Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday!!

Today was a fantastic, wonderful day. Just have so much to thank God for. Clara brought a friend to church today and he accepted Christ. Just want to thank God for that!

Also want to thank God for so many good talks with my bros and sis today in church. With Caleb, Jesh, Daniel Li, Clara, Zhang Wei mainly.

Wanna thank God also. That was praying for a young female teacher to help out in Primary 6 and today Jasmine Chao volunteered herself without me asking to help out with Primary 6. Just very encouraged that God's answered this prayer.

Yup, just was telling Jesh. God's brought me outa one valley lately. And now's kinda like a mountain. Yet, when is the next valley?

On other matters, very excited regarding the NS testimony book too. But that one we just need so much to pray and seek and turn the thing over to the Lord before we start.

I am a happy man today. BIG SMILE.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What a day

Had so much talking to do to so many people today. And for that reason did not touch my books as much as I'd planned. Business Law meeting today was a pleasure. Grin * grin *. Beginning to enjoy the subject.

There are so many thoughts in my mind. Issues of the past few days, issues regarding friends and friendships and the relationship stuff that I've been thinking, meditating, praying about. I guess that I've learnt quite a lot from the past few days. Especially from my mom and my kor. Still learning, still learning.

It is so very interesting how God brings cicumstances into one's life to shape the person. More often than not, how often we begin to see the benefits of such hard circumstances rests on how fast we begin to trust in God.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to the weekend. The CM meetings and all. It just gives me joy to spend time in CM with everyone. Love my Primary 6s this year. But need to spend more class time and all ah... Hopefully I'll have more of that.

Thinking, thinking. In the process growing wiser. Hopefully I don't over-think. If not ka-boom. Thinking too much can lead to stupidity. Analysis paralysis. And I wonder what the heck I'm saying. I'm not making much sense to myself.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another post

So here I am thinking what to post at this juncture. I'm not quite certain. But certainly, I would say I'm living out the result of me asking for wisdom. I think it's both ways that God can teach wisdom. It can come from let's say, like Solomon and God GIVING him wisdom just like that. Or it can come from trials and the like. Which, let's just say is what I'm facing.

Happenings

Sunday at church was good. It was a good time of catching up with bros and sis. And the curry was wonderful. A pity I got the bread too late. Aunty Cindy said to get it from Cold Storage and Caleb and I walked over. But Cold Storage ran out, unfortunately, and we had to get the french loaves from another bakery. Was a lil burnt I guess.

After that went with Jon Tay, Joseph, Dexter, Clara Ying to eat a little bit of stuff. Watched Clara eat at a certain place where ahem... the hygiene was questionable.

... then went to Treats for grass jelly. Then went to Caleb's grandma's place. Had dinner.

Of course time with the Pri 6s was well spent. Quite happy to have shared my faith twice this past week. And one of that was to a visitor to my class. This week I have yet to though.

Yesterday celebrated Chris' birthday in school. Then had lunch with TWC mates. Part of my new policy of reaching out to non-Crusade people.

And oh, I went for a 9 to 10 klick run this morning! Sooo glad. Been some time since I've done this. So I truly enjoyed every single moment of the run. Felt so awake and all, up till about 6p.m. I think. Could still pay attention in class.

Reflections and Lessons

Have been spending a lot more time on things I'd consider to be honourable to God. And haven't been able to spend that much time studying as before. Yet I'm doing my best. Some time ago I took out movies in the cinema, at least for now. I took out computer games as well, though it is, once in a while, a struggle. I don't watch tv except for news once in a while. There are times when I wonder whether it's too much discipline on myself.

Yet the reason I often think about things this way lies in Matthew 5:29-30. Let me put it here.

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell.

The question I often ask myself is why I am so extreme in many things. Yes, I acknowledge that that are matters which I could improve on. It's not always zero-sum, yes. But then again, if we are called to cut off even things that matter so much, the right eye and right hand. Then, perhaps, radically cutting off things that will not benefit my walk with God, or my ability to honour God. Perhaps it is right? Then again, complications do arise.

