Monday, October 6, 2008

Making Time For People

My Typical Weekday

Get up
8 hours
Brain dead
Go home

No-life architecture student. I clock in the hours out of obligation, not enjoyment. I've been saying "No" and "Sorry" more often this year. No, I can't make it to your graduation, sorry. No, can't join you for dinner, I'm working. Don't disrupt my flow. Sorry.

I like to believe that friends understand I'm busy, especially when it's final year. Of course they understand. But after a while the friendship becomes defined by "No" and "Sorry", instead of "I'll be there". What kind of friendship is that? And when something comes up, they will say, "Don't ask Aaron, he's busy, he won't make it".

Don't abandon the people whom you call your friends. Make the effort to MAKE time for them. Work is not an excuse. I sacrificed social life for work and still I get mediocre results. The worst feeling in the world is to get bad grades and feel alone.

We are created to enjoy relationship with each other. I need to start by making time for my Best Friend. The One who gave me His life so I could live in Him and for Him. AND to minister to the people He has entrusted to my care.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life after the presidency

What's life like after serving as president of OCF? FREEDOM! No more early saturday mornings, no more having to tolerate judgement and gossip from people outside the committee. No more sleeping 5 hours every night for 3 months. No more having to put up a front of being in control when my whole world was crashing to the ground. Life was fantastic as a leader. I remember this one week last semester when my cousin got hepatitis A. Then I became very sick. My appetite was replaced with vomiting and nausea. I had an assignment due the next day. On friday, the numbers in OCF suddenly dropped. I prayed and cried out to God, "Why?" And then I had a financial disagreement with a certain someone, and was threatened to court. Life was an action movie, the only thing was that I lost the remote.

But God has been faithful. Through the blur of misfortune and circumstance, He brought newcomers who were eager to serve in OCF. Prayers were answered as those earnestly seeking eventually accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour. There were young members who grew and stepped up to serve. OCF bonded well and got to know each other better. I'm amazed at how God uses our sicknesses, late nights, tiredness, prayer meetings and assignments to accomplish His purposes. We can be amazingly talented, organized or intelligent but sometimes God allows us to fail in order to demonstrate Who's in control. In losing the remote, I found the Owner.

I need to stop believing in myself. That I can do things better. That there will come a time when I will be control. That I will be able to solve my problems. I need to believe in the One who knew me even before I was born. I want to know His plans to give me a bright future. How do I live under His Control? It's hard to let go. But I know that to not let go is to set myself up for the same failures, inadequacies and disappointments that unfold when I lean on my own understanding. Do I trust Him? I have my whole life to work out what it means to say "Yes".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thoughts about my beloved country

1. The prevailing race should not fear meritocracy unless they suffer from inferiority complex. The current situation (quotas and all) is no different to apartheid in which our own leaders stood up against but have been imposing on their own people by calling it a different name.

2. When you have ordinary citizens coming up with better ideas than the government on how to run the country, then you have a problem.

3. In trying to justify their behaviour, the government has to come up with even more ridiculous excuses.

4. As a foreign investor, I will not do business in a country that arrests people without trial or reason because I could end up like one of them. Well, some people say that even 'democratic, westernised' countries like Uncle Sam do the same thing. Do not forget that those actions have been criticised and successfully challenged in Uncle Sam's courts of law without fear of repression.

5. There is little ethical value in trying to topple a government through defections. It makes you no different than those who are in power.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Method vs Heart

A young Christian leader was given the task of inviting an elder to give a workshop on 'How to lead a Bible Study group' for his youth fellowship. That Christian leader emailed the elder, giving him points on what he should talk about for the workshop. When he phoned the elder for a confirmation, this was what the elder said (paraphrased):

Brother, I would like to comment on the points you sent me. These points focus a lot on method. On how to prepare Bible study materials. How to make bible study members talk. How to follow up the members. How to do things in general. Now this alone is very shallow. The fundamental principle of good leadership is having the right attitude. Of having the heart to teach the members, of wanting them to grow to be more Christ-like. Of having the desire to see people changed; the Word becoming meaningful to their lives. '

I admit that I am that Christian leader. That my life has been too focused on method. That my favourite words have been 'System, Strategy, Solution, Efficiency, etc'. No doubt these things are important. But what are the missing words that should come first? 'Heart and Attitude'. Youth Fellowship is not a corporation. If we focus on method but our heart is not right before God, we may have limited success, but we would not be doing His Will. His Will should be first in our lives, not right methods.

Yet it's easy to become too focused on the right attitude and forget that things need to be done properly for God's Kingdom to prosper. For this I have one word, 'Balance'. Lord, I pray that Your people will be wise in having a heart that is right before You first, then putting this right heart to action through the right methods. Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jesus and the environment

Yesterday, Ian and I were about to cross the road to David Jones when this guy from an environmental group suddenly came up and said, "Hey, are you interested in saving the environment? Have you thought about the Great Barrier Reef or the forests in Tasmania?" It got me thinking. What does this have to do with us students? What's the connection between environment and assignments, exams, relationships, or graduation? If you want people to listen, you got to relate to them first. Find out what makes them tick. Then you can communicate your message effectively.

Makes me think about how we sometimes invite our friends to OCF or church without thinking about how it would relate to their life. Or sometimes we make up reasons. "Oh because they have cute girls". "You'll make lots of friends". Not all reasons are bad but most of the time we miss the main reason of why they should come. It is to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We can't depend on OCF to have this relationship. But we can't know Jesus without fellowship either. Many people are turned off when they hear the name "Jesus". But these same people have needs too. For meaning and direction in life. For a sense of peace and security. As Christians, we should let them know that Jesus is the source of our peace, security, and direction in life. And we do not despair when disaster strikes because we know God is in control and he sustains us through his Spirit. And we show them this through our lifestyle. Then they will go, "Perhaps this Jesus is real, because my friend here is different. Maybe I should go to church to find out".

"…to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some". – 1 Corinthian 9v22. To make people listen, we must relate to them. Know their needs. Then we can get our message across.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Back in Adelaide

So many things have happened over the past week or so. The first week itself was a blur of happenings. OCF Welcome Night and Beach Day was a blast! So many newcomers turned up. I was asked, "Of all the newcomers, why did more non- Christians attend the events compared to Christians?" I'm like, "We are supposed to be salt reaching out to non salty people. How can we build up if we don't reach out first?"

I was also caught up in a legal dispute; Mr Will-not-mention-names called a solicitor. To all the people who encouraged me and gave advice, I am so grateful! This matter remains to be solved.

I got a slight fever which lasted for a day. Then my cousin got Hepatitis A. The person who informed me couldn't stop crying. I felt like a 911 operator, telling her to "Calm down, it's alright, an ambulance is on the way" and then calling Kazu the ambulance driver, "We have a code red situation down Henley Beach Road!" My cousin's leaving for home tommorrow, which is so unfortunate, because he had only just begun studying in Adelaide!

Overall, I thank God for teaching me the concept of Long Suffering. According to the preacher Paul Tan (not the guy with the car blog), long suffering is the ability to suffer for a long time. The key is to have patience. You cannot say, "God, please give me patience, I want it now!"

So I will not rush the process. By the time I get the answers to all these things happening one after the other, I would have grown more, spiritually and mentally. All I will do now is:

Trust and Obey
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to Trust and Obey

On a lighter note, a friend of mine posted me a link to this very awesome kid drummer on YouTube. His name is Tony Royster, and the video was shot when he was a 11. Man that kid can drum! His special bass pedal has 2 beaters instead of one. His coordination and synchopation beats all the mainstream rock drummers. Imagine if I started playing drums when I was 11 years old.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Last days in KK

Just came back from Shenanigans. My shirt smells like smoke. My heart's beating faster than normal. Feeling slightly tipsy. Drinking isn't prohibited in the Bible, but we shouldn't get drunk. I'm still sober, though I feel a bit high. Vodka lime was sweet. In times like these, it's good to know your limits.

Going back to Adelaide this saturday. This will be a big year. My sis and I will be graduating. Hopefully Josh makes it to Uni. I predict a few tensions this year, but they will be resolved through God's wisdom and common sense. KK has been a blast. Highlights include hanging out with relatives and close buddies. Wonderful feelings and memories.

Moving into a new place with new housemates. Pray that we would gel together and resolve any disagreements with patience and understanding...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My beloved country

Today I heard some interesting stories. My dad (he's an engineer) went to the relevant authority to get his proposal approved (the project is a retaining wall). The person in charge was like, "I won't approve this wall for you unless you do it my way". Dad was like, "But your way is too expensive. My client won't make any money. And I am the one responsible for this project." But the person was like, "I don't care. Either do it my way or I won't approve this proposal". Can you imagine my dad's frustration? This proposal definitely meets all the requirements but due to this person's attitude, the proposal wasn't approved when it should be.

Another story. There was a Sabah politician whose son was involved in a gang fight. One of the persons involved said he was going to murder the politician's son. And the son told the dad. The dad went out with a shotgun and killed the person who threatened to murder the son. A court case ensued. And this politician was like, "It was for self defence mah!"

Really makes me wonder whether I should come back here to work. It's the corruption and peoples' attitude in Malaysia that makes the Australian grass look greener. I hate prejudice. I hate abuse of authority. I love my country deeply. Yet when I look at the local Unis, 90% of the student population is taken up by Malays due to race quotas, according to mom. And you can't get any government contracts unless you are Malay. Look, I understand we should give the Malays a chance, I'm not against the Malays. But i feel this is unfair. No wonder my parents want me to work elsewhere. No wonder Malaysia is experiencing a brain drain.

Chinese New Year's eve. My mother's dinner specials are cooked lobster and shark fin soup. We wouldn't get this kind of food on normal days. Everyone's happy, especially my dad who can eat as much as he wants without my mom nagging him not to. I will not be able to sleep at midnight. Fireworks are supposed to be banned but this is Sabah, nobody cares. Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone!

Hehe guess what, my mother's car number plate is quite auspicious. Because it has the numbers 688 in it, which according to my mom, means "Collect double" to the Chinese. How "Stupidstitious". Haha!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I love long holidays. It helps me to appreciate life as a student. Plenty of time to hang out with good friends, eat good food and watch TV. Never felt so free in my whole life! But in the working world, everything changes. LONG office hours. Work to take back home. Financial responsibility. Life is peachy when you're a kid. Everything is taken care of by parents. All you have to do is study and play hard. That's why some kids say, 'I don't want to grow up!' But that's a rhetorical statement; you'll grow up anyway, unless you behave like a kid trapped in a 23-year old body.

Last saturday and sunday was really fun. Went to my cousin's wedding in Keningau. Got to meet my mother's brothers and sisters, and my cousins. Couldn't talk to all of them, especially those who can't speak English. But I love moments like these; it's a different feeling compared to being with friends, because you're part of an extended family. The bonding feels stronger. That's why family relationships are so intense. Family can really break you down or build you up. There are some friends whom you can forget. But the family remains with you until they or you pass away.

On the way back from Keningau, Uncle Steven drove down a slope on a road nicknamed the 'Mysterious Beyond'. To experience the mystery, Uncle Steven stopped the car. The car started rolling up the slope, instead of down. Uncle Steven continued driving down the slope and stopped again. The same thing happened. So weird! He parked the car in a clearing by the roadside and we got down to check what kind of mysterious magnetic force was pulling the car upwards. When we got to the road, we realised it was an optical illusion. We were actually driving up the slope, instead of the opposite. We thought it was going down at first because the surroundings gave us that impression, especially the hill in front of us.

Uncle Steven and family are leaving for Adelaide this friday. They're going to meet up with Jimmy, who's graduated and earning lots of money. 3.5 weeks left before I return to Adelaide. I feel like a kid that says, "I don't want to go back. I want to enjoy life like this forever". But the grownup in me says, "Save that for retirement man. And for the next life".

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Birthday

14 Jan. 23 years old. Received a birthday song made by Ivy and Ben. Was so happy! It had a rap part, a hymn followed by the traditional birthday song. 5 stars! This will be my favourite song for the whole week!

I went with Ignatius to our old school.

Met a few old teachers. Not many of them left. Graduated from this school for 6 years now. Class mates are all over the world.

Cikgu Sylvester said our class was the best he ever taught. Of course man! The former principal's son was there!

At night I celebrated with family and favourite relatives at a Tanjung Aru restaurant. Got to eat shark fin soup! As far as I know, only Sabah has real shark fin soup that's not made of crab sticks (like the one in Hong Kong).

Was a memorable day =)

It's all about money...

'The root of all evil'. Money is not evil, but bad management is. Last year I learnt how lack of documentation can lead to big bills with no reason. I asked the person responsible to show documentation, which he agreed to, but never did. So I didn't pay. The person complained to another person that I owed money, and mom was called. Overall, it was a messy situation. Not only were the bills dodgy, the papers 'justifying' it were red. Invoices stating overdue payments, and penalty charges added. The person has been keeping those papers, not telling us until one day we see a massive bill. If we had been informed beforehand, we would pay our share and there would be no red papers because that person was unable to pay everything.

So my  2008 resolution is, financial accountability. To inform people about how much they have to pay. None of this owing business. I can treat you lunch, but no way I'm paying your rent, utility bills, or home loan. That's my principle. Financial mismanagement can turn friends into enemies and family members against each other. My mom knows too well, she is an accountant. She was hired for two years to chase people with bad debts. And before you try to help someone in financial difficulty, you have to find out the root cause. It could be financial mismanagement. You could be conned. And you will never see your hard earned money again.    

Friends, do not allow someone to ask for a large sum of money. He/ she might say, "I can't feed my kids, I am homeless" but they might be excuses. They should ask a bank for help, which is not you. Even if you ask for proof, they can easily give you false documentation. If they call you selfish, they are  irresponsible because nobody should ask his/her friends for a handout. It's unfair; you work so hard for it, and they expect you to give it away.

Charities are a different story, but some people will use any outlet to lie, cheat and steal from others. So in the words of Jesus, 'Be vigilant!' Not only for the second coming, but also for your money.

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