Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Staying Well

Recently I am reading Dr Sarah Russell (PhD of the Melbourne-based Research Matters for "Study of the Year")'s book about bipolar patients. Dr Russell took the refreshingly novel approach of surveying 100 reasonably well patients for how they successfully coped with their illness. Her findings first appeared in an article in the March 2005 Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

The patients in Dr Russell’s book were successful in finding and applying what worked for them. Dr Russell did spot common themes, which I find very informative, including:
  • Acceptance – This is the first step to taking control to one’s life.
  • Knowledge – "With time and experience, people can develop the wisdom to manage their illness and stay well.
  • Sleep – "A crucial ingredient to staying well."
  • Stress – "It is not always possible to avoid stress. It is possible, however, to develop strategies to minimize the impact of stress." (I find writing journals, on blogs and spending time in prayer and devotion extremely useful to deal with stress)
  • Lifestyle – Diet, exercise, sleep, etc.
  • Awareness and insight of triggers and mood states - This includes fatigue, jet lag, hormonal fluctuations, stress, lack of sleep.
  • Interventions – such as canceling social engagements and getting a few good sleeps.
  • Medication – "The right medication at the right dose."
  • Support – "Outside insight" is often welcomed.

Monday, January 30, 2006

2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games

With the Games less than 40 days away, Melbournians and many from overseas are preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. For those of you who are in Melbourne (or coming to Melbourne for the Games), the following is a checklist that I've put together to get ready for this momentous event:
  1. Check out the free activities in the city during the Games as part of Festival Melbourne 2006.
  2. See the Queen's Baton Relay as it passes through all 71 Commonwealth nations on the way to Melbourne.
  3. Consider joining a local sporting club.
  4. Organise a party. I'm planning to invite my friends over to share the atmosphere through watching TV.
  5. Take part in or pray for the activities of Quest Melbourne More Than Gold.
  6. Look out for the Road Events during the Games, like the marathon, cycling and walk events.
  7. Party in the city! With 90,000 interstate and international visitors, the city will be alive!!!

I am so looking forward to it!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Inside The Mind Of A Visionary Filmmaker

Stanley Kubrick Posted by Picasa

I had an enjoyable time attending Stanley Kubrick's exhibition at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Federation Square on Saturday. This exhibition really gave me a great overview inside this great filmmaker's mind and heart.

According to the record, Kubrick had made thirteen feature films, including :

Eyes Wide Shut - 1999
Full Metal Jacket -1987
The Shining - 1980
Barry Lyndon -1975
A Clockwork Orange -1971
2001: A Space Odyssey -1968
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb - 1964
Lolita -1962
Spartacus -1960
Paths Of Glory -1957
The Killing -1956
Killer's Kiss -1955
Fear And Desire -1953

The amazing thing is that these films have covered an extremely diverse genres, ranging from science fiction to war films to historical drama to satire, from thriller and horror to epic, from scathing social critique to psychosexual drama. Although I haven't seen any of his films, from just looking at the hundreds of Stanley Kubrick's archives, props, costumes , models, and short previews of some of the most famous films in the gallery, I am really fascinated by his creativity, insights and ideas of this great filmmaker (although I can tell that some of the contents of his films are highly controversial).

Martin Scorsese wrote, "Stanley Kubrick expanded our idea of what is possible in movies. And I believe that in so doing, he actually expanded our consciousness of ourselves - the cruetlties of which we are capable, the longing we feel for something unnameable, the forces that compel us to move in strange, troubling directions." And just for these reasons, I am planning to watch his movies and gain insights and expansion of my mind, and in so doing prayerfully, get to know more about humanity as well as things beyond.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

God's Good Gifts

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. (James 1:17)

I was reading Grace For the Moment by Max Lucado this morning, and he listed a number of gifts God has given us, which is wonderful:
  • He has sent his angels to care for you, his Holy Spirit to dwell in you
  • Anytime you speak, he listens
  • He will never let you be tempted too much or stumble to far
  • Let a tear appear on your cheek, and he is there to wipe it
  • As much as you want to see him, he wants to see you more

Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Use Creativity To Worship God

I believe that God is deeply interested in us as whole people - spirit, soul and body. He has gifted us in unique ways and we can use all of our creativity to express worship to Him, encourage others to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and use the creative arts of drama, theatre, and media to communicate a truthful understanding of life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

LivingRoom DVD Extravaganza

LivingRoom on Tuesday was our DVD extravaganza which was held at the recently arrived home community members, who had been away overseas for 6 months. It was great to catch up with everyone, and enjoy Lauryn Hill's live concert "Hill's Unplugged"! Pillows, doonas, popcorn, and nibbles were accompanying this singer from The Fugees.

A spiritual, emotional Lauryn Hill was singing of God and freedom with tears streaming down her face during several songs. Dressed in blue jeans, a denim jacket and a New York Yankees cap, Hill sat on a stool and strummed an acoustic guitar for over 2 hours. She spoke seriously about her faith and shunning the trappings of fame, and several fans in the audience shed tears with her. She not only has a wonderful voice, her testimony is very touching and inspiring as well.

"I used to get dressed for y'all but I don't do that no more," Hill joked as she began her set.
"It's a new day."
"I'm a mess but God is dealing with me every day, and true healing is from the inside out."
"That's what all these songs are about: problem, cause and solution.
"People want fantasy, but what they need is reality! And reality can only be found in God."
"I had to do some dying before I could live again."
"The more I focus on myself, the less I can be used by God."
"I am who I am - I don't need to hide it. It's all good. God is faithful."
"Living our passion & purpose is pleasing to God."

What do you reckon?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Heart Of Creativity

1 Timothy 4:14 says, " Do not neglect your gift." I was reminded of that last night. Every one is creative, you don't have to be a professional artist to be creative.

Don't neglect your talent, don't give up your own art. We all have our art.

If you play, practice.
If you sing, go back to that routine you used to have for warming up and vocalising.
If you write, write. Jot down every idea in a notebook.
If you are a poet, invite a few friends over for an informal reading of your poems.
If you're a dancer, put on some music and dance.
If you're in drama, read a good play and have a dramatic party. Go see a play or musical.
If you like cooking, just put those random ingredients together creatively to make a dish.

Someone (I forgot who) once said to me that people who think they are not creative are all creative (because we are all made in the image of God), but they just haven't tapped into the potential that is available in Christ. Living in God's image means using our creativity and imagination to the full. There are a lot of opportunities before us yet, as long as every vision, every creative idea, every imagination is brought into focus through the cross.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


"Urban attitude" is a funky shop in the famous Federation Square in Melbourne Posted by Picasa

Recently I have been thinking quite a bit about mission in the urban contexts (particularly Melbourne in my context). According to one of World Team 's brochures, it is a common misconception that only people living in remote or exotic locations are untouched by the Gospel. While some may still live in tribal or rural groups, an increasing majority reside in some of the world's largest cities (eg: New York, Sydney, Toronto, Paris & London etc). World Team's ministries are as diverse as the people we serve.

Job 24:12 said "From the city men groan, and the souls of the wounded cry out" . The image of the city is a busy metropolis: speed, movement, noise, rows of buildings, lots of apartments, houses, restaurants, stores,public transport, cars, motor-bikes, bikes and children etc - all that are easily seen and heard by the city dwellers (of which I am one).

But there is more. Behind and beneath the human busy activities are invisible aches. Job calls them "groans." That's a good word. It seems that this groan comes from one who has been wounded emotionally. Perhaps that's the reason why Job adds the next line in poetic form in verse 12, "the souls of the wounded cry out." I think Job is speaking of those whose hearts have been broken . The city is full of such sounds-the wounded, bruised, and broken, crying out in groans from the heart. That describes some of us, I am certain (cos I've experienced it many times in my life).

