, pogroms and persecution... but now, it does seem to have, in Avrum Burg's words, "lost its sense of moral purpose."

Perhaps we should just see them today as a nation that was specially chosen, and is still specially blessed by God's grace and faithfulness alone. And to be thankful and honour them for faithfully safeguarding the Old Testament Scriptures... but still, we Christians need to remember that now, God has flung the doors of the kingdom of heaven, as the prophet Isaiah prophesised, to all peoples of all nations. We shouldn't support injustice, whether from Israel or from Hamas. The Old Testament prophets have already said more than enough on this topic... "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

There are Christians in Palestine too... and think about it - Jesus was actually born in Palestine, you know. Bethlehem. Yup, that city right smack in Gaza. So He understands how the innocent Palestinian people feel, and also He knows how the Israelis feel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is an email I sent to my CG just now.

Hey dear bros, sisters!

Just thought I'd share two short testimonies of God's goodness to me haha...

1. Gosh, it's such a joy to pray. It's terribly hard to get started, and it takes quite a long while, for me personally... but today, somehow, I managed to find a good spot to stand still (and not fall asleep haha). And there were many beautiful green trees, swaying back and forth in the strong breeze.

So started praying, and after a while, I suddenly sensed a strong peace within me, and a special assurance from God that He was listening to my prayers for the caregroup. And this verse came to mind:

1 John 5:14-15
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."

In short, God was telling me that He is listening to my prayers - which means that He will answer the prayers on behalf of the CG. So the Lord is going to do some beautiful and wonderful things in the midst of us. Amen? :)

So something I reflected about this is that often, we want God to do Big and Dramatic Things for us. But He would have us also learn to listen to His soft whisper in our hearts.

how often we rush through the crisply calendared years
in the noisy intersections never to lend Him our ears
but now to abate, awake and await our hearts to hear
that Wondrous Whisper, that blows away all our fears.

You are the Voice that called the universe to be
You are the Whisper in my heart that speaks to me.

Hee! It's really such a joy to experience God's presence and peace in the midst of our prayers... "the peace that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4). So want to encourage you all too, that this peace that transcends all understanding is for you too, even as you take up the weekly duty of praying for the CG and for yourself and for our lost friends too. May you experience the joy of partnering with the Master in prayer! Aye-men!

2. Ok! This one more light-hearted. It's a testimony of God's amay-zing provision.

Haha.... you know, a few days ago, I went to buy HQ's birthday gift. HQ had requested a specific model (after Jeannie and I asked him what gift he wanted). The model was Act Trail 30 Deuter.

So! I wasn't sure where to start buying. So I was thinking of going down to Tiong Bahru, since I had seen a bag selling shops... i mean, a shop selling bags. And I had also scheduled to meet a friend there.

However, my friend told me at the last minute that he wanted to go to Queensway to go to IKEA, since he needed to collect a shelf that he had ordered. So we decided to go, him to IKEA, and me to Queensway Shopping Centre.

Now, QSC is quite a big place. So as I went in, I prayed a quick prayer: "Dear God, please help me find the exact model (that Deuter bag) that Huaqiang wants, 'cos we really want to bless our dear CL... in Jesus' name, Amen."

So, after going through some shops, I finally came across a bag shop selling Deuter bags on the second level. Oh! Thank God. Asked the salesman whether had the Act Trail 30 model. He said, "Got!"

Ah. Ok! Prayer answered.

What, you're asking, so where's the amay-zing part?

Well, as I placed my order, the salesman casually told me, "You know, the Act Trail 30 model, this is the only piece that is available in stock. And it came in just only today."

Wow. I was so amazed when I heard the salesman say that. I told him it's a good thing that I came in today. He said, "Oh yes! It's a good thing that you came in today. If you had come one or two days earlier, then probably got no stock."

