Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Life Really Worth Living - Part II

Remember my rant in the previous article? Now I need to clarify the other side of the coin. I'm not attacking the validity of these points.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I'm simply thinking about how many of us just blindly accept that we should thus aim to live out these points. The thing is, these death-bed wishes are all symptoms of thirst.

The problem is, the popular idea how to satisfy your thirst is the notion that "any kind of drink is fine, as long as it quenches your thirst." Thus we drink Sprite and quench the Spirit; we don't just drink Coke, we snort it; we merrily imbibe Absolut while jeering at Absolute truth... "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"

But as good ol' C.S. Lewis pointed out, "Thirst was made for water."

Living water, just as Jesus promised. Not Sprite, but the Spirit.

Thus, I think the transformed life in Christ should aim to say this on his deathbed:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to Jesus, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard for myself, but to save more lives for Christ.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express more care and concern for others.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends and told them about Jesus.
5. I wish that I had brought more happiness to others.

Will end with these powerful words of Oskar Schindler, a wealthy German industrialist who saved many Jewish lives during World War 2... and died penniless:
Oskar Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.

Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.

Oskar Schindler: If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I'd just...

Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.

Oskar Schindler: I didn't do enough!

Itzhak Stern: You did so much.

[Schindler looks at his car]

Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.

[removing Nazi pin from lapel]

Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.

Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!

A Life Really Worth Living - Part I

I read this article that many people have posted on their Facebook pages.

It's true that these top 5 wishes resonate with many of us, who often have never really thought about these wishes before. In a way, it's an epiphany for us, because we often have been labouring and striving... and I guess this article kinds of provides a catharsis for our inner desires.

The summary of the 5 deathbed regrets is below:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Then I read this comment in the article:
I was like this once. I was married to a man I thought I loved. But I was disconnected from all of my friends, and family. I had forgotten who I was, and what made me love the world. I made a difficult decision to leave that man, and since then, I have gotten back on the right track. Those friends and family were waiting for me when I was ready to be me again. Now I am happier than I have ever been. I have no regrets. I had forgotten just how much I loved me the way that I am, even if my ex-hubby didn't. I am living my dreams, and I am thankful for that every day.

After all that reading, one question bugged me. "Why is this article so popular?"

I think many of us post this 'cos
1. It's a healthy wake-up call as to what really matters in life.
2. We feel that this is something important others should know.

Still, I felt disturbed after reading the comment. I think that perhaps in our good intentions to help others find meaning in their lives... are we unintentionally encouraging others to live Epicurean lifestyles? Meaning that personal happiness is the most important thing in life, even at others' costs?

Initially I jumped to conclusions and wrote a lengthy tirade... but after some reflection, I think I was too one-tracked.

Morally speaking, if we Christians subscribed to this philosophy too, we could just divorce our spouses every time we didn't feel satisfied, that things were working out...

The nurse's article, no matter how well-meant, is inevitably incomplete.

So maybe we could do more, besides sharing the article. I think we need to consider carefully. Many people want to live truly meaningful lives... but in the end we need to help point people to the One who gives life meaning.

Anyway, I did wonder too: personally, do we find the article meaningful because it speaks what our hearts want to hear: that self-fulfillment is the most important goal of our lives?

I really don't think that's the truth. We were made for a cause greater than ourselves. Of course as a Christian, that would be Jesus. Haha.

Still, I ... really think many of us may be on a slippery slope if we start pursuing our own desires first instead of Him who gave us the ability to desire.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kissing "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" Goodbye

WZ & I talked yesterday about how much damage Joshua Harris's book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" had done.

But being the thoughtful guy he is, he added, "Well, I think Joshua Harris, after he grew older and got married, looked around, and saw what he had done. That people were blindly kissing dating goodbye and chasing courtship as THE biblical method. So he wrote his second book, 'Boy Meets Girl' to try and salvage the situation, explaining that it's the heart behind what you do, not so much the actions that count. That there can be godly daters and ungodly courtshippers."

Then he paused. "That's what you get when a twenty-three years old guy writes."


And then he said again, "Maybe because many of us looked at the cover, and had heard impressive things about it... and went, 'WHOA!'"

I like Weizhu's insights. He's a slow, slow, slow thinker... but a deep, objective and well-balanced thinker. Thus I respect WZ's insights and value them highly, because he always takes care to look at both sides of the coin.

His view is that both dating and courtship are fine. It's the HEART behind it that counts. Just that a lot of us sway to one extreme or the other.

Initially, I was one of those who took a rather extreme stand. But through the years, I examined my own heart motives, and realized that I had secret motives. Such as, "If I do it the courtship way, I can earn God's favour here and hopefully score points with Him. Then I'll get a nicer wife."

Oh man. That was legalism, pure and simple. There's just so many things wrong with that attitude on several levels. And what was worse, it snuck in under the cloak of "spirituality".

*shakes head*

This isn't really an issue about dating / courtship. It's simply the tip of the iceberg of legalism that is so prevalent among many of us. And more ignobly, blind, unthinking faith that doesn't stop to think why it believes what it believes. Which gets me hot under the collar.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Answer To Our Hearts' Emptiness: Thinking of Jesus More

A dear friend asked me this just now:
"What do u do when life feels empty? Do you think there will always be a hole or can we be fully satisfied in Him?"

I initially wanted to write a long theological exposition on this, but felt strangely prompted to write this instead:

"Mm... To answer your questions, when I feel empty, I think of Jesus. I think of how much He loves me, and died for me. I think of how he is watching over me, and I think of his promise, 'And surely I am with you always, even to the end...' I think of how good he is, that if everything is gone, he is there. He is more than the world to me, He is my everything, He is my all. I think of how he understands the feeling of utter loneliness... and I think of the eternal scars on his resurrected body. I think of Jesus."

:) my friend smiled.

Then I added,

"I think that's the only answer that the Bible gives us [to our question of emptiness]... but what an answer: Jesus himself is the answer to our hearts' emptiness. 'Our hearts are restless, until they find rest in Thee.'"

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Does "Success" Mean to an INFP?

Personally, I'm what you might call a classic INFP. I found this passage very meaningful:
The INFP who augments their strong, internal value system (Introverted Feeling) with a well-developed intuitive way of perceiving the world (Extraverted iNtuition) can be a powerful force for social change. Their intense values and strong empathy for the underprivileged, combined with a reliable and deeply insightful understanding of the world that we live in, creates an individual with the power to make a difference (such as Mother Teresa - an INFP).

So for me personally, I think it's important for me to make sure I don't start getting all broody, but learn to fix my eyes on the bigger picture - what God wants, not what I want.

I know other INFPs... and when they look inwards, man... they can get all sappy and emo - and super self-absorbed. I'm one of them too, so... *shrugs* think I can speak very bluntly. Because I've had the same self-centred attitude - as my bros and sisters can testify. But when I start looking outwards and living for God instead of myself... thank God, I feel so alive. :D Hee. Like a horse running, like a bird flying, like a fish swimming... I feel so in my element - living for a cause greater than myself - a cause that is REALLY worth living (and dying) for! :)

But... before I get all puffed-up... I have to speak with a sense of gratitude. But for the grace of God, there I go. I see people who really have the same struggle as me... I know one friend who struggles with the same kind of loneliness as me, and I think to myself even as I hear him crying over the phone: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." What is the difference, that I should be so chosen that I can see beyond myself and be rescued out of my previous self-absorbed existence? Really... by grace, and grace alone.


So all the more important that we look not only to our own interests, but look also to the interests of others. If we want to save our lives, we WILL lose it. But since we're natural idealists, giving our lives for a worthy cause is so super-appealing. How much more, when our natural dreams find their fulfillment in the biggest Dream of all: God reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against him.

*pause again*

In the end, it's not about which personality is the best. No such thing. Apples and oranges. It's about knowing and following a Person.

Because God is the one in whom all Personhood finds its definition, meaning, sustenance and existence. He is the most human being in the entire universe... for the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.

We had lost our identities as humans... and we were so lost that we thought we were evolving into better and better humans while we steadily invented new depravities and dehumanizations.

And now, when the Son of Man smashed into history, like a thief in the night... we found out that we, for all of human history, are now just returning to where we were supposed to have been all along - the first page. To be... humans again.

Humanity lost, and humanity regained.

In short, the Son of Man came to teach us what it really meant to be human.


Monday, March 28, 2011


"One day, it occurred to me that it's because I've been taught subtly in my youth that relationship with a girl threatens my relationship with God.

This cannot be further from the truth."

A brilliant post from Shaowei's blog. He's a wise, sharp thinker with a great heart for God BTW (that rare combination of one who is highly rational [he's a MATHS SCHOLAR who was a stubborn skeptic before, for God's sake] and yet also a deep feeler).

I just found out from Dewen that Shawn Bolz just released a book about dating recently, called "The Nonreligious Guide to Dating and Being Single". I have not read it but if it is anything like his blog posts, it should be awesome!

I've been thinking about romantic relationships lately. In my own life, I've often wondered about my resistance to dating and marriage. One day, it occurred to me that it's because I've been taught subtly in my youth that relationship with a girl threatens my relationship with God. This cannot be further from the truth. In the beginning, Adam was alone with God, but God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." And He created Eve. Don't be mistaken. God did not create Eve just for friendship. He created her for union with Adam. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."

What about Paul? Didn't he say that celibacy is good in 1 Cor 7? Kris Vallotton gives a very good commentary about this passage in one of his sermons, if you can find it. In summary, Paul was talking to a crowd of people who believed that marriage was the only way. So he says to the unmarried and the widows, who felt condemned for choosing to be single, that "It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do." And when he says, "I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that," he was talking about his gift in not being tempted sexually, not his gift of celibacy. Paul never condemned marriage. He would never say that something is bad, something which God himself says is good. In fact, he talks about marriage all the time in all his books, especially with regards to Jesus as the Groom, and us the Bride.

So now, what about all the young teens who are getting into hurtful romantic relationships and premarital sex and all that stuff? I agree that such things are dangerous, but WE SHOULD NEVER CREATE THEOLOGY TO SOLVE A PROBLEM!! I believe the solution is to teach our youths what healthy romantic relationships are. For instance, we should not get from our girl/boyfriend what we actually want from God, and we should not get from God what we need to get from our girl/boyfriend. That perhaps there is "THE ONE" (who you marry), but it is often impossible to figure that out (i.e. prophetically?) until we start to date that person and get to know that person the normal way (i.e. spend quality time).

So I encourage young people to date. Ask God what it is like to have a healthy fulfilling relationship. It is a great learning experience. But don't date if you don't want to date. There have been seasons in my life where God was leading me into so much intimacy that I did not have any desire to date anyone at all. This is very different from believing that God can only lead you into more intimacy if you don't date. My own dating experience is testimony that there are things that God can teach me only through a romantic relationship.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Do We Say Sorry?

2 Corinthians 7:8-9
"Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us."

It makes me ask: Why do we say sorry after hurting someone?

I might seem to be saying a very 'duh' question. But really, why do we say sorry for hurting someone?

It's not the hurt that we should be apologizing for. Nobody expects your dentist to apologize to you for doing wisdom tooth surgery on you.

But it's the intent behind the hurt. Was it to protect ourselves that we ended up hurting the other person, or was it to really help the other person be built up or was it simply because we were not in the best of moods, and the other party just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Sometimes we apologize for causing hurt. But is that a biblical practice? As though the absence of hurt was a cardinal virtue? Then God would have so much to apologize for. But obviously, the absence of pain is not a virtue in itself, as the Bible clearly teaches.

Rather, what we have to reflect on is the heart's motive behind causing the hurt, & our mistakes in rendering the hurt, if well-intentioned. Of course, if it's really just us being frustrated at something else at hand, I think that's perfectly understandable.

Thus that's why an "I'm sorry I made you feel this way." is one of the most backhanded and selfish "apologies". Far better not to apologize then. Stop adding to the hurt and piling up your sins before God. You will have to give an account to God for these careless words you speak!

But if you're genuinely sorry for your selfish reasons, an apology is a great way to demonstrate your repentance, especially when followed up with a clear statement of where you were wrong.

