Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are Our Beliefs Convictions or Merely Preferences?

People will see the value of being a Christian by how much you are willing to pay for it.

I was thinking about Ps Jo's sermon again last Sun. It's so thought-provoking.

The Cross of Decision.

And then I read Joyce's post on ethics: "no such thing as business ethics". She wrote:
"...the uneasiness that i felt this semester as i was taking a module called Real Estate Practice and Ethics, which my lecturer had strongly advocated being ethical as something that is unrelated to religion, not being right or wrong, but doing what is appropriate and acceptable."
And from what I know so far, this lecturer is also a Christian... but gosh! I felt angry when I heard about this. Clearly this is a compromise of God's Word!

So I was thinking about this. Would I, if I had to take this module, be willing to stand up and speak out against what I knew clearly to be wrong and unbiblical?

The costs will be increasingly heavier. As we've already seen from the on-going AWARE saga, when we choose to make a stand for what we believe in, we are bound to face challenges and even social ostracism and rejection.

Even fellow Christians may start asking us whether we could be more discreet. Like the new ex-co of AWARE.

I was thinking about the AWARE issue, and while personally I felt that our fellow Christians in the new AWARE team could have been wiser and more careful... the heart at the core of it was indeed admirable. I don't think they didn't know what they were in for (although I bet they didn't expect the incoming fire to be so heavy)... they were willing to stand up for their convictions and act upon them - even if it meant costing them something.

And you know, one good thing that is arising out of this is that whether Christian or not, we are seeing a surge of ladies who are now more aware (pun intended) of the importance of being willing to take a stand. AWARE is seeing a surge in its membership on both sides of the Great Divide, and perhaps, if the new AWARE ex-co manages the situation wisely, it can actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for AWARE.

Of course, there are more things to be said about the wisdom of an attempted takeover, and whether it is a smart thing to do... (personally, I think it's not the best way... and from what I've studied of the Bible, it doesn't advocate this kind of action...)

But the heart of taking the initiative is soooo there. People are willing to speak up, stand up, and stick out for what they believe in.

And that example goes back to my point, being ... is my belief a conviction or merely a preference?

I think if I were to take that module... I would stand up and speak up. Even though I may face a barrage of criticism and well-thought-out arguments... even though others may be able to show me all the flaws of my thinking and reasoning - and I know very well I'm not the fastest chip on the block...

I don't care. Because this is a matter of life and death. I'm not saying that my choosing to stand up for absolute truth means that I'm therefore a conservative or what... (c'mon I have some friends who are gays... and I'm proud to know them even though I don't agree with their viewpoints... 'cos there are things about me that they probably can't stand either haha...)

I'll be willing to get a C or even fail the module. 'Cos I'd rather fail in the eyes of men than fail in the face of my Father in heaven. Shall we be ashamed of Jesus and His words in this sinful and adulterous generation?

Personally, I'm not perfect in this - for as a person, I struggle with being too easy-going - even compromising from time to time. But because God's Word spoke to me, and is speaking to me, I want to grow in this area of courageous conviction. To not be ashamed of my dear Lord and His words in this sinful and adulterous generation.

Which goes on to another point.

If the Church really wants to be relevant to this generation, then cultural relevance is not enough.

It must be different so that it can be truly relevant.

Salt is salt, because it makes things different. Light is light, because it is different from darkness. Have we not studied 1 Peter? It is so relevant. We ARE aliens and strangers in this world. The world will hate us - not because we're idiots or meddlers - but because we refuse to do what the world does. We are in the world, but not of the world.

We must stay fresh like the fish of the sea, always being fresh, unsalty and delicious on the inside, while swimming all the while in a salty sea. That's why we still add salty soy-sauce to our fish that we eat even though they literally swim in a sea of salt! (Thanks Ps Jo for that brilliant illustration!)

I believe the Church may be in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted in the previous century, because the Christians started compromising on their faith. They chose the easy way of blending in with the world, choosing not to stand up and stick out their necks for the truth, for the gospel, for Jesus Christ.

As I study more of the New Testament, and observe our Church as it is currently... I seriously doubt that the idea of trying to be culturally fashionable, win the big shots over to Christ or what, will cause a large-scale change. Not to say that we cannot preach to kings and governors, nor to the rich... for Lydia, the first Christian in Europe, was a rich woman...

But are we willing to stand up today, share and live out our beliefs courageously and with full conviction?

One thing Ps Jo said that really struck me: "You can serve God out of your preferences. It's just that it's bound to be negotiable, to compromise. But serving God out of your convictions... it means NO negotiation. It means that you will not let anything lower your desire to follow and obey God, even if it means death, or losing a grade, or losing your job."

And if we are willing to pay the price for our commitment, our cause, our convictions... people WILL start standing up and take notice. How much more, especially since it is not an ideology of death and destruction, or a philosophy of empty meaningless do-as-you-will, or a religion of pay-as-you-go, prosper-as-you-please...

But a gospel of love, joy, peace, of a new story, a story of peace and light... of salvation for the nations... one that was prophesised of old... the Greatest Story Ever Told!

We're seeing, even in our own church, people complaining about having to read their Bibles... sharing God's word being so tough... prayer? forget about it! and so on... in a way, it's because we've offered them Christianity-lite, instead of teaching them to obey everything the Lord has commanded us. Take-as-you-please, do-what-you-want Christianity... cheap grace, grace without the cost. And as the Christianity-lite it is, it gives us precisely what we want - an empty, hollow shell of Christianity that ask nothing much, and gives us nothing much in return.

But Christ calls us now to come follow Him. To deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for him and for the gospel will find it. What good shall it be for a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?

He offers us a new life, a life so incredibly rich, that it will cost us everything we have... perhaps even our own lives. But Lord! what a stupendous bargain! It's like buying tons and tons of sure-win blue-chip stocks at penny-stock prices! It's like buying Citibank stocks at $1 per share. Because the kingdom of heaven really is like that! Lelong, lelong! Come, all ye who are thirsty, come ye to the waters! And ye who have no money, come, buy and eat!

If your life is feeling mundane and routine... perhaps you can consider... have you been willing to abandon yourself unto God? To surrender? To spend, though it be blood to spend and spare not? To do His will, to stand up for Him?

As I say this, I realise very well how much I myself need to practice what I preach. But yes, let's spur one another on towards giving everything we have for His kingdom's cause. To choose Christ over convenience.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So Encouraged!

Wow! Just really want to thank God so much for His super-encouragement... He encouraged me THRICE today! Once through a "sign", once through the Word, and once through a brother in Christ from the other side of the world!

Because today, I was starting to feel increasingly discouraged about this desire to honour God with my writing skills and talents... 'cos I was feeling that my writing isn't as good as others.

And also was wondering how to find a suitable job next time that allows me to do more writing - if there was any in the first place.

So I think the overall feeling was that of: Do I actually have what it takes to be a writer? And even if I write, how on earth am I going to survive? And even if I do write, just how effective will all this be?

It was on my mind the whole morning.

