Canvas

As I look upon the canvas on the wall,
The one that has a voice, a deep silent call.
My eyes are strained to capture every nuances,
But no, I can’t blink. It’ll cost me those chances.
Lash by lash, I found my eyes closed,
Afraid to reopen, will the light impose.
Not upon my life, but those around me,
My eyes have been unveiled, but what do I see?
This life is not mine, and neither this flesh,
It’ll soon rot, stink and even turn to ash.
I find myself incomplete, and yet made completely whole,
Knowing that people are friends and the world’s a foe.
The canvas is torn, but mended with stitches,
Each stitch so accurate, like melodious pitches.
The lens before my eyes now do not allow them to shut,
Touching the canvas, and going with my gut.
My fingers senses the texture of His plans,
But O God, what is it at the end?
Father, my heart cries out for a better vision,
Not the dream or goal, but my own perception.
I was blind, but now I see.
I was captured, but now I’m free.
I was in the dark, but now am the light,
But now I need Your grace to fight.
I was weak, but I am made strong,
I was proud, but You proved me wrong.
I know now that it’s not about me,
But it’s all about You, and who You’ve created me to be.
So upon that canvas that depicts my path,
May this seed that I am begin to rathe.

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Does God choose for us?

by Deidra Romero

I was at a bridal brunch recently where the hostess praised the bride for her patience in finding a husband and because she “allowed God to choose for her.”

It’s a recurring theme in Christian circles, a sweet sentiment, but is it true? If God chooses for us, then what role does obedience play in our faith? When we “let God choose,” are we canceling out our independent ability to choose grace?

But this goes far beyond a default Christian catchphrase. It taps into the ongoing philosophical debate of free will versus determinism. Basically, this poses the question: Do you have the ability to make independent decisions to determine your future, or are you merely a pawn in the game of destiny that has already been decided by your birth, genetics and socioeconomic status? Can you decide your future, or has your future already been decided for you by lots of independent variables all strung together?

For Christians, it’s of course also a spiritual issue. Can we decide our own future, or has a rigid path already been laid for us to which we must adhere? Is there room for free will, creativity and choice, or are we robots who pursue a pre-determined path? Do we get to decide, or have these decisions already been made for us?

It’s much easier to become deterministic—to believe that everything is out of our control and the end has already been decided. It’s easier to believe that God is choosing for us and that anything that happens to us, happens for a reason. This is how we comfort ourselves when things turn south.

The only problem with thinking this way is that it creates intense pressure. If you are, in fact, walking down the one path God has laid out and no other path exists, you can easily derail God’s entire plan by making one small mistake. God’s provision suddenly depends on your ability to be good.

Doesn’t that make God a dictator? Doesn’t that mean He has taken away free will? Walking with God suddenly becomes a multiple-choice test, and one wrong answer will wound irreparable damage. There is no room for grace in this story. Future blessings depend on your ability to be good and do good. When you start believing your walk with God is like this—choosing the right answer and not screwing up—you become incredibly self-righteous.

The classic counter-argument to this mindset goes like this: In order for love to exist, free will must exist as well. The two must live side by side. If you have love without free will, it isn’t really love at all but domination.

In Deuteronomy 30, the Israelite children were wandering in the desert, and during this chapter, Moses stops to provide a timely dichotomy. If I may paraphrase, Moses is saying to them: “You need to be obedient because God is going to bless that. And finding God’s path, dwelling in obedience is not that hard.” Moses continues in verses 12-14, “It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

I think this is one of the most empowering verses in the Bible. Verse 19 states: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” God gives us guidance on what to choose, but He will never force our hand—because without choice, love is impossible.

Think of it like this. In The Break Up, Jennifer Aniston’s character tells Vince Vaughn’s character in one telling scene that she wants him to want to do the dishes. It’s like God is saying, “I want you to want to follow My will and listen to My guidance and pursue holiness, but I will never force you. I will never choose for you.”

I’ve heard it preached before that once you become a Christian, you surrender all free will. Suddenly, you exist in a kingdom and you have no rights. But perhaps it is our very ability to choose that makes our faith all the more real.

If you choose something for your child, you can never take pride in his decision because he never owned it himself. This walk with God is not a multiple-choice test where the answers are already filled in. But perhaps it is an open-ended question, like Moses laying before the Israelites two different kinds of life. The end has not been penned.

So many times, trying to follow God seems like an insurmountable task and we find ourselves asking, “How can we be obedient? Where is this path? Is it up in heaven? Is it hidden out of reach? And who will go get it for us?” No, instead, it is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart. God has already given you everything you need to find His plan, decipher His will and follow Him. Now it is our job to choose life.

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Why Authenticity Doesn’t Go Far Enough?

(Source: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/why-authenticity-doesnt-go-far-enough)

BY JESSICA BOCTOR

There is an increasing trend to seek out the true, gritty and original. Is it a deep relational hunger for something other than Sunday-dress perfection that causes us to willingly expose ourselves to one another? Whatever the reason is, authenticity is in.

As I watch the trend, I wonder how long it will last. I wonder how transparency will sustain itself. What will the result of this experimentation in realness be? Will our children carry on the torch of clarity, or will they seek refuge from intruders into their hearts?

While the discussion and desire for authenticity abounds, perhaps we have neglected something else: intimacy.

And there is a critical difference between the two. Authenticity is the ability to accurately share what is going on in our hearts, souls and minds. It is the task of giving form and vocabulary to those things that are inside of us. Intimacy, on the other hand, is the level to which we share those things. It has to do with just how far into our hearts, souls and minds we let other people see. Authenticity is about clarity, and definition. Intimacy is about depth. And in Christlike relationships, we see both.

Imagine a set of Russian stacking dolls. As you look at the patterns painted on the outside of each doll, you begin to understand their shape. This is completely authentic—the pattern you see painted is what represents this part of the doll set. However, as you open each doll, you find a new doll underneath. This new doll is painted differently. This is still authentic, yet it’s a new level of intimacy. The more dolls you open, the better understanding you gain of the set you have. When you come to the center doll, you have seen each part of the doll set.

This is authenticity and intimacy working together. The problem the trend of authenticity faces is twofold. The first is our lack of understanding of the layers involved in getting to know people. Layering is a natural way of going about protecting and honoring ourselves. However, layers are often seen as “inauthentic”—masks that hide the true self underneath. Yet under this banner of genuineness, we strip ourselves of healthy boundaries. We forget it is more authentic to say, “I don’t think I should discuss this with you,” than to share inappropriately or out of bounds.

The second problem with boundless authenticity is its lack of respect for intimacy. Since there is not a wide discussion about the need to earn intimacy or the investment that intimacy requires, the process is quickened. We demand to see the center doll without spending time learning about the exterior dolls. Unguarded, we pry into one another’s lives without having earned the right to do so.

If this continues, it can lead to the creation of a culture that demands access to people’s hearts without considering the outcome. So, are we to abandon the vision of authenticity and all it stands for? Return to lives of plastic smiles? Most certainly not.

Here are three ways our culture can refine authenticity while allowing for a healthier understanding of intimacy.

1. Be a friend in real time. Very rarely does intimacy occur on Facebook, Twitter or the other hosts of social media. If there is no face-to-face interaction in your relationships, intimacy doesn’t have space to grow. Go ahead and check in with your friends in digital space, but also take the time to be a friend in real life. Invest your true self, not your cyber self, in others.

2. Consider time and place. Places of convenience, such as the grocery store, where you happen to run into someone, or the church lobby five minutes before service starts, are never places to have intimate conversations. If you want to know someone, invest the time to do so. If you want to get beyond the standard “How are you?” you’ll have to put in effort and time investment. Instead of being disappointed you didn’t catch up on the fly, be intentional—call up a friend and make a date.

3. Understand seasons. Just because you and a friend shared a mountaintop experience together at a church retreat 10 years ago doesn’t mean you have a right to know their heart today. If the relationship has not been kept, then you need to begin the process of earning your way into their core confidence again. Maybe you had a great season together in the past, but you need to respect that you are both in different places now—and that you have a lot to learn about how they’ve grown since.

The trend toward authenticity in our culture today is a good thing. It illuminates our refusal to settle for what is counterfeit or misleading. But, like all trends, it risks burning itself out. If we are as willing to go deep as we are to be transparent on the surface, perhaps we can put authenticity and intimacy to good use—and shape our relationships more in the image of Christ.

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Identity & Purpose

It’s been awhile since my heart and mind are at this state,
at the peak of my heart’s emotions, where my mind contemplates.
Words don’t really seem to capture it all,
it’s overwhelming, and yet a little dull.
A conversation, and I’m reminded of who I used to be,
a young-cheery-loud, extroverted me. 
Four years down life’s highway that shifted my paradigm, 
of purpose, identity and eternity’s time. 
Who was I, and who am I now?
No matter the answer, I’ve got my Father’s vow.
"You are My daughter, in whom I delight,
You are my creation, My bright shining light.”
 
My identity as His daughter has kept me grounded,
through these years, where insecurities pounded.
My purpose in knowing that I’m His very own creation,
has granted me peace and an everlasting vision.
There’s no one that I can compare myself to,
nothing to boast about, except what He can do.
Because I’ve grown to realise that I’m nothing without Him,
and yet, I am capable of everything, when I am with Him.
 

Through these past four years, I know that I’ve changed,
swinging from an extrovert, to the introvert range.
I never intended to be on the introvert’s end,
it was never thought out, as an elaborate plan. 
I never felt the switch when it was happening,
I only later realised much later, when I was reflecting.
It isn’t a necessarily ”good or bad” occurrence, 
it just was! Like any soda’s effervescence. 
 

I’m glad to look back now, and see the purpose of the pendulum’s swing,
I’m even more glad to know that it is all God’s doing.
But these current burning thoughts that feels like a bane,
is that I sense a change coming, all over again.

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spiritualinspiration:

“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). 

What are you doing to bring your dreams to pass? Are you getting prepared? Do you have clear direction? Are you taking steps of faith? Success is intentional. You may not know what steps to take right now, but God has a good plan for your life. If you’ll do your part to seek Him and begin to make plans to succeed, God will guide you. He will direct your steps. You don’t have to vaguely go through life. God wants to show you His plan. He wants to pour out His blessing on you and see you living a life of victory.

Decide today to make plans to succeed. Write down your goals. Make time to evaluate where you are in life. Evaluate your finances, your career, your relationships. Don’t go another week without having a plan for your future. Evaluate how you’re spending your time and money. If you’ll go beyond dreaming and start making plans to succeed, God promises He’s going to direct your steps. He will lead you down the path of His favor. He’ll lead you into increase. He’ll lead you into promotion, and you’re going to see your dreams come to pass and walk in success in every area of your life!

spiritualinspiration:

“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

What are you doing to bring your dreams to pass? Are you getting prepared? Do you have clear direction? Are you taking steps of faith? Success is intentional. You may not know what steps to take right now, but God has a good plan for your life. If you’ll do your part to seek Him and begin to make plans to succeed, God will guide you. He will direct your steps. You don’t have to vaguely go through life. God wants to show you His plan. He wants to pour out His blessing on you and see you living a life of victory.

Decide today to make plans to succeed. Write down your goals. Make time to evaluate where you are in life. Evaluate your finances, your career, your relationships. Don’t go another week without having a plan for your future. Evaluate how you’re spending your time and money. If you’ll go beyond dreaming and start making plans to succeed, God promises He’s going to direct your steps. He will lead you down the path of His favor. He’ll lead you into increase. He’ll lead you into promotion, and you’re going to see your dreams come to pass and walk in success in every area of your life!

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I woke up this morning, much later than usual. Rain was splattering on the ground outside my room. I turned and shifted in my bed (that now holds the shape of my body), and pondered upon my friendships here and back home, and my future.

Who am I close to, who considers me to be close to them? Why are they close to me, why am I close to them? How does friendships work, what’s the system or theory behind the decision of whether or not someone is close to you?

Future, that’s a big unknown, and it is drawing nearer and nearer at each waking day. It isn’t worrying me yet, but I know I’ll need directions to make a decision soon. Directions from The One.

I’ve realised that I don’t really like the unknown. Sure, I love adventures and stepping up and out of my comfort zone. But if staying far too long in the unknown is a part of it? Mm, I guess I’ll still go for it, just gotta grow a few more seeds of faith in my inner garden.

Faith, that word once again.
I’ll need to grow a vineyard of that.

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Tonight’s dinner was amazing! :) It was so yummy and I really want more of those baked potato slices with bacon. Really good work, chef Jake and team! 

Today, we met at the community room (it’s like the main hall) and had morning base-wide intercession, and then a whole day of testimonies!

Base-wide intercession was really interesting, loved it. We broke into groups of 3-4, shared about our family (we were told to bring our family photos to the community room too) and shared what we’d like prayer for for our family member(s). 

