Sunday, November 29, 2009

now typing this using my hotel's wifi. whoosh. was a great day today of feasting and shopping w my family.

actually want to thank God for something, even tho it wasn't pleasant initially. was angry w my dad abt some stuff. so i prayed and thot abt it. realised i still have some issues in my heart regarding my family. asked God to forgive me. and was assured.

but God didn't stop there. He engineered things to happen... that i had a kind of a heated discussion w my dad... the heat mostly from my side, actually. and... somehow the words that i said accurately described hw i felt, tho i'd suppressed them for a long time. understood then why i was so angry about some particular things. initially felt guilty abt having showed my real feelings and anger...

but realissed tt perhaps God allowed all these to happene, so that He could graciously help surface some of my heart's issues. relieved, because i didn't have to hide it anymore... and touched, becos my dad's care still remained the same.

complex, but God is working in my life and my heart to surface and refine away impurities in my heart.

=) praise God that He is always at work to this very day.

ok. now reading "12 'Christian' Beliefs that drive you crazy." Awesome belief. I'll post stuff on it sooner.

Anyway we had a great dinner. lots of shopping and walking too. dead tired alr.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Got an email from Hong Teck a few days ago... was very, very pleasantly surprised!
BTW, we had a transition meeting with P6 parents. [K] will need help. He says that he likes you and is able to connect with you because you are intelligent and sensible.

I really thank God for you for making a difference is his life. Let's work on and pray for him to be able to make the adjustment this year to Y-Hope.
K's one of the boys in my HopeKids caregroup. Thing is, he's not one of the most angelic kids in Sunday school, makes a lot of "smart-aleck" comments during caregroup discussions and he doesn't seem very inclined towards spiritual things...

But I saw the potential in him as a person - not even "leadership" potential or anything like that, though he definitely has a brilliant mind and outspoken personality - to make a great impact for the kingdom of God. He has this sharp, analytical, forceful and intelligent mindset that, while challenging to work with initially, can be a great asset in future when he's a grown-up adult to extending the kingdom of God. Really enjoyed listening to him share about how he'd smuggle various goods in and out of his classroom... be it Pokemon cards or other stuff... and I was thinking, "Wow, what if one day God uses him to smuggle in and out Bibles and other stuff for an underground church in a hostile country?"


So I guess the joy that I felt upon reading this email, was exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 18:
10"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

12"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
:) It's an encouragement, that even a really boring and unentertaining fellow like me can be used by God to make a difference in those whom you think might want to be entertained the most - the older children. :)
I guess I'm such a boring person. :\ oh well, just have to accept it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Still in a stall.

I guess I've been burnt-out for the past two weeks. Really thank God for Hong Teck, who understood what I meant, and he even encouraged me, telling me that he himself went through that experience before.

Then yesterday, he sent me and some other bros and sisters this email on how to avoid burnout. It was a repost of his blog post on getting out of burnout.

(No, my burnout isn't really caused by anything big... just a whole collection of small little disappointments that all add up. Proverbs 13:12. Hee. :))

I woke up today, with a glazed feeling, and stared at the empty skies. And the many hopes and dreams and fears leapt upon me like wild animals, tossing and tearing at me like foaming waves on an angry sea.

I think Jeremiah the prophet described this feeling so well:
I looked at the earth,
and it was formless and empty;
and at the heavens,
and their light was gone.

I looked at the mountains,
and they were quaking;
all the hills were swaying.

I looked, and there were no people;
every bird in the sky had flown away.
So I tossed and turned... and then prayed. And somehow hope came trickling back in, that this is not a lost cause. I guess I feel a lot of times that what I do doesn't make a difference, and even the good I do... is so contaminated by my own selfish desires and so on. And I worry whether He is pleased with my grubby works, splattered with so many imperfections and cracks.
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

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

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

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

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

Haha. Amen. Oh, I just saw this picture:
A little girl stood sobbing, ashamedly facing her father with her ink-splattered portrait of him, weeping because she showed her friends her crumpled painting of her daddy, and they laughed at her scurrilously. But her father gently embraced her, and tenderly unfolded the tear-soaked portrait in front of her. And he carefully smoothed out the portrait in front of her, fingering each translucent tear blot for a moment as he gazed at her drawing.

