Friday, May 29, 2009

From Hong Teck's blog:
Spiritually Strong?
I have been in times where I’m disciplined, I’m praying, thankful and just spiritually strong.

I have also been in times where I feel lost and faraway from God and spiritually just not that hot.

Both times, I’m still going to church, meetings, reading the word and doing my thing.

Just that in one, I theologize, I protect and judge those who opposes me. The other, I just innovate, create and think about how to bless people who opposes me.

A good measurement of how we are spiritually is if we spend our time theologizing and opposing? Or are we innovating, creating and blessing?
This post really mirrors what my heart's tendency is, especially when I'm feeling lost and far-away from God at times. But thank God for His loving reminder to me, that this is a good way of assessing just how spiritual I really am.

Ah. Taking sober assessment of my heart. Haha. If the story of my life's full of judgmental stuff and apologetic defences and justifications and nitpicking over doctrines, and moaning about why this person like this and that person like that and God, why can't they be more spiritual... etc. etc., then gee, something's really wrong with my walk with God.

But if it's full of joy, of appreciation and meaningful activities, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience... then hee, perhaps my walk with God may be going well and growing well.

Especially in my fellowship and ministry. Am I innovating, creating and thinking up new ways to bless and serve them? Take initiatives to create more opportunities for them to bond tog? Sigh. I think I'm not putting in much effort actually. I need to draw closer to God more and to work harder to serve others.
Came back from skit rehearsal for the HopeKids camp.

Hong Teck, Wan Yueh, Kelvin, Yung, Shunrong, Hannah, Joey, Deborah, Soo Feng... gosh, they're all fantastic. And they're really a great team - very cooperative and better improvisational skills than the good guys on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?". I kid you not - when Joey did the crab walk with a deadpan expression, we died of laughter... when Kelvin did a falsetto... we died again... when Hong Teck pretended to be a muscleman, we died again... Wan Yueh running around like a chicken, Deborah acting nauseatingly cute-cute, Yung acting as a cat and Shunrong as a dog, Hannah doing silly stuff... Soo Feng jumping up and down like a little girl...

But it's their cheerful and joyful attitude that touched me the most. An uncomplaining spirit - more than that - joyfully uplifting and positive! :D Wow, I learnt so much from just observing their lives.

And not just so, but also their ready willingness to do really silly things - AND laugh at themselves so much - now that's humility in action! Not a spirit of 'bo pian I have to do this for the kids?', but a spirit of excellence 'let's do this for the kids - and have fun while we're at it!

And you don't have to be young physically - everyone in the cast is a working adult... some are long married... some are recent graduates... but ultimately, all serving God with a cheerful passion.

Actually I must confess I was taking myself too seriously and being too reserved to act silly enough... but the others went ALL the way. Whoa. Result? EVERYONE laughs and rejoices!

I think that's an attitude that I can carry back into Adults ministry. Not to take myself so seriously, but to be willing to be Christ's fool. To be able to laugh at myself, when I do silly things with a holy heart and mindset. Not to think of myself more highly than I ought to, but to be willing to lower myself to bless others.

That's the way of the Kingdom, that's the way of becoming a disciple - learning to be like a little child again, that we may enter the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ok! Just finished printing out the Love Dare 40-days campaign booklet for my CG.


Now on to helping Ruey Fong pass some stuff to a friend.

Helped Andrew with his resumes these few weeks. Now helping answer his questions. Praise God. Really thank God for Peter's and Kangwei's and others' advice when I was doing my own job search. Now it's my turn to advise the younger ones. Deeply grateful to God for the joy and privilege to be able to serve my fellow bro in this way.

And Dehua blessed me with some great training HR materials. Whoa! Deeply blessed. Very touched by his thoughtfulness.

Looking back at all these, and more - it's been a wonderful joy being able to serve others in love. It's really more blessed to give than to receive.

Last Sunday, I put in a large sum of money into the offering bag (well, it was large to me...). It was a semi-spontaneous thing, but i did think thru it. And when I finally gave that amount into the offering bag, i felt so happy to be able to give cheerfully! :D Not because i'm expecting anything in return, but because it's a freewill offering... it's a paean of praise to God. A simple-hearted offering of thanksgiving to God... just because He gave me so much, so how can I not give Him back in return?

And, really, my heart felt so much lighter after giving, it felt like my heart was full of helium. HALLELUJAH!

Praise the Father, who gave and gave so much! =)

On a larger scale, I realise that this is the Acts community in action. Everyone gives gladly and freely to one another, and no one is in need. We don't consider our stuff our own to keep, but freely we have received, we freely give to one another.


There's this old saying that is so true:
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Really so amazed to see how God has grown my heart in generosity over the years. Those who know me from my earlier days will know that I am not by nature a generous person. I like to grab and keep things for myself, and basically prefer to receive than to give.

Actually, I'm not even non-generous. I'm a selfish sponge. I love to trouble other people, and ask them to do things for me that I can do for myself easily. I take a very long time to repay my debts... only when others remind me (indirectly)...

But because of God loving me so much, that He gave me His only Son... and not only Him, but also a family of God, friends, loving parents, life, health, wealth, food, education, job, maturity, strength, growth in character, wisdom, the fruit of the Spirit, great colleagues, good government, even the joy of bringing people to Christ, and being graciously given the honour and blessing of discipling a younger Christian... and even a vision and calling some more... ETERNAL LIFE and A DESTINY and BEST OF ALL, the opportunity to actually have a relationship with GOD HIMSELF...

Gosh. I am so amazed. Everyday. And I AM ALIVE.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
*sweet sigh!*

and what have i done to deserve all these good things? NOTHING. THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO DO NOT WHAT I HAVE... AND THEY DESERVE IT FAR FAR MORE THAN I DO.

*sigh* God is incredibly kind and merciful to me, a horrible sinner. So i can only do this in reply to his grace... with what He's given to me... i want to grow in giving back to Him... to church and to society.

Yup... i guess that's the least i can ever do. so thankful to the Father who is transforming my heart from a selfish and self-centred life to a life that is more and more eager to give. And in so doing, I am starting to find the life that is truly life.

YEAH!~ *pumps fist exuberantly*
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

Oh, praise the Father, who gave and gave so much!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Great Commission, Redux

I remember the times of my student years, when we need to pray and fast intensively for the matric season for the harvest and the uni camp was basically a time for us to prepare ourselves for the season. As in any other ventures in God's Kingdom, it is the same. When we go into our exam hall, we need to prepare beforehand. When we start sharing in cg or when we start teaching others, we need to prepare. And we need to get our stuff ready, and not wait till the last minute to get them ready. I truly thank God that I have prepared myself sufficiently for this transitional period. It wasn't the 'best' that I hoped for but I prepared myself spiritually and mentally for this transition. It will be good, as this is where God wants me to serve in.

Looking at the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half tribe of Manesseh, calling them to go into the Promised Land with the rest of Israel can be a great sacrifice. Especially when we just got settled down and suddenly God asks us to come out of our comfort zone, it is something of big proportion to our own personal self. Yet I sometimes wonder if we are ready to come out of our comfort zone and be ready to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, it's promising, seeing how brothers and sisters from all over the world going to places they had never thought they would go and began missionary works there. Sometimes, there are people who are willing to quit their work and go into areas God called them into despite the uncertainty.Yet sometimes, I see brothers and sisters insisting that they want to concentrate on their worldly work and refuse to move out of their comfort zone to do what God would have wanted them to do.

Sacrifice. It is a big word. I have been thinking a lot about this word and the other word called missions. I attended the Called For Mission workshop during the uni camp and responded to the challenge from Ps Ben to go for church planting in Kuching. I think I want to be serious about it and think about how I can go about doing this, with much prayer. Julian said it well, missions should be part of our Christian growth and Christian experience. I was quite motivated by this. Thinking about how brothers and sisters in Malaysia are having so much burden and going all over the places to plant and pioneer churches, hearing how our South America team has been doing their best for God in the mission field, I seriously want to give it a serious thought and start preparing myself for it. It's not about the Great Commission, but about why Jesus came in the first place. Ps Ben told us that there are quite a number of people group which have not been reached by the gospel yet. There are areas in the world where the gospel will never reach unless through deliberate effort. Come to think about it, I bought into the Hope vision, so why not do it?

But are we ready to sacrifice our comfort in our home and go and make disciples of all nations? This is a serious question that I thought we have to seriously consider. And we have to seriously pray about. There was one pastor who spoke at our mission conference few years back. She said that time God told her that she had responded too many times, it's time to really go. I think a lot of us have responded far too many times for missions, it's time we truly pray and do something about it.

So we need to pray. First, maybe I think I have to pray for God to enlarge my heart so that I can have the burden to make the sacrifice to go for mission. Heart preparation. It's important.
Huanyan's post spoke to me. Maybe it's because it echoes with what is also in my heart too. But... it's also a reminder to me, because I forgot about the heart behind it.

Like, for example, preparations. I was having supper with Shunrong, and we talked about children's church camp. So I asked him what are his objectives for the camp. And he shared. I shared mine too.

But it made me think. I realised that I was focused so much on what to do during the church camp, that I had forgotten to prepare my heart.

And also during DMM, we were discussing how to prepare our CG for the church camp. It was something that I'm very glad we're doing. Because, if I remember correctly, last year, I think we neglected to prepare ourselves.

It's not easy, especially since we working adults are focused on our work. But it does take discipline... and I figure I can always sacrifice some Facebook time to ask God to prepare and consecrate my heart. Shouldn't be a bad trade-off...

But let's bring it down to an even more basic level: Sunday service. Why stick to preparing our hearts only during special events like church camps? I was talking with Andrew over breakfast a few weeks back. He said one thing that he did to prepare himself for service - he sings praise songs to God.

It's not what he did. It's the heart behind what he did. Preparation.

Do I begin my day in prayer and reading the Word? Do I prepare my heart before a prayer meeting? Before CG?

I'm shocked, personally, at how many times we start a meeting and plan for our flocks, but forget to pray first. It stuns me, because this is a spiritual task, and logically speaking, shouldn't we be using spiritual weapons to aid us in our spiritual tasks?

Then missions. Good question. Am I preparing myself for it?

On a larger scale, HQ was sharing with us and Sarah's DMM (it was a combined one) a few weeks ago about the need to return back to our church's vision (which aims to fulfill the Great Commission).

As one of the 'old birds', I perceive that over time, we may have started sliding, even as we seek to increase our numbers, from the original vision - to fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime.

I guess, it's not wrong to want to win the marketplace for Christ... but we mustn't forget that ultimately we have to go out and preach the Good News. How sad it is, when we let go of the dreams and desires that we had when we were students once and young, and then start settling for a more "reasonable" existence. To be content to consider ourselves as one of the 'senders'.

C'mon. This is a calling for everyone. Whether you're student or family, you can go forth and fulfill the Great Commission. So what if you have 4 kids to take care of? Yes, there's extra considerations needed, but did you know that the family unit is one of the best and most stable teams to go church-planting?

So what if you don't have money as a student? C'mon, there's something called university or trips or whatever else.

So what if you're a working adult trying to find a job? C'mon, there's something called tentmaking.

So what if you're a little kid? You can bring another little kid too.

The nutshell of it is that there's a role for everyone to GO. We go in whatever way we can go. But there's at least one way or so to go. We make our money go. We make our time go. We make our children go. We make our parents go. We make our friends go. We make ourselves go.

I think the core of it is that we don't want to volunteer or sign up for the Lord's army. The Lord's army is not a draftee army. It is an army of volunteers.


Ha. I think I'm brimming with zeal for this. I was worshipping God during service on Sunday, when I had this strong impression in my heart. "Therefore, GO..."

I was wondering what it means, and asked God. "Go what?"

Then think He told me that this means that it's time to go forth and evangelise.

'Cos one thing that stops me from trying to evangelise is that I keep thinking I must find the right person to evangelise. Ok, that's true. But sometimes, I just prefer to stay in my comfort zone. If I don't go out and try, then who else will go?

By evangelism, I don't mean preaching in your face. That's not the most effective way I think. But at least can offer to pray for the other person, right? There are lots of non-Christians who are actually more willing to be prayed for than the Christian is willing to offer to pray for! And did you know that a lot of them still have never heard of the gospel?

So what are we waiting for, actually?

So on Monday, I saw my colleague. Chatted with him, and saw his toe. He had gone for toe surgery. So I decided to ask him whether can pray for him. He was surprised, but smiled and asked me whether I was a Christian. I said yes, and he started sharing about his other friends who are Christians/Catholics, and what their disagreements are and so on.

Just like that, it's so simple to transit into spiritual conversations.

Because the Lord already has authority over the person you're trying to reach out to. The Lord said that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. THERFORE, go and make disciples of all nations...

So shall we go now?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Psalm 126

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
Was reading this, although it wasn't exactly the psalm on my daily reading schedule. But suddenly, as I looked through the lyrics, sensed that these verses seemed to be speaking to me. And recalling the DMM yesterday, what HQ was thinking about, the seeds... and the planning for the CG during the church camp... these verses seem to be encouraging us that God is able to help us grow what we sow.

"Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy."

Have there been moments when we went out, shepherding or meeting people up or outreaching, but we felt about as happy as a farmer going out to plant his precious seed in a land racked with drought?

The farmer weeps, because he knows that more likely than not, he'll literally be throwing his seed to the birds, but yet he has to do it, with forlorn hope, just in case...

I checked out what the Negev was. It's harsh desert land that is generally not very suitable on its own for agriculture. So think it is an encouragement from God that He is able to send streams through the desert, and though sometimes we feel that we're not going to make it this time - He is able to do great and wonderful things for us - things too amazing to comprehend.

He's able to bring back the captives.
He's able to bring water flowing into the desert.
He's able to make things grow where they're not supposed to.

He's able to bring a new spring of revival and transformation in our CGs. Where we didn't have new disciples, and the "old birds" didn't seem to be experiencing God for two, three years... He is able to do something NEW today. Hee! Feel very encouraged, because I think this psalm is a rhema word from God to encourage us that He will do something beautiful in my CG soon.

Still, I think God may be speaking to us too. Perhaps He wants us to start weeping for what He weeps for. To break our hearts for what breaks His. Sheep being undiscipled? Old Christians living lives aimlessly? Discouraged and disappointed disciples? World in conflict? Social injustices? Broken societies? Suffering children? Loveless families? Faithless fathers? The Father's eyes see, and His ears hear... and His heart aches.

To rend our hearts, and not our garments. To return to the Lord our God. To weep together with Him, till our streams of tears confluence together to become streams in the desert.
He is able, He is able
I know He is able
I know my God is able
To carry me through

He heals the broken-hearted
And sets the captives free
He makes the lame walk again
And the blind to see...

He came from a place of glory
To set the captives free
He gave His life in love for me
And caused my eyes to see...

Have Holy Communion, Will Time Travel

Was thinking about Ps Simon. During DMM, HQ commented that Ps Simon is very full of joy.

So it led me to think about how we want to use visual aids to help people understand and capture key lessons and/or values and truths.

I think one of the most powerful visuals would be your own life example. So, e.g. if you want to inspire people to be excited for God, and the things of God, then our faces should be radiating with eagerness and enthusiasm whenever we talk about serving God!

Otherwise, if we think only about the "how-tos", then it often becomes a case of dispensing "head" knowledge - necessary, but not necessarily effective.

Hee. I remember last time, during my younger days as a Christian, to be honest, I was quite lost, when younger Christians asked me how to experience God, and feel His love.

So I simply dispensed the standard "ten-years-series" answers, but it didn't really answer the questions of their hearts. And I myself wasn't sure of the answer. How to find God? Talk about blind leading the blind! Experiencing God became degenerated into a "spiritual set of recipes".

But thank God so much for his marvellous mercy to me. After my dark, dark valley experience during my NUS days... after repenting and turning back to God on 1 Sep 2005 onwards, whoa, somehow God used all those painful memories, losses and struggles to show me. And of course, and most crucially, it was the Word that opened my eyes.

Then, after that valley experience, wow, God used me to help a few others who were struggling in spiritual ruts... and to encourage the younger ones. Also realised that genuine spirituality is measured by how much you love God and love people, not by the roles or activities that you undertake. Not even the callings that God has given me. How I am with God is far more important that what I do for Him.

Otherwise I may end up idolizing the callings and giftings that God gives. Which is very bad.

The callings will become clearer when you draw near to the One who's calling. Logical, right? Haha... if I want God to show me His specific calling for me, then perhaps I should draw nearer to God first. 'Cos it seems that God likes to deliberately speak in a still, soft whisper. So that his children will have to draw nearer and nearer to Him... until His face is so close to theirs. :) Ain't God cool?

Thank God for the wonderful leaders He's placed in my life, and those who aren't my direct leaders, but serve as a wonderful inspiration and motivation for me. They show that they really live up to their divine callings to be shepherds of God's flock, serving as overseers, not because they must, but because they're willing. Not lording by pushing authority or seniority, but by setting example in humility... which awes and amazes me.

Anyway! Talking about visual aids, that led me on to another train of thought. (I think my mind is like an MRT interchange... trains of thoughts keep going in and out...) We often use various aids in Holy Communion to help us remember.

And... I realise that quite often, we feel paiseh to tell others about the changes God has wrought in our hearts, especially good things and character virtues that we've never done before, but somehow got started in doing...

But shouldn't it be great to share about the good works that God has done in us? 'Cos we're giving all the credit and glory to God anyway, by telling others that what the good they see in us, is totally not us, but Christ who lives in us. It strengthens both the listener's and the sharer's faiths.

So... what's the link to Holy Communion, given all this testimony sharing?

I think the similarity lies in the understanding that since we revisit the fact that we used to be really, really messed-up people before Christ saved us... and that all the good things that others see flowing from us - these good things don't come from us, but from Christ who lives in us. Thus every time we give the glory to God for all the good things that we do in His name... we are indirectly declaring that apart from Him, we are no good... "No one is good, except God alone." So, in a way, we do revisit the fact that we once were lost. A continual reminder that we once were not God's people... time travel, if you will.

So in the same way, when we eat and drink the Lord's Supper, we revisit and re-enact that sacred moment when the Lord Jesus instituted Holy Communion. And as we eat and drink, we, like the Israelites during their Passovers, are transported back into time to re-enact that first Lord's Supper. And we are reminded of what we once used to be, before Jesus saved us from our sins.

For whenever we eat and drink of the Lord's Supper, we proclaim His death until He comes.

So, in a way then, it's a really powerful visual aid, the Holy Communion, to help us remember the Lord's death for us - and the accompanying salvation and sanctificaton that would follow shortly after.

Ok I think it's rambling now, and I can't figure out how to end this post properly. =)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Just to add a bit more on the sermon. It was "Strengthening Our Church" by Pastor Simon Eng. The Bible passage was from Revelation 2.

And I was thinking, why the passages on the churches of Ephesus and Pergammum, in particular?

Think it's because our pastors may have seen that our church is in danger of going the way of the church in Ephesus - the part about losing our first love, the passion for Jesus is so dreadfully relevant to a LOT of us I think. And also the ever-present danger of false teachings that stumbled the church in Pergammum. How many of us actually study the Bible?

I bumped into Jiahui at 3 am on the Night Rider on Saturday night, after playing LAN games with Jonathan. So we chatted, and I asked her, "You tired?" She nodded and smiled, saying:
"A bit."

"Oh I see... what time do you have to wake up tomorrow?"

"7 am."

"Whoa! That's early! How come?"

"Oh, because I want to spend quiet time with God."
WHOA. I was gobsmacked. :) And very inspired by her heart for God. =)

Devotion to God's Word. To really make it part of my life. The hidden manna, the spiritual food for my soul. So I've repented before God for my lack of passion for Him. To renew my first love for Jesus. To knuckle down and study the Bible with all my heart.

To go back and do the things that I first did. Since 1 Sep 2005. When I had turned back to the Lord, rending my heart, and begging Him to speak to me and teach me once again. Even to the point of prostrating before Him, weeping and crying to Him to restore again to me the joy of His salvation.

And I remember... when I was in my most broken state... I experienced the depths of God's grace so deeply like never before. I was so surprised, but yeah, I really treasure the darkest moments of my life. Because it was when the Light of the world shone the most beautifully and brightly in my darkness.

Sigh. I miss God so much. I want to go back on my knees, crawling to Him again and grabbing and kissing His beautiful feet. And I know He will receive me, stooping down to help me back up again. Truly, He's the Worthy One, the Holy One, the Wonderful One. And no one else can ever take His place.

Deep sigh. O Jesus! here I come...
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Jiayan posted on her blog about yesterday's sermon by Ps Simon Eng.
Today's sermon touched something deep in my heart.
Human love versus God's love.

When we have the love of men, only certain people are attractive and appealing to us. We get close to people because we can make use of them. When we have the love of God, we find ourselves loving everyone all the same. We begin to have love for strangers.

Maybe it is the straightforwardness of the way the truth is being delivered. No wrapping or decoration. Just stark honesty which tug at the heart which will respond. The willingness to see each individual with a clean slate, as though we are seeing them for the very first time. No labels, no expectations, no promises. Just a heart that breaks for what breaks His.

Love God -> Love people
I had dinner with Andrew, my neighbour and bro in the RP ministry, and we were sharing about our lives. And later on, I was talking with Spencer on the phone, and he was enthusing to me about the song that he and Hong Teck did on Saturday night (and raving about Hong Teck's electric guitar - limited edition some more!).

And as I was there, it struck me how much I really thank God for these brothers. I barely knew them last year, but now friendships are growing. And I was amazed to realize that even for a shy introvert like me, my heart was brimming with joy, just to listen to them share their lives.

And I realised that this is the love of God, poured out into my heart, by the Holy Spirit... that I can delight in other people who are so different from me. A heart that delights in others...

Yeah! That's the phrase. A heart that delights in others, just simply because they are they. Not because of what they can do for me - but because, well, they are they. It struck me how it was so unlike the old Yeu Ann, who would only see people for what they can do for him.

I'm not saying how loving I am - on the contrary, I am actually not a caring person by nature. But... over the ten years or so, having gotten to know and experience God's unconditional love even for a wretch like me... seeing God's love revealed so real to me through His people... gosh, to be able to actually delight in people, and enjoy and appreciate them for who they are - it's such a surprise to me.

I don't know how to sufficiently describe that sense of wonder. Perhaps it's like... you knew you were supposed to be dead, but hey! you find yourself alive... Or it's like a man blind from birth, who suddenly sees the full colours of a rainbow for the first time ever. Red is so... red. Yellow is so... vibrant. And so on.

What a joy and amazement it is to see God's love bursting out from your heart - love that you never imagine could come from you - and yet it really, really does... it's like seeing water come out from a desert rock - totally impossible, and yet you see it happening right before your very eyes. Like seeing water bursting forth from your side. :)

Hee. Just another perspective on seeing God's perfect love bursting out of imperfect people like you and me. What a joy it is to see the Lord so alive and well, the priceless Glory dwelling within mortal jars of clay like us.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm now here with How Joo and Sijia, helping them prepare their powerpoints (and accompany them as they prepare their bulletin).

Anyway, I was very touched (and entertained) by the hilarious, but heartwarming, interview testimony of the lovely and godly couple. =)

One thing that struck me, what How Joo said, is that Sijia was God's exact answer to his prayer!

So it made me think:
1. Do I have a clear idea of what I want in my future life partner?
2. If I do have a clear idea, how closely aligned is it in line with the Great Commission, with God's will as the prime priority?
3. Do I actually believe and have the faith and even audacity to trust God to provide me with the exact sister - assuming that my criteria for the sister I have in mind is in full alignment with Christ's love and God's vision?

Of course I understand and know that not every couple is like a 'perfect' match in that sense. But personally, I've been thinking about it - for me, do I have the faith to trust that God will give me "a helper suitable" for me, to help me do the work that the Father has given me to do?

I do have a clear idea of the criteria what I am looking for in a sister - besides the obvious fact of loving God... I want a sister who has a passion for children and for missions, because personally, I believe that is God's calling for me at this time. Children and missions. Impacting nations and generations. Ooooh.

And personally, I would like it very much if the sister also has a burden for intercession. A fervent desire to get down on her knees and pray for others, for the nations, for the world. And one who is able to teach and communicate abstract ideas clearly and concisely. Because that strength would balance out my strength in expressing concrete ideas through telling long grandfather stories.

She must also have a strong and blazing desire to see all kinds of people being discipled, and making disciples. By all kinds of people - I don't mean discipling only those who look like 'leadership' materials. Rather, it's all those who have a heart for God and want to grow, even though they may have so many weaknesses and faults.

Evangelism too would be great - it's something that fills my heart with joy every time I think about it...

And I'd like her to be firm, especially in principles and values, but not stubborn. It'll be good if she's able to appreciate and communicate emotionally, but also think rationally too - a healthy balance. It's for complementing me - because thinking logically is not one of my strongest points (though I do make it).

Definitely cannot be quarrelsome. =) And I appreciate straightforwardness and openness too, especially in resolving conflicts.

In terms of work, it'll be great if she's detailed and meticulous, because one of my greatest weaknesses is in the areas of details and planning.

I was thinking whether it's a good idea to publish out these criteria so openly for the whole world to see. Then thought about it. Actually i think it's fine lah. I'm not putting out a classified ads for aspiring applicants... that's not what I meant.

Rather, this penning down of my criteria is meant as a declaration of my personal convictions in what I desire in a sister.

Because even if God doesn't give me a sister who matches all these criteria... ultimately, the key thing is the heart behind all these criteria.

Every criteria is not because it's a "systems" or even a "Hope" thing (although it's good of course!), but because these criteria are manifestations of the biblical values that are in our hearts.

And so, I think when I share these convictions with conviction to the whole world, ultimately, I'm simply being a witness and also strengthening my own convictions about what I look for in a relationship.

The people of the world have worldly criteria - some go for money, others for looks, and others for power, prestige, social status, emotional security and so on. The better and wiser ones go for character and virtues...

But we the people of God have heavenly criteria. We look not only for character and virtues - we also look for hearts that love God and love people (though character involves loving people of course!), and eagerly desire to do His will.

Because, whether I get into a relationship or not in the end, isn't the most important thing about learning to have the same way of thinking, speaking and doing as Christ himself would?
1 Corinthians 2:16
"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

I think in a way, the clearer the criteria, the fewer the choices... perhaps it might be easier to make a decision. But... I think I'll add: the greater the faith needed, that God will provide a suitable sister who matches these godly criteria.

I need to stay firm upon these values and convictions, because I do want to honour God with these criteria, as part of my life, and ultimately, to love God and love people.

And together, she and me, we'll work together to do His will, proclaim the Gospel to the nations... and one fine day, we'll see with our own eyes this glorious vision: A great multitude that no one can count, from every nation, every tribe, every people, every tongue, standing and crying out to God with one grand voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb!"

EXCITING, ISN'T IT!!! I wanna jump man...

Yup! Just some criteria that I want to pen down to help me remember and keep to heart. :D

Little Miss Sunshine

Was searching for photos to use for Sijia's and How Joo's wedding powerpoint, when I stumbled upon this photo... I normally don't put up photos of little babies, but... this one was just so darling. =) Somehow I imagine her reaching out to touch her Daddy in pure unadulterated awe... and I think my heart should be like hers too. Touching out to feel the tender tingle of liquid golden love dribbling down your fingers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Continuing Debt

Thank God too for the 2-hours lunch with Weilong yesterday, and the meetup with Yufen and Marcus, and the 2-hours chat with Weizhu on the phone last night. Deeply, deeply blessed and encouraged by these dear friends. I really enjoyed the time with you all. Oooh yeah. Was very blessed by Weilong's spontaneous offer to pray for me too. =)

And for Dehua's encouragement on Friday night that I have a gift in writing. Ha... paiseh... but yeah, will do my best to bless God with whatever I have. (Which reminds me of the big pencil Peter bought me. And those encouraging words: "Write for Him. :)")

Hmm. My bros and sisters love me so much. And I, on the other hand... Lord, i know I love so little, but please help me grow in loving them in return, for You said let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

I just feel so happy to be alive. Perhaps it's partly the result of watching WWII movies (especially The Pianist), but to see the fact that I can see the sky, I can breathe clean air, I can talk with my friends and family... for dear friends and best of all I can talk with God...

Gosh, I think I'm one of the happiest men in the world, if not the happiest? :)

I'm so glad He made me alive. :) Just to be able to live... I think is a huge blessing from God. But to know that He loves you and me, puny bits of human dust... is a stunning joy, a mystery that even angels yearn to look into.

Friday, May 22, 2009

There is a God (有一位神)

We sang this song during our last church prayer meet. It's so, so beautiful. In a way, it was very much like a hymn - probably it IS a hymn. =) I remember it was first published in 1995. Gosh. That was when I was in Sec 2.

There is a God
Who is the Lord of all creation
With loving arms He comforts every weary soul

There is a God
Who sees our sins and our failures
Still He fills our lives with mercy and love

There is a God
He is our Lord
The only God
He is Jehovah

The King of all praise
Of mercy and grace
Who was and is and is to come
I received a firm rebuke today. Thank God for it - it's a very much-needed wake up call. I felt chastened, so found a place to sit down and think about it.

Prayed as well. It was a relief when I confessed everything, all the pride and sin in my heart to Jesus. Such a relief, because ... probably people will say that this is an emotional thing. But ... I did sense God's forgiveness in a real way.

Still, I was not sure what to do next. So I sat down and read through the entire Psalm 119. One key word kept shining at me: "instructions". And a few verses here and there. Yah. How I want to be right with God, even though I sin so many times. And God has promised to help me grow. Yay! :)

Hmm. I think reflecting on things, one major character flaw I have is that of outbursts of anger. In a way, thank God that I now understand very much better why I am angry at times. And... compared to the violent, explosive and rash fellow I was before I knew Jesus... I'm a totally new creation. Some people find it rather hard to believe that I used to get into fights in school and so on. In fact, I once kicked a friend in the (ahem) oompah-loompahs because he made fun of me. :P So thank God for the power of the gospel. :)

Still, as I reflected, I realised that even though I might have a valid reason for being angry... does that mean I should still express my anger explosively? No, no, and no. The Bible says to me, "In your anger do not sin." It is possible to be angry, and not sin.

And even if it's with people I can trust... does it mean I still have to do it anyway? No, no, and no. Because the Bible says, "Love your neighbour as yourself."

Yes, I may understand precisely the reason(s) why I am angry. But even then, does it justifies my outburst? No, no, and no. Because what is the effect on the other person? Will it help or strengthen or encourage the person in any way? No, no, and no.

I think the Holy Spirit helps me understand and introspect my feelings and thinking processes to a much deeper level, not for my own benefit or to justify myself, but rather to understand, accept and love others who also struggle with various behavioural issues.

Thank God for the deep emotions that He gave me. However, these emotions are wonderful servants, but terrible masters. So He intended me to use these emotions in the ways that He want them to be used - to understand and minister to others, to glorify Him more powerfully through works of arts, and so on. Not to be let loose like nuclear missiles.

Ultimately, life is not about expecting others to understand me, but to seek to understand others, that I can, as a fellow sinner, help point them to Jesus the Saviour. That is how to make a life. Because Christ came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.

Anyway, I went on to Galatians 5. And the passage spoke to me so much. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious, including outbursts of anger. But the fruit of the Spirit include gentleness and self-control.


When I continued reading on, I realised that there's the sinful nature in me that wants to assert itself, but as long as I choose to be led by the Holy Spirit, I also am hammering my old sinful nature to the cross.

It's a touching relief from God, because I realised that God doesn't condemn me for my character failings and sins. Rather, He points out to me that these are the acts of the sinful nature, and I must daily choose not the way of the old sinful nature, but the way of the Holy Spirit.

Because the sinful nature sure is like a Terminator - persistent, powerful and damned hard to kill. So I MUST terminate my sinful nature every day, or else, in Kyle Reese's words: "Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."

Horrifying, yeah?

Lord, I repent of this sinful attitude in my heart. Thank You Lord for reminding me that it's not part of who I am - so I'm not condemned, but that it's an old but persistent foe that needs to be killed every day. And for Your Holy Spirit who enables me to grow in a truly sweet spirit, a heart that genuinely loves You, and one that appreciates and delights in other people.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I was talking with Huaqiang about something today. He helped me see that I was starting to lose focus on what I should be doing, even though I'm very excited about new things coming up.

I was stunned, and thought about it for a while. Thank God so much for pointing out to me through this dear bro.


What is faithfulness like?

Faithfulness is more than just keeping promises and being able to be counted on to deliver what you've promised.


It's about staying committed all the way to the very end.

I think one of the greatest tests of faithfulness, is not at the beginning, nor in the middle of the race. It's at the end of the race, when the finishing line is in sight. It's near the end of the Pilgrim's Progress, when the Celestial City is so very near...
They went on then in this Inchanted Ground till they came to where there was another Arbor, and it was built by the High-way side. And in that Arbor there lay two men whose names were Heedless and Too-bold. These two went thus far on Pilgrimage, but here being wearied with their Journey, they sat down to rest themselves, and so fell asleep. When the Pilgrims saw them, they stood still, and shook their heads, for they knew that the sleepers were in a pitiful case. Then they consulted what to do, whether to go on and leave them in their sleep, or to step to them and try to awake them. So they concluded to go to them and awake them, that is, if they could; but with this caution, namely, to take heed that themselves did not sit down nor imbrace the offered benefit of that Arbor.

So they went in and spake to the men, and called each by his name, (for the Guide it seems did know them) but there was no voice nor answer. Then the Guide did shake them, and do what he could to disturb them. Then said one of them, I will pay you when I take my Mony. At which the Guide shook his Head. I will fight so long as I can hold my Sword in my hand, said the other. At that one of the Children laughed.

Then said Christiana, What is the meaning of this? The Guide said, They talk in their Sleep. [...] For this Inchanted Ground is one of the last Refuges that the Enemy to Pilgrims has; wherefore it is, as you see, placed almost at the end of the Way, and so it standeth against us with the more advantage. For when, thinks the Enemy, will these Fools be so desirous to sit down, as when they are weary? and when so like to be weary, as when almost at their Journey's end? therefore it is I say, that the Inchanted Ground is placed so nigh to the Land Beulah, and so near the end of their Race. Wherefore let Pilgrims look to themselves, lest it happen to them as it has done to these, that, as you see, are fallen asleep, and none can wake them.
I realized that even if God were to call me to a new area of ministry (but he hadn't moved me there yet), then, no matter how much I look forward to the new things, I must still fulfill my current responsibilities faithfully, to the very end. To make sure that everything is wrapped up and completed.

Like how Jesus prayed in His prayer on the night He was betrayed: "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." And again, his last prayer was: "It is finished."

It's so easy, when I graduate, and start working, and then maybe start a family... and then become old... would I still serve God wholeheartedly on the last day of my life? Not so much in terms of doing, but the heart remaining whole-hearted for Jesus all the way till the very last breath.

I remember reading that Mother Teresa's words, besides the rather obvious: "I can't breathe", were ... "Jesus, I love You."

How I want my last words to be like that. To be faithful to God till the very last breath. =) Or maybe to say, "Lord, I've finished the work You gave me to do." And then sleep, and awake to hear those beautiful words: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

So, will I be faithful to serve God fully until the very end?

I remember my conviction that I wanted to serve God fully and wholeheartedly to the very last day in the uni ministry. And I'm thankful to God that He helped me do so.

I need to have that same heartbeat again in where I'm still right now - in work and in ministry.

To be faithful to the very end.

Because Jesus is faithful to us: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

For my own reference

For my own reference - going through Psalm 119, and it refers to 'law', 'statutes', 'precepts' and so on. And to be honest, I've not checked the differences between these similar (but different) words for the past ten years... so thought now's as good as any time to learn more about God's Word! :)

Hope this is helpful for you too!

Law. [N] [B] [E]

The word is properly used, in Scripture as elsewhere, to express a definite commandment laid down by any recognized authority; but when the word is used with the article, and without any words of limitation, it refers to the expressed will to God, and in nine cases out of ten to the Mosaic law, or to the Pentateuch of which it forms the chief portion. The Hebrew word torah (law) lays more stress on its moral authority, as teaching the truth and guiding in the right way; the Greek nomos (law), on its constraining power as imposed and enforced by a recognized authority. The sense of the word, however, extends its scope and assumes a more abstracts character in the writings of St. Paul.Nomos , when used by him with the article, still refers in general to the law of Moses; but when used without the article, so as to embrace any manifestation of "law," it includes all powers which act on the will of man by compulsion, or by the pressure of external motives, whether their commands be or be not expressed in definite forms. The occasional use of the word "law" (as in (Romans 3:27) "law of faith") to denote an internal principle of action does not really mitigate against the general rule. It should also be noticed that the title "the Law" is occasionally used loosely to refer to the whole of the Old Testament, as in (John 10:34) referring to (Psalms 82:6) in (John 15:25) referring to (Psalms 35:19) and in (1 Corinthians 14:21) referring to (Isaiah 28:11,12)

The Greatest Coding Comment Ever

uint32 sign=[fh readUInt32BE];
uint32 marker=[fh readUInt32BE];
uint32 chunklen=[fh readUInt32BE];
off_t nextchunk=[fh offsetInFile]+((chunklen+3)&~3);
// At this point, I'd like to take a moment to speak to you about the Adobe PSD format.
// PSD is not a good format. PSD is not even a bad format. Calling it such would be an
// insult to other bad formats, such as PCX or JPEG. No, PSD is an abysmal format. Having
// worked on this code for several weeks now, my hate for PSD has grown to a raging fire
// that burns with the fierce passion of a million suns.
// If there are two different ways of doing something, PSD will do both, in different
// places. It will then make up three more ways no sane human would think of, and do those
// too. PSD makes inconsistency an art form. Why, for instance, did it suddenly decide
// that *these* particular chunks should be aligned to four bytes, and that this alignement
// should *not* be included in the size? Other chunks in other places are either unaligned,
// or aligned with the alignment included in the size. Here, though, it is not included.
// Either one of these three behaviours would be fine. A sane format would pick one. PSD,
// of course, uses all three, and more.
// Trying to get data out of a PSD file is like trying to find something in the attic of
// your eccentric old uncle who died in a freak freshwater shark attack on his 58th
// birthday. That last detail may not be important for the purposes of the simile, but
// at this point I am spending a lot of time imagining amusing fates for the people
// responsible for this Rube Goldberg of a file format.
// Earlier, I tried to get a hold of the latest specs for the PSD file format. To do this,
// I had to apply to them for permission to apply to them to have them consider sending
// me this sacred tome. This would have involved faxing them a copy of some document or
// other, probably signed in blood. I can only imagine that they make this process so
// difficult because they are intensely ashamed of having created this abomination. I
// was naturally not gullible enough to go through with this procedure, but if I had done
// so, I would have printed out every single page of the spec, and set them all on fire.
// Were it within my power, I would gather every single copy of those specs, and launch
// them on a spaceship directly into the sun.
// PSD is not my favourite file format.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I was wondering. Why do we often do so much pruning, but often fail to do the necessary fertilizing too?

I was thinking about it, because I reflected on the people who really helped me grow. The people who helped me grow most were not the ones who criticized me the most, but those who encouraged me, especially in the areas of my strengths.

I remember having a scary teacher in Primary 4. She would constantly pick on me and find fault with me. I remember one particular moment. I enjoyed my Science so much, that I went and filled in all the other pages of my workbook ahead of the lesson plan.

My classmate saw it, and happened to tell the teacher about it.

She looked at me, and started scolding me in front of the other students for not flowing along with the other students. That I was being individualistic by not following the lesson plans.

I wilted. And my Science workbook became a pain to do.

But thank God for Mrs Lee in Primary 5 and 6. She was the discipline mistress, just like the other teacher. But she really cared for us all. I remember she saw that I had potential, and encouraged and affirmed me.

And like a plant in sunshine, I grew in confidence.

Though I had many weaknesses and lack of social skills, she chose to focus on the strengths I did have. She patiently encouraged me in my strengths.

In the end, I topped my school for my batch.

I really thank God for Mrs Lee. =) She's a great teacher.


I also thought about the area of my relationships. I remember, back in my uni days, during my darkest moments of my life, there was this event where we were all supposed to write encouragement messages to one another. There was this tiny notebook each one of us received. As I flipped through it, I read this message hastily scribbled by one of the leaders...

It read (in all its entirety): "Hope to see you grow in your relationships with people."

My heart sank. I was in pain already, and I felt crushed by that "encouragement".

But after I turned to God again, God sent some beautiful people along. They did not focus on my weaknesses and inadequacies. Instead, they loved me, and told me what they really enjoyed about me. And when they saw a significant weakness in me, they corrected me, and then re-affirmed their love for me.

My heart started singing again. And when they also affirmed me in my relational strengths, I was heartened, and I started working on these strengths.

I remember Hong Teck too. Thank God for how he encouraged me not to focus on my weaknesses, but rather, to focus on my character and strengths. 'Cos, as he pointed out, life's too short to worry about what we cannot do. So might as well spend it on growing the strengths God gave me. Of course, he also corrected me at times.

However, there was another bro who told me that if I improve on in my weaknesses, I'll become a better person. I think that is true only if it's character weaknesses. Because life's too short to worry about what we do not have in terms of abilities.

So, when we prune, it's to prune the areas that are hindering our strengths from bearing even more fruit. Otherwise, if we prune too much, at best, the plant'll become a bonsai plant - nice to look at, but no good for anything else.

Because God designed us to be big and fruitful plants, well-pruned and well-nourished. Not like tiny fruitless bonsai plants.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I've learnt something about myself that ... surprises even me! :)

When I'm really, really, very stressed (like trying to complete a script in time), I feel like puking.

But of course, after praying, I start spinning around on my chair.

Anything to stop me from surfing the Net ... anything!

So I start looking up at the ceiling, and do a silly dance.

And yell, "THIS - IS - MADNESS!!!"

And make crazy faces in front of my computer.

Yes, I make sure that my parents aren't around first...

I think ministry can be very fun... and stressful.

Whatever! I will sing, I will dance, to be mad, for my King, 'cos nothing is gonna hinder my passion for Him...

I'm surprised! Is this my very well-hidden sanguine side going critical? Lalala... Haha...

Ok. Back to bashing the script for the HopeKids camp!!! THIS ... IS ... HOPEKIDS!!! TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY KIDS FOR JESUS!!!


I'll get off my soapbox now.

Shoo. Clear off, folks, there's nothing more to see here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm Happy!

Thank God so much for today. For the beautiful morning. And for the combined DMM. For the delicious brunch. For the fellowship, and especially for Huaqiang sharing about his heartbeat to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our CGs.

And for the Nurture programme, that God used us to bless the children.

And then, while I was sitting typing on my laptop at St. Andrew's Cathedral (the steps), a really good-looking usher (I'm straight, don't worry) came up to us, smiled and warmly asked us whether we were Christians. That's doing street evax, in a way, isn't it? Except that it's home ground haha...

And when I told him my name is Abraham, he said, "You must be a Christian then?"

I laughed, and said, "I guess so!"

"That's a very good name!"

I looked at his name tag. It said, "Christian."

I replied, "And I like your name too!"

Haha... so we chatted a while, and I mentioned about having come down for Good Friday service. Anyway, I can't remember why, but he then looked at me, and said, "You are very blessed."

I was surprised, and not quite sure how to reply. But he then said, "It's really nice meeting you. Do come in to our service." And he joked, "Come support our pastor... encourage him, 'cos empty seats would be discouraging..."

Anyway, those words, "You are very blessed," made me pause and think.

Yeah. I really am very blessed.

Thank God so much.

And how happy I am, to be able to sit here under an open blue sky and the amazing love of my Lord and Saviour.

How happy I am, to be able to breathe clean air, eat good food and drink orange juice.

How happy I am, to have ears that still hear, and eyes that still see.

How happy I am, to be a free man.

How happy I am, to have a calling from God, and a mission and a vision. And to even have a name given by God.

How happy I am, to have friends and family. And to be adopted as a child of God, all because of what Jesus did for you and me on the cross one day.

All this, totally the abundant love of God, poured out for free. Upon such an unworthy and undeserving wretch like me.

How happy I am, for all my sins have been forgiven, and in Christ's name, I am now and forever free.

How happy I am, and how happy God must be.

For I was lost, and now am found. I was blind, and now I see.

And how happy we shall be, when another lost child of God is finally found... and returns back home, for all eternity.
Genuine ministry, not arising from positions, but from the brokenness of a soul that has received ministering and healing, and in turn passes it on.

"And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore."

Some of the most powerful and effective ministers I have met are not those in "official leadership positions", but those who have received healing and ministering from the Lord Jesus. Even if they were in "official leadership positions", that only goes to confirm the recognition of the grace of God upon them.

And if they are not yet, they will be taught and trained by God, for that is the purpose of "leadership" positions - to make disciples out of them, to develop in them servant hearts, and to give them additional opportunities to make the most of the talents that God has given them.

But if they do not recognize the grace of God upon them, but see it as a confirmation of their moral superiority over others, then God will humble them in due time, and bring them back to the dust to be broken again...

These thoughts are triggered off after reading this post on pain.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That cloud floats so much like an angel
Her goldening wings sweetly aloft
Heralding now the end of the old sun
Annunciating the promise of a new dawn.
It's such a beautiful evening here at AMK Park. I'm sitting on top of a grassy knoll, and the chatter of the mynahs, coupled with some whistling and what not, fills the air. The grassy aroma of freshly mowed weeds wafts through the air. And the steady coolness of a deliciously gentle breeze tingles my skin, like the silky mane of a beautiful lady gracefully strolling past.

And the mynahs! They are all around. Hopping here, hopping there; pecking here and there, some go in groups. They skim smoothly across the grassy plains like a pack of velociraptors millennia ago. Rarely do they go solo; they congregate in flocks or hop around in threes or bob their black little heads eagerly in pairs.

And the river of liquid golden light pours gracefully over through the entire landscape, even as it dries up.

Dear God... You just are wonderful to have made all these things. How I wish this moment could last forever. But You'll make another one for us tomorrow. :)

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

How Many Ears Does Spock Have?

Three. The first: right ear, the second: left ear, and the final frontier.

(You may groan now!)

The Humble Hammerhead Viroid

Hammerhead viroids rely on a 15-molecule structure called the ribozyme to finalize copies of themselves. If a transcription error affects certain parts of the ribozyme, further replication is impossible.

By counting non-replicating viroids in each generation, the researchers calculated that replication produces roughly one mutation for every 400 pieces of RNA.

Such rates produce plenty of haywire copies, a dilemma solved by evolution in two ways: viroids are small, and endowed with prodigious powers of replication.

Their tiny genome means viroids inherit one mistake at a time. And they make so many copies of themselves that it doesn’t matter when some are nonviable. Others will succeed — and perhaps improve on the original.
I'm so impressed by this humble little viroid. We can learn so much about persistence and perseverance from this tiny "insignificant" creature.

It doesn't matter how many mistakes we've inherited or even have made. Don't let all these flaws stop me from going forth and fulfilling my calling. Don't let our flaws stop us from loving God and loving people. Press on, don't ever ever give up, no matter how many flaws we have. Because one day, one of our offspring will succeed - and perhaps improve on the original.

