Saturday, May 14, 2011

Of Refusing to Work

I am currently in the middle of my examinations and strangely enough I feel pretty bad about a lot of things. Physical symptoms just rage and I feel like I'm on full tilt. Funnily enough, it has nothing to do with the fact that I am sitting for my exams. Given, I am not humanly prepared for them. I know I can lean on the ever faithful arms of God for support. It is at times like these that I realise how I have been always blessed beyond measure and certainly beyond what the average human being would say I deserve. How have I repaid Him? Is it with loyalty and obedience? Is it with taking upon my shoulders the responsibility to bring to completion the things that I am meant to do by harnessing, sharpening and using the gifts He has given me? Why do I not recognise the fact that while life as a Christian is never about being qualified by our works, it certainly involves us working and working INCESSANTLY as stewards who know the commission of their master.

Have you ever realised, also, how your worries are always greater and more pressing than others - your situation more dire? While I sit here in the slight discomfort that I have (I feel that my brain is on fire as are the sockets of my eyes), a good friend of mine has a problem with the nerves along his back that has been the cause of unceasing pain, vomitting and extreme discomfort that he is sometimes reduced to lying in bed. Are my troubles greater than his? Are my sufferings greater than that of Christ on the cross?

But I digress. Like it or not I have allowed myself to be filled with this pervading and uneasy sense of melancholy. I have never desired for it, not openly. Perhaps in the depths of my heart I have longed for an excuse to remain incapacitated, paralysed. This is rationalisation at its worst.

I do not know how the Lord will lift me up, but I know He will. And I pray that I will have the courage to work - not only for the things that are secondary but for the things that matter most. It is the false sense of assurance that stems from pride that says: You've got it all in the bag. No need to worry, no need to work.

This I ask for: a contrite and humble heart; one that will remain steadfast and resolute in difficulty; one that will never waver and get ahead of itself. Give me the strength.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On sharing.

It's rather quiet here I know. But then I just felt perhaps I should write something.
It was a day of thanksgiving and praise for our church [Holy Light] for the Lord has prepared a land and a building for us to work for His Glory. This day, I had a burdened heart, my soul was troubled, and I kept praying, "God, if You really want me to go, then give me the courage to speak, maybe ask them to say something like, 'maybe some younger ones?'" I was only 16 by then. And I felt an answer, "If I call you to go, isn't it enough?" Then I asked Mrs Yeoh, our beloved Pastor's wife, "Can young people share?" And she pushed me out in front of the Church. With 1 Tim 4:12 in mind, I stepped out boldly, and speak with shaky voice. That was the first time.
Then I started sharing through occasions like Parents' Thanksgiving Night organised by Youth, Watch night Service and in the youth fellowship. Each time, there's someone that would encouraged me, shared with me their joy after I shared. I praise God and want to give glory to God for using me and for using His people to encourage me to continue to share His goodness. My dad did helped me and commented about what I shared each time, and hope that the next sharing would be better, for Him.

I don't exactly know what happened, was it because I am too serious, too long-winded or what, some youths start saying I'm old and all,I know they were but joking, but then I started wondering, have I been appearing too many times in front.

Yesterday I stepped out again in front. There is only one reason I stepped out, that is, I do not want to discredit Him for all He has done for me this year. Yet when I sat back, I wonder, did I really give glory to Him? My sharing was messy, perhaps typical of me, but anyway, at least I did what I promised Him. It would be overboard of me if I did not give the One who has given His life for me the Glory due His Name.
Our beloved Pastor and a few seen my face or name on newspaper, and told dad about how famous I'm becoming in Johor's streets. Initially I was happy to know that, but soon I wonder if God's Glory was seen through that appearance of my name and face? Let me pronounce it, that if in any of those things that people see about me, Christ's glory is not testified, I've been in vanity. I've done in vain.

Nothing is more important than God. And nothing in us there's more important than a heart after His own heart. I heard preachers spoke with encouragement about year 2011 will be the year of the Lord's favor. I do not know if it literally means many many material blessings or what, but I know, if pain is there, His comfort is there, if hurt was anywhere, His love never fails. If I ever fall, His love will support me [Psalm 94:18].

Through the year, there's so much things to thank God for. Through hurts by friends, discouragement by things around me, being so emo so may times, felt alone and rejected by people around me, God is still so strong with me, uplifting me in His strong arms. His love never fails.

