Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Intentional Designer

When God created the heavens and the earth in their vast array, He didn't just make plants... He made flowers and fruits! He wasn't contented with making the earth look nice and flat - no, He made the majestic mountains and the stormy seas, the singing valleys and the melancholic deserts, the seething jungles and the placid grasslands.

He could have just made the earth float around the sun alone. But no, He chose to throw in 8 (or 7, if you don't count Pluto in) other very, very, very different worlds - all without life, except the little blue planet. That's lavishness for you, on a cosmic scale.

He could have just made us eat food without a sense of taste (or photosynthesise or osmosise), but He created many kinds of good food in all its panoply of delicacies.

He could have made a world without music or colour, and we probably would be none the wiser, but He gave us a world bursting with brilliant hues and shades to enchant the eye, and so many different kinds of melodies to enthrall the ear.

And He could have just given everyone a simple gospel tract telling everyone to believe and be saved. But no, He was not contented with that. He gave us nothing less than the Bible - a magnificent epic spanning 1.5K years and so many different authors, and bursting with all kinds of genres - from epics to laws, from poetry to prose, from laments to letters... we see all of humanity's creativity working hand in hand with God's creativity.

In short, God isn't contented to be a functional God, just discharging His duties. He is the God of all excellence, and He lavishes extravagantly upon all that He has done.

So that's just one aspect of our great God. Excellence to the core. He doesn't scrimp or skimp, scrape or skive, or slap or slop.

He is the Intentional Designer. Not just intelligent.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Don't Just Be Intelligent - Be Intentional!

Just saw a couple pushing their baby's pram. Thing is, they were also wearing rollerblades and attired in full sports gear. So innovative!

Then realised that there's a lesson to be learnt here. Doing our duties (be it work or studies or serving in ministry / caregroup) doesn't mean that you have to forsake other good things like a good book / sports / contemplating / going for a walk / games / eating / hobbies, etc.

Why not combine your duties and your delights? Why not sing songs of praise to God as you do your daily work? Why not take time to contemplate as you walk back home every day? Why not use your hobbies to bring glory to God? Like making cards to bless your friends and colleagues? Baking cookies for others with a gospel message tucked inside too?

This isn't really multi-tasking. I think it's a different paradigm all together. It's called synergy. 1+1 > 2.

Do we really have to do our duties the same old way every day? I remember Sijia last time told me that faithfulness is not about merely putting our talents to work. It is also about multiplying them!

And that's the heart of a disciplemaker - in all our ordinary "secular" day-to-day work, we can actually use these "secular" things as a means to disciple others too. This requires being intentional.

It's like how Jesus saw the unwashed feet of His disciples. He didn't simply meet the need of that moment - He also used it as an opportunity to demonstrate to His disciples what true servanthood really meant - and by extension, the true nature of the Messiah: not as a power-hungry conqueror, but as the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.

Or Jesus seeing no fruit from a fig tree that was supposed to be in season. Instead of just shrugging His shoulders and walking on, He cursed it as an illustration to His disciples to show the dangers of looking spiritual but being spiritually empty. (Cursing a tree just because it didn't have any fruit... it's really unusual. But that's our Lord. :))

Combining our daily duties to also do what we enjoy.
Using our daily duties as an opportunity to demonstrate discipleship.
Choosing to step back and think out of the box, instead of settling for "it's always been done this way!"
All this requires intentionality.

Intentionality is essential to making a breakthrough, and to prevent getting buried alive in daily drudgery.
Stayed overnight last night at City Hall Starbucks to work on my freelance project. Lots of stuff to clear. God, I realise I really need to stay focused on what I need to do. You know what? I see this as Your training process for me in enabling me to do even greater things.

It's like those good ol' kungfu movies where the shifu gets his sincere (and bumbling) disciple to just stand on the spot carrying a heavy pair of buckets brimming with water. The shifu looks impassive as the disciple's face turns red from the stress and strain. And finally the disciple collapses to the ground in utter exhaustion and starts whining why it's taking so long - he just wants to learn kungfu!

And the shifu strokes his beard sagely and says, "Only when you learn to stop asking how long."

:) But yes, it was good. There's simply no substitute for hard work.

Met Weizhu after that. Great time catching up with him, and listening to his reflections on not only what he and Huichun did for their honeymoon, but also how they did things. Blessed by his insights.

Now gotta run for CG games. I'm late!

God Does Speak, In One Way Or Another.

Job 33:14
For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.
From Hong Teck's blog:
“There’s nothing you can do to stop me from loving you”
“There’s nothing you can say that will take my love away”
These are perhaps the things that God will say to you today. If you don’t just rely on sermons on the pulpit and really go read the bible yourself, you’ll notice that God does speak in rhyme. Sometimes yes, but often he doesn’t. He does use anecdotes, stories and memories. Sometimes tragedy, often he’ll say things that are strange to human ears, mysterious and hard to comprehend. Sometimes he’s that wild man, crude, sometimes soft, tender and gentle. He’s everything, anything but boring. You won’t find him the way you hear about him in Christian articles. Don’t get me wrong, Christian articles and preachers are good, but it is just not enough. We need to encounter God by ourselves and find that the odd God we may see Him to be, may really be the perfect Father for odd people like us.

My Actspeditions Evaluation for Cambodia Missions Trip

1. What was your most "memorable" single experience during this Actspedition?
Whoa! It's a hard question to answer, because there's really too many to write down. But I'll try.

Think the best memory was when Mesa and I were sharing our prayer requests with one another. We talked and talked... and Mesa was encouraging me and sharing verses from the Bible, and also about the importance of impacting the children for God. And even after praying together, I sensed that Mesa was burdened for his family, so I asked him again, "What can I pray for your family?" He shared accordingly, and when we got to pray together again, he knelt down right there and then, eyes closed in intense prayer and knees on the dusty concrete. So I joined him too.

What was so meaningful about this was that his father had been opposed to his becoming a Christian, and not just that, had neglected Mesa's mum and himself, so Mesa had to go through a lot of financial hardships, especially after becoming a Christian. But his heart of wanting his family, especially his dad, to know Jesus was very strong.

Thus, as we both knelt down there together, right in front of all the other people, and prayed together, these words came to my mind: "You are no longer a Singaporean and a Cambodian... You are simply brothers in Christ." Whoa!

It touched me so much, because I actually got to taste and see for myself the goodness of universal love, friendship and brotherhood, that only God can bring; that sets ACTSpeditions above a normal cultural community service trip; that for a very brief short moment in eternity, it is no longer a Singaporean and Cambodian talking together, but simply two brothers praying together as one.

