Friday, December 24, 2010
I've been to Children's Camp, Spiritual Milk (the baptism class for Pri 6s) and YPM Camp. I've benefitted from all three and quite thoroughly enjoyed most of it. I'll miss Crusade Camp, but then somehow I guess it's good that I take a break from all this Christian stuff. To be honest, I think too much of camps and all (unless God calls one to take it all on) is a sure recipe for burn out. You get tired with what you should be enjoying the most.
Yesterday I was out playing soccer at the cage at Kallang with some of the church guys. Then we went to old airport road for dinner and a long chit-chat. As I headed home all I could think was, "hmmm... it's finally beginning to FEEL like the holidays."
This coming Sunday will be the last Sunday I have with my Primary 6s. You hear correctly if you sense a tinge of sadness. Well, I've prepared stuff to say a proper goodbye to them. And if I have time, I'll share it here after I give it to them.
So next week I'll be going back to reservist for just two days. It's nothing much, really. Just some briefings and IPPT and cohesion. But to be perfectly honest, when I first received notice that I had to go back (well, it was unofficial notice, only 3 weeks before, when it should have been 3 months), the first feelings I had were feelings of fear and dread. Of course it did not help that it was 2a.m. on the morning of 5 December and I was to run the Stanchart Marathon at 5a.m.
But over these past few weeks I've been reflecting on how God has always brought me through. All the fears I have in every situation are truly irrational because I forget to put the fullness of God's sovereignty into the picture. And so yes, I shall go back in prayer and with the right attitude.
If you're wondering, the NS Book Project is still very much alive. It is alive... and crawling. Crawling cuz as always it's been a bit slow. But we are still working on it, by God's grace and on a prayer. Though it's been a long wait and still is, I think the process and the lessons learned through it are worth it.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
But of course, I'm physically tired right now. I guess there are the people who say that they're physically tired but spiritually refreshed. Perhaps that's true. But I've come to think that if I'm spiritually refreshed and allow myself to keep getting more physically tired (especially when rest is possible with proper planning), it will some how or other lead to the spiritual part being compromised.
(Right, my thoughts are slightly disjointed now. Hope they're still doctrinally sound. Will check them again if I have the time).
Lots of stuff going on. Might have some project meeting on Monday. Then Tuesday is IPPT. For which I have not trained. And the way it looks, I don't think I'll be training up for it at all. Had hoped to do a little speed training but have not been able to find the time. Wednesday to Saturday is YPM Camp. I'm kinda looking forward to just being a camper and receiving God's word and all.
Then a week or so of rest. Then I have a call-up. That one I'm slightly miffed because it's late, informal notification. Disrupted some plans. But then again I guess it might have its benefits.
And yes, quite sure I want to do Sundown Marathon. I wonder why myself. Perhaps it's because I like to run. Perhaps it's because I'm seeking something for a sense of adventure. And since I haven't been doing outdoor stuff for a while this is the next best thing? Hopefully it keeps me in shape.
Okay, last two disjointed thoughts of the day. (This post is like someone changing TV channels real fast. Everything is not linked).
1) Sometimes we talk so much about stuff in church that we leave God out. Sometimes we talk so much about the faults of others that we forget to remember that we should be talking with God about our own faults. Ultimately, I feel that unless God leads us into doing so, we should focus only on the proverbial plank in our own eyes. After all, that alone already takes up so much time. And I think that the thing about other people is just to love them (the hard part) and leave God to the changing of the person (which we try to do ourselves at times. We get the order wrong.)
2) Okay, this one makes sense to me now. (I don't know if I'll have to tear it apart tomorrow, but here goes...) No biblical reference as of yet, because I'm really quite tired at this moment. Sin, as they say, is independence from God. Trying to do things our own way and not accepting His ways, His words and His plans right?
So, how can ministry become sin? It becomes sin when we do ministry apart from God. We sin when we try to achieve things for God without His help. (Once again, I'm not too sure about the semantics and all, but this is just a developing thought. So DON'T take it too seriously for now).
Okay. Sleeping soon.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Yeah, poor thing. But respect him for finishing. I think we took slightly more than 7 hours. A horrible timing, but it was a good experience and looking back, if given the choice, I would still have done it.
Then I had to walk back 1.5 to 2 kilometres to get our baggage from F1 pit building. Don't know what the organisers were thinking, to put the baggage collection point there when the race ended at the Padang.
Haha. My running buddy was commenting at about 38 klicks that he would never do another marathon again but by the time we got on the taxi he was considering Sundown Marathon. Hmmm... I'm thinking about Sundown now. Perhaps, perhaps.
Oh yes, forgot to mention one of my major achievements in camp. Catching two toads on the first night! First one was fairly easy. Gideon told me about it and then I caught it with a plastic bag. Wasn't sure what it was (still not very sure). As in, frog or toad, so always better to use plastic bag. Makes sure I don't get poisoned. =P. Second one was tougher. It was making so much noise inside the drain. I had to almost camp outside the drainage for 20 minutes before it emerged and I grabbed it. The way to catch such animals is to sort of corner. The difficulty comes from the fact that they are slippery and slimy.
I believe they're toads. But not entirely sure. See, frogs have smooth, green skin. Toads generally have bumpy skin.
Uh yeah, this is how a frog looks like. Can touch. Not poisonous. Will smile at the camera if coaxed- by a scary looking guy with a set of white fangs.
The other major achievements are bathing in an outdoor shower while it was raining (though the changing back into dry clothes part was tricky) and getting stung by a bee on the second night. That was quite an experience. (I keh kiang lah. Had caught a bee earlier in the night which was without a sting. I assumed that the second bee was the same bee. It wasn't). So I have now officially been bitten by a bee. (I was bitten by a python a couple of years back and also by a grass snake I was playing with two years back). Hmm. Perhaps God gave me those teeth for a reason. Maybe I should bite back at anything that bites me.
So yes, you can see why I thoroughly loved this campsite. (Boys Brigade Campsite at Sembawang). But unfortunately almost everyone else hated it. What a pity.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
My fantastic group.
Okay, CM camp is now over. I'm just so glad for all that God has done in this camp. And hopefully I'll be able to keep close to God even after this camp.
My group's guys on the bus ride back to church. Two peace-loving boys. And two constantly at war. Guess who they are. I was quite tired by then because I'd been fighting a sinus back flow and a little bit of a sore throat. But I had two capabale leaders so it wasn't a problem at all.
Tomorrow's the Marathon. Wheee. Looking forward to it.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
God has been faithful to show me stuff about so many of my doubts and concerns. He's lifting me out of problems and issues and hurts and discontent, no matter that I got myself into a lot of it by my own folly.
I'm learning once again to look to God in prayer for every single need. To trust in His provision.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
I'm thinking about what's the meaning of life and all man. Yeah, I know, I know. I'm a Christian and all that. And God is the centre of my life... etc etc. I'm supposed to be really thankful for everything God has given me. I should be... but I'm just feeling more and more jaded with so many things in ministry, in life. Thinking about some stuff that I perhaps should not be thinking about.
What happens when one starts to get really jaded? Isn't church the worst place to get tired with? Like when you're tired with outside life you can go to church and seek God and all and make things right. But what happens when you're tired with your church? What happens when it feels as if no one is around to encourage. When you don't feel valued?
Of course, issues with the church and issues with God are two very separate issues aren't they?