Tucked away in the corner of every life are wounds, bruises and scars. If they were not there, we would not need so many doctors, counsellors or psychologists. But I reckon only the Greatest Physician can turn our ugly wound into a scar of beauty. Only He can heal the pain and sin in our past and make us whole again.

The city is a place full of poetry filled with eyes and ears. The eyes are lights in the city areas. Ears are the walls that keep all secrets. There are a lot of culture, stories on the life of those who live inside the walls.

According to Cecilia Farfan, from Mexico City. The word "CITY" is an acroynm that has a meaning in each letter, and I find it very interesting.
C is for Culture
I is for Imagination
T is for Talking
Y is for You gecause you make the city shine and be alive.

So do you live / work in an urbanised context? And how do you feel about the city that you are in and the people there? Are you involved in the culture, imagination, talking and shining in the city?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dinner With Chalk Circle

Chalk Circle Drawing By Bev IssacPosted by Picasa

I had the pleasure of having dinner with Chalk Circle, internationally famous painters and pavement artists who produce art for festivals and special events worldwide. Although I am not a painter, I feel so inspired by the Director of Chalk Circle.

Peter Voice is the leader of Chalk Circle. He is one of the pioneers of contemporary pavement art in the world. During dinner, he told me that he was originally arrested and charged with defacing public property in Melbourne but after a short, public battle with the council, laws were passed to recognise the artform. Peter has influenced many pavement artists working worldwide today. He also introduced the artform to North America, where it was almost unheard of, and his workshops in New Zealand and Australia have produced several outstanding artists.

Peter is not only a pavement artist, he had his first two solo exhibitions of paintings and drawings long before drawing on the streets. He is a painter, sculptor, humorist, administrator, performer, teacher, designer and writer - and I must add, a great story-teller and a good cook.

I feel really privileged to hang out with outstanding artists like Peter, Bev and Diana. And I certainly feel that my creative hunger was fed through looking at their great paintings in their home.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Am Tagged

Tagged from Amanda.

Four jobs you have had: Proof-reader, Waitress, Marketing Representative, Tour Coordinator & Tour Guide.

Four movies you could watch over and over: A Beautiful Mind, Romero, Joy Luck Club, The Jesus Film

Four places you've lived: Hong Kong, Melbourne, Hoppers Crossing (a suburb in Melbourne), Northcote (another suburb of Melbourne).

Four TV shows you love to watch: The Great Outdoor, The Amazing Race, Home and Away, Rove.

Four places you've been on holidays: Malaysia, Japan, Paris, London.

Four favorite foods: Japanese sashimi, Pigeon, Chocolate, Durian

Four places you'd rather be right now: Actually I am really happy where I am. But I don't mind going to India, Italy, Venice or Jordon to travel and visit friends.

Four sites I visit daily: Google, WT, Daily Bible Study, Prayer List

Anyone of you interested to do this list in their blogs, feel free ;)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Queen Victoria Market's Night Market

Queen Victoria Market's Night Market Posted by Picasa

Tonight I went to the Queen Victoria Market's (QVM) Night Market with my LivingRoom friends. To those of you who are not familiar with it, QVM is one of the most famous markets in Melbourne. The Night Market is held every Wednesday evening in the summer months, and it is where the 'weird and wonderful' come out at night hehe!

The Night Market was crowded! It offered quite an exciting mix of freshly prepared food from various food stalls of different countries, live entertainment (with live bands, clowning and tatooing etc), stalls with handmade goods and unusual shopping experiences, a specific new age / spirituality section with holistic health stuff and massage therapies etc, bars and regional food providers. We wandered around the market, ate (standing up may I add, cos there were simply no tables left) and I had a yummy mango and black berry sorbet, shopped a bit (I got myself a necklace). My senses were really being engaged in this place - the nice stalls with various goods & clothes, the music in the background, the yummy food (the smell of Japanese chicken skewers mixed with the smell of Danish pancakes was superb). I really enjoyed myself, although I must admit that the crowd put me off a little.

Darren over at LivingRoom had prepared a reflective exercise for us to do but we didn't do it in the Night Market because of the large crowds there. So I did a personal reflection on the questions after I read Darren's post this morning. These questions are really fantastic. They help me to think about how how God might be interacting in a market like this, and to make an event like this something of a prayer - and in so doing connecting the mundane experience of the marketplace with God.

As I walked around, I sensed God's presence, that He was there in the Night Market, although it's a 'secular' place. Our God is holistic! I saw communities there, which reflect His character. I asked myself the question: even though the 'church' that I work for is just minutes away from the market, where exactly was the church at that time?

The new age / spirituality section of the market made me realised once again that people are hunger and thirst for spiritual things. Like Darren said, "the challenge is to practice spotting what God might be up to around you in the everyday. "

Lord, give us the wisdom to know what you are up to, and to understand what we should be up to according to Your will.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Christmas Tree Demolished

Christmas Tree Demolished Posted by Picasa

When I saw the tree being demolished, it reminded me of Christ's death. Yet I priase God that Jesus resurrected and He is still alive today.

Even though Christmas is over, Christ is always with us. His name is Immanuel (God with us). Hallelujah!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Babette's Feast

As suggested by the World Team Director, I watched the video "Babette's Feast" last night. I think Babette’s Feast is really a feast in itself, for the heart, the senses, and above all the spirit. Behind the film’s simple (which to some can be seen as boring) story is a sort of parable of religion and life. A voice-over narrator introduces us to a pair of aging sisters, daughters of a now-deceased Protestant minister, and their lives in this village in Denmark. These pious sisters lead quiet lives of touching service among their late father’s remaining followers, a handful of older residents of a tiny nineteenth-century coastal settlement that is at once almost a religious community and a sect unto itself.

In flashback we see the sisters in the flower of youth, living with their father. Even though both sisters had the opportunity to get married, Martina and Philippa lived like nuns, consecrated to religious life. They are called upon to deny marriage and family, to sacrifice lives of domestic joy and service for another joy and another service.

Into this community comes an unexpected person: Babette, who is a refugee from 1871 revolutionary violence in Paris. She begs the sisters to take her in as a maid / housekeeper / cook, and to be allowed to serve them, asking only room and board; and the kind-hearted sisters cannot turn her away in her need.

Martina and Philippa hardly think, of course, that they themselves or their community might be as needy as Babette herself, or that she might supply what they lack. After all, she is French, presumably Catholic. What can she have that they might need?

What indeed. The pious sisters live to serve; but they are wholly unacquainted with being served, which can be as humbling as, or more so than, service itself. Nor are they aware of all that she has to give. After many years of service, a day finally comes when Babette is in a position to show them. She wants to prepare a feast for the tiny community, on the occasion of the late minister’s 100th birthday. Martina and Philippa initially consent to Babette’s plans… but consent turns to alarm as they begin to grasp the scope of her plans.

Babette's feast is both a meal and also (in a way the sisters cannot guess) a sacrifice. Martina, Philippa and the others come to the table determined not to be inflenced by their senses, but the meal works subtly upon them in unexpected ways. Some reminisce about their absent master, making the feast a true memorial meal. But one guest who is unaware of Babette’s presence among the villagers perceives the meal, and the hand behind it, for what it is, just as the disciples on the Emmaus road came to recognize the Lord in the breaking of bread.

In the end, Babette’s Feast is a quiet celebration of the divine grace that meets us at every turn, and even redeems our ways not taken, our sacrifices and losses. Whatever we think has been given up or lost, God gives back in greater abundance, one way or another. It may not be till heaven that we truly become all that He intends; but His grace is here and now, whatever our circumstances, and with Him all things are possible. The film’s last word says it all.

