Lent 06: this is why I love my job.

I’ve said this many times – I have a dream job.

I still pinch myself every morning because God has given me the privilege of being the youth pastor of the youth group that turned my life around. And because of indebtedness towards this youth ministry, work never feels like work as it is something I’d have done anyway.

Huiyi and I wanted to start a tradition in R-AGE – a 开工餐 at the start of the year to kick-off the year of ministry. I gathered those who were working together with me as full-time staff (my ministry interns) as well as those in my Think Tank (key leaders in my strategic team). These folks are critical to the operations, leadership and growth of the youth ministry.

So after dinner last night, my wife and I went to Sheng Siong Supermarket and bought over 20 different ingredients for the steamboat dinner that we were hosting tonight. There was enough food to feed a small army. We told ourselves to go all out to bless the people who go all out to bless the young people. We wanted the eight of them to feel loved and like they deserved nothing but the best.

Together with my awesome mother-in-law (who kindly and generously offered me her time and energy), I spent most parts of today preparing the food. I think she put in the most work for this steamboat – she prepared the soup broth, marinated the meats and chopped the vegetables. As I ate lunch and did a little grocery shopping with her earlier today, I felt so incredibly blessed. It is God’s grace that I’ve found favour with my mum-in-law, and I am grateful.

And I realised that my wife and I are like Martha and Mary respectively – you need both types when hosting a gathering. She is amazing – she helped me clean up everything when we finished dinner – and this after a full day of work. I am blessed indeed! Darling, you’re a wonderful pastor’s wife – thank you for being a part of and embracing my ministry and calling as your ministry and calling. (:

The 10 of us ate to our hearts’ content and had a great evening together. It’s truly a blessing to serve the Lord alongside brothers and sisters whom you like and love. These young men and women are like my family. I cannot imagine leading the youth ministry without them by my side. I also cannot imagine R-AGE without them.

Ministry is all about relationships indeed. I thank God for being a part of these God-given relationships and the privilege to do life with them.

2013开工餐

Lent 05: a much-needed celebration and pit-stop.

The difference between Lent and a full-on 40-day fast is that one is a journey while the other is a discipline.

One of the things I set out to do in my first Lent is to celebrate on Sundays and special occasions. And it’s been a while since I looked forward to Sunday as much as I have. It was like a much-needed pit-stop to celebrate the journey so far (however short) and to remind myself of the blessings that I’ve always enjoyed and taken for granted.

For starters, I drank my usual cup of Nespresso coffee in the morning. Then for lunch, I ordered a ribeye steak ‘xtra cut at Aston’s and even drank teh peng jia C to my heart’s content. And for dinner, I tucked into Mummy’s homemade chicken rice, helped myself to a serving of young coconut juice and before the night is over, I’m sure I’ll be gobbling down some honey mangoes.

There’s something beautiful about delayed gratification, especially in this microwave generation where everything is instant.

I also took the opportunity to log in to Facebook and Instagram and realised that there’s really nothing important that I’ve missed, despite the 100+ notifications that were beckoning my attention. Lull time (periods of inactivity where nothing happens) is better utilised when you sieve out the distractions.

But the most beautiful thing about today was the spiritual conversation that I had with Mummy in the late afternoon. She asked me all kinds of questions that young believers would ask. It felt like the Holy Spirit triggered her curiosity to learn about the things of her faith. I was energised by our interaction together and for the first time in her life, she actually said she would consider going to cell (to ask all these questions); she finally saw that there was another purpose for cell besides just sharing about her problems (which she is extremely reluctant to). Perhaps Apokalupto finally took place in her spiritual life. I am thankful. May God continue to fuel this spiritual hunger she has.

As I gave thanks for our 元宵 dinner just now, I felt an intimate connection with God; it wasn’t just customary, but heartfelt.

With that I greatly anticipate the week ahead.

Lent 04: prayer and my all-time low thus far.

