Sunday, May 30, 2010

I really want to be more single-minded and focused upon God, and to finish the work He's given me. Dear Lord, pls help me surrender my fears n trust in You even deeper!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Heart of An Artist: The Necessity of Prayer

I just finished reading The Heart of An Artist. This is one of the few books that I will keep on reading and re-reading again. Other classics that I have are John Ortberg's The Life You've Always Wanted, CS Lewis' Mere Christianity, Philips Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew, John Townsend and Henry Cloud's How People Grow and Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God.

The last chapter was on the spiritual disciplines of the artist. And one thing that I read was that the busier Jesus got, the more He prayed. As Martin Luther quipped, "I am too busy not to pray." Ah. And I'd been moping about the lack of time and busyness instead of running deeper to God in prayer.

But I'm so thankful to God that I broke through in my prayer and fasting today. :) The past week had been a rather dry time of prayer - because I wasn't too sure what else I could pray for. But remembered that our prayers also do arise from what our hearts desire. So I asked the Holy Spirit to break my heart for what breaks His, to help me pray.

And today, I prayed for only about ten minutes. But to my pleasant surprise, I found that I finally could pray with my heart and soul very much more engaged. I'm not sure why the difference, but perhaps it's because I asked God to help deepen my passive prayers the past few days. So am encouraged and learnt that when you're doing a long period of praying and fasting, if the first few days are hard, keep on praying! And ask God to help you pray as well. Like how an athlete has to run and struggle for the first few rounds, until he gets his 'second wind'.


One thing I learnt from reading the chapter on the spiritual disciplines of the artist is that it's really important for us to pray and have close devotional times with God. We may be very busy, but that's no excuse. When we choose to set aside time with God to pray and seek Him, He is able to help us redeem our times. You remember Pastor Simon sharing about his 16-year-old son waking up at 6 am to spend quiet time and seek God in prayer? So good, right? Ps Simon felt so paiseh in a delighted kind of way - that his son is "beating" him in terms of devotion to God. Haha... but yeah, Ps Simon was so glad to see his son's devotion to God.

And also, I've been complaining about the lack of manpower and skilled servants - esp scriptwriters, actors and directors. But I realised that I do not have, because I did not ask. But the writer, Rory Noland, shared his testimony of how, when he first started out in creative ministry, saw that his team desperately needed musicians. So he prayed daily that "God would send us quality musicians."

Guess what? One of the sisters in his church brought in her brother, a really pro trumpet player! But... there was a problem. The trumpet player wasn't a Christian. In fact, he didn't know the Lord at all. So this brother prayed the next morning, he said, "Lord, maybe I need to be more specific. I've been praying for more musicians, and you sent me this pagan trumpet player." (I find his prayer very funny!) Then the Lord replied, "Yes, I know. I brought him here all the way from New York so he could find Me. Are you going to invest time in him or not?"

The brother, over several months, did his best to connect and befriend the "pagan trumpet player", even visiting him in jail at one time. Over time, the bro grew in love and compassion for his unbelieving friend. And guess what? His "pagan" friend eventually came to know Christi and "now has a wonderful music ministry in the southwestern part of the country."

Wow! :D I was so excited to read that testimony. But then the writer shared, it's not something that he could pat himself on the back for. 'Cos he said that his prayer was self-serving, asking for more musicians to come into his ministry, instead of praying for the lost to come to know Christ. But well, the "pagan"'s sister had been praying for him to come to know Christ.


Hmm. You know, quiet time with God is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so important. (And yes, I'm serious about all the 'so's I typed by hand. Each 'so' represents one special moment when God really ministered to me / I sought God in prayer / hungered after Him as I read His Word. And as I recall further back, I realise I still have so many more 'so's to write down. God really is so good. He really richly blesses all who call upon Him.)

But nowadays I sit down at Starbucks / surf net / tackle work and so on... I've started slicing away bits and pieces of seeking God in prayer. I suppose the shifting of my workplace had something to do with it as well. But all the more I must hunger and thirst for Him. Because apart from Him I really can do nothing. But if I abide in Him, I will bear much fruit, which will be for the Father's glory.

And oh dear, nowadays, I realise, I just jump straight into doing creative ministry / work without taking time to walk around and pray and wait upon God for His creative suggestions. What happened? Think maybe partly because people said that I can write scripts / do videos very well... so I started relying on my own strength more and more. But as a result, I started 'drying up' creatively. Hmm. Now I see.

As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longs for You, O God.
Writing this from my fav hangout again. Finally a chance to relax for a few hours before working again.

Video for Hopekids was tough, like I've been sharing. One of the actors injured his ankle yesterday before the shoot, and we were very stretched for manpower already. So morale and everything, exhaustion, etc.

Felt very exhausted after the shoot last night. So emailed Hong Teck to share about these. He wrote the following reply:
Hi YA,

Don't be so hard on yourself. You and your team are doing your best. It's not time for evaluation so let's look forward and find solutions to the problems.

You can consider one of the following

Option 1) Simplify the video and do 3 not 2. It's not about us, its about what God wants to show the kids
Option 2) Get the actors to act out live! Instead of shooting, rehearse the script on Friday.

Let's take hold of this and lead forward. It's not about perfection, but about purpose and passion.

Hong Teck
Want to share his reply with you, because felt it's so helpful and wise. There's a lot of insights about team ministry that I extracted from this email.

Then read James 1. Oooh. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I think the Spirit was confirming that this period is a time of stretching again. Yay! Seeing all the things that are happening recently, I can see that God is stretching me again, like a fitness instructor loading more weights upon his student. Hmm. I do know that He's spot-training me in a few specific areas - responsibility, decision-making, confidence, security, learning to be patient and gentle under heavy pressure, and so on. I do feel a bit paiseh to share these things that I think God is training me in, because obviously it's an implicit admission that I'm weak.

But well, what's wrong with admitting my weakness? As long as I let God train me and I take ownership... and consider it pure joy that God cares to the extent of training me, then I'm growing. And isn't the path of discipleship a process? :)
1 John 3
1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Yes, how great is the love of the Father! And we are now His children. We do not know yet what we will become, but we do look forward to His appearing. And as we wait for Him to come again, we purify ourselves, straining and refining our hearts... filled with a glorious and inexpressible joy, for we're receiving the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

Yep! I shall consider it pure joy indeed. The kind that is like singing your team's name even when you're several goals behind in the game, because you know that no matter what, we are more than victors in Christ who loves us. Anyway, I think this training is necessary if I want to be used by Him where He's called me to go. Character is so important. But thank God for His grace that He doesn't look for the perfect in character when He calls... but those He calls, He qualifies them and perfects their characters.

Difficult, but I will still sing His name, even when I'm several goals behind in the game. Thank You Jesus!

Wow! Just bumped into a couple of friends just now. And they encouraged me, to focus on what I'm good at. Thank You Lord for their friendships. =) Deeply grateful. Haha. =D Honesty and sincerity are such important elements in a genuine friendship.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sigh. So much stress all because of one script. I think I made a stupid mistake by not being harder on my teammate whom I'd delegated the scriptwriting to. Should have been firmer instead of being nice and doing it. So much for my well-intention to do it myself in the mistaken thought that I can wrap it up faster.

Moral of the story: If you delegate, really delegate. Don't delegate and if you see it not being done, find someone else to replace the person whom you delegated it to. Or everyone else will suffer because you weren't wise enough to redelegate. There's a difference between a sacrificial spirit and a well-intended do-it-on-my-own-loh spirit that drags everyone else down

Never again!

How Can I Find the Will of God?

Peter Truong wrote a short but sweet post on how to discover God's will for your life. :)

The Calling and The Inheritance

The letter of Hebrews is such an inspirational, moving and heart-pumping epistle. I was reading Hebrews 11 to 13 today for my devotional time, and the writer's exhortations stirred me. Very thankful to God, because this morning I just felt overwhelmed again by the next rush.

I think I've written about how I feel overwhelmed again and again. Not to say that I'm overwhelmed, but I do feel like wave after wave is breaking over me.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
Yeah, Tower Defence haha. Things like bug fixes. So I felt my confidence going down again. I think it's not so much lack of ability or strength, but my morale. But when I took time to pray in the Spirit and tell God about my situations and feelings and fears, I felt His peace settling down on my heart like a dove. Beyond all understanding, as usual. =D

So with that settled heart, I read Hebrews. "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." and "And so we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" These two promises reminded me that sometimes it's not so much about my own strengths or techniques... or even asking God to give me wisdom and understanding on how to understand the current situations. I realised then that God knows what I need most sometimes is neither wit or wisdom, but instead, courage and confidence to use what He's already given me.

Man, I felt really stoked after reading these promises. Massive morale boost! Reinforcements are here! The cavalry has arrived! Etc, etc.


Exhausted, but so grateful. Was very stressed about the lack of manpower, money, material, time, even daylight and so on. But was reminded of Philippians not to be anxious about anything but to pray.

Also remembered that excellence is not doing everything swee-swee perfect, but simply doing the best we can to the best of our abilities, even if we don't have that much time. God will take care of the rest.

Learning to trust in God's grace more and more. Was fearful of what my teammates would think about my lack of planning even though I had already planned my best - just simply not enough time due to lack of manpower. But I think God may be telling me that actually, it's ok. He likes it. He wants to see our hearts first and foremost. Which matters more, the size of the sacrifice or the size of the heart behind the sacrifice?

And there's something about 5 loaves and 2 fishes too. =) Not enough? Don't worry. Just offer it to the Lord, and you'll see for yourself what HE can do. And so He is glorified.

And i learnt a lot from seeing my teammates' sweet and willing spirits. I feel so honoured to be able to serve together with saints like them. =D

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A quick thought. I've been reading about work, and thinking about the nature of work, and well, working on work.

I've been thinking about who I am and what I am, with regards to nature of my work. I think I'm really quite complex as a person. I do enjoy working hard, actually. But I'm easily distracted - unless I get into my 'zone', in which case it's not easy for me to break out of. Ironically, I enjoy the stress of handling multiple work - I imagine them as multiple incoming missiles to be shot down before they hit me between the eyes - yet I get stressed over handling the admin and pacifying multiple people.

So was trying to make sense of all these... and I feel convicted, personally, that God really wants me to work hard and not be a sluggard - never to let my guard down. The dangers are so obvious in Proverbs.

And yet, emotions and fears whisper and question and ask me whether I'm sure I can make it.

I reply, "I can't make it on my own, but by God's grace I will grow to work faster and more responsibly."

Still... something I realised is that my 'schedule' auto-expands to meet whatever is at hand. I think I like having a few big goals all clearly laid out, even if it takes years, so that I can be encouraged to work faster so that I can move on to the next goal.

But if it's just a piece by piece, one task at a time, somehow I think I tend to shift into perfectionist mode, taking a long time to finish that task to the best of my ability.

I think the climax of that came when my boss emailed me to say that I produce great videos but I take far too long on them. And she wasn't happy that I didn't seem to have produced very much, apart from the two videos. So I explained to her that I do put in quality and so on, but I also pondered about Hong Teck's words (as lifted from Philippians): we are called not to serve ourselves, but to serve others according to their needs.

So that quote made me think. For whom am I working, really? And am I Christ's servant - or my own boss? A lot of times I work in an individualistic mode - working for my own pleasure and satisfaction rather than to please my employer in Jesus' name.

So, I've been changing tack recently. I've decided to put on a 'just-do-whatever-is-necessary-to-meet-the-basic-requirements' approach. Not a shoddy slapstick approach, but being economical in a common-sense way (like how if a customer asks you for a simple $5 wooden chair, you don't go and carve an exquisite baroque armchair and then slap him with a markup of $5000 for your work of art. It's a beauty, but it's not what the customer/client/boss wanted.)
Philippians 2:4
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I think I've started improving in my punctuality in delivering work. And I realised I enjoy delivering more. But at present, I can't handle the workload of work + ministry well because I have a lot on my plate already (I had my attachment AND two clients to handle at one time... with urgent bug fixes some more... STRESS. Not to mention scriptwriting). And to be honest, I think I need to say 'no' more often. Better to say 'no' than to say 'yes' and then not deliver.

And to be more urgent in delegation. I must learn from Jethro's advice to Moses!

Not easy huh? Especially when I'm leading a creative team in children's ministry. There are so many challenges - and I'm just starting out. So thank God for the "Heart of An Artist" book. It's very timely. =)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Art of Manliness | Finding Your Calling Part I: What Is a Vocation?

Finding Your Calling Part I: What Is a Vocation?

"Blessed is he that has found his work! Let him ask no other blessedness."—Carlye

There are two great decisions in a man's life, two poles around which the first quarter of his typically life revolve: whom to marry and which occupation to pursue.

The latter is a question we face as soon as we are old enough to talk. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is a query put to us by parents, teachers, and friends. In our teen years we are content to keep our plans vague and nebulous. But in college the pressure builds-we want to choose a major related to our future career. But we may still not know what career we're aiming for. So we change majors once, twice, and maybe more.

And then we graduate. Society says we have now entered the world of work and should be diving into our chosen profession. But even then, many of us aren't sure what profession that's supposed to be.

We typically have a better idea of what we don't want in a job than what we do. Not something mundane, something like what our dads did-long hours stuck in a cubicle feeling like a cog in a corporate machine, Maalox and scotch hidden in a desk drawer. After all, a third of our lives will be spent working; we'll probably spend more time at work than we do with our spouse and kids. It's no wonder we agonize over "what to be when we grow up"…even when we're all grown up.

We want a job that doesn't actually feel like a job. Something that uses our talents and brings us great satisfaction.

What we really want isn't a job at all; we want a vocation, a calling.

Three Perspectives on Work

There are three ways people look at what they do for work:

A Job. Those who see their work as a job are those who belt out "Everybody's Working for the Weekend" with great gusto. They live for breaks, for vacation. The job is simply a means to the end: a paycheck. They need to support their family/pay their rent, and this is the ticket they punch to do it. The job may not be terrible, but it offers the worker very little real satisfaction.

A Career. The careerist derives meaning not from the nature of the work itself but the gratification that comes from advancing through the ranks and earning promotions and raises. This motivates the careerist to put in extra time; work doesn't necessarily stop when they punch out. However, once this forward progress stops, the careerist becomes unsatisfied and frustrated.

A Vocation/Calling. A vocation is work you do for its own sake; you almost feel like you'd do it even if you didn't get paid. The rewards of wages and prestige are peripheral to getting to use one's passion in a satisfying way. Those in a vocation feel that their work has an effect on the greater good and an impact beyond themselves. They believe that their work truly utilizes their unique gifts and talents. This is what they were meant to do.

When it comes to life satisfaction and happiness, those with a job are the least satisfied, then those with a career, and those with a vocation feel the most satisfied. No surprises there. A vocation encompasses more than the work you are paid for; it taps into your whole life purpose. When you've found your calling, you know it- your life is full of of joy, satisfaction, and true fulfillment. Conversely, if you're living a life at odds with your vocation, there's no doubt about that either. You're indescribably restless; you wake up in the middle of the night feeling like you can't breathe, like there's a great weight on your chest; life seems to be passing you by and you have no idea what to do about it.

What Is a Vocation?

"The deepest vocational question is not "What ought I to do with my life?" It is the more elemental and demanding 'Who am I? What is my nature?'" -Parker J. Palmer

The etymology of vocation versus career is most revealing. The word vocation comes from the Latin word "vocare" or "to call." It denotes a voice summoning a person to a unique purpose. The word career derives from the Latin word for cart and the Middle French word for race track. It denotes quickly moving in a circle, never going anywhere.

Man was made to embrace his unique destiny, not soldier on as a hamster in a wheel. Or in the words of Lily Tomlin, "The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."

So if a vocation is something that calls to you-who is doing the calling? And how do you listen to its voice?

Have you ever noticed how much of children's personalities seen to come hardwired into them? Only a few months into life babies start showing a unique personality. Young children already have characteristics, inclinations, proclivities, likes and dislikes that follow them all the way into adulthood. It's pretty wild really. When I think about my siblings and I, I'm always amazed how three people who were born to and raised by the same parents, in the same place, could turn out so differently and take such different paths.

I believe the seeds of your true self are born within you. Author Parker J. Palmer calls these seeds "birthright gifts."

Your birthright gifts are what make you an entirely unique person, with a unique purpose and special talents you can give to the world and to others. Thus, the call comes from within you, not from without; it is a call to bring these seeds to fruition. These are the seeds of your true self, planted within you when you were born. You may believe that the seeds were planted specially by God, by chance, or even that you existed before this incarnation of yourself. Unfortunately, as we grow up, this true self gets buried by the influence and expectations of family, friends, teachers, and the media. We get sorted and labeled and placed into slots. Instead of listening to the call within us, we make decisions based on a need for approval, prestige, and security.

Embracing your calling means shutting off the voices of what others say you ought to do and living true to your real self. Not imitating dad or other men you admire. We take seriously everything but our own thoughts and beliefs-we drink up what our teachers tell us, what our parents tell us, what our ministers tell us. We eagerly lap up quotes from great men. We find these source of truth valuable, but dismiss our own insights and philosophy as hopelessly insignificant. But as Rabbi Zusya has said, "In the coming world, they will not ask me: 'Why were you not Moses?" They will ask me: 'Why were you not Zusya?'"

So how do we recover our birthright gifts and find our calling by living as our true selves? We'll cover that next week in Part II. Also, as I was researching this topic, I came across a great book from 1914 called Self-Culture Through the Vocation. It contains insights on vocation too good not to share, so in conjunction with this two part series, I'll be posting some excerpts this week and next. Stay tuned.

Source: Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer

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Someone said (roughly) that my blogs (public + private) seem to have a lot of laments, and testimonies of God encouraging me... but not so much of how to not fall back into these 'traps', if you know what I mean.

Was thinking about it... actually, I think one way God encourages me a lot is that He shows me things abt my character and how to get out of ruts and cycles. There are very few things as discouraging as being stuck in an endless loop / a rut and trying to get out, but you cannot, no matter how hard you've been trying.

I know... I've been through that experience, and it's nightmarish. Like those repeated, but futile trench charges in WWI, my soul has felt that many, many times. So... when I see God showing me a better way, I am ultra-encouraged - not only because I know that He cares, but also because He shows me a way.

I don't know. Maybe I'm more fascinated with the Person of God... (oh... am I overspiritualizing this?) as compared to the principles that He teaches? After all, He said that if you love Him, you will obey His teachings too.

But... a thought about it. I have indeed received good things from God, wonderful words of instructions... perhaps it's a shyness of a kind, not wanting to sound like I have learnt so much new things. As for sharing victories and triumphs... honestly, I don't know. Maybe I do prefer to boast abt my weaknesses

I guess it's always hard to be truly humble - not either raising yourself up or undermining yourself... yet seeing that even in the effort to be humble, you are still focusing on yourself. As good ol' Lewis and Ortberg put it, it's a healthy forgetfulness of yourself.

I think this blog's natural voice has always been to be surprised by wonder. Surprised as in ... that I can actually see God working in my life. That there is actually a God! - a God who loves and cares for even someone like me... a God whose face we can ... even see. And you know, when I was a little boy, I read the Bible... and i really wanted to become a Christian too. But i didn't know / understand how one can enter the kingdom of heaven... until many years later.

Maybe it's a unique perspective... but yeah, i hope i'll never stop being fascinated by God, by Jesus Christ, by him of whom it is written, "And His name shall be called Wonderful..."

Maybe another angle is that I don't feel very confident in sharing what I think I've learnt from God. But again then, I do voice my convictions very strongly at times. Hmm. You know, maybe what I learn gets internalized and then slowly processed and digested and stored up as convictions, which 'erupts' in due time - perhaps many years later.

Also I guess it's my learning style. I realise that I learn best by seeing the big picture and letting it all soak in. Osmosis. :) But it takes a long time.

Hmm. I think ... maybe it's also pride actually. I don't really like to share what I have been taught in a way... because it implies that previously I didn't know / understand / realize that truth. And it would be good if I can share testimonies of how applying God's Word helped me bear fruit in my life. But... I guess to me personally, I feel really reluctant to do so, 'cos... I think it'd make me feel self-assured as a person, which I really don't want to be.

Maybe I'll end my ramblings here with these thoughts from 2 Cor:

2 Corinthians 11:30
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Not sins, but weaknesses. Weaknesses including tendencies towards certain sins (not sins in themselves but still, they are tendencies).

But! You know, one more reason: maybe because I never thought about what God might want to teach me about this in the first place. :)

Prov 14:6
"The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning."

So Send I You

Went for Global Day of Prayer today. Huanyan came. We were so glad to see each other.

Yufen wanted to go, but she had work. I was also thinking about whether to go because of work + ministry. But... I'm so glad I went.

Theme was 'One Desire'. Prayed for unity in the church, and also consecrating ourselves to God... for compassion for the needy and yes, missions.

And... as we prayed for missions, just felt that familiar burden welling up in my heart again. Oh, it beats fiercer than Poe's tell-tale heart. You can't bury the heart of the Father - too many Christians have tried to muffle His heartbeat under floorboards of excuses and fears... but in the end the Shepherd's heart beats so strongly for the lost. "For Christ's love compels us..."

So I asked God to confirm again whether that country I think He's calling me to really is the country He has in mind for me. Well... the Hallelujah To The Lamb song came after I prayed. It's very special to me, because that song was exactly the same song that had played while I responded back in 2001 to go to that country for missions. Tried to listen again to the song just now. But... it's so beautiful that I had to stop halfway. Couldn't bear to hear it any further - the lyrics just gripped my heart too much. Hee. Wonder if it's a sign from God that yes, He's confirming bit by bit.


Life's so short. I want to do the Father's will, even if it costs me. But oh God, grant me the grace and strength to do Your will instead of mine. It's going to be hard I think. But well... here am I anyway. Send me!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Sluggard

A very good article for lazy bums and serial procrastinators:The Sluggard

Use It For Your Glory

Something really encouraging BTW that I must share.

You know about my journey of faith, with regards to writing. Thank God for Kin Wee, who inspired me to consider writing as a career. (He quit his teaching job to pursue writing as a career. It's not easy, and I really thank God for him. Yes, we prayed together one day, and waited on God for His answer.)

So, as I was saying, I've been thinking about what else I can learn from my internship attachment. So, yesterday, I asked my boss to give me advice on how I can get started on writing. She smiled, immediately took a book on her table, flipped to a page and told me to read it.

It was a post by E.B. White. He was the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.
"You asked me about writing - how I did it," E.B. White replied to a seventeen-year-old who had written to him, wanting to become a professional writer but feeling discouraged. "There is no trick to it. If you like to write and want to write, you write, no matter where you are or what else you are doing or whether anyone pays any heed. I must have written half a million words (mostly in my journal) before I had anything published, save for a couple of short items in St. Nicholas. If you want to write about feelings, about the end of the summer, about growing, write about it. A great deal of writing is not 'plotted' - most of my essays have no plot structure, they are a ramble in the woods, or a ramble in the basement of my mind. You ask, 'Who cares?' Everybody cares. You say, 'It's been written before.' Everything has been written before. ... Henry Thoreau, who wrote Walden, said, 'I learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dream and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.' The sentence, after more than a hundred years, is still alive. So, advance confidently."
Wow. I was so touched and encouraged by E.B. White's words. It was as though the writer was speaking to me personally, a 20th-century writer writing across time to a 21st-century wannabe, face-to-face.

