Category Archives: Simple Pleasures

Godliness with contentment is great gain; may God forbid me to take for granted the simple things in life.

reminiscing New Zealand: 10 unforgettable moments.

  1. Spending four hours with my mentor’s mentor, Jim Chew, and gleaning wisdom from his life.
  2. Catching up with Daniel and Vimun over the weekend and adopting Stacey as our god-daughter.
  3. Pulling off stupid stunts at Moeraki Boulders and convincing my wife to capture me in action.
  4. Navigating through a forest route on the final blinking bar of petrol, and without phone reception.
  5. Swinging 120m in tandem from one mountain onto the oncoming cliff face with my brave wife.
  6. Jumping off a 134m platform between two mountains – the highest bungy jump in Australasia.
  7. Experiencing shock and helplessness when my wife went overboard from white water rafting.
  8. Sailing into Doubtful Sound and seeing whales, dolphins and seals in their natural environments.
  9. Clocking a mileage of 3,283.6km in 18 days – covering the entire perimeter of South Island.
  10. Being and sharing every moment with the love of my life for all 1,555,200 consecutive seconds.

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the importance of spiritual peers.

The older you get, the more you don’t take things for granted.

Tonight’s no-frills dinner was an example of that. This meeting was Lionel’s initiative and had to be planned a month in advance. Lionel bought dinner up to his place and I enjoyed a time of catching up with him and his wife, Jeanie. Ministry is so intricately woven in our tapestry of life that it was an inevitable conversation topic among us.

When Johann arrived 30 minutes later, we got down to why we gathered tonight. It was refreshing to share about what the Lord was doing in each of our lives, as well as how we could keep each other in prayer in such an unpretentious manner. I enjoyed how we ended the night lifting each other up in prayer.

I don’t know about other (youth) pastors, but I find that as I age and as I “climb” the leadership rungs, there are lesser and lesser spiritual friends. That is why I appreciate what we shared tonight – three men whose histories intersect, who are in different seasons of life, who like and love each other, coming together to share honestly with each other.

It was nice to find a platform to share about ministry aspirations and frustrations, marriage and wedding preparations, parenthood and career, among other things, and know that you won’t be judged or frowned at for what you say. We had nothing to lose, nothing to prove and nothing to hide. And that was a breath of fresh air.

Spiritual peers are a blessing to any man.

of anointing, kindred spirits and connected hearts.

It’s becoming apparent to me that most youth pastors served as worship leaders in their previous lives. I could rattle off multiple names off the cuff — Glenn Lim, Andy Yeoh, Chris Long, Pacer Tan and lately, myself.

I meet another one tonight. His name is Brian Lopez, a Filipino. And I’ve not met another worship leader with an anointing as strong and pure as his. I’ve met many worship leaders, but not one that carries the entire service with his anointing alone. I really wished I could teleport the CAMY worship leaders to the service hall to watch Brian’s team lead worship. They will capture their imagination.

I’ve grown out of the Hillsong United and Planetshakers phase of my life. I’ve enjoyed their music and how they’ve led me time and again into the presence of God, but no matter what (and I’m not being racist), they’re non-Asians. So to see an Asian expressing his heart of worship to God in such an uncontaminated manner was breathtaking and inspiring.

We connected with each other after service ended and had a marvelous time sharing our hearts out on matters in the ministry that were close to our hearts — from leadership, to shepherding, to expository preaching. I haven’t met a kindred spirit in a long while.

In Brian’s words, “Man, why haven’t I met you earlier!?” I thank the Lord for fusing our hearts together as we prayed for each other.

I look forward to bringing Brian Lopez down to R-AGE.

half-time: this is why I like Philippines.

After being cooped up in school for a full week, I was glad to get a breath of fresh air outside the seminary. A group of us headed to the nearby SM Mall for dinner and were glad to gobble down two large pizzas in Yellow Cab Pizzeria; for obvious reasons, the majority of us wanted to avoid anything related to rice.

