Monthly Archives: March 2011

dads for life – don’t ever take fathers for granted.

I regret not doing something crazy but radical during my evening run just now.

The final part of my jogging route took me to Holland Grove View, just off Mount Sinai Road. I sneaked glances into those huge house as I trod down a small road flanked by luxury cars. (I digress but isn’t it interestingly dichotomous that Mount Sinai Road and Ghim Moh Road share the same tar? What a world of affluential difference!) It was 7:30pm – dinner time. One in four households I ran past were sharing a meal over the dining table. And at every single gathering, the Holy Spirit pointed my attention to the father figure.

Without fail, I immediately spotted the head of the home. And by the time I hit the third household having dinner, I remember being prompted by the Spirit to go to the fence of this huge white bungalow, for it was just outside the dining room. I felt moved in my spirit to deliver the following words of encouragement to the elderly man clad in a white tee:

“Hey you! Are you their father? You don’t have to know who I am but I want you to know that what you’re doing – it’s great. Keep having meals with your family as often as you can, please. You’re doing an amazing job as a father. Don’t underestimate the importance of simply eating together!”

But alas, I didn’t. And within two paces, my window of opportunity vanished. I didn’t run by another house again with the dining room within shouting distance from the road. Then I started to reflect – on how I wanted my family to look like a decade from now. Due to external upbringing and an internal resolve, I was quietly confident that I would be a good husband and I was determined to be a father but I didn’t want to take anything for granted. Being a good 一家之主 requires planning, effort and sacrifice. I don’t need to be a father to know this.

Immediately I started to recall all the good father figures that God has graciously placed in my life to inspire me, and set an example on how a household should be led and how children should be brought up. I began to thank God for great men like Pastor Ronald Yow, Uncle Kheng Leong and Peter Lim, just to name the first few off the top of my head. With these wonderful examples, amongst many others, I nearly slipped into an unnecessary melancholy comparison due to my lack of a fatherly figure, but I decided to celebrate God’s faithfulness in these families instead.

My message tonight is simple.

If you are a father reading this, and have been consistently investing into your family – keep going! You’re doing a great job! And I am certain that your rewards will come when you still have communion with your grown-up children when you’re old and gray.

If you are a father who is distant, or have a desire to want to reconnect with your family – my brother, this is your time to redeem what was lost. Your career must never, ever be at the expense of your children and your wealth-accumulation must never be at the expense of your wife.

Fathers – never underestimate your role in your children’s lives!

If you are a son or daughter reading this – why don’t you just take a minute to walk to your father, hug him, and tell him that you love him and appreciate all that he is doing and has done for the family? I’m sure he’ll be shocked and may even think you’re nuts, but deep down inside, I’m also sure that it will swell his heart swell with warmth and pride. Go now!

And if you, like me, are disconnected from your father – why don’t you take this time to pray for him and thank God for the many good fathers that are around you?

Well, since we’re on the subject of encouraging dads to be dads for life, why don’t we use Facebook or our mobile phones to encourage a father right now? We don’t have to wait for Father’s Day since fathers play their roles as fathers, not just once a year, but everyday.

I don’t like telling God how good people say I am.

One of the many lessons I caught from EC was this: “You bring both criticisms and compliments before the Lord.”

It’s easy to go to God when you feel either discouraged by people’s negative comments or disappointed by a poor decision made. It’s only natural that during these times we turn our eyes to Jesus to look at His wonderful face in light of our woeful situations. After all, our God is a God who comforts and we will find many instances of Scripture which assures us of this attribute of God.

It is the other part that we often struggle to bring before God. Well, for me at least – I know I frequently resist letting God screen the compliments that people feed me. How foolish and conceited I have been!

I believe that you can test a man’s competence and calibre by watching him through tests and trials. But if you want to test a man’s true character and source of confidence, you only need to give him power and popularity. The maxim stands true: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

God has been faithful to me by constantly putting great people around me – those who believe in me and affirm the things I do. While I am grateful for these necessary sources of encouragement, I have now become acutely aware of its accompanying dangers too. I am certain that as I grow in capabilities and capacities, compliments will continue to surround me. Don’t get me wrong – I won’t shun it or play the modesty game. No, I’ll present it before the Lord instead and ask Him to help me discern it.

I must not believe my own hype; I must not be deceived by people’s hyperbole; I must not achieve a state of haughtiness. Oh Lord, help me to conceive humility! Seek not the applause of men but the approval of God – I must live out this axiom and find true security in God alone. Yes, humility, integrity and sufficiency must indeed come together.

Fill me with your wisdom, oh Lord, and give me an insatiable appetite to seek true humility. May the only thing I boast about be what Christ has done for me on the cross of Calvary!

Henceforth, I shall commit to my Creator both criticisms and compliments so that my convictions are continuously corrected and my character is constantly changed for the sake of Christ! Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing; I am absolutely nothing without Christ. What a sobering statement.

why you should attend the church’s annual business meeting.

I have neither been instructed nor felt like it was my duty as a church employee to write this post; this is a completely voluntary and perhaps even purgatory entry as a result of my day-long dialogue with the Spirit about ABM.

On my way to school after the ABM dry run and briefing in GII, I recalled what it was like for me to attend ABM as a fresh-from-baptism-first-year-church-member. I anticipated it with excitement – partly due to novelty as a first-timer but mostly because I was acutely interested in the deeper workings of the church… It was after all, my church – the place I grew up in.

And this beginning conviction was something I needed to be reminded about today.

But truth be told. While I could only recognise 10% of the potential board members whom I had to vote for and was never a fan of the mandatory (and boring) graphs and numbers in the annual report, I did recognise the importance of my choices and acknowledged that I was indeed a big fan of my church.

I was intrigued by how their operations; I felt special knowing exclusive information before the everyone else did; I stopped nodding off when someone fires the occasional tough question; and of course, I get amused by how the pastors and board members attempt to reply, albeit awkwardly and sometimes even embarrassingly. The hot topic consistently seems to be how the church remunerates its pastors – somehow there’ll always be someone asking that question.

Well, for most of the youths (and especially those who are very young, new to the church or attending ABM for the first time), I honestly think this is how they will vote:

  • Do I know him?
  • Do I like his face?
  • Do I know his children?
  • Has he attended youth service before?
  • Will he favour the youth ministry?

Maybe you’re a serious voter – good for you! – but that’s about as frank as it gets for me. At least that was how I voted the first time. Those board members with the 欠打 face or those who looked too serious never received my votes. Yes, I did pray before I cast my votes but it’s more of a “God, I hope this fella is the right chap!” than a “Oh Lord, open the skies and reveal Your choice to me!” Today of course, I know more than 50% of the board members, but come on, who was I kidding back then?

Nonetheless, whether I was an informed or ill-informed voter, I was still present and my vote made as big an impact as the gentleman who has been attending the church before I was born. With my votes, I represented my generation, my ministry and my personal convictions. I thank God that He knows the final verdict for every decision contested and I also thank God that I know I played a part in His plan. Without me, things might just turn out differently – not for the better or worse, just different.

If I may, I will make a sweeping statement here – I conclude that there were generally two types of church members: those who cared about their church and those who don’t. You can’t be in between. You can’t have conditions. Either you do, or you don’t. And how do I see the commitment in your heart? Very simple – by observing the choices that you have made.

This entry by the way, is not meant to prick your conscience. No, it’s an outcry of how the Spirit convicted my heart today. It was a necessary reminder of my role in the constitution of the church. Perhaps, just perhaps, you may be able to identify with me.

Let’s get excited about the direction of our beloved place of worship. Let’s get enthusiastic about making decisions that will shape our next generation. Let’s get energised about our church – after all, Jesus overcame death to build the church (Matthew 16:18)!

See you later at the 50th Annual Business Meeting – I can’t wait!

JAT reads in mid-March.

A part of what I do for a living is to keep up with my youths by reading their blogs; I’m subscribed to nearly 70 (and counting!) blogs and each time they update, Google Reader feeds it to me; you learn a lot about people by being a phantom reader. I also subscribe to other websites and often enough, I chance upon a good article that is worth sharing…

This is my first attempt to show you what I read and I plan to do this every other week if I can keep up. Hope you enjoy these articles as much as I have.

  • Bethenia Dixon refreshes everyone with a great perspective on giving – love her closing.
  • Clarence Chua puts himself in the shoes of his semi-deaf father – a riveting piece.
  • Dan Walker of the BBC captures Le Magnifique Eric Cantona in an exclusive interview.
  • John Piper brings us back to 2002 and reminds youth workers of their great responsibility.
  • Joshua Ng reflects on what it means to leave behind a legacy as a legend.
  • Lim Jun Hong reminds us of the importance of being properly rooted in the Word.
  • Perry Noble looks at the ten ways to fail as a minister – what a sobering reminder for all…
  • Serene Wee provides an excellent insight into the situation in Japan, as told by a Japanese.
  • Soann Chng writes about Cavan’s responsibilities as her firstborn – something I identify with.
  • Steven Chan shares how he missed the earthquake in Tokyo by a mere 50 minutes.

You never know – you might just be featured next month! I’m a big fan of superb writers and always on the lookout for read-worthy articles.

review of the unattainable girl, seven years later.