Yet another piece of scripture I've been meditating on is 1 Kings 17:7-24. It speaks of the widow in Zarephath of Sidon. And Elijah was sent to her. He asked her for bread. And she replied that all she had was a handful of flour and a little bit of oil, and that she was going to make one last meal for her son and herself, before they were to starve to death. Well, Elijah told her to make bread for him first. And that the flour and oil would not run out till the day rain would be sent.

Elijah used to be my favourite bible character. It's still one of my favourites. My mom used to tell me that I was quite like Elijah, because of the emotional stuff. He liked to cry and all, just like me, she said. And yup, I did concur. - If you don't already know I used to cry a lot. Mom said that if I were a dragon (born in year of the dragon mah), I'd be a water dragon because of the tears.

On to the point. This scripture reminded me of something important. That as we obey God and honour Him first, He will provide. Look, the widow was in a desperate situation. She was prepared to starve to death. Yet out of that desperation came obedience. And by obeying, and giving up all she had left to survive on, she was saved by flour and oil that did not run out. Wow.

So it's a challenge to me. I like the way Matthew 6:33 puts it, in NLT:

"and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern."

Yup, was sharing this with Jesh and he was like telling me that it's quite the same as the NIV. But I just love the way it's phrased here. "Live for Him" and "primary concern", as juxtaposed to "seek first His Kingdom". (Then again, the word righteousness in KJV, NIV and NASB, that is another dimension altogether.)

Yup, so a challenge... and back to studying for this sem.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thought for the day

Was just pondering a couple of things today. Managed to finish what I'd planned to do ahead of time. Am really glad for that. And that left me time to ponder some stuff.

Am glad that I'm quite recovered from last week's sickness. Now back on track to exercising. Yesterday was a nice little run. Miss the times that I ran from home to East Coast and then all the way to the East near the SAF chalet and then back to the lighthouse. Today was some upper body conditioning. But no Daniel Li, I am NOT half as fit as you think.

I'm almost through the 3rd week of this term. So far things have been alright. A couple of hiccups here and there, but still alright.

Eyes focused on God, running the race. This is where the lactic builds up and either I stop running or I start to grow.

The more I think about it, the more I give thanks for the wonderful things that God has done when He brought me through the low points in the army. All the loneliness and pain for growth. It was worth it. Now each time I encounter loneliness or pain, I need to constantly remind myself that it is discipline from the Lord. It is training in godliness and must not be avoided.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Been up to something nice lately.


"Hello, welcome again to Tai Yong's blog!! In the most breaking news, it seems that Angela and Caleb have finally begun to update their blogs after a long period of absence. Andrea's blog has yet to be updated and comments from her are expected. Jeshua has yet to start a blog. Lowell will most probably never start a blog (reverse psychology intended) and cough cough now has a blog too."



"Since everyone's so busy studying, let's take a little bit of a break. Amidst the spew of recent serious posts, here's one easier on the brain..."



"Enjoy!!!"

Hee... Made the puppet for Creative Thinking Module class.

It's a muppet made from a sock. So I guess it should be known as a Socket. Haha.

This here's what I've done to the shirt from Cambodia Aaron Lim gave me. Put in a button, sewed up the slits 5 inches (cuz a little bit revealing haha), and my favourite part...

















... which could be my first serious work of embroidery. Took quite a few hours. Heh, hope the amateurish stiching stays.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A midnight post

Alright, it's 0000 HRS as I begin to type this post. Want to sleep soon and had a rather draining day doing my best to inter alia study (biz law... etc), talk to people, meditate on God's word. (Inter alia means amongst other things... what a broad-based education we get in SMU... which has its inherent strengths and weaknesses).

But thought that I'd share a couple of thoughts that have been running through my head the last couple of days as I meditated on God's word and reflected.