Then, this morning, my boss told me about the boss of Armour Publishing (a Christian publishing firm). My boss told me that if I want to publish a book, she can introduce me to the publisher personlly. I went, "WOW. THANK YOU SO MUCH." She chuckled and said, "Don't thank me. Just write your book first."

Wow. Thank You so much, dear Father, for making a way for me in the wilderness. Not that I consider myself to have already taken hold of it, but I see Your goodness. I see Your precious providence. In the day I see Your cloud sheltering me through the heat and in the night I see Your fire blazing before me and in me.

Again and again... and Ruey Fong's hortatory speech comes fresh again in my mind. "There are so many people who are so talented, but they don't have a chance to succeed in life, simply because they never got the chance. That's why you need God to give you these chances. So walk right with God, and He will walk right with you!"

Yes, Lord. I offer my life to You again today. Everything I've been through, USE IT FOR YOUR GLORY.

In Jesus' most wonderful name, amen!

Praying Even When You're SLEEPY

A thought about all the frustration. I was thinking regarding my prayer life. To be honest, work, having taken its load on me, is making it harder and harder for me to pray.

I've been waking up earlier... but falling back to sleep, even though I know I need to begin the day in prayer, because I just feel so tired sometimes, having tried to finish up my ministry and work the night before.

It's a cycle of frustration - a Sisyphean cycle - that accumulates every week.

So I was pausing just now, and ranting to God silently, about the idiot taxi driver... but come, who's the bigger idiot? After all Proverbs says that a man's folly ruins his life, but his heart rages against the LORD. Ok, maybe I'm not raging against God... but I realised my predilection to start blaming others for my mistakes. It's a part of my old sinful nature, and something that keeps coming back day after day, like a zombie that keeps getting up even after being headshotted for the nth time.

Then I recalled a quote by Martin Luther: "I have so many things to do today, that I simply must spend 5 hours in prayer." OMG.

And Jesus' own words: "If a man remains in me, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." Amen.

Still, I was thinking about my desire for more sleep. But reminded that, say, if the circumstances are such that you really cannot get much sleep, then how? To that answer, I think God still expects us to pray. After all, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to stay watch with him in prayer on the night He was betrayed. But the three amigos, like all men do, fell asleep quickly while trying to pray. Jesus found them sleeping, probably did a facepalm, and went: "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

So yes, I need to force myself to pray. Not as in compulsion, but because I know I need to, even if I am physically tired. Precisely because my flesh is weak, that why I need to pray. Martin Luther said that "the flesh is wont to grumble dreadfully." Besides... I get on average 5 or 6 hours of sleep every day... so... I have no excuse for allowing my flesh to dominate me.

Hm. Pick yourself up again, Yeu Ann. "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." Pray without ceasing! Give the devil a breakfast bombardment! Give your soul a wake-up call! Some trust in Milo, some in coffee, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Hmm. Just feel stressed and frustrated today. Made a dangerous mistake - I forgot to take down a photo from a website that I was doing, which I had not received permission for. *sigh*

Lord, this work is heavy all right. So many things to juggle.

Then also felt frustrated because I took taxi to work. All the statistics and logic tell me that obvious the MRT is FASTER and CHEAPER than a taxi to City Hall area in the morning.

Yet I still took the taxi this morning... why did I do such a stupid thing?

Think it's because of emotions, the fears and worries that make me unable to think clearly and logically. Knowing myself, I can do both... but the emotional aspect has to be processed first, before I can reason properly.

Trying to make sense of the whole experience. Father, forgive my foolishness and stupidity, as You always keep on doing. Thank You for loving me in spite of all these teeth-clenching mistakes and faults that You see in me. And have mercy on me, and deliver me from myself and my own stupidity I pray. And uh, help me laugh more at myself whenever I screw up... and keep me safe from hurting other people through my stupidity. O let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain - and more importantly, that I might not cause others pain.

In Jesus' name amen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Responsibilty. A much-needed thing. Lord, I know I lack it. Help me grow in courage and strength. And to say no to whatever will hinder me from delivering on my promises.
Stressed again. I think I can't make it on my own. Wonder how I'm ever going to make it through. i just don't have the discipline to see things through. :\

Catalyst Leadership | Digital magazine connecting next gen church leaders

Catalyst Leadership | Digital magazine connecting next gen church leaders

I'm flipping through this magazine for pastors. Very helpful and thought-provoking. Thank God for our own pastors.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To Be A Tramp For The Lord

I wrote the following on Sunday. :)

Mmm. This is probably going to be an ultra-looooong stream-of-consciousness rendering. =) But oh, I am so happy.

1. Today's service was so encouraging. I woke up in the morning for the first time in many weeks with a peaceful heart, because of the reassurance that I had done the right and mature thing in settling something that had been causing me a great deal of uncertainty in the past few months. So I realised what the Bible says about the righteous having peace is really so true. Peace is such a blessing, especially when you know that you did the right thing in God's eyes. What a joy peace is. =)

Hmm. Then the service today. Wow. The songs were as though God was using the songs to let me know that He knows perfectly everything that I've been through. And the song, "Lord I Offer My Life To You", really gripped my heart. I think it's like God is telling me that one major "campaign" of my life has passed, and a new period shall begin soon. To borrow a term from Ps Jeff's sermon - this is a new kairos.

And I was so inspired by Ps Jeff's sermon! It really echoes what I think God has been placing in my heart increasingly! =D You know, I've been thinking and praying about what kind of work I shall do. I ended up having a good chat with Weizhu near his office yesterday (we were just chilling out, but the discussion went deeper)... and we talked about the kind of jobs that we really want to do. And now, Ps Jeff's sermon - God's guidance for me revealed more clearly.

Ps Jeff shared about how Jiexian was led by God to go to Chile as a missionary. The most dramatic thing about her testimony... was how undramatic it was. But the beautiful thing was that Jiexian came to know Christ in the NUS ministry, started aligning her heart with God's heartbeat... until she started centering her plans, family, future, career, dreams all around God's vision.

Personally, I felt very excited when Ps Jeff shared about Jiexian's testimony. Because at that point, like a volcano that suddenly erupts after lying dormant for so many years, I have this increasingly strong impression that God may be calling me to a particular place already.

I was worried about the cost, but I'm reminded that I'll just do my best practically. If God has truly called me to go, He will supply the rest of the costs. You know, I was inspired by Joyce's testimonies about how God met her financial needs for her missions trips... AND her holiday trips! She did her best practically (which was really quite small), but God miraculously met the rest of her finanical needs through other means.

2. Now I see how the future is starting to unfold exponentially for me. If it is God's will, this year, I hope to start a Nerf-gun club for the boys in June... and in July, start trying out volunteer storytelling. And perhaps an English-language enrichment class for children, especially the Chinese nationals in the later half of the year. To write more plays for the children in church. And pioneer more creative teams.

Then... perhaps at the end of this year, I'll go down to that place to visit the churches there. Honestly, I dunno how I can help. But see where God leads me. Oh. Just to clarify, I mean it as a short-term mission trip. But maybe a longer short-term missions trip... I want value for my money lah. I spend $4 or 5K, I want to make sure I squeeeeeeze heaven and earth out of my money ok. Haha.

Anyway, it's very meaningful to me, this hope, because in 2001, I responded to an altar call to go missions to that country. And everyone around me prayed for me. Then God helped me learn a language really, really fast. But after that, for the next decade, I didn't sense anything from God regarding going to that place. So I went on a couple of missions trips in the meantime, and God really stirred my heart to see how children are so important in missions and so precious to Him. And now, nearly ten years later, this thought about going to that place just came in today. =)

It's so beautiful to see how God can take all the little unresolved 'threads' of your life and like the master storyteller that He is, weave all these little thread into a grand narrative that declares His glory. Lord, I offer my life to You. Everything I've been through - use it for Your glory...

Wow. So God may have called me to get ready to prepare and get ready to go. In effect, He's put me on standby, to be ready to be mobilized anytime. But when? I dunno. That's why I said it's like being on standby. Hee. :) After the past one year, I've learnt that when He says "go", you just pack up and go. =) The blessing of obeying Him is that I've grown so much more in intimacy with God, and have the joy of seeing Him work so real and visibly in my life. How good God is! How great He is! How REAL God is!

Yet I feel very burdened for my fellow bros and sisters who sometimes get rather sian with the Christian life. Yes, their lives could be more exciting. But I wonder, is it because God didn't call them? I don't think so. After all, He said that "many are called...". Thus I think, it's simply because they chose not to have faith in God, choosing to look at the present "realities" rather than the reality of His presence. "So we see that they were not able to enter [the Promised Land], because of their unbelief." Hebrews 3:19

Again, it's not just about us making plans to go here or there, not even about missions. It's about us first aligning our hearts to His big big heart. To be CONSECRATED TO HIM. TO BE HOLY. TO BE SET APART FOR HIS USE. To be - first and foremost - His child. So we must be called by God first.

BUT... we can make ourselves freely and unreservedly available to be called upon by Him, and IF He pleases and IF your heart is single-minded to be totally His, then He can choose to train, equip and send you... anywhere He wants you to go.

3. Hmm. I think some of you may ask me what about Cambodia though?

That's the thing. I was praying and asking God where to go to next? Honestly, I do not know. But humanly speaking, I think that I can start out on this whole missions business first by supporting our Hope churches overseas first, and practically speaking, I think that place's not a bad place to start.

Just that I'll need $$$ to rain down from heaven like manna. :P But maybe I could also do fund-raising, etc... or write and ask for sponsors... see what are the most feasible ways to work it out. And oh yes, PRAY and FAST too. Because God's work done God's way will never lack God's supply. Amen! That's why I am preparing to be a freelancer. Being a freelance web developer is a great thing in the sense that you can really take your business pretty much anywhere - have internet, will travel. :)

Then... after maybe 5 or 10 years doing missions in that place, maybe go to another place that I also have in mind. Maybe another 5 or 10 years there... then go elsewhere? :) I hope I can be a globe-trotter for the Lord - or in Corrie ten Boom's own words: "I am a tramp for the Lord." Inspired by Peter Truong's lifestyle here.

Gosh. A 15-years plan. But that's the power of being called by God. Eventually you can't but help plan... and plan eagerly... because you've been touched by the all-consuming love of God and you can't but help burn with passion to see this Bible verse come true:
Habbakuk 2:14
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.
So, like Jiexian, God has guided my heart to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness... to align my career choices, my dreams, my hopes, and so on, along the lines of extending His kingdom.

What about writing + media? That's another thing I'm thinking about. Honestly I don't know. I can't say anything much except that from what I can see so far, this media is meant to be used for missions. Of course, practically speaking, I suppose I can always take photos and do a book on my travels and write stories about the children there + raise social awareness. I think that's how God might be able to integrate my writing skills too. Writing scripts as well, 'cos if you want to communicate across different cultures, it helps to have visual aids.

And... you know, I prefer plays + skits with minimal dialogue, because of my hearing-impairment ever since young. So I've loved watching mime... especially since they transcend cultures by employing universally understood human motions. =) Who knows? Plus the video camera I brought along to Africa + camera I brought to Cambodia really attracted the kids. So I reckon, reasonably speaking, is how I see the three passions I have become combined: media, missions and ministry to children. =)

4. There's so much preparation needed in so many areas, but I think what's important is to first and foremost be devoted to God and capture His heartbeat for people. To be consecrated and set apart for Him to use. To totally surrender, be totally abandoned unto God. And to know His will clearly as expressed in the Scriptures. There's really no substitute for studying His Word to know His will and listen to His heartbeat for all mankind and to learn from His infinite wisdom.

Well... yup. =) This is going to be a long, long journey. But oh, these quotes inspire me:
"God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours."
— David Livingstone

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
- Jim Elliot

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

"I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."
- Hudson Taylor

"Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little and they always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence to be with them."
- Hudson Taylor

:) Thanks for reading this super-long epic extended edition! :) You made it...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Journey of Faith: The Next Step

"So when would you like to come over? You choose the date. :)"

"Hmm... how about the start of June?"

"I'll be away in Kuching till for a week or so. How about... middle of June?"

"Hmm... ok sure! I look forward to working with you guys."

And so, Abraham agreed. And he remembered the picture of the stars so many years ago. Pursuing God's calling for him. After three years... now he'll be leaving and moving on to a new stage of ministry.

All the practical considerations... but God's call overrides them all. So I'll give my all, to answer His call.

Friday, May 14, 2010

God-In-A-Box? People-In-Boxes?

From Max Lucado's Fearless (thanks Shenteng for sharing this article!):
A woman in the hotel check-in line was holding one of my books under her arm. I was hesitant to introduce myself lest she explain that her doctor had prescribed the volume as insomnia treatment. But I took the risk. She actually said she liked it. But on second glance, she didn’t believe that I was who I claimed to be.

She flipped open the dust jacket, looked at my picture, then up at me. ‘You’re not Max Lucado.’

‘Yes I am. The picture on the book was taken many years ago; I’ve changed.’

With no smile, she looked again at the photo. ‘No,’ she insisted, ‘Max Lucado has a mustache, no wrinkles, and a full head of hair.’

‘He used to,’ I explained.

She wouldn’t budge. ‘He still does.’

I wanted to show her my driver’s license but opted to let her live with her delusion. After all, if she wanted to remember me as a thirty-year-old, who was I to argue?

Besides, I understand her reluctance. Once you have someone pegged, it’s easier to leave him there. She had me figured out. Defined. Captured. Freeze-framed in a two-by-three image. Max-in-a-box.

Boxes bring wonderful order to our world. They keep cereal from spilling and books from tumbling. When it comes to containing stuff, boxes are masterful. But when it comes to explaining people, they fall short. And when it comes to defining Christ, no box works.
And here's what Shenteng shared:
My reflection is that many times I tend to box myself, people and God in a certain way. We tend to define people according to our experiences with them. Sometimes we box ourselves up thinking that we are a certain type of people. We also box God up in a certain way so that we can understand Him better.

I find that I cannot box myself up because it will limit my growth as a person. Likewise for other people, if we keep thinking that others will behave in a certain way, it limits our thinking and we are not allowing God to move in their lives and change them. My application is that I need to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal more about myself, others and God in my life. I need to stay open-minded in all areas. How about you? In what boxes have you tried to put yourself, others and Jesus in your life?

God Is On The Move In (Even) My Life

From Pastor Jim Martin's A Place For The God-Hungry:

God really is on the move.

Yet, sometimes we get distracted by those people who seem to have everything going their way.

What do you think when your friend finally gets her dream job? What do you think when your friend is about to get married? What do you think when your friend finds out that she is pregnant?

If you are like many, this is what you think: “Where is my dream job? Why can’t I be married? When are we going to have children?” [read more...]

It's a very timely encouragement. And during sub-D caregroup today, there was a prophecy that encouraged me. And two video teachings that Eugene played for us - Bruce Wilkinson, author of the famous Prayer of Jabez - they were about the wrong and right responses to faith.

Putting all the pieces together so far, I think God allowed me to go through the Marah experience to reveal what was in my heart. And very frankly, I saw how sour and vindictive I can become, and even petty too. Thank God for his good Spirit, who reveals the innermost secrets of my heart to me... I suppose, thank God, that I have grown in my maturity of response over the years, especially in faith, a patient spirit, and thanking God no matter what. But my heart still struggled with a sour spirit, to be honest.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Holy Kick-Ass! Look at Your Abilities, Not Your Weaknesses!

