5 October 2012

Nearing Home - Billy Graham

Nearing Home - Life, Faith and Finishing well by Billy Graham.

This is a great book by the elderly Billy Graham, written by an elderly, for the elderlies, inspiring the elderlies
to live a meaningful and purposeful life, at their station of life.

Though I'm not exactly an elderly person yet, I thoroughly enjoyedand benefitted from the wealth of wisdom found in the pages of this wonderfully written book. It inspires me to live on purposefully. It reminded me to be thankful for what I had already achieved. And I felt that it prepares me for the future as an elderly person,
giving me a realistic feel to what life is like as an elderly and what things you need to prepare ahead - e.g. like a living will.

What I like too is that it has a good balance of both scriptural verses and modern day quotations. These are good compass points for those preparing for their life ahead.

Overall, a good inspirational read, and I would recommend it to all who wants to be well prepared as they face their golden years.

9 May 2012

Going Deep

This is the second book that I got from the Book Sneeze people. It was a great service and good book offer from them, but unfortunately, I cannot say the same for this book, Going Deep: Becoming a Person of Influence by Gordon MacDonald.

This book looks attractive in design and title, but as I read it, I was turned off by the diary style that the author took in writing this book. The big ideas are slow to surface from the many details of the diary style. Many chapters into the book, and I am still left wondering where all these is taking me and I just gave up reading. At the end  of the day, this  book is good for those with patience and who can slowly trace the themes and plots leisurely. For the similar topic, I would recommend Edmund Chan's "Growing Deep in God", which is better.

I have since moved on and am reading from iPad with iBook app and the eBrary, a National Library electronic resource. Recently downloaded the free version of George Mueller's biography and was indeed touched by his comments to take the statements of promises in prayer at face value and not to limit it by our lack of faith.

More to come later on.

22 March 2012

School Holidays - a time of rest and re-creation

After 10 weeks of my first term this year, the school holidays are finally here again. Three weeks of nothing much to do lies ahead of me.

Well, not really nothing much to do. The 1st week (this week) was filled up for me by my employers. It was briefing on Tuesday, talks and workshops on Wednesday, workshop on Thursday and followed by another full day training on Friday. My only real full break is in week 2 and 3 where I am spared from any training or meetings.

Training sessions are supposed to be fun. But when its conducted by the management, the fun somehow disappears and we slogged through it occupying ourselves by looking at our timepieces. Still, there are nuggets of wisdom here and there to be found.

2 nuggets surfaced for me. The 1st is by Andrew Goh, the speaker for our session - his quote struck a deep chord with me: If you look at the cost, you will not see the value behind it. If you look at the value, you will not see the cost. This speaks to me for so often I only see the costs and ignore the value of the matter, especially in things like bringing up my kids. That RWS ticket costs supersedes the family time value :-(

Secondly, while attending the aircon maintenance workshop, I learnt that there are a few other parts of the split air conditioner unit that I can dismantle and clean, i.e. drain tray, roller coil. Yes, something to be learnt.

I looked forward to next week's trip to Sumatra too. It's been a few years since I last went back to do mission work and it will be exciting to do mentoring with the cousins.

Thank God for such holidays. If not for them, life will be too cramped and teachers like us will never have a chance to spread our wings and find the other side of us.

Till the next holiday. That's another 10 weeks away.

15 February 2012

Total Defence Day

15 Feb is the day where schools here celebrate Total Defence Day. It was also the day where we surrendered to the Japanese in 1942 and a reminder from the ruling Government never to let it happen again. This latter part is a bit missing in my school today, but I guess they would have heard it many times in their Secondary School.

For us, the day was celebrated (a misnomer) with static displays and game stations from SAF, Police, SCDF and us. The crowd puller were the games part where they had something similar to paintball. The firing range, night vision experience and the rhino joy rides were also very popular.

I visited the stations at the Sports Hall and was quite refreshing to see the advanced weapon systems now. I had the opportunity to try on the latest SBO (very heavy) and SAW guns. The combat rations and full pack were also much improved.

While the stations and games were informative, I felt that the interactions were insufficient. It would be great to have more items for the students to try and experience. Perhaps more 4D type of experiences in the Auditorium and more hands-on experiences would be good. Next year, hopefully we can invite the Air force and then Navy for the year after to give a different feel.

Having more items may pique the interests of our students, but they have still a long way to go to touch their hearts. A good TD day should aim to spur them to want to defend our nation. The emotions part should be touched too. But that will be most challenging.

8 February 2012

Season of DISC tests

This is the season where we rushed out to complete the DISC Personality Profiling for our students by March. It is quite hectic as when you are explaining, no one bothers to listen to you, and once they start, they would all screamed and want you to help them out over everything. There is only one teacher to 40 crying students with snail-slow desktops and lagging internet connections.

Once they are done, it is our turn to be bogged down reading and explaining their graphs to them. We are to watch out for the overdrive, under-drive and transition patterns and flagged these to the Class Advisors for further follow up.

It is a good tool but unfortunately few students pay any attention to it. Few see the value of it and click the buttons flippantly resulting in many weird patterns and false alarm patterns. What a pity! We are throwing pearls to swines again.