Has anyone watched this film before? What do you think of it?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How To Notice Creativity

I often feel that simple things in life can provide us with a "creative" moment. Whether you write, paint, or do craft, nature is a fantastic teacher. While you take a drive, walk, or sit on a beach or in the bush etc, let your mind and heart open to the countless possibilities that exist in nature. Use your senses. Life is not a senseless journey. Not only look, but listen, smell, and yes, even taste. Try those fresh strawberries, lovely cherries, or red raspberries!! (yum yum)

When you are waiting for public transport, at a traffic light, or even in a lift, use these brief moments to pay attention to what the people around you are doing, what about the music played in a shopping centre, or even the smell from the corner restaurant. All these you can file away in your memory bank and use them later. They can add a touch of realism, a new angle to your creativity, or even a new insight into a common thread of thought.

I have a habit of taking along a pocket notebook with me wherever I go and jot down things I find creative or inspiring. When in a hurry, I use word associations so when I do have the time I can recall the moment and add to its description (perhaps during blogging or journalling).

Really creativity is all around us. We just have to take the time to notice it. Every week I have at least half a day of 'creative arty date' where I slow down just a bit from my busyness and breathe in the air of new ideas, concepts, and views through arts, films, songs, photographs, paintings, multi-media and poems etc. I try to stop, look, and listen, and in so doing I draw close to the most creative ONE - the Creator Himself! And I am so thankful for that.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ned Kelly - Such Is Life?

Yesterday I went to watch a film shown in the National Gallery of Victoria (Ian Potter Centre) in the Federation Square in Melbounre. The film was about the story of the bushranger Ned Kelly.

For those of you who don't know, Ned Kelly is one of Australia's most well-known historical figures. When people are asked what they think of Ned Kelly, the answers are usually fairly extreme. They either see him as a hero who fought for his family and friends, or a bushranger who robbed banks, stole livestock and murdered policemen.

During Ned's short life he was arrested for horse stealing, assault and bank robbery. After more bank robberies, the Kelly Gang's had their 'last stand' in the small town of Glenrowan, Victoria, where they took 60 hostages in a hotel. In the battle with police three gang members - Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart - were killed and a wounded Ned was arrested and charged with the murder of a policeman. Ned Kelly was tried and convicted of the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek and hanged at the Melbourne Gaol.

In the film, the last words that Ned Kelly said before he was hanged was 'such is life'. It sounded so sad and hopeless! That really made me think. Is life supposed to be like that? Honestly, I don't know what to make of Ned Kelly. One thing I know, Ned Kelly (whether he was a hero, or a murderer), as well as anyone of us, need the forgiveness of sin from God.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Daily Bible Study 2006

Just wanted to let you know that I've embarked on a daily Bible Study journey through the One Year Bible 2006 program (here), where there are more than 1,700 of us in 50 countries. I am now also part of a new blog called "Daily Bible Study 2006" where we write our thoughts and reflections on the Bible readings on Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. You are most welcome post a comment and share your insights with us too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Living Room Card Making Extravaganza :)

Living Room Card Making Extravaganza Posted by Picasa

I participated in the LR Card Making Extravaganza last Saturday. Each of the community members brought some creative things like photos, wrapping paper, free postcards, dried autumn leaves, ribbons, material, stamps, magazines, pencils, etc. And here we went and made some cards! I learned some good techniques from those that are experienced.

I really enjoyed the card making. We didn't even need to have a particular occasion to make a card for, most of us just had a play, others created some birthday and thank-you cards. It was also a great social time, and a time that we could explore our creativity and imagination. Great stuff!

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Spirit Of Creativity

What is the difference between animals and human? Amongst many things, we have an ability to communicate and create that animals do not have. We are creative beings whose responsibility is to determine the directions of our lives under God.

I picked "creativity" as my word for 2006. God is Creator, and since we are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26), this can only mean that we, too, are made with creative skills. Creativity is a key factor in living in the image of God. It is His will that we live creatively!

According to Doctor Barry Chart (the founder of Tabor Bible College), creative living is the ability to take ordinary things, ordinary ideas, ordinary people - and to make them extraordinary! Creative living is imaginative living.

Jesus used parables and stories regularly when he taught. He had a fertile imagination that was constantly presenting new images, new pictures, and new ideas. The ability to creat, to imagine, to dream great dreams, and to conceive great concepts is a divine gift.

