Friday, July 31, 2009

I think Andrew has a point. Hmm. I could have told my parents about what God has prompted me. And of course, if/when they do object... I could have prayed for a way to persuade them. And leave the timing into God's hands.

But maybe just decide and go ahead after all.

Hmm. Gee. Yes, I could have done this much better. That way I'd only face worried questions instead of a nuclear explosion. Or again then... maybe not.

Gosh. There's a lot of ways, it seems, to do one thing. Christian ethics. Not only go, but how to go about it. Thank God for the Bible's principles.

But thank God for His grace and mercy. Though I do my best to think through and reason through what could be the best way, using what I understand of the Bible's principles. Ah. It's a good learning experience for me... Lord, have mercy on me even as I try to do my part to follow You. And teach me Your ways and guide me in Your truth.

Yup yup... ok... alea jacta est!
From Christine's (CN's wife) post:
Throughout this week, the Holy Spirit has been stirring in my heart, speaking to me some of God's direction in my life too. It's a wonderful feeling to sense God's leading and be surprised by Him when i obey Him in little things e.g. what to do tonight, what to read, who to meet etc. and I really enjoy being in His presence, whether it's in prayers or in meeting His people. He's definitely convicted me to spend more time in prayers everyday as He whispered that it's the beginning of some of His plans for my future to come. (80% of our time is in preparation for 20% of that specific calling of God) Influential people of God spend 2-3 hours in prayers everyday, and i want to aim towards that by His grace! ;o I wanna become, and not just that, I wanna build up people of God, whom God would call Friends :)
It's a cool night. And I'm thinking about what we talked 'bout, KW and me. About the sian-ness that working people feel. Work and sleep, sleep and work.

Was life meant to be like this?

So that's why I'm really thankful for Shaowei's testimony and Jiexian's testimony.

Shaowei is a brother from another church (FCBC, if I'm not wrong), and we were in RI and RJC. He's one of the most brilliant Maths guys I've ever known, but hee, his testimony is very encouraging, as he humbly shares with childlike awe about how God, the Grand Mathematician, has blessed him in his career as a mathematician... and how he cried out to God to help him.

And Jiexian is sharing about her testimony of how God helped her in her admin job (as she serves as a missionary in Chile). About how she struggles in her work, because she is not naturally strong in admin work.
So once, when my job gets very tiring and difficult, I complained to myself and to God..”why is this so troublesome! I dun feel like doing it!” More and more negative thoughts come. But suddently God reminded me that instead of complaining, I could CRY out to Him just like Moses. The word of God came as a comfort and so I obeyed the voice of God and CRIED out to him to help me! It wasn’t easy but I tried to put aside my negative thoughts towards the job and continue to persevere on. Gradually, the work became more managable with the help of some people like Lixiong and Yen Wah… Thank God for them. Thank God for His words that came at the right time to help me through my difficult time!

Two fellow Christians, hearts humbly walking with God and loving His people and obeying His calling. Two very different ends of the job spectrum - one gifted, one struggling. But one common heart in crying out to their great God for help, and seeing Him at work in their work.

God's @ work. Even in work. Question is, have I decided to cry out to Him too?

Which struck me. Because often I feel S1aN in my workplace when I come across difficult technical problems, or do mundane configuration or testing routines. But I learnt from Shaowei's and Jiexian's testimonies that I should humble myself and learn to cry out to God for help in my work.

Which is sooooo amazing! Because I had been nodding my way through the Psalms (yeah, nodding zzzz haha) during my morning Bible readings, and one or two days ago. And as I read the Psalms, I noticed how the Psalmist would keep on crying out to God for help, be it some small problem, or some enemy chasing him, or some confusion, or some injustices that he saw...

And once in a while, he would take his eyes off his problems, and just stand and stare with childlike wonder at God's goodness, glory and grace in all His creation. In short, he stands and stares at God's work.
Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
And I remembered how God has miraculously and graciously helped me resolve technical problems... He has answered my prayers everytime I cry out to Him for help. But the problem is, I keep forgetting to cry out to Him for help whenever I feel sian, and wrestle with a tricky technical problem. As such, "I do not have, because I do not ask."

Ah. The humility of learning to cry out to God in helpless prayer. How I need to grow in this area of learning to go down on my knees and cry out more and more to Him.

Oh! And God also impressed on me strongly the past few days this verse from Jeremiah 9:23-24
This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD,
who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD.
Wow. At that time, I didn't understand why this verse caught my attention... but now, after reading and reflecting, I've come to understand that I really must train myself to rely and depend on God more and more even as I continue to work.

Because when I cry out to God, He enables me to learn to see Him more and more clearly at work. So that I can say together with Jesus in John 5:
Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. [...] I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these."
Yes, I want to learn to see the Father at work daily, always at His work to this very day... and I want to be with Him, so that I can see the things He does. So that I can imitate the things that He do too.
Father, I want to be with You
And do the things You do.
Father, I want to speak the words
That You are speaking too.
Father, I want to love the ones
That You will draw to You,
For I know that I am one with You.
Hee. I love this song so much. It describes this growing passion in my heart, this holy hunger, to want to be with my Father more and more. Yes, I really want to be like Daddy.


To Drink The Cup

Just came back from meeting up with Kin Wee. :) Thank God for his prayer for me to have courage. It's beautifully timely.

And for Shuyi's prayer for me last night.

Hmm. I'll be telling my parents tomorrow, if everything goes according to schedule, about my resignation from my job, in order to follow God's calling for me.

And to be honest, I think their response will be like this:

But though I'm not looking forward to this, and have requested prayer for God's grace and mercy to be upon me when I tell them... Huaqiang asked me, "Would you be ready if it's God's will for you to take the cup?"

And I recalled Jesus' anguished prayer the night before He went to the cross. He was actually pleading with His Father to spare him the agony of going to the Cross:
Matthew 26:39
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Mark 14:36
"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
Thank God for His assurance and peace. Still, I'm feeling a bit nervous haha.

Well, D-Day awaits tomorrow. Pray for me please, that not only will my parents be more receptive... pray that God will grant me wisdom, tact and gracefulness of speech in order to testify to them about God's plan and calling for me. Pray for me not to be anxious, but to experience the surpassing peace of God, and somehow, to be a testimony of God's grace to my family. =)

And oh, courage to break the news to them in the first place. Amen.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hearing aid lost on Sunday.
Bike wheels stolen today.
Cactus plant literally falling to pieces this morning.

Was feeling quite shocked by the loss of my wheels. And the chain too. And surprisingly, I felt quite sad about the cactus - I had grown quite fond of it. Perhaps it's due to overwatering...

Nevertheless, Romans 8:28 came to mind: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

So reflected about it, and yah, I decided to start giving thanks in this circumstance. "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

And as I prayed, wow, thank God, I realised that actually, there's so many things to thank God for. =D God's sovereign hand was upon everything, even the lost hearing aid and the stolen bicycle wheels.

It's very timely, because I had been thinking of replacing the wheels as I sensed they were getting a bit too smooth already. So the thief ended up doing a free wheel-removal service! Hooray! But yeah, thank God the thief left the frame and everything else alone. So it could have been worse. Not just so. Perhaps God might have foreseen a potential accident coming for me on my bicycle, and so probably allowed the thief to commit his crime, in order to save my life.

And the hearing aid that I lost... thank God it was the old one and not the new one. So at least can replace.

As for the cactus plant, well, I prayed for it to be healed. Hee. Not sure how it's going to turn out, but hey! I remember Jesus speaking to another plant (a fig tree) and it wilted... so I reckon God can do the opposite to my cactus plant... if it's His will.

