Monthly Archives: December 2010

ten ways to inspire hope to a generation.

1. Give them a vision. And see their commitment in action. I think young people are not afraid to work hard; they are only afraid of a lack of vision.

2. Believe in them wholeheartedly. This never, ever gets old. Being patient with and watching them blossom is one of life’s most beautiful scenes.

3. Challenge them to follow Jesus. One of the best ways to fire up a youth group is to see young people make first-time decisions for Jesus.

4. Remind them to evangelise. R-AGE, we must remember that eGig is not for entertainment and iGig is not for interest; heck, it’s not even for us.

5. Give them a platform to perform. The unpredictability of young people never fail to surprise and impress me. And of course, make me ROTFL.

6. Let them express themselves. Their creativity and spontaneity always reminds me to trust them, that one day, they will eventually get it right.

7. Watch them worship God; they will inspire you. ‎Stella’s deeply emotive performance tonight was BY FAR the best dance performance I’ve ever witnessed.

8. Create memories for them, for it galvanises the ministry; pictured above is the first combined R-AGE photograph since GI and GII became autonomous.

9. Intercede on their behalf. The highlight of my day was gathering with a few of my key leaders to pray and cry for one of our hurting leaders.

10. Thank God for them. It is my joy, pride, privilege and honour to be a part of R-AGE, and my awesome responsibility to lead and pastor them.

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thirteen thoughts after 30 hours of Rhema.

1. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1, NLT).

2. Faith is not what you do but who you know, not where you go but who you follow and not what you hear but who you hear from.

3. For the first time in the history of Grace AG, R-AGE and Rhema, our young people worshipped God without anyone on stage leading them.

4. The greatest testimony today belonged to Kenneth, who by faith rehearsed last night, before requesting for unlikely eventual approval from his CO.

5. Putting out 2 drum sets was sparked by a Newsboys video I watched more than a decade ago and it was a delight to see Janice and CAMY actualising it.

6. I felt the Spirit’s stirring as early as 7:15am, during prayer time with my team, resulting in lots of tears, snot and a revitalised spirit.

7. While the “musician-less” idea was inspired from my time with SOAR247 in Shanghai, it was Melody’s earnest reading of Scripture that moved me deeply.

8. Completely non-sequitur, but I do miss jamming with a band, rocking with a team of musicians and performing my heart out.

9. I will always, always retain a soft spot for the worship team because I spent my first decade of ministry as a worship leader.

10. I enjoy breaking norms, casting vision and accomplishing feats no one has done before; the more it can’t be done, the more I want to do it.

11. When the respect is earned, when the authority is established, when the role is played out, when the work is finished, the title becomes secondary.

12. Ministry is about people. Sometimes it’s about work, but this work should always revolved around people; I thank God I work with young people.

13. Talking to young people whom you’re unfamiliar with at first soon ignites in you God’s love for them, and you’ll never see them the same way again.

ten quick and random thoughts after Rhema opening night.

1. I really enjoy working with young people, regardless of whether they are experienced or emerging ones.

2. R-AGE really has an abundance of talented and committed youths and I am grateful to God for all of them.

3. It is my prayer that you will thrive in faith, hope and love. We are ready for You… Are you ready for Him…?

4. There’s nothing we can do to manufacture God’s presence but we can do everything to do our best for Him.

5. I thank God for the young adults who serve in R-AGE for they play an integral role and contribute significantly.

6. We have a delightful batch of 13-year-olds at both GI and GII; what a joy to see them serve God as ushers or in the choir.

7. If given a choice, I’d rather not do productions because it’s tiring, but it’s immensely gratifying to see a vision come to fruition.

8. From recording the above video from the gallery, God reminded me of my calling and duty towards this youth ministry.

9. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to put more names to faces and to know these precious youths a little better.

10. I really, really, really, love young people and I consider it an honour and privilege to be able to pastor this youth group.

12 things we hate about youth ministry.

