Friday, April 28, 2017

The Dauntingness of Near

Why were the Israelites so faithless; why were there not more of the likes of Caleb and Joshua? 
Why was Simon so faithless; why did he deny Jesus despite boldly claiming that he never would?

Why? That is the benefit of hindsight, because we somehow seem to know better suddenly when the scenarios have already been played out. The "what ifs" become the "if only".

But how must it have felt like for the Israelites, or the Peter in Matthew 26:33-35- when death and uncertainty become more than just a possibility. 

8 years ago, I received my calling, or at least that has been my conviction and narrative since. God called me to missions, period. 

So I went on my pilgrimage of character-moulding, soul-searching, fortitude-building, spiritual-sanctification, rough-edge-chiseling, pride-humbling - all in the name of becoming more like Christ. 8 years are a long time, especially long in an environment hastened by technology, and a long time is difficult to endure. Like a race of marathon, when we become dampen and discouraged, we fix our eyes back on the goal to stay on track. Going into my call was my goal. There is something about goals like this; they rejuvenate and keep us going. I was looking forward. Yet, where I am now, 1 year from that goal, I am feeling the heat. 

I felt like a Peter. When all was good, when my Jesus was winning crowds, performing mind-boggling miracles, speaking wisdom, I slapped my chest to say "never would I forsake you!" And then when there is so much to lose, out of desperation I utter renouncements without any hesitation, "what are you talking about? I do not know Him." To some extent, going into mission was an easy claim to make, because well, 8 years are a long long time away. Until when it comes so near, and daunting. When there is so much to lose, so much to sacrifice for; when suddenly the appeal of the otherwise (whether it is denying Jesus or forsaking my call to mission) suddenly become so much more attractive. I am giving the alternatives serious considerations. The faith that abandons all goes into hiding. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

When My Wrist Cracked

I had been looking forward to this day. 
It was a rare Sunday. My sister was sharing testimony on this day. Oh, and there was a soccer match on this day. I had managed to get some of my Navy friends to join us for the game and I was totally looking forward to a good time together. I was tired, but I was more excited than tired.

The long wait finally came to a halt, and the anticipation dissipated into adrenaline. The other team looked professional; we looked disorganised at best. We played okay for the first third; not conceding goals, and had our fair share of chances. On the contrary, I was gutted for not playing well, but I stayed on the pitch. I enjoyed it nevertheless, after weeks of eager anticipation. 

Then things started to go downhill, when we started making substitution and conceded our first of 4 or 5 goals. People were being substituted at different points, and the team was confused. Everyone had their own ideas of how the game should be played, and every idea was different.

Then it happened.

The opponent had an African player who was big and strong. Not exactly fast, but definitely powerful. Tactical shifts had put me in centre back and I had to cope, and support. One time, he was played through and was making a darting run down the centre. In an attempt to stop him, I closed him down, got into his path, and BAM! I knocked into a shifting wall. 

It all happened too quickly, and all I remember was me tumbling to the ground, feeling a numbing pain on my left wrist. I had thought it to be a shock from the impact, so I quickly got myself on my feet, right hand supporting my left, TRYING to carry on. I put my left hand behind my back in hope of getting some support, and continued running. One time I even took a THROW IN with a fractured wrist. It was only when the adrenaline subsided that I signalled for a substitution- I was making mistakes, and it was for the better of the team that I came off. 

Upon stepping off the field, I looked down and saw a bump on my left wrist. I thought it was a swell, and I pressed it- it was hard; it was my bone. I went around checking if it could be a fracture or dislocation, and that was when I was given some medical attention. 

I have been given 2 weeks of hospitalisation leave and won't be in action for the duration. 2 weeks later, if deemed necessary, I might upgrade from a half-cast to full-cast.

Meanwhile, it's gonna be a long 2 weeks. Thank you all for your well-wishes and concerns!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nepal Taja Asa Day 1

"For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'  Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'  Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."
Matthew 25:42‭-‬45 ESV

Mission has its way of transforming people. I read somewhere that many modern churches crave for revival as an end to itself, but what the Christian body really needs is a transformation. The Wesleys revolution was cited as archetype for this transformatiom, and that is for very good reasons.

Mission is like that too. For one, mission humbles. The value of stepping into the unknown is a journey of looking beyond what you are good at. I arrive at a phase with complete denial of any remaining strength, but a deep conviction that I am indeed very weak.

Mission meets the need. 2 very wholesome discussion with 2 sold out nepali brothers bring so much light; more so, bring so much hope, faith and love into the works.

"Leave the evangelism to the locals, because of the language barrier; you come and train the Nepali Churches, equip them. Nepali Churches are easy to start but difficult to manage."

"The only reason why Singapore is blessed and given so much is so that she can be a blessing to others. No other regions are like Singapore, and there can be no other reasons for Singapore to be given such undeserved favour."

"Organized short term mission trips are important and appreciated. 20-30 years of seeds sown; God will cause the growth."

"Mission works are not constrained within the definitive scope of spiritual growth. It is a whole package- influencing the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects. What good is there to tell a person to have faith when he's mot having enough to eat? That is biblical. So come and bring ideas, bring knowledge, bring experiences, share with us. Help us to progress, help us to grow."

In all that we do, give thanks to God in everything, knowing that He is constantly at work, in line or apart from our plans. Give thanks, regardless.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I alone am left

1 Kings 19:14 "And I alone am left."

A very deep sense of abandonment. The nice word used was "entrust", but the reality felt more like offloaded. For 2 months now, it felt like a lonely journey. If I had been able to muster my full capacity, I think I would have risen to the challenge. I have plans, directions, goals, and a keen passion to drive in this new role, except that my time has already been thinly spread. I need support, I need inputs, I need someone to shoulder this together with me. The constant assurance that I was the right man for the job felt like little more than a quick fix to alleviate any sense of anxiety. I am the right man, indeed (it felt like I was the right man only because no one else was willing to take on that role). 

Then the devil came around and planted thoughts to sow discord, stirring up bitterness and displeasure about the present state. What kind of leader would do this kind of thing for his flock. Repeated rebuffs and laissez faire- "you are doing fine, good in fact." Well, not really... I'm actually having a lot of uncertainty and I would really appreciate more support and guidance. 

And in times like that, you learn and you grow. Either you continue to spiral down that whirlpool of death, or you swim with all your might against the flow to get out from there. In this case, to renounce the negative thoughts and work things out. So I realized, that even in times like that (wherever we might be), this too is a journey with God. The negative thoughts and the helplessness ought to be left at the foot of the cross. Whoever gave the assignment, God continues to be a huge part of that journey.

Corrie Ten Boom, "I learn to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them from my hands." This assignment belongs to God also. Hold things loosely, even in the face of a tight deadline; in the face of increased demands; in the face of high expectations; in the face of the need to deliver; in the face of the need to provide certainty in the midst of uncertainty; in the face of the greater good. I am feeling the pressure, but God says come to me all those who are weary. I have high hopes and a huge vision and expectation for reality to match up to; but Scripture says many are the plans of men, but ultimately it is the will of God that will prevail. 

I am taking a long deep breath. I am going to take it slowly. Maybe that would mean the falling short of deadline; or leaving of things in the limbo, but God continues to be my comfort and my anchor. Hold things loosely, and let God be God.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Quiet Prayers

"There is a time to be silent and a time to speak."
Ecclesiastes 3:7

I came across an article about the world's expectation of an outstanding kid - one who must be smart, confident, witty and well, outspoken. Even interviewed teachers and researchers conceded about their tendencies to pay more attention to the children who are more proactive in answering questions. That, pretty much, sets the tone the world is painted in - speaking is good, a demonstration of knowledge, genuine care, ownership and perhaps a sense of participation. 

The same could be translated to the Christian scene. In a meeting dominated by Christians, it is a common sight to take verbal detours to talk about related and unrelated stuff, often leaving the core issues unaddressed. After all, isn't it a Christian thing to share about lives, talk about underlying issues, and (I'm not leaving that out) to express love and concern. Beyond fellowship and Christian communion, we see the same in our relating with God. We say a whole lot of Christianese to express our identity, and we mutter a whole lot of words in our prayers. Then it beckons me to wonder, where in all of our "doing Christianity" is that time to be silent? 

In the Bible, it is said that speaking in tongues without love renders a person to at best be a loud gong and cymbal, making meaningless noises. So we all know that love is an action, and speaking devoid of action is futile. What if listening is as much a huge part of communication as speaking? What if to produce the whole package of love, we need to listen rather than speak? And sometimes, to listen doesn't mean an airtime for the other person to speak, but to allow the One to have His say? In our prayers, in our communion, in our intercession, in every aspect of our walk with Him. To let God be God and us adopting a humble posture of waiting instead of the active notion of petitioning and telling God what to do. The article has an interesting abbreviation using the word "WAIT". While wait literally means to wait, it also stands for "Why Am I Talking"? Indeed, in the occupying of every airtime, why don't we ask ourselves if we are talking just to make ourselves feel comfortable, feel productive, feel good, or feel spiritual?

If prayers are indeed as many would put it "communications with God", then perhaps it's time to start listening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Christian Way

I became a Christian, and what changed? 
I started going to church when I was 17; I adopted the practice of saying grace before meal; I learnt the Christianese and began littering my conversations with those lingo; I modelled my prayers on the most spiritual-looking person in church; I read the bible and many other Christian books; I go for occasional mission trips; I attend Christian conferences; I echo loudly yes and amen whenever the man in front preach a spiritual-sounding word and the list goes on. So, in a way many things changed. I became the public Christian, but that is not the kind of Christian the bible describes.

