Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why am I so blessed? Why do I see God so real and readily now when last time, I struggled with feelings of doubt and lostness? So many other people have not escaped from the rut, from their discouragement, their lostness... but here I stand, having been lifted out of the miry clay.

I think ... maybe because I learnt to act justly, love mercy and most of all, am learning to walk humbly with my God.

*thoughtful sigh* Maybe. Or maybe it's simply His grace. And that when I draw near to Him, I trust that He will draw near to me too.

Yeah, there are times I am suddenly attacked by feelings of doubt that God is real, Jesus is just a myth and experiencing God just a subjective outburst of emotions due to my amgydala being in spasms...

But then I turn my eyes and look at Jesus on the cross. Artless, brutal, horrifying, bloody... and ordinary in today's world of violence. Ah. The brutality of the cross clears up the mind like a blast of rancid smelling-salts. No doubts about this - Christianity, of all religions, preach a God who was murdered, despised, spat upon, whipped, abused, tortured, betrayed and so on. In comparison to Allah's detachment, to Buddha's calmness, to the impersonalness of Brahman... I see a naked, bleeding man crying out like millions of his fellow people two thousand years later in the gas chambers, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

And the Bible tells me that that fellow on the cross is the Saviour of the whole world. Personally, I think and feel that this, indeed, is the most realistic admission that this is a horrible world of suffering and fallenness. And I read in the Bible that God chose not to just tell us that He cares... but that He silently, like a lamb to the slaughter, submitted himself to the same world that every suffering human has gone through.

If there is a God, then this is the most realistic God I've ever seen.

But not just that. The Resurrection gives me assurance that Jesus' claims are valid. The resurrection gives me hope, that if it indeed happened, then my God, it follows that Jesus really is the Son of God. And if He is the Son of God, that means... God exists... and that He really does care... and that He really can save us all.

And oh, how humble He is. Humbly He came, to the earth He created; all for love's sake became poor. To think that God came down and washed our feet... man, to think of Jesus washing our feet, it makes me cry every single time. Really. I mean, He didn't have to do that... but He WANTED to. Do I need any proof that God really loves you and me? He is not just a holy God. He is a HUMBLE God. No man could ever have imagined up a God like this God. A God of utter meekness, utter obedience and utter humility. Man. So in love with God. How not to love Him, honestly? How? How? How can I not give Him my life in love, when He gave His life in love for you and me, to set us free?

*darn it, I'd better not type any more here. This is a public place, and my eyes are starting to leak. :)*

Ah. The Incarnation. The Cross. And the Resurrection. That's why I believe there is a God... and a good and perfect God at that. That He knows. That He understands. That He cares... and... that He really has the power to help us, if He wants to.

And I think He does want to. As long as it is called Today. :)

"Help me be You to him/her."

Wow. Very pleasantly surprised. After posting that "Saved by an Atheist" link, a good friend who left Hope some time ago messaged me. S/he shared that the link got him thinking, about some burdens that s/he had and why s/he left Hope. Feel very touched and grateful that my dear friend would choose to share with me. And actually, was very touched by what s/he wrote. It's very real and true...

Thank God that by just being myself, posting Christian stuff on Facebook and so on... I can be a blessing to others. It's just like what Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world." Sometimes we think we have to do so much. But perhaps it's more important to be the right kind of person than just to do the right things. For doing may not lead to being, but being inevitably leads to doing.

I wonder why we are so worried about praying in public. I think we worry about looking strange. Well, yes, we are a peculiar people, as one translation of 1 Peter puts it. Why shouldn't we be peculiar in a good way? No, I don't mean forcing. But naturally sharing and being salty. To just be ourselves, and the more we walk with God, the saltier and lightier we become. Haha. High in sodium, extra-light. :D And I guess people like salt. (Just look at today's diets lah. Once you pop, you can't stop!)

Another thought. I promised a friend who has been undergoing some discouragement and disappointment with the church not to talk about God, but just listen how s/he's feeling. :) But I prayed in my heart: "Lord, I may not be able to talk to him/her about You, nor do I think that a wise nor kind idea. But... help me be You to him/her. As You said, I am Your ambassador. So God, help me be You to him/her. In Jesus' name, amen."


I think, people, in their deepest moments of sorrow and mourning, need not so much the knowledge that God cares for them, but that they need the care. It's like a thirsty person who knows that water is good. "Yah. I know. Water is good. But bloody damnit, I need water right now!" Perhaps the most God thing to do at that moment would be to give water. Because Jesus would give a cup of cold water. Or bread. And in a strange, transcendental way, I believe that the person directly experiences God through the bread and water. (Sounds like Holy Communion? Exactly!)

If we are Christians (literally meaning "little Christs"), and we "no longer live, but Christ lives in" us, then logically speaking, we who bear His name ARE God (in terms of authority) to these people. We are His hands to comfort, His shoulders for others to cry upon, His feet to carry them through, His guts to feel compassion and so on. We are His Body. (Sounds like the Church? Exactamente.)

People may cry out: "Where is God when it hurts?" The answer is clear: "Here, in the form of Yeu Ann. In the form of Peter. In the form of Shuyi. In the form of Huanyan. In the form of Pastor Jeff. In the form of Hong Teck. In the form of little Nathan. In the form of Kin Wee. In the form of this person and that person. In the form of the Church."

Scarily true. Because so much responsibility has been entrusted by Christ to the Church (yes, to you and me) to execute His will on earth as it is in heaven. "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." The Divine "Abdication", so as to speak.

That's why I don't find it theologically sound that we should always tell people to look up to God AND not depend on men. Yes, we may fear our sheep becoming dependent on humans. But no, the Bible tells us to be dependent on God - AND interdependent on one another. It teaches us that we must learn to love one another as Christ loved us. And our eternal destiny, in a terrifying way, does depend on how we choose to treat others, especially fellow Christians / disadvantaged people, in Matthew 25:31-46: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me... whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me."

So yes, I think we have to be God to these people... to be Christ incarnate once again to help people who are blinded to help them see God. (No, I'm not advocating pantheism! But you see what I mean?)

Hmm. Something that made me think (and which I'm grateful that Peter patiently helped me understand: that I really don't have to be anyone else to make a difference and impact.) That it's really ok to be myself. :) That I don't have to act ra-ra or anything like that. But what matters is having the right character. There's so many different kinds of personalities, and all of them are fine. We shouldn't try to imitate another person's personality. But we are indeed called to imitate only one character - the character of Christ. So if we see someone having Christlike character, then "follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

Peter's advice was so different from the advice that I had gotten from other leaders back in my tertiary days. I was taught that I should try to be more "culturally relevant" and act a certain way in order to appeal to the "jocks" and the "more influential" people - whoever they were supposed to be.

I know that was the underlying expectation, and I did my best. But felt terrible and useless when I couldn't meet up to that set of expectation (whether it was real or just perceived). Then one of the leaders told me, when I was at my lowest, this: "I'm sorry that we can't meet your needs." Wah. That hurt a lot. As in... I felt the other people in the uni ministry saw me as a needy person, you know, one of those "he's not doing well" persons. (Yeah, I wasn't. And that felt even worse to be one of "those" people.) And felt that the leader had given up on me.

But thank God for His grace. That at my lowest point, He sent me wiser and bigger-hearted shepherds to point me back to the Way again. To remind me what being a disciple was all about. And that there is so much freedom in walking with Him - God can use you, no matter how "inadequate" you feel. People like Hong Teck, like Peter, like Weizhu, and so on. I also saw grace in people like my neighbour Andrew, and well, so many other people. And haha, there's also a dear friend who's very similar in personality to me. Just the fact that s/he's here in church really comforts me, because I know that I'm not the only person to have a unusual perspective on life and things. That it's possible to be godly and have a "weird" perspective on daily things and yet be mature - and find favour with God and men.

:) Thank God He can work even through someone like me. :D Help me have confidence in You, and so attempt great things for You. Amen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Need to start setting aside an evening a week to start programming for my iPhone. Have to be accountable - my mum helped to pay for my iPhone and Mac mini to support my programming venture.

It's purely good hard work from here onwards. God has helped me this far... now I know He wants me to just knuckle down and work.

Lord, help me work hard as You want me to. To be a wise man as Proverbs teaches me. I reap what I sow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Secret of Staying Balanced: "I Just Move."

I was with some of the other HopeKids people recceeing Outward Bound School in East Coast Park last Saturday, when I saw Kelvin and Yung's ten-year-old son, Nathan, skating on his skateboard.

Now today's 21st-century skateboards are to our '80s skateboards what a jet fighter is to a propeller plane. They're really unstable, with two wheels only, and they even twist in the middle. But boy, oh boy, you can do stunts unparalleled on today's skateboards that wouldn't look out of place in Cirque du Soleil - or if you're not so nimble, in Monty Python's Flying Circus.

So I asked Nathan, "Can I try your skateboard?"


So I tried. I couldn't even stand on the skateboard for five seconds. Man. At least with the previous generation of skateboards, you could stand on them without toppling over like an end-game Jenga block in an earthquake.

I looked curiously at the Skateboard.

"How do you manage to balance on this skateboard?"

He replied with a nonchalant shrug, "I just move."

With that, he stepped lightly onto the skateboard and, with a swift kick off the ground, flew around on his skateboard. Naturally, I was impressed.

As I watched him move easily, and pondered over my own clumsiness, I realised that a young boy taught me, in that way only children can do, how to live the balanced Christian life.

I guess sometimes we worry about this, trying to be the right person in all the right proportions e.g. stewardship of time, balance of work and ministry, rest, spending time with people and so on. Trying to look like we have it all together before others, to be society's ideal of an "all-rounded" person - even in the church.

But it's awfully stressful, isn't it? Not that you're being hypocritical or anything, but rather, you're already trying your best to be good. And you find that it's a very tiring thing for you, frankly. Not impossible, but tiring. And then you wonder whether you have to do this day after day.

But watching Nathan having fun on his skateboard taught me that it's not meant to be like that. True, at the start, it's all slips and falls. But one thing about children is that they usually don't cry and feel down when they slip and fall. They just accept it as a natural part of the learning process. It is we adults who put the shame into failing. Constantly correcting every step of their ways, so that "they don't make mistakes."

I know one dear brother, who's a wise and godly man. Thing is, I wonder how his children will feel in future, because he constantly corrects, out of love and concern, every step that I make sometimes. Heh. I think I should tell him that hey, if it's not going to kill or incapacitate or scar me for life, then let me make my mistakes and learn from them. :)

Of course, the kids don't just stay there and keep making the same mistake again and again. They just move. They get up and fall down. They rinse and repeat. Get up, just move a bit further more, and fall down again. Which makes sense. Ultimately, even the most pro skateboarder has to fall down sooner or later. It's just that he/she falls later with grace. :)

Which goes back to a life lived in and with and by grace. That you fall down, get up and move again. You just move. Then no matter how difficult the road, no matter how trying the conditions, you learn to stay balanced even when the road gets bumpy and you start going uphill.

