Bible Study Fellowship

Image

This is my 2nd year of attending Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). In Singapore, BSF men’s fellowship is available in 6 locations at host churches. What I like about it is that BSF is non-denominational, hence there are no factions here and everyone is part of the body of Christ. So we have Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Charismatics, Pentecostals etc all sharing the Word of God and our life experiences through class participation sharing our views towards questions about each chapter (each class about 15 pax – men’s fellowship are separately conducted from women’s fellowship).

Last year we studied the book of Genesis. We met every monday for the whole year except for the school vacation periods. My cohort this year seemed to grow even bigger and our hall where we gather for the Teaching Leader’s message is filled up with about 500 men. The notes that accompany each week’s bible study are fantastic and they point and cross reference us to other relevant parts of the bible. My BSF journey has opened my eyes to reveal God’s Word even more richly and it comes alive to me. I liken myself to a child hungering to learn more words to speak.

This evening, as I am relaxing at home, I was thankful that God gave me a deeper revelation to my questions regarding Repentance and Sin.

The word “repentance” (Hebrew teshubah) comes from the verb shub, which means to turn. However, repentance means more than simply to turn away from evil and from disregard of God.
Many people recognize the problems that sin brings into their lives and are sorry. Some, through sheer self-effort, “turn over a new leaf.” I myself realize that this is not sustainable. However, true repentance is much more than a moral life. Repentance does not mean “try harder”. It is a turn in the opposite direction, so your whole life turns toward God as its central goal. This was the call of all the prophets. “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” The prophet Hosea said, “Take words with you and return to the Lord.”
Again I was prompted to look at the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7 about struggling with sin.

Romans 7:14-25 (NLT)

14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

After reading through verse 7, it reveals that the answer to our struggle lies in Christ.

Without Christ, no changes that we seek to make will be effective. With Christ, His Spirit will enable us to begin to live for Him and with Him. Will we choose to depend upon the Holy Spirit (living in all who believe Him) in all areas of our life? As the Holy Spirit did for the Lord Jesus Christ during His life on earth, He will also enable us to live a new life of love and obedience.

Life in the Spirit

Romans 8: 1-17 (NLT)

8 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

A great book to Gallop off the Year of the Horse

Image

Indeed this is my second book of the year, the first being Eat to Live (The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss) by Dr Joel Furhman. Since my health scare in 3rd quarter of 2013, I have lost 6kg already and am aiming for another 6kg by the end of 2014.

Looking back, I thank God for his warning signals and am blessed to be given the learning opportunities or the valley seasons of my life to experience roadblocks and overcome them. 

This second book – Change Your Heart, Change Your Life by Dr Gary Smalley is another gem which got me so glued to every page. Life’s mysteries especially with regards to relationships between people when they turn sour and how we react to them is clearly and simply explained so that we can literally turn our lives around and choose to be happy despite circumstances and yet open our hearts to giving and receiving an abundance of love from God and others.

This is really a MUST-read!

Best of the Web HD video series

For the first post of 2014, I was wondering what to blog. At first I wanted to do a piece titled The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but I thought Anton Casey was over exposed already and since he had left Singapore, it was better to move on and leave that ugly episode to the history books.

One of my childhood buddies had decided to close shop, well for his blog that is, see his final post at http://acroamatic.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/closing-deadpoetscave-com/

Seems like a blog is not so easy to maintain. Even my own one is very rarely updated with new blog postings.

But I discovered a series of cool HD videos on youtube. Excellent videography, sound effects, and colourful visuals – mostly of extreme sports, but also capturing great human endeavors and the beautiful world around us. Enjoy!

All or nothing

I’ve lost many things in this season of my life.

I lost my health – I was hospitalized recently for the first time in my life due to a bout of kidney stones.

photo-76

 

As a result of that I’ve lost my pursuit of the love of food – I have a new list of dietary restrictions and may only permit the occasional “once in a blue moon” whiff of sparing indulgence, if there was ever such a phrase.

I lost my fitness, due to an injury sustained on my foot while I was training during the IPT session in maju camp earlier this year. That cut down the high impact cardio workouts that I could do while I rested my foot.

I sort of lost my momentum in closing sales during the 3 month dry spell earlier this year. That really knocked me off my ride as I was building more and more speed. In fact, it took me a while to jump start my engine.

I’ve lost a relationship very dear to me, second only to my relationship with Abba Father.

But this morning, I gained an understanding, a revelation and a peak into the window of God’s plan and purpose for my life.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:17 that “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect,” but “we preach Christ crucified” and I believe that God orchestrated all these series of events in my life to wrestle me away from every other thing so that I could be fully transformed in Christ.

This year’s bible study fellowship was also focused on the book of Genesis and somehow I can identify closely with the life of Joseph, from his betrayal by his brothers, to his fall in status from being the favoured son to a slave in Egypt and then worse still, condemned as a prisoner for years. Joseph was forgotten by men for a period but all the while he had God’s presence with him in all that he did and God blessed Joseph with the favour of people around him so that all the work of his hands was blessed greatly, in spite of his dreary circumstances. God did not change Joseph’s circumstances, but I believe that God was transforming Joseph and preparing his heart for the bigger stage to save lives.

