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/u:bæ∫Ik/[n] The greatest, most superlative of its kind;[n] Elegant and stylist;[n] amalgation of German-Franco lexicon, describing hypercool translinguistic supracultural phenomenon.

Friday, July 29, 2005
I was at Orchard Hotel last evening for a lecture by Dr. Ravi Zacharias.

He's my favourite living Christian author. I read "Can Man Live Without God" when I was 15. It fanned the flames of my faith immensely. He convinces you that there have to be moral absolutes, that God must exist, that He must be good, if not, life is utterly meaningless.

That book probably kept me dreaming about studying philosophy abroad for the next 4 years.

Having gone on to read several of his books and writings, I have come to relish his flourish in showing how Truth as told by Jesus answers the deepest questions questions of soldiers, schoolchildren, professors and prisoners (indeed, all of humanity) today.

As he travels extensively around the world, speaking to universities and world leaders, he engages himself with several kinds of people, some virulently opposed to God, and some others who have found God in extraordinary conditions.

His books are filled with tales of conversations with these people. He marries these anecdotes with quotes from Romantic poets, incisive logical argument and his own personal biography, creating a compelling testament for the Christian claim.

It was, of course, an experience to remember when you finally get to sit before a beloved writer and teacher and hear him speak. His oratory kept the entire audience rapt for an hour. (The emcee introduced him saying that when one hears him speak, one truly hears the voice of God. That much is true.)

Yet, as far as his argument and thesis went, Lucas and I are of the opinion that Dr. Ravi could have gone so much farther. He admitted he would diverge a little from the topic A life that has lost its focus from the onset.

He was slightly nebulous in trying to preach from the lives of 2 kings of Judah, Manesseh and Josiah, and still talk about lives and nations that have left God out of their picture today. He had to skim over his argument for God's existence and obejctive morality.

OK, Lucas was more disappointed than I am. I'm satisfied to have heard several profound soundbites from the good Dr. Ravi.

He spent some time talking directly to the young people there. He rightly observed that there were many youths there (JC kids proudly wearing their sweaty school uniforms to the talk) and told us this:

"Young people, learn to think well. Learn to think rationally. Learn to think properly.... The problem with young people today is that they don't think.... and when someone comes along with a cock-eyed idea, he sweeps them away...."

William and a (large) bunch of departing PSC scholars there. That's definitely God's voice speaking to them.

Allow me to degrade into a groupie here. I got Ravi to autograph my copies of Jesus talks to Buddha (OK, I told Dr. Ravi frankly that I found it too contrived for my liking) and Jesus talks to Oscar Wilde!!!! Lucas and I also got to chat with him about his upcoming books in the "Great Conversations" series, where he imagines Jesus talking to other great historical personalities.

Dr. Ravi's actually already got 2 more books down for that, Jesus talks to Mohammed and Jesus talks to Hitler. The latter one is coming out later next month, while the former (for obvious reasons) is actually locked in a safe awaiting the right time to be published. I mean, he doesn't want to be blamed for another London train bombing, right?

I wait with bated breath.

Monday, July 25, 2005
Daryl Ho Dilun is one LUCKY BLOGGER.

He's my good ole' buddy from those heady days as a cadet in the army. But hey, his cousin gets crowned the 'hunkiest' blogger post-blogger-con, and the next week (in ST's Digital Life), they just give it to him instead.

No, I'm not jealous. But it'll be real nice to have a female stranger ring you up as I'm on the MRT and say, "Hi, I've been reading your blog, and I'm your secret admirer."

(Oh no. I can't believe I just said that.)

Some shots from last friday's A*STAR awards ceremony. OK. I was just a carpark attendant.

[one of those crazily candid "hang-on-I-also-wanna-go-in" kind of shots...]

[the girls cooling off after salsa and Mr. Shanmugaratnam's speech.]

They're a funky bunch. Smart, cool and adequately self-aware. The kind of company I like to keep. :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Coming home at night, I received my Brown course placement packet in the mail.

I apparently got into the course I applied for. They also sent me instructions on how to apply for more courses and to activate my new email account. I happily got down to it.

Then, an MSN window suddenly popped up on the screen. It was a past fellow cadet from my engineer days in the army. A short conversation ensued, before I found out that he had lost someone dear to him in January, yet I knew nothing about it. The next few minutes were spent in an honest conversation about out future plans.

From his blog, I stumbled onto another blog. This young man was also an OCS mate, the Sword of Honour. His blog recorded the funeral of another fellow OCS cadet. He had died from leukemia when I was in KL. And this was the first time I heard about it.

He had been a section mate and a fellow Christian. He was rather outspoken and, as a result, got the shared attention from both instructors and cadets. We were definitely not the best of friends, (OK, my performance kept making me the butt of jokes) but we weren't enemies as far as I was concerned.

I totally lost contact with him after I got posted out of SAFTI to Nee Soon. The last time I saw him was during a Commissioning Parade rehearsal. Think all we exchanged was eye contact. While he may be in heaven now, I regret not saying goodbye.

I was utterly shocked that it took me this long to receive this piece of news, and that I had to find out about it after uncovering another long-lost death.

I'm sorry to all of you whom I have had the pleasure and honour to meet and befriend, yet have not bothered to continue contact. If you're one of these, and are reading this now, email me and just rebuke me for neglecting you.

I deserve it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
I was taking the train home last night.

The carriage I stepped into was moderately packed; I managed to get a seat between an SMS-ing teen and a skinny middle-aged man. A typical snapshot of Singapore: Hunky undergrad leaning against the bar, scruffy conscript fallen asleep in his army fatigues, me reading a book quietly.

At Outram Park, an Indian couple came in, toting 2 plastic bags and a little baby. The man beside me immediately stood up and offered his seat to the mother, to which she quietly settled into.

Such a rare sight nowadays.

The baby seemed intent on joining me in reading about ecclesiastical developments in the world. She clamoured playfully towards my arm. Warm, brown skin brushing against mine, her stubby fingers pressing onto my flesh. Her mother grunted sternly, but I simply smiled back at her hige saucer eyes.

As the mother adjusted the child so she wouldn't contact me anymore, the baby burped. Coriander and star aniseed wafted over my book.

The train stopped at Tiong Bahru for quite some time. A recorded announcement played over the rarely-used train's PA system, congenially informing us of some "congestion along the train tracks."

Then London crashed into my consciousness.

I looked around. Just about every commuter was carrying some bag. If any one of these were filled with ammonium nitrate rigged to go, none of us would have had a chance.

The hunky undergrad wouldn't overpower any enemy.

The army private would have died in his sleep.

The baby's last exhalation would have been my last inhalation.

But I got home safely. Thank God for Singapore.

Sunday, July 17, 2005
The most-asked question I was asked prior to June 2005.
"Are you Joses or Lucas?"

The most-asked question I'm asked now.
"When are you flying off?"

Thursday, July 14, 2005
From the Wittenberg Gate.

"Momma, if God can do anything He wants, just by the power of His word, why does He call us to work for Him?"

"Do you remember when you made chocolate chip cookies all by yourself for the first time?"

"Yes, it was when Gramma and Grampa were coming to dinner. Was I six years old?"

"That's right. You started by reading the recipe."

"You had to help me. Remember I asked you what sue-gar was?"

"Yes, we had a good laugh at that one, didn't we?"

"I remember when I had to cream the butter and the sugar and it was too stiff for me to stir it."

"I helped you with that."

"You helped me measure everything, too, and you helped me put the cookies on the tray."

"You were afraid of the heat of the oven, so I put the cookies in for you."

"You took them out, too, and helped me put them on the cooling racks."

"And then when we served the cookies to Gramma and Grampa, what did you say?"

"I said I made the cookies! But I didn't, did I?"

"Well, you did make them, but I helped."

"I guess I should have said you helped. I couldn't have done it without you."

"Do you think it would have been easier for me to make the cookies myself?"

"I suppose it would have been much easier."

"Then why do you think I asked you to make the cookies?"

"I guess because you wanted me to learn from it."

"Yes, that's part of it. What else?"

"You knew I would enjoy it."

"How do you mean?"

"You knew I would like working next to you in the kitchen, because I love you. You knew I would like making something for Gramma and Grampa because I love them. You knew I would like taking part in making dinner for them because that was a happy day."

"Anything else?"

"Well, I guess I should admit that I enjoyed being able to brag that I had made them."

"Of course you did. There is great satisfaction in a job well done."

"But I should have said how much you helped."

"It would have been thoughtful to do so, but I would never have expected a six-year-old to think that way very often. I was willing to share the credit with you and have your grandparents admire your good work."

"So, what you are saying is that God is like that, too?"

"Yes, He is. He gives us good works to do because He loves us just as I love you--only far better. He knows that we will learn by doing good works, and we will love doing them, because we love Him and will love being a part of His work. He knows it would be easier just to do things Himself, and He knows He shares a bit of His glory with us when He lets us participate, but He is pleased to do it."

"He loves us very much, doesn't He?"

"Yes He does. Even more than I love you, which is an awful lot. Remember, I don't love you because you made cookies. I gave you cookies to bake because I love you. God doesn't love us because of good things we do, He gives us good things to do because He loves us."

"But we still should remember to thank Him and acknowledge that we couldn't do anything without His help."

"Indeed we should."

8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

13...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

I think I'll pop by for a looksee. Any other interested bloggers?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

You are happy, driven, and status conscious.
You want everyone to know how successful you are.
Very logical, you see life as a game of strategy.

A bit of a loner, you prefer to depend on yourself.
You always keep your cool and your composure.
You are a born leader and business person.

The World's Shortest Personality Test

hey. the picture makes a good retro-chic wallpaper, no?

Thursday, July 07, 2005
reading this month's National Geographic :-
"...Yet the biggest competition in the international race to develop stem cell therapies may ultimately come from one of the smallest of countries -- a tiny nation superpower committed to becoming a stem cell superpower. To find that place, one need only track the migraiton patterns of top scientists who've been wooed there from the U.S., Australia, even the U.K. Where they've been landing, it turns out, is Singapore.

Amid the scores of small, botanically rich but barely inhabited islands in the South China Sea, Singapore stands out like a post-modern mirage. The towering laboratory buildings of its Biopolis were created in 2001 to jump-start Singapore's biotechnology industry..."

That's on page 23, the main article, an article on the current state of the stem-cell division - the ethical one, not the biological one. I flip through articles on Cheng Ho and Aussie box jellyfish. The contrast will get starker.

Page 58. An update on the Mars exploration. It's a wonderful article, picture laden, the kind synonymous with NatGeog.

Flip thru the Martian landscape. I reach Page 78. I see the pale body of a child being buried by his father, neighbours, brothers. Victim of war. An innocent victim.

This is the world we live in. Postmodern, we have jettisoned God from our planet and deforested Eden.

Your will, God, be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.