Saturday, November 26, 2011

Term's Ended

So my school term has finally ended. It's been rough in weird ways.

I had an ankle over-pronation. So can't run the Stan chart marathon. Nobody wants to take my place for free though haha.

Not being able to exercise and getting sick so many times this semester- that's something that I had not dealt with for some time. Ever since army I'd been rather strong, so this semester has been trying in that way. Kinda like I had quite some frustration with school work but no physical outlet to vent it on.

My trip to Israel has been approved. So, God-willing I'll be able to go. I'm rather aware that it may or may not materialise, because of the volatility of the region. Those are risks that I accepted when I put down Israel as my first choice and I will live with the consequences, and on a prayer.

Some things that happened this Semester



I had quite a lot of projects. This one is from a Human Capital Management Module. I learnt a lot from that course. This semester has been one in which there were many JIT projects- Just In Time delivery. So we worked late into the night the night before the presentations to get things done. Very crazy and scary in a way- on retrospect, because when you're in the midst of it you're too tired to be scared. But I guess that sometimes that's just how the group dynamics is, and sometimes the presentations can turn out to be rather unexpectedly good?

I felt that this semester, I had quite a lot of favour from fellow students and lecturers and help from God in many ways. I felt that I did well in many of the classes. But one thing I just need to keep remembering over and over again is 1 Corinthians 4:7 which says, "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you had not?"

Any blessing I ever have is from God. God gives and God can take away as well and I would do very well to remember that. God had taken a lot of this success away from me when I was in my NSF years. I can see how He moulded me. Now, I am increasing in success in ministry and in my studies again. Tomorrow God might choose to take it all away. Will I be able to handle it? Can we handle God's discipline?

Or when we are blessed, can we handle the blessing? So often I come close to forgetting that all I have is given me by my God. One thing I really believe is that since I belong to God, and all of me is God's, then it follows that all I have- my finances, my time, my relationships. All these belong to God. Yes, I still have a long way to go in so many areas, but God changes me in His time.

fo

Okay, we're setting up Alpha Course at SMU. This is something I'm really looking forward to, but won't be able to attend the whole thing cuz God-willing I'll be over in Israel. I've really enjoyed myself planning stuff with the Alpha Core Team this semester and I really thank God for all of them. It's been a joy serving with them. And since the team is half made up of my university seniors, I think I will be missing them very soon.


This is how I looked like in the Crusade room one day. Probably before or after a presentation, a FT lesson (Finishing Touch- a module to do with interview skills/ resume skills etc.), or some company talk. This semester I've been growing fat. But I guess that I need to stop chasing perfection in life, but chase what God wants for me. Because those two are not necessarily the same thing.


Took a course called Facilitation and Counselling in SMU. One of the coolest courses around. It's pass/ fail, but you really learn a lot of things and you do so really for the joy of learning (which is something sorely lacking from the education system given that much of the studying done today is coupled with the chasing after of grades). In fact, I was doing a presentation in class one day, and I met my co-presenter like at the start of the class. I was asking around for so-and-so and it was really quite hilarious. Like, "Hi, I'm Tai Yong, nice to meet you. We're presenting together in a few minutes time".



Okay, this was my group from Campus Crusade Freshmen Orientation Camp, before sem started. The irony is that not many freshmen come anyway. I guess there are just too many camps to go to. The good thing about this camp is that it's really very relaxing, though.

On a side note, I always thought that the name Campus Crusade for Christ is rather offensive. Always wondered why Bill Bright chose that name. It carries very negative connotations, especially to Muslim friends, I feel. I mean, how would we feel if there was a Campus Jihad for Allah? Something to think about. Just like how the original meaning of Jihad was supposed to be positive but was tainted by extremists and fundamentalist terror groups, the original meaning of Crusade is positive, but was tainted by various misdeeds done by the Crusaders of the past.

But oh well, as it is, what to do for now? Heard they're changing the name to "Cru". And I don't know how that's any better. Cuz people will just ask "what's the meaning of Cru?" and then here we go again...

