Friday, August 10, 2007

surprise today

What have I been doing all this time? Haha, no time to update.
April: Had wonderful Easter singing one easy song and one difficult one...

May: Went through whirlwind at work before being able to [semi]safely enjoy my trip to Europe... Had to reorganize at work when I returned! The opportunity to visit just crept up unawares! Europe, I found, is just like any other tourist destination - got to see places w/ a calm heart. Very enjoyable and relaxing though. Forced to use my high school French for the first time, hahaha. Might give a more detailed blurb later.

June: Co-started a new bible study with people at my fellowship - an amazing answered prayer! The skills I gleaned from BSF were really helpful here. God doesn't waste any of our experiences. The start of going to many many bbq's - is that everyone's fave activity? Got to eat oysters 2-3 times, hehe.

July: Enjoyed Independence Day w/ friends, tried out accountability...

August: Celebrated birthdays with friends. Just got a card from a friend thanking me for attending her surprise birthday party. She must've hid it under my bible yesterday - sneaky! Now I get one free drink from Jamba juice - wow it's been ages since I've gone there... I was so surprised to get those from her because when you truly enjoy someone's company, you don't really expect any gift back in return. Friends truly make life more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Signing off now,

Friday, March 30, 2007

Farewell March

End of the month again, so a temporary breather from many things...

Amidst setbacks like computer crashes and sickness, it has been easier to wake up from routine and realize that God has the power to see through my everyday life. When it seems there is no more energy to do things well at work and ministry, I am forced to trust God to work in these imperfect conditions, and that the end result will be just as He wanted it.

On second thought, although it is harder to do, I have to remember that God works in exactly the same way even when things are going very well in life. "When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:4,5) His mercy is the only antidote for my tendency toward legalism. I am glad that He has answers and is the answer to everything. And I should fear Him and take joy in Him more than I am doing right now.

Sometimes I understand how hard it can be to be aware of all that the world thinks is great, and not be able to take part in it. The thought that I hold onto is that surely, our nonbelieving friends will not be impressed with us if all that we do follows the world's standards down to a tee. That makes for a completely ineffective witness. Why are we living the life we live? What is the reason? Sometimes, it is necessary to do hard things (as inspired by two very unusual teenagers) even when we don't see immediate benefit from it. Surely it is not to achieve social status or applause from men, because those are guaranteed to be nonexistent, hehehe.

So long, self (Mercy me).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Choir and radio

We're singing Haydn's mass for Easter. So excited to be singing again. There are some pretty high notes for the soprano part, and when we repeatedly sing them, it can strain the throat. So sometimes I take the chinese herbal syrup afterwards. I've told people that after taking it, it feels like I've returned to HK. Can't explain why. Perhaps my childhood memory of the place involves the smell of all those chinese herbs at the street vendors.

XM radio has expired for my car for quite a while already. I was used to knowing each song's title and artist right away on the display. However, it's another form of enjoyment to return to normal radio. I can just focus on the music and find out about it afterwards, when the dj back-announces it. In some ways it's better since it allows the mind to be a clean slate.

On another note, that NBA commercial with the dramatic classical music just had me cracking up, because it was so good. I have to doublecheck what exactly they were trying to sell...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Detox: After-effects

Let me backtrack a bit.

There is also a danger regarding conferences. But hopefully only a temporary one. When true messages of Christ's atoning death for our sins, and the Father's raising Him up in glory, and God's call for us to glorify Him in our faithful service, repeatedly hit you not in the head, but through your heart, somehow it takes a while for it all to sink in.

And when it does, it's just like the period right after a detox diet--you develop an increased sensitivity to certain things. It takes half the time to notice sin, or things that do not please God. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

Good in the sense that God is refining me through discipline that purifies. But bad in the sense that sometimes I still feel off-balance, coupled with a vague sense of frustration, and the stark realization that there's a long way to go in my walk with God.

So ultimately, it must be for good, since the Holy Spirit helps in the process by opening my eyes to the things that need to be taken care of in my life, and reminds me that all my efforts are useless unless I first ask God to intervene and really work in all that I do.

God has an amazing way in working in "ultimate mode," and this encourages me when I can't see far on my own.

In conclusion, Resolved messages on "defending the gospel" have reminded me that the stuff I heard are in no way lofty philosophies fit only for intellectuals. They clarify very basic questions that each Christian has. This process of illumination is a fundamental necessity to all Christians at some point of their lives. It's just good to start the immersion process even when increased awareness sometimes involves necessary grief.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hangover: Resolved

[Hang.over] - My Definition: the lingering sensation from the effects of an intense event that just occurred. Dictionary Definition: A letdown, as after a period of excitement.

This is what I'm feeling w/ the Resolved Conference 2007 . It was the first time, believe it or not, that I went to a Christian conference such as this. 3,000 like-minded individuals, all hungering and thirsting for real spiritual food, not the watered-down stuff they serve you at some churches nowadays. It was really a blast of teaching at a weekend that I'll never forget.

It is so reassuring that there are others like myself who want something more, and who want to be better equipped for their local church. Also, I always felt I needed more explanation about certain phrases like "glorify God in all you do" or "go take part in a short-term mission". I really didn't know the full reason of these things until after Resolved.

A sample of the stuff I gleaned from Resolved:

1. Why do people say "glorify God in all you do?"
--> John Piper reminded us that the glorification of God is what God wants most of all, and that's what we are called to do ultimately as His creation

2. What's the true purpose of missions?
--> Following up from 1, so that all nations will not only know God but worship Him, so He can be glorified ultimately.

3. What does a truly expository sermon sound like?
--> I knew about this one from college days (PJ!), but John McArthur really laid it down without skipping any verses, in all his sermons

4. "How a good sermon points us toward God, not the preacher as personality/celebrity"
--> John McArthur said this, and exemplifies this too

5. What's wrong with the Prosperity Gospel (if you believe in God, you'll have a comfortable life, your kids will get to the best schools, you won't experience trouble/sickness)?
--> John Piper said because "natural man already desires this. You don't need the Holy Spirit to desire these things"; the same holds true for "believing God just to avoid the punishment of hell"--that's not good enough a reason to believe in God

6. Why do I feel embarrassed about sharing the gospel?
--> John McArthur: the gospel is foolishness to those that are perishing (1 Cor 1:18). Only the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of those who are called. Otherwise, no one would want to accept such a "shameful" gospel.

Also, I had the chance to meet some old friends from college, as well as get to know the new friends I hung out with during that weekend. God really opened my eyes that I wasn't living in a vacuum. There are God-honoring young people out there. It is possible to be knowledgeable about the bible yet humble at the same time. And it is extremely rewarding hanging out with them. Not only because they get my jokes wrought with dry humor, or because it seems like we've known each other more than a few days, but because of the assurance that their pursuit of God is founded on a solid foundation in Scripture.

Most of what officially went on this past weekend can be found here.

Still excited from the past weekend. Hope everyone had a wonderful western and Chinese new year! Maybe I'll share more next time.