Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A smile from one of the kids



Well, I know it's a wrong answer. But really, the way it turned out is really quite true in life, isn't it?

The bad things which are about to happen sooner or later anyway. Of course, there's also the good. But why be anxious about things that are going to happen anyway? Reminds me of how blessed I am. Looking back, everything has either turned out fine, or has been worked out for my good by God.


Camps Ended. Reflections and all.






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

Updates

FOC: Going fine. Some last minute stuff, but still, working out.

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

An interesting argument

There is a certain argument that goes like this:

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.

Times of Refreshing

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord"- Acts 3:19

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

Times of Crisis

In times of crisis, a leader does what needs to be done, not what his emotions tell him to do.

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

Someone is beginning to blog again! I can't believe it!

OH MY GOODNESS!!! Someone is beginning to blog again. I never thought it would happen.

http://jeshystravels.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Larlarlar

School is going to start again soon. A fact driven home by the reality of bidding for modules.

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.