Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Gift of Prophecy...

Thank God so much for a wonderful MSN conversation earlier. A dear bro gave me some feedback, which I really appreciated a lot. Then we chatted a bit more, and we ended up talking about our callings. He shared that he wasn't sure, but had a gameplan on hand. It sounded fine, and it is a sensible plan... but at that moment in time, as I was listening to him share, a particular insight into this brother's situation came into my mind, and had this sense that God wanted me to speak this particular insight to this bro.

So I shared this insight with him, and he shared that he too thot so! And he said that this seems that God has been bringing to his attention recently during one of his quiet times.

Wow! thank God for the insight that He gave me. I'm sharing this, because I thought it would be good to record down and trace out how God gives a particular word of prophecy. Hee. Have been exercising it, ever since God confirmed through one of the pastors during altar call that day during the Global Conference that He has given me the gift of prophecy.

Anyway, this is strictly an impressionistic and experiential journal... so please don't draw any doctrinal conclusions from this entry! All spiritual experiences and conclusions are to be strictly, soundly and rigorously tested against the Scriptures!

Haha. I guess I've always wondered how do prophets get their insights and so on? Well, the Bible mentions that there are false prophets who see visions of their own imaginations, as well as true prophets. So how do we know which ones are the true ones, and the 'pirated' ones?

The iron rule is: if what the prophet says comes true, that prophet is a true prophet. Otherwise not. And the Law went on to say, terminate the false prophet, because he is leading you astray!

What about New Testament times? Well, in the book of Acts, there are Christian prophets who have foretold future events, like the prophet Agabus who was sent to Paul to let him know what would happen to him in Jerusalem.

Anyway, from what I understand, we're still in the church age today, and yes, there is the office of the prophet, along with the offices of pastor, teachers, evangelist and so on. But there are the gifts of prophecy, pastoring, teaching, evangelism and so on. The gifts are separate from the offices. So it means a pastor can have the gift of prophecy, and a prophet can have the gift of pastor and so on. (Again, please correct me if I'm wrong! Thanks...)

So, about gift of prophecy... how does it look like?

Well, even as a young Christian, I realised I was able to sense whether a person wasn't doing well in his/her walk with the Lord, to the point of leaving church or falling away even. But I wasn't sure, so I just sat down and watched. And gosh, it really did turn out to be so. Even now, I have this sense of being able to sense when one's spirit is not right with God for whatever reasons... be it pride or dryness or disappointment or bitterness, etc. And I've realised that it doesn't matter whether the person is serving in a very high leadership position in church, or is simply a visitor.

And I've also been able to sense the opposite, when a person has a truly good spirit and heart for God, even tho external indicators might seem the opposite. E.g. the guy had to step down, the guy is struggling with some emotional issues or even sins... and yet, I sense strongly through the Spirit that the Lord sees the person's genuine heart of brokenness.

And to my surprise, what I sense spiritually is accurate. It's been very consistent over the years.

So I think it's like having a very sensitive radar. But I need to be walking very closely to God and ask His Holy Spirit to help me make sense of my readings correctly. Like, a radar operator thinking that big blog in the ocean is a killer submarine, but actually, it's just a killer whale. So from time to time, I sense correctly, but interpret wrongly. And I've come to learn that the interpretation needs to be given by the Holy Spirit himself, not the human interpretations of men. In order to know, I need to ask the Lord what He means by this particular sensing.

If i remember correctly, there are two types of "telling" in prophecy: fore-telling and forth-telling. Fore-telling is basically predicting future events before they happen. Forth-telling is proclaiming what is currently happening now, in order to help wake up the listeners' ideas... or open their eyes, or encourage and comfort the listeners. The prophets of the Old Testament did both.

I think the forth-telling part... I discovered something new today. That I can see a set of circumstances, and immediately, God gives me a clear view of what is actually happening in the big scale of things. Sort of like a God's-eye view of a battlefield... How do I arrive at these insights? I don't know, honestly! They just come... of course, sometimes they don't come clearly, so I need to sit down, fast and pray and wait upon God. Only then do I get a clearer sense of what He wants to say, and occasionally, He impresses on me HOW to say it. Hee. Like how God helped Nathan the prophet come up with a creative way to bring the hard truth of judgement to King David when he had committed adultery and murder.

Also, there are plenty of times a particular verse comes to mind. So I need to take time to pray through the verse, and ask God for His input. What is He trying to say to me here? Am I hearing Him correctly or is it just my mind speaking? And so on.

And well, could these "sensings" be due to natural human empathy? I wouldn't discount these, because I naturally have a high level of empathy. But perhaps God also works through the natural. But, yes, I definitely have received supernatural insights into situations that don't seem to be what they actually are. So have to do forth-telling lor. Scary actually. But that's the life of a prophet... sometimes he/she has to be the bearer of bad news.

And for fore-telling? Well, there are particular times I receive a strong sense that God says something. Recently, I was fasting and praying for my DMM, when God gave me a particular word of prophecy for one of the sisters. So I shared this with the sister, that God said that this will come to pass. Actually, I really was going out on a limb, 'cos I didn't have any reasonable basis upon which to tell that sister. But... a few days later, this sister replied back to me, and told me that God had shown her that the prophecy had come true!

I was stunned, but very encouraged. Haha... so thank God for His grace to me, that He allows an unworthy fellow like me to experience His wonderful power so real! :)

So yah, think these are some ways how I see the gift of prophecy being manifested in my life. But no matter how impressive the gift of prophecy may seem, or how important it may be... the gift of prophecy will fade away. It is possible for me to prophesy without love in my heart. After all, Jesus warned that there will be those who try to say to Him, "Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and perform many miracles?" But His reply to them would be: "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"

So I really tremble, because I know that without love in my heart, the gift of prophecy is nothing, and I'll only be a hollow vessel, a clanging gong. That's why it is so crucial that I walk closely with God every day...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nerf Thy Neighbour As Yourself!

Oh, just to add: I'll be having a nerfwar with Matthew and Jeremy tomorrow at Matthew's place. Matthew's one of the P6 boys in my CG. Weizhu's coming along, and Matthew's dad too. Hope more bros can join us!

But that's not the only thing I want to say. I was very heartened by Matthew's parents' generosity. Matthew's dad helped to book a function room for us to play with our Nerf guns... and Matthew's mum, Marianne, will be baking pizzas for us! Wow. Thank God for Matthew's parents.

So yes, WZ and I are excited, because this is more than a fun game. It's an opportunity to do cross-generational ministry. :) LOL. In a way, I guess I feel like we're taking the "non-official" route of attempting a ministry. Not going the "official" way... but of course I've kept Hong Teck, Soo Feng and the parents in the loop for accountability. :)

Personally, I've found that starting up a ministry is something like starting up a new business. :) You start up a ministry, in response to a perceived need, just like how you start up a business in response to a perceived demand. I'm not saying that ministry = business, for ministry isn't really in the sense of making a profit, but rather, meeting a need (correct me if I'm wrong!). But yeah, sometimes when you try to start up a ministry, there are times you'll not succeed for various reasons:

i. the need is not there.
ii. God says, for whatever reasons, "not now", or "not here".
iii. not enough co-workers / lack of knowledge / skills / finances
iv. discouragement / spiritual warfare / etc
v. there is indeed a need, but the size of the need may be too small to be feasible for a ministry at this moment in time...

But yes, just give it a try, if you feel that God is calling you to go out and minister to a particular group of people. Why not? Just pray, ask God for His assurance and guidance, and then go in the strength you have. Is He not sending you?

And I think one of the greatest joys and thrills of serving in ministry is the feeling of God's pleasure, that you are doing what He wants you to do, and really sensing His anointing come upon you powerfully, as you do the things He wants you to do! :D And it's so awesome to behold, because you see yourself doing the very thing you know is impossible for you... this really is seeing the Holy Spirit working in you and through you! Hallelujah! Jesus is real, He is powerful, He is alive and He loves to use el cheapo jars of clay like you and me! :)

This is really ministry, not by human strength or ability, but by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit! It is so thrilling to see the invisible God visibly working before your very eyes, like how the invisible wind make the trees tremble visibly.

