Letting go and letting God

Monday, June 18, 2007

This phrase certainly sounds like a cliche, but I've learnt that all the 'cliches' are actually very good learning points, if we actually take the time to sit down and reflect upon them.

Life is a very bumpy ride, with a lot of ups and downs, and plenty of monotonous straights in between. We can't help but think about certain things and worry over them; It's kind of our nature. Fortunately, sitting down thinking and twiddling your thumb alone will not help you solve your problem, but it would be effective if the worrying actually yielded action and change. That's where this cliched saying comes in.

If you stop to think about it, it's funny how we actually like to grab on to our problems and try to solve them with our own strength, and then blame God when we fail. The power behind this phrase lies in the fact that there are a LOT of things that we cannot control, and YET we end up being frustrated and worried over. Things like whether the weather would be good. Things like how the other party thinks or would respond. Things like what other people think about us, or how a scenario may be played out. The things which we CAN control, God expects us to do our best at managing it, but He DOESN'T ask that of things which we cannot control. These are the things we HAVE to LET GO.

To "do all the things we can do, and having done all else, to stand", is really something that isn't easy to do. Just as a student has studied hard for an exam, and has studied what he/she believes need to be studied, it is not easy to walk into the exam hall fully letting go and trusting in God, because he/she may never know if he/she might've missed some part or is unable to recall some information. We will always have our doubts and worries and reservations. This is where God needs to come into the picture.

I thank God that I've learned how to trust God more, even as He's been bringing me up to another level. My quiet time has never been more fulfilling, and I really feel that these few weeks I've been walking closer and closer with Him. This has resulted in me being able to simply trust Him in a lot of areas which I previously haven't been able to. I simply lay my worries, fears, doubts, uncertainties and reservations at His feet everyday, and even though I might sometimes pick them up unknowingly, I ALWAYS put it down again. This frees my mind to think about other things, to focus on things which I CAN do, instead of things which I have no control over.

Trusting God is not an easy thing. It gets harder as the thing you entrust to God gets more and more precious to you. Still, I've learned that you simply HAVE to do it, and it brings you much freedom. Let's put it this way, if this matter is God's will for you, it will work out right since you've done all you can, and you're putting your trust in Him. On the other hand, if things don't work out as you'd like, then that really isn't your fault... it's just probably God telling you His will is different, or the timing is off, or you need to hang in there a bit more.

I'll quote a verse which will help us see this clearly:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

I hope that God will continually help me to lean on Him, to trust in Him, and to free myself so that I can do more for Him. I pray that I will learn to always look to Him no matter the circumstances, and trust that His purpose will lead me to a better tomorrow.

Posted by Gerald at 6/18/2007 11:47:00 AM

Net rants

Sunday, June 17, 2007

As much as I hold my country in high regard, there are a good number of things which I seriously feel it is lacking, and that's to say their not even TRYING to improve. Right now, as I am typing this up, I'll mention that it took me a whole 15 minutes to get to this point, where I can actually write something to post. It's one of the biggest thing I dislike about coming back home. To put it succinctly,

Malaysia internet connectivity hasn't improved since the invention of the 56k modem.

To its credit, Malaysia was one of the first country to have internet connection in the region. Unfortunately, just like every other 'project' in the country, that's as far as it gets. Since then, we have progressed into 'broadband' internet, or so we thought.

The unfortunate fact is that service providers here couldn't care less about improving their service or actually offering services that benefit users. The only widespread broadband service in the country is Streamyx, which has a reputation for being extremely sluggish, bad support, less than satisfactory bandwidth and even worse uptime. It is unfortunately, one of the only available and affordable avenues for 'broadband' access in the country, and everyone has to subscribe to it, like it or not.

While I've been away in Singapore the past six years, the service has NOT improved at all. If anything, the years have made it worse, since they keep asking for more and more people to sign up for it, but do not upgrade the infrastructure to support the additional users, resulting in a bottleneck in connection speed for ALL users. God only knows where the money subscribers have been paying have gone to since it's obviously not used to increase the reliability and speed of these connections.