Meeting committed Christians from other nations has been an enriching experience. I always thought that talking about NS would bring Singaporean men together in conversation. Football might have the same effect on most guys. But I’m now convinced that the richest and deepest conversations revolve around what Jesus Christ has done and is doing in our lives.

I’m beginning to take an affinity towards Philippines; not just because of the comfortable Baguio weather or the more affordable standard of living, but because of the warmth of the locals. I’m convinced that if we had youth services in heaven, the chief ushers and greeters training team would be Filipino. The folks here are seriously and genuinely interested to talk to you.

I’ve never been left alone in a social setting for more than one minute. As long as the locals see that you’re by yourself, they’d instinctively take the initiative to engage you in conversation. R-AGE could really learn a thing or two from them. They’d make any newcomer or returning visitor feel welcome!

I’m only halfway through AIYS 2012 and I’ve attended nearly 30 classes! I like. (:

when FhLY meets Metallica.

I’ve been a consistent recipient of strange dreams. And last night, I had one of the most bizarre dreams ever; it happened with such lifelike detail that I better write about it before I forget!

Now, the dream took place at Tom Lee Music (a music megastore in Hong Kong). I can’t remember who I was with but I know I was with a band buddy – I’m guessing he was either Ricky, Jeremy, Jenn Hui, Liang Zhi or Daniel. And the two of us were browsing the store, looking for the latest music records and a new guitar (don’t ask why).

Halfway through our shopping trip, we learnt that there was a special store feature for that day – Metallica was in town and its founding members Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield were going to perform an acoustic set in 10 minutes! (Now get this – I’ve NEVER heard a single Metallica song in my life and I don’t even fancy heavy metal and death metal music so I have no idea how they even got into my dreams!)

So together with the larger-than-life crowd, we were standing in the atrium on the ground floor of the store. After a little fanfare led by the emcee, Metallica made their entrance from the stage up a flight of stairs that came down from the second floor. (THE MEMORY IS STILL VIVID!) They opened the set with their most famous number, and although I can remember how it sounds like, I obviously have no clue what the song was called… They ended that song to rapturous applause from the leather-glad and heavily-bearded crowd.

Then they played their second song…

And it sounded so much like the introduction of Roller Coaster, except it’s done acoustically with an injection of heavy metal. My curiosity was instantly piqued – that definitely got my attention! They did several bars of the introduction (like any hardcore metal band would) and then the scarily-tattooed James started to sing, with gusto and aplomb…

“I SOAR UP… AND SLIDE BACK DOWN…”

!!!

Imagine my stunned face!

“I FEEL GREAT! NOTHING CAN STAND IN MY WAY…”

I was truly in shock!

And when they finished the second chorus, the both of them put their backs against each other and played Ricky’s guitar solo NOTE-FOR-NOTE. (This obviously, is the glaring discrepancy in my dream; only rock bands, not heavy metal bands, do this back-to-back action.) World-renowned musicians singing and playing Ricky’s and my song – COME ON, HOW COOL IS THAT!?

The next thing I know, I found myself at the counter – requesting an audience with their manager and agent, who unfortunately wasn’t around. So instead to speaking to him, I was referred to three Chinese old ladies (!), none of whom spoke a word of English but only Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien. I practically died there trying to communicate “Roller Coaster”, “Heavy Metal” and “Rock Music” with those old dames, whose faces I can still remember – wavy hair, wrinkled skin, chained glasses, gold bangles and jade rings no less to complete the look!

It was impossible to discuss royalties, fees and copyright issues with them – no chance at all.

By this time, Metallica finished playing Roller Coaster and moved on to their final song of the set. In yet another bizarre twist of events, Metallica shared their testimony of how they came to know the Lord (!!) and started to play “Leaving Ninety-Nine” by Audio Adrenaline – they were right about ready to evangelise (!!!) to the Harley-Davidson-esqe entourage! Impossibly unimaginable!

“I’d leave ninety-nine, leave them all behind, to find you…”

That, incidentally, is my iPhone’s ringtone… So you know what happened next…

BUT WHAT A BIZARRELY COOL DREAM!