Of course, I will be extra-careful to ensure my hearing aids don't get lost again, and I am so going to buy a U-lock for my bicycle. I may have to adopt some innovate locking techniques that I learnt from the Net too...

And I realised that I neglected to pray for my bicycle's safety yesterday while rushing off. Usually when I park and lock my bicycle, I pray, asking God to send His angels to jaga my bicycle for the night. Because, frankly, most bicycle locks can't stand up to a good bolt-cutter or power tools. They only make it somewhat harder for the thief to steal the goods. So I forgot to pray yesterday.

Still... I must admit that all these losses that happened recently are setbacks, especially in the financial sense. Because that mean my savings will be depleted significantly. But thank God for Peter's sharing, that setbacks are bound to happen when we choose to obey God and go out to where He wants us to go. Like the famine in Abraham's day, we get delayed and detoured by necessity. But God's sovereign hand is always in control. Amen!

In fact, I really want to thank God for the joy and peace that He's given me. Hee. In a way, I'm so glad that He gave me a heart tender enough to care for a dying plant more than a lost or stolen item. It gave me a deeper insight into how God sees His creation and how much He cares for the little birds and the huge trees. Such is the love of God for all His creation... and how much more so human beings created in His image!

Of course, the heart of stewardship must be there, but I guess this particular context is more about where my treasure really lies.

And yes, I felt quite lost and distressed by the stolen wheels. Partly because I wondered where to park my wheel-less bike now. To that, I remembered that in the Ten Commandments, God said, "You shall not steal." I think He said it, because He knows how distressing it is when someone steals your things. And so, in all His care and justice, He put forth this commandment as a warning to anyone who would dare to try stealing.

Still, I prayed for the thief. Asked Father to forgive him/her, for he/she doesn't know what he/she is doing. Hee. Although I must confess that sometimes I really identify with another friend who angrily ranted to me about his stolen bike:
I sincerely hope that the person who stole my bicycle will suddenly slip while riding it and fall into a monsoon drain and drown.
Gosh. Never mind. God's in control... the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! Amen! =D Thank God too that I am alive!

Yup! They can take your wheels away, but nobody can take you away from His will! Where there's no wheel, there's God's way! Haha...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Came back from drama workshop. Great stuff! :) Our instructor was Dick. He says he learnt his craft through years of practice. Thank God for this bro in Christ who blessed us.

Something I captured from him: Give rather than take with regards to acting. Give your best for God. And he lives it out in his work. Thank God for his example.

Anyway, it's really fun to act! Haha...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spring Is Coming!

I was praying for a dear brother over the phone today, when he observed to me, "Yeu Ann, your prayer seems to have a spring in it today!"

Wow. Thank God. Was so sweetly surprised. I went, "Really? Wow... thank God..." Hee.

Think it's really the result of taking time aside to just really pray to God yesterday after Sunday service... praise God for His convicting my heart... and for sending Jason along to pray for me as well, when I was trying to pray on my own.

Praise the Lord indeed.
Whoa. What a wonderful weekend. :)

Saturday: Went with Tai Heng to Nurture programme. Then we went down to Istana Park for my sub-district's games day. And our team won the grand prize!

But I left earlier to see Joyce off at the airport for her 3 weeks in Scandinavia. Her mum graciously treated all those who were there to Popeye's Chicken.

Then went down to meet Jon for shepherding. We played Call of Duty: World at War. Yanked the difficulty level to the hardest difficulty level. Wah. So authentic, the combat. Gosh! The AI kept firing madly at us, and whenever we took cover, grenades would come flying our way. Crazy. We found out that charging an MG42 nest isn't a very survivable tactic... forget all those bayonet charges. Grenades are the way to go! As Jon put it, "It's frustrating... and very satisfying, because it's so tough!"

Sunday: Wow. Met Jon, Clarence and Jason for breakfast. And... I lost my right hearing aid. I was shocked, and think I probably dropped it on the road while I was cycling. GG. But thank God, it's the older hearing aid. So abt time to get a new one. Remembered that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. And to give thanks in all circumstances. When I prayed, and committed the hearing aid into God's hands, my frustration slowly melted away, and I felt a sense of peace and comfort fill my heart.

And the Sunday service! It was a very heart-stirring service! S1aNsation, that's the title. Gosh. We almost died of laughter when we saw Robert's chubby face grinning on the news video... wah. He very funny.

And the testimony by Stanley was so real and heartwarming. Sincere, and very straight from the heart! Wow.

Passion. I twittered about it.

So, having been convicted and stirred by Ps Jeff's sermon, I decided to stay back after service to pray on my own. Extended quiet time. And... God really spoke to me. And refreshed me in a very powerful and tangible way! Not just so, Jason came by to see how I was, 'cos it's not everytime that you see someone staying back on his own to pray after service... usually if so, it's probably because the person's down or upset.

So I shared with Jason abt the conviction in my heart about the message preached. And he prayed for me. :) Thank God for you, Jason!

Prayed for about an hour or so. And whoa, whoa, somehow, after praying, confessing and waiting upon God... when I got up, my soul really felt like it had been washed clean... like... ah, when you take a good bath after many hot and sticky days. =) And though I had been physically tired, wow, I felt so refreshed physically. In fact... my handwriting was even so much neater after I finished praying!

Reminded of how Moses' face would glow after spending time with the Lord. Amazing! :)

Anyway, I prayed and asked God for a chance to share the gospel with Edmund. And decided to just catch up with him to keep in touch and find out what's going on in his life. Not really to preach or what, just listen and keep him company.

To my amazement, after exchanging a few SMSes with him, he asked me whether can meet up with me, Sijia and How Joo to ask our advice about some life decisions he's thinking about.

So we met up over dinner. And God really is at work. Thank God also for HQ, Sharon and Jeannie who kept us in prayer! How Joo took the opportunity to share Christ with Edmund. To cut a long, long, long story short, thank God, Edmund was touched by what we shared, and he had a better understanding of the gospel after what How Joo shared. And he was blessed too by the testimonies that How Joo, Sijia and I all shared with him! And we had the chance to pray for him too. We also found out that he had prayed before for help... wow, who knows? God's at work, as always!

Thank God too for the very specific Bible verse that is very precisely relevant to his life decisions! WHOA! God works in response to our prayers, to willing and available hearts of faith!

Though Edmund isn't considering becoming a Christian at this time, we're very thankful that he was touched by our testimonies of what God has done for us in so many ways. How Joo and Sijia really are a wonderful, beautiful and Godly couple! Serving the Lord together, and sharing Christ with those around them... yes!


Personally, I felt so much joy to see us all sharing Christ with Edmund. We're also very thankful for Edmund's willingness and openness to share his life and listen to our own sharing too. Blessed! God's at work! :)

And I'm reminded of Paul exulting in his letter to the Philippians about his joy that the gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached. And I'm sharing in that joy too! Because the good news, really, really is good news to every heart that is willing to listen!

Can really see God working and reviving my own heart to have a new heart of PASSION for Christ. To know Christ, and to make Him known to the nations and generations.

Dear brothers and sisters, really want to encourage you to take a step of faith and trust God. It's never too late to start, and you're never too small to do BIG things for God... because our God is a BIG GOD!

We're just very ordinary people, How Joo, Sijia and me... but our God is an extraordinary God! Amen!

And a brand new week lies ahead! God's at work, as always. Amen!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Faith Like Potatoes: A Farmer Who Risked Everything For God!

This is SUCH an ULTRA-ENCOURAGING testimony of an ordinary farmer... FAITH! the substance of things hoped for, and the certainty of things not seen!