I can't fly. But I can kick your ass.

That's true kick-ass attitude man. We may not able to do a lot of powerful things. But what we can do to make a difference, let's go and do. And God will help us kick Satan's ass. Amen.
Romans 16:20
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

(BTW Does the guy in the poster remind you of a certain boxer?)
Ok. I'm back with guns blazin'.

Yup, you got a discouraged post last night, asking for comments.

To answer Huanyan, there's obviously more reasons why. I'll just state my reason why: I need comments help me gauge how I'm doing with my writing. And frankly, I felt like Vincent van Gogh who was really discouraged. Look, we artistic souls do need a word of acknowledgment of our talents ok? Started seriously doubting whether I even have the talent for writing.

Of Men and (Wo)men: Part I

Came across a sister's blog. She wrote this:
there are 5 things i want to emphasize about:

1) i cannot over emphasize this, but i cant stand men who are ultra..
childish; passive; insecure; stubborn; calculative; impatient; attention seeking; MCP; prideful & playboy.
i hope women can stop giving in to such characteristics of men while thinking that they'll change one day. face it, if you keep giving in to such traits of theirs, they will never change.

2) i also cant stop emphasizing that biblical men should lead biblical women. if women always have to take lead in making decisions, setting biblical standards, etc, God would have made women first than the men. if you feel that you're not leading as a guy, please do sth and stop being passive. if you're a girl and your guy aint leading, please pray and fast whether he's the right one for you.

3) the opposite gender aint your property or person that you own alone. the universe is not just centred between both of you. open your r/s for friends, leaders and family to come in.

4) loving the strengths and admiring inner and outer beauty is important. but whats equally important is that you're accepting and embracing each others' weaknesses and shortcomings too. love aint a bed of roses nor a fairytale. we're all still human.

5) lastly guys, dont explore other girls if you're already in deep exploration with another girl. you'll only be a heartbreaker.

I was thinking abt what she wrote, and well, of course it's impt and helpful. All the pts are very true... esp pt 2. However, I think we gotta look at it from the Bigger Picture: that these pts apply as much to girls as much as guys... (excepting pt 2)... which means that these pts are actually gender-neutral then.

1. I gotta speak up for the bros too, man. It irritates me to see the bros being given short shrift everytime. Somehow the bros seem to have the raw end of the deal. Look, is it always the bros' fault tt they are childish, impatient, passive and insecure, etc. etc.?

Whoa! I see the look of shock on your face. I'll clarify: is it always anyone's fault here? I'll ask you: is the church a hotel for perfect people... or is it a redemptive "repair" facility for those who have come out from darkness into light? Is it the church's role to condemn those who are ignorant? It's the church's role to judge those who deliberately do evil - in that case, "expel the wicked man from among you". But what if we men genuinely do not know what we are doing? In that case, WHO WILL TEACH US?

I mean, when I came in, I really knew nuts abt social maturity, interacting with others, friendship, godliness and all that. I came in with pride and arrogance and immaturity. And I struggled with loneliness for many years, being a social outcast in church, trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and crying out to God for an answer. And the worst part was when a subd leader just wrote this "encouragement": "I hope to see you grow in your r/p with people." That was all he wrote, which, frankly, sucks. The church failed miserably here.

Screw it lah. Thank God for bros who did care. They taught me to see that the Bible calls us to be godly. To be men. To be courageous. And they taught me skills and knowledge and understanding. And most of all, there were a few, a very few truly wise brothers, who actually showed me real grace. THEN the church shone gloriously here. Now, I have the joy of being a shepherd after TEN years. And in turn, I see other bros who also struggle in lostness and ignorance. So, yes, I do carry on the work of teaching and making disciples. BUT THE QUESTION IS: I WANT TO ASK, WHY DID THEY HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG UNTIL SOMEONE CARED ENOUGH TO REALLY DISCIPLE THEM? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," God lamented to Hosea.

I rest my case. It is not always the brothers' fault. Or the sisters' fault. Yes, there are people who will not listen. But how about those who have not even gotten the chance to hear? Brothers and sisters, will YOU go and teach us what the Lord wants of us?
"i hope women can stop giving in to such characteristics of men while thinking that they'll change one day. face it, if you keep giving in to such traits of theirs, they will never change."
This one, yes, I agree. It's important. But... I also want to say that this applies to women too. Godliness and character are gender-neutral.

2. All the other points, yes and amen. Still, I want to say that all these apply to the sisters too. In fact, I think sisters are often in danger of being deceived by their emotions and false thinkings more easily than brothers. Remember 2 Cor 11:3 and 1 Tim 2:14! (Man, I am so going to get bombarded for this statement. But yes, correct me if you think I'm wrong or unbalanced. But I'm just speaking my mind here about what I think is true.)

Edited to add:
Ooh. The sister just pointed out to me that it's DEEP exploration. Not surface level. Orrhhh. Sorry, I blur-blur liao.

Anyway, do read Angela's comment reply - it's very good, you should read it and be enlightened. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Frank Brother-To-Brother Talk

think abt it
  we all talk so much abt being spiritual here and there
  but come to think of it
  have we ever been taught how to win a sister's heart?
  we have to look around, ask around... pick up whatever scraps of knowledge we can find.
10:27 PM i tell u
  it's only teh goodlooking guys. the guys with humour who win
  deep breath
  the confident guys
  the macho guys
  who win
10:28 PM we weaklings
  we nice guys
  we are the losers
  the outcasts, the rejects
  the church has failed us
10:29 PM in this area
  (man, i wonder why i said all these. you know what i mean?)

Evanescence of Beauty

He stared out of the glassy window, heart quivering tremulously, not knowing how else to excise the quiet ache in his heart. In the midst of the fuzzy bokeh reflections painted onto the streaked glass of the cafe, he gazed out into the night of ephemeral streetlights that flitted on and off like fireflies in a languid stupor.

Interpersed with the bright lights of the yellow cafe lamps were the falling silver raindrops, which looked for all the world to him like a potpourri of diamonds carelessly spilled from the waterfalls of eternity. And he wished that he could capture one of those ephemeral diamonds with his fingers and freeze its warm amaranthine beauty that even now was trickling helplessly into the black drain.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Next Stage

I have been thinking about what is the next stage of my life's work, and just what is the work the Father has called me to do, in the midst of all this working madness. And thinking about it... I've been waiting for God to call me for missions, to the frontline... to guide me in the next step to take for my career, my calling, my life's work...

But I think God also is waiting for me to take the next step too. And I realised from Isaiah 6, He is calling for volunteers who will respond out of their own free will. "Who will go for us? And whom shall I send?" God isn't looking for conscripts, but calling for volunteers.

Lord I Offer My Life To You

It burns my heart to listen to this song. Come and listen...

"All that I am
All that I have..."

And I remember Hong Teck's sermon. About stewardship of the talents and abilities God has given me. I was moaning to Weizhu about how he had something so much easier than me. And yes, he had to agree. =) No, it's a matter of fact - life can be unfair... in fact, friend, life IS unfair. But God is good. As Peter shared with me: "Everyone has his own opponent."

The more important thing, however, is not to look at what I do not have, but... what I do have.

"All my regrets, all my acclaims
The joy and the pain, I'm making them Yours"

What were your happiest moments? Proudest moments? Were there many or were there few? Thank God for His grace to me, that even though I was hearing-impaired, He allowed me to have some moments of glory in school. But oh, there were many regrets in school and even ministry, like I should have studied harder... I shouldn't have said that thing to that friend... I shouldn't have been late... I shouldn't have let of that opportunity to share...

