Monthly Archives: March 2010
fast-forward 17 years.
Dinner tonight was an event 17 years in the making. Catching up with DL over a simple dinner was delightful and nostalgic to say the least. How does anyone actually get up to speed on nearly two decades of life? The last time we were close was when we were together in Primary 4 in Anglo-Chinese Junior School. These were the same two kids who, being equally short, partnered each other at the front of the class queue; the two 8-year-old kids who sneaked into Sentosa alone after school and accomplished it with cunning and enterprise beyond their age; and the same two kids who, from such vastly different family backgrounds, shared such pleasant childhood memories.
So, how do you catch up on all those years? Simple – by testifying God’s goodness over the years and by spurring each other on in ministry. You blend in common history to project a linked future. I think it’s no coincidence that these same two kids now share a passion for young people and worship; it is almost divinely appointed that these two boys now do their bit to introduce change, make a difference and leave a legacy in their church; it was affirming that these two boys, now men, subscribe to the same leadership concept and in them both resides a strong desire to impart to a younger generation.
Unlike other “old friends” whom I’ve caught up with over the years, I felt that with DL and I, there was no need to prove to each other how far we’ve come – there was no worldly comparison of one another’s achievements and experiences. I told myself, before the dinner, that if we were to spend the next couple of hours reminiscing old times, the friendship would remain in the nineties. I never expected to feel so comfortable with DL – I’d like to think that there was little or no pretense in our interaction; it was like finding a brother that I’ve always had, but lost contact with through the years. My testimony and spiritual journey was the antithesis of DL’s – a dramatic turnaround juxtaposed against traditional obedience; yet both end up 27 years later, serving the same God with similar fervour.
Instantly, I knew that this meet-up set the tone and manner for all future meet-ups with old friends, at least that is what I’d desire. There was an exchange of ministry, of knowledge, of experiences, of struggles and victories. It was more honest and candid than I had expected it to be. Our 2.5-hour dinner tonight made 17 years feel short. At the end of the day, I took home one thing – that God is indeed good and faithful and would use us for His glory wherever we are and have been. I rejoice with DL’s young marriage and the impending birth of the child in his wife’s belly this October.
I encourage you then, when you meet up with old friends in time to come, not to share about how good you’ve become or the great things you’ve accomplished, but to share with each other what God has done in your lives and how good He is indeed. And watch how God connects the people who love Him. You could never go wrong with that approach. I already look forward to the next time God brings DL and I together.
youth camp update #2 – wield your sword.
The most exciting youth camp yet in the history of R-AGE will be titled…
For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,
of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
As my instruction manual for the organising committee thickens, so does my excitement. Remember the dates: 15-17 June, week after retreat. You should have no reason to miss it, because we are going to talk about this camp for the next decade – don’t miss out on 10 years of chatter. Let’s attain 100% attendance. May PIERCE carve its lessons upon your heart for the rest of your lives – you will experience the power of the Word of God.
Official publicity begins after Easter – be ready.
the heart of gratitude.
A couple of weeks ago, I was dealing with disappointment. In my journeying with and surrender to God, I’ve learnt that to deal with disappointment, I need to approach it with an attitude of thanksgiving and a realignment of purpose. I’m a highly committed individual synonymous with being passionate; hence I often get disappointed when people do not meet my expectations because I always wear my heart on my sleeve. When I was younger, I used to create a commotion each time this happens. As I mellow with age, I’ve learnt to be wiser in handling disappointment – sharing with the right people and only after settling my emotions with the Lord. PC once shared with me that it’s always easier to see God’s faithfulness at the end of a season; so I’ve learnt to be patient and to trust God for His timing and method.
20th March 2010 marks a significant day for the shepherds in my immediate ministry:
- KY commissioned as a 2LT,
- MF & MW had a positive cohesion with their CMs,
- KJ & BL joined my team of shepherds,
- EL & YX recovered from their cough,
- CN & JC returned safely from Australia and China respectively and
- HY completed her FYP
- I’ve removed all 25 dressings
This time, there’s something slightly different about feeling their joy and celebrating their victories with them. I can’t quite put a finger to it, but I’d like to think that it’s because I’ve been praying for them; there’s a sense of satisfaction knowing that maybe I’ve played a minute part in the spiritual shift of things. It’s like what RB shares in Nooma 018 “Open” – tapping into the creative power of God.
20th March 2010 is also a momentous day for my Church – we voted in favour for the redevelopment of G1 (on the condition that the 1.4 plot ratio is approved) and if necessary, would take bank loans to finance this project. I’m confident that the Board and the leadership of the church understands that while it is the hardware that’s being rebuilt, significant time, energy and (financial) resources must be invested into its software. Failure to do so would result in an ultimate inability and incapacity to realise the vision. The last thing we want is to have a spectacular building without the right people trained and enabled to fill the spaces which we have catered expansion for.
I am learning to trust God more and more for His providence and I believe that, in the words of BH, “When there is total submission, there is total protection“. On one hand, I’m delighted that we can finally advance as a Church, on the other hand, I pray that we will understand the sobering responsibilities that now line our way. I believe that if we, as a Church, have missed this point of investing in our people, then there really is no point in physical redevelopment. The leadership must be committed to see through this vision.
Let our hope be in You, Lord, and may You show us Your way – I desire nothing more and nothing less.
nice is never good enough.
