Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Back to Basics for First Generation Christian

It was a life changing decision to finally lift up my hand to invite Jesus into my life as my personal Lord and Saviour, to say the Sinner’s Prayer. This may sound stereotypical, but my experience told me that more often than not, things do not change immediately the moment I lifted up my hand. The challenge was arguably greater for a First Generation Christian to start everything afresh, in all conviction to lay aside one’s old self, and start putting on Christ.

Galations 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” But honestly it is easier said than done. I still found myself struggling in many areas. I am still the old sinful me, who need God more than ever every single day, who yearn for God’s grace the moment I wake up. But I thank God that His grace is ever sufficient for me. No matter how much I have failed yesterday, He is still loving me so much without a hint of reduction in His love today. I am truly blessed!

But love is a two-way traffic. These are the things I reckon every First Generation Christian should strive to pursue every day.

Falling in Love with God Every Day

When you are in a deeply passionate relationship, the first thing you do when you are awake is to check your phone if you had received any message from your significant other. Your eyes lit up when there is a message coming from him/her - a sweet greeting. You think of him/her every moment of your day, and can’t wait to see him/her. This would persist for maybe the first few months. Before you know it, these lovey-dovey moments may slowly fade away when the honeymoon phase finally arrives at a transition juncture of feeling. 

Likewise to ensure we will never take God for granted, falling in love every day with God is an excellent way to keep our fire of love going. When you are so on fire for God, your day seems to be surrounded by His goodness and favour. Spirits of excellence and thanksgiving follow you everywhere you step your foot into. Your joy seems fuller with God lighting every path you are pursuing. You are assured of God’s love and peace that He will go before you. 

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings. ~Psalm 17:8

How to fall in love with God every day, in other word renewing your passion for Him every day? Remember Him. Remembrance speaks of an extremely powerful action, which can lead to the renewal of love but if misused, bitterness. If we are constantly reminding ourselves of the wrong deeds people have done against us in the past, we are consuming the daily dosage of this bitterness drug. Likewise, remembering God’s love every day can lead to daily renewal of His grace and love in our life. 

Embracing Holy Spirit 

This is peculiar. I never had anyone beside myself and perhaps my inner voice that speaks to me. But all in sudden after Jesus came into my life, there is this entity called Holy Spirit who starts giving me nudges every now and then. I have yet to hear audible voice from Him (too afraid to be honest), but one way to differentiate His voice from my own is that His voice is always in a positive note, and occasionally radical. I realised whenever Holy Spirit is speaking, I will feel a sense of reluctance and unwillingness to obey. Great things always seem to happen every time I obey that voice, whether it is a blessing I give to others, or an act that leads to the reconciliation of failing relationship with others. So if you hear a voice speaking to you and challenge you to do something you have never done before, chances are it is the Holy Spirit nudging you. Try embracing the call and see what God has in store for you. 

Embracing New Identity

Putting on Christ is not the easiest thing to do since we no longer have a mask to wear to hide our fears and insecurities. This itself is scary and needs tremendous courage from us. Fortunately, God’s strength can sustain us through this transition period. No mountain is too high for Him to conquer, including the embracing of our new identity. Embracing new identity means living a Christ-centered lifestyle, building a discipleship relationship and start to be held accountable to a more spiritually experienced brother/sister, listening to worship songs, serving God and His people, developing habits of doing devotion and reading Bible daily. Much of these require discpline to fuel myself to keep on going. 

One Step at a Time. It took me such a long time to build a habit of doing devotion, and there are days I still fail to read God’s Words, due to various excuses I can find, more commonly laziness. Habits take approximately 20 days to be developed or destroyed (for bad habits). So persevere on! Try to do something differently for 20 days consecutively, whether to build a new habit or destroy an old bad habit, and you will see it being embedded neatly into your lifestyle. If you get angry easily, perhaps try not to get angry for 20 days? OH GOD HELP ME! 

Honour Your Parents and Love Your Family

For us First Generation Christian, it can be difficult at times especially if you do not have a close relationship with your parents. You may hold grudges against your parents. Your parents may have wronged you in the past, or done something that angered or disappointed you. Perhaps their parenting skills were not up to your par, and you wanted more. Perhaps you wanted your parents to hear you out, to share your stories with them without any unfounded prejudice and judgment. But you knew it is not possible because knowing them since young, you knew they will surely judge and say hurtful things.  