But first some happenings this week with Crusade:


Adora, Daniel, Xian Jing, Mervyn and I on a roller coaster in the Croom.

Looks kinda convincing eh.

Loved the way Jump went on Friday. Treasured the fact that we could reach out to the community. That'll actually be one of my own personal focuses as well for this sem.

Some photos from Jump (that's what they call the Crusade meeting), where we went around to take pictures with people outside of the CCA.






Help help... the pillar is falling.


The More Serious Thoughts


1)




Was helping myself to what is a portion of the prodigious amount of fruits I consume on a daily basis (a habit I've picked up since young- which makes me healthier and err... bowel movement easier). That was when I saw a little brownish bump on an apple. I tried to just cut off that part alone. Then I realised that the rot was a lot deeper than what I'd originally expected. Cutting the apple open confirmed my suspicions of a rotten apple.

Sometimes the apple looks so good on the outside. But it's rotting deep inside.

"... He (which is God) will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts." -1 Corinthians 4:5

Every apple that is in my home looks like it is good to eat. But whether or not it really is can seldom be seen from the outside. Yet every rotten apple will surely be discovered. One day, teeth will sink into it, or it will be sliced open. And then it's rottenness will be made apparent.


I'm reminded of how we can decay as chosen people. Sometimes it's a sinful desire or practice that we allow to linger. Sometimes it is an anxiety that we do not hand over to God. Sometimes it is a thought, a emotional scar even, or unforgiveness. Just as rottenness must start at some point and spread, so we start at some point in the rottenness of our hearts. And if we do not hand it over to God at an early stage, it will spread. God can still take it out, if we surrender it to Him (well, before it takes us out, that is), but the longer we wait, the more painful it will definitely become.

I was considering the way I live my own life. The areas of compromise and regret that I've had in the past on so many areas. The present multitude of my imperfections. And I just told God that "Lord, look. The buck stops here." I do "not want to postpone holiness in all areas and total surrender to a later date. There will be no end.

Perhaps a reflection I typed in September 2009 but never put up on my blog is better phrased.

"Ultimately what matters at the end of the day is whether I honour God or not. How much do I really trust God to bring me through? That I will obey all His laws at the cost of my pride, my success, my image? Will I run the full race or will I give the Almighty only half my heart?


There are many times that I was not totally (right before God) in the army.


I do not want to end university, graduate and reflect at that point that I was not totally (right before God) in university. There can be no further excuse.


The buck has got to stop somewhere. I cannot forever be making excuses. I cannot hide from the Lord. And some day, I will not be able to hide from men too. 1 Corinthians 4:5 “... He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts”


The summary question? Which do I fear more? Men, circumstances, trials and tribulations? Or the flash in the eyes of the Lion of Judah?"

2)


Amongst other things. I've been praying for wisdom regarding time management. But as I prayed, something occurred to me. (Correct me if I'm wrong and if you love me). Good and wise time management is not when we are able to squeeze the most number of things into our lives. It is when we put in just the right amount of activities into our lives that the Maker desires. And when He is our first priority and the other priorities are arranged in a way that pleases Him.

3)
Just another note on life and death.
"If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames" -1 Corinthians 3: 12-15
When the day comes revealing the quality of my God-given work on this earth. Then will what I have built for God stand?
4)
Alright, something happy. Had my new batch of Primary 6s today and really enjoyed time spent with them.
Met Carissa, Si En, Cheryl outside Fellowship Hall. Good to still see my Sec 1s around. Kinda miss them leh. Haha. But they are on to greater things!

Also, Carissa, thanks and am honoured by the message.
Enjoyed a quick but wonderful time with Enos and Jesh over lunch today.
Caleb came over with Aaron and some friends to collect the potted plants... Heh must state here to claim some credit for my grandma's green fingers... in anticipation of posts that will come up regarding the plants on his blog and how well they've grown.

