Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Many Visions, One Reason

From Created to be God's Friend: Lessons from the Life of Abraham by Henry Blackaby:
It is a moment of trembling to realize the Heart of God, but this comes to the one who chooses to let God draw him closer to Himself. Often this will occur in one, while others around him do not know anything at all about the seriousness of the moment with God. But God desires such a relationship, where He can share His Heart. This is the "friend" He is looking for. This is the kind of relationship He is shaping in the one He calls. This one will see farther, see clearer, and see more than others around him. This, too, will often separate him from those around him, especially because of the intensity with God this revelation creates. It is sometimes lonely being a "friend of God"!
This passage comes at such a sweet time. You see, Yufen and I had been celebrating Joyce's birthday, and while sharing about our lives... suddenly I found myself sharing that I had learnt something important about having a vision, especially one given by God himself.

I said,
"I learnt that there is a cost to having a very clear vision and calling from God. The cost is that you may have to walk alone, because others may not be able to understand the vision. You may have to walk the road alone, just like how Abraham had to walk the road of faith alone, and even his own wife and his cousin did not always understand him.

"Or Jesus, for that example... where He was asking His 3 closest disciples to pray together with Him as He was struggling in prayer regarding going to the cross... and the 3 clowns all fell asleep!"
To be honest, I was really startled to find these words coming out of my mouth! Perhaps this was something that was inspired by the Spirit...

Because when I went to Bras Basah the next day to look for a book, I stumbled upon the Blackaby book on Abraham.

And yes, I came across the passage above. It really felt so surprising. It really does seem that God is confirming that revelation regarding what had come out of my mouth on Sunday.

So be careful when you ask for a clearer vision from God. God may mercifully grant that His specific calling for you not be revealed yet... because the price of loneliness, of walking the Via Dolorosa, may not be easy.

I guess this revelation means a lot to me, because, frankly, I feel quite crestfallen a lot of times when quite a lot of brothers and sisters don't seem to register any delight when they hear about someone being saved. Or hearing about God's kingdom being extended and so on.

In fact, they seem much more delighted only when they hear that a person got a raise or a bonus or a promotion... which makes me ask - just where does your treasure really lie then?

An apathetic generation shall live on pathetic rations. But that's not what Jesus has intended for any church or caregroup!

Many visions, one heart, a common love
Well, but pondering... I wondered why is it that some other dear brothers and sisters obviously do not have the same vision or the same passion as me, yet, when they share about their visions for God, I also feel so happy and excited for them?

Like how when Andrew shared his vision for the RP ministry... or Yufen shared her passion to serve God in healthcare... or Peter shared his dream to impact the business and media industry... or Joyce shared her joy at seeing God do miracles in missions... or Huanyan shared his thirst to study the Word of God thoroughly... or Weizhu shared his excitement about cross-generational ministry... or Huaqiang shared his burden to see God honoured by serving Him well in operations ministry... and so on and so forth.

All very different visions, right? But I realised that the shared joy we all have is because of one thing: we all have seen and felt the Heart of God placed over our own hearts. And what is the Heart of God but the Great Commission?

All our different visions spring from one River. As the psalmist puts it so beautifully:
Psalm 46:4
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
Think of it. The Spirit of God working in each one of us, assigning to each one of us different giftings and talents, just as He determines, as He pleases.

We are many streams with many dreams, but we all flow from the one river of the Great Giver... making glad the city of God.

Many visions, one Reason.

Having the same love
And so, it's in that frame of mind, as Paul put it:
Philippians 2:1-2
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
So it's not the sameness of vision that matters... but the sameness of having a heart for God's kingdom that matters! that unites and delights! that unifies and edifies!

And that's the delight, to realise that you are not alone after all. But such people are quite rare... people who have a common love for Christ and for His church... a common hunger to follow Him and do His will... a common joy when a sinner crosses the line from death to life... a common commitment to loving and strengthening one another, no matter how different we are... and the love just grows and grows and grows.

A Common Love
A common love for each other,
A common gift to the Savior.
A common bond holding us to the Lord.
A common strength when we're weary.
A common hope for tomorrow,
A common joy in the truth of God's Word.

In His family, we can meet each one's needs,
We can light each one's path;
We can bear each one's grief,
As His children we can comfort each care,
We can build each one's faith,
We can work we can share.

In His family, all the love that we show,
All the help that we give,
All the life we bestow;
As His children, they're an off'ring we make,
Not expecting return, just a gift for His sake.

So let's love the same God with the same love. Amen!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Let's Get Really Real.

People talk about injustices and oppressions and so on as being part of "the real world". But is that what the people of God should be saying?

Then what does this mean?
"Your kingdom come, Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven"

Am currently reading "Created to be God's Friend: Lessons from the Life of Abraham" by Henry Blackaby. As always, beautifully, gracefully and soundly written. Because it's the outcome of a careful expository study of the Bible, and also the outcome of a life committed to living wholeheartedly by God's Word, and the testimonies that come out of it.

Learnt that one thing about being God's friend is that you'll start to share His Heart - the "Heart of God" as Blackaby puts it so well. You'll want to intercede. You'll want to plead. You'll want to stand in the gap.

No. This "real world" that we talk so carefreely about is not the world that God intended it to be.

But let's entrust justice into the Lord's hands... and let's be agents of His mercy. To live a life that speaks of another world... a world that is not of this world. Because we are citizens of a new world, the ambassadors for a new kingdom - the Kingdom of God.

Let's care for those the world couldn't care less about. Let's love those whom the world spits at. Let's befriend the outcasts, the nerds, the crazies, the losers, the slaves... because Jesus wants to be their friend.

Let's treat our maids well. Let's serve the coffee aunties. Let's speak respectfully to the store clerks and taxi drivers and fast-food waiters. Let's honour those whom the world despises.

Let's speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Let's defend the oppressed and the orphans. Let's care about justice for the poor.

Let's live genuine lives that love God and love people. Let's not pay empty lip-service, but live out lives in full faith. Let's not have meaningless worship, but rather, let's have heart-felt, sincere prayers... Let's not settle for spiritual junk food, for being spoon-fed basic truths again and again, but let's rise up to obey the Great Commission in every aspect of our lives.

Let's not settle for empty religion, but for a living and pulsating relationship with the Redeemer himself.

Let's not seek to build our own houses and careers, but forget to build the church of Christ and the kingdom of God.

Let's not seek to buy nice cars and go on holidays, but forget to walk with God and go forth on missions.

Let's not seek to build big houses and have good schools, but forget to build sweet homes and teach God's Word.

So let's heed the words of the LORD spoken through Amos the prophet, to His people who had degenerated from meaningful worship into meaningless rituals:
Even though you bring Me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.

Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

So dear friends, let's be radical, let's be revolutionary... let's be realistic. Reality as it really is: reality according to God, not according to men.

Let's be real. Let's get real. Let's rumble!

HopeKids Children's Day Video!

And yes, it's cute... ahaha...

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yufen and I celebrated Joyce's birthday today at Orchard Central. We went to Fruit Paradise. Delicious fruit tarts and pies! Haha... but yes, it was a very encouraging and exhilariating time of sharing our thoughts and hearts in pastoral ministry.

One thing that Yufen shared with us was what it really means to have a vision for a caregroup. It simply means having a picture of what you hope to see in the future. A picture. Vision. Makes sense, right? Nothing abstract or fancy here. But so essential for leading your caregroup, and making sure that your caregroup doesn't go nowhere.

So I was thinking about my caregroup. Burdened. What can I do next?

Ah. But an encouragement from God here. The HopeKids skit team. The vision to see it become a fully-fledged drama ministry, if God wills it so, to attract and help prepare children's hearts for the gospel message.