That's the secret of walking the balanced Christian life... to walk like Jesus, the most balanced Person ever. His path was uber-challenging. The straightest and narrowest path that any human had to ever walk. And yet He strayed neither to the left nor to the right. He was fully in sync with His Father's will, all the way to the cross. And even when he was being crucified, He had one thief on his right, and another on His left. Now how's that for balance?

So just keep moving with Him every step of the way. "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

:) Thank God for His using a young child to teach me a wonderful life-lesson.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Now I understand better, though I'm going through the same cycle of anxiety, why I feel what I feel.

(Thank God for two dear friends who prayed for me last night. :))

I realised that even though the actual rejection hasn't even happened, I start drafting up a series of the responses that I would make in the event that I really do get rejected. And then I will start examining and replaying and analysing and worrying about a scenario that hasn't even happened.

But what about the other scenario? What if it really does turn out for the better? What would my response be?

I realised that I'm so fixated on my contingency plans for the negative scenario, that I have no plans for the positive scenario!

On a bigger scale, I realise that this is often my default response when it comes to responding to how I perceive others to be responding to me.

Sometimes a person may not say hi when I say hi. I would start wondering why the person didn't say hi in response. Very often, I will only focus on the negative scenario - "I must have done something to upset that person." "The person doesn't like me." and so on.

But I forget to look on the positive side. Maybe it's really not the person having an issue with me. A simpler reason could just be that the person isn't well.

This really happened last week, BTW. The person I greeted didn't respond to me, because he/she was sick. That's all.

Hmm. Very interesting... that I respond not to any actual rejection or bad happenings, but that I respond to my fears of rejection, bad happenings and so on.

But how about the good side as well? Have to also look on the bright side. That's being... balanced. Maybe God really could be working for your good in this situation, you know, Yeu Ann. ;)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hallo God. Sorry, Father, I know from Ps Jeff's sermon today that I should be tougher. And more tender. To be very honest, I really am not tough enough for this wait I think. Too many fears and insecurities buffeting my soul. So I sent the email that it's ok, there's no need to reply. Did it as graciously and as kindly as possible.

I prayed before I sent it. Then I launched it. I expect another cold war again, but what loss is it if it really does turn out to be so? My conscience is clear (though that doesn't make me innocent), and I've done my best possible, with agonized prayer and trembling heart. I'm sorry, Father, I don't have the necessary fortitude for this length of waiting again.

For if the cold war comes back again, then I know that the character of the other person couldn't hold up to the test, and so it would have never been a loss in the first place.

Sing, my soul, sing again to the Lord, for He alone is good. Not even having to be good to me, but just simply because HE is good.

But all this pain and waiting helps me understand Your heart for your Church better. Oh what pain You must feel, Lord Jesus, having to wait so long. Amen.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Goodness, Gracious Me

I was sitting at one of the cramped coffee tables in City Hall Starbucks, working on some HopeKids script, when a group of teenagers decked in funky '80s retro attire came along. =)

All of a sudden, one teenage guy in a pink t-shirt and nerd-chic glasses took one of the seats from my table. I was taken aback, because of the sheer proximity and suddenness with which he plunked himself down, and chatted with his group at the table next to mine, face away from me.

So I wondered how to ask him nicely, and whether my request was legitimate in the first place. Decided that it was, as it's good manners to ask someone's permission before you grab a chair from his table.

I bent over and tapped him gently and asked him, "Er, excuse me please..." No response. He hadn't heard me. "ER, EXCUSE ME PLEASE?"

Surprised, he turned around to see who it was. I motioned (a bit awkwardly) to him that he shouldn't be sitting in my chair. I think I was a bit at a loss what to say, because I hadn't encountered such a situation before.

But a slightly older girl (probably in her late teens) told him, "You should ask his permission first before you take his seat." The guy quickly took himself off the chair and moved over to the other side of the table.

At first, I felt a bit offended. But this verse from Proverbs came to mind: "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend." The word "gracious" shone in my mind, and I asked God inwardly how could I have been more gracious. Was pondering about it, and also was wondering why the guy didn't bother to apologise.

I then glanced at the group, and noticed that another guy was wearing some Christian t-shirt. Seems like it said, "Hug me if you believe in Jesus". Oooh. Maybe this was a youth group. Heh. But they didn't look very Singaporean... perhaps they were Koreans.

So maybe that older girl was probably their cell-group leader.

Then thought about it further. Perhaps the guy hadn't apologised, because he must have been very surprised, and really didn't know that he had done wrong. So naturally, he would have felt embarrassed at committing a social faux pas in front of the whole group, and that would probably be why he had gone so fast over to the other side, to distance himself from me - the cause of his 'social embarrassment'. Nice guy, but a bit tenderfoot. LOL.

Interesting. I continued reflecting, wondering how I could be more gracious next time, and thinking what I could do. I was thinking, should I be more direct, and let him know directly that he should ask permission first? But the verse "...whose speech is gracious..." kept nudging me.

Then, I saw the guy standing around while the rest of the group was sitting down. Again, the verse "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious..." came to mind. That, and a Dale Carnegie story about some similar incident. I had a wave of inspiration. I bent over again, and asked Mr. Pink-Tee to take the empty chair and sit down. I said to him, "Do you need a seat? It's ok for you to take my seat. Just do remember to ask next time. :)"

Mr. Pink-Tee and his peers stared at me in surprise. But the guy graciously took the seat and sat down with the rest of his gang. After a few minutes, the whole group got up to go off. Just before Mr. Pink-Tee left, he gently slid the chair that he had taken back into my table and nodded a silent "thank you".

I think both of us learnt a very wonderful lesson about being gracious to one another today. Thank God too for Weizhu, Peter and Huaqiang who also kept on imparting to me in the past about the goodness of being gracious.

Personally, it's very easy to get angry and start criticizing the other person who has been ungracious to me. But perhaps it'll be good to consider what Jesus said about the people who crucified Him: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." I think all too often we expect that the other person should know better. But what if he/she really doesn't know better? And even if he/she did "know"... he/she doesn't know the harm he/she is doing... so why not choose to see them through the eyes of a compassionate and gracious God?

"Everyone needs compassion,
Love that's never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The hope of nations..."

Yes, dear friends, you need forgiveness for your sins. Hee. Yes, even you! You need compassion for all the wrongs that you've done, for you did not know what you were doing. You need mercy, not justice! So why not reflect on your own neediness too, that you are so wretched that you need the kindness of a Saviour? That Someone had to die in your place, that you may live? :)

Often, we start feeling 'sian' about the fact that we have been saved from our sins. But it's because we have forgotten how badly we have sinned in the first place. But were we to even grasp a little glimpse of the horrors and ugliness of all our sins against a perfect and holy God... whoa, I think you too would be grabbing and kissing the feet of Jesus your dear Saviour, and washing them with your tears, weeping non-stop. :)

Hee... thank You dear Father for hearing my heart's request to grow in graciousness. Thank You for reminding me through Your Word, and helping me practice being more gracious in thought, word and deed. Please help me see and treat others like Your dear Son would. In Jesus' most gracious name, I pray Amen.

(PS: Please forgive me for the egoistic-sounding title! But couldn't resist the wordplay... haha)
Reminded just now during my quiet time... is that it's an attitude of the heart. To wait upon Him to hear His voice. Like the boy Samuel who said, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gosh. Been really tired the past few days. Kept on sleeping and sleeping the whole day. Thank God for the 2 days MC I got. But gee, the flu was really bad. Was lying in bed resting, when the movie "Letters from God" came to mind. About the sick boy who cared for others and also wrote letters to God. :) So at the end of yesterday, I tried to get onto my knees to pray, and to be honest, it wasn't easy because I kept on coughing and was so tired.

Told God that I felt rather empty actually, just lying there. Wondering what I could do. :) So tried to message some Bible verses to encourage. But fell asleep again. So tired I couldn't even send an SMS.

Pondered. I wonder what it would feel like to be all alone, lying there sick, days without end? How would I respond? Self-pity or do whatever I can do to bless others?

Ephesians 5:1-2
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

So prayed that I could have that same kind of attitude too. To be more gracious and caring.

You know, dear friends, I think it's not easy to take a rest at times, actually. In a culture where we emphasize on being productive. On being fruitful. But being sick for three days reminded me how utterly dependent I am on God even to pray. Think about that!

Personally, being sick and weak forced me to confront my fears face-on. The fear of being alone, and the fear of being weak. So I prayed, "Help me Lord."

Interestingly enough, my maid happened to be playing this Christian song on the radio while she was working. "And now let the weak say that I am strong... Let the poor say that I am rich... Because of what the Lord has done for us... Give thanks... give thanks..."

Gave thanks to Him for His goodness, that I'm still alive. :) And for the various blessings. Thank God too that I still had a healthy appetite, and somehow could taste my food. For friends and family. Especially my mum who took care of me. Grateful.

To be honest, I also feel spiritually weak recently. Think I've been too distracted in heart and mind. Many things. Hopes and dreams, fears and failures. Want to reconnect with God again, to draw closer to Him again. I guess for me, I really do find His voice kind of farther away now. Oh dear. Was rushing through my quiet time passages too. Sigh. Sing, O my soul, sing once again, for surely the Lord has been good to thee.


A Letter to My Boss

Haha, just an email that my boss asked me to send to her, to let her know what my plans and thoughts are after I finish my attachment. Sharing this with you guys, 'cos I know you too are also wondering what I plan to do.

Dear Catherine,

These are my thoughts and plans what I'd like to pursue further:

1. My big dream, ultimately, is to tell stories (through various media) that will give hope to children and inspire them that life is beautiful. Also, I hope to help children find various ways to express their life stories through various means - whether it be writing or video or drama or mime or sock puppets, etc.

Basically, it's storytelling. That's really something I'd like to learn more about and to try my hand at.

2. On another aspect, I'd like to explore further the potential of creative educational software and/or developing a course for helping children expand their methods of inquiry about the world. I was observing how the children use current educational software (e.g. Newsmaker), and honestly, I think they're not having that much fun because of the interface. The current software that we use are a bit too... task-centric. Not fun enough.

Personally, I believe it's important to develop this spirit of inquiry, of curious exploration, before we set down the kids into their seats and ask them to record their stories. 'Cos stories essentially are accounts of their explorations and endeavours - of what they saw, heard and felt during their explorations. Exploration provides the necessary inputs needed for a fertile imagination from which good stories can bear fruit.

I was talking with a group of Pri 6s children last year. They're generally quite middle-class and so on. I asked them, what are your dreams? None of them had any dreams except just get Playstations or earn lots of mar-nee.

On the other hand, during one of our CDC sessions, I met a young Indian boy who was very enthusiastic. I think he was from one of the less fortunate families. But when he saw me holding the video camera, his eyes lit up. So I chatted with him, and asked him, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" He immediately replied with bright eager eyes: "I want to become a film director!" Man. :D So I let him borrow my video camera and explore with it. He took to the camera like a fish to water. I felt elated, because I knew that I had, by letting see, touch and play with the camera, set off a little spark in the forest of his dreams. He could be the next Eric Khoo or Royston Tan one day... simply because he had the opportunity to explore film-making for himself.

So the gist of what I've written is that I think I'd like to see how we can facilitate our children's exploration and help them become explorers of a far greater world than our physical world: the human soul. :)

3. I hope to also create interactive storybooks that not only allows kids to read and play with the characters, but to also add words to the characters - as like characters in a play. An implemented example is this: It's something like a modern-day version of "xiangsheng", or "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (though it doesn't have to be comedy all the time) But marketing-wise, I'm not very sure how to do that. But I can learn.

4. I'm not sure how feasible this is, but I'd also like to explore film-making, especially making films for children to watch. I think you have a lot of experience in this area?

5. Do research and development into creating fun user interfaces for children, especially using iPad / iPhone. Inspired by MIT's Media Labs work on creating unique and engaging interfaces for children. E.g.s.,

So in conclusion, it's essentially about doing professional (verbal) storytelling, exploring the ways we can help children explore and so mine more raw materials for their stories, and creating interactive storybooks.

1. I can do video-editing and basic sound-editing. :)
2. Did volunteer storytelling before with a small group of children, both in Sunday school and the CDC Nurture programme. They loved it. :D
3. Write drama skits to captivate children. I do it every week for Sunday School.
4. I can mime. Basic, but decent. :)
5. I can do photography + videography.

Hope this helps! :)

Best regards,
Yeu Ann

Overall, develop my storytelling skills, so that I can be better equipped to do missions work overseas with children, and help them in their education. To meet their needs as well. I know there's a LOT of details to be settled. But at least make sure that we're all on the right track. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Had my last shepherding meetup with Jon last Friday night. Or rather, Saturday early early morning. It was an overnight shepherding. :D

Was a great time with him. And grateful to God for answering my prayer that he could become my sheep. That prayer has been answered, and in turn, God has answered another prayer of mine: that Clarence could become his new shepherd (because I saw Clarence's heart to take care of Jon). So thankful to God that I can pass the baton of disciple-making over to Clarence.

Read Hebrews 12 and 13, and Acts 20 to Jon. Prayed for him as well.

But more than all these, is seeing God's grace and good work in Jon.

Dear ex-sheep, thank God truly for your friendship. :D You've really blessed me a lot. Haha... Proud of you too, how you have overcome, especially during that time when you chose to make your stand against an unethical act in your previous workplace. It wasn't easy for you, but you did the right thing... thank God for you, brother, for your courage. Proud of you bro!

Also delighted to see how God is using you to bless and bring laughter to the children. And haha, can see how the kids warm up to you too. :D And continue to read the Bible and study it... your sharings on it have blessed me a lot... think God might have a plan for you to be a Bible teacher next time... who knows what He can do!

This passage is for you:
Philippians 1:3-11
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
:) Yup! Next stage of your disciple-in-training... enjoy the journey k!

1 Corinthians 3:6
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made [write your name here] grow." :D

Remember all that I've exhorted you for the past two-and-a-half years... God bless! May He who began a good work in you bring it to completion till the day of Christ Jesus!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

An SMS I sent to a dear bro in my CG just now :)

Hey Shunrong tks so much for taking tt step to share ur concern for me in brotherly love today. :) Forgive me for my defensiveness when u voiced ur concern abt me being so tired a lot of times. :/ hmm I guess I also was v tired at tt time heh. Anyway was reflecting abt it n I think I know why I'm so tired: I often find it hard to rest. I know why I find it hard to do so. I can share more w u next time haha. So one thing u cld pray for me is to learn to rest in the Lord - bcos for me, spiritual rest does leads to physical rest. :) tks esp for being committed to me in brotherly love & honoring me above urself. U exemplify Romans 12:12 for me. Tks for being a godly eg to me, & for many others. :D

(2nd SMS)
Oops I meant to write Romans 12:10, not 12. But who knows! I think v12 is also v appropriate for u. LOL. Looks like God wants to affirm u haha...

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"We'll Be Alright."

Was going through my SMSes, when I suddenly came across this SMS from Robert last time:

:) i think as we grow, it is normal for our burden and priorities to change. You've changed too. Now you are focused on developing strong kids for e kingdom. :) but so long as we don't give up meeting together and encouraging each other in love :) we'll be alright.
Anyway now i remind you. Next time you remind me k? :p

LOL. Amen, yes, amen, bro! 
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe."

I am so very frustrated, disgusted and appalled at myself. Why do I keep on being so scared of others?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a curse! What a disgust! What a horror! I hate it! Why do I keep worrying so much about what others will think of me, even when I want to do the right thing?!!

Enough! I must fight against my fears. Not to listen to the whispers of the devil! But to just pray and GO!


Edited to add:
I chose to write the above on this blog, because I know that deeper within me is something more serious. I am furious with my own cowardice. I think I missed a divine opportunity, a kairos moment, simply because I was too scared to ask, even though it is a good and right thing. Weeping and gnashing of teeth - I think I now know better what Jesus was talking about!