And he whispered, "My dear, I love it. YOU drew it."

"Oh..." and she looked up at him, with tears brimming afresh. "You like it, Daddy? I drew it... because I wanted to show it to my friends, because I want them to know how wonderful you are. But... but... nobody likes it! It sucks! And I know it does! Because... it obviously sucks!"

"No, no, my dear. I can't think of a finer work of art than this. Even the best artist in the world cannot compare to you... because you are my very own child. Every blot, every splotch, every tear drop - they speak words of love for me that even the finest artist's strokes can never say. You love me, in all your imperfections, your failings and your struggles, and that, my darling, is sweeter to me than anything else in this whole wide world."

And he kissed her, took the ink-splotched painting, framed it and set it up in the centre of the living room.

Wah... very touched. :P Sigh. And John Donne expressed it even more forcefully:
BATTER my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,

Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:

Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

:) Sigh. I still feel low though, and ashamed of my inadequacies and failings. But it's ok, I'll seek the Lord and I know He will deliver me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:1-10:
1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Wow. For those who fear Him lack nothing. Even the most powerful creatures on earth may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. God really is so good. And there is nothing in this world that can ever change His love. Amen, amen, and hallelujah! :')

Friday, November 20, 2009

Downcast and disappointed. Did God really promise it, or was it genuinely a mistake on my part that day? That I misheard?
Psalm 119:123
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
Maybe it won't be so, after all. Maybe I have to do it the natural way. But will I end up doing an Ishmael? But did God really say what I thought He said? I am not sure already. If He promised, then yes, it will be done. But if He didn't promise anything for this specific thing...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Worst Moment in Most Church Services

Quick: What’s the worst moment in a lot of church services? Too often it’s when God’s Word is read aloud.
Haha... it brings to mind my weekly Sunday services. You know, it really pains me every time we read the Scriptures so half-heartedly during Sunday services. We read it as though it were a boring textbook. Which should not be the case! "For the word of God is living and active..." we claim, but our own tone when we read out the words of God reveal our hearts' true attitude toward the Word of God. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City wrote, "In most church services, the reading of the Word is poorly and hurriedly done. What a missed opportunity!..."

That's why I appreciate our pastors speaking the Word of God with conviction, and asking us to stand up and read the Bible together to show reverence for God's Word. Let's face it: it's perfectly normal to have traditions in our worship services. And I don't think they are always bad - because they can help remind us of what is really important, as long as they don't substitute for the authority of the Word.

In our culture today, it is the normal thing to read a book quietly. But did you know that in ancient times, it was the other way round - to read a book aloud? Libraries of those days were closer to wet markets than our libraries of today. Thus, we see written instructions in some of the Scriptures to read them aloud to the Jews/Christians listening.

I've started doing this with my sheep, and we both really enjoy the time of reading and dramatization. More than just vivifying the Scriptures for us, it helps us remember and savour a fuller flavour of the beauty of God's Word. You ain't read Isaiah until you've read it ALOUD. I remember my Literature teacher borrowing my Bible one day, and reading from Isaiah 55 aloud. His firm, booming diction as he recited these immortal words:
"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
It was absolutely enthralling to hear my teacher speaking forth each stanza with his rich diction and steady cadence. And I still remember these words to this day.

And how can you not but help weep when you read out Isaiah 53? It is so deeply poignant, and just to hear these words spoken of Jesus Christ 500 years before He was born, oh, it is more than enough to make you weep.
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Or what about this? I heard Ravi Zacharias pronouncing these majestic words from Psalm 19, and it was so captivating to hear him reciting this as though it were an imperial edict:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
The Psalms were meant to be read aloud! :)

And Martin Luther King in his famous speech, "I Have A Dream", rolled these resounding words from the book of Amos:
[Let] justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Haha. Yah, I think in our post-literate post-modern culture, the art of storytelling and speaking is so helpful to help our people see that Scripture is not dry and stultifying, but that it really is sweeter than honey. Especially for those who struggle with reading reams and reams of printed ink. :P

Anyway, I write so much. Can read more here...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interpreting Cultural "Texts"

Whoa, think this is really gooooood stuff to read! :)
Interpreting Cultural "Texts"
It's critical to exegete your culture and not just the Bible.
Kevin Vanhoozer | posted 11/16/2009

Karl Barth once advised young theologians "to take your Bible and your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible." asked Kevin Vanhoozer, editor of Everyday Theology (Baker Academic, 2007) and professor of theology at Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois, how preachers can do what Barth advised.