Ordering Dark Soy Bean Curd at Thai Express and watching my wife dive into her Seafood Sukiyaki Vermicelli Soup must have been the lowest point of my Pescatarian diet decision in my Lenten journey thus far.

But it made me give thanks for the food in a new perspective – that is, to remember Christ before I partake in dinner.

From my understanding of Lent, it’s up to me to set the rules. And each luxury I abstain from is meant to remind me of Jesus. It’s working so far, I must confess. And man, I kid you not about the energy levels – I’ve never felt so physically exhausted (and it’s not even the peak month of December). I’ve slept earlier and enough but I still feel fatigued.

I am really not used to going through my day with such low energy levels… So I’m hoping this will be worth the effort.

As I delivered the sermon today on the importance of prayer and how that involves God in our everyday efforts to be a witness, I am reminded that Lent is a spiritual journey; the physicality of it should point me towards my spiritual pilgrimage.

I’m not sure if prayer can change God’s mind considering that He already knows all things (like what Lent would do to me) but I do know that (the) prayer (of a righteous man) can accomplish much. May prayer change me and cause me to know the heart of God.

Open my spiritual eyes to see Your will for my life in this season, O Lord.

Lent 03: what’s in a revival?

Ask any serious Christian out there and he’ll tell you he’s hoping for a revival in his life, family, church and workplace.

I try to be a Christian who’s serious about pursuing Christ. After all, I need to be considering what I do for a living. (I can’t help but hear “Don’t let your uniform stick to you” from Tahan ringing in my ears…) It’s not easy though – I’ve been praying for a revival to happen in my church and youth group ever since I joined the church in 1999. I believe generations after and before have as well. I have tried every method I know how: fasting, praying, leading worship, reading the Word, preaching my heart out, organising massive events, discipling young leaders, sitting at the feet of spiritual giants…

And yet… There is no revival – not in the way that I imagine, at least.

I was semi-distracted for the revival meeting tonight, where Ps Philip Lyn spoke at. I’ve listened to his sermons, I’ve read about him and I even share the same mentor as him… Well, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more Word-based teaching tonight, but I did catch his heart… And I thought what he shared made a lot of sense.

According to him, revival is made up of three components:

  • Repentance through the blood of Jesus
  • (Power and) authority that’s being released, and
  • The unknown factor, which is the grace of God

I will use that thought process in the remaining 37 days of my Quadregesima. I’m game for anything that may work; I’m really desperate to meet Christ. I mean, I’m so desperate I’ve even called spiritual retreat centres to ask if I could check myself in. But it’s been difficult to find God – my energy levels are significantly lower, my workload is relentless and I have basic functional responsibilities just like everyone else does. (I have though in the last three days, quickened my spirit to be mindful of what I say…)

O God, highlight all the areas in my life that I need to repent, help me to release Your authority in every domain of my life and please let me walk in the path of Your divine grace…

If the height of revival is hidden in the heart for revival, then please position my heart in a place for revival!

Lent 02: the slowest start to anything, ever.

It’s not too far-fetched an idea to suggest that my Quadregesima is best experienced only if I am unemployed.

But alas, I’m not.

With responsibilities, obligations and duties demanding my time, it becomes increasingly challenging to spend time with God and even more so to think about Christ at all times. Something has to go. Something has to give in. I need discipline.

And as I had expected it, I gave in to something I wanted to give up – entertainment. It sounds trivial but I couldn’t resist reading the Naruto manga today. Ha-HA! The new release was out yesterday and my futile resistance lasted all of 24 hours until Keith Yeo mentioned it over a chat. Okay, I’m a drama king, but hey, at least I’m honest. Well, next week I will pass the test.

Without social media vying for my attention, I find myself with more time at hand to pursue what’s more worthy of my time. However, without coffee, I find myself fighting to stay awake and alert. In times like these, I keep challenging myself to depend on God’s strength to be strong in God, but that’s easier to say than do.