Truth remains this; the first commandment of God with promise is to honour your father and mother, so that you may life long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12) 

Regardless of whether you like your parents, God expects us to love them and honour them. It is safe to say most parents love their children, but they may not have adopted the right methods to love their children. Children who do not recognize their parenting style will end up being angry, bitter and disappointed. Perhaps remembering that we are the only vessel of God in the household will give us the encouragement much needed to spread the love of God, for our love should spring from the abundant love God has given us. 

Ultimate Mission

Despite all odds are stacked against us, from our family background to our environment, for instance our circle of friends and nature of jobs, we have the omnipresent God who watches over our back. Our mission is therefore to focus on seeking Him daily, to run towards Him, to bask in His overflowing love, and to pray steadfastly that He may use us as His vessels in expanding His kingdom on earth. This means making ourselves available for Him to work miracles. Less of us, more of Him!

Let's finish the race strong! Strive for Gold! 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

What are You Following?

I have to admit, I love cars, particularly Japanese sports cars. Ever since my friends invited me to cyber cafe for video gaming when I was bare 13 and I got introduced to Need For Speed (Underground 2), my mind has been wandering and envisioning myself driving those bloody fast turbocharged cars. Nissan Skyline GT-R34, Nissan 350Z, Mitsubitshi Lancer Evolution, Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Toyota Supra. The list goes on and on, but you get it. I love fast cars, to the extent I idolised them. Every now and then I might still turn into fan boy mood whenever I see those cars zooming past me.

When you love something, you will go and learn up more about that particular interest. I started learning about those cars, how much power they can potentially squeeze out, and most importantly how much those cars cost in Malaysia. I became the expert of the Stars Classified especially on the second-hand cars prices. To my despair, most of those cars costed more than RM100k. That was 9 years ago in 2008. Obviously some of those cars are way cheaper now at around RM60k-70k but the maintenance cost, road tax and insurance can easily kill your wallet.

That was my motivation! 

I know it sounded shallow now, but that was my motivation of working hard. I suppose it was normal for a young boy who easily gets fascinated by anything cool that shouts attention. I studied hard so that I can earn enough money. Having enough money will grant me the ticket to driving those fast cars. And then what? As I slowly grew up, I thought perhaps driving a fast car can attract beautiful girls because it shouts riches. Totally flawed ideas but those were what I thought. Beautiful models and race queens surrounding the motorsport events did not help a tad bit but worsen my self delusion. I did not have any higher goal. This was held true for the rest of my teenage life. 

Even though I have come to acknowledge the existence of Christ when I was around 13, I did not have a personal relationship with Him. I was too young and immature to comprehend the true value of sacrifice God has done through Jesus. Nevertheless I continued to come to Christian Fellowship meets in school and youth group in Assembly of God church, purely because of the free refreshment and heartwarming music and worship sessions, perhaps pretty girls too at several occasions. I am sure I was not alone in this, but times and times again despite my flawed intention, there was something funny but somewhat comforting about this God who spoke peace and assurance into my situations at different seasons. 

Time and time again when I faced challenges particularly in my studies, He helped me overcome my defeat. Very rarely I give up on a subject, but when I almost did, He showed Himself to me. He proved Himself worthy to be praised. He wiped away my tears and gave me the strength to push through my A2 Level Economics paper when I had just screwed up the subjective part (Paper 4) of the paper one week ago. He gave me a perfect mark for the objective part (Paper 3), that led me to 89 percentile (still an A, one percentile short of A*). 

Mind you, this deliverance was showed to me even before I truly trusted Him. That was in 2012. For some reasons, I found it difficult to give my life to Him. Was it because of my 'logical' thought process? Or perhaps my forgetful nature? Maybe my guilt of past/existing sins and habits? I started coming to Acts Church in 2012 (after a long 4-year hiatus from attending church) and I was placed under a mentor from the same Homes (cell group). However I was not able to open up to him, eventually finding myself contantly discussing issues at surface level. We was never able to get into much depth of issues, what more the root cause and solutions. This mentorship did not work out as intended. 

New Seasons

I went to the UK for further study under sponsorship from my current employer, and started joining Equippers London City. At around the same time, God revealed to Pastor Kenneth the vision to plant Acts London. I was so pumped up to be part of Acts London because when Pastor Kenneth first spoke about Acts London, I was blown away. It seemed to me that God was bringing Acts Church to the UK, just when I was about to start pursuing my study in London. This cannot be a mere coincidence. So I joined Lazarus Takawira, a faithful servant of God who helped planted Acts London into its current establishment now. We had Friday night meet every forthnight at Corus Hotel near Hyde Park. So much favour had been showed to Acts London in its early days, from the searching of venue to gather to discounted rental fee. This continued on until end of December 2012, when the first Sunday service finally started in January 2013. 

Since I was already rooted in Equippers and I had started serving regularly, I decided to continue on. I was water baptised in Equippers Church London, in March 2013. At the time of undergoing water baptise, I was still struggling in many areas but I was finally convinced that God was real. Having seen so many wonders and miracles happening to people around me and some to me, I knew He must be real. So I have accepted Him. But it still does not mean I had a consistent personal intimate relationship with Him. A few times I had wandered away from Him, dwelling in my own personal issues without Him in my life. Those times were the times I felt miserable. 

I only joined Acts in September 2013 as I returned to London from my summer break in Malaysia. We have been told many times to not despise small and humble beginnings, so we pushed on even though we rarely seen growth in the regular attendance. The challenge was real and sometimes it can be discouraging. Devil can come with his lies to destroy our motivation. But our Elders (Martin and Joanne) continued to stay focused in God, lead us well and soldier on through the difficult period. 

#1 Challenge: Long Distance Relationship with an unbeliever

Somehow or rather, I got into a long distance relationship (LDR) with an attractive girl but she was an unbeliever. It was my first relationship. We first met through a mutual friend gathering when I was back in KL for summer break in 2013. We started from being simple chat buddy on Facebook messenger and as time passed by, we got along so well although I was already back in the UK and she was in the States. We proceeded to Skype instead and that was how it all got started. The rainbow and unicorn did not last long. Due to some complication, 3 months later, she decided to end the relationship. 5 hours effort of daily Skyping had gone in vain. Needless to say I was left broken and unforgiving. 

I struggled for the next two months crying frequently to sleep, until Acts UK Getaway 2014 in end of March 2014. Towards the end of Acts UK Getaway, I managed to sit down with Pastor Kenneth and Pastor Sandra, together with Pastor Dave and Kat, and poured out all the stories to them. I thank God that immediately upon walking out of the Camden Hub, I felt a heavy rock being lifted off my shoulder. The next two weeks were filled with an explosion of dreams, many of which were radical dreams, including my dream about her that God had subsequently revealed to me on its interpretation. Never had I felt so close to God before. Radical dreams that I dared not even think of, and would not have thought of with my own inner mind, therefore it must be from God. But they came rushing to me, so overwhelmingly until I had to say "Please stop it, God". I never had crazy dreams anymore thereafter. 

It was the closure of a chapter. God said, "Trust in Me, and I will lead You." 

#2 Challenge: Matched Betting Gone Wrong 

One week before Christmas 2014, I was in my final year of university. I was looking at a passive way of earning income, not because I was lacking in any way but purely out of intention to save even more money. I somehow bumped into this UK based website called "Save the Student" teaching a step-by-step method of risk free strategy to earn money - matched betting. I was delighted to learn the word 'risk-free', just as I had just learnt about hedging strategy in one of my university modules called "Derivatives, Trading and Hedging". This matched betting strategy was analogous to the hedging strategy, and if everything went correctly, I should be able to earn risk free income. 

And I did. 

Matched betting, despite the word betting, was not exactly betting but it revolved around the dark world of betting. It involved betting FOR (on a bookmaker) and AGAINST (on a betting exchange) a particular outcome in a match (commonly football), essentially neutralise the exposure to the outcome of the match. But as part of their marketing strategies, most bookmakers in the UK provided free bet. So matched betting was devised to extract the free bets from the bookmakers - risk free money, upon the first round of qualifying bet to unlock the free bet. 