Why is it important to exegete the culture and not just the Bible?

While preachers are doing what they can to inform and transform their congregations, they only get them a few hours a week. That means six days out of the week something else is spiritually forming our people—shaping their thought patterns and behaviors. Who is forming our children? Who is forming us? There's a lot of research that indicates people watch TV more than they read their Bible. The culture is where people get their vision of what the world is really like. [read more!]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Endurance and Perseverance

Isaiah 50:4
The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
The past week has been very fun... and very tiring. Thank God for His faithfulness, sustaining me through it all. I think I've been feeling quite physically, mentally and emotionally tired.

And leading the ministry team God has given me, it's not an easy thing. While I'm very encouraged by their supportiveness, there is still this stark realization that there are tasks that must be done, and duties to be fulfilled. And when to make decisions and say yes or no.

I realise how powerless and weak I am when I don't have enough time with God, especially in prayer, and I can feel the lack of His empowerment in me... the vision starts to fade and you start to dig in and settle down into the monotony of doing things.

Anyway, took a break from going for Hopekids service this month. And a few of the boys have been asking me how come I'm not around. :P Gee, paiseh. But it's nice to know that you are missed... hee...

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Great Inversion

While the APEC guys were doing their stuff over the weekend... a very different kind of feast was given for the forgotten "foreign talent" in our own country. THIS is what the churches in Singapore are doing... THIS is the kingdom of heaven come...

And there's this great report abt this fantastic banquet...

Gives me an even deeper discontentment with the way we are right now... I was chatting with this freethinker (he's just finished his O levels). He's from a Catholic school. And when I asked him whether he'd been to church before, he said that it doesn't make a difference, 'cos everyone just seems to live their own lives after church service - "They all go straight to the LAN game shop after service." That was just a passing remark from him.

But it gripped me. Because... that is exactly what we have been doing.

Are we losing our saltiness as Christians? Are we just becoming a social group? God forbid! I mean, Jesus died a bloody excruciating death on a horrifying cross so that we can just go service and then after that just live a "normal", "proper" existence for the rest of the week?

*deep breath* I was thinking. It's not wrong, it's not bad to have fun and games together. But... we have to remember we are more than just "fellowshipping" together... I think we've devalued the word "fellowship". Go watch LOTR - The Fellowship of the Ring. THAT is real fellowship. Fellowship in the middle of battle. Fellowship in the middle of suffering. Fellowship in the middle of fire and storm, blood and tears. Fellowship in the fire, and fire in the fellowship. We are in a bloody warzone, damnit. And if we don't get our act together and start living for Jesus... then I think He will come and discipline us accordingly. I mean, go read Revelation where Jesus Christ rebuked some of the churches. He means business, and He has the scars to prove it!

*Pause* At this point, just want to thank God for Huaqiang and Sarah, who have organized discipleship training programmes for the DMM. Thank God for Jiayan who organized Bible studies for her people. Thank God for the many unsung heroes... Thank God for Michael who organizes the movie nights. Thank God so much for all the wonderful men and women of God who want to live lives worthy of His calling for them. Their sacrificial lives inspire me to look outwards beyond myself and to live for Jesus.

And Philippians 3 speaks so directly and clearly on this issue:
17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
I remember reading in my Bible study guide on Philippians that the "many" who live as enemies of the cross of Christ... were actually fellow Christians. The cross speaks of suffering and hardship. And the apostles said that we must go through many hardships in order to enter the kingdom of God. (Check it out in the book of Acts for yourselves...) Would we be willing to deny ourselves?

Come to think of it... I happened to be listening in to two sisters talking the other day. One of them was sharing about how, when guys ask her out for a date, she uses these opportunities to get freebies from them. Thankfully, the other sister pointed out to her that her motive is wrong... still, it struck me, how even in the church, there are some Christians who have worldly thinking and motives. About how many people, whether brothers or sisters, can be very myopic, not having a kingdom-minded mindset.