A better way would be to use a cheaper pen-paper version and to explain in detail for those who are interested. Unfortunately, our school has bought into the system and use DISC to flag out students with crisis patterns. I feel that the results may not be very accurate as they do not take it seriously. Also, these crisis patterns are a secondary result of DISC, not the main product of who they are and how they can best relate to each other.

19 January 2012

Scolded by Student

I was scolded by my student yesterday in class for not releasing his group to go for break. And, man it hurts.

It was 9.34am (lesson ends at 10) and they have done their work. They were getting restless but it is still way too early to release them for break and I do not want to set a precedence on what is only the 2nd week of term. Then this Chinese boy scolded me behind my back while I was with the group next to them. It was a Malay word for pig which is uncalled for and derogatory.

I approached him to soothe things out and explain the situation. He did not want to listen and insisted on me being unfair and that he would tone down his words and actions. There was no point in continuing on in such a scenario especially with the rest of them watching. I told the group to wait till 9.40 and continued with discussions with the next group.

At 9.40 sharp, I return to them and tell them it is alright to leave now. This chap just walk off angrily with the rest of his team. Sigh. What a way to start the new term!

Our students are now delicate beings. They looked tough on the outside but are easily angered and possible of violent behaviours. They are also quick to catch on your words and hold you to whatever you have said.

For the rest of the day, I was affected by his words. My esteem also took a blow. I could take 'revenge' on his grades, but that is too personal and childish. In times like these, it is good to be reminded of my calling and be true to it. Whatever it takes. And hang in there.

Please intervene and help change the situation for the better Lord. Grant me strength to cope and be firm and fair.

11 January 2012

Leslie Lung at ONE Life sharings

Last Sunday our church invited Leslie Lung from Liberty League to share on Gender struggles in the on-going ONE Life series. His feminine mannerisms still shone forth, but all these does not matter with God. I was touched by the workings of God in his life and of how God can always turn things around as He is in control.

While Leslie may not remember me, I know him in my Sunday School class years ago while we were still in our teens. That got me thinking about what if I was born like that. Would I have made it thus far? Or would I have fallen off somewhere.

Nonetheless, one thing I do know - the God who sustained him, was the same God that I believed in. And He would have kept me safe.

Praise God.

7 January 2012

Passed Premier Pro Level 1

One of the more tangible things achieved during my 4 weeks long school holidays is this Adobe Premier Pro Level 1 Foundation certificate. It is a 2 day course conducted by Vox Lab Singapore, one of the 3 certified Adobe centres locally. Taught by the Italian boss, who introduced himself with a long list of ACP, ACA, etc, etc, it was nonetheless a good comprehensive course covering about 80% of all the most used things in Premier Pro. I was quite impressed by his depth of knowledge and his ability to bring in interesting work examples too. His laid back style of lessons does take some getting used to though coming from my company type of course or Civil Service College.

Video editing is indeed a very technical subject. Stitching clip to clip is simple. But understanding the hardware part of the video systems can be mind bogging. On balance, I’m happy that I now know how to edit and add video effects into videos and that is what lay man videos are all about.

One interesting event that struck me is how one student became his employee months later. In class, they came across a problem with background sound/noise in the video. This lady quietly did her google research and presented the solution which our Italian trainer did not know. Soon after when there was a vacancy, she was hired. What spoke to me was quiet efficiently in work. It is appreciated and valued everywhere. It is a great contrast to loud boasting with no substance.

Another thing that I noticed is how people dressed in Orchard road area and in my school. It is like day and night difference. Here people dressed to the nines. Attractive and poshed. In my school, you can get away with short sleeves and running shoes. Here, even the jeans looked higher class. I felt that dressing smart does make a difference in your professional attitude. Sloppy clothes will tend to make sloppy workers too.

It is indeed good to get away from work-shell and be exposed to the world once a while. 

5 January 2012

Lessons learnt from Courses

Made a summary of the key lessons that I learnt during my recent 4 day of courses at HQ. They are as follows:

1) Behind every anger is hurt. Anger is an expression of hurt, it’s a symptom.
 2) We need to vitaminise them, give them things that will help them.
3) Students need to have at least one caring adult in their lives to succeed. [Henderson and Bela (1994) study]
4) Teach correct way to discharge anger – we do not need to respond in anger in return
5) Our youths don’t know how to plan for the long term.
6) Choose a career that encompasses their: strengths, passions and values
7) Are they drowning by their own choice (time to let go), or are they drowning because they need help (time to help them).
8) Teach youths: I I can do it; effective use of time.
9) Learn to see the belief systems behind the behaviour. i.e. try to understand why they do what they do. Belief drives behaviour.
10) Affirm and believe in them. It will change their lives
11) Don’t give advice. Let them come to their own actions.
12) Theory X and Y. X thinks that all people are no good and lazy. Y – thinks that people will make effort and be better.
13) McClelland’s 3 needs – all need achievement, power, affiliation.
14) A misbehaving child is always a discouraged child – Dreikurs.
15) Story of Chin Huat – ST article. No good in class, but very adept in the hawker ctr.
16) Look for the menta models to understand where they are coming from.

Things to try:
1) Ask students: If there is an emergency and that you need to call an adult, who will it be?
2) Draw a diagram of who are your best 3 friends in class – to see the links. To link them with friends that are helpful with them.
3) Start afresh after years of failing – paper writing and then tearing process
4) Don’t scold first. Try asking questions to understand; and then to provoke thinking about the consequences of their actions.
5) Find a man same age as me to illustrate what happens when one is given the environment and one is not.
6) Give those who are out to challenge you the power of choice. Avoid power struggle. 

Now to apply them in my teachings...

4 January 2012

Finding my Calling

For years we talked about calling. Some of my colleagues then in church talked about their calling to be pastors. Others shared about their calling to be teachers of the Word. Still some spoke of their calling to the Chinese ministry or to the community. I was serving in the Resources ministry then, but I do not felt called to sell books as a life long ministry or calling. What is my Calling? It is that one thing that was illusive for me for a long time.

Until last night, that is.

At 47 years and 2 months, I finally caught onto what I think is my calling.

After reading Ps Edmund's Cultivating Your Inner Life, chapter 3 on My Pilgrimage of Surrender - A Steadfast Calling, I was reminded of my futile search for my calling.His words, "Calling is everything. We've got to know our station and keep our station" gave me fresh impetus to seek for calling. I wrote in the reflections page, what is my calling? I prayed and asked God to show me afresh again. Never did I expect Him to answer that night at 5am.

Leading to His answer that early morning was my departmental work plan meeting. One of the staff shared about teachers making a difference (see video: below). I was touched by it, though I seen it before a few years ago, but did not think much about it.

Last might I was suddenly awoken. My thoughts were on my calling and suddenly the video and calling linked. I was not sure and asked if there is a verse to confirm it. Luke 19:10 came back plus my Isa 42:6,7. Instantly I knew I was to remain as a teacher in my Institution amd to make a real difference to the students there. One students per term. To save that which was lost, by re-directing their lives. To be that father-adult figure for them in their lives.

Now suddenly 2012 is alive for me. With meaning and purpose, instead of yet just another year to push through.

Praise God.

p.s. why was it difficult to discover my calling? and why till now? Maybe it had to do with surrender. Years ago, I wanted to do my own thing. Win the world in my youthfulness. Now, I have not won anything. Everything looks dimmer and every challenge fills me with doubt as whether I can still do it now? Its like God encountering Moses 40 years later in the desert and asking him to lead the people out of Egypt. For me I have surrendered what it left of my life, my shattered dreams for Him to make it beautiful again. Maybe, that's why its easier.  

3 January 2012

Cultivating Your Inner Life

I have just started to read again, after a long while. I picked up this book, "Cultivating Your Inner Life" by Pastor Edmund Chan at my church book store and read the first few chapters. The chapters are short, crisp, touching and authentic. No hard sells. No self elevation (if anything, it is from a posture of meekness that the other authors know little about). Just good old sharing from one who walks with God and is passing on things that are real and important.

One of the thoughts that struck me was where Ann asked the author, "If Christ is real, why is your life that?". Ann asked him who was then back-sliding and this proved to be the question that helped him realised his error and started him to turn back.

This spoke to me, as in many ways my life does not reflect my association with Jesus. I claimed to be a Christian but my close ones can tell the incongruity.

Also, on a deeper front, it spoke to me of my own rejection of God too. I need to return to Jesus and not continue to be angry and rebellious. Interestingly - it was the same description that the author used to described himself when he was a teenager in rebellion.

Why am I still far away from God? I have prayed. Sought counsel. Confessed and forgiven. For years now. Still, I felt there is a distance from God. Dark night of the Soul ? These are times of unknown, but one thing is certain - I need to return and to read His Word again. Help me Lord.

God can turn even the hardest hearts around

I was inspired by the guest speaker last Sunday. He was an ex-drug addict, ex-convict, bad guy in all sense of the word. Stole his father's drugs at 11 and got hooked since. Got in and out of jail and DRCs many times and yet did not change. The turning point came for him when he saw his grandmother wept for him and his dad (they are both in jail) and he decided to change. The Lord helped him too by sending a Malay warden to pass him a Chinese Bible to read to pass away his boredom in jail. Heb 10's mentioned of the Lord 'punishes' or in Chinese canes those whom He loved spoke to him deeply as he was just given the rotan and he surrendered and gave his life to Jesus.

From then on he changed for the better. He went around churches and groups sharing the gospel, even to other countries around the world. God helped him to get married too, something no drug addicts expected as they think nobody would want them. He also graduated from the seminary too. His name - Kevin Soh.

All these spoke to me about a God who can change us. When we are down and out, and have given up hope on ourselves, God has not. He can and will change us when we return to Him. I teared when I heard his testimony of a great and loving God doing wonders for him. And for me too, if I let Him (the difficulty lies in surrender. Many have turned away at this point and have not tasted the possibility of true change).

Lord, will you take this life and use it? Use whatever that is left of it for your glory. The dreams that I once had, now probably shattered and forgotten, and to realized it again as you have done for many others. That others will know that you are the mighty God who can do the impossible.

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