Actually it's coming to fruition already. Spencer has very willingly taken a step of courageous faith to fill in for me for October. I'm amazed at how God works through the most unlikely of people - unlikely in terms of skills, that is. Spencer has been amazingly supportive and encouraging... even though he might not be the most educated of people, but I am confident that God sees his heart to impact the children in whatever way possible... and now it seems the Spirit is moving me to ask him to fill in for me in script-writing.

And amazingly, God has helped me talent-spot someone else today. There's this sister from Youth ministry, who has drama stage experience. It seems that maybe I can ask her to do the stage management for the HopeKids ministry.

Ah. Once that's done... I should be more free to do the intro video for HopeKids ministry. Or maybe the HopeTV team can do that. Ah. See what we can do next, God willing.

Delegate, delegate, delegate. I love to delegate. Delegation has great value in extending the kingdom of God, because it enables more people to join in the vision together, and plunge their hands into the same dream together, and to experience the power of God as a united body.

The Vision So Far
Personally, I envision this skit ministry, whose role is to captivate and open up the hearts of the children to the message being preached, in a bigger and more exciting way.

We've already managed to bring the professionalism of the skit ministry to move beyond simple 5 min appetizers to full-blown skits, and even an experimental mime drama, complete with face paint and costumes.

And now we're looking forward to building a steady team of scriptwriters who are able to produce scripts on a ready and regular basis every week, to support and

We envision the skit team's ultimate role to be like that of John the Baptist, whose role was to prepare the people's hearts for the coming of the Messiah. Likewise, we prepare the children's hearts every week for the preaching of the Word.

Gosh. I'm so amazed to see how God is enabling and empowering me to lead a team. It's so un-me. 'Cos God knows I struggle with faithfulness, with leading and so on. By nature I'm not a confident person, not a natural leader and not organized. Just a mere dreamist. But having responded to God's calling to do skits, He has empowered me to actually increase and develop the skit team into something bigger... something that is clearly of God.

Which I am again and again reminded of every time I direct the skit team: "God doesn't call the qualified; no, He qualifies the called!"

YES AND AMEN! God is faithful! Oh, He is so, so, so able to do more than all we ask or even dare to dream of... according to His power that's at work within us... to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!

Dear Yeu Ann:

Many thanks for your interest to come on board my team. I have submitted your application to MDA and they have agreed in principle to the attachment. I would be looking at you commencing with my company on Oct 1...
And suddenly, working life comes rushing upon me unexpectedly.

And all the things that I've wanted to do... are to be relegated to the backburner again, because of my procrastination.

Which makes me ponder. How many little dreams that we've always intended to bring pleasure to God have we never managed to do, not because of insufficient time, but simply because we've frittered away these little minutes in-between?

And then the day comes upon us unexpectedly, and it's back to the frontlines again.

Life is short! I must make the most of the remaining time I have left.

But there's one thing I want to do before I go back into the working world again:
To go to Starbucks for an entire afternoon., snuggle up on a comfy couch with hot chocolate and finish up the "A God-Centred Church" book.

And hee, to finish up that Operation Flashpoint game I'm playing...

And to engage in a full day of fasting and praying. Maybe Wed. I'm so inspired by Peter Truong from Hope Brisbane... and Hannah from HopeKids. They've been doing 40 days of prayer and fasting - and experiencing the power of God.

I want to experience God in a deeper and more tangible way too. But let's get started with one day. Hee.

Friday, September 25, 2009

How Do We "Mature" Adults Hinder The Little Ones From Coming to Jesus?

I was surfing the net, 'cos was pondering why Jesus was telling us not to hinder the little ones from coming to know Him.

What, you mean we mature disciples can actually hinder children from coming to Jesus? Apparently so - enough to make Him majorly pissed off enough to say that whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

So with that scary thought in mind, I stumbled upon John Piper's excellent article on the importance of bringing children to Jesus:
Luke 18:15-17
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
The teaching that I would like to stress from this text tonight is this: Disciples of Jesus should remove all hindrances that keep children from coming to Jesus. The disciples hindered the children and Jesus rebuked the disciples and invited the children. The lesson is clear: Disciples of Jesus should remove all hindrances that keep children from coming to Jesus. (emphasis mine)

[...] Luke 18:15-17 has to do not just with adults who should be childlike in the way they receive the kingdom; but also with children who were being brought to Jesus for his touch. So to see all that Jesus wants to teach us here we need to find out how the children relate to the childlike - or not so childlike - adults.

In verse 15 there were parents bringing their infants to Jesus. The disciples rebuke them. Jesus rejects this rebuke and encourages the parents to bring their children to him. Then, as if to warn the disciples, he says, "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." In other words when Jesus sees a disciple hindering a child from coming to him he sees someone who is in danger of missing the Kingdom because of pride.

If you are receiving the kingdom yourself like a little child, then you will not do anything to hinder little children from coming to Jesus. But if you are trying to enter the kingdom some other way than by receiving it like a child, then you will probably be a hindrance to children. If you are not childlike toward God, children will probably be beneath you and not worth your time.

So there is a very close connection between your own humility and your ability to lead children to Jesus. The great hindrance to effective ministry to children is pride, and the great gift for ministry to children is humility.

But there are many other hindrances that we put in the way of the children as they come to Jesus. Most of these are in some way or other the result of pride even though they don't look like it on the surface. Let's mention some of them, and how we might work to remove them.

After pride I would mention, secondly, the hindrance of parental unbelief. When a child's parents are not believers the child is at an extraordinary disadvantage. There is no one at home to bring him to Jesus. There are some children in our church and many in our neighborhoods who live in these tragic circumstances.

There are two ways to remove this kind of hindrance. One is to try to reach the child and lead him to Jesus even if the parents don't want to come along. Many parents are willing to let someone else take their children into the presence of Jesus. If they will let us we should do it.

But it would be far more effective for the child and beneficial for the parents if we could lead the parents into the presence of Jesus at the same time. If the unbelief of the parents is the chief hindrance to the children, then the best way to remove the hindrance is to seek the conversion of the parents. So you can see how closely related are the ministry to children and the larger ministry of evangelism in our church.

A third hindrance that keeps children out of the kingdom or weakens their usefulness in it is the lack of deep and accurate theology among the parents and teachers.

(I'll say to that! In fact, God knows how much God-awful misconception of basic truths may be communicated to little children if we don't watch our lives and doctrines carefully...)

It takes as much or more understanding of a Biblical doctrine to teach it to children than it does to teach it to adults. If you understand a thing well, you can usually make it plain for ordinary people and children. But if you are fuzzy in your own understanding, you will generally be overly complex in your explanation.

(If you can explain salvation, sanctification, justification, righteousness, forgiveness, redemption, holiness and so on to a little child so that he/she can understand, then you really understand. Else you don't, even if you have a PhD in theology.)

A great hindrance to the salvation and the growth of our children is the weakness of our own grasp of the full range of Biblical truth and the unity of the whole counsel of God. I am overwhelmed at what children can absorb and retain when they are repeatedly and systematically and progressively instructed in the great doctrines of the Bible.

(It's true. Read a report in Scientific American recently that children are smarter than adults. It's just that adults happen to have more knowledge.)

The best way to remove this hindrance is to help all the adults of our church get excited about the joy of knowing God and growing in their understanding of his character and ways. Here we need to develop our own little institute of biblical studies perhaps to teach and train as many as are willing in the great truths of scripture and how to share them.

A fourth hindrance to our children is the lack of disciplined planning especially in us parents. What I have in mind is the fact that we often fail to teach our children not just because we lack understanding of what needs to be taught, but because we do not take the time to plan to teach. Periodically we feel guilty that our children are growing up so fast, but then we never sit down for fifteen minutes and plan a strategy to take ten minutes a day to teach them the most important truths in the world.