I don't know if anyone is that emo like me, always feeling all the highs and lows. You may say that it is eventful. And I don't know if anyone is having the thought of he'll die every next moment like me. I always felt that, living as if the next second I'll be gone, and leaving behind all things I have as possessions on Earth.

I only know one thing, "He must become greater; and I must become less" -John 3:30

Pride and lust are two evil seeds that, pride has creped into my life too often without me knowing, that causes so much troubles for me and my relationship with the people around me; while lust has always cause me so much troubles in treating people as persons and not possessions, as lovely human created by God, not of wicked desires.

But God taught me this, the power of the resurrection and the power of His love. He took me up, from the miry clay, set my feet upon the Rock and now I know, what do I know? I know His forgiveness and embrace. That is how He has found me, though a young boy with lusts and prides, He broke them down, and called him to be His very own. I lost myself, but found an identity that nothing can replaced, for only the blood of Christ and His love has given me that identity.

I do not what's happening next, I do not care if the world would hate me, but Lord, just may I be just a signpost, telling the world this, that Jesus loves them. Immanuel. Amen.

When I failed, and evidently so many times, it is the Almighty I'm counting on, and His Church that we're counting on. Everything in my life was only possible because He loves us.

Something was very different for me this new year's day. Yesterday after the service, I felt so tired and sleepy wanna dig a hole and sleep or whatever. Something was started in me through that watchnight service. Something changed. And I prayed, God, lead the change. If there is a shape of my feeling just now, perhaps, was flat. But now, I'm happy, to remember His goodness for me.

For all who I've done wrong, I sincerely want to say sorry, and to all the people around me, I want to thank God for you for being a part of my life. :D hugs and loves.


Monday, May 10, 2010

On Young, New Christians

The Christian Fellowship in my NS camp is approximately 15 people strong. At the beginning I was quite surprised to discover that quite a number of them were very new Christians. Some had only been converts for a few years, and there was even one who got converted just before entering camp.

As time wore on, however, I grew quite disappointed seeing their response toward the pastor's sermons as well as their lack of participation in terms of song leading and speaking up. Note that I am NOT used to being the most active member in any given fellowship. But as I felt that everyone else just wasn't really up to it (I'm sure even dNAers have come across such people in your own churches), I had no choice but to step forward more than I normally would have.

A rather charismatic pastor from a local Tamil church conducts our CF held every Thusday and Friday night. His sermons have been quite an extensive series on the subject of faith. The sermons in the church we worship in (yes, that traditional brethren one) are good, but I feel that they are not very new-believer friendly in that they tend to assume the congregation already know much background information (as sermons are always wont to do). Also quite a few of the CF members are Chinese-speaking, so they are often not able to catch and understand everything that the speaker is saying. After service is a special program for us NS trainees, which focuses on more practical aspects of being a Christian such as BGR and peer pressure.

Being from the family I come from, I place much emphasis on studying the Bible, and I felt that none of the 3 spiritual inputs my fellow CF members were getting weekly focused chiefly on the written Word. So I thought I'd talk to my CF pastor to see if he could spare me about half an hour to present a broad overview of the Bible and to introduce each book of the Bible in front of the class. He then told me that he'd tried Bible study before but found previous students bored and uninterested. But he was willing to let me have a try. That was on Thursday night, and as it turned out, he was not available to come and teach us on the very next day (Friday night) and was just wondering what he should do. I took it as a silent nod from God. He said I could gather the people and conduct the little 'talk' then, to which I agreed.

Friday night came, and I started off with a time of sharing. I asked if there was anyone who wanted to share and was taken aback when two offered to share their testimony. It was then that I realized that I had made a gross misconception. All this while it had failed to register that the fact that they were "new Christians" most probably meant they had recently gone through some rather dramatic events in their lives. All this while, what I took to be disinterest and passiveness on their part, was actually mere shyness and a general uncertainty and discomfort as to what was expected of them due to a lack of prolonged exposure to Christian circles - they are just as fired up for Him as I am, probably even more so. Indeed, who was I to expect to them to behave all "church youth"-like, which basically means someone who knows how to lead worship, knows how to say the right prayers at the right time and who speaks up in class, only if to give a nod or say "Amen" or "Hallelujah". After that my little 'talk' went on as expected (their response was rather neutral, which was also much to be expected, but I felt that I had done my job), and then we had more sharing.

