Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Campus Crusade Camp

What I have to thank God for:

-Wonderful group members. Michael, Sarah, Christabel, Chloe.

-Excellent seniors. Eugene, Adora, Claire, Isaac, Joanne.

-Many heart to heart talks with many people.

I truly enjoyed myself being with the the freshmen in my group. It's been some time since I've seen a group of people with so much of a heart for God. So I was rather refreshed. I have not been refreshed by the dedication of people to Christ for quite awhile. Simply because I have not seen such dedication to Christ for quite awhile in my life.

Michael is a very calm, collected man with much humour and many talents. In speech, in satire, in mimicking stuff. And just to see him decide to rededicate his life and time to God again is so wonderful.

Sarah is a lady who is able to make one feel comfortable. I thought she exuded a certain warmth of Christ. That though you don't really know her, when you begin to talk with her, it truly feels like meeting an old friend.

Christabel has this overwhelming passion for Christ and longing to please God. And it is simply so awesome to hear her speak of her walk with God.

Chloe. I like the way she can lose herself in the presence of God during praise and worship. But besides that didn't spend as much time as I'd have liked to talking to her.

Jia Hao was not in my group. But I was really thankful to see my old comrade in arms from BSLC here in SMU, still serving the Lord. And I really praise God that He's brought us out of all those times to serve Him here in the same place. Of course I didn't quite follow up on Gabriel or Cai Xiang or Choy, besides the occasional MSN chat or SMS. But I trust that God will work in them wherever they are. With or without camo cream and a most memorable Sispec Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Commander.

Okay, of the seniors, it really affirmed for me the fact that it is possible by the grace of God to remain godly in a place known to many as hard ground. Of great encouragement to me was Eugene and his commitment to God after so many years in SMU. Didn't see much of Isaac around, but have been hearing many good things. Was very enriching talking to Joanne and hearing the perspective of a Christian student studying business. I always hear perspectives from Christian seniors in business... but I'm not always sure that the person is really Christian first, business student second. For Joanne I really felt that she honoured God first. I do wonder if I'll be like that. Adora and Claire are both very nice to talk to as well. I suspect Claire's knowledge and depth is far greater than what it appears on the seemingly unassuming surface. Heh, and if I had written a second letter to Adora, would have written that her mischievous grin lightens up my day.

Spent this morning talking with Joshua Toh till about 0530 HRS, then woke up at 0700 HRS. One thing that struck me was the exuberance and radiance that he projected. The degree of his desire to see God work in his life and his sincerity.

Further reflections?

So what impact has this camp had on me, that will overflow into my life as a student in SMU? Or rather, what has God given me in this camp that will make a difference? Will I build walls round myself now or really as John 17:18 says, be sent into the world?

One thing I really miss is the times I had with Jing Jie, Jie Hau, Wan Lin, Mei Yan, Kwan Chin in AJC. How we had this passion to reach out to our generation. It is a passion for evangelism that kinda died out in my NS years I guess.

Psalm 115:1. Not to us O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

John 3:30. He must become greater I must become less.

2 things were kinda different for me in this camp. 1st. The footprints of my kor all over the place. The "Tai Wei's brother" thing. Which is not a bad thing I'll say cuz I really do respect my kor and learn a whole lot from him. But it was a rather interesting experience. Feels like there's an expectation for me to live up to though.

2nd. This fascination or maybe even over-harping on the fact that I can memorise scripture well. I mean, yeah, all glory be to God. And I really pray and hope that this is an encouragement to others, not a discouragement. That it will build them up, and they will exceed me, to the glory of God.

I just felt that this was very dangerous on 2 counts. Firstly, that it could cause me to grow complacent and think too highly of myself. Or that it could cause me to memorise scripture for the wrong reasons, to gain the approval and attention of man. 1 Corinthians 4:7. "Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why then do you boast as if you had not?" Seriously, I just want to love God and His word, and I really need to watch myself on this, that I don't be pressured/ complacent in learning to use His word. But oh well. Hopefully all the attention on this God-given ability dies down after a while.