And I am increasingly clearer that whoever I look for in my future life-partner, one criteria is: she must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It's not so much about human notions of "compatibility" or "affinity" or "chemistry" or "security"... as it is ultimately about seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And I have found such people to be like gold: precious - and rare. I think that's what makes discipleship so important... we help to refine people... to love God and love people. To seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. To go forth into all the world and make disciples of all nations. (I like this brother's words: "I thank God my gf who follow me to serve very very frequently! She's so pretty!" Haha... that is exactly the kind of sister I want! =D (i mean, not the guy's gf lah! but you get the idea.))

Perhaps some may ask at this point, "What about you? What right do you have to judge?" Well... I can only say that this is my perception. But gosh, Jesus said, "You shall know them by their fruit..." And having been in church for a long time... I'm glad to say tt there are genuine brothers and sisters who have a wonderful love for God, and earnest desire to extend His kingdom. But I am also stunned that there can be pairs of close friends where one is really kingdom-minded, and willing to sacrifice everything for God, but the other sets conditions for obedience, sets limits upon Christ's reign in his/her heart and sets boundaries on whom he/she will love. And these chilling words come to mind as I see: "One will be taken, and the other left behind."

How, how, how can this be so? I wish it weren't so. But there is always hope to be found in God's grace.

In fact, Weizhu and I had been talking about this a few weeks ago. About two brothers. Both of them had very similar backgrounds and had gone through similar experiences. But the thing is, one of them turned bitter and left. The other stayed, and grew stronger. I've seen this pattern repeated again and again. Those whom you never expected to grow mature - become godly men. And those whom you looked up to... collapsed in the end. The Great Inversion. "The first shall be last, and the last first."

This is puzzling to me, and to be honest, I still wrestle with the stunning implications of our Lord's words. And I think it also bewildered the apostles at that time. But yes, this is the way of the kingdom, and we would do well to lean on the Master's words. Because in an upside-down world, those walking the right way up will look upside-down to an upside-down world. But we still walk anyway.

Matthew 14 - Do You See Jesus, the Lord of the Sea?

Extracted from an NIV commentary:
Jesus Wants Us to Imitate His Works (14:28-31)

Although the proposal that Peter walk on water is first Peter's idea (v. 28), Jesus' response indicates that he approves of it (v. 29). Peter is gently reproved not for presumptuously stepping from the boat but for presumptuously doubting in the very presence of Jesus (v. 31; compare 6:30; 8:26; 16:8; 17:20; see Manson 1979:206; France 1985:239). Disciples were expected to imitate their masters, and Jesus is training disciples who will not simply regurgitate his oral teachings but will have the faith to demonstrate his authority in practice as well.

Once Jesus has given the command, walking on water is simply a matter of trusting the One who has performed so many miracles in the past. Peter's failure comes as he observes the wind (14:30), looking to his situation rather than to God's power that is sustaining him. Still, Peter knows by this point whom to cry out to; his feeble attempt to walk on water is no more feeble than our first attempts to walk on land. Our faith may be more infantile than Peter's if we have never even tried to step out in obedience to Jesus' commands or direction for our lives; many of us have less practice walking in faith than two-year-olds have walking physically.

It is important to note that while Jesus is disappointed with Peter's inadequate faith, Peter has acted in greater faith than the other disciples-he is learning. Faith cannot be worked up by formulas or emotion, but it grows through various tests as we continue to trust our Lord and he continues to teach us. Faith grows out of a relationship with the Person of Jesus, and in no other way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Parable of the Sower - Matthew 13

Was reading a commentary on Matthew 13, about the famous parable of the sower.

Fascinating non-trivial trivia:
Did you know that the avg. Palestinian soil, while much more fertile than its Roman or even Egyptian counterparts, usually yielded about 7 or 7.5 times the seed sown?

And Jesus said that the one who receives the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it - that man produces a crop which produces a yield of at least 30 times what was sown! Imagine that... food (literally) for thought.

Yawning at the Word

From Christianity Today (sounds familiar? ;)):
We often hear people say how difficult it is to hear God anymore, and I wonder if one reason is that we've forgotten how to listen to the Word of God when it comes to us in the sanctuary or the classroom. We listen like a husband and wife listen when they are in the middle of an argument: they listen only so they can have ammunition to mount a counterattack. That's not listening. And when we listen to the sermon only to hear what seems immediately and directly relevant, neither is that listening. And yet we've raised a whole generation of Christians to listen like this. [read more...]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

feeling a bit guilty abt some feedback i gave a friend. sigh. i really struggle with this. oh well. wat wld Jesus do?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thanks Venetia for this clip! :)

Carl Honore on In Praise of Slowness

Lakshmi Pratury On The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

This video is stirring, funny, heartwarming, poignant and leaves you thinking - all at the same time. Do watch this video... and when was the last time you wrote a REAL letter (made with 100% electron-free words) to your loved ones? :)

From T.E.D:
Lakshmi Pratury remembers the lost art of letter-writing and shares a series of notes her father wrote to her before he died. Her short but heartfelt talk may inspire you to set pen to paper, too.

The Forging of Firm Friendships

A very dear bro MSNed me just now to feedback to me about something that I had done a few days ago, that offended him. So I apologised... and he replied, "Ok :) Now satan can't do anything to hurt our [friendship]."

Wow. This is such a beautiful Godly attitude that this dear bro has.
Matthew 18:15
[Jesus said:]"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
I love the servanthood attitude implicit in this verse. " have won your brother over."

And this bro was so sweet about it! If you see him in person, you won't naturally think of him as a "humble" person (by the world's definition) because of his outspokenness and perhaps brashness, but really, I find him a genuinely humble person who loves God and loves others. :) And I've seen nice guys who are anything but humble. :(

Who says that men are not as good as women, when it comes to building strong relationships? :) This is something that men can excel in and set an example for the women in church: the kind of courageous love that is willing to meet up and talk it over face-to-face, instead of evading and keeping it superficial to avoid conflict. I say this as a natural conflict-avoider.

It's natural to want to avoid conflicts, but frankly, the finest and strongest steel comes not from a one-time casting, but from repeated heating, hammering, tempering and forging, that surfaces all the intrinsic flaws and cracks in the steel and then hammers them out of the steel. So it is with authentic conflict-tempered comradeships that endure and triumph over the battlefields of the Christian faith. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ecclesiastes 4
8 There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
"For whom am I toiling," he asked,
"and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?"
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

Just feeling quite alone in HopeKids ministry now. At least thank God for Spencer, who has a really eager heart to serve God, very faithful and supportive and sweet. :)

Maybe I should return to HopeKinders ministry after this year... see where God wants me to go.

Edited to add:
Wow, thank God for His timely encouragement :) Hong Teck passed me a birthday card and present today via Spencer. Actually he wanted to pass to me last week, but I didn't go down for service as I was supposed to have DMM.

And Hong Teck's card was very encouraging. These words really encouraged me a lot:
"Your faithfulness, contribution and genuine love for the kids impacts (sic) the kids in ways that cannot be understood in this side of heaven. Keep on keeping on. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
Hmm. Yah. Thank God so much for His perfect timing! =)
I was reading a beautiful post by Amazing Grace Church on Facebook. And this verse Matthew 6:33 struck me: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Struck me about one of my birthday wishes this year: "To grow in righteousness."

And I think I see God's gracious hand working in my life so real. He put in my heart a renewed desire to seek first His kingdom. And now He's putting in my heart a deeper desire to seek His righteousness. Wow! Praise God. So glad to experience the reality of the Bible in my life. God's Word is not merely a set of printed words. They are living and active! :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I was reading and studying Matthew 9... reading the Amplified Version.

And when I read the whole passage, I saw how Jesus so earnestly went to those who really needed Him, be it spiritual salvation, or physical healing or even raising dead people.

And I saw with my own eyes how desperate so many people were... be it a paralysed man, or a corrupt tax farmer, or an agonized ruler who had lost his daughter, or two desperate blind men or a badly bleeding woman... regardless of social status, or health, or wealth or intelligence... all of them had one thing in common - they were desperate for Jesus.

And Jesus responded to them with so much compassion.

And when I read these words, they broke my heart:
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity.

When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd. [Zech 10:2]

Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few.

So pray to the Lord of the harvest to [m]force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.
There are so many people hurting and lost and in need... be they rich or poor, everyone has something that only Jesus can help them with... all of them were at their wits' ends.

