Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cambodia Missions Trip: Part II - Prayer Requests

And now for something totally necessary:

Please pray Ephesians 6:10-20 for us. Pray for everyone in the team to experience God's protection and guidance. For us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

Pray too that the gracious hand of God will be upon us that we won't get mugged or lose any stuff or break any part of our bodies. :D

But more than all these, pray especially that we will be reliant on the Holy Spirit and be bold to share and serve, and yet humble to learn from and serve the locals there. Pray for our eyes to be open to what God wants us to see, and for our hearts to break for what His breaks for.

Pray for us not so much that our plans will go well, but that God's hand will be seen in everything we do. Pray for us to have unity and love too. No unresolved anger or irritation, but to be completely humble and gentle, bearing with one another in love. :)

Pray for us that we too will pray even more.

Pray for the outreach drama, God willing, that the village kids will know about the one true God who made the heavens and the earth, and that they too will come to know Christ. And that they will learn some basic English and enjoy themselves too!

That we'll enjoy ourselves with the presence of the Lord!

Amen! :D

Thanks so much!

God bless!

On Sat, Nov 27, 2010 at 1:45 PM, Yeo YA <yeuann@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi dear brothers and sisters,

Just want to share a testimony with you!

I was going through my Cambodia trip checklist last night, and browsing through Mark 6 when suddenly these words jumped out at me:

"He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics."

It struck me that these words of Jesus were the very opposite of my checklist! In this particular context, the Lord was telling his disciples to go light, and therefore dependent on the local populace's hospitality. (Perhaps He also wanted to remind them to rely on God's provision too. "You're at least wearing clothes right? Then GO with what you have!")

You see, I had intended to borrow a pair of army boots because I anticipated that we might have to step through muddy areas in the villages. However, Jesus' explicit instructions to His disciples to wear sandals caught my eyes. It felt as though He was directly telling me to skip the boots and wear sandals instead.

So I sent an SMS to the bro whom I was planning to borrow the boots from. Right after I had sent the SMS, the bro called me to tell me that he'd be late. I told him that I wouldn't be borrowing after all, and he was naturally surprised. So I explained to him that I felt that the Lord was telling me plainly not to borrow the Army boots because He wanted me to wear sandals.

Then the brother, being concerned, asked me whether I might suffer 'foot-rot' from the mud. I thought for a moment, and told him that yes, I might suffer that - but suffering and hardships are part and parcel of missions. "Anyway, Jesus Himself suffered NAILS through His feet for our sake... so who am I to complain or worry about a little 'foot-rot'?" Hee. Surprised to see how this revelation came to me even as I was in the midst of sharing my testimony to the bro. 

Thinking about it, I think maybe we Singaporeans like to overpack for missions trips. But sometimes we pack so much - three pairs of shoes, etc... that we may miss out on the opportunity to experience God's providence during emergencies.

Also, I think the Lord is challenging me in this area of missions: Though I want to go with the heart to bless the locals, am I prepared to identify fully with them? To live and dress like the locals do? And... am I even willing to literally get my feet muddy, just like the local villagers?

If I am not willing to get my feet dirty, then what on earth am I going on this missions trip for? Wow... powerful rebuke from a rhema word from God...

Missions is not just about going there and sharing the gospel, or helping them. It is also an incarnational ministry ie we humbly become as one of the locals. Like how God became a man...no, a crying baby! and even washed our feet and died for us. To know Christ and to make Him known.

Hee. But above all this, I am excited about the potential hardships and difficulties that we'll face. Not because I'm masochistic, but because I can have a chance to identify with my dear Lord Jesus more fully through the fellowship of suffering!

Philippians 3:7-11 has become very more real to me through this experience.
"7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Yes, though I am bringing along many things, yet what they were gain to me, I now count loss. But I'm glad I'm not bringing the boots along after all. Though I may experience minor foot problems as a result, this is a good chance for me to identify more w the locals, even in something very small as a pair of sandals.

Yes! that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Such a joy to be able to identify with Christ just a little little little bit more! Amen? :)

Hee. Very excited to see how God is working behind the scenes even before we have reached there!

And He really provided so overwhelmingly for our fund-raising: thank you Shuyi, Weizhu & Huichun, Sandy, Daniel, Huaqiang & Sarah! Thank you for blessing the little ones in Jesus' name!

Thanks too to Jinghe who's coming down to see us off, and my shepherd too... thanks for your prayer support / encouragement, etc.

Jesus: "If anyone of you gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

Thank you for extending the kingdom of God and blessing the orphans through your big-hearted giving!


Sent from my iPhone



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

Cambodia Missions Trip: Part I - Pre-Missions Testimony!

Hi dear brothers and sisters,

Just want to share a testimony with you!

I was going through my Cambodia trip checklist last night, and browsing through Mark 6 when suddenly these words jumped out at me:

"He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics."

It struck me that these words of Jesus were the very opposite of my checklist! In this particular context, the Lord was telling his disciples to go light, and therefore dependent on the local populace's hospitality. (Perhaps He also wanted to remind them to rely on God's provision too. "You're at least wearing clothes right? Then GO with what you have!")

You see, I had intended to borrow a pair of army boots because I anticipated that we might have to step through muddy areas in the villages. However, Jesus' explicit instructions to His disciples to wear sandals caught my eyes. It felt as though He was directly telling me to skip the boots and wear sandals instead.

So I sent an SMS to the bro whom I was planning to borrow the boots from. Right after I had sent the SMS, the bro called me to tell me that he'd be late. I told him that I wouldn't be borrowing after all, and he was naturally surprised. So I explained to him that I felt that the Lord was telling me plainly not to borrow the Army boots because He wanted me to wear sandals.

Then the brother, being concerned, asked me whether I might suffer 'foot-rot' from the mud. I thought for a moment, and told him that yes, I might suffer that - but suffering and hardships are part and parcel of missions. "Anyway, Jesus Himself suffered NAILS through His feet for our sake... so who am I to complain or worry about a little 'foot-rot'?" Hee. Surprised to see how this revelation came to me even as I was in the midst of sharing my testimony to the bro. 

Thinking about it, I think maybe we Singaporeans like to overpack for missions trips. But sometimes we pack so much - three pairs of shoes, etc... that we may miss out on the opportunity to experience God's providence during emergencies.

Also, I think the Lord is challenging me in this area of missions: Though I want to go with the heart to bless the locals, am I prepared to identify fully with them? To live and dress like the locals do? And... am I even willing to literally get my feet muddy, just like the local villagers?

If I am not willing to get my feet dirty, then what on earth am I going on this missions trip for? Wow... powerful rebuke from a rhema word from God...

Missions is not just about going there and sharing the gospel, or helping them. It is also an incarnational ministry ie we humbly become as one of the locals. Like how God became a man...no, a crying baby! and even washed our feet and died for us. To know Christ and to make Him known.

Hee. But above all this, I am excited about the potential hardships and difficulties that we'll face. Not because I'm masochistic, but because I can have a chance to identify with my dear Lord Jesus more fully through the fellowship of suffering!