Angus Buchan - Faith Like Potatoes

‘Faith Like Potatoes’ is certainly one of the best faith-building books ever written. It targets people from all age groups, social groups, backgrounds and cultures. It has already been responsible for countless people committing their lives to the Lord, and those who have been Chr1istians for many years are challenged to increase their faith. It is the story of a humble farmer, our very own Angus Buchan. A story so dynamic and powerful that it has sold more than 25 000 copies todate and has just been updated and relaunched. Furthermore it has just been made into a big screen movie. This will be released in October.

What makes Angus’ story such an inspiration? Quite simply, it makes you consider your own life. It inspires you to be a better person, to believe more, to have unwavering faith in the power of God. Many readers have travelled from all over the world to Angus’ farm to meet him. One such a person, David Harper, a farmer from Worcestershire in England, read the book on a plane to Uganda. When he finished the book, he changed his flight home to stop over in Kwa-Zulu Natal to meet with Angus. He is now making the same massive impact in England among the farmers and has arranged various campaigns in Europe where Angus has preached.

The title ‘Faith Like Potatoes’ came from a famous American lecturer who used to tell his students that they needed faith like potatoes. He meant that their faith needed to have flesh and needed substance. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” Angus Buchan not only had faith like potatoes, he had faith for potatoes as well.

Angus, not a university graduate, public speaker or celebrity, but a farmer, managed to gather a crowd of 35 000 people into a stadium in Durban one year to hear him speak and to join in prayer for rain. The El Nino drought of the late nineties had resulted in complete devastation for local farmers, coupled with that they were worn out from having to deal with violence on a daily basis. Farm murders had become common place and people were afraid for their lives. They were desperate and needed a miracle. Angus looked at the mix of black and white faces in the crowd, then uttered: “To hell with El Nino! We are going to plant this year! And we are going to plant potatoes.”

Scientists had warned the farmers not to plant that season unless they had irrigation and Angus knew very well that he didn’t have irrigation.Planting potatoes would be a massive risk. Traditionally he was a maize and cattle farmer.Nevertheless he prayed and prayed and He knew that the Lord wanted him to plant potatoes. He went back to his farm, hired two extra farms and planted potatoes in the dust. If the crop failed he would have lost everything that he had.

On the back of the first edition of ‘Faith like Potatoes’ is a quote that reads: “The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility.”

Angus clearly expected a miracle. [READ MORE!]
Personally, when I watched this movie during the recent YA movie night, God really encouraged me so much. Because, like Angus the farmer, I had chosen to quit my well-paying job as a software engineer in the middle of a recession to do a career switch. It sounds crazy and foolhardy even, but I had been sensing since the beginning of this year that God is calling me to move on from my current job, and to serve Him with this talent He's given me for writing.

What was really so exciting is that God has confirmed through circumstances, the Word, and through quite a number of people that, very, very clearly that He wants me to move on.

So I tendered my resignation. :)

And haha, I really sense God's affirmation and assurance strongly upon my heart as I watched this movie. 'Cos the farmer chose to foolishly plant water-intensive crops (after having received assurance from God, of course) in the middle of a devastating drought. So felt likewise that I had done something like that too. I don't know where in the world am I going to get a proper job in the scriptwriting industry. And the course I've applied for isn't even confirmed - AND I would need to pass an interview AND some writing tests before I can be accepted into the course.

So I had considered whether to stay a few more months in my job while waiting for confirmation of the course. But think God confirmed very clearly, and also put a very strong prompting in my heart too, that I mustn't waste any more time in this current job. I must obey Him and move out of my comfort zone ASAP.

It's thrilling. It's exciting. And... it's blessedly scary.
Hebrews 11:1-2,8-10"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for... By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
No regrets. No remorse. No return. This passage is something that keeps echoing and speaking to my heart very strongly. Can't get it out - it's like a earworm - only much sweeter. :)

Another thing I am feeling very excited and hopeful for. I think God might have given me the gift of healing. It's amazing, because I myself am a hearing-impaired person, and have been prayed for for many times... and to be honest, I struggle with faith for my own healing, after so many years of not having been healed yet.

Yet, I realised that whenever I pray for others' healing, somehow God touches them in such a way that their healing gets accelerated so much faster! For my own dad's bad back and burns to the hands... God healed them all in such a fast period, and for my maid's headache last time, and for my mum's health... for a brother's strained shoulder and so on.

I'm amazed. I myself need a miracle, and yet it seems that God wants to use even someone like me - a walking "unanswered prayer" - to pray for others' healings. It's strange but wonderful. And that is just how great our God indeed is. For His ways are not our ways, neither His thoughts our thoughts. Wonderful!

Yes, dear brothers and sisters, really want to encourage you to have faith in our great God. Remember, it is not the size of your faith that matters, but the size of the One in whom you place your faith!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Now reading my Bible. Gosh. The morning was so dreary. Grayey. But as I read the Psalms, I felt as though the morning dawn was shining in my heart. I don't know how. But it brightened my sleepy eyes - literally!
Psalm 19:8
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Sweet! Experiencing a little of God here and there, everywhere I go... it's so fun! :)
I was thinking about MM Lee's call for separation of religion and the state. And think it's very wise. That's precisely one important role of the state, as instituted by God Himself. To maintain law and order, especially in a world like ours.

Personally, if I remember correctly, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Palestine, that "my kingdom is not of this world". And yes, Paul said in Philippians that our citizenship is in heaven. Dual citizenship, but ultimately, citizens of heaven.

Separation of church from state, but also submission of church to the state - as long as it doesn't clash with God's will and Word. "Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God and honour the king."

Also, 1 Peter teaches we shouldn't suffer as "meddlers". LOL. Suffer, if God wills so, for doing good. But not as meddlers.

Another thought: think the church can do even more (of course haha... we'll always have more to do... yay!) to bless all those around us. "Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Of course, especially to fellow Christians. But not forgetting our neighbours as ourselves.

Very glad to see my church blessing others with the HopeCentre bursaries, regardless of race, language and religion. 'Cos God's love really is for all the peoples of the earth. And we're called to be peacemakers. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of God."

Pondering about sharing the Gospel. Thinking about the apostle Paul's example. Hmm. Think it was because certain people were buay song with his message, that they started raising a ruckus, and getting the governors into a hair-pulling frenzy. And how God used Roman soldiers to rescue Paul from an untimely (and messy) death at the hands of angry mobs.

But otherwise, Paul and his friends simply shared the gospel in a non-confrontational and non-threatening way. Doing things like talking about Jesus in a lecture-style setting (renting the lecture hall of Tyrannus) in Ephesus. Like meeting Jews praying at the river. Like discussing respectfully with the non-Christian Athenian elders at the Areopagus about the gospel, even quoting one of their own poets.

Common ground.

Gosh. Which I'm thinking further about. Think one major problem about us crazy Christians is that more often than not, we simply follow instructions without understanding the Bible principles. There's a shocking amount of Bible illiteracy in the church. And even among those who read, they don't study the Word. Simply as devotional style, with little pieces here and there. But God's Word is meant to be studied carefully, expository, book-by-book style. It's logical. It's reasonable.

How many Christians do sincere but misguided things in the name of Christ... simply because they were ignorant of what exactly He wanted, as specified in the Word.

The Word. All of the answers to life, and all that we need for growing in life and godliness can be found in Him. "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." I remember one dear friend who said to me that not all knowledge (needed for a healthy Christian mindset) can be found in the Bible. That we should read other books, to learn more things.