Anyway, I just want to take this moment to thank God so much for Hong Teck. Learnt so much from watching his life. He's a really great minister of Christ. And I really appreciate how, when I approached him with my ideas, he encouraged me to go ahead and give it a try, instead of critiquing its feasibility excessively! And that he trusts us with the freedom to try things out... even when we make mistakes along the way. And when we make mistakes, he will quickly step in to correct, gently guide and suggest how we can improve. Hong Teck really sets an example for us when it comes to modelling servant leadership. :) He not only leads people... he helps the people under him discover their God-given strengths and callings... and helps them become leaders too! :) Thank God for you, Hong Teck! Really. =D You really set a great, great example for us all both in doing and in being His. :D

Ministry is a Lifestyle

Not much posting since last week... but that doesn't mean nothing much happened! Hahaha... ironic, isn't it? But yeah, there's a time to work and a time to rest and think...

Anyway, just want to thank God for some wonderful things that happened. Haha. Was sharing with Clarence yesterday over dinner how God has been helping me see that ministry is more than just a role or a responsibility or an appointment. Ministry is a lifestyle.

It's been very exciting, seeing how God has sent me wonderful like-minded fellow ministers to form a drama team for HopeKids ministry. Very glad, 'cos the workload is so much lighter now, and the joy shared is multiplied! Hallelujah! :D Reminds me of how God sent along brave and mighty men to join David when he was on the run from King Saul, and they became part of David's army.

But not just ministry. Also in the workplace, the Spirit has been prompting me (also reminding me of the great advice that I got from my team leader in my prev workplace) to take the initiative to help my colleagues with their stuff where possible. And same at home. To bless my dad with a good healthy massage - esp so now that he's getting old. Even helping my maid with computer stuff. :)

And various people that God sent along my path. So, putting all these things together, I was reminded of this passage that I read from Matthew, about how as Jesus went around teaching and preaching, He also ministered to the people He met along the way.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them
So, that's what I think God is teaching me recently... that ministry is more than doing roles and responsibilities in church ministry... ministry is a lifestyle, meeting others' needs wherever you are!

Haha. Oh yeah want to thank God too for being able to be a lobang to bless a friend too. 'Cos just found out this week that my boss needs illustrators to do some children's storybooks. LOL. Immediately, this friend's name came to mind, since I'd worked with him/her on a children's storybook before for a competition. So I liaised, and the long story short: he/she'll be meeting my boss tml to discuss the possibility of doing freelancing. :) Really praise God that He can use this particular work that I'm in, to help bless others in their careers too! (And haha, coincidentally, we bumped into each other the next day just near our workplaces and had a good short catchup. God's hand is at work!)

Ok, gotta go off, still got work to clear. But thank God for the joy of being able to be a minister of Christ wherever I go. Let's set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts, that we may be able to carry around the aroma of Christ wherever we go. Let's let our light shine before men, so that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven! Amen? =)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Peter Truong, one of our brothers from Hope Brisbane - he's a travelling evangelist btw, has just finished 40 days of fasting from solid food! (Liquid diet)... wow. I'm really inspired by this brother's life of faith and passion to do God's will. :)

And I've experienced so many times the power of a surrendered heart made spiritually more ready by fasting... hmm... maybe I should try going on a liquid fast for a few days this week? :) I'm really eager to see God do more work in and through my life to those around me!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I also want to share another thanksgiving testimony too... it's about my dear brother in Christ, Andrew (my neighbour).

The background to this story is that Andrew has been searching for a job ever since he graduated from poly. Initially, he got a job offer from ST Aerospace... and a few other job offers too! So that's a real blessing already for him, especially considering that he's a fresh poly grad, and had been serving very hard as a unit leader in the PolyDINS ministry.

Still, Andrew decided to pray and think through it before accepting the ST job offer. Since the job would mean that he would be bonded for 7 years (yes... job security, right?) and may need to work very long hours... he was fine with that actually, but was thinking whether it's what God has in mind for him to do.

He realised that he prefers to interact with people and help them... so he decided to try going for a NTUC employability coach career, as it can help others find jobs during this difficult time. Well, that meant that Andrew would have to turn down the ST job. So Andrew did.

But... even tho the NTUC people liked him a lot and wanted him, there wasn't any vacancies left! Sad liao. I asked Andrew how did he feel? He was genuinely fine, and I could sense that he really trusted God with great peace in his heart, having surrendered so completely to God this job search. Wow.

So Andrew decided to try other jobs search and so on. Finally, he decided to take on a temp job in the meantime, and last Friday, he got me to teach him Photoshop and Dreamweaver so that he could be prepared for his temp job, which was supposed to be TODAY - i.e. he would have to sign a contract to work for a year.

But... an hour later after he had left my place, he suddenly called me back. He asked me whether I could help him reply to an email. I sensed from the tone of his voice that he was feeling very ... shocked/surprised/stunned.

When I saw the email that he had received, I understood why. The email was from NTUC. The person apologised for the delay, and told him that they finally have a vacancy for Andrew! Andrew was really so speechless. Haha... he was really so grateful to God, for God honouring Andrew's faith and decision to honour Him with his job search. Because the NTUC job was the one that Andrew really wanted, because it's a job that will bless others and extend God's kingdom even more... and God gave it to him at the very last minute! As Andrew said, "God is so faithful. He has never short-changed me." Haha... AMEN, BROTHER! :D

So I am sharing this testimony with you, dear friends... seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness... and all the things that you need will be added unto you in due time! :) Honour God with your decisions, and He will honour you! :D
Whew. Another fun day at the office. :D Thank God for a good time! Went for a meeting with the good people at KooBits. Really very impressed by their entrepreneurial attitude and can-do spirit. LOL. After being a software developer for 2 years, it's good to be on the customer side finally... but really, they're very professional! :) They actually tested their software for 2 whole MONTHS! Majorly impressed.

Yes, I really enjoyed myself at the meeting. My colleague feels the same way too! :) Haha...

Anyway, want to thank God for His help with all the work so far. :) And thank God... really had a very good chat with my colleague. I'm very encouraged to see how God has been using me in the workplace... my colleagues like me a lot, and my boss said that people warm up to me very quickly. And yeah, one of my colleagues was saying that she can see that the kids will definitely love me. Wow... praise God... He alone deserves all the glory.
Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
LOL. I was very pleasantly surprised and encouraged to hear all these affirmations. :) Hee... Thank God too for my boss and my colleagues. Very blessed by them! :D Ah, it's really not I, but Christ who lives in me. I'm very encouraged that God has put me in the right place where He gives me room to flourish and develop the talents He has given me. Praise the Lord for all His faithfulness!
Psalm 18:32-36
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.

34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.

36 You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.

:) Anyway, think a door for effective ministry has been opened to me here in this workplace. Can see how God has been giving me opportunities to share my Christian values to my colleagues, both in words and actions. An ambassador of Christ in the marketplace... wow. Really very grateful that God is choosing to use even someone like me. But precisely, not I, but Christ who lives in me. Ha... sigh... I really do hope and pray that I can be more and more Christlike in everything I do, including my work. And erm, that includes coming in on time. :P I still struggle every single day! But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen me with His Holy Spirit daily to do His will and His work! Amen!
Procrastination. What a horrible monster. I really have to struggle against it... and it's so bad that I literally get gastric pain and have to grit my teeth, just to knuckle down and do the work.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Huaqiang and Sarah's baby is a GIRL! :)

How Should One Respond to Someone You're Not Interested In?

You know, for all the great and helpful advice in my church's BGR framework, I think it may not have addressed sufficiently one thing: how we should respond to someone who has expressed interest in us, but we are not interested in them.

I think ignoring them and avoiding any further contact with them may not be a godly thing to do... even if the natural tendency is to avoid (and I have indeed experienced a sister who expressed interest in me before, but I was turned off... and avoided her. I wonder now how she felt.). Perhaps we could do our best to be kind and considerate to the other person's feelings? Of course, some isolation may be necessary in a few cases, but perhaps a gentle explanation may help to reduce or even eliminate any awkwardness. Because ultimately, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, in the family of God. And we are commanded to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. I believe we are called not to live solely by our natural instincts or reasoning anymore, but to live by the Spirit. Even if our natural response is to withdraw in order to protect ourselves, perhaps it would be the better thing to take the risk to communicate, especially if you know the other person to be sufficiently mature. Not to live naturally anymore, but to live supernaturally.