I can only continue to pray and ask God for strength in my trials so that I can look away from the pain of the present and find joy in the future glorious purposes of God.

As one of my current favourite authors John Eldredge points out succinctly, man was designed by God to passionately pursue His adventure set out for him in this life.

Like what my pastor Ps Yang said in the first sermon I ever heard him preach – black is black, white is white. There is no middle ground. There is no sitting on the fence. We were born into a world already at war. There are two sides and God has spared nothing, not even His only Begotten Son.

I lost everything, but gained everything.

It’s all or nothing for me.

Movie Review: Unbeatable (4/5 stars)

ImageFirst off, I have to comment on Nick Cheung’s amazing ripped torso. At the grand age of 45, it is no mean feat to pull something like that off and he mentioned that his nine months of training and unappetizing diet is definitely very difficult to follow. But hats off to Nick for his dedication to his craft which would put him together with the ranks of Christian Bale, Daniel Day Lewis, Robert De Niro etc.

Nick’s performance of a down and out ex-boxing champion Chin Fai who is in debt and previously incarcerated for cheating by throwing matches is pretty convincing and makes for a good backstory. I thoroughly enjoyed his amazing chemistry with his co-star Crystal Lee (acting as cute and fiesty Dani). The young girl is full of character and needs to step up to mother her mum Gwen (acted by Mei Ting) who suffers from a mental breakdown due to earlier family tragedy. Chin Fai escapes from his creditors  in Hongkong and winds up in Macau being a fellow tenant in the same apartment as Gwen and Dani. In the meantime, his friend sets him a job as a janitor and part-time “boxercise” cheerleading aerobic instructor for a class of aunties. Good fun and some laughs there definitely.

Image

Here, the other backstory is developed with the young protege fighter Lin Siqi acted by heart throb Eddie Peng who puts in an equally good performance as the 30 year old son of a former tycoon dad (played by Jack Kao) who lost everything including his will to get back on his feet. Lin Siqi was still a carefree traveller who has yet to discover his niche in life (school dropout), previously roaming the world with his family money till the newspapers splashed his dad’s bankruptcy. Siqi then goes to look for his dad who drowns his sorrow in liquor daily and takes up blue collar manual work at the construction sites to get by. One day, he sees the advertisement for the MMA (mixed martial arts) championship fight and wants to take part to inspire and motivate his father to get back on his feet. 

The chemistry between the leads Nick and Eddie is also great to watch as we see an unlikely mentor-mentee pairing. There is one scene where the two blokes accidentally touch lips during floor hold training, and that was hilarious too.

Besides the nicely developed storyline with good character development, what is a fight show without exciting, intense and expertly choreographed fight scenes. The camera work captures the kicks and punches precisely. I was literally at the edge of my seat holding my breath and clutching my fists every time I was rooting for the each of the guys to win. 

Game on. 

Unbeatable wins my vote.

Image

Mein Fuhrer’s Outburst on the Punggol East By-Election Results

This is super hilarious! I could not stop laughing! It’s amazing how one scene from one movie can be applied to so many real life scenarios, albeit with superb script writing. Love that bit where Cecilia Sue’s shenanigans also got a part. And the best part from the Fuhrer, “Call my boy here so I can give him a tight slap.” So funny…..

Singapore’s Population – Murky waters ahead

Image

The Singapore government has recently released a white paper on population and it is interesting to compare how other countries are tackling the issue of falling birth rates, like hongkong, where this news article highlighted HK’s woes and constraints in importing foreigners.

Another asian city, Shanghai, is also facing population challenges as it grows, and as this news article points out, “The continual growing population overloads the city’s public services. Housing, education, health and other public services will face even more pressure.”

Not unlike these countries, Singapore has also felt the immense strain and pressure of a growing population (mostly through immigration), and in recent years we have seen great levels of dissatisfaction in the same domains of housing, education, health, and public services like transport where MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) trains have encountered major breakdowns (through poor maintenance and increased usage) and public bus drivers going on strike the first time in decades due to perceived poor treatment by their employer.

Like my fellow Singaporeans, I too feel the pressure of a higher population density in our tiny island state and going forward I will be comparing notes with other countries on how they make population planning policies for the benefit of their citizen’s overall welfare, not just for the country’s economic progress.

It is always not easy to navigate the murky waters of population policies, especially where numbers are required to sustain the economy.

Nevertheless first off, I’ll lay out the basic Singapore population statistics from the sources to look at the growth trend. In my further articles, I’d like to compare country policies in the area of immigration vs natural population growh.

According to wikipedia, Singapore’s population as at 1 July 2012 is at 5,312,400, ranked 116th worldwide, see here.

In 2010, Singapore’s population was at 5,076,700, ranked 117th worldwide, see here.

Cross referencing from Singapore’s Department of Statistics on Population Demographics, and going back, it looks like this:

2012 – 5.312 million

2011 – 5.183 million

2010 – 5.076 million

2005 – 4.265 million

2000 – 4.028 million

1990 – 3.047 million

1980 – 2.414 million

1970 – 2.075 millionImage