And if your conscience was clear but your actions caused harm and more damage than intended, it would be the right thing to apologize too.

Don't just say sorry. Explain and confess clearly what you are saying for. Then you will be in a very good position to a receive grace and mercy and be at peace with all men.

In short, don't say sorry unless you genuinely believe that you were wrong. Otherwise it's very hypocritical.

Interestingly, I recall today, that one dear co-worker apologized to me over some props stuff. There had been some mix-up, and I hurriedly asked her to cut a hole in the prop. Well, she was quite flustered as she had to rush a lot of other things too, so she was a bit annoyed, which I could see from her face. But after that, she apologized to me. I was surprised, but it was very nice of her. Actually I wasn't offended or even expecting any apology, as I understood that she was hard-pressed for time. Told her jokingly that thank God that she hadn't cut a hole in me with her penknife at that time!

But really, I'm very blessed by her genuineness of apology, not because I felt slighted or hurt, or even that she was not at her finest mood at that moment, but simply because she really apologized and stated clearly what she thought she had done wrong.

Not to assuage a guilty conscience, nor as an act of politeness, but simply a genuine confession of what she believed she had done wrong and wanted to put right. It's so refreshing, her spirit! :)

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Dear Co-labourers-in-Christ.
Please pray for:
  • more survivors to be discovered and those affected by the trauma of the earthquake and tsunami to be comforted and restored even as they cope with the aftermath of the tsunami.
  • protection & strength for the thousands of military & rescue personnel helping in the post tsunami work
  • all in Japan to have presence of mind, and for those who are believers to rise to the occasion with the power of the Holy Spirit to meet the needs as He directs them.
  • the Church to unite to reach out to help in the aftermath—pray for wise response, order and resources applied appropriately. 
      • the global Church to wake up to the need to be prepared in order to be His hands and feet in these situations as they begin to unfold so quickly around the world.

As some of you have asked, practical ways we could help besides praying, is to come alongside Christian relief agencies that are already doing ground assessment and providing humanitarian help.
There are 3 [ 2 based in Singapore & 1 in Japan] - they are World Vision, BGRI & CRASH Japan- kindly see below:
a. CRASH Japan []

Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH) is a network supporting Christians to do relief work in Japan and around the world.  CRASH equips and prepares churches and missions to be there to help their communities when disasters strike and coordinates Christian volunteers to work with local ministries in the event of a disaster.CRASH is endorsed by JEMA the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association and works in cooperation with the Disaster Relief Commission of the Japan Evangelical Association.

 b. BGRI [] has also sent a recce team for assessment & is awaiting more details before proceeding.
c. World Vision  [] - has sent out a recce team of their onsite WV Japanese personnel, will definitely be providing relief aid & establishing child friendly spaces. More details on how you can help below & also in attached pdf:
Keep on praying my friends!!
Blessings always!

On Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 12:34 PM, juliette arulrajah <> wrote:
Dear Pastors, Leaders, SCGM Friends & Disasterhope Network,
Greetings in the name of our Sovereign Lord!
I am forwarding to you the prayer email alert [see below] sent out to the Disasterhope Network on Friday night.
Since then there have been further updates with regards the extent of the devastation [more than 10,000 feared dead] inclusive of the nuclear plant explosion on Sat and the increasing amounts of radioactivity in the surrounding areas with further threats of nuclear plant explosions. Food and water shortage is becoming more apparent despite the attempts of the Japanese govt, foreign expert help and international NGOs battling against time to save lives, rescue those still trapped under the wreckage and debris and manage this 3- pronged [quake, tsunami & nuclear threat] mammoth crisis.
Kindly continue to intercede for breakthroughs with regards relief operations, the affected people and the relevant authorities handling the situation.
Blessings always! 
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: juliette arulrajah <
Date: Sat, Mar 12, 2011 at 12:08 AM

Dear Friends of DisasterHope Network,


By now you would have heard the news of the massive 8.9 earthquake hitting Japan and the consequent 10m tsunami that has had a widespread effect on various parts of the Pacific hitting Hawaii just a little while ago with the W coast of USA expecting waves in the next hour. There have already been more than 50 aftershoocks with 7 of them biger than 6.3 in magnitude.
More than 300 bodies have already been found with expectations of this escalating. Numerous are missing. 2,000 people expected to be evacuated from an area surrounding a Japanese nuclear plant because of safety concerns. 4,000,000 homes have been destroyed in Japan with massive  tidal destruction even as many are caught in Japan's Narita airport. Economic impacts expected as Japan is the world's third largest economy—stock markets are already tumbling in Asia and Europe. 


Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, burned furiously into the night with no apparent hope of the flames being extinguished, public broadcaster NHK said.

Thousands have been deployed for the post-tsunami work.This is being called the seventh most powerful earthquake in history since 1900 and the worst to hit Japan. 
Please pray for:
  • more survivors to be discovered and those affected by the trauma of the earthquake and tsunami to be comforted and restored even as they cope with the aftermath of the tsunami.
  • protection & strength for the thousands of military & rescue personnel helping in the post tsunami work
  • all in Japan to have presence of mind, and for those who are believers to rise to the occasion with the power of the Holy Spirit to meet the needs as He directs them.
  • the Church to unite to reach out to help in the aftermath—pray for wise response, order and resources applied appropriately.
  • the global Church to wake up to the need to be prepared in order to be His hands and feet in these situations as they begin to unfold so quickly around the world.

Standing in the Gap in His Love together with you for those affected,
Juliette Arulrajah

National Director
Singapore Centre for Global Missions
[Formerly SCEM]
8 Short Street S'pore 188214
Tel: (65) 6339 8950
Mobile: (65) 97606735

Juliette Arulrajah

National Director
Singapore Centre for Global Missions
[Formerly SCEM]
8 Short Street S'pore 188214
Tel: (65) 6339 8950
Mobile: (65) 97606735

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I hate it when I'm clueless and think everything's going well, but actually it's not. I know that I shouldn't take it personally, and yet I still do.

I guess rationally speaking, as far as I can see, I'll never succeed in this area. Only if You want me to win here, then I'll succeed. Otherwise not.