Have we made mistakes so bad that we thought we could never get up again?
Have we bad or abusive parents who failed to care for us?
Or parents who provided physically for us, but did nothing for our spirits or emotions?
Or have we bad shepherds who abandoned us in our hour of helplessness, or even worse, abused us?

Shall we therefore remain bitter, and refuse to love God anymore, to stop bearing fruit for Him who is the Vine, the Good Shepherd?

Or shall we learn from the lesson God wants us to learn from the little virus that could? It just kept replicatin'.

Isn't it so true of discipleship? Of doing something great for God? Don't ever give up, no matter how many mistakes you may have inherited and/or have made. Just keep a pure heart before God, and press on. Forget what lies behind. Press on forward. Go forth and multiple. No matter how meek, how weak you are in the eyes of the world.

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)

For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)
For one day, the meek shall inherit the earth. =)


World without end, amen. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"It's about time."


Wow, thank God. When I piece one particular thing, and another particular thing... it seems that the two things that happened independently are joining together in one beautiful vector that points to an even more exciting direction. That, and the sense of joy and peace in my heart... may be God's confirmation.

Yep, it's about children's ministry. But first, it's time to discuss with some people, and get their inputs too.

Another thing. I was reminded of an old friendship. And how it has dimmed over time. I felt sad, disappointed... a sense of betrayal even. But. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.

And so, I thank God for the beautiful and precious new friendships that He's given me this year, in addition to some very dear old friends too. And how surprising these friendships are! He took away one, and He gave me two in due time. Two that I never imagined in my whole life would, or could ever happen. Divinely ordained encounters that brought joy to both sides.
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm —
my great army that I sent among you.

You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
And the miracle is that the old friendship that is dying is a natural friendship, but these two new friendships are supernaturally conceived.

Isn't God SO amazing?
Waves of mercy, waves of grace
Everywhere I go, I see Your face
Your love has captured me
Oh my God this love, how can it be...
He made me weep for a night, and then in the morning, He wiped away my tears, and gave me songs of joy for my tears of sorrow.
Sing to the LORD, you saints of His;
praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favour a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Years of joy, for a night of sorrow.
Sing praises to God, sing praises to Him
To Him who rides the ancient skies above
Sing praises to the Lord, sing praises
Whose power is in the skies...
So I shall let go of the past, and the old things that used to be... for better things are in place for those who love Him.
But as it is written,
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Sigh. Thank You dear Lord. :D When I think of all that You have done for me... how can I keep it in my heart? How can I keep from singing Your praises? I know I am loved by the King, and it makes my heart want to sing...

=D Onwards, then! Be strong and courageous! Love God, love people... and live for His glory everyday! AMEN!

How Does One Quantify Love?

Monday, May 11, 2009

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
~ Theodore Roosevelt~
I was thinking about our sisters who tried to, for want of a better phrase, take over AWARE. Yes, they erred, they didn't do as well. And not forgetting a certain feminist mentor too. :P

But, most of them were gracious all the same, even in the face of certain defeat. And thank God too that the new new exco responded and appreciated the old new exco's graciousness.

And through it all, I think I'm impressed by their willingness to stick their heads and even hearts out, to step out into the frontlines and get shot point-blank. They were the first wave on the beach, and they got the full brunt of the machine-guns.

It's their willingness to stick out their heads for what they believed in that I admire. How many other women... and for that matter, men - are willing to stick their heads out? We criticise... how easy it is, whether you supported the Old Guard or the (ex) New Guard, to say that they could have done this or that better.
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better."
And the sisters did achieve something (in a rather unexpected way): the Ministry of Education decided to review.

In the end, I conclude that ultimately it's not effective, nor would it be right to impose our moral viewpoints on others. But we can and should live out our values and convictions consistently and courageously. If that means our values require us to stand up and speak out against what we see to be wrong, then... let's do it (of course, with gentleness and respect, not demonizing the other side).

Hmm. Sticking out our heads. To speak up against injustices. But also to be wise about what really counts. If I'm going to get shot, I want to be sure that what I'm going to get shot for is really worth getting shot for. :) But yes, if it's not worth dying for, then it's not worth living for.

But. To qualify. I don't agree that homosexuality is normal but rather, a lifestyle preference. Still, I believe with all my heart and mind that just because a person is gay, it does NOT means that he/she is therefore extra-worse. On the contrary, he/she matters to God so much that he's worth dying for. He/she is equally valuable and loved in God's eyes - as much as you and me. Just that his/her sexual preferences are not in line with God's intended order... but again then, I think, putting things into perspective - watching pornography, prostitution and looking at others lustfully are also clearly not in line with God's will. That means you and I are equally guilty of sexual immorality. So we're all sinners, and we all need a Saviour. And what a wonderful Saviour we have, He who bore all our sins on the Cross for our sakes. And Jesus himself said to the religious leaders:
Matthew 21:32
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
C'mon. If you think about it, look at the Ten Commandments. I doubt God said anything about homosexuality there, but He did speak very bluntly against adultery. And yet we seem to be more concerned about homosexuality than actual cases of adultery in our society. It doesn't seem to gel properly with God's priorities. He seemed to focus so much more against lovelessness, pride, religious legalism and so on, especially when He walked the face of this earth.

I have met at least one Christian who struggle with liking for the same gender... but the Christian really does sincerely want to do God's will. To love God and love his neighbour as himself. I've heard about prostitutes who desire God more than some Christians I know in church... and that includes me too.

Stunning? Well, Jesus said it's like that. I think we ought to pause for a moment and meditate on who God really, really, really is.
Exodus 34:6
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...

But I am still against the lust of homosexuality, just as I'm against premarital sex too. Because from what I understand, both ultimately affect and degrade the human body and soul. Because Christianity has a very high regard for the human body, since we believe that God made our bodies very good, and also that the soul is very tightly integrated with the body.

Of course if you don't believe that we have souls, then yeah, these would be considered as ok. But still, there are consequences that follow from these... the breakdown of the family unit in society, the consequent degeneration that follows and the eventual collapse of kingdoms and nations. Sounds extreme? Hmm. History seems to show otherwise...

But yeah, feel free to rebut me if you disagree... I may have misunderstood some things here.

Personally, on a side-note, I think God isn't so interested in having us legalize morality in a nation, but to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before our God. If we really want to have a true revolution, then we need to become the revolution.

If we want to, for example, speak up against racial prejudices, then we could start by speaking no more racist jokes or stereotyping foreign workers. If we want to see the world's hunger problems solved, then we could start by giving money to a food charity or giving food directly to some hungry family. If we really want to see peace break out, then how about becoming a peacemaker, to reconcile disputes and feuds between our families and friends? To practice loving our neighbours as ourselves - by taking the first step to bless our next-door neighbour with some cookies or durians, for example?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Christian Victory

I'm reading through some camp teachings from Reflections of A Disciple.

Currently reading Illustrations of Christian Victory - Winning in a Sports Game:
One of the games quoted in the Bible is boxing. In boxing, you score by striking your opponent. In the above verse, Paul uses boxing to illustrate Christian victory, that one does not beat the air aimlessly, but hits the opponent. This means that as we attempt to be victorious in Christ, there is real purpose and intent in our actions, like the boxer who throws the punch, to hit his opponent, to achieve a result. Are our lives filled with such purpose and intent as we go about ministering and living out a victorious Christian life?
The words "real purpose" and "intent" really spoke to me. Because recently I have been feeling sian and even though I have desire to do more things for God - and have even listed them out, the moment I sit in front of the computer, I start getting distracted and reading all the news articles and so on, and if I choose to go to Wikipedia... that's the point of no return.

So thinking about it. Do I have REAL purpose and intent? What will set my heart burning afresh for Jesus?

Anyway, I strongly urge you to read through all the sharings on Christian victory. It's very rich and meaningful - not the surface-kind of victory as mentioned in the 'prosperity preachings', but a sound, comprehensive and well-balanced understanding of the inheritance that is promised to us children of God.

I was listening to Wee Leng and Wan Phing share about their experiences as church-planters in Ecuador during the churchplanting/tentmaking course.