I found an interesting post which I wrote seven years ago and I thought it made for good reading. It’s regarding my dream girl – so impossible to find I called her the unattainable girl. Here’s how I described her…

  1. She shouldn’t just be a Christian. She must be in love with God so much she inspires me to fall even deeper in love with Him.
  2. A family person, because I am. I think being family oriented is of utmost importance.
  3. Has a kind-hearted nature. You know, the kind who will gladly help a granny cross the road, return a wallet, give up a seat, etc. She should have a big and generous heart!
  4. Doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty, but she must be beautiful. Get it?
  5. Her confidence should exude in the way she carries herself.
  6. Some girls have a glow… And some girls have a Jesus glow.
  7. I always believe a healthy body produces a healthy mind i.e. be physically fit. We can exercise together!
  8. Well, being patient and understanding are cliché traits to ask for, but when those are essential when it comes to dealing with me.
  9. Please do not be whiny… And please do not cry all the time… And please do not go “Sooooooo cute!!!” too often.
  10. Crazy about children, because I’m thrilled about them! I can’t wait to be a father!
  11. I hope she’s NOT taller than me. *hopes* I wanna look good beside her!
  12. Football is part of me, so it’d be great if it was part of her. This would be way cool but it won’t be important though. A bonus if she cheers for TeamR-AGE and Man Utd.
  13. Be ever so supportive of what I do and what I ought to do.
  14. Nice hair, eyes and complexion, because I don’t have these.
  15. A captivating smile to take my breath away, a tender touch to cool my hot-temper, a soothing voice to calm my kancheong-spider nature and an affectionate hug to assure me everything’s gonna be all right.
  16. Oh I certainly hope our conversations are filled with laughter, wit and genuinity. She should be capable of small talk and big talk too. Oh, and please pretend to be amused even when I start to say lame things… One day my mojo will run out. Hopefully only when I die.
  17. A lively and intelligent mind to stimulate the relationship and the conversations, and to always keep things fresh.
  18. Being sweet and thoughtful are lovely traits to have as well.
  19. She’s single, available and wants a long-term relationship? She’s a wife-to-be, not a girlfriend.
  20. She must not snore… Although this won’t be applicable during the initial years of courtship, but still…
  21. Last but not least… She loves me as much as I love her. Balance you know?

Sounds like a great deal? Haha. Maybe. Probably. Well, I know I definitely do not deserve a girl like this (if she even exists in the first place). But hey, I did not deserve Christ too. So, I won’t speak too soon… Optimism lights my path. Hehe…

So that was seven years ago, eons before I even set eyes on Huiyi… I thank God that she’s everything I want and need, and all that I am searching for. I may not be the best she knows or vice-versa, but I believe we’re the best for each other. I thank God for sending me Huiyi and if God-willing, I look forward to spending this lifetime with her. (:

Post script: I shall alter trait #21 in light of being with Huiyi. If you are searching for a girlfriend, please make sure that she inspires and motivates you to LOVE HER MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOURSELF BY SIMPLY BEING HERSELF. This was one of the factors that really drew me to Huiyi and she didn’t even need to do anything to attract me this way, except to be herself!

the destructive power of assumptions.

Those who follow my blog and know me personally would remember my association with Dercum’s disease, a collection of fatty deposits all over my body. I went for my routine (every 6-9 months) check-up today and it left a deep enough impression to blog about. I spent the chunk of my day with Keith Yeo and I was glad he was there to witness what happened.

A quick background – each check-up costs about $70 and lasts no more than five minutes. Today, I arrived on time and waited 40 minutes before I was served. And I was done within one minute – Keith’s surprised expression when I exited the room verified the swift consultation that just transpired. While I was treated by the best in the business, today’s check-up amounted to $65, or about $1 per second. Cut throat? You tell me.

I walked to the counter and was ready to pay, but as I took out my wallet, I felt uncomfortable – that’s not cost-effective at all! I spent all that time waiting to be told something that I already knew from the last visit – that regrowth is normal and that I should wait for a lot more lumps to grow before I decide upon another operation. So I decided to walk back to the room to perhaps, negotiate with the doctor.

I knocked on the door gently as there was another patient in the room but the nurse curtly shooed me away. The way she told me to take a seat was rude and unnecessary but I tolerated it and waited as instructed. A couple of minutes later, the patient left the room and I entered it.

Before I could even present my case, the doctor suddenly became extremely defensive and started to put words in my mouth.

“If you feel it’s a waste of your time, you can drop the case immediately.”

“If you want a subsidised price, you can close this case and reapply through a polyclinic.”

“If you think that I’m overcharging you, you can always change a doctor.”

And all these were fired at me before I could even utter a word.

Now, I was caught off guard because this wasn’t the doctor whom I’ve interacted with for the past three consultations. And certainly neither professional nor acceptable for a man of his stature. I was taken aback and I stopped him in his tracks.

“Doctor, why are you putting words in my mouth, when I haven’t said anything at all?”

“Why are you behaving so defensively and taking this so personally?”

“All I wanted to do was to come in here to clarify the fee, but I was quite ready to head out to pay the full amount of this consultation.”

“If anything at all, I don’t think I’m the kind to be unreasonable – I just needed to hear an explanation.”

“Why did you jump to so many conclusions before I even asked you anything?”

“I think you should have a word with your staff about the things she told you before I came in…”

I think I must have caught him off guard too, with the way I retorted his (baseless) accusations. And I think he didn’t see that coming from someone who’s probably half his age. He composed himself after a couple of more defensive statements and I remember counting three verbal apologies from him; it was a professional apology though, not a genuine one. But I decided to be gracious about it so that he had some space to 下台 (retreat).

I couldn’t help but to assume three preconceived ideas he had before our little exchange:

  • his nurse fed him with the wrong information
  • he felt that I was about to attack him professionally and personally
  • he probably had a bad day

I left the room feeling confused but something that annoyed me more was the injustice that I experienced. I felt maligned. I believe the medical staff owe me an apology. I was surprised though, that I didn’t lose my temper during the exchange. Instead, I spoke calmly, gently yet assertively. I asked the Spirit to help me respond like Jesus. Still, I left the hospital feeling 不爽 (unsatisfied).

On my way home after leaving Keith, I brought this before the Lord and asked Him to help me make sense of it. I haven’t heard from Him but I am glad that in my anger, I did not sin. Conversely speaking, I’m proud of my conduct and my reaction in the aftermath.

So this is what I am going to do now… I’m going to write this doctor an email to affirm him of my appreciation of his skills and expertise, make him reflect upon his (regrettable, haha) words and actions, close this incident, ask for his composed response to what happened today and tell him I look forward to see him again two years later at my next appointment with him.

Finally (and this is where you can join me), I am going to pray that this would lead to a divine opportunity for me to share the Gospel with him. Of course, I may not get a reply, but if you never ask, you never know.

have you considered switching lenses?

This entry is referenced from the book of Haggai, where we observe two types of workers in the church. The older ones had probably experienced some form of glory days before. Hence it would be natural for them to:

  • Look backwards towards good old days
  • Reminisce past memories
  • Remember what it used to be, and
  • Relive history

More often than not, this constant comparison would leave them disappointed and disillusioned. The younger ones, however, are anticipating their own days of glory. Hence you would expect them to:

  • Look forward towards new beginnings
  • Be out to create new memories
  • Imagine what it could be, and
  • Want to make history

So this would naturally result in them being energised and driven. The difference was that the younger ones caught sight of the future – a glimpse of greatness and a flash of hope! So I believe that at the end of the day, in light of positivity or negativity which would inevitably happen around us, it boils down to perspective!

Ed Silvoso once said, “The greatest hindrance to faith is not unbelief but memories.” I concur. Our memories can indeed become hindrances and limitations to what God can do because we have a tendency to repeat positives and avoid negatives. This causes us to be reluctant to embrace new ideas and initiatives. Let’s not get caught in the rearview mirror. We must learn to honour the past, cherish the present and anticipate the future. It’s not our past that determines our future but God’s presence.

My favourite footballer, Eric Cantona (whom I saw in person just last week!) once said this, after he returned from an eight-month ban from kung-fu kicking a fan who verbally abused him – “I use the past to breed a better future.” We must not compare the former R-AGE, e-Gigs, camps, conferences or any other events (or even people!) with the future R-AGE. Every year is different and quite rightly so! Instead, we must look forward to the future with hope and expect that God will bring us from glory to glory.

For the older ones – don’t dishearten the younger ones… And for the younger ones – set an example for your leaders by inspiring and motivating them with your energy! When the energy of the young and the experience of the old comes together, the youth group becomes a powerful place.

Instead of comparing today with what happened in the past, the older ones must instead:

  • Remind the youths of their heritage
  • Encourage them
  • Rely on their strength, and
  • Not be wet blankets and water down their passion

Most importantly, they must provide a platform for God’s purposes to be performed through the younger ones. In turn, the younger ones must approach the elders this way:

  • Remind them of their destiny
  • Enthuse them
  • Glean from their wisdom, and
  • Not be foolish and ignore the advice of the older ones

One of the best thing they could do for themselves would be to approach the older ones to be mentored by them so that God’s purposes in their life could be progressed. The most dangerous thing for us to do is to compromise and meet in the middle – we end up neither here nor there and result in dissatisfaction. We must dream together to birth what God has deposited in our hearts! Remember, it’s all about interchanging our perspective for a better one from God!

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