Okay, that's all for this day. Later today... TWC and AS. Then study study study, cuz when the VBC (or is it VBS) week comes... well then at least I'll be able to make time for it. I'd like to.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

3rd day of the term


Cooking last month.

Alright. Have had a rather enjoyable first 2 days at school. Seems like I know so many more people in my various classes. Enjoyed all my lessons so far. Managed to do some studying today. A good warm-up to studying life once again.

Been trying out new ways to live. And so far, I think it's good. I'm talking bout living in a way that I put God first. Which Christian professes to put God first? We all pray that we might be able to. We all give verbal in-principle approval to the concept. But do we really live it out. Practically?

I'm rather serious in chasing after God this time round.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

-Philippians 3: 12-16

But need to rely on God's strength and wisdom and not my own.

Was talking to Jesh last night. And one thought I have: How do we not be of the world, live in such a way as aliens and strangers (ref. 1 Peter 2:11-12) in this world, as Paul says and yet have friends who are of the world? And yet love them, and yet make Christ known to them? It is definitely possible, according to the word. We are told to reach out. We are also told to be holy. The two are not separate, and neither is an excuse for not living up to the other.

I've got a new batch of Pri 6s. I hope my dear Sec 1s are happily settling in to school too. I miss them and yet I'm thrilled to be taking on a new bunch. So many things to share with them and teach them.

Heh, contemplating the fact that I'll be 22 this year. It seems quite fast man. Yet the only concern should be whether I am allowing God to have full control? That my life really counts for what He has designed it to?

Was reflecting at the start of this year, that God has brought me through so much. Since my army days till now. I have so, so much to be thankful for.

And yet, as Enos mentioned. I need to be careful not to be complacent.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Death

Death is a theme that has cropped up multiple times for me this week. First in the death of a fellow Crusader, Rajan, then in many other conversations and films I've watched.

I think it's cropped up a couple of times in my dreams this last month as well.

So far be it from me to circumvent the topic. I shall take it head on.

First, a passage of scripture:

"I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable... When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain."

First I establish that with the salvation of a Christian, death has lost its sting. We have a place prepared for us after we die. I'm not going to talk so much about the gospel message and evangelism, even though yes, that is once again becoming a matter of increasing importance upon my heart.

The thing I've been thinking about is my own life and death. Ephesians 5:15 says to be very careful how I live, not as unwise, but as wise. Verse 16 in KJV says to redeem the time.

A popular question goes, "if you had two weeks left to live, what would you do?" The very Christian answer of course would be something like. I would go out into the streets and evangelise... and so on. BSF asked me the same question. My response (okay, I clarify that intellectually I know, but practically, I have yet to live this statement out in its fullness) was this. Why do we need to wait until we have two weeks left to live to decide on doing great things? Every single moment of our lives must be lived in a way that is so valuable. That at any given time, we live it with impact, as if our lives were about to end.

(Anyway, if any of us REALLY had two weeks left to live. And that's the medical diagnosis, chances are, we'd be hooked up to all kinds of tubes and lie on a hospital bed, on medication and in discomfort. So much for the "what would you do?" question. As if we'd really have a choice most of the time)

And so one thing I desire this year. I desire to be found in God and His will. To go by His strength and wisdom. To, by the strength of God and not my own, make my life count.

Which in a more practical sense translates into: Spending time only on things that will count when I stand before God.

And given the distractions that modern life affords. The television, the internet, city life. Well, how do I go and spend time only on things that matter in the Kingdom of God? I would be considered crazy. I would be considered weird. (Come to think of it, I already am. So I have got nothing to lose. You can't lose something you don't have).

All that I need to know is whether God approves. Let me be willing to give all that I am for my Saviour. I often fail in this. But I must keep moving in this one direction.

Okay, last bloggable thought for the day:

Christianity means many things for many people. To the apostles it was a cause for which they would give their lives. It was a discomfort to their physical bodies, for they endured scorn, shame, persecution and death. Yet the joy it afforded them they considered great enough to endure all the hardship.

