Saturday, August 29, 2009

I write this post to...

all those who are with me as freshmen in university now. To Caleb (assuming you are finding it hard to cope with schoolwork... you better be!), Jeshua (really need to meet up. Or I shall continue with http://jeshystravels.blogspot.com!), Daniel Li (hope things are going fine in Australia- need to find more time to read your blog- I saw it 2 days ago. Very chim* sia), James (ok you don't read this blog anyway- hope Law is fine).

To Michael Naidu, Christabel, Chloe, Sarah.

To Andrea, Zhang Wei (who incidentally, I believe, does not read this blog), Clara, Jon Lim -Who are about to face their A levels.

To Jamie, Natalie, Jerusha, who are about to take their first major exam. Their PSLE!

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him,
on those whose hope is in His unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine

Psalm 33:16-19

I wondered.
After learning so much about God recently
And His word
Have I now started to take things into my own hands?

Why come to university?
To study
Why go through A'levels, O's, PSLE?
To study more in the end?

Why study?
To do well in life?
To get a good job?
Is that really true?

No.
We study to honour God.
And as we honour God in what we do, we will see Him provide.

So let us not
over-work
over-worry (nay, let us not even worry!)
or rely on our own strength.

No student is saved by the size of his textbook
No exam candidate by his focused studying
A past exam paper is a vain hope for good grades
despite all the TYS- it cannot save
And even if you were to pass
If we were to do superbly
Without the help of God
But by our strength alone

What would we have gained?

We would have lost our walk with God.

We are on the edge of a cliff. As we reach for the beautiful flowers let us not lose hold of the rope. Did not a most important Man say that "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but yet forfeit his very soul?"

Happy studying, us all. But let us not lose sight of God, for whom we study. Exam results and academic performance are but small things in the eyes of God. He who makes the lame walk and the blind see can bring us wherever He wills. Laws of nature do not bind Him. What makes our often stress-blinded minds think that grades will?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A week over and thoughts thought

This week is over.

The highlight of yesterday must have been an hour or so of laughter. Watching Red and Blue with Michael in Croom. It was hilarious, profanities and all aside.

Yesterday my LTB meeting was till 10p.m.

I sat down a couple of hours ago. And I was just reflecting, thinking. Praying and reading. I wondered whether I've begun to lose focus on the Lord.

I think that it is most important that I realise that it is not by might or power, but by the Spirit of God that I study.

That as David told Goliath that Goliath came against him with sword and spear and javelin, but David came in the name of the Lord Almighty, of the armies of Israel, whom Goliath despised.

So do I come to school by might, power and expect to do well through my hardworking-ness? Or am I waiting on the Lord and expecting to be delivered by His power and nothing else, all the time working hard?

Questions, questions. Thoughts, thoughts.

Next week's gonna be a lil tiring. Potentially have something on every single night, and Sat morn too. BSF on Mon, BSF seminar on Tues, LTB on Wed, prob tution on Thurs, if I stay back on Fri for Crusade, Sat LTB.

The joy of the Lord is my strength- Nehemiah 8:10.

Question is, do I have the joy of the Lord? And how I must seek that joy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Of School and Jonathans

Hey all.

Haven't been updating due to school and all.

Was a rather productive past 3 days I guess. Of seminars (that's what they call it here in SMU- no lectures or tutorials. Something in between.), time spent with Crusade friends, studying, meeting up with some old pals here and there.

Am just praying that as I carry on, I do not lose my focus on God. This concerns me deeply. Was just reflecting today, as I was in the MRT going home- whether I was really focused on God throughout the day. And didn't quite think so... When I'm focused on God there is peace. I'm not fazed by obstacles... etc. I see things in perspective. Today in my lessons I kinda saw things from very human viewpoints... need to see things from God's viewpoints. And I really do need to focus on God, keep my eyes on Him.

Today in particular was a packed day. In the morn I had LTB with Chloe.

Lunch went down to Sunshine Plaza for Wanton Mee with Michael, Sarah, Christabel, Chloe.

Went Croom to study a bit.

Management Comms with Christabel.

Dinner with Michael, Christabel.

And met up with my old pal Gabriel Low from BSLC days at Plaza Sing. So he kinda dined together with us. But really, most of it was just Gabriel and I on one side and Chris and Michael on the other.