Then perhaps it is time to go somewhere else for a little while. Perhaps not permanently yet. But perhaps a change of environment just to recoup.
I think I should stop right here. I do prefer to post more uplifting stuff, but yet I do want to allow a little bit of my frustrations to show. I don't want to fake it.
P.S. Most of the questions asked here are rather rhetorical, on retrospect. I AM able to answer them. I know the answer as to what to do when I get jaded. I know to seek God and do stuff that I enjoy. I understand the right thing to do when one is tired with church. I understand what steps to take when I don't feel that valued- and that's just to simply make sure that my walk with God is okay and that I value those around me. I know God is there for me. Though somehow sometimes I do feel that it would be nice with people actually there to pick me up.
It somehow feels quite nasty at times. Yet I've got so much to be thankful for. Yes, I know I know.
On a lighter note, Stan Chart is coming soon and I'm hardly prepared. I think I'll just somehow run a bit and walk the rest.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
That's a piece of rather pleasant sounding music on my Sony Ericsson phone. Pleasant at any other time of the day that is, except when it wakes me up in the morning.
And so I awoke to the awfully irritating crescendo of "Pop Piano" at 7a.m. today. The first thought that came into my mind sounded something like:
Lord, it's a Sunday, but I don't feel like going to church. I feel so very tired. Last night I slept at twelve and a couple of guys in the void deck drinking beer kept me awake for at least an hour. Besides, I don't know what's the point of me going to church today, anyway. What am I going to learn at the sermon that I don't already know?
And besides, I'm not the one teaching my kids today. Yeah, I know I have some Children's Ministry meeting... but Lord, I really don't want to go to church today.
Why not I sms them and tell them I'm not feeling well? After all, I really DO think I'm not feeling well today Lord. I think I'd better take care of my body, Lord.
And so that was what I thought about from 7a.m. to 7:25a.m. 7:25a.m. is when I dragged myself out of bed. And if I were someone else I would have almost slapped myself. What nonsense- full of excuses.
So I got ready for church. Somedays as I walk through the carparks to the bus stops I take my time to admire the trees and the cool of the morning and talk to God. But today I didn't really care. I was telling God that I really have to focus on Him once again- that I can't stand a mediocre walk with God. But that truly, I kinda feel insufficient. And alone.
Well, I made it to church pretty much on time.
The communion passage was Romans 5:1-11. It was about being justified by faith... and suffering producing perseverance... and so on. (I find it so very interesting that I've got so much scripture stored up in me through years of reading God's word that once somebody starts off on a verse, I can often tell where it is, and at least the geist of it. Even more curious is the fact that I can sometimes start rattling off perhaps the whole verse or paragraph- and then I go something like my goodness, I know all this but I'm not living this out!)
My feeling at that moment of realisation can often be summed up in Luke 12:48. "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more"
The sermon was a video screening from an American church. The central theme was the greatness of God as seen through the size of the galaxy and various scientific fact. And I was rather blessed by it.
Went for free food at coffee fellowship. Emphasis is on the word FREE. Chuckle.
Sat through Children's Ministry. PSLE English, Math, Chinese is over. Science is tomorrow, then HMT.
Then went for a Children's Ministry meeting.
In short, I'm so very glad that I came today. I wasn't thoroughly refreshed, but I was made conscious of God again. And this consciousness of God is something that I simply have not been able to ignore all my life. It is a pleasant melody in the face of affliction and tough times. Yet it is also an irritating buzz that keeps growing louder when I start to turn away from God. I have never been able to deny its reality for too long.
Perhaps sometimes all we need is simply to come into the presence of God; to sit down and listen. For those who have experienced the power of God before, perhaps sometimes we need to remind ourselves who it is that we serve and what He has brought us through.
I've tried living a life without bothering too much about God before. I've also been in seasons where I've walked closely with God. And I conclude that there's nothing I'd much rather do then walk closely. It's so much harder and less peaceful not to walk with God. Every step of that way is heavy, unnatural and increasingly lacking in peace.
So figuratively, I guess that in my walk with God, I am just getting out of bed again. It's about time.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
On Thursday I watched Tora, Tora, Tora. Which is something I should have done years ago. It's another classic, this time on the attack on Pearl Harbour. Loved it because it was quite true to historical fact. Hated it when I watched the movie "Pearl Harbour" two years back. That was quite trashy.
There will always be schoolwork anyway. So yeah, I guess I need to relax.
Went for a few more runs too. Shins feel good, even after more than 10 klicks, so I guess they've recovered.
One thing I realised is that I don't feel very good if I have absolutely nothing to do. I set aside one or two days this week to just rest. I felt so weird. But I guess it's good and much needed.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
On retrospect it's been a rather long weekend. Came to some decisions in my life this last week. Also managed to spend a lot more time crying out to God in prayer. So I guess that's good. It amazes me how God can use a situation to draw one closer to Him.
It's kinda like the 73rd Psalm, which I taught my kids today.
Hear this part from verse 21 to 28.
" When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
We often get angry at God don't we? Or we get bitter or grieve in various situations. We rave and rant against the Almighty. But what does Asaph say here? He says he was senseless and ignorant. That tends to happen when we allow our emotions in a situation to be so strong as to rob us of time we can spend waiting on God.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory
But yet God is still there. He guides by His right hand. He guides with counsel. Just as Isaiah 11 makes mention of the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit. The Paraclete. He guides us. Our counsellor, comforter, advocator. He who comes beside us to help us.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
And God alone will satisfy. Nothing else. Neither friendships nor relationships, wealth nor power, good grades nor societal achievement.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds."
It is just so good to be near to God, to trust Him in all situations.
God can teach us so much through our situation. If only we listen.
Alright. Photo time. Here's some stuff I got for my kids before their PSLE. Which, if I remember correctly, is October 6 onwards.
And just one last picture before I knock off for today.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I was feeling rather frustrated on Thursday night. I didn't manage to study on Thursday night. I wanted to, but ended up playing the guitar for about three hours straight. I was also kind of frustrated with a lot of other issues.
So I was kneeling by my bed, praying just before I slept. In my frustration I asked God what He was teaching me in this. I was asking Him, "Are you trying to teach me about trusting in you, Lord?"
And I just received this word from God. This understanding. It wasn't so much about trusting Him (I mean, yeah I should be, but that wasn't the main point). It was about joy.
With that, I remembered 1 Thessalonians 5:16. About being joyful always. I remembered having had a discussion with my Primary 6 kids on the difference between joy and happiness just last Sunday.
So I received God's joy and peace. And I felt so much better after deciding to be joyful. I can't fully explain this. But when I claim God's promises, all the worries of this world no longer have a hold on me. All uncertainties are no longer a bother and all frustrations can no longer hinder my joy. God is in charge. I'm so relieved to have God's joy and assurance in each and every situation.
Attended a Young Adults session last night. Had fun. I'm encouraged by the YA ministry in church.
This weekend was rather productive in terms of studying. I also managed to squeeze in some planning for the NS Book editing, and began to write some letters to my Primary 6s.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
And did most of my morning prayer in the pool. Really enjoyed myself.
And then, strolled over to a coffeeshop for lunch. Then strolled home, strolled to bus stop. Went for project meeting. Then played Monopoly Deal in school. First time. Haha. Took me a while to start eh.
Came home. Studied for a while. Then prayed. Then now I'm home listening to some Christian music. Yeah, I know that I need to get my rhythm right. Joel and Caleb have been telling me that a thousand times. And hopefully I'll learn to properly transpose chords soon.
An enjoyable day.
Was just thinking that since I'm often erring on the side of over-studying, it's good to take some time off to rest.
Imagine going to heaven and standing before God. And then you realise, that you've missed out on what truly matters in the days of your life. Imagine having chased money, a stable job and career success instead of God, relationships... etc.
Yup, just my thought of the day.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
O, that I were to carefully and earnestly seek out His voice
I just spent half the day at school studying.
It's been a very restful weekend. On Friday I thought I was working myself a bit too hard. So I went home. Besides a little bit of work on Friday night and Saturday morning, I stayed away from studying this weekend. I enjoyed Songfest and the Teachers' Day lunch for CM.
Perhaps there are just three things I'll talk about. Studying, peace and surrender.
Studying. What's the point in studying so hard and trying to build up one's GPA? That's a question I asked myself over this weekend. You see, there are so many people around doing their best to study hard (and that, by itself, is a good thing). In SMU, people are intent on building up their CVs, looking for future job prospects... etc. But will all these count for eternity?
For me, the challenge of faith in Matthew 6:33 remains. Will I seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness?
And while I am in this school, what should I be looking out for? It's something I'm starting to pray about again. I simply don't want my SMU life to pass without God's purpose for me here accomplished.
Peace. It's a topic that's been repeated in my life a lot as of late. Just two or three weeks ago I taught my Primary 6s a lesson titled "Don't Worry, Pray, Enjoy". The key scripture was from Matthew 6 (The whole portion on "Do Not Worry"), Philippians 4:6-7 and Psalm 23:1-3.
Then there've been BSF notes and lectures from John 14 to John 16.
And then there was the preacher this Sunday.
Just last night, I was praying for peace upon many different areas of my life. (There've been a couple of things that've been troubling me / making me concerned lately. And I've been praying for quite a few of these things for some time.) And I just felt God reveal something new about peace to me.
You see, we cannot fully experience God's peace unless we are willing to surrender fully to His will. This means that we must be willing to let God have His way, even if it is the total opposite of what we want. The peace does not come from an assurance that we will have things our own way. The peace comes from a certainty that God is in charge, that He will work it out for my good (not for my pleasure) and that ultimately, He is King over the outcome (even though it might be a painful outcome).
Peace comes from the knowledge that I have an eternity to spend with my Saviour. And that my reward comes when I meet my Maker.
Surrender. Let me give an example. Last week I was praying over many issues right? One of them was studies. I know it's only Week 2, but I'd begun to start struggling in a few of my modules. I just couldn't get what the lecturer was saying. And so I started to pray for God's peace over the matter. I asked that God give me intelligence and understanding over this subject.
But when I prayed for God's peace, what did that mean? It should have meant that I would no longer worry about the issue right? But that didn't happen. I just got more flustered and started to pray even more. But God showed me that the issue here isn't so much about me understanding the subject and scoring well for it . The issue here is whether I surrender this subject fully into His hands. The issue here is that I honour God in how I study as a student and that I give glory to His Name no matter how well or how badly I perform in this subject.
It means that I surrender the process as well as the outcome to Him. It means He has His way and His will is done in me.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I guess one of the things I'm learning again this season is patience in waiting on God and trusting Him for His plans and purposes. I guess it's also meekness and gentleness.
Love my Primary Six class. Lately, we decided to set aside time during each lesson just to rest and play. Thought that it was what they really needed. I've got a very studious class this year.
Had a couple of good conversations with Crusade people today. And a topic that came out more than once was regarding the giftings of the Holy Spirit. I'm musing about how lethal it can be when we have both the Word of God and the anointing of God with us. But it often strikes me as strange how we can tend to one extreme and forget the other.
That's all for now. Kinda busy with all the Songfest stuff.
And here're some of the NS Book Project Posters in church!
Anyone else wanna contribute?
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Having grown up in Singapore, you never really have summer vacations. You have very busy June holidays. (June holidays that are crammed with “holiday activities”, CCA camps, the occasional church camp and holiday homework- a hallmark of a Singaporean student’s life.). Then you have December holidays. Somehow December always seems more relaxed than June.
January to March. Get back to school and study. March holidays don’t really exist. Most people go back to school anyway. April to June. You get small pockets of time to relax in June. School, CCA, church and everything else eat up most of the time. July to September. Back to the same school routine. October to December. Prepare for exams. Take exams. Rest in December.
Ten cycles of the same routine for the JC kids. A slightly different cycle for the poly and ITE grads.
And then the guys go to NS. NS, where you change for better or worse.
And the girls go to university or to work.
Of course I went through NS. Then completed my first year in university.
My first summer vacation. It seems strange to think of it that way.
It turns out that things did not quite turn out the way I’d envisioned them to be. At the beginning of my vacation, I made up a list. Three columns. One was labeled “necessary”. The other two were labeled “considering” and “optional”. Under “necessary” were things such as “find a job-urgent”, “write letter to CM kids”, “exercise, run, swim, conditioning”, “do NS Book Project”, “have more sleepovers” and so on. Under “considering” were things like… well okay, I can’t remember what I put there. Under “optional” were items such as “learn Malay” (which I actually attempted to do toward the start of my vacation!) or “learn sign language”.
I guess I’ve completed or am halfway through most of what I put under “necessary”.
It’s interesting to me how I started this summer vacation. I had a week or so after my exams. And then, after a few short phone calls, I got a job in a bank. Looking back, I see that it was really God’s providence. So one week after school had ended, I began working hard in my first commercial job. I spent three weeks trying to experience how it was like in the banking industry. I stayed back to work OT on purpose. Partly because of the money. Partly due to the fact that I wanted to find how it feels to work OT. And partly to see how the employees feel so late into the night.
I stopped that after the first three weeks. I knew what I needed to know. It got me thinking about what I’m going to do after I graduate years from now. Will I have work-life balance? Will God fit in there? Will I have time for kids and ministry?
Yup, my walk with God plummeted after those three weeks. But at least I learnt something.
The next few weeks were rather standard. Work, sleepover and past midnight meetings for the NS Book Project. Late night suppers on some days and just going home on others. World cup sleepovers. Just having fun and pushing myself late into the night. A really ironic way to relax.
It struck me as weird how my last few days on the job were. I talked a bit more with people who
had appreciated my presence. I drew up a chart for where I kept all the items because I knew people would be confused immediately after I left. I had a few more lunches with Enos- something which I really miss.
On my last day, I gave out Oreos to people as a sort of farewell gift. Never mind that many people didn’t really care. After all, I was just a contract staff helping out for three months of their lives and probably gone for the rest of their lives.
I got two farewell gifts. One was a box of chocolates from a perm staff who came in after me. I helped her a lot with the transition into the work place. I taught her the ropes on her part of the job, because she was tasked with taking over some of my functions before I left. She wasn’t from my team, but at least she appreciated me.
The other was a cheese/carrot cake from a manager on another team. I often helped her to retrieve files from my side for her analysis. It’s weird that people often take their own staff’s contribution as a given. I mean, I never felt appreciated on my own side despite doing my best for them. But I felt so appreciated by members of another team.
My farewell from my own side consisted of a colleague running up to me fifteen minutes before we were to knock off, and asking me to urgently find a file before I left, and me wanting to say a proper goodbye to my boss but realizing that he was too busy talking on the phone to offer me anything more than a hurried goodbye wave.
So I left my workplace. A rather happy person. I spent one day meditating and packing for Crusade camp.
And then I went for the camp itself.
It was a joy to be at the camp. I mean, I didn’t get much time to talk to people and all. But it was really so awesome to just be there.
But looking back I guess I was a bit distant from everyone. Was still dealing with issues and all. Being part of the crowd has never really been one of my greatest strengths. I’m always different somehow. Some days it gets real bad. (But my comfort lies in the fact that I know God is working on this part of my life. One of my many imperfections. I mean, over the years I've found that apart from hanging out with some very close people, I actually struggle to have fun. I muse that it could be a mix of me setting high standards for myself plus my training in army days plus the feeling that I just want to make sure I achieve something. Well, all those and perhaps a million other things- which leads me to my next thought- that I think too much at times.)
And then came a week of rest at home. With the NS Book Project still going on.
Then last week, which included a very blessed day of cycling at East Coast and a couple of meet-ups.
And there’s this week of course. I’m ready for school in the technical sense.
Oh, what a summer of rest and recuperation. Of reflection and quiet growth. It wasn’t as exciting as all my fellow schoolmates who went on Overseas CIP, Gen 12 and tours. But I would like to think that I came out a better person after this season. A lot of my burdens over the last two terms at school have been laid down before my Lord Jesus. A lot of thinking has been done.
And a lot has changed.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
I had a very good summer vacation. It was a time of rest from camps. God also answered my prayers for a good holiday job. Everything worked out pretty fine. I think it was a season of rest and restoration. I prayed a lot. Read God's word a lot (well, perhaps it could have been more than that). I re-thought quite a few of my outlooks on life. So I suppose that I'm quite a different person from one year back.
So many more things to think and pray about in the coming months.
Monday, August 02, 2010
How Firm A Foundation
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
"In ev'ry condition— in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"
Especially the fifth part. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
This hymn is a mash of many verses (e.g. Isaiah 43:1-3, Isaiah 41:10... etc.)
For the last few days, I've been kind of working OT on the NS Book Project, so to speak. It's been taking a lot out of me. I've been bringing the contributed scripts almost everywhere I go. It's been interesting editing all the testimonies/ stories that we've received so far. But even as I work so hard on all this and face all types of hindrances (both the expected and the unexpected- and those things for which in your heart you are prepared for but yet still HOPE will never happen), I'm learning lessons from the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 13, we are told that love "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". To what extent must one protect? Must one trust in the face of un-trustworthiness? And hope? Must there still be hope if the reasonable mind sees no more reason to hope? Should there be further perseverance when effort after effort goes down the drain?
In this NS Book Project, you would think that I'm learning stuff like editing skills, persuasiveness... etc. But the truth is that most of all I'm learning to love. And I'm struggling with it daily. I look at the love of Christ. Then I gaze back at my own. I see how it pales in comparison.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
Cycling with Crusade people tomorrow. I'm praying for good weather and good fellowship.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
So FOC has finally drawn to a close. Realised I quite missed this camp after the fatigue wore off. I'm quite glad that I got a chance to support Joel as Programs IC in this camp. Grateful for a chance to serve God. One of the best things I got out of this camp was closer bonding with Jia Hao and Joel, my DG mates. Sadly, I guess that that was the only proper bonding I had for the entire camp. Was running around to make sure everything was going smoothly. I think the next best catch-ups with people were like 20 minute or so of talking with Sarah Tan and also Mike and Chloe. But that wasn't much. Didn't talk too much with the freshmen. Didn't talk too much with the seniors.
What have I gained from this camp? Of the blog-able stuff, it was a closer walk with God and also more reliance on Him. It was a camp that ran on constant prayer. In every camp there are undercurrents. Emotional, spiritual, physical. Undercurrents that threaten to destroy the joy and atmosphere of the camp. I encountered quite a bit of those in this camp. Of course, they weren't visible to everyone. But as always, yielding to God's Presence and asking for His providence brought us through.
Yet another issue I've been contemplating is the issue of loneliness. It's not the first time that I find myself in such a position. Leadership is lonely, some people say. That's why moments of loneliness are supposed to be good training for leadership.
Do I remember other moments that God brought me through loneliness? Yeah. Here's one.
There were many times that close friends were far-off. Times that I lost friends in school, unit and even church to disagreements and all. Showed me who my true friends were some days. Other days I wondered whether it was because I wasn't true enough a friend.
Was just sharing with my camp group during one of the short moments I had with them, that I was feeling quite discouraged, un-encouraged and all in ministry.
What happens when the encourager becomes discouraged? What happens when I would like more support from friends and all? What happens when close, trusted friends are generally not there anymore?
Perhaps one way is to hang out more with people. And yet another is to ask God to teach me what He intends to in this season. I don't want to have a martyr-complex in all this.
One thing I've realised after doing so many different camps is that the stronger a Christian you're perceived to be, the more lonely you can become. Yes, you have people around you and all. But it is largely assumed that you don't have personal needs. Perhaps it's not assumed that you don't. But rather, it is assumed that they can't help you with those needs. Really makes me glad to have some friends to talk to some times. Yet most of the time these days, it doesn't seem that way.
In all this, I think that I need to understand what God is teaching me. Right now I'm guessing that it's a mix of relying more on Him, and also at the same time making more friends. But of course, friendship in itself is not always easy. Friendship opens up vulnerabilities. True friendship includes openness. It is when someone feels known by the other, and knows the other intimitately that the warmth of friendship can brighten a day. The feeling of knowing and being known. And I admit that it's not always been easy for me. The part about being known, especially.
But my comfort is in the fact that as long as I trust God and pray through this time, I will come out stronger and more refined. And I know this well help me to help others later on.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Ministry: Some discouragements. Trust God. Will work out.
NS Book Project: God's been granting an increase in volume. It's instinctive to credit our calling up of people and persuasion, but I know that's not true. God's provided. When I prayed less, the contributions trickled in. When I prayed more, it increased. Thanks guys for writing!
Life in general. Can't say much. A blog is often a place to rant, yes. But Ephesians 4:29 says it all.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that they may benefit those who listen.
So I'm sometimes thinking. The words that come out of my mouth; are they going to build others up? The things I write; will they edify others or draw them into negative thinking. Perhaps I don't speak as well as I would like to at times. But often (not 100% successful though), I just find myself keeping quiet these days. The reason being that I can't find anything positive to say; things that will build others up. It frustrates me that I have nothing to say. It frustrates me because sometimes I just feel like venting my anger on people, or on this blog.
But ultimately, Proverbs 11:12 says "A man who lacks judgement derides his neighbour, but a man of understandng holds his tongue."
And again, in Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."
Dale Carnegie speaks of Abraham Lincoln in one of his books. (Dale Carnegie writes secular books.) My mom made me read the book when I was younger. Glad she did. Carnegie says that Abraham Lincoln once wrote a letter reprimanding one of his generals in the civil war. This general was on the brink of victory, and all he needed to do was to have crossed a river to defeat the trapped Confederate Army. Yet for some strange reason, the general had decided to set up a defensive position where he was when he could have crushed the enemy.