Happy! So I paid up. And then... just as I was taking the receipt from the salesman, I happened to glance around. And my eyes fell on a signboard in the midst of all the Deuter clutter:

That means, when I prayed, God led me, out of all the shopping centres in Singapore, out of all the shops in Queensway Shopping Centre, out of all the possible days in the year, to the very best place to get the exact Deuter model for Huaqiang. Wow. Even GPS cannot give this kind of space-time accuracy. Unless it's God's Providence System.

Amay-zing. So HQ, you better enjoy your birthday present... 'cos our heavenly Papa helped get this bag for you 'kae... Hahaha-hallelujah! =D

"Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous." Albert Einstein

=) Papa really cares for us! Aye-men.
Yeu Ann
You know, sometimes we feel the inner fire, the smouldering desire, to get into relationships, especially when you see couples popping up 'round and 'round like blooming little mushrooms? :)

Hang on in there. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He'll give you the desires of your heart. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding - seek His will in all your ways, and He'll make your paths straight.

Personally, quite a few brothers asked me why I don't seem to have any sisters in mind from the Young Adults ministry. I thought about it, and actually, it's simply because I haven't found a suitable sister from the Young Adults side. It's not that they're not eligible - one bro was telling me, "Yeu Ann, there's tons and tons of wonderful sisters in Hope, you know!"

Of course there are! But the thing is, God has given me an increasingly clearer and more detailed vision of what His calling for me is, especially during last year. And so, "the clearer the vision, the fewer the options." :)

Which is very true, actually. And there's not that many sisters I know who'd be able to join me in the work that the Lord has called me to do. So, in the end, I've been learning to fully surrender this area of my life to the Father, to keep asking Him for guidance and to show me who's the best sister He has in mind for this task. Haha. I think He might be showing me someone, but that will need further confirmation... with more and more prayers. Thank God! I will thereby learn to depend on Him more and more through prayer. Aye-men.

Till then, I shall not be distracted, but shall stay focused on obeying and working towards the vision that He's called me to do.
Acts 26:19
"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.
Met up with Kin Wee. Writer's Circle aka Writing Ministry... hopefully, when we pray more, God will continue to show the way. :)

How to Partner in Parenting with Our Heavenly Father

1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
My husband Bill and I believe in keeping track of prayer requests. Sometimes we might wonder if God is listening, and writing down our prayers helps remind us that God does listen. Let me share one, simple prayer request I made for one of my sons, Brock, when he was a baby. The prayer went like this:
God, give Brock the courage to stand alone for You. Give him the integrity and wisdom to choose well in his relationships; lead him to the godly woman he will marry someday.
Does God answer when we partner with Him in prayer? Let me share with you some highlights of the years following that prayer... [read more!]

Weizhu shared with me how he'd raise his kids up next time. Whoa. Very encouraging to hear what he had in mind. :D Yes, let's raise up a new generation after God's own heart, to rise up to face the challenges of their generation with selfless faith! Amen!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank God for the joy of a covenantal friendship. :) Hee. Established a covenant with a dear bro last night, to be always there for this bro, to speak the truth in love, support, encourage and to care for his family if next time the need arise.

Dear Father, I pray in Jesus' name that Your grace and love will be with me, that I can be a 'Jonathan' to this dear friend and brother in Christ all the days of our lives, and till You return. Help us be men of God, men of courage, integrity and godliness after Your own heart, and to spur one another on towards love and good deeds. In Jesus' most holy name, amen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thank God for our MPs

I read the news yesterday about some crazy man who poured petrol/thinner (more likely the latter!) onto an MP... Shocking, because in a place like Singapore, it seems so out of place.

But what the other MPs said about such incidents (rare though they are), makes me admire them even more. True, Singapore's a pretty safe place. But still, there are the inevitable dangers that one has to face - especially from disgruntled members of the public.

My worry is that, in view of all the publicity given to the madman's technique, will copycats try this too? After all it's very easy to get flammable stuff... especially petrol.

I can only imagine a horrible assassination attempt by some terrorist cell... what if Mas Selamat somehow got a suicide bomber to run with a can of petrol into our MPs?

True, such risks are part and parcel... but I think security could be improved a bit more - have a band of dedicated (and physically-fit) volunteers to stand close by and just keep watch for any suspicious characters. Not only does the MP receive extra protection, I think it'll help to form solidarity and a sense of closeness among the volunteers and the MP. =)

Just a thought...

The Lost Sailboat

I read this story a long time ago. :) So thought I'd share it with you too.
There was a little boy who made a sailboat. It was made out of the finest plywood that the boy could buy, and its beautiful white coat of paint belied its excellent grain. And boy, oh boy, could it float! "Float" was not the word for this boat - it flew, skipping across the waves of the pond. And when its sail unfurled and fluttered in the breeze, all the swans on the pond eyed it curiously, wondering who this graceful newcomer was.

There was no finer sailboat ever made by hand than this.

Then one day, the little boy took his sailboat to a creek. As he stepped into the bubbling creek, he slipped on a wet stone, and the boat flew out of his hands. Before the boy realised what had happened, the boat had quickly disappeared downstream. The boy quickly got up, despite his bleeding chin, and ran down the banks of the creek. He searched, and searched, but he could not find his beloved boat any more.

The little boy wept, but being a wise boy, he quickly wiped away his tears and accepted his loss.

Many weeks went by. One day, the little boy decided to buy a new toy boat. He went to a toy shop nearby, when suddenly, out of the corner of his eyes he saw a little boat that looked just like his lost one.

Eagerly, the little boy went over to it, and he examined it closely. Oh my! It WAS his lost boat after all! Why, it even had that scratch in this corner, that little knot in the stern... and surprisingly, it was none the worse for wear. She was a well-made boat indeed.

Suddenly, the shopkeeper tapped him on his shoulder, and beamed: "For the low, low, low price of $50, she's all YOURS!"

The little boy's jaws dropped. $50? Why, that was his allowance for the entire week!

The shopkeeper's eyebrows arched in mock-surprise. "Wouldn't you agree with me that she's a beautiful, exquisite and well-crafted boat? Isn't she well-worth the price? You won't find a better offer than that!"

Sigh. The little boy nodded slowly. The shopkeeper was so right. So the little boy took out his wallet, and handed his fresh $50 note to the grinning shopkeeper.

As he walked out of the shop, the little boy held up his little boat to the beaming sunshine. "Little boat, you are now twice mine over. I made you, and now, I have bought you."

He Must Increase, I Must Decrease, II

It's that train of thought that has been running through the tracks of my mind the past few days. Of how much I am lacking in character, in wisdom, in understanding, in maturity and so on. Because I've been examining myself and observing my own life. And I'm dismayed to find the sheer lack of Christlikeness in my life.

And even in my own prayer life, I find that I lack the desire to seek God's face wholeheartedly. And in the midst of difficulties and down emotions, and feelings of weaknesses and inadequacies - especially those of character and personality, I still forget to focus on God.

Ah. How I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus again. Not to fix my eyes on the winds or the waves, but on Jesus walking to me in the storm. So that He can call me to come to Him - even if it means walking out onto the very thing that I fear most. He must increase, I must decrease.

Yes. So I will stay my eyes on Jesus. Deeper and deeper. I want to know Him even better this year. No, not even that. I want to know Him better Today. Not to harden my heart with agnostic questions, with an atheistic lifestyle. But to be like a little child before my Papa in heaven. He must increase, I must decrease.

Oh yes. God will help me grow, as I continue to seek Him. Not me, but Him. He will complete the good work that He already has begun in me. :D Amen! Yeu Ann, look to Jesus, not to yourself! He must increase, you must decrease!

Yup! So this is my heart's deepest desire - to become more and more dependent on Jesus. To follow Him totally. To look for His approval in everything I do. Less of me, more of Him. He must increase, I must decrease. Amen!

John 3:30
"He must increase, I must decrease."

