Thursday, March 30, 2006
Made in your image
Yet so far from perfect
A concept so hard to grasp
But continually try to make sense of
Struggling to understand
The mysterious ways in which you work
A conclusion hard to make
Thus none is drawn
Longing to hear your voice
In the good times
And especially in the bad
But the arduous journey continues
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
For those that I keep in touch with quite frequently (whether overseas or in NZ), what I'm about to put on this post won't be anything new. But for those that I haven't had that opportunity, this will be a good chance for you to have a bit of an insight of what I've been up since being in NZ.
I'll start with uni. I'm currently in my final semester. If I don't screw up, I'll be graduating with a Diploma in Culinary Arts in June later this year. Being the geek/nerd that I am (who would have thought, eh?!), I'm still loving being at uni and learning even more. At the moment, we are in the midst of completing the Patisserie component of this semester. After the Easter break we'll finish up with the Hot Kitchen component. Though it is some what exciting that I will be finishing up my studies and heading into the real world, there is some reservations too. But I'm sure it'll be great. I'm definitely looking forward to never having to hand in assignments anymore! They suck, big time...
A kinda flow over from uni is work. At the moment I work at Celsius gastrobar. It is a restaurant/pub that opens 7 days a week from 12-3am. I've been there since before Christmas last year and I'm enjoying it. Though I haven't learnt much in terms of new items of food, I have gained some valuable speed during service. I enjoy that rush of adrenaline. Sounds crazy, I know, but I guess you have to be in the industry to know what I mean.
So what's in stored for after I'm out of uni? I don't know... The only person that can answer that questions would be God himself. Some ideas I have are to just hang round NZ til this time next year. During that time I'll be working, gaining experience and building up my CV. Then when March 26, 2007 rolls round I'll be putting in my application for a NZ citizenship. Why? Because on a NZ passport, it'll be a heck of a lot easier to work in Europe, USA, Canada etc rather than on a Malaysian passport. I know I'll never hear the end of it from my Aussie mates but what can you do? I've had to endure it for 2 yrs now so I'm quite immune to it.
Gym. Well, at the end of last year I finished up at Howick Gym. This was the gym I was coaching at when I first arrived back in 2004. I didn't seem to be getting along with the head coach and many of the other coaches. I received little to no support from them either. Despite having some amazing girls, I had to make the decision to leave. It was hard leaving the girls but for my own sanity I had to.
However, I am still coaching. This year I started with Botany Gym. So far it's been great. I am coaching what I've wanted to coach-girls aged about 7-9 yrs old, doing competitive gym. These girls are great! They are well behaved, talented and just an absolute joy to coach. Unfortunately I have only been able to coach them for about 7 weeks. I've had to put coaching on hold for the rest of the semester due to a nasty uni timetable. But I'll be back with a vengeance next semester. I can't wait!
How's the saxophone going? GREAT! I'm still loving it to bits. I'm hoping to get Rhett to start this band of his so I can get more practice too. Apart from that, I'm hoping to get good enough to be able to play on the worship team...But we'll see.
Last but not least, church aka cessioncommunity. This place has been my source of sanity for the past 2 yrs and will continue to be so for many more years to come. They are an answered prayer. When I first decided to move to NZ, I made a pack with God. I said that if I had to move to NZ, which I didn't want to but had to, I wanted to have a bunch of people I can call friends. And they couldn't just be acquaintances but true friends. Having gone through a phase of sifting out who my true friends really were when I first moved to Melb, this was rather high on my priority list. So I can now safely say that through being part of cession, He has answered that prayer.
At cession, I am apart of various different ministries and relationships. This year I took on the role of ministry leader to cessionchow. I have been involved with chow since I've been in NZ and have now been given the opportunity to lead this awesome ministry. It is by no means an easy task but it's a learning experience, and a good one at that. I'm looking forward to see what bigger and better things chow will get up to.
Another ministry I'm part of is cessionconnect. I have always loved singing but never had the opportunity to have lessons. But through being part of connect, I've been able to hone my singing skills and develop a real heart for worship. Authenticity is such an important factor in worship but I have never been exposed to that until I came to cession. I've always had a desire to write my own songs and being part of connect has given me that opportunity. I'm grateful to be apart of this team.
At cession, we have various cell groups that run through out the week. I have the privilege of meeting up with a great bunch of girls fortnightly. Our cell group is led by Kristen and she does an amazing job. It's somewhere where we get together to learn about His word but also keep each other accountable.