Meanwhile I've better things to do. I know what Your calling is already. So I just gotta stay focused. Dear God, please don't promise me anything here in this area. I'm disappointed enough, especially the one I THOUGHT you made to me in Jan 2009. But now it's very clear to me that it isn't.

I let myself keep on believing that "promise". Never again. I thought You made it, but now I choose not to expect that will happen... because I think You never promised it after all.

Sorry for me confusing that "promise". At least the one about career was very clear and there was no mistake with that promise, which came to pass.

Umm. Yeah, I could be more mature about this, Lord. But I'm still smarting inside, and I dont want to screw up anymore. If You want, then You'll do it. Sorry Father. Umm. Just ... don't leave me ok? Please stay by my side until I recover. If You want, that is. But if not, I'm ok.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, January 31, 2011

God's Ten-Years Series for Me

Feeling very excited about missions! :) A lot of us have been fired up in our recent services / mission camp. I saw the missions video. Thank God for the good people who made it!

And I'm very grateful to God for His faithfulness. I remember responding to missions back on 22 Feb 2002 during an overnight prayer meeting.

In that prayer meeting, the prayer leader had an altar call for people who were willing to go for missions to South America. At that time, my district (it was called Young Professionals... the equivalent of my church's Young Grads group today) was sending out people.

Though I was the youngest in the Young Professionals group (I was only an NSF, as compared to all the other people, who had started working already), something in my heart believed that God would be willing to send me if I volunteered, even though I was so unready in all aspects of my life - spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, socially.

So I stuck my hand up in childlike faith to respond, believing with all my heart that God looks not at my outward appearance, but my heart.

And I remember the encouraging smiles of all my brothers and sisters around me as they reached out their hands to pray for me, together with the others who had responded. Haha, perhaps they were encouraged to see how God was touching even the youngest one, the "xiao di di" among them to respond for missions in a particular field...


And now, I see how things have unfolded over the past decade.

As 2002 unfolded, God gave me such an unusual ability to learn Spanish - I can still even recite certain passages of the Bible that I've memorised in Spanish up to now... how God made a way for me to meet some Spanish-speaking people (Mexicans and a few South Americans)... and how my church recognized and publicly affirmed my heart for missions during a special Best-of-the-Best awards ceremony...

And then from 2003 to 2005, when I had started to wonder whether my "application" for missions was being processed at all in the heavenly departments... I went through a very intense time of humbling, breaking down and character moulding. It was so humbling that I remember wishing to God a few times that I could die.

But ah, sing to the Lord, praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favour a lifetime. Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning!

Through those painful times, He helped me know Him in such a real and richer way than I'd ever before... I will never exchange the pain that I've gone through, because all the pain He let me go through really worked out for such a wonderful experience of experiencing the depths of His love, mercy and grace... oh... God. He just is so GOOD. =) Ah. Tears in my eyes again, remembering all the wonderful little things that He did for me during those terrible times.

There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still.

Finally, in 2006, the last year of my uni life, I sought God for about 6 months of fasting and praying (not all the time lah). He then slowly revealed His specific calling for me to be in children's ministry.


Then in 2007, I had a major step of faith to make. Whether to take up a job that promised stability and a good starting pay for a first-time grad with no honours... but at the risk of having to work on a lot of Sundays, or choose to turn it down and trust God for a better job.

Peter and I waited upon God and God independently confirmed with both of us the same thing: "Those who honour Me will I honour." So I honoured God by turning down the job and looking for a better one. And God impressed very clearly on me the exact starting pay that I would get: $2750. And it really came to pass! And I even got a raise a few months later, bringing my pay to over $3K. Truly, those who honour Him will He honour.

This miraculous providence of God was a very important faith-strengthening experience for me, especially in light of what would come 2 years later: my quitting that same job.

In 2008, I got a few powerful and encouraging prophecies and prophetic words. E.g. Pastor James from Mandarin service telling me over a conference breakfast that God has called me to be in children's ministry - while I was about to chomp on a sausage. LOL. And the dual prophecies by Peter Truong and Hong Teck. 2008 was also the year I was finally able to become a shepherd offically... (after TEN YEARS in church...) to take care of a younger brother and help encourage him to experience God a little more... just so blessed to see how good and kind God has been to him! :D And oh yes, my first-ever missions trip... and were it not for God's divine protection, probably the last-ever trip. :P (Van turned turtle after a drunk driver smashed heads-on into our van... even an atheist friend who saw the photo said that even though he doesn't believe in God, I had better thank God that I'm still alive! ROFL and amen!)

In 2009, I fasted and prayed for about 6 months to seek His guidance regarding whether I should quit my job. God showed me very clearly that I should quit, so I did. Wow. Step of faith. But I saw how God worked so wonderfully in the days to come. Also received a clear confirmation that God has given me the gift of prophecy. So many other exciting things unfolded as well, but too many to write here.

Then last year (2010), two missions trips to Cambodia and seeing for myself the children there. And after finishing my work attachment in October, I began to sense a prompting in my heart from the Holy Spirit. By now, I was already becoming familiar with His voice, and I knew that such a prompting was very likely from Him. That prompting was ... to go to Hope Ecuador and support the church-planting team there in their children's ministry. :) Asked Shenteng and Peiru about it when they came to Singapore last month, and ST said it's a good idea, provided I can come up with the money to go there.

Now, in 2011 as of January, as I retrace the past nine years, I can see how God is the Great Grand Weaver. Children's ministry, media, missions... all wonderfully interwoven in a beautiful tapestry. And each new unfolding builds upon the previous unfolding. How I might not have sensed the prompting from the Holy Spirit to go if I had not learnt to discern AND OBEY His voice in earlier experiences.


In conclusion, I responded for missions to South America in Feb 2002. Now it seems that I may be going to Ecuador at the start of 2012. The way things are, I won't be surprised if I end up going in Feb 2012... or even 22 Feb 2012? God's timing is always perfect. Hee hee!

Yeah! So touched to see God's grace and faithfulness and love... that He listened to a willing young heart, though it was clearly not ready... and He accepted the very little that I could give (even though it was all I had), and He's training me for ten years before sending me out into the harvest fields. And I see how God is fitting together for me an interdependent "three-in-one" calling: missions, media and children's ministry. :) Hee hee!

So my dear brothers and sisters, if you're thinking of responding to God's call for workers to go out into the harvest fields of the world, but feel / think / know that you are so unable... I REALLY want to encourage you, dear friends, with this:

God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called!

¡La salvación viene de nuestro Dios,
que está sentado en el trono,
y del Cordero!

La alabanza, la gloria,
la sabiduría, la acción de gracias,
la honra, el poder y la fortaleza
son de nuestro Dios por los siglos de los siglos.

Matthew 28:18-20 in Spanish:
Jesús se acercó entonces a ellos y les dijo:
—Se me ha dado toda autoridad en el cielo y en la tierra. Por tanto, vayan y hagan discípulos de todas las naciones, bautizándolos en el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo, enseñándoles a obedecer todo lo que les he mandado a ustedes. Y les aseguro que estaré con ustedes siempre, hasta el fin del mundo.—

¡Amén y amén!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I was reading Ps Ben's latest blog post about CATALYSE. while of course it's exciting to see what my church movement has planned, another side of me felt a bit put off by the rather "corporate"-sounding keywords.

But as I think further, what lies behind the "keywords"? Man looks at the outward appearances, but the LORD looks at the heart. To the Gen-Yers like me, we don't feel good about "organizational structures", though we respect them and see the need, but we'd rather have relational connections.

But when Jesus gave us the Great Commission, He very simply said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore GO..."

And that is the crux, the pivot, the central focus of our existence as a church. We are a SENT people. "Shalom be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

In our mutterings and mumurings about how we are too structured / too slapdash, we often forget the cosmic mandate writ in the big blank blue sky: GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS...

And these are the question every church must answer:

1. Are we going?
2. Are we going out to reach ALL the nations? (the moment you discriminate against any nation, you are practicing selective obedience.)
3. Are we immersing them into a full, no-holds-barred, public declaration of their faith and adoption as children of the Father?
4. Are we immersing them in the fullness of the life and the knowledge of the Son?
5. Are we immersing them in the fullness of power of the Holy Spirit?

It's not the kind of structure that God looks at. God looks at the heart - those who obey Him and keep His precepts.

We make structures, not for structure's sake, but to proclaim Christ and to help people experience Him and grow in Him even more.

Be it a ship, an airplane, a car, a donkey, a bicycle or even a rocket, we use the best structure on hand to go and make disciples of all nations.

Remember, the Church is a Body - meaning it is both structured and organic. (imagine if you had no skeleton or your arm decided to happily migrate to your nose...)

So let's not despise structures and "corporate" masterplans even though personally, I tend not to like "5-years plans". I'm sure a lot of my generation tend to feel that too. But as C. S. Lewis remarked, we swing from one extreme to another with each new generation. From the Spanish Inquisition to Communism, from rationalism to post-modernism.

Jesus never told us to do church only in a certain way, whether structured or informal. He simply told us: "Go."

So I'll support my church movement's masterplan wholeheartedly, because I know that we really want to obey Christ's direct mandate to go and make disciples of all nations. This is the REAL Mandate of Heaven! :)

Obedience to Christ is what truly counts. Just do whatever you can do to carry out His Great Commission, be it a grand carefully-thought out global evangelism strategy or small spontaneous guerilla gospel sharings in hostile cities. Just let's not be caught not going. Remember, the Day of the Lord is very near!

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The Church I Never Knew: Prologue

(I decided to write down this very long post, 'cos have been thinking about quite a few recent events... just felt that there's quite a number of people who have experienced hurts... and as one who went through hurts from the church as well, but... in the end experienced healing from others in the same church... I felt I want to speak up for my own church, 'cos imperfect tho it is, I really do love my church, and want to encourage others to stick by their churches (unless God says move on)...

I'm toying with the idea of writing a book on this next time. Hee... wonder how it'll go. :))

I was showering today, and as is my favourite custom, started ruminating on some recent conversations and posts that I've read recently. I met up two friends yesterday, and they shared about their struggles to feel connected in their previous church (a very small church)... and I've read posts from another friend how he/she experienced struggles as a small-group leader in a mega-church.

I also stumbled upon another blog about someone from my own church who feels left behind "spiritually" because while her peers are taking care of small groups, she isn't among one of those selected.
Today, a soon-to-be third year student, I see my peers rising up to be leaders and/or making steps to fulfill God’s will in their lives. I am almost numbed to the fact that I have fell behind, that I have lost the fire to push onward. Truth to be told, I drift and sometimes I enjoy it. I drift in and out of period of spiritual dryness and abundance. I am kind of jaded by that and I find it hard to pick myself up to face the mundane everyday.

And I observed that all these struggles are common to pretty much every church - whether big or small. I've seen people get discontented because they felt that their church was overloading them. And... it's not just a Singapore or American thing - it's not a phenomenon for rich countries... even Christians from poor churches experiencing signs and wonders in poor countries also go through the same kind of struggles. In Brother Yun's "The Heavenly Man", after he narrates how God did wonderful miracles through him and his flock, he also shared about the mundaneness and busyness that continual ministry took upon his own spiritual life, and how he experienced dryness as a result.

Looks like you're not alone, friend. :)

So something that I conclude from making all these observations over the years is that, frankly, the disconnectedness from God and men, the tiredness and busyness from ministry and relationship conflicts that mar the unity of the believers... is really independent of any church. In fact, if there's a church, you're pretty much bound to see all these things happen sooner or later. Just check out the epistles to see the issues that the apostles had to address.

Seeing all this, some get disillusioned with the church. They do genuinely love God, but feel distant and disconnected from the church. Ironically, church may even be, for some, the last place to experience God's grace.

A good friend sent me an email some time back. In his/her letter, s/he shared that s/he left his/her church, because s/he felt rejected. S/he had wanted to share his/her creative God-given talent with his/her church, but for some reason, was shut off from doing that. Not to mention the fact that s/he smoked as well. Somehow, s/he felt rejected by the others because of that, even though s/he knows that smoking is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible.

S/he's been churchless for some years already, and s/he misses being part of a community. And near the end of his/her letter, s/he said sadly that s/he felt rejected and emotionally evicted by God's people, so s/he wondered if God was rejecting him/her since s/he knows that God works through His people. And what added to my friend's pain was that s/he had experienced similar rejections from a certain number of churches before as well.

Tears came to my eyes when I finished reading my friend's anguished words.

How many of us genuinely love God and want to know and experience Him personally, but because we do not experience a sense of warmth and gracious acceptance from our churches, we feel far away from God?

And how many times have we cringed when well-intentioned people tell us, in the midst of our sharing, "Go to God alone. Only He can heal you."? We cringe, because we do know it's true, yet... it somehow worsens the pain, that really, there must something wrong with us...

I remember a unit leader telling me years ago these word:
"I know you've been struggling for a very long time to feel connected with the group. I'm sorry we can't meet your needs."
Man, that was one hell of a velvet-lined lead glove. My leader's "apologetic" words left me speechless and helpless. Basically: "I give up on you already. Sorry hor."

I wanted to leave church there and then, but something held me back. Maybe it was the feeling that there had to be a meaning to all this madness, and also, that I'd invested too much time and money and effort into this church to just give up and throw it all away. There had to be an answer to this madness, and I wanted to find out how to get out of this "trench" and break through the "no-man's land" once and for all to find freedom.

Talking about the sense of freedom, we find that such a feeling of liberation from escaping the oppressive confines of a religious institution is not restricted to Christianity alone. We find Jews and Muslims also experiencing a profound sense of freedom, having left their communities - even though it clearly cost them a lot.

From a BBC News article: High cost of leaving ultra-orthodox Judaism
It's hard to imagine the software engineering student, now wearing jeans and a checked shirt, in the black hat and suit of the ultra-orthodox Jew he used to be.

It is seven years since he walked out of his home, cut off his curly side locks in a public toilet and slept in a shopping mall for a week.

Israel's ultra-orthodox Jews, also known as Haredim, make up roughly 10% of the population. Most live their lives in voluntary isolation from the secular world. ... Posters on the walls of ultra-orthodox areas pass on community news, as many residents shield themselves from what they see as the secular influence of television and radio.

Images of women are banned, and in some areas, anyone driving on the Jewish Sabbath may have stones thrown at their car.

Every detail of life is determined by religious observance, says Mr Lev, "even how you put on your shoes".

Angry rejection

Those who choose to leave know little about the world they are entering.

It was the hardest year of my life, and I didn't have my parents and family who I love with me, so it was even worse.

"They are like aliens," says Irit Paneth of the organisation Hillel, which offers practical help to former Haredim.

They often do not know how to open a bank account, use the internet, find work and rent an apartment, she explains, or how to operate socially in the secular world.

And they can face angry rejection from the community they leave behind. Mr Lev says his wife's family have stopped him seeing his children, fearing he will persuade them to leave the community.

But he says he has no regrets, although he is still battling for access.

His marriage had been arranged by his family; now he has a girlfriend. "I found out what love is. That makes it very complicated, but very joyful," he says.

In the first few months after he left, he says he "felt like a drunk from all the freedom".

A brother (he was a leader in church last time as well) wrote this post, and his words touched me, because, frankly, who hasn't felt this before? I may not agree with his interpretation of Romans 8:28, but his short but sharp sentences express powerfully the feelings that a lot of us may have had:
Rom 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

The recent development of things have skewed my thoughts towards desiring something that is further and further away from what I've always believed in the past. God knows how much I have felt for some issues and how I have struggled intensely, hoping to see light and hope in the situation.

If Romans 8:28 is true, all the events are pointing towards breaking free from an institution which no longer engages me, in which its followers are into producing "unthinking" replicates and clones of themselves, and in which its leadership is not based on openness, soundmindedness, wisdom, accountability and establishing trust but rather in blind faith and trust, hierachy, and advocation of unbalanced truth.

Tis the season to be free and have fun, not to be too overly concerned with things that I couldn't change which others are blind to.

Tis is the season to experience again life to the fullest, without the hindrances by people whose vision are narrowed and short-sighted.

Tis is the season to re-establish deep and meaningful relationships, free from commitment to a "family"of mere acquaintance, who pledged their allegiances which they aren't able to keep.

Thank God for the revelation of reality VS distorted perception.

Blue pill or the red pill?

I will rather take the full truth of things anytime than water-downed and distorted fairy-tale.

One dear friend also shared with me that she felt so restricted and confined in her own church, whereas when she was with her non-Christian friends, she felt so carefree to be herself. (She often comes across as being very serious and solemn... but I've seen the lighter side of her, and she can be really, really, really silly and ridiculously hilarious in her actions and jokes. So I understand her feelings when she said that she felt very stifled to be herself in the church.)

I've heard this kind of statement so many times: "I feel more comfortable outside church than in the church..." that I'm not surprised already.

In fact, as I write this, I've just heard from another friend a couple of weeks ago, who has left my church to find another church to settle in. She has been such a faithful leader, a role model and so on... yet a few years back, I sensed that she was already struggling relationally in the church, and not having her emotional and relational needs met very well. Burnt-out, in other words.

So many times I've heard this... and it makes me wonder. How is it that the Body of Christ seems to make people who come in become worse and worse? As in, becoming pettily religious with joyless countenances, or if you are more fortunate, disillusioned and leave to find another church to settle down in?

As such, we find surveys and news reports in recent years commenting on the increasing disillusionment of the younger generation with the Church. They don't trust religious institutions and prefer to go for small groups... but there are those who don't feel comfortable even with small groups, and as one guy put it nicely, "Oh, I don't go to church. Church is in my heart."

The crying need of today's increasingly disaffected Christians is not that they don't want to be part of a community. They already are, and faithfully so - some for years, even. But if you ask them, how they are, and genuinely so, you'll often hear them cry from their hearts for genuine, authentic community where no one has to wear a facade, and you can be real... and to also experience God deeply too.

How is it that we churches, in the age of Facebook and Twitter and small groups, have seemed to have even more disconnected people? We have tried to herd our flocks into small groups to increase the sense of community, only to find to our dismay that the old truism rings even more true: "Two lonely people, when they get married, become two very lonely people."

Now, serving as a team leader in my own church after more than a decade, I often muse on the sheer irony of it all.

On one hand, I empathize with those who, in my friend's own words, don't trust leaders. On the other hand, I listen to other leaders share about how certain people don't seem very interested in spiritual things or even able to connect relationally, and therefore get ignored by their own caregroups.

But I also talk with these "unspiritual" people, and I often find deeper questions in them that have gone unanswered, like Job's crushing questions to his three friends.

So I feel like a hapless "double-agent" of sorts, in an amusing kind of way. Yes, I'm indeed grateful, and thankful for such a Spock-ian privilege - an "ambassador" between two different groups. Yet I still struggle, as an onlooker, clearly aware of my own inadequacies and lack of maturity and understanding.

Thus I feel like Elihu, the young onlooker, witnessing the heated verbal exchange between the agonized Job and his platitude-spouting friends.
Job 32:1-5
So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
I see the wise men give up on answering Job's questions, yet I see Job lost and wallowing in his own self-pity. In the same way, I often feel angry to see the leaders unfairly condemning the laggers, saying, "Well, it's his/her own responsibility - it's between God and him, and obviously he hasn't bothered to seek God! So nothing more we can do for him." Yet I also perceive the laggers to have their own mindsets and issues.

Elihu's heated words reflect my own temper to this whole mess:
10 “Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.
11 I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,

12 I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
13 Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;
let God, not a man, refute him.’

14 But Job has not marshaled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.

So, what can be done? As one song put it so well:
"Not here, not there
Voices, voices everywhere
Are all I hear in the air."
And the same haunting refrain returns: can you really find sincerity in the church? And is there even room for sincerity? Why, if the church is supposed to be a haven of grace, do you still have to "perform" in order to be accepted by people, even though you know God has already accepted you? How the hell is an institution that sets such high standards supposed to help me experience God's grace, when I feel so much despair?

Philip Yancey, in his excellent book "The Jesus I Never Knew" (to which I owe a huge debt of gratitude), puts it more prosaically: "Where is the church when it hurts?" He also shared this startling anecedote about a tearful prostitute, who when asked whether she had considered going to a church for help, reply in wide-open shock: "Church?! Why should I go to church? They'd only make me feel worse there!"

How is it that the very institution that is supposed to be His Body on earth has earned a notorious reputation for being so unlike Him? As Gandhi remarked, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

No wonder people grow tired and weary. Does such a church even exist, especially in a stressful place like Singapore?

Let me make it clear at this point that I affirm wholeheartedly the church as the Body of Christ, and that I believe that God's intention is to use the church as His Body to do His work on earth. I believe in commitment to a local church, and in loving one another even when we are unlovely.

Still, amidst all the speculations and hypotheses and dogmas and doctrines, the "voices, voices everywhere", I feel at times like a perplexed rookie investigator trying to help my friend find his beautiful - and missing - bride. I finger the various shreds of a heavily torn and faded photo given to me by the husband. And those shreds are all I have to begin my search for the missing lady. Fortunately, I do have the husband to interview, various eye-witnesses (some reliable, some not so, some sharp-eyed, and some blind) and of course, the shreds given to me to reconstruct.

And so, I start my investigations to find my Friend's missing bride: the Church I never knew.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Comforting Those Who Grieve in The Church

God prefers to use his Church to be there for people who are grieving.

But we in the church so often abdicate our God-given responsibility by telling the grieving one that "God will be there for you, you should look to Him to provide for all your emotional needs..." (and worse still, prescribe a Bible verse).

Just read the book of Job to see what God thought of thoughtless "theologians" who lambasted Job.

Personally, I'm really bothered by this "God-only" theology because it detaches the healing & building role of the Body from the Word & the Spirit when it comes to comforting grieving / hurting / wounded people.

I think the Bible commands us to do our own part in the healing process. For instance, Romans 12 has very clear instructions for what you & I can do, in view of God's mercy to us, having saved us.

So think this is something tt we Christians can do to comfort a person who is grieving over the loss of a loved one as well. Not try to prescribe a verse, but just: affirm, acknowledge... and accompany.

Affirm the person's courage/strength/love for his/her lost one, etc.

Acknowledge the person's loss - because even if it's not a total loss, the person's pain is real. Like how an amputee's phantom pain is real pain. Help the person face up to the loss full in the face.

Accompany. Besides physical presence, you can also accompany the person emotionally. But it depends on the other person as well. But as long as the person knows in one way or another that he/she will not be alone in his pain, he'll be stronger.

BTW the pain I talk about is not just death of a loved one, but also loss of a close friendship, a job loss, loss of something precious...

Proverbs 12:25
"Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up."

Proverbs 16:24
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Hope we, the church, can take up our own God-entrusted responsibility to do His work on earth by comforting & ministering to those who are hurting.

To answer those who will say that we can only do so much - the other person has to take responsibility - well, that's very true. But the church is to be like a support for a vine to coil around so that it can receive even more sunshine.

Like a tall, strong stick, the Church should never lower the holy standards that a healthy Christian should live up to, but at the same time, we must help one another find a safe and stable support without judgement / condemnation to grow & flourish and bear the fruit that God wants them to bear. Remember, we are Christians, not Nazis!

Ah. The Body, the Word & the Spirit. It's a mystery, yes, but these are how God chooses to do His redemptive work here on earth in the NT era.

(I keep thanking God for Hanhui, Peter and Weizhu who all taught me in this - about how to care for those who grieve & are hurting. Incidentally, they also set life examples for me especially in the value of being sound-minded using the Word.

Interesting correlation right? ;))

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011: Whole City, Whole World...

Very excited about the direction that God is calling our church towards in 2011... to not just be a church in the city of Singapore, but a City Church in the city...

And of course, towards the whole world.

Gosh. Excited. :D To transform this city to touch the world.

Then I saw this prophecy that Pastor Jaeson Ma (think he's some Korean American pastor?) shared after he and some brothers prayed for God's direction in 2011...

When I read it, I just feel so amazed by the very similar directions of our vision for 2011, and the prophecy that Pastor Jaeson shared on his blog. Seeing how God is working out His grand strategy through the local churches throughout the world to make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms His great wisdom... through His church, which is to make Him known to all the nations!