And here's praising God in a new language:
public static void main {
System.out.println("He must increase, I must decrease.");
Jesus++; yeuann--;

How do you write down things that you want to express? The unspoken thoughts, the internal dialogue, in your mind jump around like hyperactive little kids overdosed on sugar. And it's so hard to verbalise them, and bind them to paper.

Sigh. Thank God so much that the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Holy Spirit understands. And He intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express, so deep is His love that understands.

God understands me inside-out, totally and completely. He understands, even when there are times I am not sure how He understands. He understands and knows everything.

Jeremiah 15:15a
"You understand, O LORD; remember me and care for me..."


Monday, January 12, 2009

Twitter! :)

Started a twitter group for my CG. Twitter's basically a giant tagboard.

Inspired to make one, 'cos I came across another CG's blog, where they were complaining about Wordpress not being able to add a tagboard. So figured out - actually the main reason a CG sets up a blog is so that we can all share our lives with one another, right?

But a blog's too cumbersome for this kind of purpose, although it's great for posting encouraging articles, links and so on. A CG diary, in other words.

But, if we want to share our lives, even the little minutiae like how many times we dig our noses (if your CG is THAT open haha), Twitter's the name of the game.

Anyway my Twitter's account: Yum-yum. Useful for jotting down all those little stories that you see in life daily.
2008 has passed and 2009's here.

Yes. I'm late, I know that.

But I was thinking about what Huaqiang asked us to share: our thanksgiving points.

And there are so many. Even the sad moments too, 'cos I learnt a lot from my sad and disappointing moments. God instructed and taught me through all these.

- Getting to know Clarence (haha bro you should be so honoured to be the first one on my thanksgiving list ok... =D)
- Taking care of a sheep (Jonathan) for the first time
- Missions trip to Kenya - and the miraculous delivery from a potentially fatal van accident (without wearing a seatbelt some more) - so miraculous that even an atheist told me that I have to thank God for this. :) Wow.
- Nurture Community Care programme
- Joining HopeKids Live service - acting, writing, producing a comedy video clip. Worked together with Kin Wee, Peter, Shunrong, and Yufen. Fantastic experience scriptwriting and leading a team. :)
- Growing in character, personal maturity, understanding of BGR dynamics and expectations, walk with God, what it means to show grace to others
- Confirmation of God's calling for me to children's ministry by Ps James
- Combined prophecy over me by Peter Truong and Hong Teck: God's assurance that He will use me to make a big impact for Him as I continue to walk close with Him =D Wow.
- Deepening in friendships with Weizhu, Kin Wee, Ellson and many others :)
- GoForth conference
- Conflicts and forgiveness in CG
- A key defining moment in my friendship with Peter
- Being witness to Peter and Sharon starting their relationship =D
- Inductive Bible study class: I realised that the Word of God is so deep, and so rich and has such wonderful power to transform the way I see things.
- Getting to know Alex aka Mr Potato from tertiary, Andrew the UL from tertiary too.
- A relationship that got me very down, hurt and disappointed for a while. But I learnt to accept the friend unconditionally with love.
- Learnt to work better in a team
- Conviction from God to consecrate my life fully to Him
- A deepening sense of conviction from the Holy Spirit to live life fully for Him, especially after the van accident
- Someone asking me to shepherd him... :P stunned and touched
- Kin Wee being a like-minded bro in writing - he played a part in inspiring me to consider writing :)
- Weizhu's friendship. :) (Oh, did I mention him again? haha)
- Deepening level of friendship with my CG ppl :) realness, authenticity. Three new sisters, and a married couple joining us. Huaqiang and Sarah getting married. :D
- Chiyen and Michelle getting married.
- God Himself. His presence is always so sweet, so real, and so wonderful. :D He is the Shepherd of my soul!

Wow. And as I recall my resolutions at the beginning of 2008, it was so amazing to see how God answered my key resolutions last year. To grow in character and maturity and wisdom... to live this one life I have for Jesus...

The calling and vision from God is getting sharper and clearer. Like the rising sun that rises into the sky. "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 noon-day sun."

