Oct 30, 2012

Discipleship Orientation?

For those who has already entered their colleges and universities or for those who just made their entrance recently, the word "orientation" would bring certain thoughts and memories to mind. Oh yes, and for those who might find this word rather foreign, it basically means "an introduction, as to guide one in adjusting to new surroundings, employment, activity, or the like." (Quoted from dictionary.com)

I recalled my experience back in college. It felt more like fun than having a serious tone that you're gonna suffer for the next 2 years upon completion of the diploma. But perhaps, it was a course of mass communication (studying about television, film, radio, newspaper, internet and so on) and hence, for a person like myself who enjoy making new friends would be quite an enjoyable time going through their ice-breaking activities!

Yet, I also come to know many who purposely skip their orientation because they're told it doesn't mean much and the time spent can be used better else where.

After going my series of quiet time on Luke, God spoke to me on how we often forget or even worse, overlooked the "orientation' that Jesus had for His disciples when He first picked them after a whole night of prayer. Take note starting from Luke 6:12 onward, where He selects the twelve disciples,
"And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles.." Luke 6:13
And IMMEDIATELY after selecting them and letting them know that now they're His disciples, it was interesting to see how He wanted to show them what it means to be His followers by showing actions instead of just mere words. It was like as if, He's telling them: "Orientation begins right now!"
"And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed." Luke 6:17-18 
It's like imagining for myself, the moment I was called to Him and embraced Him as my Lord and Saviour, I could witness the beauty and joy of serving others and meeting their needs with the love of Christ..instead of just sitting back and relax, while having a "Christian" membership card in my wallet. Not to mention, these were people with diseases and unclean spirits, not people who were rich, wealthy and influential.. dressed in beautiful garments and feasting in a large mansion.

And to proceed on to the next part of the "orientation", Jesus then lifted up His eyes toward His disciples and preached about the Beatitudes. He set the tone and the foundation for His disciples to know what it meant to be His followers and promising rewards in the Kingdom of Heaven..instead of focusing on the immediate rewards on earth. Notice the first line He said when He preached the Beatitudes,
"..Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.." Luke 6:20b
Can you imagine what was on the disciples mind? They were most probably expecting to be delivered from their oppression and sufferings from the authorities, seeking to be rewarded with great riches as this person proclaims to be their Saviour! But instead, He tells them to set their hearts on the things above and be prepared for sufferings to come, in the path of following Him.
"Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you,And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,For the Son of Man's sake.Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!For indeed your reward is great in heaven,For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets." Luke 6:22-23
And mind you, they're very clear what happened to the prophets of the past and how their fathers treated them. (Feeling a little blur about this? Time to read up some Old Testament books! =P )

After the 12 disciples went through all that took place above, Jesus went to address their minds to turn away  from how the earthly rules and what it means to have the "Rules of Kingdom Life". For He says,
"But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." Luke 6:32
It was as if Jesus was spelling out the practical ways of living out as His disciples, as the Beatitudes may seem rather profound and difficult for the disciples to grasp. Notice how He further mentioned:
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High." Luke 6:35 
Probably by now, you might be scrolling down and be thinking (TLDR WOI! Too Long Didn't Read) But if I were to persuade you to really ponder about it, the 12 disciples would be in a position of wondering, "What else to expect next in being His disciples?" Because, Jesus was far from being done with His first day of "orientation".

He went on to speak 2 more parables before concluding His "orientation", where He starts off with the first parable - Parable of the Blind leading the Blind.
"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?" Luke 6:40-41
Jesus sees the hearts of His disciples and knows the serious problems most followers would struggle with even among our churches today. He tells us how our pride and arrogance of thinking "I know better" and to turn away from listening what God has to teach us as well as hypocrisy that makes divisions and conflicts among members today. We're always so quick to condemn others and try to teach them on how to fix their "problems" while we ourselves purposefully ignore of our own!

