Monday, March 30, 2009

Gosh. I feel a bit not very well. Should i go for video training today?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thank God for His sustaining me today. It's amazing.

Nurture: Being There For The Kids

Came down for Nurture programme. Whoa. So glad I came. We had a good time.

Tim came in crying. Thank God we could be there for him.

Also there's a relatively new girl. L. And oh yah, F too. F is quite the natural leader. Haha.

L... she seems to want my attention a lot (I noticed she doesn't look to the ladies that much I think). I wonder, to be honest, if her dad gives her enough attention?

Anyway, I walked Tim back to his block after the activity. Bought him a kit-kat chocolate bar. Hope he's feeling better now.

Tomorrow! HopeKids again. =)

A Few Good Volumes

Finally bought a Bible commentary. Or rather, a few volumes of an illustrated commentary. The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. (Very long title.)

Thank God so much. It's just what I needed. 'Cos I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of Bible commentaries available at Tecman.

So prayed, asking God to help me find a suitable Bible commentary for me to buy and use. Then I came across the above-mentioned volumes.

All illustrated with beautiful photos and eye-pleasing layout! Yay! In font size 12 pts, no less! Sweet. Easy to understand too. Think I can share the volumes with my CG... =)

Yah. Am reading through the commentary on 1 Thessalonians. Gosh. A lot of new insights. Reminded last night about what Sarah shared with me two years ago on rejuvenating our Bible reading if it feels dry at times. She advised me that I can use a study Bible or a Bible commentary to help me understand in deeper details.

Anyway I've been seeing the necessity of studying the Bible properly. Spurred in part by what Robert and Weizhu had shared before. And somehow - can't remember exactly what - but think Huaqiang's doing something like that too. So his desire for God's Word inspires me likewise.

Anyway I want to study the Bible - not only to have a better knowledge... but because I do genuinely want to understand what I profess. I know that there's the risk of being all "head-knowledge but no heart"... but I think we shouldn't thus react and veer to the other extreme, and be all heart but no head.

'Cos in the last days, men will arise to distort the truth and draw away disciples after them. We've seen this happen with our own eyes... but yet, Jesus also rebuked the Ephesian church, that though they were careful to test and filter out false teachers, they had lost their first love.

So much to think about. Lord... help me know You as You truly are, not what I think You are. Hmm. I want to read the Bible as a love letter from You to me... like a letter from a Father to a son... don't want to treat it like a boring legal contract. (Which to be honest I quite often do at times. But that's not what You want.)

So I pray that as I read the Bible commentary, You'll lead me and guide me into all truth. That what I study will give me a better understanding of the context and deeper appreciation for how real You are, Your love, grace and mercy to us all.

In Jesus' name amen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wow! God really is amazing! Was chatting with one of my CG sisters, when she suddenly
messaged me:
m x       keep looking forward because I can't go backwards says (11:00 PM):
oh my gosh
i ve to tell u something!
  [yeu@nn] true waiting says (11:00 PM):
wat happened?
m x       keep looking forward because I can't go backwards says (11:00 PM):
im using an evaluation software for modelling.. n it has only 25 saves.. which is way too miserable
m x       keep looking forward because I can't go backwards says (11:01 PM):
but i actually managed to complete my last modelling on the 25th save!!
  [yeu@nn] true waiting says (11:01 PM):
m x       keep looking forward because I can't go backwards says (11:01 PM):
it seems like a miracle man
Wow! Praise God! I remember HQ and I were keeping her in our prayers yesterday, especially since she has a deadline to meet. :)

Yay. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Aye-men!

All Your Bonus Are Belong To Us

I just realised... that classic "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" meme looks so relevant for the recent AIG bonus hoo-haa...
Ah! This person echoed exactly what has been on my mind for a while...
I was just reading a whole bunch of blogs this morning. Some blogs discuss trivial things, some discuss about day-to-day happenings, and then there are the bloggers whose passions just ooze out of every pore of their body that translates into everything the blog is about.

I like reading light things, but I love it when people are able to so readily share about what stirs them and makes them cry at night. Their convictions and core values are always so rippling, always so violently tugging at my heartstrings.

3 weeks ago I challenged my sheep to not look down and brush off the passions that God has quietly planted in their hearts. At the same time, I was saying this to my own spirit - don’t make what God put in your heart shy away! I’m not talking about frivolous things like “I want an iPhone”, I am talking about the small things that get us riled up with a righteous anger and the things that calm us down to a supernatural bliss that nothing in this world can.
That's why I believe in blogging - it's more than record-keeping - it's an avenue for me to voice out my convictions...
"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."
Yah. Also we should voice out our convictions, because others will know what you really stand for.
Isaiah 58:1"Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people..."
I was thinking of what a dear friend wrote, that he/she didn't blog much, partly because he/she didn't want to put in meaningless ramblings into his/her blog.

But personally, I disagree... isn't that a case of "dividing the sacred from the secular"?

Why do we consider our ramblings to be meaningless? Is that a reflection of what we really are passionate about? I believe that every Christian should be more passionately vocal (be it written or spoken) about their faith in God too... (it's just my personal belief though...) Of course, we need to consider others' feelings, but I think sometimes we are too careful in sharing our true feelings for Christ - and as a result, start smothering and stifling the passion that belongs rightfully to Jesus Christ, Lord of all. The light would have been placed under a cover.

And ultimately, aren't we commanded to encourage each other daily? To consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds? Shouldn't we try to infect one another with contagious enthusiasm for the Gospel? If radical revolutionaries, committed Communists, etc... were so enthu about their beliefs - though their beliefs led to death and destruction... then shouldn't we be enthusiastic about the Gospel of everlasting peace? The Gospel of mercy? If we can't be enthusiastic about Jesus Christ to fellow Christians, then how, for Christ's sake, are we ever going to be enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel with the non-Christians? That's sheer ... hypocrisy! The salt would have lost its saltiness.

Cut us open, and you will see what bleeds out of us. Shouldn't every Christian be enthusiastic about Christ? If you cut us, shouldn't the Spirit of Christ bleed out of us?

By "bleeding" Christ, I don't mean yelling Hallelujah every other step we take. (That's... scary.)

No, no... rather, it's our natural passions transfigured and infused with the aroma of Christ.

That means, for example, if we are passionate about computers, we will be able to see the wonders of information - and how all these programming languages point to the mystery and the wonder of the Word that spoke the entire universe into existence. "In the beginning was the Word..."

Or if we delight in gardening, why not sing of how every flower is a rhapsody of joy to the Gardener?

Or if we exult in exotic equations, then why not delight in how every equation silently declares the sheer wisdom and intellect of God?

Or if we love to listen to music, why not delight in every beautiful melody that we listen to - knowing that they are only a tiny fragment of Heaven's melody?

Or if we delight in finances, why not be awed by the sheer richness of God's goodness - for He owes nobody anything, and the cattle on a thousand hills are His?

And so on and so forth. All these are simply very practical outcomes of that majestic proclamation of Christ's utter supremacy: "For by Him ALL THINGS were created... He is before ALL THINGS and in Him ALL THINGS hold together..."

I cannot accept the fact that we can harbour "meaningless" ramblings, if we are children of God. Impossible! How can a fresh spring spout salty water? Or a salty spring fresh? Bo ko leng!

Am blessed by Huaqiang's blog. Love to read his thoughts - for a cool and composed guy, he sure has passion bubbling for God underneath... =D Haha...

Without (Ear-)Wax

Through it all, I need my time with God even more. Hee. I remember one brother last time asking me, "Yeu Ann, what keeps you going on so enthusiastic for the Lord even after so many years?"

I think a few things lah. First, the fact that Jesus died for me. (And my eyes teared when I thought about that. The bro was so touched. Hee.) Then, well, love God. and love people as myself.

And a practical thing is: spend a lot of time with God. I realised that quality time is one of my twin love languages - words also are. But I think maybe quality time may be even more so for me now... So yup, just spend time. No substitute. It takes me about one or two hours to settle down in His presence during quiet time, before my anxious heart is able to start slowing down and waiting upon God. That's for me personally. Not very spiritual lah - truth be told, I spend about half of my quiet time napping. (But yah, it's necessary for the second half of my QT... sleeping helps to calm me down and be literally at rest in his presence.) And besides, which father wouldn't want his son to sleep in his arms? :)
Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. :)
Sometimes we forget that He meant it literally too.
Psalm 127:2
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.

I've learnt over the ten years as a Christian one very important thing in seeking God: You cannot hurry God. He is the King after all. You must fit your schedule in order to wait upon Him. How long should one seek God?
Hosea 10:12b
"... seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."
It is never easy to wait upon the Lord. It takes time.

But it really is worth it. And I love being in the presence of the Lord. Of course... being in my dear church - inevitably one would tend to have a lot of activities. Actually there's nothing bad about these activities. And we shouldn't push them all aside to just sit under a coconut tree and meditate the whole week long.

Because ultimately, these activities are simply means for us to freely receive God's grace in all its various forms... and to freely give as we have received. "Freely you have received, freely give."

But in order to give... we need to receive from God. And prayer is the divinely-ordained means by which we can ask God for his presence and blessings. And the Word is His reply to us.

Prayer. So nice. I like to think of it as the cotton-bud for my spiritual ears. Help to clean out the ear-wax so that I can listen to God more clearly when I read the Bible. :) Yay!

There Is Only One True Race

I have been starting to see the sub-district's aim to reach out to other people groups... gosh. I think our church, though we are a missions-oriented church, has very few non-Chinese people. Unfortunately, that's the norm in Singapore... in a way, I'm sad about the emphasis on ethnicity in Singapore's education system. I wasn't aware of race until I entered secondary school and realised that there was so much talk about race and all that. Hmm. Race. What a horrid word. There is only one race - the human race.

Many peoples, many nations, many tribes, many tongues. But only one race.

How To Balance?

Sigh. I am not doing enough. God knows. I need to manage my time much better so that I can do all the things that I want to do for God.

Like the HopeSem assignment. The coordination for the Writer's Circle. Planning for my sheep. Outreach ideas. DMM ideas. HopeKids ideas. Initiating for CG activities. Thinking about leading Bible study for CG. Intercession. How to help the CG grow in spiritual atmosphere, joy and vibrancy.

Ideas, ideas, ideas. God knows I have a lot of ideas. But I NEED TO IMPLEMENT THEM. I need to persevere to see them all done.

And there's the matter of prioritising them.
  • Should we focus on intercession first? Or Word of God? Or build up stronger bonding in the CG through activities? Meeting their needs? Is it possible to simultaneously coordinate all these at the same time? (Like combined-arms tactics...)
  • What about sub-district level? How can we think on a more strategic scale?
  • And what about balancing the personal calling with serving the corporate fellowship?
  • What about the grander picture? E.g. ministering to other people groups... society... etc... 
  • I'm thinking about whether to serve on the Nurture Programme committee... have been asked to write up publicity material. Gosh. Exciting stuff! Yet my heart longs to go and do even bigger things... *shakes head* must start with the small things first. God is able to multiply. But my worry is, can I balance all these things? How will they fit into God's calling for me to serve Him in children's ministry, and my burden for missions, and my desire to see my caregroup grow, and personal growth and development?
  • And my own desire to work in a career that better uses my strength in language and creativity... (but the teaching service in Singapore is soooooo much an administrative thing... and I don't want to do that kind of stuff!)
  • And been wanting to do some ... games programming too... just for fun! :)
Caregroup, Corporate fellowship, Character building, Community service, Career, Children's ministry...

Wah. How to balance? :)

Thoughts on Biblical Unity

Thinking about the sharing on biblical unity by Eugene during last night's sub-district meeting.

He was, as is his personality, calm and concise. But I felt the burden in his voice as he spoke about how our caregroups have to grow in a greater understanding and commitment to biblical unity.

I feel deeply stirred. Can't sleep. :) Which is, I think, both a good and bad thing.

And another thing that struck me is that talk is cheap. Not to complain about the problem, but to have a holy discontent that compels and propels us on to do something about it.

To add to that - do something also means praying about it as well. Like how Nehemiah wept and poured out his heart to God his burden to see his beloved city restored. And God then opened the doors and Nehemiah rolled up his sleeves.

So as we pray, we must also do. And as we do, we must also pray.

God calls us his fellow workers. You know how cool that is? The God who can do everything and anything by himself calls us his fellow workers.

Reminds me of how President Obama rolls up his sleeves (I love that style man... it communicates no-nonsense business...) Oh ya. Obama. You know, it's real tough building and strengthening an ailing nation. And on a smaller scale, it's something like reviving and rejuvenating a stagnant / passive / apathetic caregroup. No less challenging. Both are sorta like NP-complete problems. :P

Dear God, please help us grow in true unity of the Spirit... to make every effort. I know I haven't made every effort, nor have I done my best... true, there have been discouragements and my own lack of skills and character inadequacys... but like what Hong Teck wrote, doing the right things doesn't mean that we will always do them right. But we should still strive to do the right things anyway. And one day, we'll learn to do the right things right, with God's help. Yay! :)

Help my CG become more open and vulnerable in sharing. And begin with me, to become more open and vulnerable. I think I will be misunderstood. But never mind. In Queen Esther's immortal words of courage: "If I perish [doing the right thing], then I perish!"

Help me grow in grace and acceptance. To learn as much as I can from the life examples of Jeannie and Shawn. Am very blessed by their lives and relationship - they're a couple who can bless God together. I'm starting to think of them as our Priscillia and Aquila. :) Who knows, they might one day save an apostle's life...

Help me see what true spirituality really is.

Help my CG transform. I really don't know how or what - but we can be so much more. Help me take the initiative to serve and to love - even the not-so-easy to love... because I myself am not an easy to love person.

But that's precisely the point. "Love one another as I have loved you. By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.

(And personally, I think it's pretty pointless to have all these fun activities if we don't commit to loving one another... but... disclaimer... that is my idealistic side. Because fun activities help to bond. So what activities can I help to initiate for the CG?)

And longing for the CG to grow in biblical understanding. Word-centredness. Testimonies to share too. Commitment to honouring the caregroup covenant that we made last year in church camp.

To take initiative to love others. I remember intending to go over to Edwin's and Dawn's place to bless them with a Christmas gift on Christmas Day. But in the end I didn't. And I missed a chance to bless them. Probably the only chance. All because of laziness + tiredness. "Anyone who knows the good he oughts to do but doesn't do it, sins."

Hee. Think you can see from the past paragraphs that I've dissatisfactions here and there. But it's ok, my CG is my mirror too - I realise how self-centred I am. But well, I shall roll up my sleeves and ask God how and where to initiate and make an impact. I shall go forth in my weakness, knowing well that I shall fail and falter. But what does it matter?

"Go in the strength you have. Am I not sending you?" said the LORD to Gideon.

*NATO. No Action Talk Only. The only time this is great stuff is when it comes to matters of war. Which figures... NATO (the organization) being the US's response to the Soviet Union's Warsaw Pact. Thank God they were NATO (the acronym)... 'cos war is something that should be NATO. ;)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What True Waiting Means!

Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
I suddenly get it! After a short chat with HQ just now, and a decision and prayer after that, suddenly I understand what it means to hope! And to hope does not mean to rush - on the contrary - the more hope we have, the more we are able to wait patiently.

Total and sudden revelation. Crystal clear! I see now, bright and clear, what true hope and waiting are! Now I can see the truth and the meaning of these words! Praise the Lord! :D

And what a joy it is to wait upon the Lord! I thought it was a dreary mundane plodding in the trenches - but it is actually a freedom, a song so bright and full of cheer that you could be flogged and stuck in the stocks in prison, and yet sing so clear that the prison walls would tumble down...

I now see what it really means to wait! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! =D

I don't think a lot of people will understand what I'm writing about. It's ok. It's just that God opened my eyes to clear up a misconception that I had been having all along... thank God for Huaqiang, and thank God for His patience, and for answering my prayer for guidance.

Thank God for His dear Spirit, Who leads me into all truth. Yeah and amen!

Sing A Song of Freedom
by Cliff Richard
As I look around me I see the world
In a different light
Everything is changing and it happened
One night
Changing for the better and it starts
With you and me
So well sing our song together and forever
Well be free

Sing a song of freedom
People together everybody sing
Sing a song of freedom each and everyman
People come together all across the land

The Perseverance of Intercession

I think we need to precede every operation that we carry out with intense intercession. To pray. Personally, I am rather doubtful of the need for "balancing" between "practical" and "spiritual" stuff. It's like dividing between the sacred and the secular - but aren't all things ultimately spiritual to God?

'Cos I was thinking about Ps Jo sharing about two pastors. One of them was more skilled and more eloquent than the other pastor. But his church grew to only 3000 people, whereas the other pastor's church grew to 300,000. So the first pastor asked the second pastor what his secret was.
The second pastor asked the first, "How long do you pray for your church each day?"

"Half an hour."

"Oh. I pray three hours each day. The difference between 3,000 and 300,000 is the difference between thirty minutes and three hours."
Some may argue that doesn't 1 John say that we should not love with words or tongue, but with action and in truth? I think they miss the point. In fact, the apostle John wrote before that, "we loved, because He first loved us."

Prayer is practising the presence of God. What will make the difference? How did the Israelites conquer the Promised Land? How did the early Church grow so powerfully and dramatically?

The presence of God.

We do not have, because we do not ask.

And when we ask, we need to persevere.

Sometimes our prayers feel weak and limpid, like water. But we shouldn't forget the lesson of the waterfall.

Little drops of water, over time, can carve out the mightiest waterfalls.

If You Want To Be A Man of God, You Need Holy Discontent

Psalm 69:9a
for zeal for your house consumes me...

Today in DMM, HQ shared with us about holy discontent. To quote from his blog post:
"Holy Discontent [...] is something that precedes vision and that is the key to leadership: God's heart and a human heart being aligned perfectly around what frustrates heaven and earth."
And one thing that I carried from this sharing was that if there's holy discontent, we need to do something about it.

I remember HQ asking us whether we have any examples of holy discontent to share. I was inspired by Sharon's sharing about how she saw the burden on the leaders back in Hope Sydney, and thus initiated the prayer intercession ministry together with Junting.

In a smaller way, I've initiated prayer on my own, and it has become a CG-wide thing. We were discussing together with Sarah's CG as well how we can implement it more effectively.

Anyway, I was sharing last time about how I think the CG needs to grow in their desire for the WOG, and also because I felt we were not focusing enough on spiritual things e.g. emphasis/desire for WOG. In response to that, HQ reminded and encouraged me that if I see a need, then I should step out and speak out and take the initiative.

Reflecting on this, I think I can have a deep burden and ideals to see things done, but I need to commit to carrying them through. I realised that some things that hinder me from being effective for God in implementing these things are fear of what others may think or say. And also the feeling of loneliness as I step out - "Is there no one else?" And the feeling of inadequacy.
  • Fear of men's opinions
  • Fear of doing it alone
  • Fear of not making it
But I'm reminded of David the shepherd boy. He saw Goliath taunting the Israelite army. While most people would have just seen a really big giant heading an Iron-Age army versus the weaker Bronze-Age army of Israel - David saw it in a totally different paradigm.

The boy David said indignantly to the soldiers near him (even though he was just a civilian - and just bringing the supplies at that):
1 Samuel 17:26
David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
So yes, there are huge challenges so beyond us. But we are one of the armies of the living God! When I see the church in the book of Acts, and I see my CG, I know that we have so much to grow to be the church that God would have us be.

But yes, as we gather together to humbly go down on our knees and intercede for our land, I believe that God will do great and mighty deeds.

Very timely too, this article that I read: Masculinity: Unwanted. It's very raw and heartfelt. Maybe it could be more balanced. But feel the aching fire and passion behind these words, and consider carefully the point that the author is making:
A seminary professor’s mind can ponder wisdom, order, and justice. His brain can help him to discern the weightier matters of theology and assist him with understanding sacred text in its original language. His heart can affirm what is valuable and beautiful and stir a desire within him to love God, his wife, his children, and his neighbor. It can inspire him to lift his hands toward heaven as he praises God in corporate worship.

But if he has no animating urge, no motivating courage or gumption compelling him to take the risks that are required to create and establish justice, he becomes a paper lion, a punch line, a cautionary tale. If he has no fire burning in his belly, no tenacity to inflate his chest and lungs, he won’t be able to withstand, genuinely and authentically, the turmoil that accompanies the realities of loving people on earth or God in heaven.

What good is such a person who earnestly studies God with his mind, sincerely praises him from his heart, but fails to actualize either his thoughts or his emotions? Where is his fiery faith put into being—which, by the way, is something God expects from us? What if a man does not labor to put feet on the good desires born in his head and heart? Doesn’t that make him the noisy gong that the apostle Paul denounces? Isn’t he what James would call a talker but not a doer?

Maybe I just described your father. Or a sibling. Or a friend. Or you. I know this much: I just described the life I lived for far too long.
I need to be a MAN after God's own heart...

But yes, I need to be zealous with the right frame of mind. And that's why I need to know God's Word clearly. And to work together more closely with my CL too.

Not just discontent, but holy discontent.
Proverbs 19:2
It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.
Proverbs 23:17
"17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Embracing Being Misunderstood

I realised that I will have to accept the fact that there will always be people who will misunderstand me. Even Jesus Himself was misunderstood - including John the Baptist, the very one who had announced him as the Lamb of God earlier on: "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

But what does it matter in the end? "Wisdom is proved right by her actions..."

Think I shouldn't let myself get so worried and distracted about these things. The more I worry about people misunderstanding me, the more insecure I become. And the more insecure I become, the more likely I am to misunderstand people. And the more I misunderstand others, the more I worry about others misunderstanding me.

Yeu Ann, why not just throw everything aside, and just focus on pleasing God?

I remember one dear brother, back in NUS times. We had a serious misunderstanding, and he was afraid of me. (And he had a very good reason - I was a real self-righteous prig then.)

But over time, as God changed my heart and attitude towards him... eventually he took the initiative to share with me more, and as he saw how God had changed my heart, he even asked me to do him a big favour. I was very touched and humbled by his humble heart.

Think he's one dear brother who really loves the Lord, and has gone through a lot of challenges in life, but he chose to seek God even more in the midst of all these difficulties. He's one of the brothers whom God has used to impact and influence my life in a significant way. :) And in a way, he's one of my heroes of the faith - those unsung, unseen, unspoken heroes who don't know that every struggling step they take is a resounding song of victory for the angels and the saints. =)

Dear bro, if you're reading this blog, you know who you are. And that's why you always see me smile whenever we meet up - for you always bring a smile to my heart. =D
Feeling under the weather recently. I wish I could be sitting at Holland Village right now, drinking a cup of tea and just reading a good book.
Psalm 55:6-7
I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest-
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert..."

Love's Depth

"love is of no depth at all if you only love those easy to love."

Three To Be, Three Not to Be

3 things to be contented with

1) With whatever happens
2) With friendships and possessions
3) With our pure thoughts

3 things to be not contented with

1) With our opinions
2) With our character
3) With our spiritual condition

(From Hong Teck's blog: 3 Pair of Things I Learn From James Allen)

How often we swop the order around.

Philippians 3:12-14
"I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

In the course of my spiritual journey, I've met fellow travellers, some who are very eager to learn and hungry. And I've met fellow travellers, who refuse to consider that any other opinions may be right. And I've met fellow travellers who sway from one side to another: should I be open-minded, considering that there may be more than I know, or close-minded, considering that I may be right? To yield or to resist?

And I've met myself. I think I'm with the swayers. How I need to train myself by constant use of the Word to be able to discern good from evil for myself.

If I think I've gotten it all together already, then I am in mortal danger of falling apart.
Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Three to be, three not to be. Lord, what shall I be to Thee?
Reading the New Living Translation version of the Bible. I really enjoy reading the simple words. Somehow the heartfeltness of the words can be felt so much more keenly. The warmth, tenderness and affection especially in the letters of Paul.

It's a joy to read multiple translations of the Bible. 'Cos they stand like many witnesses to the truth - each of them conveying their own understanding and flavour of the same story. But the same story, the same truth nevertheless. And I think reading the Bible is all the richer and sweeter for all these different translations.

And pondering. I realised that if we Christians are walking Bibles... then the full-bodied aroma, the richness of the flavour, the brew of God's goodness, the sharpness of transformed minds... all are brought about by the many different people in the Church. The universal Church. Many local churches, but one catholic (as in universal, not the denomination) Church.

Sounds like a cup of coffee? Many beans, one brew. He brews a good cuppa! =)

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Core of My Values

Ah. I also realise that now I have a much better idea of what some values I have grown to treasure in my heart over these years.
  • The value of missions to the nations.
  • The value of intercessory prayer.
  • The value of understanding and handling the Word of God correctly.
  • The value of making Christ the total Lord and absolute Centre of everything of my life.
  • The value of humility, of willing to be broken and to embrace brokenness.
  • The value of ministering to and discipling children.
  • The value of talking things over to resolve conflicts.
  • The value of the potential of conflicts to test and strengthen a relationship.
  • The value of sound discipleship.
  • The value of sound thinking and reasoning.
  • The value of seeking to understanding people better - not to judge the behaviours, but to understand the reasons for these behaviours.
  • The value of encouraging people, even the 'no-hope' ones.
  • The value of doing God's will more than personal comfort.
  • The value of being willing to go wherever God wants you to go, even if it means forsaking all that you hold so dear.
And think these are values that I would also very much look for in my future spouse. Hee.

But I also realised something else. What about the value of serving? fellowship (maybe it's implictly written there...)? friendship? unconditional love? grace? mercy? peacemaker? and all the other things that God wants? honour? courage? compassion? kindness?

And once again, I see just how short I fall of Christ's lovely holiness. Thank God for His mercy and grace even to a wretch like me.

Ultimately, Christ must be the Core of all my values. For Christ cannot be just a nice Concept to support my values; on the contrary, all my values are to be conformed to Christ's values... till Christ is fully formed in me.

Purity and Passion

These past weeks, thank God. Think the clarity of His calling for me is so much sharper. And as it gets sharper, the deeper the conviction calls.

Purity. Passion. These things that I'm going through, are blazing crystal clear. Now the curtain, the veil, is being lifted up and I see more clearly now.

It's only a matter of time. Before I go to follow where He calls me to go. But His timing, not mine.

Maybe it'll be lonely. Maybe it'll not be. But HQ's sharing to me was a good reminder that if we want to step out and step up, then we must be prepared to go it alone.

Crazy? Maybe. But I'd rather be crazy for Christ, than to be sane without Him. "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot, missionary-cum-martyr
Met up with Robert and Weizhu. Haha. It was great catching up with them. :) Thank God for these two dear brothers in Christ. =) And catching up on the good old days in NUS. Haha...

On a side-note, it's been very interesting, getting to know myself better through reflection and introspection. In some ways, I'm not what even I thought I was, and in other aspects, I've learnt to accept what I don't like about myself. In a sense, when one makes his peace with God, he finally starts to become at peace with himself, because he realises that if God can accept him... he can start accepting himself, and if he can accept himself, he can accept others, just as Christ accepted him.

And one way I discover myself is through the Body of Christ, the brothers and sisters that He puts in my path. I realise that when I'm with Robert, the quieter, more melancholic, yet sharper and more intellectual side of me comes out more strongly, whereas when I'm with Weizhu, the more excitable and passionate and introspective side of me manifests itself more readily.

And both aspects are not different 'masks' - rather, they are part and parcel of what I am as Yeu Ann. What a beauty, the family of God. Each person that God puts in my way will bring out different flavours, different colours from the person of me.

Sweet, isn't it? Each one of us is not only irreplaceable; the impact that each one of us leaves in others' lives is equally irreplaceable.

"And now, with God's help, I shall become myself." - Soren Kierkegaard.

It all starts with God. And what began with the Father, is a gift that has no end.

Margaret Clarkson

Throughout her life Margaret Clarkson seemingly experienced every form of suffering one could experience; a broken home, financial strains, loneliness and isolation, and constant physical pain, however through it all she continued to place her faith and trust in her savior.

During a life of trials she sensed God’s grace and mercy and communicated that to others by providing the church with dozens of hymns testifying to his sovereignty, love, and power. Margaret Clarkson heard and increasingly understood God’s call upon her life. As she matured she recognized that she was sent out to minister to others, not in isolation, but in triumph. [read more...]

Need A Retreat...

"Retreat is advance in the opposite direction."
- Ork Boyz, Warhammer 40K

After Ps Jo's thought-provoking sermon on prayer on Matthew 6 today, I think I need to renew my commitment to have a weekly prayer retreat each week. Maybe I'll take two evenings off this week... really need to renew my soul and get my heart right with God again.

Worlds In Conflict

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Was watching my sheep playing the World in Conflict game during a gaming session. As he was frantically battling the innumerable enemy forces, he forgot to deploy the artillery support available to him. So of course, his forces got soundly whacked since they were inferior in quantity and quality. But when he finally called in the artillery, the enemy forces were immediately decimated.

From that game, I realised that the Bible reminds us that God offers us the power of prayer. "Call on Me in the day of trouble - I will deliver you..." Just like how the World in Conflict game allows you to call for various tactical aids (e.g. heavy artillery, airstrikes or even a thermonuclear bomb), so likewise, we can pray to God to help us stand firm and resist the devil. And the weapons for the spiritual realms (e.g. the Word of God and prayer) are no less powerful than the weapons of the world.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We Christians mustn't forget that we are in the midst of a daily battle for our souls. Spiritual warfare is very real - for us Christians in Singapore, not so much in the sense of demonic possession or black magic, but in the invisible, but equally insidious sense of taking God for granted, not being committed to a local church, doubting the Word of God, not bothering to pray, overwork, unforgiveness, bitterness and so on. Worlds in conflict.

How we often forget to pray for all the little things that overwhelm us e.g. work, ministry, conflicts, problems and so on. And when we forget to pray for help from on high, we are often soundly suppressed or defeated or even routed by the countless and powerful forces of darkness. And they ARE powerful indeed.

But when we pray...
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Step Out and Step Up

I was talking with HQ about the need for more brothers in the church to step out, and step up.

When I asked him what it means to step out, and step up, he replied:
It means to step out of our comfort zones to meet the needs that we see, and to step up to respond to God's calling for you.
It doesn't necessarily mean that one has to follow the "standard progression" of becoming a shepherd, core-team, CL, UL, SDL, DL, etc. etc...

No, what it means to step out is to see the need, no matter how lowly or menial the task. Do you see feet that need to be washed? Toilets to be cleaned? Then step out to stoop and wash. "The least among you shall be the greatest."

Do you sense God's calling for you to fulfill a particular mission for Him? Then step up to the front-line and spend all that you have to see it done, "though it be blood to spend, and spare not."

I felt very encouraged after hearing that. Because I think the path to working with children, for me, will be a challenging one. Yet I see the importance, for I see in every child, by the grace of God, to be future world-changers, leaders and disciple-makers.

I love this hymn, "So Send I You". I know I wrote about this song before, but I really find it so meaningful.

One thing that struck me was the two versions of the same hymn. I think it's so important to read both of them in chronological order, for they reflect the feelings and thoughts of the Christian who wants to respond to Christ's call to come follow Him. Am reminded again to step out and step up.
"So Send I You" - revisited
Margaret Clarkson revised her own famous words, after contact with missions first-hand...

Margaret Clarkson wrote the more-famous and well-known words to "So Send I You" in 1954. Apparently, it expressed her idea of what missionary work would be like, having had no experience herself. But, by 1963, she had a more Biblical and mature view of the Lord of of Mission work. Her perspective changed considerably. So re-wrote the lyrics to "So Send I You".

Unfortunately, most hymnals only include and/or we only sing the original words. It would be better to sing the later lyrics. See the texts below:

Margaret Clarkson, 1954
So send I you -- to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing --
So send I you, to toil for Me alone.

So send I you -- to bind the bruised and broken,
O'er wand'ring souls to work, to weep, to wake,
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary --
So send I you, to suffer for My sake.

So send I you -- to loneliness and longing,
With heart a-hung'ring for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one --
So send I you, to know My love alone.

So send I you -- to leave your life's ambition,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you --
So send I you, to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you -- to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, tho it be blood, to spend and spare not --
So send I you, to taste of Calvary.

"As the Father hath sent Me, So send I you."

Margaret Clarkson, 1963
So send I you -- by grace made strong to triumph
O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death and sin,
My name to bear and in that name to conquer --
So send I you, My victory to win.

So send I you - to take to souls in bondage
The Word of Truth that sets the captive free
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters --
So send I you, to bring the lost to Me.

So send I you -- My strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, My perfect peace in pain,
To prove My pow'r, My grace, My promised presence --
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

So send I you -- to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, "Well done, My faithful servant --
Come share My throne, My kingdom and My crown!"

"As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Things Being Themselves

"I do not think there is anyone who takes quite such a fierce pleasure in things being themselves as I do. The startling wetness of water excites and intoxicates me: the fieriness of fire, the steeliness of steel, the unutterable muddiness of mud. It is just the same with people." - G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I think one thing that disappoints me deeply is that a lot of times, people - even Christians - are interested only in knowing others deeper if they like them.

Just a thought. And how it is that only when you first choose to put on an image that other people find acceptable, then they are interested in knowing you better.

I wish that wasn't the way the world worked, but at least in the church, couldn't it be a bit more different, as God would have it be? But that is the way humans tend to work... that we need to earn favour and respect from others.

I guess that's why, in the rare times that we do receive true grace from others, who sincerely want to know us for who we really are, and (to our shock) actually embrace and accept - not merely tolerate - us just the way we are...

I guess that's why the early Church made such a powerful impact in the Roman Empire - the salt was salty. A place where all men were considered equal, judged not by race, language or social status, but solely by the content of their characters.

No, even better than that. A place where those with ruined reputations, cracked characters, shredded souls and perverse pasts, can receive brand-new lives to start all over again. And again, and again and again. As surely as the sun rises and sets each day -  a cosmic burst of laughter sprinting across the bare blue skies. And the smiling rainbow of hope that shines after every sad shower. Grace that never ever fails, even though we daily fail.

"As far as the east is from the west
So far has He removed our transgressions from us"

Grace is like receiving snow in the middle of a hot desert - totally unexpected and against nature's law, but all the more shocking, sweeter and amazing when you actually receive it.

I have so much to grow in learning to both give and receive grace.

When Ministry Becomes a Breath of Fresh Air (Part 1)

This is one heaven of an excellent article. Think you simply must read this article, especially if you're feeling dry or discouraged in your service to the Lord!

Below are three of the points that I felt are especially relevant for me. Just want to share them with you too.
2. Teach/preach from the overflow. Do you preach each Sunday? Do you deliver a message? Do you teach a Bible class? There is absolutely no substitute for reading and studying the Bible. There is no substitute for being prepared. This teaching/preaching is a sacred calling worthy of time, effort, and prayer. Yes, I read widely. However, in this role I must always be reading something that will help me think about what I will be preaching. Some shortcuts may come with time and experience. Other shortcuts (i.e., copying sermons from the Internet and preaching them as my own, etc.) will in fact shortchange the congregation and will be a detriment to the integrity of my ministry.


4. Be God-conscious instead of self-conscious. It is so easy to get consumed by ego. If we are not careful, we will believe that what really counts is to be well-known, to be in much demand as a speaker, and to preach for a church that many people are paying attention to. As a result of this focus, it is easy to compare, to become jealous, to "keep score," and to crave recognition. It is tempting to want to become "Christian" celebrities, hoping that people will clamor for our attention. Far better to remember our calling and aim to please God, trusting that he is enough.

5. Focus on your own walk with God. Far too many ministers treat congregations as if they were science experiments. "Let’s do this to them and see what happens." Others become far too focused on trying to will the church to do this or that. Do you know that the very best thing I can do for the congregation I serve is to simply be who God has called me to be. I do far more good by focusing on my own love for God and for others. I do far more good by being a godly person who loves his wife and children.

What is Children’s Ministry all about?

No one survives children’s ministry unless he is committed to building next generation leaders.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Miserable Comforters

Yesterday, as i was having supper with a brother and sister yesterday, he commented to me there is this mindset going around that says that "one always ought to be strong". That one shouldn't let himself be weak. That it's simply a matter a decision of moving on.

The well-meant advice has the form of: "It's ok to be down for a while, but you should get out of it."

Hmm... I think in a way, this mindset isn't very balanced, nor is it fully biblical. Because it has this rather legalistic overtone to it. Instead of helping remind and point the struggler back to seek God, it makes the struggler to work harder on trying to 'snap out of it', and suppress the negative thoughts on his own efforts. But the more you try to struggle using your own decisions and mental strength, the worse you sink into despair when you realise that you can't get out of it.

Is the problem totally with the strugglers, then? I don't think so. (Of course, some will have pride... but that's another case...)

I fear we sometime may condemn others without truly understanding their pain. Think we would do well to remember Job's anguished reply to his friends' prescribed platitudes in case we want to advise someone without seeking to understand first:
Job 16:1-5 1
Then Job replied:
2 "I have heard many things like these;
miserable comforters are you all!

3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?

4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.

5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
I mean, it's one thing to tell a sluggard, a lazy bum, who refuses to take ownership of his life to get up and move on. But it's totally another thing to tell a guy with a broken leg to "snap out of it and move on". I think the crippled guy would probably stare back at you and say, "My leg may be broken, but my middle finger isn't! Come, let me show you..."

Haha. Anyway this dear bro mentioned that Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted..."

Yup. Yet another reminder again why it's so important to study the Word of God properly, to handle it correctly. Else we may end up making rules where God's Word never said anything, and not lay down the rules firmly enough, where God has clearly commanded...

After all, isn't all Scripture God-breathed and useful for thoroughly equipping the man of God for every good work?

Just some thoughts. There's so much more to think about. We people are so complex. But thank God He knows how to fix us and make us new again.

How to Be a Good Listener

You're probably familiar with the five love languages--quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts and physical touch. Did you know quality time has many dialects? One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, I mean sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.

Have you ever wondered if you're a good listener? How can you improve in this area? Here are eight steps to becoming a sympathetic listener.

1. Maintain eye contact when you are listening to someone. This keeps your mind from wandering and communicates that the person has your full attention. Refrain from rolling your eyes in disgust, closing your eyes when they give you a low blow, looking over their head, or staring at their shoes while they are talking.

2. Don't engage in other activities while you are listening to another individual. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention.

3. Listen for feelings. Ask yourself: "What are this person's emotions right now?" When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, "It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot..." That gives the person a chance to clarify his/her feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what they are saying.

4. Observe body language. Clenched fists, trembling hands, tears, furrowed brows, and eye movement may give you clues as to what the person is feeling. Sometimes body language speaks one message while words speak another. Ask for clarification to make sure you know what the person is really thinking and feeling.

5. Refuse to interrupt.

6. Ask reflective questions.

7. Express understanding. The person needs to know that he/she has been heard and understood.

8. Ask if there is anything you might do that would be helpful. Notice, you are asking, not telling the person what she ought to do. Never give advice until you are sure the other person wants it.

(Adapted from The Five Love Languages Singles Edition by Dr. Gary Chapman. To find out more about Dr. Chapman's resources, visit

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Clown Ministry

A Christian Clown Ministry. Great for skit ideas, especially for children. I know, this is a funny idea, but I'm not joking. :)

Speak The Salt Please

Colossians 4:5-6

"Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a] so that you will have the right response for everyone."

"Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity.

Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]."

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Full Commentary on Paul's Evangelistic Concern for Outsiders
Paul's opening exhortation is framed by two imperatives, both of which convey his deep concern to evangelize the lost. The community that God has called out of the world for salvation by the gospel (see Rom 10:8) is called in turn to preach that gospel; evangelism is the church's vocation. The work of evangelism includes prayer (4:2-4) as well as proclamation (4:5-6)--a point already highlighted in the letter's opening words (1:5-9). In fact, this concluding passage connects well with Paul's opening thanksgiving (1:3-12). So Paul's exhortations to pray for the church's mission (4:2-4) and to be wise toward outsiders (4:5) form a sort of bookend, paired with its opening thanksgiving, bringing into even clearer focus the purpose of the letter's main body. That is, Paul's interest in correcting the errant philosophy concerns the church's vocation; the Christless teaching and ascetic morality of the "hollow and deceptive philosophy" (2:8) threaten the church's evangelistic mission to outsiders.


Paul's second imperative to the Colossians is to be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. The word outsiders generally refers to non-Christians (1 Cor 5:12-13; 1 Thess 4:11-12). In rabbinical use, however, it may include believers who stand outside correct teaching. Perhaps Paul has both groups in mind, including those persuaded by the false teachers along with the lost of the world, since the ministry of evangelism includes both. Moreover, he would have been especially concerned about the negative effect immature believers have on the lost. Since we authenticate God's salvation by our lives and words, we can either impugn or enhance God's reputation by bad or good example (Lohse 1972:167). How many non-Christians justify their unbelief by testimonies of a Christian's hypocrisy! To excuse our sins by referring to our spiritual immaturity or by pointing out the Lord's perfect love will simply not do. In Christ's earthly absence, the church remains the conduit of the word of truth on earth, for good or for ill. If we remain in vice and despair, without any indication that God's grace makes a difference, who but the fool will believe the claims of the gospel? For this reason Paul calls us to life grounded in a wisdom that knows God and remains committed to the trustworthiness of the gospel (1:9-10; compare 1:28; 2:3; 3:16).

With respect to the ministry of evangelism, the exhortation to be wise suggests two concerns. First, the wise community exploits every opportunity it is given for evangelism. Watchful prayer makes one keenly sensitive to people and setting. In fact, O'Brien suggests that the middle voice of the verb make the most signifies "the personal interest" or involvement of believers in their environment (1982:241). But the reason for our activism is pointed and clear: this is a call not so much to be a "good Samaritan" as to share with Paul in the work of evangelism. Second, the wise community, eager to proclaim the gospel, engages the lost in conversation [that is] full of grace, seasoned with salt. This last phrase, so graphic and memorable, captures the wisdom of ancient rhetoric: ideological substance without personal style fails to convince people. If a believer, who has a wonderful story of conversion to tell, cannot tell it in a "salty," interesting way, the story will not be heard. Of course, lively stories, like "fine-sounding arguments," are sometimes used in the service of lifeless substance. In this case, however, the communication of the "word of truth" is undermined by uninteresting or incoherent words.

Paul may have mentioned grace to link human graciousness, a characteristic of effective communication, with divine grace. In this sense, the gospel of God's saving grace will find its audience through a gospel ministry characterized by a generous civility (see 3:12). The spiritual triumphalism that some evangelists exemplify today not only fails to edify the church but fails to attract an unsaved audience as well. Yet their rhetoric is often "salty," full of vibrant images and pungency, hardly dull and never boring. Evangelists know that an audience will never be attracted to new life by lifeless words, old cliches and tired slogans! Paul's wise exhortation is to bring humane graciousness together with carefully chosen words in our preaching ministry.

The meaning of the final phrase, so that you may know how to answer everyone, depends on whether it expresses the result of "gracious and salty" proclamation or describes its occasion. Probably the latter option fits this context best: the evangelist who makes the most of every opportunity finds a "gracious and salty" answer for every sincere query or malicious challenge facing the church.

I was thinking about this passage. Think one struggle I have with connecting with quite a number of non-Christians is simply because of my natural introversion. Hmm... to be frank, I don't think it's really a lack of topics in a way... but rather, it's just that personality-wise, I'm kind of different from the mainstream guy crowd. :)

Haha. Guess some people who know me will assume that it's because I'm socially immature. Umm, not really lah. It's a personality thing per se. God has helped me grow already in this area of my life. I was thinking of one brother who was talking to me the other time, and I could sense that he had a certain perception of me, since he knows me from NUS days. (Truth be told, I found his style of re-connecting with me quite... strange. :P So felt rather awkward. But I think he was sincere all the same.)

Still, I wonder how can I grow in this area of having a more 'flavourful' style of conversation. Believe this is part and parcel of the Christian life. Gracious speech, salted with lovely words make for an impactful conversation. Not really in the topics themselves per se (you could be talking about very surface-level topics), but in the way you think and present yourself.

I've been thinking a long time - in presenting myself to other people, how should I present myself? I think the old advice "Just be yourself" doesn't really cut it well. Because there are so many aspects that you can present of yourself - and they are all true of you... how should one therefore present his/her first impression to others?

And the second, third and so on?

Or should you connect in a way that you think the other person is comfortable with?

Or is it realistic to even think about what style a person is comfortable with? Example: if I meet a hip-hop guy, it would be very odd if I went, "Fo' shizzle, dude..." He'd look at me as if I'd swallowed a cow in front of him.

Perhaps the best style that works for me so far is how I connected with the bunch of youths last time. I didn't really take the initiative to get to know others - instead I waited for the more friendly boys to say hi to me. Then just be cool and sure of myself lor. Haha. Treating them to Big Macs helped a lot too. And having a laptop wowed them a lot too. LOL. Using my worldly wealth to win friends. In their eyes I had made it.

But what can one do if he's not the same social status as compared to the others? I reckon the way we carry ourselves, and the way we speak, then, will do more for us.

After reading the above Bible passage, I am starting to see that you don't need to be a loud, outspoken or sanguine person to speak graciously, with flavourful words. In fact, perhaps the quieter ones may have an advantage in this area, for they would tend to think more carefully before they speak.

So I don't have to make a lot of conversation. (Thank God...) But the Bible says that I should make every one of my conversations gracious and delicious to listen to.

Gosh. This is a big challenge for me to grow in. But thank God He hasn't left us alone. :) May He anoint the words of my tongue, and may it be the pen of a skillful writer. Aye-men.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You Are Special by Max Lucado

Found on Yung's Facebook:
I love this story very much. Just a good reminder, as parents, we don't our children, don't compare with other children. As teachers, we don't compare this student with others. We are specially made by God. We are special.

Not Willing

Was praying for one of the boys in my HopeKids CG. And whoa! Matthew 18:14 came to mind. "In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

I'd never thought about that verse before. So it probably is a clear word from God. Hee. =) Thank God He cares for the little ones. In fact He cares more than I can care.

Wonder how to connect with the boy. Maybe we could organize a LAN game outing or something like that. :P

Monday, March 16, 2009

Do We See People?

Against all odds, the Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina sometimes tries to correct the traditional image of Africa in the media. In one of his most well-known essays, How to write about Africa, he lays waste all the clichés that exist regarding Africa.

Do we see an African and a white woman? Or a man and woman in love?

I recently heard a few brothers voicing their dissatisfaction about the foreign workers in Singapore. It made me feel a bit sad.

Do we see nationalities, occupations, social classes, educational degrees... or do we see people?

Ever since studying the book of Philemon last year, I realised in Christ there is supposed to be no difference in how we treat one another, whether we are slaves or scholars. Because Christ has made us brothers.

So I am now learning to see my maid, Lena, not as a maid anymore, but as a godly woman who loves God, a fellow sister in Christ.

In fact, even though she already has three children, she adopted a girl, because her mother was a prostitute and had to give her girl away. So Lena adopted her, despite the fact that she is not so well-off.

Whoa. Here is a noble woman of God. I have so much to learn from her.

I wonder, what are the thoughts in our hearts when we talk with the less-educated people in our own church? Do we sometimes think they have nothing much to teach us, while we university graduates can teach them something - being the future leaders of Singapore and all that? Because I've thought that way before, to be honest. :P

I think how I think about others says much more about what I am than who they are. :)

Added: Huaqiang wrote a great entry about the same kind of thing.

