Aug 26, 2012

Personal Sharing: Church Camp 2012

Hey there everybody.

Church camp in Cameron Highland was recently over, and BOY, was it an experience.

To give a general overview of the camp, it was a 4 days 3 night camp in Heritage Hotel, and our camp speaker was none other than Rev Dr. Lim Kar Yong.

WHOA, REV + DR? Imagine that person in your mind, A grey haired professor with a wise old man look wearing an equally grey blazer, that was the mental image I had in mind.

I was wrong. Here’s a picture.


Despite his youthful appearance, this man was the real deal, throughout the 6 sessions that he had with us, he managed to drive home some points close to the hearts of many of us in an interesting and informative way, the kind where you can just sit down and listen for hours upon hours.

Well, I can’t possibly hope to summarize EVERYTHING that he shared with us during camp, so I’ll just share with you a few highlights which are my personal favorites.

One of the first imagery that he shared with us was of that of BUCHENWALD concentration camp. He drew an analogy between our sinful life and our redeemed life, with that of confinement within Buchenwald concentration camp and freedom from it.

Concentration camp… what’s that? You ask. Well, I can tell you for sure that it is not a camp where Asians go to increase their level of concentration, at least not in this context.

Use of the word "concentration" came from the idea of using documents confining to one place a group of people who are in some way undesirable. In a nutshell, a concentration camp is where the NAZIs kept their political enemies, and mainly people whose interest runs against their ideology. People like Jews, homosexual, and clergies make up the majority in these camps.

So…. Buchenwald, what’s so special about that? In order to fully understand the context in this case Rev Dr Lim proceeded to expound on a few facts about Buchenwald, among the few notables were:
1. It was the largest concentration camp that the NAZIs had
3. It kept confined to it, 240 000 men and women
4. Out of this number, there was a death rate of 24 percent, or more precisely 56545.

What led to that extraordinary rate of death?  The primary factors were harsh living conditions which encouraged the development of diseases, starvation and as if that was not enough, the prisoners there were quite literally worked to death under the Vernichtung durch Arbeit policy (EXTERMINATION THROUGH LABOUR). Also, many of these prisoners were subjected to inhumane experimentations, some including the development of poisons where the prisoners were taken as guinea pigs to determine JUST the right dose to use, cause you know, wasting is like totally wrong you know?

(On a random note, it made me think about the differences between the Concentration Camp and our Church Camp, hahaha, imagine signing up for the wrong camp.)

So, after elaborating all the facts about Buchenwald camp, the Rev Dr begin to draw a parallel between our sinful lives and that to confinement in Buchenwald camp.

Ultimately, all the prisoners in Buchenwald camp would have been liberated on April 4th 1945 by the allied soldiers from the United States. One can only imagine the joy of the prisoners to be able to finally escape the Living Nightmare that they were trapped in and walk into the path of FREEDOM.

And Ultimately, Jesus would have liberated all of us from our sinful, self defeating lives when he died on the cross for us. All that was needed was for us to accept him as our personal savior and repent. Imagine a prisoner who refused to be liberated, who chose to STAY with his or her own captors, who after Buchenwald camp was liberated, chose to stay in another concentration camp. (Stockholm Syndrome much?) It’s like, imagine him walking up to the Nazis and say “Umm.. hey guys, you see, the allies have destroyed Buchenwald and I would really like it if you could accommodate me into another camp where I can be severely starved, brutalized, work to death, and be freely experimented on, I hope that’s not too big a trouble.”

What Rev Dr Lim shared that day hit me close to my heart; it struck a raw nerve, wound in me which prodded me into deep thought. [Assumes thinker pose]

Like everyone, I struggle with sin, and often sin seems to be winning most of the time. Often times it left me demotivated , stripped of my confidence and distanced me from God. I hated that feeling, quite literally at times, right after committing a sin, I feel alone. A sense of loneliness and emptiness as though everybody had left, and I was alone in this world.

After much soul searching during the camp, I came to realize, that for me, my real reason for defeat was that I have strayed too far away from God. Sure, I did many things to help others; I’ve dedicated all my successes to God, I’ve committed my time, abilities and effort to benefit others. BUT I was too far away from him.

A fundamental lie that prevailed in my life was that I always thought things such as quiet time and bible study were not a real necessity in my spiritual life, I mean sure they were important, but to me back then it was always work in the community that took priority above all the rest. I guess I was a Martha instead of a Mary.

Thinking back to a period of my life which I seem to be more at peace with God, I realized it was so because back then I took the pain to read the bible and pray every single night, come rain come shine.  Proud and Arrogant, I have fallen.

HENCE, in order to address this issue, I have once again decided to restart my daily “pilgrimage”, once again come rain come shine, I would faithfully resume back to my quiet time and bible study. And additionally I would make more time for Church and fulfill my role in it as best as I know how.

Time is a scarcity in my life. Though I’m always rushing from one job to the other, I now fully realize that ultimately if I do not make time, forcefully create time for my personal walk with God, I am DOOMED  to fail, doomed to once again walk back into the concentration camp that once kept me confined, bitter and shackled . [SIGH] I have to change._.

AND all this because of only ONE session. HAHAHAHA, I would not be lying if I said that most of the session had a profound impact in the way I think and provided me a fresh perspective of looking at things. That and the honest and heartfelt conversation that I had with my discussion group which I truly appreciated.  I can’t hope to cover everything in this one post. But to me, this Buchenwald example was the lesson that I kept the closest to my heart, and I feel I would to share with it with you awesome people!