I experienced Galatians 3:28 personally right there and then: "There is neither [Singaporean] nor [Cambodian], slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

2. What did you appreciate the most during the mission?
I think I appreciated the children so much. The children really are very sweet and innocent, even the rowdier ones, as compared to the children at home in Singapore. Perhaps it's because of the simplicity of their lives - no computers and fancy toys, but they somehow enjoy themselves on their bicycles and running around. Felt very deeply refreshed in the presence of the children!

And also for our Cambodian friends, especially Mesa and Sukian! They were a great help and blessing to us despite their busy schedules.

I also grew in my appreciation for my teammates - though I had known them for a long while already back in Singapore, when we got to rub shoulders together, I was touched to see how they went the extra mile to resolve conflicts, contribute and chip in to help overcome the many problems that we encountered along the way. I learnt so much from my team leader, Marcus, especially - the way that he led and his patience in resolving a conflict with me. :)

3. What did you appreciate the least during the mission?
I think the thing that I appreciated least was myself. Through the experience, I learnt how selfish and self-centred I can be, and also how, when I make decisions and think, I usually think first of myself. I also saw the ugly side of myself when it came to being responsible for my own roles and taking stronger ownership of the entire mission. But I'm grateful that my teammates and facilitators shared their own experiences and insights, and through their sharing, I uncovered some significant misconceptions that I had about teamwork and people in general. :)

4. What were the greatest lessons you learned during the mission? What helped you learn these lessons?
I think it was the service learning time, where we had open discussions and evaluation. Personally, I think it's one of the most important highlights of the trip, because doing these reflections help us make sense of our experiences. Through the service learning sessions, I learnt to appreciate others' perspectives of events, and especially about what is involved in taking ownership and other aspects of teamwork. I also learnt not to assume that some questions were aimed at me personally, but learnt to see these questions in a more objective way. 

One very important practical tip that I learnt is to write down everything and not trust my memory. Because on the missions field, because we are in a new and unfamiliar territory and culture, and have so much to keep track of, it is very easy to forget important little details. (Thanks Serene for the tip!)

On a more philosophical note, while chatting with Mesa, our translator, he was telling me about his farm that he used to work on. He was waxing lyrical about all the beautiful land and scenery and animals... I was starting to wish I was a farmer! :) 
But yes, come to think of it, I realised that God has given different peoples different kinds of riches. We Singaporeans may be materially richer than the Cambodians, but it turns out the Cambodians are so much richer in being able to enjoy lots of land, as compared to us. Which, come to think of it, every nation has its own glory, as given by God. (Rev 21:26)

Also, I saw how God can use everyone of us in the team, each with his own giftings and strengths. The key attitude is to give the very 110% of whatever we have, no matter how insignificant our gifts/strengths may be. Seeing Spencer in action really put his heart and soul into playing music and singing, I learnt a lot from this brother's spirit. And even if our gifts may not be appropriate for the moment, a positive, yes-we-can! spirit is always appropriate for any moment! :) Seeing the little "Michael Jackson" boy really give his everything (and boldly try out new stunts) in his dancing, I can see how God used him to bless an entire service of youths.

For the children's services, I personally had to learn to let go of my ego and be more collaborative when my plans had to be changed. It was a humbling experience, but God reminded me that the entire missions trip is not about me or him or her... but it is totally about Him and the people we want to serve

And I learnt a LOT, going through the challenges of communicating with children from a different culture and different language! It was very challenging, but very rewarding at the end of the day, seeing how God helped us in cross-cultural (and cross-generational) communications! It will be a great help in doing future missions work with children!

Also, simple little gestures of kindness such as spontaneous buying of gifts can go a long way in building friendships. I saw how Marcus and Yufen bought ice-creams for the Cambodian sisters when the ice-cream man came along.

And if I forget everything else, I think the most important lesson ever would be what Serene said: "Team unity is what makes or breaks a church-planting effort." That's why I really appreciate the service learning sessions very much. When I returned back to Singapore, I had a new perspective on teamwork and how to be a better support to my CL as a coreteam member

Finally, I learnt (I think Peiching said this to me) that God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called! :)

5. What would you recommend to make the next Actspedition to this area even more effective?
- I think more practical tips on working together in teams / principles of interpersonal communications.

Please rate yourself regarding future mission service.
Maybe: I am going to be a Missionary
Agree: I am open to being a missionary, but I would like more information
Agree: I will be a strong supporter of full-time missionaries
Agree: I will return on another short-term missions trip
Agree: I will be a strong supporter of missions volunteers
Disagree: I do not think I will go on on another missions trip.

Good Grief - The Antidote to Spiritual Apathy

I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked and saw him open the book [the Bible], and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”
From Chapter 1, The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
I was talking with my sheep just now about the importance of grieving over our sins. That we need to recognize the fact that our sins bring grief to God and to those around us.
Ephesians 4:30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

James 4:7-10
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Very often, one major reason we do not do anything about our sins is because we simply do not grieve, either because we don't know that we've sinned against God... or we simply can't be bothered.

It's ok to keep on struggling against our sins - even if we fail again and again. But it is totally another thing to have a "bo-chup" attitude and not even hate our sins. Remember, every sin you've committed - Christ had to pay for it with His own blood on the cruel cross. NEVER FORGET THE CROSS!

The Cross not only shows the depth of God's love for us... it also shows the depth of His hatred for the sins in us. Learn to hate sin with all your heart. Because to love God is to hate sin.

I'm not saying that we must hate ourselves. No lah. We hate sin, precisely because we love ourselves! Don't you hate getting the 'flu? But do you hate yourself because you catch the flu? No! Even hypochondriacs don't do that. No, you hate the flu and do your best to fight against it. We use vaccines. We use sanitation. We use antibiotics. We hate diseases like smallpox, leprosy, AIDS and cancer because of all the pain and suffering and misery they have caused to billions of people. So in the same way, we are to hate sin, because it destroys our souls, like diseases destroy our bodies.

So let's make a conscious decision daily to grieve over our sins and look to God for forgiveness and cleansing. Yes, you can make a conscious decision to grieve! Like how we can choose to rejoice even when times are hard, we can also choose to grieve. Otherwise what is the meaning of this Scriptural command: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn"?
Joel 2:12-14
12 "Even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

14 Who knows? He may turn and have pity
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the LORD your God.
Take heart, my dear brothers and sisters. For when the prodigal son came to his senses and began grieving for what he had done, he decided to return home, even though he knew that he had effectively told his dad to go and die before he left home. And the father's joy was so shockingly great:
Luke 15:21-24
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

That is the goodness of grief. To start grieving over our sins can be the beginning of a spiritual revival!
Nehemiah 8:8-12
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear [a] and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.

9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."

