Saturday, May 31, 2008

Melbourne Victory vs Juventus

Just a quick post. I went out with the soccer dudes last night to watch the Juventus vs. Melbourne Victory game. I was really disappointed because none of the "star players" were playing for Juve. I was looking forward to watching Pavel Nedved, Trezeguet, Sissoko, and Del Piero rip the pitch up, but i had to settle for a some random 2nd-stringers.

Nevertheless, the players put on a rather magnificent display (thanks to the pathetic Melb vic defence!) 4-1 was the final score in favour of Juventus; no surprise really. Highlights of the night were Hernandez's rappler from outside the penalty box which gave Victory a short-lived glimpse of hope, followed by Palladini's clinicaly volley which sealed the victory.

We sat on the first level just behind the goals. WORST SEATS EVER! Don't EVER sit there if you do go for a soccer match. You can't see anything! It's a ONE-DIMENSIONAL view! I could only see the ball bop up and down. lol! We had to look onto the big screens for most of the game. Albeit, it was a fun night out with my  good old friends! :)










video

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who Am I?

I haven't given up on my commitment to finish reading "Wild At Heart" by John Eldredge. I'm just about half way through the book, and i must say that he's opened my mind to what it really means to be a man; the true man that God created me to be.

Hypocrisy. Phoniness. These are words that everyone's familiar with. Most people seem to detest it. While others seem to embrace it as though it's become a normal part of our perverted society.

"Just be yourself!"

A encouraging cliche (despite the truth behind it) that almost everyone can lay claim to have muttered at some stage in life. However, it means absolutely NOTHING simply because very few of us (and i dare say none of my friends, including myself) know the answer to the vital question:

"Who are you?"

Eldredge states that a man needs to "know his name". We need to have a deep understanding, the kind of knowledge that comes through experience. He reminds us of the hero in the movie Gladiator, Maximus. He is the commander of the Roman armies, a general loved by his men and by the aging emperor Marcus Aurelius. The emperor's foul son Commodus learns of his father's plan to make Maximus emperor in his place, but before Marcus can pronounce his successor, Commodus strangles his father and sentences Maximus to immediate excution and his wife and son to crucifixion and burning.

Eventually, Maximus becomes a gladiator and is taken to Rome to perform in the Coliseum before the emperor Comodus (who believes that Maximus is long dead). After a remarkable display of courage and a stunning upset, the emperor comes down into the arena to meet the valiant gladiator, whose identity remains hidden behind his helmet.

Commodus: Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don't believe there's ever been a gladiator that matched you... Why doesn't the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name? (Maximus is silent.) You do have a name?

Maximus: My name is Gladiator. (he turns and walks away).

Commodus: How dare you show your back to me?! Slave! You will remove your helmet and tell me your name.

Maximus: (Slowly, very slowly lifts his helmet and turns to face his enemy)
My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius;
Commander of the Armies of the North;
General of the Felix Legions;
loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius;
father to a murdered son;
husband to a murdered wife;
and I will have my vengeance, in this life or in the next.

That's a true name, a name that can never be taken from him. Eldredge says: "that deep heart knowledge comes only through a process of initiation. You have to know where you've come from; you have to have faced a series of trials that test you; you have to have taken a journey; and you have to have faced your enemy."

I'm on my quest to find my true name. Till then, I'll be grateful for every windy road, every trial and every enemy God puts in my way.


Eldredge reminds us that the first step to finding your true name is to walk away from our false self.

Andy Gullahorn illustrates what it feels like to step away from your pretentious self in his song "Steel Bars":

"So this is how it feels at the rock bottom of despair
When the house I built comes crashing down
And this is how it feels when I know the man that I say I am
Is not the man that i Am when no one's around"

But the journey continues towards freedom, healing and authenticity:

"This is how it feels to come alive again
And start fighting back to gain control
And this is how it feels to let freedom in
And break the chains that enslave my soul"

Ha, what Eldredge said next made me purse my lips and shake my head in consenting disbelief.

"Because so many of us turned to the woman for our sense of masculinity, we must walk away from her as well... I have counseled many young men to break up with the woman they were dating because they had made her their life. She was the sun of his universe, around which he orbited. A man needs a much bigger orbit than a woman. He needs a mission, a life purpose, and he needs to know his name. Only then is he fit for a woman, for only then does he have something to invite her into."

We tend to take our question, "Who am I?", to women. We feel powerful, strong and loved because we've "got what it takes" to gain the recognition and devotion of a girl. She is able to reach down inside and touch our desperate hunger for validation; and it touches like nothing else we've ever experienced. But femininity can never bestow masculinity.

"He sees a woman across the room, knows immediately that it is "She. He drops the relatinship he has, pursues her, feels wild excitment, passion, beating heart, obsession. After a few month, everything collapses; she becomes an ordinary woman. He is confused and puzzled. Then he sees once more a radiant face across the room, and the old certainty comes again." - Bly in Iron John

Bruce Springsteen's song, Secret Garden, illustrates this in such a beautiful way:

"She'll let you in her house
If you come knockin' late at night
She'll let you in her mouth
If the words you say are right
If you pay the price
She'll let you deep inside
But there's secret garden she hides.
She'll lead you down a path
There'll be tenderness in the air
She'll let you come just far enough
So you know she's really there
She'll look at you and smile
And her eyes will say
She's got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away."

It's disappointing that so many men out there are being fooled by this deceitful lie. I'm truly grateful that God's opened my eyes to see that my validation, the answer to my question ultimately lies with him. He's the only one that is able to initiate me. To bring me through trials and experiences that will eventually form me into the man that he created me to be. There's no point in trying to find my masculinity in a girl. It's the man's role to take her on an adventure, not to use her as a stepping stone to reach the prize of masculinity on the top shelf!


Here's to my search for a purpose in life; till i find an adventure to live for, and a battle to fight...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wild At Heart

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly... who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end of the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat." - Teddy Rosevelt

I decided to make a start on one of my long-overdue holiday aims: to read 10 Christian books. I realised that, recently, i've been wasting a lot of time on trivial (and i dare say rather meaningless) time-consuming stuff like watching TV, facebook and MSN. Every monday, i find that my first conversations with my friends at uni revolve around the fact that we've all sort of wasted our weekends aways and how we wish we could been so much more productive.

I had a very important mid-sem exam to study for on Friday (yesterday). I don't know what came over me, but instead of hitting the books after a long Thursday, i picked up a book on my shelf and started to read. Page followed page. Flip, flip, flip. I couldn't stop reading! The book was so captivating! haha!

Many people view reading as a "boring" and "uncool" pastime for nerds ( i know, i used to think that too! x.x") but i've come to realise how immature that really is. It takes a lot of discipline to actually sit down and do something that might potentially be inspiring and life-changing instead of doing some brainless activity that might bring about temporary elation and satisfaction.

I found "Wild At Heart" by John Eldredge and recommended by Stuart Robinson a very insightful read. It explores the true nature of a man's heart; how God initially intended it to be when he created us "in his own image", and how much we have deviated from that benchmark in today's society.

John states that through extensive research, he has found that "they may be misplaced, forgotten, or misdirected", but in the heart of every man lies these 3 basic desires:
  1. A Battle to Fight
  2. An Adventure to Live
  3. A Beauty to Rescue
It is around these three basic principles that our heart is formed around. They drive us to feel the way we feel about life, and the suppression of any one, or combination, of them will lead to dissatisfaction or boredom (isn't that what we all complain about?) Isn't that what we all fear? We're afraid that we'll live boring lives... lives with no meaning or significance. Yes, we are dissatisfied. We are discontent. We want more. That's why i'd recommend this read: "Wild At Heart" will open your eyes to a whole new dimension to life that you'd never even have dreamt about! This dude is RADICAL! He reckons God is WILD! That men are born to fight! And that women are made more perfect than men?! haha!

Oh! Eldredge likens God to William Wallace (The hero from Braveheart). He's inspired me to watch that movie again. He writes: "Without a leader to follow, the Scots begin to lose heart. one by one, then in larger numbers, they start to flee. At that moment Wallace rides in with his band of warriors, blue warpaint on their faces, ready for battle. Ignoring the nobles - who have gone to parley with the English captains to get another deal - Wallace goes straight for the hearts of the fearful Scots.

(I love this part)

'Sons of Scotland... you have come to fight as free men, and free men you are.'

He gives them identity and a reason to fight. He reminds them that a life lived in fear is no life at all, that every last one fo them will die some day.

"And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!"

he tells them they have what is takes. At the end of his stirring speech, the men are cheering. They are ready. Then Wallace's friend asks,

"Fine speech. Now what do we do?"

"Just be yourselves."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to pick a fight."


