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'Tis true...

  • Sep. 1st, 2014 at 3:43 PM
This luddite youth pastor now has Facebook. A small part of me as died. Now I need to go crawl under a rock again.

I'm alive!

  • Aug. 22nd, 2014 at 5:24 PM
Yes, it's one of those posts. Ones I make guilty whenever I've left blogging for too long. This one is longer than usual. It's been 18 months since I last posted and one wonders if I should even bother anymore.
But then again, there are many things which have changed in the last few months which might be worth blogging about. In the last 18 months, I've graduated from seminary, got married, moved house, began pastoring. Whew! No wonder I haven't written. Well, we'll see. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Recycled T-shirt Craftiness

  • Mar. 29th, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Ever had a favourite t-shirt that was falling apart or stained but you just couldn't bear to throw it out? Well, here are some ways they can put them to good use!

 photo 2013-03-20135137.jpg  photo 2013-03-20140942.jpg  photo 2013-03-20140732.jpg

Scarves (infinity scarf with brooch, fringe scarf, frilly scraf with brooch)
 photo 2013-03-20140316.jpg  photo 2013-03-20140603.jpg  photo 2013-03-20140055.jpg

Headbands (or shortened into bracelets)
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For all the little scraps that you have left over, flowers are an excellent use!
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I'm considering the possibility of doing this as a social enterprise. What do you think? Would you buy any of these? How much would you be willing to pay?
And if you have any t-shirts you don't want, I'd be happy to repurpose them!


Climber Extraordinaire

  • Mar. 22nd, 2013 at 4:02 PM
I had never heard of Ashima Shiraishi before, then I chanced on a reference and googled her name, reading (she was featured in the New York Times) and watching the videos, I was completely blown away! She is the most amazing climber I have ever seen. At 12, she has beautiful technique. Even though strength may not be her forte, as a female climber, I'm always more interested in agility and skill more than brute force.
Oh, if only I had started climbing younger! (And without all this extra weight!)
See for yourself! (This video is her in a bouldering comp.)

Anyhoo, I'm off to climb! Inspired or completely disheartened, I'm not sure...



  • Mar. 20th, 2013 at 3:55 PM
So I promised I'd post but haven't. To make up for it, I thought I'd post pictures of some craftiness I've been up to. So besides studying and climbing, this is what else takes up my time. (i.e. This is what I do when I have a ton of work but am procrastinating.)

Shrink plastic fun! I think I never outgrew shrink plastic. I made some other bits a pieces too, but only these two got pictured! The 10 cent coin and my fingers are for comparison. I love how it is so tiny!
 photo 2011-12-27120838-1.jpg  photo 2012-12-22220824.jpg

Made ribbon bookmarks with owl charms for Chrissy pressies.
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My favouritest craftiness from last year - a record clock. Abba record! For the boy who interrupted me. (It's been more than a year since we've been together, imagine that! From the girl whose longest previous relationship was never 'officially' longer than four months.)
 photo 2012-12-22225042.jpg

As you can probably tell, these are a little outdated. (Posting Christmas presents in March?!) Lately, I've been playing with t-shirts! I shall post those soon! (I promise, it will be less than four months away!) I realised that one reason why I blog less now is that I hardly turn on my laptop. I use my tablet for most recreational internet use. And while I could possibly post using the tablet, I don't like typing extended things on it. Hence the only time I turn on my laptop now is usually for work! (Or when my tablet battery is flat out.)


An Original Psalm

  • Nov. 11th, 2012 at 7:46 PM
I wrote the following psalm as an assignment for my Old Testament class. I'm more pleased about what I tried to achieve than the actual result. (Oh the irony! Since this is a psalm about my perfectionism.) Nevertheless, since I have not written any poetry in forever, this is quite an acheivement! It's an attempt to write in the Hebrew poetic form, so rather than rhymthm or rhyme, there are a lot of parallelisms instead. My favourite part about this assignment was actually writing my commentary for it. After all, who can question the authorial intent when I am the author!

Psalm of a Perfectionist
1 Praise the Lord, for He alone deserves all glory!
2 You made the sun, moon and stars; “It is good,” You said.
You made the sea, sky and land; “It is good,” You said.
You made the plants, fish and animals; “It is good,” You said.
3 Your creation is perfect – You are perfect.
4 Then one of Your creation, made from dust,
Strived to hear, “It is good,” of her created things,
But, from everyone except You.
5 Straining for the pinnacle of perfection,
Forgetting none exists here since the Fall.
6 Vanity! Never to be fulfilled until new creation.
Forgetting that Yours is the measurement.
Forgetting You are the Creator; she, the created.
7 Many times have I failed You, many times have I broken my vow.
Do not forget me, O Lord, or turn Your face from me.
8 Though darkness shrouds me, You can see;
You whose vision pierces the depths of my soul.
9 Release me from self-made shackles, these chains I have put on.
Enslaved by the perfection I have worshipped.
10 As you heard David’s cry, O Lord, hear my plea.
May Your mercy and grace overwhelm me again.
11 Then I may turn to You, and rejoice at Your feet.
12 When I enter into Your rest, I will hear you say,
“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
13 I will sing praises to You, and glorify Your name!

This psalm is about an on-going struggle in my life – perfectionism, and the progress I’ve made in very recent times by God’s grace. Coming from a perfectionist family, having dyslexia, only compounded it. (It's been 10 years since I was first diagnosed as dyslexic, and I'm only realising now how much it has shaped me.) My perfectionism centred on academic achievement. From a young age, I keenly felt I was more intelligent than my test scores would indicate. I strived hard to demonstrate my understanding, but to no avail. It was only later in my education that I started to do well routinely. Instead of abating, the perfectionistic streak only became more pronounced as I chased after the “A”s I now knew lay within reach, but to the detriment of other things – my relationship with God, family, friends, health, even integrity. This diminished somewhat as I entered the workforce, but I found myself becoming a workaholic – another manifestation of the perfectionist. Ironically, it came back in full force when I began seminary. By God’s grace, He has been using this time to work in me on this issue, and put people in my life to walk with me through it. I began to confront my motives and assumptions – why I do what I do. It hasn’t been easy but I am grateful for it. Even as I write this psalm and commentary, I realise that things I could not admit before, I can now.

Click on the following link only if you like commentaries, expositions and general rambling. CommentaryCollapse )

Sacred Pathway #5 Activists

  • Jul. 19th, 2012 at 12:07 AM
ActivistThe activist loves God through confrontation. Several prominent biblical characters were activists: Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Habakkuk and Peter. Their courage and leadership is admirable but their weaknesses are also evident for all to see. Gary Thomas writes that, "It seems that few groups of believers can be so right at some times and so wrong at others." Moses, for instance, killed an Egyptian in defense of a Israelite. (Wrong) Then saved some young women from shepherds. (Right) But later when God called him, he was reluctant. Nevertheless, he persevered and finally gained the freedom of the Israelites from Pharaoh. 
Activists are spiritually nourished through battle, something they share in common with Jesus. "My food... is to do the will of him who sent me". But we must be careful do do it not because we like the smell of blood but for God. An activist does not fit the "nice Christian" profile. Francis Schaeffer wrote that "So often people think that Christianity is only something soft, only a kind of gooey love that loves evil equally with good. This is not the biblical position. The holiness of God is to be exhibited simultaneously with love."
But while activism can feed us, it  can also deplete us. Elijah is a classic example of this. And other pathways need to be used to supplement this. Without spiritual nourishment, battling for righteousness and holiness may turn into hatred and anger, instead of love and compassion. While Christian activists have acquired a bad rep in recent times (think picketing outside abortion clinics), other forms of confrontation involve literature (Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dickens' plea for the poor and downtrodden, Naria books), academia, politics, art. 
The activist must be plugged into prayer. It is a guard against becoming judgemental. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Activists can also be tempted to elitism and resentment when others seem to be so fearful of what we do. We can fall into the trap of thinking that it's "me and God against the whole world". To avoid preoccupation with activity and statics, activism must be balanced with sincerity and thoughtful prayer. Social action must also never replace personal sanctity in the life of an activist, lest our cause is discredited if we are hypocrites. 
I never thought of activism as a pathway to God until now. And certainly, I am one. Even when I was little, witnessing injustice made my blood boil, a good cause always excited me and I had a sense that not all was right with the world. I see myself as passionate. Though I don't write enough about social justice, it's the stuff that keeps me thinking. But I also see the temptations of activism in me - judgemental, prideful, resentment, lack of contemplation - hit a little too close to home. But now that I have a name for exactly what it is, I can be more on guard to grow my Christ-likeness. 

This is my sixth reflection on Gary Thomas' Sacred Pathways. The earlier five are: The Danger of Bible Reading in Daily Devotions & Quiet Times, Naturalists, Sensates, Traditionalists and Ascetics.

Fist image borrowed from here.

The Local Tourist: New Maria Bay

  • Jul. 16th, 2012 at 12:38 PM
In the year I've been back in Singapore, I found no reason to visit the Marina Bay area, with all it's new swanky architecture. I had only ever seen it from the expressway, whizzing by. So I was surprised to find myself in the area four times within a week.
Singapore Flyer
I went up into the Flyer. While it is an experience, it certainly was not a $30 experience and thankfully, I did not pay quite that sum. As I gazed upon the immediate landscape, I realised that the area is completely alien to me. The last time I lived in Singapore, the most iconic structure was the durian (the Esplanade). My, how much has changed in a decade! For optimal viewing, we got in the capsule at 7pm so that half the ride was by day and the other half, by night. I liked both. A pity though that Singapore is far too cloudy for brilliant sunsets.
Gardens by the Bay
I also explored the newly opened Gardens by the Bay. It is pretty. And it was rather quiet on opening day, a Friday afternoon. It was smaller than I expected, and some parts are still under construction. Maybe in a few years, it will be comparable to the Botanic Gardens. The Supertrees up close were quite interesting, having seen them from the Flyer a few days before.
Corrinne May in Concert
Things were different on Saturday, when we attended Corrinne May's concert at Gardens by the Bay's outdoor performance venue, The Meadow. People everywhere! The concert itself was wonderful. She sounds as good live as she does on her CD. Definite talent, not like some other musicians who rely solely on technology to make them sound good. The venue however, left much to be desired. The ground was still visibly sandy (and would likely have been muddy had it rained) and there were little rocks all over. After setting up my mat, I had to flip it up to pull up some rocks that were sticking into me. It felt like a campground. Definitely not as good as other outdoor concert venues such as Fort Canning or the Shaw stage at Botanic Gardens. To add to my annoyance, food and drinks were not allowed. Not for any other reason than to protect their partnered vendors. It's an outdoor concert for goodness sake, I want my own picnic!
Lilies outside Art Science Museum
I also went to the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Arts Science Museum. But because no photography is allowed inside, my favourite shot of the trip are these pretty waterlilies outside. The Exhibition experience itself was a bit of a letdown, partly because there were too many people around (Youth Day). Except for the beginning (after the sorting hat bit) where a wall on the side opened to reveal the Hogwarts train, most of the exhibition was sadly not particularly memorable. Nevertheless, it was cool to see artifacts from the film, and also to realise the level of detail that goes into making a fantasy movie.

Sacred Pathway #4 Ascetics

  • Jul. 12th, 2012 at 11:49 PM
The ascetic gravitates towards solitude, austerity, simplicity and deep commitment - the monastic temperament. The discipline of such a pathway is very alien to our contemporary instant-gratification culture.
John the Baptist with his Nazirite vow was one Biblical figure who was an ascetic. Jesus also had such tendencies, he often would withdraw to solitude at difficult moments in his ministry. Lamentations, Daniel, Joel and some Psalms are rich passages for ascetics called to mourn.
Solitude for the modern city-dwelling ascetic may be difficult but not impossible to find. It could be waking up in the early hours of the morning or staying up late - when no one else is around. Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles, was known to pull her apron over her head to pray. In contrast to sensates, ascetics find sensory input distracting. Discipline can be another method of the ascetic expressing worship. Self-denial such as fasting is one such expression. Historically, the ascetic life was tied with the contemplative.
Ascetics can be tempted to overemphasize personal piety; this need for spiritual refreshment must be balanced by our obligation to serve others. Asceticism is a means to an end, and never and end in itself. It is however, not a means to gain God's favour, approval or forgiveness. Ascetics must bear in mind that these are all bestowed upon us by grace alone.
While this is not what I am naturally inclined to, like the other pathways, there is a time and place for austerity and solitude in every Christian's worship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that if we do not have some element of the ascetic, we will find it hard to follow Christ.

This is the fifth in my reflection series on Gary Thomas' Sacred Pathways. The first four are: The Danger of Bible Reading in Daily Devotions & Quiet Times, Naturalists, Sensates and Traditionalists.

Image taken from here.

Better than Sex and Chocolate

  • Jul. 6th, 2012 at 1:46 PM
"I hope the world only ends after I get married (i.e. after I've lost my virginity)." so I've heard more than one Christian guy say. 
Why? Because in Matthew 22:23-30, Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven. No marriage = no sex = no fun. So goes the logic of a young Christian man's mind. 
Other variations of this include a youth asking if there are video games, and upon hearing 'no' decide that it's not worth going to. Still others are horrified to find that there won't be any sea in heaven (and therefore no dolphins, surfing or beachfront property), as per Revelation 21:1. (Sidenote: I believe John was being metaphoric. Sea being chaos and separation.)

I think we really sell ourselves short of what heaven really is. Despite the dominant image projected, heaven is not sitting around on fluffy clouds, playing harps. Heaven is not a place devoid of pleasures. Far from it!

C.S. Lewis explains this as "our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer ‘No’, he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it." (C. S. Lewis, Miracles.)

To assume that Heaven without sex (or video games, sea and chocolate) would lack fulfillment is to assume that sex without chocolate is also unfulfilling. While our earthly human mind cannot comprehend or imagine something greater than sex, God has something far far far better in store. He, the giver of chocolate, marriage, sex, and indeed all good things, also gives us the ability to enjoy them. But our pleasures here on earth are only transient and momentary. I can't say for sure what the new heaven and the new earth would be like, but I know that it will be absolutely perfect. Not only will there be unfathomable fullness of joy where God is gloriously present, David also tells us that there are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11). And I can't wait to find out what that will be like! While it sounds rather morbid, with so much to look forward to, I really don't mind dying; it is gain (Phil 1:21).   

Maybe we'd get far more young men in Church if our 'marketing slogan' is "Better than Sex." (Incidentally, John Piper contends that sexuality is designed as a way to know God more fully. See my brief review of Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.)

Woman eating chocolate from here.


the essence of m.e.

The Long & Short Of It

I am a Christian radical, fledgling adult, dyslexic English teacher, conservative intellectual, realistic optimist, white-washed Chinese, height-fearing rock-climber, lawless cyclist, natural actor, mini giant who is awfully good at clearly ambiguous descriptions.
And who's searching for her path amidst life's contradictions (self-created and otherwise).

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