Oh Lord, please grant me this divine gift of creativity. I want to be an imaginator, a dreamer, a creator for Your glory. Lord, I want to live in Your image for Your sake. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Sunday, January 08, 2006


After reading Pia's blog about a word for 2006, I think it's a good idea to have one. The first word that came to mind was 'creativity'. We are made in God's image, and HE is the Creator and Ultimate Artist. I would like to be creative in my life and ministry in 2006.

How about you? What's your 'word' for 2006?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Drama Ministry and Storytelling

drama presentation at my church Posted by Picasa

My work at church as the creative arts coordinator involves drama ministry and storytelling. I believe that drama and storytelling communicate messages. Drama is an under-used yet essential means of communicating the Gospel truths, both to Christians and non-Christian friends. Often times, we can only understand and remember abstract truth when it has ‘visible clothes’. Good use of language in communication always ‘paints a picture’. Most cultures spend a considerable proportion of their leisure time living in this world of story. This is true of the rich West, watching TV and cinema, reading, or playing computer games; and in traditional cultures with story-telling, puppets or dance.

We live in a visual and tactile age. Fleming-Drane quotes Albert Mehrabian's Silent Messages (1971), in which he cites that only 7% of the total impact of any message derives from its words: 38% is from vocal messages (tone of voice) and a huge 55% is non-verbal (body language). I believe the church is yearning to return to its heritage. It has had a grand tradition of the performing arts (storytelling, music, mime, dance, drama) and the visual arts (stained glass windows, painting, sculpture). Non-white Westerners seem to have been able to avoid the effects of the Enlightenment project and have expressed faith in more non-literate ways like dance, movement and singing.

The clinching argument is the example of Jesus. His method of communication to the ordinary people was so revolutionary, we still often do not understand it or use it. Although he did indeed expound Old Testament scripture when in the synagogue, or to his disciples, his method of communication to the mass of what we would now call ‘unchurched’ people was dramatic story using parables (Matthew 13:34). And story culturally relevant to their situation. Israel had no culture of performing drama, but in common with many cultures today, they loved story-telling.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Great Light

Thanks everyone for your comments regarding my last post "Light in the darkness". Since I wrote this last post, the Lord has been reminding me to pray for this world of darkness. There are wars and rumors of wars, hunger and unemployment, racism, loneliness, and a sense of emptiness in this world. Perhaps the poet Robert Frost worded it best when he wrote: "I have been acquainted with the night. I have walked in the rain and out of the rain. I have been acquainted with the night.

I can identify with Robert Frost about darkness and night. It has touched my life, and I have been acquainted with the night. The scripture affirms that the darkness is real and it is present in this world. But, it also affirms that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Gospel of John records that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "people who walk in darkness have seen a great light." I praise the Lord that we can see a great light in darkness, as He is the light of the world. Hallelujah!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Light In The Darkness

Fireworks seen from my balcony Posted by Picasa

Happy New Year everyone!

“May the joy of celebrating our Saviour’s birth remain in your heart to be your strength each day…to refresh your delight in Him…to be the light that shines into the lives of others.” – Bonnie Rickner Jensen

In my previously post Salt, Light and City On The Hill, I wrote that light creates images of causing darkness to flee and truth to be highlighted. As we share the good news of the gospel of Jesus, we are indeed light to the world. You don't have to curse the darkness as a Christian. No. Just shine the light. Darkness disappears of its own accord! Share the truth and love of Christ, and fulfil that great commission!

When I saw the fireworks in my balcony on New Year's Eve, God confirmed this message to me again. Truly when the fireworks (bright light) appeared and shone, the darkness around the neighbourhood disappeared straight away.

The fireworks also reminded me that this life is brief. Like Moses says in Psalm 90:10, "The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. "

But what we learn here, and what we experience here, has eternal significance. I feel that two of the most important laws in my life (which are also my new year resolutions) are: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself."

Lord, help me to love you and love people with all of my being, and be a reflection of Your light. In Jesus' name, amen.