Month: April 2014

Cheaply Pleased.

This portion from an article I came across on The Resurgence’s blog –  {An excerpt from Pastor Mark’s sermon Glorifying God from the 2006 1st Corinthians: Christians Gone Wild sermon series and edited by the Mars Hill Blog} spoke really loudly to me.

I cannot understand why I am just so easily pleased. (Even more than a normal human being. Sometimes it sounds good; to be easily satisfied & contented, but honestly, it holds me back from doing better.) I don’t want to be so easily (& disgustingly so) pleased by cheap things, especially spiritually so. I should not be, in fact, i should never be, contented with my spiritual life. I really need to push so much harder.

Holy Spirit discipline me. Throw pebbles, rocks & bricks at me. I need them in this life to make me stronger.

WE ARE FAR TOO EASILY—AND CHEAPLY—PLEASED.

When it comes to living for God’s glory or our happiness, we tend to pick happiness and that’s when we sin. Sin is when we look at our options and say, “I can either glorify God or choose what think I need to be happy. I will eat a whole chocolate cake. I will drink light beer and I will get naked. I’ll be happy. I’m not gonna glorify God. I’m gonna be happy with a chocolate cake, the six-pack and the naked person. That will make me happy.” That’s why we choose sin.

C.S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory, says it this way,

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We’re half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition. When infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum, because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

That’s the truth. Jesus Christ takes away sin and gives us God.

  • You could have God! But you chose light beer?
  • You could have God! But you chose nudity?
  • You could have God! But you chose gluttony, folly, and rebellion?

Lewis says we’re too easily pleased. We’re like Esau, who traded in his birthright for a bowl of porridge.

THIS IS OUR DEEPEST JOY

I know some of you here are going, “But I want him to give me a car!” It’s not a sin to have a car, and I hope he gives you a car. I hope he gives you a car with rims. But I’ve got something better than a car: Jesus will give you God. Others say, “But I wanted Jesus to give me a spouse.” I hope he does give you a spouse. I’d love to see you get married. But whether or not he gives you a spouse, I got something better than a spouse: God.

Jesus gives us God. God is our highest treasure, our greatest delight, our deepest joy. Our most profound happiness is that God loves us, that God knows us, that God cares for us, that God has given himself to us and that we get to live for his glory. Not that we have to, but that we get to. We get to finally do the singular cause for which we were made: to glorify God.

 


 

Desiring God | Desiring Holiness   John Piper on Is Fornication/ Sex Outside Marriage, Worse Than Addiction to Porn? 

 

Found this above audio interview thats on a similar note too.

Sexual sins are all devastatingly crippling & so entangling.

Why are human beings so susceptible to it? :(

Arm us with deeper hunger for You Abba; to pursue greater purity & holiness. Open our eyes to see how sacred You made sexual intimacy to be, & it can only fully satisfy within the premise of marriage. Guide us to see beyond the lies of the evil one, who actually fully comprehend how sacred sex really is & thus aim to cripple mankind in & with it.

 

Seduced & Abandoned

 

What Ryan Gosling said…

“… … to pursue dreams, when they know, that the percentage of them achieving that dream is never… & they do it anyway (shrugs), & everyone there shares the same dream, & no one’s sure if it was a premonition or a delusion… & there’s only one way to find out.”

(complete with his cute hand gestures for extra charm hahah),

really gets to me, because, well, those aspiring actors, made much sacrifice & had the guts to really pursue what they dream of. even if, what they had/ what they saw, was but a delusion, i still think they deserve some sort of credits & even respect, for giving it a shot.

knowing that the possibility is so small, yet … just still going for it… again & again … man, thats hard, but courageous, & won’t you say, faithful too?

but of course, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NKJV) – Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. that uncertainty in the verse is definitely referring to the level of preparedness & readiness of the runner. Ryan Gosling sure went for all (or at least, most) of the interviews well-prepared.

No matter how many tests I have to go through, no matter how many failures I encounter, may I keep 1Cor 9:26 in mind always.

To worship You with Humility


 

I was slightly perturbed to hear laughters in the background, because albeit this is a joke, this is a message, that is so much more serious than a sombre-toned sermon.

oh indeed how we need to pursue humility everyday with fervency

Abba, You are so holy. And I want to renew my mind, my r/s with You, my commitment in You, every single day, so that my worship (not just the singing, but in every single worship action) is always only directed to You & You alone. I desire that my worship (in fact, my every breath), pleases You. It does seems hard & near impossible. But it is my desire. I want to strive hard. Holy Spirit, help me to rely on You even more.

 

♥ Love You Abba, 

Rachel

best story i heard this year.

I am speechless. There is actually such a noble man (a Singaporean no less). Labelling him noble is an understatement.

I am very in awe, & just as envious too, of his humility, his sensitivity to God, his perseverance, his integrity & his commitment. Another great inspiration & encouragement that being deeply humble is possible.