Philippians 3:7-11 has become very more real to me through this experience.
"7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Yes, though I am bringing along many things, yet what they were gain to me, I now count loss. But I'm glad I'm not bringing the boots along after all. Though I may experience minor foot problems as a result, this is a good chance for me to identify more w the locals, even in something very small as a pair of sandals.

Yes! that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Such a joy to be able to identify with Christ just a little little little bit more! Amen? :)

Hee. Very excited to see how God is working behind the scenes even before we have reached there!

And He really provided so overwhelmingly for our fund-raising: thank you Shuyi, Weizhu & Huichun, Sandy, Daniel, Huaqiang & Sarah! Thank you for blessing the little ones in Jesus' name!

Thanks too to Jinghe who's coming down to see us off, and my shepherd too... thanks for your prayer support / encouragement, etc.

Jesus: "If anyone of you gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

Thank you for extending the kingdom of God and blessing the orphans through your big-hearted giving!


Sent from my iPhone

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thoughts Before Cambodia

Sitting in a cafe again! Haha. Preparing for Cambodia trip. Met Sandra for lunch. Good time of chatting and sharing our lives. Shared that I felt excited. =) I had exclaimed: "Imagine! Tomorrow I'll be in Cambodia! Can barely believe it." =)

Anyway, now pondering about what God may be speaking to me the past few weeks.

I guess I feel like I'm living the life of a tentmaker...

- Doing part-time work to support myself and pay off my debts and save up for missions.

- Writing, so that I can not only bless children creatively, but also as a future potential steady source of revenue.

- Thinking and meditating on God's Word, especially Ephesians... and about doing His will.

- Learning to grow in lowliness of mind - i.e. humility... and gentleness, patience, kindness, goodness and so on.

- To prepare for Ecuador trip in 2012, if it is the Lord's will.

I was asking God just now what did He want to teach me through the past two weeks' experiences. But I think He replied, "Not so much teach you, as know Me and my way. I'm not so much telling you to be this or that, as for you to know ME more." Logical. Because if He wants me to mimic Him more... well, I must know His ways more! :)

Cambodia trip. Ha... I wonder how things will go. Prayed in the morning. I think the outreach drama portion may get axed. Initially felt a little disappointment, but reminded myself that I am simply a servant of the Lord. So, to practice lowliness of mind. And as always, a successful missions trip is not whether our plans succeed, but whether we saw God's hands at work there. Amen? :)

I was reading in my Bible during quiet time today, that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Like yeast in bread. Small, but spreading and growing. God's ways are not our ways. Much higher and better. =)

But above all these, is to know God and love Him more. To love people more. God doesn't care so much about what I do, as the heart behind it all. And what I am to Him. Am I humble enough to do His will, even if it means being the last and least of all? My heart struggles so much in this area. I fear dying to self. But I know I must. If not, then I haven't really started to live.

Shall end off with this beautiful story that I read before. Some missionaries were going to a very dangerous country. Their friends asked them, "Aren't you afraid of dying there?" The missionaries simply replied: "We already died before we went."

=)

Amen. Let it be so, with my life, unto Thee. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wake Up Your Idea!

(Something happened today that made me think - and to be honest, I feel really all stoked up about this. It's partly based on what our CG discussed yesterday... but no worries, nothing wrong with my CG! Just something I feel very burdened about, especially in these last days.)

One reason we find discipleship so frustrating and fruitless is because while we try to help our sheep overcome sin and grow in Christ, we ourselves have not really understand the theology of the Fall and the theology of the Redemption.

We get shocked when we discover some hitherto unknown dark secret in our sheep's lives... we believe that a certain bro will never grow and "just as long as he comes for CG & ministry, can lah as long as he doesn't leave church..."

Do we even know our basic doctrines 101? We are foolish shepherds indeed! We preach a form of godliness while denying its power!

Likewise we keep trying to get our sheep to be more involved in 'fellowship' when we ourselves have no idea or only a fuzzy notion of true kononia as being "let's play some games/watch movies/etc."

Come on! If we really understood what the New Testament has to teach about fellowship, man, we would respond like Paul and fall on our knees and cry out in awe! Do we not get it? HELLO. LET'S WAKE UP OUR IDEA! "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you."

Fuzzy theology leads to fuzzy disciples. If we ourselves don't know very clearly what the Bible says, then how can we teach them to obey everything that the Lord has commanded us?

Let's examine our pet theologies today and see if they are truly Biblical - or a syncretic mishmash of worldly and godly ideologies.

Garbage in, garbage out. Amen and grrr.


Sent from my iPhone

Sometimes I wonder whether is it worth it to show care & concern to others, especially if it might make the person feel irritated? Or put off?

I think that's one of the worst things about being a Christian: that you feel compelled to show care & concern, even though it would be easier to just go your own way. I think for me, it's part of having Christ's love in me. And that's the excruciating part. You see & feel things in this world so deeply that sometimes you feel so overwhelmed. But I know that is where we need God's power for the world-sized woes that we witness.

I know, i know, get wisdom. But sometimes we lack wisdom. Sometimes we have to train - and make mistakes in the process.

I ... don't know. Is it worth it to show care & concern to others and keep on trying to look out for the needs and interests of others? Sometimes it is wiser to keep your distance & not care about others and just do your own things.

And yet... perhaps it's better to be a fool then.

Gah.

God, I need the wisdom to care for others, and not just the heart. But if not, then please don't let me care for others anymore so that I may not cause pain. Help me please. In Jesus' name amen.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Faith can be very practical

Just met up w Shenteng & Peiru & Weizhu. We helped them with their church website. So glad to be able to help them even if it's only a very small thing. Thank God for WZ who blessed the church by purchasing the WordPress theme license and giving it to the church. :)

Shared with Shenteng that I've been toying with the idea of going over to Hope Ecuador to help out with the children's ministry there. Been praying a bit about this possibility before, so asking ST was the next step to see if this is feasible. And Shenteng said it's a good idea - if I can save up & raise the $ to fly there.

So... beginning of 2012. :) if I can raise up $3.5K for the ticket + necessary expenses... and if God really wants me to go there. But yeah, if God wants me to go there, He will provide, one way or another - probably my own savings and God-knows-where else.

So yeah, will have to think about the practical aspects and timeframe and how it will affect others eg my family - and job search too in the next two years. (Thank God for HQ who kept on reminding me of the importance of thinking about these things! :))

Ha...

On a deeper note, I believe that's the important part of experiencing God - if you think He is calling u to go somewhere, then you pray & fast to confirm, and then you do your part to help fulfill the faith goal. If God has indeed called you, He will provide. (Thank God for my dear sister Joyce who shared her testimonies of how God provided for her when she wanted to go for missions trips. :))

I know that quite a few people have asked me before whether I am really sure that I should be doing this, because they are concerned about whether I have enough finances, etc, and other practical considerations. Thank God for their concern... but yeah, I think the first question that should be asked is not: "Do you have the necessary resources / are you sure you are able to do this / is it the right thing/time to do?"

