Monday, December 28, 2009

Dying to Live

How many of us are dying to live well?

We hear people saying they're dying for a piece of chocolate cheesecake or something. But dying to live? Hey, I'm already living it up, they say. But O really?

What does it mean to live well?

Napolean Bonaparte once said: Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.

Interesting to note that Napolean relates dying well to living well. To fear death is to live defeated and ingloriously... and ultimately, to die NOT just once, but daily.

AS we face the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, BEFORE we consider what resolutions and goals we will make... shall we for a moment ponder over the fears in our life that has caused us to flinch and dodge and duck and flounder and feign and fault and .... the whole of 2009, my gosh!

Unless we hold up our fears to scrutiny, we may plan and plan and plan, but in vain, because we would lack the guts to see through the beautiful plans we draft.

For until we are ready to face down our pretensions and futile preoccupations, we would have allowed, before 2010 even dawns on us, another year lost.

Napolean Bonaparte also said: Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the latter than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never.

And my friend, time is lost when we vacillate in the mirage of false hope that we can live well at the expense of a lost cause and no cost.

What is our cause? What cost are we willing to bear under?

Are we really dying to live? Or happy to plainly exist?

The Apostle Paul declared: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is This It?

Reading Titus Loh's blog planted a smile on my face. The little I know of him helps me picture the journey he must have gone through the past months, if not years. And now, for some flash in the dark reason, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel he thought he was in, and decides it's time he makes his move.

So he exhales with a breath of fresh vigour and say, I will resurrect my blog!

For the rest of us who go through the winding trails in life's tortuous treks, once in a while, we ask the perennial question: Is this it?

What next?

As I celebrate my birthday at the stroke of midnight, and cross over to the next phase in my life, I too ask this question, what next? Is this it?

Any wise thoughts out there to a cryptic question or two?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Now?

Just when I was beginning to ease into life in Melbourne with my family.... I was reminded that I began this year staring at deception as never before. It's here.

Not that you can see it. But it's here.

I was up in Shepparton and around the area for about 35km radius... delivering building samples... that I got sobered up as I drove and walked the streets. Lots of thinking time. And when I got back to my nice hotel room, tired but alert, thinking...

Night cometh when no man can work.

Watch and pray my friend, for what truly matters... and ask yourself: What now?

On the way home, I stopped by the town and saw this fascinating display of cows. So I got down and snapped with my mobile. Last shot... what a reminder... what now?

What next?

You'll see soon enough...

A Mona Lisa cow?

A cow from hell?

A ferocious tiger cow?

Spider man cow? Cool...

Oooooh.... can you guess this one?

Iron cow?
And Ooooohhhh....
A smart cow!

What a gaudy looking cow?

And a carnival cow?

I like this one best. Iron cow.
But what's next?
What kind of cows can we find out there?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Winter's Coming

Winter's coming and so is pig flu virus.... but thankfully it's not pandemic.... yet?

Snow has fallen around larger Melbourne. This would be our first winter in our new home. With temperatures dropping to 7 degrees and freezing water gushing out of the taps, I shiver a the thought of attempting my first dive in winter. Or should I.

Back in 2004 when we visited China and Korea, we hiked up a two peaks in Sokcho and Jeju Island and braved the cold amid cutting wind on the Great Walls of China, I was casually wearing a singlet while the locals wrapped themselves in pullovers and jackets with hoods and gloves.

Fast forward to the future, which is now, I tried to do the same, and while my ageless spirit says no worries mate, my aging Asian-made body says no way man!

Somehow, the cold is now colder than previously. And with body aches and tendonities straining at every joint.... I realize that this is it.

So should I be doing things I did previously. Why not? Should I be doing things the same. Mostly not. Should I be doing old things in a brand new way? Definitely. Should I be doing new things? Yes.

Winter's coming for sure this season. And I will be living it a whole brand new way....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

War Criminals on the Loose

Hamas militants must be sniggering at latest news reports of Israel coming under fire for deliberately targetting civilian infrastructure in Lebanon.

It was reported that human rights group Amnesty International has called for a UN investigation on Israel's indiscriminate attacks on homes, bridges, roads and water and fuel plants.

Apparently, if Israel intelligence cannot accurately direct their highly sophisticated firepower to pick off militants holed up in the suburbs of normal peace-loving civilians, then every Israeli attack becomes a war crime.

What is puzzling is Amnesty International doesn't find it criminal that the militants were using civilian suburbs as a safe base to launch attacks into Israel territory.

