Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thanks so much, Andrew, Clarence, Hong Teck, Huaqiang, Joyce, Peter, Shawn, Spencer and Weizhu, for ur care and concern, flooding my SMS inbox and MSN these two days! :)

Also, thanks a doz Jeannie for messaging me out of the blue how my scriptwriting course application was. Really very touched by your thoughtful and encouraging emails - be they morning devotionals, or affirmations... they really bless us a lot! :D

And special thanks to Weizhu and Peter who specially called me to see how I am. Really very touched. :D Thanks Joyce too for following up on my fever updates... thoughtful of you!

Really sorry if I forgot to thank anyone else... haha... I blame it on my 39.2oC fever. Haha... but really, your prayers do make a big difference. From 39.2 oC to 37.8oC in less than half an hour is nothing less than a testimony to God's absolute goodness and love and grace. :D

Think something through this experience I've learnt is to be thankful for all the care and concern that God shows me through the brothers and sisters around me. :D Think this is something that Paul does so much in his letter to the Philippians. :D Yay!

Convert YouTube Videos to Video-Editable AVIs

Firstly, download RealPlayer. It has a function to integrate with your browser to allow you to download Youtube videos.

Then, convert the FLV video file (which the Youtube video is saved as) to AVI format. Use this free program. It's not bad, open-source, just rather technical.

Remember, the setting should be WMV version 8, using 2-pass encoding.

Then import into Premiere Pro...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

From Xiaojia's blog:
"I've been wanting to blog about AWARE, even though as a friend pointed out, the topic has been discussed Ad nauseam. I guess I still want to put in my 2 cents worth.


This got me thinking. The reason is, I have been telling people that the newbies [the ex-New Guard] are using the wrong platform to make their religious beliefs known. Upon reading the email, it provoked thoughts within me- because, it is also my belief that we do not segregate the religious and the secular as christians. We are to live as salt and light in the world. Did we miss out an opportunity to stand up for Christ? Have the Singaporean christians retreated in light of "persecution"? I always questioned if Singaporean Christians could endure persecution in light of our comfortable lives.

But amongst the complex thoughts that were within me, it dawned upon me, what I was uncomfortable with was not the platform, but it was the spirit behind which it was being done.

I was uncomfortable when emails started circulating to ask christians to make a stand and join AWARE, and support the newbies. Since when did it become a war to win or lose control?

And then after chatting with another friend, I remembered this post that I wrote long time ago on Hiding Behind the Cross. Yes we can be involved in politics and secular organizations. But as christians, we serve with love and humility- that is the power of the cross. But we have become "militant" and self righteous in our beliefs. And that was exactly the problem with the Pharisees!

No doubt well-meaning, and yes, as christians, we make a stand for our beliefs. But we ought to do it in love. And it is not about being in positions of power so that we can control. It is as Christ loved when He came, identifying with the weak.

Tim Chester - "Christian ministry is not conducted through political power or media influence. It is conducted in the upside down, unpredictable power of the cross. It is conducted through weakness and dishonour."

"The church as the church should not seek power or influence in a secular sense. Instead it should seek opportunities to serve the world. As the church follows the way of the cross, it must choose 'participation in the powerlessness of God in the world'. It stands with the weak and the powerless. It speaks on behalf of those whose voice is not heard. It seeks justice for the poor."
" (emphasis mine)
Some people are called to serve in politics... some are called to serve in positions of influence... But the key thing is, it is called to SERVE.

I find this post very meaningful.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time To Live!

From Hong Teck's latest blog post:
Michael Jackson lived up to 50. Hmm, I may only have over 10 more years
Farrah Fawcett lived up to 62…. ahhh maybe I get another 12 more years after that.
But Anthony Yeo died at 60, so perhaps I have 2 years lesser.

As I think upon these people and the legacy they leave behind, I realise our time is short and the choices we make within these short time, determines how we live. It isn’t about how long we live but whether if we have decided and then started to live.

When God gave us the Great Commission, he gave us the greatest mission and the highest dream or venture possible. It is at a scale greater than Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, celebrities, kings and presidents or any world changers in that matter. So as God’s chosen ones, we are to set our heart on the highest dream that God has placed in us and then spend the rest of our time whether it is 10 or 20 or 40 years to live it out. It’s scary but that’s what ‘purpose’ is all about, to scare us into not waiting for life to happen but to make life happen.

Time, resources and talent has already been given and for us to take. Let’s not waste it.
Amen, brother! Preach it again...

Yup, let's spur one another on to living our best for Jesus, wherever we are, whether we're flipping food in a fast-food restaurant, or whether we're starting our own business, or courting, or serving in church, or studying God's Word in order to know Him more, so that we can help others know Him more.

Personally, I think we disciples have a tendency to become distracted by our own pet preferences and theological topics. We then forget the basic commandments: "Love God with all that's in you and all that you have, love your neighbour as yourself... and love one another as Christ has loved us." It is possible to become so distracted by our own ideals, that we forget the whole counsel of God's Word. Then we attempt to squeeze His Word into our favourite ideologies. I think cannot, lah.

I think we gotta go back to the heart of the Great Commission. I think we gotta build up strong and biblical disciples who love God and put Him first in everything they do. Where Christ's love is the Prime Directive in all they say and do. Where people blaze in faith and with fire, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I think we gotta start rolling now!