And to knock it off, Jesus further speaks about the heart of the heart:
"For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.." Luke 6:43-44a
He's telling them that if they truly follow Him and deny themselves, people will know if they have grown to be a good tree or.. a bad tree. Whether we became His disciple to seek His kingdom first, or ourselves first!

And finally, He shares with them about the Parable of the Two Foundations.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." Luke 6:46-48

So... I was thinking to myself, how would I personally respond if I were to journey through this "orientation" if Jesus was showing me what it means to follow Him on the same day I "signed up" literally? How would you have responded?

- daryl 's u n d a e' heng

Images taken from:

Oct 20, 2012

Love thy neighbour!

Hey guys it’s me again!!

So… Twas a crazy month I had this October, mainly because of the onslaught of a few new work that I have recently taken up, mostly volunteering.

Hence, today I would like to share with you guys some of my experience volunteering in various places.
But first let me quote from the Bible,
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” JOHN 13:34
It was truly a random encounter that brought me into teaching in an orphanage, I was searching for a place in which I could contribute, and as God would have it, my college had a program in which the special scholarship students will form 4 teams and each team will be affiliated with one orphanage, and before I knew it, I was affiliated with Ti Ratana, A Buddhist Orphanage. In hindsight, I realized that I was not ready at all the moment I chose to volunteer to teach the children there.

I remembered the first day I spent in the orphanage. I was nervous, pacing around, trying to make conversations with the people there, with the children, praying desperately that I would not do anything inappropriate. After all, this would mark the first time that I would have to be in close contact with a child for a long period of time. But thank God, the children quickly warmed up to me and my friends and we were soon comfortable around them.

In the beginning, half of the team members took care of the older children, guiding them with their homework, while the other half took care of the babies and toddlers, playing and having fun with them.  Everybody was happy with the arrangement, the children too.

However, it did not take long before problems began to surface up, one after the other (I would not go into the details or it will be TL;DR). Soon, it began to demotivate the team members and I stood and watched with my team leader as the numbers of our volunteers begin to dwindle down. Before we knew it, the volunteers dropped from 20 over to a mere 5. Dark times indeed._.

Before we knew it, our time was up. Our 4 month arrangement with the orphanage ended, and we left feeling defeated, unmotivated with a slight sense of guilt and regret for we could not live up to our promises and also we did not actually help the children at all.

And 2011 passed, and in come 2012.

After my midterms were over, I decided to start anew in another establishment, but this time alone. However God had already set his plans in motion. The week I was about to choose a new establishment, my ex-team leader decided to return back to the orphanage and do it right this time round. I was hesitant at first, REALLLLY HESITANT, as the previous experience had already imprinted a bad memory within me and I simply just do not want to re-live that experience all over again - it was a nightmare.

But I remember one Sunday in which I and John were having dinner with Uncle Chong Sheng and Auntie Lai Kiam in a restaurant, and I ask them whether I should continue to serve in Ti Ratana or to move on elsewhere. Now, I do not remember exactly what they have said to me, but I remember that auntie Lai Kiam encouraged me to go on with it, telling me to reach out beyond where I am to others, and that as Christians we should show love to others.

And so, we went back, but not before having meeting after meeting to identify what went wrong previously and also to find a solution to our problems. I remember that there were a few critical issues that we had to deal with if this was to work, and if we could not iron it out, we will have to really give it up. This problems were far beyond our own capabilities and resources to handle, but as I said before, God has already set his plans in to motion.

Everything fell in place. Everything.

We were quite pleasantly surprised the 2nd time we went back. Much have changed in the orphanage, it felt as though God was preparing the stage just for us to come back. And we did.

Though the 2nd time we went back, we only had five of us, yet we finally were able to make a positive contribution to the children there and also form real bonds with them. Ultimately, we managed to prepare a new system in which the next batch of students from HELP could easily adopt, sparing them unnecessary trouble and heartache.