2008 - I remember calling it the Year of Consecration. And it really did turn out to be so. "Take my life, and let it be / Consecrated, Lord, to Thee"

2009 - The Year of Dedication. "Take my hands and let them move / At the impulse of Thy love"

It's so amazing to see what God can do with even someone like me. How I really want my life to become nothing but a pure pointer to the Majestic Glory. To become nothing but a voice of one crying out in the desert, "Prepare ye the way for the Lord." :)

2009. Haha... I wonder how it will turn out. Hit the ground running in 2009.

Especially the book publishing initiative and the story-telling for the children.

Want to grow in prayer, dependence on God in prayer.

And am very amazed to see a certain something happen in almost-immediate response to a certain prayer that I prayed at the beginning of this year, on the advice of a bro.

And the follow-up signs that accompanied my requests for confirmation. The timing, the signs seem very clear. Plus I sense a certain peace and assurance from God. As if He's telling me, "Go ahead, carry on."

But something I've learnt recently about prayer since last year is not to be presumptuous. I've also learnt to pray even as I start moving in. To ask Him to guide me more and more even as I step in more and more.

Now it just needs time. Every step to be humbly prayed over. To seek His will in all I do, and He will make my paths straight. :) Aye-men.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to be Authentic

If authenticity is not a pursuit because you fear this selfish mambo jumbo thing, then know that the fear of pursuing authenticity is also another form of fear. Yes getting to know yourself has its obstacles because the process of bring people from a stranger to become a friend is not the easiest thing after the Fall. But you can’t afford any other way. The Holy Spirit is waiting to use YOU, not the person you are more proud and happy to be. [emphasis mine]
(From "How To Be Authentic", Hong Teck's blog)
Thank God for His wonderful ears. He heard my heart's worries. :) Hong Teck's post was very timely.

He Must Increase, I Must Decrease

I've been thinking about my mission in life. What God wants me to do. More precisely, a mission statement.

So here goes:
My mission in life is to help bring as many people as possible closer to God, through my life, words and deeds.
And another thought:
Very few people are interested in reading about your life. But very many people are interested in reading about God.
'Cos was thinking about a comment that someone posted on Shuyi's blog. Honestly, I love to visit her blog. Because it's very ministering, and has a way of touching your heart. And most importantly, someone commented that Shuyi's blog has helped draw her closer to God.

And I thought, wow, what a beautiful comment.

And what a beautiful epitaph that would make.
"He helped me draw closer to God."
I think it's such a beautiful thing.

And as I thought further, I realised that ultimately this world will pass away. Even now it is passing away. But only the souls of men, and God's words, will endure into the new world that He will make.
"He must increase; I must decrease."
How I want that to be my heart's attitude, more and more. To learn to die to self, so that Christ may live in me more and more.

I wish I could write better articles that others can identify with, especially those that minister to the hearts of others. Instead I post very idealistic posts that probably only 1% of the human population can identify with, even if it's true.

Should I still write such posts, even if they are true?

I'm not sure... after all, the apostle Paul wrote that he and the other disciples, whatever they did, said or wrote, was for the believers' strengthening. Do my words strengthen and give hope to others?

Hmm. But whatever happens, Jesus must increase, I must decrease. =)
The vision is coming to pass, slowly but surely. God is so faithful and gracious.

Thank God! Today's storytelling with the children in the NURTURE programme was a hit with them! Praise God indeed. And thank God too for a friend's SMS a few days ago: "what great things we can do because God gives first.our talents n giftings..praise e Father who gave and gave so much!"

Not just so - we had this sweet lady, Ms Raja, who came by to watch the Nurture programme, as she is in charge of her own programme - Beyond Social Services I think. So she discussed with Mr Yeo, the grassroots leader in charge of the Nurture programme.

