Tag Archives: thought catalog

Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

I work in the central business district and it’s common to see TV crew (mostly from news TV stations) stopping passerby for opinion on current affairs. Last week I was rushing to meet a friend for lunch when I was halted and shoved with a question:

“A man and his son got into an accident. During the operation the son died and went up to heaven. The surgeon said Don’t take him! He’s my son!
Who is this surgeon?”

I may not have recalled the story exactly but that was the gist of it and the first answer I had in mind was “God!” and then I paused and thought is it weird to mention ‘God’ on TV? Can I think of an alternative answer? So I asked her to repeat the question to stall for time but nothing else come to mind. In the end I just replied “God?” and she gave an expression which made me think I wasn’t the first person who gave that answer and she said “The surgeon is the mother!”.

That was a very random question and I still don’t understand the point of it. I wish I was asked about the recent tax hike instead (though my reply would very likely be edited out). But anyway, I walked off wondering “Why am I so hesitant to say ‘God’ in front of the TV?” Am I ashamed and embarrassed and why?

I think a part of me wanted to fit in with the World. We don’t talk about religion in public. In Toastmaster meetings, we are discouraged (or may even be prohibited) from speaking about politics and religion. These are seen as taboo topics that could potentially incite arguments. However people are getting more vocal about their political stand especially since Trump became president. Politics is now an everyday topic – Even mentioned at the Oscar. So why haven’t we start talking about religion?

Part of the reasons I think is because we don’t know how to disagree well when it comes to religion. When we talk about religion with someone of different belief it could turn to an argument of who is right and wrong, my God is better than yours and escalate into attacks very much like what we’re seeing around the World today (one of them here). When we speak to someone with a different belief, instead of seeking to enlighten the other party of what we believe in, listening to understand their viewpoint, we just want to bulldoze them into adhering to our beliefs. It’s our way or no way.

Pray

Coming back to the question in my title. Maybe I was afraid of proclaiming the gospel, maybe I fear of being seen as too holy or speaking of God would make me an outsider. But if I say that I am a believer of Jesus that means I have a duty to speak of the gospel – not to argue who is right or wrong but to give everyone a chance to have what the gospel carries.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.

Romans 1:16”

You may not agree with what I believe in but that doesn’t make us enemies. Honestly, sometimes my fellow Christians are the ones driving me nuts but that’s another topic for another post.

X,
Mel

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Word of the Year: Sacrifice

My Word of The Year 2017 was Responsibility and as if that wasn’t dreary enough, this year’s Word is Sacrifice.

Last weekend I was scheduled to serve as usher in church. I had the day planned out in the morning, then I watched Netflix longer than what I planned for, grew tired from lying on bed whole morning and decided to take a nap 10 minutes* before getting ready to go out. I snoozed till I either get up rightaway or missed my reporting time. I chose the latter, continued sleeping and woke up too late to report for duty but, to alleviate my guilt, made it to church. That day, one of the sermon’s key message was “The price you pay for worship will correspond with your breakthrough”

Ouch.

I have been coming to God asking “why am I not having the same level of intensity that I had for you?”. The problem is I come to Him whenever it’s convenient; the leftover of my time, when I’m waiting in line and had nothing to do, or when I’m bored. It cost me nothing to spend time with Him.

In 1 Chronicles 21:18-30 King David wanted to purchase a site to build an altar to the Lord. Araunah, the owner of the site, offered him for free yet King David replied:

“No I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

King David (1 Chronicles 21:24)

Jesus died for us. He showed us the ultimate sacrifice out of His love. He doesn’t demand anything in return but His act of love caused my heart to stir and bring transformation to millions. That’s what a sacrifice can do.

What Sacrifice Isn’t

A sacrifice has to be sincere. It cannot come with strings attached. If you sacrifice something with the mindset of gaining something else, then that’s a bargain not a sacrifice. Lent is starting soon and we’ll hear many people giving up something till Easter. It is an admirable practice but I hope those sacrifices are not mere tradition or a “by the way” (e.g. I’ve been meaning to lose weight hence giving up sugar).

We sacrifice to set our heart right before God. When you love someone, don’t you want to spend time or buy gifts or write letter for that person even if you have to inconvenient yourself to drive to where he/she is, set aside time to shop, research on nice restaurants, etc? (P.S Valentine’s Day is coming – this is a hint how to treat your girl/boyfriend)

This year I want to learn to be a good lover of God; to give Him 1. My time – which could mean less time on Netflix, 2. My finances – not getting another pair of sneakers and giving to Mission Trip instead, 3. My attention – abiding in Him and listening. Stop treating Him as my Psychiatrist, 4. Myself.

This year may (you and) I learn to truly live a life of sacrifice unto the Lord.

X,
Mel

*There’s no such thing as a 10 minute nap.

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Agency Vs Client Side

I worked in the advertising agency right out of college. I had an eventful 5+ years in the industry and few months ago, I finally left the circle and jumped to the other side of the fence, the client side.

The client side is often known to be the greener side. I have former colleagues who joined the agency from the client side and they described agency as if it’s a sinking ship where everyone is toiling to stay afloat at the mercy of clients who are pointing guns at us. We’re slaves to clients. While client-agency relationship are now improving as clients recognise the agency as industry experts, ultimately we depend on clients for our rice-bowls and that’s why “customer is king” delineates agency culture.

Now that I’ve switched to a client position, I can finally make a first hand comparison of life in the agency vs client-side and here are my two cents –

Working Hour
Advertising agency is notorious for its crazy working hour because that’s true. Even if you work on a retainer account, somehow you can never guess when you’d be required to stay late for emergency so it’s rather hard to plan activities after working hour. On the bright side, most agencies tolerate late-comers so you can sleep-in a little but you probably need that after working late the night before.

Verdict: Client-side wins!
As client you may need to check your email often even during holidays but you basically plan for things and ask the agency to make it happen. So you have that break time while your agency scrambles to make things happen.

Company Culture
One of the things I miss the most working in agency is the company culture. Agency people thrive on being a fun bunch of people. I remember few of us were staying late and one of the director said this before he left office “It’s just advertising guys! Nobody dies (even if we fail).” Agency environment can be stressful, working around deadlines and unfortunately there are cases of personnel who died from overwork… but I think majority of the days we know how to let loose. On the client side, people are a lot more cordial. They know how to keep things professional on the surface even if they hate your guts. Clients seem more proper than advertisers.

Verdict: Agency wins!
I guess Agency gives off a more fun and genuine vibe. It’s like being in the last class versus the best class in cohort. (Not saying clients are smarter, I’m just talking about the atmosphere).

Projects/ The Work
There are vast learning opportunities being on either side. The benefit of being with agency is that you’ll handle different brands and be exposed to a range of industries (unless you are on a retainer account – then you should experience working for different accounts). You would also learn to manage offline and online media, working with suppliers, third parties, etc. Being a client hones my planning and strategy skills and here I have the opportunities to interact with more senior level executives within my working industry (not just within the corporation).

Verdict: It depends on your interest. Personally I developed an eye for detail (which is NOT my natural skill) working in the agency. Agency does a lot of implementation while clients does planning. Agency is good place to start, but if you start off as a client then stay – Do not enter the agency zone.

Salary
If you start your career as an entry-level in the agency, you probably earn less than your peers in other industry but the learning you get is priceless and you could get more perks (free booze, client’s products, tickets, etc) working in agency. But for long term goal, I think client pays better.

Verdict: Client wins! (Agency wins if you’re director level/ have won awards/ white person in an Asian agency which probably means you’re director level)

***

It’s too early for me to conclude which side of the fence I prefer. I am sure both sides have their pros and cons. I certainly have enjoyed being part of the advertising world because I’ve met really great colleagues who were my comrades-in-arms while battling with client briefs. I just feel that being in the agency allows you to form really great relationships, do work you’re proud of, have fun, be creative however it keeps your world rather secluded. Whenever I meet someone from advertising agency, I look at them as if they’re my countrymen. Maybe I’m dramatic. But you can grouch about timesheet, laugh over client briefs, share crazy agency party stories, you belong to a unique industry. Right now, even if I meet someone from my current industry, I would probably look at them as competitors? I can learn from them but at the same time I need to be wary. I don’t know, I’m really too new to say anything conclusive.

In any case, enjoy yourself wherever you are. If you’re working in advertising agency and feel everything sucks, trust me you’re gonna miss it when it’s over – hopefully it’ll be over. It’s a love-hate relationship really.