But this is not how practical faith works. The first question should be: "Has God indeed called you to do this?"

We mistakenly assume that if we do not have enough resources to do something big and scary, it therefore means that God has not called us to do such a thing. No wonder our lives are dry! No wonder signs and wonders are not very present in our lives! No wonder we find our Christian walk to be humdrum and routine! Because we have not understood how to live by faith.


But I'm not saying that we should throw caution to the wind and start jumping out of the boat to walk on water. What we should do first is to double check whether God has indeed called us to do so-and-so. That would be prudence in action. And if it really does seem to be so, then... we should use all our practical skills n wisdom to think how to achieve that faith goal, and also how we can partner with the Holy Spirit to do the big and scary thing. That is practical faith that is wise and obedient.

In fact, I think sometimes when God calls us to leave our comfort zones, He sometimes calls us to do something that actually makes more sense than our comfort zones. Eg if there's a job that we are clearly not suited for, but it pays comfortably... and then God calls us to leave that job and go for a job that suits us better in terms of skills but pays less, we start rationalizing that it would be nice, but we have to make a living and all that... But Proverbs tells us that a man who is skilled in his work will serve before kings, not obscure men. And I guess kings and CEOs pay much better wages than an obscure small-business boss. Hee. So yah I think sometimes faith doesn't always mean that you have to do illogical things. Sometimes it means that you have to trust the sound evidence and wisdom that is presented to you and not listen to your irrational fears.

Sort of like the shrewd merchant who saw a pearl so wonderful that he ran back, sold everything he had and bought that pearl, even though it literally cost him everything he had. Because his shrewd mind did the maths and knew that whatever he had lost would be easily covered by the sale of that priceless pearl. Logical, no? :)

So I think faith in God's wisdom & providence makes so much more sense than faith in our own abilities & strength.

Just my thoughts...


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church
More than in previous generations, 20- and 30- somethings are abandoning the faith. Why?

In my interviews, I was struck by the diversity of the stories—one can hardly lump them together and chalk up all departures to "youthful rebellion." Yet there were commonalities. Many de-conversions were precipitated by what happened inside rather than outside the church. Even those who adopted materialist worldviews or voguish spiritualities traced their departures back to what happened in church.

What pushed them out? Again, the reasons for departing in each case were unique, but I realized that most leavers had been exposed to a superficial form of Christianity that effectively inoculated them against authentic faith. When sociologist Christian Smith and his fellow researchers examined the spiritual lives of American teenagers, they found most teens practicing a religion best called "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism," which casts God as a distant Creator who blesses people who are "good, nice, and fair." Its central goal is to help believers "be happy and feel good about oneself."

Where did teenagers learn this faith? Unfortunately, it's one taught, implicitly and sometimes explicitly, at every age level in many churches. It's in the air that many churchgoers breathe, from seeker-friendly worship services to low-commitment small groups. When this naive and coldly utilitarian view of God crashes on the hard rocks of reality, we shouldn't be surprised to see people of any age walk away.
Powerful and much-needed rebuke to us lukewarm Christians today. But what does it really mean to live the true - and truly fulfilling - Christian life, actually?

I was talking to this sister on Sunday, and she was sharing with me how she has felt like leaving church quite a number of times, because of the half-heartedness that she sees in so many people. She is a sister who sincerely loves the Lord, and has a genuine hunger for His Word, and wants to serve God very hard.

I shared with her my own experiences growing up in our church, and one thing I told her was that when I was younger, I had the misconception that true spiritual progress was that you become a CL, a UL, then a SDL, pastor, and eventually church-planter. She nodded vigorously, and said that she had thought likewise too.

Then she wondered aloud: "What does the Christian life really mean?"

Yes. What the hell is the Christian life all about? I choose that perjorative deliberately, because following Christ has such a high challenge and commitment, that as the apostle Paul wrote (in another context, but I think this statement expresses our feelings accurately): "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

And sometimes, it does feel that we are of all people most to be pitied. We find ourselves having been 'sold' into joining an organization that seems to welcome us into an exciting new life... just only to find ourselves marking time till Jesus comes back a second time or we die and go to heaven. Go through hell in order to go to heaven. Wah. Thanks hor. So we end up living a 'bo pian' existence on earth, and we mark time on the four walls of our church - we prisoners of hope.

Is there any answer to this existential question, actually? I have asked brothers and sisters what do they look forward to in life. They couldn't give me an answer, or even if they did, it did feel plastic and hardly full of zeal. One brother said bluntly, "I will follow Christ more, if I can find another Christian in church who really carries the presence of God in his own life."

(Of course, I write in very broad strokes, and I am sure that you can find plenty of brothers and sisters in our own church who really bloom with life. =) I do, I do. But I have met far more disaffected disciples who started out well, but started going cooler and cooler. I write... because I have been through this, and I hope my own little notes, if the Lord is pleased, will help you navigate the straight and narrow path too.)

In attempting to help others - and ourselves - figure out what the Christian life really means, we have taught at least one of these things to our younger ones:

That we should bearing fruit in every good work (serve hard!)
That we should be growing in the knowledge of God (study God's word lots lots)
That we should be receiving strength from Him to endure patiently whatever life throws at us (we keep on encouraging one another to draw strength from God)
That we should be giving joyful thanks to the Father because of how much He has saved us from. (we remind one another consistently to be thankful, to count all our blessings and so on.)

All these are great. All these are essential. And all these are so important. But... I think we are missing out on the root of all these good things:

"We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way..."

John 17:3 also tells us:
[Jesus Christ:] "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

Read it aloud. What is eternal life? THIS. THIS is life abundant and real: that we may know God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent.

But what does a real and exciting life looks like? Well, a life that is fully present. Meaning you don't just go and do routine work day in and day out. Marking time and throwing stones into the water. Not 'sian'. Experiencing the fullness of God in your own life! Seeing Him at work everywhere you go! Joining Him where He is, and hearing His voice bright and clear! Being filled with His power and wisdom and love and strength...

To know God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, and to know His will. You can't do God's will unless you know His will. And ever since Jesus came from heaven to earth, we are so privileged to not only know His will... but also God Himself personally! "The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

That we Christians today are so privileged. Our Jewish brothers and sisters did not have the privilege to see the fullness of God - "No man can see my face and live..." but now, wow... in Christ, all the fullness of God can be seen. As the apostle Paul waxed so powerfully: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation..."

Yes, this is the meaning of the Christian life: to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.
Some days I find trusting in God hard. Not because He is not trustworthy. But because my eyes are not strong enough to see the Son beyond the clouds that come and go each day. What started off as a beautiful golden morning becomes a shadowy afternoon, with shadows of doubts flickering here and there, before the dark night comes, illuminated only by the moonlight of reason - that sometimes seem to cast even darker shadows because of what it illuminates.

How flickering is my faith in God!

But I think this whole time God is stretching my own faith, hope and love. Faith, as in trusting God. Hope, that I don't so much wish as expect Him to fulfill His promises. And Love, that come what may, I will still love Him and love others.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV 2010)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

I feel so unsure right now. How will He fulfill His promises? When will He do it? Where will He do it? And... even if/when He does, will it be what I want? But forgive me my faithlessness, Father. Not my will but Yours be done.

Sigh. Just need Your presence right now Father. More than even Your promises or blessings.
Haha... Been watching more mime videos to get some fresh acting ideas for the pantomime skit for the Cambodia trip. So amazed by Marcel Marceau's skill and aptitude in portraying a butterfly, a snake and so on. Wonder how to mime a tree, though. :D

And gosh, I find it so amazing how my body can naturally fix itself along to imitate. Somehow just feel that God has naturally made my body like this. Not dancing, 'cos my sense of rhythm is, well, pretty off-beat, yet... it's just such a fascination how naturally this sense of proprioception comes to me.

But Kin Wee and Peter, I think, make even better mimes than me. They're naturally very expressive and able to convey things so well through their bodily actions. :D You just have to watch Kin Wee in action - he's so funny!

But yeah, it's such a delight to see how God has created each one of us with certain skills and talents, and such a wonder to see how certain things come so naturally and effortlessly to certain people. =) Sing a song, writing, dancing, painting, giving, creating, selling, thinking, teaching, listening, running, jumping, cooking, programming, etc. I even know one friend whose brother can reverse-engineer the recipe for almost any dish after just tasting the hitherto unknown dish!

A human being has so many possibilities; how much more the church - the community of the called-out ones! :D

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Very Funny Pantomime First Date

Wow! Great comedy pantomime... *WARNING* it does get pretty risque at times, but the middle part is so funny!

But on a more serious note, I noted some principles that make this mime much more engaging and effective than this mime:


It doesn't attempt to establish a "setting" first as in "scene description", but jumps straight into familiar gestures that are immediately recognisable by the audience. E.g. the guy ordering tickets and so on. This helps to make it easier on the mime performers as they do not need such delicate Marceauesque-control of their bodies as is needed for more traditional mime "idioms" e.g. walking on the spot, invisible walls, opening doors, etc.

Of course, the soundtrack is a great help!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Romance of the Three Criteria

(Haha! thought this title is especially apt for BGR.)

Last night, when I shared with my CG abt my learning to trust God with regards to finding the sister tt God has in mind for me, my two sisters, Sandra & Deborah, asked me what my top criteria were. Told them what Ps Michael had shared with me before: Character, Chemistry & Compatibility.

They continued looking at me. I looked back at them, and said, "Yah, that's it."

Sandra giggled and asked, "Yes, and what about character?" She opened her arms wide. "It's such a BROAD criteria!"

Deborah added, "If you have clear criteria and know clearly what you look for, then God will be able to bless you and know what you really want!"

I paused, digesting their remarks. I think though I don't totally agree with all of Deb's remark, I see the general validity of what she was saying.

Sandra, being ever sympathetic, saw my being stuck for words, laughed and said, "It's ok, Yeu Ann. Just think further & you can share more with us next time!"

Hee. Thank God for these two 'kaypoh' sisters! Blessed! So I've thought through and... here's my extended criteria in full 3D glory.

----------
Character
Traits that I especially look for:
- Compassion
- Kindness
- Humility
- Gentleness
- Patience
- Real & sincere
- Loves & fears God, wanting to honour Him in every area of her life
- Outward-looking: constantly on the lookout to see what needs others may have so that can bless them in Jesus' name.
- Fully committed to daily ensure that she doesn't just have strong principles - but that she is fully committed to realigning her mindset, her moral values and her belief system to nothing less than the very Word of God. There are already too many people who are strongly principled - but their own syncretic principles of worldly values and Godly values. Even the Nazis had strong principles! What we need are people who will pray constantly, "Father, help me know You as You TRULY are, not what I think You are."

Chemistry
- Can share about and express our feelings deeply
- Able to intuitively guess others' feelings accurately
- Enjoys lame jokes and can laugh a lot
- Smiles often! :)
- Have passion for good stories, especially people stories
- Love sharing about books / poems / dramas
- Able to appreciate deeply a good quote / thought-provoking phrase
- Whom I can make her feel happy and able to make her laugh constantly
- Whom I can comfort and console in times of sadness, and encourage in times of distress
- Who is naturally sentimental -- i.e. little sentimental things for her daily
- Whom I can be naturally crazy & dramatic with :)

Compatibility of vision (characteristics that make us able to complement one another effectively in ministry & God's callings upon our lives)

HEART
- Heart to serve and give to the poor n lonely
- Heart to intentionally disciple the next generation
- Heart to support missions work all over the world
- Heart to counsel & heal the wounded & broken-hearted & encourage the timid

SOUL (including FEELINGS)
- Able to serve as an intercessory prayer partner
- Able to teach well
- Able to identify emotions accurately in others and understand where they actually come from, not just their words

MIND
- Able to stay calm, detailed & objective when under heavy pressure
- Able to help me think logically & systematically through decisions, especially suggesting options that I have not thought of

STRENGTH
- Able to connect with other people easily and make them feel welcome (hospitable)
- Able to suggest practical ways to meet others' needs
- Able to explain simply yet effectively abstract concepts in such a way that young kids can understand
---------
Personally, I told S & D that I'd pretty much given up on criteria, because how can you tell who will fit your criteria? I explained that I want to fit my criteria to what GOD wants. I said to them: "I want to want what God wants." I guess, to say it even more precisely, I want to want what God wants me to want! :) Shered with them that it's been a journey of discovery for me. The quest to find out as clearly as possible what God's will really is with regards to finding a spouse.

Still, I do see the value of setting criteria. Not as a way of getting God to bless us according to our specifications, but to help us see for ourselves more clearly what we REALLY want in a spouse.

And writing these criteria down will help us - and those around us - see where our true desires really want -- to see how closely aligned our desires are with God's desires.

Thank God Proverbs has already given me very practical advice in what to look for in a future wife. Character is the first thing.

Hee. :) Hope you find this post interesting... God bless you!

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Doing the Will of God, Part 2

Yet more good stuff from the same chapter:

"Our character is more important to God than the things we do for Him.

It is His will that we grow to become like His Son. That is why fearing God and keeping His commandments are the acid-test of faith. It is faith in action when we determine in our hearts, "God, I believe Your Word and my desire is to follow Your will, so that I can grow in You." To do this, it is vital that we know what the Lord has said in the Scriptures.

We can't know His WILL unless we know His WORD.

One of my great concerns us that we don't know the Word of God. We are raising a generation of Bible-illiterates! We have got to do something about this. Are we reading the Word of God for our own spiritual nourishment and growth? Are we saturated by the Word of God? Are we being tutored by the wisdom of the Scriptures?

My second concern is this: In the light of God's Word, and what we know of it, <i>are we obeying it?</i> Obedience is better than sacrifice."


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Doing the Will of God, Part 1

Reading this chapter from Pastor Edmund Chan's (he's from CEFC) book, "Growing Deep in Faith", that Sandra shared with us during lifegroup last night.

"Unless we know God's will, and in so doing walk in His ways - to fear Him and keep His commandments - we may think that we are doing things that please God, and yet be totally wrong! We may think that we are doing what God wants, but without knowing God's will and walking in His ways, we fail to do what God requires in the Scriptures.

Thus God's challenge for us is to fear Him by knowing His will for our lives, and to be true to His calling by walking in His ways. And the only way to know His will and His ways so that we may walk in then us through the Scriptures."

At this point, I think quite a few of you will ask, "How then can I know God's specific will for my life?"

Think greater minds like Rick Warren and Henry Blackaby have written amply on this. Basically we shouldn't be asking, "What is God's will for MY LIFE?" But we should ask, "What is God's will, what is He doing today, and how does He want me to align my life to His will?"

If we want to know God's SPECIFIC will for our lives, we must first know and follow God's GENERAL will for our lives! Makes sense, right?

Living life was never meant to be about our glory. All things, including us, were meant to be for His glory. "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." If He does not hold absolute supremacy in our lives, our lives cannot but help fall apart. And we will never be truly happy until we have discovered and are living out what God made us to do and be all along.

THY kingdom come, THY will be done
On earth as it is in heaven!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ha-ha-hallelujah!!!

Why i say tt i was super-encouraged: During CG, in the middle of my sharing abt my need for God's provision for the upcoming Cambodia missions trip, Deborah interrupted me to tell me that I didnt have to worry anymore about bringing extra $ to Cambodia to buy stuff for the kids ... 'cos God has ALREADY provided! She then shared a quick testimony about how God has blessed our team with $300 this week! She hadn't told the rest of us this good news yet, so my sharing abt trusting God's provision was very timely!

When we heard this joyous news, we couldn't stop laughing at the perfect timing of God's goodness & His provision! Truly the LORD has done great things for us... and He has such a great sense of humor too!

HALLELUJAH!!! Wow... How sweet it is to trust in Jesus! Exciting! Seeing God at work, preparing the ground even before we have stepped into the land of Cambodia! Wow... Thank You Jesus! 

Haha! I know I'm very excited. But why shouldn't we be? Psalm 126 describes our feelings so well. :D

May God's joy be upon you too as you endeavor to outreach/serve our friends (and foes too haha) who do not know Jesus yet this Christmas! :)

Ha-ha-hallelujah!!! The joy of the Lord is our strength! :D

Psa 126

1 When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!

2 We were filled with laughter, 
and we sang for joy. 
And the other nations said, 
"What amazing things the Lord has done for them."

3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! 
What joy!

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord
as streams renew the desert.

5 Those who plant in tears 
will harvest with shouts of joy.

6 They weep as they go to plant their seed, 
but they sing as they return with the harvest.


Amen! :D

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Rebuke

Just sent a dear friend a direct rebuke, as gentle as I could. Just thank God I accounted to his mentor. Still, it's a pain to see someone resistant to correction and growth... especially when others have tried to speak into the person's life.

At least his shepherd told me to be very direct with him.

And it's something for me to think about, because I know that Hanhui had to do the same with me... asking me question after question. And I hated it then, and was angry with him. But he cared enough to press on, even after I had flared up at him. Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

And now I'm so grateful to him for his courageous love. That he spoke the truth to me in love. That in the end, he succeeded even when it seemed that he had failed. (As he had shared with some of us about a prophecy that God gave him, that in order to succeed in what God had called him to do, he must first go through failure. And he did seem to have failed a lot... yet in the end... like the resurrected Christ, God brokered victory out of his failures.)

And Peter's grace to me, even when I had pissed him off plenty of times... it's not just being nice to me... but I saw how he actively cared for me. Mm. Grace. Grace. I saw it in action.

And I see how much the grace and mercy of God is upon me. When I see people with similar attitudes to what I had last time... OMG. I realize that it would have been easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for me to escape that attitude black-hole of pride. So many people with my kind of attitude have never escaped, and are still lost and suffering in their sins... yet here stand I, not by any works I have done, but only by His utter grace and mercy I stand - forgiven and redeemed.

What can I say? I can only show mercy to others as He has shown me, and hopefully grace as He has done for me too.

But yup. Still learning. Sheesh. Should have been more careful. Proverbs says do not rebuke a fool, or he will hate you... I could have been more prudent.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Feed a child please!

From:
Date: November 18, 2010 12:35:50 AM GMT+08:00
To: 
Subject: You took the quiz - and fed a child!


By testing your hunger IQ, you provided a warm meal to a hungry child in school.

Keep the momentum going! Ask your friends to take the hunger quiz:

http://www.wfp.org/quiz

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Eternity Looks Like To A Primary Two Kid

Matthias was so funny! Had lunch with him on Sunday with his mum Rachael. Matthias asked me how old I was. I asked him to guess.

"17?"

"29."

His jaws dropped. He looked as though I'd suddenly transmogrified into a dinosaur.

"Wow...so old!!!"

I grinned.

"Yep! Here, let me count out for you." And I proceeded to count out my age on my fingers for him to see.

"There! 29!"

His eyes opened WIDE. Apparently he'd just grasped the concept of eternity.

:)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Critical Thing

Thrilling days ahead. Two boys performed for the skit today. One of them, Matthias, naturally enjoy acting. The other boy wants to try, but is quite shy and says negative things about himself. But when I asked for volunteers, he responded. And he spoke very well! :)

Can see how God is using this drama ministry to help the more shy ones find their voices - literally. To help those who want to try... have a chance to try. Who knows? Maybe this opportunity could be the seed for greater things to come.

:) So touching. And interestingly, all the kids who have volunteered so far are those whom I took care of back in Hopekinders in 2007 and 2008. :) So beautiful, how God allows our paths to converge and diverge and converge again. Seeing and hearing them grow... I realize that I have to adjust my perception of them as they mature. Last time they baby-talked... But now they talk with an increasing confidence and depth of understanding, that I sometimes feel like I'm talking with youths instead of primary 2 kids!

Growing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men. And... another 10 years...they will become the next generation of young leaders.

Well, I'm feeling excited again about ministry. Things are picking up... Misha is able to help out now that her O levels are over! Am training her to take over my role of directing, especially the art of directing kids. :D

And met this Canadian chap, Fran, who's working in my ex-company. It turns out that he has years of experience with dramas for children and musicals... And praise God, he's very willing to come down and watch us rehearse for the Christmas drama so that he can give us advice on children's drama. God's providence is so amazing!

Finally more scriptwriters are coming on board... And I've found myself editing and giving advice on how to write punchy scripts for kids. Surprised to see myself doing all these things. To find myself miraculously growing in competence.

So awed. So grateful, because I really am less than the least of all God's people...