I shall conclude in the words of the song made famous by Aerosmith… “Dream on, dream on, dream on, dream until your dream comes true…” This dream quite possibly fused together parts of my personality and aspirations! It’s amazing how creative we can get when we are dreaming. I love dreaming (and making my dreams come true)!

FhLY's first public performance @ Orchard Cineleisure in 2002. For now, my gigging days are behind me, but man, were those good days or what! Photo by Liang Zhi. From left to right: Douglas, Ricky, Jeremy and Joey.

the remnants of my surprise Shanghai visit two years ago.

The last time I returned to Shanghai was almost two years ago, for a quick 3-day 2-night getaway. This was about a month after I started working in Grace AG. It was a last-minute arrangement as my former boss needed an urgent favour. He paid for my air tickets and I thought it was a great opportunity to spring a couple of surprises on some friends as well as to bring home the extra luggage that I couldn’t carry with me the last time.

This is my walk down memory lane…

The first surprise I pulled off was on Kay and the second surprise that I pulled off was on the youth group that I had served with. I remember my heart beating rapidly as I drove to the home church where youth service was held. I had planned to attend youth service as a regular attendee – I didn’t tell anyone and arrived without much fanfare.

It was great to see so many familiar faces as I climbed the flight of steps to the fifth floor. And it was priceless to see the shocked faces when they said hi to me. The youths greeted me like they would anyone. But it was the second wait-a-minute-that-can’t-be-Joey look that I will remember for the rest of my life. I remember Janelle poking me to check if I was real. It was wonderful to be greeted by so many hugs, smiles and conversations, as well as to share a meal with Bryan.

The third surprise I pulled off was on my cell group – the wonderful group of people who took care of me when I was there. I arrived early and remained in my car while I waited for them to arrive. I remember stalking from my car when they strolled into the premise after dinner. My heart was in my mouth when I exited the car to sneak up behind them. I walked towards them covering my face with my laptop and Kay brought me into the lift lobby.

I was the last to enter the elevator. Cindy Hong exclaimed. Christine was stunned. Teresa was speechless. They asked in unison, “Are you real?” It was still too surreal for them even when we arrived at the 28th floor; they still couldn’t believe it even after I entered the apartment. Teresa immediately called Cindy Lee (who was sick) and Yee Kean (who had a lot of work to do) to make their way to cell now.

Cindy Lee was the first of the two to arrive. I opened the door. She screamed. In my face. And I think I saw tears moments later. Yee Kean arrived shortly after. This time, Teresa opened the door while I remained on the couch. Kay pushed my head down and covered me with her jacket. Yee Kean entered the apartment and sounded really grumpy as she removed her shoes. “I don’t want to play board games. I am tired. And I want to go home”, she sulked.

Then she took her seat beside me, still unaware that it was me. “I am also tired and I want to go home too”, I parroted her. She was stunned momentarily. Then she screamed (I think). After everyone recovered from the shock of watching each other get shocked, I shared my testimony of my journey into full-time ministry since I left Shanghai in August, as well as what’s in store for me in Grace AG. I am thankful that my decision to trust and obey inspired them to do likewise.

To my surprise this time, that cell session evolved into a prayer meeting. I received so many prayers and much encouragement and affirmation from the body of Christ. I also had the privilege to pray a prayer of blessing over everyone present. On a personal note, it felt really good to be feel so loved and wanted. I am thankful for all the da-jies God brought into my life in my short stay in Shanghai.

The other incident that I remember clearly from those 72 hours there was meeting up with Kim Soon, Kay, Kurk, as well as Cindy and Christine for lunch at Vargas. I nearly lost Kim Soon as a friend because he reacted badly to my teasing (of how Liverpool lost a game the night before). I had no ill intentions of course, but I should have seen the warning signs. I won’t give details of what was exchanged because I respect him and don’t want to paint a wrong picture of him but I learnt two things over that meal:

  1. It’s not worth risking friendship over football rivalry
  2. Not everyone shares the same harmless ribbing relationship that Xianyi and Daniel Heng and I share so don’t ever assume familiarity.
  3. When you are sorry, just say and be sorry. There’s no need to cover up or make excuses. Sincerity is the greatest apology.

