30 June 2007

Word for His People

Do you believe in a prophetic word for the people in this season? It is not one of those "ra-rah" charismatic thing or an anti-evangelical thing. But that God has a Word for His people for this season. This word comes in a quiet natural way, through an impression to the Pastor and disseminated to the flock at a church meeting.

I do.

I know that God still speaks today. From His Word, through His people, through circumstances, and through an alignment of all the above, we can usually have a good sense that this Word is from Him.

Last night at our church meeting, the lead pastor released a Word for us from Isaiah 52:2. "Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion."

It is a clear message that many of us leaders seated there last night were in captivity. We were captive in our sins, in bondage to the evil one. We were in a pile of dust and enchained and refusing (and perhaps unable) to rise up and break free from it.

The Word of God for the hour is to rise up, shake off the dust and loosen the chains from around our necks. Our destiny is not to remain in a pile of dust and grow rusty. Our destiny is in verse 9, to "Break forth, shout joyfully together" we who are waste places of Jerusalem, so that the "ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God."

For too long, we are misled into believing that breaking free comes in incremental steps. Our pastor led us to trust God for a decisive break through last night from the things that hold us captive. I prayed along with the rest for that decisive breakthrough so that God can break into my life and help me break free from sin.

Sin is a deceptive and cruel master. To break free from it is hard and I faced all kinds of reluctance and procrastination. In fact I failed last night after the meeting.

But I believe that my QT and journaling this afternoon is a start of better things to come. I want to repent and trust God afresh for this shaking free of dust and loosening the chains(plural!) around my neck, to rise up and break forth into joyful shouts.

27 June 2007

Fetching the kids

We have 2 girls studying in a local public school. Thankfully we lived within walking distance (5 minutes of walking) from their school, but we have to do it 4 times a day. To be precise, Mummy does it 4 times a day. For me, I get to fetch them only during my school vacation time, which is like 84 days per year, theoretically (as there will be many days that i have to go back to the office).

My other friends have this unenviable task of fetching their kids every morning and evening, beating the morning ERP and other cars to reach school before 7:30am. Mine is just a nice morning stroll away. Thank God.

For the past 4 years, we have been doing that. It started with the elder child, and then this year, the younger girl joined in this national parents' routine. It is quite an interesting sight every time that I am there. Usually we see only the mummies, maids and grandparents doing the fetching. Daddies are seldom seen, I guess maybe they are supposed to be in the offices working hard to close their deals. Hence whenever I am there, the other ladies will give me the eye over, "Wah, so free?" or "Why this guy got no work to do?" My skin has since grown thicker by a few millimetres.

I am not a good 'auntie' yet. The real aunties come with umbrellas, the pros - 2 umbrellas. They are always equipped with plastic bag for the unexpected, and something to munch, or drink. These ladies are very good at chatting away. They always seemed to have friends to chat and share information on the latest test or tuition class programs. The 'uncles' are always alone by themselves, even after a few years together waiting for their kids.

Recently, I began to notice some of my elder girl's classmates were beginning to go to school on their own. Their parents have decided to let them be independent to take the lift down and walk the road by themselves. They have conquered the fear of the foreign worker sneaking behind the pillar waiting to attack their child.

As I discussed this with my wife, she hesitated and postponed it to a few months later. Why not, when our daughter is already able to take the public bus on her own to go to her granny's place? Sigh, at times it is better to be safe and give in to a woman's intuition.

Anyway, this will be a good time to bond with my daughter as she will not want me to be around soon. Already she does not want to hold my hand in public. Next, will be 'nothing to do with me' except more pocket money ;-).

Yesterday, I happened to be at the school gate to pick up my elder girl from her supplementary class when my younger girl called me. She was having her recess time alone. "Where are your friends?", I asked. "No, I always eat alone". My heart actually sank when she said that she was eating by herself without friends. What a lonely way to spend her recess! This girl was always the 'disturber' of her elder sister at home, but is the timid mouse in school. We chatted for a while before the elder girl appeared and informed her it is time to go back to her class. She gave us a brave smile and waved goodbye. At times she is cute and so adorable, other times, she can turn the whole house upside down and leave us fuming mad. But that's children.

And we only have a few more years left with them before they turn into teens.

Lord, grant us much wisdom to parent them and love them.

Running out of life?

There are times in my life when I felt dry. No more passion left for anything. No desire to progress in anything. Just living life by going through the motions. A step at a time, smiling here and nodding there, but dead inside.