Then... as I was praying (silently) to God during my lunch hour while I was in my company's canteen, telling Him about this concern... I happened to turn around, and saw, between two drink shelves, the word "COURAGE". It was painted on the canteen's walls as one of my company's slogans.

The positioning and timing of the word "COURAGE" - it was so big and right smack in-between the 2 drink shelves - that it seemed to me that perhaps God was answering my prayer with this big sign - literally! Telling me to have courage!

Whoa. I was, like, "God! You really showing me a sign in this way? If it's really so... Lord, you ROCK!!! The word so big some more..."

:D

Then, the second one was during my quiet time. I was still worried about this career issue, and was asking God for guidance. Then, I decided to let the Lord have some airtime. So started reading Hebrews 3 in the Bible. While reading, this verse somehow caught my attention:
"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything [...] And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."
Wow. Felt very touched. Hee. =)

Then... when I got back home, I checked my Hotmail account, and saw this email from someone whom I'd never known before. It didn't look like a spam email, so I opened it... and here's what it says:
Hey there, I know this is somewhat out of the ordinary, but I ran across one of your entries on blogger.com after searching for "quantum mechanics and absolute truth." :)You and I have some similar interests apparently: we both like cycling, rock climbing, and most importantly, love Jesus. I'm a college student [...] at [a certain university in USA].

Tonight I was discussing with an engineering friend about absolute truth, who Jesus was, and some other cool things, but he kept stumbling around the idea of absolute truth and was comparing it to what we know about general relativity and other issues in physics.After reading your post, I wandered around some of your other entries- I was overcome with this joy at getting to see God doing amazing stuff and revealing himself in your life. It's so easy to become short-sighted in my own life- not realizing that God is continuing to work, not only in me, but through ALL of his children. I wish I could see you in person and tell you about all the amazing things God is doing at [my university] (I'm involved in an organization called Campus Crusade for Christ) and listen to what God is doing in your life in Singapore, but I guess I'm just going to have to wait and meet you in heaven!

Your brother in Christ...
WHOA. I was super-encouraged after reading this email. 'Cos it seems that Father may be encouraging me to keep this dream to write for Him, to keep on writing and not give up... that my labour in the Lord is not in vain!

(BTW bro in Christ, if you're reading this, really hope you don't mind me sharing your email as a testimony... I just want to share this with my brothers and sisters here in Singapore... I really am very encouraged by your email! Thank God for you so much! :))



Reflections
So, reflecting on all this... what can I learn from this?

Personally, I think that God wants to encourage each and everyone of us to step out in courage and faith to risk putting whatever talents and giftings God has given us to work.

And yes, the discouragements WILL come. They may be due to our own sinful tendency to compare ourselves with others... perhaps it's also the devil trying to discourage us... perhaps it's the wolvish world mocking our attempts to go forth to preach the gospel (for we are sent out as sheep among wolves).

But let's persevere on... because God sees our hearts! True, with Yeu Ann, this is impossible... BUT NOT WITH GOD; WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

OH! That reminds me! As I was walking back home from my prayer time, I saw this roadside sign. It was a Coke Zero advertisement. And... the ad had the word IMPOSSIBLE as its headline... 'cept that the "IM" in "IMPOSSIBLE" was clearly scratched out with a big cross.



Obviously, the headline was for the Coke... but at that particular moment, it seems to me that God wanted to very clearly encourage me that it was HIM showing me another sign... that nothing is impossible with God.

If we are willing to scratch ourselves out of the picture, to scratch out "I (A)M" with the Cross... then we see more clearly that we can do everything through Christ who gives us strength.

AMEN.

Yup! So from what I learnt from this experience, discouragements will always come our way, whenever we want to do something good and beautiful for God. But we must persevere one!

Also, it is not about glorifying God only through our own strengths. Oftentimes, when God calls you and me, He graciously places this burning desire in our hearts to want to do something great for God, rather than nua-ing our way through life. However, when we do step out, we start seeing how weak and inadequate we are, as compared to more powerful and more capable people - even the non-Christians.

But we mustn't become faithless and turn back from the Promised Land! Though the people there are giants, we can and will shine for God victoriously in the end, because it is the Lord who will give us the power, anointing and victory. The only thing He asks of us is to obey Him completely in whatever He wants us to do, even if it sometimes doesn't make any sense at all.

Lastly, I also learnt to put my trust in God more and rely on Him. It's currently quite an exciting but challenging and uncertain period in my life. From learning to lead a caregroup (of primary school kids), to leading praise (and God knows that I can't sing to save my life) in caregroup, to giving a sharing during HopeKids service...

To be honest, I didn't excel in any of these. At best, my efforts were ok. But I thank God truly that He is faithful to me - I did finish and complete all these things through Him who gives me strength. And I gained a richer insight into what it means to learn to rely on Him more. Not on my own strength, but on Him who has the power to raise the dead.

So the truth of the Scripture verse "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." is coming very real in my life. It's shiveringly exciting... yeah, often so many times I feel deeply, deeply inadequate... 2 Cor 1:9 "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."

Amen. :D



Something very exciting too. You may have read in today's newspaper about the inauguration of the Information Fusion Centre. Well, I was working on a system that was linked to that. And... about a few hours before the IFC inauguration ceremony was due to start, Murphy's Law struck! A critical technical problem occurred, and I was immediately activated to go down and solve this problem before 1 pm.

Everyone was very anxious, and I kept on being asked, "How much longer?" So... I decided to pray and ask God for wisdom how to solve the problem. I prayed a very simple prayer asking God to help me solve the problem before 1 pm. And also messaged my careleader, Huaqiang.

Then you know what? In the next few minutes, I suddenly got a very clear insight into the nature of the problem! I checked out the insight that I had received, and gosh! the insight was proved to be correct! So we worked on the problem... and... a few minutes before 1 pm, the problem was well and truly resolved! Not only that... I had this strange peace within, because of a strong sense of assurance that I knew that God was in charge of the entire problem.

Praise the Lord! :D Thank God so much that nothing is too small or insignificant for Him to care about... and that He really generously gives wisdom to all who ask Him without finding fault! AMEN!

And well, the IFC inauguration ceremony seems to have gone smoothly... in the newspapers some more haha.

So thankful to God how He helped me, and an entire bunch of engineers... =P

(And oh yes, it's great to know that what I do in my work actually helps to make the world a safer place in terms of keeping pirates at bay...)




Yup! It's a super-long testimony, but really want to thank God so much for His goodness to me... actually I was inspired by Clarence's testimony on Sunday night... so haha, hope and pray that this little testimony encourages you to share YOUR own testimony of what the Lord has done for you! Let's start a chain-reaction of thanksgiving! On? :D

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yes, Looks Do Matter


I was reading this article, and unfortunately, yes, it is true. People do really look at the appearances and mannerisms. And... fact is, I think almost everyone, including me, tend to look more favourably to people who look good. You just can't escape that fact.

In fact, a fellow Christian commented that if you want to impact more people, you need to look good, or at the least, presentable. (If I remember that correctly.)

Even less attractive people are naturally drawn to more attractive people. And the cycle can be vicious. Less attractive people are inevitably less popular. And the less popular they are, often, the less positive and confident they feel about themselves. And the less confident they feel about themselves, the less attractive they become!

Where, then, is the hope for less attractive people like you and me? ;)

I'm reminded of Isaiah 53. Jesus was described as:
"He had no beauty or majesty, nothing in His appearance, that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not."
Make no doubt about it. Probably all the good-looking depictions of Jesus you saw in the movies... were probably more reel than real. Probably he looked so plain and perhaps even unattractive, that John the Baptist, his own cousin, testified:
"I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'"


But I think about it... there is something else too. God can and does transform our physical appearances too. Like how Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than their peers.

I realised that perhaps, unlike the world, we shouldn't be so focused on our outwards appearances that we begin to rely on them for job security, for career advancement, for getting that life-partner, for making friends and so on. The world thinks that way.

But what does Jesus tell us? "For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you."

Instead, we should focus on building up our inner selves. Our character, our godliness, our gentleness - the unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

And if you look ok, but you don't have much personality? Or can't tell a joke to save your life? Or don't have much talent - the only talents you have are eating and sleeping?

Does it really matter to God? Would you let that drag you down?

What if you had no hands or legs? Nor eyes nor ears? Slow of speech and stumbling in tongue?

It'd only be natural to be depressed and feel defeated - angry and bitter with God even, or at the least, disappointed. Comparing, and contrasting.

No. What you need to do first and foremost is to seek the unfading beauty of a Christlike heart. To seek nothing less than the very beauty of Christ.
"In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me
As He died to make men holy
Let us live to make men free..."
For when your inner self is truly beautiful, then... the inner beauty spills, flows and cascades into your outer self. That beauty that shines from within spills out from tender eyes, kind lips, caring hands, diligent legs... what beauty can compare to this?

Personally, I've seen some sisters who came in as non-Christians. They were already quite nice-looking when they first came in... but after growing in Christ, wow oh wow, their very appearances begin to reflect the beauty of their Lord and Saviour. And of course, even the brothers too. :) But I think I should leave it to the sisters to say more...

For it is the beauty of the risen Christ, the radiant dawn of the Son of Righteousness leaping forth from a joyful heart.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Truth be told, I'm not writing this for any sister in particular, but I'm writing this to encourage myself to focus on God, for often I tend to compare myself with others, and wish that I was more like this, more like that, more outspoken, more eloquent, more humorous, more this and that. Don't we all feel like that at least once in our lifetimes? :)

But God steps in and reminds us - "Why not seek to be right with me on the inside? First wash the inside of the cup, then the outside will be clean too." :)

God knows that we do appreciate good looks. It's inevitable. Perhaps we're wired that way. But I'm sure that God wants us to be right in heart with Him first and foremost. "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

So, let's not focus so much on cultivating the right external appearances and behaviours that we forget to cultivate a right heart with God.

For when we become beautiful on the inside, somehow, the Lord begins to transform our physical appearances... as a demo of the new bodies that we will fully have in heaven.

For when we decide to wish for Jesus alone, we end up wishing for everything. =)

I could wish you joy and peace
To last a whole life long,
I could wish you sunshine,
Or a cheerful little song,
Or wish you all the happiness
That this life could bring

But I wish you Jesus,
But I wish you Jesus,
But I wish you Jesus,
More than anything.

I could wish you leaves of gold,
And may your path be smooth,
I could wish you treasures,
Or that all your dreams come true,
And I could wish you paradise,
That ev'ry day be spring,

But I wish you Jesus,
But I wish you Jesus,
But I wish you Jesus,
Cause when I wish you Jesus,
I've wished you ev'rything.

The Golden Sovereign

Adapted this story from an old Russian story I read in primary school last time. Wanted to use this for sharing during HopeKids service... but in the end decided it's too long. So anyway, here it is...

One day, there was a man who was sitting down on a park bench, all alone by himself.

He hadn't bathed in a week, and he hadn't eaten for two days already. For you see, he was out of a job and he didn't have family or friends to help him.

At his wits' end, he cried out to God, "God, if You're there, help me. I really have no more money to survive. WHAT SHALL I DO?"

Suddenly, he heard a loud clinking sound behind him. He turned around, and saw a golden sovereign!

He stared at the sovereign. Then he suddenly jumped for the sovereign, grabbed and kissed it!

He happily went off to buy some food.

After a hearty meal, he patted his stomach and said to himself, "Sigh. That was a good meal, thank God. But I spent all my money. Where shall I get my next meal from?"

Then, he felt something in his pocket.

He took out the something... and stared in surprise.

It was exactly the same golden sovereign that he had picked up earlier!

He gaped. "But I DID spend the money! How did it land up back in my pocket again?!"

So he went back to the shop to check whether he had really paid.

To his utter surprise, the cashier told him that she had already taken the sovereign from him!

So, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, I might as well as buy some bread to tide myself over the next few days."

He paid, and he went back to his bench.

Then he took out his handkerchief from his pocket... and out rolled the same old sovereign.

By now, our good fellow was very puzzled. But he wasn't too unhappy about it, as you might guess.

He suddenly chortled. "What a lucky guy I am! Someone Up There must like me very much. Hmm... hey! It seems that everytime I buy something, the sovereign always returns back to me. COOL! OK! I shall go on a shopping spree!!!"

And he went back to the shop, and ordered all his favourite foods and finest wines. The cashier raised her eyebrows slightly, seeing a shabbily-dressed man ordering so much good food, but she simply said, "That will be a hundred, please."

He calmly took out his golden sovereign. And then he put his hand back into his pocket.

There was nothing else there.

The cashier arched her thick eyebrows even more. She said, "Well?"

Our poor fellow hastily fumbled around his pockets, looking for the sovereigns that were supposed to be there.

The cashier had enough of this nonsense. She snapped at him, "If you don't have any more money, then don't waste my time! Your stupid sovereign is only enough for one loaf of bread! Pay up, and get out NOW before I call the cops!"

Meekly, he scampered hastily out of the store.

Grumbling to himself, he leaned back on his bench, and looked up at the sky. "God, you must be making fun of me, right?"

Suddenly, he heard another loud clink. He turned around, and saw... another golden sovereign.

He rolled up his eyes to heaven again. "God, you have a good sense of humour I see."

He took it, and fingered it gratefully. "At least I won't be starving so soon..."

Just when he had said that, a ragged beggar slowly came up to him. He whispered hoarsely, "Sir, sir, I am starving. Do you have any bread or money to spare?"

He felt sorry for the beggar and said, "C'mon old man, I have some small change here. Take it."

The old beggar beamed gratefully and bowing low, he limped off.

The man looked at him disappear, and sighed to himself. "Well, he's in worse shape than me. Anyway, it's getting quite hot here. Where's my hanky?"

Taking out his hanky, a sovereign fell into his lap.