So, because of this, it seems to me that, generally, we brothers in church are expected to take the initiative (and the accompanying risks that follow with such initiative), but I think... perhaps a lot of the sisters may not respond graciously and with a gentle spirit, actually. So I think a lot of us brothers are very chary about taking the initiative... and it's not healthy in the long run. I don't know... it's just my perception. What do you think? :) I'd be very interested to hear opinions from both sides!
Hmm. Was talking with a dear friend just now, and I did something I thought this friend would find funny, but think the Spirit was urging me to think twice. So thought about it... quickly corrected what I did, and apologised to this friend. And yes, my friend confirmed my niggling doubts.

It's very interesting, because besides prompting me, I think the Holy Spirit also led me to another blog, where something jialat had happened to another friend, and she was terribly upset, and how a brother comforted her. So through that, I think God was showing me how I could respond better, by learning from the other brother's example. :)

So yup... wow, thank God for His grace and mercy despite my ignorance. Teaching me the way that is good and right... think He has taught me a lesson through this experience. Thanks also to my friend for the grace that he/she showed me.

Gosh. Can only ask God for His forgiveness for my insensitivity... and thank Him for his grace too. What a powerful lesson here... I think God has helped me grow in maturity through this experience.
Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

The Comfort of the Cross

From John Shore's blog:
Here are six truths about suffering—and four steps to relieve it—that should prove comforting to any Christian in pain:
God didn’t cause our suffering. God never, ever wants us to suffer. He hates it when we hurt. We hurt because pain is part of the human legacy, period. God could, of course, instantly stop all human suffering, but doing so would involve interfering with our free will, which he loves us to much to do. He allows us to suffer, but that we do is agonizing to him.
Christ, who loves us, knows our suffering. Christ proved his love for us on the cross. And on the cross he also proved to us that he knows the depth of earthy, human suffering. When we call upon Christ to comfort us, we can do so confident that He who heals us understands the full measure of human pain.
Christ wants to love and comfort us. Christ’s purpose is to comfort and heal us. He loves us—and heproved he loves us. He is our friend, our bringer of peace, our soul’s physician. God cares; he is theopposite of indifferent to our suffering.
Through suffering we can grow in our identification with Christ. As Christians, we want nothing more than to as fully as possible identify and commune with Christ. Christ purposefully suffered for us on the cross. Our suffering provides us with a means of more fully appreciating the depth and reality of that sacrifice.
Suffering clears a way for God. Suffering has a way of clearing our minds of superficialities, of focusing our attention on the core essentialities of life. When we’re suffering, Channel God tends to come in a lot clearer than when we’re not.
God sees our suffering in the context of eternity. A big part of our suffering is the fear that we won’t get better. But God already knows just how fantastically better we’re going to get. We see ourselves as earthly creatures; God sees us, already, as the angels we will become.

If you’re suffering, here are four things your can do to help yourself heal:
Pray. Ask for God’s peace. Don’t be shy about asking for it; don’t be hesitant about asking for it; don’t in any way qualify your desire for it. God is there for the suffering. And He can bring to you what you cannot deliver to yourself; God, and only God, can make 2 + 2 = 5. When suffering, you need something extra, something beyond yourself, something unfathomable: You need a miraculous calming of your waters. Calming stormy waters is what God does. Ask, and you shall receive.
Share your troubles. Suffering tends to make us crawl into ourselves, to isolate with our anguish. Resist that counterproductive impulse, which only serves to coddle and thus empower pain. Instead, reach out to others when you are hurting. Share your troubles with your spouse, your friends, your family. With them be honest and open; free yourself to be as vulnerable as you feel. Receive their input, their sympathy, their care. Receive their love. Allow God’s greatest power to come to you through God’s greatest creation: People.
Seek the support of others afflicted as you are. The value of being in a support group with others who share your specific affliction cannot be overstated. There’s nothing like communicating with others who know exactly what you’re going through to relieve the psychological stress that is often the worst part of suffering. Look for a local support group to join. Start one if you have to; there are sure to be others in your area going through whatever you are. Join an online community. Do anything to begin sharing your story with others who are already living so much of it.
Become informed. If idle hands are the devil’s playground, ignorance is his factory. Fear and anxiety naturally thrive in the vacuum of unawareness.  Learn what there is to know about whatever’s grieving you. When you actually know about something, it is never as bad as you think it might be when you’re only guessing about it. Knowledge really is power. Get all of it you can.
I thought this is such a beautiful piece. In what is possibly one of the most powerful passages on how to live in the light of God's love:

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Oh Lord. Teach me this verse in my life. In Jesus' name amen.


Hmm... just feel my heart being gripped again. Luke 4:18-19. And so many thoughts again. Distracted. But remember the sermon, YA? :) about overcoming distractions with conviction. Fight on, YA, fight on! Fight the good fight of the faith! Up and at 'em!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Primary Purpose of the Church

From "The Primary Purpose of the Church":
"If I were to ask you to tell me the primary purpose of the church, what would you say? Is it to make Disciples? Is it fellowship with ONE ANOTHER?

According to Matthew 28: 19-20 (The Great Commission) the primary purpose of the church is to make disciples. Yet in my work with churches, about 60% of members say the primary purpose of the church is fellowship with ONE ANOTHER.

Don’t get me wrong, fellowship is important. It is vital to the fulfillment of the primary purpose of the church (to make disciples), but it is not the Biblical primary purpose of the church."
Thought about it. Think the writer makes a lot of sense. What does it mean to be a disciple? Love God with everything that's in you and with all you've got - without any reserve! And love the guy next to you, regardless of race, language or religion, as you would love yourself. Walk close to Him and do whatever He tells you to do. And live your life in such a way that other people will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Live your life with faith, hope and love.

Just a thought... am I living out this life of a disciple? Putting God at the centre of everything I do? Thinking about others, and serving and honouring them in Jesus' name - no matter how lowly they might seem? And am I teaching others to do the same, both in words and deeds? Even more than that... am I helping them know God personally for themselves? To seek God? To seek to PLEASE God? To love God? Love others?

Hm... another thought. I think also about making disciples... is also about providing the necessary support and encouragement to nurture and encourage every hurting soul to get up back on their feet again, as far as possible. And from my own experience, and what I've read in Christian counselling... the first and foremost thing in helping any hurting Christian get back on their feet is not more fellowship with other people, but first and foremost with God, Jehovah-Rapha, the One Who heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds... Because once you make peace with God, you are able to make peace with men. I find it so true - and I testify from my own experience as well.

Haiizzzzz... I think we really can do so much more to help bring people back to the Father... and closer to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. Really. Really.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Church of a Different Kind

Ooh! Came across this on Christian News. Haha... just thought it's interesting, so posting it for your reading too.
A conversation on the Church with Wee Tiong Howe, Senior Elder and Pastor of City Missions Church, is likely to discomfit most traditional Christians.

According to him, the hierarchical system that defines many established churches today was not a thing of the loose fellowship Jesus formed with the disciples and the fellowship of the early believers after the original Day of Pentecost as described in the concluding passage of Acts 2.

In fact, he wonders if the Church of Acts even knew of anything remotely similar to a pastor. He set that to the acid test by asking this reporter if he could show where in the Book of Acts the word appeared.

There were apostles, elders and deacons, but not pastors, in the Church of Acts, Wee pointed out.

And City Missions Church or CMC is a bold attempt to emulate that model.

There is no ‘controlling’ and ‘single-leader’ structure in the congregation; only a ‘relational’ and ‘plural’ one, according to the middle-aged man. And instead of the usual cell-group system, which doesn’t ‘fit’ it, CMC divides its 400-odd members into house churches each led by a pastoral team.

Furthermore, every member is a candidate for world mission; the church has the vision of bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the world and dispatching marketplace people as its ‘missionaries’.

After all, the New Testament Church comprised marketplace believers, says Wee, who describes his congregation as a ‘uniquely’ marketplace church different from hierarchical churches – and proud of it.

Brother Wee should know. Prior to an adventurous journey of faith that saw him starting a church, company, Bible school and world mission agency, he was just another ‘successful’ business professional. Though he took ten weeks every year to go on mission trips around the world, he recalled being a ‘powerless’ Christian, reaching none of the nearly 1,000 people in his workplace.

And then, one day, he had a vision of the marketplace as a harvest field. He saw a company of employees changing into hands reaching out to God... [read more]

Marketplace Musings - Self-Marketing & Christian Humility: Are They Compatible?

