Expect The Unexpected!

Last year, I shared about how God blessed my daughter with a place in NUS.

I would now like to share a wonderful testimony about my son. He is a year younger and currently a final-year student in Nanyang Polytechnic.

He is very passionate about soccer. He plays futsal (indoor soccer on an artificial turf) with his friends nearly every month.  He goes to the Jalan Besar stadium to watch local teams occasionally.  He dreams of becoming a soccer pundit some day.

xbox-360But what was of much concern to us as his parents was the amount of time he increasingly spent on the xBox (a video game console developed by Microsoft) playing FIFA online, a soccer game where he could pit his skills against other enthusiasts located all over the world.

 

Whenever my wife and I got home from work, there he would be glued in front of the TV in the living room playing FIFA. Before we went to bed, there he would be, still playing FIFA. We reckon he spent 4 to 6 hours each day playing FIFA.  I would tease him by saying if he devoted as much time and effort playing FIFA as to his studies, he would be able to ace all his subjects.

I recall also telling my wife, “Your son is spending way too much time on FIFA. As his mother, what are you going to do about it?”

She replied, “Hello. You are his father and in charge of discipline. What are YOU going to do about it?”

“Pray lor.  Be at rest. Let God do the work.”

Both of us would then end up laughing.

However, about a month ago, things seem to get from bad to worse. It was his month-long term break, so he would spend practically all his waking hours playing FIFA. He would also curse and swear at the virtual referee for a decision that went against him or if his team conceded a goal / squandered a chance to score a goal. He also did not like anyone to sit in his vicinity because our presence would distract him and make him lose his concentration.

True be told, my heart was beginning to be troubled. It was no longer a laughing matter. These were the signs of an addiction. I tried to comfort myself by saying that this form of addiction was not as bad as being addicted to porn, or those more violent forms of online activity where one goes about on mass-killing expeditions.

As a parent, it was very natural for me to want to confront him, sit him down, lecture him, tell him to spend his time more productively, etc etc.

But praise God that I did not have to!

Sometime last week, when I got home, I was expecting to see him in his usual spot in front of the living room TV.

But he wasn’t.

Instead, he was in the study doing his homework!

I had to pinch myself twice to check if I was awake or dreaming.

“How come you are not playing FIFA?” I asked.

“Oh, I sold my xBox.” he replied nonchalantly.

“Come again? You SOLD your XBOX???”

“Ya. Not bad I got quite a good price for it on Carousell”

“How come? I thought FIFA 2017* just came out?”

fifa-17-deluxe-edition-xbox-360-pre-order-game[*EA Sports will release a new version of FIFA some time in September every year. They will add new features and also reflect the latest players and the clubs they play for. For example, in FIFA 2016 Paul Pogba was reflected in Juventus. In FIFA 2017, he is reflected in Manchester United]

“I found it very hard to get used to the new features.”

And just like that, the addiction was broken! Hallelujah!

When my wife and I prayed for him, we had expected God to gradually wean him off online gaming.  Maybe from 8 hours each day to 6, then to 4 then to 2, then to just weekends, etc.

But we never expected God to cause things to happen such that he gave it up  “cold turkey”.

Indeed, with God all things are possible. Amen?

From (S)ubpasses and (U)ngradeds in JC1 to a Place in NUS

2 years ago, my daughter got L1R5 14 points for her ‘O’ levels.  After deducting 2 points for getting an A1 in her CCA and another 2 points for school affiliation (she was from PLMGS) giving her a net of 10 points, she appealed for a place in ACJC (through her CCA – Drama).  Alas, the cut-off point for Arts was 8, and she ended up being posted to SRJC instead.

Needless to say, she was visibly very upset, and I shared her disappointment, being an alumnus of ACJC myself.

She struggled during her 1st year in JC, getting (S)ubpass (35% to 44%) and (U)ngraded (<35%) for practically all of her subjects (when I was in JC in 1984-1985, such grades did not exist).

Depending on their scores, JC1 students are either

  • “Promoted” to JC2 (for scores of 31 and above)
  • “Retained” in JC1 (for scores of 20 and below) or
  • “Advanced” to JC2 (for scores of between 21 and 30, subject to approval by the Principal)

My daughter ended the year with a score of 22, and was advanced.  

JC2 students granted an advancement were not allowed to participate in the orientation activities with the JC1s, so that was psychologically another dampener for her.

Having said that, my wife and I were nonetheless thankful that she did not need to repeat her first year, and in retrospect also understood why God had closed the door to ACJC for her.  

Had her appeal on the grounds of Drama been successful, she would have had to dedicate considerable time after school and even on weekends and term breaks on Drama rehearsals etc, allowing her little, if any, time for her studies.  In SRJC, she scored 22.  Who knows what her score would have been if she had to juggle both CCA and studies in ACJC.  God knew what was best for her, and indeed all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

Fast forward to JC2 and her score improved marginally to 25 in her mid-year exams and then to 28 for her prelims.  While grateful for the progress being made, we were mentally prepared for her to probably get between 30 and 45 for her A levels, and if we really dared to ask, perhaps even 45 to 60 points.  We prayed over her and dedicated her studies to God, leaving the outcome entirely to Him.

Well praise be to God!  She collected her results today and obtained an incredible total of 81 points, a 289% improvement over her prelim results, which actually puts her in the top 20% of her cohort, and guarantees her a place in NUS’ Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences!!!  This goes to show that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

In fact, God has blessed her with grades that surpass even those of both her parents, who are professional accountants.

God has truly exceedingly abundantly answered our prayers over and above what we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).  Thank you Jesus for You are indeed an awesome God!  Hallelujah!

 

nus admission

UPDATE (22/04/2015)

My sweetie just received a letter in the post yesterday, informing her that she has been offered a place in NUS.  Praise the Lord!

Please Repeat That Again!

It has been more than 3 months since I last blogged, mainly because there has been no flow recently.

Well, I am happy to report that I just felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to blog after seeing the Instagram posts of a childhood friend and a colleague, both of whom attend New Creation Church.  They had coincidentally shared the same verse, namely Hebrews 6:14.

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I will come back to the above passage, but let me digress for a while.

When I was in Secondary Two all those years ago, I recall our English teacher telling us that the words “repeat” and “again” should not be used in the same sentence because the word “repeat” by itself already denotes repetition, so to use the word “again” would be redundant and superfluous.  Hence, “Can you please repeat that?” would be a complete sentence, while “Can you please repeat that again?” would not be grammatically correct.

It was with this mindset that I found certain passages in the Old Testament to be rather odd in that the author seemed to be repeating himself.  For example,

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.” (Proverbs 4:20 NKJV)

“He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.” (Numbers 23:21 NKJV)

“For there is no sorcery against Jacob, Nor any divination against Israel.” (Numbers 23:23 NKJV)

In fact, many of the Psalms seem to contain verses that appear to say the same thing twice but in a different way.

It was only in recent years that I have come to understand that because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew,  we have to put aside our Anglicised background when reading the Scriptures.  Proverbs and Psalms are what are known as Wisdom Literature and the repetition found in many passages is similar to what is commonly used in poems and nursery rhymes. 

But what is more fascinating is how Hebrew uses the same word twice to denote strong emphasis.  That was what I learnt from Ps Joseph Prince as he had mentioned this in one of his sermons.

Consider the following passage in Genesis 2:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The original Hebrew text actually repeats the word “akal”(H398) twice in verse 16, and the word “muwth” (H4191) twice in verse 17.  These have been translated into “freely eat” and “surely die” respectively.

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One of my favourite Old Testament verses in Isaiah 26:3, which is “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You”.  

If we look at the original Hebrew text, we see the word “shalom” (H7965) being repeated twice, emphasising that one will experience “perfect peace”.

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Coming back to the 2 Instagram posts above.  When I saw that passage, there were 2 things that stood out.

Firstly, God had sworn by Himself.  God does not need to swear because His word alone is sufficient.  By swearing, and swearing by Himself, He was giving added emphasis to the promise He was making to Abraham.  

Secondly, Hebrews 6:14 actually makes reference to the incident recorded in Genesis 22 whereby God had asked Abraham to bring his only son Isaac up to Mount Moriah to be sacrificed.  God was pleased with Abraham because he was willing to give up his son, which would point to the day when God Himself would give up Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice to redeem humankind, viz:

15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

In particular, verse 17, reads “blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants”.  The English translation appears rather odd, so I was expecting the original Hebrew text to repeat “blessing” twice and “multiplying” twice, and sure enough, it did!!!

As can be seen in the interlinear text shown below, barak (H1288) and rabah (H7235) appear twice, as a way to emphasise that God would abundantly bless Abraham and exponentially multiply his seed.

Gen2217

Learning Hebrew has indeed been a very enjoyable journey and I look forward to discovering even more passages in the Bible where words are repeated twice to convey emphasis.  Please, repeat that again!!!

 

Go Israel with Bestie (Day 2)

The tour proper starts today!

The coach meant for us is clearly labelled…

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Upon taking our seats in the coach, the guide introduces himself as Ido Canaan, a Messianic Jew who used to be an archaelogist. Our driver is Abraham.

Suddenly, my name is called out by Ps Henry. Oh oh what happened? Turns out he was passing out envelopes containing Israeli SIM cards issued by TalkNSave, and I was probably the first one to sign up hence haha

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This is indeed a pleasant surprise because the website appeared to indicate we will only get the cards at our hotel towards the end of the day. Thank you Lord!

Those who are planning to come to Israel, do sign up because it is only US$8 per day and includes unlimited data. [Later that evening. I discover that the hotel does not have free wifi, so really want to thank God for His promptings].

Caesarea

The first stop is to have breakfast at Caesarea, where Cornelius the Roman centurion was from.

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After breakfast, Ps Henry leads us in a time of worship and then shares from Acts 10, which records the conversion of Cornelius and his household.

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That passage is significant because it is the first time the Holy Spirit actually came upon the Gentiles, thus setting the precedent for Him to indwell other Gentiles. In other words, Jesus did a finished work on the cross not only for the Jews but also for us Gentiles. Hallelujah!

Mount Carmel

Next stop, the place of showdown between the prophet Elijah and the false prophets of Baal. Ps Henry shares from 1 Kings 18 and James 5 about the sacrifice being consumed and how the prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Here’s a photo of the statue of Elijah built at Mt Carmel…

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Megiddo

We then have lunch in Megiddo (also known as Armageddon). Am pleasantly surprised they have chilli that looks like sambal, perhaps on the requests of Singaporeans and Malaysians that came before?

That’s the sambal I spread sparingly on my chicken leg. Pretty good actually!

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Nazareth and Mt of Precipice

We then drive through the town of Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up, and up to the Mount of Precipice where Ps Henry shares from Luke 4, about how His hometown religious folks wanted to throw Him off the cliff but He walked through their midst because His hour had not yet arrived. Similarly we of the new covenant cannot be harmed by the evil one if our time on earth is not yet up. Amen?

It is about 4:30pm when we descend the mountain and as it is getting dark already, we head to Tiberius to check into Leonardo Club Hotel.

My bestie and me has been assigned room 750. How blessed to have the numbers 5 and 7 hor?

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After a good bath and a good buffet dinner, it is time for bed at about 8:30pm to catch up on some much needed sleep. Laila tov and we will talk again tomorrow 🙂

Go Israel with Bestie (Day 1)

Greetings from the Holy Land!

I was asked my fellow GUFC members to give a report on my visit (with my bestie) after we return to Singapore, but there is just so much to share (even on Days 1 and 2) that it is better to do so on a daily basis rather than accumulate till the trip is over so as not to miss out on anything.

It had been my dream since first discovering the grace gospel in 2005 to visit Israel. Ps Prince’s passion for the nation as well as testimonies of others that had gone before only made that longing all the more greater.

And the Lord granted the desire of my heart this year, from 25 Nov to 4 Dec 2013, and even paved the way for me to be accompanied by my bestie. Hallelujah!

We were supposed to be at the airport at only 6pm, but we decided to take leave the whole day just to chill and relax.

The day started off by waking up relatively late, and then heading to Nex where we had a great lunch at Soup Restaurant…

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Upon returning home, we finished up our packing…

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And then like typical kiasu Singaporeans, we took a cab and reached the airport at 4:30pm, a full 1.5 hours beforehand.

Just after 6pm, Omega Tours handed us name tags (which I understand is the first time they are doing so)…

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and our 2 boarding passes: one from Singapore to Bangkok and the other from Bangkok to Tel Aviv…

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I was lagi more kiasu and took a photo with Ps Henry Yeo, our tour leader, even before leaving for Israel haha

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We departed for Bangkok without much fanfare but it was clearing the Israeli security at the airport there that was a bit of a challenge. We were interviewed about why we were going to Israel etc. Upon aceing the interview, we were issued with a yellow post-it…

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By the time all of us were cleared to board the El Al plane, it was about half an hour behind schedule.

Nonetheless we praise God that all 48 of us could depart Bangkok, and we arrived safely in Tel Aviv 11 hours later, just before 7am local time.

At the Israel airport customs, we informed the officer not to chop our passports. Instead we were issued with a border control pass, valid for 3 months…

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After collecting our luggage, Ps Henry led us in a prayer of thanksgiving. We were then shown to our tour bus.

So ends Day 1. TTFN!