And well to end this post, let me quote from the bible a verse which I find particularly relevant.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey it’s evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall NOT be your master, because you are not under law, but under GRACE.  – ROMANS 6:11-14

- Derrick Khor Zhong Wei


Aug 13, 2012

God’s will or mine?

Many times when waves of uncertainty and troubles hit our lives, we often turn to God and pray. We pray for him to guide us through the hard times, we pray for His strength to be able to work out the problems and if you are like me, we pray above all for His will to be done.

Now, there is no problem in praying for these things, but sometimes the prayers we pray may become, well sort of mechanical and not truly from the heart.  I recently went for the young adults retreat at Fraser’s and wow, it was amazing how God showed me that I have been saying the words but not meaning them.

As some of you may or may not know, that quite recently I’ve been trying to deal with a big wave being tossed my way. The story is that my parents want me to pursue my studies overseas, and I didn’t want to. So I turned to God and started praying for the things mentioned above. Little did I know I was just saying the words and not meaning them in my heart. I’ve been asking for God’s will to be done when in reality I only wanted my will to be done.

God showed me this during the meditation session at Fraser’s. The verse given to meditate on was
Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So I started off by asking myself what does being anxious mean? The definition of anxious is the experience of worry or concern. Then I asked myself two more questions, what am I anxious about and why am I anxious about it? The answers to those two questions were easy, firstly I was anxious about going overseas to study and I didn’t want to go because I would be leaving behind so much here, my friends, family, all the times that I could spend and the memories that I could create here would be gone.

Then moving onto the next part of the verse I questioned myself again, have I really really been praying about this matter? Am I actually thankful for the opportunity to study overseas? Have I even been letting my request to stay here in Malaysia to study be made known to God? Then I felt it, that sinking feeling we often feel when we realize something not so nice to realize. The answer to the questions above was a simple two letter word: NO.

I continued to question myself and I imagined a situation where it was clear that God’s will for me was to study abroad. Would I actually go wholeheartedly? If God said to me I am sending you to Australia because I have a plan for you there, will I really trust in God and leave the people I hold dear here and go? I wanted to say yes I would go, but deep down I felt as if I was reluctant to go even if God said so.

By this time, I was actually walking all over the place trying to work things out in my head. And then something clicked, it hit me that I’ve not been sincere in my prayers to God. I’ve always prayed, saying “Lord whatever it is your will be done” when actually deep down in my heart I would say “Ok hopefully his will is for me to stay here and not go anywhere”. I realized that I’ve been trying to superimpose my will over God’s.

Then God brought a couple of verses to me, which were Matthew 10:38-39: “And if anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” and also Matthew 16:24: "If anyone would come after me he MUST DENY HIMSELF and take up his cross and FOLLOW ME”. These two verses really hit me hard. It became so clear that I needed to really lay everything down at His feet and trust in Him. It also struck me that I have been acting like the rich young man mentioned in Mark 10:17, how my “riches” have actually been my comfortable lifestyle here in Malaysia along with my friends and family.

I soon started to pray and ask God for forgiveness for the way I’ve been acting. I also asked for strength to truly want His will to be done for my life and to be able to trust in Him completely even while laying down my “riches”. Comfortingly God showed me Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding , in all your ways acknowledge him , and he will make your paths straight”

Soon I felt God’s peace calm my heart and I can honestly say that my worries about this matter just evaporated. So with that in mind, are you willing to trust in God? Can you deny yourself pick up your cross and follow Him if he has called you to something? It’s not going to be easy, far from that, but when you start to trust in God, He will guide you through it all!

- Matthew How

Images taken from:

Aug 1, 2012

Training Your Conscience

In 1984, an Avianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The “black box” cockpit recorders revealed that several minutes before impact a shrill, computer synthesized voice from the plane’s automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly in English, “Pull up! Pull up!” The pilot, evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped, “Shut up, Gringo!” and switched the system off. Minutes later the plane plowed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board died. 

When I saw that tragic story on the news shortly after it happened, it struck me as a perfect parable of the way modern people treat the warning messages of their consciences. The wisdom of our age says guilt feelings are nearly always erroneous or hurtful; therefore we should switch them off. 

But that kind of thinking betrays a deep misunderstanding of what the conscience is and how it works. Your conscience isn’t the voice of God or the law of God. It’s not an external force of any kind. 

As the Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote, the conscience is "the soul reflecting upon itself."1 Put another way, it is the human faculty that judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive. Like any warning system, it needs to be programmed—it needs to be taught and trained to discern right from wrong before it can be fully effective. 

Your standard for morality—whatever it is—will shape, guide, and direct your conscience. 

Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial to establish the Lord’s holy standard for purity and godliness in your own heart. Anything less will lead you to have a weak, shallow conscience that regularly permits you to fall short of God’s commands.

Or worse—it could lead you to sin. If you subscribe to the world’s no-shame, man- centered standard, your conscience can actually encourage you to sin. It can become so perverted and twisted that it makes you think you ought to be lying, cheating, and gossiping. It might even make you believe, as many people do today, that it is normal to get drunk, defraud people, and have sex outside of marriage. 

The fastest way to turn yourself over to the corruption of the world is to adopt its faulty, post-modern standard of morality and pervert your own conscience. 

Instead you need to guard your conscience and protect it from the pollution of the world. You need to feed it regularly on the rich truth of God’s Word, establishing His perfect law as the standard for your life. You do that through faithful personal Bible study, consistent intake of quality teaching and exhortation from Scripture, godly accountability and persistent self-examination. 

The Lord gave you a conscience to help protect and defend you spiritually. But you’ve got to protect and defend your conscience if it’s going to do you any good. 


- Alex Tan

Images taken from: