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imparting a passion to the next generation.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m not just a passionate individual but also a person with many passions. And something that I’m exceptionately passionate about is the Word of God. This keenness was originally infused into my spiritual bloodstream by JH, when I was much younger; I saw the fire in his eyes whenever we discussed about the Word of God or when we pursued truth. I also have to thank Him for introducing me to JP, who is undoubtedly one of my greatest influences in this area, even though I’ve not met him yet. It was JH’s gift – Pierced by the Word – that got me into JP’s solid teaching.

And it’s not surprising, a decade on, that I discuss the Word of God with the same fire in my eyes. One of the most satisfying things in life has to be reading familiar scripture and to have the Holy Spirit breathing into you new perspectives. I revel in those kinda revelations – don’t you? And so I find myself asking myself, “What then have I done to impart this passion through my lifestyle and how can I continue to perpetuate that?” I scrutinised my actions and I am inclined to believe that I have done my part.

  • I am a keen student and an even keener teacher of the Word. I enjoy preparing lessons and thrive in teaching them – it rejuvenates me when I exercise my gift.
  • I prepare sermons with excellence and will never preach something I do not understand fully; the last thing I want to do is to undermine or shortchange the pulpit.
  • I memorise scripture in my own time and I encourage everyone within my sphere of influence to do likewise.
  • I attempt to give scripture-based advice whenever I have the opportunity to dispense counsel, instead of just depending on my wisdom and experience.
  • I base my ministry objectives and vision on the Word of God; the daily themes of PIERCE were lifted from Hebrews 4:12 and the three primary roles of my GII Shepherds were derived from John 21:15-17.
  • I invest money into purchasing knowledge and fill my mind with the right things, instead of overspending on things that have little eternal value.
  • I make time to attend additional teaching seminars and conferences instead of just depending on the Sunday pulpit for my Word input and whenever possible, I will encourage my leaders to sign up and go together with me.
  • I have progressively added audio sermons into my iPod and listen to sound preaching (pun intended) more than I listen to music. In fact, I’ve done this so much there’s nothing but sermons and teachings in my 8GB MP3 player.
  • I subscribe to snail-mailers and online feeds and whenever there is new material, I’ll feast my mind on them so that I am able to generate new thoughts.
  • I am actually more enthusiastic to shop in bookshops (or online book stores) than in shopping centres or departmental stores.
  • I attempt to pray scripturally so that my prayers are theologically accurate and always be aligned to/with God’s divine will.
  • Lastly, I try to spend some time each day to meditate on at least one portion of scripture (but I could really do with some improvement here!).

But why do I tell you all this? To boast? (Oh heaven forbid me from that!) I am deliberately detailed in proving my passion for the Word because it has been a journey for me and I wish to encourage you to ask God to expand your capacity to love His Word. You see, I was never so into it right from the beginning. I certainly did not expect myself to end up at this point and I most certainly do not expect myself to stagnate here too – it’s one reason why I am massively looking forward to my theological education in 2012. I concur with what EC said at last year’s IDMC, that while theological credentials are beneficial, theological competence is essential.

But this is the hardest of them all for it is a daily death of self-denial and an utter dependence on the Spirit to enable me to do so – while I make a sincere and genuine attempt to put into practice what I have learnt, more often than not, I fail at achieving this and for that I am the chief of sinners despite all the “accomplishments” listed above. They’re really just merely accomplishments and nothing else. I will never be able to attain godliness (and holiness) by my own doing; I’m constantly a long-shot away from being Christlike and how I long to fare better in this arena. The Word of God repeatedly reveals my carnal nature and humbles me greatly for it exposes my sin and shortcomings. I don’t know about you (actually I do, I’m just writing rhetorically), but no matter how much I profess to love the Word, the most crucial thing is that I live (and do) the Word. In fact, the more I love the Word, the more I discover my sinful desires and the more I realise my need for the grace of God, the counsel of the Spirit and the redemption of Jesus Christ to see me through each moment.

Amazing grace,
how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.

All right, I have no idea how I ended up there but I guess what I really want to say is that, if I could only choose one passion to impart to the next generation, it would be the passion to pursue the Word of God. I pray that it becomes your primary passion too, especially if you are an influential leader in youth ministry.