Here’s what the Spirit inspired me to share with RL during our lunch today in the context of a boy-girl relationship (or I’d go as far as to say that this is applicable to any relationship):
“A selfish boyfriend cares for his own needs before his girlfriend’s. A good boyfriend puts the needs of his girlfriend before his own. A godly boyfriend desires God’s best for his girlfriend.”
I’ve advocated umpteen times to some of my close girl friends that “nice” is never good enough. *pssst* Girls, don’t soften your heart to a guy pursuing you with honeyed words, fanciful gifts or sweet acts of kindness because that’s exactly what he had planned to do to win your heart, isn’t it? Instead, test his christian character, question his spiritual maturity, examine his moral values and enquire about his journey with the Lord; these are more essential qualities that would set apart a godly man from a good worldly man.
In Ephesians 5, we read that wives are to “submit to [their] husbands… …in everything”. A few verses later, we read that husbands are to “love [their] wives… …to make [them] holy”. I’d like to think that wives are to submit to their husbands on the condition that husbands love their wives (although I do know admirable wives who submit to unloving husbands). While we are to aspire to demonstrate unconditional agape love, we should remember that there’s only One who is capable of showing such divine love. Nonetheless, the standard of a husband’s love towards his wife is set extremely high – as Christ loves the Church. Now Christ loved the Church to the extent of redeeming her with His own blood – that has to be the extent of love that husbands ought to demonstrate towards their wives, no?
While I may not yet be married, I think I might just be able to understand this concept. You see, I’ve had my fair share of (bad) relationship history and conduct which I am never proud of. However, with HY, I find myself drawing strength to love her not by my own efforts but by God’s grace. In fact, the only thing I tell myself is to love God more than yesterday – this is the source of my love for HY. It is due to this love that I have for God that causes me to embrace her flaws and forgive her mistakes as well as to change myself for the better and humble myself to serve her. I do not believe that I will be able to continue to accomplish this on my own merits. And because HY knows that I love her deeply, she trusts me; from this trust births the foundation of her natural submission towards me (or alternatively phrased, towards my love for her). There’s no rocket science in this Biblical model; hence I say I can comprehend what the Apostle Paul was talking about.
So in a nutshell, if I may audaciously conclude, girls should be on the lookout for boys who love God. And boys (as leaders of relationships) should just focus on loving God more everyday. I always believe that instead of searching for the right person, you ought to be the right person (and the right people will start to search for you).
water and conversation.
There is nothing more satisfying than to drown oneself in ice-cold water on a blistering hot day or after a sweaty game of football. Water is essential to life; after all, our bodies, like planet Earth, has 70% worth of water. No wonder older folks always ask us to drink more water whenever we fall sick, regardless of what sickness it is. I subscribe to that theory too, especially when I am lacking in sleep (which is pretty often) for water compensates the loss of rest. Water sustains life.
This got me thinking about relationships and its sustaining factor. Of GC’s five love languages, quality time is often the one that is easiest to offer yet hardest to measure. Most people think that it’s just about hanging out and spending time together doing nothing, but I beg to differ. And remember this – it’s not about how much time you spend together. A relationship or friendship cannot progress if there is no exchange of facts, opinions and feelings. Why do you think so many people end relationships because one has failed to understand the other?
Don’t underestimate the necessity of conversations. I am certain that conversation is to relationships what water is to life; something simple and almost taken for granted, but in its absence, cessation is almost a certainty. Rethink the way you relate to one another. Make a deliberate attempt to progress from exchanging information, to exchanging thoughts, to exchanging emotions and convictions. Just as water promotes plant growth, watch how quality conversations bring development to relationships. We were created to be relational beings and are unable to thrive in isolation (from other people). The famous old adage by JD stands true – “No man is an island”. (Funnily enough, islands are surround by water.) We must learn to depend on one another as life is not a soliloquy.
Needless to say, your relationship with God naturally stagnates when prayer, worship or the reading of the word decreases in quality and quantity. In the words of BH, “Frequency and intensity equals bonding”. It is my prayer that you experience the yearning to bond with the Lord today.
So whenever you drink water, may you remember to make intentional efforts to have quality conversation with the ones you love.
mentor me, Jesus.
On Tuesday, my Shepherds and I attended a short talk conducted by Dr Ed Pousson, author of Jesus Mentor Me. He taught from Luke 2:39-52 (the anecdote of how the 12-year-old Jesus was away from His parents, at the temple of Jerusalem, discoursing with teachers five times his age). Dr Pousson’s insightful sharing caused a paradigm shift for most of us. I’d like to capture the key lessons I took away from that session:
- Jesus did not have a headstart with His knowledge of the Word; He had to be acquainted with scripture, go to school and study hard just like everyone else – He was on a level playing field with you and I.
- The difference between Jesus and us – we have Jesus to learn from but Jesus didn’t have Jesus to learn from! Therefore, He is our teacher and so we as students ought to adopt a posture as one who would sit and absorb from a great rabbi.
- Many of us find a job but miss our spiritual vocation – let’s not forget what our true purpose in life is, and we can only know that when we seek God continuously.
- We should learn as much as we can from our teachers, pastors and mentors but there comes a point where we can learn no more and hence it’s necessary to have a direct download from the Spirit.
- If Jesus practised spiritual disciples, then we have no excuse to not do what He did.
- We should always have a burning heart and an open mind.
- The Holy Spirit reveals the truth in our hearts; the best way to store truth is by memorising Scripture. If there is no software installed, then there’s nothing to recall.
I returned home with the purchase of C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory. Yet another book queued up and waiting to be devoured. Such optimism…