Common logic dictates that if gunman holds a family in a car hostage (whether the family in the first place consented to being held hostage or not) and drives around shooting pedestrians on the streets, the police will have to take out the gunman as quickly as possible, even if it means potentially harming that family.

Some people may argue that the safety of that abducted family is paramount. But while the debate goes on, more pedestrians are being mowed to the ground by sporadic gunfire. By which time, if the police fail to act swiftly, more people would have died on the streets than the family of three or four in that car.

What is interesting is, the police is seen as the criminal, but the gunman who holds that family hostage doesn't become the issue at all.

Perhaps my simplistic perspective of this state of affair does not adequately explain the international scenario that spills over every day for the past decades. But then again, what's the point?

Should Amnesty International call to attention Hamas militants and their associates' war crimes or is is perfectly acceptable that these freedom fighters continue to hide behind the skirts of every daughter, mother, and grandmother in Lebanon, as they fire away in relative safety?

In any case, perhaps that the ploy of the militants. To draw the ire of the international world everytime civilians die. At the expense of Israel.

Do I sound like a zionist?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Almost Five Months

It's been almost five months since we made our move to Melbourne. Almost unbelieavable that our first month of vacationing in the Yarra valley and bushland regions have eased through a scorching summer into the routine of everyday life in cool autumn.

I am thankful our three girls have taken in the breadth and length of their initial transition so well. Janielle played the first time in church on her violin with the worship team at Casey Life International led by Charlene, who introduced a song she wrote. Really a beautiful piece that I can't see any less than those done by professional Christian song composers.

And Janna has also started on her violin and what is wonderful is she's enjoying the experience.

Jirene is just soaking in all the fun in school and the new learning curve that is unlike her previous homeschool.

We are praying naturally for them to move on either to select schools when they could focus on music and other pursuits that would prepare them for life and ministry instead of going through the usual regiment of earning their degrees to earn a better living.

And so we will anticipate God's further providence as His promises unravel down the path this year.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Real or Plastic Olive Branch

US President Obama Barrack hands the olive branch to Iran in a move to seek "the promise of a new beginning," appealing to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic since taking office on Jan 20.

His major shift seems to overlook Iran's hard line stance and former president George Bush's isolation policy - targetting new grounds based on mutual respect and concerns - that does not take into account previously irreconciliable differences.

How he hopes to bridge this divide is yet to be seen, but he is banking on the noble intents of a great civilisation - that is, if Iran chooses do demonstrate this "true greatness."

And should Iran agree to continue down that path of nuclear progress, with the promise to build rather than destroy, would that agreement itself be enough, and how would this progress be moderated should it's final end lead to anything but destruction - particularly that of Israel?

Bearing in mind, Obama's departure from Bush's "cowboy diplomacy" is not accompanied by any specifics as yet; on the contrary, it is punctuated by his sombre acknowledge of the dire situation that "won't be resolved easily."

Can peace be achieved when it is tied to the existence of Israel's future?

Will this be the pre-cursor to an attempt that will turn awry?

Or it is simply one insignificant gesture that may slip into nothing by the end of Obama's first 100 days in power.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Deal

A sombre Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said: "We have red lines, we won't cross them."

Earlier, Israel had offered to free HUNDREDS of Palestinian serving life sentences for suicide bombings in exchange for the release of ONE captured Israeli soldier, who was seized by Palestinian militants in 2006.

But the proposals were rejected by Hamas who demanded the release of 1400 prisoners including hard-core militants deviously instrumental in previous terror attacks on the nation.

Olmert said: "The proposals were rejected. No others will be offered Hamas."

Already, Israel's offer was ridiculous considering the fact that many of those they were prepared to free were a threat to national security. If they had agreed to the list demanded by Hamas in addition to the hundreds earlier offered, Israel would have faced a bleak future knowing that many of the murderous militants would return to inflict severe loss and terror to the already beleaguered nation.

This would be Olmert's last stand, a final effort that would mark his last days in office two weeks away.

The collapse in peace talks could deal a serious blow to Egyptian-mediated negotiations to cement a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas following the Jewish state's 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended two months ago.

Olmert must soon hand over to incoming right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is widely assumed to be less generous than Olmert on the matter, having pledged a tougher line against Hamas.

Meanwhile, Olmert comes under fire for vacillating on his pursuit to free St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit.
What would you do if you were him?

One soldier for hundreds of militants? Hardly a fair deal. But Hamas believes Israel would bow to its demands as it had in the past under similar conditions. So the impasse continues.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What makes you angry?

US President Barack Obama chocked with anger in a rare flash of public anger at a White House event with owners of small businesses, vowing to block multi-million-dollar bonus payouts by bailed-out insurer AIG as he confronted intensifying public anger against Wall Street excess.

He demanded: "It's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less 165 million dollars in extra pay," when Massive losses at a London trading division have already forced the US government to pump some 150 billion dollars into AIG, leaving the company 80 percent owned by the taxpayer.

Although there was little that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could do legally to stop the bonuses, because they were promised under AIG employment contracts before the insurer was bailed out, Obama said Geithner has been asked to pursue every single legal avenue to block the bonuses.

What makes you angry?

In the Gospels, Jesus was recorded to have made a whip of cords to drive out of the temple courts those selling cattle, sheep and doves, and exchanging money.

To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!"

(Jn 2:17) His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

Here is a glimpse of when Jesus was angry.

What consumes you?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Financial Woes the Least of Our Problem

Most people caught up in their own little web of worries think - naturally - that money, or the lack of money, is the source of their migraine and stomach ulcers.

But little do they know it is the least of their problem.

What IS the problem?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke concludes on CBS's 60 Minutes that "We can't count on recovery." He says, "We don't have the political will - the commitment - to solve this problem."

Is he speaking about the United States or the rest of the world? In any case, this is the problem.

But even this problem is the least of our problem, simply because it is one that may lead to the ultimate problem - the solution - if indeed we will live through it in our generation.

Incidentally, The Nostradamus Code: World War III (an interesting read that I am not necessarily vouching as truth) says earth changes will take place that will help the Antichrist's drive for world conquest with serious economic problems persisting along great social unrest, contributing to the ease with which he can seize power.

So what do you think is our problem?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sons of Fortune

Started a couple of days back on Jeffrey Archer's Sons of Fortune. Inspiring. The idea of destiny and fate arising from simple choices we make and those others execute leaving lasting imprints in our lives.

Courage, Wisdom, Conviction. Clearly a scarce value in today's political arena of survival of the shrewd and ruthless.

The days ahead of us are numbered. And we best learn to come to Him who assigns the stars in the sky and breathes life into mere mortals. That we may learn what truly matters and choose what is left of life's outcome beyond what we can choose that we may decide what can still be decided and not hand over that last shred without a care, without a fight.

2 Cor 3:18 says, "And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We can choose like Moses to walk with God. We can choose to go up to the mountain of the Lord and behold Him who is the great I AM.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Food Food Food

(Front left to Right) Pastor Ken Teo, Yasmine Tan, Marc Chow, Yours Truly, Chong Fu, Ambrose Cho, and Henn Drik Low.
OCF President, Tara Ong Vi Ling, was the photographer.
Last Thursday, Pastor Ken and I, together with church leader, John Tan, and youth leaders Nick and Voon, met up with a bunch of 20 odd returning and new students at Monash University Berwick for delicious piping hot Vietnamese cuisine at Springvale.

As we chowed down the food with lots of chit-chat and laughs, I couldn't help but think about the bunch of youth leaders and friends that we left back home. How we used to meet over food and laughter as well.

And Wednesday cell with Pastor Geoff's group revolved around pot-bless dishes. Food again!

On Friday, we joined another of the church's cell at Melvin's house. And guess what - pot-bless again! Food, Food, Food!

On Sunday, after service, we went out with a different group of other students to Sofia that served huge, and I mean huge, helpings of pasta and pizza. This time, Jessica and our three girls join the feast. The girls ended the meal with foot high multi-flavour ice-cream which they scooped down in no time with Claire, Ken's daughter, in the lead.

This Thursday, we are going to have fun with the varsity's Overseas Christian Fellowship group playing some outdoor games. I wonder, if there'll be more food again.

And this Saturday, we're going to chill out over Asian BBQ at Ken's house. Would you believe it, the Monday after, the church is going have a picnic at Lysterfield Lake during Labour Day holiday! More food!

In fact, that's how it has been the past couple of months.

Now that brings us to the obvious question: Does food matter? Can we do without it in our Christian get-togethers? Did you wonder that the Lord's Feast was also called the Agape Feast? Back then, it wasn't with a wafer and tiny weeny tumbler of ribena? It was a sumptuous meal with wine and real food!


Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Prometheus Deception

Reading another old book, flipping through the final pages of one of Robert Ludlum's best sellers. This one was out in 2000. The catchy title's lure was easily exceeded by the author's captivating style that drew me into mesmerizing plots and sub-plots of every conceivable double and triple conspiracy and counter espionage.

That's so much like world we live in today. What seems to be may not be at closer scrutiny.

As mentioned previously, this year will usher in unprecedented deception.