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top ten reasons to rejoice for our Dawson flat.

As HY and I experience the Dawson saga, it doesn’t just give us the assurance that God has good plans for us, but also that He has the perfect timing. Hence, the best thing we should do, always, is to trust in His gifts and believe in His timing. I will be detailed in this thanksgiving because I want to give God the full glory. This will be a long entry.

The Dawson BTO (Built-To-Order) project was designed by award-winning architects and centrally located in the Queenstown district. As a result, around 10,000 people applied for it, making it over-subscribed by a few times. We applied for a four-room flat because we know that by 2016, we probably would have just started our own family.

There were 1,102 four-room flats available and our queue number was 1,302, meaning we needed 200 applicants to drop out before we were eligible. However, we actually needed more than 200 applicants to drop out because these 1102 units were divided to meet the ethnicity quota. This basically means that we needed Chinese Singaporeans to drop out if we wanted to smell a chance! Nonetheless, we made it by God’s grace and here are ten reasons why we are still rejoicing and praising God for His providence.

I. Balloting Success. By God’s grace we were successful on our first attempt – quite a miracle considering that there people who have repeatedly applied without success. I remember telling HY that the more we had to depend on “luck”, the more confident I was for God is in control and that we need not depend on our achievements.

II. Right Phase of Relationship. Timing was key in our application. We had arrived at a point in our relationship where we were ready to move on to the next phase of our courtship. We felt that we were ready to progress in our relationship.

III. Additional Housing Grant. Couples with a combined income of less than $5,000 would receive additional housing grant (AHG) of up to $40,000 from HDB. Basically, the lower the combined income, the higher the AHG awarded. This worked out perfect for us because by God’s divine timing, we applied for this when HY was a student without income and when I drew the modest salary of my working life. Any earlier and I’d be on a better income, any later, and we’d have been on a higher combined income. Applications for Dawson opened in that perfect window. HDB actually requested for HY’s CPF statements only up to June 2010 – she began work on 1 July and would therefore have CPF contributions from July onwards! Get it?

IV. Staggered Downpayment. HDB created this payment method to encourage couples to settle down at a younger age. Those below 30 years old have the option to pay their deposit (10% of cost of flat) at two intervals – once at flat selection (now) and the other at keys collection (six years later). And as this is completely paid through CPF, it means that our cash-commitment amounts to zero (not because we have a lot in our CPF, but because of the AHG).

V. Queenstown District. One of the factors that helped us to increase our balloting chances was to be situated near one of our parents. To qualify for this, you’d need to stay within a 2km radius of your parents. Ghim Moh is over 4km from Dawson but because both estates belong to the Queenstown town council, we still qualify.

VI. Breakthrough with HY’s Parents. There was no easy way to ask HY’s parents for their approval and support for this application. We were so scared about this that we actually methodically prepared a detailed six-page FAQ as we tried to speculate the questions they might ask, and we even rehearsed the Q&A! This chat also took place at a time when there was slight tension in the family. It really took courage and a step of faith to present this to them. And their response took us by complete surprise, “Actually you don’t need to ask us because it’s your combined decision… But if you ask us, there’s no issue – this is a good deal – go ahead!” W-O-W!

VII. Centrality. In light of the current skyrocket prices of flats, our Dawson flat actually seems affordable (and almost a steal). It’s a great investment no matter how you look at it. One reason why we were attracted to the place was for its location – a 10-minute commute to almost anywhere (Ghim Moh, Holland Village, the Singapore CBD, Orchard Road, Harbourfront, Chinatown and City Hall), leopard-crawling distance to Grace Assembly of God and walking distance to Queenstown MRT.

VIII. Growth Spurt in Faith. We selected the flat on the fourth day of Grace Retreat. We spent most of the two weeks before our selection appointment refreshing the HDB website, checking how fast our quota was depleting. Our appointment was the second-last of the day and at the time of our selection, we were amongst the final 10 Chinese (i.e 10 more remaining units for the Chinese ethnicity). When we left HDB, there were only five units left. By 10am the next day, the Chinese ethnicity quota had completely depleted. Imagine the mental roller-coaster! Despite all that, we managed to select a high floor – 11th – and while it feels like a relatively low floor in a 47-level block, it was much higher than we had expected!

