conversation and cost

Woke up at 0530am this morning. My eyelids felt extremely heavy. Read chapter 2 of Be Still My Soul and went right back to sleep. Got up again at 0610am, had breakfast and went back to pondering on Counting all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; which includes my sleep and weariness, time to produce work.

Am I willing to waste time to worship? To pour forth. Extravagant love.

The Lord says count. He doesn’t just call. He calls us to count first. What does it cost you? Is it worth it?

And I’m still counting. 


On the sidenote, I had a good conversation today with my creative writing tutor on the way back home till Jurong. I’ve learnt so much from him in the short half an hour. His heart especially for the pursuit of creativity and his passion for writing and photography as well. This writing class that I attend is extremely out of my comfort zone because it requires me to unlearn everything that I know about writing and restart from scratch. Its filled with technicalities and I’m often left feeling very, very inadequate. But the conversation made me less fearful of the subject, because I know the person teaching all these has a great passion for pushing beyond the ordinary and seeing beauty in the normal routines of life! That gives me great encouragement 🙂 but through classes like these, I’m often forced to say, not I, but Christ in me. Christ, the hope of glory. Christ, made perfect in my weakness. I really need to walk into class and pray that God will partner me in class HAHA.

 

 

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time

And we may note similar “natural” work-rhythms which attend other rural or industrial occupations: sheep must be attended at lambing time and guarded from predators; cows must be milked, the charcoal fire must be attended and not burn away through the turks …

I love reading about the concept of time this morning for histo class! About how time came to be and how the idea of divided labour time is such a recent concept due to Industrialisation and obviously no thanks to capitalism.

“Time which arises in such contexts has been described as task-orientation. Perhaps the most effective orientation in peasant societies. First there is a sense in which it is more humanly comprehensible than timed labour. The peasant or labourer appears to attend upon what is an observed necessity. Second, a community in which task-orientation is common appears to show least demarcation between “work” and “life”. Social intercourse and labour are intermingled – the working day lengthens or contracts according to the task – and there is no great sense of conflict between labour and “passing the time of day”. Third, to men accustomed to labour timed by the clock, this attitude to labour appears to be wasteful and lacking in urgency.”

EP Thompson

People in the past perceived and organised time differently. Not everyone had access to clocks and watches that were luxurious items, though of course people spent a huge amount to get them. But the whole idea that the farmers had a certain way of telling time, the fishermen as well, made me :_)

this morning, I read Elisabeth Elliot’s Be Still my Soul which says “For Christ bearers, there is no dichotomy between secular and spiritual work.” there’s no intense need to segregate and distinguish between the two. Likewise, when I did my readings about EP Thompson’s chapter on time, work-discipline and capitalism, I was actually captivated by how the peasants in the past perceived and made use of time. For these peasants, it was straightforward. Time was not segmented. Time was what needed to be done. There wasnt necessarily a demarcation between work and life because their work is life – they fished for living, they led peasant lives and probably worked in farms and waited for harvest time when necessary. their concept of time thus became very seasonal and periodical, very unlike our concept of time.

There was not so much a hurry, but a quiet trust in the time to come and the work to be done.

Fishing and seafaring people must integrate their lives with the tides.

Oh may we as Christ-bearers, sync and align our lives with His.

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just a little note; reading the quote above made me smile because I get a little glimpse of what my fisherman grandpa used to do – integrating his life with the tides. that’s so cool!! Missing him 🙂

the name of God is the sound of our breathing

 

this is so beautiful. You gotta hear it. YHWH is the name of the Lord God on High and these were the breathing sounds of the Hebrew alphabets. Such intentionality in calling out the name of God. When Moses asked God what His name was and God speaks, I AM WHO I AM.

Everybody draws their very first breath
With Your name upon their lips
Every one of us is born of dust
But come alive with heaven’s kiss

USLS 2017; Building Life, Giving Hope

Where do I even begin for this conference? I recently attended the USLS 2017 Human Rights Conference in Bangkok in the past week from 1-7th August. This is a conference held by Humanitarian Affairs from the UK in collaboration with the UNDP and I was very honoured to be able to attend this conference representing Singapore and thankful firstly to God for this opportunity and how He opened doors. Also extremely grateful how everything came to be. I came to know about this conference in early February this year when the school sent out an email to ask students to sign up for this conference. All we had to do was to submit a resume and they would nominate accordingly. 2 months past and I haven’t heard from NTU about this conference until a phone call came one day in Hans when I thought to myself that the days ahead are going to be phenomenal. And it’s so funny because right after that I received a call to confirm my place in the conference! Talk about feeling it in my bones and in my spirit. The way our Father speaks to us ☺️ honestly, I don’t even think I am worthy or good /credible/eligible enough for this conference but since God made a way then why not right? Haha and talk about provision from above, the conference fees were covered by NTU completely, 950 USD MY GOODNESS what even haha and I could apply for a lump sum of allowance. So much grace, really.

Ever since receiving news about this conference, I thought I’d better prepare myself about the issues of the world and start reading up about things that matter to me. There’s so much information available out there it’s so important to filter and discern the various sources of information and perceptions. So the first thing I did was to borrow The Justice Demand from my dearest friend, Claire. Before I begin to read up and all, I believe it was important to understand the biblical concept of justice and really what is walk humbly, love mercy and act justly all about. I mean, since we are talking about humanitarian needs and all, then this is really pretty apt. A plus point about this book is how it is being localised and fit to the Singapore context where it deals with issues that are prevalent in Singapore – treatment of foreign workers, street ladies etc. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the biblical perspective of justice and what God requires of us. It gives a good overview coupled with summaries in every chapter alongside interviews with different NGOs and leaders of various church para organisations etc. But one main thing I learnt for sure from the book, is how justice is about re-establishing and restoring the shalom of the kingdom of God. Its this whole idea of reconciliation and restoration.  Author JJ Ronald Wong asked an important question in the book that I have been constantly thinking of, but have not reached a conclusion; will I be God’s response to injustice, suffering and brokenness? If yes, then how? 

If I may, let me share with you my takeaways from the conference through Wong’s presentation of the principles of biblical justice. Justice as (1) rights and seeking moral good,  (2) generous giving, (3) advocacy.

  1. Justice as rights and seeking moral good.

First of all, we need to understand that we are created in the image of God. The very idea that we are made in the image of God means that any damage or distortion to the image of God is very much trying to be wounding Him. When we see each person as made in the image of God, we realise the worth of each individual and we learn to give that individual the due honour and love that this person deserves.  I think deep down we all know that there’s certain standards that each person ought to be treated. We all know that we ought to value, respect and honour every individual. Justice is “a matter of rights and obligations, as between us and God, and us and people,” not just a “good-to-have” In the context of people who live alongside one another, why should someone of a different colour, gender, beliefs be treated any different from us?

Everyday, we have speakers from different organisations come speak to us and panel discussions on leading social change. Delegates from all over ask questions that arose from the various injustices they face: oppression of women’s rights for education, refugee rights, to name a few. This whole conference is about human rights and the purpose to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030, where we talk about eradicating poverty, providing quality education, gender equality and combating climate change. And it’s interesting because I met so many people who are super passionate about this different causes. Some of them volunteer for NGOs that seek to reduce irresponsible drunk driving in their country, I met one who is visually impaired but works tirelessly for the other people like him to learn assisted technology. I met people of different majors and degrees who want to see the world become a better place. It’s very much humbling I’d say. Everyone is seeking good and betterment of the society they live in – better opportunities, better treatment etc. I thought to myself, this is such a big pool of ideas, talents and gifts, when put together, will certainly birth amazing stuff!!  While we all have our own concept of rights and style of doing thing due to the different worldview and systems of belief, it does not mean that we don’t have the underlying inherent hope of wanting to see this world a better place. Some will think you’re idealistic and a fool but I think that’s possibly just what we need. That we are young and foolish enough to believe that something is possible and we act on it. One example was Ryan Hreljac from Ryan’s Well Foundation who came to speak to us. He was only a kid but he believed that everyone ought to be able to drink water and drink clean water. So he saved up for it. He was only a 1st grader but he knew what was “good” for the people who did not have access to water and he did just what he could do! He did lots of housework chores in exchange for money to support the funding of a well. 

Ryan saw those people in need as no different than him. He recognised that the african children too ought to have access to clean water just like him and so he responded to the problem. A 1st grader knew what was a basic right of someone, access to clean water and he acted on it by seeking good for this community of people.

2. Justice as generous giving

For from Him, through Him and for Him are all things (Romans 11:36)  Our wealth, expenses, money, talents and gifts. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)

I met many who give their time to serve, to visit people in detention centres and tell them that it’s not their fault that they are there. What they have, they give. That’s so encouraging :’) Those who are educated and abled, they give through their time and ideas. I remember in the conference Kim Solomon raised a thought provoking question: how much love do we pour in our giving?

So I won’t waste my breath If it’s not for love

I don’t have the heart

If it’s not for love

Don’t let me say it’s faith

If it counts no cost

‘Cause there’s no fear in love But there is a cross

In the midst of giving and serving, how much of it comes with love? How much of it comes out of obligation or routines or making ourselves look good?

I remember a conversation with a former refugee from Afghanistan who has now resettled in Australia. She’s not much older than myself and she’s beautiful. She speaks with such a genuine heart! “I just want everyone to be loved. I don’t understand why people can be so selfish! And so I speak for these refugees in Australia who are settling down, I help them and I bring them grocery shopping. Just to name some of the things I do” and when she said that, man I was so inspired. Here’s a brave woman who’s giving her time and lending her voice for the refugees that she so relate to :’)

Give generously, with love.

Who do I want to give to? And for what cause? And we always have the choice of choosing justice. Choosing a simple and less luxurious lifestyle that our money will go to places that need it more than we do.

3. Justice as advocacy

It’s about being a voice for the voiceless. And it can be done in many different ways. Someone shared about how she uses drama and dance as a form of therapy for the children suffering from trauma and their experiences from war to help them express themselves. Some of them fight for policy change and advocates for peace. And I asked myself, what am I being a voice for? Who am I being a voice for. My silence is a manner of propagating and tolerating injustice.

Being a voice for someone comes with first listening to someone. Many of the delegates who are actively being a voice for a particular cause are mostly people with stories or encounters with people who have gone through different things: suffering, oppression, disability etc. A friend from South Africa, Sam, writes for women empowerment. Her platform seeks to celebrate women in South Africa, and building self worth. You can check out her page here. 

I can’t believe I get to befriend and talk to some of the most amazing people and this just reminds me of a little prayer I made at the start of the year. I asked to be influential, not famous. To be God-seeking, not self-seeking.

Maybe for us Singaporeans, to put things into context, we really need to open our eyes wide around us to the possible social problems in our society. Listen to the people around us and engage in conversations – find out the stories, the people, the issues and then discuss, think, share. Collaborate and make unlikely partnerships, says Francis Kong, one of the speakers for Leading Social Change. Don’t let the ideas in your head sit at the back of your mind, speak forth and create strategic partnerships!!

There’s really just so many takeaways I’ve had from the conference and these are just parts of it! But through it all, I loved the friendships formed, the connections built and the stories I’ve heard. I meet people of diverse cultural backgrounds, different profiles and passions and I give God all the glory and praise for this learning opportunity. Not to mention meeting some really lovely girls that love Jesus and intercedes for the conference and the people met.

And just to end this long naggy post, I’ll end it with the quote I wrote for myself prophetically at the start of the year where I look forward to its fulfilment 🙂

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Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can and in all the places you can, at all the times you can to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

John Wesley

Let me know if you want to hear more about the stories I’ve heard, I’ll be happy to share 🙂

amazing grace

Last Friday I began preparing for my lesson on Monday about migration in the 19th century. Was reading up on the main events that laid the foundation for mass migration: namely the opening of the Suez Canal, the Industrial Revolution and the abolition of the slave trade. This led to the video of William Wilberforce and I went to google william Wilberforce up. He was an English politician, philanthropist and a fine young man. Came across the trailer of Amazing Grace, a movie about the life of Wilberforce. And here are just some of my favourite lines and dialogues from the movie.

In a conversation with his servant,

William: Dear God I know this is utterly absurd but I feel like I have to meet You in secret.

I know that lying down on wet grass is not a normal thing to do…

It’s God I have 10 000 engages of state today, but I would prefer to spend the day out here getting with a wet ass, studying dandelions and marvelling at spider webs.

Servant: You found God sir?

William: I think He found me. I have a political career ahead of me but in my heart I want spider’s web

And I wonder to myself, when was the last time I properly rested? The last time I could marvel at something with no distractions, just me, creation and my creator. Can’t wait for a proper rest time!

A statement made by Wilberforce’s friend when convincing him to join politics

We’re too young to realise that certain things are impossible, so we’ll do them anyway!

The group of abolitionists encouraging Wilberforce to be politically active.

Having problems to do the work of God or do the work of a political activist, we humbly suggest you can do both

Surely the principles of christianity leads to action as well as meditation

William Wilberforce sought out John Newton (former slave ship captain who wrote Amazing Grace)

John: When you were a child, you used to ask god for advice

William:Then I grew up and grew foolish

J :And now?

W: Now, slowly my faith is returning

J: How slowly?

W: No bolts of lightning

J: God sometimes does his work with gentle drizzles, not storms. Drip drip drip

W: My friend, William Pitt declared interest in me [to join politics]. He’s offering me a place in the world.

N: Just make sure you’re in the world, not of the world

J: There’ll be no escape from power once I’m in it. Ill have to see things through

So much truth in all that were said above! Through history, I see the hand of God :’) was also happy to be able to portray the present sufferings in class today, showing the connections and trend between the past and the present. The same factors that led to migration and much misery due to poverty, starvation and instability arising from war, also plays a part in today’s refugee crisis.

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downloads from the past week

It’s been a long while since I wrote on this space. I’ve been penning down on my journal and typing whenever I can in my iPad through the short snippets of time I have. The past few weeks have been rather busy. I’m in my last lap of the internship school attachment and it’s been fruitful and I’m having alot of fun, experimenting with creative ideas that come randomly. Thank you Jesus hah.

Anyways, just a short update on the past few days. Attended Alicia’s choir concert with the boys and I’m so happy to see them showing genuine love and support for a fellow cell member. That was extremely encouraging for me and spurs me to help them to love better. Not just to love one another but to love people that are not easy to love – perhaps one they have never met, ones that are very different from them, who shares different belief systems and all. I’ve also attended the first two nights of the Burning Hearts Conference. Really a word in season. I went with super expectant hearts and it’s so fun to see God’s heart unravel day after day.

The first night was about preparing to suffer and the question that we all must ask ourselves: when is the last time our souls are crushed with longing for God’s word? The Word clearly states that the extent to which we suffer is the extent to which we experience glory. Truly, our generation these days are more concerned with the fear of raised eyebrows, of judgement from people.

From the need to be understood
And from a need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God

Sometimes we seem just so satisfied with our comfortable Christian lives, we read our bibles when we can, we insert God into our conversations, then we forget that suffering is a real part of the Christian life. The past one year, i’ve been asking God what exactly it means to share in His suffering (that’s my theme verse of the year that God has impressed on my heart but never understood why because my life is currently pretty good) So it was a verse that I was hesitant to write heh but usually these theme verses of the year are often 90% accurate (hah the past 4 years it has never failed) So when Brian Kim began talking about preparing to suffer, my heart went a little like okay-Jesus-tell-me-now HAHA. hehe it was a powerful night and I was reminded to live each day with the reality of the risen Christ. In the words of Brennan Manning, the central miracle of the gospel is not the raising of Lazarus or the multiplication of the loaves or all the dramatic healing stories taken together. The miracle of the gospel is Christ, risen and glorified, who this very moment tracks us, pursues us, abides in us, and offers Himself to us as companion for the journey! How often do we live absent-mindedly? Very often indeed. How does that look like then? I think it looks like this: immersing myself in the word and saying yes Lord speak to me. It looks like remembering to pray purposefully for the people that needs prayer. It looks like lavishly loving on the people around you. It looks like carrying bright beaming smiles on your face because He’s alive, now I’m alive!!

The second night of burning hearts with Misty Edwards leading worship and a message by Daniel Lim was pretty solid. Don’t get me wrong, God speaks in every service and in our own lives. But that worship set really spoke to me.

Though I walk through the valley, it’s only a shadow, it’s only a shadow!
Though my body may perish, it’s only a shadow, it’s only a shadow!

Wah that got me. I mean, I’m not even walking through any valley right now really. But those words somehow spoke right into my life. It’s abit funny because God has been speaking to me alot about life, death and counting the cost recently. (i’m not scaring you or myself hah its just rather queer) But it’s something we ought to think about nonetheless. Not to take each day for granted but to live mindfully. I still fail at that sometimes!! Haha but God and His special sense of timing. I better watch and pray heh. But really got me thinking about the past and how everything was really just a shadow. I fear no evil because the Lord has been with me! Then it was this song of Mighty to Save, old song but something I’ve been singing during my walks to school. Author of salvation, and I began to intercede for my family who have yet to know Christ. It’s been 13 years of knowing Christ but everyone’s still pretty ignorant of it sometimes. And sometimes I get discouraged and I question, is it because I’m living it wrong? Haha but I scare myself sometimes and nah, don’t entertain those silly questions. In His perfect timing!

Through all these, I really see first hand how God has been tugging at my heart and speaking with me. I love how Jesus is all about the people. This is shown through the mini walk we had yesterday night as a cell. So…on Thursday morning I was just wondering what to do for cell on saturday since Joel is not back and we just ended a series. Then the idea of bringing them out to the streets of Geylang came to mind. Funny I read about it in The Justice Demand that Thursday afternoon and I insta-dm-ed D about it! (Haha we always talk via insta dm because we arent like friends friends) But found a friend in her yesterday when we talked proper for first time! She got me to pray about it and she did so as well! Haha I asked for confirmation and guess who I bumped into of all people at burning hearts!! A!! And she shared about how shes been serving in Tamar, a ministry for the street ladies there! Green light on. Hah and so the planning for it began. God also spoke in the planning heh.

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HAHA that was on Thursday afternoon and D’s boyfriend prepped us before the walk and shared with us, eventually leading us in the song of Hosanna. (totally unplanned, this is what we called divine) Haha and he confirmed and said, that’s right this is not unplanned for. And I looked at D and went “omg” of which she returned with a sweet smile!! Haha God is so cool eh!! Sometimes we ask, does God have speaking problems or do we have hearing problems? HAHA savage much. Often the latter.

After positioning our hearts, we began to move out to walk. Haha there were like 11 of us so we kinda split up and so began my first time in the red light district. Actually there werent alot of explicit stuff, not really actually. In fact, one whole row of brothels were closed (YES thank God!) and saw for the first time gambling dens where there were so many people crowding around the area. I’ve never seen this side of Singapore and it was eye-opening for all of us. But more than that, there was an air of heaviness and staleness. There were wandering men, ladies waiting randomly and scrolling their phones and people are seeking. Seeking for love, for fun, for a short thrill, and some unfortunately, for survival. We didn’t talk to anyone but we observed and in the midst of it all try to catch God’s heart for this land.

Yesterday night, we didn’t parade ourselves around like a lighthouse in the midst of darkness. Yesterday, we told ourselves to walk like little flames and we asked of God to fan and feed this little flame, that one day we might be moved to action. We often have the ninja spirit, like what D’s bf said but sometimes we have to choose a right respond to the injustices we see around us. Not having the hero mentality or anything, but to begin with asking why and then what next? And just humbling yourselves to one day ask God that we might learn to get our hands dirty and our feet in the mud.

There’s so much I can say about it but I think God thinks that was enough for the night and so we departed. As we were on the way home, my prayer is that all these young people become strong godly people that will be a voice for the voiceless. No need to take big steps and giant leaps, but small steps first – knowing God in His word and letting God enlarge our hearts.

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in control

before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth. Before he had math the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep. when he established the heavens, I was there. When he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command. 

Proverbs 8:25-28

Tells me one simple thing. God is present and in control. I love it. It’s all in order 🙂