I was loved before I was born!

I was planned, pushed through against odds, willed!

I was the reason why someone willingly risked having five children to support, just to have the chance to have me!

I was the reason why someone who’s gravely addicted to smoking quit his years-long vice, cold-turkey, to prepare for me and give me the good health that he wanted!

I was the reason why he had to come up with such a unique, “special and futuristic”, quirky name!

I am the reason of this someone’s many things!

To my dad, and the many inspiring stories that he shared, of how he desperately wanted me and the determined works that he did for that. And to the needed nuggets of wisdom that he taught me to prepare me for life. And to the values that he patiently but consistently instilled into me. And the good genes that he passed, too!

Most importantly, to the immutable fact of his inspiring willful works of love towards me, of which has carved into my being a special deep life-long understanding and knowledge of an immutable love!

Happy father’s day Pa!

 

19222878_10207972442983649_6453957605533627922_o.jpg

25 whole years in. And I’m still alive. Surprise.

I remember the first time I cursed my existence. I was a wee kindergarten, I think.

I remember the time where I attempted suicide, rushing myself to a busy road hoping to get crushed by a rushing car.

I remember the times where I questioned the purpose of life itself, the seeming vanity of its unchanging cycle. And the unending suffering it brings. The vanity. The meaninglessness. The striving after the wind. The cycle.

Yet here I am, still breathing.

Still kicking.

Still suffering.

Yet surprisingly, I found something else.

I found hope that this world cannot offer.

I found joy that is worth fighting for.

I found purpose in the light of suffering.

I found a reason to live and to die for.

I found something that is worth risking my everything.

And when life snaps, hopefully I can look back and see that this vapor-like life was not used on nothing. That it was faithfully expended on something. That it was used for some lasting good thing. That it was given up for the LORD Christ Jesus.

Yet not by my might or my reason, but by the amazing grace of the sovereign God, from whom every lasting good thing comes from.

Yet not I.

But from, through, and to Him, from whom my life flows from — redeemed; and to whom it will return to — by faith.

Enjoy. It feels like such a difficult word. A friend once said to me that I need to learn how to (take a break and) enjoy.

Maybe my friend was right.

Maybe I need to learn how to enjoy just spending time basking under the light of joy.

Maybe that’s why, this 2019, I set one of my two yearly goals as this: To delight in the LORD and enjoy Christ.

Excavating the Old in 2019

Two months after the start of 2019 I strangely had the desire to study the Old Testament books, most especially the select books that I had been neglecting — This is an area that I should brush up on. I know the Old Testament books by title but I never was able to get through the first few books apart from the Psalms and Proverbs and a few passages that are usually taken out of context.

This time I studied the books in reversed order. And then I made a discovery! There’s this book that despite sticking out like a sore thumb I never had the interest to read: The Song of Solomon.

At first glance the book looked perfect for my goal: It talks about the joy of love, albeit romantically. And it explores the wondrous feelings of the heart.

Maybe this book will teach me how I can better enjoy Christ.

The Song of Solomon is a poetic book that is 8 chapters long. And here are my key takeaways from my discovery:

1. Made for one another.

The book tells a tale of two lovers: A Shulamite woman and her beloved, a shepherd/king. From the king’s eye, the woman stands out among the rest. He described her with many rich words spanning across almost all the chapters of the book, an exuberant expression of his admiration of her.

It stands the same for the woman, he was described with many rich words. Their admiration of each other spans the entire book. It is of no argument that they revered each other. It almost seems like they had no other else.

2. Seeking, and not finding, yet still seeking.

Yet despite of seemingly made for one another, the book did not shy away from exposing their struggles. The book tells a pattern of seeking, not finding, but still seeking (Chapters 3 and 5). Chapter 5 climaxes to this point where the woman goes out to search for his king but only to be beaten down by the city guards. Yet despite of this beatdown, the very first words that comes out of her lips are this: “If you find my beloved, tell him that I am sick with love.

Her mind is consumed with the thought of him and her heart consumed with his person.

3. Intensity of love.

It is also quite clear how the book is filled to the brim with passion and feelings. The intensity of their love is almost like the centerpoint of this book. The book is filled with all these passionate and creative expressions of their love for one another.

There are two points that stand out to me however: First, how the king describes the woman as a “sister”. Second, how the woman has this habit of using the phrase “Sick with love.”

I can wonder. Maybe the word “sister” denotes the woman as being a “sister in the faith”. Maybe this was written to signify the importance of constraining romantic love and marriage to fellow believers. To the second point, maybe this phrase was used to denote that the signs of love possibly causes symptoms of “being sick”, where the normal things give its way for the abnormal.

Christ and the Church

The book may have been included in the Bible canon to describe a Biblical model for the husband and wife. To that I agree, but if I may add also, to my eyes, it also paints a picture of Christ and his Church.

I can see the book as describing this relationship: Christ as the king/shepherd who loves his church; And the church, being in a fallen world, experiences this struggle of seeking the LORD Jesus Christ.

Sin is this thing that keeps our hearts from seeing the LORD.

But just like the bride, we are called to have our heart unswervingly seek him still.

To persevere and not give up.

To have our thoughts consumed by the wondrous overwhelming thought of Him.

And in devotion and passion, to have our hearts stirred up by Him.

Recently I’ve been struggling in my idea of enjoying work. Work has been non-stop both for my startup and my dayjob, and burnout just seems to be around the corner. I’ve been finding it difficult to enjoy doing my work. And it bothers me, both the struggle from the high demands of my work and my lack of enjoyment in it. The latter bothers me significantly more.

I tried to break down why I’m having the struggle to find the needed enjoyment. I found three things:

  1. I found that doing work is heavy when I feel that I’m working for someone else;
  2. I found that work limits my creative goals and creative juices when work is itemized;
  3. I found that work is drudging when I am doing it only for work’s sake: To deliver.

And from identifying theses causes to my problem, I tried to find how I usually enjoy my work.  And this is what I found out: I believe that work should be enjoyable, that work should be creative, that work should fulfill my purpose. And this can be done by going back to basking in the fundamentals of my work, namely:

  1. The enjoyment of of building something;
  2. The enjoyment of learning new things;
  3. The enjoyment of solving problems;
  4. The enjoyment of making ideas into reality;
  5. The enjoyment of knowing that my work has a purpose.

From the identification of the problem, to its causes, to how my enjoyment can be attained, I can then work on the steps needed for me to arrive to my goal:

  1. Instead of focusing on the reality that I am working to make my clients happy, I can focus on how I can pour out my talents and energy to my craft.
  2. Instead of just focusing on the itemized deliverables, I can allocate some of my spare time to attend to my creative goals.
  3. Instead of of focusing on delivering, I can focus on how my work has an end-purpose, and what that end-purpose is, and then working on that end-purpose instead of just remaining on the side of delivering.

In writing this something of great importance came to mind. The words of Paul echo in my ear,
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:23-25)

 

We are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And realizing this, not only in my mind but to my heart and my actions, is what brings purpose to my work.

 

And this is where joy is found.

 

 

“I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:

  1. Inclination to unbelief;
  2. Forgetfulness of the love and mercy that Christ manifest;
  3. A leaning to the works of the law;
  4. Wanderings and coldness in prayer;
  5. Forgetfulness in prayer;
  6. Prone to murmur when I have no more and yet ready to abuse what I have;
  7. I can do none of the things which God commands me, while on the other hand my sinful nature springs effortlessly;

These things I continually see and feel. And because of these I am in constant suffering. Yet to the wisdom of God, they are for my own good:

  1. My inclination to unbelief: They make me abhor myself;
  2. My forgetfulness of Christ’s love and mercy: They keep me from trusting my heart;
  3. My leaning to works: They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness;
  4. My coldness in prayer: They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus;
  5. My forgetfulness in prayer: They press me to pray unto God;
  6. My discontentment when in need and my irresponsibility when in plenty: They show me the need I have to be alert and be sober;
  7. My incompetence towards the things of God: It provokes me to pray unto God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world.”

 

A paraphrasing from John Bunyan, taken from “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”

A band called Switchfoot just released their newest album, Native Tongue! And to no disappointment do they still deliver: Their songs still feels like home.

Switchfoot was that band that I couldn’t understand. I started to check them out years way back when I met this cute girl who was so into the band’s lead vocalist, Jon Foreman. And when some years after, when I became a Christian, the more I had a hard time wrapping my head around this band. They just didn’t make sense to me. Their songs were too puzzling, their lyrics too ambiguous, their image too dark and heavy (at that time). They didn’t want to be labeled as a Christian band. And they write songs about sex , drugs, and about being a dark horse. I found them too dark, too edgy, and I even thought they went against Christianity.

But the more I grew up in Christ, the more I understood them.
The more I studied the Bible, their songs started to make sense!
The more I was exposed to the scholars before me, the more I was able to understand Jon Foreman and in what he’s trying to do with his life.

Their songs, lyrically, are filled with Biblical references, even quoting scriptures word per word. Listening to a new Switchfoot song feels like solving a puzzle. “What does this verse possibly mean? Oh, I get it! It’s from this parable, this verse from the Bible! How could I have missed it!”

Jon Foreman may not be a C.S. Lewis, but to me he sure feels like one.

If C.S. Lewis is for novel books, Jon Foreman is for music.

 

I’d suggest giving their new album a try. And while you’re at it, why not listen back to their old songs as well?

For strange reasons I just bought my own domain.

I really don’t have a concrete plan for this site: For now it’s just a personal blog. A safe space to write off anything that’s in my heart or my mind. Sometimes I share my goals and my progress. Sometimes I digest books and try to teach them. Sometimes I write about things that I’m learning. Oftentimes I just write gibberish nonsense. And this is if ever I get the urge to write.

So now I have my own domain. A space for the randomness of my progress. And for whatever strange reason there may be I am writing this.