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wisdom from my favourite hunk in Perth.

As I attempted to clean up and archive the notes in my computer today, I found pearls of wisdom from CS. These were the things I remembered from his sharing with me over an afternoon coffee session in Clementi Central, way back in March. Re-reading it, I realised that wisdom and righteousness are timeless and evergreen – such advice never gets mouldy or irrelevant, regardless of which stage of life you’re at or in.

On ceilings:
“When people are against your ideas or what you share, involve them in prayer and ask them to bring it to the Lord in prayer too.”

This exhibits “Show your enemy the other cheek” in a different perspective. When you operate this way, it becomes unmistakable when God speaks to both parties. When we pray, He confirms and works, and even the most opposing opinions can work together, compromised and accepted, for the sake of working towards achieving His will. At the end of the day, all the glory will have go to Him for He enabled what was humanly impossible to be possible.

On arguing:
“There’s no winner in an argument. Someone will lose.”

CS’ sentiments on arguments confirm what I’ve always subscribed to – that I’d rather lose the argument than lose the relationship. (In the last six months, I realise that I have actually been practising this principle. And while it’s not easy deliberately losing – I’m being honest, I am a competitive and outspoken person and I have a man’s pride! – I’m actually at peace with it because I don’t find it a need to prove myself to anyone or to convince others of my ideas.) Conversely speaking, when you do prioritise people over problems, you may actually win both. Win them over and naturally they’ll be more inclined to listen to you and be opened to your ideas; they may even sway towards your argument and stand with you. Over the years, I’ve learnt that people are more willing to listen to you when they know that you have their best interests at heart. Ironically, they need to be first convinced of your affections for them before they are convinced of your argument.

On teachability:
“No matter how high you climb, there will always be areas you’ll need growth in.”

The day will come when you no longer have any man (or woman) above you in a hierarchal setting, but the Lord Himself. This is the greatest test of humility and teachability. The two most poisonous words in a confident, mature and experienced person is, “I know”. This arrogant phrase single-handedly puts people off in correcting you and giving you feedback. Always adopt an attitude of learning regardless of how old, wise, experienced or mature you are in a particular situation. The moment you stop learning is the (tragic) moment you stop living.

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air thoughts at the airport.

I won’t have sufficient time to write properly tonight as I’ll be with the boys tormenting LK on his buck’s night. I was just telling BL (whom I met for lunch), that LK will either thank me for such a great job planning this memorable evening or regret making his best friend his best man for his wedding. Tonight is going to be legendary evening that will live on in brotherhood folklore; I can’t wait to execute the tricks up my sleeves together with JT1, JT2, JW and ML. I’m in the business of creating memories! (Actually, I’m going the extra mile only because he has been my best mate for nearly half my life.)

So for today’s entry, I’ve found this two-year-old note lying amongst my facebook notes and I think it’s quite a poignant read, now that I’m finally back and settled in Singapore. I’ll share it here. By the way, do remember to participate in my centenary giveaway!

Air thoughts at the airport
Friday, 10 October 2008 @ 16:13

The all-too-familiar Singlish of my fellow passengers surrounds me as I sit at Gate D87, waiting to board the plane. Like me, a good number of people are also at their laptops, doing work. I have to churn out the company budget for 2009 to while I’m on the plane as I plan to submit it tonight. What really drives me on is that the earlier I complete it, the earlier I can indulge myself with Naruto. HAHA! But seriously, the less outstanding work I have means the more work-free my holiday would be. I do not want to suffer the same fate as my colleague who went back to Singapore just before I did – hounded by calls from the company everyday. That must have been absolutely annoying on a vacation.

I have appointments lined up, hmm, more like packed-to-the-brim, during my time back home. It’s quite scary how I do it but strangely enough I enjoy being loaded with activities. It’s almost deja vu; at the same time last year, I was frantically meeting up with people from all over to say my goodbyes, averaging 4-5 appointments a day; it’s no different this time. Huiyi thinks I’m crazy. Sometimes I think I am crazy too but I think at the end of the trip I will look back and be glad that I’ve actually gone on an appointment frenzy.

I really miss hawker food – good, cheap, fast. I remember a friend telling me that between the three adjectives, you can only choose two. Things that are good and fast will not be cheap, etc. Hawker food is the answer.

More and more people of all nationalities are starting to congregate even as I write this note. I look forward to the many embraces that I will receive from and give to my friends, especially the affection from my family and my girlfriend. Somehow, this trip back – my fourth in a year – is the one that was most hastily arranged but yet the one that I am most anticipating. I guess spontaneity always puts me at the edge of my seat.

Oh, and I have to mention this. I had a total of four checked-in baggages but only one belonged to me. (Thanks, Kurk, for the very snazzy black Samsonite!) The other three baggages are: a snare drum which I helped Jenn to buy, a bag for my grandmother, and a bag for Aunty Coreen; these two bags are such a contrast from my overall public image – it’s a Tiger Beer and a Chan Brothers bag for pete’s sake! That’s certainly 100% yucks. HAHA. Well, it doesn’t matter. The total baggage weighed 37kg! That’s the SAME WEIGHT as when I first got to Shanghai! Thank God the airport folks closed one (and possibly two) eye(s) on this! And to think it’s actually quite a full flight makes me all the more grateful.

In retrospect, it’s coming to a year in Shanghai and in that year, I’ve learnt so much. Well, I can’t possibly write down the things I’ve learnt in one paragraph so don’t expect it to be published here! I believe I’ve matured spiritually, grown wiser in my character and gained valuable work experience over here. I believe I experience many things others do not; for example, my friends in Singapore are dying to head out of Singapore for a vacation and yet I’m dying to head back to my home country for a holiday. Nothing beats home – absolutely nothing. Oh I’m so convinced that It’s a gonna be a good homecoming. The fourth, and the best one yet, I’m sure.

Yes, I’m coming home.

top ten reasons to leave church.

It’s been over a decade since I joined Grace Assembly and never once did I consider leaving church for greener pastures or stiller waters. Grace, like ACS, has played a big part in making me who I am today and there is little possibility that I’d want to leave. Of course in the last 13 years, I’ve seen countless people – both pew-warmers and high-profile leaders alike – leave church. Some exit for legitimate reasons and some do not; I’m not in the place to judge. I’ve never been one to hold people back should they opt to venture elsewhere – I’ve always seen it as a personal choice.

This “Top Ten” list looks like it’s going to be a weekly release (you can read the previous list on the desired ingredients of a worship leader here). For this week, if I may, I’ll muse about the top ten church-exiting justifications I’ve gathered over the years. I won’t elaborate on each point because I want to leave its details to your interpretation and imagination. My adapted observations are based on an official research conducted. If people do leave church, this is what they might say:

  1. “The church doesn’t seem to be growing spiritually.”
  2. “There’s little significance in my meaningless ministry.”
  3. “My church friends are so judgmental and critical.”
  4. “The preacher is weak, non-expository and not engaging.”
  5. “There are too many changes – no stability, no consistency.”
  6. “The environment is so superficial and artificial – a bunch of hypocrites.”
  7. “I don’t even know if my church is doing God’s work.”
  8. “Socially, it’s such an elitist and exclusive culture – not my cup of tea.”
  9. “There’s no grace when I share my problems with my pastors and leaders.”
  10. “My pastor doesn’t walk his talk – he’s just another hypocrite.”

You can find other variations and a more methodical breakdown here, here, here, here or here. However, allow me to turn the tables a little – here are the top ten reasons why you should stick around in your church:

  1. “The church doesn’t seem to be growing spiritually.”
  2. “There’s little significance in my meaningless ministry.”
  3. “My church friends are so judgmental and critical.”
  4. “The preacher is weak, non-expository and not engaging.”
  5. “There are too many changes – no stability, no consistency.”
  6. “The environment is so superficial and artificial – a bunch of hypocrites.”
  7. “I don’t even know if my church is doing God’s work.”
  8. “Socially, it’s such an elitist and exclusive culture – not my cup of tea.”
  9. “There’s no grace when I share my problems with my pastors and leaders.”
  10. “My pastor doesn’t walk his talk – he’s just another hypocrite.”