He took the sovereign, and peered at it closely.

"Gee! This is very interesting. It's the same sovereign."

Taking a deep breath, he flopped back onto his bench, and stared up at the sky, not speaking for a few minutes.

Then he sat up, and said, "Lord, I think I get it now. When I want to spend this sovereign on my wants, it doesn't go far. But when I use it to help others in need, somehow this sovereign multiplies and there is enough for us."

And he smiled. "This sovereign was never mine then. It was simply a loan from God. So from today onwards, I shall use this sovereign to help others in need, just like how God helped me in my time of need."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some Random Snapshots...

I was on my way to Bras Basah yesterday, when I suddenly bumped into Yufen along the way. So we took time to catch up - I heard from her that she and a lot of other people are taking up Spanish for their Word for Life classes. ¡Muy bien! El Señor es bueno, ahora y por siempre...

Anyway, it was great catching up with you, sis! And Yufen also showed me her photo of a little kingfisher bird. It was so nice! :)

So thought I'd share some photos I snapped from the past... hee, hope you guys are blessed... may we all learn to delight in God's creations, whether great or small...

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all...

 
Sweet Homecoming...


Arise, shine, for thy light is come...



Said the Smooth Rock to the Flowers, "Why, hello, my pretty dears! I don't suppose we've met in this garden before?"

Friday, April 24, 2009

What's the difference between praise and worship, actually? :)

Is it simply differing styles?

Think praise and worship are similar, but they are distinct.

Praise would be singing of what God has done, and worship would be singing of who God is.

Nah, don't want to be pedantic about it, but these distinctions do help us remember that it is good to remember what God has done, and to also remember who He is.

So that would mean that it is possible to have fast-paced worship songs, and slow, contemplative praise songs.

Just a thought! =)

An old Christian Chorus in the key of C

He is my everything, He is my all,
He is my everything,
both great and small,
He gave His life for me,
made everything new,
He is my everything, now how about you

Some folks may ask me
some folks may say
Who is this Jesus
you talk about everyday
He is my Saviour
He set me free
Listen while I tell you
what he means to me

Like Honey in the rock
Sweet honey in the rock
For he tastes like honey in the rock
Oh taste and see
that the Lord is good
For he tastes like honey in the rock.
This is a really good video of "He Is My Everything" :) Planning to use it for tomorrow's CG praise...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Internet Evangelism Day (IED)

HI HI! IED@SG IS HAPPENING NEXT WEEK

Online Events - Monday to Friday, April 20-24, 2009

Monday, April 20
Blogging Carnival: Themed blogging on the topic "Easter and Us"

Tuesday, April 21
Testimony Wall: Sharing God's Word in our lives

Wednesday, April 22
Online Missions: Outreach into Online Social Spaces

Thursday, April 23
Media Forum: Church in New Media Discussions

Friday, April 24
Creative Communications: Making Faith Connections through Art

Face-To-Face Event - Saturday, April 25, 2009

10:00am Registration
10:30am 
Session 1 - Understanding Our Digital World 

Mini-Seminar series by 5 guest speakers on:

  • The Bible and New Media 
  • Engaging our Digital World 
  • Godly Parenting in a Digital Age 

 12:30pm Lunch (on your own)

 1:30pm Session 2 - Making the Gospel Click

 Snapshots and sharing from 10 Media/New Media ministries:

  • Ministry snapshots: Journeys, insights and convictions about online/media ministry 
  • E-Mentoring

  3:30pm Tea Break
  4:00pm 
ATRIA Unconference 3 - Building the Walls

Open space discussions on 3 key issues around Church and New Media:

  1. Significance: How do we see the use of new media changing the relationship between groups of people e.g. teachers and students, parents and children, citizens and govt, pastors and members? 
  2. Opportunity: How fast is the game changing? What are the emerging problems and opportunities for Christian outreach and ministry? Is involvement really necessary?
  3. Challenge: How can churches be best supported in taking a stake in new media? What are the concrete needs of church members and leaders in and arising from new media?

JOIN THE COMMUNITY EVENTS TO LEARN, CONNECT AND SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

Register NOW at signup.iedier.com

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!


Blessings,
IED@SG 2009 Team
Got a question? Chat with us right now!

More details are available at www.iedier.com. If you have friends who might benefit from this event, please forward this flyer to them so they can be a part of this church awareness movement!

IED@SG Church Posters are also out!  A5 Flyer (Colour, pdf)  A4 Poster (Colour, pdf)

BACK TO TOP

WHAT IS THIS?

Internet Evangelism Day (IED) is an international online movement that aims to activate churches and Christians about:

  • What God is doing on the Web
  • Outreach strategies that work online
  • How you, your church or Christian group can use the Web for outreach -- and how to make effective church websites reach into the community
  • Planning an Internet Evangelism focus day for your church, Bible college or Christian group

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Treasure Your Friends


A very dear friend MSNed me just now. He wanted to apologise for his style which he spoke... but I told him, it's really ok! 'cos I know it's his style, and I enjoy it some more!

And he said he was checking with me how I felt, just to be sure... and then he said these immortal words:
******** says (11:54 PM):
you're too good of a friend to let be misunderstood
Deeply, deeply touched. His thoughtfulness is one of the best things I appreciate and even admire in him... Really don't deserve this kind, thoughtful friend... but God gave me him as a gift!



And that reminds me of another friend. Andrew. Yup, my neighbour in Christ cum fellow brother from Hope. Once again, he's set the bar in being a great friend, brother and neighbour.

'Cos some of you may know that my dad scalded his hand badly last night. It was a second-degree burn, with the skin well and truly sloughed off. So I messaged some of you to pray for my dad.

And Andrew messaged me this, among other messages:
hm can see that u are quite worried for yr dad. will yr maid be around to take care of him when u go to work in the morning? if not i can come over. cos i took off from work.
:'O

I was so stunned when I read Andrew's message. It was the first time ever that anyone had offered to do such a thing like this - and Andrew only knew my dad by face some more.


While I was thanking God for Andrew, this verse came to mind:
Proverbs 27:10
Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away. (NIV)
Never abandon a friend—
either yours or your father’s.
When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance.
It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away. (NLT)

So was reflecting on this verse. It came so literally true last night. Learnt that God wants me to treasure my friends (and including my father's friends too - though honestly I don't know them actually), and not abandon them - not only in the physical sense - but also by forgetting about them or neglecting them, or failing to appreciate them for what they've already done for me.

I learnt two new things from these two friends of mine.

1: Go the extra mile to clear up any conflicts - don't risk them festering. Seek to resolve - not because you're worried what the other person will think of you, but because you treasure the other person to let the misunderstanding continue. Conflicts WILL happen, but they can either bond you or break you.

2: Go the extra mile in caring for your friends - even their parents too, where possible. Sometimes we feel awkward 'cos we may not know them... but truth be told, Andrew's act of love has transformed the way I see things... this is SO much the Christianity of the New Testament that I see made alive right before my own eyes! So I am inspired by his Christlike example to do the same for my fellow bros and sisters too.