Secondly. I was just telling God this morning during QT. That even as Isaiah 48:11 says that He will not yield His glory to another, that I did not want to let any of the glory or attention come to me. All glory, attention, eyes and fascination on God. Not on the ability or the servant who bears the ability. While flattering, it is poisonous. I don't know whether to cringe or to smile when people go like "wah... you memorised all that ah???"

I also understand that it's only been a couple of days that people know me. I was telling Michael, Eugene and Joshua at different times that seriously, people don't know all the flaws I have. And I truly am concerned many a time that they have this over-rated opinion of me that will cause them to stumble when I do fail. It's been a concern throughout many years in my life in various ministries. One thing God has taught me is that as Christians, we are to focus and learn from Him. Not so much from what looks to our human eyes as a "better" or "good" Christian. And that is one thing that has benefitted me greatly and caused me to grow. And now that I have grown and continue to grow, may I not be such a person in the eyes of others.

While God will not fail us, I might fail others.

Alright, but let me not end on such a sombre note. God is so wonderful and marvellous and has provided so much for me these last few days. Bondue's tomorrow. And that is one camp I've forced myself to join. Since John 17:15 says that the prayer of Christ was not that we be taken out of the world, but that we be protected from the evil one. So I thought I needed to go in and go through it, rather than shun it. Okay. Pray for me yeah. Wisdom to know exactly what to do and how to respond in every possible situation.

Night all.

Updates

Alright, there's something wrong with blogspot cuz I can't add pictures to my posts. But just as well. I guess it'll simplify things a whole lot.

I've just got so much to thank the Lord for. It's been an amazing past 3 days or so.

Driving on 27 July 2009. Yeah, I didn't tell many people. Didn't want to like go in with so many people knowing as in the first time, when I failed. Many reasons. One thing is that when we need to have a need met, does it really make a difference to send out a mass sms or email for prayer? I guess most of us, myself included, would just say a short, perfunctory prayer. So yes, my family of course knew and prayed. As well as Jesh, Caleb, Lowell... maybe a couple others.

One of the many things I've learnt from this episode is truly what difference it makes to honour the Lord and to trust Him as my Source. You see, one of the things I've been learning lately is that we don't have multiple sources, only one. Let's say for myself, who do I look to for monetary needs for example? There's government handouts once in a while, there's a job I take once in a while, there's the occassional generous hongbao... etc. But these are all just mediums or channels through which my One Source meets my needs. Therefore when I lose a job, or stop receiving handouts, I am not one source short. I have only one source, God.

I truly believe that the reason I passed this time round was that I honoured God more than the last time. The last time I'm quite ashamed to say that my walk with God was not in order (which I suppose is quite obvious given my less-than-satisfactory response to failure). This time, after the first failure and a few more knocks here and there, I quite got the idea that I needed to get right with God again. 3 John 2 "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest PROSPER and BE IN HEALTH, EVEN AS THY SOUL PROSPERETH" Suffice it to say that my soul was not prospering.

So down to the details. You shall see why I technically did not deserve to pass, but God was so gracious and merciful to supply all my needs according to His glorious riches.

I get into the car. Tester starts to make many comments a few minutes into the test. Keeps saying that I'm too cautious, that I should go faster. etc etc. Then I strike kerb at crank course (I always just have to do that in tests man, I seldom get that in practice). Require reverse manouevre. (Okay at this moment the tester's still quite kind, guiding me a bit). So, dear drivers, how many points already?

12 points.

Then a few minutes later, just as I'm about to turn out and begin and exit from the circuit, tester makes a inconclusive wave to the right. I'm not sure exactly what he wants, so I ask and he's like "overtake lah". But then he changes his mind and tells me to stop. Behind this other car on test about to attempt a parallel parking. And then he pulls the handbrake and I'm like "???".

So this car backs up.

Into my car.

Correction, my instructor's car.

Giving him a nice little dent to add to his collection of dents.