Two and a half months before Israel

This is a period of my life I won't have again. There are so many things I want to do. A few include completing some Research Assistant work for Pol Science, learning Hebrew, preparing for Israel, handing over my kids to the youth ministry, spending some time with old friends before flying off, trying somehow to find a way to exercise, playing the guitar a bit, going to a couple of camps... etc.

I am loathe to waste my time on stuff like computer games. Yet sometimes it's so attractive and addictive man. Have deleted them all from my com for now, and hopefully I'll be able to fill my time with meaningful stuff.

And oh yes, have been learning and trying how to cook. Something I really enjoyed in this period of time that I was not able to exercise. Cooking was some kind of outlet for frustration, since I couldn't run.

Okay time to turn in for bed already. Tomorrow (rather, later today) my class teachers and I will be doing Open Sunday for two sessions. Looking forward. Topic is on hearing God's voice.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Just thinking

Just thinking, I haven't really been posting much on this blog lately.

Partly because I've been spending more time on Facebook.

Just wondering when I go over to Israel... should I keep people posted via Facebook or via this blog?

This semester has been good. Full of lessons from God. Full of humbling experiences in which I am shown how much I need to rely on God rather than my own strength.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Start of School

Well, a rather slow start to school.

Had a night class yesterday. 7 to 10p.m. Thought it awesome. Today was Finishing Touch. Quite good. Have yet to buy any textbooks. Maybe tomorrow. Have yet to do any work. Maybe Thursday.

Read Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. Excellent book. Gets one thinking. Really does.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Night time ramblings

Sunday

And so it was a rather eventful day on Sunday.

Woke up feeling that I didn't want to go to church but anyway I went. And Joel and Chris came down for a while for lunch.

And then went to play soccer with the guys and was supposed to watch Captain America, but it was too late. At 10p.m. all that was left was this show called Twisted and it was something we didn't want to catch.

So had supper with Enos and Jeremy Leong. And at Cafe Cartel it's 50% off after 9p.m. for snacks and desserts, so eh, actually quite good leh, plus free flow of bread and water.

My NS Days: Stories of God's Faithfulness in the Army

Yes, so that's the full title of the book that we settled on in the end. Am still awaiting news from the church regarding the NS book. We started somewhere last February, so it's come a long way. If I had known it would have taken so long, I might have had second thoughts about starting. But on retrospect, I'm glad we did.

The Possibility of Change

Today I wondered; would it be an idea to go to a different church for a change, a different ministry perhaps. Just something different. Perhaps after I do I might appreciate what I presently have better (if only for that reason). Honestly, I don't really rule that out. It's really quite possible what. I've been in this church all my life. I've been in this ministry close to five years.

There are two ways to go about it. One is to do some long soul-searching yadda yadda which I've always done and probably will do. Two is to well, just change like that, snap. Well there's a three, to explore.

Of course years back I might never have taken such views, but now, it's enticing. Of course, things may not be better elsewhere blah blah blah. Yeah probably heard it all.

The most important thing of course is what God would will. Which brings me to a slightly interesting question.

Does God have an opinion?

Does God have an opinion on every single thing? Could it be possible sometimes that it makes no difference to God what we choose?

For example, does it make a difference to God whether I have an apple after my lunch or a pear? Does it make a difference to God whether I choose to carry a brown sling bag to school or a grey backpack? The most mundane choices in life. Does it matter to God if I decide to eat my fries first or my burger?

It would then occur to one that it is possible that with the freedom of choice we are entitled to, there are many things in which it really probably would not make a difference to God what we choose.

Would God happen to have an opinion on what church I go to? And then oh-of-course that's different, there's such a big impact on life, church affects so many things in a person. Quote scripture Hebrews: Not give up habit of meeting together, I point out that it doesn't say "church"... dum dum dum.

Like can I have something different.

The Israelites asked for a change, promptly got quail and were made to loathe it and become sick of it.

I'm like having a debate with myself hor.