Thought about what he/she said, but think I have to respectfully disagree. The Word of God really has all that we need in order to grow to be a healthy and sound-minded Christian. It challenges our thinking. Our mindsets. And shows us how we can apply it. It's anchored in human history some more, if we study the cultural and historical context. Amazingly, the more I study the Scriptures, the more relevant I find it to apply to the human condition.

Of course, I'm not dissing good books lah. Haha. But after reading and reading so much the past ten years... I just somehow find that... reading God's Word that I may get to know Him and His ways and His thinking and His heartbeat and His feelings more and more, has done to transform me far more than any other book can and has ever done.

There's really no substitute to knowing the person of Jesus Christ. JESUS CHRIST. WHOA. Napoleon bowed to him. Even the modern King of the Zulus a couple of decades ago, when he was gently challenged by a Christian discussing South Africa's anti-apartheid process (which some Zulus had somehow been interfering with), "Oh King of the Zulus, you are a great king. But surely even the king must bow before the King of Kings." And the king listened... and he slowly got off his throne and knelt down in humble respect in front of the Christian.

Was so stunned when I read that story. Because it's a true story. And very thrilling. =)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Evening With Uematsu, Final Fantasy's Music Man

Nice! :)

Reciprocity? "'Tis More Blessed To Give Than To Receive"

A dear friend wrote about reciprociation. He/she wrote:
reciprocate - the word that i have been thinking about.
wat degree of reciprocation do i expect? am i being unreasonable? i can't impose my standards/expectations onto another person. or should i treat u back the same way
His post made me ponder for quite a while. Because I've gone through quite a number of times where I struggled with feelings of being unappreciated, especially during my NUS days, when I tried to connect with some brothers, but got rebuffed and rejected. It discouraged me very much then.

However, Jiayan wrote a wonderful piece about this:
I was wondering about some questions - ministry, relationships, self-preservation. Yes, self-preservation. This has been shared by Pastor Jeff a few weeks back during his sermon. It reminds me of the image of a porcupine. Any step closer and out comes the spikes. Have you ever seen one before? I did and it's true, before u can even reach them, it happens. They defend.

This led me to think about Paul, one of the heroes in the bible. How in the world did he manage to find zeal to serve God in his busyness and yet able to stay focused, moving forward in his ministry? Because he is Paul? Well, isn't he human afterall? Doesn't he have needs, just any one of us. I am sure his flesh will be tested, his heart tempted to stray.

As I read through Acts, I see Paul going from one place to another preaching the WOG, testifying to the truth of the gospel. Despite his amazing persuasive skills, he was not able to convince all his audience and was even being abused by them. Even after trying his best, yes. [read more!]
Do read her post; I think you will be greatly encouraged. :) May we all learn to jump for joy as we enter into the fellowship of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus our dear Lord and Saviour, and so, to become like Him in His death! Yes and amen!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

HopeKids Skit: Romeo & Juliet, Zhnged

And Shakespeare turns in his grave...

1. Romeo: Eilton
2. Juliet: Joey
3. Coconut tree: Wan Yueh

[Coconut tree walks in to the middle of the stage. He/she waves hello to the audience]

Coconut tree: Hi everyone! I'm a coconut tree. [She then starts waving her hands around like a coconut tree in the wind]

[Our Juliet comes in from the left side of the stage with a nice-looking fan. She looks around, fanning herself, fluttering her eyes and basically looking all dainty and delicate. She is wearing a large frilly skirt and some nice hairdo maybe an Alice-style hairband...]

Juliet: [sweetly, gushingly even, gliding gracefully, fanning herself slowly] Oh Romeo! oh Romeo! Whereforth art thou?

[She suddenly switches to angry mode, stomping up and down]

WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE YOU?! I've been trying to get you on the phone!

[She suddenly switches to mournful mode - the epitome of pity]

Oh... how I miss you! I wish you were here with me... but you seem so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so (pants) far away...

[She turns to audience frantically]

Have you seen my beloved? Tell him I am faint with LURRRRVE... Have you seen him? Oh! Tell me! Have you? Tell me, I pray!

[She jumps into audience and starts looking around for Romeo, fanning herself frantically all the while. But she can't find Romeo, so she hops back onto the stage.]

BOOOHOOOHOOO! My darling Romeo is far far away! He's gone to Zanzibar, to Timbuktu, to Siberia! He'll never come back for many a day!

[She bursts into tears, sits down on the stage in front of the coconut tree and covers her face with her palms]

[Romeo suddenly sneaks in among the audience. He stage-whispers to the audience.]

Romeo: Shhh, friends! Don't tell my darling Juliet that I'm here! I'm not far away, I'm very near!

Juliet: Booohooohooo! Oh Romeo, oh Romeo, whereforth art thou?

Romeo: Behold! Is that my darling Juliet I hear? Oh my darling, thou shalt not fear! But... [turns to the audience] I think I will give her a little surprise!

Juliet: Booohooohooo! Oh Romeo, oh Romeo, whereforth art thou?

Romeo: I'm coming, I'm coming, my dear! [goes onto the stage from the left side]

[Romeo turns his back to the audience. Out of his jacket, he whips out a beautiful flower and whirls around to face the audience again with a grand flourish, ending with the rose in his teeth]

Romeo: Ah... [sniffs rose deeply] I will place it besides my darling Juliet!

[Romeo sneaks up behind Juliet. He secretly places the rose on Juliet's left side, and taps her on her left shoulder. Then he leaps to the other side, taking care not to be seen by Juliet]

Juliet: Ohhhh! A rose! It looks....

[we would expect her to say 'lovely' or 'beautiful' but...]

...DELICIOUS! Mmmmm... yum yum...

[petal dangles out of her mouth]

Oh! Where did the rose come from? Could my Romeo boy be near... but that can't be! He was supposed to be far far faaaaaaaar away...

[Romeo laughs silently, taking care not to be seen by Juliet.]

Romeo: Ah! I shall now surprise her with a beautiful love poem! Hmm...! I don't have any paper... oh! I have!

[takes out a fifty-dollar note]

Lemme write some poetry on it for her!

[Romeo writes some cheesy love poem]

Romeo: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..." Ah, a nice poem indeed! I'm sure my love Juliet will LOVE it....

[Romeo then drops the fifty dollar note on Juliet's right hand side and taps Juliet on her right shoulder. He then runs to hide behind our friendly coconut tree]

Juliet: OH! Such a lovely poem... I especially love the number on it! Oh! Could my Romeo be NEAR? But how can that be? I will arise now, and go to look for him!

[Juliet gets up and starts looking around.]

Juliet: Oh Romeo, oh Romeo, where forth art thou?

Coconut tree: Here!

Romeo: Shh, you silly! You're a TREE! Trees don't talk!

Coconut tree: Well, *I* talk! So there!

Juliet: What? Did I hear that tree talking? Maybe my Romeo boy might be behind the tree!

[MM: Start playing the Indian-style "Twinkle twinkle little star" [get the song from here]

[Juliet takes a look at the right, Romeo goes to the left... and then J looks to the left, R hops to the right... and finally, R lets himself be seen by J... and well, if you've seen a Bollywood dance around a coconut tree, you get the idea ;]


[R and J do a Bollywood-style dance around the coconut tree for 20 seconds... can look to for inspiration haha]

[All to end with a dramatic dance flourish and then R and J go happily off the stage]

Host: Just like how Romeo was not far away from Juliet even though Juliet couldn't see him, so God also is not far away - He is always with us even though we can't always see Him! That reminds me of something... 我跟耶稣在椰子下!