Believe it or not, should you choose to go, you will always be able to identify another problem with your new church. At the end of the day, there is no perfect church; but if there was one, you wouldn’t be in it. So, be loyal, be patient, stick around and be the difference in your church (but if God tells you to leave, do it quietly and quickly). Don’t jump ship on a sinking boat; there’s no pluck in that. (But maybe, just maybe – no offence here – when you do jump ship, the original boat may actually start to float! Then maybe we’d say, “Good riddance to bad rubbish”.)

I’ll conclude this post with something I found on the net – “Note to pastors and youth ministers who choose to live in denial: this list does not apply to YOU and YOUR church, only to other churches and other youth groups that are not as spiritual, strategic, relevant, cool, committed or emerging as you are.”

I hope my second top ten list was helpful in expanding your perspective of being in your church.

when the numbers add up.

There is no denying that I am really aging. I no longer can sleep at 4am and wake up at 7am feeling fresh. It takes a toll on my body and its consequences are usually perpetuated acne on my cheeks and bags under my eyes. Ulcers are less frequent now, so I am thankful for that. It’s interesting how I hardly get sleepy or lethargic in the afternoon though.

My body is no longer working as hard as it ought to. A slower metabolic rate means that I can no longer have supper like a king (sigh!) and not feel its repercussions gathering around my torso afterwards (double sigh!). My fitness levels have also declined. While I am not unfit, it’s obvious that I am past my physical peak of fitness; I don’t know think I will ever run 2.4km in 9:21, finish SOC in 7:53 or score 21 for pull-ups ever again. There are some once-in-a-lifetime trophies.

However, while my physical prowesses decline (I sound like I’m 40!), I notice an increase in my intellectual, emotional and spiritual awareness, especially in my awareness of my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve always believe that confidence is an acute awareness of what you’re good at and what you need to work on.  I’m still much more Sanguine than the average Sanguine, but I’ve mellowed significantly; I remember LY exclaiming, “Joey, can you stop mellowing!?” Age brings about a certain calmness, levelheadedness and deliberate delays in responding to situations, events and people. Maybe wisdom is applied knowledge.

This gets me thinking about maturity and how from year to year I evaluate my growth. Hindsight is powerful – it would be a gift if we had present-sight. I don’t know about you but when in retrospect I find that I’ve matured relatively exponentially from period to period. It’s like I’ve either really grown a lot or that I was really immature last time!

During my short coffee-break with LL just now, I told him that I was thankful for a colleague like him who’s my age. I told him that since we are not married and have no children yet, we should aspire to give to and serve the Lord with high levels of zeal and zest that reflect our age, while we are still young and energetic and able to contribute like that. Taking our lead from what God puts in our hearts, this is the best time for us to make investments in time and energy before the marriage and family elements kick in.

the jigsaw must fit.

I’m delighted to have BB over the weekend. He’s a fantastic kid with a huge heart for young people and a teachability that easily endears himself to people. BB is someone whom I’ve had the privilege of mentoring in Shanghai. And while our tenure together is short, it was intensified and affirmed through Korea. Let’s just put it this way, if I was Jesus then BB is John, if you know what I mean.

I look forward to the next few days with BB as it would give us time to bond and reconnect. Like a good number of my mentees, he’s a listener, so by just being who he is, he has blessed me.

I believe that opposites attract – that’s the reason why I’m attracted to HY and why she’s attracted to me. And this tension of opposites have allowed us to grow as individuals and also to grow closer as a couple. I believe that there’s a special bond between Sanguines and Phlegmatics and/or Melancholics.

The dynamics of a personality-complementing relationship are mutually-beneficial. A good number of my mentees are introverts and I honestly think they are attracted to an extrovert like me because of my animated (and often dramatic) nature. To an extent, I have a tendency to verbalise what’s in their minds and my outspokenness validates what’s in their hearts – this often creates a healthy tension, I think.

I’ve always believed that you must be true to who you are and not try to be someone else. If you try to be someone else, who’s going to be you? That’s the beauty of the jigsaw of life. Like our fingerprints, we fit into God’s millimetre-perfect masterpiece. Let’s play our part in retaining the integrity of the fit by being who God has designed us to be.

I really look forward to a day of discovering God and BB through exploration of nature and mutual ministry. It’s gonna be a lovely weekend. Also can’t wait to hear BB share his testimony at R-AGE service.

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