Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Process of Stretching is KANG-KOR

Kang-kor means difficult, in dialect.

I don't know how or where to start, but in a nutshell, I'm exhausted and emotionally drained.

There are many battles going on inside my head and here are some occassional examples:
- I want to go hide in my 'corner' and play guitar, eat dark chocolate, watch documentaries
- I don't want to meet / hang out with people
- I don't want to go for and do cell
- I don't want to go to work
- I don't want anymore "arrows" from ministry
- I want my December holiday back
- I want to pull out my hair

Despite the mental rage and brutality going on, I still choose to press on and have total reliance on God.

And here are some "DANGEROUS" things which I have asked from God (and that He is indeed granting my request):

1. I want to be stretched and challenged beyond my means and imagination
2. I want to surrender my time and holiday for His plans and purposes
3. I want to be selfless and surrendered in relationships (ie: with the people around me)
4. I want to store up treasures in heaven, and better still, none on earth

The bottomline is that when you ask God to use you (more) for His purposes and kingdom, you will NOT be disappointed. ;)

By the way ah, I'm not depressed or what...but just drained. Even though there are thoughts of throwing in the towel, of discouragement, of despair, of some degree of neverending adversity, I still see them as opportunities whereby I can either:

1. pretend they are not there and move on, or

2. acknowledge they are there, use them as fuel for complaining, be negative, be critical, be cynical, be overly-pragmatic, play the blame game - and in the end, forfeit the training, or

3. acknowledge they are there, give thanks in all circumstances, rely on God for strength when my body is strained and emotions failing, trust God for provision when I'm running short on time or resources, by amazed and in awe that I'm storing treasures in heaven rather than pursuing temporal rewards, be glad that in this I'm drawing closer to God and that He's glorified, be grateful that the time spent with others are investing in their lives, be aware that it's His will and not mine which must be done - press on, move on and go in obedience to God.

I choose number 3.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bluntly Speaking 6

Live what you Believe: Don't contradict yourself

Being in campus and around campus people, it won't be surprising to hear about the countless dreams, desires and aspirations which many have. Sure, they are mature and intellectual people and they definitely have a good idea of what they want.

But there has to be consistency between their words and their actions. I repeat, CONSISTENCY.

It doesn't help if:

- you want to lose weight and you still continue to have suppers high in calories
- you want to love others self-lessly and still continue to gossip
- you want to start the day early and still continue to hit the snooze button
- you want to grow in the Lord and still continue to put away your quiet time

And honestly speaking, it's way easier to do a one-off, large-scale attempt to achieve something, than to engage in small, humble, consistent and determined efforts to reach your goals.

In other words, it's easier to be inspired and go 6km and then get cramps and give up, then to do 2km runs regularly and build up from there.

Thus, it's crucial that we place our aspirations/ambitions side-by-side with our actions. It's okay if they are very far apart, but the thing is, is the latter getting CLOSER to the former?

So, to get where we desire to go, make it a point to start with small, digestible efforts. And keep to them despite your circumstances nor emotions - press on and persevere. It's the small steps one after the other that eventually reaches the destination, not the big leaps and the nothingness after that.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Thumbprint of Problems and Opportunities

Each problem is unique. And in it are opportunities - to learn, to mature, to grow, to reflect, etc.

And if one doesn't cease those opportunities, they are wasted. And if one doesn't see problems as opportunities, they are wasted as well. Gone forever.

You'll never get the same problem/opportunity again. And there's no point regretting about it - it's a waste of resources.


Recently, I asked God to help me deal and overcome the fear of man - the struggling and pressing need to gain his approval and meet his expectations. And yes, the number of times whereby my social skills and emotional resilience has been put to the test has bloated exponentially.

Coupled with the fact that I've firmly decided to make it a point to see the value in the lives of others and to see them for who they are.

Things aren't easy, but James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

It means that the way to maturity in the midst of trials is to press on until the end, if not, one will miss the point.

And the higher level you go, the greater the tests and challenges.


While others can make all the remarks they want to make, blabber and talk about things (without much action), cut around corners because they claim "it's very difficult", or give up half-way because there's no more emotional/spiritual highs and their inspiration's gone...

...I shall press on towards the passion, purposes and calling which God has placed in my life. I'll keep at it because it's worth it and it's my sacrifice and worship unto God.

It will be hard, and it's definitely useful to know that the currency for character development is sweat, blood and tears.

I've come to a point whereby some won't be able to know or care what I'm going through / how I'm feeling along the way, but it doesn't matter. I'll stay close to God, and to those who really care. And as for God and to those who really care, You and you all shall share with me in my journey. ;)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Practice, practice, practice...(are we there yet?)

Excerpt from today's "Our Daily Bread", with emphasis added.

Leonardo da Vinci spent 10 years drawing ears, elbows, hands, and other parts of the body in many different aspects. Then one day he set aside the exercises and painted what he saw. Likewise, athletes and musicians never become great without regular practice.

Practice and training is VERY, VERY different from the actual performance, or actual thing. One thing we must realise is that for a very good or even exceptional performance to be materialised, there has to be thorough and intense preparation and training involved.

Likewise, to become excellent at something, one needs to devote and be willing to sacrifice long hours in training. There are no shortcuts - an initial burst of enthusiasm to pursue something is, bluntly put, not good enough. What's necessary and crucial is actually steadfast and faithful practice - despite emotion, circumstances or others.

There are many times when I see some musician perform or do a cover on Youtube and I'm so amazed and inspired by it, I grab my guitar and search for the tabs and try it. Then reality hits - it is not as easy as it appears to be.

Yes, practice, practice, practice...it's the long-term consistency that counts.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Mark 12:30 - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

I was pondering on this verse while showering and God pointed out the word, "all" to me. Seems to strike out in this verse.

I asked Him, "What if it's an acronym?"

He says, "ALL - Absolutely Limit-Less"

Wow..."No wonder You are God."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Live life like there's no tomorrow

Do things as if you won't be able to do them again tomorrow. Not to invoke a sense of doom-and-gloom, but to really bring of the essence of the importance of seizing opportunities in life.

Yesterday I watched "The Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In short it's about these 2 men who have been diagnosed with cancer and eventually they found out how much time they have left to live.

Freeman comes up with some items in his "Bucket List' - things to do before one dies. Nicholson happens to see it, adds some items into it of his own, then off they go to accomplish them.

A couple of takeaways from this show. That at the end of the day - end can mean the conclusion of life, a season, an opportunity, a period, etc - things/issues like what others think of you or what you think of yourself doesn't matter at all. Afterall, these 2 men are "dead" anyway.

Receiving Christ into my life and dying to myself has once again reminded me that my life is there for me to live it, God is there to help me on, despite what happens or what others do along the way.

That movie really enlarged my perspective of life once again. Bringing death, or even the light of eternity into the picture, being frustrated or uptight with trivial and insignificant things seem to be totally a waste after all.

The soundtrack of this movie is entitled, "Say" by John Mayer. (Roy introduced the song to me, which in turn led me to the movie)...

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all your so called problems
Better put 'em in quotations

Say what you need to say (x7)
Say what you need to saaaay...

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead

If you could only
Say what you need to say (x7)
Say what you need to saaay...

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You better know that in the end
It's better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open... wide...

At the end of the day, what's most important? Fear, pride? Your opinion/approval and theirs? God's plans and purposes intended for you?


I'm really encouraged by my Dad's friend's (who's into guitars and who also helped me get some of mine) heart in his playing.

While we were in a guitar shop and trying out electrics, he took one of the guitars, played his blues and sung along to it.

To me, he had his heart in it. Even if you can definitely find another person who can play or sing better than him - it doesn't matter - he held NOTHING back. He gave his ALL.

Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like no-one's watching.
Sing like no-one's listening.
Live like there's no tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Dying Cat And A Nylon String Guitar

"Music isn't just learning notes and playing them, you learn notes to play to the music of your soul" - Katie Greenwood.

Why are you learning music anyway? Is it to pick up chicks? Is it to fulfill a void in your mundane life? Is it an indescribable calling?

I always wanted to learn the drums. I don't know why, maybe it's the aggressive nature of the things. You sit there and bash the crap out of them.

As fate would have it I shared a house with Dave, a guitar player, so I decided to learn the guitar as I had my very own teacher living in the next room. Or so I thought.

I went out and bought a nylon string classical guitar for $70. I didn't have a clue what I was doing but that never stopped me before.

So I went back home with my new guitar in its cardboard box. And with anything new, you want to play with it straight away, as soon as you get it home.

I also bought one of those guitar case chord dictionaries. You know the ones, they have a thousand chords in them and they are designed to confuse rather than actually help you.

So I waited for Dave to get home from work and as soon as he was in the door I was at him. "I bought this new guitar and I was wondering if you could show me how to play it" I said.

He just laughed at me but eventually agreed to show me which chords to learn first. He told me to learn the open chords A, D, E, G, and C. So I did. I spent every spare moment learning these chords.

Dave wouldn't show me any songs to play so I was forced to make up my own songs. This forced me to really explore every one of these chords as I thought at the time that I had to include them all in every song I wrote.

The songs I wrote were pretty strange to say the least. We were into punk music at that time so just imagine what a dying cat like vocals set to a nylon string out of tune guitar played as fast as a speeding train sounds like and you get the picture.

It sounded good to me at the time and I was very proud of my new found ability. It took about three months to get the hang of changing between the chords, and being able to write a song. (if you could call it that).

I didn't know it at the time but I had the one thing that was needed that would ensure I would become a good guitar player. That one thing was sheer bloody determination. And the more people told me how bad I sounded the more determined I became to improve.

So it doesn't matter how good or bad you are at the moment just play the music of your soul - even if it sounds like a cat being tortured. You will improve as long as you keep trying.

Here's a mental exercise for you. Fast forward your mind to 4 years from now. How good a guitar player will you be? The time will pass regardless of what you do. Are you going to keep at it? or are you going to give up? It's up to you. You will be four years older, but will you be four years wiser?

See ya next time

John Stockwell

Later this evening, after work, I'm going to head towards my childhood friend's place to jam.

I suddenly feel like David (me) going up to Goliath (him) not to fight but to spar and train up my skills.

His fingers run across the fretboard faster than my feet run on solid ground.

I'm feeling a little uncertain about this, but in order to improve my skills, I'll have to seek those who are more proficient and let them kick me beyond my current abilities.

The last time we jammed (and talked) was like the past Chinese New Year. It's been quite a while. I still remember not knowing a single thing about scales and soloing when we were at another friend's place with our guitars.

Hope that with all the training and practicing I've done so far, we'll be able to at least get going with some things.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

when I am weak, then I am strong

2 Cor 12:10 - That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I've come to a realisation that it doesn't matter how many times you fall in life, but what matters is whether you decided to pick yourself up and move on, or to just remain and sulk in that fallen position.

There are times of 'mountain-tops' - spiritual highs, immense conviction, the I'm-ready-to-do-all-things-for-God kind of drive, etc. Yet, there are also moments of cowardice, lack of confidence, dampened self-esteem, discouragement, disapointment, etc.

But genuine failure is when we choose to remain fallen, choose to NOT improve, choose to NOT move on, regardless of the number of times we experience setback or obstacles.

There are also times when we've experienced breakthrough, ventured on new ground beyond past comfort zones. Now we're in a new land and establishing our foothold. Looking further, the blizzards are harsher, the trails are more perilous and the slope gradients less forgiving. And sometimes, I think to myself, "Can I stay here just a little longer?"

Because it's warm? It's familiar? It's relatively getting more comfortable?

Worse still if the returning scouts bring back unfavourable and discouraging reports. "We've just glanced at the fangs of those mountain wolves." "I guess we should step back a little".

Then we retreat? Go back downhill? Get anxious of our circumstances?

But wait...hold on...take a moment to examine why in the first place we're here.

It doesn't matter if we slip and trip here and there, but as long as we set our hearts on our purposes and goals we planned out and press on in getting there, we WILL make it. And it's not really what we get along the way that matters, it's what we become that's crucial.


In my pursue of musical passion, I've discovered that it be more worthy of a man with little musical competence but with unstoppable drive to improve (for himself and others), than one with god-like skills and a complacent mindset.

Inevitable are moments when I just ask myself what in the world am I getting myself into, when I could actually spend the time doing other stuff?

These are times when I need to review what I'm living for, here's my list of priorities:

1. Wholehearted, personal devotion to God (not involving ministry)
2. Family
3. Studies/Career; cell group; music
4. Misc ministry-related stuff; friends


Last note.

I'm really encouraged, revived and refreshed whenever I read about the encounter and purposes God had for Gideon.

Judges 6:12 - When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."

By human standards and by his background, Gideon is a nobody. His clan is the weakest in his tribe and he's the least in his household.

But God sees it differently. God chooses to address him not for what he is now, but for what He intends for him to become.

God chooses to address me NOT for what I am now, but for what He intends for me to BECOME.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

What 'Other People' think

Here's an e-newsletter which I found interesting and encouraging. Just bear with some of the language used.

What 'Other People' Think.

"Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best" - Henry Van Dyke.

Good one, Henry. Are you afraid of sounding bad? Scared that someone might criticize your lack of talent? Worried what 'other people' will say about you?

If so, you are a loser, pure and simple, give yourself a slap around the head and, as my mother would say to me when I did something stupid, 'wake up to yourself!'

Who are these 'other people' anyway? And why is it that people live their lives caring about what 'other people' think. Can you imagine being a bird sitting up a tree and not singing because you thought the sparrow in the next tree would laugh, or tell the 'other birds' how bad a chirper you were.

It doesn't matter how good or bad you are as long as your are 'having a go'. You can only improve with time. Time is going to pass anyway, no matter how you choose to use it. You can sit there and do nothing or you can improve your talents. Who cares if you sound bad at the moment. Every guitar player at one time or another sounded like shit. In a years time you will be one year older, that's for sure. But will you be a better musician?

And as for those 'other people', tell them to go to hell.

See ya next time

John Stockwell

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

before I die I want to...

Before I die I want to...

I was really amazed and intrigued by this photo archive site containing polaroid snapshots of people with their "Before I die I want to..." lines.

Make me think about what will I say when that question is posted before me (and that I'm given a handful of seconds to answer):

For now it will be this: Before I die I want to be an exceptional musician who positively influences the lives I come across.

After you have come up with that statement, take a step back and discern it carefully - does it really outline the purpose and dreams for your life? And if you really do get there or somewhere near there, are you deeply satisfied?

Sometimes I wonder why wait till the notion of death/end of the line before thinking about such things, when you can do/work on them now? Perhaps it's the sense of urgency invoked. Therefore, it will be tremendously helpful if one can find passion, drive and motivation to work intentionally and diligently towards those dreams and ambition, without having to wait till the dire hour.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the few best things vs the many other good things

Finished reading 70% of John C. Maxwell's "Your Road Map for Success" and I am very convicted and passionate about developing my potential to see my dreams and ambition fulfilled and to help others along the way.

Other than being an obedient and loving child and servant of God, if you ask me what I really, really, really want to do, it just boils down to 2 things: (and these are subject to God's will)

1. being an exceptional Blues guitarist
2. being an RSAF Apache pilot

I have to hang on for the 2nd one because the recruitment officer advised me (during my previous interview) to finish up my undergraduate studies before applying and committing to them. So when I finish up my last paper, I'm gonna apply again...and as usual, it is for real.

Honestly, I'm so passionate about no. 1 that I'm willing to forsake and forgo TV time, movies, gaming time, shopping and chocolates (to save up for an electric guitar). All these things being let go gives me the much needed time and resources to focus on what I'm passionate about.

In life, you can either be a "Jack of all trades, master of none" or you can be a "Jack of few trades, master of one". With determination and tenacity, we can do virtually anything, but we cannot do everything.

I think in so many aspects of our lives (work, school, ministry, relationships), we ought to define and discover that which matters most and focus on them, without being ignorant of the peripherals. If we don't, we may find ourselves easily bogged down with the countless good things (ie. things which we can do, but doesn't really achieve our purpose) and be frequently stressed out and sometimes frustrated.

If we don't define and strive towards where we want to go or see ourselves at, we will drift and be swept around by the things around us.

Being focused on music has indeed opened up more avenues of interaction amongst peers and friends (fellow musicians), but sometimes it seems to leave others out of conversations (ie. they think we're speaking Greek).

Enough of mediocrity...


Last night I happened to scroll back to some of my older posts of 2006 and am reminded that I've officially started learning that 6-string instrument about 2 years ago. From the posts, I've discovered that I have progressed and improved in skill because I firmly decided and made it a point to work on things beyond my skill (step out of my comfort zone) - which eventually led to today's playing standard.

(I'm going into the technical details here...pardon me...)

Last time I had to work of chords like C, F, B7. Now, I'm working on:

- the pentatonic minor scale, and breaking out of the box pattern
- left hand muting (using fingers)
- left hand partial barring (ie. not all 6 strings; using the 'paw' of my finger)
- alternate/economy picking techniques
- sourcing for a Fender American standard stratocaster and building up funds to get it


Yes...me birthday is around de corner...me don't really need no presents...me actually need funds in order to get de electric geetar...hahaaa...

Friday, August 29, 2008

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt
“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Monday, August 25, 2008

simplifying my life...

Seriously, I have very little tolerance running all over the place and ending up accomplishing very little or nothing at all.

I'm beginning to learn that some things can be simplified to improve effectiveness and efficiency, while others being complex in nature (like physics, rocket science, human emotion) should remain the way they are.

There is indeed a balance to strike between focusing all on a few and spreading out what you have on many. And wisdom comes from knowing when to execute what depending on the occasion or situation.

I've de-cluttered some aspects of my life and still in the process of tidying up things further. If you ask me what I want to do, there's a high likelihood that whatever that comes out will be things which I really want to do (ie passion, ambition, dreams, etc), rather than mere superficial desires.

I'm starting to taste the fruit of some of my labour here and there, but one thing I must ensure is that I stay humble and teachable. Thinking I'm gloriously superb and all will only ensure that my next fall will be a hard one...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the little things that slowly add up...

I'm using a bit of maths and simple algebra to explain this...

X: watching TV, surfing the net, playing computer games, etc
Y: full 3 years = 1095 days = 26 280 hours

If you do X for 2 hours a day, for 36 years...you will have spent Y.
If you do X for 2.5 hours a day, for 28.8 years, you will have spent Y.
If you do X for 3 hours a day, for 24 years, you will have spent Y.

Putting in specific examples and complete sentencing:

If we watched TV 2.5 hours everyday, for 28.8 years (say from ages 5 to 34), we would have spent enough time to complete a full-time, 3 year degree course.

I mean full-time as in with full day lessons, with free time and holidays inside.

No wonder being organised and informed about what we do in life goes a long, long way...

Friday, August 08, 2008


Seriously, it's very hard to live in a world where people and cultures are performance-oriented - where numbers and figures matter the most.

Even though the numbers can be used as indicators of performance, judging performance based on the figures is inadequate.

My point is that we sometimes we try so hard to do so many things that at the end of the day, we accomplish very little things of significant worth. We rush through things, we get over-stressed, we get tense and uptight and when things go wrong, we curse, we blame, we criticize.

I still remember the 1st semester of my 2nd year. All in all, it was seriously a mad rush. Exam results were great nevertheless, but honestly, I felt that too many other things were sacrificed just for the academic gold rush. Time spent with God, with family, friends and myself, hobbies, passions, and all, were pushed (if not shoved) aside.

I was always trying to make ends meet academically. Trying to stay on the balls of my feet, not wanting to let myself down. I was a performance-freak!

Fast forward to this day.

I've learnt countless lessons on time and life management from peers, experiences and the role models around me.

I am finite. God is infinite. I should let Him have His way - so that He'll do the 99% and I'll do the 1% (or my best, so to speak). And not the other way around. Not to take charge of everything and then slot God into any space left available.

His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Living in constant surrender and submission to Him seems to be the most pleasurable way to live life.

My days of saying 'yes' to almost everything is over. I have to leave that behind. I cannot take on the whole world. Thinking I'm a superhuman (which I sometimes do) is mere suicide.

So, to be specific, here's an outline (not exhaustive, though) of my edited lifestyle changes:

1. God
- constantly soaking in His presence, talking to Him
- spending quality time with Him early in the morning everyday (at least 30min)

2. Church
- cell: building them up, being there for them, walking through life with them
- leaders' cell: peer-to-peer accountability
- prayer ministry: interceding for God's Kingdom, for our generation, for our schools

3. Family
- spending more time at home for meals together
- being more open and expressive in communication

4. Friends
- catching up with them and being a blessing to them

5. Personal
- 1 hour guitar practice everyday (at least)
- 2 evening jogs every week (at least)
- shut down computer at 11pm (on weekdays) and sleep before midnight
- alternate dinner fasts
- acoustic jamming sessions with Roy (frequency to be decided)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

the awful truth about TV

I don't really watch TV, but I know of countless of others who do - and even do it "for a living" - as in live off it.

After reading this, I'm really awakened by the devastating truths about that innocent looking piece of furniture.

You should read this too...(it's in PDF format)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

God, the workplace and me...

The more I get acquainted with the working environment and the nature of the workplace itself - the less I must look elsewhere and the more I must look at God Himself.

I shouldn't even find incentive to focus on the strengths and good qualities of others or myself - not that it isn't good but it isn't the best thing. People can be unpredictable and I can fall or stumble at times.

But God is perfect always.

The more I walk into the workplace, the more I must go closer to God. Staying put leads to stagnation and anything else implies succumbing to the things of this world.

Such issues CANNOT be negotiated.

It's either you stay on God's side or move over to theirs.

The more I want to bless others and be of godly influence to them, the more I need to draw strength and empowerment from the Holy Spirit. Anything else means I'll eventually run on empty and then start being selfish and start taking things for granted.

In the light of God's awe, consuming fire and presence. I cannot afford to stay still. I have to run to Him. Staying still in itself is a mockery of the goodness of Christ and running away (or elsewhere) is merely mocking our Lord.

I constantly strive to see myself from eternity's perspective.

Excellent academic credentials, a wonderful career, fat paycheques, luxurious sedans, a spacious abode, a beautiful spouse, a well-groomed beagle, an established gigging band or acoustic duet, etc. All of them will eventually fade away in the light of eternity.

Having them is alright. Hoarding them is wrong. Holding back is destructive. Letting go, giving and surrendering is excellent and praiseworthy stewardship. Being obsessed with and by them is missing the point of living.

I just want to be God's wholehearted obedient child...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

muah's name

苏 sū: revive; resurrect
伟 wěi: large; great
祥 xiáng: auspicious (favorable); propitious (benevolent)

Hmm...to bring forth revival, be a blessing and declare God's abundance...now I'm getting even a clearer picture of my calling...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

it starts with me

I've been concerned about our affluent generation being too contented with what we have, taking things for granted, living with a happy-go-lucky attitude, shying from adversity, craving for things of this world.

Instead of merely whining, complaining and talking about it, I'm glad I'm doing something about it - that's why I'm into my alternate-dinner fast.

I plan to fast from alternate dinners beyond this 40-day-prayer-and-fasting season.

Reason? I want this to be part of my lifestyle rather than a one-off event.

And I'm doing this:
[1] so that the cash surpluses can go towards blessing those who are in need
[2] as a form of intercession against the spirit and stronghold of materialism and over-indulgence that has plagued this generation

In the process of this, I'm looking through my life to see ways in which I can cut down or eliminate unnecessary consumption and use of resources - so my capacity for giving to others can be stretched.

A mental calculation revealed to me that if I continue this alternate-dinner fast for 1 year, the cash surplus will be $720. I'm just amazed at how much this amount can benefit, bless and enrich others just by me making adjustments here and there in my lifestyle.


The throneroom of God.

It helps to bring everything you have in life into the throneroom of heaven.

Imagine if God brought you back to the heavenlies right now. What aspects of your life will melt and fade away? What will remain and be purified?

GY mentioned to me that doing this while we are still on earth will be way much easier compared to it happening when we die.

It's easier to strip of the not-necessary things and stuff in your life while you're still living than to see them melt away in God's presence when you bring all of them into heaven.

It's about the Kingdom mentality. That we are made for eternity. And that only things of eternity are worthy and truly valuable.

Which brings us back to the stewardship of our lives. How are we living our lives in the light of Jesus' death on the Cross? How are we living our lives in view of the Kingdom and eternity?

Hahaha....suddenly the television, the noise, the sights and sounds, the computer, the money, the job, the reputation, the want's, etc slowly fade away....

...we weren't made for this world. We are made for the eternal Kingdom of God.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Many things happening, much to learn and experience

Everglow Camp.

I didn't expect the bonding within the committee to be so strong that whenever I see them in the post-camp light, it still feels like we still running the camp itself.

One amazing thing I took home from the camp was the ability to exercise and see the value and potential in being consistent in things.

Lessons learnt. Not merely about spiritual climaxes nor emotional highs but the willingness to keep the fire burning even when the 'mountain-top' experiences are over. That we'll still run the race and stay true to our commitments and convictions even when people or things tell us to do otherwise.

Friendships. Not merely restricted to roles, responsibilities nor context. If we became friends in Everglow, we are friends in church, in the hawker center or anywhere else. And we'll keep it that way! ;)

Eye for details. Better to over-check than to under-check. Don't assume nor presume. Even God works with the details - cells, molecules, electrons, positrons, quarks, etc - and He's wonderful at it. It's the details which power the bigger picture. Just like the individual pixels which make up the entire image.


God's supernatural amendment of fractured friendships.

Recently, I've experienced the 2nd occurence of this. I can only stand in awe that God is One who will work and move at His perfect timing. That if you surrender anything to God, be prepared to be blown away.

Just as I was close to forsaking and giving up on a friendship, God came to the rescue. Could it be because I casually asked God to fix it if possible, even without much hope nor enthusiasm? On the brink of walking away, I thought that perhaps this was the way to avoid future or further conflicts and rough scrapping between the both of us.

Not really a cold war per se. But something like "let's talk only if there's a need to" and "flee from existing social setting if necessary to avoid 'weirdness'".

But now I'm able to look at the person in the eye when conversing. Previously I talk with my shield before me and sword in its shieve, but now I've somehow left my defences behind and extended myself in the interaction process - the way true friends do it.

Hmmm....I still don't understand the reason for this happening...but it's supernatural and good, for sure...


The band.

5 of us. And I don't think we'll be calling ourselves "The Rubber Band".

Yes, I'm enthusiastic and excited about it, but I'm concerned about the intricate details of it all. It's one thing to move ahead and be willing to learn along the way (this is a GOOD thing), but it's another thing to plan well, forsee the things you will encounter and estimate the costs.

Even though our scheduled first meet up and jam session is more like "see-how-it-goes", but I have to be firm with fellow members that it is something that we are SERIOUSLY going into. Yep, it's a commitment...

All in all, I'm truly grateful and humbled that we are willing to do something about our musical talents - to take it to a higher level and to be open to learn new stuff along the way. I'm not sure how things will be like, but I'm sure it will be challenging, stretching, enriching and eye-opening.

Onward to our first meet-up then!

Monday, June 09, 2008

commitment to the bloody surrender

2 Cor 12:9-10 - But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Usually when I read the above 2 verses I see them both as God's strength being perfected in our weaknesses. But today He's showing that to me in a different light.