I don’t normally cut and paste wholesale but this insightful article is a fantastic read. My dear young people, do remember to find pockets of time to get some rest and not burn yourself out with ministry demands. Let’s be excellent but let’s also think long-term! And above all else, remember to pray and enjoy the ride! I have so much on my plate but I am learning to take it a task and a day at a time, knowing that tomorrow has its own battles!

The full article is found here.

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12 things we hate about youth ministry

by Doug Fields & Matt McGill

Serving in youth ministry is great, but sometimes we allow our priorities to get mixed up and give it more than we should. When the needs of the ministry consume and devour our lives, and it results in no margin, no accountability, and no joy…it’s time to change things. Here are some of the warning signs, 12 things we hate about youth ministry:

  1. Fatigue can result in poor leadership decisions. This season, get some rest!
  2. The nagging feeling that we may have given up too early on that one high maintenance kid.
  3. Overload leads to taking short cuts and doing what’s easy rather than doing what is best (or right).
  4. Sometimes we’re tempted to skim in our spiritual lives since people really don’t know if we skip our personal devotions.
  5. We can take criticism personally and use it as a club to beat our self up.
  6. We believe the lie that our ministry is the most important one in the church. We become territorial and build high walls around youth ministry within the church.
  7. Insecurities and fears feed one another until they’re consuming. While cocooned, we rest on our laurels, refuse to take risks, and become satisfied with the way things are.
  8. Our drive to be faithful and grow the ministry can move us from honest persuasion to manipulation.
  9. We feel like unsung heroes, wallow in self pity, and then feel guilty for having a need to be affirmed.
  10. We get confused or indignant when other leaders seem to love the ministry as much as we do.
  11. We let success feed the self-deception that says, “I did this on my own power…or…I can do this on my own power.”
  12. The pressure to perform and please others distracts us from trusting God.

Christmas is a great time to step back and remember the important things in life: God’s love for us is unchanging, uncompromising, and unconditional. He loves our students more than we do and is working within to draw us closer.

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missed the bus again? don’t fret.

This morning, I was powerless to prevent the bus from taking off without me.

Normally, I would leave home when SBS iris tells me that my bus was going to depart in 5 minutes. I did likewise today but forgot to compensate for my temporal geriatric movements. One of life’s depressing sights is to catch sight of your bus only to see it leaving the berth. Unlike other mornings, there was no way I could have chased after the bus if I hobbled like Jacob.

The Holy Spirit brought to mind a song which Jeanie led during the leaders’ retreat last August. I vividly remember it for it was my first time hearing the song and I had to quickly grasp it before strumming it out on the guitar for the worship leader. Today, only two lines flashed in my head.

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows…
… Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus.

I smiled and thanked the Spirit for such a timely reminder. So many times, we get so uptight and insecure when we miss opportunities; have we forgotten that our good God who bestowed this opportunity for us has the magnanimity to provide another? Do we sometimes trust our instincts more than we trust the One who gave us these instincts? Shall we then move away from looking at what we know and fix our eyes instead on Who we know?

Are you chasing grades in school?
Are you chasing promotion at work?
Are you chasing legacies in church?
Are you chasing favour amongst colleagues?
Are you chasing popularity amongst friends?
Are you chasing acceptance amongst family and loved one?

Are you chasing after… yourself…?

I think then, the only remedy to prevent chase exhaustion is to simply surrender. “Give them all” are three basic but profound words. A verb, a noun and an adjective (or pronoun, depending on how you perceive it). When you give them all to Jesus, I’m convinced that God will add to you according to His will. No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

It is my prayer that the next time you miss an opportunity, the Spirit would overwhelm you with peace and help you remember that, in His perfect timing, another one is just ’round the corner; and perhaps, the latter one might just be better. Unsurprisingly, I hopped onto the next bus 10 minutes later and while I arrived at the office slightly later, I still reached my destination.

multiple reasons why I will not run another marathon.

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There aren’t many places where I can think aloud and hence I shall use this platform to extract the many thoughts in my head after “A race like no other”. I don’t normally lament on my blog so this will be an honest evaluation of myself for myself. Do bear with it; I’ve learnt so much from this race.

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The good.