Then went Starbucks with Gabriel. It really was a great joy to talk to this bro. Last time I saw him was when he came down to raid my unit.

I guess one of the things I remember him for was how he really spent time to talk to me in those BSLC days. One of the dry periods in my life. How he brought me over to his home one nights off and we had this really long talk in the ground floor void deck of his house. I still remember the night quite vividly. Heavy rain and all. Remember sitting on his bed in his house, looking at the raindrops, feeling the cool wind in my face. Basically thanking God and savouring the book-out moment. Looking at the rain wash the civilian buildings from up in a high-rise HDB, the neon and white lights of Singapore at night. The whole scenery streaked by falling raindrops. Yeah, that experience meant quite a lot to me, cuz those were trying times for both of us in army, and I guess our fellowship really strengthened each other.

Had this long talk with Jie Hau on Monday as well.

And Jia Hao many days back- that was last week.

Seems to me that God has been giving me many excellent moments with people who were Jonathans (as in Jonathan and David?) in my life at various moments.

Of course then I have the other group of Jonathans who've been around me quite a bit these last few months. Caleb, Jesh, Lowell, Daniel Li, James etc etc. Bros, I really thank God for these months of enjoyment. Of laughter and fun. Of hammock nights and stayovers and cooking late into the night. Of Wayne and Dex and Jesh coming over for movie marathons and the like. Oh man, God has been good to me. I think that the break between NS and Uni life was really a most wonderful period of growth. Invaluable.

Sleeping soon- don't wanna push myself too hard. But am looking forward to tomorrow.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man
For God will bring every deed into judgement,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil

.... things are going well. And from experience, storms will approach. The sea can never be calm for too long. God gave Asa peace till the 35th year. And then there was a royal mess (sic) up in 2 Chronicles 16. That even as God gives me peace and rest for now, may I be very careful to honour Him. May I be prepared spiritually, mentally, to face the next major hurdle, the next faith test. It shall come. The day a Christian stops getting these challenges is the day He enters into glory (which is Uncle David from SU's very apt and polished euphemism).

Okay okay, must force myself to sleep. Right... after I check a few things and view my Facebook.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Of Quiet Times

Alright, Andrea just corrected me on the spelling of the word sovereignty. Thanks!

Right, I was at my place earlier this morning in school and Mr Edmund James was commenting that I looked lost- didn't know where to begin.

I know where to begin right now, but I don't quite know how to continue. Yet do I have to know?

I was having some time with God about 2 hours ago.

It was something like this. I knew that I could physically start preparing for school. Could start trying to get textbooks from seniors and all (somehow, I'm not too hurried... need to check course outlines and OASIS- my school's intranet, is down). And truth be told, there was something in me that couldn't quite be bothered about spending extra time with God.

But anyway, somehow, I managed to get myself seated down on the floor to pray.

And as I prayed I recalled all that the Lord has brought me through. As I sat down on the nice tiled floor in my house, I remembered other quiet times on other types of ground, in other places.

I remembered shivering mornings in the Australian forest. Of sitting atop an armoured vehicle and reading my little blue Gideon's bible (my outfield bible, as I affectionately call it).

I remembered how God brought me out of that one, of how a few weeks later I was in a nice motel in Rockhampton, reading a bible in the ambience of a cosy room.

I remembered many other things, a whole litany of what were apparently banes, which the Lord brought me through.

And then I thought about the uncertainty of university life, of GPAs and project work and of friendships.

And I could not for the life of me see how the same God who brought me through everything would fail to bring me through this time.

The truth of the matter is that all that should concern me is the fear of the Lord. That I fear Him and in so doing, fear nothing else. That I honour Him and spend time waiting upon Him. Look, if God really is in charge, then it follows that in putting Him first, He will bring His plans for me into fruition.

Jeremiah 29:11 says that He has thoughts and plans (depending which version) for me. This verse has a nice, warm, Christian-like feeling to it.

But let us observe its practicality. God has thoughts and plans for me. He has thoughts and plans regarding my education. He has thoughts and plans regarding how my life in SMU will turn out, how I'll score. As the Psalmist put it in the 139th Psalm- all the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be.

God surely knows where He wants me to be. He surely knows and knows surely which job He wants me to be in. Which industry for which time period for what purpose. Look, Jeremiah 29:11 says it, doesn't it? "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".