When we become more Christlike, other than being transformed into His image and bearing characteristics more and more like Him, another thing you can be sure is that you are gonna face insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties, etc like He did.

Facing these like He did is not a bad thing, but neither is it easy. But one can ALWAYS choose to do things OTHERWISE. Obedience is a choice. If it is forced, it is not obedience, it is obligation.

In the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ, I have seen countless fall away because they choose NOT to follow His ways. And the choice is very much clear - you follow Him completely or you don't. Anything less than a wholehearted desire to follow Him is as good as losing yourself to this world.

But those who choose to obey the call and walk the path faithfully deserve my utmost honor and respect. These are the people who bleed, sweat and tear on the "road marked with suffering". As I learn to journey on the road of bloody surrender, I realise that death is something very normal.

Die to yourself.
Die to your desires.
Die to your time and resources.
Die to the world.
Die for Christ.

Putting away all the externalities and superficialities, I realise too that the sweat, blood and tears of sincere service and faithfulness is indeed very valuable and precious in God's eyes. And as I draw closer to Him, I too value these more in my fellow comrades in service.

In the past I would think they are crazy people with no life. People who just didn't know how to take things easy and relax. People with too much things to do reflecting some sort of bad time management.

But once I step into similar shoes, pick up my arms and charge into the frontlines with them, I then realise the BEAUTY of COMMITMENT.

Honestly, I'm very sensitive physically, emotionally and spiritually to the word, "Commitment". Not because I can boast that I have it all, but it's something that I desire to have more of and something I really treasure, respect and honor.

Commitment is when you want something, you walk towards it and keep walking towards it till you get it. Anything less is bears no commitment at all.


Last Friday evening was indeed a very difficult period for me.

In short, someone seemed to challenge my leadership position, forced words into my face in front of others and offered some not-really constructive advice/suggestions (on impulse).

I haven't been infuriated in a very long time. And when I do, it is either [1] the person is very "skilled" or [2] the situation is darn critical.

It seriously and literally felt like a spear was lunged into my heart. On the way home, my emotions were really cracked up - on top of feeling exhausted from the weeks' activities.

I was close to the brink of retaliation, which I glad I did not. Instead I did something drastic on the train ride home. Rather than spending time emo-ing and over-questioning God why this was happening, I choose to bless the person in God's name. I choose to forgive the person despite my current state of mind and emotions. I will still lay down my life for that person (to honor an old commitment).

I was trying to picture the scene when Jesus was mocked, spat at and flogged by Roman legionnaires. I could have hurled my spear at that person; Jesus could have just dumped those soldiers in hell. But He choose to forgive them. He choose to let go.

It's kind of interesting because some weeks back I was teaching a lesson on forgiveness - that it just boils down to our own personal choice. Others can do WHATEVER they want, but the choice on how to respond is up to us.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

back to pushing pixels

Honestly and sincerely speaking, I've missed doing graphic design. And the past few tasks assigned to me for my project really got me back to it once again.

Playing around with fonts, colors, shapes, shades, transparency settings, stock photography, and other image/graphic manipulation software and techniques seem to teach me that the skills and talents given to me by God is supposed to be harnessed and used.

If I have kept quiet when our group was facing certain design and publicity needs, this skill set of mine would have not be further developed and our company's (fictitious one, though) image would have been less professional.

Nuff said...here's what I did the past week for design and publicity...

Now, I'll be working on the "company's" website....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

drawing closer to God...

Already in week 3 of the "holidays". It always seems that whenever I choose to surrender my holidays to God, He will somehow or rather place activities, responsibilities or commitments which will occupy me.

God can align my activities so smoothly they just come one after the other.

The wonderful feeling of submitting to the TRUTH that His ways are higher than mine.

With these in mind, I'm attempting to go a level higher. Usually, we'll find something truly fulfilling and rewarding on hindsight (after everything's over), but I'm deliberately asking God to open up my eyes and heart to enjoy the process itself.

I find it an amazing and supernatural feat to be able to stand still, with calmness in heart and composure in mind, to just give thanks to God in the midst of adverse trail, testing and pressure.

I have experienced such feats personally and that feeling is...way beyond myself. Because it's not my strength nor my human nature that enables me to do so, but the very One who engineered all things to be in its place.

It's just like rather than tapping on your own engine, you're drawing your energy from ultra-generators - and this illustration itself is merely an understatement of what God can do through us.

When we are truly drawing strength from God (branches abiding in the true vine), we are then able to view such tough circumstances as OPPORTUNITIES for growth, refining, maturity, purification, etc. And when we are able to see that, our perspective and attitude changes. And then we are one step closer to God's intended abundant life for us.

Another thing to note is that this drawing-closer-to-God truth is a day-to-day practice and habit which the children of God are entitled to. If it's merely a one-off thing, then it defeats the purpose of God desiring to have fellowship with us.

So, let's draw closer to God...and KEEP drawing closer. The only thing that ULTIMATELY determines how much you can have of God is yourself.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wanting to step out of comfort zone is one thing, to stay with it is another...

I've heard too many times phrases like, "No action, talk only", "Actions speaks louder than words", "You say so much got use or not? You want then go and do lah.."

Yeah...mere talk doesn't get the business done.

Last week or so, I've made a firm, informed and convicted decision to be willing and intentional in stepping out of my comfort zones during the post-exam holidays. And that means, doing (radical) things which I rarely do normally, trying out new stuff, seeking God for direction and obeying His voice, etc.

Last Friday was my last paper and on that day there was cell. So I spent most of it (even though was extremely sleep-deprived) preparing for cell - according to what I sensed and heard from God.

Saturday was a sleep-in during the earlier part of the day, then I met up with my bro before church service. After church was dinner and an eventual dessert.

Sunday was at my grandparents' place for a pre-Mother's day get-together. Honestly I was quite reluctant to go in the first place.

And Monday...Monday onwards was my EID (Engineering Innovative Design) project where my groupmates and I returned back to school to come up with innovative and creative design solutions - all in the name of technopreneurship.

The bottomline is that I haven't exactly got my fair share of post-stress and exams rest. But that's where the stretching comes in.

Sure, there will be some who say that I better have my rest before I explode or break down. But for this case, that isn't the point. I still have enough sleep here and there, but I'm keeping myself on the move - planning ahead, scheduling in advance, micromanaging my resources, assessing situations and circumstances.

And the reason why I'm doing this is so that [1] I will be challenged and stretched and forced to step out of the confines of my comfort zones and perceived limitations and [2] I will cause myself to have an eventful, happening, purposeful and fruitful holiday.

The last thing I want is to revert back to the old, slacking mode. Rotting and stoning all day long. Staring at the TV and computer screen. Arghh...the mere thought of it disturbs me.

Yeah...and after the EID (which ends around early June), comes the youth JC-poly-ITE-campus camp (which I'm involved in) and an NTU outreach project (which is still in it's planning phase). More details to be released soon.

Also, cell's going to be way more challenging and exciting - with designated times for accountability and sharing of testimonies, challenges and experiences of walking with God.

All of these are possible, when you want more of Him and you make sure you REALLY want more...and nothing but more...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bluntly Speaking 5

Modern Disease: The Myopic Lifestyle

After the examinations, phewww....Glad it's over right? Then you have plans for a wonderful vacation - doing things which you really wanted, travel to exotic locales, chill out and all.

So what's next?

"What do you mean 'What's next?'?", you exclaim. You might think that having all those holiday programmes means that you have it all. You're not entirely right.

The problem or issue I realise is that we can't really see far in our lives. Yes, we have big dreams and colossal ambitions, but if you examine the concrete plans (as a form of EVIDENCE), in order to get those dreams and ambitions going, you'll see a sad picture.

So, effectively, it's mainly much talk, much imagination, much brainstorming, but little action.

We have to ask ourselves what are we really gaining from the plans we make. Are we really placing people or places into transformation? Are we really making a difference? Is there any lasting significance in all these?

Or are we merely going through the motions? Following the crowd, doing stuff because it's popular or cool? Or indulging in stuff, just to unwind?

What are we doing with our lives?

Here's some stuff every Christian should know:
- He's saved in the mighty name of Jesus
- He's made for a purpose
- He has unlimited power and potential with God's backing

Of course, you know these things. But where's the EVIDENCE of a purpose-filled life in you? Where's the FRUIT of the things you are doing?

I'm sick and tired of hearing people, JUST getting involved in these, during the holidays:
- food
- slacking
- games
- movies
- parties
- clubbing
- shopping
- generating cash

There's nothing wrong in doing the stuff listed above. But it's gonna be effectively fruitless if we JUST do that.

There must be more than these...

On top of the above-listed items, we are made for:
- fruitfulness
- abundance
- spiritual warfare
- being a significant blessing to others
- being different from the world
- setting Godly standards and benchmarks
- bringing forth breakthrough and revivals in areas of strongholds and strangleholds
- eternity
- bringing heaven unto earth

If you want a holiday you will never forget, try a combination of these...

- playing church and cell
- indulging in the things of this world
- pleasing man
- watering down the truth of God's Word
- wallowing in depression
- squirming in complaining, negativity
- taking things for granted

- praying and fasting intentionally (without waiting for formal/organised ones)
- seeking God earnestly
- pleasing God
- asking God for greater hunger and thirst for Him
- repenting and turning away from all your sins/unrighteousness
- comparing yourself to God's standards, and not to fellow man
- giving thanks FOR all positive/good things, IN whatever bad/difficult circumstances

Yeah...going "Wow....oh, I see..." is not good enough. Go do it, and keep doing it, until you see a difference.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Letter Exchange

Dear Christians,

Your examination's already begun. You need to work hard for your grades - you know it. For that dream job, that future paycheck. You know times are going to be challenging in the years to come. No one knows what the market / economy will be like when you graduate.

So what are you going to do about it?

You ought to sweat it out in your studies. It's gonna be a dog-eat-dog world out there, so you better be prepared. Only the fittest survive. And that means you shouldn't be wasting any time which does not contribute to academic achievement.

And what about this Friday outreach event?

You must be nuts. As we said earlier, you better be mugging and studying hard. You've got your modular credits to clear. If you sacrifice on your study time, it's gonna affect your exams, then your grades, then your resume, then your career. You see how the dots join?

What if you can't prepare for your papers in time? Who are you going to blame, your God? Or the people you're inviting for your so-called, "outreach"?

I know you're smart and analytical beings. So just weight the pro's and con's and place things in perspective. You know about opportunity costs, right?

So yeah...it's time for you to head back to the books cos one moment you pause means another chance for the other person to overtake you.


The World


Dear World,

We thank you for your honest opinions and ideas about our plans for our Friday outreach event. Yes, we do know that our studies are important - in fact, we are to be good stewards of our time in school, our intellect and our academic achievements - all of them to serve to glorify God.

But studies aren't everything. As believers of God, our academia is only a facet of our lives and even if we stumble and fall in our school work, that will never jeopardise or compromise God's plans and purposes for our lives.

Regarding the coming outreach event, we're doing it not because we have TOO much time or because we see our studies with inferior importance. We are doing it because we love our Chinese exchange studies as much as God loves us. And the marvel and truth of God's love is too great for us to contain ourselves that we need to share it with others as well.

Even it means sacrificing on some study time, we have faith that God will still meet our needs and will see us through the examinations. God is supernatural. He can multiply richly even the smallest of all human inputs in any situation.

We may be squeezed and taxed for time in this exam season, but that doesn't mean we don't trust God to move and work sovereignly in our lives. In fact, we are strongly praying and asking that His presence will be so real, strong and tangible on that day that our invited guests will feel His immense love for them.

Everyone's invited - even you folks - because Jesus died for EVERYONE - including you and me. So, if you're able, you can set aside some time out from your studies and come visit us. Details will be sent to you shortly.

Lastly, remember that God loves you always!

God bless!


Lovers of God
Sons and daughters of the Most High
NTU Cell

Saturday, April 12, 2008


The upside about being clique-ky (okay...i shall just call it 'clicky') is that the bonds forged within the group are reinforced each time round. Members within the clique will soon feel comfortable to be themselves - to share their heart-felt concerns, to give and receive honest feedback, to poke fun of others, to gossip (muahaa), etc.

This clique then becomes a very powerful entity in the larger community. Mobilise the clique and things will be effectively and efficiently done.

What I'm concerned with is that being too attached to a particular clique can have certain social drawbacks in some scenarios.

I've seen them at play in school and in church.

Lemme give an example.

A particular cell member of mine invited my cell over to her church's party - chill-out style, with live band performances and snacks all over the house. We went and we enjoyed ourselves, surely.

But as I was walking away from that place after saying the "good-byes" and such, I quickly went through what we did socially, and realised that it could have been better.

Honestly speaking, if not for the live bands and the outgoing MC, the atmosphere would have been much stiffer and less conducive for interaction.

But even with the background music playing, people (like myself, some of us and some others from other invited churches) still decided to stay within our cliques. Nothing wrong with that. But it could have been better.

I guess I'm in no position to pass judgement, but nevertheless, I'll criticise in manners as constructive and loving as possible.

(I struggle in this area too.) I personally feel that interacting with others will improve our interpersonal and social skills. It will open us up to a wealth of knowledge, expertise, advice, insights, etc. Like what they said, the world's not your oyster.

But somehow, it could be that we're hindered by the fear of rejection (if they aren't receptive), fear of humiliation (if we stumble and touch the wrong topics) or fear of the unknown (what if he's a brainy rocket scientist who loves eating cod with nickel chopsticks?).

So, the quick solution? Stay within the clique? If others are seen as predators, the clique will be the massive herd - cos there's power in numbers. The clique then becomes your security blanket...very nice and cosy in there, huh?

But what about the newcomers? (now thinking as a cell leader). How about them? What if they are left unattended and un-talked to at a corner?

That's when we have to break out of our comfort zones to mingle with the new people. That's what hospitality is about. If ushers and waiters only cared about herding themselves together and not being spontaneous to respond to a customer's approach, then they would have missed the point.

So let's do our BEST, in being proactive to see the value in meeting new people from all walks of life. To see things from a different lens. To gain another opinion or a different insight. And what more, you are then presented with wonderful opportunities to share God's love with them. Not too bad, huh?

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Launch of NTU Cell's 1st prayer gathering

Could this be the birth of NTU Cell's prayer ministry? Of course it can!!

Came back not too long from school. Gathered with my cellmates (Joy, Champ and La) to pray for our school, in school.

Haha...we walked around school to find a room but couldn't really find one. Thankfully, we managed to find the Bio Science's pantry room which looked conducive for prayer.

And then we went....we settled in, worshiped, shared about life and prayed for our school.

2nd radicalness of 2008: I was there at NTU Cell's first prayer gathering (or ministry, in time to come). And I'm excited about it!

Last time I was convinced my cell was stagnant and was too inward-looking. But then I prayed and asked God to work in our members' hearts and lives.

Then today, I can see my cell members committing their time and a portion of their lives praying for their school.

It's simply amazing how God works...

We covered 2 areas:

1. Thanking God for our school

- professors, teachers, deans, tutors, etc
- classmates, schoolmates, peers
- curriculum
- lectures, tutorials, assignments, projects, etc

2. Claim our place in school

- 1 Cor 15:58
- every Christian to rise up to take the place God has placed him/her in
- all to be submitted and yielded to God's calling and purpose

Hallelujah! If this continues, God is surely gonna blow me off my socks once more.

And I believe He is going too! Thank you, Lord! More of You and less of us!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

first day of school...

Definitely did not have enough sleep and my bio-clock's still not normal. The anticipation and adrenalin associated with the commencement of school started to wear of at around 4pm plus. From then on, I felt very sleepy...

Got back home in the evening and did what I usually do - organize the notes I just bought for the semester, sort them out into their respective files, punch holes and staple 'em.

I looked at my shelf and spotted many sets of personal lecture notes which I crafted by myself since year 1, sem 1. Thing is, I've been hoarding my personal notes for way too long already.

If I had distributed them previously, friends would have benefited from them.

1st radicalness of 2008: I decided to bundle last sem's notes neatly to pass them to my friends tomorrow.

No more hoarding of my stuff. God finally softened my heart and convinced me that blessing others with my hand-crafted notes is better than me hoarding them for myself.

Yes...I used to be very protective and defensive over them. Because I've spent long hours doing them up from scratch and I've seen them from conception to the end of the exam (for that particular subject).

So when the exam's over, I ought to pass it to someone else, in order to bless and benefit him/her.

Thank You, Lord, for that change in heart!