Fathers it is your duty to teach your children about the glorious truths of justification, sanctification, redemption, regeneration, adoption, salvation, reconciliation, original sin, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the resurrection, the second coming, the work of the Holy Spirit, the nature and importance of the church, the inspiration and authority of the Bible. It is a great hindrance to our children that we do not sit down and plan a systematic presentation of these things to them during family devotions for a few minutes each day.

The way to remove this hindrance is to cultivate a church in which parents do not neglect their duty thinking that it is the responsibility of the church to teach those things. We need to get into the hands of all our parents something like a good old fashioned catechism with questions and answers and texts on all these important issues. Many parents would be eager to spend ten minutes a day teaching their children systematically if they had some help and some good material to use at home. I hope that we can get that into your hands soon. [read more...]
Ha, yah, feel very strongly about it. Because to be honest, I feel rather indignant when I hear other people say that they can't stand children. I mean children are so blessedly precious in God's eyes... think of David, Samuel, Jeremiah, Timothy, Jesus as a boy... we talk about being influencers to top-notch leaders and so on.

Children are not just cute little things. They are PEOPLE. People who will grow up to impact the next generation - for better or for worse.

I'll end with this story. Perhaps it's apocryphal, but the message is powerful:
In a small country church a novice altar boy serving the priest at Sunday mass accidentally dropped the glass of wine. The priest struck the boy, knocking him to the ground. Standing over the young servant, the angry priest shouted, "Get out and don't come back!" That boy became Tito, the Communist leader of Yugoslavia.

In another cathedral buried in the heart of the city, a young altar boy serving the bishop at Sunday Mass accidentally dropped the glass of wine. With a warm twinkle in his eyes, the bishop hugged the young boy to his side and gently whispered, "Someday you will be a wonderful priest." That boy grew up to become Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Am, erm, procrastinating right now from my video-editing. And was re-reading the Romantic Toolbox notes (that's my church's relationship advice manual), and also the book WZ lent me, "Boy Meets Girl" by Joshua Harris.

Felt very refreshed, because these two books feel like two good friends giving wonderful advice. Just want to share this beautiful quote from "Boy Meets Girl":
Anyone can have passionate feelings, but only those who seek God's purpose and timing can know the true joy of romantic love fulfilled.
Yes, seek God's will in all things.
Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight / [direct your paths].

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did I Not Tell You

John 11:39-40
"Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."
Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

God's In The Details. So We Send Long Emails.

Haha... Joyce just posted this comment on one of my posts...

And I like this part: "the details just prove how God has been there, authoring your life!"

Yes! That's why I find long testimonies very meaningful... I mean, short testimonies are supposed to get the point across... but I think that shouldn't always be the case... it doesn't seem to do justice at all to God's goodness, which is so wonderful.
Psalm 40:5
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
I mean, God has PLANNED all these things...

And part of the joy of daily living is the constant expectation that God may suddenly spring upon us, whispering our names like how He one day called out Moses' name in the middle of a normal and boring working day.
Surprised by wonder,
Voice of thunder!
Burning bushes talk,
Dead men walk!
Those who believe,
By faith receive!
God's in the details
So we send long emails.
Haha... just a personal opinion... but yes, thank God there's someone else who gets it! :D

Lord, I Offer My Life To You (Song)

This song has been running through my mind for the past few days... and the chorus clenches my heart, for it's so soulful.

I guess I like this song so much, because it's a song that naturally compels you to mediate on it as you listen.
(Verse 1)
All that I am, all that I have
I lay them down before you, oh Lord
All my regrets, all my acclaims
The joy and the pain, I'm making them yours

Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I've been through
Use it for your glory

Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life
Everything I've been through...
What sweet experiences have you been through,
and what shames seared you, even in church?

What joys and successes did you exult in with others,
and what sorrows wept you in the corner alone?

What roses did you once pick to tenderly caress and fondle,
and what tears bled you as they pierced your heart?

What frail waxen wings of dreams did you soar upon as you touched the rainbows,
and what despairs melted you as you crashed into the waves of reality?

Use it for Your glory...
And I'm reminded that everything, even the most painful and despicable moments of our lives, can be redeemed by Him on the cross. Everything for His glory... as long as we surrender them to Him.

(Verse 2)
Things in the past, things yet unseen
Wishes and dreams that are yet to come true
All of my heart, all of my praise
My heart and my hands are lifted to you

Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I've been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life

What can we give
That you have not given?
And what do we have
That is not already yours?
All we possess
Are these lives we're living
That's what we give to you, Lord

Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I've been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life

Lord, I offer my life to you
Everything I've been through
Use it for your glory
Lord I offer my days to you
Lifting my praise to you
As a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer you my life
Lord I offer you my life

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just woke up from a nap. Was thinking about Ps Rick Seaward's sermon today. Btw seems quite a lot of us are really excited abt it. And it must have taken a lot of courage for Ps Rick to preach the way he preached today, and the prophetic prayer tt he prayed over Ps Jeff and our church.

Waaaah. So blessed and very comforted by his prophecy. Maybe it's also because I felt the love come from another church to our church... and thank God for Ps Jeff too.

Think it's not been easy for Ps Jeff, esp since he's not well-trained in many areas, from what I know... but he's been courageously holding the fort, esp now that Ps Ben is moving on to North America. (Thank God for Ps Ben - he's been faithful in the first phase...) Ps Jeff, not sure if you ever read this, but your faith, hope and love really inspire me very much to be more like Christ in serving others! :D Jiayou!~

Anyway, you can read my tweets for the sermon content.

Then when I got back home, I read the servant leader posting. And it cut me to my heart. Made me think more about my own heart.

Then chatting with Yufen. V blessed by her "random ramblings":
[...] also hope tt more Christians can rise up to use God's annointing in their life to impact ppl outside
(including myself ) of course
cos sometimes feel that it mite be more n more difficult for Christians to differentiate themselves from pre-believers because it seems tt ppl nowadays are getting more driven also n know what they want, so Christians beside sharing tt God wld give them a purpose, they need to be 'salty' enough for pre-believers to see that we are diff..
haha random rambling bro.. cos just 'chewing' on it.. thinking haha
Yah. I just found out from HQ that Rueyfong's now leading a CG. Wah. V encouraged! Haha, also 'cos he has the heart and skills and maturity.

Then I haha look at myself and wonder what do I have that God can use? Feel constantly inadequate and deeply unable. But I think that's why the sermon's so encouraging for me personally.

Boast of my weaknesses
'Cos I forget that God has given me an anointing already. Anointing to work with children... and some more, I love working with DIFFICULT children. I think it's a calling, 'cos it's not a natural thing for me actually... since I will rather retreat and avoid ppl who make me feel uncomfortable.

But yeah. Feel very thankful and glad today, because one of the boys in my CG wasn't paying attention to the sermon - and can't really compel him to pay attention... so tried to share my Bible w him but he wasn't really too interested. So was feeling rather discouraged, esp when seeing the other teachers interacting with the children. Asked God what do I do now? I feel helpless to make an impact on the children.

But I think the Holy Spirit reminded me that each teacher has a unique strength given by Him... I don't have to follow the styles of the other teachers. My style is different from others... and it's a unique strength... that enables me to connect to the tough boys, the difficult kids. (Maybe because I'm hardly the epitome of an authority figure, that they can feel comfortable with me haha...)

So yes, I decided to accompany the boy when he got up to leave early for his tuition. Like how we would accompany our visitors if they left service / CG early... bcos want to genuinely bless them. Felt a bit nervous, 'cos not sure how he'd take it - would he be v surprised? But decided to do it anyway. Committed it to God in prayer.

And lo and behold, the boy seemed pleasantly surprised. He chatted with me all the way to the MRT. I was v encouraged by his sharing, 'cos it's a sign that I can connect with him. Ha... I really feel closer and fonder of these "tough" boys haha...

My meetup with the boss last week
Another thing... you remember my sharing about the boss who sent me that marvellous email? (the one in my last posting). Yah, actually there's more than just the internship offer.