This letter was never sent out. It was found in Abraham Lincoln's desk (after his passing, if I remember correctly).
And what a good practice for us- this modern day, email-sending, blog-ranting generation. What a fantastic suggestion, if only we can hold our peace for one more day. I've applied it to myself many times. And so often, when my mind is clearer and I am in a less distraught state the next day, I re-open the unsent email or unposted blog piece, and thank God I didn't send it out.
Last time this happened was the week before. So glad I didn't send out an email.
That's all for now.
And tomorrow (later today, rather- It's 0020 HRS), is my last day of work. YAY.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
When we make children do actions in praise and worship, the idea is that first we break the body. So when they are able to physically do actions in Praise and Worship, then we'll be able to let their hearts get into the correct attitude of worship. So in other words, we teach our children to worship from the outside-in.
I think that it is very good that so many of our worship leaders teach our kids to do actions and raise their hands in worship. Encouraging our young ones to freely worship is definitely positive. I think that our worship leaders have been mostly correct in all they've done.
I refer exclusively and specifically to this argument of breaking the body first. I'm doing so because I don't want anybody to come into Praise and Worship with an incorrect understanding of why we do actions, encourage our children to sing loudly... etc.
An outside-in approach. I am fully against it because my bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7 that "the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart". Indeed, in children's Praise and Worship (or all Praise and Worship, for that matter), we should teach our kids that God looks at their hearts. That first they praise God from the heart and second they let it show in their physical bodies. It is of no pleasure to God to dance before Him when the heart is not worshipping.
My bible says in Psalm 8:2 that "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger". NLT says "You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise". As the Holy Spirit ministers to our children, won't God Himself teach them how to worship? All we do in Praise and Worship is to teach our children to worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24).
Nowhere in God's word can I find scriptural foundation for this suggestion that we should first get the children's body into the motion of worshipping God, followed by their hearts.
Need more proof?
Psalms 30:11-12. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with your joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent..."
So tell me this. Which comes first? The touch of God from the inside, beginning with the heart? Or from the outside, beginning with the dancing? And above all, are the efforts of man needed to achieve an attitude of praise?
Then of course some will always say that for very young toddlers we cannot expect them to understand how to worship God. So we simply teach them the physical movements of it. (May I remind you of Psalm 8:2. KJV doesn't use "children and infants" it uses "babes and sucklings". If we take that literally, God can teach suckling children to worship Him).
I disagree. From the very little understanding that each of us have, or from no understanding at all, the Holy Spirit can teach us how to worship. I have many more years of studying the bible than a six year old child. Yet I can quite safely say that his singing and worship is any less sweet in the ears of God than mine.
Of course, there is an age where children may not seem to understand how to worship God. Let us hypothesise that this were true. However, why should we want to teach them how to physically get into the motion of worshipping God (without the worship of the heart), if that were the case? Does the physical expression of worship without the involvement of the heart please God? And what is the purpose of worship? To please man with a disply for human eyes or to please a Creator who knows our every thought? (Psalm 139: 2). (Of course I must remind you that John the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elizabeth in Luke 1:41).
I could probably go on, arguing for ages about how worship is always an inside-out process, not outside in. But instead of doing that, let me leave an open challenge. If anyone of you still think that the outside-in approach is still correct, logical as it may sound, convince me with the word of God. Show me where in the bible such an approach can be supported. Please don't repeat some Christian-sounding argument (the type with absolutely no scriptural basis) or present a who-said-what.
Anybody want to come back on what I've just said? Pick up the gauntlet. I humbly wait to be corrected. I have thought long and hard, and I have yet to find a strong-enough biblical argument in what I am challenging.
Or if you will, that old song which goes
Times of refreshing
Here in your presence
No greater blessing
Than being with you...
I was watching this old video on Church Of Singapore which they made in the late 1990s. I did it because I was preparing for my CM lesson this weekend. It's going to be on the book of Acts and the spread of the early church. So I thought that it'd be fitting if I linked it to the early years of our church. This way, the kids would understand that their spiritual heritage can be traced back two thousand years and also, more immediately, to 1963, for relevance.
The front part of the video was about the formative years of our church. And as I watched it, I felt such a deep longing for times of annointing once again. I saw the old photos of men and women praying. I imagined how the fire of the Holy Spirit must have moved in those days. Then I also began to call up some of my personal memories of children camps in the 1990s, where I was so touched by God.
Makes me ask God for times of annointing upon our own CM now.
I think that we have two great challenges.
Firstly, many of us are using our own strength. We're not reading enough of God's word, to start with. We seek annointing but we grieve the Holy Spirit by how we live. Let me refer to the prayerful attitude of the believers in Acts 1 and 2. (Acts 1:14 says that they joined together constantly in prayer). In Acts 2, they were together praying in one place when the Holy Spirit came. When was the last time we came together as a ministry, or even within our own class to wait upon God? I'm not referring to those obligatory, point-by-point prayers we (myself included) so often pray. We don't pray enough together. We don't pray enough ourselves.
Isn't it true that the reason corporate prayer often feels so dry and obligatory and downright boring/ draining is that our own prayer lives aren't strong?
Simply, I offer this for your consideration. We need to pray more and read more of God's word. It sounds so familiar. But it is a total irony that the most obvious and often stated advice is something we lack in.
Pray more. Read more. Live in true repentance. Rest in God and minister out of the annointing. Minister out of a soul that is refreshed by the Spirit.
Secondly, our next great challenge is to love.
1 Peter 3:8-9 says "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
And 1 Peter 4:8 says "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
In this ministry, we don't love each other enough. We don't put each others' interests above our own enough.
Suffice it to say that I personally need to work on whatever I'm saying here. Everything I'm saying that our ministry lacks. Well, face it, I lack it myself. But let us run together.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
If what I believe in costs me nothing, chances are, I don't really believe in anything that matters.
Some tell me I've got too much time on my hands. Ain't true. The reason I write that stuff is that I'm doing it to relieve some pressure.
Remembering the times God has brought me through.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Saturday, July 03, 2010
This was another week of lessons learnt at work and chilling out. Just came home today from yet another sleepover at Jeshua's place. Many thanks to Uncle Julian and Aunty Janet for opening up their house so often to a bunch of rowdy, hungry guys. Then went for lunch with Enos CR Koh.
This week I continued to work on the devotionals for Crusade camp. The more I work on it, the more humbled I become. I'm truly thankful to people who've taken time off to help me to edit the devotionals. In an odd sense, I am most thankful for people who have not minced their words in editing. It has painfully good effects on the quality of my writing.
Spending time planning for Crusade Camp as well. I think that our last meeting was the best one I've had so far. Really took more time to pray and wait on God.
NS Book Project is still going on. Just waiting on God and reminding people. Very humbled by people who have already sent in their contributions. Lately, I'm very thankful for Ming En and Aaron Tay, because they're the only two people on my list who "self-remind". They don't need me to send them SMSes asking for their accounts. They send me SMSes to tell me they're working on it. I'm extremely grateful for that, really.
One thing people have been thinking lately is that we've already gotten more testimonies or accounts than we need. That is not the case. We are still quite sorely in need of more testimonies and accounts. So yes, please please contribute something.
Also will be needing much help when it comes to the editing stages. Jeshua's working on that.
Our next wave of adverts should be hitting the walls soon. Worked on the concepts together and Caleb came up with the final design. Subject to approval.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Now I think I'm quite alright. Have started exercising again. Finally. Being sick is a good reminder of how much I love to exercise. Sometimes there is pain in exercising. There is the painful discipline of tossing and turning in bed at 0620 HRS before finally deciding to wake up for a run or some weights. (In army my OC once had this painful idea of waking the commanders up at 0515 HRS for a run every morning before the men fell in at 0545. "Five one five" as we used to call it... crazy stuff. It would still go on even if we slept as late as one in the morning. Mercifully it died out and every one of us was wise enough not to mention it ever again). But the pain of falling sick and the helplessness it brings is far worse. Looking out of the bus window and watching people run in the morning sun really made me want to get well and run and all as soon as possible.
The highlights of last week were three rather disappointing matches on Friday night. We watched them from Jeshua's house. Then after that we played Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Played as Ironman mostly, if not Captain America. Jesh and Enos alternated between Spiderman and Wolverine. Though I thought Wolverine very much suited Jeshua C T Chong. Caught some sleep before heading out to Novena area for dinner with ODAC friends. I haven't met them for quite a while and it turned out to be better than I expected. Had some good catching up with some people I used to be quite close to.
Of course I've been continuing to work. Here's a picture of my office. I'm in a glassed-up area better known to others on the floor as the yu gang or aquarium. Quite a small fish in the aquarium. But been rather happy swimming around these last couple of days. When you're a small fish, no one takes much notice of you. You get to swim into all the tiny corners that the big fish don't get to swim into. There's also a lot more space to move around. Big fish don't have much of a choice.
Well, I have slightly less than a month before I end my stint here. It is still so apparent to me how kind God has been to me by providing me with this job. Many benefits as well as a wonderful exposure to working life in a bank.
Have also been going out with friends. Here's a shot taken while waiting at a bus stop near church. Was going to go with Jon Lim and Enos to army market to buy some stuff for Jon and to hang out over sugar cane and tang yuan or balls of glutinous rice in soup.
Thought the sky was really nice that day. Enos was like "bah... nice meh?" and Jon Lim was like "take picture, take picture!"
Besides catching up and hanging out with people, and of course working, there are two other things I've been doing. Firstly, the NS Book Project, for which there are many new developments, pleasant surprises, frustrations and all- which really makes me surrender so much more to God in prayer. Secondly, the Crusade Camp. I finally got down to improving on the devotions. Was a little bit of a bugbear to me last week cuz I was sick and unable to really think well enough to edit it.
Will close for now with a thought.
I was doing my QT just now. And complaining to God about people who so irritate and frustrate me. The thing about these people is that they get so close to me when they need me. And yet when I ask things from them, they do not make themselves available to help. They always have a ready reason as to why they aren't available. For the sake of friendship and courtesy I do not really have much to say. In other words, they seek me out only when they need me and push me aside when they don't.
And then God spoke to me through an instant thought. "Aren't you sometimes like that too?"
And yes, regretfully, that is sometimes true of me. Sometimes I just push God aside when I don't really seem to need Him that much. How much more upset must He feel than I.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Woke up on Saturday morning at 0640 HRS. Thought I'd go for a swim, so planned to eat an early breakfast and swim at eight plus. Ended up having a headache. So went back to bed and slept through most of the morning.
Then spent most of the evening and afternoon working on Crusade Freshman Orientation Camp devotionals. I'm looking forward to this camp. It's rather special because it's centred on the concept of rest and re-direction. Most camps head for other more exciting-sounding themes. But I guess this is what many of us really need?
I think it's what we need in ministry too. So many of us are so tired... Sometimes we get so proficient at our tasks that we start to use our own strength. Then we start to get tired because we're relying on our own strength. Through all this we might still meet with a few successes and get praised by others. But sometimes in ministry the point comes when we realise quite late that we are not operating out of an overflow and an anointing, but out of human strength. Strength which is ebbing away and turning into tiredness, because our own strength should never have been relied on in the first place. The time comes for rest. For even though we can operate in the spiritual at times, we are still natural mortal beings. Our God-given bodies bear very human capacities. We can't ignore the signs of tiredness and fatigue that set in. These natural indicators are as God-created and God-intended as is any other bible verse or passage. This moment demands a decision. A decision to stop there and listen and rest. Or continue in tiredness till we're utterly broken. Even then there is mercy and restoration. But it is always better to stop and rest before reaching the breaking point.
I think I've got a little bit of flu. But I really DON'T want to take an MC. Last night couldn't really sleep. (And here I go talking about rest eh. Yeah, I WILL sleep earlier tonight).
(Then again, each time I feel like complaining I remember my NS days. I could be falling sick. And yet I'd know that the next day I'd have to resume my duties no matter what. Taking Att C- or sick leave was quite taboo in my coy. Any commander who did that would be treated quite differently from the rest- that was the reality. To continue with my work then- even whilst falling ill, would be better than becoming an outcast of sorts).
(Or each time I board an air-conditioned bus to work and I feel kinda sian that it's yet another workday- I remember that in my unit days, I could be in an air-conditioned bus in all my military gear, travelling to some jungle and getting ready for a three or four day field camp. How thankful I should be that God has provided me a job with an air-conditioned office at the other end of the journey! For what else can be the reward of hardship? It is the bitter memory of adversity that brings sweetness to more pleasant times. Yet so many of us forget to savour this sweetness brought about by the memory of past bitterness).
Quite enjoyed myself with my class today during the outing. Really thank God for this class. Every year I'm blessed by my class in some way or other.
Been thinking about what to major in and also what exchanges to embark on in future.
That's all for now... Sleeping soon.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
This is William Tyndale. He lived in the early 16th century, in England. He was said to be so fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, English and German that if he spoke in any one of them, it seemed as though it were his native tongue.
At twelve, he enrolled in Oxford. At twenty one he received his Masters.
There was just one problem with this remarkable man. He believed in the translation of the Latin bible into English. He believed that it would be impossible for God's word to reach the people if all the land had were Latin bibles.
It is said that a clergyman once said to Tyndale: “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s”. Tyndale's reply was reportedly: “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!”
For this conviction he was later burned at the stake.
His legacy? The Tyndale bible made up about ninety percent of the King James Version about a hundred years later.
The thought that entered my mind when I read this today was, "How much would I give for a book?" (Of course, I'm not expecting our book to be as great as the Bible itself).
Late night meetings with Jesh and Caleb (often starting at around 12 midnight with some sharing and prayer and ending at close to 4 a.m.- before work for me the next day) and all this appealing to people is often tiring. I think we've gone through quite a few tough moments and discouragements in these initial stages already. But so far, God has brought us through. And it's encouraging to think of all His providence.
How much would I give for the NS Book Project?
I would give in proportion to the legacy I hope it to have and the impact I pray it makes.
The reason I say "in proportion" is that God is the one who multiplies it. I can't give the full amount. But I can give "in proportion". I can give with quality and faithfulness. And I can let God bless all that I give.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
My third desk.
It's my third because they've been shifting me around in the office. Right now I'm at my fourth space.
One thing I liked about the space in the photo is the mirror at the top left hand corner of the screen. Gives me the ability to see who's behind me, watching what I do when I need to... multi-task. Quite a few of the office staff have it. Think it was a free gift of some sort.
The work I'm doing right now is potentially debilitating on my mind. When I first started I got so excited about learning all the investment terms. What was the difference between say, equities, bonds, structured notes... etc. How is the structure of a bank like... (and some other stuff which I don't think wise for me to mention). I also was quite interested to understand what this office's culture was like. So I tried spending some time with the perm staff. Didn't quite enjoy talking to some of them. I guess when you're the smallest fry at the table in terms of seniority, you just listen. And you don't have much to say when it comes down to office politics and all.
In the end, I decided to hang out with the other contract staff instead. More things to talk about. Healthier conversations too. No backstabbing and much less lewd talk.
I also began to be less interested in all those banking terms. Work started to settle into some sort of routine. Kept doing the same things again and again.
Began to realise that often when the mind is kinda empty, we can use the time to think about rather useless, mundane stuff. Or, each of us can "sing and make music in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).
This last week was good in that way. Going down to PPTTC and CAC every night left me thinking about God and hungering for more of God in the day.
I went down to church on Tuesday night. The original intention was to discuss the NS Book Project with Samson and Caleb. In the end I ended up having a rather good time during the body ministry part. I did receive some things from God. Much needed, but ambiguous still. But I guess the good that comes out of that is that it kinda makes us need to wait on God. After that I had a good time going out with the speakers Daniel and Janice for supper. Been so long since I last saw them. The last time was in 2008, during Glenn and Luzanne's wedding, if I recall correctly...
I ended travelling down to Creative Arts Camp every day since Tuesday.
Here's a shot I took in the evening on a bus a couple of weeks back. The sun was shining in straight.
Yes, I ended up travelling down to CAC every night. I'm not sure why, since I'd already decided to more or less stay away from all these things for a little while. I guess it's this hunger and longing for God? I wanted more. I still want more after having received.
All I can say is that I've really enjoyed all the times of fellowship in the night with all my CM friends. It's been so good and such a blessing to talk to so many people. Physically tiring, yes. But it's been wonderful, nontheless.
Travelling. Most of my friends will be going up for the Annual Bible Camp. I'm staying behind. Got work and all. It was my decision. Won't say I regret it, but I feel a tinge of longing for more of God when I see my friends all about to go. Oh well.
One of the things I was reminded of during camp was 2 Timothy 4:2. Preach the word. Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction. I'm reminded of this verse especially because of the phrasing "out of season".
It's been quite obvious to me that right now I'm out of season. I'm on the bench, not the field. (Who benched me is another issue, because this is one coach I can't be angry at for long).
But I guess there're quite a few things I've gotta learn at this stage in my walk with God. Slowly learning them.
A sugarcane drink. I think it's about 1 litre. Had it at Chomp Chomp.
This season has also been a fairly good time of meeting up with many friends. Dinner, sleepovers, fellowship, rest.
Through this all, I need to remember to let God be God and let man be man. In other words, I fully trust God in everything. Man will fail me ever so often, and I shouldn't hold it against any of them.
This season has had its fair share of disappointments with people and various issues. One thing I'm learning is that many things are not for us to handle. In particular, many people are not for us to concern ourselves over and worry about.
Some people just disappoint you again and again and again. My personal view is that it often reaches a point in time where you've got to seriously consider. Do you continue being the person's friend? Can you take being disappointed again? Is the potential hurt worth it? Can you handle it? There've been times when the answer for me has been no. Sometimes though, it's a yes.
I did not write that on the tree.
Snapped this at the Botanical Gardens. Went there last Saturday for a recce of the place for the stuff Ivy, Enos and Charis are planning for Children's Day.
The thought? I'm just so blessed to be serving with children. One thing God reminded me of during camp was that one of the blessings He's given to me are my CM kids. It's just so wonderful spending time with them.
This NS Book Project. As far as I'm concerned, I'm prepared to dig in for the long haul. I'm still excited and passionate about it. We're still working on it.
I've learnt so much already. Spoken to so many more people. I'm not very sure where this will all go. But ultimately, I need to remember that neither my sense of success nor value in the eyes of God hinges on this project. The same goes for every single project and endeavour we embark on for God.
No, for my self-worth and success and value in the sight of God rest elsewhere. It rests on whether I'm obedient to God. It rests on whether I'm availing myself to His service. It rests on how much I let Him take control.
Pray pray pray.
Learning so much patience through this. Learning to be obedient to God and be humble to receive human opinion. Learning, learning. Slowly improving on all these weaknesses.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
-The idea here is to gather enough testimonies to write a book. Not just testimonies alone, but also tough experiences and personal accounts. The word testimonies is misleading in that it makes it sound like we want to hear only the good, polished and filtered stuff. Well, we don't.
-A book focused on God.
-A book that will present NS in as real a form as is palatable for reading by the majority of our church-goers.
-A book with contributions from all types of people who've been through NS. Any of the three services or the Police or Civil Defence. Across all ranks and all vocations. It doesn't have to be spectacular sharing. But it has to be real, heartfelt and introspective. I know that we often mention it as "God in army", but I guess the reason for that is that it's easier on the mouth. Trying to say it more as "God in NS".
What it isn't:
-Some book sharing just the most spectacular testimonies and miraculous encounters. (We would at this point, want depth, insight and spiritual sharing rather than theatrics)
-A book about ourselves. (It's not and never should be about how good we are. Neither should it be so much about what we went through. It should be about how God has brought us through.)
-Some shallow sharing with God super-imposed. (It needs to be real. For example, if you feel God wasn't present then, say so. If you felt bitter against God, say so.)
Just wanted to share a bit about the spirit behind this project. I guess the fact that it's never been done before makes it potentially ambiguous. Jeshua, Caleb and I have more or less the same motivations and objectives for wanting to embark on this project. But I guess my sharing here will be skewed towards my personal reasons for wanting to do this. Hopefully I can make this thing a little clearer.
The seeds for this project must have been planted a couple of years back. It takes no genius to realise that National Service can become a rather long discussion for any table talk amongst Singaporean men. If we want to, most of us can spend hours talking about it. (I've done it a couple of times myself). Amazingly, it was only about 2 years or so of our lives. (That also means that we've been repeating the same old stories many times.)
Well, so there I was, an NSF. Sitting at a table with a group of Christian brothers. Most had been through NS. And then the talk began to centre on NS. Yes, the same old familiar stuff, funny anecdotes and all. The boredom and feeling of being left out for the girls. The curiosity of those who hadn't enlisted. The knowing smiles and feelings of masculinity for the enlightened ones who'd been through NS.
It was fun. It was funny. It was entertaining talk. But I can tell you, I went home that night, talking to God and asking questions... I wondered why if we were all Christians, if we all had gone through army as Christians... Then why don't we talk about God in the army? As in, why does all our conversation centre around ourselves?
It was not the first night that such thoughts entered into my mind. There were many other nights. Many other dinners. The same questions popped up in my head. "Where is God in NS?", "What is God doing in our lives during NS?", "Why don't people talk about God in NS?"
Where was God?
So I went through my fair share of army experiences. I got posted into an infantry unit. I wasn't an outstanding soldier. Some days and some experiences were very painful to me. (I'll share more in the book). The dinners continued. God was still seldom brought up during those dinners. I'd end up laughing and talking about NS with many Christian brothers. But God was seldom there. We weren't building each other up as we went through these tough experiences together. (Of course there were some very God-centred conversations with close friends, but I'm talking about your average conversation here).