So Christ. So not me.
So Ephesians 3:20-21
So glory to God!
So forever! Amen. :D

And you know what? The way things have been flowing... Somehow God has made it possible to slowly start up a boys-to-men ministry. Still ongoing, but yeah I do believe in the importance of building strong biblical men to fulfill the Great Commission. Thk God how He uses and unifies seemingly very different passions into a single calling. :)

Bit by bit... Cross-cultural drama to disciple and share the gospel... :) to tell the story of Jesus to children from every nation, tribe, people and language. :)

But the critical thing is not that my plans succeed, but that the world can see what God can do in and with and through a man who is totally consecrated to Him. (I'm not saying that I'm at that level of surrender - far from that!) As Proverbs reminds me: "A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How can anyone then understand his way?"

The critical thing is that the world see not the works of my plans, but see what God can do as I surrender my plans into His hands.

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The End of a Child

When does one stop being childlike? When one stops trusting in his Father.


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The Joy of Memorization

Personally, I find it very fun to memorise certain passages in the Bible. They're so beautiful and majestic, that, well... it makes me just want to memorise for the joy of it. I've tried memorising Colossians 1 too (but haven't managed to complete memorising the entire chapter yet). And I can remember Isaiah 53 by heart. It's such a moving passage that I cry everything I read it. There are so many beautiful passages in the Bible that I want to memorise. For fun, I have memorised Psalm 23 and a few other verses in Spanish too.

Why do I want to memorise so much, in this age of PDAs and smartphones? Because I read that our less-educated brothers in China - peasants some more! - have memorised entire chapters of Matthew! So, we educated Singaporeans (especially university-trained graduates!) really have no excuse not to store up God's words in our educated brains! "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."

I remember reading about this old American grandfather who had a stroke that robbed him of the ability to understand ANY language, whether spoken or written. He could still see and hear, but he just couldn't understand any words at all. But... even though the stroke took away his capacity to understand language, he could still recall the Psalms by heart, because he had memorised the Psalms so deeply by heart, that not even brain damage could erase God's word from his memories. Yes! This is the iron standard. Memorise God's Word till it becomes hard-wired (literally) into your heart and mind. Then even if you get struck by a stroke or something terrible, God's Word will still be with you to encourage you in your darkest moments and nothing can ever take away His Word from you, because you treasured His words so much.

Memorising God's word also helps us be alert and ready to fight spiritual battles at the drop of a sword. Like how Jesus instantly rebutted Satan's temptations with 3 quotations from Deuteronomy. If Satan were to tempt us too, how long would we take before we could come up with the right Scripture to counter the devil? Remember that Satan actually quoted Scripture out of context to tempt Jesus to test God. If we don't have God's words at the ready, then... we'll be like guards who have been given enough bullets to bring down a tank, but never load their rifles with any bullets. Then when the enemy suddenly ambushes them, the guards have no time to run back to the guardhouse and load their rifles with bullets...

Of course, we also believe in meditating on Scripture, not just memorising. But both are important. Not just meditating, but memorising too. :)

Good Old Mentors

Sometimes young Christians start panicking. They say that they don't experience God so strongly as they used to. That they feel far from God. But that's why having experienced mentors who have walked with God for a long time is so important. The older ones remind the younger ones that there is something called seasons. That we experience God strongly at times, and not so at other times. Summer and winter - but God's love endures forever. And that weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I met this lieutenant-colonel last time when I was in Army. He was different from the other officers, because he was genuinely much friendlier and more cheerful. One day I found out that he was a Christian. (Think he saw my Bible.) So we chatted and he told me that he'd been a Christian for about 20+ years. Wow. Very encouraged. Gray-haired splendour of an old and wise Christian walking with God for 20+ years... and being salt and light in a place that needed more cheerfulness, lighting up the place with his constant warm smile. ;)

All in a Day

Helped out in MM event. Very memorable. Sound system screwed up big time. But thank God that I didn't break into panic, though I was very close.

Then met up a friend for lunch. Had a good time of fellowship! :) I'm glad that my friend shared, and I shared... and that I can be myself - you know, acting silly and all that. :) Such a blessing to have friends you can feel comfortable with to be crazy enough. =)

After lunch, I spent time memorising Ephesians 1:3-14 for my Bible study homework.

Then went for Kangwei's and Juan Juan's wedding. Joy! :) Very heartwarming exhortation by Eugene Phang, and Pastor Johannes' sermon given in halting Mandarin... haha! funny but thank God for Ps Johannes persevering to the very end! :D

Then at night, had a good talk with a brother over the phone. Thank God for him so much. =) He really listened, understood and prayed for me over the phone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Muddied

A difficult conversation today. Felt unsettled and uneasy and unsure what to do next. Trying to think soundly while emotional, which is about as easy for me as flying a kite in a hurricane. :) But thank God for His mercy and grace. Prayed, and did my best as I knew how. Always a learning process - and that God doesn't condemn nor judge me. But He guides me and teaches me the way that I should go, when I stray. But also He comforts me when my conscience troubles me.

=) Thank You Jesus, for forgiving me all my sins - past, present and future. That You do not condemn me, but constantly encourage me - this wows my heart so much, because I know I totally do not deserve to be called Your son, let alone receive Your encouragement. And yet... You still run out to embrace me. =')

Such a joy in the midst of knowing my own failures and character flaws, that there's always one place that I can run to when I fail - and that is His big everlasting arms.

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." :)




Thank God for a certain sister, who really sets an example for me in terms of grace and humility. Blessed by her message yesterday morning, apologizing if she has been a bit harsh/distracted/impatient. That she is trying her best to be kind to others as well... and asking me to let her know if I think that she is sinning against me. She sets an example for me in humility... and dare I say: a heart that seeks to live righteously for God. Thanks, dear sis, for your humble heart that encourages me!

Hmm. Anyway, I write from my feelings. And feelings are very shaky foundations when it comes to determining what is true. So that's why I want to always align my feelings and thoughts to make them obedient to God's Word. Because honestly, only God's Word is reliable enough to build my life upon.

Gee. Hmm... I think the most edifying rebukes for me are not those who told me outright that I'm wrong and so on. But the best and most beautiful rebukes came from those who knew they also struggled as fellow sinners, and from their vantage point of brokenness, rebuked / corrected / scolded me. And I was touched because of their gentle hearts - not judgemental, but gracious. That they stood in the same mud as me... just that they told me to get up and stop wallowing in the mud.

"I may be in the same mud as you... but that doesn't mean that you have to LIE down in it. Stand up and keep moving on! And you are not alone! I will help carry your burden too, so that you can get up from where you are. Brother! We are in the same mud, so let's go forward together till we overcome in Jesus' name!"

:) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. To paraphrase the psalmist: "Let a righteous man strike me, it is a blessing. I will not refuse it; it is like oil on my head." Thank God for the righteous men and women God has put into my life.