Since then, I have been constantly thinking about what I could really do for them. As it happened, I found myself commissioned to distribute Asian Beacon (which is astonishingly heavy in bulk) among the CF. I hope that AB would be beneficial to them and that I would have truly helped them in some way. Still I hope that you all would pray with me for them, that they would truly grow deeper in God and come to know Him and His Word equally well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Disclaimer: this is not to ask for sympathy nor of to show how sad my story may be, and never any intent to shame my family, but to show how God has used us, regard us as if worthy of His love. And my mom- she is not that bad after all.

Ah, finally I sat in front it and started typing this out, after a long time seeing all the posts.

I came from a broken family. Broken, but not abandoned. My dad is a single parent, ever since 02. In 2002, many things have happened - my grandmother passed away, my dog was given away, my parents went through divorce, and then my dad embrace the love of Christ, and I was introduced to a church - a greater and bigger family.

It has been especially tough for my dad through the years. We still stay in the house we used to, my mom stayed not far away. Sometimes on the road, my dad would saw my mom. It has been heart-breaking. My dad has struggled for a long time, and now still, perhaps, to forgive the one he used to call wife. And every time, he saw my sis and I, he felt sorry, as if he could have done better. But dad, what you've done is really much appreciated, who you are is who we loved.

And my mom, as time goes by, the relationship between us become fragile, and we aren't that close any longer. I have not really understood what has happened between my dad and mom, my dad had tried to preserve as much as he could, a mom's image of her to us. It was heart-breaking to me, not because of the divorce, but what causes it. I've been trying to define what have caused it, but guess it's not important, I only no, it is what we called - something-not-of-love and something-not-of-God.

And during each milestone of my life, each birthday, each family time, each mother's day, each father's day, each Christmas, each Chinese New Year. I really cannot express how, or rather, how I slowly get used to it. I walked past restaurants, seeing the family together, having their meals together. I walked into people's homes, seeing how their moms passed them their angpows.

I walked into the church, and the speaker greeted all the moms a blessed mother's day while I wonder where is my mom. My sisters same in with other kids to pass all the moms in the congregation the gifts they have made, and I wonder what she felt. The speaker speaks of how important the relationship of the husbands and their wives, and I dared not take a look at my dad's face, only praying at my seat, "God, take care of my dad."

Many have asked, when they visited my house, where is my mom, and I said what I guess is the truth, and they said sorry, and I wondered why. To all friends who have asked, please don't feel bad, it's okay, really.

After all, if it was not because of what has happened in 02, I would not have known Christ. If not because of that, my dad still worship what he doesn't really know. If not because of that I would not been challenged to stand at a different view about what relationship and commitment is concerning boy-girl relationship when seeing my friends holding hands with their partners.

And if not God's love, my dad would have been lost. If not His church, my dad would have commited suicide. If not His church, my sis and I would be fatherless.

And when I looked back, despite many things I can complaint about, and argued with the One who loves us, and besides saying that what am I, a creature to talk to its Creator like that, I was pretty content of how He has loved me.

I've been a sinner, a dirty, filthy worm who has been involved in sexual fantasies and dirty thoughts. Sometime worse. But perhaps, just everything that you never know raymond has done. Yet, one day, I encountered Him and His love, and He taught me what forgiveness means, besides, how could I truly know my Savior if not know what exactly is called forgiveness and grace? He taught me how He actually carried all those dirty thoughts to the cross, bearing all the shame, as if He did what I did wrong.

And in my later years in secondary, while I was crazy over a girl, He saved me from a multitude of sins. If not Jesus, I would have been like any of those who was reported and condemned on newspaper and by public as pervert and wicked, unwise and worldly. I am prone to lustful thoughts. And it has been a real struggle in this young man's battle. And I know, I cannot fight this alone. In fact, I am not alone, and if only I relied on His strength and recognise His power is made perfect in my weaknesses. Yet, those days, if not those people, friends, brothers and sisters God placed in my life besides me, I would have gone into a relationship with her and perhaps did the most unimaginable thing.

Pretty much of this was because of what has happened in my family. Not implying that God has no other way to save us, but He knows what is best for us, He knows what is He doing. And we shall rest assured because our family, our future, our relationship, our studies, our career, our calling, our destiny, our lives, our family - His church are in the hands of He who loves us.

For the scripture says,

"No eye has seen,
no ears has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him"
-1 Corinthians 2:9

And truly I believe, God loves us with an everlasting love. He has proved Himself faithful to us, despite it is not necessary for Him to be faithful to us who are faithless and who have been heart-breaking to Him. Jesus loves us, Emanuel. That what the Gospel is all about, that is what the Bible is saying, of the God who loves us, who seek us, and who is with us.