One thing I am so amazed about this godly person, is how strangely (in a very good way) along with all his amazinggggg works (i just really cannot find a better word than amazing!), reveal to me so much of Abba, rather than himself. This simply means Dr Tan is so so so like Jesus (as we have all been called to work towards). Isn’t that so great? To reflect so much of Christ that you hardly get recognised hahah.

I certainly hope that his story spurs many more, be it in any way.

& gosh, he completes a book in a week – EVEN WITH HIS MAD CRAZY SCHEDULE? I am mega inspired indeed. A godly man who reads & camp & is mad humble – mans, … wow. Just… wow. #mindblownisanunderstatement

(Below is the article of Dr Tan that Ms Shiao-yin Kuik shared on Facebook. I decided to copy paste it here rather than just link it, for keepsake purpose in case the Evernote gets erased one day.)

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s27/sh/c8620134-6268-4953-a235-167246b787d9/d972a1ce60bcff8ce779af24751a1432
 
 

 

LONG INTERVIEW | THE CHANGE-MAKERS

‘Wandering saint’ of Singapore

 

Susan Long meets Dr Tan Lai Yong, medical missionary-turned-university don, who returned to Singapore from Yunnan four years ago, and hasn’t stopped helping the downtrodden since.

WHEN Dr Tan Lai Yong and his wife tied the knot at Bethesda Frankel Estate Church in 1991, they asked for a wedding prayer that made their solemniser do a double-take.

It was a verse from the Book of Proverbs: “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.”

That, Dr Tan reckons, was the “craziest thing” he has ever done. It set the tone for life thereafter, and liberated him to “step out of the box”, again and again.

At 53, the Singaporean doctor has no home to his name. No car. One pair of jeans he lives in. And lots of hand-me-down checked shirts. Lunch is often a loaf of plain bread, wolfed down on the run.

His office at the National University of Singapore’s College of Alice & Peter Tan (CAPT) is like a storeroom, crammed with camping gear, bicycles and emergency rations, a habit from 15 years of living in China’s earthquake- prone Yunnan province.

Four years after returning here in 2010, he lives the same spartan, spontaneous life of service. Last month, he was hailed in Parliament as a “wandering saint in Singapore”, who “is rich in ideas, strong of heart and boundless in energy”. Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng asked for $1 million for Dr Tan to carry out his “oddball” ideas to better society, vouching that he would spend the money well and carefully.

Dr Tan, who has no television set, didn’t watch the broadcast. When told his new monicker, his rejoinder is: “I wander about, but am no saint.”

While Mr Seah’s proposed ground-up initiative warms him, the money leaves him cold. He recounts how, as a medical missionary in south-west China training farmers in basic medical and dental care and running clinics for villagers, he was offered up to half a million dollars in 2007 to scale up his work.

Of course, the big bucks would have enabled him to ramp up much needed cataract and cleft palate operations in the impoverished countryside. But he politely declined, explaining that his village dental programme ran on a mere $20,000 a year. “This sum was beyond what we could handle… We do best when we learn best. With a big bank account behind us, we may not learn so well,” he reflects in his stream of consciousness way.

He also felt it would make him detract from his primary mission of “teaching, equipping, encouraging and nudging for changes through values”, rather than running his own mass programmes.

 

Hidden communities

THIS is the man who was presented with numerous awards for his work in China, including one by former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao – and then decided to return to Singapore in late 2010. Reason: He felt that he was being treated “like a VIP” there, which was “dangerous for my soul”.

Once back, he re-orientated himself by visiting voluntary welfare groups like the Tsao Foundation, sat in on classes at autism- focused Pathlight School and hung out with migrant worker communities to assess needs here.

Then he enrolled at the Lee Kuan Yew School Of Public Policy to do a master’s degree in public administration to better equip himself. Upon graduation in 2012, he spurned “lucrative” offers from health-care players hoping to leverage his experience to grow their China portfolio. Instead he pounced on a “dream job”, joining CAPT, a residential college in University Town geared towards community engagement, as a senior lecturer.

He teaches a course called Hidden Communities, which delves into the plight of the elderly who live alone, the difficulties of ex-offenders finding jobs and the living conditions of migrant workers.

A third of the course time involves field trips, including a twilight walk through Bukit Brown to observe grave diggers, weaving through Geylang’s lorongs to explore the issue of women stuck in the vice trade, and ferreting about Jurong Fishery Port for the first catch of the day.

At CAPT, where he is director of outreach and community engagement, he regularly hosts meals and visits for disabled or disadvantaged kids on weekends. He and his students throw a frisbee around its lawns with the guests and share their own educational struggles, for example, of repeating O levels. The intended message: University is fun and you have a shot.

An “inclusive” trek to Endau Rompin in Johor that he helped put together for next month will involve 15 Assumption Pathway School students.