But nothing is ever wasted when we surrender them to the Lord. For in his hands is redemption, that even our worst nightmares and deepest pains can be redeemed into something more beautiful than your wildest dreams.

"Lord I offer my life to You
Everything I've been through
Use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
As a pleasing sacrifice..."

Ah. This burns my heart so much. A sign of absolute surrender, a paean of utter abandonment unto God. "Use it for Your glory..." Have you been ostracised? Have you been praised? Have you been forgiven? Have you been condemned? Have you been protected? Or have you been ravished? Have you been comforted? Or have you been scourged?

All these things... would I still utterly surrender myself to the Father? To surrender and die like how Jesus did?

I remember Eugene sharing in one of the prayer meetings something very powerful: we talk about trusting God that everything will work out for our good.

But what would be the greatest measure of surrender to God? Letting go even of our desires that God will bless us, and instead saying, "Lord, all these things I am going through... I pray that You will work it all out for YOUR glory. Not my will, but Yours be done."


Thoughts About Stewardship: What Being Faithful Really Means

I was thinking about Hong Teck's sermon. Personally, I think it's a great sermon... =) perhaps also because Hong Teck's the kind of person who will really think through what he's been taught and not blindly parrot it. LOL. That's a very strong statement, to say, "not blindly parrot it". I write that way, because I was thinking back to my earlier days, when people would talk about the need to be faithful and trustworthy... and efficiency was highly lauded and esteemed. I know of a couple of dear brothers who would really push themselves and share about how little they slept in order to meet deadlines.

Now, I'm not saying that it's not good to be responsible. No lah! In fact, that's something I've been learning from their examples... but about the two brothers... I noticed what I think was a difference in the way they said that they have to push the deadlines.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ID2010: Stewardship - 4 Ways To Maximise Our Abilities

Hong Teck preached a great sermon about stewarding our abilities from Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV).
I'll put up a summary here:
1. Recognize your abilities (v14-15)
The master gave according to their abilities.
God never gives pearls to pigs.

The question is not abt whether God recognizes or believes in our abilities, but about whether we recognize our abilities or not. Often we look for resources first. But we should recognize the abilities God has given us first.

a. Recognize your strengths and keep doing them everyday.
- practice it! don't lose it...
- exercise your giftings every day.
- keep believign and keep doign it everyday

b. Recognize your weaknesses. Be gracious and if possible stop doing it or keep it to acceptable levels.
- Don't hoard a ministry I'm weak in, just so that I can prove myself!
- Be courageous to admit my weaknesses.

Weaknesses are not sins!

We say that we don't have lots of abilities. But perhaps it's because we don't recognize our abilities in small packages.

2. Multiply your resources (v16-18)
People / things / etc
Multiply, not just add!

Give your 100% - literally! (reproduction... thank God we pass on 100% of our chromosomes... :))
Multiply is kingdom principle

Mark 4:8 "multipling 30, 60 or even a 100 times"

To multiply, set goals... but don't confuse goals with godliness...
Growth is found in the places you're most scared of. (Remember the context of doing these in the areas of our strength...)

3. Enjoy Your Faithful and Fruitful partnership with God(v19-23)
"Come and share your master's happiness!"
Let God bless us rather than us blessing ourselves.

4. Challenge flawed mindsets (in favour of faith ones)(v24-27)
"So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground." - procrastination...
The worthless servant had a flawed mindset of who God is.
Wicked + lazy...

a. Is your mindset fixed? Has it been fixed on caution, rules, laws?
b. Is your mindset promoting laziness / idleness - or does it promote progress?
we have to be for progress, even tho at times it's "wasteful"
the woman with the alabaster jar

c. Is your mindset based on fear or is it based on faith?
by failing faster you'll progress faster (but don't do stupid things!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Unappreciated God

Was praying just now, taking a walk around Bras Basah. Then while praying in the Spirit, I think God whispered to me as I looked around at the greenery. =)

I think He said, "Look at the leaves I made. Aren't they nice?"

"Oh, yes, Lord, they are! You made them."

"Yes... and not many people appreciate these plants I made."

Ohh.... I think I know what He meant. Because I had shared with Him a couple of days back that I felt really depressed 'cos nobody seemed to appreciate my creative works. So I wasn't sure whether He really wanted me to be in the field of media. Besides, I wasn't sure how I can ever make it, in the field of people who are so much more skilled and talented than me.

But hee, thank God. I think He said, "Here's looking at you, kid!" He answered my uncertainties... and yah, I remember that He has made so many beautiful things... but honestly, very few of us stop to admire and appreciate His works... and to even affirm and praise God for what He has done, especially for the Bible, which He wrote. Gosh. And yet God is so big-hearted that He still keeps on creating and creating every day... He never grows tired of handcrafting each daisy, each cloud, each sunrise... each foetus. Yet, very few people stop to appreciate them. Only babies and little children are big-eyed enough to see and appreciate...

"How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom You made them all.
The earth is full of Your creatures."

Amen and amen. =)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letter To You, Father.

Dear Father,

Thank You so much for carrying me through the past month. Thinks have been really intense... but thank You for the really refreshing time with Edmund (the one in NUS) yesterday. Hee. Very thankful for this dear bro's friendship. 


Hmm.. guess I've been feeling really saturated by work, and worries and so on. So actually it was rather hard for me to come before You and be still. But yeah, prayed in the Spirit... and oh, it brought me back to the times in NUS when I felt down. And I remembered that You are the same yesterday and today and forever. =)

Yup... I want to chase You again, Father.

You know, I was wondering why is it that I talk with You differently as compared to talking with, say, Weizhu or Edmund. Hmm. I dunno. I always get melancholic when talking with You... you know, just being quite MEL... I dunno. Maybe it's because I can be real before You... but You know what? I think I still haven't really learnt to enjoy Your presence as a friend. But maybe it's not a bad thing in the sense that I also must revere You, for You are GOD... You are my Father...

Hmm. Yah. Hee. Maybe I relate to You more like a Father... which, actually, is the point of it all. And yeah, why not? But it's great having You as my brother too... Jesus our brother, our kor-kor. =D And Your Holy Spirit as the Counsellor. 

I like You, God, I really do. =D

Ha. So much I've yet to know of You Lord. I haven't even begun to plumb the depths of your Personality... your love... and so on... I could search for all eternity long, and find there is none like You.
What should be the Christian's ultimate work in life?

I think it's to proclaim the gospel of peace in whatever we do. To highlight Jesus and share about Him to the nations. Hmm. Realign! Be single-minded, yeu ann.

O, that I had the wings of a dove

Psalm 55:1-8

migrating my blog to this secret address. ok, it's not that hidden i guess, but yeah, just feel discouraged by the lack of comments, even from friends.

anyway, maybe it's time to stop blogging and start writing a book. a proper children's book.

and thinking abt philip yancey's advice, i guess i need to establish authority first, find a platform...

maybe i'll go for the hearing-impaired guy who became an RI student... and... actually what does it all matter? Lord, I just feel so ordinary and inadequate.

*looks around*

mm. it's nice to have a secret hiding place. to just type publicly, yet "anonymously".

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Moment of Darkness

Hmm. Just feeling another wave of discouragement again. Whoosh! Hmmmmm... the Philip Yancey talk was good. But to be honest, I feel really inadequate for writing. =\ I guess it's probably because I don't really get much comments on my blog, which makes me ask myself whether I really have any writing talent.

I dunno. I feel rather lost here. What skills or talents do I have that is outstanding enough to shine for God? And I guess it's not really glamourous doing data entry work for a website. I hate data entry. It's vomit-blood work. :\ Mind-numbing.

Lord, what does it take to be your man?

(At least Hong Teck told me, "Write for Him." And I remember Peter's gift of a pencil to me with these words: "Write for Him. :)")

Yup. If no one else likes my work, at least You'll like it. And I guess that's all that really matters in eternity.