12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

And don't worry, though you begin with grief, God delights in those who turn to Him, and He enables them to experience the joy of His forgiveness!
Psalm 30:4-5
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
May God bring forth a wonderful spiritual revival in our hearts this year as we embark on becoming and doing intentional discipleship! Amen!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Did I Miss The Train?

Hmm! I'm wondering, Lord... did I miss the train when I had the opportunity to?

Just grateful that in all things You work for the good of those who love You, who have been called according to Your purpose. Amen.

We're All Lepers

A beautiful post from Mark Batterson's blog:
Not sure why, but I keep thinking about how numbness is one of our greatest spiritual problems and dangers. Numbness to the sin in our own lives. Numbness to the needs of others. Numbness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The end result? We lose all spiritual feeling. We can't feel the presence or prompting of the Holy Spirit.

In a sense, we're all lepers. We lose our sense of touch. That numbness, physically and spiritually, results in a tremendous amount ofself-inflicted injuries. I think what many of us desperately need is simply a heightened sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. But here's the catch. We want to hear His guiding, counseling, comforting voice. But we don't want to hear the convicting voice. And it doesn't work that way. Either you listen to everything the Holy Spirit has to say or you won't hear anything He has to say!

So how do we get back our spiritual sensitivity? There are lots of way. But it starts with giving our hearts to Christ because that is how Christ gives His heart to us. Our hearts start to break for the things that break the heart of God. But then you need to stay in prayer andstay in the Word. There are no substitutes. That is how to hear what He has to say. That is how you feel what He feels.

What am I getting at? I pray that you would feel pain. Lepers long for that sensation. Why? Because it's evidence that we feel. May you feel the way your sin pains God. May you feel the pain of those who are suffering. May you feel the pain of loving the lost.

One last thought. Numbness is a symptom of a deeper issue: the lack of blood flow. When the blood stops circulating we lose feeling in those parts of the body. May the precious blood of Christ surge through our veins. He is the one who gives us all spiritual sensitivity. Without Him we are lost and numb.

5 Sweet Simple Steps for Scripture Study

I went down to Clarence's CG today. Was very blessed and touched by Jason's teaching from Genesis 1. He shared the principles of Bible study, and expounded on Gen 1, what it means for our lives. Even though he was teaching from a book by Ann Graham (so it's not his own content), you could feel that he really shared in a way that made you think and ponder. =)

Anyway, share with you the 5 steps for an effective Bible study. They're just guidelines, but I think very helpful guidelines.

  1. Look in God's Word. Feel free to underline, circle or otherwise mark text if it will aid your study.
  2. List the facts. Make a verse-by-verse list of the most obvious facts. What does the passage say? Do not paraphrase.
  3. Learn the lessons. What lessons can be learned from these facts? What do the facts mean? Is there an example to follow? Warning to heed? Promise to claim? Command to obey?
  4. Listen to His voice. What does this passage mean to you? Rewrite the lessons from Step 3 in the form of a question to ask yourself or another.
  5. Live it out! Pinpoint what God is saying to you from the passage. How will you respond? Write down today's date and what you will do now to live it out.
May you taste the richness and goodness of God's word each delicious day! :D
Ok, haha. Got that feeling off my chest. And come to think of it, God can and does use long-winded people...

Stories, stories, stories. That's your strength, YA, so capitalize on it. Do not be ashamed of your gifts, and do not overlook them. Don't compare with others - even though others tell you that you should be better in this and that area. But listen to God who gave you your unique gift, and use it for His glory.

Thank God for Hong Teck who shared this wisdom with us before - so different from the standard "wisdom" of a lot of people today - that life's too short to waste time on trying to be perfect in every area... so just focus on the strengths God has given us, and work on any weaknesses that hinder the strengths God has given us.

Not about self-actualization or fulfillment, but about being what GOD wants me to be... no, not even that, good though it is. Be and do what God wants. Not about me, but about Him. He must increase, I must decrease. That's the way to true happiness and fullness of life that Jesus promised.

Jesus: "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for me and the gospel will find it." :D Amen!

But yes, if I had a wish, I would wish that God would give me a better tongue to share more effectively with others. I can work on that... just ... need some help and encouragement. :)
Now i know one thing that makes me feel discouraged and fearful in sharing. I think I'm not good in sharing with others - I wish I was like some other people who can share so pinpoint what they think and feel, and what they've learnt.

Instead, I have to write such long stuff and rambling some more, that people get lost. I mean, well, it's something that bugs me. Why do I take so long to share? Why am I so long-winded? Why can't I be short and to the point? Why the hell do I need so many words?!

Ha. Just feeling a bit sad about it. Hey, let's get up and learn from it ok? But yah, I don't like that feeling of failure every time.

In any case, I really do love to use a lot of words. But others don't like words. So I struggle to be myself, because I think being myself does hinder me from being effective in communicating clearly with others, especially when it's about God's goodness. :( So it doesn't extend the kingdom of God. Just feeling discouraged again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Of Brokenness and Battles

Again going through a period of brokenness. Was talking with my shepherd about it and related things.

Thinking through what has been shared, I'm returning back to some old fears and struggles that I had back in 2005, but thank God, I don't see this as backsliding - rather, I see it as revisiting my old sinful nature, sallying forth to do battle once again and crucifying whatever rebellion my old sinful nature tries to foment.

Sounds brutal? Yes... and it should be!
1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

Colossians 3
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
I guess this deepening sense of brokenness is not pleasant at all - I feel quite downcast and even depressed a lot of times. But reflecting on it, I realise that these feelings of downcastedness and depression are actually discouragements and LIES sent from the devil. Hey, it's one thing to be sad about something good, or if it's a medical condition... but it's totally another thing if it's something that stops me from delighting in doing what is good and right in God's eyes, if it causes me to dwell in self-pity, if it causes me to stop seeking God. This is war against my soul, and as a freedom-loving son of God, I must fight back!

Lies. Big Fat Lies. Nerve gas of the Evil One. Invisible and almost undetectable. So all the more I must train myself to discern what is true and what is not.

Ha... thank God for two very precious things:
i. That these periods of brokenness and sense of unworthiness drive me deeper into God's everlasting arms. That when you know that you can't be all that the world wants you to be, you fling yourself into His big, tender, yet mighty arms.
ii. For the fellowship of wise and caring brothers and sisters - and unexpected delight and relief when you realise that you are not the only one fighting.
Romans 11
2God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? 4And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
So c'mon Yeu Ann, wake up your ideas and fight back using the Word of God! Fight the good fight of the faith! Wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God! Stand firm, and when you've done everything you can, just stand firm!

Think I'll end off with a powerful clip from "The Lost Battalion", where a tiny company of WWI soldiers (it was a battalion) of soldiers face terrible and repeated attacks from the enemy... and the worse thing is, they come under heavy bombardment from their own friendly forces. But their bravery and endurance makes them - and even their own carrier pigeon too! - a legend to be remembered.