He knows His plans for me. Now that is something innit? He knows His plans for me, His plans for you.

And so as I enter into university, whatever happens, when things seem like they are going wrong. I need to remember, God is in total control, He knows His plans for me. As far as I am willing to honour Him (that is the only variable that is under my control-that God has placed under my charge), His plans are being worked out by Him, for my good.

That being said there are the human tendencies and attacks of the enemy that sometimes chip away at us. The "sinful desires, which war against (our) soul(s)" (1 Peter 2:11). I might stumble along the way. You might stumble along the way. And sometimes it will be our lack of trust and lack of waiting upon God- indeed, our impatience, that cause things to turn bad. But God is still in control.

A song by Don Moen really ministered to me at one time in NS. Goes "Do you feel that your God has forgotten your needs? Just remember that God hears our prayers and an answer is on its way.... He never sleeps He never slumbers, He never tires of hearing our prayers, when we are weak He becomes stronger, so rest in His love and cast all of your cares on Him"

He will not let your foot slip- He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. - Psalm 121:3-4

...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

And so as I enter into university, I understand that the possibility of stumbling a bit will be there. I understand that even though I recognise the truth that I need not fear, fear will still sometimes be knocking at the door.

Above all I am most glad to understand that God is in total control. May all of us understand this, and live upon the peace that this truth affords.

And may I end this with a childrens' song that spoke so strongly to me in my NS days?

He's the Lord of the sunshine
The Lord of the rain
He's the Lord of the good times
The Lord of the pain
He's the Lord of the mountains
The Lord of the seas
He's the Lord of the music
The Lord of the children
The Lord of you and me

I know where to begin right now- to wait upon the Lord

I don't quite know how to continue, for I cannot and have never quite been able to see where exactly the future leads.

Yet do I have to know? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard; no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him"- 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A few thoughts

Monday afternoon I had a really good run. I haven't enjoyed such a run for some time. It wasn't very long, only bout 40 minutes plus. And I wasn't very fast, covered roughly 8 klick or so, but I was refreshed. Ran to the back of IMH, where I noticed there were quite a few huts with zinc roofs... some were part of the village... the others I wondered whether they were legal or not. Ran past the MRT depot at Seng Kang (that's my favourite part of the run- rather nice place), then down Buangkok park connector, Serangoon park connector, past Hougang Mall, Hougang swimming complex.

Man, I feel like running again... The last time I had such a nice run was the first time I made it to East Coast from home.

This week will be working. Doing babysitting relief. Looking at the boys... boys shall be boys... albeit a few notches more vulgar and mischievous than I recalled. Am glad I finished my assignment for History though. Enjoyable and enriching, but lots of work.

On Tuesday afternoon I went out for Afterglow with crusade people. Was having a quite a bit on my mind, but started to relax more. Enjoyed the company of these bros and sisters very much. Had dinner with them. Was grateful to God for the chance to catch up with Jia Hao, from army days. Besides all the jokes and old quips it really reminded me of a phase in my life where God was moulding me. Painfully, yes, but effectively. I know I'm so different now from when I was in BSLC (Basic Section Leaders' Course). In those days you gradutated with the double chevrons of a corporal after BSLC. Now they just have the SCT (Specialist Cadet Trainee) rank throughout.

Reminded me of one truth that God taught me in a most practical way in those days. That things can change. Friends I know may not always be friends, Christian or not. People I trust may not always remain trustworthy. And yet I must not hold it against them. The only one who will not disappoint and is worthy of absolute trust is my God.

After that, I went to BSF. Arrived for the group discussion time right on time. I had to run there from the MRT station though, so was sweating heavily when I arrived. Sat next to Caleb for lecture. Hmm. Possibly the last time since his lectures will be on Monday night in future. But oh well, Romans 8:28 eh. God works all things out for our good.

As I sat on the train back home I pondered a question. Why is it that I feel so comfortable around my friends in Crusade. I came to the tentative conclusion that perhaps it's because of this common focus on God. We are so comfortable talking about God. It's this unique, similar love and interest for things of our Lord that binds us together.

How strong is a connection set in eternity. Then again, even though I have this connection with so many other Christians, I don't always feel as close cuz it is against the social norm to discuss godly issues within those social circles. In fact, they are almost uncomfortable.