I Fled Him

This morning, I had the Monday blues in a way. :) Hee. But I think that's in part due to the busy, busy weekend, and also the feeling of being alone at times in ministry.

Thank God for the good time of jogging with Andrew.

Still, it's so true that we cannot always rely on our fellow humans to satisfy all our needs and feelings and so on. Because our fellow humans are also needy. At best, we're beggars doing barter trading.

That feeling of neediness, that you know very well that no one else can meet that ache in your heart - not even BGR, nor even family or even your closest and dearest friends. You know it very well - for you have tried before, and found that such experiences can never satisfy your heart fully.

So it's in moments like these, that I know that I must turn back to the Lord, my Shepherd of my soul. And yet I wriggle away from His loving embrace like a stubborn little boy from his father's loving arms, like an irrational little lamb fleeing away from his shepherd's gentle embrace.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated...
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
And yet He still steadily treads on after me, the Hound of Heaven is he.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat -- and a voice beat
More instant than the Feet --

"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."
But how can I get back to Him? How can I find the rest that my soul so needs? Ah. I think I shall go and sing a song of worship to Him. Because there are times that I really don't know how else to describe how I feel, or are words sufficient enough to express this intensity.

Thank God for the joy of being able to worship Him with a new song. To be able to express my innermost longings. To pour out all the feelings of loneliness, of fearfulness, of inadequacies, of restlessness... and more importantly, to turn my eyes and my head once again back unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.
How little worthy of any love thou art !
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me ?

All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,

But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake

Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home :
Rise, clasp My hand, and come !"
Halts by me that footfall :
Is my gloom, after all,

Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly ?
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!

  • To start discipling one boy (think I'd love to take on the tougher one... it'll help me rely on God even more...) in the HopeKids CG.
  • Would like to take on the role of a CGL for HopeKids.
It's amazing. Eilton today said that he can't make it for HopeKids duty next week, so he asked me to lead the Pri 6 caregroup together with Liting (the sis from Youth, not my CG) too.

Haha. Soo Feng said I looked very shocked. Yah. I was exclaiming to Eilton, "Hey, you're sending me to the frontlines..."

He grinned back, "Yes! That's where you should be!"


God, help me. But I can do all things through You who gives me strength! And Your joy is my strength! Aye-men.

Anyway, somehow I was able to see the Tougher One's mum after service. So I quickly ran up and tapped her on her shoulder. Chatted with her about her boy. She said he's not doing too well in his studies, because he plays too much computer game.

But she said something that really surprised me very much. True, he finds HopeKids Live service very boring, but he still goes, because he said to his mum before that he does love God.

I was so surprised when I heard it. His mum smiled quietly in reply. She's concerned for his spiritual growth. Haha. I shared with her that I hated Sunday school too as a kid. =) She was pleasantly surprised to hear that. Think it encouraged her.

Haha. I think I must add The Tougher One to my intercession list. God is good! =) When we pray, the hands of God do what our hands cannot do. Aye-men.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

HopeKids today. Felt very tired physically and mentally. But thank God for Joel, one of the HopeKids boys. Was lifting up my hands to worship God, when the worship leader asked us to lift our hands to the Lord.

Suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder. Turned, and saw it was Joel praying for me. And he was grinning some more. Deeply touched. God used one of the most mischievous boys to minister mercy to me.

And I learnt once again that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. God can really work through the people whom we think are least able to minister to us.

I've been wondering too. Are we too concerned about exercising discipline in Hopekids Live? There's a balance, but I think the balance has to be more carefully done. Too often, we prefer the order - forgetting that one of the greatest obstacles to seeing children becoming eager to grow in Christ is the institution and enforcement of excessive forms.

Kids need boundaries, yes. But these boundaries shouldn't be a measure of how 'good' you are. They're meant to protect. Not as a measure of closeness to God. But to also teach them that God really loves them, no matter how bad they've been. But that also He wants to help them grow too.

Anyway, during worship, some of the kids were sitting down, fiddling and clambering onto the stage. It looked decidedly messy, the whole thing, to me.

Initially thought of asking them to stand properly to show respect for God. But this verse suddenly came to mind: "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

And it struck me that the very fact that the boys were crawling onto the stage to get nearer to the action, is in itself a wonderful measure of how eager they are to worship God. And though the boys were easily distracted (as boys will always be), when they sang, they really sang sincerely.
"Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You're my God..."
When was the last time we were so eager to draw near to God in our hearts, that we would crawl onto the stage to listen to the songs and read the lyrics better?

God taught me what it really means to worship Him. Not to look at the outwards form, but the inward heart. The heart of worship.

Another thing too.

It's true that kids are very easily distracted when it comes to worship. They play with their paper planes, they disturb one another, they sit down and do stuff, and so on. They don't seem to be able to worship God very maturely.

But... I realised, we adults are often no different from the children when it comes to worshipping the Lord. What the kids are on the outside, we adults are on the inside. 

We may not fiddle with our handphones or PSPs, but haven't we fiddled with thoughts of work and games while worshipping the Lord? We may not poke or tickle or punch one another externally, but don't we get irritated with our brothers and sisters in our hearts while worshipping God? We are distracted by thoughts of ministry and worries and BGRs and so on on the inside, while we lift up our hands outwardly to the Lord.

It's not a condemnation of what we do. (I did all of the above while worshipping during adults service today. Haha...) It just goes to show that we adults have a lot of growing-up in our hearts to do... but God still delights in us little kids anyway.

May we learn to put aside our adult worries, and unashamedly clamber and crawl onto the stage too. So that we can be just a little closer to our heavenly Papa. And sing with all our hearts and gusto too:
"Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You're my God...

You're altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me..."
I don't think it was a coincidence that the same "Here I Am To Worship" song was played both in Hope Kids and Hope Adults services today. Think God wants to teach me something new about what it really means to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

And not to hinder the little ones too from coming to Him, no matter how noisy or messy or grubby they be. Because we are too.
Came back from the HopeKids Ripple Conference. Whoa, deeply stirred in heart. Lots of great workshops. Very encouraged by what I hear Shunrong did for the powerpoints - using technology to multiply our limited manpower. =)

Lots of things I want to do for God.
I just feel a deep, deep aching burden to minister even more to the children. And yet I have so little time. And God knows I haven't given my very best to Him yet.

Just a few dreams I have in my heart for God:
  • HopeKids (online) library (for education + discipleship)
  • HopeKids board games club? (for outreach)
  • HopeKids video channel? (for developing the kids to do dramas themselves + make services cooler by producing more fun videos)
  • HopeKids online portal - I left it undone. :( need to buck up!
  • Inductive Bible study... (for personal growth in order to minister even more effectively... and also in growing in Christ)
  • Writers' Circle (first meeting due to start on 25 Mar, Wednesday)
  • Men's discipleship group
  • To start discipling one boy (think I'd love to take on the tougher one... it'll help me rely on God even more...) in the HopeKids CG.
  • Would like to take on the role of a CGL for HopeKids.
  • To see my (adults) CG grow stronger and deeper in their passion for God's Word...
  • Go on another missions trip to do community/missions work with disadvantaged children?
Gosh! Thank God for the blessing of being able to dream long-term dreams once again. Something that I lost back in the early days of my walk with God. But You came along, and re-sparked my heart and passion and first love for You, Lord Jesus.

Hmm. I'll need to come up with more concrete short-time objectives and plans. Some of these plans clearly can't be done simultaneously! So I need to start planning... with plenty of prayer, for unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain!

And to pray for more like-minded people... and to consult the HopeKids team too... 'cos something I learnt is that we must work together as a team. Everyone has their God-given strengths and talents.

Hmm. What is my personal vision statement? And what do I really hope to see for God in children's ministry? In HopeKids ministry? In life? On my tombstone? I need to write it down real soon.

Dear Father, this passion burns like a fire within me - Lord, please don't let this fire burn out. "Everything I am, for Your kingdom's cause / As I walk from earth into eternity."