Caregroups and ID2010 - A Holy Fierceness

Had a great time with my old NUSB1 CG today.

Tomorrow planning to visit one of the CG sisters whose grandpa has passed away.

Just sent an email to my fellow combined DMM mates to encourage them to encourage one another.

Hong Teck asked me last week whether I'm still interested in moving over to HopeKids CG - the door is opened to me. (Haha sounds like a job offer LOL...) Still thinking and praying about it, 'cos am rallying and organizing my current CG for missions trip to Cambodia this year.

I need to be more real here. Have started nuah-ing spiritually and slacking since the second half of 2009. Played too much LAN games with my sheep and not enough time going through proper spiritual food. Slackened in my intercession for my CG and my sheep. Started to get comfortable.

But thank God for Ps Jeff's rallying cry: ID2010! Intentional Discipleship

So up and on again! Pick up the flag of the Lord that you dropped on the ground. Strengthen your convictions and renew your confessions to God and your fellow Christians.
"Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."


Ha... I guess one of the most inspiring scenes that I've ever watched in any movie is where the Patriot sees his army retreating in disarray... so he grabs the flag away from a terrified flag-bearer and runs back towards the enemy lines. See 3:17 onwards in the video below!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Not "Why", but "How"

Hong Teck taught me quite a lot of stuff this week. =D One thing that he shared with me struck me a lot, 'cos I think his impartation is part of God's answer to my prayers (and questions).

Hong Teck told me, it's not about asking "Why?" as in "why is this happening to me?" when we encounter problems and failures. But we should be asking "How?" as in "How do we get moving on?"

"Why?" may lead to passive living and excuse-making.
But "How?" helps lead us towards pressing on and growing.

I remember reading last time about a heart-transplant survivor sharing that his heart failure had taught him to ask "Why?" It may seem like a total contradiction of what Hong Teck said, but the survivor explained why he said that "Why?" is one of the most important questions you can ask in a time of suffering. His "Why?" is not a self-pitying "Why is this happening to me?" but rather, "What is this suffering teaching me?"

Haha. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that "Why?" can come from 2 very different motives: the self-pitying, suck-your-thumb motive, and the looking-forward, no-looking-back motive. Passive versus active.

So back to Hong Teck's version of "Why?" The heart behind asking "Why?" in a way demands an answer, an explanation, for the pain, suffering and obstacles that we go through. It's like Job asking God WHY do bad things happen to good people. And the Bible tells us that though God had His good reasons, He did not tell Job the reason for his suffering - not even to the last day of his life. But He blessed Job with His presence and Job died a happy and peaceful man.

The truth is, there are things in life that we will never be able to have the answer - not this side of eternity. And we HAVE to accept this fact, no matter how painful it is.

But Hong Teck shared with me that at this point, we should ask "How now?" What do we do now? And when we move on, and fight on and grow... and eventually reach the mountaintop from our existental valley of Why, we will finally see the reason for our suffering. We, from the mountaintop of joy, can look down, and see just how all our sufferings and pains actually form part of the Promised Land. And so we will be able to share with those who are still in the shadows of the valleys, what the Lord has done for us.
Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
In a sense, we New Testament believers have it SO much better than the Old Testament believers. Because we have the benefit of hindsight - not only the Cross but also the empty grave.

To end with a story, there was this young monk many years ago, who was given the task of weaving a tapestry. As he wove day in and day out, he grew more and more tired of what he was doing. He complained to an older monk, "I don't get it! You tell me to put in the threads here and there... and from where I am, it makes totally no sense! There isn't even any picture to see... it's only a tangled web of colours! Disgusting!"

The older monk smiled, and stepped over to the other side of the tapestry.

"Come over here," he beckoned.

The young monk reluctantly went over... and he saw what the older monk was pointing to. He saw the entire beauty of the tapestry in full colour, a majestic epic tale spanning a hundred years. And he whispered in awe: "Now I understand."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hey dear bros, sisters,

Just a couple of tweets from our church's twitter: Let's remember the Haitians, especially our brothers and sisters there, in prayer 'cos it's not so much lack of aid, but the lack of transportation and effective government administration that is bogging down the relief efforts.

It's so serious to the point that survivors are dying for lack of food, water and medicine - and even have to get their limbs amputated, which will condemn them to an even worse life of poverty.

Let's remember the poor, 'cos it's something that is very close to God's heart!

Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Acts 10:31
and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.

Galatians 2:10
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

God bless,

  1. HopeSingapore Relief at this weekend's services. Total collection will be channelled via World Vision. Please give generously!about 2 hours ago from webRetweeted by you and 1 other
  2. Hope SingaporeHopeSingapore 
    Please join us in prayer 4 the children and families devastated by the earthquake in Haiti. We'll be collecting offering for the Earthquake

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I set my mind on you Lord
I choose you every time
Focus my eyes on you Lord
And dedicate my life

Here I am use me
Come into my life
I want to be more like Jesus
Until the end of time

Hanhui's FB comment to my FB status:
"The beauty is the more you love without the return, the more you will 'feel' the Christlikeness formed in you. Easy to bear? Not necessarily! But God never say maturing was easy... :P"

Wow. It's a timely refreshing reminder. Thank You Father, for Hanhui! Haha... now I remember him telling me that back when he was my CL a long time ago in NUS. (I think.)
(And Peter's reply really encouraged me too!)

But yes, am encouraged again! Because I am reminded that the end-goal of a Christian is not happiness per se, not even being surrounded by many many friends and loved ones... but nothing less than Christ formed in me! :D To be totally lost in the One who made me, loved me, sought me and gave His life in love for me. =)

There's some people I need to make the decision to love, even though likely they will reject me anyway. I need courage to do the good thing - to love.

I want to be more like Jesus, until the end of time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ooh. Think God whispered to me to remind me to be contented. That I need to be faithful with the small things He's given me, and He'll entrust me with more. =) Yup! I know He does it to encourage me as well. Amen.

Via Dolorosa: The Way of Sorrow

Lord, I still feel very scared, honestly. And very inadequate and insecure in so many, many ways. Maybe that's why You've poured so much into me, especially last year. Reflecting on it all, I think Your heart is to assure me that You are indeed choosing me for what You have called me to - the long, lonely road: the Via Dolorosa.

I guess... come to think of it... that is Your answer to my query: "Why did You give me so few talents? So few skills? So few abilities? So many handicaps?" To be honest, I was incredibly jealous and envious of some of my friends whom You have given so much, and I became very angry and bitter with You. I asked You why did You make me so lousy. Why You gave me so few talents. And especially my hearing-impairment and my introversion, which handicaps me so much and so many times. I told You that I don't like this at all.