IX. Payment Commences in 2016. Yes, it will take half a decade for the flat to be ready but we see it as a good thing because it means that we’ll have more than enough time for our CPF to swell with nearly six years of monthly contributions. By then, we won’t even need to worry about additional cash injections because we could easily sustain the monthly repayments. This is significant; if we had purchased a resale flat, we’d require around $80,000 liquid cash (how!?) – half for Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) and half for renovations. Thank God we need not worry about that! In fact, we can take our time over to slowly and steadily save for renovations.

X. Housing Loan Eligibility. As this is a BTO, it means that our housing loan eligibility (HLE) would be reassessed when we collect the keys in 2016. This means that our HDB loan would be derived based on our combined income in 2016, instead of now, where it’d be based on only a single income. This is easily a difference of over $200,000 in loans! Can you imagine if we had to borrow that additional amount from a bank to finance a resale flat, or buy a $200,000 flat?

There’s so much more to thank God! For one, we are officially home-owners now and it’s a huge load off our chest. After all, purchasing a house is one of life’s milestones, and for us to nail it at 27 and 23 years old respectively, was beyond our expectations. To know that we’ve overcome this hurdle allows us to focus on building our relationship and making us even stronger than before. God is faithful indeed. All glory to Him alone!

housekeeping matters.

Warning: this post sounds relatively conceited and will be blatant, shameless self-advertisement for the blog. Bear with me because I’ll probably only do this once, I hope. Hehe. (:

First and foremost, and some of you may have already realised this…

I’d like to launch my new domain…

joeyasher.com!!!

(Feel free to update all your links if you so desire; misunderstoodsunshinekid.wordpress.com gets you here as well – both urls are one and the same.)

My silent countdown to the centenary post begins and I plan to put together a minuscule competition to spice things up a little here, so keep your eyes peeled to this one. Well, so far, so good; I’ve been enjoying the process of expanding on one thought per day – that’s what I’ve been telling myself to achieve, to think big, start small, build deep (thank you, EC). Blogging daily has become a part of my routine and I think that’s a good thing (for me) – kind of like my “think time”. After all, setting out with a purpose does result in a purposeful blog.

I love to write and (I think) you like to read (what I write); we have a nice little partnership going on here. At the beginning of March, I’ve actually set a readership target for this blog and told myself (and HY) that as soon as I hit a consecutive daily average of over a hundred hits, I’ll register my own domain name. Well, the time has come for me to do that. (Actually, I should have done that last month but I’ve been reluctant to part with the cash… Nonetheless, I think it’ll be a good investment.) Interestingly enough, the two days with the highest hits are for nice is never good enough and the recent top ten reasons to leave church at 162 and 170 views respectively. I’m surprised at the figures, to be honest; considering that I only have less than 5% of hits referred from Facebook or Twitter, I’d like to believe that I do possess a healthy following and a group of supportive readers. Thank you! Either that, or some joker has been hitting refresh non-stop.

Well, I promise you that more will come. There’s just so much to write about – for example, the one leadership question I asked PC during our bi-monthly lunch just two days ago resulted in an answer so rich, it could spawn 10 entries. (I had actually prepared seven questions to ask him but that one answer was enough food for thought.) I can only pray and ask God to keep sending me thoughts, and people to keep provoking my cognition. I take no credit for any of my musings anyway because my writing is post-prayer and inspired by the Holy Spirit. I try to follow what Paul advocates in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – that is to write for the glory of God.

And so I have decided to enhance your reading experience. I’ve already amassed a sizable number of posts and so it’s only sensible that I keep my writing organised and archived. I’ve created three new categories – The Greatest Gift, Top Ten Tuesdays and Football Fervour – for your navigation pleasure; in time, these categories will increase in volume. I will also create more “pages” (and update the current ones) as time passes. In a nutshell, if you keep returning, you’ll keep finding new things to read.

