Monday 22 August 2016

Sing Praise!

I was recently reminded of this episode which I had recorded in my online journal 13 years ago. Basically, it's about how our #2 boy's first words were actually sung and from a worship song.

Just to add an epilogue to that journal entry, our boy has turned out to be the chattiest of all 3 children. And he has progressed from singing praises to wanting to be a preacher!

Anyway as I thought and prayed about all this last week, I realised that my desire for my children is that they not only start praising God early in their lives but also keep on praising Him till the very end! In fact, that is my own desire too, so that it would be a natural progression when we graduate from this life and enter into an eternity of endless praise.

That's our preacher-in-training's 15th birthday celebration. :)

Monday 15 August 2016

Chasing Bubbles

Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild,
but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.
Proverbs 29:18 (VOICE)

While meditating on this verse yesterday, I was reminded of bubbles. Like this picture from my girl's birthday party a couple of years back, little children love to blow bubbles, chase after them and try to catch or pop them. I think the fun of it comes mainly from how shimmery and colourfully attractive the bubbles are, making them even more desirable to young children.
But they'll learn soon enough that once the bubbles pop, there's nothing left. Maybe that's why older children and adults find this game of chasing bubbles meaningless and are usually not interested in it.

Sadly many grown adults still haven't figured out that they have actually been running around wildly, chasing after bubbles all their lives. These shiny, beautiful 'bubbles' could be anything from health or wealth, to beauty or popularity, to qualifications or power. In fact any worldly achievements could qualify, as long as they are not from God but from our selfish desires. In the end, we will find that 'all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind' (Ecclesiastes 1:14b.)

However, when we have a vision from God, then all our efforts in pursuing and fulfilling it will not be wasted. Like Martin Luther King, whose dream was to see a time where 'justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,' giving everything he had to achieve this God-given mandate was worth it, even to the extent of sacrificing his life. Ultimately, the best example we can have is Jesus who 'for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God' (Hebrews 12:2b.) Even if we do not see the fruits of our labour in our lifetime as we pursue God's vision for us, know that in the end He will reward us for our obedience. Only then will we see clearly whether we have been catching mere air or real gold.

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Monday 1 August 2016

Intelligence and Pop Culture - Never the Twain Shall Meet?

I am slightly, greatly disturbed by the state of arts education in my country. And I'm sad to say that having worked before in the department that oversees arts education in schools, perhaps I am partly to blame for it! But I've realised since that the streaming that takes place in schools especially at the secondary and higher levels, doesn't do justice to the important role that the arts play in our daily life. 

After all, there's music and visuals/video everywhere we go, both in the physical and cyber worlds. Design and aesthetics also impact every area of our lives, from furnishings to buildings and practically every piece of tool or gadget that passes through our hands. So why is it that when it comes to academics in school, the focus and emphasis rests heavily on the technical subjects? Why do we keep pushing the bright students to study these supposedly more important subjects and even discourage some who are obviously artistically talented from taking up the arts, in particular modern and popular arts?

Of course, I'm not denying that parents here do actively send their children to art, music and ballet classes from young. But these are mainly in the classical arts and many of these parents do so because of the edge it would give their children when applying for prestigious secondary schools. Ultimately, they would not encourage their children to pursue the arts as a career but merely as a hobby. Unless of course they discover a prodigy in the process and there's a chance that their child could make it as a world-class artiste. However, these are very few and far between.

To be fair though, the problem may not be peculiar to this nation. Otherwise, why would people in the West and in another Asian country be surprised and even shocked to find that celebrities in pop culture - actors, singers, musicians - have high IQs?
Somehow, talent in the pop world and intelligence aren't viewed as being compatible!

Yet, if we look closely at the list of intelligent celebrities, we will find quite a few of them who have truly excelled in their art, challenged stereotypes, pioneered new genres and actually stimulated their audience to think. So we really do need smart kids who can do great art, or else I shudder to think what we would be left with...

Now you may ask what brought on this rant. Well, one of my children who happens to be gifted (not sure what his IQ is but he is in the top 1% of his cohort and Mensa members are the top 2%) has said many times over many years that he wants to be a rock star. Not boasting here, but he certainly has the qualities to become one - musical talent, motivation, good looks, charisma. [Listen to his original music here.] Yet, I tried to persuade him to put this dream aside and work on getting a degree in a 'proper' subject first. But as I thought about why I was asking him to do that, I realised to my horror that the kind of thinking that's prevalent has become deeply ingrained in me!! So as I critique it while writing, I'm actually looking inward and trying to correct my own attitude towards popular arts and culture. Ultimately, if it is God's plan for him to make a positive influence in the world through rock music, who am I to stop it?

Now, whether my boy does actually become a rock star, that remains to be seen! ;)