Whoa. One is a non-Christian, the other a Christian serving as a leader... but God has chosen both of them to model for me a common truth from the Bible: "Love your neighbour as yourself."

So wow, thank You Father. I see how You are teaching and helping me grow in appreciation for others, like how Your Son appreciated his friends when he walked on the face of the earth.

Yeah and Amen!!!!!!!

But You Have Been Chosen...

“I am not made for perilous quests,” cried Frodo. I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?”

“Such questions cannot be answered,” said Gandalf. “You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.

J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Check Your Fuel...



From Hong Teck's latest blog entry:
It has always been my philosophy that if there’s nothing significant to be proud of, go and think of something that can make us proud. It could be that your children smiled at you or you actually knew the answer to a friend’s problem or you didn’t lost your temper the whole week or your reach your 10th anniversary without breaking down.

Then I remember a quote which goes something like this. “Don’t think about shinning without first filling your lamp”. I just cannot remember who said this but yes, there’s really something more important than shinning. And that is to fill our lamp first. We need to work on the fuel and nothing fuels us more than the discipline to eat, drink, think, ask and do the right things regularly.

There’s always something more worthy to pay attention to than the glory of being an expert or a genius.
I found this so true and meaningful, 'cos I was reminded of the ten wise and foolish virgins (the ancient equivalent of our modern-day 姐妹s...).
1"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

7"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'

9" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'

10"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Yup, I need to aim to be prepared and stay ready. To ensure that my lamp is always burning steadily. Something that I also realised was that everyone fell asleep. People will get tired in waiting for the Lord to come. People do start snoozing. But the key thing is, no matter how tired we may be, let's keep our spiritual lamps filled up no matter how dark or tiring it becomes.

'Cos if we don't anticipate and 加油, to spend time on the spiritual disciplines and draw strength from God daily... we may not last the race.
Anyway, another thing I also want to thank God for is that God miraculously blessed a very dear bro of mine with a follow-up interview a few days ago. This bro was telling me that he hadn't heard from the workplace for quite a long while, and in a way he was a bit 'lost' I think...

But that same day, he got news that he was to continue the test/interviews! Wow. God's provision is always so timely.

Also want to thank God too for the movie 'The Days' that I watched with Mich, Jonathan and Huili today after service. It was really great catching up with these two dear sisters back from tertiary days.

The movie was really good and very thought-provoking...

But something else too. On the way to the movie venue, I dropped some of the tickets. Gosh. When we were there, I found out that the tickets were lost. So had to run back and try to find it. But realised that perhaps God may be purposely testing my faith in Him. So I prayed, reminding myself not to be kancheong (well, as best as I could). Then went back.

And wow, the tickets were lying just outside the Istana. Praise the Lord! As Jon said, thank God I didn't drop it on the road... very sad if the cars and lorries would have driven over the poor tickets...

So something that I think God has been training me in the past few weeks, through a whole bunch of things (too many to share), is that He purposely has been putting last -min problems in my way, to test me and see whether I will stop and pray and trust in Him. Not to panic and lean on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge Him and He shall make my paths straight.

God really is FAITHFUL. Aye-men!

Seed of Impossibility



I love this quote that was given during today's sermon:
'The seed for a great miracle lies not in difficulty but in impossibility.'
This is really where the name of God is glorified. For I've been blessed beyond measure, and by His grace alone I'll overcome.
In Christ alone will I glory
Though I could pride myself
In battles won
For I’ve been blessed beyond measure
And by His strength alone, I overcome

Oh, I could stop and count successes
Like diamonds in my hands
But these trophies could not equal
To the grace, by which I stand

In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory
In the power of the cross

In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone
Oooh. I so want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...

I think God has been helping me change my attitude towards problems and so on. Instead of becoming negative, I've slowly started finding my heart strangely warmed and changing. I'm starting to find a strange joy in all these difficulties - that every difficulty and problem is a glorious opportunity for God to manifest His power, His dynamite power...

I don't know how or why, but it seems that it's the work of the Word and the Spirit that is strangely transforming my heart's attitude. Oooh! I hope I can become stranger and stranger, rejoicing in the midst of every circumstance and difficulty.

God just is so GREAT AND GOOD. =)
Wow! What a day. Haha! God is so cool.

Today was my second time leading the Pri 6 CG. It was a rather unnerving experience. But thank God so much that He sent another CL along, and Eilton too, to support me. I learnt a lot of things, plus a deeper appreciation for what my own CL has to do. It's really not easy being a CL man. Even for kids.

But hey, this is part of growing into new challenges, and stepping out of my comfort zone. And how can I know God's power if I do not step out into the areas of my weaknesses?

Yup! So something I am reminded of is that when we choose to step out of our comfort zones in order to serve God even more, God is able to provide us with everything that we need in order to fulfill what He has called us to do! AYE-MEN!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Was chatting with someone today. Gosh! Seems he has synthaesia... he was telling me that when he hears letters, he 'sees' colours...

So I tried a survey on him. This is the results of the survey:

t is blue
h is yellow
a is green
u is green
z is green
i is green
l is blue
b is yellow
p is red/green
o is orange
q is green
m is yellow
n is brown
r is red
w is yellow
c is greenish

So cool, right???

the center of our friendship

I read these lines just now from someone's blog. Very inspirational, bold and convicted words. =)
i promise to put God in the center of our friendship,i will not try to leave you a good impression of me by holding back from speaking up when i see your life off track.

i want you to love God more not love me more.
Am I purposefully putting Christ at the centre of my relationships, even if it means becoming lesser in the eyes of my friends?

"He must increase; I must decrease."

This is the heart's essence of discipleship, rich and radical to the core.

And I remember what Alan shared last time in Sub-D. About what our friendships are based upon. Are they merely based upon common interests, or positive feelings... or are they forged out of the battlefield of brotherhood, out of the sweat, blood and tears of fellowship? A radical commitment to loving God absolutely, and loving people as ourselves? A radical commitment to the truth, which lives in us and shall be with us forever?

To my close friends: Let's make Christ the Core and the Centre of our friendships... let's be bold and speak the truth to one another in love. Let's push the limits of our friendships, to help one another become more and more Christlike.

Let's not be tame, for that would only make us lame.
Let's not play games, for we can't remain the same.
Let's live for His fame, to live and be without blame.
And let's love one another in Jesus' name, for in Him is no shame.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Had a good time helping Andrew with his resume and cover letter last night. We also ate curry rice + lasagna.

Then we talked about things. Super-blessed by his advice, and sharing of testimonies as well.

One thing that I remember is how he makes sense of his experiences. He shared what he learnt about God's character, God's faithfulness and the biblical principles that he learnt and experienced through these experiences.

Ah.

You know, one thing struck me just now. When the Bible said that "one generation shall commend Your works to another", it didn't just mean the older to the younger. Nooo. In this case, it was the younger testifying to the older.

And it's such a joy to see how good God is.

I want to grow in being able to go one step further. Not only testify how faithful and good God is to me, but also to see what He is teaching me through these experiences. How He is training and equipping me.

So. I was reflecting, and I realised that in the past few months, especially since my last birthday, I realise that God has been teaching me to grow in appreciative love. A heart that appreciates. He put around me people, e.g. Andrew, Huili, Clarence and some other people who can really see and appreciate the good things in others very well.

I am learning too how to be a better disciple-maker, and a sounder thinker as well. And I stand more and more in awe of Jesus the Nazarene. He really is the Teacher of teachers!

I also reflected on the fact that we shouldn't blindly follow forms and traditions, no matter how well-intentioned they are. We need to be like the noble Bereans, who examined the Scriptures every day to see if what was preached to them was true. To be able to give a reason for the hope that we have, just as 1 Peter says.

Also, I am beginning to see that following someone's example in following Christ is really a very fast way to grow. So have grown in observing the good hearts and minds of my fellow Christians. And I think God may be challenging me to set a stronger example for my sheep too. To be more intentional.

May we all learn to have more and more open hearts and minds to allow God to transform us. Transform us by the renewing of our minds. Then we will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life Without Limbs :: Nick Vujicic



Wow. Thank God so much for this dear brother in Christ.

The part at 2:20 onwards was especially touching.

As Nick lay down on the table, armless and legless, he asked the audience:
So what do you do when you fall down? ... There are some times in life we fall down, we feel like we don't have the strength to get back up. Do you think you have hope? If I could tell you I'm down here, face down, and I have no arms and no legs, it should be impossible for me to get back up - but it's not.

You see, I would try 100 times to get up, and if I fail 100 times, if I fail and I give up, do you think I'm never going to get up? NO! But if I fail... I try again, and again, and again.

I just want you to know that it's not the end. It matters how you're going to finish, and you're going to finish strong.

And you will find the strength to get back up.
And then he struggled, and struggled to get himself up again. Oh my gosh. He really humbled himself in front of the entire audience, looking so helpless, squirming and straining... that when he finally managed to get himself up again, there wasn't a single dry eye in the audience.

And mine too.


Personally, what encouraged me even more was that Nick also shared his own bitterness with God, and his own depression and sense of failure. He even begged God to grow him arms and legs.

Here's the Wikipedia entry:
Being bullied at his school, Nick grew extremely depressed, and by the age of eight, started contemplating suicide[3]. After begging God to grow arms and legs, Nick eventually began to realize that his accomplishments were inspirational to many, and began to thank God he was alive. A key turning point in his life was when his mother showed him a newspaper article about a man dealing with severe disability. This led him to realize he wasn't the only one with major struggles[4]. When he was seventeen, he started to give talks at his prayer group[5], and eventually started his non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs.[6]
Hee. Thank God.

This post is so timely, as always. Because I was having my quiet time, and I was earlier sharing with God how unable I felt. Sort of like a 'zero personality', more of being a 'wallflower', not being respected or looked up to, even lacking in the character department and just being so small.

But God quickly spoke to me through the Bible passages that I read. Wow!

I know that I can speak and write very well. It's just that I struggle a lot of times with fear of failure, a constant sense of inferiority and unworthiness and so on, etc. But God giving me wisdom, courage and power, I shall deliberately exercise these talents He has given me, to serve others in love and truth.

I really must. Because God really thinks so much better of me than I think myself. YA, remember the prophecies that were spoken over you!

Yup! :)

Actually I'm really encouraged. I was reading 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus just now, and somehow God impressed on my heart that He is currently teaching and training me, before sending me out. It IS tough, to be sure, but this is something like a spiritual 'boot camp'. But because of that encouragement and clear, direct words of instructions, I sense He is working very specifically in my life. Gosh! Today is a beautiful day. :D

And somehow, there is an increasing gnawing hunger in my heart to grow in righteousness. I just feel an increasingly sharper holy discontent in my heart. And I recognize this as one of the Lord's Beatitudes: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Hee.

Oh! I was looking through one of the points in the prophecies from last year, and wow, it does confirm what I am making sense of so far:
God will train and equip you. Keep close to God
All right! =D Haha... So gogogo in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!!! Amen!

Monday, April 13, 2009

God's Growth Mural



My niece, Samantha, is eighteen this year. She's about to enter uni this year. My uncle, a Ronald Reagan lookalike, is her grandfather. And whenever she visits her grandpa, she asks him to mark her height on the wall of his home, as he has done for so many years ever since she was a little, little girl. He chortles and gladly obliges, looking even more brilliantly Reaganesque as he smiles, even though (or rather, because) both of them know that it will be the same, year after year.

And my niece's and nephew's growth charts are no longer pencilled markings on a wall, but a timeless mural by a grandfather and his grandchildren for generations to see.

And I realise that our Father himself loves to record and inscribe every little growth and every sweet victory that we have in our personal walk with Him.
Psalm 139:16b
"All the days ordained for me
were written in your book before
one of them came to be."
Like how my sheep is increasingly making it a conscious habit to read the Bible whenever he's waiting. That's God's pencil mark dated 12 April 2009. One small step for him, one giant leap for the kingdom of God.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today is a really amazing day. Because I had woken up very frustrated and angry with myself, about my lack of faithfulness in being late for HopeKids service yet again.

I was very frustrated, because even though I had intended to sleep earlier so that I can rise earlier... somehow, I dilly-dallied and did stuff here and there till the wee hours of the morning.

I shared with Hong Teck and Peter my frustration about being late YET ONCE AGAIN... and I also shared with God how frustrated I felt. So frustrated, that I started singing a song to God about my frustrations. LOL.

But Peter was very encouraging. He smsed back: "...take heart dont let this setback beat you to pulp. Pick youself up :) go to [God] like david let [God] refresh you bah"

And Hong Teck also encouraged me too, reminding me that we slip and fall. But that doesn't mean it's the end.

I was very touched by their encouraging and kind words. It was very timely. Because I shared later on in the day with a dear friend about our struggle with guilt. Shared my experience this morning as a testimony of God's mercy and grace.

Then on my way back home, I saw this article that Weizhu had sent me a few days ago. The words are so timely!
I encourage you not to think of yourself as a dirty person who can't be used by God. We all blow it at times, but that doesn't change the fact that, at the core of your being, you are clean because of what Christ has done for you.

A good illustration of this fact is an incident that happened with Jesus and His disciples when they were in the upper room together. He was about to wash the feet of the disciples. Peter protested over Jesus' assuming such a lowly position of servanthood and said to Him, "There is no way I'm going to let you wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If you don't you won't be involved in the plan I have in mind." Peter then blurted out, "Then go for it! Wash me from head to toe! I'm in!"

Jesus' response to Peter here is instructive. He said to him, "If you've had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you're clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you're clean."

The point Jesus was making was that Peter was not a dirty person. He simply had dirt on him at that moment, dirt that needed to be wiped off. There is a big difference between the two. Do you see it? Just because you sometimes get dirt (sinful thoughts, feelings, or even actions) on you doesn't mean that you've morphed into a dirty person.

I'm not minimizing the seriousness of sin here. Nobody enjoys the aftereffect of a roll in the dirt. The point I'm making is, you don't have to let it wreck your life by believing you're a bad person God can't use. Don't cheat yourself out of the thrill of living in the carefree abandon of faith.


So as I reflect, I think God is graciously encouraging me not to be discouraged. That I need not fear people who may misunderstand and condemn me for my failures. I received so much grace for my failures. So I should also show others the same grace I have received from God. This is true spirituality. Ministering to one another out of our brokennesses.


Henri Nouwen said that there is no better healer than a wounded healer. :)

The timing also. I think God may be indicating to me that harder times lie ahead. But He has promised His grace for the times ahead. This is part of His training me to grow into godliness and holiness. Also, as an assurance that ultimately, He has made me right with Him. Like the song that we sang in HopeKids today: "Yes, by the cross we've truly been transformed."

Timely too, because the past two weeks had been a heavy time for me in the heart. A lot of old memories, and my own failures and sins, started piling up on top of me. And the burdens of these memories made me stagger in sadness.

I knew He forgave me all my sins, but the fallout and the charred landscape were still there. Wondered what God would do, if He was willing. And also lots of sadness over my own patterns and character flaws. Felt helpless as I saw myself repeating the same old patterns.

But God's encouragement was so timely. :) Keep going on. God is cheering you and me on! Everyone of us have our unique battles to fight. We have our own loads to carry. But let's not condemn or judge one another, but help carry each other's burdens, and in this way we will fulfill the law of Christ.



Also another lesson I learnt just now from my reflections is that God can use my unique struggles as a testimony to encourage my brothers in Christ. That they are not alone. Twice in the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to encourage my sheep, and a dear brother who is currently not in any church.

About the brother not in any church. He shared with me some of his fears and disappointments that kept him from committing. Wow. 'Cos some of the things that had happened to me recently were in the same category as his own struggles. So I shared with him. And he was listening.

After that, on our way back home, he then asked me when my service was. Told him it's on Sunday. He's still got a project and some work to clear first. But thank God so much that He can use my experiences to encourage another bro struggling.

There's so much hope to be found in Him! He takes even the most painful moments of our lives and transforms them into marvellous bandages of mercy to heal the broken-hearted. He turns our sorrows into joys! His power really is made perfect in weakness. Praise the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Aye-men! :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Everything Can Be Used For His Good Purpose

I was discussing with Peter about my future career path.

Told him I was seriously considering teaching. But he reminded me, teaching in Singapore may not give me that much of an opportunity to impact children's lives as much as I'd like. It's very admin in nature.

Furthermore, I'm hearing-impaired, and the fact is that children make NOISE. :)

True! true! I had trouble hearing the kids in Sunday School at times...

Then he asked me, the end goal is that you want to impact lives and help them. Are there other ways to meet these end goals?

Suddenly, I realised. Why not consider being a teacher in a school for the hearing-impaired? :) Then no worries about hearing-impairment... HAHAHA...

No, I may not go for teaching line after all, but if it really turns out to be so, then wow, God really is very amazing. It'll be full circle then. And I would see how everything, even my hearing-impairment and the many difficulties that I went through in life, will reach full bloom. To inspire, educate and encourage.

That in all things God really works for the good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

God is so great and good! :D

I've Finally Found The Reason For Living :D

Something I also learnt from Deborah's poem.

You know, poems can often become a very melancholic affair. The classic case is that a poem attempts to capture a 'snapshot' of a particular scene / experience, but also carries an emotional introspection of what the poet thinks about the event.

Problem is, often, when we do works of art, it ultimately becomes a means for self-cartharsis, to express out our feelings and thoughts and so on.

Still, Deborah's poem reminded me. She used the poem to honour God. Whoa. When was the last time I wrote something to deliberately and purposely honour God? Honour Him for who He is? What He has done?

And somehow, I think God is pleased to put his stamp of approval upon these works of art. These works of art carry an extra edge to them. Think Michaelangelo's "Sistine Chapel". Think Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper". Think Handel's "The Messiah".

I'm not denigrating other works of art... but don't you think that their artwork carries an echo, a sense of majesty, that God is GREAT?

And people are inevitably drawn to something greater than themselves.

These words of a friend with great artistic talents make me think too:
Reunited with the One who loved her so dearly, she lives to give her life for Him and His purposes. With all the giftings that she has, she is boldly stepping forth to serve & glorify God, including using the pencil.
Wow. With whatever we have, do we seek to serve and glorify God?

*whistles* What a basic but an amazing truth.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks us:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
And the answer is clear:
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.


Thank You so much, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. For revealing this revelation of truth to me. Now! I change paths, I shall go forth and glorify You in all that I do! You must increase, I shall decrease. Yay!

How appropriate these lyrics... especially since yesterday was Good Friday.
We were the reason that He gave his life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

I've finally found the reason for living
It's in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do, every word that I say
I'll be giving my all just for Him, for Him


And now I have a better idea of which direction the Writers' Circle is meant to go in. :)

Poem from a former HopeKid aged 12.5

Written by Deborah Lee (Ps Ben's daughter) from HopeKids - she graduated last year. I love this poem - it's very well-written! Gosh! She really can write very well...

THE CROSS

The cross, oh the cross
It was the death of our Lord
But to many others it was a minor loss
“He was a great teacher,
No, wait a preacher,”
But all in all he is very much greater.

But as brothers and sisters
Followers of Christ
We know so well that day
He paid a heavy price

The death of Jesus was very major
All of us would learn much later
That Jesus died to set us free
So off with the chains which we were once bound
For God’s love for us was always around

Wait, let me take that back
For something in my sentence lack
The love of God was always around
Is always around and will always be around

A hefty price there was to pay
So the life of Jesus God chose to lay
God has planned a great life for me and you
Don’t you want to share it too?

By Deborah Lee
4 April 2009

I learnt something very important from her... love God... =)

Friday, April 10, 2009

My dog ate something just now. I REALLY hope it wasn't medicine. Worried. But prayed for my dear dog.

Good Friday Service @ St. Andrew's Cathedral

Today, I went for the Good Friday service at St. Andrew's Cathedral. And I was so, so deeply ministered within. No, it's not I've gone to another church or even am thinking of... it's just that I had this specific desire to go down and just receive more spiritual input.

Perhaps it might have been God prompting me to go? =)

And when I went in, I was quite shy, hoping no one'd notice me - or God forbid - that I should meet any of my friends/acquaintances from St. Andrews! 'Else I'd have to explain, and I wasn't really eager to take the time to do so.

So I went in. And whoa, most of the speakers (it was a three-hour service, with plenty of passages for meditation) who shared their sharings, really were very good speakers! (I know one of them did make me nod off a bit... hee) Though they all wore similar robes, they came from very different walks of life.