Ah! I just saw Hong Teck's latest blog post:


Whoa. =) Something that's of worth, that will bless your heart.

And I remember God used me to really bless my colleagues, especially one of them, who wrote me a card of thanks: "Thanks for teaching me how to forgive." Yay! Maybe that's what will really make this life count in God's eyes. Good works. Not saved by good works, but saved to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do.

Kimi Wa Aisareru Tame Umareta: You Are Born To Be Loved.

Just came back from the monthly OMF prayer meeting for Japan, having gone with Joyce, Shuyi and a sister from NUS ministry (Wan Xian). Asked Spencer along too, but he couldn't make it. Was very blessed and refreshed by the fellowship with like-minded bros n sisters from other churches as we prayed together for the missionaries and churches in Japan.

The thing about the OMF prayer meetings is that honestly, it's really very... soft and gentle, the way the Christians pray tog. And since we're all from different denominations, for those of us who practise praying in tongues, we don't do so in there (or very softly), so as not to make our non-praying-in-tongues bros and sisters feel uncomfortable.

There were 4 things that I really want to thank God for...

Monday, May 3, 2010

I read this comment on Youtube by a couple of wonderful Christian sisters who can sing Christian songs really really well:
Hi djseoh, thank you for your honesty in sharing your thoughts. We do see where you are coming from. In all honesty, we take quite some time choosing what song to upload next. We've also contemplated whether or not it should be a christian song. Quite frankly, our conclusion was that we want to be real in all our videos. To do this, our heart of worship is not to be compromised. Our sole purpose on Youtube is to share the joy we have in the Lord. Blessings to you :)
Wow. I'm inspired. Timely reminder! Thank You Jesus. =D

Yes, I want to glorify You, Lord, in whatever I do - whether work or play or art or deed or anything... to just give you thanks. :)

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Hee. So on forth with the plans I've made - jiayou Kin Wee too, I'll SMS you too hee... but motives and desires renewed.

And all the praise and glory to God
We sing Hallelujah sing Hallelujah
For the King has carried the cross
He is risen from the grave

The Cure for Stress? Strain.

It's been quite a few sleepless nights for me, and I'm physically exhausted. Work's really huge - it compares with Napoleon trying to conquer Russia... it was simply too big for him. Can't believe I'm doing a massive copy-paste job that takes me 12 hours +++ - and that's with some help from my sheep. :) LOL.

But I'm reminded that looking at everything from a divine perspective, God is shaping me to be a newer person. Renewed in how I choose to commit to meeting deadlines. Renewed in how I choose to have integrity. Renewed in how I choose to see my situations. Shall I see the stars, or just the bars?

No, not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Wouldn't consider myself to have yet taken hold of all these wonderful character traits yet... but one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind, I strain towards what is ahead. I press on towards the goal to be the me that God made me - and wants me - to be.

Yes, are we stressed? We may be. But let's strain on then! If He bore the weight of the world upon His shoulders...

What grace divine what selflessness
That Christ would bear the weight
Our proof is scarred on hands that bled
That we were worth every nail

And all the praise and glory to God
We sing Hallelujah sing Hallelujah
For the King has carried the cross
He is risen from the grave

Verse 3:
Beyond the tomb to holy skies
He rose in victory
And bridged for us the great divide
His life is our liberty

Amen! :) Jiayou brothers n sisters... keep pressing on... it's not the success that counts as much as our faithfulness to Jesus!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Show and Tell

The skillful writer shows more than tell.
I have this itch to do some more volunteer work again.

Don't Worry, Be Joyful!

Had gone through a period of very deep worry recently. It was so bad that it affected my work, and left me demoralized. But thank God so much... instead of scolding me for being worried, He actually kept encouraging me with Bible verses and passages directly whispered into my mind. And He also sent me brother after brother to encourage me in so many ways and directions.

As a result, I have come to see just how caring God is. He really is the compassionate and gracious God... if He cares for even the tiniest sparrow that falls to the ground, and knows the no. of hairs that fall off my head (though He might not replace them....), wow, He cares so deeply. I want to care for others, like Jesus cares for me! Amen!

As I was reading Philippians today, I saw some passages that spoke directly to the worries and burdens in my heart. You know, Philippians is a very good book for working adults with financial concerns. It was written to Christians, who though not persecuted in the physical sense, did get discriminated against in the economic sense. So they were understandably worried about their finances and potential loss of jobs. So I think the Philippian Christians can understand even better than us about the fear of losing their jobs / being scolded by their employers / being seen as bad testimonies by their peers (refusing to pay respect to the pagan deities who were supposed to be patrons of their respective guilds, etc.). 

1. The first passage reminded me of what really counts in life:
"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage [the proper translation is actually "shit / dung / crap"] , so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith."
Philippians 3:7-9

2. Then the next passage that spoke to me what I ought to be doing instead of worrying:
"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon."

Yes, I ought to be always full of joy in the Lord. Because one effect of worry is to make me more and more inconsiderate. I remember a lot of times I would flare up at my parents, because I was so caught up in my worries, even when they do care. :( There's a lot of negative effects. Worry also causes me to forget that the Lord is near, that He's coming soon to deliver me.

Now when thinking about worry, I think we shouldn't be so worried about the fact that we are worried. I think some people say that it's a sin to worry. That only gets us worried people more worried! (Win already lor.) I understand, from the context of the passage, that, on the contrary, God deeply cares about the fact that we are burdened in this fallen world with so many worries. So He tells us, "Don't worry lah. Cast all your anxieties on me, because I care for you." So I think one biblical way to help a person out of the trap of worrying is to point them towards the fact that God cares for them. It's God-centric, and also helps the person surrender to God.

3. But worry can be dangerous too. It causes us to start losing faith and start fleeing. I was playing Napoleon: Total War recently, and what struck me was the attention to morale in the game. The troops could have a lot of numbers, but when starting to lose units, they will start to get very concerned. (Which is perfectly normal, man.) If their morale got too low, they would start retreating, and then routing. However more well-disciplined units would stand and even fight to the death. In fact, they would actually fix their bayonets and charge ferociously toward the enemy instead. Yes, the more courageous troops were equally concerned about their own men getting killed. But they chose to override their natural fears with something greater in mind.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about such things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:6-9

This passage really touched me, because it really understands what I had been going through! Instead of getting demoralized by work and ministry deadlines and other worries e.g. will God meet my needs in this area? that area?, I can choose to fix my thots upon what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. And to practice the good things that I have been taught already.

4. So I want to share this study note that I have with you:

Worry is a completely unproductive emotion. It is the advance interest we pay on troubles that seldom come. But these verses give us the best antidote for worry - prayer. God wants to be the first one we turn to in times of worry or crisis. When we do, He promises a special blessing if we do the following four things:

1. Stop Worrying and Start Praying. Don't ever think that your need is too insignificant for God's attention. He wants us to pray about everything.

2. Tell God Your Needs. Even though God is all-knowing and is well aware of your situation, he desires that you verbalize your needs to him and place them in his hands.

3. Present Your Requests with Thanks. Instead of praying with feelings of doubt, we can thank God for his answers in advance because of the promises he has made to us in his Word.

4. Receive God's Peace. One you do these things, Philippians 4:7 says that you will experience God's peace. In the original Greek text, this verse literally means that God's peace will mount a guard / garrison" around your heart and mind to keep and protect you during those difficult times in your life.

The next time you are tempted to worry about something, channel into prayer all of the energy you would have put into worry. Say something like, "Lord, here is my problem. It looms ever larger in my path, so I am putting it into your hands. I am not going to worry, Lord. Instead, I am going to trust you. I am even going to thank you in advance for what you will do, because you know what you are doing."

This may not always be an easy thing to do, but if you want to overcome worry and experience God's peace, it is something you must consciously do.

May the peace of God be upon you as you work and study... and may the God of peace be with you even as you do what is good in His eyes! God bless... and go bless!