The end result he hopes for is not to convert his charges into social workers but that they will “go beyond complaining, see both sides of the picture and get off their soap box”. As well as that they will have empathy, as bosses of the future, when an employee says her mother has dementia or his son has autism.

 

A father’s No.1 job

AFTER four years studying the downtrodden and marginalised, Dr Tan concludes that the real scourge afflicting Singaporeans today is loneliness.

Sure, the many programmes targeting hypertension, diabetes and cataracts among the elderly are useful, but what about their creeping sense of loneliness? He’s been pondering the fix and concludes that the art of forging friendships must be learnt earlier.

“By the time somebody is 70, talking about making friends, especially for men, is very late,” he observes. During visits to Geylang, he notes that most of the elderly Singaporean men huddled in the red light district’s coffee shops are not looking for sex. “They are no different from those who hang out at senior day-care centres. They are just there to drink kopi and play games with their friends.”

But what troubles him is many teenagers, especially bright boys in top schools who spend their holidays preparing for Olympiads, are desperately lonely too.

“I hang out at swimming pools. Singaporean kids who swim are training for competition. They don’t play. Only the foreign kids come and play,” he observes. On weekends, he sees the fevered brows of kids in glass-walled tuition centres, while their fathers read newspapers outside.

And he yearns to tell them: “Your No.1 job as a father is to help your children build friendships. Your No.1 job is not to send them to tuition centres.”

To encourage more to play with their kids, he started several father-and-son football games islandwide. One programme, that began in 2011 at University Town on Saturday nights, is ongoing. Typically, 30 teens come looking for a game, accompanied by five fathers, which, he feels, is a start.

For six hours a week, he also volunteers at HealthServe, which runs subsidised clinics for needy Singaporeans and foreign workers. He takes the workers on weekly outings to public swimming pools, libraries and parks like Gardens by the Bay “to break down invisible barriers”. He helps them buy medicine and resolve employer disputes, as well as persuades them to sign casino self-exclusion forms to safeguard their earnings.

Last year, he even helped to organise a fully foreign worker- starred concert featuring a Bangladeshi band, a PRC (People’s Republic of China) choir, Nepalese singers and Bollywood dancers.

In fact, Dr Tan has so many pots on the boil that – anything to do with affirming individuals, building inclusiveness and countering negativity – you name it and he’s probably already looking into it and percolating an idea.

 

Exercise in gratitude

HE GREW up in the gangster-infested Old Kallang Airport area, the seventh child of a Teochew- speaking pirate taxi driver and a Cantonese-speaking seamstress. School was a struggle, especially languages.

His brothers went to Raffles Institution, he went to Siglap Secondary. Despondent, he signed up to be an infantry foot soldier in the army. Then he scored three As – a freak A-level result, he says – and qualified for medical school here on a Public Service Commission scholarship. The young Christian decided, in sheer gratitude, to become a medical missionary.

After getting married at 30, he and his accountant wife, Lay Chin, resisted the shackles of a home mortgage. He also quit his anaesthesia specialisation training midway to avoid a longer bond. And in 1996, they upped and left for mountainous Xishuangbanna, with their 16-month-old daughter Amber. There, he trained some 500 doctors in impoverished villages to carry out vaccinations, dress wounds, diagnose common ailments, balance their books. He also treated the orphaned, disabled and leprous.

Three years later, their son, Edward, was born. Dr Tan then taught at Kunming Medical College’s School of Public Health, set up a Kunming-based Christian medical NGO and brought in many other Singapore doctors to do free surgery in the villages.

In 2010, he decided to come home to raise his teens as Singaporeans, with Singaporean friends who would “see them through life”. His son is now in Secondary 4. His 20-year-old daughter, who believes that curing diarrhoea is noble but that the antidote to village illnesses is clean water, is studying engineering at Nanyang Technological University. They live together at the University Town staff quarters.

His valuation of property operates on an entirely different calculus from most Singaporeans. Above all, he values community, rather than exclusivity. He’s now looking to buy an HDB flat in a low-income area, where neighbours still leave their doors open and borrow soya sauce from each other, rather than “transient communities where people are just waiting to upgrade”.

Whenever he passes a palatial mansion, he asks himself: “Is this house worth six years of my life?” And he concludes No. He thinks the aspiration of living in a landed property with two maids to look after one in retirement is just “unsustainable”.

“You don’t live in HDB, you die a very lonely man. You live in HDB, you can go down to lim kopi (drink coffee) with your peers,” he says in his colloquial way.

The man who believes that “Godliness with contentment is great gain” enjoys life’s simplest pleasures most. His indulgences are sleeping early (by 10pm), the serenity of a sunrise run, devouring a book a weekcamping twice a year on some nearby isle and a meaty durian.

He muses: “We just need our daily bread and to learn the value of humility.”

With that, he is replete.

 

 

suelong@sph.com.sg

The Long Interview takes a break and will resume later in the year.

Copyright © 2014 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.