Personally, I'm using an alternative 'broadband' solution offered by Jaring called SOMA. To be perfectly honest, it's pathetic. I can't even get a decent connection to do my holiday assignments, let alone try an MMOG. Loading pages take ages, sometimes taking even longer than the good old 56k. Perhaps it has to do with the location of the wireless modem, but the fact is still that I cannot get a reliable connection when I need it.

The fact that a website like this exists goes to show that I'm not the only one having gripes. Most people would complain about Streamyx because it's the most widely available option. Unfortunately for me, the alternative doesn't seem all that great either.

Perhaps I'm just asking for too much. After all, I do use my campus connection when I'm in school. That cannot be compared to the connections in private homes. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure connections in private homes in Singapore are pretty decent, as there are rarely any disgruntled customers, at least when it comes to connection reliability. Competition in Singapore is open and has driven prices down yet increased the quality of services. I'd have hoped that Malaysia wouldn't be too far behind in this area. After all, we also have rival telco wars just like our neighbours down south.

Wishful thinking...

Posted by Gerald at 6/17/2007 04:50:00 PM

Expectation management & Knowing when to give up

Friday, June 15, 2007

You know there are times when you were thinking, hoping, expecting something, but then it ends up totally the opposite of what you thought? You know when you keep trying to be optimistic, to the point sometimes of being illogical, and then things turn out bad? You know when you sometimes tell yourself that it's a waste of time, but yet you somehow just try anyway, doing what you can and then things don't quite turn out the way you want them to?

I guess we all need better expectation management.

Having an optimistic point of view is great. I don't see why looking at the bright side of things can be a bad thing. And then there are those times when you keep trying and trying, hoping for the best, never giving up, persevering and pushing yourself, even to the point where you can no longer push yourself, and STILL not achieve success. I once saw this book entitled "Knowing when to give up", which although might initially seem a wrong mindset to have, might actually hold some merit if you delve deeper.

I know that pursuing your dreams is not a bad thing, and neither is picking yourself up everytime you fail. To "keep on keeping on" is a phrase I've heard so often, it's become cliched, and while I still believe it holds true, I think the context ought to be taken into consideration instead of blindly applying this principle.

If you have a dream which is from God, and you KNOW it came from God, then by all means pursue it because I never believe God will let you down. I don't think God will give you a vision and then not help you as you run for it. The principle of perseverence quite obviously applies here.

But what of the things which God may not speak to you about? What of things that you don't know whether or not to pursue? I know that God speaks to you about all things in life, but there have been times when you thought He was speaking, but you were wrong. Claiming that God wants us to be "the head and not the tail" and thinking that if you work hard even when God has not spoken to you, you can excel in ALL areas seems a bit far fetched. I don't propose to put a limitation on God, but it would be naive to think that you could excel in anything just because you want it to happen.

A good illustration would be our talents and abilities. Sure, we could try very very hard to sing. We could go for singing lessons, practice everyday, listen to as many songs as we can, train our vocals and breathing techniques etc., but as much as we may want to believe that we can, there are many of us who really truly can't. There are many people who even after years and years of vocal training cannot really hold a tune, or are naturally tone deaf, and no matter how hard you work, and that's not to say you haven't tried, you just CAN'T. Even if you eventually DID, don't you think you could've excelled in some OTHER area that would probably have taken less time and bring you to that place of success much earlier?

The point I'm making is not to have a defeatist attitude, but rather to CHOOSE the areas in which we want to excel in. Why bother trying to train your singing when God has not called you to sing (in that you have neither the annointing nor the talent)? Why bother trying to train in a given sport when no matter how hard you try, you just can't have the kind of capability some other people have, especially if God has not called you to it? Don't you think a gifted musician who has all the talent to play a musical instrument, but perhaps have much less to offer in terms of physical capacity would be unwise to spend his/her time to pursue sports and be just above average instead of using it to be a genius in music?

This brings me back to the point about pursuing a dream: You have to KNOW WHEN TO GIVE UP, and that's when you find yourself pursuing a WRONG DREAM! Not everyone is called to the same field, although all are called to excellence. If you don't know which field you are called to, then as you try out each area, you have to be prepared to GIVE IT UP if you realise it's not for you.

To expect achievement and success when you're in this stage is premature. It would be detrimental as having a high expectation would undermine your self confidence if you fail. On the other hand, having too low expectations would not make you strive to do well. Hence, a balance must be struck between the two to ensure you can keep on keeping on.

So to bring all of it together, we really should know which area we are called to excel in, lest we end up pursuing something which is not from God and probably fail miserably despite our neverending perseverence. If we don't, then be prepared to give up certain things that aren't meant for you. It won't be easy, but it would be better in the long run.

I should know... I've been there...

Posted by Gerald at 6/15/2007 06:42:00 PM

Where's home?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm now back in Malaysia with my parents, planning for my sister's wedding. I guess you could say I'm 'home', although that may not be very accurate. I shall explore a little of what it means to be 'home'.

The initial reaction would be simply, "Where you're from." That's all fine and dandy until you realise 'from' is hard to define. I've often been asked this question, but I find it difficult to answer. I was born in Kuala Lumpur, but spent the most of my childhood in a little town called Sitiawan. After that, I spent two years in Kuantan, on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, and the next five years (my teenage years) in Subang Jaya, just south of Kuala Lumpur. I went to study in Singapore and I've been there for the past six years, with at least four more to go, and that's just the beginning.

Obviously, "where you're from" isn't a very good way to define home. You COULD say it's simply "where your parents are", but that too poses a problem. Unlike most people whose parents stay put in one location, the nature of my father's job required him to transfer quite a number of times. Hence, we were required to move as and when he was posted to a new place. A year or two back, whilst I was studying in Singapore, my parents actually shifted to Thailand, and I literally had no 'home' in Malaysia. Would Thailand then be considered my "home"? I don't think so.

Another way to look at it was "where you spent your formative years", as in which place had the most impact in your life. This too is debatable, since most of my childhood (definitely formative years) were spend in one place, my teens (also formative) in another, and young adulthood (again transitional and hence I deem formative) in yet another. Where's home? I really don't know...

I guess in the end, 'home' is really where you feel most comfortable to let down your hair and simply be yourself. It can be where your parents are, but the environment may not be really familiar or 'homish'. It can be where your friends are, unless you don't have a place to go back to after your friends go back to their respective 'homes'. Ultimately, it would be perfect as a place where both these concepts are melded into one, which is thankfully, what I'm enjoying now.

Comfort at home, friends of old, and a celebration to be had! What more can I ask for? It's HOME!

Posted by Gerald at 6/13/2007 06:45:00 PM

Some interesting questions

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I was just thinking about the Emerge beauty pageant and manhunt... Some of the questions they posed are very interesting... Typical of beauty pageants, but it got me thinking as to how I'd answer if those questions were posed to me.

Question 1: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Answer: Quickness to obey. If I could be quick to obey what God tells me to do, I think life would be very easy to live. I'm trying my best, but then again, if I was already somewhere in this area, I doubt I'd need to try very hard. Change wouldn't be a big problem and I believe God will bring me very far.

Question 2: What is your most prized possession?
Answer: Although 99.99% of you would say something like 'your bible' (considering this was conducted in church no less) I would disagree. My most prized possession would be... my computer! The reason is simple; while you may have one bible as your most prized possession, with only ONE translation, I have the NKJV, and the NIV, and the New Living Translation, and the Good News Bible, and just about ANY translation there is out there. Furthermore, I have a full concordance, arguments on theology, apologetics and even sermons. It is my means of communication, where I can contact anyone in the world. It is the source of entertainment and information.
I love God's word, and I think the one thing that can provide that and more would be my most important possession.

Question 3: What is the first thing you'd do if you were elected president?
Answer: I'm not sure what I'd do if I were elected president of Singapore, but if I were in Malaysia, the first thing I'd do is make sure that NOONE is discriminated against because of their race, gender or religion. I'd abolish race based politics, race based social and education policies as well as ensure everyone gets an equal opportunity to excel in whatever area of the marketplace. Idealistic? Probably, but that doesn't mean I won't strive hard and fight for what I believe is right!