A fantastic article that I think would be a great help to Christians going for job interviews - even for seasoned job-seekers! :)
Is it OK for Christians to engage in self-promotion? When we work with job-seekers on their resumes, cover letters and interview preparation, we address the issue of how they can best "showcase" their qualifications for their particular job target. Some job seekers, however, are uncomfortable with this idea, feeling that they are somehow not being humble-and risk being seen as prideful-when they talk about their abilities and accomplishments. They are not alone; many Christians struggle with what is appropriate in marketing themselves in the world. [Read more!]

Of Living Theology, Biblical Churches and Old Age

I bumped into this interview with a Bible teacher on Christian News. Thought I'd just share some of the interview with you... it's very long, yeah, but worth a good read.

Yeah, HQ, HY, Elvis, WZ... haha... I was thinking of you men when I posted this! Thank God for your hearts to see the Word of God taught properly... and for your hearts to see that our church remains safely grounded in proper Bible theology. I guess, to me, you guys, though you may be in very different life-stations, be it student, fresh graduate, working adult or father-to-be... think God has stirred in your hearts and souls a desire to study God's Word systematically. Be the color-bearers for the next generation of the church... may the Lord make you strong and reliable men, who will be qualified to teach others, especially the younger ones... especially in these last days.

Conner: [...] I would say in my mind the most important subject I would say for any minister any teacher any ministry at all is sound theology and sound hermeneutics or principles of interpreting the Word.

Because now I look back over if people ask me what would be the most important thing I would say as I look back over 60 years of ministry all our preaching, teaching, counselling, witnessing lifestyle, it all comes down to theology, right or wrong.

And hermeneutics and theology is like a coin to me, two sides. Your theology affects your hermeneutics; your hermeneutics affects your theology. If they are wrong then most of our preaching, everything is faulty theology, it’s out. So I would say they are the two most important subjects.

And to me all my preaching teaching whatever I do it all comes out of my theology. So sound theology, sound hermeneutics, they would be the two major things in my mind, and I think they are two subjects that are lacking today because people say, ‘Ah theology, we don’t want theology’, I say we do because everything comes out of that.

CP: What makes sound teaching? Would you be able to perhaps summarise?

Conner: [...] Does doctrine really matter? Doctrine of God, doctrine of Christ, doctrine of Man, doctrine of sin, doctrine of redemption, doctrine of eschatology. I left ecclesiology out because that’s in a separate book itself. So it’s that basic thing, but the approach I don’t think it’s theology that’s dead, I think a lot of the theologians are dead. I don’t know, they’ve killed. And they’ve killed it because they’re not alive and it’s just mind to mind thing, whereas not because of me, it’s just my gifting, people say I make theology alive, so exciting, so alive, that’s people’s comments.

CP: During your message this morning, you talked about how certain groups have been criticising the church and trying to get out of this mold. How would you respond to the criticisms in the sense of what are the areas in which truly the church has failed and needs to recover?

Conner: I think just recently I read about eight textbooks on the emerging church so some people asked me in America when I was there, what do I think about the emerging church. I haven’t read enough to evaluate anything so my big concern is what do you mean by the word ‘church’? I think we need to reclaim the original meaning of the word ‘church’ because today it’s become Presbyterian Church, a building. It’s not.

So we need to reclaim what’s the original meaning of the word ‘church’ in the Greek culture and the Roman application. And a lot of these young people, when you talk about emerging church, what are you emerging from, and what are you emerging into?

And then the more I read these textbooks which I personally think is such a mixture I get concerned about the theology so where is sound theology in the thing, and then what do you mean by the church? Then I think reading a lot of their experiences, I think a lot of their criticisms, instead of saying the church, they should say against institutionalism, denominationalism, dead orthodoxy. Like I said this morning, don’t knock the church because the church is the body of Christ, the church is the bride of Christ. And Paul was willing to suffer and die for the church.

So I believe every minister that has a real vision and understanding of what the New Testament as a body of Christ or bride of Christ is should be willing to live and suffer and die for the church the body of Christ. But not knock the church. And so I would say to these people, you are leaving the church and you are emerging from what into what, and then when you get a hundred people a thousand people what’s that? Are you part of a church, or are you doing something outside the church?

So I disagree very strongly. Some of the preachers today said that God is finished with the church and He is doing something new outside the church. He’ll never be finished with His body! He’ll never be finished with His bride! So we need to reclaim that.

So just recently, I’ve done an article on reclaiming the word ‘church’. Church is not a building, it’s not a denomination, it’s not institution. What is the biblical revelation of the church? So when He said I will build My church what do we really mean?

That to me is foundation. I have very strong convictions on the church. I am part of the church, I love the church. So when people run the church down I say what are you punching yourself in the face for, what do you belong to? Some new thing outside the church? There is no new thing outside the church. So all these things it may be marketplace ministry it may be orphanages it may be leprosy centres it may be hospitals all of these are ministries of the church but they do not constitute the church.

Cell churches, my body is made up of cells, but no one cell is the church, but my body is made up of many cells like the church. So we just need to reclaim that and I think that ministers need to be talking about that and just reclaiming what does the church really mean in the Greek thing what did Jesus mean, and what the church is not.

So in some of my studies church is not a building it’s not a denomination it’s not Judaism and I do that to get what the church is. So I have very strong convictions on that, so it disturbs me very much when I hear people running down the church and saying God is doing a new thing outside the church. Where is that in the New Testament? Not there.

CP: I would like to return back to the two sides of the coin you talked about. Firstly, the sound teaching and secondly the interpretation of Scripture. What are some of the principles behind good Bible teaching?

Conner: Well, I think first main thing would be what I’ve already said. It would be sound theology, if we don’t have sound theology, we can make the Bible say anything.

And one brief illustration like I heard people teach on the parables of the kingdom that the kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal I’ve heard ridiculous things on parabolic teachings the three measures of the meal are the three divisions of the human race, Shem, Ham, Japheth, three sons of Noah, and the woman is the church and the leaven is the gospel. That ends up in universalism that everybody is going to be saved.

So unless you have sound theology you are not going to interpret the parables of the kingdom right, so your theology affects your hermeneutics, so in the hermeneutic textbook we did that, two countries in word studies character studies place studies interpreting the parables of the kingdom, interpreting prophecy, all those types of things so much that I have to look at my books again, but my theology governs that, otherwise you can make the Bible say anything.

CP: You mentioned earlier that your textbook which goes into so many countries around the world and there are people that said that you make theology alive. What’s your secret?

Conner: Well, I think any teacher should do this, teacher, preacher, whatever. When the Holy Spirit inspired the Word, then that is as real to Him now as it was then. And I like one definition said years ago that when we have the communion he says we often say do this in remembrance of Me and we in ourselves try to project our memory back to when Jesus died and trying to project back then doing it in remembrance but he said the real Greek meaning of that is the Holy Spirit bringing the power of the past into the present and making real what was in the past, making real in the present. I believe that’s the key to the whole ministry of the Word... [Read more!]
From Single Men: Carry The Colors:
Resolve is the faith that keeps you moving even when the fog of battle overwhelms you. Jesus had resolve in going to the Cross. Paul had resolve in pressing on toward the goal. Resolve looks ahead. Resolve is clear-eyed, level-headed, sober-thinking. It is fueled by the burning reality that service in this life is the only battle that matters, and that God himself has placed you in it. So spend it all here. As the famous missionary motto proclaims, "No retreat, no surrender, no reserve."
And the writer goes on to say:
God made you a man for a purpose. Inherent in your masculinity is a call to step forward, not simply to take the flag, but first to ask for it and reach toward it. Masculinity is the raw material of leadership in God's government, but you don't need to wait for a tap on the shoulder to express your innate leadership call. You can lead by influence and example. If you are not being trained to lead, get your Bible out and train yourself! Your Christian single sisters are always looking for men to step out in leadership in areas such as purity, discernment, decisions, and godly conversation.
There are times when we come to God with a lot of things on our minds. We're very tired and just rattle off a list of requests. And when we read the Bible, we expect to receive something groundshaking. But maybe that's not the most important thing at that time. Maybe God just wants us to sit down and simply enjoy His Word. To "[b]e still and know that I am God."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Saturday, I dropped by Huanyan's CG. I was free that day, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to catch up with HY and Elvis and Shuyi and Minchen and well, basically the rest of their CG haha.

But I did feel a bit worried. 'Cos was wondering whether I'd look a bit out of place there. But when I reached there, HY and Elvis welcomed me with big chimpanzee-like grins and big hellos. With amigos like them, how can one not feel blessed? Haha.