Testimonies took up the rest of that day, where everyone would share their background and history. But because of time constraint, we had a clock that was handed to anyone who was sharing so that he/she could keep watch of their own 10min. Haha :)

It was amazing to hear everyone’s stories, and how God came through for them in their struggle with drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, masturbation, BGR stuff, broken families, and many other different challenges. God is truly an awesome God who restores and rescues, totally blown away by how great God is in everything! 


I didn’t have much struggle to share, just because I’ve never been through much? So when I decided to share, I shared about dance and how God broke me down from it, about God telling me that living is Christ and dying is gain, and about other random stuff about Singlish, my two rings, and just Singapore’s culture. :)

Got to know a couple of girls better today too! :) Can’t wait to spend more time listening to the remaining testimonies tmr, and starting dancing and growing together :)

Tonight’s dinner was amazing! :) It was so yummy and I really want more of those baked potato slices with bacon. Really good work, chef Jake and team!

Today, we met at the community room (it’s like the main hall) and had morning base-wide intercession, and then a whole day of testimonies!

Base-wide intercession was really interesting, loved it. We broke into groups of 3-4, shared about our family (we were told to bring our family photos to the community room too) and shared what we’d like prayer for for our family member(s).

Testimonies took up the rest of that day, where everyone would share their background and history. But because of time constraint, we had a clock that was handed to anyone who was sharing so that he/she could keep watch of their own 10min. Haha :)

It was amazing to hear everyone’s stories, and how God came through for them in their struggle with drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, masturbation, BGR stuff, broken families, and many other different challenges. God is truly an awesome God who restores and rescues, totally blown away by how great God is in everything!


I didn’t have much struggle to share, just because I’ve never been through much? So when I decided to share, I shared about dance and how God broke me down from it, about God telling me that living is Christ and dying is gain, and about other random stuff about Singlish, my two rings, and just Singapore’s culture. :)

Got to know a couple of girls better today too! :) Can’t wait to spend more time listening to the remaining testimonies tmr, and starting dancing and growing together :)

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God, thank you for the community you’ve given me. Thank you for the love that You’ve poured into my life through the people around me. You’re so good Lord, so gracious. I praise you Jesus. I ask for Your guidance as I journey through these 7 months with You. Lead me O God into Your ways everlasting! Amen!

God, thank you for the community you’ve given me. Thank you for the love that You’ve poured into my life through the people around me. You’re so good Lord, so gracious. I praise you Jesus. I ask for Your guidance as I journey through these 7 months with You. Lead me O God into Your ways everlasting! Amen!

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Multiple edits, still rendered speechless.Just an effervescence of excitement,soon to erupt with joyfulness.Family and friends waves as I pardon myself to the gate,our eyes to meet again, only in April’s late.An imagination of tears trickling,upon my fear-stricken face.O Heavens, it’s you and I, please slow down my pace.Buckled up, the jet levitates,what am I to do, except to sleep and wait.I know now that it’s lonelier to leave,than to be the stayer that grieves.But alone, I stand in strength,amazed at how great You are, my only wind of breath.

Multiple edits, still rendered speechless.
Just an effervescence of excitement,
soon to erupt with joyfulness.
Family and friends waves as I pardon myself to the gate,
our eyes to meet again, only in April’s late.
An imagination of tears trickling,
upon my fear-stricken face.
O Heavens, it’s you and I, please slow down my pace.
Buckled up, the jet levitates,
what am I to do, except to sleep and wait.
I know now that it’s lonelier to leave,
than to be the stayer that grieves.
But alone, I stand in strength,
amazed at how great You are, my only wind of breath.

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Are you happy?

Have you really thought about that?

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Nuggets of thoughts and emotions


Taken at Pasir Ris Park. Sept 2010.

I don’t really like long posts on my blog, so click below:

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Almost there.

Almost there.

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1000scientists:

Sebastian Johnson

I can’t seem to sleep, again.

1000scientists:

Sebastian Johnson

I can’t seem to sleep, again.

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Bangkok; increased compassion


Picture taken while on the train to Phaya Thai station. Bangkok, Thailand. Sept 2012.

Bangkok was quite an experience! (:
Though we did not go to the river market, which I was really looking forward to, we had a blast shopping despite of the flood, bad traffic, and limited time. 

The moment we reached Bangkok on Friday, we checked in to a beautiful hotel (Sokusol Hotel) which was recommended by Aunty Christina’s friend, and conquered the streets of Siam Square. The day unfolded, along with clothes too. We combed through MBK, Platinum 1 & 2 and Chatuchak over the next 2 and a half days.

What stuck in me was what I saw at Chatuchak.

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