And then the 2 testers get out and begin to argue for about 5 minutes, while I pray and wonder what's going to happen next. Then my tester kind of throws up his arms and goes "(other tester's name) ah, I don't want to argue with you lah, both fail lah, both fail". He comes into my car, tells me that both have failed. And I'm a little pissed, cuz obviously it's not my fault.

"Mr Foong, you didn't react when the other car knocked into your car. You should have reacted to avoid an accident"

"Uncle, but you pull the handbrake, I cannot react what. You pull the handbrake means you want me to stop, I cannot react mah"

And so we argue all the way to the chief tester. So much so that I almost swing into the wrong lane on the way back to tester's office. Heh. (That would potentially have been an immediate failure, the 3rd action that could have possibly failed me at that point).

Go up, still kinda arguing. I'm getting more and more pissed. And the tester goes

"You already have 12 points. Very slim chance of passing. Might as well try another day."

So I sit there at the desk, contemplating a failure and talking to God. And I'm saying something like. "Eh God, fail again ah. Eh why always like that sia. Why always you don't want to help me... You trying to give me a re-test on "How To Cope With Failure In A Godly Manner 101" is it? Okay... but I really don't know how I'm going to respond to this ah, I tell you first. I said I'll honour you no matter what, but I made that promise to you with the understanding that you better give me the strength and ability to honour you if I fail cuz obviously I was unable to the first time".

And then I overhear the tester's superior (okay, by this time I have argued until the tester is probably too pai seh that he's the one who pulled the handbrake, so he's telling his superior something like, "This Foong failed because of an accident, but not his fault, it's the other car's fault") and the superior is going "Not his fault then you should just take him out on the road and continue with the test lah.

I go like "Eh God... not bad ah You"

TY 1 , Tester 0.

So tester is still not convinced, goes in to see the chief tester.

TY 2 , Tester 0.

I was just sitting there in silence in the presence of God and watching Him work.

So I go down with the tester, and then we have to call my instructor to bring the car back so I can continue with my test.

Met Jeshua on the way, he'd just taken his FTT. I only had enough time to signal to him to pray. And honestly, I was very glad he was around. To have a friend you've known and fought beside since kindy days just be present was quite something I am very grateful to God for.

So I go on with my test. I jam brake at an amber light (I don't know why, perhaps too tired), crossing the white line. If I had hit the pedestrian crossing, immediate failure. How many times could I have gotten an immediate failure at this point in time?

4.

How many points?

14. 4 to spare.

Then the tester says that I didn't check blind spot, and then nags me on a few other things, which I don't really remember.

Then he says I didn't look out for traffic at a junction.

My green life-bar turns to yellow and flickers.

So at this point I'm like, "alright, Lord, common sense says that I've probably failed by now. So many errors he's just pointed out. I'm probably 24 or 26 points by now. Uh... quite interesting Lord, the way you're conducting this whole affair"

I'm just very quiet all the way from parking the car at the test centre to following the tester up. On retrospect I think the main difference between this time and the first would be that I was just silently hopeful. Hopeful not that I might pass because of luck or anything else. But hopeful because I had come to learn that God is in control of everything. He is the only source. If we really do believe what our bible says, we would really live in such a way that we understand we are never held hostage by anything in any situation, because God is in total control. We are always kept within the mighty hands of God, who's safety no one can snatch us out of, and interestingly, in certain circumstances, who's wrath no man can deliver from.

So I sit down and I reflect, as my tester takes his time. I don't even want to say anything. I'm just silently hopeful, knowing that there is still hope for me, that I'm in the hands of God.

"Mr Foong, let's go through your list of mistakes (he lists them down, ticks the paper). Okay, please improve on (one whole long list of stuff). Okay, so I'll pass you, but please improve on.... etc"

Wow God.

Actual information being filtered to my brain as he debriefed me:

"Mr Foong, lalala. Please lalala. Lalalala. Lalalalala. Lalala. I'll pass you. But please lalalala. Lalala"

Wow God. Thanks. I don't quite know what to say.

Yup, so I make my way home. And I'll blog on Crusade Camp in a separate post, to spare the reader the agony of reading the whole post at one shot.