Haha... 'cos during the training workshop, she had seen my acting during the role-play, and haha, let's just say that a lot of ppl were impressed with me... haha... and she commented that I'm quite different from most hearing-impaired ppl, 'cos I don't speak like one who's hearing-impaired. And that my personality's very much more outgoing in a way.

And not only that... when she asked me why I had made my career switch, I told her that one reason is because life is short... so don't want to waste time. She was surprised, and remarked to me that most ppl my age don't have that viewpoint. So she asked me why, and I told her that it's because I'm a Christian, and also because of the van accident that I was in, in Kenya. Upon hearing that, she remarked that I'm very mature for my age, to think like that.

Wah. I was very surprised. Really meh? So haha I just thanked God in front of her... =) haha...

But yeah, this made me think. I guess I do have an anointing from God in this area... esp the speaking well part... it's just that I struggle since i'm a natural introvert.

But yes, when I'm doing what He wants me to do, I can literally feel His empowerment coming upon me... but to be honest, I am so surprised to find myself doing that. It's so unlike me... as my bros and sisters in church can testify. But I must have faith in God... and do what He wants me to do.

Hmm. Haha. It's late. Can't really think v much at this point. But yah, must be strong and courageous. Not to let my natural feelings of insecurity and inadequacy stop me from exercising the anointing God has given me.

And the anointing isn't for my own use. It's to bless the people around me. To meet their needs. I remember one line from Dick Lee's musical: Man of Letters. It really caught my attention...

In that musical, there was this lady who was trying to encourage our shy geeky protagonist to speak up for the workers. Think it went like this:

He: "I can't do it! I'm not good with speaking before people... I just want to avoid trouble, stay in my comfort zone!"

She: "No... You have a tremendous ability with words... so that is the reason why you HAVE to go up and speak for us."

Meeting Needs, Drawing People
Which goes on to the final part. Meeting needs, drawing people. I was chatting with a friend on MSN just now, and she remarked to me that she gets LOTS of windows every time she logs on to MSN. I exclaimed to her, "Wow, that's very fortunate..."

Well, she said that she's often distracted, because she wants to minister to the people she's supposed to take care of.

But still, I wonder about it. What was it about her that drew people to her? I think one reason is her natural bubbliness and personality haha... fun to chat with as well. And very comfortable to talk with.

So that's a need actually. People have a need to talk to someone they can feel comfortable with, trust, you know. Especially in this society, where there's the need for acceptance.

As Peter mused so succinctly:
ne of the statement that echoes in my head is the statement made by one of the church planters.."we have to do outreach a bit different..we have to meet their needs..."


I remembered eons ago Pastor Simon Eng said this.." Churches in Malaysia does not have much respect from the government..because they didn't do much changes (benefit) to the community around them.."


Jesus do go around meeting people's needs too. He don't just preach..He healed people of sickness and that helped draw crowds to Him as seen in many cases, people just came to look for Him for healing.

Meeting needs out of the care and heart of wanting to bless.

As Peter the apostle reminded Cornelius the Roman centurion:
"You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."
Personally, I think one major need - for any culture, but especially for our own society... is the need for people to feel loved and accepted. As Mother Teresa put it so harrowingly:
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”
Hee. That's why I find so much meaning in the Nurture programme. To care for the children of God. Yes, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

But yah, on a bigger scale... I want to care for others, like Jesus cares for me. To care for my brothers and sisters. Even if I don't have anything else to give but friendship, well, Jesus can do something with that.

But yes! God has a plan to use everyone of us... as TH replied sagely to me when I told him that my strength can also be a weakness:
Your strength is always your strength! It's never a weakness. Your weakness is simply a potential strength that can grow.
Waaah. Insightful sia. Haha... =)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

leaderman or servant leader

I saw this post on someone's blog... it really gripped me and made me pause. Convicting, because, oh, I am so the former and not the latter.

Ah... haha but yes! God will change my heart to be more like His.
leaderman or servant leader

LeaderMan: Wants a platform on which to say something

Servant Leader: Has something to say


LeaderMan: You almost feel you know his family, because he’s your Leader

Servant Leader: You allow him to influence you, because you know his family


LeaderMan: Wants you to know he’s a Leader

Servant Leader: You’re not sure he knows he’s a leader


LeaderMan: Loves the idea of the Gospel, and the idea of The Church

Servant Leader: Loves God and the actual individual people God brings across his path


LeaderMan: A great speaker, but self-described as, “Not really a people person.”

Servant Leader: Makes himself a people person


LeaderMan: Helps you find where God is leading you in his organization

Servant Leader: Helps you find where God is leading you


LeaderMan: Gets together with you to talk about his vision

Servant Leader: Just gets together with you


LeaderMan: Resents “sheep stealing”

Servant Leader: Doesn’t get the “stealing” part, since he doesn’t own anyone to begin with


LeaderMan: Wants the right people on the bus

Servant Leader: Wants to find the right bus for you, and sit next to you on it


LeaderMan: Shows you a flow chart

Servant Leader: Shows you his whole heart


LeaderMan: A visionary who knows what the future looks like

Servant Leader: Knows what your kitchen looks like


LeaderMan: If it’s worth doing, it worth doing with excellence

Servant Leader: Not exactly sure how to even calculate “worth doing”


LeaderMan: Talks about confronting one another in love

Servant Leader: Actually confronts you in love


LeaderMan: Impressed by success and successful people

Servant Leader: Impressed by faithfulness


LeaderMan: Invests time in you, if you are “key people”

Servant Leader: Wastes time with you


LeaderMan: Reveals sins of his past

Servant Leader: Reveals sins of his present


LeaderMan: Gives you things to do

Servant Leader: Gives you freedom


LeaderMan: Leads because of official position

Servant Leader: Leads in spite of position


LeaderMan: Deep down, threatened by other Leaders

Servant Leader: Has nothing to lose
But thank You Father for speaking the truth to me in love. For showing me what I really am.

Help me help others. Less of me, more of You and more to others.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Got an email just now!
Very impressive CV, Yeu Ann. I am wondering, would you like to do an MDA attachment with my company? Basically, it's for new media graduates who want to move into the media industry. It's for a period of one year and it's a monthly stipend of $1,000. I don't require you full-time, so do consider it.

I'm absolutely astounded, astonished, amazed, awed, etc. etc. Is the Lord always in the habit of doing wondrous things like this?


Thank You Lord... I'm so ... lost for words with all to say, Lord You take my breath away. Still my soul, my soul, cries out...

Haha... ok, let me share the background behind this fantabulous exchange. I'm so amazed, because it's really God's hand at work behind all this.

With that in mind, let me begin my tale.

NB: Feel free to skip the prologue if you want... it's background info that explains why I'm so very glad. :)

You see, some time ago, I was seeking God for directions on what He wants me to do... and He showed me that He has called me to work with children. And so I went on to serve in children's ministry and eventually the Nurture programme.

And one vision that I had while seeking God was a picture of me sitting on a small chair telling stories to children of different skin colours. And well! one day, during the Nurture programme, I found myself doing precisely what I had seen myself doing in the vision!

And at the beginning of the year, one leader prayed prophetically for me that God would show me very clearly (among other things) the career path that He has in mind for me. The reason is not because I want a good career path, but because I wanted to do God's will in every area of my life, including my career.

So yup, God confirmed very clearly that I should quit my full-time (and good-paying) software engineering job to pursue a career in the media industry. The reason I wanted to enter the media industry was because I'm concerned about the plethora of junk media that's polluting children's hearts and minds... and well, want to produce positive, healthy and inspiring media to impact children's hearts and minds. And of course, hopefully make Christian films / write good children's books / do storytelling...

Of course, I faced the usual gauntlet of parental worries and scoldings... but thank God for my brothers and sisters who supported and encouraged me. And Peter my shepherd told me one thing that really took me by surprise: God can send me help even from non-Christians too, just like how King Cyrus helped the exiled Jews return to Jerusalem.