Then, after the programme ended, we chatted, and Ms Raja told us that she wanted to bring some of her own kids (those in the LIFE programme) to join us for the Nurture programme too. She said she was very impressed by the activities... he... and thank God, the storytelling too. I really can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Amen! Yeah! =D

And the exciting thing is, the kids she are bringing over are mostly Malays or Indians. She said she wanted them to interact with the Chinese kids as well. Wow. And that's why I said the vision is coming to pass. 'Cos I remember, years ago, when I was praying and asking the Lord for a vision of what He wants to do through my life, He showed me a picture of me sitting on a chair, telling stories to children of different ethnic groups... and one day, I believe He will use me to tell them the story of Jesus too! :)

And gosh! Chinese, Malay, Indian... just a preview of the great vision of the Greatest Story Ever Told being told to people from every nation, every tribe, every people, every tongue! :)

Wow, wower, and wowest.


Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me
Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God is He
Saving me, keeping me from all sin and shame
Wonderful is my Redeemer, praise His mighty name!

Wow. Thank You Lord. I'm absolutely amazed at Your grace and mercy to someone so unworthy like me. Who am I? That You would choose to use a small fry like me? Yet... You are rich and generous, answering and rewarding all who dare to seek You in faith.

Really feel like singing together with Mary, her beautiful words inscribed in Luke 1:46-55! :)

And as I opened my Bible, I read these words:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."

Oh my. 'Cos the kids are from poor families, and quite a few of them are broken families.
Prisoners of poverty, prisoners of shame
Prisoners trapped in a broken game
Prisoners of hopelessness, prisoners of chains
But there is freedom, found in God's name!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Supper after CG :)

The Bomb Prata. Yes, they really do make a Bomb Prata.

StoryCorps: Listening is the Greatest Gift

Our mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.

Since 2003, over 35,000 everyday people have shared life stories with family and friends in our StoryBooths. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our broadcasts on public radio and the web. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.
Fascinating! And I remember my own project that I started. But I can't go further until I actually go out into the fields of Singapore to interview and record down. I think that shall be one of my future goals in the future. :)

National Library: Children's Resources!

Go to TumbleLibrary.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sane Evangelizing 101

If you want to share your religion with others, do something much more difficult than simply “witnessing” to people from out of nowhere: become so excellent a person—so thoughtful, so kind, so respectful, so honorable a person—that sooner or later the people around you—the people who know you—are moved to ask you about what makes you tick. Then you can talk to them about your religion. Insisting that someone share with you something they haven’t indicated they want is the most efficient way to make whatever you’re trying to share seem even less appealing.
(From "Sane Evangelising 101", John Shore)

On the other hand, if the Lord puts a burden in your heart to go out and do some street-evangelism - then obey! =) I remember when I was a very young Christian, my follow-upper (she was the wife of a lay pastor from another church - a wonderful and godly woman) encouraged me to share my faith with others. So I stayed back after school, prayed and asked God to help me find someone to share the gospel with.

Then I came across one of my classmates at the school canteen. She was reading the New Paper - it was 1 April 1998 I remember. Sooo... I prayed, asked God whether to approach her. Didn't sense any objection, so I went ahead. Opening line: "Hey (name)!"

"Oh hi!"

"What're you doing now?"

"Oh just reading the newspapers."

"Ok... hmm... btw I have a question for you."


"If you were to die today, where do you think you'll go to?"

"... hmm... I'm not sure actually."

"Oh! Ok...." So I shared the gospel with her... and she responded immediately. Could just sense childlike faith in her heart... she's a Catholic actually, but I think she was seeking in her heart after God - just not sure whether she was genuinely saved or not.

So we prayed a prayer together. Then... we looked at each other.

I was thinking, "Okayyyy... what do we do next?"

She looked happy... and then a bit puzzled.

"Uh... do read your Bible every day k?"

She nodded.

"Hmm... pray too!"

She nodded again.

"Go to church!"

Haha... I guess you get my drift here. It was before I learnt anything about following up or discipleship... thank God for my church, which has taught me a lot... haha.

Well, as a wise Christian once said, "Share your faith, and if necessary, use words!" ;)