Ok... I repent about whatever is true. Need to die to self! :) Will get up from the mud and with God's help, strive to be kinder and more gracious and gentler, no matter the circumstances. I'm after all a slave of Christ. I am not my own but I have been bought at a price. Yup! :) Thank You Jesus for forgiving me my sins! That You will help me become fully what You wanted me to be all along. That You have not left me alone. :)

The Redemption of My Humanity

From Shaowei's blog:
I realized how much God has redeemed my emotions over the years. I used to be disconnected from my emotions, because I thought they were unproductive, but probably more because I was afraid of being hurt. Then, He reconnected my feelings, like plugging a device into the USB port of a computer. I started to feel extreme sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, excitement and love. I experienced the world around me in new colors. I experienced Him like never before. But emotions can be more powerful than thoughts. I sometimes found myself in depression, and I had to learn to overcome the depression while honoring the validity of my emotions. This is when my spirit, through the strength of God, commanded my emotions to be still.

The same thing happened with my mind. I depended on my mind, then became afraid of it, then was reconnected to it, and finally my mind agreed to be subject to my spirit.

The same was true of my relationships: my friends, my family, my loved ones. My identity used to be built on what others thought of me, then I separated myself from others, then I reconnected and came to honor and enjoy people as creatures of glory. My identity in God is most seen through the way I connect with others around me, because God created us for relationship.

I love how this brother describes so well. I can identify with what he says.

God also redeemed my emotions. I'm not sure if many people know, but when I was a young child, during primary school days, I actually was a very self-absorbed person. I didn't have much compassion for anyone, not even my own parents. I remember I was in Primary Three, and one day, while reading a book, my dad came back home very sick. He was so sick that his colleagues had to bring him back home, supporting him on both sides.

And... my response was: I looked up at him, and then went back to reading my book.

Gosh. To think I was so heartless. :(

Now after growing... yup, thank God that He has changed me so much.

Same with my emotions. When I was in secondary school, I remember I didn't care much about others' feelings. The feelings that I cared for were mostly for myself and myself alone. And I was NOT sensitive to people's feelings. I could just butt into a conversation and start talking about my own pet topics, completely oblivious to the annoyed glares of the people I was interrupting. No wonder very few people could stand me when I was in the Scouts. And I didn't respect the people I was with very much. Ask any of my old RI friends and they can tell you what a ... character I was.

But after coming to church, people told me that I needed to be more sensitive to others. It was a slow process, but over time, God helped me grow and learn to empathize, think about how others would feel, read their faces, anticipate social situations and so on...

Thing is, I started swinging to the other extreme. I experienced the joy of empathy, and feeling for others. And I learned to start reading people's facial expressions. However, I became very worried a lot of times what people would think of me, and fret constantly over what their facial expressions and body language might mean. It could take me hours or even days to get over perceived worries.

And... I started getting depressed about my lack of close friends too. Formerly, I didn't really see the value of making close friends... but after I became a Christian, I discovered a deep pain - the pain of loneliness and inadequacy. I didn't care much last time, preferring to spend time playing computer games the whole day.

But it was a good pain, because it helped me realize how little I cared for others, and how self-absorbed and socially immature I was. Only when I had experienced pain, did I start seeing the value of growing. It was like a healed leper feeling pain for the first time in many decades. God took away the leprosy of my heart, so that I might learn to feel again, even pain... and in so doing, He helped me become human again. =)

Now, I think the past two years were God correcting my extremes in sensitivity. Like a powerful radar dish made more effective through better training, God has helped me grow. He redeemed my emotions, and my sensitivity.

I guess one of the sweetest things was having sisters tell me that I'm tender, thoughtful, caring, empathetic and sensitive. :) Haha... but seriously, they really told me that. So thank God for what He has done in me... not I, but Christ who lives in me! :D

And took the Caliper test... was so surprised to find that empathy is one of my greatest strengths. Totally amazing for someone who was so heartless as a kid that he couldn't care less about whether his dad was suffering or not. :(

*sigh* Redemption.

Jesus, God's righteousness revealed,
The Son of Man, the Son of God,
His Kingdom come
Jesus, redemption's sacrifice,
Now glorified, now testified
His Kingdom come

Such is the depth and measure of my redemption... and how it cost God so much to restore humanity's humanity. That God is not so much making me a better person as He is redeeming my humanity. That He, the Son of Man, is making me a man once again.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see..."

"The Only Thing I Know"

"This video reflects my real-life experiences with *videogames*."

If you play video games, you simply have to watch this video. Only 5 minutes, but it will really make you stop and think.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Conforming

I was having quiet time just now, when I think God whispered to me (ah, like what Kelvin reminded me - the presence of God not in the powerful elements, but in a gentle whisper) a phrase: "conforming to the likeness of Christ my Son"

Reminded of what God the Father boomed to our three amigos, Peter James and John, when they saw Jesus being transfigured before their very eyes: "This is my Son whom I love. Listen to Him!"

Quiet time. A time to seek His face. For what purpose? To wait upon Him in the stillness of solitude, listening for any word that the Master might deign to speak. As a little boy prayed so long ago: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."

Reminded that one reason that God Os more interested in who we become, rather than what we do. For doing inevitably springs out of being.

Conforming to the image of Christ till He is fully formed within us. Not norming to the pattern of this world.

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Surprised by Wonder

Just made a new friend just now. Missed the last train so had to take bus 157. One guy was standing there waiting for the same bus. He saw me waiting too, and remarked, "Missed the last train?"

So just chit-chatted and he's from NTU, second-year. Nice chap and all that. Exchanged numbers. Told him if he needs part time job, my office may have. :)

Interesting how missing one appointment can open up new appointments. Surprised by wonder indeed. :)


Yeu Ann

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Seek His Face - What Does It Mean?

What does it mean to seek His face? How we approach God during our quiet times, prayers and so on will depend on what we understand seeking His face to mean. And I think it also depends on what we understand God to be, as revealed through the Bible.

Think seeking His face means the following things to me:

1. That God is not a faceless Being. Not a Faceless One. Which reminds us that He is a Person. So we can communicate to Him like we communicate with a fellow human being.

2. That we can look to Him to make us feel secure. Like how a baby cries if it can't see its parents' faces, but smiles if it sees.

3. That we constantly look to Him for His approval... not merely a legal approval, but an emotional approval. Like how a boy will keep on looking at his father's face when doing something. He does it to see if his dad is smiling or frowning - whether he is pleased or dissatisfied with his son. Think that's how I should also keep looking to God for my source of approval. Emotional approval especially. Fathers have this unique power to influence and mold their sons just by the countenance of their faces. That's one reason fatherlessness can be such a devastating epidemic, with lost boys trying to seek fatherly faces that will approve - even if it is a bad one.

4. That we can't be looking anywhere else if our eyes are locked upon the other person's face. Lovers have eyes for only one another. No other face is more important than the face of their beloved. No other gods but Yahweh, the one true God.

5. That we remind ourselves of His true identity. To make sure that we are not looking at the wrong person. Ever have one of those embarrassing experiences where you playfully grabbed a friend from behind to surprise him/her... only to find that you grabbed a stranger? :)

And seeking His face also protects us from counterfeit experiences. Like how... a guy might think a girl looks really beautiful from the back... only to find from the front that the person is actually...*ahem* a 'pirated version'. :P Guys, I think you know what I mean! (Sorry if this offended anyone!)