So one practical concern was what kind of job could I possibly get. And since I don't have any professional training in scriptwriting or film-making, how do I get a media job in the first place?

Thus, it was a step of faith. I originally had intended to take up a professional conversion course in October. But... I got the news that it was postponed to next year. Seow leow.

But God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. About two weeks ago, I went for a training workshop, which some Nurture programme volunteers were invited. So I went... and I got to meet the boss of the educational consultancy that organized the training workshop. Somehow, the boss and quite a few of her team-mates liked me (haha) and when she found out that I was a software engineer before, she asked me whether I could help her look at her websites.

The Meeting That Led To The Email
Now, today, I went down to her office. We had a very good chat... and when she found out that I was making a career switch to the media industry and enjoyed working with children... whoa! she invited me to join her team as a flexi-time staff! So I sent her my CV, and the rest is in her reply to me, as seen above.

If I hadn't been a software engineer, the boss might not have invited me to look at her websites. If I hadn't been volunteering in Nurture programme, I might not have met the boss in the first place. If I hadn't been at that particular service where Ps Lawrence challenged us to step out of the four walls of our church and start serving the community, I wouldn't have signed up for the Nurture programme.

If I hadn't been serving in children's ministry... If I hadn't been seeking God for His will, what He wants me to do for Him... then none of these things would have happened.

And if I hadn't taken that step of faith to quit my software engineering job in August, then I wouldn't have gone down to meet the boss and talk with her.

And so on and so forth. Ah. The Campus Crusade film ministry too. Missions-related some more. I'm feeling so excited.

God, The Grand Weaver
Whoa. I am so filled with wonder at what God can do. Even through an impefect piece of clay like me... He is the God of 2nd, 3rd, 4th... chances. We may fail, but Jesus never fails!
Psalm 139:13-16
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

And when I step back and look at the bigger picture of things, I see how God is weaving so many seemingly insignificant and tiny things in my life in such a way, that each little thing that I do for Him lead on to interact with yet other little things... to form a beautifully woven tapestry.

It's A Wonder-Full Life
And well, it's just so not the usual humdrum way of the "normal" route that most other people would take... you know, find career, settle down, work plenty of OT and climb up to a high position and so on. But Christ promised us a much better and more fulfilling life than that kind of hamster-wheel life! "I have come, that they may have life, and have it to the full!"

Yup! I'm not content to settle for the passive, "low-maintenance", easy-walkin' half-filled, low-carb, low-faith, pragmatic - and damned boring kind of lifestyle. I am not content to be just a "normal Christian".

Aye... I mean, Jesus really promised an abundant and exciting life. But... He never promised us a safe, trouble-free life. "In this world, you will have much trouble." But He did promise His power, and His presence with us forever more. And I think that's a way much better deal than a "safe, trouble-free and comfortable" life.

Are you feeling tired, even as a Christian, of a sian and wonder-less life? A life where the word of the Lord seems rare? Where the promised power and community of the New Testament seems literally two thousand years away?

So just really want to encourage you to seek God every moment and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in every area, be it DMM or job or spouse or hobby or whatever else... to seek His will without any bargaining or reservations ... to humbly hurl yourself wholeheartedly into His big powerful hands! For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him! Amen!

And oh! it's just so mind-boggling. Oh... how I wish, I wish, I wish... we would all seek earnestly to do the will of God! And not even an anthro-centric version of doing God's will - with the subtle expectation that He will bless us... but hearts totally, utterly and unreservedly abandoned unto Him!

And I think of Job's declaration of faith - I think it's the highest and most profound of them all... "Though He slays me, I will still trust in Him." Imagine. If God told me that I will die a slow, painful, lonely, shameful, disgraceful and pitiful death precisely because I want to serve Him... would I still throw myself into His hands anyway?

"Yet not my will, but Yours be done."

Ah. To be honest, I'm not sure I have the strength nor the heart nor the character nor the will to follow Him to that utmost... but God willing, one day He will strengthen me... but I really hope I don't have to face that situation... but if it is to be... then may He help me do His will, not mine. (I struggle so much, just thinking of that.)

Haha... He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!

God's Pottery

Today's sub-district CG was Missions Night. And what a night it was!

I had gone there with a heavy and spiritually dry heart, but prayed on my way there, I asked God to speak to me anyway... and pleaded with Him to touch me, speak to me... well, just do something...

And hee, thank God so much, wow, Eugene's sharing really spoke to me very much!
8:59 PM 9/17/2009
SubD CG Missions night

Jer 18:1-6

Personal note: The LORD of the harvest... prophecy about stepping out of our comfort zones.

Focus on v3-4

If taken out of context - we may mistake God to be an arbitrary God.

It's v impt to know who God truly is.

Our priorities of God are determined by our perspective of God.

Shaping and sculpting - the clay
Then firing of the clay.

One v impt factor in making a pot is the condition of the clay.
- There must NOT be any air bubbles in the clay...
=> it hinders shaping AND firing of the clay.

Video of potter trying to make a pot (but the clay flew off the potter's wheel): (WOW! God's hands are so closely on me... just like how the potter's hands embraced the clay, so God's hands embrace us literally as He works to shape us.)

God actually reused the clay... reshaped into another pot shape. He did not chuck the clay aside for a better batch, but reused the clay.

Our God is a God of 2nd chances.

(I'm touched... i remember my time in NUS ministry... and my failures... and yet He did not forsake me. On the contrary, He used me and shaped me even more...

Oh God. You still consider me worthy despite all my weaknesses. Wow. You spoke to me.)

One very impt thing is never to give up on myself, because God has never given up on me.

(I'm so touched, Lord. Thank You Jesus.)

1. Self-will: "I'm going to do what I want regardless of what God wills."
2. "If God gives me what I want, I'll do what He wants"
3. Blackmail / Bargaining: "I will give God what He wants and believe by faith He'll give me what I want."
4. "I will give God what He wants in full surrender because He knows best and desires the best for me."

But #4 is still anthrocentric... the ultimate is the next one...

5. "I will give God what He wants in full surrender because He knows best and desires the best for His glory."

(LOVE FOR GOD. WOW. It all goes down to utter love for God.)

God ego-centric? But He IS perfect.

(Yah... I think I vacillate between 1 to 4... though occasionally 5... haha... but want to be #5. And you know what? I think my spiritual dryness and discouragement actually sprung out of an increasing focus on myself. Wanting others to think well of me, rather than thinking well of God. Lord, I repent. I want to live to bring You praise and glory every day.)

How are we really in our walk with God today?

Are we living for God's glory or our glory? (I think it's the 2nd.)

How can we glorify God through our lives?

(Thank You for rebuking and correcting me Daddy...)

Matt 28:18-20 : the Great Commission!

Why we find it hard to focus on God? 'Cos we're too focused on ourselves and our own needs... also distracted by the things of the world.

Henry T. Blackaby:
One has to ask the right questions to get the right answers!

The "wrong" question is:
"What is GOD's will for my life?"

The "right" question is:
"What is GOD's will?"

Matt 6:33
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Fulfilling the Great Commission by raising Christ-centred disciples to plant

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
And after listening to our church-planters, Wee Leng and Terry, share about what made them decide to leave their promising careers behind to go to a new land literally... and give God the best years of their lives...

Gosh. I don't know why, but I really really really felt this deep ache in my heart. Oh boy. Now's the time... well, I was talking with Huaqiang over dinner today, and when I told him about the possibility of interning with Campus Crusade... he said it's a good idea, even if I have to find my own source of income. 'Cos if I can find a sponsor (aka a generous patron... haha)... that'd help a lot!

Ooh. Never thought of such an idea.

