I Almost Published My Own Book

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Remember the time when you were young, innocent and above all things, bold? You dreamt big dreams. The world was your oyster, and you believe you can do all that you want, be all that you can be and it will come to pass? And then, the world beat the hell out of you? Last year, I thought of publishing a book about Singapore. The book would chronicle 50 nostalgic stories of places, activities and occupations of Singapore.

This project seeks to rediscover the places, occupations and activities that older generation of Singaporeans can identify with. These places, occupations and activities are nostalgic and showed Singaporean’s way of life in the past. In each of these stories, we look at their significance and learning points from the past. Eg. Cobblers – difficult trade but was a means to get their children through university, people who lived in kampongs – despite living with different ethnic groups, the ‘kampong’ or community spirit is strong, etc. This coffee table book is a platform for older Singaporeans to connect with their past and for younger Singaporeans to learn about the amicable traits of the past.

All in all, what we seek to subtly communicate with our readers through this book is that while many of these cultures iconic to Singapore may cease to exist in the future, there is a beautiful attribute to learn from each and every single one of them. In them show the immensely rich Singaporean culture, the shared experiences Singaporeans have regardless of race and language, the aspirations we have for a better tomorrow, as well as something every Singaporean (community spirit, diligence, etc) of today can learn from.

Introduction of project that was sent to SG50 Committee

I was so excited at the beginning and commenced on the project even though I did not have any concrete plan to bring it to fruition. I whipped out my camera and went places. The project took me to places and introduced me to people I wouldn’t normally speak to have I kept to my daily routines. I took photos of Singapore’s last Kampong and interviewed a former resident. I interviewed one of Singapore’s last remaining traditional ice-cream vendors. I spoke to a newspaper vendor auntie. I interviewed a stall owner and took photos of famous Lavender Food Square which has been demolished sometime last year.

Later on, I got to know about the SG50 funding campaign. I pitched for funding and after a long and arduous process of emailing back and forth, I received news that the project was approved and I would receive up to 75% funding.

By then, the initial excitement has already long but died out. While I had already established an agreement with a local publisher, I have to face a very real problem of funding the remaining 25% and manpower issues to meet the National Day deadline. After my last potential sponsoring company decided not to fund the project, I decided to pull the plug on the project.

That, together with other things happening in my life made me feel terrible. Ah, quarter life crisis. I thought that I could be a somebody in the PR industry but I am not. I thought that I could start a social enterprise but it did not come to pass. I thought that I could start a business but that did not work out (yet) either. I thought I could be a missionary/full time worker but I am nowhere close (yet). But the biggest mistake I made was letting the world beat and trample all over me, telling me “You’re done. You can’t do it. You can’t be it.You just can’t.”

But if my faith was anything, it was my saving grace.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

This was one of the verses I remembered since my youth. I always imagined a ‘me’ that’s 10 (or 20) years older coming to me and telling me, “Don’t worry (so much), mate. Everything will work out just fine.”

I think that if we allow our mistakes, failures or even missed opportunities define our level of success, we will be mentally crippled for sure. Who defines the standard of success anyway? Where is the yardstick to measure against so that I can determine that “I have lived a full life”? Is a self-made millionaire considered a success? What about the billionaire then? Is the cleaner then considered to have ‘failed life’?

Don’t let the world tell you what you can or cannot do, who you can be or not be. If you are defeated in your mind, you have already lost. But if there is anything we could do, it would be to ‘not give up so easily’.I personally think this is one area I need to work on as well. I will end with a quote from my favorite author.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Maybe one day I will publish a book.

“Fathers, don’t piss your children off”

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1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Ephesians 6:1-3

Parents play a paramount role in the growth and development of their kids. For mothers, while their responsibilities may vary from mother to mother, the mother is indisputably responsible for carrying the child for 9 months, and bringing him/her into existence. The father however, has the principal responsibility to care, provide1 and to lead/guide his family. The relationship between the father and child is placed with utmost significance in the Kingdom of God such that God Himself liken His relationship with us to that between a father and son.

Bible Scholars inferred that husbands/fathers automatically assumes 3 primary roles; the Prophet, the Priest and the King2. The importance (or lack) of (good) fathers can be observed in our generation where single mom families or families with absentee fathers are highly dysfunctional, resulting in problematic/dysfunctional families and kids. Furthermore, instead of providing wise council and teaching their children (in the ways of the Lord), fathers are hated by their children. Rather than coming under the tutelage of their fathers, the furthest fathers can get to in conversation with their children is “Have you eaten?”, “Need money?” or “Come home early”. Why?