Then I said to Huanyan, "Hey bro, thanks for letting me drop by." He looked rather surprised, and said, "This is our church family lah! Of course you're welcome!" Mich (Elvis' cousin) said the same thing too. Haha... so we went over to join them at SMU... and saw that it was a unit gathering! Haha. Very fun. :D Lots of music, singing and playing... carefree, and so on. Felt like uni days again LOL.

Anyway, what Huanyan said made me think. Actually, it's part of a whole bunch of observations... or rather, perceptions. :) Haha. I'm very much more intuition-based rather than sensing-based. :) So I intuit a lot.

Anyway, think some of us in church have this mentality (correct me if I'm wrong) that once you move on to a new ministry / services, you have to cut down on your contact with the old groups of friends you made in your previous ministries/services, so that you can focus on your current ministry. (Not cut off lah, but cut down.) But I think that might be a bit imbalanced...

Maybe it'd be good to encourage more inter-ministry minglings. Just to drop by different units, different CGs, and so on. 'Cos we're one big family. Of course let them know before dropping by, but I think I shouldn't feel paiseh about dropping in. It may not be easy to make the effort to keep in touch, especially when there's restructuring here and there. But well, ultimately, we're one big family. And that's a biblical doctrine, last I heard. :)

I did go down to NUS to catch up with Joyce and Edmund Lee. And while I was there, one brother came to HQ, and he saw me. He was so surprised, and said (I quote it verbatim), "What the hell are you doing here?" (Aye, that's his style.) Haha. The surprise comes from the fact that the seniors usually don't come back to intermingle and connect with the juniors. Of course, it does take extra effort, as obviously we don't know the younger ones, and there's probably the generational barrier.

Personally, I think we make too much out of generational barriers. Gen-X this, Gen-Y that, Gen-Z etc... but honestly, I think cultural, language and social-economic barriers do make a more significant difference. But whatever barriers there may be, perhaps just because they're there doesn't mean that we shouldn't make the necessary effort to cross these barriers. There are some young people (like the freshman sister who went into Medicine - she's 10 years younger than me) who have a stronger and more vibrant faith than some believers 10 years older than her! Of course, there are believers 10 years older than us, whom we can learn SO much from. We can learn from one another. God is the God of all generations!

I remember Weizhu talking with me about the importance of cross-generational ministry. I think it's something so important too, and something that our church currently lacks. Yes, I know, it does seem strange to drop by just like that... so I check to see if it's ok to drop by, to meet up with existing friends in the different ministries, and in turn get to know more new friends. And I think life and the community is so much the richer for it. Not only having friends from the same life-stations, but across different life-stations, add a new dimension and richness to your perspective of life. Not to mention that you get unique cultural exposure, get to have your finger on the changing pulses of society and so on.

Of course, it's important to also build up your own CG. To that, I think there's a time for everything. I remember HQ telling me that there are times you have to find support outside your own CG. I was reluctant initially, but yah, it's really helpful advice. :)

Anyway, I'm just sharing all these thoughts, because I think the different congregations in our churches can do so much more to intermingle and minister to one another more... so that the whole body of Christ may grow together in unity. So, I guess I have yet to make closer friends with our brothers and sisters from the Filipino, Indonesian and Mandarin services. But at least I have made friends from Children's service... Family service, Uni, PolyDINs and so on. Thank God for the joy of renewing old friendships, and building new ones.

By ourselves, we can do so little. But together we can do so much.

The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives

From Zondervan's website:
With inspiring stories and thought-provoking questions, Ravi Zacharias traces the multiple threads of our lives, describing how the unseen hand of God guides our joys, our tragedies, our daily humdrum to weave a pattern of divine providence and meaning.

How differently would we live if we believed that every dimension of our lives—from the happy to the tragic to the mundane—were part of a beautiful and purposeful design in which no thread were wrongly woven? That’s what best-selling author and internationally-known apologist, Ravi Zacharias, explores in The Grand Weaver.

As Christians, we believe that great events such as a death or a birth are guided by the hand of God. Yet we drift into feeling that our daily lives are the product of our own efforts. This book brims with penetrating stories and insights that show us otherwise. From a chance encounter in a ticket line to a beloved father’s final word before dying, from a random phone call to a line in a Scripture reading, every detail of life is woven into its perfect place. In The Grand Weaver, Dr. Zacharias examines our backgrounds, our disappointments, our triumphs, and our beliefs, and explains how they are all part of the intentional and perfect work of the Grand Weaver.
Read the first chapter. It's stirringly beautiful. Do read it. It'll encourage your socks off, and help you see that life truly is beautiful, when the Author of life is working in yours. :) You can find a copy in Tecman at Bras Basah. :)

Marketplace Musings - Tracing Out God's Calling For You

"No skill or experience that God has given you will ever be wasted." Benjamin Pwee

Haha... ok, I think after all my musings some time ago, I'm getting rather tired LOL. Actually, come to think of it, as a friend commented, the funny thing is, there's this bro who is an ardent advocate of marketplace ministry, yet his heart is eager to go church-planting. And I'm, like, all for church-planting, but think God has called me into the marketplace.

Actually, come to think of it, is it really important that I niggle over things like these? LOL. I am so contradictory. Haha! And some reflections to take back from it, is that it'd be safer not to make hard pronouncements on debatable topics. I mean, if the Almighty isn't all hung up on certain topics, like BGR and so on... I think... sometimes the Lord really is more flexible on some things than we are. So it'd be good to think, and present our differing perspectives, because both sides could be true, in different contexts. Hah... correct me if you think I'm wrong. :)

So this friend commented that actually, we're probably tiffing about the words and all that... but really, we're all together in the same journey. But yeah. I think this friend has credibility when she talks about the difficulties of full-time. 'Cos she works in a Christian organization. And it is not easy. Not easy.

Hmm. Oh! Where was I? Well, I think Benjamin Pwee's a cool brother in Christ. Haha. Nice botak head. But besides that, what he said made me think. Perhaps one way we can figure out where God is leading us, is to trace out key events, significant experiences, our strengths, talents and so on in our lives. Connect-the-dots, in other words.

"No skill or experience God has given you will ever be wasted."

Maybe you can read Ravi Zacharias' The Grand Weaver. It's a beautiful book that describes how God weaves all the little details, the little minutiae of our lives into one grand tapestry. :) Can buy from Tecman.

Haha. Looking at my own life, I can see that God has put me in certain key situations, and I see certain patterns in some of the things - not patterns of behaviour, but patterns of events. Very surprising. And also some experiences that make me more credible to speak to certain groups of people. And to top it all off, God's confirmation that He's called me into that particular direction. And feeling His pleasure and receiving His anointing upon me, as I step into that direction.

God is so cool. :D

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1 Corinthians 1:18-31
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

The Quest of the Quest-ions

So that's the whole narrative (read previous post...). Reflecting... I see God's providence. I had decided to wrestle hard with God in prayer, and reading the Bible, and I was so surprised to see how God encouraged me to keep wrestling on. Why wrestling? Because I have my own personal and deep-seated questions that I have been wanting to ask God why for many years already - and for Him to give me an answer.

Sort of like Job asking God for an explanation, and Jacob literally wrestling with God (in human form - some say this was probably the pre-incarnate Christ himself), until God touched and dislocated Jacob's hip. Then He asked him to let him go for it was almost daybreak. But Jacob stubbornly refused, saying, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And God honoured his request, which was based on a genuine faith in God.

And I think God is affirming me for my decision to take a step of faith. I think He spoke to me through Weizhu, reminding me to struggle with Him, until He says enough, and does a permanent change in me. And my heart's determination is that I want to be permanently touched and changed by God, even if it means I will have to be broken in greater measure.

"Anything for You, my Lord..." do I mean what I sing? Even to the point of death, or forsakeness, or suffering, or loneliness, or pain?

So, yes, was very encouraged by the sister who told me to read Psalm 103... haha... after I had read the very Psalm that she was telling me to read. I think it's a very clear sign from God that He really is with me, even when I can't feel His presence.


And, I think from another thing that she shared with me, I think I now have one answer to some of my most difficult questions that I've been asking God. Whoa. Sort of like a Warcraft quest, where you must find this item, that item, before you can continue with the next part of the quest. That answer is "confidence", the key to one of my questions. (The Question of Relationships. [No, it's not about BGRs... not really.])