And the thing is... you can't but help see the apathy... no, even worse... the cold-heartedness of the religious leaders, who were supposed to be ministering God's mercy to the people... and wah lau, every step Jesus made, these idiots kept making lame comments and saying things like, "You're not doing it OUR way..." Blocking God's moves at every step.

No wonder Jesus was pretty -____-'''. But thank God... like Maradona weaving in and out among the English defenders in the 1986 World Cup, Jesus managed to get through the kayu Pharisees and score His "Hand of God"... =)

This passage breaks my heart. It makes me question myself. Whose side am I really on? Am I tendering mercy to those in need? Or am I staying within my own religious zone? Lord Jesus, I want to be on YOUR side. Not my side...

37Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few.

38So pray to the Lord of the harvest to [m]force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Balance Is Not Worth The Pursuit."

"Be very active in the day and very monastic at night, because balance is not worth the pursuit." - Hong Teck

I like this one! (If you think beyond the 'surface' meaning of the words, you see that this makes a lot of sense...)

'Cos God didn't intend for us to nervously teeter and totter on a daily tight-rope of sian rules and regulations; He intended us to run fierce and free, going out with joy and being led forth in peace, leaping like the deers, soaring on wings like eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not becoming faint. To run from city to city, proclaiming good news with beautiful feet, through fire and water, fears and triumphs...

There's a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. :)

Because life with God isn't a monotonous plain of plain averages; life with God is an radical range of mountains and valleys, a polyphonic choir of highest joys and deepest sorrows. Life with Christ is never trouble-free... but it is EXCITING! :D

"And Our Father Is Younger Than We."

“A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough… It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again,” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again,” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
- G.K. Chesterton

True Maturity

I realised I don't find it very natural or fun to share about things in chronological order... in fact, when my friends ask me how's my week, I literally have to take out my handphone calendar and scroll through my past events to remember what I did!

:P Talk about short-term memory...

But yah, really want to thank God for my bros and sisters who celebrated my birthday. I can barely believe I'm 28 years old. Somehow, it feels that my life has only just started... that I've only just started living, if you know what I mean.

LOL. I don't just want to add years to my life... I want to add life to my years! :)

Shared this with my boss some time ago, and she was quite impressed... one thing she remarked was that she finds me mature in my thinking, because not many people think that way - living only for the moment and just making a living, but not stopping to think about really living.

I was very pleasantly blessed by her words... and it struck me for two things:
i. Whoa! I'm making a good impression on her!
ii. Whoa! She is a wise woman indeed... who really wants to make her life count.
iii. What is true maturity then?

I've been thinking. What is true maturity? Is it about acting properly and so on? Being socially mature? Laughing and dancing and so on? Or being serious and solemn?

Think true maturity is not the absence of childlike behaviour, but rather, knowing the right times to laugh and to weep, to sing and to lament, to work and to play.

True maturity is an 80-years old man singing and skipping barefoot along the beach, singing "Jesus Loves Me", and teaching his 8-year old grandson to do the same.

True maturity is an 8-year old who knows the value of self-control, of holding himself back and not grabbing that marshmallow, in order that he may gain another marshmallow if he waits.

True maturity is a 28-year old man playing a fun and silly game of soccer/Nerf/etc with a boisterous group of 12-years old boys, in order to bond and influence these young men-to-be for the Kingdom of God, even though some people may cluck their tongues and mutter, "How childish!" (I'm talking about you, Weizhu.) :)

True maturity is being willing to sacrifice your dignity for the sake of bonding with those less dignified in the eyes of society.

True maturity is being willing to kneel down in front of a little child, so that he/she can talk to you at his/her eye level.

And true maturity is being willing to take the pain and effort to grow in wisdom and stature, so that you can better mentor younger men/women.

Hmm. I think... perhaps we may not enjoy connecting with children, because we think them too immature for our standards... then probably we are not mature enough to connect with them. :)

If we can't explain the kingdom of God simple enough for a little child to understand, then it means that we ourselves don't understand the kingdom of God well enough to understand.

Let's put aside childish ways, but let's also grow more childlike in faith, hope and love. :)

Anyway, yah, haha, I'll share about my bday... actually I found out that I lost my wallet on my bday! First thing in the morning! So went -____-'''... prayed and asked God to show me where my wallet went to. Then... I saw a picture of myself leaving my wallet in the MRT toilet while I was using the urinal. Pengz. So went over to the toilet, but didn't find it. $150+ gone...