And as I’m keeping off all kinds of sugared drinks (only water and green tea), anything naturally sweet becomes something I look forward to – be it cereal with milk in the morning or a late night honey mango. Now if only I pine for Christ like the way I pine for pleasure in my taste buds…

On a separate note, I cannot imagine mentoring others without the help of the Holy Spirit. May I continue to depend on Him for knowledge and wisdom as I invest into people’s lives – I desire to say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.

Argh, I’m incredibly restless and impatient. I want to see results now. But I need to be still first. This is an incoherent entry.

In the same breath of the excellent play I watched tonight, called “Tahan” (thanks Stella Cheung, for blessing me), I’ll sign off with…

“Emotional lah.”

Lent 01: lend me Your strength // Psalm 119:25-32.

I struggle to pray, not just today, but everyday.

It is impossible to stay on the path of holiness unless I have the enabling grace of God; and yet so often I depend on my strength to become strong in God – what a tragic paradox. Perhaps my carnality compels me to do that instinctively because I do not understand the grace of God intimately and experientially.

The psalmist beckons me to depend on God to:

  1. Give me life
  2. Teach me His statutes
  3. Make me understand
  4. Strengthen me
  5. Put false ways far from me
  6. Teach me His law
  7. Let me not be put to shame, and
  8. Enlarge my heart

Perhaps this is only possible if I:

  1. Tell Him my ways
  2. Meditate on His works
  3. Choose the way of faithfulness
  4. Set His rules before me
  5. Cling to His testimonies
  6. Run in the way of His commandments

Holy Spirit, please help me to quicken my spiritual senses; I need You to help me pray unceasingly. I desire to seek the Lord before I embark on every task so that I can regularly reorientate my focus. I boldly ask You to help me by reminding me, so that I may respond by remembering to pray, and eventually relying on You becomes a required routine of my life.

***

No Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? No problem. No Football Manager? No problem. No unedifying words? No problem. No air-conditioning? No problem. No meat, sugar, snacks and tidbits? No problem. But no morning coffee? Oh I felt its absence as early as the second hour into the lecture.

I have three lists: start doing, stop doing and still doing. It’s easy to stop, hard to start but hardest to be consistent.

I know it’s only the first day, but I’m ultra-Sanguine about what I want to achieve and I need the Lord to still my heart in pacing myself. Am I disappointed because I failed to do what I had set out to do today? Perhaps. But what I want to be disappointed about is that I didn’t, couldn’t and haven’t met Christ today. I am reminded that it’s not about accomplishments for Christ but about alignment to Christ.

God is faithful – what I had contemplated upon this past week was confirmed in the first lecture on spiritual direction; I am certain that my maiden Quadregesima will alter my spiritual life forever. I go to bed tonight with a plethora of expectations soaked in optimism but littered with potentially prideful intentions. Oh may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto You, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.

Jesus, I’m here to meet with You, won’t You come and meet with me? I want to taste a morsel of Paul’s experience when he said, “For me to live is Christ!” May You be centralised in my life all over again.

there’s always a first for everything.

QUADRAGESIMA

Quad·ra·ges·i·ma [kwod-ruh-jes-uh-muh]

Also known as Lent.

Noun.

(Latin for quadrāgēsima, or the fortieth.)

In my pilgrimage as a believer, this will be my most serious observance and longest period of a spiritual discipline thus far — though prayer, fasting, penitence, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial — to imitate the example of Christ.

Starting today and ending on Easter Sunday.

I will have limited access to just about anything that might prevent me from being in the presence of God.

Lent has historically been seen as a time of serious self-denial. In denying ourselves we are able to catch a glimpse of the cosmic self-denial made by the second person of the Trinity for the salvation of mankind… …[T]he 40 day period has been influential in the lives of countless saints to redirect our affections toward our Savior. Lent predates every denomination. In whatever way your local church celebrates Lent; let this season break you, wound you, destroy you, and humble you so Jesus can be the center of your life and not you. — Tim Kimberley

Can’t wait to meet and hear from You, Lord. I need Your help through this.

%d bloggers like this: