Archive for March, 2009

Faith

March 31, 2009

“Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of all its love..” 1 Cor 13

I blogged about this topic of love once. Today, the Lord gave me a new perspective about this verse. Why in this order, “faith, hope and love” and not “hope, faith and love” etc?

Faith is the entrance, the guiding principle, the cornerstone to how we can pursue hope and love. without faith, how do we know that there is a hope awaiting for us? without faith, how can we love as He has loved? without faith, how could we be certain about the hope and the love we have in Christ?

faith is the basis. without faith, its impossible to please God. it all starts from faith.
do i believe, truly?

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see..” Heb 11:1

"Blessed with a burden"

March 30, 2009

its been a week since i last blogged! n i actually missed blogging! 🙂

For the past week, so many things happened!
Highlight: Batam over the weekend.

As the title goes, “blessed with a burden”. Perhaps that would be my greatest learning over the weekend.
Paradoxical as it may seemed, it has challenged my paradigm towards the word, “burden”.

This was a quote taken from the movie “Freedom Writers”.

Extracted a good summary and sypnosis of the story as follow:

“Assigned the thankless task of teaching freshman English at a gang-infested Long Beach, CA high school, a 23-year-old teacher resorts to unconventional means of breaking through to her hardened students in director Richard LaGravenese’s adaptation of Erin Gruwell‘s best-seller -The Freedom Writer’s Diaries: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. Her students had been written off, and her chances of succeeding scoffed at, but Erin Gruwell wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
Long Beach is a place where a new war is waged with each passing day, and when the hardened students who walk those dangerous hallways sense an outsider attempting to understand their plight, their cynical resentment threatens to keep a deadly cycle in motion. Despite the initially hostile reaction she receives in the classroom, Gruwell uses the writings of Anne Frank and -Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo to teach her students not only the basis of the English language, but compassion and tolerance as well.
Later, when the time comes to tell their own tales in a project specially designed to explore the daily violence that the majority of students have grown numb to, the barriers that had once stood so strong gradually begin to crumble. When the only chance for survival is to befriend the person who was once your mortal enemy, the world is opened to a whole new realm of possibilities.” – Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

“You are blessed with a burden”..those were the words uttered by Gruwell’s (‘Ms G’) father when he was consoling her daughter amidst a time of grief when facing a divorce..his father commended her for being a teacher and how much he envied her for the difference she has made in the lives of her students.

how would you feel if your dad were to speak those words to you?
how can a ‘burden’ be seen as a ‘blessing’?

for her students, the teacher went extra miles, many extra miles..
she truly believes in her students. what is education for? have we been ‘doing’ education for education sake? What good has it done for a person to be ‘educated’?

Ms G saw in the students’ potential for change, to be the ‘change they want to see in the world’, but the change has to start from within themselves first.

…(to be cont’d)

Wisdom- "..who can discover it"?

March 22, 2009
Eccl 7:23-25

“All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”—but this was beyond me. Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound—who can discover it?

So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly”

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Ecclesiastes, a book by Solomon (known as the “wisest man ever lived”), searches into the profound truth and wisdom of life that all man should seek after and live by.

out of the author’s great wisdom, he lamented “it (true wisdom) is far off ..-who can discover it?” rhetorical as it is, Solomon knew that “wisdom” is never a “destination” and, hence he turned his mind and embarked in a journey “to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom..the scheme of things..”

in the Amplified Bible version says, “I turned about [penitent] and my heart was set to know and to search out and to seek [true] wisdom and the reason of things..

wisdom seeks out for reasons and causes.

This is a precious lesson learnt from Solomon that in his search for (true) wisdom, he first sought out for understanding, reasons, causes of things around him, and “adding one thing to another” (Eccl 7:27).

Solomon knew exactly that these truth is beyond him to fathom.. and this is time i look out for his conclusion of the matter:

Eccl 7:29
“This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes”

the basis of all wisdom comes from God. He is the one that sets righteousness in the hearts of man. Are you searching out for wisdom to make an important decision in your life? are you asking God for a new direction ? are you at a crossroad, waiting upon for an answer.

Seek out for reasons and causes, be responsible to make “informed” choices, but most importantly, seek Him. The more rested you are in Him, the more you are able to see a clear picture before you. Let us remember, sometimes the answers lie not in the destination or outcome, but the process itself…isnt it?

A cuppa coffee

March 21, 2009

Breaking away from the usual routine at starbucks outlet@ Raffles City, an interesting coffee heritage tour was conducted for the patrons. We made new friends, had coffee sampling, food pairing and were served with free ‘popiah’ at the end of the session (courtesy of the outlet manager).

Coffee, being the most sought-after drink of the world ought to deserve our attention to understand how the ‘bean’ could charm and pervade every walk of life around the world.
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Coffee grows between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricon, in particular Latin America, Africa/Arabia, Asia/Pacific..
  • Latin America coffee are celebrated for their traditional, well balanced flavours, often evocative of cocoa or nuts, as well as their crisp, bright acidity.
  • Africa/Arabia produce coffee with flavours ranging from berries to exotic spices to citrus fruits, and aromas offering subtle hints of lemon, grapefruit, flowers and chocolate.
  • Asia/Pacific is home to many coffee treasures, from the assertive, herbal spiciness and depth.