I think we gotta start innovating on how to bless the poor. How to make the gospel more clear, to the media-clouded minds of people today. How to bless others more in Jesus' name. How to overcome the hate, prejudice and violence that is so real in the world today. How to fight bigotry, racism, injustice with the Body of Christ - the Church. How to live Christ in this world.

I think we'd better not waste time on endless pontification and criticisms of this and that... or in meaningless dissipation...

But I think we gotta prepare our minds for action, set our hope fully on Jesus Christ and roll up our sleeves. I think we gotta get our hearts, minds and hands ready to love God and serve others in Jesus' name. I think we gotta start making the conscious decision and commitment to be united in the faith, contending as one man for the sake of the Gospel.

I think we gotta get ready to die to ourselves, so that we can really start to live! :D

I think it's Time To LIVE!

To Buy A Bicycle

I was deciding which bicycle to get.

  • The $150 one at Long Fa Bicycle Shop($150, after some nervous bargaining with a very grumpy uncle) with a comfy-pomfy seat and a 21-speed Shimano gearset... and bike stand optional. (Yeah, the old uncle was a hard-nosed dealer.)
  • The $115 bicycle at Bishan with a butt-numbing saddle (I suspect the saddle designer wasn't a man...), and an El Cheapo seat of gears. Spanner not included. But the uncle's quite nice.

Something that came to mind as I was considering. Am I including God's Kingdom into my calculations and consideration? Even for something as mundane as buying a bike, would I factor in how I can use this bike to extend God's Kingdom more?

'Cos was thinking about one of Hong Teck's questions in his latest blog post:
2) Are you living for things or are things living for you? Define your highest dream or calling, so that your time, talents and resources aren’t just consumed but are used for that purpose greater than yourself.
How would getting a bike be helpful for me? For me, it's simply to save time by enabling me to get to the MRT faster. Is there any way I can use this to extend God's Kingdom more? How will buying a more expensive bike help me extend God's Kingdom? Will I actually cycle as far as I think? How could the money saved by buying the cheaper bike be used to bless others?

Is there any other way of getting a bike at a lower price? (No, stealing is NOT an idea...)

Peter suggested I should get this instead...

Lovely... what a brilliant idea...

But yeah, it's really exciting to see how the Kingdom of God can be factored into every little decision I make. :D Even if it means buying a toy scooter!

The Beauty of Sovereignty

The sovereignty of God is at work in our lives. Until He bids, we cannot die...

Can you imagine the absolute will of God co-existing with our free wills? Haha. A mystery that perplexes the brightest minds. But I reckon if general relativity and quantum mechanics can't seem to co-exist with one another, and yet are so accurate on their own... and yet the Universe somehow manages to run along just fine with two apparently very different bedfellows, then I reckon, with a simple trust...

Then He who made the grand old galaxies and the quirky little quarks can somehow meld the mysteries of predestination and free will work together, seamlessly and flawlessly.

I'm perplexed, and yet I see the universe run majestically before my own eyes.

Well, that's why we have physicists and theologians. :) To work out their good brains while we sit and enjoy the show. Haha...

Things I Hope To Do When I Move On

  • Go cycling through Southern Ridges
  • Program a Flash game (I was thinking of combining a comic strip with a war game!)
  • Meet up dear friends for lunch
  • Watch as many Charlie Chaplin movies as I can
  • Read as many children's books as I can
  • Work on the HopeKids website (sorry Hong Teck, I know it's been ages...)
  • Download all the HopeKids videos that I've meant to download, but couldn't!
  • Finish studying Philippians (it will probably take me a month...), then go on to study Matthew (it will probably take me a year...)
  • Organize an outdoors expedition for the Primary 6 boys (and maybe girls) in my HopeKids CG
  • Write another children's storybook
  • Writers' Circle... I gotta discuss with Kin Wee the next move...
  • Study scriptwriting, and maybe drama if possible
  • Pray for a breakthrough in personal discipline and focus
  • Pray for breakthrough in children's outreach (I really wonder how we're going to do better this year... Lord, help us out!!!)
"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." William Carey

Study Ball

Struggling with procrastination? Tempted by your beloved X-Box?

Or your tuition kid just simply won't stay in his chair?

Or your nephew is about to demolish your Star Wars model Death Star faster than a set of turbo-lasers?

Or your wife just caught a whiff of the Great Singapore Sale... the way a Great White Shark catches a whiff of blood?

Fear not!

We bring you... the STUDY BALL!

From the product blurb:
It’s an original gift that is especially recommended for desperate parents whose children won’t study, people preparing for civil service exams who have trouble concentrating, and for all sorts of students in general. It’s also recommended for freelance workers: web designers, computer programmers, bloggers, architects, translators, and anyone else who spends long hours sitting in front of the computer.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My 'Flu Muse, And The Brevity of Life

Today I was on MC because of flu. Thank God truly it wasn't H1N1. To be honest, I did ponder about if I did get H1N1, would I die? And at that point, I was rather reluctant to die, 'cos I hadn't done much for God yet. But the prophecy by Peter Truong and Hong Teck (think it was last year?) was that I would do great things for God.

Thus I recalled a line from Jerry Bridges's book on trusting God even when it hurts came to mine: "Until He bids, I cannot die."

Haha. I know it's strange and rather "morbid", this thought of death. But I think only when I'm ready to face death, am I really able to face life. =) For then I'll be motivated to live my life even more focusedly and purposely.

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past;
only what's done for Christ will last."