Oh, one bro told me before that God doesn't make mistakes, and to ask Him that question is to question His wisdom (in short terms, diss Him). But I knew that You are not a petty God, but a patient God. So I asked You this question, because it is a very real question to me. I was encouraged by Job in the Bible, who threw You such raw questions that his 3 friends couldn't bear what was heard. But You defended Job to his friends' faces for his heart and integrity. And I so love You for Your patient kindness and compassion.

So, that is why I was so touched by brother Benny's (probably the only guitar player in the world to have an integrated bongo in his guitar) testimony at the Heidi Baker conference last Friday. He shared his testimony of his own pain, both physical and emotional, and how You saved and healed him, and so he wanted to share Your love with the whole world, literally.

Looking back, I think You are answering my question actually. =) It's true You have given me less than many other people in some key areas of my life. But... You poured so many things into my life the past few years, especially the prophecies and the friendships and the calling and the promises.

So I learnt something new from all these. You actually have given every child of Yours every spiritual blessing in Christ. Some may not have much social skills, others financial, others educational blessings, or physical beauty or intelligence... in fact, You yourself said so. That there will always be poor people. But You said that everyone who is Your child has access to every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Think that is Your answer to my question. And Your counter-question is: "What is it that you truly value, actually? The Giver or the gifts?"

AH. It seems that You value these spiritual blessings above whatever physical blessings You gave. Because the spiritual lasts forever, but physical blessings last only for this lifetime. Even that closest of human relationships, marriage, lasts only for a lifetime.

Lord, I think I will continue to struggle with this question still, for a long while yet. But I pray that out of this sorrow You'll use it as the soil for much future joy - both to me and to many others. Till then, help me be more broken, so that You can use me more. Amen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Higher Way


I'll walk closer now on the higher way
Through the darkest night will You hold my hand
Jesus guide my way

O You mourn with me and You dance with me
For my heart of hearts is bound to You

Though I walk through valleys low
I'll fear no evil
By the waters still my soul
My heart will trust in You

O You counsel me and You comfort me
When I cannot see You light my path
My heart will trust in You

So many things have been happening since the first week of 2010.

The Cambodia missions+community service trip left a deep impression on me. I know that this is yet another milestone on the path God has called me to. Heidi Baker's missions talk only served to reinforce. Longing to return back to Cambodia again.

During the last DMM, HQ and Sarah shared their visions for each of us in the DMM. And to my pleasant surprise, their vision for me was the same as mine. Which only serves to confirm further God's calling for me.

I guess I need this confirmation even more strongly, because honestly, I'm feeling more and more out of my depth. I feel so broken so many times, so shaken and so empty. Despair and dismay. Sometimes I feel all alone in this long walk God has called me to. The feeling of loneliness is especially strong. Because the more specific the calling, the fewer people there are to walk it with you.

But God is faithful. Thank God for Spencer. We went for the missions trip together, and whoa, through the trip, I really saw another aspect of Spencer. His heart for the children. His commitment and sweet spirit in teamwork. His passion, spirit of excellence and his friendship. I feel deeply honoured to be able to work and serve together with this kindred spirit. Grew in a deeper respect and admiration for him, both as a friend and as a co-worker. Thank God too for Hong Teck. His concern for me as well and his availability. I'm planning to meet up with him this coming week to ask some questions and seek his advice. Thank God too for another friend. Very blessed by this dear friend's encouragements.

I want to return to those broken-hearted days, when I was closer to God in my brokenness and tears. Because I found so much joy at the end of the valleys - the flowers at the end of the valley. I still cherish very much that dark night when I literally took a long walk with God in some desolate area one dark night in 2005. That's why the song "My Heart Will Trust In You" really touches me very much.

Oh God, break me again, smash me again, shatter everything that is within me till I am totally Yours. Wreck all my pride and vainglories. Burn me through and through, like a refiner's fire, till there is no more impurities to burn. Do whatever it takes to make me totally Yours. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"We Died Before We Came."

Oh yes. Another thanksgiving testimony of the power of our God who answers prayer.

Our team had prayed for safe journey mercies before we flew back home. On the approach to Singapore, the plane started circling. That's normal. But the plane then started descending quite fast towards the ground. I sat at a window seat, so I could see the sea rushing up at us.

The plane pulled up suddenly, giving us a short sharp shock in the process. Began to have thoughts about whether we're really going to land in the drink. And remembered my Kenyan missions team in 2008 about our van being flipped over by a drunk driver.

Then the emergency exit lights flickered on. Oh man.

Suddenly the pilot's voice came over the intercom to tell us we're going to land. I was wondering whether he was trying to reassure us.

So asked myself whether if the plane really crashes, am I ready to die? =)

Hee. Prayed really really hard. Thank God, we landed successfully. About two or three times. I leave it to you to figure out what that means!

Yes, it's an important question to ask ourselves everyday. If you were to die right now, do you know whether you're going to heaven or not? And if you're saved, could you say that you are ready to die without any regrets?

Feel very grateful that God has helped me be ready to die without any regrets. (No, I'm not suicidal lah!) But honestly, I'm ready to die without any regrets, by God's grace, simply because I know I'm doing His will and work, even up to the very end.

It's like what a sister, Eileen, from the NUS ministry, shared with me last year (I'm paraphrasing her): "I don't mind dying, as long as I'm in the middle of doing God's work!"

Yes. If you're not ready to die, then you haven't started living yet!

When I shared this with one of my sisters in church, her eyes opened wide in astonishment, at the very thought of someone actually thinking about dying. But come to think of it, why should a Christian ever be surprised about death? Or shocked? It's our Chinese culture, but we are firstly Christians. This is the way of the cross. Live as long as you can, but always be ready in case the Lord suddenly calls you home! :)

There were some young missionaries who came to a dangerous country. An old Christian asked them, "Aren't you afraid of dying in this place?" To that, the young missionaries answered: "We died before we came."

That quote touches me so much. :')

I want to be a missionary one day too, God willing... and by God's grace, He'll train me up in due time.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot, murdered by the very people he tried to reach out to.
I think another important thing I learnt from the missions trip was getting to peek into the magnificence of what God is doing out there in the whole wide world. He is the Lord of the harvest! And He calls us to come partner with Him in harvesting the world to bring many more people into His wonderful kingdom of light.

It's like what Joyce said: "He has gone before you and prepared the field!"