But really, thank God. No one can save as He saves. No one can deliver as He delivers. With style. And in a way that just clearly says, "look, it's really not your hand, my child, but mine".

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Going ons

Alright. I have just about enough time for a quick update before I go and zzz.

Last week I was at FTB (Freshmen Team Building) camp from Monday to Wednesday. I thought that it was rather enjoyable and I really do thank God for a team who's company I enjoyed. I liked it that we were rather genuine and we did not have this ra-ra camp thing which you see so prevalent in so many camps today. In other words described as a "high" in our youth lingo.

Thursday I went down to SMU to collect my laptop, which I'm using right now. It's my first laptop... wahhh. Well, I asked for it to be configured to Vista OS on the advice of my dear dad. And so I spent about 2 hours wandering the concourse and its shops and reading the same book by Oral Roberts (I'm nearing the end, yipee). And also reading the bible.

Friday night we had a pre-camp dinner for BONDUE. Which is a business school camp. They say that there's a lot of drinking and all. And I really covet all prayers for strength in that camp. The way I see it right now, it'll definitely be much easier to start of without drinking at all. And I think I prob will not drink throughout the camp. Hopefully can do it in a non-offensive way.

Okay, today was YPM. Pam came down and taught. And we all had a rather enjoyable time, I must say.

Come Monday, I've got a crusade camp. Something that I'm quite looking forward to.

In terms of prayer and the word, I had some enjoyable times in the FTB camp mornings doing my QT. In a sense you could even say I came back feeling quite refreshed due to some excellent moments of QT in those mornings.

I truly hope that I'll have more than a few reliable and close Christian friends in this school. It seems simple. But I guess many experiences have taught me that such friends are not easily found and when they are, clearly God-given. Then again, in the end, it is God and God alone who is truly necessary.

Looking forward to seeing my kids at CM tomorrow again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Storms



The storms of life rocked my boat
Strong gales blew
I sought the Lord and He answered me
He delivered me from all my fears
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
And enabled me to go on the heights

The weather calmed
And I decided to refit my tiny vessel
I coated the hull with trust in God
-that would prevent any leaks
I used the words of my bible as buoyancy
-it would keep my boat afloat
I put in hours of prayer as a food supply
And renewed them daily so they remained fresh
-I would be able to outlast the longest of storms

Storms came
But not a leak was sprung
The crashing ocean waves came
Forcing me to bail water out
But my ship remained buoyant
And I wasn't scared
I was not bothered by the length of the storm
Why, I had enough to eat!

And that was how I weathered the storm

In the midst of a squall one day
I thought to myself
Why trust Him when I can trust myself?
I'd find a faster way out of the storm!
Why tire myself out with so much of the bible?
I have much better things to do!
Why spend so much time praying?
Surely I have prayed enough...

Perhaps a little less of each would do just as well...
So after the squall had ended
Upon these thoughts I promptly acted

Storms came
But not a leak was sprung
The crashing ocean waves came
Forcing me to bail water out
But my ship remained buoyant
And I wasn't scared
I was not bothered by the length of the storm
Why, I still had enough to eat

And that was how I weathered the storm
-at a much smaller cost too!
...Never mind the slightly battered boat

One bright and sunny morning
As seagulls lazily flew
And the few fluffy clouds there were
Drifted across the sky
I awoke from my slumber
I opened my bible
And found it exceedingly boring
-and concluded perhaps I'd read it more than I needed to
I pondered the decreasing fire in my prayers
And tried to pray harder
Then just gave up pressing in
-and snuggled in for an early morning snooze

Storms came
A leak or two was sprung
The crashing ocean waves came
Forcing me to bail water out
Though my ship remained fairly buoyant
I was more than a bit unnerved
The storm dragged on
And I almost starved

And that was how I weathered the storm
...Just barely

As I sat in my boat I contemplated...
Do not a man's naked fingers become numb
In the frigidness of the howling winter wind?
Perhaps the human heart was designed in kind
Such that coldness of heart
Makes one numb to God

I began to realise
We cannot have one foot jammed in the doorway of heaven
And the other toying with the pleasures of a fallen earth
We cannot live in the full joy of the kingdom of God
Unless we totally surrender

Following this world has its costs
Our hearts turn cold to God
Following Christ has its costs, too
Suffering for His name
-and being set apart from this world

A faith that costs and demands nothing of me
Is worth nothing
A faith that costs and demands everything of me
Is worth the world to me...