And here I am now, more than a year has passed since I first began to volunteer there. I’m currently serving there for the third time, but our time there is also about to end. Next week will be my final teaching session (though we have 2 more weeks with them to just play with them). As I sit here typing this out, I really Thank God that he has so gracefully allowed me to complete my work here, without any regrets.

But perhaps the one thing that really spoke out to me throughout this entire experience was how tough and challenging it was. I cannot even begin to count the many days in which our patience were pushed to the limit by the children, to have our work trampled upon (literally). And also the many hours in which we have to sacrifice to prepare the materials for the children. Many silent tears were shed, and I remember coming home every night on a Thursday feeling completely exhausted, worn out.

There were times, I felt like just giving up or to just lose my temper and shout and scream at the children, or worse, to simply not care at all for them.

At times like this, the three words “LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR” just keeps playing in my head. And I open my eyes to see beyond myself and look at the child in front of me, my team members, and also to God himself. And it keeps me going.

This chapter in my life is about to end, and I am looking forward to the plans that God has for me, currently I am volunteering in the National Stroke Association and occasionally in Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation, and what strikes me is that there are so much good that needs to be done, surely I alone can’t do much, but just because I can’t do everything for them, it does not mean I should not try to do something for them. God is a super efficient God, nothing is really ever wasted, not your efforts, not your time.

So…. I guess that concludes this post. I thank you all for taking your time to read this. UNTIL THEN!! [GLORIOUS ENDING SEQUENCE]

- Derrick Khor Zhong Wei


Oct 11, 2012

Church Camp 2012 to me

I must admit that I wasn't much prepared for the Church camp this year. However, all the sessions “came home” to me. Thank God for the speaker, Rev Dr Lim Kar Yong and those who prayed fervently for the camp, who helped to make the messages came through so strongly and relevant to me (and I'm sure I'm not the only one who benefited from this!) =)

During the last session whereby Rev Dr Lim Kar Yong talked about “Walking in the challenge to renewed lives: Romans 15:1-13”, he used the imagery of KL Twin Towers to explain how we could build our faith. All in all, the KL Twin Towers’ foundation took 2 years to complete while after the completion of the foundation, each storey of the Twin Towers only took 3 days to complete. Likewise, in our spiritual walk, we need to spend time building a strong foundation upon the Word of God.

Then Rev Dr Lim Kar Yong went on to touch on how we could build our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. He mentioned that throughout recent Church history, there are many youths and young adults between 18-29 years old leaving church. Among the many reasons as found in the book entitled “You lost me” are due to overprotecting Church and parents, Church people who rarely deals with complexity (anything just ask people to pray with no practical solution), Church is shallow (too program-oriented), Church is exclusive,  repressive and the youngsters are not encouraged to discuss their doubts concerning Christian faith in Church.

When I hear his exposition on this matter, my heart sank as many of my acquaintances which includes my close friend who left Church and got married with a non-Christian some years back came to mind. I wonder could these be some of the reasons she left Church as well…

At one point of my life, I was also disheartened to note that my Church friends who were almost the same age as me left TTDIGC one after another and I was left all alone. However, praise God who channels my mentor to encourage me and got me embarked on a few months of Sabbatical leave for me to refocus upon Him. During that period of time, I was also rather burned out, as I ran the youth activities by my own strength, instead of God’s.

Yes, thanks be to God who did not give up on me and I am still worshipping and serving at Church today and I have indeed “live” as per what God has done in my life :D
Ezekiel 16:6, NKJV“And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!
If you are one of those who felt that the majority of the Church does not understand you, would you step out from your comfort zone and seek help from someone whom you respect and is easily approachable?

If today you find the Church is boring and the world seems to be more exciting, would you ask God for help?

If today you find your quiet time is dry or your prayer life is shallow, would you continue to seek God in these aspects?

If today your closer circle of friends are no longer at Church, would you feel awkward to come to Church or would you even consider invite him / her to come back to the Good Shepherd’s fold?

If you have been grown up most of your life in Church, hanging out with Christians most of the time, would you care to offer a prayer for friends that were once fellow shipped with you?