I remember studying the book of Philippians in the Bible. And Paul wrote this:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
I'm not scared of death. (It's only the transition part that I have issues with... LOL) I'm just scared that I won't have given my best for Jesus before I go home. So really need to make sure I don't beat the air aimlessly. Noooo sir. To make sure every punch counts. Training, discipline, focus and courage.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

That's why I'm so inspired by Mr Anthony Yeo's life. A friend to the lonely, a healer to the broken-hearted, an encourager to the fearful... gosh, his life reflects God's character so much.

I think, in the course of following Christ, we begin to represent Christ to a lost, dying and hurting world.

That's why I find children's ministry and community care so meaningful. =)

Even Michael Jackson, who passed away very recently, did touch people's lives personally. Not the music part... but those close to him testified that he cared for others, and wept when he died. His former bodyguard testified that MJ, when he saw some homeless people, talked with them, and ordered a whole load of pizza for them. Even his ex-wife was devastated when he died.

I think MJ will be remembered always for his nifty dance moves... and his songs... but perhaps what's more important is that people know who he really is, behind the costumes, and even the plastic surgeries... the real heart of the man himself.

Yeah. Character... love God, love people. I think I want my epitaph to read, "He loved God with all he had, and loved his neighbour as himself." Can't think of a more beautiful tribute...

But I can only hope and pray that God will mercifully help me grow to have that kind of heart that loves God and people. :)

And of course, haha, there's also the tiny little worry that I wouldn't have the chance to marry haha (I think another brother was joking about this too). But really, there's much more wonderful relationships in heaven than even the best marriages on earth can offer. "...and the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." :)

Kim Chun was wistfully sharing to me about how he wished that he could keep in touch with every friend he had made in church. That after having gone through so many restructurings, he wished it wasn't so hard to keep in touch, especially when we are all scattered across different ministries.

I told him, "That's a fact of life."

He said, with a slight tinge of nostalgia, "I know."

Then I replied, "I guess we come and go... but in heaven, we'll all meet again. And on that day, we'll never be separated again, for all eternity."

"E-tern-neh-tee," he grinned in his silly way, poking the air with his fork for emphasis.

And we both laughed merrily.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Was reading the Facebook tribute to Anthony Yeo, and the Online Citizen's obituary to this man.

Felt very deeply touched by his life, and how God can use someone who might seem a "failure" in the eyes of our results-oriented culture... God used the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Thank God for this wise man who walked the earth...

I guess what he wrote and shared struck a chord within me. 'Cos think can really learn from him about understanding people. 'Cos if you want to touch people's lives... you have to learn to understand them more. And that they can feel that you understand - and care - for them...

I like this tribute to him:
"As we grieve over the loss of Anthony, let us also remember the life he lived and added to others."
Gosh. I hope I can live a life like his... adding to others.

God is Good in Santiago!

Here's Karen's blog about her missions work in Chile...

I'm so encouraged and inspired by her life. Not only the fact that she's serving as a missionary there, but also because of her joyful childlike heart and frequent testimonies. Which I really want to learn from her! :D Haha...

I think in the midst of people complaining about how hard ministry work is, and the difficulties we face in ministry, about how people are not responding... the younger ones see the older ones complaining... and not giving thanks for all the wonders.

Haha. I'm complaining about people complaining. Win already lor!

But honestly, I'm really so thankful to be serving together with HQ in DMM. Firstly, it's really a joy to be able to serve in a coreteam. I remember wanting to serve more in the pastoral areas. And I remember that first flush of excitement when HQ asked me to join him in his core-team. Excitement, because it's a new area... and also because it's an opportunity to be able to serve my dear brother in Christ. And to serve my CG. To learn to serve more and more.

I find joy in serving, because every time I serve, it helps me learn to be more like the One who stooped down to wash our feet. Our feet. I still can't help but be touched that He actually washed our feet. So to be more Christlike, that's really such a sweet joy.

Anyway, about thanksgiving versus complaining. I think it's partly because of perspective. One important point I learnt from the Breakthrough teaching is to PERCEIVE GOD. To learn to SEE Him actively at work. God is closer than you think. If Moses had not stopped to see the burning bush, he wouldn't have realised that the burning bush did not burn up. And if he hadn't realised the burning bush did not burn up, he wouldn't have met God. And if he hadn't met God... he would have missed his destiny.

And this is so what I want to do. To return to a childlike heart. Personally, it IS harder to see God actively at work in our workplace, what with the emphasis on productivity. But I think if a concentration camp, as Corrie ten Boom put it so beautifully, cannot keep God's love out, then why not! He is hiding behind your colleague. He is even now speaking through the cleaning auntie. He is the One who stocks the food pantry. He is the One who supervises your supervisor. He is the One who watches me while I work (or try to...)... eh hahah. :P


Ok! I want a breakthrough in joy, in thanksgiving. One thing I also learnt from my shepherding with Peter on Saturday night was to adjust my expectation of how I think people should respond to me. Because one thing that hinders me from sharing my thanksgiving testimonies is the fear that people will think my testimony too small, or that people will think I'm sharing too much. But can we share too much about God's goodness? 'Cos the psalmist said that many are the things the Lord has done for us, were he to tell of them all, they would be too many to recount.

And so I believe learning to see God and to give thanks to Him helps us learn to fear God too, to stand in awe of Him. To realise that God truly is good, whether you're in a holiday resort or in a concentration camp.