4 fundamentals for coffee brewing at home:

  1. Grind [fine(over extraction)/coarse (under extraction)]
  2. Proportion
  3. Water (92-95 degree C)[cool for 5mins after boiling]
  4. Freshness

Sampled 2 types of coffee:

House Blends

  • Medium-bodied blend of Latin American coffees, featuring vibrant acidity & clean, well-balanced flavour.
  • Complimentary flavours: Nuts, Apples, Blueberries
French Roast
  • Starbucks darkest roast; hearty blend of Latin American coffees with a light body and intense smoky flavour
  • Complementary flavours: Toasted nuts, caramel
  • ‘Desserts’ coffee, that goes well with chocolate!

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thanks to the starbucks staff who bothered to share some knowledge with us..today i will leave this place ‘armed’ with a little more to share about coffee. 🙂

Be Inspired.

March 20, 2009

Business of Inspiration

Watched a video some time ago on Bill Hybel’s message on ‘inspiration’, felt its really a timely reminder for the season. Be Inspired!

How to stay inspired:

  • Stay clear on your calling from God
    • If you aren’t clear – calibrate your spiritual disciplines
  • Leverage your spiritual gifts that God has given to you
  • Encourage members of your team to be inspiring
  • Read books (bios)
  • Make it a point to rub shoulders w/ exceptionally inspiring people now & then
  • Participate in events that are exceptionally inspiring
  • Paying attention to physical disciplines
    • 20% energy gain by doing this
  • Pay attention to your work environment (inspiring decor!)
  • Inspiring recreation outside my work world
  • Practice daily spiritual disciplines to keep my faith fresh
    • Very inspiring when God reveals something to me
    • Don’t stop until you get new revelation from God – it is worth it
    • Saturated reflection – read a portion of the Bible for a year

    What’s the best way to inspire those around you?

  • Be inspired yourself!
  • Connect everyone you lead to a compelling cause
  • Learn the inspiration language of the people on your team AND SPEAK IT!!!
  • Identify & reduce every de-motivating factor around you
    • Common de-motivators
      • Confusing/lack of benefits
      • Lack of clear job descriptions
      • Bad work environment (offices)
  • Celebrate every sign of progress toward your teams goals

Source:
http://ryanday.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/final-session-bill-hybels-whatever-you-do-inspire-me/

What inspires you today?

Bridge Over Troubled Water

March 20, 2009
Bridge Over Troubled Water
P. Simon, 1969

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
When you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Gift of Solidarity

March 18, 2009

2nd int’l conference of character development through service and experiential learning (17-18 March 2009)
Day 2.

every experience left unreflected remains only as an experience. like what david kolb (1984) taught us in his experiential learning cycle (elc). in a nutshell, upon experience, reflective observation has to be made, with enough information and theories, abstract conceptualisation can take place which will lead to active experimentation [ie.acting upon] of the ‘new learning’ and the cycle goes on and on…

AM keynote lecture by prof tim stanton

very insightful lecture by prof, reiterating and helped to frame some of these important element of what service-learning (s-l) hopes to achieve esp in the area of leadership develpment. the title of his lecture: S-l & leadership development- learning to be effective while learning what to be effective about.

powerful story of jon wagner’s encounter, that prof stanton chose to illustrate his pt on the effect of service-learning:

jon wagner who is one of the early pioneers in the research & development of s-l, (my, bear with me of the lack of details to this story due to the deteriorating retention ability of my memory..) was in an occasion when he was caught unprepared with zero confidence to conduct a social engagement with a group of patients.

‘intimidating’, embarrassed, awkward were the words to describe the situation jon was in amidst the people whom he intended to ‘serve’. however, there was this one man from the group of patients who decided to walk out of the setting, went down to the hospital garden, plucked and assembled a small bouquet of flowers, adjourned back and guess what he did?

yes… he offered jon wagner the bouquet of flowers. needless to say, jon was dumbfounded.

so what’s the moral of the story?

according to prof tim, that gift was a gift of solidarity.
jon by being extremely vulnerable amidst a group of ‘vulnerable people’ (so-to-speak) together with no precedence in such experience for that man, has actually “sucked himself out of his own vulnerability” to help others.

…..take some time to allow the essence of the story to sink in…

so what is service? was the ‘real service’ being incredible vulnerable?
whose needs are primary? how would i know if our service are affective and people are well-served?

perception. question of perception is what prof tim suggested we should ponder about.

so much more to share on what i’ve learnt! but …indeed there’s a time for everything, at his hour my eyelids just do not seemed to be willing to submit to the instructions of my heart.

more to come in my next post. good nite!

Dirt? or Possibilities?

March 16, 2009

2nd int’l conference for character development through service and experiential learning (17-18 March 2009)
Day 1.

always enjoy going for conferences. They are gatherings of like-minded people, people who share similar passions, interests or compelled by a cause deemed worthy. strangers in the gathering by the exchanges of smiles 🙂 and the transactions of firm handshakes have already encouraged me that this journey i walk, i do not walk alone. :))

so glad to meet many old friends, ex-colleagues, ex-teachers who are really dear to me, people with whom i should have made more effort to spend time with.

melissa kwee from halogen foundation, delivered an inspiring keynote speech that set the tone of the entire conference. My takeaways are these..:

  1. ‘Restoring’ the spirit of service- the word ‘restore’ suggested that within us, by the article of faith believe that innate nature of serving others lies within each of us.
  2. The presence of the marginal, the underpriviledged clarify our call which is to serve.
  3. Learn to un-learn (cheem rite?;) but its cool..) -what are the things we should un-learn so as to learn?
  4. Learning from the people whom you might not see again.. whom you just bumped into on the streets, whom you have bought your breakfast from..
  5. Constant questions we should ask ourselves: why do i do what i do? who or what inspires my journey? why? how can i be more like the one i admire? what advice would they give me? who am i? where am i going?
  6. Sometimes its not about searching for the better answers (since we will not have all the answers..) but perhaps we should search for better questions… not being anxious about the unknown, but just keep going..maybe uncertainties are ok?

Thankful to have attended 2 of the concurrent workshops which turned out to be unexpectedly beneficial.

First, was by Perry Lane from University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His delivery was charismatic, vibrant and very insightful. reminded me of what my mentor mentioned, in training or facilitation, its about the being, not the doing. the person himself, his disposition, his confidence, his stories with excellent articulation of his thoughts and values, his humor etc etc would be the very essence of how a learner from his workshop would gained much from.

Takeaways from his workshop on servant-leadership & service-learning: a curricular model for leadership education. (Leaders of Tomorrow, LOT):

  • Lane’s leadership education model is a holistic approach which entails 1. servant leadership, 2. legacy tree, 3. transformational learning (disorienting dilemma), 4. service-learning (service proj), 5. medium’s used (esp films)
  • Tweak of the ‘Best Test’ of Robert Greenleaf’s servant leadership model- how would those who serve AND those who are served be ‘wiser, healthier, freer and more autonomous’
  • Journey East (Hesse) [Leo & the League]
  • Post programme findings- “90% feel making informed decisions is important” -awareness is the beginning of an active citizen
  • “doing your best to be your best”
  • “servant leaders must not forget how to follow, becos its where we started”
  • Being ‘crazy’ about the things you are passionate in, and be dare to be ‘crazy’
  • Using fun, fun fun experiences!

last thought to leave you with:

Recognising our own inadequacies but potential therein.

soil in your hand
Dirt? or Possibilities?

God made it grow

March 14, 2009


I planted the seed, Apollo’s watered it but God made it grow.”1 Cor. 3:6

2 things Paul reminded us to do before He assured us that God is the one who gives the growth:

1. Planting
They that sow in tears shall reap in songs of joy.” (Ps. 126:5)
Have our past disappointments hindered us to plant and sow in perservance? His promise to us is that those we sow in tears shall reap in joy, focus on the hope He has put upon your heart.

2. Watering
What does ‘watering’ entails? Water gives plants nourishment, sustainance and growth.
Everyone needs a word of encouragement, an act of kindness, a little push in our journeys.

the bible does not say “i planted the seed and i watered”, not i but Apollo watered, “two is better than one, a chord of three is not easily broken..” Eccl 4:9
a community is what we need to be effective in planting, in sowing, in watering, in reaping.

if the focus is on us, we will do all the things with our own strength, but Paul reiterated that “neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but God made it grow.

take heart, my friends. know that “each will be rewarded according to his own labor” , and no one, but He gives the growth.

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What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.1 Cor 3:5-8


love is a ‘verb’

March 13, 2009

“Love is a ‘verb'”
– a constant reminder by a mentor of mine.

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor 13:1-3

Words and works without love is nothing.
what then is “love”? Thank God for His words, He spelt out a total of 16 characteristics and traits of love for us.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails..”

weighty is the word love, isnt it? note the words marked in red, they are all verbs, and in front of them is the word repeated- always.
we can never come to a pt where we say that our love for someone else is “perfect”..
but we will start to grow in love (in the many different aspects of it..) only when we make a commitment to love someone.

yes, it starts only when we make a commitment – which is a deliberate effort (ie. action ie verb again). check: is our love for someone conditional? only when the person is lovable? fulfil a certain requirement? what is then the basis of our love for someone? or should there be any basis at all?

Is there perfect love?

Yes, to me, only God’s love for us is perfect.

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God expressed His love for us by giving Jesus as a sacrifice for us, the cost of His love is His death on the cross. He loved us, therefore He died for us. This is the only way, we can be redeemed and receive life, life in abundance.

so much about love, but there’s still so much to be explored..there goes the reminder again,
love is a verb. God acted on His love for us. what am i doing to those whom i said i love? what are the actions to be taken, words to be spoken to show our love?

unexpressed love does not do any good to both parties.. one reason is when the love that is feared not to be reciprocated crippled us to act upon our conviction. then again, we will have to come back to our basis for loving..

to me, closure paragraph of every blog post is tough to craft. especially for emo post such as this,hence i shall leave it as it is, and attempt again to explore more on the topic of love…cos…

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”