Category Archives: Firsts

First time experiences

Bible Study Fellowship

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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.

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.

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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.

Book Review – Gordon Ramsay’s Playing With Fire

I must admit that as I was paying the ten bucks for the book, a sense of trepidation filled my mind and I was wondering things like, “What if the whole book was just an expository for how many ways and variations Gordon Ramsay could say the F-word?”

But then again, it was just ten bucks that screamed at me from the shelves not of a bookstore (they are becoming extinct nowadays with closures of MPH, PageOne and such), but rather the convenience store inside a gas station. Imagine buying a book from a gas station. Not your typical add ons like parking coupons, sweets or drinks.

So what led me to write a review of his book?

Simply because it’s really a good book. You got the ingredients like a hard life (lots of hard work) at the bottom of the mountain, then the little breaks and amazing partnership that Ramsay forged with his father-in-law Chris (yeah, of all people a father-in-law!), and the multiple excitements and adrenaline rush from his subsequent restaurant openings and business growth. Add to that a strong layer of good old business and wise principles of taking care of your staff, demanding the highest standards, and a big dose of humility and being grounded in all that uphill climb.

Ramsay’s narration is also quite refreshing, as it is shared quite directly and frankly, in a manner that spells, “We just say it like it is!”. Quite a breeze to read, put down, and pick up again, that I finished the book in 2 days.

Just like good food, Gordon Ramsay has me hooked. And I am on the search for his other titles (not the cookbooks yet).

Recipe 1 – Longevity Noodles

It’s a fresh season of cooking for me, after my girlfriend suggested experimenting on dishes, so I thought why not pick up the ladle and wok and touch base with my Jamie Oliver (asian-style) side of me that has been dormant since I was 15.

First dish – Longevity noodles, named after the packet brand of noodles that mummy always gets from the market.

One packet will serve 3-4 pax. Put the noodles in a pot and pour boiling water to cover the noodles, using a pair of chopsticks to separate the noodles out from the clump. Strain the noodles into a sieve and repeat with another round of boiling water. Doing it twice will reduce the salt concentration in the noodles.

Next it’s time to do some chopping and slicing, or as Chef Martin Yan ala Yan Can Cook fame of the 80s (yup I started watching cooking shows from a tender age) likes to say, you julienne it into thin slices. We start from the garlic (about 6 separated cloves), cut off both ends, lightly use the chopper to bruise it (so peeling becomes so easy), then julienne the garlic into thin slices (about 2mm). Then dice it up.

Take some pork belly or 三层肉 and also julienne it, after boiling in water with one teaspoon of salt. I’m not too good with estimation so I guess this looks like about 500g of pork.

Also julienne the Chinese black mushrooms. And the Chinese Chives (Gu Chai) cut into 4-5cm strips. Together with bean sprouts (as much as you want – i love ’em so I like lots).

Before I forget, while cooking the pork, I’d also add the chicken bones in to make the stock base for the noodles. Slow fire for 20 mins then take out the pork. Continuing cooking the chicken bones for 1 hour. The soup base will reduce from original half pot to about 1/4 pot. See video below:

Add oil (guesstimation about 10 tablespoons). Then brown the mushrooms.

Take out the mushrooms. Leave the oil, and brown the garlic. Take note that the smaller bits of garlic tend to brown very fast. That’s why when dicing we do not dice too finely, else burnt garlic is very bitter. So the garlic should look like this.

Leave a quarter of the garlic in the wok with the oil, and time to stir fry the bean sprouts plus Chinese chives. Stir fry till half cooked, then take out. Next we pour the soup base into the wok and throw in the browned mushrooms to simmer.

Once the base boils, throw in the noodles, the vegetables, the meat and keep “pulling” up the noodles to mix it all up.

I like to use chopsticks on my right hand and a wooden ladle on the left hand for this. Keep tasting the noodles and adding soup base/ water to adjust to your right level of taste.

Finally I plate it with my favorite sliced preserved green chilies. Add prawns if you like. Some of you may like sliced red chillies.

Overall a simple dish to whip up to serve a group of people. This time I used 2 packets which can feed about 8 pax.

Kari Jobe’s Beautiful Songs

This morning during sunday service, I was compelled to find out the music video that was played during the offering. After service I almost forgot, then I remembered and went to ask the media guys. So here’s Kari Jobe with her beautiful vocals and lyrics:

We Are

You Are For Me

The Tipping Point

In recent days, I observe signs that things are coming to a brew.

A boiling point. A tipping point, so to speak.

From the pages of wikipedia, I quote

“In science, a tipping point is the point at which a system is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a different state.

Examples are:

Tipping point (physics), in which the system is the position of a physical object
Tipping point (sociology), is the event of a previously rare phenomenon becoming rapidly and dramatically more common.
Tipping point (climatology), in which the system is the global climate”

Many things in Singapore have come to a tipping point.

In May 2011, Singapore’s opposition party the Worker’s Party won the first ever GRC (Group Representation Constituency) in Aljunied . The first ever win for the Opposition in what was considered the ruling PAP (People’s Action Party) stronghold over the opposition. At election rallies, there was such a ground swell of building resentment over what citiizens felt was an accumulation of years of political arrogance.

On 25th October 2011, Singapore witnessed it’s 5th death reported within 5 months at the same Bedok Reservoir. Suicides or at least unnatural deaths had become so common there that the our ex-Foreign Minister and several religious leaders held a prayer and spiritual ceremony at the location. Signboards with SOS helplines were also erected around the reservoir grounds.

On Thursday, 15th December 2011, Singapore’s rail transit system, the SMRT broke down along the North South Line during evening peak hours, affecting 127,000 commuters during the 5-hour shutdown, where several trains that stalled had passengers stuck inside with little ventilation, a lack of air, and some without any light. In one train, a passenger had to break the glass window with a fire extinguisher so that air could come inside the carriage. Two days later, on Saturday 17 December, the SMRT broke down again along the North South Line for seven hours, affecting 94,000 commuters. Prior to this massive breakdown, the SMRT broke down on the Circle line on Wednesday 14th December for some 40 minutes and also for 4 hours in September.

Public transport is very dear to Singaporeans. Both literally and figuratively. The Public Transport Council had approved a 1% increase in bus and train fares that took effect on 8 October 2011, despite many protests (not phyical ones which are outlawed). Then on 12 December 2011, Singapore’s major taxi operator Comfort Delgro announced it’s increase in taxi fares.

Add to this the latest SMRT fiasco, and I can imagine a tipping point coming soon. Things will not be hunky dory or same old same old anymore.

People are starting to question how things are being run. People with pink colored ICs (Identity Cards) as well as blue colored ICs. Heck even the huge numbers bearing the different work passes cannot be mollycoddled.

The strains of packing in so many people on a tiny island in such a short span of time is showing.

When the fat lady sings, how will it all pan out?

For those who wish to hold accountable those responsible for the SMRT breakdowns, you may like to visit the link below to put your name to a petition

Give up your seat Petition | GoPetition

And I had a compelling urge to link this article to another blog which had a masterpiece of satirical writing. A classic. A beautifully composed blog on Singapore titled

Manifestations of the Singaporean Rot

Ching Chong, Ling Long, Ting Tong

This is really classic. I chanced upon this on one of my fav blogs http://www.mrbrown.com and it really shows how fast times have changed, and what really the new generation of internet is like.

Basically, this chick is ranting herself full of nonsense and we immediately get tons of responses on the same youtube media that broadcast it. First, take a load of this original video that sparked it off

Then check out some responses, first from this guy that is making a parody of her rant

and another one from this dude who’s making a comedy segment out of it,

and finally, my personal favourite is this cool guy Jimmy who made a music video response,

Jimmy turns out to be really talented, he sings and plays and I really dig the video editing. So check out Jimmy’s other productions

and what’s more, Jimmy is donating 100% of all his profits from his itunes sold to Japan for it’s recovery from the tsunami disaster. Way to go man!