To the more spirituality matured ones, would you be willing to spare your time, energy and other things that cost you, to heed the sermon by Rev. Dr Lim Kar Yong to be the mentor / discipler to those who come to you? Why not consider reaching out to them?
Let us not let opportunity slipped by, instead let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10, NKJV)
In doing so, your actions are very much in sync with the purpose that Christ came to save mankind.
Matthew 18:11, NKJVFor the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

Thank you.

In Him,
From Yit Mun, aka IP Man

Images taken from:

Oct 3, 2012

He who loved me and gave Himself for me!

Recently I have been going through tremendous pressure and stress; I have been working on this project for 6 months now and have involved a lot of people. The project is currently inching really near to its launch date. This project doesn't merely cost me if it were to fail; it will cost others as well in terms of reputation, their time and effort. I will have my constant deep sighs and I feel like I could break inside anytime.

Some of you must be wondering why I am writing with such “exaggerated” emotions - I write it because it’s real. I can’t deny what is really going on inside and neither do I want to deny it. But I had great difficulties doing so. I would constantly argue within myself, on one side, I would convince myself that the project will turn out as a great success; on the other side, it will be a total disaster.  Both way, I can substantiate good reasons and arguments to why it could be either way and it will never end.

I would constantly tell God that this is about His Glory, I am doing this for Him. As much as I would like to think that I am being very selfless and godly about the whole project, through time, God finally revealed my heart to me. Truly, the heart is beyond wickedness and I often tell my brother “the best liars are often ourselves”.

I was doing my quiet time and as I finally managed to steer away the concerns and deep anxiousness I had, I listened what God had to say to me. He said in His word in Galatians 2 : 19 – 20 :
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul saw what Peter did because he was afraid how others who are “righteous” would see him being amongst the gentiles, he quickly withdrew himself from them (gentiles). Paul in fact said “he wasn’t acting in line with the truth of the Gospel”. But what really hit me was in the passage as quoted above was “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” It really hit me that the source of my anxiousness and worries were really of my own selfishness. My pride and reputation, the deep desire to be vindicated in my family tree (I have the background of being the blacksheep) and amongst others.  It is no wonder why now I didn’t have God’s peace inside of me, I haven’t allowed Christ to live in me!

Having the peace of God does not mean I have tranquility in me, it means that I suffer in the surety of hope. Not an empty or shallow one (which is based on your own strength).

And then as I went deeper and as the silence of my own voice subside during my time with God, His following words cut my heart deeply, He said “…I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Paul didn’t merely stop at saying “I live by faith in the Son of God” although that may already sound very holy and righteous. He went on to write and elaborate what sort of faith in the Son of God he meant, “…who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

What a beautiful faith is that! And how much I was actually missing out in living as a fool!

It is not as though I don’t already know this truth, but when bigger trials come, we being the weak self wavers so easily and gets tossed by the strong waves that come crashing in. More than that, God reminded how much He loved me and again, the power of His resurrection from the cross.

While Jesus was crucified as He makes His way up to the hill with the rugged cross on His back, in His mind He had His Father’s Glory in focus and manifested His Father’s love for me, my very wretched soul! And what I was busy thinking of in this suffering? Myself. I was deeply ashamed and never felt so ungrateful to the One who saved my soul from eternal darkness.

But God in His steadfast love and faithfulness immediately ministered upon my soul. I was liberated once more from my own foolish suffering and now, I start to suffer in joy. Suddenly, I realized failing is not the end of the world. Even if I did fail and the world were to blame me and shame me for it, I remember the faith I should live in and suffer I must. At least, I try my best to. Of course I am saying this with caution that I do not suffer meaninglessly; meaning to say that I did a sloppy and horrible job and I tried to justify that “suffering” as to something holy and righteous. That is different, that is a deserved suffering for one’s sin.

I pray that this post may serve as an encouragement or a gentle reminder to any sister or brother who is reading this. Amen!

- Gary Heng

Images are taken from :