Today's passage in John 2 spoke to my heart again. It's about Jesus coming to fill up my empty stone jars of my life. I have 6 stone jars each able to hold up 20-30 gallons of liquid, and they are running out very quickly.

The danger is that I do not know that they are running out and am still living my life unaware. Others around me knew. They can see. But not me. When it runs out, life wears down and there may be embarrassments and chaos.

The good news is that Jesus is here to fill up the empty jars and moving beyond that - giving good wine, better wine than the 1st round's. This is a message of hope and needs faith to believe in. At times it is difficult to hear such messages because the heart is dull with past pains and toils. "Not again, I heard that before" type of messages swirled round in my mind and I do not want to try.

But perhaps that is what I really need to hear. Lives with 6 stone jars of wine running out, or, 6 stone jars of fresh good wine filled by the Master. (Here, Jesus also introduces a change from the old Jewish way of purification to His new way into the Kingdom).

How can I be filled with good wine, i.e. living life afresh with renewed zeal and purpose?

For a start, I can follow what Mary said in John 2:3 and 5. Come to Jesus, expressed my condition, 'I have no wine' and then do whatever He tells me to do.

Dear God, I come to you empty, very empty. Fill me up again with your water, with your good wine, with your Holy Spirit, so that my life will be vibrant again. Thank you.

25 June 2007

Bedroom dirty secrets

After many months, I finally got a chance to clean the bedroom air-conditioner today. All these while, there is a strong resistance to clean it because it is directly above our bed. To clean it would mean that I have to carry aside the heavy mattress so that the dirt does not fall down to the bed. And my mattress is HEAVY.

Also, all these months in the room, I'm oblivious to the amount of dirt accumulated on and in the air-conditioner. It was only when I put on my spectacles and have a closer look do I see and get a shock of my life. It was - not clean at all. In fact there were much dirt gathered on the wall, on the bed posts and bed bars. Oh dear, I have been living with dirt all these while and I do not know it.

I spend the next hour carrying aside the mattress and cleaning the wall, bed-posts and air-conditioner. And once i get into the mood of cleaning, I clean the room fan too. My daughter when she saw me cleaning the air-conditioner asks, "What about my room's air-con?" I hesitated, because its going to be more work. But eventually, I cleaned both the air-cons. Great work.

While cleaning, I was thinking about the spiritual parable behind these dirt. I wonder if there were times that we are living with dirt and we do not know it? Perhaps, like what my wife said, she knew it was dirty, but she cannot lift up the mattress to reach it. Maybe, there were obstacles in our way, and we ended up compromising and living with sin?

And you know what, the longer we lived with it, the harder it is to clean it - its like strongholds that have developed while we live with undealt sins. It becomes very hard to deal with it, even the thought of it puts us off.

But like cleaning dirt, once you start doing it, it becomes easier and you would even want to clean the next room's air-con.

What sins do we need to clean out today? Hopefully, you are not like me who only start cleaning every semestral holidays, i.e. every 3 months. Now is as good a day to start getting right with God again.

There is also a scary thought. We may be like my situation, where I do not know it is dirty as I do not wear my spectacles in the room. How would you remove sins that you do not know?

We could pray for spiritual eyes to see. Or we can get close to God on a daily basis. As we walk closely with God, He will reveal whatever is displeasing to Him and impress upon our hearts to deal with it.

Start cleaning up your life today... it only gets easier after the start!

A certain man, A barren woman

Does our society have any regard for those sidelined, poor, and unknowns? We all remember the scholars, the high IQ whizz kids, and the young singing idols... but frankly who takes note of those on the other end of the spectrum?

The Lord God of Israel does.

Judges 13:1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.

When Israel was far away from God, God already started the first steps of looking for a deliverer for His people. He takes the initiative. Here it was not recorded clearly whether the people did cry out to Him for help. Perhaps they have grown used to the sufferings and snuffed out their God and deliverer. Perhaps in their sinning state, where they again and again did what was evil, they have totally forgotten God. But He remembered.

As in all Biblical times, God looks for the 'certain man', the 'barren woman', those that in the eyes of society were rejects, invalids, categorised as hopeless, and He restores them. I like the phrase in verse 3 above, "behold you are barren (hopeless) and have not borne children (i.e. beyond human help), but you shall conceive (here comes hope)". Behold you are... but you shall. The current hopelessness, but with the help of God, you shall. Our God of the possible!

It is a good thing that God looks for the certain man and the barren woman. Then it offers all of us hope as we are all in one time or other, in that position.

Today, God knows our position. Our struggles in the office, in the home, on the roads. Perhaps the reason why some of us are in our present state is because of what He gave us over to because of our earlier sins. It is then time to repent. Whatever it is, take comfort that He knows our state. He has started the 1st step to deliver us. Help is on the way.

And if you are that 'certain man' or the 'barren woman' that He has called, obey Him fully. You are about to start a very significant thing in both your and others' life.

24 June 2007

S$5.70 for a life?

I was at the local Supermarket this morning when I saw whole chickens on sale. It was a dead pre-cooked chicken wrapped in a transparent plastic bag. And it was selling for $5.70

Wow, that was cheap I thought. I used to remember chickens going for double or triple that amount. As i stared at it, I was also thinking of how cheap a chicken's life is. Just under $6. Imagine the price that the 1st person, probably the farmer, sells to the market person - maybe $2 or $3 per chicken? 

I wonder if a human being is being placed on a shop shelf - how much would he/she be price? A few thousand - 6 digit, or 7 digit sum? A few centuries ago, slaves were being traded. Wonder what was the price then...

When God looks at each of us, He knows the price that it cost Him. We are each worth Jesus, His only begotten Son, to Him. Our price tags? Priceless. 

When we look at ourselves, what is the price tag that we place on ourselves? Do we see ourselves as precious and as worthy individuals? When we look at the person seating across us, what is the price tag that we place unto him/her? Do we treat them as precious people too? 

For me, I need to repent for how often I treat myself with contempt and others as trash. I do not value myself as I should. I think of myself lower than what I am and can do. I filled myself with self-pity and put-me downs. Sometimes, I feel myself as totally worthless. I think of others with similar attitudes too. Especially those that I despise, hate and scorn.

Lord forgive me for seeing myself and others with tainted vision. We are all worthy of more than $5.70. 

Live distinctly today. Look for something worthwhile in the people around me, starting with myself. 



Receiving daily grace upon grace

John.1. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

We are a privileged lot. Those before Christ longed to see Him but could not and fell asleep holding unto their faith in His words. Now, though we did not have the blessedness of seeing Him face to face, but we have the Holy Spirit within us and His Word with us. Each morning we can meet Him as though face to face through 'Quiet times'. We have in that sense, received grace upon grace. Thanks be unto God!

In my sinful ways and thoughts I may be misled into missing out His daily graces in my life. But if I seat down and list them down and counted them I would be amazed at the simple but significant graces in my life that He has bestowed. Can You list down 10 of His graces for you? My simple listing:
  1. Thank you Lord for being alive and healthy, able to do all the normal things in life.
  2. Thank you for my family members, parents, parents-in-laws, extended family. For the support of my family that they give.
  3. Thank you for the job that I have now. It gives me economic security.
  4. Thank you for the home that I own, and am able to finish paying off the home loans in a few years time.
  5. Thank you for the car, albeit a weekend car, but it has brought us places.
  6. Thank you for the pet doggie that has brought us much joy.
  7. Thank you for technology like PCs and Internet to journal my Christian journey.
  8. Thank you for friends to chat with. Thanks for the wonderful bunch of colleagues at work.
  9. Thank you for Singapore, my country, that is safe and wonderful to live in.
  10. Thank you for church, leaders, friends, ex-colleagues there. They have been a significant part of my life for a long time and has given me many wonderful memories.
  11. Thank you for the ability to remember, to give thanks, and not to mope and wallow in self-pity. That has changed my outlook and given me joy for the day!

Praise God!

23 June 2007

Grandparents

We were passing near my parents' place when my spouse suddenly suggested, "Why don't we ask your parents to go too?" It was music to my ears Happy


For years now, and we have been married for 12 years now, there was always this 'my parents vs your parents' thing within me. Whenever she did not want to go to my parents' place, I would be unhappy. Whenever that week we go to her side and not my parents' home, my face would be black. I tend to keep 'internal scores' within me.

Sometimes I wonder why I need to do so. Is it because my parents would question me and I would be at a lost for words? Is it for their sake or for my sake that i am calculative? Hmm, sometimes I wonder am i the only one in the world that would do such a thing? Anyone out there has such experiences too?

Well anyway this kind gesture from her was much appreciated after last night's family dinner at my side without her. After a few times of her absence, my parents and siblings do not ask about the absence anymore. It was good too as it saved me the hassle of thinking hard on what would be the politically right thing to say.

At the AMK Hub, my difficulty is in keeping the whole group together. My wife and kids tend to walk faster leaving my poor old parents behind. I would tend to position myself nearer to them to 'include' them in the outing and all the while hinting to my wife to slow down. I have to consciously tell my kids to walk with my parents since we are out with them rather than sticking closely to their mum. But to my frustrations, this was seldom done, and i ended up trying all other ways and means to pull them to walk as a family.

Sigh, sometimes going out together as an extended family is a real challenge. But it certainly brings a big smile in my heart as i see my kid playing with her grandfather heartily. The smile on my dad's face alone is precious. It's worth whatever difficulties on my side.







22 June 2007

Rising up to run

My Quiet time passage for today is on Luke 24. The women visited the tomb to embalm Jesus. But He was not there and they were frightened by the 2 angels who had a message for them. They went back to tell the message to the other disciples who discounted the Word, taking it to be an "idle tale" and did not believe it. Only one, Peter, rose up and ran to the tomb to see for himself. It was not a wasted trip for him, for he saw the linen cloths 'by themselves' and went back 'marveling'.

I wonder how many times did I take God's word to be an "idle tale" and disbelieve it? In my decades of good Christian tradition, I have learnt to camouflage my unbelief with "it is not God's timing yet", or "keep praying", or "we must wait upon the Lord". If i cut these to the chaste, would I be found wanting in unbelief?

Peter, here rose up and ran. He was rewarded for his run by the sight of an empty tomb and a resurrected Saviour. For me, if I had not 'rose up and run', the tomb would still have been filled and there would still be a dead Christianity for me.

That small measure, mustard seed faith, is needed, to at least rise up and run. I need to rise up above the doubts and pains. And to start to head for the tomb to see for myself.

Now, where's my running shoes?

21 June 2007

Family Outing at Sentosa

We finally made it to Sentosa today!

My teaching school holidays and my children's school holidays do not coincide until this year for this one week. So it was with great anticipation and joy as we look forward to go out as a family together. But like all realities goes, I signed up for a course without checking the dates, and there went Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, we should we be able to go out but mummy is down with headaches and so it was a low key outing to the shopping mall for lunch. (Friday - my boss called me back to work ...sigh.)

Finally today we were all able to go and it was with great surprise that we were able to reach Sentosa by 10am, with breakfast taken! Normally, on a Public Holiday, if we can step out of the house by 10am to take breakfast, that would have been an achievement.

We headed straight for the beach. My kids ran to the beach and started their sand castle building. I was a lazy parent, seating by the table, under full shade and shouting safety warnings from a far. I was more intent on taking photos of the place than playing with the kids - what a lousy parent...sigh...

Soon my sister in law and her 2 kids joined us. They had much fun under the hot sun. And, as with kids around, they can never sustain long in any activity. Hence, we have to break for lunch and then move unto another activity - the Sentosa Luge. It was total fun. The kids loved it, "We want another round!" Yes, maybe at our next time when we next visit this place again.

Most of these family activities are for kids. Occupy them with something meaningful to do. Let them run. Swim. Play in the sand. Sure, the parents join in and we "Bond" with them. I guess at times the parents themselves need some break too. And we pack off our kids to the grandparents' place. Teethy

I wonder if there is such a thing as a perfect outing? Maybe it will be one whereby we all have our favourite activity and take turns to take part in each other's favourite activity too? It'll be one whereby no one said a wrong word to spoil each other's mood. It'll be one where external circumstances do not affect our moods. It'll be one where it is HARD to find.

Maybe the perfect outing is just going out there and let your hair down and have FUN. Don't think about yourself so much. Let loose. Enjoy. Spend.

It is funny how I tend to shrink back and never do all these. Especially the last part. Maybe I'm too worried about the dollar and cents to enjoy fully.

Perhaps it's time to really invest in fun.











19 June 2007

Cut-and-paste World

I went for a Web development course taught by my fellow colleagues from another department today. These 2 trainers were young "foreign imports", one from Perth and the other from Myanmar. Both are highly experienced and qualified to teach the 20 or so of us web novices in this area of web designing.

We were taught the basics of html language and Macromedia dreamweaver software. I was awed by the power of this software, especially when combined with Adobe photoshop. You remember those wonderful photos in websites that you wanted to save by right-clicking and copy but couldn't because of in-built protection? Not anymore! With a simple printscreen, save, and transport into photoshop and spice - you can now save almost any pretty picture you want. Bravo!

I was also exposed to some wonderful sites for designing and enhancing your websites. One good example is that of http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ Check it out man! Use the html codes to beautify your web sites!

One thing that the trainer spoke struck me. He said that with modern technology, you don't really need to know all the basics before you can play with the tool, but just how and where to cut and paste.

That strucked me as a poignant picture of our modern society. We just want the "how-tos" but not the "whys", the simplistic fix-it solutions, not the fundamentals. I'm reminded of what we used to be taught - get back to the basics, the fundamentals, in order to truly master the subject.

In our Christian walk, we need to be careful in this area too. If we are searching for the band aids all the time, e.g. how to tide over this urgent crisis, we may miss the truly significant point - God's real lessons for our growth.

While in web development simple knowledge of cut-and-paste may suffice, but in life, we need much more. There is this real need to know Him deeply, to wait upon the Lord and follow His biding. May we develop a fresh thirst to know Him deeply today!

18 June 2007

My daughter..

She is a feisty little gal. Not one to be quiet or reined in. A wild pony. A mischievous monkey. A little imp in the forest. These would have been apt descriptions for her.

Somehow she is the forlorn one as compared to the older child. All she has was hand me downs, left over time and "you should have known what!" screams. In retrospect, I seem to have practised favouritism against her. These could have led to her more naughty behaviour and demanding ways.

She is always the "bully' at home. The older one will always get her daily screams or pushes from her. There was once she hit the older gal so badly until her right ear was all bruised up. Yet in all these, she did not say sorry and will not apologise. She will give you that kind of defiant awry smile that says "so what?". Recently her school teacher scolded her in front of her class for something similar. We advised her not to look defiant but be repentant, but to no avail.

Today she is sick. And the whole house is peaceful. She can only manage some whimpers and some demands for milk. So unlike her natural self. We rejoice for a while before all "hell breaks loose again tomorrow".

How do we parent such a child? There are many times we hang down our heads in despair and questioned God, "why is our 2nd child so different from the 1st?" O how we wished we just had one.

There must be a reason. And now that she is out, Lord help us in our frailty to parent her, to love her with all our hearts. This is something that we want to but do not know how to do.

Well for me, it is a journey of faith... believing that in the end it will turn out well.

17 June 2007

15th June - A day of Many Firsts

It was supposed to be just another day in the office, but it turned out to be a day of many interesting firsts.

1. I fell sick. This is the 1st time after one year that I fell sick (still sick now as I blog this old entry). It is a horrible feeling with a groggy-head and comfortable sleeps. Oh how I wished I am well again!

2. The taps in our Male staff toilet were changed. This is a welcome surprise since we always have difficulty turning on the sensor-activated taps. Modern technology has its limitations ;-)

3. My email name was amended to include my christian name! Yes, finally after 1 year plus of begging the people at HQ to amend it. What finally did the trick was a reminder email with a history email that showed it was 1 year since they did something about it. Now I have a new office email address.

4. My colleague brought in his 2 schnauzers into the office. O how I wished my Jack Russell was as tame as his ! But O well, a lesson learnt - never buy on an impulse. For me, this was a case of giving in to my spouse and kids' impulse.

5. The staff gathered at the lounge and talked about our bosses. It was the 1st time that I sensed so much hatred and contempt for one's superior. Sigh. I did not join in the comments as I differed in my opinions.

6. My dog vomited 20 times (white phelgmy liquid)at night when we return from our Sakae Sushi meal. He was so tame and just lied on the floor and after a while, vomited. The kids were horrified, but I was glad that we did not rush down to the vet hospital, because he was ok after that, and recovered to be naughty again ;-)

What a Day!

When you have a day with as many firsts, what would you ask yourself? Is it suppose to be a start of something? What are the implications of all these? Or, heck with it just live on man? Hmm, I wonder...

16 June 2007

Saying goodbyes to old colleagues



Recently, there was a spate of turnovers - 4 to be exact. 3 teachers and, surprise, surprise, the department manager himself. In my short span of 1 year here, another 2 staff left, while there were quite a few of stepping down and up movements.

It is a small department of 20+ staff. Yet it is a turbulent one. We are filled with fiery people and emotional characters. Many of us have very strong opinions of what should be done and could be done. But like any government division, we have our fair share of those who don't rock the boat, especially the 4-5 of them who are facing retirement in a couple of years time.

Now we are having an interesting time wondering who will be the next manager. Will it be the covering head? Will it be another experienced teacher? Or will it be someone from another department or from outside? Speculations are rife. Our ears are wide opened ;-)

I feel sad that people come and go. Sigh. I'll miss their friendship and their support. It makes me treasure those who are still around and working quietly but faithfully.

Teaching in this environment is never easy. You give your decent best, but that is not enough. There are still projects to complete, students to discipline, bosses' whims to fulfil.

For me saying goodbye is hard. I am usually at a lost of words. A handshake, a smile, few trite words like, "keep in touch" or "all the best" are usually what I can managed. Beyond that it is really hard to keep in touch.

How many of my ex-colleagues have I really kept in touch? A few. We probably communicated at best once a year. Why do I find it hard to keep in touch? Things changed. New situations and lifestyles cropped up, and you forgot them. Those that I still managed to keep in touch are those from the church, the small groups, and perhaps relatives.

However, saying goodbyes may not be such a bad thing. My manager is one that many of us wanted to see him go. Sad - but true. He was viewed as incompetent, self-serving, and totally uncaring. Seldom do we see him venturing out of his office. And when he does, he whispers at times to my colleagues and it gives the impression of some conspiracy going on. I think it is sadder for myself as we have much in common. Will I end up in this state as i climb up?

Well, new colleagues are coming in. I have not met them yet, but hope that things will change for the better here. Due to all these movements, I have been bumped up the hierarchy to unofficially 'senior' ;-)

Well, let's see what will happen in the months to come...

13 June 2007

Voicing out or keeping quiet?

We were at a teachers' session today. It was another of those too-busy-to-organise sessions disguised as a seek-your-views session. This time round, it was a training session on teambuilding activities for us to conduct with our students.

The organiser was obviously not organised. He was dithering from one position to another, and asking us what we think, and whether we have better suggestions as to how this event can move forward. When it seemed like almost completed, one of them asked what happened if the students did not want to join in? Some other "doubters" chipped in and the whole thing wavered without a conclusive outcome.

Then my colleague spoke up. He was obviously pissed off by the indecisiveness of the organiser and some harsh words were said. To my shock, the organiser, defended himself and reverted back to his original position. This made my colleague even more worked up and the volume was raised with temperatures rising.

In times like this, what should our position be? Speak up to voice your frustration? Keep quiet and follow their final decision? Most of us present today were 'peace-makers' not wanting to make the situation ugly. Perhaps maybe this ability to take 'nonsense' comes with age. My students would have switched off straight away.

Speaking up adds an air of tension in the atmosphere, especially if angry tones are used. Could we perhaps speak up but in a manner that is constructive and respectful? This is tough as we have to rein in our angst and let out a suggested way in a controlled manner.

No wonder meekness is not weakness but significant strength - no many can do it gracefully. Especially when we are hot under the collar.

12 June 2007

Student Competitions


And the winner goes to....


It was not my team, but my colleague's team that won today. For me I was relieved that we did not win. Winning at this level meant more work to improve and bring greater glory to the College at the next level. Winning here meant winning for someone seating up there in the College's upper echelons, not winning for the students' education and overall growth.


When did we put winning more important than the students' education? When someone's egos were at stake. When someone's KPI became very important. When perhaps insecured people had to use winning to boost up their esteem. I do not mind not winning. I think there are precious lessons to be learnt in coming in second or third.


In life it is sad that no one remembers those who came in second or third. Are their sacrifices any less important? Are there not important lessons of handling disappointments to be learnt?


I will strive to teach my students the joys and lessons of coming in behind the winner. I will also attempt to teach them to think of over-coming self first and competition second. In this way, in every competition we will see all winners - though not in a way that management want to see and boast about.


But then again, those are their vain concerns, not mine.

7 June 2007

"Wasted Years" of my life?

I joined the Church on staff when I was 32 years old. It was an age that I would consider as my prime. This was after 8 years of working in 2 different government bodies and a short stint in a private company.

That time I felt a call from the Lord to fulfil my earlier vows made when I was in the final year of Uni. Looking back now, I figured it must have been both a call and a panic situation as I was then in a dilemma to leave my job and with a new born in the family. I guess I would never really know what it really was. It was a step of faith - a huge one, as there was a big pay cut involved. My thinking then was to go by faith and just trust Him to provide.

The next few years were tough financially. Every month I did not have enough and have to slowly sell off my unit trust investments and later my insurances just to tide through the month. I wrestled with giving tithes. Sometimes I gave, while many times I shrinked back. It was one long guilty road that I took.

The same searching question came to me over and over again, "Why did He not provide for me?" I would envy others who can bring their family for holidays or send their children for courses. Here I am only refering to the basic necessities, nothing luxurious like a trip to Australia. To my children, they know that whatever they ask from me I would surely say no. I would love to give them, but where am I going to find the money for it? These are the struggles that I faced when in my younger days I do not need to face as I came from a quite well to do family.

There was once at the hawker centre, I saw the next table had a wonderful spread of dishes for the family. That was a familiar picture - it was a regular situation for my family when I was a child. We always had more than enough. Now looking at my own children, I cried within me as I have to let the 2 of them share a plate of food and the 2 of us adults eating minimal portions. We would tell our children to buy drinks from the "Ma-Ma" store as that is cheaper.

I wouldn't have so much frustrations if I have a meaningful and challenging role to play. Instead, the church, in my opinion do not know where to deploy me - a graduate. I was the first to be in a mid-tier position, a role below the pastoral staff position. Why this and not a pastor? Sigh. In my 8+ years there, I served in many departments. It did not helped as I always seemed to be that round peg in the square hole. I just could not fit in and perform well in any ministry. I did not grow much and felt stifled most of the time. My expectations were not met, nor did I met theirs. Others were advancing and growing while I languished. My superior observed that I was like without passion, and he was right.

Finally after 8 years 9 months, when I was 41, I left. It was an angry decision and a scary one for me. The farewell with my ministry lay people felt like my own funeral. Many of them shared about my ministry in their lives. It was a good thing for my family to be there to witness all their love and encouragement.

The next year was terrible. I backslided and was at my lowest point in all these years as a Christian. It was so easy to sin now as there was no 'safety net', no accountability, and no one watching over me anymore.

It became so bad until one day I sat in my study and looking at my 3 shelves of Christian books and files, I thought to myself, maybe I should sell them away. The movie Shawshank Redemption came to my mind. I fully identified with the actor and felt that I have lost the reason to live on.

I could not pinpoint exactly how I made a U-turn in my spiritual life. Maybe not fully yet. But I have since pick up the Bible and started letting the Word of God speak to me again.

One main question that I could not answer is this, "Are those wasted years of my life?" 8 years and 9 months. I could have advanced so much in the world - my boss 2 ranks up is actually younger than me. My contemporaries are Senior managers now while I am at entry grade again.

What were lost in those years?
  • Monetary income (maybe quality of life for the family)
  • Status, worldly ranks.
  • Knowledge of worldly things
  • ??

What did I gained in those years?

  • Spiritual experiences (sp warfare - house cleansing)
  • Preaching - speaking gifts discovered
  • Teaching experiences
  • Friends made - discovered that i am very much a people person
  • Listening to God
  • MAPC
  • Mentoring
  • QC time perspectives
  • God's provision thru gifts from various ones,e.g. check of $1k from annonymous person. Many times these came through my family members.

How do I put a price tag to these things gained? How can I say that they were lesser or more than the previous list? Am I still saying that those were wasted years? Have the evil one been successful in misleading me?

Lord, renew my spiritual lenses to see clearly and to walk more closely to you, my Father and provider. Let me not hurt, nor remain angry. But let me focus on your hand of grace that has sustained me thus far. Praise God.

6 June 2007

Thots on gdop 2007


27 May 2007 was billed as the largest ever Prayer Meeting in Singapore and in conjunction with Christians all over the world. Hence it was with a tinge of disappointment as I saw the National Stadium only 60+ percent filled. I guessed the big boys were not there, because if one of them came, it would easily filled another 10% more.

Why were they not there? Why were some of their congregation not even told about the event? Was it because of division? Different agendas? Or simply pride? Wished someone would filled me in.

To me, as a 3 decade old Christian, I long for the day that we will all, at least the big bulk of us, come together and march under one banner - united, close ranks for the sake of Christ. Sigh. When will the day come i wonder? Maybe I'm naive. Men, under sin, will find it hard to reconcile with each other, and perhaps never will, till eternity.

Well for me, not all is lost. I rejoice in the 60+ percent of Christians who were there. God was definitely there! Perhaps that was enough. Never mind the dis-united quarrelsome brothers ;-)

I also met and talked with 2 brothers at length. One of them reminded me that i was wrong to think that nobody cared for my situation in the past 1 year. That brother did asked about my welfare. He did showed concern. I was selective in my memory and remembered only what I wanted to sulk in and thus forgotten about his care. Is it not the same for some of us too I wonder? That at times, we forget the covenant love of God and chose to wallow in our "pitiful" condition, made worse by our inability to see clearly.

O forgive us Lord. We have eyes but chose not to see, hearts but failed to love you as we should.

5 June 2007

mid-life thots

Mid Life is tough. You seemed to have lived for a long time and have plenty of memories and opinions about anything. Yet in each of these, you have your questions, uncertainties and regrets.

I am an educator ’stucked’ in a pre-tertiary institution teaching a perceived “useless” non-core subject. The students don’t take this non-examinable subject seriously. The management have their own agendas and ‘Key Performance Indicators’ to achieve and they will not rock the boat for you. Through a long stay in my previous job, my earlier relevant professional experiences are now made redundant and archaic. I cannot find job satisfaction here and i cannot find a way out to do other jobs.

In this ‘dead end’ I became miserable and dwell in self-pity and resentment towards my previous vocation. My regret is that I should have left earlier, when I am more ‘market-able’. Yet, why did i stay on? Perhaps next year will be better - that was my thinking then, which on hindsight seems too indulgent to the organisation.

Where is God in all these? Has He abandoned me?

God is good. He still is. Even though I do not hear anything, it does not mean that He has abandoned me. Tough times will refine me. Hang in there.

In life, our perspectives are important. What we see will determine our attitudes and emotions. Do I see a caring Father God ? Or do I see a God who has left me already?

Postscript:

After this journal was posted, I remembered a scene in Vivo City's Pet safari shop. There was a lame dog brought in by his owner, a Caucasian lady. The dog was one of those white background with black patches, a mongrel probably more than 2-3 years old. What struck me was that this dog had only 2 legs. Both its hind legs were gone, and it walked around with a bum support for its hind legs. The dog seemed to lost most of its vigour and was very docile. It was certainly a very different sight and almost everyone was staring at it. My own girls were pointing and saying in a loud voice that it has only 2 legs! I guessed that must have embarrassed the owner.

What was more striking for me was the love of the owner. She could have easily put it to sleep to spare herself of the trouble to look after this lame & blemished dog. But she did not and continued to love the dog with much care and tender loving words. The dog licked the owner in return for all her kind words.

I would definitely have taken the easier path to put it to SPCA or to put it to sleep. Maybe that's me. Always the path of least resistance. No troubles please. Fuss free please. And perhaps never knowing what true commitment means. Nor how God can overturn tough times and mould me in the process.

There's still another thought that struck me in all these observations. It's greater than the 1st two. The picture of this lady owner gave me a wonder picture of the Covenantal love of God. He does not, and will not give up on us. No matter what happens to me. 2 legs lesser, or any other parts of me short. His love is constant and will not short changed me in any way.

I am comforted by my wonderful heavenly Father. Praise God!

My next generation

Judg.2. 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger.

What happens to our next generation? Our society’s next generation, our church’s next generation, and our own family’s next generation is in our hands. Will they walk down the same road as the Israelites, who are faithful for 1-2 generations and then sin away like the nations around them?

My own family, my children – will they know the LORD, and the work He had done for us? Or will they do evil and abandon Him and provoke Him to anger? What can I actively do today to steer them to the right way?

I desire to teach them to know the LORD and to know the work that He had done. Currently, they are far from the LORD. My limited actions and unsupportive behaviour have not helped at all. I tend to lazily cater to my tired body and relax before the newspapers or surfing unnecessarily. The times that they come to me with difficult homework problems, I brushed them aside curtly and damage their self-esteem. So much for a good parent. sigh.

The tension is there. My dilemma is that I want to be a good parent, without much effort. I want minimal output for maximum results. And unfortunately, it does not work in His real world. In here, I need to put in the efforts. And even that is not enough for continuity. For the long haul success of my next generation, I need to walk aright with God and be obedient to Him. Change my heart 1st LORD. It starts with me walking aright with Him.

I need to walk afresh and closer to Him.

In situations like these, I need to arrest the Spiritual-Personal-Organisational factors, in that order. Deal with it spiritually is the most important. I need to repent and get it right with God 1st. On the personal front, I need to see that I must make changes in my life. Organisationally, I need to set aside time weekly to teach my kids the positive values so that they will walk with God.

Deal with me afresh Lord. Today. Amen.

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