Parents often quote Confucian value of filial piety to their children – or shove it down their throats – while Christian parents quote Ephesians 6 to their children. *Much similarities has been observed between the values advocated in Christianity and Confucianism. The father works especially hard to provide for his children’s every need. However, why is it so that his children detest him?

People often quote Ephesians 6:1-3, but they often forget about the adjacent verse;

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

It seems that the God of the Bible has already foreseen ahead of time that fathers will aggravate their children, and children will hate their fathers huh?

Do fathers not love their children? Of course not. But could it be that their actions and words negate the good they have done? While monetary provision/support is important, emotional, mental (and spiritual) support is just as important. “But when I was young, my father treated me like this too. He said and did the same things. That’s what I was taught about fatherhood.” You must understand that this is the 21st century. Not the 70s, 60s or 50s. Not 100 B.C or 100 A.D.

“That’s my way of loving them.” Times has changed. Call it strawberry generation if you like, but this generation – and how they function – is here to stay. Fathers, you can’t simply be the Provider that provides the dough and say “I can do whatever the hell I want, say whatever I want to say because I bring in the dough and I am your father and that is for your own good.” It just doesn’t work in this century.  And precisely because your father taught you in such a way that you know to be displeasing, all the more that method of parenting should stop at his generation. Not because you don’t love and honor your father but because you love and honor your own children.

“FOR A COUPLE OF hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less and less to his sons–not just less power but less wisdom. And less love. We finally reached a point where many fathers were largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons… Being a father is life’s fullest expression of masculinity. But for many males, life consists of a search for the lost father.”

Abstract from ‘Fathers and Sons’ article on Psychology Today 3

Here’s my own story. Growing up, I was extremely fearful of my father. I was ‘taught’ to ‘behave’ for not doing so will result in several physical chastisement. As I grew up, I grew in resentment of my father to the point of hate until I was gloriously saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. But even as a believer, it is not easy for me to love and forgive. Today, the physical chastisement may no longer be applicable, the verbal toxins continues to grieve my heart. I have to choose love over hate every single day.

Does my father not love me? Absolutely not! When I wanted an iPad and a DSLR, he got them for me. But he made me feel terrible (about myself). I am human, and what I feel will be a result of his actions and words. I do not write this in condemnation of my own father for that will be sin onto me. My point of this entry is to share my point of view of (Godly or lack of sound) fatherhood and its consequences in human society. Pastor Paul Scanlon from Life Church wrote a fantastic book titled ‘I am not my father’. The main gist of the content can be condensed into two main points;

  1. I am not my father – If I have a father who may not have performed their duty to love, protect and care for their children, then I am not my father. Not that I hate my father, I love my father nevertheless. But I do not subscribe to the methods of my father. I do not become like my father. I become a better father to my children just as Christ has called me to be.
  2. I am not my father – If I have a father who was exemplary in his teachings to me, and has performed his duty to love, protect and care for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs, I honor him for it. But I am not my father because every good father would wish for their children to excel and do better and parenting than they will ever do. My father would have wished for me to become the bestest father to my children than he will ever be.

Fathers enter fatherhood with the birth of a child. But fatherhood is also an art – that takes a lifetime to master.

Fathers, you have a holy calling by the Lord to train your child (in the ways of the Lord – Proverbs 22:6). But your words and actions may be provoking and as a result, creating distance between you and your children. Fathers, before you say or do something, think about how your children will feel. Unfortunately, your words and actions have the potential to negate the good you have done. But isn’t that the same for everyone else? Someone once said, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” Some people are living under the same roof but the distance between them is like from planet to planet. That is NOT what God called for you and your children.

“Becoming Father the Nurturer rather than just Father the Provider enables a man to fully feet and express his humanity and masculinity. Fathering is the most masculine thing a man can do.”

Abstract from ‘Fathers and Sons’ article on Psychology Today

Fathers, you may ask “Is there hope in the restoration of my relationship with my son?” Yes there is. The thing is, no matter how strained the relationship currently is, all children longed for an intimate relationship with their fathers deep down in their heart – even if their outward demeanor says otherwise. Because God Himself has sanctioned that His relationship with us His children is that of Father and child, there is hope.

Fathers, ask yourself honestly today, what are the actions and words you partake in that ‘offends’ your children? Is it extremely necessary for you to say or perform that action – not doing so will result in significant monetary/life/health damage? If yes, is there another way you can bring your good intentions across? If your answer is no, then can you agree to disagree? Or is there another alternative or method to bring your advice across?

The truth is, your children are learning how to manage you as their father as you are learning how to manage them as your children.

Sons and daughters, you may ask “Is there hope in my being able to communicate with my own father?” Yes there is hope.

“.. the Old Testament ends with a great prospect – a time when there will be reconciliation between children and their earthly fathers, and by implication – between human beings and the Perfect Father.”

Abstract from 100 Verse Bible: The essence of the world’s most popular book 

How do I take active steps to do so? First, you got to pray to God. Chances are, we all have bitterness and unforgiveness against our fathers. Prayer softens our resolve to bear those grudges. Pray to God the Perfect Father who heals your hurts and helps you to forgive. Prayer helps us to look at the situation objectively, thus allowing us to remember all the good our fathers have done for us. Recognize that your father is also human and he will err. But it does not remove all the good or isolate his love for you.

Next, pray for your father. He too will have had hurts accumulated in his own life. Pressures of life (work stress, financial stress, health problems, or even his relationship with your mother, etc) which we do not know about can also affect him adversely. Pray for him. If you are the only believer in your family, it will be significantly difficult to reconcile but impossible is not in God’s dictionary, neither should it be in yours. We always quote “When one in the household is saved, the household will be saved” or “You are the salt of the earth, light of the world”… time to believe in what you preach.

Good fathers (read: dad) are not extinct. I believe that current strained relationships can be restored and new fathers can be better fathers than their own fathers. I believe that the dysfunctional family unit is an attack by the devil. Dysfunctional family births forth individuals who make bad choices. The dysfunctional individual affects the family, which in turn affects the community, affecting the marketplace, then affecting the society, country and the world as we know it. But Jesus is our Hope! The family unit must be restored and made strong so that change can be present one level at a time until society is transformed.

Lastly, may I invite each and every one of you to pray this simple prayer with me that the family unit in Singapore will be strong and that God will bring reconciliation for fathers to children, children to fathers.From Fathers to Dads

Father God,

Thank You for being our Perfect Heavenly Father.
In You there is no blemish or spots.
Thank You for gloriously saving me.
I pray that You will come and bless the family unit in Singapore,
Reconcile fathers to sons, sons to fathers,
Reconcile fathers to daughters, daughters to fathers.
I rebuke the attacks of Satan on the family unit.
Devil you have no place in the family unit.
Father I pray that You will receive Love and Forgiveness in every household.
I pray that You will empower every Father to live out his calling as Prophet, Priest and King.
In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen.

Footnotes and References

Although in modern times, women are drawing higher salaries and taking up higher positions in the workforce due to the feminist movement; hence commanding a greater voice in the family unit.

Fesko, J. Every Father a Prophet, Priest, and King. Retrieved from http://www.genevaopc.org/articles/theology/93-every-father-a-prophet-priest-and-king.html

Pittman, F. 1993. Fathers and Sons. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/fathers-and-sons

4 Stibbe, M. 2010. 100 Verse Bible: The essence of the world’s most popular book. UK: Monarch Books.

Gone Thy Moments Irreversible

150801 Gone.

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After shooting for the company, I was stranded at the bus stop [due to the rain]. You know the ‘aha’ moment when you spot a good subject to shoot? I had that when I saw this domestic helper and dog.

But I was 1 second late. The helper moved away right after I clicked the shutter. I was disappointed because that would have been my only good shot for the night. After taking a second look, I thought it couldn’t have been better [even though it looked a bit eerie]. I liked the fade out effect of my subjects which spoke of a moment that passed.

I call it ‘Gone’ because it reminds me of the moments we missed that is irreversible and can never be replaced. A significant moment in our friend or family member’s life, a moment we could have took a step of faith, or the chance to embrace the unknown.

Last week I went over to my neighbor’s place to deliver a Christmas present for Ian. Meng told me that Ian will remember me now that he sees me more often (plus the toy). In a sense, people are like children. We got to learn to break* schedules to catch and participate in the important moments in our friends and families lives for we can neither replay the scenarios nor catch back those moments.

To Forgive is not to Forget

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Had the rare opportunity to go home early last Monday. Caught the sunset. It was beautiful as usual; no haze could dampen those colors.

I’ve been thinking of the word ‘Forgive’ all week (among many other things I think about, haha). In the Christendom, we always say “forgive and forget”, or “you can only truly forgive when you truly forgotten.”

I often hear believers and even leaders say that one has never truly forgiven unless one has forgotten the others offenses. And for years I subscribed to this notion because there is much truth in it. The bible says in Isaiah 43:25 that God blots out our transgressions,  remembering them no more. As believers, we are called to be like Christ. That is to emulate Christ and His attributes. Jesus says as our sins are forgiven and He will even remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12), we are to do the same for our counterparts. The condition for our salvation, for our forgiveness is also to forgive others who have sinned against us. As such, we are to forgive and forget.

But is it? What if you’re a victim of abuse? What if you suffer a detrimental (financial or property) loss because of somebody? What if you lost a loved one to a murderer? What if you were dealt a great wrong from someone whom you used to trust? How is it right to demand of these victims to not just forgive that person, but to even forget his or her wrongdoing?

As a believer, I advocate forgiveness without a shadow of a doubt. To not forgive and to hate is to drink poison and hope the other person dies. However, I feel that forgiving someone doesn’t always have to be tied with forgetting his or her (grave) wrongdoing. There you have it, another contradicting statement by a Christian – me. But see, not everything is in shades of black or gallant white. In life, there’s a lot of grey and not everything can simply be segregated into black or white.

I picture myself as a victim of a great wrong, to forgive is hard enough. How can I actually forget?! When Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven (an allegory to forgive always), He didn’t said anything about “forget seventy times seven.” Being a Christian is not to say that “I forgive you and will even forget the great wrong you have done to me. We can be bestest friends from henceforth and live life happily ever after.” We need to forgive, yes, no questions asked. But depending on the gravity of the wrongdoing, we forget not.

I remember an incident nine years ago – after being a believer for about 4 months, I raised my hand at a cell group meeting to ask God to help me to forgive a family member and to help me release the grudge I held against him. Tears rolled down my eyes as I was being prayed for. I thank God that when I was asked to forgive, He didn’t ask me to forget because a decade of wrong can’t simply be blotted out!

To the victim, the pain is real and it is not [easily] forgotten just when he or she wants to. I [would like to] believe that God knows and respects that we are imperfect and are unable to forget as He does. Everything that happens in our lives; the good and the bad, we can’t simply just delete these scenes from our lives like a video clip being edited on Windows Movie Maker. The irony of life is there will be the good, and there will be the bad moments where we might feel so indignant for the wrong done to us. But that is also the beauty of life, for the bad also serves to illuminate the good, to develop our character, to make us wiser peoples.

To forgive doesn’t mean we will forget the emotions and the pain that was felt as though it will just go away – it probably won’t. But being a Christian means we need to learn to forgive.

We forgive but we forget not – because what’s done cannot be undone or simply be swept under the carpet.

We forgive but we forget not – the pain that was felt cannot be erased, but the experience can be used to strengthen our heart and even to help someone else who went through a similar predicament (see Paul encouraging New Testament believers with his three-time shipwreck, snake biting, his receiving 195 stroke of the lashes, and multiple prison experience).

We forgive but we forget not – at one point we could still be friends on a very nominal level, but that’s as far as we can go.

We forgive but we forget not – so that we can also see how God has moved in our heart and through our heart to draw out mercy of such magnitude it is able to actually forgive the offender of the great wrong he or she has dealt to us.

We forgive but we forget not – so that we recognize that in our weakness we are made strong through Christ, to the point of even loving our offenders in spite of their trespasses against us.

But at the same time, we need to forget in some areas too.

We need to forget our vendetta against the offender.

We need to forget that the offender ‘owes’ us.

We need to forget how the wrong has caused us to hate, to be disillusioned about life and people, or to be cynical.

We need to forget how we thought that (this offender and) this offense will stop us from moving on with our lives.

We need to forget our condemning mindset that the offender will never change.

We need to forget, to disassociate and isolate the pain and offense away from the offender.

Even so, it is still difficult to just forgive our enemies. But Jesus says that we can obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16) to help us to forgive… and to forget.

There are so many people who need to forgive, and who need the Lord, but do not come before Him because they have a misconception that they need to forget in order to qualify. I wish I can tell you that God knows the pain you felt, He has also felt the pain you felt. God is not expecting you to forget that that ever happened. Let Jesus do the heavy-lifting, let Jesus do the forgetting. But Jesus does want us to forgive, Jesus does want us to ‘forget’ – to move on from the unfortunate incident and to live an abundant life.

Forgive abundantly, forget wisely. In all things, choose life, choose love.

Disclaimer: The contents in this entry is solely the writer’s thoughts and beliefs. It does not reflect the shared sentiments of any organization or community that the writer subscribes to and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Rain

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Rain speaks of times of refreshing, providence, abundance, victories, blessings, breakthroughs, whichever you need in your current time of need. The Bible says He has given us the former rain faithfully, that speaks of the ‘first fruits’ of blessings – past victories, blessings and breakthroughs. But you got to understand that that is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s just appetizer. The teaser of the banquet spread. God says I will bring the latter rain. That means God is not a one hit wonder. This is important because when we understand God’s character and intent, that helps give us a framework at how to do life and how that life will work out.

Most importantly, the latter rain speaks of fulfillment (of the promise). In the context of those days, farmers needed rain for their crops to grow. Hence all the talk about rain. The farmers plant their crops, the ‘former’ rain came, they reaped a bountiful harvest, but they then prepare the ground for another time of sowing – and reaping! They don’t ask if the ‘latter’ rain wouldn’t come. They have full assurance that the rain will come. Likewise, have the assurance that God will come true for you. His latter rain will come. But you need to make preparations for it too. Add God into the equation.

No Limits with Nick Vujicic Sound Clip

A recording on Nick Vujicic on happiness, family, dealing with disappointments, faith and love. I really think everybody should listen to this. We all have problems and woes of our own. But sometimes we need to lift our eyes off our circumstances and realize there are people who are far less fortunate or privileged than us but are more happier and are doing far more than us. “A great healing medicine for the heart is going out and serving someone.”, Nick Vujicic. If you’re feeling lousy about yourself and your current circumstance, go volunteer at a home or something and you will realize that you are far better off than so many people. We can all be happy with what we have. Sorry about the advertisement sounds and my occasional noise in-between.

Be blessed.

Note: I do not own this sound clip. This clip serves to inspire for daily living and may not be used for reproduction of any kind.

My notes during the television programme:

1. Attitude of gratitude
Know your value – who you are 
Don’t devalue yourself [or allow yourself to be devalued – by words of people]
You need to tell your children that they are beautiful and they are beautiful.
[If not they are going to listen to what others out there tell them about their value]
Keep the truth of your value in you and in your family first
“Love is communicated face to face when I spend time with you”
Time is your greatest asset
Encouragement brings you closer. Discouragement brings you further.
Tree of lies grows a fruit of lies
Greatest emotions above all emotions is fear
F.E.A.R. – False evidence appear real
F.A.I.T.H. – Full Assurance for all things In The Heart

More than an excellent speaker(enter your job _______), be a excellent father/husband
Take care of your home before you take care of your work
How can you communicate hope unless you make sure your homegound is safe and healthy?
Love saves.. And produces faith
Faith is trying to reach a potential when you cannot see
Courage is strength when you feel you cannot do it
Courage doesn’t wait until you’re not afraid.
Purpose ignites courage
It starts with love, then faith, then courage.
Through courage you try to find the faith that you cannot see.

1. Attitude of gratitude.

2. You don’t know what you gonna achieve until you try it.
3. If I fail, try again.
If you need to let the dream die, let the dream die.
Don’t let yourself die.
The greatest things in life are not things.
While you have goals, don’t let your achievement define you
While you look a certain way, don’t let your appearance define you
Be the best you, reach your full potential
Take one day at a time, and live your best right now
Keep trying, you don’t know what you can achieve until you try
Thomas Edison failed 9,999 times until he succeeded in creating the lightbulb.
But he said “I didn’t fail 9,999 times, I just found 9,999 times that didn’t work.

4. Failure equals education
Some failure is expensive
Words are powerful.
Build people up with words
Don’t ever for once entertain the thought that you’re a failure

Money can’t buy hope
Was that a failure? Yes. Was I a failure? No.
5. Obstacles equals opportunities

6. Dream big
7. Never ever ever give up
8. Faith

ABCs
The truth to your value, your purpose, your destiny
You will not reach your potential until you seek it.
You will not seek it unless you know it is there

My top 3 priorities is:
My faith.
Family.
Mission.

Faith is actually trusting that God has a plan.
It doesn’t mean telling you the ABC and the XYZ of His plans because if you know that you don’t need faith.

I don’t want to live by my strength because I fail me everyday.
But He will never fail me.

On Disabilities and discouragement:

A great healing medicine for the heart is going out and serving someone

Plant seeds.

Focus on what you do have.
Who you are matters more than what you can do.
Develop the maturity between things that you can change and things that you cannot change.

It’s okay to ask for help.