This was officially my worst run ever – in every sense of the word – be it the poor timing or post-run physical condition. I’m immobilised (oh, have mercy on my left knee!) as I write this entry and I’m experiencing a facial breakout as expected. Nonetheless, I thank God that I do not have a fever like I did in 2006.

Unlike 2006, where I was extremely determined to finish it, I had nearly wanted to throw in the towel this year. At 9:30am, I thought to myself – how in the world was I going to crawl at this deathly pace for another 4 hours? 2010 was undoubtedly a lot more mental than 2006; finishing it was my only objective.

Strangely enough, even though 2006 was a greater performance, I felt that 2010’s run was by far a greater accomplishment. My finishing time had worsened by nearly two hours – TWO HOURS(!) – that’s a massive deterioration! Yet the sense of satisfaction doubled. However, I don’t plan to accomplish it again.

Frankly, I tried a lot harder this year than in 2006. Each attempt to restart running ended up in failure within 100m. Relentless cramps, low energy resources and an absence of Tiger Balm remedies resulted in over 10 failed restarts; each successive resumption made the subsequent one even more demoralising.

Running with someone with a similar fitness level makes a big difference. In 2006, Adrian and I endured and encouraged each other until the end. This year, I told Kun Jie and Bradley to proceed without me since they could go much faster. I was on my own from the 15th km and that was disheartening.

I’ve never felt so horrible walking; if there was only one wish I could make, it’d simply be to be able to run. I’d rather 长痛不如短痛 anytime. This served as a reminder that I must carry on moving even when I stumble or even when my walk becomes a crawl; a small step forward is still one step forward.

The bad.

I could always have trained a little more but no amount of training would prepare you to deal with cramps. I ran at a steady pace up to the 18th km (and I didn’t stop at all). But when multiple leg cramps hit my body – the excruciating painful kind of cramps – I knew my race was over.

In 2006, there were ample stations distributing energy fluids and muscle rub. The absence of it this year caught me by surprise. I was desperately in search of deep-heat cream to relieve my cramp, which got so throbbing at one point I had to stop. And even at that, I struggled to stretch for the pain left me frozen.

Juxtaposing 2010 and 2006, there was a significant drop of runners carrying a Christian message at the back of their singlet; it was something I had looked forward to – making conversation with people. Either these runners were way ahead of me, or that no one put Scripture on their back.

Age is a significant factor – especially in recovery phase. While it may only be four years apart, I felt four times worse this year than in 2006. I remember telling Huiyi how disappointed I felt after this run; by athletic or achievable measurement, I was left chagrined by my performance, or the lack of.

The 14km at East Coast Park was and always will be the most mentally torturous leg of the race. At the 14th/28th km Fort Road entrance/exit, you will runners entering and leaving the park. I think this was the most challenging phase because it felt like I was returning to square-one without progress.

Two things kept plaguing my mind. I pinned a yellow number tag (for runners aimed to run below 6 hours; a natural decision since I clocked 5.5hours in 2006) in front and an encouragement note behind. This backfired for my optimism on both front and back labels became my vehicle for self-consciousness.

The ugly.

My poor timing resulted in many things after the run. Firstly, I am thoroughly sunburnt. In 2006, I finished at around 11am but this year, I had to endure the midday scorching sun and now the mirror reveals the sunglass and singlet tan lines. I am truly and literally Joey Asher TAN.

I felt that the route-planning for 2010 was a disappointing anti-climax too, with considerable media spotlight; the uphill climb (on the Benjamin Sheares Bridge) at the end of the race decimated many runners; squeezing us dry on the home-run wasn’t uplifting and it just didn’t make sense to me.

There’s a limit to pep-talks from uncles. “Young man, you can give some more”, was what he cried each time he ran past me. At first, it fired me up and I found that extra energy to pick up my pace. But at the third time, with multiple cramps to deal with, all I wanted to do was to ask him to shut up.

Secondly, though there were thousands who completed after me, the thousands who completed before me meant that there were no more M-sized finisher T-shirts. I returned home with an XL pajamas which I obviously will not wear. What an apt (and ironic) conclusion to a sadly forgettable race.