Question 4: What is the biggest problems youth face today?
Answer: This is a tough question. I don't really think there's any one biggest problem; they're all equally important. If I were to pick however, I'd say it's apathy. Apathy towards everything in life. I think youth in general are so negative that they don't seem to hold on to anything in life. They act as if nothing is worth pursuing, that life isn't worth living, that we're all doomed anyway, so why bother. They don't care about much things bigger than themselves, because they see no merit in pursuing it. They're lost, looking for hope, looking for someone to point them towards a direction so that they will have something to strive for, and if the church could only stand in that gap, revival would be here!

These were the few I remembered. Unfortunately, I left halfway through the Q&A, so I don't remember the rest. Still, it's quite an insight don't you think? Why not share your views?

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Posted by Gerald at 6/07/2007 02:19:00 AM

Emerge 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

If you're wondering where I disappeared to the past few days, don't worry, I didn't abandon this place.

I was spending time with God.

Emerge 2007 was a spectacular conference, not so much because of the various activities that took place, but because God really revealed Himself to me throughout these four days. I took back a lot from the conference, and it was absolutely amazing.

The first session was about Shamgar, and about the power of One. It was about young people and aspirations, young people and dreams, and young people with the gospel. I took home the strength to believe that He has a great purpose for me.

Session two was about Jacob, and about how even though he was a supplanter, a schemer, a swindler, a trickster... despite ALL his flaws, he had ONE thing that really moved God; Spiritual Hunger. We have to continually hunger for Him, to love Him, to seek Him and to cling on to Him, and only by doing that will He respond. Jacob wrestled with God, refusing to let go of Him, until something happened. This is again talking about the brokenness of heart, and I'm really praying and holding on to God that I will continue to be broken before Him, and that this won't be a one off thing.

Session 3 was a presentation of the Cultural Mandate, which was kind of a rehash.

The fourth session talked about courage and perseverance. It's about having faith in Him, even though we may not have faith in ourselves. We have to always walk with God, seek after Him, go for the things which He calls us to go for, so that we can shine for Him in the marketplace. I took home the need to always do our best in what God has called us to do, and that would be something that requires faith in Him, because trials and obstacles are bound to come. However, it is important to remember to replace the "I" with Christ, so that He can use us. The cultural mandate cannot be fulfilled if we are not broken to Him!

The fifth session was unplanned, as God led us a different way from what was supposed to happen. The message was very simple. It's all about LOVE! The simple question of this: Jesus asks, "Do you love Me?", or rather, "Do you AGAPE Me?" The full importance of this statement can be found when John 21:15 is read. Jesus is not asking whether we philleo Him, but whether we agape Him. Agape is unconditional love, even despite trials and tribulations and rejection. I remember being asked before whether I'd be willing to die for Him, and the honest answer I gave back then was No, I don't think I had the faith for it. This time, I would say yes... because I DO agape Him.

The next session was evangelistic, and it was a simple message about how Jesus is light, and He is therefore th provider of life, the provider of vision, and the one who dispels darkness. The second point was very important to me.

Finally, the last session closed with a great message about the trumpet. The trumpet of God has been sounding since the time of Moses, to Joshua, to Samuel, to David, to the prophets like Elijah and Elisha, to Joel, to the angels, to Jesus, to Simon Peter, to Paul, to John, to the heroes of the faith like Martin Luther and John Wesley... Now the trumpet is in OUR hands. God gave it to us, what are we going to do with it? We ought to recognise the seasons we're in, and right now, it's Harvest Time!

The thing which really burdened me throughout the conference was my lack of vision. It's not that I don't have visions and goals and dreams, but I'm looking for one greater and higher than just 'achieving good results, get a good job etc'. I'm seeking God for something much bigger for me to run for. I still don't know yet what it is, but I'm not giving up on asking it from Him. I pray everyday that You show me what is it that You want me to do, to open my eyes and let me see the things which You have called me to. I'm not looking at my talents or my achievements, but to Your directions. This is the cry of my heart, that I can see the things which You ask me to go for!

I'm thankful for the many great things that have happen so far. I'm feeling really close to God now, so much closer than I've ever been before. This is truly a wonderful journey to have with Christ! Thank you Emerge 2007!

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Posted by Gerald at 6/05/2007 03:36:00 PM