What struck me most about the book was how the mastermind networked with world leaders using satellite imaging and the finest computer technology to monitor every individual's life movement down to the personal moments. Reminds me how our lives would be replayed in the next world to show accounts of how we have lived every moment.

Unlike the Big Brother watching version which was limited to audio-visual recording, God's version included a display of every thought and motive. Wow!

Heb 4:13 says, "Nothing is hidden from Him. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

I wonder.... if that doesn't matter, nothing else does.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Eleventh Commandment

Finally read my first novel after more than 15 years. You wouldn't believe it huh?

Jeffrey Archer's The Eleventh Commandment published in 1998. I supposed from here on, I'll be picking up more readings of various sorts to rev up my fancy and spur me on to different things as we moved into our new lives in Melbourne.

By the way, the Eleventh Commandment is - Thou Shalt Not Be Caught.

Jeffrey Archer in his usual flair paints the exploits and escapades of a CIA spy who lived by the code "never to be caught." Interestingly, many of us like the spy live double lives, hoping never to be caught.

And like the old adage, "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely," reminds us that most people live civilly for fear of being caught. The stark reality is those rare few who cross the boundary have a story to tell. None would have expected to be found out. The worst of the lot usually have reasons to justify their actions.

What would you do if you know you can do it without any dire consequences?

The flip side of the coin is: For those who us who choose to live by God's code, we are free of every commandment simply because we have been set free from the law of sin and death.

We ought not to be living the way we choose for fear of being caught; rather, because we believe that's the right way.

This brings me to one particular quote: Mahatma Gandhi said, "You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power; maybe not in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do noting, there will be no result..."

Recently, the senior pastor of Crossway Baptist in Melbourne quoted someone in his preaching about sin and suffering: He said instead of enjoying favor and blessings when we do the right thing, we ought to be prepared to suffer when we do the right thing. How wise.

Naturally, there is a cost to doing the right thing. The Bible speaks clearly about persevering in doing the right thing. James says when you suffer for doing wrong, you deserve it. But when you suffer for doing the right thing, rejoice!

What matters in the coming days is to bear up under suffering. At least, to prepare to face the consequences. Paul said: I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me (and may I add: "if I can take the consequences.")

The Eleventh Commandment is NOT about NOT BEING CAUGHT (punished) doing the wrong thing. It is about being CAUGHT (punished) doing the right thing.

So let us spur each other on even as it is called TODAY that he who does evil continue to do evil, and he who does good continue to do good. For the time is coming when we will give account to Him who sees all things.

Friday, February 13, 2009

When Fire Rages On

The news report copycat arsonists inspired by attention given to the recent bushland fires could possibly be lighting more fires. With 181 people dead and scores missing amid 21 wildfires blazing across Victoria, I couldn't help but wonder how all this is hardly felt in Malaysia and other parts of the world.

When tragedy drags on anywhere in the world today, people seemed less disturbed than they would have been 10 years ago, or possible decades earlier. Over the years, we have all been subtly made hardened by the amount of large scale deaths witnessed on satelite news.

In the midst of all this, we are simply too preoccupied with our own world of challenges.

When the end draws near, how many of us would raise an eyebrow or look up to note the threat and change?

What fire are we battling and how can we prepare for the ultimate fire - the fire of judgment - that comes on the earth?

May God have mercy on us all.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sad News After Three Months

I didn't tell any of the leaders I worked with that I had set aside three months from the time we left Kuala Lumpur for things back home to surface. That will be a little sign to me.

Of course, I already knew ahead of time the outcome.

But three months it was, for grace to take its course before the next window of change opens.

And now exactly three months on February 3, it all came up.

Sad. But it was to be.

Those who understand will know what I am saying. I will not go into details because what must next take place will take place.

May God have mercy on us.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Three Months

It's going to be three months since we made our journey Down Under.

It's time to move on.

I will be reconstructing this site and blogging again as promised.

Before that, remember: First. We are facing deception as never before in this next season. Second. We have to turn around and get moving next out of our rut. We are going to be stronger and bolder than ever if we are going to make it. And we will by God's grace!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Year of the Donkey

Today is the last day of first month of the year of the ox.

Many people are thinking of grabbing the bull by its horns to face this year's challenges.

Others are thinking of kicking the bull in the butt because it has been far from a bull run since the year kicked in hibernating.

Grabbing or kicking, it's NOT the solution. Going to Feng Shui experts and soothsayers or foretellers operating within the fold churches is NOT going to work.

To cut a long story short, it's going to get worse before it gets better. And when it finally gets better, it's time for the worst.... yet to come.... before the end.

It is time to SEEK the LORD!