Thank You for believing in me, even though I am so unworthy - less than the least of all God's people. Thank You, Father... You are the Great Dream-giver. You mercifully and graciously re-lit the fire in my heart again so many years ago... "A smouldering wick He will not snuff out..." Sigh. I have done so little for You, Lord... so, so, so little. 

Thank You too for the encouraging prophecies given by Peter Truong, Hong Teck and even Huaqiang... the one that said I am like a reed - very flexible... while easily indecisive and swayed back and forth... and yet very resilient...

The prophecies encourage me deeply, because these dreams are really so beyond me, that without You, they'll fail... You know me, my procrastination, my lack of thinking and so on... and yet You want to use even someone like me, though there's far more deserving people around. Whoa.

Thank You for believing in me, Daddy.

In Jesus' most wondrous name, aye-men.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Image of the Invisible God

Imagine the invisible God projecting an image. What kind of image would an invisible being project?

Light is invisible. But if it is focused onto a screen, it becomes visible. And yet, when we attempt to see light directly, it itself is invisible... we can never see light itself directly, but by the light, we see everything else. "For it is light that makes everything visible."

It is the light of God that makes it possible to navigate cleanly and clearly through a morally gray world. A world of greyish, gooey ethical mires. It is the light of the world, who shows us what everything really is.

Tim Stafford asks in "Knowing The Face of God" (pp. 193-4),
How then, when we see Jesus, do we see the image of God? [...] Properly speaking, nobody ever sees anything; we see an image of the original. Everything we "see" is really reflected light. When light bounces off an object or a person, its shape and color are recorded in the light. By deciphering this information, we "see" the original.


The trouble with light is that it is utterly undisciplined. Suppose that I want to look at my father's face. You would think that the light from his eyes would stay separate from the light from his nose and mouth. It does no such thing. The light from his eyes bounces off in every possible direction. The light from his nose does the same. Light from his various features is immediately so tangled up as to seem impossible to separate. That is why my film, exposed without a lens, shows no image; the images are all there, but like a sand painting that has been shaken until there is no recognizable order.


Light is naturally unintelligible. An image is light made intelligible - light sorted out for human consumption. Technically then, a photograph is not really an image; it is the recording of an image onto paper by means of chemicals. An image lives in time, always changing as the original changes. A photograph merely freezes one of its moments. The real image lives on as pure light. You cannot save it or store it or stop it. [Not even Google can do that...] It lives as its original lives and as light shines on the original.

Now let us consider how this applies to Paul's statement that Jesus is the "image of the invisible God." Right away we may notice that Paul is using the word "image" in a different way than I have used "image" in regard to my father. An image of my father is not "of one substance with him." An image is light; my father is flesh and blood. But for Paul, Christ as the "image of God" was of one substance with the Father.

This is possible of God though not of humanity because an image is formed of light, and God is pure light. John describes both Jesus and his Father as light: "God is light; in him there is no darkness" (1 John 1:5). Jesus himself said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Both Old and New Testaments describe God as light, a blinding light, or a light bright enough to illumine a city. Thus, we can say that God's only son is the image of God's light; he is light sorted out for us to see. [...] This is what Jesus is and does: He makes God known.
I would add: He makes God's will, God's character, God's standards, God's love, God's grace, God's truth and all the other innumerable things of God known.

"For it is light that makes everything visible."

What is the consequence of knowing that Jesus therefore is the image of the invisible God?

I think it means that personally, God has made it so much easier for us to figure out His will in morally 'gray' ethical situations. In confusing questions like which job should I choose? which sister should I consider getting into a relationship with? where shall I go? should I join or not join?

It's easier, because Jesus has shown us what the Father really is like, and what the Father would do, and what the Father wants. "He who has seen me has seen the Father."

So, it is the light of God that makes it possible to navigate cleanly and clearly through a morally gray world. A world of greyish, gooey ethical mires. It is the light of the world, who shows us what everything really represents, stands for and actually is.

The supremacy of Christ.

"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."

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Supremacy of Christ

Born Supremacy by =christians on deviantART

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together...
Read it out aloud. Go ahead. Savour every word in this passage. Every word speaks - no, SHOUTS - the totality of Jesus Christ. Recite the passage. Meter your speech. Let it become a recital, a chant, even.

Stress each word carefully. Line by line. Shout out each word in bold.

"HE is the image of the invisible God..."
"He IS the image of the invisible God..."
"He is THE image of the invisible God..."
"He is the IMAGE of the invisible God..."
"He is the image OF the invisible God..."
"He is the image of THE invisible God..."
"He is the image of the INVISIBLE God..."
"He is the image of the invisible GOD..."

Can you now picture just a little better the sheer absolute unrivalled supremacy of Christ?

In my Christian Ethics course, I've learnt that Christ is to be the total centre of our worldview.

No longer do we make a glorified rational framework of rational ethics, and then ask God to bless our frameworks. We are actually making our own idols., and decentering Christ, who is supposed to be the Centre of It All. Else Christ becomes just the scaffolding for our Tower of Ethics.

How about church? It is possible to have so many structures and frameworks that if we are not careful, instead of the structures and frameworks acting as the scaffolding, we end up relegating Christ to become the scaffolding for our glorious framework (the Framework be praised!).

I was talking with a brother last night. We were discussing about how to do life-planning. He asked me to share more with him... so I shared with him that when we plan for our sheep, we must first and foremost plan how we can help our sheep draw nearer to Jesus Christ. So that God will be able to help them start growing. "[God] makes things grow."

Everything else is secondary. The supremacy of Christ.

Later on, I was talking with a friend on MSN. We were talking about discipleship. What true discipleship means. I shared with her that being a true disciple doesn't mean doing a certain set of prescribed activities. No. It simply means following Christ, and learning to become like Him in everything we are and do. Whether we eat or drink or blog or dance or work. "All things were created by Him and for Him."

So I was reminded again. The supremacy of Christ.

If we do not have the character, the mind, the heart and the hands of Christ - then no matter whether we are in the most influential positions, be it church or marketplace - then we are unable to make a lasting influence for Christ.

The opposite is true. The supremacy of Christ.

Have you felt so burdened by all the things you have to do? Work, ministry, studies, family, volunteer activities, and so on? You are trying to hold everything together, but it looks like the bubble will burst?

Things fall apart. But He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.

Even a blind cancer-eaten old woman.

John Ortberg, in his book "The Life You've Always Wanted", wrote about this true story.
There was this sister who was a bed-ridden paralytic for many years. She was blind, and almost deaf. She lay alone in a hospice for years.

But everyone who came to visit her - kept coming back. Why?

Because she had such a deep inner strength, that everyone who saw her were amazed. How could one live in such conditions like hers - blind, almost deaf, dying of a slow cancer that ate half her face away? She lay like that for YEARS.

And yet she had such joy and peace in her heart, that it shone through her cancer-eaten face. Where did she get such strength and power from?

One man asked her. She paused for a while, and then slowly and laboriously gasped, "Jesus loves me. He's so wonderful. He is the world to me - I couldn't think of living without Him." Through her years of loneliness and pain, Jesus was always there for her. And her love for her Saviour grew so deep.

The man was amazed. So amazed, that he started coming back week after week, with notepad in hand, ready to write down whatever words of wisdom she would whisper.

He had come to comfort her. Instead, he found himself being comforted by her.
If we are with Jesus, and He is the centre of our lives... He will make us fishers of men. We may not even be primary school graduates. What does it matter, ultimately? Christ can use Peter the fisherman, and He can use Paul the learned scholar - both are equally useful to Him.

He became their supremacy.

I don't just want to know about the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
I want Him to be supreme in my own life!
Lord, be thou now my supremacy, I pray. Aye-men.
Over all the earth
You reign on high
Every mountain stream
Every sunset sky
But my one request
Lord my only aim
Is that You’d reign in me again

Lord reign in me
Reign in Your power
Over all my dreams
In my darkest hour
You are the Lord
Of all I am
So won’t You reign in me again

Over every thought
Over every word
May my life reflect
The beauty of my Lord
‘Cause you mean more to me
Than any earthly thing
So won’t You reign in me again