But thank God, my mum blessed me with $200 that she'd won. Whoa! Praise God... v touched! :)

My CG treated me to pasta! :) And Huaqiang did something very sweet - he got my CG to send in their bday wishes... and he typed it all out... AND on top of that, he hand-folded each printed message into a heart! Wow... super-touched. =D

And Spencer bought me the Star Trek III DVD! The Search for Spock! Wow... very touched again. Haha...

And Eilton got some ppl from the HopeKids team to bless me with Astons and Ben & Jerry ice-cream... wow..

And Ellson organized a bday dinner for me as well... he asked me whom I want to invite... so I know that Huanyan, Shuyi and Minchen are from his unit... then Shuyi told Joyce about it, and Joyce came down too! :) Very very very touched. =D Shuyi chose a very nice card too... "we are children of the light," that's how the title went.

And Jon called me just to nuah with me... HAHA... THAT MEANS A LOT TO ME LOL...

Not to mention the lots of fb messages that I got...

So was sitting back and counting my blessings - literally... wow... feel deeply touched. I think over the years, it seems that quality time is actually my primary love language... and words a close second! :)

I think, reflecting on all this, this teaches me to be more and more appreciative of every person I come across. And some people you never really expected to bless you so much... actually went far beyond what you expected, and you got a deeper insight into their hearts and character.

And other people you kind of expected... forgot your birthday. LOL. No hard feelings lah... for some dear friends I know, their memories are such that if they can remember even your birthday date, that is really SPECIAL for them ok! :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sadness is Good For the Heart...

... provided that it drives us back to Jesus, to re-examine our lives and cause us to walk right with God once again and reflect on the meaning and evaluate the direction of our lives... that we may walk in the ways He has intended us to go.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit depressed again, a bit melancholic. Perhaps it's partly due to the fact that I've been very busy the past few days... not enough sleep too. So wasn't able to entertain and bless my dear friends very much (thanks Ellson, Joyce, Huanyan, Shuyi and Minchen!) who had a birthday dinner for me at Cafe Cartel yesterday... sorry guys!

But as I sat there, I realised just how thirsty I was to seek God in prayer. So I started singing this song:
Lovely are Your dwelling places
Thirsty, I come after You
Jesus my joy, my reward, Your love's restoring my soul
Now I'm Yours and You are mine

I love You, I love You, I love You (X3)
And my heart will follow wholly after You

Jesus there is none like you
Righteous ruler of the earth
Nations will come and bow down
Name above all names I sing Your praises
And all I can say to you is...
About what triggered it, well, I realised that it's partly my personality as well. And I think the rain.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the role of emotions. I think it's not always wrong to be melancholic... especially if it drives you to Jesus. Because thirst was made for water, as C.S. Lewis put it so well. But if we try to slake our thirst with empty sugary pleasures... we will only find our thirst ever-increasing.

And I find that I write more freely and readily, and once in a while, I get to even do some drawing. :) Hee. Praise God for the joy of melancholy! (Ironic, yeah? But with Jesus, He not only can give us joy that nothing can ever take away... He can also take our sorrows and turn them into joy! Double-win!)

Personally, I find that my most intimate times with God tend to come when I am most melancholic and spiritually hungry. Though initially I find myself reluctant to come to God in prayer... when I do so, oh, how good His presence really is. Not merely feelings, but the joy of His truth and the comfort of sensing His strong and sturdy presence.

There is this Romanian proverb that says: "Only one who has been hungry knows how good bread truly tastes." So may it be too with our souls - the Bread of Life himself. Amen.

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.” - C.S. Lewis
Was typing an email to my ever-faithful drama team, advising them on some script changes. Then, I saw myself typing this line to them: "...know exactly what you want to communicate, then focus on how to communicate."

And I was reminded last time about how when I was seeking God for a vision back in 2005, He impressed on my heart that He was leading me in the direction of a ministry of helping others learn how to communicate better. And I was puzzled, 'cos of my inadequacies in communicating effectively.

But now it does seem that what God impressed on my heart years ago really turned out to be correct. :) Hee. Just that the gift's not always in the wrapping that I expected.
"The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life coming flowing in."
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”
- C.S. Lewis