In those days, when God gave Adam and Eve freewill, He gave not only their freedom to do good or evil, but also, the choice one could make about his way of looking at things, and to know His love.

Isn't it worth a moment of thoughts about America? The place of origin of Mother's Day and Father's Day. Yet today, 50% of the families are broken. What has happened? And who are we to today's families?

Happy Mother's Day to all. May you have a wonderful time with your family. God bless.

raymond- d'nous student.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Redeeming Hymns

National Service has given me a treasureful of new experiences, and among them is the opportunity to interact with so many non-Christians over such a prolonged and extended period of time. It has been interesting to observe how even they, inevitably, live out their respective worldviews in and through their everyday lives. Perhaps I shall dwell more on this in the future.

In the midst of it all though, I made a very interesting discovery. It started when a girl in my dorm fell sick, and so I sang her some of her favorite Christmas songs from my hymnbook, including Silent Night, Holy Night and Joy to the World. (She is not a Christian but has attended Christmas services before.) Despite my admittedly soft singing voice, a few of the other girls soon heard it and asked me to sing some more. So I sat there singing hymn after hymn for like about half an hour. I felt quite awkward really, especially since I thought the whole thing was going nowhere - and my throat was getting coarse.

When I finally stopped, one of the girls commented that the songs gave her a very calming and soothing feeling. Another said that the songs had caused her to think, to which all the others readily agreed. Being Chinese-educated, they didn't really understand what I was singing, but somehow the hymns had had such an amazing effect on each of them.

I was astounded. It is common knowledge that hymns have long since been abandoned and held in contempt with among the majority of Christian youths today. Churches in the city attempt to draw new young believers by offering rock music during worship service, and have met with some measure of success. But perhaps we should rethink the value of hymns, even unto our own generation.

Admittedly, most city youth cannot be expected to appreciate hymns, but as for the more kampung youth out there who have been brought up in a more or less traditional family background (and who are no less in number compared to city youth), surely the essence of hymns are not that far removed from the culture they grew up with. Most of them have not been exposed to the rock culture that so pervades urban life and still find pleasure in pure, melodious music. And I'm sure we can all agree that anything that might help cause youth in our day and age to stop and think is more than welcome.

Thinking, by it's very nature, draws us toward the more fundamental things in life, and it does not take long for anyone who really thinks to arrive at the most important questions, namely Who made me? and What is the meaning of life? At the very least, this will be the first step of many that might well lead them ultimately to the very feet of Christ. Hymns may just be one of the many ways to set the ball rolling. Perhaps it's time we redeem them for a higher purpose, not only as powerful instruments for praise and worship, but also as fertile seeds planted quietly but surely into unbelieving hearts.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A thought on Easter

All Glory, Laud and Honour is one of my favourite Easter hymns. It's one of the many hymns that evokes in me a passionate and personal reflection on what the Lord has done for me on that special day. -but I must confess that this Easter, I feel void and indifferent towards the cross. The fact that a second Adam, Christ, came to die for me did not impact me that much at all. Strange.

My mind wandered during the sermon. Why was I so dispassionate about my belief; worse still, on such a sacred and holy day?!!

Was it because I lack the touch of the Holy Spirit, working in my life? I have always long for the ecstasy my friends of the high church regularly convey. They always portray a God so close, so visible and real. Me? Sometimes I find it so hard to even open my mouth during worship.

I rule out that there must be more to what God has to say or do in my life. It does not mean that someone who is in-tuned with his feelings shows a good indication that his life is right with the Lord and that he understands what the Good Book has said or is saying.

I am convinced that this lack of enthusiasm for my faith is due to my indiscipline attitude to go back to the Word. Paul's word in the gospel is a very good indication on where I think; no, I should; be heading

1Corinthians 15:2 -By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

I have often discounted the Bible for all it has to say. I am a person who always go back to the Bible ONLY for self-help. I search for words of inspiration and words of comfort when I fear, cry or anger; and cry, fear, and anger I do a lot. The Hymnal has always been the ONLY book closest to my heart, that it has always and ONLY shaped my depictions of Christ and His character.

I guess, it is time to pick the Bible up and read it for all the right reasons. If the Hymnal itself is such a good book for personal reflection, imagine what it would be most wonderful to know from the Bible of His love, so free and sure.

So, i guess the call for me this Easter, is to understand and appreciate what the Lord has done for me. -and the only way to do so is to go back to the source of our faith, the Bible!