But wait
-did I say worth the world to me?
I would have been in error!
No, it is worth more than the world
It is worth everything
And much more than even that

I could have spent more hours ruminating
BUT THERE!

THERE over the horizon
In the eye-squinted distance
Yet another storm was looming

For the seas upon which our short lives run
Are
Never constant
Ever-changing
Merciless
Un-relenting

I reached out and opened my bible
I sat down and prayed
I trusted

I had opened myself to tender mercies
And sat down in His lap
I trusted

Then storms will come
But not a leak will be sprung
The crashing ocean waves
Will force me to bail water out
But my ship will remain buoyant
And I shan't be scared
The length of the storm will not bother me
For I will have enough to eat

And that is how I will weather the storms
To come

These are my reflections for the last couple of months. I began to write this one Saturday after YPM. I didn't put it up then because I wanted to start living it out first.
I've started.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend and All

Thought I had a rather good weekend. Friday night I went for this SU fellowship thing. Kinda like to wrap up the holiday TREK program. Was not bad. Then had a sleepover with Caleb, Lowell, Jeshua. Spent the night surfing the internet and talking. I guess when you have good friends, you don't really need to plan so much into the activities.

Saturday went YPM. Was having dinner with Gideon, Jing Yang, Michelle, Jeremy, Cooper. And then some of them were like asking me why I still am in YPM. I thought that was a very good question. It's a question that I've been asking myself more and more over the years. Sometimes I come up with rather good answers. Sometimes I can't. It's a question I often ask myself in the 2 hours or so just before YPM. Something rather like, "why on earth am I even going to this place? Why not I just stay at home and like do something else?"

Well one of the reasons would be fellowship. That I still have quite a few people I want to spend time with in YPM. I quote Hebrews 10:25. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Another reason why I still haven't moved church is that I know that God has a purpose for me in the Childrens' Ministry here. To become a fulltime member of a youth ministry in another church... I'm not saying it's wrong- I don't think it is, I think that would be incongruent with God's purpose for me right now in this season. I think Saturdays are a good time to spend with youth from CM and also the other youth. I don't completely rule out that possibility of changing a church, but it's just that I'm really afraid of doing things apart from the blessing of God. So not anytime soon, the way I see it. But oh well, I don't know how long this can last, Lord.

Moving on to Sunday. I think I really enjoyed the Praise and Worship for CM. And lesson time was quite interesting. We had a rather good sermon for 1st service too.
Watched Transformers 2 with Jesh, Tiew, Sabrina, Jaslyn and Aaron Lim. I thought it was not too bad for a movie in terms of action and graphics. But it was quite a let-down especially for me and Jesh. Since we've been following the Transformers from the time we were in kindergarten. They kinda confused the entire storyline. The Fallen looked kinda ridiculous, for one. And then there were all these nameless Decepticons all over the place. And Jazz shouldn't have even died in the first Transformers. And then there was this utterly weird "Autobot heaven" concept where all the ancestors of Optimus were in. And the constructicons merging was not exactly accurate.
Yes. And the "master" and "apprentice" thing between Megatron and the Fallen. Yikes.
Worst one must have been the inclusion of this Terminator concept in Transformers. This decepticon which could transform into a female human. Yucks. Totally off. Oh yes, teleportation was something unheard off in Transformers as well.
Anyway, I thought that there was an over emphasis on innuendos throughout the film. From the start you have the 2 dogs. And then as it progressed... Even had to show the 2 wrecking balls of the constructicons as yeah. And I thought that there was this intentional over-emphasis on Megan Fox. I didn't quite appreciate that.




Okay, now am in school in between periods. My tenure here should end by this Wednesday. But for sure there'll definitely be more calling me back in the near future (in terms of weeks) since the absentee rate is quite high these days with the H1N1 and everyone so cautious. Thing is I wonder whether I should just stop after Wednesday?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The manner of things

Right now I'm just kinda discontented with the state of my walk with God. Which is in actual fact to say that I am discontented with my entire life. I think that when something is wrong in a person's walk with God, nothing else is truly in place. It might appear so on the outside, but nothing truly is.


I've been trying to read and pray more. And I'm seriously struggling through it. Somedays I grow so bored with all that. This really shouldn't be the way things are man. I need more hunger and thirst for the Spirit and His word.





I would really like a fresh annointing. Then again, is that really what I need? Perhaps I just need to come humbly and wait patiently.









Yet another thing I learnt from BSF is that God is like fire in this: We cannot approach fire on our own terms. We approach fire on its terms. I cannot put my hand to the flame and say, "fire, you will not burn me". (Well, besides the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). The fire will burn me even if I try to approach it on my terms.

I can approach the fire from a distance. I can feel and enjoy its warmth. I can go to the fire on its terms.

Am I approaching God on my own terms?





Haha. There something like a quarter life crisis? Nah. Things will get better lah.

Michael Jackson passed away. It is interesting that his death raised his popularity instantaenously, or at least so it seems. Now everyone is saying nice things about him. Juxtapose that with all the bad press he was receiving in the years prior to his death.

I wonder. Some people have exalted, respected positions in society and are villified in death. Others have it the other way round. Villified in life, exalted in death.

And yet ultimately the word says that God will have the final say on judgement day. Am I living right now in such a way that God may say to me, "well done, good and faithful servant" on that day.

Okay, alright. Answer is no.

Friday, July 03, 2009

I went down to my new school yesterday







Yeah, went down to SMU yesterday for some admin stuff. Tried to go with friends, but had teaching in the mornings, so couldn't fix a date with anybody. So yeah, there I was alone on the campus.







Was a little confusing finding my way around. Perhaps I'm still getting used to the new school environment. The hustle and bustle of a city campus, of loud music within the building as various student organisations tried to sell their camps. So far I've signed up for the FTB (Freshmen Teambuilding - which is like Orientation), Crusade, Bondue. Didn't exactly feel like going to Bondue, which is a business camp, but I thought I'd do well to try and experience how the business fac culture in SMU is like. I would have to go in with all shields up though.








Yeah, so was just doing my admin procedure alone and having to ask my way around. And let people approach me to talk about the various activities and camps. After that sat down in the library as I waited for a talk. Took out my bible and asked God what He wanted for me in this university.




We shall see.




Of much more minor importance, I have changed the look of my blog for the first time since2005.




Ah, why is the title Stand up for Me? That's cuz in the 2008 Oligopistos camp I heard that from God, that God told me I had to "stand for Me wherever I send you". Scriptural reference Jeremiah 1:17-19: "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land- against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord.




The scripture I am now thinking about is Isaiah 41: 13-14...




For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O litle Israel, for I myself will help you,: declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.




See, I will make you into a threshng sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel.




I love the way Pastor Yonggi put it in his book (which is currently in the hands of Mr Jeshy... which presumably makes the book more well-travelled than me). I'll put it in my context.




You see, as I enter the gates of this university, I am like a worm. A worm's defenceless, helpless, easily trodden upon. Think about the biblical Jacob. A limping worm (remember God touched his leg after the wrestling?). A defencelss worm (remember Jacob was so afraid that Esau would attack him?) Yet this worm was walking beside the true and living God. And Jacob prospered. Israel prospered and waxed strong.




I am like that worm. I enter alone and by all human standards rather vulnerable. I must remember that my safety and security is not in the hands of man, nor is it in hard work per se or charm. My safety, security, assurance, strength, success. These are all in the hands of the true and living God who walks besides me as I enter these gates.




And so as I worm my way into university, let me remember that I need to keep looking to God.