To people in persecuted nations, it must mean quite the same thing.

What does it mean to me? What am I willing to lay down? In a nation and place with so many believers, do we encourage each other to lay down much for His sake? What does the name of Jesus mean to us? The air-conditioned worship halls and great music, coupled with wonderful camps and fantastic "fellowship"? The children's, youth and tertiary camps and retreats?

If God requires it to be so, am I willing to be considered crazy even by fellow believers? And on the other hand, is it necessary? Would that really be Spirit-led?

Questions questions. I have many questions.

On a lighter note. A more buoyant note (cuz they will float in the baptism pool you see). Many of my Primary 6s will be baptised tomorrow. Yay! As they take this decision to follow our Lord, I pray for them so hard. That they will be blessed in all they do. That they will be given wisdom and shown grace as they enter into their teenage years. I am gonna miss my ten Sec 1s so so much. Benjamin, Nathaniel, Kosand, Gaius, Ting Wei, Si En, Carissa, Lydia, Cheryl, Jing En.

My mind seems to be thinking bout many other things. But I shall stop here for now.

To act justly.
And to love mercy.
And to walk humbly with my God.

Sleepover and Other Matters

Well, just ended the last sleepover of this holiday season at Jeshua's place. As usual, there's always especially good food at his place, since it's done by Aunty Janet personally, not us amateurs. There's also a big plasma tv, which is perpetually on. That is good at times and bad at others. Was just thinking that at the end of this whole sleepover last night, there was very little deep talk. Only towards the end. But oh well, at least we watched two rather good films. Remember the Titans (which I feel still pales in comparison to Facing the Giants) and End of the Spear (if I got that right), bout Jim Elliot and his wife, as narrated by his son.





Everyone gets involved in moving the TV!



Thoughts of the Day...



I think... I think...



Let me share some of the thoughts I had today.



The end of TV Mobile. I was pondering over the last line of words on the screen. "Thank you for your support through the years." My first thought was "Haha, are you sure anybody was ever supporting TV Mobile in the first place?". Of course that was quickly corrected when two Chinese youth got into the seat across the aisle from mine and started to moan the demise of TV Mobile. One said that he had hoped to watch the World Cup on TV Mobile. (Which come to think of it, is a very strange statement. It would only make sense if say, he didn't have a tv at home, so he pays the bus fare to watch an entire world cup match? Prob would have to take the longest loop service available. Haha.)




On a deeper level, I thought about leadership. How does one really know that people are truly supporting him? I mean, I've led a couple of things. There've been times in the armed forces that I knew quite acutely that my men obeyed me only because they had to.




My secondary school VP, Mr Kwok once said something that made so much sense to me. He said that the respect a leader commands is not seen in him, but in the eyes of his followers.




There's an even deeper aspect to this. I might gain great respect of people. But if I myself am not fully dependent on God, then I am in deep trouble. I will one day fall from grace and all my followers will leave me. Then I will have nothing. No, I must fully depend and rely on God. Even then, I might one day be left alone again. But then I will have God, and it will be grace sufficient.




One of the concerns of my life is that people seem to respect me so much and have such a wonderful view of me. My instinct is almost to want to dig a hole in the ground and hide. I want to run off to a mountain to pray. The reason being that I know how fallable I am. Leadership can seem like a glorious thing. But when I take a step back and look at the full picture. When I see the holiness of God... I understand that I am hanging on to my end of the rope that leads to God. And I feel the weight of people hanging on to me. If I let my end of the rope go. If I let go of God, I fall off the cliff with the many people hanging on to me.




The solution seems to me to be to simply do what God has entrusted into my hands. And yet at the same time, I must be so careful to direct others to their own rope. That their walks and their faith be dependent on the Lord, not on me. If anything, I am an encourager, I am a fellow traveller. That is all I am. A fellow servant. Nothing more, nothing less.




Nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, January 01, 2010

First Reflections

One of the thoughts I had during Meta camp was this. People make commitments for God during camp. There is often a sense of victory and overcoming. But the battle has yet to begin. Much of the camp for me was spent asking God for strength and wisdom to live for Him AFTER the camp. Living for God during any Christian camp is simple, chicken-feet fare. The tough part is living for God everyday. And that is where I have often fallen.

So, the true challenge is to take up the cross daily... not yearly. I can take up the cross once a year, but I might put it down multiple times. Then of what point would my walk be? No, the toughness of a Christian soldier is built up in the daily walk. Of non-compromise in the smallest things, of the daily maintenance of his sword and his gear for battle.


Hmm I can see my toe at the bottom right.

The highlight of Meta camp for me was the Street-E. Talked to about 8 people. A Muslim, a Christian family, a Buddhist, a Jew, a freethinker and 2 other Christians. It was wonderful to be out there doing this stuff. Also camped outside a certain place at Lucky Plaza to try to talk to people coming out. But nobody had time.

The challenge is not in Street-E. All that is needed for that is faith, the understanding that I have nothing to lose and thick skin. The challenge is in evangelising everyday through my life and actions. Of not hanging out all the time with believers only.

The Three Bibles



These are the 3 bibles that I remember using most often. The first is four-in-one. Wonderful for home study. It's a parallel bible, which helps me to understand hard passages since I can scour the word for meanings and implications available only in certain translations. The second is my NIV one. I've used it for a bit over a decade. It's accompanied me to school, church, army. Everywhere but out in the field. It is protected by much plastic and reinforced with cardboard pieces. The third is a Gideon's Bible. It's my outfield bible. I put it in Ziploc and bring it out into the jungle. So far, it's travelled into the jungles of Singapore and Taiwan and the forests of Australia.

I'm not trying to say that I'm spiritual. For goodness' sake, having more bibles does not make one so. But let me talk about the significance of each bible in this new year.

1)The leftmost bible. The four-in-one parallel bible. This bible is wonderful. It is huge. It is great for bible study. But because of its weight and size, I do not bring it out of the house.

Certain aspects of my walk with God must be like that. I pray, I study God's word. And that is very good. But if my life is represented by this bible alone. It would mean that I never bring my faith out of the house.

I would never do evangelism with this bible. It is too cumbersome. In the same way, in this new year, I must be very careful not to encumber others in their journey to salvation or in their Christian walk.

For me, this represents much meditation and time spent with God, where I am closed off from the rest of the world. It is good and Christ Himself often did it, going to quiet places to pray. But it is also a reminder that I can spend much time with God alone, and still not accomplish the Master's will. Other sheep the Master has which are not of this sheep pen. Them also He will call. And will that be my feet which bring the good news?

2)The normal bible. The workplace and wherever I am. I bring this bible everywhere. In the same way, I must live for God. I must be a blessing, not a curse, an encouragement, not a discouragement in my ministry to both believers and non-believers (yeah, I know there's this politically correct term called "pre-believers" but I'm not too fond of that).

For me, this bible represents my faith in all situations and all settings. Within and without the church's ministry. Am I the same person wherever I go? Do I follow different principles in different places? Will I keep true to God, and ready to share His word everywhere to everyone, in season and out of season?

3)The outfield bible. It was with me for some of the worst days. It's not really clean, cuz I've handled it with dirty hands in the jungle (I shall not elaborate).

For me, it is a reminder that as light and salt, we must be prepared to take the word of God into the toughest conditions. The word of God is a weapon, a double-edged sword. A sword must be ready for use. This sword is living and active and penetrates to dividing bone and marrow, soul and spirit. We must be very careful to think of the word planted in us as weapons. Not ornamental trophy swords displayed on a rack far from public view.

And with these reflections, I shall begin this new year...

With the 3rd sleepover of the season! Tonight at Jesh's place.

Yay, and with the toe nail removed I can now run again.