Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm in a pensive mood

Well, on Tuesday Jesh flew back into Singapore. This morn at 3a.m. or so Caleb flew back in. I sent my kor off for an exchange program this afternoon, and Daniel Li flew back in shortly after. Many people have been moving around.

I've been in a pensive mood these last 2 days. Numerous questions I've been considering lately. I guess when many of my closer friends are all over the place and I don't really have much people to hang out with or much to do (yes, yes, Andrea, you are right, I have admittedly been quite free), I have had more time to think.
What kind of a man am I? Frankly, I think I failed 2 tests this week. The driving test and the test regarding how I responded to it. I didn't spend much time praying or all. I did my QT, yes, but I was a lil angry with God at times. And then I went online, downloaded a game and started to play. And I suppose that is rather unbecoming for me, cuz I don't really game much. I've always considered it to be something that steals time away from more important stuff. Such as for example, reading, or spending time with people, or exercising, or spending time with God. And I mean that for myself; perhaps there are people out there who are disciplined and can control their gaming habits and apportion time for everything including their gaming. I guess that's reasonable. But one of the things I'm still working on is I tend to do things in extreme. And if I do play com games... well, I know that I can be quite extreme myself.
That's why I chose not to start playing DOTA, cuz I probably would be a very extreme gamer. And since so many people play that as well, there's a community that would keep me playing. All considerations in (fun, friendships, addiction, time unwisely spent, intellectual growth through gameplay - I mean it does require some level of intellect right? strategies and all, distractions... etc both the merits and demerits), I always thought that it'd be to my detriment to start playing.
So yeah, I guess that I was brought through a valley this week. You could say that I went into one valley and chose to walk into the next one myself.
Perhaps the answer to this question would be through how God looks at me. I wonder how God thinks of me. I fail Him at times, I make Him smile at times. And at times like right now when I just feel rather numb/aimless/not-myself/pensive? Yeah, what kind of a man am I, really? Am I a God-pleaser? Do I try too hard to please God? Have I in anyway begun to hold the opinion and the regard of man in a higher place than I have God?
Could I have tried too hard all my life to live for God? Waking up early in the morning to do QT, memorising scripture. Yes, good. But have I tried too hard? Is that why I grow tired many a time? Or is that the enemy's schemes? A fond, bittersweet memory (95% bitter, 5 % sweet) of a man in military fatigues pops into mind. And that man says in heartlander, hokkien-accented English, in the manner only a breed of men known as enciks are able to, "So SAR-zhen, I WANT TO KNOW, which is which? Is it the (Hokkien vulgarity) man don wan to coldoperate, or my (English vulgarity) SAR-zhen cannot (English vulgarity) control the (Hokkien vulgarity) man? Oi SAR-zhen, I still waiting for my (Hokkien vulgarity) reply. Why so quiet? Anything to clarify? Justify? Testify? Satisfy?"
(Note: In its unadulterated form, this variant of English, if it can even be called that, does not possess punctuation marks. The punctuation marks are in actual fact replaced by various expletives. In other words, the expletives are the comma, full-stop, question mark and so on. I have simplified the language for the reader. Note also that the written form of this language is incapable of bringing out the full emotion of the spoken form.)
And the question I ask myself is, which is which? The question I ask God is, which is which?
I suppose it is a positive matter that I have come to a crossroad of sorts. It is a point where I do need to get on with life, and I fully intend to. But there are some issues that I must have sorted out with God before I can progress anymore upon this journey of faith.
Walking...
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" -2 Corinthians10:3-5 (KJV)
I do enjoy KJV many a time. I like the phrasing of certain keywords.
Yet another question. What high thing in my life have I exalted against the knowledge of God?
Have my thoughts and plans and the ways in which I perceive people or ministry or my life or others stood against the knowledge of God?
Okay, perhaps I shall come up with a list of statements that would make you understand why I'm thinking such things.
1. I am not feeling the same amount of passion for Childrens' Ministry as I have before. Or in other words, I am not feeling the joy and passion the children and youth in the ministry as I think I should. Nehemiah 8:10. The joy of the Lord is our strength. I cannot continue without God's strength and I conclude that I cannot continue without God's joy.
2. I do not have the same hunger and thirst for God's word as before. And that is bad. And I hate that. And I detest that.
3. Praise and worship is not bringing me as much joy and peace as I recall it has before.
4. I wonder what is God's purpose for me right now.
5. I wonder what kind of a person I am.
6. I truly wonder if let's say I were to suddenly disappear from life in church, whether that would really make a difference? I wonder for example, what on earth am I doing in youth service.
Really, after so many years, what the heck am I doing there. I am perhaps just warming the pews... should I finally stop going? I talk to people who have left our church, or some other church, or who have left Christ, and truly, I see and feel all their hurts and despair. I marvel at the fact that I have not left at times. I appreciate that it is truly, ultimately, what God has done that has made the difference.
7. I start to feel an old feeling of uncertainty over the days to come? How is uni going to be like? I really don't want to be some guy who stands alone like in my days in army. Or in JC for that matter. I really want true, close friends. I want to be happy. (I mean, godly joy is one thing, but I mean happy, as in happiness apart from joy if you catch my drift). Then again... how much have happy times aided me in growing in God-likeness?
8. I wonder... who are my true friends? After army. After so many years. Truly, only my Lord Jesus can unshakeably hold that position. And that is weird, cuz I guess I've hurt Him the most. What beautiful irony. The person from which I deserve the least friendship provides the greatest friendship.
9. Am I a true friend to my friends? Do I really deserve to be called a friend by those who call me "friend"?
10. Have I by my example and conduct and behaviour in any way made matters worse for those around me in my life and ministry? Have I been too judgemental? Have I looked too seriously upon "Christian" matters and in so doing ignored building relationships with people around me?
I know the biblical references, many by heart. I know the traditional, no-on-can-fault-you answers to many of these questions I suppose. But I ask them. I ask them because behind the living scriptures I am convinced there is a living God who cares enough to answer in His own ways.
Ah, questions.
Wait lor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A reflection