I am very angry with myself, because if there's one thing I really hate - it is missing out on a possible moment to be used by God / experience Him even more - but because of fear and cowardice - I do not do the good thing that He wants me to do. Then as a result, I miss out on the opportunity and it's lost!

James 4:17
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

That is WHY I am so pissed off with myself, with my cowardice. Lord, forgive me for not believing Your promises and acting upon them immediately in faith.

Romans 14:23
"But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

I have no desire to miss out on the move of God. The price for doing God's will may be high, but the cost of NOT doing God's will is CATASTROPHIC!



Cooling down. Lord, I'm so sorry for sinning against You. For not trusting in Your goodness, Your promises, Your power, Your might, Your endless love. I missed this opportunity, yet have mercy on my soul I pray. Lord... help me remember not to be a coward with "prudence" as an excuse to delay. To be prudent... and act promptly. Prudence must never be a cover for cowardice, but to be prudently bold.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Was reading the OMF sheet about Japan and Taiwan. Suddenly, in the midst of all my countrymen, I felt so burdened for the world. Lord, the harvest field is plentiful, but the workers are so few. What are we doing to reach out to the poorer classes? Rich or poor, everyone needs the gospel.

And what am I doing with the creative talents God has given me? Lord, You know I have done SO LITTLE.

We talk of the second coming of Jesus, but more than half the world has never heard of the first. OMG. This brings tears to my eyes.

There's still so much to be done. God, send out more workers into the harvest field... and here I am, send me too! In Jesus' name amen!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ok, plan. I'll just ask her tomorrow.
I'm just tired of waiting.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hmm... Israel. I think this is a very loaded name... sigh.

One bro, whose father accepted Christ, shared with me that his father doesn't want to read the Bible, because he doesn't like Israel (the modern-day one)... and lo and behold, when he reads the Bible, he finds out it's about Israel... he doesn't want to read further.

Well, the bro is doing his best to help his dad read further... that God Himself disciplined the Israelites for the way they dishonour His name so many times.

And even today, gee... I feel embarrassed sometimes to say that the God we Christians worship is also the God of Israel...

So true what Romans 2:24 says:
As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Israel jialat lah... But well, as I read further on, I realised that God keeps His faithfulness to the nation of Israel, not because of their righteous acts (which weren't very many...), but because of His promise to Abraham thousands of years ago.

And the church is now the new Israel, the spiritual one... that even the Gentiles can get to enjoy as well.

But even the church can be stubborn at times...

Wah. God's so ... faithful. He knew that the nation of Israel was a stiff-necked and disobedient people... yet He decided to stick with them... and even bring them back from captivity. But yeah, today's Israel is a visible sign to the world that God keeps His promises. Still...

Ah well. At least there is the new Israel, the spiritual one... with Christ as her King. Cool, right? :)
Just got some info about a bro who is undergoing some spiritual attacks. When I looked at the post, I was so surprised, because the post appeared just when I read it. I immediately messaged him a couple of Scripture to encourage him - and I hope, prophetically too - during this time of 'bombardment' for him.

Am encouraged to see how God is fighting for His servants! No one can touch God's people and get away with it! Whether it's the prophets in the Old Testament, or the church in Acts, or the saints in Revelation, we see the living God of Israel fighting for His people.

Reminds me of this song I sang in church back in 2000:
Jesus, Mighty God!
Our Rock, our Fortress
Your conquering arm will be our strength

O God of Power and Righteousness
O God of Power and Righteousness
And every foe will tremble at Your name
And every foe will tremble at Your name
And every foe will tremble at Your name...

BTW I think it's a very manly song. :) We need to sing more macho songs once in a while, to remind us of how powerful the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, is.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who Stands Fast?

"Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God—the responsible man, who tried to make his whole life an answer to the call of God."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Christian theologian, pastor and martyr of the Nazi regime)

What, at the heart of it all, is my final standard, really?

Not reason
Not principles
Not even conscience
Not freedom
Or even virtue.

But just an obedient faith that does not compartmentalize Christ, but makes Him the absolute Kyrios, the Lord of all your life - even unto death. The way of Jesus is the way of the Cross. How many of us shepherds preach, first and foremost, this - the way of the Cross - to our sheep? To follow Christ first and foremost. To love God and love people. To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Or do we preach success? leadership? character? relationships? wisdom? miracles? signs and wonders? theology? riches? poverty? service?

All these are good and important... but let's set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts first and foremost. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."

Monday, August 2, 2010

There's a Spiritual Solution To Every Problem

Hong Teck's Facebook encouragement:
There's a spiritual solution to every problem so nothing is impossible. You can unleash your creativity in problem solving. Way to go bro, so proud of you. By the way love the picture of our talking octopus

Yes, there's a spiritual solution to every problem so nothing is impossible. With God all things are possible. :D Thank God for you, Hong Teck!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Personal Updates: The Sheer Goodness of God

Some very interesting things have been happening. But I shall focus not on about who it might be or even whether it comes to pass. But I just want to share this, because... the greater thing is that God just really cares. And He really is good.

There was this sister I liked some time back. So I told her shepherd, and her shepherd helped me ask her. The sister said no, she's not interested in me - she just wants to see me as a good friend. After some emails and chatting, it really ended very much better - and I think our friendship is richer for this experience. I learnt so much from her sharing and perspectives - and I especially value her input, because she has a lot of wise insights. And through this time, my respect for her really grew tremendously after I saw how she handled the whole thing and her feelings too. Like what Proverbs says, "A kind-hearted woman gains respect..." It's truly an honour to be her friend. So that was that, and I just continued on with life. In a way, yes, I was disappointed, but I was thankful that our friendship kept going on, and the awkwardness just went away quite quickly.

