Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Commencement Ceremony

As many of you would have heard, I will be graduating this Tuesday (2nd December). It would be BCM's 47th graduation exercise, that is some tradition. Here I would like to extend my invitation to all of you who might be interested to participate in the exercise. Here are the details:

Date: 2nd December 2008 (Tuesday)

Time: 7:30pm (light refreshments served at 6:15-7:00pm)

Yup, that's me, more photo op on Tuesday night.

The theme "Finish Strong" is really meaningful to me. I don't believe it is a description of me currently, that I have already finished my theological studies in BCM, and that I am now finishing it strong. But it is a exhortation to the class of 2008 to continue to fight the good race so that we can truly finish well. Yes, it is the close of a chapter of my life, but as this chapter ends I am opened up to a whole new chapter, blank and ready for me to make history and make my life count. Some schools call it a commencement ceremony and it really is exactly that for me, the end of one thing and the beginning of another. I am dreaming big things but being very sensitive to God at this time to lead me to the next place that he wants to bring me to. I am raring to put my training into practice now.

I can't help it, I just feel thankful to all those who have poured into my life or stood by me all this while, so here I thank you all (again). If you are thinking of buying flowers for me, forget it. Don't waste your time and money... I prefer cash! Many of you realize I'm graduating and asked me why I didn't tell anyone. It's because I am not really interested in making it a big deal, more than anything it is just a sense of relieve. Even then many of you have told me that you will be adjusting your schedules and giving up your evening to be there for me, I appreciate that. Just come if you're interested, your presence alone more than what I expect. Again, please don't bother with the flowers.

If you guys want, we'll have dinner after the graduation, perhaps we can go for A&W, the one with the drive-in. That one has air-cond and is open 24 hours.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I seem to be getting a lot of email and messages with that word recently. So much so that I am compelled to make a response here. My dad even made a great big announcement on his website about this. "Why?" you may ask, what's all the fuss about?...

It is because of Melanie!

I am (finally) graduating from BCM after spending a good 5 years there doing my training for ministry. Many of you thought the Key Magazine Photo Session post was in fact the graduation itself, don't just look at the photos, at least read the title! Anyway what normally takes 3 years to finish went on for an extra 2 years, almost double the allocated time. So I guess it's only warranted that we all feel relieved, especially the lecturers and staff in BCM. My wife, who was one of those who were, understandably, extra relieved, sent out emails to everyone inviting them to my graduation ceremony (on December 2nd). I was also on her mailling list. So some of our close friends, and not so close friends as well, started replying the email. There was some congratulatory emails, but many were "sigh-of-relieve" emails. Melanie is just proud of me. I believe her pride is justified.

Anyway I don't blame you all for being relieved. It really is my fault.

Most of you know what happened during the last 5 years. But for some of you who might be wondering here's a very quick look back on the last 5 years of my (academic) life:

Year One: The Gung-Ho Year
My parents has just resigned as the pastor of Canaan Church and was due to be sent to the Philippines as missionaries. A new pastor took over my church. Church was different, with all the transitions taking place I was kind of dazed at it all.

I did great for my first couple of terms in BCM. However, being me I lost my focus and attention halfway through the year.

Everyone knows my passion for ministry, when I (finally) got myself into BCM I was mighty relieved myself. I was so crazy about ministry (but mostly I'm just "UN-crazy" about my studies) that I spent too much time "doing ministry" and totally forgot about my studies. Guess what... I flunked a whole lot during my first year, trust me when I say "a whole lot". This was the year that I took over the youth ministry and also organized the RE:tuned concert, which was a huge project for someone like me to be handling. I also got involved in organizing the CDFM's (Christian Dance Fellowship of Malaysia) week-long seminar. I got involved in a lot of things, outside of my studies.

Year Two: The oh-crap-what-have-I-got-myself-into year
Halfway through this year I began to realize that in this American system I cannot just pass my tests, course papers carried a whole lot of weight. By the time I start to realize that I will need to sync or swim, damage has already been done. RE:tuned was deemed a success, other churches were telling me to go at it again next year, I declined. I put many things aside and began to set my sights on my studies. Then came along another butterfly...

In February I proposed to my girlfriend of 6 years. I was irresistable, and she said "yes".

Year Three: When I Got Married
We planned to get married sometime during Valentine's Day this year, however, due to my horrid results I was placed under "academic probation", which meant that I was to stay in my school almost all the time except for "weekend ministry", which is the practical side of my theological training. Another record I broke, apart from being the first Alumni's child to be back in BCM was that I was the first student in the 40-plus years history of the school to actually fail the same subject twice. That subject was "Religion and Cults". Because of that, I was issued an ultimatum by the school: no more failling or my credits will all be forfeited, and I will have to start my studies from scratch.

Marriage plans although postponed still went on. Melanie and I got hitched on June 11th this year. We decided that since we got married I should take some time off from BCM to honeymoon a little. Took one term off before I eased myself back into BCM by doing part-time studies. As they say "a wedding lasts only a day, but a marriage lasts a lifetime". I don't think that spending this time building my marriage was time lost or wasted. I now enjoy my marriage and family with Melanie and Mikayla, who are the gems in my life. I love you both very much.

This was also the year that I got suspended from school for failling to do my "Christian Duty". Part of the practical side of the training, Christian Duty was to help develop our character and all that jazz, you know what I'm talking about. I was in charge of cleaning this classroom, normally Christian Duty should be done on Monday, which is kind of like our off-day, minus the Christian Duty. However since I was no longer staying in the BCM dorm as there was no more room in the couple's dorm for my wife and me, travelling all the way to BCM from Selayang just to perform my "Christian Duty" was really out of the way. I had classes on Tuesday, which was when I cleaned my classroom. However there was a night class in my class on Monday, so after a few dirty nights the lecturer made a complaint. I was called in for questioning. Situation was explained as it was but the committee mentioned that my mistake was not informing them that my Christian Duty would be done on Tuesday instead of the regular Monday. So BCM suspended me for a term. Later on, my church suspended me for another term as they said that they did not have a chance to "work on me".

Year Four: The Reluctant Part-Timer
The suspension killed any chance of me graduating this year. But by this time I had done most of my subjects. My studies were approximately 80% done. I am close to fulfilling all my credit hours, however I could not graduate this year because there were some compulsory subjects that I need to pass before I can graduate. I wanted to try to graduate this year, but sadly I was informed that some of my required subjects were not being offered this year. Since these were compulsory subjects, they were subjects that were important to the school, so they did not allow me to do these courses via correspondence. So I was "forced" to take my studies part-time as there were no other courses to take, can you believe that?

In a way I was also glad that I was "forced" to be a part-timer, since I cannot afford to fail ANY of my subjects or face a total meltdown in my life and studies.

Around the month of May I decided to opt for an internship with Faith Charismatic Center. I found that I have been in this church for too long, not only have I become complacent, but so also have the people around me. It was time for something new, something to jolt all of us (me and my church) out of our slumber. So I took up the offer from FCC for an internship. I committed the rest of the year to them. I really enjoyed my time in FCC. I was told to take charge of the worship ministry in that church and also had the very nice opportunity to partner with Joash in the youth ministry. I also had my first taste of preaching on a Sunday service. FCC offered to take me up on a more premanent basis. I brought the offer back to Canaan where they asked me not to take up the offer but return to Canaan where there will be "more opportunities" for me. Since my commitment was first to Canaan and being a man of my word, I rejected the very delicious offer and returned as instructed.

Year Five:
This would bring us to the current year and the reason for this post. This year, after completing my final 2 compulsory subjects in BCM. I will only graduate in December, but unofficially, my studies is done and dusted as of August this year. I was looking forward to getting a taste of full-time ministry. I was hoping that I would be given more to do as previously promised, however I am left feeling that I could do more, both as part of my training process as well as to fill up the time I have on my hands.
Now I am less than 1 month away from the day that I have been working towards for 5 years. It has not been a waste of time. My training had to be complete and thourough. Some of you would have personally heard from me of my struggles (in school, in ministry, and just basically in life as a whole), you would know that I have not taken the easy way out even though there were many chances to do so, and no one would have blamed me for it. But I stuck with it in the hope that it would make me a better minister, a better person. My family and close friends who have been rooting for me have got themselves way more than what they bargained for, standing by me for 5 years instead of the intended 3 years. I understand why you are all (finally) relieved. Here I want to take the opportunity to thank some of you who have stood by me through thick and thin.

Thank you... REALLY!
Words don't really do justice here, but from the bottom of my heart... Thank you!

Melanie and my parents are the ones who really felt the burden and carried it with me. Melanie worked while I studied, and they are just worried for me fulfilling my call. It's not a money thing, but it's a destiny thing.

My closest friends, namely, Ke Xin, Angela, Susie, and Joash (and few more I'm sure I missed). Who have lent me their strength in times when I was weakest. How they did it was merely by being there and being who they are.

Some of my Christian relatives that acknowledged God's call in my life and helped me to prove it to those who did not see it.

Even some of my non-Christian relatives like my in-laws who were so gracious and patient with me, I pray that one day you will come to know the amazing love and grace that we can all experience.

Some of you Canaan Church members and Christian friends who really did more than offer me moral support.

Of course not forgetting the lecturers and pastors who have shared their insights with me. And also my classmates who made it that much more interesting. As we step out in ministry, I know you are my network, you are my support, I pray that I can be the same for you. Big dreams, let them be God's dreams and let him bring them to fulfilment.

It is an understatement and cliche, but I really would not have made it. It's been a tough long journey and I am FINALLY done with it. Now I look forward to the ministry opportunities. I pray God will reignite that gung-ho spirit that I had when I first went to BCM, that I will leave BCM not just with a head full of knowledge but a heart full of FIRE!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just An Update...

Parents are back in town, but only for one week.

Dad is in Indonesia doing some accreditation for a school there. His new Toshiba Protege was left with me, there was some mix up when he bought it, there was supposed to be a 4gig RAM but there was only 2gigs. So he took my laptop and I was left with his. After testing out the Vista for almost a week I have decided to give Vista a great big two thumbs down. Always suspected it to be so, but finally using it I realized how slow the machine was even with 4gigs worth of RAM. Now I miss my laptop. The absence of my laptop is the reason for the silence in my blog. Don't have any of my stuff on this com.

That's dad. Mom however had the pleasure of staying back with Mikayla, thus freeing me up to catch up with some errands.

So top of the list was changing the brake pads for my Jaguh (should get some pix of my bike...). Riding a bike with barely any rear brakes was both a test of skill as well as (dumb) faith. With minimal rear brakes I managed to survive ferrying around Phinehas Mathius (a Pastors' Kid and fellow minister) when he visited KL last week. Also fetched Marcus back from church after he, very diligently, worked with Andrea Bong on a song that we will most likely sing this weekend - Cover The Earth. This is the first time that the brakes have really been working the way it should since I bought it about a year ago, so it was fun putting the brakes to work.

Also managed to do a fair bit of banking.

With Mikayla's grandparents watching her we were also able to have a nice dinner with some good friends in celebration of Ke Xin's birthday. Happy ??th Birthday Ke Xin!!! We were supposed to eat at this place in Solaris called "Garage" or something like that, however because it was Ke Xin's birthday the shop declared it as a holiday and they were not opened. Had to change plans, so we ate at the restaurant next door which were ignorant of what a big and important day it was. Ole Ole Bali's food was very nice, something different but with the large serving, we were all more than satisfied. Had a nice time catching up with each other since we are all getting caught up more and more with other stuff. What we used to have in common was church, but now some are in other churches and some others are caught up with work. I really hope and pray that I can do something to get them back to our very first common ground - church.

Next on the list is to tune the engine of my Juara (not to be mistaken with my Jaguh). The engine has been out of whack since some noob mechanic did the top overhaul. My timing belt gave way smack on the 120,000KM mark. I know timing belt is to be changed every 60,000KM, but I thought it coult wait a few hundred KMs more. Didn't know they engineered the belts with such precision. Can't bring it to just any mechanic as the Juara has a rather different engine and electronics. So have to bring it to the pros (and pay more). Rather get it done right once than to have to keep on bringing it back over and over again.

Apart from that I am also looking forward to catching a movie with Melanie sometime this week. We have not watched ANY movie since Kung Fu Panda, which, I believe, is almost 3 months ago.

Since my com is not around this will just be a simple update from me to break the silence in my blog.

For all of you out there who keeps up with my blog... I'm still alive.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Worship List 081102

So I'm here at the end of another, if not busy, eventful week. I had a wedding dinner to attend, my good friend David Lim was in town for a song writing competition, and yes, I worship led again. When I'm well prepared and have a clear idea where I am leading the church in worship, I really look forward to it. However this time I felt I was less prepared than I would like to be. There was just one up side for me, my guitar is back from the shop and all ready to be plugged in and to go live! So my baby was going to get her first chance at "singing" in front of my church.

Anyway I decided on the theme of God's glory, I wanted to lead the church into God's presence and have his glory revealed to us. So here's the song list:

  1. Glory by Hillsong United (E)
  2. Cover The Earth by Lakewood (A)
  3. Forever by Hillsong (D-A)
  4. One Thing Have I Desired unknown (A)
  5. Oh The Presence of Your Glory by Ron Kenolly (A-C)

At the end of everything I am thankful that God helped me do a reasonably good job. I think the worship was inspiring, but how it turned out just didn't satisfy me. I wanted more, I want excellence, I want to do my best, and nothing less, nothing less.

Everything went well, apart from one of our keyboard adaptors being out of commission, but minus one keyboard, the music was still quite good and tight, considering that we were doing a new song (Cover The Earth), and also a musically more technical song (Oh The Presence of Your Glory), the church still responded well to the songs. However I was just not satisfied, it feels like it just lacked a certain X factor. During our evaluation the team felt that the practice session was better than the actual worship time, we unanimously agreed.

It just keeps coming back to me... what was missing? There was just something missing and I cannot put my finger on it. I don't think the rest of the team is as bothered by it as I am. But I really want to identify it and make sure our worship team doesn't happen again. Maybe it's just me suffering from a heavy week.