A simple process of matched betting as follow: 

Everything went well for the first three days. By then I had already accumulated up to £1,000. Then a mistake set in. I pressed a button called "Cash out" before the match even started, unknowingly cancelled one side of the strategy. I was exposed to the risk of losing money, in other word I was betting on one particular outcome. I lost £700 for that match. Losing always felt more painful than winning, despite smaller amount than what I had already accumulated. 

I felt cheated and wanted to recoup my losses. For the next one month, I kept on losing money with some small wins. I taught myself everything I need to know about football from zero - different teams and leagues and star players as well as histories. No matter how much studies, previews and statistics I had since done before proceeding with all the football matches selections, there will always be at least one loss. I have tried many different strategies - accumulator, Asian handicaps etc. I have tried them all, but I still lost. My final loss was £12,000. I wrote an email to Pastor Kenneth as an act of confession. I wanted to quit. Elder Martin subsequently prayed for me. My cell group leaders prayed for me. 

Guess what, I dropped back into the black hole. I was so disobedient and stubborn. Why can't I just stop and accept the loss? My thought at that time: I have saved up this portion by living frugally and now it costed me everything just like that. This is unfair! 

I can't bear but to think God was looking at me in disbelief and disappointment. 

It was March 1st, 2015. Today could be the day God delivers me, I thought. I had been living in hell of fear and insecurity for the past 2 months, without proper sleep every night. This would be my last £2,000. Lose this amount and I am completely done. I told God, "If this is Your will, let me just lose all these and I will accept it."

Instead of bagging on my usual combination of accumulator (up to more than 10 selections) and Asian handicap strategy, I decided to go with only seven selections but with higher risk. Long story short, all selections won and I had recouped £15,000. The moment Ajax scored against PSV Eindhoven at 83rd minute, my last bet on total number of goals (> 2.5 goals) won. My whole world was relieved. I promised God that I will never ever touch anything related to betting. 

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord. -Job 1:21 
Up until today, I still do not quite understand why God allowed me to go through such traumatic experience. Surely 2-month long of emotional roller-coaster was not a coincidence. God allowed such thing to happen for He would not put a burden so heavy that I cannot bear on me. Nevertheless, I praise God for His deliverance and full financial recovery. 


So what are you following? I have finally found my purpose in life - to follow Jesus. To follow Christ means to be more like Him, to do what He will do, and how He will react to different circumstances. From a boy who had a goal no higher than driving a sports car, He has now seeped into my life. I am still very far from being Christ-like, but every day I aim to become more like Him. That means I should focus less on myself but more on others, because God's heart is always with the people He loves. 

I hope the above testimonies would show you how God has delivered me through different challenging times, and these may encourage you to draw closer to Him. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Penning Down Thoughts

I never had the habit of journaling, and it was never my thing. You see, I had a hard time polishing my language skills. Having grown up and educated in a Chinese primary school and surrounded by Chinese-speaking community at least two third of my life, I had the tendency to speak and think in Chinese. English was out of my realm of mastery. Mandarin Chinese is my mother tongue after all.

Ironically I have been widely misunderstood as being a 'banana' - a Chinese who only speaks English. 

It seems I do have a 'banana' look. I have been told that I speak and write English better than my Chinese sentences, which the latter often seems to be awkward and to some extent, trying too hard. Can't really blame me right? I have not been consistently writing Chinese for the past 10 years. But this is blatantly deceiving! My English proficiency has not always been acceptable. Reading back my blog posts even just 5 years ago brought myself to embarrassment. In short, I did not have the habit of writing.

Only after coming back from the UK, my English has become slightly better. Still I did not write often. Occasionally updating my blog does not count as a tool of penning down my thoughts. What about devotion? Good point! I do not have the habit to write. I will read and read, and ponder about the points. I will pray about those points, but I realised the points will fade away slowly if I failed to find direct relevance to my current circumstance. 