Hmm. Then, well, some time later on, out of the blue, something happened. Can't really say much here, but it's a different sister.

Initially, I was very wary of even considering this sister because of certain things that had happened between her and me. However, in a nutshell, to my surprise and astonishment, each time after I prayed - somehow some specific sign that I had prayed for to happen, really happened and happened at such a precise time.

And it happened more than once. The signs came just when I told God I was giving up on considering her. It was as though God was telling me, "Don't give up. Persevere on. It won't be easy, but that's precisely why I'm encouraging you so clearly and directly through these signs."

I was so surprised at the exact timings, that I wept before God the first time the sign appeared. It touches me deeply that God's love is so deep and real. And shall we say - He is more good than we sometimes dare to acknowledge. To our shock we realise that we have always thought God to be ... a tough-love kind of God, but much more often than not, His sheer goodness and generosity overflows. How little I know my Bible, especially the Old Testament that speak of His sheer GOODNESS.

One thing I have gotten to know more through this period is God's sheer goodness. Honestly, God just wants to bless us more than we ourselves sometimes trust Him to do so. We talk about obeying God and so on... but have we forgotten that we obey a GOOD God? Yes, we're chary of the prosperity gospel, but come, come... He is good and His love endures forever, and we would do well to declare, celebrate AND IMITATE His very goodness.

Yes, I am keeping my Three Wise Men in the loop, to be accountable to them. :) My ex-shep, my ex-ex-shep, and my ex-CL. Shared with YF too :) Her reply was surprisingly prophetic to me (though I didn't tell her that and I don't think she herself knew how prophetic her words were).

Well, I don't know what's going to happen next. Will this really turn out to be? I honestly don't know. And truth be told, I am reluctant to hope anymore. Yet... the very fact that this friendship is even alive in the first place is in itself a marvellous demonstration of God's very own glory and goodness. But if this does happen, I am confident that this is going to result in a wonderful partnership that will extend God's kingdom greatly. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

And if it doesn't? Then I will still celebrate and sing of His goodness, because this friendship once was dead, but now is alive; it was lost, but now is found. There is always something to thank God for. Amen and hallelujah!

Personal Updates: Being Equipped

I was talking with Guanrui a few weeks back. I'm really very inspired by this dear brother, this man of God. Something he said in an SMS struck me a lot. That he wants to use his 3 years bond as a teacher to equip himself for the missions field, especially after coming back from his Cambodia missions trip. And I remembered too my chats with Andrew my neighbour, and his sharing with me his desire to prepare himself for missions.

Personal Updates: Planning by the Spirit

There's simply SO MANY THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT THIS... but well, like the Psalmist said in Psalm 40:5,
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

It's been a time of moulding in terms of responsibility and learning more about myself, and my own weaknesses. And it's so exciting to see how God is stretching the leaders, including me. It's been a wonderful time of learning how to lead. Hong Teck keeps reminding us that all of us in the CG are leaders, if even we are leaders without a title. That we are called to be servant-leaders, servants who lead without recognition or title.

Personal Updates: The Blessing of Having A Caregroup

The Blessing of Having A Caregroup
Last Thursday, I took the initiative to ask my CG ppl who wanted to have dinner. Only Deborah and Hannah were free. So we met at Tampines IKEA. It was a great time of getting to know them better and share our lives too.

Kelvin, Yung's husband, today surprised me with two pairs of socks! (SAF socks, but still!) He said with a cheerful twinkle in his eyes, "I know you need a pair of new socks." Hong Teck, who was nearby, grinned and said that yes, because everyone in CG could see my socks have holes. Kelvin chuckled and said, "He no time to buy mah..."

Personal Updates: The Blessing of Having A Shepherd

After writing so many musings, well, just to update my bros and sisters who read this on what's been going on in my life. Sorry I've not been updating very much on my personal life... the past few weeks have been really quite a lot of stuff, ministry, work and walking with God. So much to write, muse and think about, but so little time. But thank God so much for the blessing that He gave me - a life to the full. :D So this post is trying to trace out what God has been doing in my life...

The Blessing of Having A Shepherd

My sheep will be getting a new shepherd soon, because I'm in the Hopekids CG already. Something I really want to thank God for is that God has allowed me to recommend a certain bro to my sheep's CL to be his new shepherd... and God confirmed the choice. I think it's really such a joy to know that you can rest your mind and heart at peace, knowing that you are able to handover your sheep, whom you took care of, mentored, discipled and trained, to another brother who has a shepherd's heart and a heart for God's word, and the appropriate level of maturity too. :D

I'm right now without a shepherd.

Revelation: The Message of Hope

I remember the first time I read Revelation. I was a young boy in primary school - probably primary 3 or 4. One night, I was rather bored, as my parents had gone out to play mahjong. So I wandered into my parents' bedroom, and started looking around. A big thick Bible in dusty red caught my eyes, and curious at the appearance of this huge weighty tome, I laid the hefty Bible and plopped it onto my parents' bed to read it in comfort.

I was awed by all the cosmic imagery. The glorious Son of Man, the Hallelujah Chorus, the Twenty-Four Elders, the Four Living Creatures, the Seven Churches, the Four Horsemen, the Great Multitude, the Angels with the Seven Trumpets, the Angels with the Seven Bowls, the Beasts, the Dragon, the Plagues, the Mysterious Woman, the Horns and the Kings, the Rider Upon A White Horse, the Armies of Heaven, the Abyss, Armageddon, the Great White Throne, the Final Judgement and the Golden City... OMG. This was E-P-I-C. And oh, this was ... about the end of the world too?

I went o_O and pored carefully through the magic words. More amazing than any fantasy novel, more epic, more terrifying, yet more triumphant and more wonderful and more mysterious than anything else I had ever read, I started pondering. But in my childlike impatience, I quickly flipped through all the pages, because I wondered how it would all end, the world and so on. I mean, this was amazing stuff... what did the Bible say about how the world would end?

Whoa. I soon realised that there was something else besides the end of the world. The last words of the Bible said,
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.
I stared at the last words of the entire Bible for a few minutes in silence. And with a soft childlike sigh, I very gently and slowly closed the Book shut.

I couldn't understand then the deep feelings these words had produced in me. But now I think I do. The first feeling was that of a feeling of ... being lost. Not lost as in I didn't understand, but lost as in ... a sense that I was spiritually lost, and needed to know this person called Jesus, Whoever He was. It was the sovereign grace of God in my life then, calling me to Him, even as a young boy in primary 3 or 4.

The second feeling was that of a gentle, almost dream-like peace that settled upon my heart, even as I felt lost and wistful. Somehow, after all the devastation and chaos and Armageddon that my tender young mind had just read in Revelation, the description of the Golden City was so beautiful that I knew things would just Turn Out Right. Somehow, the gentle words of Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, reassured me that He was coming soon.

Now, two decades later, I sit here in my own bedroom, having just finished re-reading Revelation. I realise that these last words in the Bible have not failed to give me a sense of peace, that in the end, at the end of history, God's grace will be with His people. And I am so grateful that He has finally counted me in as one of His people.

So now, no more feeling lost, but a feeling of gratitude and eagerness, as we await His return. A feeling of hope.

Hope. I remember that was the theme of Rev. Che Anh's preaching at last night's Festival of Praise. Hope is such an important virtue, that it is counted as one of the three greatest virtues of the Christian faith. But why so? I believe it's because when one fails to practice hope, we end up giving up waiting for Christ's return and start living dissipated lives in this world.

We become 'sian', in other words.

Not just so, hope also impacts the present. Because of hope, we are encouraged to make the most of our present circumstances, and to lift up our eyes to the Lord. To live lives worthy of His calling and please Him in every way. As Rev. Che Anh said, "We are to put our hope in God, in Christ's return. (paraphrased)"

Hope also saves us from despair. I remember back in 2005, when I was in the pits of despair, I told Peter that I simply couldn't see a way out of my rut. But he reminded me with these simple words that struck me like a refreshing splash of cold, clean water: "Put your HOPE in God." Somehow I don't know why those words were so powerful at that time, but they penetrated my heart like a stream of daylight shining upon a victim trapped in darkness underneath a collapsed building.

Titus 1:1b-2
"...the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness - a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time..."

It is hope that enables us to take the next step to keep living on. It is the soil of good hope that enables our faith to take root in and grow. It is hope that helps us smile in the concentration camps, and to keep singing on even in the darkest night. It is hope that stops us from cursing God and helps us bless His holy name.

It is hope that enables us to keep standing at the door to await our Master's return... and hope that enables us to lift up our eyes when the end-time signs come, for it is then that our redemption draws near.

Yes, let's practice the virtue of hope in our everyday living.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are We Looking Back To The Future?

It's been about slightly more than a month since I crossed over into HopeKids ministry. And it's been such a wonderful and eye-opening experience, and I can safely say that I know I am where God wants me to be. :) Hee. One dear bro was concerned that being in HopeKids might cause me to lose out on receiving the necessary life-station experiences from my fellow bros and sisters who are in the same life-station as me. But well, the CG that I'm in has people as young as 21, and as old as 50+. Working adults, family members, almost senior citizens... whether single, married or divorced - my CG really has a lot of life-stations. And oh yes, the children too. :)

So I think my bro's concerns can be put to rest haha. But yes, I am so glad to be where God wants me to be. Why should we worry about whether our needs will be met, when it comes to responding to God's call? Shouldn't we focus instead on equipping and preparing ourselves to get ready and move out to wherever God is calling us to? I like how Uncle Lee puts it so nicely:
"Prepare thyself to be competent enough to serve in any area. While God equips the called, it does not mean we sit down there and slack. We prepare ourselves."

Frankly, I believe that one thing that hinders us from going where God wants us to be is our thinking that we must first know what's going to be there. Honestly, this attitude is going to cause us to miss out so much on what God wants us to be and do. Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the apostles... the missionaries, the great cloud of witness... and people like you and me today they only knew their present conditions and their promised ends. They only knew today and eternity, but not the morrow. And they were not worried about "tomorrow".

But we who lack faith look to "tomorrow", like a marathon runner tiredly plodding, staring at nothing but the hard ground and his plodding feet - instead of lifting up his eyes and staring far ahead unto journey's end, and forgetting the great cloud of spectators who are cheering him on. No wonder our days start becoming mundane! Who can get excited looking at only his own feet and the road?

C.S. Lewis wrote precisely about this in his Screwtape Letters, in which a senior demon writes to his junior devil ("the Enemy" here refers to Christ):
(1) The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

(2) Our [the demons] business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men's affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy, and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.

(3) To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too—just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow's work is today's duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is not straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth—ready to break the Enemy's commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.