When you pray, do not use many words (Matthew 6:5); when you do good works, do not let your right hand know what your left hand does (Matthew 6:3), when you fast, act normal (Matthew 6:16). See, while there are many "Christian activities", the way we go about doing them are more internal than external; more God-centred than me-centred. The Christian way fixes the person. Yes, it fixes me rather than my circumstances. So, by becoming fixed, amongst the many things that change, I am the chief change. I have to change. 

I pray that God would help me pray for my circumstances and surrender. I pray that God would help me stop fighting Him and let Him fight for me. I pray that I would surrender my all, so that I can win in all because I am on God's side. I pray that I would stop complaining, and stop seeing things with my physical eyes, and stop letting anger and bitterness determine my stance and attitude in all the places that I walk. I pray that in all these many difficult moments that are hard to come to terms with, I would be given that conscientious awareness that by trusting in God, that means I ought to duck by kneeling down. By fixing my eyes upon Him, His grace would flow into every aspect of my life. I pray that I would stop looking at things that I ought not to have control in and become disappointed, but to focus on the one vision that God has placed upon my life. I pray that in all these things, God would help me to become so reliant on Him, that the only fear that bothers me is the fear of becoming distant from Him. I pray that I will always pray. 

The Christian Way is to pray.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reflection and New Year Resolution are too Mainstream

What better ways to begin a reflective/prospective journal piece with the typical "the year has flown by too quickly". The truth of the matter is that is indeed the unspoken truth. Yet, the atypical thing about 2015 is the sheer amount of milestones that have taken place. Barring the fact that there were no major tournaments in the footballing sense, 2015 has seen well, the wrong crowning of pageant (the candidate from Philippines is gorgeous). And she described the peculiar experience as "very 2015" when interviewed. 

2015 has seen many unexpected things happening, even more so at a very personal level. So I described my 2015 in 3 major events: first full year at work, first time joining the Church's board, and the first time becoming cell-less in the Christian body. To sum it up, it has been a difficult year of extreme isolation- isolated in an extreme manner, but very much self-induced. In conclusion, it was no where near ideal, but a less than perfect experience forces improvement and hones a person. So through this period, I've learnt much. 

I learnt about the importance of unity, not just in church, but in the workplace and at home as well. So gossips are very sharp knives that slice so finely, that before we knew it, things are already falling apart. So unity is the hallmark of a Christian's influence, and a sincerely-wrong good intention, while sincere, does more harm than good. Unity means it's more important to stick together and get through things side by side than to get ahead; unity means denying of self; unity means you are more important than I being right. Unity is important, period. 

I learnt that negativity spreads, and 201X was the year whereby self-justification became so so prevalent. I've been quoting Proverbs 21:2 since the turn of the year, but it never stared down so bluntly as it did in the past 1 year. So in this entire man of sorrow mode, I made enemy with the whole world. Talking about self-induced isolation. (I still dread what I see, but I do believe there are better ways to deal with it).

I learnt that I am actually pretty awesome. At 24 years of age, I've given away more than 20 grand in cash for various good causes. Barring the fact that statistically we are probably in the top few percentile in terms of wealth, I think I have given away more money than many people my age, and my kind of financial background, ever would. So I should be kinder to myself and focused on areas to improve on, and not how I am so different (in an unacceptable way from every one else). I really should stop making enemies. 


In the upcoming year, while I will be spending my countdown at work, there are a few things that I really wish to accomplish. 

I want to learn a new skill. This is the "duh" thing, and it always appears around this time of the year. And the overly ambitious me always render me to fail big time in this area because there are just so many things that I set out to do. So for 2016, I specifically want to learn how to rollerblade. This should be manageable, and KISS should fit and work fine.

I want to become fitter. My BMI has loitered around 25 for the past 3-4 years already, and my attempt to lose weight has been on-off at best. But the audience effect at work is doing me good, and if I sustain this routine of running every morning, this too should be on track.

I want to settle into this workplace as soon as possible. While, I am finally closing up for official duties and appointments, things take time for me to get used to and comfortable with. This is the first time when I can finally stop transiting, so the sooner I get acclimatised, the faster I can get down to making the positive impact that I so desire to make. 2016 would be the time.

I want to establish and start doing something real, sustainable and substantial in the mission scene. This has to come from a deep communion with my God, so beefing up my spiritual walk would be a top top priority during this period too. 

A healthier me, a more loved me, a happier me, a more positive me, a more powerful me, a more reliable me, a more competent me, a better friend. 2016 here I come. 

With that, I am out.