I look at the candles' flickering flame. How I wish my candle will burn brighter than before if only I could understand, more than to see and feel, my Christ, on Easter, had done for me.

-Yung Xiang-

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What I do, Who I am.

My name is Joshua Teng, I am a Christian student who graduated from d'Nous Academy (Cycle 3 Stage 1) in the year 2009. I once thought that I could do things to define who I was, or more accurately, that the things I did made me who I am. In a sense, I was right; in a greater sense, I was not.

For the past three years, I was actively involved in public speaking. I had always felt that it was the thing I ought to do - something that I was made for. In many ways people affirmed that. It only ever made me more zealous to speak.

One of my friends never understood, until recently. She never understood why I had to participate in competitions. Why I had to subject myself through all the pain and torture and all the work. More importantly, she believed that it was in some way causing the entire act and art of speaking to turn more superficial.

Although I never told her this, I had this answer in mind: It is the passion that God has put in me. I remember what Eric Liddell (The Flying Scotsman) said:

"I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure."

Liddell was a Christian and a sprinter who won the Olympic Gold for the 400m sprint event in the Paris 1924 Olympics. He also broke the world record.

What Liddell was saying is that we all are made in our own certain way. Some people in his day may not have seen how living a life as an athelete made him a good Christian. Many people expected him to be a missionary like his parents (he eventually became a missionary to China) but he kept on running. People may have thought of him as selfish and self-serving. I think not. God has put in us our own passions and giftings by which we may impact the lives of people around us. It doesn't matter how "weird" giftings are or how odd they may be. Never doubt how God can use them. I believe that when we truly do what we were made to, we feel a great sense of satisfaction and pleasure and of course, peace.

Lesson 1: God has made us who we are and in this He has given us the passion for certain things and the pleasure when we do them.

However, I recently discovered that I was not as good as I thought myself to be, or as others had told me I was. That began two days ago and reached its climax just hours ago. The blow is indeed devastating and heart-wrenching. But it is the truth.

I do not possess charisma nor am I really witty. I do not possess a smooth, deep voice, my words do not glide. I cannot persuade but am easily persuaded. Maturity and diligence I do not have. Don't mention creativity or ingenuity. Talent is scarce. I am not a confident person as some of you may already know - I don't even have full confidence in what I want to convince you about.

When the rubber hits the road, when all falls apart, I always realise one thing: what am I doing this for? Many a time, I believe, I lose myself in what I do. That is the greatest danger. A danger I am keen to avoid.

However, I digress. I will never be the best, nor do I think I should aspire to always or ever be the best. It is at times like these - when I am fully aware and sober - that I realise that there are many things that I ought to be doing.

I think about my relationship with God and how I fail, the most epic of ways. I think about my family, and how I neglect them in such times; how I turn to them only when I need help. I think about all the pressure and stress I place on others - their anxiety and worry.

It is at times like these when I realise that the value of my existence does not lie in what I do or who I think I am. Instead it is because I am "made in the image of God" (Gen 1:27). This is the reason why even the most worthless of lives in the eyes of the world are loved in God's eyes. What people see as trash, He sees as treasure. What we cast away, He draws back.

What else have I to say?

I am deeply encouraged to remember that the Lord says: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3) Knowing it makes that significant difference that I am indeed, not who I think I am, but who I am made to be.

In one of his sermons, Ravi Zacharias points out that what we do or what we see ourselves as does not make us who we are. Instead, who we are truly depends on what God sees through his eyes. It is who we ought to be. (paraphrased) That is the definition of our self. Who is it I ought to be? The likeness of Christ.

This I know: I am a child of God. (John 1:12-13) Not because I deserve to be one, but because He has graciously and mercifully allowed me to. You can be a child of God too, you may even already be one. It is in believing and being consciously aware of who you are in His eyes and who He is in yours. I truly wish to live this sort of life, not only in full awareness but in full and total acknowledgement of that very fact. That, to me, makes all the difference. Not what I do.

Lesson 2: What/who truly defines you? Is it what you think it is, or what really is?

I have more to say, but there is a time for everything. I apologise for my incoherent thoughts. Today's post may be slightly emotional, but I believe that this is what the truth is. I hope that somehow or in some inexplicable way I have ministered to you, or made you think. Forgive me, if I may be wrong and of course, you are free to disagree.

Coming back to the point, however,
perhaps the crux of what I would like to say today is this:

My name is Joshua Teng, I am a child of God, being formed into His true likeness. Nothing else matters as much.