Today’s Big Point is …. “God is not far away, He is with us”

Singapore's MDA rapped over conflict of interest

Was quite surprised to read some time ago in the Straits Times about the significant details of the Attorney-General's Office rapping various government agencies (with big figures being published some more). Is this a start towards greater government transparency in Singapore? *hopeful*

Anyway, think just want to say thanks to the A-G guys for taking on the tough job of auditing the other government agencies. =)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Evian Babies! :D

Oh man! This is good... haha... think it's from the '80s or '90s. =D

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Read Lydia Lim's article in yesterday's Straits Time. On about the danger of closed-minded communities.

And she voiced her concerns about the growth of religious communities that are becoming increasingly closed. Valid concerns such as, say, a Christian business with Christian and non-Christian employees. The non-Christian employees voice their concern about the possibility of preferential treatment for the Christians.

Or the insularity of Christian groups with regards to inter-faith dialogues and so on.

Thought about it. Think yes, it's true - Christianity IS an exclusivistic faith in the sense that we believe Jesus' own words: "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." And the apostles voiced out in public: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

I think you can't get any more exclusive than that!

But ... I think the exclusivity issue of Christianity is restricted to the claims of Jesus' divinity. Apart from that, Christianity is, for all the accusations about it being exclusive, is wonderfully diverse. People from every nation, tribe, people and tongue. The Bible has been translated into God-knows-how-many languages. And not to mention that the hope of the gospel, that there is a God who made all mankind, and that we are all equal before God, and that Christ came to die for all mankind...

It is so incredibly universal. Crossing across ethnic divides. Cultural divides. Political divides. Family divides. Gender divides. And so on and so forth.

That one day, with one wonderful voice, we shall see a grand multitude that no one can count, people from every nation, every tribe, every people, every tongue.

But what then about Christianity in Singapore? I think culturally-wise, unfortunately, religion is generally closely associated with ethnicity. Even for Christianity, unfortunately, the churches in Singapore are generally homogenous ethnic groupings, and from what I know so far, also by social groupings.

Sigh. I think this is the current situation so far.

I think what I've been doing - but I need to work harder - is to bless my Indian neighbours. I've been blessed to have them as my neighbours - they're very nice Hindus. Visited them and chatted with them... and well, we have a lot in common haha. Like soccer? eating? playing DOTA? :)

Still, I really hope I can share the gospel with them soon.

Yup. Christianity will always itself in trouble with the authorities from time to time. After all the power of the apostles' preaching, causing many to turn to Christ, caused those from other religions to be really agitated. So we're not alone.

But I think we should do our best to be peacemakers, even though we're being accused of being agitators and troublemakers. Such as building friendships with other ethnic groups (added: and other faiths). I mean, we Christians profess to believe in a gospel that is universal and freely available for all men, regardless of race, language or religion, right? So shouldn't we be living it out all the more vigorously in our lives?

It's natural, yes, to want to be in the same kind of grouping... but it's supernatural to have very different people bonded together as one family. Clearly, what is supernatural must overrides what is natural.

And only the power of Christ's work on the Cross and the power of the Holy Spirit are able to do such a difficult and even impossible thing.

That is the power, the glory of a united church.

Now you tell me, isn't that God's dream? To see white men and black men side-by-side. To see Chinese, Indian and Malay all worshipping God together. To see different language-speakers united in a common love... to see different nationalities...

Different social groupings even. The rich and poor serving one another. The masters kneeling down to wash the feet of the servants.

I just watched "Faith Like Potatoes". The white farmer was telling his black farm workers about his trip to his ancestors' homeland (which was Scotland). And he was telling them about his own clan - which is very similar in concept to the blacks' tribes.

Then one of his senior farm workers asked him, "How come you didn't stay there? No offense, but I'm curious as to why white people like to have one foot in one land and another in ours! *hearty guffaw*"

The white farmer thought about it and spoke respectfully... affectionately, even. He replied, "It's true. I'm proud of my Scottish heritage. But let it be known that I am a white African... and you are my Christian brother."

Whoa. It was such a touching moment.

Yup... :)

Ha. I'm so glad that my church has different ethnicities... Indian, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Chinese, German and so on. But... it could be so much more. We gotta step out of our comfort zones. The gospel is truly for everyone.

That's why I'm so proud of my sub-district vision and goals. To outreach to more people groups too. :D

Ha! All the more being a Christian, I should be more eager to make new friends with people from other cultures!

Haha. On a side-note, the Nurture Programme is taking a new step. We're joining with Ms Raja's group - a marvellous lady is she - with so many children. It's a very heartwarming sight to see so many children of different ethnic groups mingling together. (I refuse to use the horrid word "races", for there is only one race (on Earth right now) - the human race.)

And haha that's part of the vision that God gave me. Sharing the story of Jesus to children from all sorts of different ethnicities. Different kinds of families. So cool. So wonderful. So exciting! :D

Oh oh, looking at what I wrote last night... haha, I think I gotta add that I don't talk about Jesus at the Nurture programme... it's secular mah... =) it's about serving the community out of love. "Love your neighbour as yourself."

But think next time, if I'm able to do this as part of a missions outreach programme... cool! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Little Plane (And Pilot) Who Could Fly - And So Can You Too

I was reading this fascinating article just now, on a pilot's trans-Atlantic journey... and no, it wasn't Charles Lindbergh, but one of Lindbergh's young assistants who made the journey. And the story really captivated me! In fact, officials had considered his used plane too un-airworthy to fly, let alone a trans-Atlantic ocean crossing...
Lindbergh's epic solo flight left a lasting impression on young Corrigan, who resolved to make a similar flight. He bought the Robin, used, in 1933 and spent a couple of years modifying the plane, trying to get it rated airworthy enough for certification. He never did, and at one point officials in California grounded the rattling bucket of bolts -- which Corrigan had named Sunshine -- for six months.
But Corrigan went and zhnged his plane as best as he could, a 20th-century Millenium Falcon as it were. And yes, his plane was just as recalcitrant and unpredictable.
Finally, in 1938, he was ready. Armed with a conditional permit, Corrigan flew to New York. He took off in the early-morning fog of Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on July 17, ostensibly bound for California. This is where things get a bit murky.

Corrigan steadfastly maintained, with a twinkle in his eye, that he was indeed intending to fly to California but was compelled to take off to the east because of the weather, and got turned around owing to a balky compass on board. He said he didn't discover his navigational error until he was 26 hours into the flight, a claim that lifted more than a few eyebrows.

The thing is, Sunshine really was a crate. It was patched up and lashed together and, worse, during the California-New York flight had developed a gas leak that Corrigan decided he didn't have time to repair. Gasoline actually leaked into the cockpit while the plane was over the Atlantic. Corrigan solved that problem by using a screwdriver to punch a hole in the cockpit floor.

So, after a flight of 28 hours, 13 minutes, Corrigan reached Baldonnel Airfield in Dublin in a plane that was structurally unsound, leaking fuel, lacking a reliable compass and equipped with reserve fuel tanks mounted in such a way that they blocked his straight-ahead view.
Fantastic... all he needed now was a furry Wookie co-pilot to complete the whole set.

Personally, I was very inspired by this story. Because this Corrigan dared. Of course, I think he was a bit foolhardy, but hey, given his resources and dreams... he didn't die waiting for a better day or a better machine. He cast his bread upon the waters, so as to speak, and it returned back to him.

And more people cheered for him than for his predecessor, Charles Lindbergh, because of the daringness and calculated (I trust it was!) risk that Corrigan took. I think Someone Up There really likes him. =)

Likewise, I wonder how many times have I been willing to do something great for God? Or let myself remain grounded? I'm not saying that we should be foolish and not listen to the wiser voices who say you're not ready... but just because you're grounded, like that little plane, doesn't mean you're permanently grounded.

Just take time to sharpen, to hone, to repair and rebuild...

And when the time comes, you will be able to make it to the other side.

And so what if I'm a crate, just like that little plane? God delights in using jars of clay to do His marvellous work on earth. He takes you, me, him, her... it, even... the weak things of the world to shame the strong. The lowly things, the despised things, the things that are not.

All the pilot asked for from the little plane was faithfulness. And it could, and it did.

All the Lord asked for from you and me was faithfulness. And we could, and we did.
"Fly," he said. "We can't," said they.
So he pushed them, and they flew.

I think God has placed it in a man's heart to want to leave the safety of home, of his mother's arms, of the tether that holds him to the spaceship safely. To throw yourself out into the wide, wide unknown, and explore what lies in there.

To go past that point of no return.

As I reflect, I think all these little everyday adventures are genuine steps of discovery. We who want to be men must once in a while step out into the brave unknown. Because we were not meant to stay in harbour. True, a ship is safe in harbour, but that was not what a ship was designed for. To rule the waves, to storm the seas, to discover new lands.

That's why when every time Leonard Nimoy's grave voiceover booms at the end of a Star Trek movie...
Space... the Final Frontier. ... to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
... whoa, a shivery tingle runs up my spine.

I think God has called us men to come live a radically different life. To live a life that is counter-cultural, to be revolutionary.

I think our society, with its emphasis on safety and security, may not be very conducive to making strong men. Not that I'm complaining, but all the more we have to learn to train ourselves to step out.

Because we don't want to raise up a generation of weak-willed disciples who aren't willing to commit to loving God and loving people, who aren't willing to sacrifice their comforts... let alone die for Jesus. We want a twenty-first century as fresh as the first church.

Like how some people accused Billy Graham, when he was evangelising and preaching the Gospel boldly in public, of setting the church back 50 years. Billy Graham hung his head and said, "Men, I am very deeply ashamed. I have been trying to set the church back 2000 years."

I've been thinking too. One key issue for me is that I like to wait until someone asks me to do something. I don't find it easy to inspire or to innovate others. But does it really matter? We are all called to be leaders, to be fishers of men, as long as we come follow Jesus Christ. We can all fly.

We can resist the siren call of the world, by choosing to march to the beat of a different drummer - not so much in the things we do, but the reasons behind why we do what we do. The world says quit your job because it doesn't pay you well. But if God says, stay in here till I tell you otherwise... then how now, cash cow?

Or let's say you're in a comfortable, well-paying job - in the middle of a recession some more! But God calls you to drop your nets and go. Then go you must, or else you risk losing the destiny He has in store for you.

Finally, I was also thinking of one more thing. I realised it's not only about doing great things for God. It's... also about getting to know the great God himself. Do we dare draw nearer and nearer to the beautiful God himself? The One who dwells in unapproachable light? Like a tiny spaceship making a journey into the centre of the Sun...

John the apostle walked and talked with Jesus for three years or so. He even saw his Master transfigured for one eternal moment... and even saw him risen in all his physical glory, the Fulfillment of all the prophets.

But despite knowing Christ so intimately on earth... when Jesus appeared to John again in Revelation, John saw Jesus, with His blazing eyes and shining face... and he dropped as though dead.

It makes me think. How much have I dared to let God shine into my heart? How much have I dared to let His Word speak into my soul?
John 3:19-20
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
So many times we talk of doing great things for God... but have we set our hearts on approaching God Himself? To draw, and draw nearer to Him?
"Father, draw me nearer
Draw me nearer
To the beauty
Of Your holiness..."
Shall we dare drop our nets and follow Him? To cross the Rubicon, burning our ploughs and bridges?

To know, and know deeper... until we find ourselves burning more and more brightly, shining like the Son in all His glory? In righteousness, truth and purity? In faith, hope and love?

To fly, and fly closer... until we touch the very face of God Himself?

Listen now to the pounding sound of the Drummer. He calls us now to come follow Him. To bring our lives, as a daily offering, of worship to the Servant King.
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?"

- Robert Browning

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Relevant Word

I read Peter Truong's blog just now, and was very encouraged by his sharing on Psalm 145:1-10.
Recently, I was reminded that our God is an unchanging God. Many things may change around us but God will remain the same. The economy is being affected by the Global Financial Crisis. People are losing their jobs. The swine flu is spreading around the world. However, God is still present. God is still in control. Let us not lose sight of God in the midst of troubled times. God still cares and has the power to intervene in our lives. Look to God. I found great assurance of God's love and power by reading Psalms 145:1-10.
Think one thing I was learnt from Peter Truong's example is that I can use the Scriptures to help me make sense of what is going on in the world today - and not just my everyday living, but the world at large.

It's refreshing 'cos I've been ploughing through the Psalms and trying to make sense of what the Psalms say to me. I guess I've been feeling a bit dry, but still I plough on, reminding myself to keep my desire for God central. To seek Him with all my heart through reading his words.

Hee. I think God's Word is like an infrared camera. My uncle last time showed me his digital SLR (Huaqiang, SLR... haha...) and its infrared ability... cool! I was surprised to see how even in the darkest areas, everything glowed in grayscale as though it were daylight!

So just like how an infrared camera can help bring out even the most well-hidden objects in the darkest night, it's the same with learning to view the world's current affairs and my own daily circumstances through God's Word. This is part and parcel of learning how to meditate on God's Word (Psalm 1).

Personally, I think though experiences and careful human wisdom can help us appreciate and understand God's Word so much better, ultimately, our worldviews should never interpret God's Word no matter how benign they may be. On the contrary, God's Word is to be the ultimate basis of all our understanding and interpretation of the world and our daily affairs.

I know it sounds circular, what I wrote just now. William Cowper put it so much more eloquently and concisely:
Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.


Btw I read in the Straits Times today about the Euphrates River drying up. The writer mentioned that the Bible says that one of the signs of the end-times is that the Euphrates River will dry up.

Read what the New York Times says: Iraq Suffers as the Euphrates River Dwindles
The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end, has decimated farms along its banks, left fishermen impoverished and depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work.

Gosh! It's really happening before our very own eyes... Jesus is coming back very soon! :)
Revelation 16:15
"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
I remember reading Revelation when I was a young boy in primary school... And those words made me feel afraid. Thank God! "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear..." 'Cos it made me realise the need to repent of my sins and receive Christ into my heart. :D

Yup... Jesus came so silently and innocently in His First Coming, as a helpless baby in a manger... that only a few lowly shepherds and some pagan wise men were able to recognize Him as the King of Kings. And I guess, even now, He's coming very silently, but the signs are there already. So let's prepare our hearts to welcome Him back... and let's hurry to tell others about Him!

'Cos while we talk about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ... half of the world has never even heard of the First.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cycling in Singapore

Came across this nice blog on cycling... in Singapore! :) Apparently Mr Brown himself frequents this blog too!

Hee. I think I'm becoming more and more a cycling geek. Partly due to Ellson's enthusiastic sharing about his own bicycle... (and his letting me try his bike. Gosh. It's like... a flying carpet or something!)

Anyway, here's an interesting graph:

It shows that the more cyclists there are on the roads, the safer it becomes for every cyclist - because motorists are made more aware of cyclists. So, remember, if you're cycling on the road too, you're one more advertisement for road safety! :) Every cyclist counts... make your voice (or horn) heard!

That reminds me. I need to zhng my bike with some bright lights (gimme a xenon!) ASAP. Or I'm going to be roadkill one day...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lord, please help me grow in a spiritual desire for You. And for a real burden to see my CG grow spiritually... to return back to the basics once again, all of us. Help me yield daily to Your Holy Spirit, to be led by Your Spirit. Teach me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.

