Monthly Archives: January 2011
I thank the Lord for the kind and generous compliments I have received since I performed “Find Us Faithful” at Watchnight Service 2010. It’s quite a pleasant experience having church members randomly approach you to say, “You were the one who sang at Watchnight right? Great job!” All this encouragement means a lot to me because it’s communicated in my primary love language.
Isn’t it wonderful that a song written in 1988 still has relevance and impact two decades later? That’s the hallmark of a hall of fame song. I praise the Lord for those who have told me how the song has encouraged them in their pilgrimage of faith but I think no one has heard how this timeless Steve Green song has become an integral part of my own faith journey.
This is a post I have wanted to write for the last year and so I shall publish it tonight.
While I’ve heard and sung it during my ACS days, it was at IDMC 2009 that this song reprised in my life. It was by God’s grace and people’s generosity that I even got the chance to attend this annual sold-out conference. It was my first IDMC and also the first time I sat into Ps Edmund Chan’s sermons. It goes without saying that he instantly became one of my favourite speakers.
It was at the final plenary session that God spoke into my heart and assured me that He’d take care of me. You see, throughout the conference, I was struggling with one decision – whether I should take up Ps Ronald’s offer to step into full-time ministry with R-AGE. This was potentially the biggest decision of my life thus far. I remember the clincher from Ps Edmund that God used to convict my heart and convince my head.
“Obedience is the highest expression of stewardship.”
At that moment, I remember Ps Edmund instructing the worship leader to lead the congregation to sing this song as a prayer of dedication. There was no emotionalism, no hype, no spiritually charged atmosphere and no preacher offering an invite to approach the altar. I sang the song to God from the bottom of my heart. I was certain tears rolled down my cheeks…
And I found myself in a soliloquy with God. Hands clasped, head bowed and eyes tightly shut, I uttered a simple prayer to God – “Okay Lord, I will”.
“Find Us Faithful” became the official soundtrack of my decision to enter full-time ministry.
Fast-forward to the start of 2010. I had tasked my first batch of REAL (2010) candidates to craft the REAL creed and compose the REAL song. After a week of compositions and revisions, their collective effort resulted in the completion of the official REAL creed. I was so proud of them when they recited it in front of R-AGE. However, they didn’t have the technical or inspirational competence to compose the song. So I let it rest.
However, in one inspired moment on a weekday morning, the Spirit reminded me of “Find Us Faithful” and impressed upon my heart to use that song to lead REAL 2010 into a time or worship. So I did that. And as I sang it to them for the first time, I found myself in tears again. This time, it wasn’t about me, but about them, for they represented the generation of young people that I would have the privilege to pastor.
The song became my earnest prayer of dedication for these 16 precious youths – that they would leave a lasting legacy for the REAL batches who would join after them and the batches who have gone before them. I opened my tear-filled eyes and saw a number of them in tears too; one was even on her knees. I knew the Spirit was moving powerfully in and speaking clearly to these kids. It was an anointed moment indeed.
I vaguely remember telling these things: “The Lord wants to engrave this moment onto your heart… You are standing on holy ground… The Lord is here in our midst…” I knew instantly that this was going to be the theme song for REAL (at least until an even more appropriate song is written).
A few months down the road, I led this song at the weekly Tuesday staff devotion. Again, I received the similar responses from my colleagues. There were no tears from me this time but I was sure this song registered something in their hearts. I know this because a few of them came to share with and affirm me.
Come 2010 Q4, Ps Kenny approached me from out of the blue and asked if I was keen to sing “the song that I led during staff devotion some months ago” at the Watchnight Service 2010, just before Ps David delivered his challenge. I was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity that was presented before me but I took a week to consider it before I eventually took up the offer; I wasn’t sure if I could manage rehearsals and REAL camp concurrently.
I had to activate Joel Tay to accompany me in this song because the minus-one track had not arrived from the States. He was kind enough to take on the challenge despite just a couple of days’ notice and we had, at best, two rehearsals – one at his house and the other at the GII Sanctuary a few hours before Watchnight.
Throughout rehearsals, I was constantly reminded of how the song presentation must challenge the church to leave behind an example of faith for the generations that would come after them. I asked God to help take the attention off me and shift it onto the message in the song – minimum showmanship, maximum diversion. And I trust that He has.
Last Thursday, I had the privilege of having dinner with Ps Edmund and his wife Ps Ann, together with Dr Bill Lawrence and his wife Lynna. Whenever I meet new people, I would naturally share about my journey to Jesus and my full-time calling. There and then, at Coleman’s Cafe in Excelsior Hotel, the official soundtrack played in my head.
It kept playing throughout the evening, until I went to bed; and I think the song will keep playing in my head, to serve as a personal reminder for me, for the rest of my life, until I see my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ face-to-face. No prizes for guessing the first question I would ask Jesus when I meet Him.
I couldn’t help but feel that it was a full circle indeed – to share this story (again) in the company of my mentor, who (by divine appointment) is the same pastor who facilitated my decision-making process into full-time ministry in September 2009. Indeed, “God is good, in control and will bring His will to pass”.
Oh Lord, may the footprints that I leave lead young people to believe in You and life I live inspire them to obey You. Please find me faithful at the end of my pilgrimage, Lord. I love You…
I know I’ve lost the momentum to write again – I blame the weekend – but in my daily (my youth leaders call it stalking, but I call it) web-trawling, I read an article written by one of my favourite youths (Okay, I have a lot of favourites. HAHA). I’ve seen this fine young lady mature from a loud and energetic 14-year-old girl to well, a loud and energetic 20-year-old young adult, except that she’s got tons more wisdom between her shoulders now. (:
Her short testimony demonstrates the wisdom that she has gained over the years and proves the power of hindsight at the present – and how it provides insight of the past – and eventually foresight into the future. Today, only two out of the eight post-‘O’ level students in REAL 2011 were posted into their first choice. A part of me is clueless in dispensing advice, except in encouraging them to remain hopeful and trust in God; it has been more than a decade since I received my posting results, so it takes someone who’s current to the education system to encourage these students with conviction and credibility.
I’ve always stated that Jesus > Grades in my sermons or on Facebook; I mean seriously, did you really think that a B or C could stop God’s will from unfolding in your life? Tonight, I’ll reiterate this point – Jesus > Posting; getting into your 2nd or 9th choice isn’t the end of God’s will for you – in fact, it’s PART of God’s will. Why am I so confident? I say this with such conviction because I know you’ll unravel the answers for yourself a couple of years later. The real question to ask is: can/do you trust Him? I can because Jesus > MOE and Jesus > Education.
(For those who are keen, you can read Yixian’s excellent sharing here: I thank God for bad results.)
Remember, young people, God’s faithfulness is best experienced at the END of a journey, never at the beginning; and you just got started! Chins up – you’re walking on good ground! (:
I was a serial crusher.
No, not a destroyer of boys, but a (puppy) lover of girls. During my teenage years, I must have had crushes on practically every girl I laid eyes on, so long as they were pleasant-looking. Yes, I admit I was shallow. You mean, you never were? (:
I’m pretty sure Lionel remembers how I used to daftly declare to him, every time I got attached, “She’s the one” or “This time, it’s real”. He must have gotten so immune to these proclamations because he patronised me all the time. We laugh it off whenever we talk about it now, but back then when my hormones were raging, I really believed myself when I made those mindless declarations.
I wanted to get attached to every single girl that I had a crush on and marry every single girl that I dated. Crazy, I know. So thank God it didn’t happen, otherwise, I’d never get to be with the lovely and irreplaceable Huiyi. (:
Well, as I stand on the horizon of marriage, it got me thinking about that statement – “She’s the one”. And I wonder how many of you actually believe in that – that there’s ONE person out that who is set apart for you and that you should spend your whole life waiting for or pursuing THAT one.
Don’t be stupid. There’s no such thing as “The One”. It’s an absolutely ludicrous statement to make.
Think about it, all it takes is for ONE person to screw up and everyone else would end up being with SOMEONE else besides the ONE that’s set apart for them. For example, if Ah Beng is destined to be the ONE for Ah Lian but breaks up with her, and Ah Lian begins to date Ah Seng while Ah Beng ends up with Ah Huay, then the ONE whom Ah Huay and Ah Seng was supposed to be with will never end up with Ah Huay and Ah Seng respectively! (Get it?)
It just takes ONE wrong combination and the entire universe would be in complete chaos; this entire world would be mismatched! Can you imagine being with someone else’s ONE? Eeeks – it would be a disaster!
Hence, it’s utter rubbish that there’s ONE person out there for you, so stop your search for that elusive ONE.
HOWEVER… Once you get married, your spouse immediately becomes THE ONE. I’m not God and so it’d be presumptuous and arrogant for me to declare, regardless of how confident I am, that Huiyi’s THE ONE for me. I mean, honestly, many things could happen before we tie the knot (and both of us have never take our relationship for granted). But once we exchange matrimonial vows, we immediately become THE ONE for each other. And our mission, once we share the same surname, is to continue to make each other THE ONE for each other. (Get it?)
So think about it, if you haven’t already. Stop your search for THE ONE. (This ridiculous treasure hunt has been the cause of many relationship failures. I think it’s especially relevant to committed couples who have dated for a long time – they get sick of each other or one party changes drastically in a short span of time – and they start looking elsewhere, for the greener grass on the other side.) Instead, start BEING the one.
And I promise you, all the right ones will come knocking on your door. The only “one” you’ll think about is whether you “want” to be committed or not.
Today – 22 January 2011, Huiyi and I celebrate 37 months together and the longer we are together, the more committed we are to be THE ONE for each other. So for the 1,126th time, I shall declare it daily – I love you, sweetie, more than yesterday, less than tomorrow. I want to remain committed to this one. (:
I shall take a risk to post this entry and put myself on the altar of transparency because I want to give God glory.
This afternoon, during project discussion with my RMIT course mates, I saw my former course mate from my Mass Communication days in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. It has been a decade since we were both in the same education institution.
I didn’t dare to say hello to him.
No, it wasn’t because there was bad blood between us or that I disliked him. I avoided him because I felt inferior. Yes, you read it right – INFERIOR. And I don’t normally feel that way. It was a foreign feeling I was certainly not used to. And I didn’t enjoy it one bit.
I think, by any yardstick, I consider myself a man with considerable accomplishments. My professional achievements would look good in any curriculum vitae. After all, I’ve authored and edited books, set up a marketing department from scratch, negotiated significant business deals, organised countless marketplace and ministry events, held leadership positions no matter where I was, and have had overseas working experience.
But I couldn’t hold a candle to this classmate.
He’s a world-class musician who has travelled the globe, wrote a few books himself (and his text is now used in conservatories as part of its curriculum), featured in many media publications, and has studied enough to change his salutation from ‘Mr’ to ‘Dr’.
So while I was discussing project work with my course mates, he was returning to a lecture – because he was the lecturer.
Reality hit me harshly; it became inevitable that I benchmarked myself against him.
My confidence plummeted to an all-day low. It was then I felt the Spirit quietly searching for the location of my security. It was a sobering reminder (and yet a reassurance) that I must hang on to John 15:5, my life verse, with my life.
I texted my soul mate Huiyi and while her reassurances helped to make a difference in the way I felt at that moment, I knew that I was being tested for something far deeper than external comparisons. Am I contented with who I am today and who God has made me to be and do? Honestly, I struggled to say yes; it was a long journey from the head to the heart.
Well, God has a sense of humour. Yes, I’m not a lecturer and I do not teach students in school. But I’m a preacher who has the privilege of shepherding youths in church. I may not have the professional competence of a ‘Dr’, but I have a private calling to be a pastor. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? Well, while thinking like that does make me feel better about who I am and what I do (at least temporarily), it’s more important that I remember whose I am and what I’ve been commissioned to do.
Lord, reign in me and rein me in again. I love You, Lord. Not for man’s applause, but for Your approval. Thank You for the encounter today. It tested my resolve and I’m glad You helped me to resolve it. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing; I am absolutely nothing without Christ.
This is my second attempt at writing a new post for in the original entry, I went on and on, and so out of point that the article just took on a life of its own and became substantial enough for a separate (and totally unrelated) entry. So I shall keep this entry short and sweet, and write about what I had actually intended to post.
Tonight, I shall simply offer a rhetorical question but actually expect different responses:
“Would you rather have parental objection or parental rejection? And why?”
I know the answer is obvious but I want to know why most of us would choose the former. Do share your thoughts with me, if you will. I’m pretty sure some responses would surprise me.
I’d go to the extent of stating that parental objection is a BLESSING; so young people, don’t take parental objection – however annoying, frustrating, constricting and infuriating you may perceive it to be – for granted.
This was the one lingering thought on my mind the entire day. Now, tell me what’s on yours.
I’ve decided to take on Serene Wee’s encouragement, and to just get started on writing; it’s heartening and humbling to know that my words have an audience. To remove deterrents, I shall cease to tag from this point forth. And to get me restarted, I shall spill my thoughts after watching Royston Tan’s brilliant film, “15”, as part of my school work.
1. The movie left me with a heavy heart and I found myself retreating and interceding for all 15-year-old youths and juvenile delinquents after the movie ended. I prayed especially for those in R-AGE and those whom I know have drifted away due to their encounters with crime.
2. As these were true-life characters, last night was the first time I actually prayed for movie protagonists – Vynn, Melvin, Shaun, Erick and Armani. This is the only instance I’ve ever committed on-screen characters to God, and know that He would show mercy and grace to these five boys, wherever they are now.
3. I discovered my pastoral heart for juvenile delinquents for a variety of reasons:
- I’m confident that, if not for Jesus, I would have ended up as one
- I could actually understand 100% of the profanities they used and 75% of the dialect they spoke
- They are lost, helpless and alone, like many other and any other young person
- They have no one to turn to because society, together with their parents, have turned away from them
- Their number one need is for the love of Jesus to reign in their hearts more than anything else
4. To the best of my ability, I will never allow a Normal Technical, ITE student or anyone who is not in the mainstream education track to feel out-of-place in R-AGE. The youth group is, and must always, remain a safe place. That said, I will also fiercely protect my sheep if they are in danger of being hurt by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
5. Single-parenthood could well be society’s greatest destructive force. And by the way, parents, listen up and listen good – comparing your child to someone else’s is one of the worst things you could ever do for them. If you are still doing it, it’s time to halt and repent; oh trust me, you won’t like it if they compared your inadequacies with another set of parents.
6. The issue of suicide and death in teenagers’ minds is closer than I think; oh Lord, please make me sensitive to all the warning signs. God forbid that I lose a young person to premature departure. Not on my watch, Lord, please. The youths in R-AGE must NEVER, EVER trivialise suicide; death is not and will never be a way of escape. It is my prayer that the media is responsible for guarding the thoughts of impressionable teenagers.
7. Rebellion isn’t a phenomenon to be mocked at or shunned. No, it’s a real cry for help more than anything else. There is real fear in those bloodshot hooligan eyes. Oh Lord, make me sensitive to reactive rebellious behaviour and give me favour and access into the lives of these youths; I know one of R-AGE @ GII’s reasons for existence is to reach this special group of youths.
8. Troubled youths, beneath all the bravado they exhibit, are lonely individuals searching for love and acceptance in a family cluster, just like regular ones.
9. How will I be remembered amongst the people whom I have the privilege and honour of walking and crossing paths with, be it for an hour or a year?
10. The way we view life determines the way we approach it; I thank God for making me an eternal optimist. However, I earnestly pray that I would become sensitive to pessimists and emotionally destructive people – may God expand my capacity and patience for them and to love them the way He does.
11. Sometimes, the most powerful way to tend to each other’s wounds is to be silent; when dealing with someone who’s hurt, the last thing you want to say is something he or she already knows. Just shut up and be present.
12. A better education should never give young people the opportunity to be snobbish and arrogant bastards (please, forgive the language). Instead, it should move these educated privileged ones to return something to society and make a difference to the lives of those who are not as educated as they are. Education must enlighten and exude goodwill and compassion, not apathy and individualism. Don’t ever be a NATO – no action, talk only. Respect must be imbued into our syllabus and fused into our upbringing, regardless of race or religion. The “educated”, for all its worth, must remain a neutral, factual word and should not condescend the “uneducated”.
13. Unity indeed, is strength. Oh Lord, help me to unite the youths whom you have given to me for a good and godly cause. I pray that You would cause division and divide amongst youths who are banding together for a destructive purpose – from gossip to gang fights – for it is just as damaging.
14. I make an impassioned plea to all youths who will ever read what’s been written here – there is always a better way than foolishness; the recklessness you demonstrate today will echo in the short-lived eternity of your life. And you may just live to regret it. I don’t wish that to happen to any young person. One of the saddest thing to hear from someone is, “I told you so…”.
15. Living without hope or purpose could well be death tragically experienced while alive. I am thankful that I am not living to die, but dying to live. I am convinced that the causes and ramifications of gangsterism is loneliness and rejection.
Let’s go through some of the things I said during my vision-casting sermon, that R-AGE @ GII will stand for:
- Redeemed youths redeem youths
- Youth Communities will grow, glow and go
- Ministry Extensions will reach, relate and reveal
- Youth services will be engaging, excellent and exciting
- Meet felt needs earnestly, lead passionately, connect authentically and believe wholeheartedly
Oh Lord, please this a youth group that redeems a generation for eternity!
All right, before this blog goes on a month-long silence, I thought I should fill the gap with something that’s already pre-written for me by WordPress!
Up next, REAL 2011 lock-in camp!
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.
In 2010, there were 197 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 234 posts. There were 320 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 215mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was June 13th with 335 views. The most popular post that day was announcement! change of address in 2016!.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, networkedblogs.com, morethanwordscansay.wordpress.com, thefuneralmasqueradeforlove.blogspot.com, and theupperroomdiaries.wordpress.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for joey asher tan, signs of insecurity, joey asher, is it possible to dream within a dream, and dream within a dream possible.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
announcement! change of address in 2016! June 2010
a dream within a dream – is that possible? July 2010
top ten signs of insecurity. June 2010
is heavy metal music really satanic? March 2010
understanding your personality temperament. March 2010