I am on Day 3 of a listening prayer exercise. Through Seth and Patti, I got connected with Kathy who is disciplining me on this journey. There is a workbook that we use (a gift from Seth) and Kathy helps me process my thoughts, encourages me and act as a sounding board to what I am hearing. We communicate through email and meet online once a week. I felt impressed to share some thoughts I have about Day 3 – on being in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Day 3 – I can recall times when I felt my conversation with God was most personal. Those were times when I could speak to God freely, on anything and everything, from the heart and without reservations. Still, I could do better by learning to wait for God to speak. That would be closer to a 2-way dialogue, a give-and-take kind of relationship. At the end of Day 3, there is a part about God being transcendent. I think this is the part that makes a 2-way relationship difficult and one of the key reasons why a personal relationship with Jesus can get tricky. Like what the book says, silence in a conversation usually feels awkward and oftentimes that is the main thing we hear. I once read a book by Philip Yancey – Reaching for An Invisible God, and  can truly appreciate a life lived out in faith, trying to connect with a being who is beyond time and space. It is no wonder people outside think strangely of us believers who are practicing this personal relationship. I have a friend who was in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend for a few years. They eventually got married but unfortunately still living in different continents. I could see the struggle they went through to keep that relationship going. At least they have MSN and Skype to help. In any case, they could always pick-up the phone and hear an audible voice! Our relationship with God is the ultimate long distance relationship. Yet at the same time, God says His spirit lives in us. He is so close and yet so far! I think the Christian faith is truly extraordinary in so many ways. It is like trying to bridge a gap that separates two worlds – the spiritual and the earthly. The only link we have between the two is Jesus Christ – the God-Man. One either thinks it is all rubbish, a naive and foolish endeavor. Or we drop to our knees. But you know what, as much as we think we are trying to reach for God, the Bible says grace and truth CAME through Jesus Christ.  God wants to reach out to us just as much, if not more! And He says… my sheep knows my voice.  That ought to encourage us. I think God understands our predicament. He knows that is not easy for us. Hey, who knows, maybe it is not easy for God either! Imagine an all-powerful and all-knowing God trying to communicate with His fallible and limited creation. This is why I think He can be patient with us and has us covered in His grace.

rk

Since the beginning of this new year, I keep hearing of how people around me are moving on to greater things, or at least are making plans to do so. Some are taking risk and challenging themselves to try something different. Some want to retire in 10 years and are looking for ways to make that happen. Some have plans to upgrade themselves to maintain a competitive edge. Some are fired up by motivational-self-help books to get their life back on track. Suddenly I feel a certain panic. I am turning 38 in a few weeks and have accomplished nothing by society’s standards. “What about you, what are you going to do about it?” seems to scream at me just about now. I could feel a sense of rising panic and voices telling me to catch up when I heard another voice, “Guard your heart. Let not your heart be troubled”. That stopped me in my tracks. I do not want this to be a “reaction” motivated by the fear of loosing out. I certainly do not want to end up laddering on someone else’s dream. Whatever my calling is, it should not require me to compromise on what is uniquely me. The only way to make the most of this rude awakening was to invite God into the picture. And so I did, knowing that everything else that follows will be filtered through his wisdom and love.

At about the same time, Seth Barnes, whose blogs had spoken to me in the past came to mind. With his wealth of experience in discipling and his passion for helping people reach their destiny, there must be something he can offer to help me along in this journey. We got in touch and together with another lady, Patti, they got me started on my journey. I spent two days pouring through blogs Seth had written in the past about dreaming and destiny. I even found some gems in the comments others left in his blog. Noted down everything that stirred my spirit, not fully knowing what they mean for me or where they lead yet. Basically just thinking and asking questions along the way. These are what I’ve got so far. Seth are Patti are guiding me over email as we go along. If you are a friend and a believer, do pray that God will make the path clearer with each step that I make towards Him. Perhaps you find the following resonate with your spirit as well. If they do, why not start your own journey?

Notes on dreams and destiny
Reference: Dreaming and Reaching Your Destiny

  • God’s dreams – dreams that build God’s kingdom.
  • Besides missions and ministry, what else builds God’s kingdom?
  • Emily’s dream of being a Hollywood actress. How is that a kingdom dream? How do we who are already on a conventional career path make it a kingdom dream?
  • Must we always give up the conventional path?
  • We come alive doing what we’re created to do. What makes me alive?
  • There must be God-room in every dream. If he doesn’t show up, the dream won’t happen.
  • Get the dream right. HOW?
  • A good idea is worth doing badly.
  • Fear constricts our heart.
  • What shapes our dream – world’s needs, our passion (heart), our plan (head), our skills (hand)
  • Dreams become clearer as we pursuit different impulses.
  • Is it ok if you don’t know what you’re called to do but feel like you’ve been called to so something? Because I am not sure, which makes me wonder if I’m answering the call.
  • Do I feel like I am where I am supposed to be or do I feel like I’ve been called to do something else?
  • What legacy would I leave behind? Who have I been influencing or ministering to? How have I touched lives?
  • Impact and legacy starts with listening – to God, to people we serve, to people whom we are accountable.
  • Greatness = dependence on God > takes risks > unpredictable
  • Turn off the noise your my life and seek God whole heartedly.
  • Greatness has little to do with your competence.
  • Read Steven Covey’s 8th habit.
  • What is Jesus asking you to do?
  • To follow Jesus is to be available to do impossible things.
  • He may take us to places that are deep but have some familiarity. Eg, a relationship that is familiar but feels impossible. Reaching out to them may feel like deep water to us.
  • God may want to deal with your heart before he has you extend your heart to others.
  • Examples of deep waters:
    troubled/broken relationships
    bad habits that eventually define who you are (eg. too critical, too negative, too withdrawn)
    reaching out to people different from you
  • God wants to eventually move us and trust us with greater challenges that build his kingdom.
  • God gave you a heart and passion for a reason. He expects you to listen to your heart and do not dismiss your passions.
  • What is the my heart’s cry? Can I trust my heart? How will I know if it’s truly free from self-interest, fear or my ego?
  • We don’t just fall into our highest and best in life. We often have to meander a little at first, fight and take mad risk along the way.
  • The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
  • God knows the plans he has for us. When we truly open our hearts to Him, He has us covered no matter what his dream is for us.
  • We need to surround ourselves with a community of people who trust in his work.
  • Trust in God’s timing.

 

rk

I can’t recall when my obsession with Holocaust and Nazi/Third Reich related film began. I just finished another one last night, Valkyrie. There are too many movies that I watch and forget about eventually but not these. These stories live on. If I ever have the chance to visit that part of the world, as much as I would like to see all the places where these stories were told, I do not know if I can bear it.

These are what I have watched so far

Valkyrie
Defiance
The Boy in Striped Pyjamas
Hitler: The Rise of Evil
The Pianist
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Life Is Beautiful
Schindler’s List

And these are still on my waiting list

Inglorious Basterds
The Reader
Adam Resurrected
Downfall

Any other good ones you can recommend?

rk

I had the wonderful privilege of listening to Pastor Ray Bevan speak last night. He is the senior pastor of Kings Church in Newport, UK. Such a funny and lovable guy that one. It turns out that prior to his ministry, he was a member of a professional pop-rock band which was managed by the same people that managed the Beatles. He is a small man but my….he is BIG on humor, life and God. I was thrown off my feet when he opened his mouth and sang (to God) a modified version of Rod Stewart’s, Have I Told You Lately. Ahh…that voice and the sincerity that came through converted me all over again. I hope he will sing it for us again when we all get to Heaven one day.

As wonderful as the opening was, the meaty part of the night was his message about a God of second chances. It continues to bewilder me how the right messages come together at a time when I need to hear them most. Here are some notes I have taken last night.

Title: Building with Burnt Stones: There is no Plan B (God only has Plan A) Plan A here refers to our destiny. We are the burnt stones. God builds his purpose and his church with people who has been burnt by life, people who has messed-up.

  • Do not disqualify yourself because of your failures.
  • It is what happens inside you that matters not your failures.
  • God recycles failures.
  • Our failure is not an issue to God. Our pride is.
  • God can handle your honesty.
  • Never confuse consequence with judgment.
  • Consequences can be a good teacher. Accept them, learn from them but don’t be condemned by them
  • When God deals with you about your failures, he always deals with you confidentially. Just you and God alone. You don’t have to worry about other people’s opinion.
  • The most essential thing to know if you want to be a recycled stone is to never underestimate the power of mercy.
  • God re-routes you to get you back to Plan A.
  • Christianity would be very easy if it’s not for our humanity
  • God knows it is awfully slippery out there. He knows our humanity.

rk

I’ve read many responses on the catastrophe in Haiti. This one from Seth Barnes tops them all (emphasis mine). I have been frustrated with things at home lately and struggled with unanswered prayers. None of them could be labelled tragedy, yet one of the first thing that came of my mouth in my rant to God was, why. It is a natural human response. It shows our humanity. But God calls us to something better, to set our vision higher.

Too often we Americans let our rational minds spin with speculative and convoluted proof-texting. And I want to say, “Can we just stop having to explain this God of ours in ways that bring our tiny minds a shabby and evanescent peace? Can we just let his response be the one that he took four chapters to give Job* starting with, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”

God help us when we go through our similar tragedy one day, be it through cancer or a car accident. We will have a choice, to bow at the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and ask “Why?” Or, to bow at the tree of Life and worship. Let’s choose the latter, knowing that our God weeps for his children in Haiti. – from How God Feels about Haiti

rk

These days, to avoid the church queue,  I attend services at our overflow room at Gallery West instead of the main auditorium. Who knows, there was a long queue there as well.  Reason? Pastor’s sermon overran by almost half an hour. He always does that! I was bored from the waiting and started playing with my mobile camera. Later on, I felt a little mischievous and decided to go against the church rule of  “no unauthorized photography and audio/video recordings within service premisses.” I secretly turned on the video function on my mobile as I made my way into the service venue when the queue started moving. Unfortuantely it is no good to show you because it is lopsided. It’s almost impossible to keep the camera upright and undetected. Who knows, I might attempt again if  I am ever in one of those moods again. Shh…don’t tell anyone. 

Outside Gallery West. The bright yellow lights on the left is actually Pearl River Restaurant. Poor thing they had to deal with this every Sunday.

The other part of the queue. Right below is the ballroom where we usually hold our Chinese service but it was reserved for another event yesterday.

Looking down from where I was. That’s the atrium next to Balaclava.

rk

I was at RBC Ministries’  Bi-annual Bible Conference for 2 nights last Thusday and Friday, learning from the life of Elijah from Bill Crowder. They are the people behind the widely received, Our Daily Bread.


Inside St Andrew’s Catherdral’s New Sanctuary just before the conference starts. They have been letting RBC use their sanctuary for free for a few years. God bless you guys!


Bill Crowder. He is as good a teacher as ever. Can you imagine expounding on several verses (only) over 2 nights? That’s intense study!


That’s my spot on day 2.

rk

(This is an email exchange between me and a friend. After all my ranting, I thought it was quite funny. Please forgive my language. It is written in typical Singaporean-speak. Don’t report me to the Singapore Speak Good English Committee hor.)

how are you my friend? have not been able to catch up for a long time. now school reopens liao, very sian. have to watch over their studies again. when will it ever end… how are you and family?

hello my dear friend, talking about SIAN… mine still a long long way to go man. Ya, when will this ever end??? dealing with no.1 is already stressful. plus another 18 mths old no.2, I am like a crazy woman everyday. No.1 is in K1 now and I can feel the study stress and demands already. can’t imagine when she gets to primary school. how are your kids doing? work is ok for me and family is ok too. i am going for a break with hubby to Bangkok on 28/1 to 1/2. I need this badly. luckily I have very supportive sisters to help to take care of the gals during our absence. I really miss those carefree days when I can travel as I like…. why nobody warn me about loosing FREEDOM + Financial Burden + STRESS + WORRIES = kidS!!!

My dear, i feel the same way too. sometimes i fantasize about “running away from home” for a while just to see how they will manage on their own. <evil grin>

i am having a hard time with my teenager. hai…talking about it will only upset me more, so i won’t share. he is in Sec 3 now. no. 2 is in P3. watching over their studies makes me hate studies all over again. with this type of mind-set how to be positive and encourage them? last Friday i attended the parent-teacher meeting at no.2’s school. lagi sian. one parent commented (after the teacher’s presentation) that the curriculum and expectation is too tough for p3 but the teacher said, bo bian, nowadays it’s ike that. if they don’t push up the standard, we will loose out. i think they meant, the kids + SG. it’s like every school is training their kids to be geniuses in every field. this trend is not only in SG hor. my nephew in KL has to take exams for certain papers in 2 languages! mind you, it’s the same paper and same questions but in 2 languages (english + chinese) to show that they are proficient in both because he is in a chinese school. she sends her 1yr old boy to brian-training classes every week! at 1 year old, i could only eat and shit. looks like my countrymen has caught the singapore kiasu bug. makes me just want to be a farmer lah!

these days schools always talk about parent’s involvement in a lot of the school-based programs. i know it is supposed to be a good thing and i know it is probably true that it is better for the kid’s learning journey BUT poor parents! we have to do school all over again! just when i thought i am finally done with school, projects and exams! sigh… can somebody just kill me!!

this trend looks set to continue or get worse. you think the current situation is bad? wait till you hear this. our dear MM feels that we are getting complacent and distracted and falling behind children of immigrants. said something about us having too many CCAs and not focused enough in our academics. so you see my friend, it is survival of the fittest all the way.

looking at the way things are going, my kids may well end up as farmers.

rk

I would like to pick up from where I left off in my last entry about my Dad’s need for companionship. Recently a friend tweeted, “there are too many similarities between love and companionship. the sooner I know the difference, the better”. It is easy to cross that line and not know it because the boundary that separates them is very often vague. There are too many overlapping emotions. Anything that involves the emotions is complicated and at risk of being misunderstood. It is said that love is verb more than it is a noun.

Dad seems to tie companionship with a soul-mate. He uses both terms interchangeably. I, on the other hand, feel they could be separate, serving different purpose and having different characteristics. The fact that Dad have had several companions showed that none of them were able to fulfill his need for emotional connection for long. To me, these companions were merely there for a season. They connected with him and fulfilled certain needs at different stages of his life. I do not know to what extent he confuses them with a soul-mate. My criteria for a soul-mate closely resembles that of a covenant friend. I see a companion as someone who shares the same interests, energy level and possibly even the same life goals as me. We desire each others company so long as these shared characteristics remain. Once these change, we start to drift apart. There is less expectation from a companion. A covenant friend however, is someone who looks out for you and sticks with you closer than a brother, accepts you like a family, understands you inside-out, shares the same values as you and is willing to take risk with you for your own sake. A soul-mate is a companion and covenant friend combined.

And then there is spouse. Ideally, our soul-mate eventually becomes our spouse. But for a soul-mate to qualify as successful marriage material, there should be an element of romance and mystery. There is always something fresh about this person that you want to spend your lifetime knowing. And of course, physical desire counts as well. Personally, I do not know if this is a realistic expectation. I personally have not come across such a combination. Judging by the divorce statistics, it seems to be so. If a soul-mate has all the ingredients for what makes a good spouse, then it appears that most of us did not end up marrying our soul-mate. Why? Was it because the feelings were only platonic? Is there even such a thing among opposite sex?

Where does love fit in? I think love is birthed when we make a conscious decision to commit to each other’s well-being and to remain committed in that relationship for life, whether married or not, although I cannot phantom why one would not. When things go downhill, love forgives, keeps us trying and motivates us to recommit ourself. The day we step away from this commitment is the day we step out of love. Love, when stripped bare in this context, looks like this. Who we marry becomes irrelevant. It only counts in our experience of the love journey we have decided to take. The problem is, many of us jump into the love wagon too hastily. I am a classic example of someone who did not understand what that commitment means. I hardly knew myself enough to know who I want to spend this love journey with for the rest of my life. And for that, the journey suffers. All parties suffer.

rk

Dad said something about soul mate when we were back for the Christmas holidays. I thought he had a little too much to drink and so did not give much heed to what he was babbling about. He was in a merry mood, that much I know. My sister however was able to pick up all the clues. It turns out that Dad is having another affair. He is already in his sixties. By now, we have all accepted that Dad has an insatiable need for a level of companionship which he unfortunately did not find in my mother. So he finds himself some alternatives. I believe Mom as a women, has such a need too. She however, finds them in her children, grandchildren, friends, family and God. She has many hobbies and they provided some form of distraction. I don’t know if Mom ever felt lonely and needed a soul-mate-like-companion the way Dad does. Although they find each other seriously lacking in terms of being able to meet each other’s emotional needs, they have stuck together all these years. It is not that Dad does not love Mom. He appreciates her for her devotion to the family and her other qualities. He may not love her the way we normally see love but she is a crucial part of his life. She is the anchor in the family. Without her, his life would loose bearing. I suspect both of them knows it even though they might not be conscious of it. Mom is not an unhappy and miserable women. Yes, there have been lots of tears especially in the earlier years of their marriage but she has learned to find her own happiness while staying married to a man who openly confesses that he finds greater emotional satisfaction elsewhere. Despite the pain and craziness of it all, they still watches each others back and cares for each other. They joke and laugh as much as they quarrel and fight. Dad is always the loud, intimidating one of course. There is a lot of disharmony and dysfunction within this union. It can be very disconcerting to witness if you do not understand my family well enough. I can’t blame my sister-in-law entirely for wanting to severe ties with my parents. It takes time to adjust. Love it or hate it, we the children, took it all in our stride. For some strange reason, we still look forward to our yearly reunions, accompanied by some apprehension for the unexpected. At the end of the day, we know this is home. This is family. This is where we can be free to be ourselves, to make mistakes, to be vulnerable and still be accepted.

For all my parent’s failures, they must have done something right.

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