And one thing that WL and WP shared encouraged me very much. Often we think that there is a lot of hardship in serving God. Well, yes, that is true... but it also is a time of GREAT JOY and GREAT VICTORY too.

We saw a video of their church. They were singing and dancing... and a lot of them are much less well-off than us. Some are single mums and so on... but what difference does that make when they have the joy of the Lord within them? True, it might be a merely 'cultural' thing... but in that case, we could learn from their culture. In any case, being with people brings joy, 'cos Jesus loves to be with people too!

God's will is that we be singing and laughing even in the face of fierce opposition, of fire and flame, persecution, nakedness, danger and sword. We gladly bear the 'shame' of bearing His name, 'cos it means that Jesus counts us worthy of suffering disgrace for His name!

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

God really intends us to be filled with songs of victory and joy in our hearts. If we are not joyful in serving the Lord, then... let's see what actually are we expecting in our hearts? What are we looking for, really?

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Beautiful Funeral Ad...

This is a truly beautiful ad. I love it. You MUST listen to 1:55 onwards...
It's these small things that you remember, these little imperfections that make them perfect for you...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Paintball Taught Me About Life's Battles

I played paintball for the first time with my CG during Labour Day. We went to Danga Bay in JB, Malaysia. 100 paintballs for only 60 ringgits! Bargain sia... :)

Anyway, it was really my first time. When the siren sounded, we all rushed out. I ran and took cover behind some barrels... and gosh, hearing all those pop-pop-pops, I felt like I was really in some battle.

And I started wondering, while my teammate was feverishly firing away, is this what a real war really feels like, in a very small sense? One hit, and you're out. And for a very short moment, all those stories I had read of first-time conscripts "facing the elephant" came to mind. In a very tiny way, I felt that sense of uncertainty, and even panic, under merciless fire.

And I wonder how it felt for those conscripts on D-Day, under the murderous MG-42 fire, taking cover behind anything they could find... not daring to stick out their heads, and some huddling and wailing for their mothers.

Because while I could always play again if I got hit, they wouldn't play again.

Then the loud shout of "I'm hit!" of my teammate awoke me from my thoughts. He held up his hand, and the referee ran over to shield him from more incoming paintballs.

Gosh. So there I was, all alone, lying prone behind a couple of barrels. It was a pretty good position, actually, as there was a tiny nook for me to aim and fire. All in all, a very good sniping position.

I popped off a few rounds, and then ducked back for cover. And a fusillade of paintballs slapped themselves loudly against the other side. Sheesh. I quickly peeked out and saw nobody in front. Ducked back again under cover, and held up my gun over the barrels and popped off a few more rounds.

Suppressive fire! At least, in theory.

Then, as I peered out again, I saw a few moving black figures in the shadows of the room. Popping off a few more rounds, I tried to get a clearer sight. Suddenly I saw a lone figure stand up from somewhere and start firing away.

Well, I was returning fire, though the angle was awkward, and popping away steadily... when suddenly I felt a loud whack on my sternum.

I looked down. My "armour" was stainless. I looked at my coveralls. Gosh. One lone little paintball had managed to fly all the way through the crack to slip right under my armour, even though I was lying prone... to smack me just below my throat.

Gosh. If that were a real bullet...

So I went back to base again, wiped myself clean and ran out again.

This time, I decided to be John Rambo. I ran out into the firing lines madly... and before I saw anything else, one paintball smacked me in my midriff. And then, half a second later, an entire volley, a fleet, a battalion of bullets all started whacking me from all around.

I yelled, "I'm hit! I'm hit! Enough!" Apparently they still didn't hear very well... :) So much for Rambo!

Then another game... Huaqiang and I were trying to outflank Shawn and Boy, one Malaysian we got to know. As I was trying to keep up with Huaqiang, my shoes were quite worn-out, so I kept slipping on the floor, wet from exploded paintballs and gelatinous goo. I started wondering if I would end up knocking myself out... something more stupid than friendly fire is own fire...

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Shawn saw me and blasted me dunno-how-many-times... I still have two "war wounds" - one on each arm. Whoo-hoo! I tried to hit him, but darn it! He was wearing a black helmet and in the shadows, while I was in the light, wearing a bright blue helmet that said "SHOOT ME"... =)

In the Bible, we read about the armour of God as so important in our daily spiritual struggles and warfare. While it sounds really evocative (especially for men), and a favourite passage for all aspiring spiritual warriors, it really is a very important piece of advice.

That's why the paintball battle is such a great object lesson for me in helping me understand Ephesians 6:14-15 better:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.(B)

When I put on my "breastplate" (a thinly-padded vest), it came with a very limp, well-worn Velcro belt. I tried it on, and well, it put on a very good imitation of holding its act together... and when I turned my attention elsewhere, it instantly let go and went for kopi-break.

It made my "breastplate" hang loose and hindered my mobility and ensured that the armour didn't hold on to me well.

Which goes on to the next. Since my armour was so loose, it went out of place... just a teeny-weeny little bit. Only one nanometre. But that was enough for one tiny paintball (about a picometre) to zoom through the narrow crack all the way down through the armour to my chest. Luke Skywalker, meet thy match!

So likewise, it's really crucial to have the belt of truth buckled around our waists properly. It really does help hold the armour in place correctly. Not just so - having a well-buckled belt ensures that some of the heavy load of the armour is transferred properly to the hips, thus taking a great deal of stress of the shoulders.

Without a tight and sound grounding in the truth, everything begins to hang loose. We feel burdened by our heavy armour and weapons, and even worse, they may slip off in the heat of battle. And an enemy could easily slide in his sword underneath a loosely dangling armour.

How many times have we been loose with the truth? How many times have I compromised on obeying God's word? Have I adjusted God's absolute truth for my life, in order to make things more convenient for myself - a relaxed fit as it were?

The looser I am with the truth, the more space I give for the enemy to slip in his sword underneath all my armour.

Also for the breastplate. Does it cover every exposed area well? To put on the breastplate of righteousness in place means that EVERY vulnerable area must be covered. It takes only one well-placed bullet or sword-tip to end it all. I still can't forget how that tiny paintball managed to slip all the way to my chest!

And... the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Very often, in combat, we will be fighting on terrain that is definitely not easy ground. Probably it's wet, muddy, slippery... or full of spikes and thorns... or even burning oil or napalm...

Like how I kept on skidding and slipping around while wearing my worn-out shoes. Definitely I wasn't in the best state of readiness to do any proper fighting - not as long as you're spending more time picking yourself off the floor than actually firing!

Likewise in life, we often go through difficult terrain. Have we experienced family troubles? Job insecurity? Financial recession? Disease? Hardships? Persecution?

If we do not have the peace of God within our hearts, we will never be able to gain a steady foothold on the ground we traverse across. We will be spending much more time picking ourselves off the ground than effectively fighting.

(And probably Satan has already seasoned the battleground with soap, oil, thumbtacks and what not... remember, he's a wily veteran and a devilishly clever foe!)

I think personally for me, this is a struggle I face with so many times. Maybe that's why God allowed me to slip so many times while playing the paintball game. Perhaps He wanted to teach me about my own life here. I often have worries about whether I'll find the right sister, or about my parents, whether I can support them in their old age, or whether I will be able to serve well in this particular ministry, or what other people think of me... and so, often I struggle with melancholy and disappointments, because I do not choose to seek God in prayer, and so letting His peace that transcends all understanding guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

So I need to purposely check my soles (sole, soul.. get the pun?... never mind) regularly. To allow the Good News of peace to be fitted well onto my daily life. So that I can spring like a deer, race like a gazelle and jump like a mountain goat, no matter what life's weather and terrain brings for each day, as long as it is called Today.
Malachi 4:2-3
2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty.
We need peace in our hearts, every day. And only Jesus, the Prince of Peace, can give you and me the peace that the world cannot give.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Dear friends, would you like that peace from God today, that is freely available for anyone who needs to fight life's battles daily? A peace that strengthens, equips and empowers you and me? Look no further - Jesus is very near!