Return me back once again to the basics of it all... In Jesus' name, amen!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm Amazed!

I was browsing through one of Huanyan's blog posts, when I came across his post from last Thursday. And then I came to this part:
The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

A lot of times we want to be at the top and be the head. This is understandable. But the question here, are we following God first? The pre-condition here is obvious. Pay attention to the commands and carefully follow them. Jesus was to substantiate this with a famous saying:

But seek first His Kingdom and righteousnes and all these things will be given to you as well

Are we following God? Are we putting His Kingdom as our priority? Or is it that the girl that you have been going out with had taken over God as the priority? Or is it that you have treated your job and your success more important than God?
Gosh! It's the same thing that I was thinking about last Saturday (see my previous blog post)...

And yet another brother (I can't remember whether it was HQ or Jiehui or Ps Jeff or someone else) also mentioned the same thing on Sunday...

Somehow I have the feeling that it may have started from Ps Simon's sermon on returning to our first love... and the call to repent of our sin of compromise..

You know what this could mean? That the Lord is somehow giving a whole bunch of us in our church the same fresh insight at the same time.

Gosh! And the message that God may be giving to our church, both corporately and individually is: Return back to Jesus, our first love and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness... we want success in ministry, in work, in relationships and so on... but God wants us, first and foremost, to consecrate our hearts to Him and Him alone first and foremost!

And that sounds like a fresh wind of revival is starting to take us by storm!

Like the first buds of spring, so shall our hearts be!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

To Find Your Direction In Life, Or To Follow Christ?

I was talking with a brother today over lunch. He told me he had just left church - not only Hope, but also church. One thing that he said I still remember: "A lot of the brothers and sisters in church don't have a sense of direction in life. When I ask them what they want to do in life, besides the spiritual aspects of their lives, they don't have any idea. Essentially, it's 'I'll do what God wants me to do.'"

So I was chewing on that remark for a while. And I think I see what he means. Of course, there were other things that he was unhappy about, but I ain't sharing it here of course.

However, I think... I must disagree with what I understand to be the underlying premise about having a direction in life. It's true that it's very important to have a purpose and direction in life, to know what you want to do. But... like all good gifts, it is possible for it to become corrupted.

The world says, "Find what you want to do in life, and follow your heart." And so all those Christians who have received Christ, and found their old worldviews radically challenged, and turned upside-down, are told, even by other well-meaning brothers and sisters, that they must have a purpose and vision in life.

The thing is... the world expects us to be independent, to 'boldly go where no man has gone before'. With the worldly pragmatism of the Romans, the world praises those who have it made. They put on a pedestals those who, in Winston Churchill's words, are 'masters and captains of our souls.' You who shall never surrender, we salute thee!

It is possible even to import such a worldly mindset into religion. To bring an expectation that one should have - in unspoken terms - a career in religion. To rise through the ranks, from being a member, to core team, to pastor, to church-planter... wow! Your spiritual stature has increased! Level up!

It's not wrong to want to know the purpose and meaning of your life. As the Teacher said in Ecclesiastes, "[God] has placed eternity into the hearts of men..." That's why "The Purpose-Driven Life" is an international best-seller, even in the non-Christian settings.

For the very title itself speaks of that ancient abyss in the human heart. "Deep calls to deep." An aching void that cries out, "Surely there must be more to life than this." And for the Christian too: "More than just going to church, to caregroup, to serving in ministry... surely there was something more to this when I decided to become a Christian?"

The thing is... we need to learn to let go of this desire for a direction, a vision first. We need to desire Christ first and foremost. The world says, "Find a direction in life, and follow it." But Jesus said, "Follow ME."

You see, the purpose of life is not even about finding out what God wants you to. First and foremost... follow HIM. As St. Augustine wrote, "Our hearts are restless, until they find rest in Thee."

And I think that's something that we may have neglected to teach the younger ones. To learn to lose everything, throw all their hopes and dreams, and lose themselves utterly into the arms of Christ. To be abandoned unto God.

We need to teach them to set Christ as Lord in their hearts. Like how Paul put it so simply: "But whatever was to my gain, I now consider them as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my Lord."

We focus so much on getting our younger ones to do great and mighty things. But I think we've forgotten the first love of it all... LOVE GOD TOTALLY.

And I think it's all the more sweetly ironic, because God has given me a very clear direction and calling now, after all these years. I remember it was a far cry from when one bro last time asked me what I wanted to do in life. And I remember the shame that one non-Christian threw scorn upon me for not having a sense of direction last time. I felt so ashamed, as though I'd failed God. But thank God that through all these years... I remember one key advice from a wise brother: "Keep your desire for God central."

We want God to show us His direction and plans for our lives, but we don't want Him to be the absolute Lord and Centre of our lives. Dear friends, how can this be? Without a pivot, how can the Compass swing to show us the way to go?

So that's why I've come to realise that perhaps it's not so bad after all, this phrase: "I'm not sure... but I'll do whatever God wants me to do."

I think that's the kind of attitude that the Lord is looking for. A heart of willing surrender. First, love God, and everything will then follow. Follow Christ, and He will make you fishers of men. Deny yourself and take up your cross. Though the world considers it utter foolishness, that you have no idea what you want to do, save for waiting upon God to tell you... that is the way of the Cross. "Let this mind be in you..." For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoeever loses his life for Jesus and for the Gospel will find it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?

And come to think of it, there are a few brothers, who, though in the eyes of the world, seem to be "directionless"... but however, their depth of character and love for God have shown me the way. They've set example for me. I've seen a better way to live - and it's in this church. For my spiritual family. In this despised, outcast, rag-tag army, I've seen a generation of a broken people rising up in faith.
Though my brothers and sisters go about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, though they wander in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground -
though they work in lowly paid jobs, though they throw aside the riches and opportunities of the world, though they give up chances to serve in high positions, though they look like they look like they have no sense of direction, save for "wherever God calls me to go, I'll go..." - I say the world is not worthy of them.

So I want to throw my lot in with these disgraced people. I want to stand together with them with one heart - to love God and love one another. And to do the work He wants us to do. Let us, then, go to Jesus outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

I think I have to clarify something here. I'm not saying that we shouldn't therefore be in the world. No, not so. We should aim to glorify God with everything we do. But let's not become consumed with the desire for "success", be it in the "secular" or the "religious" sense.
Galatians 5:6
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
Rather, what I believe is that we must take extra care to make sure that nothing else ever overtakes our first love for Christ in our lives. Not even the finest things that we intend to do for God. Our relationship with God comes first and foremost. And then our relationships with others. Love God with everything you've got and everything that's in you, and love your neighbour as yourself. The first and second greatest commandments.

I had an impromptu catch-up with Yufen today. And we both talked... and we ended up at the same conclusion independently! :) Cool... Yup! So let's not put the cart before the horse - let's seek to follow CHRIST first and foremost, with this attitude "To live is Christ, and to die is gain," and then He will show us what He has in mind for us.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars


For all you bicycle riders. Think you die-die must read this if you don't want to die...

This page shows you real ways you can get hit and real ways to avoid them. This is a far cry from normal bicycle safety guides, which usually tell you little more than to wear your helmet and to follow the law. But consider this for a moment: Wearing a helmet will do absolutely nothing to prevent you from getting hit by a car. Sure, helmets might help you if you get hit, but your #1 goal should be to avoid getting hit in the first place. Plenty of cyclists are killed by cars even though they were wearing helmets. Ironically, if they had ridden without helmets, yet followed the guidelines listed below, they might still be alive today. Don't fall for the myth that wearing a helmet is the first and last word in biking safety. In truth, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's better to not get hit. That's what real bicycle safety is about. [read more!]
I decided to try riding as much as possible on the roads today. Nice experience, though still a bit scary haha. And a van burped past me, belching black smoke. Gasp!