Today is slightly different. When I was doing devotion, I was prompted to write down the lies about beauty and past, which I do not intend to share yet as they are something personal to me. But I have found great clarity by writing them down! Greater clarity on issues allows me to look at a bigger picture, which in turn allows me to focus and meditate on the PRIMARY solution. It can be a single Scripture, a Word from God or an inspiration from the Spirit for Him to speak into the situation. 

I'm glad I am starting to utilise this tool of journaling. Try it yourself too, if you had not already! 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Is He Real?

I have been battling with my 'rational' logic ever since I first get introduced to the notion of a single God who not only loves us, but who died for us. Who in the world will die for us? I thought. To those who do not know me well enough, I grew up in a family where we worshipped Taoism idols and pray to them for blessings by using incense sticks. My family though, only worshipped them at special occasions, most of the time dismisses the notion of God and lives as free thinkers.

See, it was clearly mentioned in the Bible that we can only serve one God, no one can serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). This Scripture is universal and applies to all, believer or not. Majority of the times during my upbringing though had been revolving around the latter. But truly, life revolving around money is stressful and joyless. I got beaten up when I lost money as a boy (even just RM10). There is still a dark shadow hiding beneath. I had learnt that money is important. Losing it means I am looking for a whip. Until today, the topics of conversation in my family are still revolving around money issue. The best fixed deposit (FD) rate currently offered in the market, property's prospect and profitability and anything under the Sun relating to money, including solar panel project for TNB as an alternative investment. We barely talk about topics that will strengthen our family bond, things we like or don't like, what we think on certain issues and so on. We rarely, if ever, have heart-to-heart talks. Arguments and quarrelling were rampant even on small petty issues.

As a young believer, I found myself constantly challenged to resist the temptation of succumbing to my family circumstances. Many times I had failed. So much so that I had been categorised as "one kind" and being ridiculous. What can I do, Lord? Help me to resist the temptation of being angry. Yet time and time again I got angry even at little things. To the extent I start doubting if He is even real. If He is real, He will do something to improve my family situation. But ever since, I have gotten many different clues on what I can do to change this. He has spoken to me via many different ways: people around me, Scriptures, and circumstances to test my progress and development.

It is not so much on how my family members can change the family situation, but how I can and should react to it. I pray to God that if He is real, He will give me the much needed control and peace to not fight back in argument and loud voice. How beautiful it is for my voice to be used in praising Him. Prior to serving on church choir, my voice projection was literally used for the wrong purposes, which I admit that I am very ashamed now. But God is a God of second chance and His grace is ever sufficient for us. Every day I ask God for forgiveness and He still has not failed me. Now I am getting better at this. I have learnt not to raise voice and argue with my parents. I have been granted His peace and truly with this change having started within me, the tendency of argument has miraculously lessen.

He has implanted the spirit of patience in me. Throughout U-turn 21-days Prayer and Fast season leading up to Easter this year, family salvation was my main prayer point. No matter how much my heart desires to see my family members in church, God wants me to take it slow, one step at a time. The success of all big plans starts with many small steps being put together. Small, yet essential and godly.

So, is He real? On the things that I have not prayed about but decided to pursue, many times I had failed. On the hindsight, it seems to me the best way is to pray and ask God for peace in everything I do and things that I desire for. I have failed twice in my CA1 exam (Actuarial Risk Management) but God is still reassuring me the time will come, only if I completely put my faith in Him and His timing. This applies to all other areas too. I have decided to attempt ST5 exam (Finance & Investment A) one month ago and take a break from CA1 exam. The same feeling of insecurity and doubt hit me the moment I finished writing the paper. But I am still trusting Him for His deliverance.

I am a four-year-two-month-old Christian today. I am not young anymore, but I am still not matured enough. Every day I am learning something new about Him. There are days I felt distant from Him particularly when times are easy. When times are difficult, two possible things can happen: either I get closer to Him even more or I start doubting. And when the latter happens, He always give me peace and grace so sufficient to forgive me and lead me back towards His intended path for me. All because He loves me so much. He loves you equally much too if not more.