Other people that have played a significant role in my life these few years are Melissa and Sarah. Melissa has been mentoring me for about a year now. We meet on a regular basis and we basically talk about anything and everything. I feel so honoured to be in this relationship with her as she offers guidance, support and most importantly genuine love and concern for me. Nothing more I can ask for! And Sarah...Well we've known each other for bout 9 months now and we get on like a house on fire. We are so different yet so similar. Aside from being each other's friend, we are accountability partners. We check up on each other regularly, making sure neither of us are about to kill ourselves. We are also there for each other to off load on, having a shoulder to cry on and to share good times together.
So, it's been another eventful year filled with many ups and equal amount of downs. Keep checking up on the blog for any latest news! Here's to another crazy year to look forward to.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
So the series continues...This week it was The Devoted Life: They devoted themselves to GRACE. Brett delivered an awesome message so much so that it hit a bit too close to home. But that was a good thing.
There are many ways of describing grace. The rather popular one is God's Riches At Christ's Expense but one that I much prefer is grace described as undeserved favour. I just think that it sums up the whole idea of grace quite well.
Brett narrowed down the different types of people and put us into 3 groups: the sensualists, the perfectionists/control freak & idealists. And he then went on to expand on how each group falls into the trap of mis-using grace.
Sensualists have this concept of grace being for them and them alone. And the existence of grace is for their pleasure and it's something that they feel. So these people tend to fall into the trap of intepreting everything they feel grace even if it isn't. I don't really connect with this concept of mis-using grace coz that's just me. But the group I fall into, which wouldn't surprise those who know me one bit, would be the perfectionist/control freak.
For me, I guess it is partly personality and partly cultural. Coming from a culture that is traditionally poor and having had to work for everything they wanted, it's been drummed into me that I shouldn't expect to get everything I want just coz I wanted it. I have to work for it, earn it. And being a perfectionist, it's the same. I earn what I want, I work for what I want. You don't receive anything just coz you think you deserve it. And put perfectionism and culture together into me, it's a double dose of madness.
With God's grace being something that is not earn, it's a tricky concept for me to grasp. Grace is something that we don't deserve yet we have been given it because He loves us enough. When things are fine and dandy, I find it hard to accept grace but it's even harder when things aren't going so well. But how grace works is a complicated matter. To receive grace you have to show grace but to show grace you have to receive grace.
Crazy, I know! So how do you go about this crazy-ness? Well, it's a constantly learning curve for me. I'm part of various relationships with various people and in these relationships it's where I have been given guidance to learn to accept grace for what it is and also to give it.
As for how idealist mis-use grace, check out Rhett's blog. He posted a really good post on this.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Lately my head has been filled with a billion thoughts running around my head at a billion miles per hour. So I thought I'd best put it down on paper (well, metaphorically) and try to makes sense of it all.
Last nite those at cessioncommunity had the pleasure of hearing Mr Frank Ritchie speak. He did an amazing job speaking on the topic of The Devoted Life: They devoted themselves to community. It came from a person so passionate about community that he was a great choice to bring that message (not that Melissa & Brett don't already do an amazing job but it's nice to have some change every now and then). So who better to bring that message to us than Frank, himself?!
As Frank brought us the message, there were two things that stuck with me-the aspect of love within the community and how that play a part in the way we interact (directly and indirectly)with those around us each day.
I'm sure that many of us know people that struggle to find God and his love. And you endeavour to help them out by praying for them, helping them sieve through possible problems etc etc but have you ever asked the question, "How much apart of a community are you?" or "What selfless act have you done for someone today?". As funny a question as that may seem, I am being quite serious.
When you find yourself in a bad space, you may think that the best thing for yourself at the moment is to solve your problem and you'll be sweet and be able to go on. That however, isn't usually the case. Personally, what I have found to work is to show someone else some love and that satisfaction you get from giving love normally speeds up the process of you getting out of that bad space coz you are in turn receiving love. Thus feeling much better and being able to show more love to others. This may seem a little tricky for you to understand but it all comes back to the idea that if you want to receive love you first have to give it. For this to happen, you have to be part of a community because it is not a one way thing between me, myself & I but rather a multi-person (if that's a word) interaction.
God is love and we are created in His image, therefore we should be love! So to answer your question, "Where do I find God and his love?"...in each other.
So I've completed the Network Course. Network is a course that one would take part in if you are interested in finding out what your spiritual gifts are. However, don't expect to find a clear cut answer once you've finished the course coz that's not how it works. The way it works is to eliminate the ones that are definitely not your gifts, narrow down the possible ones and explore them.