In a bid to achieve consistency, I’ve tried as much as I could to post/schedule new entries by/at the turn of midnight. Oh, I use Bloglines as my blog reader and I highly recommend it. However, an even more convenient method would be to simply subscribe to my blog via email; so if you’d like to be the first to read my daily updates, simply 1) fill in your email at the top-right of this page, 2) click on the link in the confirmation email and 3) MSK will appear automatically in your mailbox – I’d super recommend that. Easy as 1-2-3. HAHAHA.

For now, I’d like to express my sincere thank to you for the great support. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Actually… I’ll keep writing, regardless. I promise! (:

the heart of gratitude.

A couple of weeks ago, I was dealing with disappointment. In my  journeying with and surrender to God, I’ve learnt that to deal with disappointment, I need to approach it with an attitude of thanksgiving and a realignment of purpose. I’m a highly committed individual synonymous with being passionate; hence I often get disappointed when people do not meet my expectations because I always wear my heart on my sleeve. When I was younger, I used to create a commotion each time this happens. As I mellow with age, I’ve learnt to be wiser in handling disappointment – sharing with the right people and only after settling my emotions with the Lord. PC once shared with me that it’s always easier to see God’s faithfulness at the end of a season; so I’ve learnt to be patient and to trust God for His timing and method.

20th March 2010 marks a significant day for the shepherds in my immediate ministry:

  1. KY commissioned as a 2LT,
  2. MF & MW had a positive cohesion with their CMs,
  3. KJ & BL joined my team of shepherds,
  4. EL & YX recovered from their cough,
  5. CN & JC returned safely from Australia and China respectively and
  6. HY completed her FYP
  7. I’ve removed all 25 dressings

This time, there’s something slightly different about feeling their joy and celebrating their victories with them. I can’t quite put a finger to it, but I’d like to think that it’s because I’ve been praying for them; there’s a sense of satisfaction knowing that maybe I’ve played a minute part in the spiritual shift of things. It’s like what RB shares in Nooma 018 “Open” – tapping into the creative power of God.

20th March 2010 is also a momentous day for my Church – we voted in favour for the redevelopment of G1 (on the condition that the 1.4 plot ratio is approved) and if necessary, would take bank loans to finance this project. I’m confident that the Board and the leadership of the church understands that while it is the hardware that’s being rebuilt, significant time, energy and (financial) resources must be invested into its software. Failure to do so would result in an ultimate inability and incapacity to realise the vision. The last thing we want is to have a spectacular building without the right people trained and enabled to fill the spaces which we have catered expansion for.

I am learning to trust God more and more for His providence and I believe that, in the words of BH, “When there is total submission, there is total protection“. On one hand, I’m delighted that we can finally advance as a Church, on the other hand, I pray that we will understand the sobering responsibilities that now line our way. I believe that if we, as a Church, have missed this point of investing in our people, then there really is no point in physical redevelopment. The leadership must be committed to see through this vision.

Let our hope be in You, Lord, and may You show us Your way – I desire nothing more and nothing less.

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.

investments.

In an attempt to expand my perspectives on “investment”, I’m inclined to think that it should not and cannot be tied to just monetary terms. There’s also the investment of time, energy and resources, which money cannot and will not be able to purchase.

Many men and women have invested into my life ever since I became a Christian and a lot of them will not be able to directly gain the returns of their investments made at various key intervals of my life.

Likewise, a lot of what I am about to do with young people and with the youth ministry, I may not be able to see or touch the returns. Youth ministry is a transient place to say the least and while major decisions are made during this time, most of its consequences and effects would not surface until years later, when these youths have exited the ministry.

I believe that if we wait long enough, people usually would surprise us with their good side – something I learnt from Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture”. And in youth ministry, most times, it’s always about being patient and looking beyond the immediacy of the circumstance and to help the young person see what you see too. I think that everyone at any point in time is relatively myopic. This is mildly non-sequitur but there is nothing more satisfying than to play a part in bringing out God’s best in a young person.

The invaluable investments that people like RY, PL and JH have made in my life – maybe their kids will be recipients of their investments. In fact, it is very probable that all of their children will be under my care within the next 10 years, providing I’m still at it. And maybe, if I’m allowed to think a little more selfishly, these investments that I’m making and about to make in young people – my kids will be indirect recipients of my time, energy and resources. And maybe that makes it all a little more worthwhile.

Now, that’s what I call a risk-free investment.

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