And oh well, then there are the other more human factors. Welcoming, nice people and all. Then again, I've been to numerous groups of welcoming, nice people, but never felt comfortable. So yes, I have come to a conclusion... for now.

Went home, slept.

C.S. Lewis said that Christianity is an education in itself. I suppose I am about to find out how much the sharpening of my mind with scriptural truths can benefit my forage for secular academic instruction.

It interests me that truly, over the years, how much I have excelled has been wholly dependent on the providence of God and His will for me in that moment, not on my own abilities.

And here are a couple of pictures from the Crusade Freshmen Orientation Camp.
Eating Prata in town.
Games on rooftop at Kum Yam Methodist Church
The objective of this game was to spike my hair and have the group throw rubber bands on them. We won overwhelmingly.

Most of the group.
School begins next week.
So how, Lord?




Monday, August 10, 2009

Psalm 33:11

"... the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." -Psalm 33:11.

So we have established the sovereignity of God and our trust in His purposes. The plans of the Lord stand firm forever.

Are we done? Not quite.

Is it enough to trust God for our lives? Yes, to avoid much worrying and anxiety and pain. Yes, to enter most comfortably into glory when our time comes.

How about the purposes of His heart through all generations?

A question I'm asking myself is if God has purposes through all generations, how do I fit into it? If in the beginning He created the world and man fell to sin. And all the way from Genesis 4 to Jude He purposed in His heart a plan that would culminate in the prophecies in Revelations...

Then what am I doing? Lord, what is your sovereign purpose for me in this university? Where do I stand in your calling? Is my heart where your heart is? Fill me with wisdom and work through me to accomplish your will! And Holy Spirit work through what I say and do to everyone I relate to in this university, that they may come to know you.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. - John 10:16

Now I speak. Now I make bold statements. When the chips are down, Lord, that I may not turn and run and deny you. But even if I do you still will forgive, restore and use.

Sovereignty



Morning at Gunung Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia. An ODAC expedition in 2006


I guess I'm not entirely done with mountain climbing in this life... but it seems that I have a whole lot of other stuff at the current moment




I guess that before army, I loved the outdoors many times more than the indoors. Before going outdoors meant a military mission with an assault rifle, a field pack and 6 men to look after, it was a very enjoyable affair. Not that I regret how God has used the whole army experience for the betterment of my being. It's just that after countless outfields I have come to better appreciate the modern comforts of indoor living, have become more domesticated.




But I still do love the great outdoors. I still love to run along the coast, through trails in the midst of vegetation. After all, the outdoors, quite apart from urban development, takes me a step closer in thought to the beauty of God's creation. Witnessing the creation of my King. The sky, the waves, the greenery- it's like the 104th Psalm being lived out.




Creation- a poignant reminder of the omnipotence of God.




Which brings me to my topic today. The sovereignty of God- directly related to His omnipotence.


Sovereignty. "... the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." -Psalm 33:11.




It's queer how our intellect and our hearts seem so often to meander along distinctly different courses. I know that God is in charge. I know that He cares for me. I know I do not need to worry or care for my needs. I know, know, know.




But yet often I feel differently. I feel that this omnipotent, loving God knows not what He is doing. I wonder how he could allow close friends to turn against me. I wonder how he could allow me to fail a driving test. I wonder how he could allow me to go through feelings of loneliness in the armed forces.




And so I begin to not trust God. I begin to worry. I begin to grab the reins of a chariot whose horses I am unable to control. I take hold of the wheel of a gigantic ship even though I am not tall enough to look beyond the hull and see where the ship is headed.




The horses sense a charioteer who is not in control and run amuck. The ship crashes into the rocks. I throw my hands up in despair. Alright Lord, now you take control again.




IF. And that is one big IF. IF I really do believe in the sovereignty of a living God. IF I believe that He is in control of the whole universe- the greatest forces in nature. Forces as devestating as the earthquake and tornado. IF I believe He is in control of the smallest of creatures - the ants and the mites- and organisms smaller still- like viruses and bacteria. IF I believe the wind and the waves heed His commands and the dead arose and the blind saw and the lame walked. IF I believe in a God in total control and with limitless resources in terms of miracles.




IF that were true, then what am I doing getting anxious over my life? What am I doing pondering the concerns of my life? BOSS bidding, future classes, academic performance, ministry issues, relational issues? Is God not able to settle all these for me?