Also had the chance to read part of "Killing Fields, Living Fields" by Don Cormack (published by Overseas Missionary Fellowship) at the airport before we flew back home. The book made me cry, because I was so touched to see how real God's love is, even in the worst kind of conditions that humans can inflict. And sobered to see how not only persecution, but also freedom can distract people from the Lord. And why having godly leaders to teach and lead the flock well is so important. Otherwise false teachers will arise to lead the flock astray. Sobered up, that I know I must schedule and put in more effort to study my Bible even more this year.

Feel so awed to be used by God to play a very, very, very tiny part in His magnificent plan for the Church all across the world. And realise how dispensible I am, yet He still graciously invites me to come join Him in this wonderful ministry to save the world. Very encouraged to see all the wonderful things God is doing in raising up a new generation of Christians in Cambodia.

You know a missions trip is great when people don't say: "Look at what we did!", but instead say: "Look at what God did!"

Reflections on Missions Trip

Have been wanting to do a short reflection on the missions trip. But very tired right now. Hmm. Time management, man. Anyway, the team'll be gathering again at Julian & Serene's place in Ang Mo Kio on Wednesday evening to do a final debrief. :)

Personally, I guess the most memorable and meaningful experience was the last day of ministering - where I was talking with Mesa, our Cambodian translator, and I had prayed for him. We were chatting after that, when I sensed the Spirit telling me to pray some more for his family.

So I asked him whether I can pray for his family, and from the way he nodded, it was clear that he really was burdened for his family to come to know Christ. As we began to pray, he knelt down, seemingly oblivious to the other bros and sisters milling around doing their own stuff. So I decided to join him there on the floor.

And we prayed, and lifted his family to the Lord in prayer.

Thank God for the deep joy of being able to pray together with a fellow bro in Christ. In Christ, there's really no difference - no longer Cambodian or Singaporean, but simply as fellow brothers with one Father. :)

Edited to add:
Whoa... is this 'coincidence' or what? Just saw this verse on's home page right after finishing the above post:

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:26-28

Hee! Think God's adding His own words here (and saying, "Here's looking at you, kid!") :D Thanks, Pa!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Good Fight: On sanctification and making war against sin

Great article on the reminder that sanctification is essential to the Christian walk. And how we Christians need to love God and love people... and hate sin too.
When you first came to faith, how did you understand the process of growing in Christ-likeness?

I grew up in a pretty abusive home. There was a lot of sin in my house. So after I got saved in high school, I still had a lot of really big issues. I had massive amounts of anger in my life, and I still struggled with lust. At the time I thought there were really only three sins—sex, drinking, and cussing. So I immediately tried to clean those things up. But I had no idea how hard it was going to be.

We want people to think beyond what's right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir their affections for Jesus Christ.

I had been fed a gospel that said, "Do you want a better life? Do you want to be happy? Then come to Jesus." But when my struggles with sin didn't immediately go away, I felt I had been lied to. I felt I had been duped. No one told me how much deeper sin was, or how ruthless Jesus was going to be once he took over my heart.

What have you learned since then?

I've learned that the process looks different for different people in different locations and with access to different resources. It's very complex, and that's the error we make in many churches—we try to standardize the process for everyone. There is a guy on staff here with a very similar story to mine; he's struggled with similar things. But God worked to sanctify him in a very different way than he worked to sanctify me.

But are there certain ingredients that are always present even if the process looks different?

There must be surrender. We need to have authentic relationships where there is openness and freedom to be honest about where we are and a willingness to let others tell us the hard truth.

One of the most painful days in my own spiritual development was when a friend had the courage to confront me about my sin. I was complaining about how much I hated some of the things I do. He said, "Sins aren't things you do. Sin is about who you are." I'd never thought about it like that. The awareness of my sinfulness was very humbling, and it sent me really running back to the Lord.

How did that change the way you seek growth?

It started making me very frustrated with the church. If you're struggling with anger or lust and the church's answer is a four-point sermon on how to get rid of it, and you do those four points and it doesn't work, it leaves you frustrated. You feel like the church is either lying or is irrelevant, or you are more broken than anyone else.


Do you believe this generation has trouble taking responsibility for its sin?

Yeah. There's a strong victim mentality in my generation. I think it's spiritual laziness. They will agree that God is sovereign over all, but then they will say, "Well, I wish he would sovereignly take away my lust issue." There's just not a lot of fortitude, not a lot of fight in them.

How do you combat that mentality?

I preach hard against that idea and plead with people to make war against sin. I tell them it's not going to be easy. Some people are meant to wrestle with their sin a long time before God brings them to freedom, but let's wrestle. Let's fight. Let's do something besides just complain.

Praise God for this timely article. I can see the pieces all fitting together so beautifully. God is training me in righteousness, and revealing to me my character flaws that are not pleasing to Him. But it's also part of His timing as well - which brings a lot of relief and joy to me - that God is not seeking to 'grade' me, but to shepherd me and prune me.

Can see how He is progressively sanctifying me by doing the following:
1. sending people along to point out certain areas of my life that are not pleasing to Him.
2. confirming that these feedbacks are accurate and genuine by his Holy Spirit helping me understand as I pray, reflect and read the Bible
3. putting me through situations where I can see my sins in full technicolour.
4. helping me cry out to Him for help
5. giving me hope that true character change is indeed possible - with Yeu Ann alone this is impossible, but not with God - with him all things are possible
6. guiding me to think and plan how to fight against these sins and how to grow
7. using the church to help me live out my new life in Christ, and encouraging and affirming what genuine growth they do see.

This year has started with a roll. During the missions trip, I went through a period in the middle of the trip, where I began to feel very depressed and discouraged and considered giving up entirely on missions and even caregroup. Had sent off an emotional email to my shepherd and one of my closest friends too.

But after I wrestled with God in prayer for 3 or 4 hours, I finally gave in to Him and said, "Lord, I surrender. Help me read what You want to speak to me. Your servant is listening." Ah! then I saw these words in the Bible: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." And I knew that Jesus himself had spoken to me clearly.

Wow! So I was reminded that the Christian life is bound to have hardships. And we must keep getting up and fighting. That I must press on and live out His teachings in my life. And the missionary life is going to be full of hardships. But we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

And tension with my colleague. I was encouraged, however, to find that I'm not the only one - at least 2 other bro and sis are having current tensions too. Ah. This is a beautiful opportunity to live out Jesus' teachings: "Love your enemies... do good to those who hate you... etc." It is never easy, but that is the way of the Cross.

Now, reading this article, am reminded again of the good fight! To love God and people also means to hate sin too. To love God and people totally means that I must hate sin totally too. Yes, have already made some plans in my heart to grow. I need to write them down too.

Must set an example for my sheep this year onwards in living a holier life, a life that loves God more earnestly and hates sin more earnestly too! Amen. Yay... more running ahead through the 'minefields' to help pave the way for my sheep this year, because my sheep can only grow in Christ as much as I grow in Christ.

Yup! May 2010 be a year of good fighting and wonderful victories in Jesus' name! Amen!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Feeling a bit discouraged in the office today. Can't understand why one colleague seems unfriendly towards me. Hmm... pray for me to be able to find out why, yeah? Thanks!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thursday's Youth Megaevent: Our Items!

Some of the Cambodian youth dancing "Amazing Love"... =) love the actions!

My team's dance item. Thank God for "DJ" Spencer and Marcus, Yufen and Esther... I did the lyrics. Hee.

Calyn acting and dancing in the evangelistic skit. So sweet! Until...

Guanrui acting a drunk abusive father. Poor Calyn... :P

(Yah, it looks like we're having a sale... but no lah, it's just the putting up of the sign that says "FREEDOM". 'cos the theme is about freedom... and it falls on Cambodia's Independence Day some more!)

Just to jot down some thanksgiving for the outreach service today. In one word: "AWESOME!"

=) It was such a wonderful experience listening to familiar songs being sung and danced by the Cambodian youth... they even have this Christian youth band called "7*" (which is pronounced as 7 stars...)

We worked together with Timothy's team. Haha... they were mostly in charge of the overall running of the event, while we just came and supported. (Serene our facilitator joked that they're the heavyweights, while we're the lightweights and she's the featherweight. LOL) They've written about the event, so can read more here!

Anyway, I helped to do the MM for our team's item: Spencer was the lead rapper, Marcus the choreographer, Yufen and Esther the backup dancers together with the Cambodian sistas. =) Spencer really poured his 110%... so much that he was totally exhausted by the end of the item! Thankful he didn't plop face-down right after the song... we really are very encouraged by his perseverance!

Spiritual warfare was in force as usual... while we were doing a short prayer walk yesterday before the actual event, the team sensed a strong sense of spiritual resistance in the place. So we prayed against it. And wow! really got very interesting and mysterious disruptions happening one after another, all within a very short period of time today!

For starters, Marcus and Serene suddenly fell sick today with a stomach bug/flu. And the viral attacks didn't just stay in the physical realms. A powerpoint file that Mesa, our translator, passed to me to compile for the lyrics for our item was infected with a virus too! And the file was totally unreadable. Pengz. It was only a few hours before the actual event. Man, it was super-stressful.

So I skipped my lunch-time to do a manual screen capture, copying and pasting the Khmer words from an older file into the powerpoint. At least we had a working Word doc to fall back on... but as long as we still had a fighting chance, no way we were going to use a really lame-looking Word document in an OUTREACH service for YOUTHS. We really want to give Jesus our very best... and the visitors who all come not to feel 'cheated' by lousy quality MM. Souls are at stake here!

But even after successfully accomplishing that tedious task, another challenge lay ahead. We found out at the last minute that we needed additional extension cords to position the projector for the MM and laptops. Precious minutes marched past as we frantically swapped cables, plugs and extremely loose power sockets in and out... jerry-rigging wires left and right, while trying not to get electrocuted in the process. It really was a case of solving an IQ problem: how do you achieve max cable length with only a limited no. of electrical sockets and power adaptors? I was feeling increasingly anxious, because the visitors were streaming in already. But I prayed, and really thank God that somehow, a very practical solution to the problem came into my mind after praying. Implemented it, and everything was solved! Thank God for Weiling too! She was there too, together with Guanrui and another sister, trying to solve the extension problem - and staying sweetly calm, totally not an easy thing to do in an extremely stressful situation.

So relieved when we finally solved the problem. This is what our power supplies looked like when we finally solved the maths problem:

But the battle wasn't over yet.

Halfway through the MM... the projector's power supply suddenly cut off. But God kept the whole show running smoothly. Found out that someone had tripped over the wire.

And the most dramatic one was when Guanrui took over to show the bridge diagram pictures for the purpose of illustrating the gospel. Apparently, the projector started blinking on and off... Calyn said there were even sparks! Gosh. But once again, nothing is too difficult for God. Somehow Guanrui managed to fix the issue and everyone got the chance to see the gospel diagrams and the Passion of The Christ video. 5 or 6 youths responded to the gospel that day! Praise the Lord indeed! Once again, Jesus Christ wins the day!

Personally, it was really heartening to see how God can use every life experience / talents / skills we have, especially when it's for the purpose of sharing the good news. Spencer told me that he had always harboured the dream of rapping Carman's "Who's In The House" (one of the totally coolest Christian music videos you've ever heard BTW) ever since he became a Christian... and now, after all these years, on his first missions trip, he got the chance to do it before a live audience!

And I got the chance to use my MM skills to help out in the evax service... plus storytelling to a different culture...

And Guanrui's drawing skills were so beautifully put to use...

And Calyn wrote a great skit script... and acted so nicely...

And Marcus led a cross-cultural choreograph successfully even tho it was his first time...

And Yufen's relational skills...

And Timothy's gambling addiction before he became a Christian... now powerfully used by the Lord to impact an entire new generation from another land!

Wow. Looking at the tapestry of what God is doing, it is so amazing! amazing! amazing! =D That God can use anything and everything, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant in the eyes of the world... even those talents, giftings and experiences that we belittle or are even ashamed of...


God is SO REAL! i really saw God work in our lives! He just is so GOOD! =)

And once again, God has reminded us again that in all these missions activities... what is most important is not the no. of things we do or even the greatness of these tasks. But what truly matters is that we have seen God at work... and joined Him in His work. He's gone before us and is with us.

ok, have to rest now for the final battle tomorrow. Need to go through all the stuff for the children's service tomorrow. Details... I don't like details. :P God, have mercy on me... really... need Your help to fine-tune the checklist and planning. Feel very stretched and even emo. But not my will, but Yours be done.

In Jesus' name, amen!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Am writing this at this "ungodly" hour, because I find it hard to get to sleep. Ah. Then I read these words after a few hours of struggling in prayer about some issue, and finally giving in to God (very grudgingly actually), I went to open my Bible... and I read these words immediately.

"Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Yes, hardships are necessary and essential to the Christian life. There will be so many times we have to deny ourselves, but let us remember that it is an honour to carry our crosses daily. What are some difficulties you encounter? Some frustrations or sorrows that you face because of ministry? That is our cross to bear. Humbling experiences? That is our cross to bear. Misunderstood? Falsely accused? Rejected? Failed? Deny your own rights. Let others step upon you and slap you. Turn the other cheek. Feeling tired? Burnt-out? Lazy? Indulgent? Die to yourself and wallop your inner man.

It is necessary if you want to grow more Christlike. It doesn't sound logical or realistic, but Jesus showed that this is the only way to really experience the Kingdom life that He promised. Hmm. Thank God for showing me... and thank God I'm not alone in being so slow to understand. Like how the disciples took such a long time to understand Jesus' words about denying self.

From the IVP Commentary:
Jesus is always reminding them that the divine call involves service and witness, not the raw exercise of power. People are to be won over and served, not coerced.

The same truth endures for disciples today. The cross Jesus bore is the cross the church is to bear. Giving oneself on behalf of sinners is just as integral to the gospel today as it was in days of old. Ministry is not a matter of power and privilege, but of humility and service.

Jesus will have to make his point several times before the disciples get it. Divine logic requires a listening ear and an open heart.

This passage has two parts: the prediction of Jesus' suffering (vv. 21-22) and the announcement of the "new way" of suffering, bearing one's cross daily (vv. 23-27)


The essence of discipleship is humility before God. That humility expresses itself as self-denial. Taking up the cross daily and following Jesus means approaching ministry in the world as he did. He served and gave of himself daily, even to the cultural ignominy of publicly bearing rejection on the cross (Acts 5:30; Gal 3:13). The Savior bore rejection and death for others, and the disciple must follow in the same path of service. We must be prepared to accept rejection as a given. Everything Jesus teaches his disciples in chapters 9--19 will underscore this point.

The tense sequence in verse 23 is important. Two aorist imperatives are followed by a present imperative. Two summary commands are issued: deny oneself and take up the cross (aorist imperatives). These are basic orientations of the disciple. Then the disciple can continually follow (present imperative) Jesus.

Jesus explains that to seek to preserve one's life will result in its loss, while giving one's life up will lead to its being saved. The remark's context is crucial. During Jesus' ministry, anyone concerned to maintain their reputation in Judaism would never come to Jesus, given the leadership's developing official rejection of him. Someone whose life and reputation in the public sphere were primary would never want to come to Jesus. But if they gave up a life of popular acclaim and acceptance to come to Jesus, they would gain deliverance. Jesus understood that trusting in God means nontrust in self and nonreliance on the security the world offers: Whoever loses his life for me will save it.

Not self-debasement, but self-denial. So what if I have a trillion talents? It doesn't matter in God's eyes. What matters is the attitude behind how I serve. Is it inconvenient to serve? Serve anyway if I want to follow the Master's way of service. Is it painful to serve? To get rejected for sure? Christ was nailed to a cross. Do I have to wake up super-early to meet a need? Welcome to the straight and narrow road! Do I have to stifle my natural anger and frustration? Self-control. Do I have to beat my body to make it my slave? Do I have to work hard even when I'm down emotionally? All for His kingdom's cause.

I wish I weren't so slow. But it's a comfort to know that I'm not the only one... if Jesus' own disciples took ages to get it even after GOD himself had told them God-knows-how many times...

Anyway, emo thoughts aside, praise God for the workshops that went well today! :) Working with Yufen to do the workshop on ... don't laugh at me... time-management. Sweet irony... but am delighted to see how the youths enjoyed the activities that Yufen and I planned for them, and whoa, really felt God's empowerment on me personally, as I started off the workshop introduction. Plus I'm very thankful for the good chemistry between me and Yufen (well, she is fun to work with haha)... and God's grace upon me even though I had a very bad streak of short-term memory lapses...

Then the brothers played Uno with the Cambodian brothers, while Esther led the girls in jewelry-making. The Cambodian bros introduced a very fun twist on the Uno game, where everyone tries to slap the '9' card if thrown... but if it's '6', you have to draw double.

And when it came to sharing about our lives... the Cambodian bros shared sincerely and openly about their lives. We were very surprised, but encouraged, by their perseverance in the face of difficulties and hardships. It really is God's work here as these bros are quieter and more reserved. Really thank God for His wonderful hand at work!

I've only described a very small bit... share more when we get back home.

Now I'm looking at the other missions team's blog. Their schedule is even heavier and tougher than ours... ours is really really really 'shiok' compared to theirs! But one thing I'm thinking about as I read through their blog, is that this is the next generation of young graduates taking a step into the field of church-planting. Julian Lee and the uni grads of his generation are now discipling a new generation of leaders who will go on to impact and change the world.

And for the *ahem* older ones like Marcus, YF, me, Esther and Spencer? I don't think we're left in the fridge... I was reflecting about it, and I think God has His plans here to stir our hearts towards community service and support ministries in one way or another. It's like seeing God do a remarkable flanking maneuver in the spiritual battlefields with multiple divisions of His army.

Personally for me, it's a great insight into the difficulties and challenges of doing community service overseas, and the planning and perseverance needed. It honestly tested me a lot, especially in the area of teamwork. But I was reminded that God prunes us so that we will become even more fruitful. And yes, this trip has served to confirm that God really has called me into children's ministry, especially ministering to children of a different culture AND language.

More to come soon...

Monday, January 4, 2010


The team doing the parable of the Good Samaritan for the toddlers. Marcus is the rich man, Esther the robber.

Rehearsing to the beat of Carmen's "Who's In The House" for our Youth Mega-event, an outreach event for teenagers this coming Thursday. (Yes, we koped some moves from Michael Jackson's "Beat It".)

Sunday's Cambodian Church Service

Watch what happens at 0:20! :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First day of Cambodia trip.

Left my luggage behind at airport. But God's grace upon me. And thru this incident, reflected abt the grace - not mere tolerance, but sweet grace - tt the others showed me, no complaining or grumbling. Which spoke a lot to me.

Grace in accepting others' strange little quirks, and you realise that you're free to accept the grace others can show to you too. 'Cos everyone has their own quirks.

S21 genocide museum. Was moved, but the part where I saw all the rows of photos lined up with people staring helplessly out of their grayed photos... tears to the eyes. The depths of human wickedness... and the shocking realization that the murderers were ordinary youths, just like you and me. And the victims too. How the human heart has the capacity for such fallenness... were it not for God's grace and mercy and the legal systems and cultures He's set up...

It's something to be able to stare boldy and fully into the face of evil, and not be shaken by the seeming power of evil but command the power of God to defeat evil... but it's also something to be able to gaze tearingly upon the broken bodies and souls of those struck down by evil men and women... and weep with gut-wrenching compassion. And Jesus was able to do both.

Anyway, it was good, and I prayed for the souls of all those tortured and killed... may God be merciful and gracious to them...

Really appreciate how Cambodia has moved on. One of the bros said that the govt should close down S21 'cos it's not good to bring up the past again and again. But I disagree... think it's important to honour the memories of those who died... honour them, that never again may such a horror occur again, by God's mercy.


Well, we went on. We had a good lunch, and food was good! Drank two coconuts :)

Shopped till we almost dropped.

Tml is going to be the actual start.