6. That we remember that God really is beautiful beyond description. Like how the psalmist longed to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in Psalm 27:4.

But what does beauty mean here? I think it's the character of God, Gos attributes, His compassion & grace, His strength, His power, His humility...

And it's so important for us who love Him to remember how beautiful the invisible God is. Because we, being away from home, tend to forget. And when one sees the beauty of the Lord anew, his heart is recharged and renewed.

Like how the old hymn goes:
"In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me
As He died to make men holy
Let us live to make men free"

And when we have seen the beauty of the Lord afresh, whether it be in our own lives, others' lives, or creation... we are more eager again to tell others about Jesus! :) Ever seen a beautiful rainbow and ran to tell others to see it? That's the same with Jesus!

I think there's really so much more about this wonderful phrase... But I write so much, and I am only a child...

How about you, dear bro/sis? Any thoughts to share?


Yeu Ann

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Kelvin shared some good points with me today. About being still before God, and casting our visions in writing so as to preserve - and keep the details fresh.

Oh yes! The Michaelangelo painting of Gid reaching out to Adam but Adam was not so enthu. He shared with me how Adam tried to touch God's finger too but also kept his arm firmly on earth. So it made it harder for Adam to really reach God. If Adam really wanted to grab God, that would mean letting go of earth and going all the way with outstretched arms.

Instead, we get Michaelangelo's sharp visual commentary on the church-goers of his time:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/God2-Sistine_Chapel.png

Very true! How we keep saying that we want to be touched by God, but we keep leaning back onto our comfortable things of the world instead of throwing our arms around His big strong holy hands.

I have my own "earthy armchairs"... Hee won't share here but yup think everyone has their "earthy armchairs" too.

His prayer for me... Thank God. Because I was feeling quite loaded with cares and concerns. I feel it a great blessing when someone prays a hearfelt and detailed prayer for me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A New-Found Strength

Feeling the usual wave of inadequacy. It comes with regularity. But thk God so much, I feel more secure now. A security found in a special Bible verse, a rhema word that God impressed strongly on my heart a few times and esp during a service. :)

It's like being in a boat in the midst of a storm. But with Jesus as my fellow passenger. :)

I think this is a period of new-found strength that I have received after crying out to God a lot of times. He doesn't remove the storms that come with regularity. Instead He gives me a fortress, a safe refuge and rock to hold on to when the next wave comes.

It's ... how to say... not that kind of strength that we typically imagine - cool, detached and unperturbed - hovering above the waves. Staying dry. I think that sounds very much Buddhist.

But the Christian kind of strength is very different. The kind of strength that gets soaked wet. Just like Jesus getting wet in a storm. Strength that gets beaten and even bloodied. Strength that became a helpless baby in a manger. Strength that became crucified in weakness and pain. Strength made perfect through suffering.

Hebrews 2:8b-10
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 

I am so happy to have my Father with me. Because I know that this deeper strength is not from my own understanding or strength or even positive thinking. But it is a peace-inducing strength from heaven above that comes from clinging on to a portion of God's promises in the Scriptures.

Hee! Excited to experience God to a deeper degree today, as compared to the past few waves. Cling on to His promises and not your own understanding. Because heaven and earth will fade, but His words will never pass away.

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First Shepherding

First shepherding with Kelvin today :) He's on leave.

Sigh. Woke up late. Didn't get to spend quality time w God in the morning. :( think it's the lure of my flesh that makes me want to sleep late and wake up late. Need to pray and speak the Scriptures to myself more. Crucify my sinful old nature daily! Lord help me!



The first shepherding with Kelvin was really nice :) Very thankful to hear Kelvin's side of his story, how he responded and his thoughts regarding our becoming shepherd and sheep. :)

Suffice it to say that we both believe that the hand of God is at work, bringing us together. Initially we both were concerned that the whole matter had seemed rather 'tikam-tikam', but God's hand was in this. :)

Reminds me of what happened during NUS days when Weizhu found out that he was going to be my shepherd a few days before I found out. :)

I'm his first sheep since he came back. How God brought him back to church - he and his wife shared their story last year, which really moved many of us to tears.

I'm deeply blessed by his sincere and wise sharing. He has a real desire to seek God and do His will. These are real words from a man who has gone through brokenness, left church and sinned against God, yet God brought him back and redeemed him... It reminds me of something that Hanhui shared with me before: that those who have left church, but come back again like the prodigal son, often end up having a deeper and steadier walk with God... in a way, they experienced God's goodness, left Him but realized the world could not compare to God's goodness and came back in brokenness and shame... only to be rejoiced and celebrated over. "My son was dead but now is alive; he was lost and is found."

:D

Hanhui, Weizhu, Peter, Kelvin... all had left church previously... but they returned, and now exude a richer experience of His grace. A richness of forgiveness, grace and redemption that none but prodigals can experience. Even angels long to look into such things.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

HTTP 404 Scripture not found?

Matthew 22:29
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

When I read this, it reminded me how many times we screw up our discipleship / shepherding / ministries... our sheep do not grow... in fact we ourselves do not grow and keep on struggling. Of course ignorance of Scripture alone is not the ONLY issue... but a lot of times, we cause a lot of damage and hinder others' growths and experiencing the kingdom by teaching them to be more "practical", to be more sophisticated and worldly-wise... Instead of teaching them what the Scriptures say, we give them worldly human wisdom that lack the power of God. We prefer to rely on self-help literature that praise and promise success in worldly terms, because they seem to offer an easier way to winning souls. But we neglect to study the Scriptures and godly Christian literature that remind us of the way of the cross, the narrow gate, the cost of discipleship, the power of the Holy Spirit, learning to become more and more broken and let Christ increase...

Simply because we do not know what the Scriptures have to say, or do not believe the power of God to do more than all we can imagine. We shortchange ourselves ... and shortchange our disciples. All because we do not read the Bible carefully enough and do not believe in His power.



Looking at what I wrote, yes, it's very ... how to put it... extreme? Direct? Blunt? Hmm... actually, there's obviously much more to the whole picture than what I've written, and it's not such a clear case of black-and-white all the time. But I think I'll leave it in this format, because I mean this not as a teaching, but as a simplified sketch of what I think and feel. Like how a black-and-white line drawing does not do justice to the subtle shades and nuances of a grayscale photograph, let alone a full-coloured movie. But its starkness and clarity demonstrates a certain aspect of the topic, which I think it key to highlight to a specific audience and season.

So, that's my disclaimer. What you see above is not meant to be a thoughtfully-balanced post, but more of an emotive shove. :) So read it and take it with a pinch of salt, dear friend. :)

One of Those Days?

:)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Brotzeit Birthday Blessings :)

Thanks so much dear Father for Huanyan surprising me with a birthday dinner treat today :D Really very blessed by the quality time spent tog and his generous heart - "It's only a small thing." :D deeply blessed!


Yeu Ann

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