Friends, may I therefore encourage you that if you are like me, wondering if He is real at times or still thinking so, would you give Him a chance to pour out His blessings into your life? He is so excited to do so, and He is just waiting for the perfect moment.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

What Owning a Turbocharged Car has Taught me

If there is a single word that can sum up what owning a turbocharged car for the past one and a half year has taught me, it will be thishumility. I have quite a number of people telling me my car is cool, fast and what not. But instead of getting all boasted up, I can't help but to be humble at my slow car.

Slow car? You wondered. For a hot hatch making well above 234 horses on the wheel with 270Nm torque, this Neo turbo boosting 1-bar (14.5 psi) is producing more than double a stock Neo CPS is making. This is certainly not a slow car by any conventional family car standard. But with this comes a hefty price, in terms of time and money. The maintenance cost is not cheap, as it is the case with any other turbocharged car. Turbocharged vehicles are more prone to component failures just simply by the fact that there are a lot more things that can fail within the complex system, as compared to a much simpler naturally aspirated mode. 

I have educated myself with how a turbocharger system works, and it was a steep learning curve for me since I never knew how it works. The only thing I knew was a turbocharged car is scarily fast and it's uber cool! 

Imagine a roller coaster accelerates off, with G-force pressing your body against your seat. 

There are two ways to produce more power, firstly is by increasing engine capacity if you stick to naturally aspirated mode, secondly is by forced induction methods. Turbocharger system is one of these methods. On layman term, turbocharger involves the recycling of exhaust gas. The exhaust gas flow, instead of being eliminated straight from the vehicle, is utilised to spin the turbo hot side housing, which synced with turbo cold side housing. Through extremely fast spinning speed, the cold side housing draws the air into the system. The drawn air will then pass through intercooler and pipings, eventually arrive at intake manifold. 

The key ingredients of power production in the engine are fuel and air. Fuel can be injected accordingly through precise tuning setup, but air that can be drawn into the engine is limited to the engine capacity on naturally aspirated mode. So forced induction methods were invented to increase the power output by forcing higher volume of air into the engine. 

Turbocharged vehicle involves a turbo (duh!), custom exhaust manifold, exhaust system, pipings, intercooler, intake manifold, countless bolts and more pipings! Mechanically this is it, but there are more things to consider. Fuel system comprising higher capacity injectors, aftermarket fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator and so on, is also crucial to enable the car to perform to its greatest potential. To control fuel and ensure the right amount of air-fuel mixture to be ignited within the combustion chamber of the engine, a standalone ECU namely Haltech Sprint 500 has been deployed and tuned by a professional tuner. This tuning setup will influence almost everything about the car from drivability and performance to fuel efficiency. 

Speaking of which, performance and fuel efficiency are almost always trade off with one another. With great performance in terms of horsepower and torque, it means sacrificing fuel efficiency especially when you are boosting the car. A good tuning setup will strive to balance between the greatest performance figures a car is capable of based on its mechanical setup, as well as fuel efficiency for daily driving while cruising. 

These are just basics of turbocharger system, the tips of the iceberg. I can't wait to learn more about it as time passes and experience unfolds. 

The current setup of my Satria Neo Turbo is as follow: 

Engine and exhaust system:
Campro CPS 1.6 with internals fully upgraded to CFE kit (pistons, connecting rod, crankshaft, flywheel) 
Stainless steel gasket 1.5mm 
ACL bearing (main bearing) 
Billet oilpump gear
Velocity intake manifold
TD04hl turbo (from Subaru Forester) 
HKS SSQV blow off valve
Custom turbo exhaust manifold
J's Racing muffler
Works Engineering manual boost controller
Haltech Sprint 500

Fuel system: 
Aeromotive 340 Stealth fuel pump 
Mitsubitshi Airtrek 450cc Injectors 
Fuel Pressure Regulator 

Drivetrain and braking system: 
Ogura Racing Clutch Super Single
Custom made clutch pump 
Evo3 double layer brake servo
Trestor Advantage Blue performance brake pad 
AR Racing disc rotor 

Wheels and suspension: 
Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin RE003 
TE37 rims 17 inches, 9jj 
BC Racing Fully Adjustable
Custom made PU bushings (front lower arm and rear trailing arm) 

Performance figures: 234 whp, 270Nm @1.0 bar boost. 

Favourite Music! =)