That's all for now.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Wandaro

It's just one of those nights where I'm pondering my purpose in life. I've been reading a couple of good books this season. There's Living Water by Brother Yun, there's Fire on the Mountains, about the beginning of the Ethiopian church, an old book. There's the Elijah Task, which is another rather ancient book. Also thumbing through an abridged version of Matthew Henry's commentary on the four gospels, LKY's Hard Truths and some travel books on Israel.

One of the most inspiring stories I've read is from Fire on the Mountains. It is of a man named Wandaro: " Wandaro was living proof of the wisdom of God. Men would have passed him by, for he had none of the outward marks of leadership." Wandaro accepted Christ circa 1930s. In matters of literacy, and grasping of an Ethiopian alphabet, he seemed utterly unable to comprehend. Often, the missionary, Mrs. Lewis, would notice him, head bowed in prayer, asking the Lord for help to learn just one more letter. He did learn to read fairly well, though never fluently.

Wandaro

After the missionaries had been driven out of Ethiopia by the Italian authorities, Wandaro was persecuted with the rest of the Wallamo (a tribal area in Ethiopia) church. He was singled out for fiercer persecution. He was whipped publicly, almost to the point of death.


Wandaro with his children



"Then with hands tied behind his back, Wandaro was driven... back into the town. There, before anyone else could intefere, Dogesa (a local chief intent on breaking Wandaro's spirit) grabbed Wandaro by the beard. He shook Wandaro's head with violent rage, pulling some of his beard out by the roots and leaving his face torn and bleeding.

"Now, will you give up the white man's God? Now will you give up your faith?"

"No!" gasped Wandaro, "No, never! No! Why should I give up my faith?"

Again he was beaten. Watching helplessly, Wandaro's friends hid their faces and his companions cried.

Between the lashings Wandaro managed to say to his friends, "Christ was buried right in the ground, ground like we stand upon. (Tai Yong's note... wasn't Christ buried in a tomb carved out of rock? But okay, pedantic corrections aside)... Why are you afraid? I am not afraid. Why should you weep? I am here."

"Who has taught you to be so strong?" Dogesa was still angry but puzzled.

"The missionaries taught me!" Wandaro replied clearly and strongly.

"The missionaries have gone," cried Dogesa. "Why trouble now? They aren't here to help you and strengthen you."

"That's very true, but the God who sent them is still here. It is not the missionaries I am serving. It is God whom I am serving. God is the One who has saved me. It is God who planned my salvation. It is He who is with me right here. It is He who now strengthens me. It is not the white man. It is not the missionary."

Furiously Dogesa ordered Wandaro taken back to the market to be beaten again. This time five men were ordered to beat him in turn while he lay flat on the ground. They started about three in the afternoon. As one man tired another took the whip. When darkness came they were still whipping at intervals.

... and the various floggings and physical punishments continue in the book. Wandaro is imprisoned for a full year, released and sought for to be imprisoned yet again.

Eventually, Wandaro went into hiding.

"Even in hiding, his deep and abiding faith was like a rock upholding those who had found Christ through his testimony. Hundreds of his neighbors and countrymen looked to him as their leader and guide. Possessing few of the more easily recognizable characteristics of leadership, the beauty of Wandaro's life is the unanswerable proof that God "hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are not despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:" In Wandaro, God had a man, all of him, nothing held back, totally available, obedient. "

We often say things or present ourselves in such a way that people will have good impressions of us. The knowing smile and the subtle hint of intellectual superiority. The intentionally accidental slips of tongue or "by the way"s that reveal to others our impressive human credentials. The modest "oh it's really nothing" and for Christians, the "all glory to God" thrown in for good measure. Really, who are we deceiving? So many times we are not really interested in giving glory to God. We are interested in giving glory to ourselves. God is brought into the picture as a side story. A side character that shows how humble and modest we are to give credit to another while we are so great.

In Wandaro, God had a man, all of him, nothing held back, totally available, obedient. This is the line that really made me sit up. It touched me deeply. God is not interested in our human credentials. He is hardly impressed by the things we have done or what our human potential can accomplish. The only credentials He desires: Is this a man/woman, who is given to God? All of him/her? Nothing held back? Totally available? Obedient?

I'm trained in SMU, a school where the holy resume and sacred self-presentation are highly stressed. This is so important in the workplace. But God's eyes pierce through the human frailty of a beautiful facade. They make me feel almost uncomfortable as they search my inner being and my very thoughts and attitudes. Am I given to God? All of me? Nothing held back? Totally available? Obedient?

When I see people succeeding in the corporate world; this person or that person getting a coveted scholarship or position, what is my first thought? Is it a thought of jealousy or pride? Is it feelings of less self-worth? It is often when such thoughts come that the Holy Spirit reminds me, perhaps just like how God spoke to the prophet Samuel, that "God does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart".

All of me? Nothing held back? Totally available? Obedient?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Work today

Work these 2 days have been very tiring in a whole new way. Handed my job over and now dealing with people issues, resistance to change, unhappiness... etc. Well, not the first time I've had to go through that. Also a few other issues with NSmen, with ministry-related issues, with walk-related issues.

Makes life easier that I have a very caring boss at work. I'm learning a lot from her.

Nonetheless, work is still tiring. A new job scope for the next few weeks means I have to start all over again.

Will I miss work once I'm done? I really don't know.

Today, I actually utilised a half hour of my lunch break. We normally eat in-house here and I've never really taken much of a lunch break before. So today I walked around the estate a bit (till I found the part which had the most wind) and spent that half hour talking to God Most High. And it really helped me so, so much.

Phone broke down. Started breaking down last night. The call button, disconnect call button, cancel button and options button broke down two at a time, then one at a time. So I now have a new $0 phone with a renewed plan. So much for my plan to "drag" my current phone's lifespan till year's end.

My brilliant plan to wear my shoes till year's end, on the other hand, is on track. Well, halfway there at least. They spoilt and I glued them back. Has lasted longer than I had expected.

Have not attained full recovery of health. Foot still a bit pain. Think it could have been a contusion. Either that or an impact injury. Walking long distances still hurts. But it's getting better slowly. Hope I'll be up and literally running next week?

Dear God

Dear God,

I can't stand ungrateful, self-righteous and argumentative people. I hate it when you've done so much to help them and then they turn around and scold you, sometimes behind your back. They seem to have forgotten virtually everything you have done for them. But they're still quite nice to everyone else. I also do not like unforgiving people who use unkind words on others, who bear bitterness in their hearts and deep resentment in their actions.

How God, do you even put up with me?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Psalm 118:8

It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people.- Psalm 118:8, NLT.

Ultimately man will be man and God will be God. So let man be man and God, God. So often we expect of others and ourselves more than what can be expected of a human being. We ask ourselves why this person or that person has failed us time and time again. We ask ourselves why we fail time and time again. We get disappointed, frustrated, agitated.

But man will be man. And John 15:5 says "I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing." NOTHING! Apart from Him I can do NOTHING. Apart from God, man can do NOTHING. You see, God has terribly low expectations of what we can do without Him. Perhaps we should begin to share that same expectation.

And what can we do with Christ in us? Oh I tell you, His word says we can do EVERYTHING. For John 14:12 says "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father". And Matthew 19:26 says that with God ALL things are possible.

Man is mortal. Man dies. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But God will not fail and has never failed. Often, we expect so little of God. I say that because we turn to Him last in our desperate situations, as if He were a last resort. See, we can never expect too much from God, only too little. If anything, we can expect wrongly of God- and that happens when we cry out for great things to be done our way. It does not matter if those great things are to be done in His name. As long as we want it our way, there is no reason for God to grant that request.

But God does great things His way. At our place of surrender, when we discover our limitations and the severe futility of trusting in man, we learn the greatness and omnipotence of the Most High.

And so I find myself being brought back to that place of surrender. The place of Bohpianic submission and humbling.