Eldredge asks: "What is your image of Jesus as a man?" I've always thought of Jesus as a mild and meek friend of men. An all-round gentle nice guy who's always depicted around little children. He's opened up my mind to see Jesus as a courageous warrior, very much like William Wallace.

Boy! That book really fires up my adrenal glands! Off that note, this week was a pretty decent week. We had our last Med vs Physio soccer game yesterday; which we lost 6-5. It was a very entertaining game, especially with Nooren's display of Ronaldo-like classiness with won him a well-deserved hat-trick.

There was a Fungus leader's meeting on Thursday night and Chris came to speak to us about having a Vision. He really inspired me and got me thinking. When i first started as a youth leader, it thought it'll be cool and fun and that we would all have a great time discussing God's word in depth and sharing our thoughts and emotions. However, it's been a totally different experience. I've been put in charge of a group of 12-14 (very large!! x.x") kids ranging from Years 6-9 (pretty young). I find it hard to explain bible verses to them because they don't show very much interest in God's Word, and it's just too hard to get a deep discussion going!

Well, that's really dampened my passion and my vision for the group. But Chris has somewhat reignited that passion. He was adamant that having a clear VISION is the striking difference between a leader and a LEADER. I don't wanna be a mediocre leader for Christ. While Chris was speaking, ideas started to fill my mind on how to improve the welcoming aspect of Fungus and even for the prayer meeting that i lead before Fungus. I pray that God will give me the strength to persevere and that my passion will not die out! :)

I better get some study done before my soccer game against Hoko. My exams are coming up in 2 weeks and i'm shockingly under-prepared. Ah.. i love these challenges.. They are my Battle to Fight! My Adventures to Live! (It's a pity that there's nothing beautiful about them!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lost "Sheep"

I almost forgot to blog about something extremely significant that happened this week. I was going about my usual Tuesday routine. After my PBS lecture at the Copland at 1pm, i went to the Brownless library just to borrow a book. I spent 10 minutes there before rushing to the 2nd level of the Babel building for bible study.

Amidst the many discussions, we were talking about how God would leave his 99 sheep behind to go out into the dark wilderness in search of that 1 missing sheep until he finds it and carries it back on his shoulders. Well, at the end of the bible study, Sam reiterated the fact that God sincerely loves us and DESIRES to keep us safe under his wings. In addition to that, he challenged us to have that same passion for the lost; to keep praying for our friends who still don't know Christ and to take the conscious effort to share the gospel.

Ironically, God really gave me an experience of searching frantically for my "lost sheep". Here's what happened: After the bible study, Nic and i went to the Ballieu library to study. We sat down and i reached for my laptop. Silence. Panic. I realised that it wasn't there! My new Macbook Pro ($4000!!!). I dashed out of the library and ran back to the Babel building to check if i had left it in the bible study room.

It wasn't. Went to the information desk to check, no luck. Went to the General Office to make a report; no luck either. So i rushed back to the Copland Theatre to check if i had left it under my seat during my PBS lecture. Nope, not there!

My last resort. The Brownless library. Went in, looked around, asked the librarian, looked for any suspicious looking people ( i was getting really disorientated and frustrated by then). Still, no luck! The librarian was particularly helpful. He called security for me, and i had to wait 30 mins for them to come over so that i could make a police report. This curry security guard sat me down and asked me a whole lot of questions. At that point, i was getting overwhelmingly frustrated as his incompetence. 

He asked what my laptop looked like.  

"It's a matted silver macbook pro. I had it in a soft spongy black sheath."

"Black Sheet?" (in a thick indian accent)

"No, black shea-TH (I made a conscious effort to emphasise the "eath" sound). S-H-E-A-T-H.

He recorded "Silver macbook pro in black sheet" on the police report.

At the end of it, i asked if i  could have a look at the surveillance videos.

He answered: "No, only the building supervisor and the security personnel are authorised to do so."

"Very well, you should note that i'm wearing a bright blue T-shirt"

"Oh yeah! Good point! I should make of note of how you look!"

I was utterly disgusted at his lack of experience, and i could picture my laptop vividly fading away in my mind. My parents had to pay $1000 for car insurance because of my reckless driving last week and now $4000 for my lost laptop!!! I was in a severe state of disgust (with myself) and depression. I went back to the library and told Nic about it. I actually contemplated suicide. lol! It's ridiculous and a little bit funny in retrospect, but it seemed like a very feasible option there.