But I think we leaders ought to model and set an example of giving thanks in all circumstances. Otherwise, how do we expect our flock to spontaneously burst into thanksgiving? There's one friend whose eyes glitter whenever she shares about God. That is SO encouraging! :)

I'm writing all this, because I remember I used to send out long emails full of thanksgiving. =)

Well, there's so many things. So many desires. I WANT TO SEE GOD AT WORK!

Reserved Praises

From Zachary's latest post:
What is it about us humans being too afraid to lavish praise and affirmations in fear of making others feel prideful? Yet somehow, we seem to practice much less restrain when it comes to letting fly our criticisms. I don’t think there’s an issue of rampant over-affirmations in the world, but rather an obscene lack of it. If only we are as sensitive to people’s inflated pride as much as we are alert to their hidden hurts.

The last time I’ve checked, more damaged have been caused in the world by the lack of encouragement rather than the abundance of it.

Honestly, I don’t think such people are guarding the pride of others’, but the insecurities of themselves.
Food for thought...

All For Good

Thought-provoking. I've been thinking about how can we, as a church, get more involved in serving the poor? I know there's our bursaries, and Hope Centre, and thank God for the good bros and sisters who're helping out in whatever ways possible.

Just that I feel deeply in my heart that we should do more to remember the poor. Especially the children. :) Hee. So that's why we need more people for the Nurture programme... Come impact the lives of children!

Through the Nurture programme, God opened doors for us to meet even more like-minded and more skilled volunteers and professionals... I'm especially blessed and inspired by Mrs Rajaletchumy... gosh, she really is very skilled and more importantly, has a great heart for the children in her care. :D

Missions + children + media = WHOA!

Dear God! I can't think of any better joy or destiny than this! :D Thank You so much for giving me a destiny that is the true delight of my heart... :D You really know what You're doing when You made me. :D Whee!

Anyway, I digress. The Youtube video's thought-provoking, 'cos I'm thinking whether we have such a volunteer-based website for Singapore. Perhaps I could assemble a team to implement a similar website concept... get a grant from some youth council thingy...

Hope to see a generation of people with a heart to serve one another in love! Of course, the practical details will have to be worked out... so this is quite tricky... that's where I'll need to find a partner / partners with great eyes for details and planning... and maybe some marketing too... =)

And funding... and time commitment... I wonder if we could also use this website concept as a springboard for like-minded volunteers from other parts of the world, especially Asia? :) ASEAN... haha...

Hmm! :)

If I manage to get into the scriptwriting course in the next few months... then I need to see how to arrange...

But erm, the Writer's Circle?

Argh. Reality comes back again. Here I am, jumping back and forth... Ok, see whether can balance - and more importantly, pray and ask God where to continue from there. =)

Hee. "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." William Carey. :D Yeah! So many things I want to do for God... but I must make sure I also discipline myself to stay focused on Him.

Like what Hong Teck reminded me last time. I like to dream great things. But I must stick to make sure I carry them on through to the end. :)

Still, I do want to encourage you, dear friend, to consider what YOU can do for our great God! 'Cos we are His hands and feet to heal and serve a hurting world... to be His ambassadors... His servants... let's not be content to stay in our comfort zones! Nor to sit back and be armchair critics! Not even in the noble-sounding aims of "self-actualization"...

I like how Hong Teck puts it so aptly:
A good measurement of how we are spiritually is if we spend our time theologizing and opposing? Or are we innovating, creating and blessing?
It caught me by surprise so much, because I'd been thinking so much about what's wrong with this, that and how can it be better... Theologizing and opposing.

But the better question to ask us: Lord, what can I do to bless others in Your name? To learn to see the good in what is good, and to build things to make them better.

So shall we pour our energy and heartbeats today to bring His good news, be it word or deed, to all the world? That there is a God who loves them and has sent His Son to love, heal and forgive... =D

And let's never forget as we give our all for good... that God Himself gave His all for love, to win our hearts and souls back to Him.

"All for love a Father gave
For only love could make a way
All for love the heavens cried
For love was crucified...

All for love a Savior prayed
Abba Father have Your way
Though they know not what they do
Let the Cross draw men to You..."

Amen! :D

Nurture programme's coming up. It's very exciting. Haha. 20 more kids... yeah! Thank God! :D

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alamak! Think I forgot to wish You a Happy Father's Day yesterday... thanks, God, for adopting me as Your son. =) Hee. Sorry Pa. I keep forgetting to appreciate You for all the wonderful things that You've done for me, and for all of your other children too. =)

1 John 3:1-3
1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Thanks so much again Pa for blessing me in so many ways... in Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Skit: Dyeing To Hear You!

Thanks to the classic Abbott and Costello skit for the inspiration... And there's some extra lines I put in. The original HopeKids skit is shorter.

Ee Meng: Morning, Mark! Where're you going to today?

Mark: Good morning Ee Meng! I'm going to that dye factory. My uncle's dyeing there.

Ee Meng: (digs her ear and cups hand around ear) Sorry Mark? I can't hear you! I forgot to clean out my ears today!

Mark: (loudly and more slowly) SEE THAT DYE FACTORY? MY UNCLE IS DYEING THERE!

Ee Meng: (wide-eyed with shock) Oh my goodness! Your uncle's dying and he still has to work?

Mark: Work? Of course he has to work! It's the rule of the factory!

Ee Meng: I can't believe it! How can they make a man work while dying?

Mark: But he IS supposed to dye while working!

Ee Meng: But couldn't they at least let him go back home to die?

Mark: (wide-eyed) Of course not! It'd be terribly messy to dye at home!

Ee Meng: That's true! But then just where is he supposed to die then?

Mark: Well, if he wants to dye, he has to do it in the factory.

Ee Meng: Imagine! A guy can't even die in his own home.

Mark: Well, my uncle can't dye at home. Obviously!

Ee Meng: So you mean he has to die at work?

Mark: Well, he's been dyeing ever since he started working.

Ee Meng: What kind of work could be so bad that he starts dying?!

Mark: I've told you already Ee Meng. Listen carefully. (very slowly and clearly) My uncle dyes for a living.

Ee Meng: (scratches her head) Wait. Let me see if I heard you correctly. You mean your uncle dies for a living.

Mark: That's right. My uncle has to dye in order to live. Because if he doesn't dye, he doesn't get paid! And if he doesn't get paid, he doesn't get to eat! Simple as that!

Ee Meng: (eyes wide-open) You mean your uncle gets paid to die?

Mark: Yup. One piece at time.

Ee Meng: (eyes even wider) You mean he dies piece by piece?

Mark: Yup! He does it by hand.

Ee Meng: Gosh. Erm... what does he use to die with?

Mark: Clothes and chemicals. And a tub of water too I think.

Ee Meng: Oh dear... oh dear...

Mark: (surprised) Well, yes, I guess there's a lot of smelly chemicals he has to use.

Ee Meng: Horrible, horrible!

Mark: Aiyah, it's like that one. Anyway he has to do it so that he can earn some food to eat.

Ee Meng: (astonished) You mean your uncle eats after he dies?

Mark: Of course. He does his dyeing in the morning, and then gets up and goes for lunch to eat. Then he goes back to dye some more.

Ee Meng: (disgusted look and puts hands on hips and points finger accusingly at Mark) It must be the food that's killing him! I knew he shouldn't have eaten at your coffeeshop!

Mark: (exasperated and yanks his own hair in frustration) No, no, no! Dyeing is hard work! My uncle has to stand around the whole day dyeing. (sticks out palms in a "don't you get it now" gesture)

Ee Meng: (stunned) You mean he has to stand up dying?

Mark: (wide-eyed) Of course! Did you ever hear of anyone lying down to dye?

Ee Meng: (confused) All the people I ever knew. They use the standard way.

Mark: (even more confused) C'mon! My uncle can't lie down while dyeing! The boss will think he's sleeping!

Ee Meng: (raises an eye) But, Mark, he would be sleeping since he's DEAD!

Mark: Dead??? (pauses while thinking... look of realization!) Wait... Ee Meng, were you thinking that my uncle is DYING? No, you idiot!

(bonks Ee Meng on the head)

(speaks quickly)

Listen carefully, Ee Meng! When I said my uncle is dyeing, I didn't say that he is dying like a person dies when he dies. I meant he's dyeing for a living. So he's living, even though you think he's dying!

Ee Meng: Hur??? Let me see if I understood you correctly, Mark.

(speaks quickly)

When you said your uncle is dyeing, you didn't say that he is dying like a person dies when he dies. You meant he's dyeing for a living. So he's living, even though I think he's dying!

Mark: That's right!

Ee Meng: (look of utter confusion) Man, I don't even know what I'm talking about! I GIVE UP! (faints)


Host: Yes, kids, our Powerpoint Today is “Listen to what people are really saying

Friday, June 19, 2009

HopeKids Skit: I Can't Serve Two Masters!

I think I'll post some scripts that I wrote for the HopeKids appetizer skits... just want to share with you guys! :) Hee.

Master X: Hi, I’m master X, this is my servant Y

Servant: Y?

Master X: Because you are my servant, I pay you money to do work in my household
Servant: Oh, yes and I pledge my loyalty to you! My one master X

Master X: Good, well go and do your work!

[Servant goes around sweeping the floor]

[Then Another Master Z comes along]

Master Z: Hi, I’m Master Z, and I sure need some help around here!

[Master Z looks around and found Servant sweeping the floor]

Master Z: Hi, I’m Master Z, I need someone to sweep the floor too….

Servant: But I’m serving Master! I’m sweeping the floor

Master Z: But I’ll pay you a higher salary [Flash more money]

Servant: [Thinks for a while] Ahah! Maybe I can work for TWO masters at the same time... so I can earn DOUBLE... big buck$$$.

[So Servant strikes a deal with the second master by shaking hands]

Master Z: OK, you sweep my floor too

[Servant try to sweep both floors]

Master X: Servant Y, please vacuum the carpet [Give vacuum cleaner]

Master Z: Servant Y, please wash the toilet [Give "toilet brush" which is actually a tiny toothbrush]

[Servant drops the broom and scrambles to vacuum and wash. In his confusion, he uses the toilet brush to cook the breakfast...]

Master X: Servant Y, please make me my breakfast [Give pan]

Master Z: Servant Y, please wash the dishes [Give plate]

[Servant scrambles to make breakfast and wash the dishes]

Master X: Servant Y, please walk the dog. [Give pan]

Master Z: Servant Y, please feed the goldfish. [Give plate]

[Servant runs back and forth. He starts getting tired and making a comedy of errors.]

Master X: [Pulls Y's left ear] Servant Y, why are you washing the carpet and vacuuming the toilet bowl?

Master Z: [Pulls Y's right ear] Servant Y, and why are you washing the breakfast and cooking the dishes?

Master X: And why are you feeding the dog and walking the goldfish?

Servant: [breathing hard and faints] I give up!!!! [falls down]

How A Cockroach Ministered To Me Today

This morning, I woke up, and did my usual groggy morning routine. Then, I stumbled back to my room... when I suddenly saw The Cockroach. It skittered around nervously in the light, like a vampire caught unaware. Flicking its feelers carefully, it stayed there, flickering whether to go left or right.

Then, it decided to scoot into my direction.

Frantically, I pranced to avoid the little critter. And stubbed my little toe on a shelf.

This is roughly how my face looked after that:

I came, I saw, I stubbed.

Cockroaches are indeed harmful little creatures. So here's a great tip on how to stamp 'em out... (scroll down)

Like this!

So now I'm limping around at work today. Pain every step of the way. Haha. Somehow, I feel like Jacob who had wrestled with God the night before he met Esau. And so ever since God crippled him, Jacob limped around, with the constant reminder of God's blessing upon him every step he took.

He operated from a position of weakness.

Think, reflecting upon the past year, I think God has been showing me that He is putting me into a position of weakness. To serve, not from my comfort zone nor my area of strength even. But from a position of weakness. Where I feel so helpless and inadequate constantly... no, not feel... but rather, am!

I was confused and doubtful about this, and asked Huaqiang whether does it matter that I'm unable to serve much in my area of strength. He said no, it doesn't matter. It's ok.

But inwardly I struggled with this feeling of not being able to serve, to serve in the area of my strengths. That feeling of uselessness.

And actually that's a feeling, a need very close to a man's heart. A man often desires to be respected, to be useful, more than being loved. Even for men with relational strengths, I think often they approach relational-based ministries (aka pastoral) from a strength point of view, of what they can DO in and for a relationship.

But yeah. I was thinking about this. And limping around with my stubbed toe (it still hurts), somehow I had a renewed insight into my true spiritual condition. That I am spiritually weak. Emotionally weak. Physically weak. Mentally weak.

But yet somehow, my soul felt humbled. Touched, and longing once again for God. Perhaps God allowed me to stub my toe, so that I might remember that apart from Him I can do nothing. To be willing to serve Him from a position of weakness. So that I won't look to my own strength, but instead look to Him and His strength. Like Jacob of the Bible, I limp along, constantly reminded how frail I am, that my life is like a vapour in the wind. And how dependent I am on His grace to walk every step.

And strangely, pain can be very invigorating. It reminds me that I am alive. And that I can feel my leg. And how good rest really is. And how much I need God's love and grace and mercy every step of the way, literally.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Now at Weizhu's place, watching Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Stayed over at his place since last night, right after coming back to Singapore from church camp.

=) Haha thanks dearest bro for suggesting the idea of coming over to ur place to watch movie.

Anyway, church camp was much better than the past few years. Because the presence of God was so strong on the first night. Something that we realised is that we can have the perfect location, the perfect worship, the perfect programme and activities... but if we don't have hearts that seek God, then... we're missing out on the key thing about the entire church camp.

I remember my student church camps. Oddly enough, we were poorer, not to mention the not so luxurious facilities. But a lot of sweet memories. And also I remember back in 2001 or 2002. When I was still in the Adults ministry before, we had this church camp in Winsfield School of Residence. Super-hot, and we were all stuffed into a white tent with rather inadequate air-con. LOL.

But the sense of fellowship, the praise and worship, the call to missions and the exhortation...

Comparing now with the hotels, the luxurious shopping trips and so on... Jeannie shared that one of the team leaders shared that perhaps our church camps have now too many distractions around.

Was talking about something similar with Weizhu, while we were having our quiet times this morning. And one quote that struck me: "In the quest to build credibility, sometimes we forget the reason for credibility."

Putting all these together, perhaps we need to be reminded again about the importance of going back to our roots regularly. To recall and refresh the reason for our church's purpose: "To fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime by building strong and biblical people to plant strong and biblical churches in Singapore and all over the world."

Like what Huaqiang shared with the CG. How many of us, if you were to cut us now, would bleed the Great Commission?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Top 10 Ways to Provoke a Geek Argument

Geeks, as a general rule, are pretty easy-going. We like to think things through, so passionate confrontations aren’t commonplace for us. When we get well and properly provoked, though, watch out! We won’t stop talking until every last point that we can think of has been made at least twice. So, what do you say to provoke a geek?
Haha... this article reminded me of the time Weizhu and I got into a geek argument about programming... :P

Don't think I've gotten into a geek argument with Jon though (yet!)...
Just finished talking with WZ over the phone an hour ago. Yes, it's ultra-late, but I was very ministered. Thanks dearest bro, for being there haha. And for your thoughtful comments too. =)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Everything's so clear and direct now. Just met Peter. :) Thank God for his encouragement, and the sharing of Matthew 6:33, a good old friend... haha =)

Should be officially confirmed by next week. Excited... but it's definitely a step out of my comfort zone. Still, better to be bruisin' than just cruisin'.

Want to share something very exciting too. Hong Teck took me aside on Sunday, during HopeKids service, and encouraged me to maximise the talent God gave me. To align everything, including career, with God's purpose for my life. And then, the next day, my team leader encouraged me (he's in the know):
Recall the conversation that I had with you. You are young and have a lot ahead of you. So don't be bogged down by things that will only slow your progress.
My God. =) So I told my team leader, "Wow, thank God for you. A pastor [Hong Teck] told me exactly the same thing yesterday."

Hee! =D

Dear Lord, You really confirm, confirm and triple-confirm... gee, I feel like Gideon laying out his fleece when the answer's so obvious, but I really do want to pray to You to be very clear. Thank You for being so super-faithful.
Let my walk speak loud
And my words be true
Let my life be whole
With my eyes on you
Lord I'm stepping out
From the comfort zone
Letting go of me,
Holding onto You


Matthew 6:33. Thank You Lord. Still, one thing I desire even more than the calling You have in store for me, is that I may always love You and fear You all the days of my life. To have this healthy fear in my heart, so that I will not ever lose my first love for you, Jesus. Because many are called, but few are chosen. And I so do want to be chosen. To make it across the finishing line.

Dear Lord, it's only a little more while before I go out from the safety of my comfort zone, and go "over the top". It's apprehensive, yes, but it is going to be so exciting. Thank You for the devotional that I read today, about having the faith of Caleb and Joshua who said that we should go up and take possession of the land, for we certainly can do it. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Aye-men.

The Adults Heroes Camp is coming up soon. Lord, one of my church camp objectives is that You will help me and teach me to be a true hero of the faith by You, for You and because of You.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Skills for Effective Leadership: Story Telling

From Pastor Jeff's blog:

Below is a leadership lesson that I had taught many years ago. I find story telling to be a very essential and important skill to acquire. It will help us to do better as we teach our children, speak to our friends, conduct training classes, share in our care groups and in many other settings.

Do take some time to read this through and then put it into practice. It is my prayer that this lesson will help you as much as it has helped me.


Jesus was a master storyteller. He used many parables to speak to the people.

Matthew 13:34
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

Mark 4:2
He taught them many things by parables,

The word parable comes from two root words: throw alongside. Thus Jesus was using parables or stories, to throw alongside of the truth that he wanted to teach to the crowd.

Benefits of Story Telling

1)They Are Easy to Remember

Jesus’ stories always involves everyday common events and things that his audience can identify with; stories of wedding banquets, farmer sowing seeds, labourers in the vineyard, shepherd and sheep. These stories are culturally relevant and therefore are easy to remember and effective for communicating truth. This is especially useful for communicating vision.

2)They Help to Get Pass Human Defences

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-14 (Nathan rebukes David)

3)They Are Able to Capture Attention

A good story will involve the audience emotions, imaginations and intellect. The audience becomes participants of the story.

2 Samuel 12:5
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!

Components for Successful Story Telling

(The Guru Guide: Boyett & Boyett pp 29-33 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)

The greatest advocate of the leader as storyteller is the psychologist Howard Gardner. In his 1995 book Leading Minds, Gardner maintains that “a key --- perhaps the key --- to leadership … is the effective communication of a story.” In his examination of well-known and less-well-known leaders throughout history, Gardner finds that many of them distinguished themselves early in life by their ability to tell stories. “Many others make the mastery of storytelling --- whether through persuasive oratory or through well-crafted written documents --- a primary goal.” Stories, says Gardner, are a “fundamental part of the leader’s vocation.”

1)The Best Stories Address the Topic of Identity

Gardner notes that from birth, we all search for answers to a few basic questions, such as Who am I? Where did I come from? What group do I belong to and why? Where is my life going? What things in life are really true, beautiful, and good? These are questions about identity, and the most powerful stories that leaders tell are those that provide answers to questions concerning personal, social, and moral choices.

As Christians, we have the answers to all these fundamental questions to the human identity. Thus, we have the potential to be the best storytellers on the face of this earth.

Matthew 13:45-50
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47 "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.
48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous
50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 18:23
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.

2) The Most Powerful Identity Stories Reflect Traits the Storyteller Embodies

Leaders must “walk the talk.” They can’t just express a personal, social, and/or moral identity and then not live in it. Their words and actions must mesh.

Martin Luther King backed his speech with his life. He gave his life to his cause, figuratively and literally.

John 10:11-13
11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

A good storyteller with an inconsistent life can only charm the audience for a moment. But a good storyteller with a consistent life will make long lasting imprints onto people’s life.

3)Stories Are More Readily Accepted If They Are Geared to the Unschooled, Five-Year-Old Mind

In our first half decade of life, most of us are like sponges, absorbing anything and everything we can in a desperate effort to answer critical identity questions. By the age of five, we are already well along in the process of self-definition and identification. We have had little, if any, formal education --- are unschooled, in Gardner’s terms --- and yet we have developed powerful notions about our existence. We see ourselves as being part of some groups but not of others. We hold certain beliefs, attitude, and values, yet we reject others. Some behaviours seem perfectly natural to us. Others seem extraordinary strange.

Jesus’ stories are not targeted at the highly intellectual individuals. They are stories of everyday common happenings that everybody in that culture can identify with. These stories appealed to the masses and not only to the minority.

4)In Storytelling, Form Is As Important As Content

The gurus urge would-be leader storytellers to polish their delivery. Jay Conger suggests that the best storytellers “create engaging dialogues with their audiences, structure their talks like symphonies, and use their potential energy to radiate excitement about their plans.”

Leadership, say our gurus, is partially a game of language. Would-be players must master the tool of rhetoric, including the use of metaphors and rhythmic speech patterns. Repetition, rhythm, balance, and alliteration grab the listeners’ attention, spark an emotional reaction, and cut through the daily babble. People remember the message. More importantly, stories connect the listener with the leader.