Here I am, seated down at the computer screen. I am struggling with 2 different responses. One of praise and joy. The other of sheer anger at God and frustration.

I did not pass my driving test this morning. Everything went like a dream. The tester was good, the road conditions were excellent. I was perfect for all the circuit obstacles. But I mounted the kerb for the crank course and made a few more mistakes on the crank course out of frustration. You could say I failed on the crank course and the crank course alone. It's not even one of my normal problems.

I could ask God why He allowed this to happen, I suppose. How much more time and money and all that this is going to cost. It would be most natural. Yet I examine a few bible verses and a few experiences and realise that I have to trust God in all this.

Romans 8:28 - God works out all things for the good of those who love Him.

James 1:2-4- Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds. For you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(I admit that I am kinda forcing myself to type this out)

I remember my army days. God did not allow me to go where I wanted to go. I became an infantry specialist. And yet in spite of that I have God to thank for changing so many of my perspectives and character through all that.

There was this experience when I led a section to compete in a friendly shooting competition with a foreign army. The winning section would get a day off. My section scored 46/48. The 2 points lost by 1 of my men. He lost the 2 points because he did not pay heed to my advice on how to aim his weapon. It was nerve-wracking waiting for the final results. I told my men that the way they behaved in that waiting period would show what kind of a man each of them was. Would they become bitter and in anxiety blame the one soldier who had lost the 2 points? Or would they keep the integrity of the team and wait calmly for the result. Where were their values? Which was more important? Title or team? Emotions or consideration for the poor guy?

We produced the best result that day within our own unit, but we didn't beat the best team from the foreign army. We still got a day off, but I gained more than that. I gained a lesson in character.

And so, today, here I stand, with another lesson in character. It is my choice how to behave. I could become snappy and really angry right now, which is very possible indeed. Or I could choose to remain calm and continue to praise God. Will I now trust God? It is not easy but I must do it.

I do feel sad and don't feel like doing anything now. But then again, I guess how I behave and what I choose to think about now determines the level of my trust in the sovereignity of God.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pictures from SU camp

Okay, just wanted to put up a few pictures from the SU camp.






This was real fun.








Body ministry/ soaking/ journal-ing



Group sharing time
I guess when God gives a person something to do, He gives what is necessary for the completion of the task. Sometimes it is the love. Sometimes it is the passion. Sometimes it is the perseverance, sometimes it is the joy. Sometimes it is the strange willingness to take hardship.

So far, God has really given me joy and love in this ministry. And I really need to seek His strength each day. On one side of the path are the treacherous quicksands of pride, on the other side are the dry lands of tiredness and not depending on the strength of God.
Walk the narrow path.

In a rather pensive mood

Alright, my past few days were kinda good. Saturday was at Ubin for The Calling event. Sunday hung out for dinner with Wayne, Tiew, Andrea, Jeremy, Aaron Lim. Monday morn had driving. And stayed over at Wayne's place for another round of movie marathons. Haha. Tiew knocked off the first. Followed by Wayne, leaving me to watch the last movie alone. The first movie was Dark Knight, followed by Flash Point and then Blade Trinity.

Today afternoon, watched Spiderman 3.

One question I've been asking myself is in regards to James 1:27- Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

How is it possible to be in this world, and remain unpolluted? The secular nature of modern society is something very familiar to all of us. It is apparent in the media as well. The movies I have been watching were rather worldly. The worldly view on everything, from love to friendships to violence... etc.

John 17:15-18 "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world"

So I guess that we are to remain in this world, and yet remain sanctified. Sanctified by what? Truth. Interestingly. Not sanctified by righteousness, but by truth.

You see, truth is what holds righteousness in place. Think Ephesians 6, the belt of truth first, then the breastplate of righteousness firmly in place. Without the truth, we would not know that Christ has died for our sins and removed the power of sin along with condemnation. John 8:32 says that the truth will set us free. Indeed, by familiarising ourselves and putting biblical truth to practise, we can remain righteous. We can hold ground.

So how is it possible to remain in this world and remain unpolluted? We stay righteous. We do that by first understanding and then applying the truth. The truth is that the power of sin is broken over me. And then what do I do? Hide in one corner? No, I get sent into the world. No soldier gets trained to hide per se. He is trained to fight. Any thing such as hiding or camouflage is a part of fighting. The primary purpose of a soldier is to wage war.

And I do ask myself, how well have I been living up to God's standards? How much of a war have I been waging? Have I grown complacent in my walk? Have I in any way let ego get in the way? Yes, truly, when I come to the Lord in such an attitude I get even more humbled when I realise all the areas that are lacking in my service to my King.

One thing I'm really grateful for is the fact that throughout the last few years of my life, it's more often than not been a choice regarding whether or not to get fed. What I listen to and all does not cause me to get fed much. It's really been a personal choice regarding what I want to do with my spare time. And so living in such an environment has taught me to rely on God alone. Truly, learning how to get fed yourself is a very important skill.

Lately I've been talking to many people. If it was me 2 or 3 years back I'd have tried to steer the subject towards lots of bible stuff. I guess that was not the best policy. It must have turned many people off. Yet now I somehow ponder whether what I'm talking about and doing with my buddies can be equated to leaving God out of the picture; whether I've relegated Him to the place of a constitutional monarch in my life.

It's not like I've been doing wrong things and all. I've been watching movies, hanging out, having lunch and dinner etc etc. And the talk is rather healthy stuff. Friends, interests and so on and so forth.

But it's just that when I read books such as Acts for example, what I see in my bible and what I see in my own life seem to be 2 different things at times. This should not be. Intellectually and emotively it feels rather incongruent.

I know that God is changing a lot of stuff in my life, even as I pray for His transforming power to come and make those changes. And yet time and time again I am so aware that I fall short of His standards. I am feeling a spiritual hunger and thirst.

I wryly suppose that I should actually like where all of this is going.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hahaha

Ladies and gentlemen may I direct you to my latest creation.

http://jeshystravels.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A sleepover that became a movie marathon... and some other ramblings.

Well, have been kinda missing this camp with Grace AOG. Miss the people and all. But oh well. These were the pictures that I was taking for a video on finale night before me and Daniel both realised that there was a much more professional cameraman (Caleb Kay) in the house.



Those are all the kids on the first day of the camp.



The hard part of every camp is always living it out despite the dreariness of everyday life. Yet almost every camp has in one way or other been used by God to refresh me or bring me into something new. I guess church camps have had a rather special place in my heart since my first one in Pri 2.


How bout this, the camp book from my first childrens' camp.


Okay, I had Wayne, Dexter, Tiew, Sabrina, Angela, Andrea over for a movie. Was rather good and set me thinking for quite a while.
What happened when you guys left with the 3 of us?


Well, scrambled eggs, omelette, croissants, sausages, nuggets, the higher grade of ice cream, honey water... and so on.
And we didn't sleep that night. We watched Wolverine: X-men Origins, then Fast and Furious 4 and then Marley and Me. The last one Mr Heng pang-sehed us and fell asleep at the beginning. And so Dexter and I were waiting for this dog to finally die in the movie before the movie ended. And finally it did. That was about 7:30a.m.

Cooking...
This was some time after the girls and Tiew left. It was a very hot night. Showered a couple of times, all of us.
The morning. Casaulties of a movie marathon. Well, it was kinda better than the sleepover as planned.
In the morning I guess the only movie I could really think about was Fireproof, which was an interesting thing cuz there were 3 movies in the middle, but I was really thinking only about the first one. Fireproof gets me thinking bout relatinships and all.
And now the guys are in my room playing guitar and cards.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Movie last night



Okay, just watched this yesterday night with Jeremy, Wayne, Sabrina, Angela, Jon Lim, Joseph, Gavin. Heh... was so so lah. Worth the money in terms of screening time and effects and convincing enough acting. But then not too much of a plot. Only understood it after wiki-ing the other 3 terminator movies and checking out their plots. Guess that it's kinda lost the allure of Terminator 2. Perhaps because this one is set entirely in the future and doesn't quite catch my imagination's fancy. Sort of like how Matrix 1 was quite fascinating but in the 3rd Matrix it wasn't so fun anymore.

Yup, having a movie and sleepover tomorrow night at my place. Watching Fireproof, as recommended by Caleb. Perhaps having a supper for those actually sleeping over. Anybody else wants to come? (Guys-only for sleepover).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Just back from camp!

Hey all. Just back from a Scripture Union camp with Grace AOG at Girls' Brigade campsite.

It wasn't a camp where I heard something from God or anything like that this time. But it was really refreshing for me. I ended it filled with joy and really amazed at all God has done for me. I see how the Lord used this camp to bring me back to the ministry that He's intended for me. The one He made clear to me years back (2006). That is, to the children and youth in CM. And I guess the definition of Childrens' Ministry has been kinda expanded for me in the last few months. That the Lord has been gracious to involve me in the work of touching the lives of children from places other then my own church as well.

It was wonderful to mix with lots of people. Uncle David from SU, Benjamin Ng, Daniel Teu, Aunty Florence. The children of Grace AOG. Their pastors Kwang Meng and Jadene, their youth. Caleb Kay, Joel Lee, Joshua, Abigail, Keith, Chloe, Evangeline... etc. Late night suppers every night. Captain's ball... etc etc.

I felt kinda different when I went back to my own church. Lots more joy in mixing around with my own kids and my own youth. So yes, truly, the good Lord has returned me to one of His purposes for my life.

And truth be told I have already kinda started to miss this camp and all the campers already.