Well, at that time.. i felt a very strong urge from the Lord to pray. I knew i had disobeyed the Lord and i had to pray and confess it. So i did. I stopped talking to Nic and spent the next 8 mins or so pleading with the Lord. Well, i didn't feel much better. So i gathered some resolve and decided to get some study done. About 2 hours later, i received a phone call.

"Hello, is this Isaac?"

"Yep."

"This is security. Your laptop has been handed in. You can collect it from the Brownless library when you're free."

Man, God really works in wondrous ways, doesn't he? It's the small miracles like this that God really reveals himself to me. It keeps me motivated to run this race for him.. He's real. I know it.

Time moves on..

Life's been a dynamic stand-still for me. Time seems to be flying by, and yet i don't seem to be doing much. The semester's about to end in 3 weeks. I'm going to be sitting for my major exams and pracs, but  still feel fresh out of year 12! Each week has definitely been enjoyable. There's a lot more freedom. I can choose to hang out in the city for as long as i want, and do whatever i want. There's no one to pressure me to study or anything (although i should really stop slacking off). 

I got 10/20 for my last mid-sem. I can't recall getting a worse result than that. Surprisingly, i didn't feel as bad as i thought i would have. No, i shouldn't think that way.. it should serve as a wake-up call for me. I've got my 3rd and final mid-sem this Friday and i'm determined to nail it! :)

I've been playing soccer for NQA every weekend, and that's really what makes my weekends special. I always look forward to having a kick with my mates, and it drives me to finish the week off with a bang. Well, there's no game this weekend so i decided to spend my Saturday catching up on studies. At least i PLANNED to. I ended up wasting my time away on the guitar, watching Scary Movie (worst movie ever!) and talking to my lil sis on the phone. haha! I hardly got any work done! Nevertheless, it was good catching up with Adrienne. I haven't seen her for such a long time that it feels like i hardly know her anymore! She called to ask for Jerusha, but she wasn't in. So we chatted for one and a half hours or so -.-" haha! Adrienne, you're personally to blame if  i get 10/20 for my mid-sem this Friday! :P

This week was a pretty miserable week for me. The first season with MHS 07 ended with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of The Mighty Mauritians. We had no excuses this time, we were out played in every aspect of the game. Just wanna thank all the dudes: Stevie, Tommy, Jin, Jase, Jono, Turk, and Daz for all the fun we had. It doesn't matter if we lose, as long as we lose together. Well, we've still got that final game against Nigel's team this Tuesday for 3rd place. Hope we win that!

I've been learning quite a few massaging techniques in the Physio prac classes in the past week. The techniques include: Deep/superficial stroke, thumb and finger circular effluage, petrissage, clapping, hacking, skin-rolling, kneading and frictions. Massaging has always fascinated me. It feels good to be able to bring satisfaction and relaxation to someone else. I'm not too good at any of the techniques yet, but i'll definitely improve on them. I need some guinea pigs! haha! I massaged some of the blokes at Fungus the other day. Think it was Shaun, Josh, Keean and Daniel. Hope i didn't hurt you guys too much! x.x"

PS. Check out the pic of my lil sis at the bottom of the page! :)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Accident

Yes, that "clean sheet" i always boast about has finally been tarnished by a ridiculous act of folly. I got into a car accident while driving back from the city after Uni today. My dad, mum and sis were in the car with me. Well, i was keeping on the middle lane when my dad suddenly went: "keep right!"

It was pouring down rain, so my side mirror was wet and blur. So i checked my rear mirror quickly and popped the front of the car out to filter to the right lane. It all happened in a split second. Crash! Total shock and pain engulfed me as i watched metal shards break lose in the air as the impact shook our car vigorously.

We exchanged no. and settled all the insurance protocol promptly. But i felt so guilty that i was unable to speak for an hour or so after the accident. The driver was a pregnant lady. She was pretty calm when we talked to her, but she started to break down in tears just as we drove off. That really disturbed me. I can't describe how it terrible it feels to be responsible for making a innocent pregnant lady feel so panicky and fearful that she could lose her baby at the moment of the collision.

The accident was a very humble event. I don't think i'll ever boast about my driving, or even think that i can drive better than anyone else anymore.

Just beside the point, a American guest speaker gave a very interesting sermon last Sunday which i would love to share. It was from a passage in Zephaniah:

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." - Zep 3:17

He highlighted the fact that God actually sings and rejoices over us!

That's a mind-blowing realisation.