Matthew 7:24-27
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."


Craft a story utilising all the components for successful storytelling. It is recommended that the theme of the story be an element of our Hope values. As beginners, it is suggested that we write down our stories word for word. Thereafter, we should practise it until it becomes our second nature. Practice makes perfect.

Happy Storytelling!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The helmeted silhouettes whispered feverishly amongst themselves, scampering amidst the inky blackness of the night sky. The silken-white flares bursted at marked intervals, enshrouding the cratered landscape in an endless cycle of white, black, white, black. White as the open eyes of shell-shredded corpses on the open craters, black as the shadows of the valleyed trenches.

This night was the same as any other night; it had been about ... was it ... the third hour of the bombardment?

"Nice of them to knock on our door first."

"Sure. Let's roll out the welcome mat for them - I've a lovely landmine to wipe their feet off."

"Hohoho. Ammo?"

"A couple of boxes."

"ONLY a couple? What do you think you are, a sniper?"

"Look, Bert, I'm jolly well not going to get out of this trench to crawl my ass all over the place to grab more ammo - the snipers got Jim the other day as you well know!"

"But Jim, that fool, he went out on a FULL moon. I know his backside was screaming SHOOT ME in that moonlight, but c'mon, James, now's the new moon, and it's pitch-black."

"Say all you want - between being dead now and dead later, I'll take my chances."

"But... don't you get it? They're getting desperate. You've seen how they're starting to fix bayonets and charge... they're going all out! We've better weapons than them - and they know it - but still, they've got more men and guns than us! Look, I took MY chances, and came back alive with ten boxes of blessed bullets!"

"Sigh. What else can we do? Our reinforcements are coming soon anyway. Lend me some then."

"No problem. Feel free to get them out of their bodies."

"Haha. I like that one. I'll return them to you after I'm done."

"Sigh. It's your choice, man."

Sighing in gentle exasperation, Bert crouched into the shadows, and carefully lit a cigarette, concealing the flame with his free hand. Taking a deep breath, he began to murmur in a low voice,

"What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons."

James whispered back,
"No mockeries for them now, nor prayers nor bells
Nor any voice of mourning, save the choirs
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells..."

"Ah, James. I see you remember that poem we learned in school."

"Oh yes. I did. How could we forget our Lit teacher? Mr de Cruz, you remember?"

"Yep. I remember. A great one, he was."

"What was the last line of that stanza?"

"Haha... you still don't remember?"

"Hmm? No I don't." James stretched himself out and yawned.

"Whatever. I'm tired man. Thank God I'm not on guard duty tonight."

"Yeah. Me too. Don't fall asleep."

"You too."

Slowly, both of them nodded off, with the stars flickering in the darkness.

Bert suddenly woke up. What was that?

Using his trench periscope, he peered cautiously into the black night. Some uncertain shapes. Were they... Then he quickly prodded James.

"Hey James."

"Umm? Yeah?"

"I think I saw some movement there."

James became very wide-awake.

"Damn it! Where?"


And so, the alarm was sounded. James scrambled back into his own trench. The enemy came rushing en-masse.

Bert fired his machine-gun again and again. Bursts. Blurred. Screams. Confusion. Contused corpse. Acrid vapours of blood intermingled with sweaty smoke. Demented choirs of wailing shells. His fingers cramped, he tried to steady his trembling paws.

Poor bloody men, he thought to himself. I could have well been one of them. Sons, fathers, brothers... and James. That fool. Why hadn't he stocked up on his ammo? They have more men than he has bullets!

Then there was silence for a moment. The first wave was repulsed.

James staggered back into Bert's trench. He was shivering, wide-eyed, gasping for breath, with a bloody shoulder. And he staggered unsteadily.

"Bert. Bayonet to my shoulder."

"James... drink some water."

"Got any more ammo? I'm out."

"I can't. I only have two more boxes. If I don't hold this section... we're all dead. You still may have time. Run!"

"Then... I guess I have to run for more ammo."


"It's ok. You were right."

James looked carefully out of the trench. It was silent.

"Do you think we beat 'em?"

"I ... hope so."

"I'll take my chances."

"Ok. Take care... I'll cover you."

"Yeah. Thanks buddy."

With that, James quickly jumped out of the trench. It was now almost dawn, and there was the soft and dim morning light.

Bert fired a couple of bursts to cover James. And with every burst, he whispered a dry-throated prayer. Maybe James would make it. Lord, let it be so. Please.

Suddenly, a shot whistled past. Somehow, Bert heard it above his machine gun.

His heart stopped for a second. He spun around.

James was kneeling, motionless.

"Oh my God... James? You ok?"

In reply, James collapsed wordlessly backwards into the trench. His face was just a mangled hole.

Bert choked deeply. "James... you bloody idiot. You bloody, bloody idiot."

But there was no time left already. The next wave came. It lapped up against the trench's lips, increadingly redder and redder, as red as the rising dawn.

And finally, the enemy wave ebbed back, leaving only whitened bodies and blackened rifles on the cratered shores.

Bert stared blankly at the clouds in the near distance. The reinforcements had finally arrived. He collapsed in weariness.

Then as he stared at James, he finally remembered.

"And bugles calling for them from sad shires."

He took his empty ammo boxes and stacked them next to James' body in the form of a cross.

Then he took his lighter, and held it above James. And he flicked it three times, very slowly, and very softly.