And I was awed by how the same God works in each one of them. :)

Anyway, I've twittered some of my own meditations... but I think yeah, thank God, He confirmed through some of the passages something that He'd been impressing strongly in my heart recently.

It was a gradual unfolding revelation and now I see with my heart, not just my mind. :)



'Cos I had been thinking about what Huaqiang wrote, what Hong Teck wrote, what even Denise and an NMP wrote... they were all pointing to the one same thing: "Act out the change you want to see and be."

And this verse kept coming to mind: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose."

And... my own character weaknesses... flaw, I guess you could say - about being lazy and unfaithful to deliver what I had promised... that someone pointed out to me recently.

And, while spending time with Andrew my neighbour, observed his life and action... oh my goodness. I was very struck by his godly character - not just good behaviour - and caring heart, even though he is way younger than me.

And I realised he so reflects the character of Christ in many ways. Of course, I know he has his weaknesses, but it's a very good reflection, nevertheless.

And at this point I remember Liyan sharing something during one of the HopeSem lessons. I can't remember the exact content of what she shared, but the way she said, and what she said, was so stunning to me, and I hope to many others too, that I think she genuinely loves everyone around her.

OMG.

So I have hope, a living hope, that I can, it really is possible, and God wants me to - that I can really start a new life every day, a life that is newer and newer each new day. A life that purposely mimics Christ's life.

Yay. I want to be more like Jesus, until the end of time.

Aye-men. :)

Thank God so much for our fellow Christians serving there at St. Andrew's. :) Blessed by their welcoming, hospitable spirit of opening up their grounds for anyone to come in. =)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Phillips, Craig & Dean - Your Name

As morning dawns and evening fades
You inspire songs of praise
That rise from earth to touch Your heart
And glorify Your name


Your name
Is a strong and mighty tower
Your name
Is a shelter like no other
Your name
Let the nations sing it louder
'Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your name

Jesus, in Your name we pray
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You
And glorify Your name
Hee. I'm thinking of waking up at 6.30 am later on to just get up and go to AMK Park everyday. Want to spend the morning sunrise with Jesus. :) I know it'll be hard work - but loving God and seeking Him is always hard work - but He makes it easier for me. =)

In any case, I've found that every time I spend at least one or two hours with Him, I am so refreshed and strengthened to face the challenges of the day ahead. :)



Anyway, I remember watching The Pianist. There's this scene where a group of Jewish and Polish prisoners march drearily back to their bunks after a long day's hard work. Then they meet a drunken Nazi slavemaster, who drunkenly orders them to sing for his entertainment. Since he's so drunk, the prisoners immediately obey him by singing a song... and a fiercely patriotic resistance song at that. LOL. And their mood turns from drudgery to a renewed defiance.

So in a way, I guess on mornings that seem super-moody, and cloudy and dreary, I will arise and awake my soul, and stoutly sing a fierce song of freedom as a soldier of Christ, a patriotic song of praise as a citizen of heaven. That it is for freedom that Christ has set me free! Stand firm, then, and do not let myself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

So yup, I will arise now, for He has set me free indeed. I shall go forth in the strength I have to march forth in His name. To proclaim songs of faith and victory, and to bear weapons of righteousness in my two hands. To do the will of Him who sends me. Because the battle is not mine; it belongs to the LORD.

Aye-men.

Words of Wisdom From An NMP!

"A lot of people talk a lot, but not many would want to step forward, be counted or get their hands dirty."

"If you feel so strongly about something, come out and do it. Don't just complain. Come out of your comfort zone."

"I think we are all in the House trying our best to make a better Singapore. Of course, there are differences in how we get there, but that purity of purpose is what I think is important.


- Siew Kum Hong, Nominated Member of Parliament
Wow. I like this guy... not to mention his cool 'botak' image... :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Big Is My Perspective?

I was thinking about what Peter shared with me on Sunday. And the meet-up with Ziyong yesterday. And just a general burden overall. And I think God is also showing me something new that I need to open my eyes big-big.

I realised that all so often, my viewpoint is so narrow. I only see my little problem here on the ground. But is my heart big enough to see this entire planet as He sees it? If not, then at least about this church? This city?

God has telescopic vision. He sees the entire world, stars and galaxies... and He can also see a little sparrow fallen to the ground and care. He sees vast kings, presidents, generals and nations moving to and fro, and He sees a little child in prayer to seek Him.

He sees the big, and He sees the small. He sees the rich people of the world in their filthy splendour, and laughs at them, declaring, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool." And He sees the poverty of the world in their shame, and He stoops down to lift them up from their mud-heaps.

SIGH.

I know I don't see as God sees. I'm too narrow-minded and self-centred. Too selfish and self-absorbed. But surely... what can I do, Lord?

And immediately, I'm reminded: Ask God to take you to the mountain-top to see the world together with Him.

See as JESUS sees.

Yup. Open my eyes again Lord! My eyes are squeezed tight with selfishness, but I don't want to be!

Edited to add:
Oops, realised that I wrote "filthy splendor"... think it'll be misunderstood! :P I'm not saying that all rich people are, you know, like that. There's godly rich people too. It's just that when I wrote what I wrote, I was thinking about the rich people who abuse their power and ignore the needs of the poor... so I used the term 'filthy splendor' as a poetic device.

In any case, yes, the psalmist wrote that God stoops down to lift up the head of the poor. And the apostle Paul mentioned in one of his letters that we should help the poor.

Ultimately that's the heart attitude that counts...

'Cos I write this as a more well-off guy... I came from a more well-to-do family. But I guess it's seeing the plight of the poor... that has melted my heart and made me increasingly more eager to give and bless over the years.

I think I do want to be rich - rich with eternal treasures in heaven. Jesus challenged us:
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I think the heart behind all this is not that I might be deprived, while the other get richer, but it's about everyone having something to eat and so on. Caring for one another.

Don't Just Criticize... Do Something!

A thought occurred to me. Instead of criticizing this person or that ministry or this idea, why don't I simply do something to help build up and strengthen that person/ministry?

I think, looking at all the past signs the past two days, it seems God's speaking loud and clear to me: "Don't criticize your fellow servants. Just help them out where you can!"

Paiseh! But it's good that Papa is rebuking and correcting me. :)

There's already enough friendly fire in the army of God... if I see a problem, I should not complain - I should just see what I can do! =)
I was talking with God just now. And asking Him what He thought of us Singaporeans. :) Hee. Yes, you can talk politics with God - He's the King of Kings after all...

And actually, this thought came to mind - I think He was replying to me like this, as a dialogue
"I think you Singaporeans need to be more courageous. Yes, you do have courageous people among you who are willing to go out for my Name... but I want everyone to be more courageous."

"More courageous men?"

"No. Everyone, whether men or women."

"Oh. I see... *pause* then what about our government, etc... you know that a lot of us Singaporeans are rather reluctant to speak up for various things... what do You think, Lord?"

":) If I made it easy for you guys to speak up, would that take much courage? Courage comes only when things are difficult to do."