Thank God that I arrived at my workplace in one piece! =D

While getting my stuff in my office just now, I turned and saw, out of the window, the beauty and blueness of the sky. Somehow had the urge to pray. So, hee, I remembered Daniel, who while still so busy, had the time to kneel down and give thanks to God three times a day.
It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."

So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." So King Darius put the decree in writing.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.
So... looked around, and since no one was around, I knelt, and started praying with my eyes open. Just looked at the heavens and the earth. And Revelation 14:7 came to mind:
He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."
So just took time to thank God the Creator. God the Creator. It's such a humbling thought. That God deserves all the glory, as the rightful Creator of heaven and earth.

And as I knelt there, I felt like I was kneeling down, together with the ancients and the saints all across the ages, worshipping God with reverence and in awe of Him.

Our God is an awesome God
Who reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, pow'r and love
Our God is an awesome God...

And when the sky was starless in the void of the night
(our God is an awesome God)
He spoke into the darkness and created the light
(our God is an awesome God)
Judgment and wrath he poured out on Sodom
Mercy and grace He gave us at the cross
I hope that we have not too quickly forgotten that
our God is an awesome God

Michael W. Smith

Then I also thought, while still on my knees, what would my colleagues think of me kneeling there?

And I remembered Daniel kneeling to give thanks to God, even though his peers had tried to frame him by persuading the king to pass a law making prayer to any god but the king himself, illegal for 30 days. Yet Daniel stuck true to his convictions, still going to his room to kneel and pray, allowing his peers to rush in and catch him doing so.

Personally, I think we're uncomfortable with the idea of being so open in our prayers, especially when it comes to kneeling before God. Even in church, often we feel paiseh to do that. But I wonder... just how much are we willing to proclaim that Christ is Lord? And what harm has kneeling before God ever done to anyone, save for one's own pride...

I know, kneeling is essentially an outward expression. It's possible to do it without the heart. What matters is the heart. Hmm... yah, true... ultimately it's the heart God looks at. And yet... I wonder, just how is my heart that I would be willing to express it out openly for Jesus?

Because I do think kneeling does reflect the willingness of my own heart to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
"...that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth..."
I think, to be honest, I have become so afraid of publicly displaying my faith, that I am willing to compromise my own conviction in other things.

And, I think of the sinful woman who unrolled her hair and poured perfume onto Christ's feet and wiped His feet with her hair. Utterly disgraceful and scandalous... and all the more so, since in that time, unrolling one's hair was meant to be done only in very intimate moments.

Naturally, all the people around her were SCANDALISED. I can imagine the New Paper screaming it out: "Prostitute Preens Preacher!" (I know, "preen" isn't a very accurate term, but tabloid headlines are often known more for their sensationalism rather then their accuracy... ;))

But Jesus saw her heart. And He exalted her before all the religious people, declaring to them that this was one hallowed act, to be told and retold in memory of her, through all the ages henceforth, wherever the gospel is preached.

And two thousand years later, in a faraway land, someone is blogging precisely about that. Prescient, isn't He?

Actually, to clarify, I'm thinking from the viewpoint that maybe we can be more courageous in expressing our faith publicly (as long as it's done with respect, care, sensitivity and consideration for other religions). And of course, I think most people will know why we kneel when we pray!

So, hee, I'm thinking maybe we can kneel down more when we pray... but again then, don't want to make it a ritual. I guess it's a balance of things, because I don't want to become a pious poseur... but on the other hand, I don't want to hide my faith in God so much.

(Pity the poor word "pious"... on one hand it has a commendable usage as in "a pious effort", but also on the other hand, it's nowadays a term to describe hypocrites, especially those of a religious kind. Terrible press it gets...)

Think it's not just about character (though of course! of course! that is critical...), but equally also about declaring openly and unashamedly that Christ is Lord. Both are essential... just look at Daniel's life. :)

Anyway... my colleague came in, and I hastily got up again. But I think he's fine with it. Just that I feel paiseh. Maybe it's because I worry about what he will think of me praying. But again then... isn't that an opportunity for others to find out that I'm a Christian?

Hai, I really must be more courageous in living out my faith in fuller measure. Commitment.

And for commitment... that's another thing I'm thinking about. But for another day...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;

He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.

He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

From Auguries of Innocence, William Blake

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Biking With God

I've started cycling entirely to work. And wow, thank God. It's a very powerful lesson every morning, a daily training session, on learning not to look only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I was astonished at all the thoughts that passed through my mind when I encountered the pedestrians on the pavement. My initial thoughts were like: "Why so slow? Why can't you walk on the side?"

But it struck me, the irony of it. Because last time, as a pedestrian, my thoughts whenever a cyclist would pass me, was: "Why do you have to cycle on the pavement? Why not on the grass? Why so inconsiderate?"

I realised that both cyclist and pedestrian need the same path. Both have their struggles and their difficulties.

So it's been a great training exercise in constantly thinking about other people. It's surprising, but again then, God is able to teach us a lot of things through very ordinary things. =)

In a way, it's like the journey of life. Different kinds of people share the same path. Some go faster, some go slower. It's so easy to criticize the other side, thinking why can't you slow down / stay aside. But we all have our own needs and difficulties. We can look out for one another.

And another thing that struck me: Why do I have to cycle so fast now? Why not slow down? Frankly, it's very hard to look to others' interests, when I'm being too fixed on getting to where I want to go. Especially if I go very fast, people become nothing but slow-moving obstacles. And of course, the likelihood that I'll injure others is so much more higher.

So riding a faster mode of transportation, ironically, has taught me the value and virtue of going slower. A bicycle is simply a blessing... meant to help me relax more, not to rush more.

Like how it is in life. We always want to rush here, rush there. And we speak brusquely and inconsiderately to others. We think of other people as obstacles in our way, blocking us from speeding up and doing the things we want to do. It's all about me, myself and I.

But I guess that is not what Jesus would have us do. He would rather have us learn to literally walk in the other person's shoes. To look not only to my own interests, but to the interests of others. To give way to the slower ones. To be a servant...

Also, it's so easy to pin the blame and attribute inconsideration to the other party so often. I hear my colleague scolding the guy in front of his car... I hear myself scolding (mentally) the pedestrian obliviously chatting on his mobile phone in the middle of the pavement as I skid around him/her. (And I'm willing to bet my last dollar that the pedestrian is scolding me too for riding on the pavement!)

So thought about it. Realised that it is because of the grace of other people that I am actually able to cycle on the pavement. By right I should cycle on the road... but for safety's sake I need to cycle on the pavement. So actually, as a Christian, I am to be a servant to my fellow pedestrians. So that means getting off the bike and wheeling it, if necessary.

Wow! Amazing to learn from the Holy Spirit all these things, especially how to practise servanthood, even in something as small as riding a bicycle.

Another thing that also struck me is that I can pray for all the faces, the people, whom I pass along the way. Instead of mentally scolding or even cursing them (even if they're in the wrong), I can practise praying for them. Hee. I passed by a very portly gentleman this morning. He was huffing and puffing as he gamely walked. So prayed for him (in my heart) that God will help him lose some weight.

Imagine. I can pray for others... no matter what mode of transportation I take. Hooray! :)

Riding is fun, especially when you're riding together with the Holy Spirit!