But all ended well eventually so I was thankful for a restored relationship. That incident really caught me off guard.

On a happier note, my cell mates had a meal together the week before I arrived and Christine randomly remarked that she would “love to have brunch with Joey again”. And as we shared a meal on that table, she said, her “dream came true”. Sweet things like these, a sentimental guy like me will cherish for a long time.

My final lasting impression of those three days in Shanghai was heading to Loushanguan Lu to buy a bag for Huiyi from a local store that carried Korea-looking items. As I drove out of the car park, a drunkard suddenly appeared in front of me – so I had to jam brake the vehicle. Thank God I didn’t hit him. But he remained standing in front of me and kept egging me to hit him. Honestly, I wasn’t really annoyed because I just wanted to leave the car park, but on hindsight it was an extremely daring deed committed. It was the first time I encountered something bizarre like that in my two years in Shanghai.

But the craziest thing wasn’t him acting crazy but the parking warden and the security guard who did absolutely nothing about it. “Bear with him – he’s drunk”, said the former, matter-of-fact. “Call the police – we’ll be your witnesses”, said the latter, nonchalantly. No wonder I wasn’t all that surprised by the recent videos that came out of China – the inhumane running over of the little girl, and the intoxicated lady who got molested in broad daylight – to seemingly oblivious bystanders.

On my flight home, I remember looking forward to returning home quite badly and realised that Huiyi and I would really struggle to survive another long-distance relationship. It’s a miracle in itself how we managed to pull through 15 months of that!

I know this post is random and appeared from out of nowhere but it feels good to finally transfer these memories out of my system. I really miss Shanghai. Hope I get a chance to return someday.

primitive means to a deeper connection.

My apologies for the lack of updates. Writing four sermons in consecutive weeks meant that I exhausted my bursts of energy for writing on producing the transcripts. It has been a good albeit tiring experience – personally stretching – and I felt like I’ve grown from it. However, I wouldn’t like to repeat this feat again. Note to self: the optimum is three consecutive weeks, at most.

Over the public holiday, my best friend and I took the opportunity to get away from Singapore. This is the third year running that we’ve gone on such primitive vacations. And there were many highlights to take home. I’ll stick to 15.

  1. Building a friendship is an intentional decision which requires time and effort – not by default but by design.
  2. Our friendship has never felt as strong as it does today in the last 14 years. That’s half our lives.
  3. No camping experience is complete without a campfire, cooking over an open flame and catching crabs.
  4. It’s better, cleaner and more pleasant to bathe in the ladies toilet. True story.
  5. Always assume that your buddy forgot to bring toothpaste, soap, shampoo and facial wash.
  6. During overnight slumber in a tent, one must choose between stuffiness or mosquitoes.
  7. A good and deep conversation is a gift from God. We praise God for speaking through us.
  8. A wife who loves her husband to free him up for 12 hours to be with his best friend is a good woman – thanks Jeanie!
  9. A best friend’s company at St John Island is just about the next best thing when your fiancee is in France.
  10. Both of us bleed Grace AG. We are passionate about our church and we’re committed to see it fulfill God’s will!
  11. Since 2009’s trip in Port Dickson, we’ve thought every trip would be our last. It’s wonderful to spend time together like that.
  12. It is wise to prepare a packing list. We missed out so many crucial items – like insect repellant and wet tissue!
  13. Speaking without weighing words and from the heart is such a privilege. I praise God for Lionel’s breakthrough!
  14. My Sanguine connects with Lionel’s Phelgmatic. Can’t wait for our Choleric to work together. We make an awesome team.
  15. We take nothing from granted. It’s God’s blessing for us to enjoy this moment together. What a friendship to commemorate!
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