Each believer is given at least one gift so it is very possible to have more than one. After the course you go through coaching to keep exploring your possible gifts and help them develop so you can use them in ministry to better serve others. The purpose of spiritual gifts is to honour God and edify others so it is a requirement to use your gift to serve others and glorify Him.
I really enjoyed the course. So what are my gift(s)? Well, I'm still kinda not very sure bout some but others it's quite clear. I ended up with
- Administration (no surprise there!)
- Helps (I enjoy lending an extra hand every now and then)
- Craftsmanship (not quite sure how it fits in but quite possible)
- Leadership (This one was 5th on my list but Brett said to keep exploring it to see where that fits in with ministry)
- Hospitality, Giving, Teaching (all were pass no. 5 on the list but should be looked at)
Was a great time all in all but am looking forward to the coaching even more! Should be interesting, to say the least.
chow has been low on team members lately and this issue has been on my prayer list every nite and day. Last nite this prayer was answered! The Venter's have been coming along to cession for a few months now and I think have decided to stick around. Sean is a bit of a foodie, so I've been told, and last nite he volunteered to be part of chow. What was so great was that I didn't have to ask him and make him feel obligated to be part of chow. He actually came up to me and asked to be part of the team. I was so grateful!
Because this has been an issue for me and the team for a while now (and will probably continue to be one as cession continues to grow) I was starting to get really frustrated and discouraged. But last nite really reassured me that He is good, His plan is perfect and I shouldn't have to worry. And also, cession seems to be the place that whenever there is a need for positions to be filled, people turn up. So I just have to trust that, in His time, I will have a complete team.
At ECW, we've been exploring the Life Stories of Jesus. In the first week we took a look at The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast and yesterday The Parable of the Sower. So far it's been good. I'm really enjoying this series.
So why, out of the blue, am I blogging about a message during 10am? Well, there was something in the scripture that caught my eyes/ears during the readings. We read from Matt 13:1-22 but the verse that did it for me was v.15 "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them".
One of the many tell tale signs that you are a gymnast is very heavily calloused palms due to the friction that occurs while training on the apparatus. The more you train the harder the callouse gets and you kinda don't get to see the bottom of your palm again til the much desired rip happens!
How does a gymnast's palm relate to Matt 13:15? Well, this is how I see it...There are seasons in our life that we may go our own way and in situations like this, tend to harden our hearts to what God might be trying to say to us. First is starts of as a conscious effort to close our ears to His voice and our eyes to His guidance then it eventually becomes natural and you don't even have to try coz you just don't hear or see Him anymore. Like the callouse building up on a gymnast's palm, first you have to tough it out and just train through the pain while the callouse builds up but soon it's hard enough that even if it hurts you don't feel the pain anymore (til it rips!). But if we decide to soften our hearts, change our attitudes and be wiling to be mould by Him, your eyes begin to see what He wants you to see and you ears begin to hear what He is trying to tell you.
Friday, March 10, 2006
All-or-nothing thinking underlies many of the features if unhealthy perfectionism. That line kinda sums me up quite well. I like things in black and white. I hate it when it's grey coz there are so many possibilities. And I get very anxious in situations like that because of the varying possibilities, there is also more chance of getting something wrong. Being a perfectionist, getting something wrong is not an option.
There's always this constant worry about people judging you (though many a times they probably aren't). This thinking revolves around the want and need to please others, keeping them happy. This comes down to the reason why perfectionist do what they do-control.
Unhealthy perfectionism stems from many different sources-broken homes, controlling & unreasonable parents, constant change of environment and the list goes on. In situations like these the potential perfectionist is not in control. This creates angst and a need to be in control. As time goes by, as the need for control increases the potential of becoming an unhealthy perfectionist increases, too. Unless the potential perfectionist addresses this issue early on, it does get worse and becomes harder to reverse the cycle (though it is possible).
Thursday, March 09, 2006
- My friends, the Pywell's, had a recent addition to their already lovely family. On Thursday, Feb 23, baby Owen was born. He's brother to Leia. I'm very sad that I am not able to be in Melbourne to share with this lovely event. Unlike Owen, I was able to spend time with Leia when she was born coz I spent the weekend with Matt & Felicity the weekend of Leia's birth. Like many in Melbourne, the Pywell's have a special place in my heart. I came to know Matt through gym and Felicity through Matt. Since I've known them, they've always been so loving and constantly have their home open to me (especially when I was at the boarding house). So guys, congratulations and I really wish I was able to see Owen.