Where was God?
That was a curious question to me during mealtimes on weekends.
Where was God?
That was also a painful question for me during my darkest days in the army.
Where was God?
I often wished to communicate my struggles to other guys who'd been through army in church. I often wished that the ladies would better understand what exactly we went through.
Where was God?
God was always there, right beside me. God was changing me, tearing me down and building me up in my NS days. Looking back, I see all the good things He's done for me. That's one of the main reasons I want to do this book.
I want all of us who've been through NS to have a platform to share what God has done for us in NS. I'd like very much for what God is doing in the lives of NSFs and regulars to be a constant table topic, in place of just the very superficial army talk we have. I want to create an opportunity, however small a stepping stone it may be, for female friends, girlfriends, wives, mothers to understand a bit more of what we go through in NS. A bit more of the challenges we face as Christians in there.
That's the focus of this project. One that builds up a community around God. Sure, I know it seems small. It's only going to be a book after all. But it will also be a legacy. Oral traditions die out easily. One might be able to say, influence people to talk about how God moulded them in army. But for how long? For how many people in his generation? And then what about the next generation? A book, can be passed down, however torn and tattered it might be. A book can be stored and dug out, originality of flavour and accuracy well-preserved, whereas mind and memory fail.
If you ask me, it's just another part of life that I want to see God magnified and discussed for mutual edification. Building up each other. I'm not the one doing God or anyone a favour here. God has in His grace helped me so much through NS, and to take a step back, in life. This is just one of the ways I want to encourage people to come together and proclaim His goodness.
Friday, May 14, 2010
However, this is the more common view. Well, I have a desk too, though will need to vacate it when the perm staff comes back from vacation. Following which I guess I'll be relegated to a more obscure corner.
Today I felt so tempted to work overtime again, because OT pay is 1.5 times your basic. But I was just thinking to myself and telling God. That hey, it's already the end of the fourth week of the holidays. And I don't want to spend my whole holidays working so hard for money. I really do want to spend some time sitting down at the feet of God.
So I made myself leave work on time today. And honestly, for me, that was quite something.
NS Book project (guess it'll be known as this till we have a more inspired name) is rolling along and yes, I am quite excited.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Perhaps I need to relook my focus this Summer. I may not be spending it correctly.
What's the point of earning more and acquiring new skills and hanging out and watching movies? What's the point if at the end of all that I question myself and find myself wanting? Wanting in that I had extra time to spend and invest and it didn't go into what God wanted it to go into?
Here's a re-write of a reflection I wrote down as I was doing my QT today.
"It's no use getting angry, hurt or upset over other people. I'll get tired easily if I allow hurting words to bog me down for long. Don't let insults and threats get to you. But also be careful not to allow flattery to cause you to become pride and lead eventually to your downfall. Simply in life, what really matters is what God says. And also, what is His will?"
Been reminded today that I shouldn't focus on people and issues, but on God. Also was reading Mark 12:29-30.
" "The most important one", answered Jesus, "is this 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' "
That's like something I don't quite think I'm doing right now. In fact, I wonder if I truly understand what it means. There we have it. The greatest commandment and I need to figure out how to obey it.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Also been doing as much as I can with my holidays. Trying to read up more on stuff I should be reading up on... etc
Very grateful to have some good colleagues who actually explain stuff to me. It's amazing how people who are so into their work can forget that newcomers actually need to pick up stuff. For the drivers, imagine going into a manual car on your first lesson. And then the instructor tells you. "This is the steering wheel, this is the accelerator and clutch and brake. Okay. Now drive."
So you manage to figure out to release the handbrake and step on the accelerator. Engine splutters.
"You need to get to the biting point first."
"Err... so what exactly is the biting point..."
That's kinda how I felt when one of my colleagues tried to explain stuff to me today. Using all the cheem language. Didn't help at all.
Thought of the day is about security and fulfillment.
We often ask God for security in our lives. We ask for fulfillment. In our minds we might picture something like a stable job and perhaps a fulfilling and meaningful work experience. Or perhaps we might want security in terms of friends and fulfillment in terms of being able to watch people grow.
All these aren't wrong by themselves. But really. True security and fulfillment. That begins and ends with a relationship with God doesn't it? I find my security in God. I find my fulfillment with God. Take away everything and I still have my security and fulfillment. Give me everything and I am not a mite richer, for God should be my everything.
I say should be, because I have yet to reach that. Today, I was kinda affected when I realised that one of my module's component grades didn't seem to be too good. So it really made me feel down for a while. In the end I mailed the prof and it turns out that it's not really a problem. Thank God. But then again, perhaps, if I really were to trust God as my everything, all this news should not even faze me.
So much more space to grow in terms of Christ-likeness.
NS Book Project
Has been gathering some steam over the last few weeks. Just seems that many people want to write and are agreeable. Just that they need countless reminders and pushing. So perhaps 10 reminders generate about 1 account. Draining at times. But really, it is kinda hard to keep reminding individuals repeatedly to hand us their accounts of NS. There're only a few of us compiling, compared to a potential pool of a few hundred (if we do get up to that much). Uses up a lot of time that could be spent elsewhere e.g. to figure out publishing... etc.
Then again, doing stuff for Children's Ministry under Aunty Cindy taught me quite a few things. That people are like that lah. What to do? I can get angry or I can just keep reminding them and keep pushing. Anger would be a waste of time. Hardly productive. Discouragement would be a waste of thinking space. This is natural stuff. It happens when there's nothing at stake for people. No money, no nothing. Makes no difference if the same goes for the one leading the project. Sometimes, they can't be bothered and you can't be angry. So you've got to tell your ego to take a holiday and keep working at it.
But ultimately, God sees it all. And that alone gives the whole matter a purpose.
That being said, there are some days that I do feel down trying to get this project done. Some days that I just seem to ask God. "Eh Lord, your project leh. For you one. It's not like we're earning any money from this at all. In fact, if anything, we are prepared to spend. Why don't you just make it easier and like y'know, inspire people to write and send stuff to me fast?"
Just remembering Nehemiah and the building of the wall. Few rewards, many discouragement. Lasting results.
Also remembered that if truly, this was God's project, as I claim it to be, then I need not fret. I do my part, and the rest I trust in God to provide. I don't need to worry about God's job.
And, quite a bit of good has come out of this project thus far. Talking with more people. Seeing various perspectives of God in NS. Remembering for myself some of the days that God brought me through. Yes, it's been rather rewarding. I do hope that this book touches people. Both those who've been through NS experiences, and those who'll never go through them. I am still excited about this and looking forward to it. Just need quite a bit of help. I don't need sympathy and agreement. I don't need yes in principle. I need action.
And face it. Perhaps I need to pray more.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Was activated last minute to join my kor's AdRace team. It's in the novice category. Bout 30 klicks. With running, swimming, cycling, skating, archery, vertical marathon. Sounds siong hor... Actually it was rather relaxed due to a bottleneck at the swimming station.
Jia Hao, Sarah Wong, myself, Kor
And here's Joshua with us at the start line. He's giving the victory sign cuz he managed to chao keng... Nawww... kidding... he was really sick.
After vertical marathon.
Start work tomorrow. And really want to thank God for the job. I know it's all God's providence.
That's all for now.