But yeah, interning at Campus Crusade's film ministry sounds like a neat idea... it seems to fit in exactly with what I've longed to do. Film... missions... and maybe even children haha.

Just need to think through the practical considerations too. Like how Terry thought through as well... and then stepped out.

A bit apprehensive, actually. But no fear, I'll go down to the Campus Crusade office next week and talk with them. I'll check out for more info.

And I want this to be my life's mission statement.
5. "I will give God what He wants in full surrender because He knows best and desires the best for His glory."

Abandoned unto God. Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Disused Track

Seen on Xinying's blog... food for thought. BTW the question below is not one of those silly trick questions... you really have no time to run and warn the kids and, yes, it is perfectly and physically possible to divert the train to the disused track.
A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.

The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange. You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids. However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make...

Scroll down...

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. You might think the same way, I guess. Exactly, to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally. But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was. This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are. The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The great critic Leo Velski Julian as well as Sourav who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens.. If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

'Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right.'

Everybody makes mistakes; that's why they put erasers on pencils.
From A Place For The God-Hungry:
I would much rather become like the couple I visited with on Monday. In their 70s, they are dealing with some very serious health issues. Yet, in the middle of a very difficult time, they speak of how they are blessed by God. They smile at one another and at others. They speak of the goodness and mercy of God. Their love is deep and rich.
I deeply want this too. I know I'm not there yet... but I will be, since God rewards those who eagerly seek Him!
Just came back from jogging with Andrew about an hour ago.

We had our good brotherhood chat as usual, where he shared with me how God blessed the PolyDINS ppl during their leadership camp - and how God protected him and another brother during a car accident (very scary leh).

Anyway, after that, we prayed for one another. And I had shared with him about my spiritual dryness and downcastedness, and asked him to pray for me in this area.

While he was praying for me, this verse came to mind in the midst of my own (rambling) mental prayer: "The righteous shall live by faith."

Shared with Andrew, and he grinned and added, "... and not by sight!"

Prophetic sia... haha.

But yah, was walking back home, and pondering about that verse. Grace, and faith.

Why faith, anyway?

Think it's related to my spiritual struggle.

You know those times when you are struggling to experience God... struggling even to open your Bible? When a computer game is so much more appealing to you than your quiet time? Where is more exciting than (Confess! Haha...)

Where you chose to spend quiet time literally - by sleeping an extra hour? And you cringe every time you read about Jesus waking up very early in the morning to pray or about someone sharing about how he experiences God so actively...

I was wondering about these. We know that these are not spiritual "attainments" in themselves, but rather, channels to receive the waters of God's grace.

But... we still struggle anyway to seek God. That's the bottomline.

I think it's about faith ultimately.

Will I have faith that spending an hour of solitude with God in prayer is more fulfilling than a whole day of busy work?

Will I have faith that reading and waiting upon God as I read His Word is going to satisfy my soul more than an hour of computer games?

Will I have faith that when I choose to do some ministry project instead of spending the time doing some extra relaxing (I'm not saying relaxing's wrong... but you can have too much relaxing... haha), He will enrich my tired soul... and also bless many people through the project I do because of Him?

Will I have faith that as I go for sub-district fellowship later, I will actually hear from God? And as I seek to bless the brothers and sisters with a simple cheerful smile... He can use a tiny smile, a kind word, an encouraging pat to bless someone else in need?

I think there's so many things I can do by faith...

Faith that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

The righteous shall live by faith. Not by the works themselves, but having faith in God that He

And how does that link to grace? Was thinking about that too. And Romans 5 came to mind:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. No only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope..." There's so much more, but my fingers don't have the energy to type everything out haha.

Re-reading Romans again. Heart strangely warmed. Faith -> Righteousness.

I'm still struggling to grasp the whole idea of faith being credited as righteousness. But it's true... it's just so BIG that my mind can't fully put its arms around it to embrace it completely. Even after more than a decade of being a Christian. Haha... but again then, I don't think one can fully grasp... only if one's arms could span from the east to the west... could one ever fully grasp the full measure of God's grace. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us..." Aaaah. Amazing grace. No wonder every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth will sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain..."

(Incongruously, I think of the mechanical singing fish mounted on a board belting that song out!)

But anyway, yes, my heart is reminded again that God doesn't justify me because of my own "righteousness", or the good works I have done, but rather, it's the other way around. Because I have placed my faith in the name and work of his Son Jesus Christ, God counts me as righteous in His eyes... the theologians call this "imputation" of righteousness.

Ah. How so often I forget this essential truth, this basic doctrine.

As I walked back home, I passed by two seedlings in the ground. I was surprised, because the ground was totally covered in grass, but these two seedlings were growing, despite the seeming overcrowding of the grass. I knelt down to examine these two remarkable specimens, and saw that underneath all the grass, the seedlings had been transplanted with their own soil. That is how they were able to flourish, even in the seemingly difficult ground, where the grass had threatened to crowd out the seedlings.

And as I looked around me, I saw many tall strong trees, all of the same species. Tall, sturdy and woody.

Faith is the unseen soil of the seen tree.

Finally, another thought. As I was thinking about character, I pondered about the role of character in a man's growth. And I recalled Rudyard Kipling's "If" poem. "If" listed out all the virtues that made a man, and it's indeed a very inspiring poem - a genuine classic.

However, in the midst of it all, I wonder about the focus on building up men. It's possible for us to focus so much on building up men who are deemed to be men in our society's culture. Wise men, noble men, gentlemen, courageous men... good virtues, all of them... but if you study the Old Testament, the prophets rebuked these men, full of character though they be, for not being men of God. Ephraim was regarded as one of the most powerful and noble tribes of Israel - with a genealogy tracing all the way back to Joseph himself, a righteous and godly man! And yet, Ephraim turned to idols and died spiritually. Or the wise men of Teman... renowned for their wisdom... and they were fodder for the sword. Warriors of Babylon... crying out like women in labour. The prophets minced no words for the men of their times, whether Jew or Gentile, who were wise and respected in the eyes of the world, but had no regard for God.

And the prophet Micah sounded the call - "And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

So am still chewing on these thoughts. Perhaps we could become so focused on making men out of our brothers in the church... that we forget to make them men of God.

Of God. The ekklesia. The called-out ones. The people of God. "Once you were not a people... but now you are the people of God." To rephrase (perhaps it's a bit out of context, my apologies)... once we were not men... but now we are the men of God.

Maybe we first ought to help our brothers establish their faith in God. Because when Christ is in the picture, and when He is the centre of their lives and the core of their being, then He can not only make them into men... He can make them fishers of men. Twelve bumbling disciples, comedic even... and Jesus shaking His head at them at every turn. "*sigh* Guys... you still have much to learn..."

Cool, isn't it? :)

Else we risk making leaders and warriors who have no faith. Don't forget the 12 spies were all respected and mature leaders of their tribes... yet 10 of them turned their people away from the Promised Land, simply because they chose to focus on the giants instead of the giant God. As CS Lewis quoted in another context, "We... make men without chests."

I like Caleb. Haha. Geratric, probably shaking his wooden cane... and yet declaring fiercely to Joshua, his fellow spy, "The Lord has been faithful to me... I'm eighty, and yet still fit to go out into battle!" I wonder how many of us will be like that man of faith when we're eighty.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Brighter Day

Anyway, today was a brighter day. I think Yufen's prayer yesterday made a big difference.

Why do we pray so little when God promises that our prayers can make such a big difference?

Somehow was able to read my Bible with a more quiet spirit today. And I think God encouraged me with a verse!
Psalm 65
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you all men will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.

Yes, God hears prayer.

8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it [for that is how you prepare the land].

10 You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.
The part in bold caught my eye, and I read it again a few times. Asked God whether He was trying to tell me anything through this verse.

Think the Holy Spirit explained to me that just as God prepares the physical land to bear fruit by watering it with physical water, so He wants to prepare me and my caregroup and my church by filling us with living water, which refers to Him, the Holy Spirit.