- Rumour has it that Katherine, my room mate from Yr 12, is making a trip across the Tasman to visit me in June!!! I'm so excited. We haven't seen each other in 2 years and though we catch up over the phone on a regular basis, it's just not the same. This visit will mean a lot to me-she'll be my first visitor, it's Kath's first overseas trip & it will partly make up for my trip to Melbourne that didn't happen back in Nov. I'm also looking forward to her meeting the friends I have made in NZ, especially the cession ones!
- Bin[ni], a friend from BUGS gymnastics, might also be making a trip to NZ later in the year. Another little something to look forward to!
I just thought I'd share a little good news from my end of the world...Au revoir.
Monday, March 06, 2006
We kicked off the series with a message on scripture. When we delve into scripture, we often started reading with ideas about what the passages could possibly mean (they may be right but they may also be wrong). This could be due to how you interpret the passage, you knowledge of the bible (or lack of), what others may have said about it etc etc etc. This can result in a very warped understanding of scripture and that's probably the last thing you want happening...
So what's the biggest thing you have to watch for? Context. It is extremely important to find out which context the passage you are reading is in. I guess, some things to keep in mind while reading scripture are the time frame, the culture, the belief system. These things all play a part in us understanding the scripture and where is may be heading.
If you haven't done much study on the bible, you may not know what to look for. I only did one year of very basic study back in Yr 12 so I often find it hard to grasp scripture. So, if you are someone that has done fairly minimal study, don't be discouraged. Go and seek for some clarification. Especially if you are part of a faith community/church, there will definitely be people who will be able to help you and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to hook you up with some resources!
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
In our daily walk, scripture reading is an area that most people struggle with. With our lives consumed by the busyness of work, uni, school, social life etc it is extremely easy to forget about His word. And I will be the first to admit that I am often guilty of that. It's so easy to say, "I'll do it later" or "I'll do it tomorrow" or variations of that sort. And soon, the thought remains a thought, instead of becoming an action, and eventually lost from the back of our mind into thin air.
So why have I decided to make scripture reading part of my "devotional life"? I guess, it one of the many ways that I tink we connect with God and also a way to get to know the scriptures better.
How have I found this process? Well, it's definitely been no walk in the park. Like anything, getting started isn't the hard bit...it's the keeping at it that's hard. But you keep pursuing it and eventually you push pastthe hard stage and it just beocme natural. However, we do have to beware of routine becoming meaningless gestures. See post on Perfect...A bad thing? Surely not.
So how do you find out what works for you and what doesn't? The answer would be: Trial and Error. There is no right or wrong way. We are all different so for each it is a different devotional, a different routine. And it is OK to experiement with diiferent routines and/or devotinals while you are searching for what works for you. It's kinda like looking for a faith community/church that works for you. You don't just settle for the first one you go to if you don't feel comfortable there. (I'm not promoting church hopping, this is just an example.)
It took me many years to find out what worked for me. Many years ago, while back in Malaysia, I started by trying to go from cover to cover and that didn't last very long. Then someone said to start from the NT and go from there and that didn't work either. So I then went off scripture readings for quite a while. The disappointment and setbacks just put me off trying again. Last year when we started our Lent series, we were each handed out a devotional journal and at the back it had a section on scripture readings. I didn't know what I wanted to give up for Lent so I thought why not take up something. So that's what I did...I started a daily routine of scripture reading using the guide from the devotional journals. It was going well in terms of keeping at it but it wasn't working out because I found it hard understanding some scriptures, especially OT scriptures. So I took a break from the devotional journal and tried The Word for Today by Rhema/((Life Fm)). I enjoyed that coz it made scripture easy to understand and applicable to daily living. I was using that for about 6-9 months. And bout a month or so ago, I decided to go back to the devotional journal and it's been going well. It took a while to get back into but I've found my groove.
So what results have I seen in myself? With doing anything on a regular basis, you have to be accountable to yourself. So by making sure I do my readings on a regular basis, it’s had a snowball effect into the other areas of my life. Some of the things I do are scheduling time to get homework done, take time out for myself, getting enough time to practice my sax etc. But more importantly, it’s helped with getting to know the scriptures better and being Christ to those around me.
I'd like to leave you with a challenge: If you don't already have a routine set in place for scripture readings, find one that works for you. And don't be discouraged if it takes a while to find something that works. When you do, it'll be well worth it!