:D God is SO COOL! :D

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just finished leading discussion.

Just finished leading discussion.

Haha. Thank God for His helping me do my best. God knows I prepared what I could, including a video & a story to end it off. And I think the most important message that was left in their hearts was a message of encouragement that though we fear holiness partly bcos we know how high God's standard of holiness is, yet we can take heart that He, the holiest one of all, is also the most approachable being in the universe.

How great the Father's love, that He who lives in unapproachable light, crossed the uncrossable chasm between Him & man by dying for our sins. How deep the Father's love, how vast beyond all measure!

That God, so holy holy holy that no man can see Him & live, made a way for us to come with confidence into His presence through the blood of Jesus. And therefore we can have hope in our struggle to be holy - that He is with us.

And thank God too that though I overran my time, the story that I shared at the end really blessed and opened the eyes of the sleepy sisters :) hee. Save the best for the last!

Looking back at this, I still feel very scared as in I was afraid of making mistakes. But I prayed a silent prayer to God, asking Him to help me, because I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. And yes, in my weakness He spoke in His power through me to deliver both what I had planned, and what He planned instead.

Hee. I think the greatest fear I have in leading a discussion is that I'll go on and on. Ah a watch/clock is a must for me. :) Yet strangely, though I'm scared, I also enjoy preparing for & facilitating discussions. It gives me a better insight too into how I can support & encourage others who lead discussions.

Ha. Not easy, but I am the Lord's servant. Oh God, I surrender all. In Jesus' holy name amen.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Different Kind of Extraordinariness That A Child Should Have

Was flipping through some of the shows on Cartoon Network e.g. Generator Rex, Beyblade and Ben-10. Then I heard this snappy punchline by Generator Rex, a boy with nano-nanites in his body who easily comes up with ingeniously nifty weapons to fight powerful enemies:

"Sometimes though, I just want to be normal.



I realized these shows are all blasting the one same unspoken message:
"Your worth and identity lie in your superpowers, your special abilities - what you can do. And oh, you might be an ordinary boy/girl, but if you can get hold of a special power-up, wow! you'll be morphed into a powerful being beyond your wildest dreams!"
Ah... this ancient archetype, beloved by children since time immemorial: be it nomadic children huddling around a blazing fire or bored kids huddling around a blaring television. Ordinary people gaining extraordinary power to do extraordinary things. And I recall my own childhood fantasies of having powers that would make me significant. Able to do something that would make a difference. The pinnacle of proficiency. Das Überwunderkind. (Amazing how any German words used in an English passage looks pretty profound, eh?)

And we guffaw and split our sides at Jeff Kinney's child anti-hero, Greg, in the side-splitting Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, partly because we see so much of ourselves in his childish fantasies of being the best and smartest around. We can identify easily with his mini-megalomanic musings. :)

For example, when I entered primary school for the first time, I felt so ordinary and unnoticed by all the other children. So I would lie in bed at night sucking my thumb and fantasizing about having superpowers like those Chinese period-drama actors flying around and hadoukening the socks off one another. (Somehow ancient Chinese wuxia heroes seemed way more tangible to a six-year-old boy than those strangely-dressed and brightly-coloured Marvel superheroes.)

I even watched an alien drama (Star Princess in 1988, when MediaCorp was SBC) and was so enraptured with the powers that our alien friends had, that the next day, I went around challenging my schoolmates to pinch me, imagining myself having the superpower not to feel pain when being pinched.

Needless to say, a sharp pinch quickly brought me back to Earth faster than a crashing meteorite! :)

Come to think of it, aren't we all afraid to be ordinary? To be an ordinary man = to be forgotten and become one of the void grains of the empty dust of history upon which victorious supermen wipe their soles upon. So we grown-ups try to amass some "secret weapons" of our own: be it cash, career, condo, cards or BGR, or even church. They are our Weapons of Much Significance. Our cool gadgets. Our power-ups. Our trump-cards. Our Holy Hand-Grenades of Awesomeness.

Our toys.

Our fig-leaves.

For ever since the Fall, we've all been ashamed of our nakedness. Our ordinariness. We are afraid to be who we really are. Even from the first day of school, we feel that we have to perform - you know, do something Extraordinary (with a capital E) in order to be liked. To get into the top stream. To get first prize. To be the chairman. To get that prestigious scholarship. Or, if you're not into that kind of nerdy nonsense, to be the most hip and happening one around. To be top dog. To be the suavest of them all. Etc. etc. So we children learn to hide our ordinariness by incepting layer of extras upon layer, incepting and incepting until we get lost in our own little limbos.

We hide ourselves so much, that we end up not being able to find ourselves.

In contrast to all this, there came another Child who came to earth one day. But unlike the rest of us who tried so hard to be different, this Child was different.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Where we tried to transcend our humanity... He instead embraced his humanity.

Meekness and majesty
Manhood and Deity
In perfect harmony
The Man who is God
Lord of eternity
Dwells in humanity
Kneels in humility
And washes our feet

Ah. This makes me want to say something to my children who watch these kind of shows. Something like this:

What can we learn from this Child, dear children? Yes, you are right! He came to teach all of us to learn a new and different way to be extraordinary.

Dear children, you don't need special toys to be extraordinary. You don't need special talents or skills. Your worth does not lie in your powers or talents or even brains, though I do believe God has blessed you with a very special talent in one way or another.

But, oh children, your abilities can make you no more valuable than the colour of your hair can ever do. What you need, dear children, is a special heart. A heart full of goodness. A heart full of love. A heart full of kindness. A heart full of humility. A heart full of wisdom. A heart full of joy and peace. And so on. For these are the true power-ups that really matter in this world.

Oh, a heart so full of God's love. Just like a little cup of water plunged into the mighty ocean is filled, so may your heart also be. And when your heart is full of God's love, you need never fear being normal ever again. For if being an ordinary boy was good enough for God Himself, it should be good enough for you too! :)

But don't ever think that being ordinary = being useless. It just means that you allow God to work through you.

For God + you = extra + ordinary = extraordinary!
May your love for God and those around you today be extraordinary! Amen.