And another piece of the puzzle came in later in the day, when I got Hong Teck's SMS to me. Hee... I'll share it here:
Woah! Great vision. Btw I heard from pple in the team what an encouragement you are to your writing team. That's good leadership and vision in action.
(The Question of Leadership.) Was really gob-smacked when I saw that. But I did sense God's anointing come strongly upon me, when leading the team, especially since I'm not a natural leader - not at all. But God's power is made perfect in my weaknesses. :D

I share the SMS, not to boast about myself, but precisely, because those who know me can easily testify that I'm by nature highly indecisive, lack confidence, not very detailed, not extroverted, more of a 'lone-ranger'... but to see this kind of affirmation for my leadership and vision - this can only be of the Lord, and the Lord alone.
Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
And that encourages me so much. That God, who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I realised that when God looks for a man to rise up to respond to His calling to meet a need, He is more than able to make a leader out of anyone. Anyone. If you have natural leadership strengths, good lah. He wants to use you! But sometimes He can't find any willing leaders... so He picks a nobody with a willing heart to showcase what He can do. And I think the end-glory to God is all the greater. But no excuse for not boning up on what we ourselves are responsible for nurturing. It seems to me that the ways of God are mysterious indeed. Sometimes God calls the most-qualified man to the task; other times He calls the least-qualified man to do His will. Anything, as He pleases! He used the barely-educated Peter; He used the super-educated Paul. He used the stammering Moses; He used the eloquent Aaron. Interesting, huh? :) He can use anything we have to do His will, as long as we don't trust in these things... but trust in the One who gave us these things.

We Three Pilgrims On A Deepavali's Day

Whoa... today, God did something really amazing. I had decided to go down to St. Andrew's Cathedral - you know, the open steps - to take some time to "wrestle" with God in prayer. And I read Psalm 103, that told me to praise the Lord with all my soul, and not forget all His benefits.

So took some time to pray... and while I was reading and praying... suddenly, this sweet Indian lady came up to me and asked me when would the next service be. I told her I'm not sure as I'm not from St. Andrew's. So she smiled and said thanks and sat down on the steps in front of me.

Well, somehow I had this feeling that I should talk with her a bit more. So I put my Bible aside, and asked her how come she wants to come for service today. She said, "Because I'm bored!" Whoa. So exclaimed to her that most ppl don't normally go to church when they are bored... haha...

She grinned brightly, and said that she's a Christian. And at that moment, some song from a nearby room came pouring out, and she immediately sang along happily. Was so surprised by the joy in her eyes, and her childlikeness.

I exclaimed, "Wow, you sing very well!"

She grinned again, and said, "I sang during the National Day parade when I was in primary school. In the centre of the National Stadium!"

"Whoa! You're not kidding me? Serious?"

"Yes. I did."

With newfound respect and admiration, I said, "Ooooh. I see..."

Then I realised that today's the first day of Deepavali. So I asked her, "Aren't you celebrating Deepavali today?"

"No, I'm not a Hindu."

"Oh. I mean, I have some Christian friends who are Indian, and they celebrate Deepavali in a non-Hindu kind of way..."

"Yes, I know, but I'm not a Hindu."


She looked into the distance for a few moments, and then replied, "My dad's a Muslim and my mum's a free-thinker. My mum's a Chinese. I used to be a free-thinker, but realised that I need God."

"Oh, I see..." (I gather that her dad was an Indian Muslim, and her mum a Chinese...)

She continued: "By free-thinker, I mean that last time, I'm ok with all religions, but I don't see my need for God. So, see, free..."

"Haha... yeah. Buy one get one free..."

"Haha! No lah. Not like that."

So I asked her, "When did you become a Christian?" "Since 2004!"

Her eyes suddenly burst into a merry twinkle.

"I tell you, God has been soooooo good to me all these years! You know, the Bible tells us that God forgives us all our sins, and heals all our diseases... Have you read Psalm 103? Yes, that's where the Bible tells us - "

I interrupted in surprise. "Eh... Psalm 103? That's the exact passage I was reading just now! My goodness... I think... God must have sent you..."

"OH! Really? Wow! God's so good!"

Astonished, I looked at her closely. "Er... I'm just wondering. Don't tell me that you're... an angel?!"

"Oh! Hahaha! No... but it's really very amazing! Haha..." And she broke into a merry chuckle.

So we conversed back and forth. And, I found out that she was really all alone. Her husband is in prison, and her son is with MCYS.

So I asked her, "How do you feel...?"

She said, "I feel all alone. Just me and God."

I nodded sympathetically. Still, I was thinking about what she had said... here's a woman who has read her New Testament well, and is so thankful to God, praising and just singing for joy to God - not in a artificial kind of way... or a 'spiritualized' manner... but a genuine innocence, a childlike joy. And all in the face of the facts that she has really experienced a lot of life's hardships and pains. And not to mention that she isn't very well-educated - she only has an 'O' Level qualification for English. ("It was my best subject.")

I don't doubt she has her imperfections... but I did see the child of God in her eyes, and sense the genuine heart of wanting to seek God.

Then she shared with me this. Food for thought. She said, "When I became a Christian, I asked God to give me wisdom."

"Oh! That's interesting. Why wisdom (in particular)?"

She shrugged her shoulders lightly. "Well... you know we all are imperfect people, right?"


"Well, before I came to know the Lord, I was a bit gong-gong (stupid)."


"But the Bible promises us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, who gives us wisdom."

Then she looked gently at me, and told me, "You can't get wisdom from reading books alone. Wisdom comes from God. You can read all you want, but if you don't have God with you... you don't have wisdom."

I sat there, and nodded. It made me think. Here is a barely-educated woman... she's the same age as me, btw. But her eyes had tired "panda" eyebags underneath that spoke of experiences beyond her years.

So we continued talking. Then she shared with me that she's interested in joining a worship team, and whether I know anyone who does. I told her that I do know my church choir, but I wasn't sure if my church service would be appropriate for her.

(I grimaced inwardly as I said that...)

She nodded in a deeper understanding. Very interesting. As she reads body language well, and I think highly empathetic too. Haha.

Inwardly, I asked God, help me out here, Lord... I don't want to make this sister feel excluded... but she does need a church, a community to help her out. What do I do?

Then I suggested, "Have you considered other churches?"

She said, "New Creation... hmm... yah."

"Oh... hmm..." I looked around. "Oh! Why not St. Andrews'?"

"Oh, I could try... that's why I'm here for the service today! But today's a public holiday. I wonder if there's anyone who can help us find out more?"

"Ah. I don't know. But I suppose we could ask..."

And we asked. The next service was at 7 pm. It was 5 pm.

When I told her that, her eyes opened in a bemused kind of way. But she gently replied, "Oh, 7 pm? Well, okay."

Then she said to me, "Do you think they'll welcome me?"

"I think they will. Besides, the people we asked just now said it's ok."

"Oh, okay..." There was a note of tentativeness in her voice.

Wondering what to do next, I thought I should get a drink from the vending machine for her. I fumbled around for change. There was a plump teenage boy intensely playing his flute nearby. As I went back to ask her whether she had any spare change, the plump teenage boy took a quick look at me, and stopped playing, saying, "Lemme see if I've got any." He had this just-out-of-puberty kind of voice, with a slightly high-pitched squeak at times, and a strong stutter. But his voice was crisp and confident, even if it had its stutter to contend with.

To cut a long story short, the boy entertained us with a very skillful rendition of his Irish flutes (he has three!), gave us some interesting background history in Irish music, and of course, played and played. And the church courtyard echoed with his sweet melodies. And the lady and me were so amazed, that we applauded after every tune he had deftly played. Pleased, he kept on playing and demonstrating more.

And before we knew it, the daylight had gotten dim. And the Global Crossroads service was about to start. And there was a volunteer standing at the registration bench.

The lady gently, but a bit anxiously, asked me, "Do you think I should go for the service?"

I thought about it... prayed in my heart and replied: "You remember you shared with me that God is everywhere? He can also speak to You during the service too."

She looked a bit more assured. I decided to accompany her to the registration bench, to lend her some courage. And thank God, the brother on duty there was very kind and friendly. We both asked him whether it's ok, since the GC service is meant for international students, for her (a Singaporean) to go for this service.

The brother's kind eyes opened up in surprise. "Of course! All are welcome!"

She was a whole lot more reassured after that, and went in.

After she had gone in, I turned around to the brother (Johnny), "Oh, ... er... Johnny, would there be ushers to help welcome her?"

He smiled. "Sure. Don't worry. We have Friendship Partners to take care of our visitors!"

So, I went back to the steps, and looked at the lady through the glass doors. Then I saw the kind brother taking a seat next to the lady. I smiled. And I prayed a prayer for her, asking God to strengthen her, save her husband, and if it's His will, He'll root and establish her in this church, so that she can be part of a local church family.

Then, I stood up and looked at the now dark-blue sky. Up and far away in the night sky, I saw a solitary star. It wasn't twinkling, just a bright and steady shine. But oh, how brightly, how brilliantly did it blaze, in the deep darkness of the inky-blue night, above the white sloping steeple of the cathedral.

Later that night, this sister - Sarah's her Christian name - messaged me Luke 4:18-19.

Three very different people, in very different life stations, with very different talents, with very different educational backgrounds, under very different circumstances. But here, in the sanctuary of God, we meet together in a divinely-appointed confluence. We three pilgrims meet together for a brief kairos moment, and encourage one another with our uniquely God-given strengths, before going our separate ways - till we meet again in the City of God.

How To Be A Man

Saw this article from Yizhong's blog. Thanks bro! :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Bystander Effect

Ironically, I learnt some interesting insights on this phenomenon during a family lunch one Sunday. My aunt, who was visiting from India, had read an article describing how a ‘damsel in distress’ scenario was reenacted by some journalists in a crowded street and nobody came forward to help. Naturally, most of the other people at lunch expressed disappointment over this. However, my mother seemed unsurprised, and explained that this was actually quite a common and well studied phenomenon in psychology called the ‘bystander effect’.

She explained that in a situation where people see unacceptable behaviour and/or a need to help, studies show that if there are a large number of people in the vicinity, it is more likely that nobody will do anything. There were several reasons for this. First, people are easily susceptible to social influence, meaning they observe what others do and act accordingly (i.e. follow the crowd). Thus, if nobody else is doing anything, they do nothing. Second, where there are a large number of people, there is a diffusion of responsibility, and nobody feels individually responsible for what is going on. People assume someone else will do something about it. Third, bystanders may not believe they have the capability to help out. For example, if someone has passed out, the ordinary bystander may believe that this is something a doctor should attend to. Fourth, bystanders may fear the repercussions of getting involved. For example, if a group of people are fighting and they try to break up the fight, there is a risk both parties may turn on them.

However, another important finding in these studies is that if someone came forward to help in the emergency situation, there is a higher chance that others will do so too. This is probably the first reason above, social influence, at work. If other bystanders see someone helping, they are more likely follow suit. This is especially so if all bystanders recognize that the situation does indeed call for help.

From On Bar Fights and Bystanders
Leverage of leadership... sometimes all it takes to make a difference, is a willing to be different. Remember David the shepherd-boy versus Goliath the professional champion? You're never too small to speak up, to stand out and to stand up.

The General Theory of Procrastination

Abstract: When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity.
"On the Effects of External Sensory Input on Time Dilation." A. Einstein, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.

Ah. I timed myself yesterday and realised the relativistic effect of procrastination on my sense of time. I had been procrastinating yesterday, in part due to some rather technically tedious aspect of my video work. So I surfed, and surfed... and when I thought 20 minutes was up, one whole hour had passed by.

Then I decided to bite the bullet and knuckle down to doing the work itself. It really felt like what I feared it was going to be: t-e-d-i-o-u-s. My fingers ached. My eyes strained. My wrist strained. My nose bled. (Ok, I made up the last part.) I crimped and I cramped. I gnipped and I gnashed. I whipped and I lashed. I hemmed and I hawed. I yipped and I yapped. I zipped and I zapped. I gimped and I gasped. I licked and I lacked. I flipped and I flapped. I peed and I pawed. Oh, the humanity! Anyway, the fabric of space and time got warped and distended, the heavens melted, the sun ran out of its nuclear fuel, the entire universe disappeared into a last whirlpool of a cataclysmic singularity. And yes, the Lord was about to come back when He took a long look at me, and decided to come back later "when you're done waiting for Windows to boot up". And when I had done my task, my tedious task... I looked at the clock to see how many epoches had passed.

The revelation: 5 minutes to finish a task that I'd been wasting 1 hour trying to avoid.

Yep, the old man was right. Time's relative.
I need to wrestle more with God... remembering Sep 2005. To seek Him for a breakthrough in a new area... To wrestle, till He says enough and does a permanent change in me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drawing - As Morning Dawns

Haha... tried this drawing out. =) the angel, I traced her from another source... but the background, my own. Recognize the Plelaides cluster? It's one of the most beautiful constellations in the night sky. Anyway, did it in Photoshop CS3. =)
Today, I realised something while tracing out an expert artist's drawing. As you trace and attempt to imitate the artist's expression, you realise all the little details that you never noticed before, how they are so often overlooked, but subtly add so much to the character and beauty of the artwork you are attempting to imitate. And the more you trace, the more you are awed by the expert artist's tender skills and careful craftsmanship, that he/she is able to pay attention to such sweet little grace notes, and skillful little dabs of love here and there. Imitating an expert artist's drawing really helps you appreciate in a deeper way, both in heart and mind, the craftsmanship, creativity and character of the artist. :)

Then realised that this is akin to what the Father wants us to do, in imitating the life of Christ. For Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. He is the very picture of the Father himself - "he who has seen me has seen the Father". And we are commanded to imitate the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all our life, our words, thoughts and deeds. And it's not a vague, blurry, ill-defined portrait, as spurious post-modern pastiches would have you believe... for the Father has very clearly drawn out His image in His Son, Jesus Christ - His truth, His character, His heart, His glory, His humility, His love, His power, His majesty, His royalty, His authority, His wonder, His beauty, His holiness, His grace, His peace, His wonder, His kindness and so on, world without end.

And so as we attempt to trace out and imitate Christ's likeness in our own life, we discover so much more than we thought we knew at first. As we trace out His paths to copy onto the ragged canvases of our own lives, we see with increasing clarity what it really means to love. What it really means to walk. What it really means to talk - what it really means to be a human. Oh, Christ, the wisdom and power of God!
Romans 11:33-36
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Some stuff I'm trying out for an animation... LOL... still in beta haha (: had been having this desire to just want to do some artwork... to bless God's heart :) I mean... "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Yup... so thot I'd make something to bless God's heart. =) haha

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Matt Damon: Together, We Can Move Mountains

When I was a boy, my mom had a magnet on the refrigerator with a little picture of Gandhi along with a quote from him. It said: "No matter how insignificant what you do may seem, it is important that you do it." As a child, I was raised to believe that, and to this day I do my best to live it.

Nowadays, sentimental magnetized credos have gone the way of nostalgia, and technology has forever changed the way younger generations communicate. But those are still really good words to live by.

I got an allowance of $5 a week when I was a kid, but I never spent much money on anything. My mother was involved in all sorts of causes, and when I was about 12, I started sending a little bit every month to one of them. I learned then that you find one thing that matters to you, and it changes your whole mind-set.

Here's something that matters to me right now. Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. I should probably repeat that: Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. A billion people on our planet will never have a clean drink of water. There are 2.5 billion people in the world without toilet facilities. That kind of deprivation isn't even on our radar in the U.S., but in Africa it's the central preoccupation of many people's lives.

And the most devastating thing about it is that it takes so little to change it. Just $25 will give someone clean water for life—yes, just $25 will change someone's future forever.

I've taken a lot of trips in the last few years to places like Africa and India and Haiti to try to learn what conditions are like. You can read about extreme poverty and possible solutions, but it's really powerful when you get to meet the people and shake their hands and listen to their stories. I try to keep my trips short because my kids are so young that my wife, Lucy, can't come. We don't like to be separated, but we both feel it's so important to learn about these things. There's so much I don't know. In the future, I know these trips are something we'll do as a family.

There's so much need, it's so hard to decide where to give. For me, I look at the organizations that are actually doing the work on the ground. I co-founded, which focuses on water and sanitation. I was in Ethiopia earlier this year, and I watched children taking filthy water out of a hand-dug well and putting it in bottles to take to school. The water was so dirty, it looked like chocolate milk. I wanted to knock it out of their hands and say, "Don't drink that—it could kill you." The dilemma is that drinking nothing at all will kill them even faster. Parents in these impoverished areas lose children every year to diseases that could be completely prevented if they had access to clean water. [read more...]
Show me, Father, what do you want me to do? I remember Mother Teresa was teaching the rich children in a sheltered convent, but she felt that there must be more to this than just teaching a few rich kids in a sheltered convent. And she heard You calling to her, to serve the poor.

Hmm... I think from where I am right now, I think You may be training me to do storytelling to educate children all over the world. To teach them English... teach them so that I can help to raise them out of poverty... and also share Your living water with them - the good news - to them. Help me be You to them, Lord I pray. You came not only to meet our physical needs, but the deeper need of the human heart... which your servant Mother Teresa understood - that the worser famine is not that of food, but of being unloved and unwanted.

I don't know what to do, but... I do know I'm on this journey You want me to go... so lead me Lord I pray. As You please... Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Help your Body - which is Your church - to manifest Your kingdom in the midst of this world. Amen.
Just an observation: How come it is that we are often so fast to criticize, to correct, when we see someone going in the wrong direction, but are so slow to affirm and encourage when we see that same person going in the right direction?

Shouldn't we be practising the latter without neglecting the former?
From Daisy:
"A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it had and it could go no further.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly."

Phua Chu Kang spoof of Ris Low

Insanely funny!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Marketplace Musings - More

I've been glancing through the comments I've received... whoa! thanks guys, you are one heaven of an eloquent bunch! And am impressed how you can compactly say in a few lines what it takes me a few pages to say. In other words, you concise, I 'cheong hei' (long-winded).

Well, it seems that so far there's two sides to this view...
That both sides don't have much issue with the definition of the marketplace.
Just that one side is not comfortable with idea of using "marketplace ministry" as an excuse for not stepping out in faith into full-time.
And the other side is not comfortable with the idea of using "full-time" as an excuse for not stepping out in faith into the marketplace.

Then there's a third perspective (the middle view):
Fredrick Buechener says, "Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

I was thinking... wow, very interesting. Let's explore further. The fact is, John the Baptist did go into the desert and wear a hair shirt, and preach, "You brood of vipers!" Whereas Daniel and Queen Esther got to sit on a soft berth... And Paul? He hammered Christians, and then after he met Jesus, he got hammered for being a Christian. So I don't think we can really appropriate the idea of a "middle way". After all, as someone quipped, you can't be very well-adjusted to your world if it says you have a demon, your own family says you're out of your mind, and you end up being nailed naked to a stake of wood.

There's a fourth perspective: Wherever God calls you to go, there you go. If it's to Wall Street, go. If it's to the Amazon jungle, go. If God calls you to rebuild a devasted city, then plan... or if He calls you to just step out and walk on water... well, you have to throw all logic to the winds. One time He orders Joshua to summon the ENTIRE nation to go against a tiny city, and another time He orders Gideon to cut down his army to only 300 men - against a bloodthirsty horde of countless infantry and cavalry. I'm thinking now that the fourth perspective  makes the most sense. Because it's all about doing God's will. Not anthro-centric, but God-centric.

One lesson I've learnt from the Bible is that we can't restrict God's thinking to our own level of thinking. God is God, and we are not. But the key thing is to listen and do whatever He wants us to do.

Now, one of my friends said that perhaps missions field is tougher than the marketplace. And no doubt that Paul directed Timothy that the elders in the church are worth of double honour (also meaning that their pay should be doubled). This is to show the importance of full-time ministry - especially those who preach the Word. So full-time ministry is very important, and I think there IS a difference in full-time ministry.

But all the same, all of us are called to minister everywhere we go. Just that God chooses some for full-time, and chooses others to go into the marketplace. We all are a chosen people.

I think this passage from Ephesians 4 is worth pondering over (the Message translation):
1-3In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

4-6You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

7-13 But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

14-16No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
The full-time workers train up those sent out into the marketplace. How's that? :)

Hmm... wondering aloud. Is missions = fulfilling the Great Commission then? Is fulfilling the Great Commission = extending God's kingdom?

Edited to add:
I mean missions as in the overall aim of the church, not going overseas...

Marketplace Musings - Meanings of Vocation, Career and Job

Ok, seems quite a series I've been piling up here. *digs around* Ah! I got my notes... and oops, I realise that there's a handout that I forgot to read: Marketplace Terminology.

Oops. Hmmm... I guess this is where I smoked myself out, hur? Point taken, Uncle. And now I'm opening it up. *read, read, read and blows nose* Whoa. I should have read through these notes first before launching out on my meandering muses. They're like a good map. So I'll share a brief summary what I've learnt from these notes with you guys. Here goes!

(And haha, looks from the notes like I'm still on track with some of my thoughts... LOL.)

The healthy and biblical view of work: (This is a great statement. Read each word carefully...)
God has gifted and prepared us for meaningful, fulfilling and purposeful work. Work is a tool that God has given us to be effective for Him and to fulfill His purpose.

Need for clarification:
Many terms are used on this subject of marketplace ministry and its related topics. We cover some of the terms here under 3 broad headings:

  • WORK


Ephesians 4:1
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling (vocation) you have received.

  1. What is vocation? Vocation comes from the Latin vocare which means "to call".
  2. Vocation is the big picture of God's call to us - it includes the concept of one's purpose, mission, destiny and calling. This is the big picture that many often miss out on.
  3. This "life calling" answers one of the deepest questions of life: "Why am I here?"
  4. Life calling is not career planning or vocational choice per se.
    It's about "What do I need to do with my life to accomplish God's great plan on earth?"
  5. It includes our being and our doing as we respond to God's call.
  6. Our life calling is then expressed in specific vocations e.g. personal life, family, work, church ministry, community and nation.
  7. Every Christian has a "life calling" ("vocation") from God.
  8. It is important to discover God's specific call for you.
  9. Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, says: "A calling is... not so much pursuing a goal as it is listening for a voice. [...] .. the way to know how God is preparing you to be effective is to pay attention to what He has revealed to you, by the uniqueness you have."
  10. Whether you're going to enter, or you are already in the marketplace, it is crucial to know His call for you. This call is not just about what He wants you to do in your workplace, but His life calling for you.
  11. As you discover this, you would be able to make wise career choices.

  1. Career is an occupation / profession that requires some form of training.
  2. It is not vocation; it is a subset of vocation.
  3. A career is a line of work but not the only way to fulfill your calling.
  4. You can hold different careers at different points in your life, or be involved in a few careers that fulfill your calling.

    E.g. God has called you to help reduce pain and suffering. That is His calling for you. Within that vocation, you can be a counsellor, pastor, politician, doctor, nurse, etc. There are about 10 to 15 careers within a vocation. Therefore, when you're about to change careers, simply take a fresh look at your vocation and find a new application.


  1. A job is the specific application of a career.
  2. It is the most specific and immediate of the 3 terms (vocation, career and job).
  3. A job is not the identification of a person's calling; it is the application of it. It is a post of employment.
  4. This means that we do not have to consider a job so important, that if it is taken away, it means the end of the vocation. Rather, God's call still stands - it is just being expressed in different forms of employment.
  5. An average person may have 14 to 16 different jobs in his/her lifetime.
  6. Therefore, though the job cannot be the critical definition of a person's calling / vocation, it should ideally be an expression of that calling and an integration of a person's ministry.
  7. The mistake that many people make is that of just getting a job and planning their lives around it.
  8. They choose careers and jobs based on what is available, travelling conveniences, promotional opportunities, monetary offers, etc, rather than their callings.
  9. Rather, God wants us to fulfill His purpose through our work.

Whoa! Those notes really helped me understand so much more clearly. :) Reading again from the notes, it's not only about what He wants us to do in our workplaces, but also His life calling for us. I felt really encouraged and thankful when I read these points, because firstly, I am reassured that I am living out God's calling for my life, and secondly, very thankful for my shepherd who taught me these principles, about looking for a job that can help fulfill God's calling for my life. :)

Dear friend, do you know God's specific life calling for you yet? He really does have a plan for you... and all of your days were already written in his book before one of them came to be!

If you don't know yet, I strongly encourage you to sit down and wait upon God to show you, no matter how long it takes! It may take a week, it may take months, or even years... but God will surely reward those who earnestly seek Him! :)  I know... it took me about more than a year of persistent waiting upon God, but He showed me His specific calling for me in increasingly clear ways. And when you discover His calling for you, you will sing and dance, saying, "So this is what I was meant to do all along!"
Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
:)So do you know His vocation for you, or are you still stuck in a dead-end job? Wait no more! Call upon Him quickly at Jeremiah 33:2-3 - operators are standing by!
Jeremiah 33:2-3
This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'