Lastly, I’m convinced that marathons are organised for those complete within 6 hours. At the 38th km, water points had disappeared, medical teams were packing up and volunteers were either having lunch or dozing off – not a motivating sight at all, but they are not to blame. I can only examine myself.

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I remember telling Bradley at the start of the run, that if I were to run another marathon, it’d be either as a mascot or with my kids. I have done it for them for I want to collect stories to inspire my children; I’ve twice-accomplished one of life’s to-do’s and I shall have the wisdom to declare that that’s enough. I’ve proven my physical and mental mettle and I will always be able to brag about these two achievements to my grandchildren. Pain is temporary but pride is forever. “Ya, you look at Gong-Gong’s belly and may not believe it, but Gong-Gong has run two marathons before.” No one can take that away from me.

I honestly doubt that I would be able to find motivation to train for such a distance again. In fact, when Huiyi picked me up from Raffles City (thank you, dear), I told her I would not run beyond 10km ever again because it doesn’t justify the physical aftermath. This novelty has now been attained and is officially over. I shall move on now in life and look for other challenges to accomplish. I’ve learnt so much about myself and about the journey of life in running these two marathons and these experiences will forever remain embedded in my mind. For all it’s worth, I shall close the chapter on running extreme distances.

Two is better than one.

Edit at 23:59! Next year, I might just join the Ekiden race instead! Perfect substitute for the 42km. Six is better than one. HAHA! (:

december: a month to thank God for.

As my ears bleed from a terrible rendition of Nobody But You belted out by the Getai singer and annoying overenthusiastic emcees who try to rouse an apathetic audience, I can’t help but to smile at God’s sense of humour. So what if I’ve gotten everything ready for later – shoes, socks, tag, singlet, watch, shades, bread, banana, isotonic – and I’m ready to sleep at an unheard-of 9pm to wake up 7 hours later to run my second 42km. There was nothing that I could do to prevent a town council dinner from taking place right below my house. I can only chuckle at the unpredictability of life and thank God that He’s in it all.

This December is more intense than the previous years. However, there’s so much to thank God for:

  • 15 intense days of school (with accompanying assignments), from 29 Nov – 13 Dec; I thank God for committed group mates and good lecturers.
  • 4 days of Rhema conference (where I’m overseeing 7 vastly different services), from 12 – 15 Dec; I thank God for a thoroughly creative experience.
  • A sermon to deliver on the weekend of 18-19 Dec; I thank God for many preaching opportunities this year and for my growth in this area.
  • A REAL reunion with my beloved REAL champs on 20 Dec; I thank God for this bunch of youths who will always have a special place in my heart.
  • A good break in Bintan to look forward to on 21-23 Dec; I thank God that I’m celebrating 3 years of God’s grace with my beloved girlfriend, Huiyi.
  • A Christmas celebration at Jadene’s house on 24 Dec; I thank God for a wonderful group of colleagues who have been such blessings in my journey.
  • A maiden baptism experience to anticipate on 25 Dec; I thank God for the privilege to baptise the youths whom He has given me to pastor.
  • 4 days of REAL lock-in camp (where I’ll take on the role of Commandant), from 27-30 Dec; I thank God for sending me youths to disciple and train.
  • 2 days of Leaders’ Retreat (where I’ll share my heartbeat and vision with the R-AGE @ GII Leaders!), from 30-31 Dec; I thank God for new leaders.
  • And to conclude the month, I’ll be performing a song during Watchnight Service on 31 Dec; I thank God for 2010 and I look forward to 2011.
  • And REAL 2011 begins 3 days later on 3 Jan (thank God I’ve already prepared everything!); before I know it, I’ll be marching on to March already.

For now, I have a marathon to run at 5am and a leaders’ meeting to chair on the same evening; I can’t wait to meet some of my favouritest people in this world! I apologise for the lack of updates and infrequent writing; I wish I had more time to think and write too, for a thought ceases to exist until it has been penned down. Do cover me in your prayers, my friends. I’ll leave you with the back of my running singlet; I hope it spurs you on, my fellow runners in this marathon of life – may we all run to win an eternal prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)!

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