And when I do get to such a point in my train of thought, the thing that often causes me to re-enter into a state of despair is this very curious human tendency. The tendency to question whether or not God cares at all.




If He really cared for me, why am I still continuing to fail my exams? Why am I still being given so much extra work in the armskote? Why am I still struggling with this relationship issue? Why am I falling sick?




It really is a pendulum effect is it not?




"God aren't you able to do anything?"




swing




"God if you're able to do something, why don't you do anything? Don't you care?"




swing




"God are you really in control of this situation? Because everything is getting out of hand. If you were in control things wouldn't be this bad. I wouldn't be hurting so."




swing




"Lord, I don't know why you always do such things to me! I hate what I'm going through. Bring me out! Why do you let these things happen to me? Your word says to cast all my anxiety on you. But you're not wanting to do anything!"




One of the things I've been telling myself lately is to rest assured in the promises of my God. I know He's sovereign, I know He cares. I know that each situation is going to be worked out in His omnipotence and omniscience. And because of His omnipresence I will never be alone.




I tell myself. If my number one priority is to honour God, and to obey His commands and see His will done in my life. Then I should not worry about how my university life with all its complications will turn out. How my friendships will turn out. How my future job search will be. How He will provide for a future spouse. For He will work it out for my good. Every situation is according to His will as long as I remain in His will. I have nothing to fear if I fear Him. Nothing to be anxious over if I trust in His sovereignty.




If God is sovereign.




If we allow Him to be reign over our lives.




Then we fly above the storms.




But that, being said, is easier said than done. Trusting in the sovereignty of God. Trusting in the fact that He is able and that He cares is never simple.




Trusting in the sovereignty of a living God. The simplest thing and yet simultaenously the hardest thing to do.



And so I pray to Him who has an endless supply to supply my need to trust and obey.




I do hope to write a continuation of sorts regarding Psalm 33:11.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Yet another day

Hmm. I have resolved the pict issue!

Today I went back to school to do babysitting-relief (as opposed to really-teaching-relief) for a day. Was okay. Met up with a lot of my old students. Apparently I'm quite in demand now, cuz of the H1N1 and everyone taking precautions (read: Medical Leave).

Also did my Slam Dunk online today... Hmmm. I think I do have a clearer idea as to what to major in, which is what I was praying for yeah.

Spent much of the day re-reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye and making a generous portion of notes in the margins.

Night time watched a couple of video clips with my kor.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Been thinking

Hmm. Can't add pics still... should really check this thing out.

Today I bidded for my uni mods with Chloe and Christabel and Michael (online from Bangkok). I rather miss Michael. Firstly cuz I miss his presence and humour. Secondly cuz I hate what hanging out with 2 girls makes me look like. So yes Michael, look forward to your return. Very much.

I guess most of my life has been spent with guys, which isn't a bad thing. Such a pity that all my close bros are all split up in different unis studying different stuff.

I've been thinking again bout many things. And been spending quite a bit of time praying. The last time I had such a hunger for prayer was quite some time back, perhaps just before army started. Suffice it to say that the main concern for me is honouring God.

Something like Lord help me to honour you in my studies, in my relationships. Help me to keep reading your word and yet excel in studies and yet exercise and yet have time to spend with friends and yet have time to evangelise. 1 Peter 3:8- With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. God is above time.

I've been deeply concerned with a couple of related issues lately. Thanks Caleb for accountability. But most of all amongst my motivations at the current moment is the account I will have to give before God. Ultimately I am accountable to my King.

Going with dad to airport to fetch my kor home. About now.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Finished my last camp

Hmm. There's still a problem with my blogger. Can't upload pictures. Or is it just my new laptop?

Anyway I just finished Bondue camp. I was in what I thought was a really wonderful group. I enjoyed myself with my team mates. Thought I had really swell facis too! We did have quite a bit of fun together. I look forward to studying with people such as these.

For the camp activities suffice it to say that they were mostly bearable though some were rather wrong. The last night's stage program in particular was terrible and quite vulgar. I do think it is an influential minority in student society; the majority of the student population is not like that. Just that perhaps there's pressure to be in the in-crowd? That's what I feel.

All in, camp met it's objectives for me. Thought it was relatively well organised except for bathing time. And besides the vulgar/lewd stuff, it was mostly an enjoyable camp. Had quite good QTs in the mornings cuz people slept till quite late.