So when our lives are filled up with the Holy Spirit, we'll bear fruit in due time. God's Word + the Holy Spirit = Fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

And it's a sovereign act of grace on God's part. We can do our part to prepare the land... plow it... plant seed... but ultimately we're also dependent on God's grace to water us with His Holy Spirit. Simply because He cares for us.

Yeah! This is the year of preparation. May God prepare all our hearts to begin bearing fruit even as He sends rains of revival down upon us.

Still, I am feeling quite under the weather all the same. I'm CAT 1, Jon joked. Haha... eh, thanks for your patience with me bro. Really appreciate it. :) Just need time to let God teach, rebuke, correct and train me... need Him so much. Have mercy on me, oh God. Be not far from me, O God my Saviour. Come quickly to help me. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

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

Jesus, in Your name we pray
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You
And glorify Your name
Now in library, drinking hot chocolate. Going to borrow books on scriptwriting. Storyboard for HopeKids - arggggh. Need to hurry up. Tk God for Spencer's great idea.

Still feeling quite down, but better now. Stomach tense. Had an email discussion with a bro about something just now. I feel tense when talking with very logical people. But it's good training to be more assertive and speak up.

Last time I thought that this is having a defensive spirit. But I've come to learn that it's good to voice out our concerns and thoughts... so that we can truly be one in heart and mind. Thank God for Jeannie who told me that it's important to speak up if I think something's not right.

God, I really struggle with speaking up. But help me... speak up with gentleness and a respectful spirit...

It is better to be misunderstood than to misunderstand.
And it is better to seek to understand than to seek to be understood.

But I think it's important, especially in ministry, for both to understand one another so as to be united in spirit.

Yeah. So have been also encouraging and challenging my sheep to speak up if he disagrees, and to exercise his own opinions more assertively. To disagree with me if he feels that I misunderstood him. (Which I've done quite a few times... so apologised to him... :P thank God for Jon's patience and grace with me haha.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thank God too for Jonathan's desire and conviction to do what is right in God's eyes. Really see the grace of God upon your life... jiayou bro! Be strong and courageous... love God all the more ok!
Oh just bumped into Jiadai on my way to Nexus to do downloading. Chatted with her, found out that she's quitted her job to be a school counsellor. Way to go, sis! :D May God use you to bless many young people there.
Bitterness blinds our hearts to grace.

It struck me just now. Quite interesting. After Yufen's prayer some more.

I think I still have a lot of bitter thoughts here and there. To be honest, I feel guilty about sharing here, because I think a lot of people will condemn me for having these thoughts, and think less of me.

I guess it does hurt, but what the hey? God has forgiven me in Christ already, and I must forgive others as Christ forgave me.

I think part of the guilt comes from the feeling that I've done wrong here and there... even in the church. And to be honest, when I look back and see how I experienced legalism / judgement from fellow Christians, even a few leaders... I feel hurt.

But I remember my own legalism too.

I think a lot of the pain comes from the feeling of being misunderstood, that people judge by what they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, instead of looking at the heart. So I guess I'm tempted to be bitter here and there.

I think God has been working in the past few weeks through a few key experiences. A lot of memories came back, and I felt very upset. Wanted to fight back, and to be honest, I imagined a lot of scenes where I was shouting back at the persons I was angry with. That led to more and more angry thoughts, and I basically was sinking into a pit of bitterness.

But when I scolded myself, I realised that God has given me so many things to be thankful for. People like Andrew my neighbour, Yufen, Huanyan, Weizhu, Peter, Shuyi, Jonathan, Spencer, the affirmations from my fellow HopeKids labourers, and Jeannie especially who took the initiative to get to know me better (wow super-blessed by her commitment to me)... God has truly blessed me in so many ways.

Ah. How bitterness blinds me to God's grace.

Hmm. I can't say the battle's over... I think that the Lord is showing me during this period that I do have a lot of inner hurts... but I take comfort in the truth that God is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

And yes, thank God for Peter's encouragement and comfort all these years, and constant reminders that God not only loves me, but works all things for the good of those who love Him... and when all else fails, to just trust His heart.

Which actually may be His equipping me to mentor and counsel those who have been abused, hurt, misunderstood and so on. The outcasts of society.

But I need His grace, and His grace so much. I so need a spiritual renewal.

This is the year of preparation. Perhaps God's preparing me especially during this time...

Grace. I need a deeper dose of God's grace... so that I can in turn show grace to those around me. Perception and appreciation. Grace.

It all started with grace, and it shall end with grace.

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." (Last words in the Bible.)
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see...
Thank God for Yufen's prayer for me!
Father,i pray tt U wld protect yeuann's his heart stay focus on U n nt wander.. Always help him rmb tt he's ur most precious son n he's held by Ur love..pray tt he wld take captive of every negative tots n make em obedient to u! I pray tt he wld love n shw grace to ppl ard him by Ur love n grace for him..uplift his spirit in Jesus name.Amen! =) quick prayer for u,bro!thx for sharing!
:) Truly blessed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A friend told me that my email testimonies don't seem to be consistent with my own life. 'Cos my email testimonies seem very happy, very euphoric even. But when she sees me in person, I don't seem joyful.
What I meant here is that when you share your testimonies, you are filled with the joy of God,and therefore you exude the excitement and joy in your words. However, when I look at you in person, I do know that you are definitely filled with more load than what you have written. When I meet you, at times, I don't see the joy that is in you.
I thought about it. I think ... maybe it's true, or it's not true.

What do you think? Let me know.

I have my own thoughts about it. I think it's important to share testimonies positively, because yes, I am completely sincere about it. And I guess, in person... truth be told, I don't feel comfortable to share in the CG, because I don't think they will be able to identify with what I'm so happy about.

That's something another friend can identify with me about.

Then... I wonder about the joy... truth be told, is CG a safe place to be joyful in? I wonder. Because so often, when I meet up with CG, everyone's so glum and drab and so joyless that I feel dragged down in my soul too.

I think perhaps I might be thought of as being defensive. But I think I'm speaking what really is on my heart. 'Cos I do have deep sense of fire.

Truth is, I just don't feel safe in my CG to be myself.

Aren't there some people whom you can feel so comfortable with, that you could share all your ideals and hopes and dreams with, and you know you are UNDERSTOOD? Not just so - you know that the other person's heartbeat is the same as yours? Not personality, but heartbeat.

Thank God there are some people in my life whose heartbeats are the same.

Safe to be joyful.

A further thought. Last time, a few people shared about how joyful I was in CG. I was thinking about that. I think... I've now restrained that, because I also want to fit in with the rest of the CG. Because I felt that the other people saw my joy as strange. Is it strange?

Am I strange? I feel like a fish out of water!

But honestly, should I? It is hard to share joy with those who don't understand what you mean.

I feel discontented and rather put off when I see what I perceive to be spiritual passiveness in others.

I mean... don't you sense it when you know people who have a big heart for God. You can see it. You can feel it. You can smell it!

But why do so many of us lack the heart for the things of God?! Why are we so narrow-minded when it comes to extending God's kingdom? Why are we so contented to nua and just restrict our eyes to our workplaces and CGs and Sunday services? Why are we so nua for the things of God?

AHHH. Hmm. I think I must go back to God again and ask Him. :) Even in my free time, I still am so distracted by all the little foxes of time.

New Things To Learn From The Kids

These testimonies really increase my conviction that we can learn so much more from the little ones, if only we would open our eyes bigger to see God working through children!

From Hong Teck's blog:
Today at HopeKids LIVE!, we had a great time. It was again great to hear many testimonies during our Open Mike time. Encouraged to hear, a child’s birthday wish to be more like Jesus. That above PSP, good exam results or toys is radical. Also from a boy who was converted in our ministry 2 year ago how from scoring a bit above 50% on his exams to topping his class with over 80% in his recent examinations. His secret was that he prays every day. Now that’s staying ready in action. Good to also see new kids bring other kids.
And there's this very touching and true story of one of the boys in my CG.
Last night went home early(earlier than normal) after church, realised that my brother’s pet fish which has been around let me see… (i bought it when i was sec 3) for 8 years passed away. As I entered my door, i saw my younger brother standing in front of the fish tank, tears flowing down his hugely pinchable cheeks looking at the lifeless body of the fish.

Being the awesome brother that I am, I look at the clock, realising its already 10.30pm, went into my room after expressing a few disgruntled words of sympathy, headed into my room to have my daily dose of scrubs, feeling no real sense of sadness or pity that the fish i bought had died. (the last animal i had attachment to was free willy you see. haha)

Then my brother made an odd request. “kor, can i bury the fish?’

I looked at him and said ‘Do anything you want, actually just throw away la, burying is so ma fan’

Which at this point my brother just went out to sit at the living room sofa, and continue mourning for his loss. This made me feel terrible and I did something that defied all logic and sense. I went out to offer to bury the fish together with my brother. [read more...]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Two-Faced Life

A very thought-provoking mime on the consequences of living a double life... (At least that's how I interpret Marcel Marceau's mime... brilliant!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Winds of Change

I've been intending to write down this post for many days already. Haha. Finally managed to do so, even if it's 4 am.

Feel excited, because it seems, from my catch-ups with some bros and sisters in the past few weeks, God is stirring a lot of our hearts at the same time. We've been somehow changing, seeing what our dear church is lacking in and starting to move towards meeting the needs in our church.

I think one major change that God may be doing in our church is that increasingly, there seem to be more and more people who see the need for more interaction and cooperation (kononia) among the different congregations in our church.

To be frank, I think there's this prevailing culture that different congregations tend not to mix with one another much, be it life stations or ethnic groups.

So it was very thrilling to see how the new proposed building is going to help a lot with this. So that our congregations can gather under one roof. :) More chances to mingle and get to know one another.

And haha I'm so glad God gave me the joy of being able to mix with brothers and sisters from other ministries. I was with Huanyan a few days ago. He said that I'd always be welcome to join them for their Saturday services. Wow. :) 'Cos it's natural to feel paiseh I guess, when it comes to keeping in touch with a ministry you left a long time ago.

And Weizhu was sharing with me his thoughts a month ago about a cross-generational ministry. :)

I think it's good to intentionally make friends from different life-stations, especially among those in the same church as you. Like how I get to know Amy from Family group. Very inspired by her heart to see her boys grow strong and mature in Christ. And to see her boys serving in HopeKids ministry.

And meeting up with Chris from the JEDI (young internationals) CG. And evangelising with Sijia and How Joo from the WAM (worship and arts ministry) CG too.

Man, am I privileged or what? :P But gee, I think it'd be good if more of us deliberately took time to bless more people, esp from those of different ethnic groups. Haven't gotten to know anyone much from Mandarin / Filipino ministry yet. (Oh! I got to know Ps James more, 'cos I helped him do the Mandarin bulletin last time.) After more than ten years! Not good! I am in the same church some more, for God's sake! :)

Oh yeah. Also been getting to know and network with more bros and sisters from other churches. People like Lois, for example. And haha the people from OMF. And so on and so forth. And the good people from Campus Crusade. And oh yes! how some brothers from other churches have been helping train us in various ministries.

Like Dick, who has been training some of us in the drama ministry. And this bro who will be training the business-inclined people in marketplace ministry. And so on and so forth.

Okay lah, come to think of it, maybe it's been like that all along. But it just seems to me that this year has been a sudden growth of us working and fellowshipping together more across different ministries, congregations and churches some more!

In a way, I feel a bit like a missionary when it comes to visiting different services apart from my regular Sunday service... thinking of visiting the PolyDINS service with Andrew before he moves over to the Young Adults ministry soon.

Maybe if got time, can even drop by different CGs in my sub-d... just to bless them... oh, Sarah's CG. Haha. Shouldn't be a problem! :P 'Cos her CG combines v often with her husband's CG anyway...

Haha. And the secret plans that I have in my heart too. But need to survey the actual needs first... like what we learnt from Nehemiah's forays to assess the damage to the walls of Jerusalem.

Winds of change... I sense perhaps the key thing that God is doing in our hearts at this moment is that He's preparing our hearts and minds to be united even more...

Excited, excited.

"Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." - William Carey

The God of Big Dreams

Nicholas Winton was a 29-year-old clerk who worked for the London Stock Exchange. In 1938, after visiting Czechoslovakia, Winton had a deep concern for the welfare of children who were about to be taken away to concentration camps. Winton stepped up to this situation and organized a rescue for these children. As a result 669 children boarded eight trains to London and were rescued.

One word could have stopped Winton. It is the same word that has stopped many a dreamer dead in his/her tracks.


"But that's impossible!"

"But how are we going to do that?"

"But where will we get the money?"

"But what makes you think you can do this?"

"But is this the right time?"

On and on it goes.

Yes, there is a time to measure, critique, and evaluate a dream. Yes, one must count the cost. Yes, whatever dream is put forth must withstand rigorous scrutiny. Yes, my dream may not necessarily be a part of God's kingdom dream. All of this is true. Yet at the same time, I want to be a person who encourages the young and the not-so-young to see a need and then dare to dream about confronting that need.
It echoes exactly my thoughts! :) Thank God for this brother!

This thought came to mind: When was the last time God did something really exciting for you and even in you and through you?

I think it's important that we have fresh testimonies of what God has done for us - both big and small things. This is something that I captured from my chat with Jiehui who is currently in the SMU ministry. I think the fruit of his faith in God can speak much louder than my words here haha.

Well... just another thot here.

It's impt to point out the practical stuff... but maybe we should encourage each other to dare to FIRST dream big for God... and THEN think through the practical issues involved. Of course, the planning part is important too. However, I think we need to cultivate this culture of disciples being willing to dare to dream big things for the kingdom of God.

Right now, I think we're cultivating a culture where we actually suppress the desire of the believers to live extraordinary lives for Jesus! We throw well-meaning questions prefaced with "But..." and concerned looks... :P Not sure if anyone can identify with what I experienced?

And then we have the audacity to complain that people are lacking in zeal for God. Hello... cannot lah. Let's look to the heroes of faith in the Old and New Testaments ok. Let's learn from the lives of Joshua and Caleb. Let's not be like the ten spies who saw only the giants but not the God over the giants.

After all, God looks at the heart... and I think a lot of us in church are lacking in a growing faith in God, right? Life seems so mundane and dry... and it seems that God isn't using you much. Maybe that's precisely the point. You haven't been letting God use you much.

Was continuing my reading of Henry and Melvin Blackaby's book "A God-Centred Church". Reading about the roles of the churches in extending the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Heart stirred, and today, the inner fire in my heart stirred up further to the point that I ... erm... knelt down in my toilet and prayed. And then wept in the sink.

Crazy, right? But think it's the powerful gripping conviction of the Holy Spirit... the Crushing Burden in my heart is upon me again. I think the clarification is clearer now... there's something particular to be done. At this rate, I won't be able to sleep very well soon if I procrastinate on my response... :P

The burden has been steadily increasing over the past few days. Whoa.

Planning to talk with some leaders in the church about this plan... how will it turn out? I know it fits in with our district vision, but it's a crazy idea (I think)... but it's quite feasible in concept, I think. And besides, it's a need I see... :P

Even the US President Gets It!

Even the President of the United States gets it when it comes to the importance of preparing children for the next generation.
Here are prepared remarks that President Obama is to deliver at noon ET Tuesday at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia.

Source: The White House

Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster." So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility. I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse fortalking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America. Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall. And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college. Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.