Cheers,
Client.
cnorris

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2018 New Year’s Resolution

Finally done drafting my resolution! I take New Year’s Resolution seriously because I’m one of those unmotivated and easily distracted person so if I don’t have a list of goals, there’s high chance I might go wayward and meander through the year. Last year I am pleased that I did well against my resolution for the first time since I started making resolution list. So let’s kick start 2018 with a new set of goals! I’ve categoried them in no particular order.

1. God

I’m re-cultivating the habit of morning prayer as a symbol and reminder to start everything with God.

2. Health

Last year I wanted to be healthy and I’ve done so by going for crossfit and signing up gym membership (also actually use it). This year I wanna be healthier and fit by exercising 2x a week (I just wanna make the most out of my membership fee) and watching my diet. Reduce sugar and rice. Hopefully lose 2kg in the process.

3. Finance

The aim is to be financially prudent or to quote my company’s expenses policy – “X is committed to ensuring that all expenditure incurred is prudent, reasonable and reflects sound judgement and decision making.” Do I need a cat butt tissue dispenser? No.

4. Relationship

Make time to develop relationships. Be aware of who and how I’m spending my time. Accept that I am not be able to keep up with everyone because if I do I will burnout and lose track of people who matter.

5. Self-care

On top of making time for others, I’m setting aside me-time. This includes pampering myself (manicure, creambath, go to salon) and doing the necessities like an overdue visit to the dentist and my doctors!

6. Writing

Starting with 1 post per week to gain back the momentum. The post need not be extraordinary or meaningful as long as they are published.

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7. Career

I am grateful for the new job and now it’s time to take it up a notch – be aggressive and proactive. Do the obvious. E.g. Don’t understand? Ask! Need to cut the meeting and excuse myself? Speak up! Need to chat? Call!

8. Community

Continuing from last year’s resolution on being more involved with Toastmaster and Cell group, this year I want to be more present. To be part of a community means I don’t just receive from the group but also contribute my knowledge, experience, skills and time.

Alrighty. 2018, we’re ready for you!

Cheers,

Mel.

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Changing the world one word at a time.

I’ve been trying to write a new post for a while but I keep falling into the same cycle – “I’m going to write something today!” then I open my laptop, create a new draft, stare at the blank page for couple of minutes, surf the net for inspiration, stumble upon a cat video, forget what I was doing. When I realise time has been lost, I’d think “Man! Maybe I’ve lost that vision to be a writer. Maybe I’m not meant to write.”

Humans are capable of turning the simplest thing into full season of Emmy-winning drama. We like to be in control and feel like we’re making a difference with what we do.  I love writing but it’s not enough to put words into paper, I need to make the words come to life and crawl into your deepest, darkest heart, plant a seed and grow into an age-old tree and bear fruits to your next generations. I put so much burden into every word no wonder I ended up not typing anything.

I know people who are very intentional with the things they do and I admire them for it. But if you’re like me, a little scattered and easily distracted (basically an ENFP), don’t beat yourself up if you can’t think of a life changing action to take or story to tell. Start small and build up from there. Our approach to life shouldn’t be that complicated. While we strive to do our best we need to know that no one expects us to be perfect right away except our pride/ insecurities/ competitiveness/ Asian parents, maybe.

As you can see, I’m starting to write even when I don’t have the sentences in my head. But I know every post published will not be in vain because while it might not change the World, at least it brings clarity to myself and that’s good enough.

Quotefancy-470776-3840x2160

X,
Mel.

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Are you open for Jesus Monday to Sunday?

You’ve heard about Sunday Christians. You see them on Sundays. They don’t get too involved with the church and if you bump into them on a weekday, they behave like a different person. You’ve also seen Devout Christians – people who follow God wholeheartedly and the familiar faces who show up at almost every church events.

Then there are Christians like me who are a little harder to distinguish. I attend service and small group, serve in church, read bible, and do whatever I can to inch closer to God. Yet when my leader texted if I’m coming to the church’s monthly Prayer Meeting on that very day, I hesitated. I’ve always thought Prayer Meetings are for the holiest members of the congregation because the people who attend are usually the devout and it falls on a Wednesday night. The latter might not sound like a solid reason but you see, I’ve planned God’s activities to be on Sunday and Friday – the days I attend church and small group.

So I started having a mental debate whether I should come to the meeting. The argument centred on the questions if I don’t go to church tonight, how will I spend my evening? Will it be more useful or meaningful? I’d spend time with my family at home which is a strong case because I don’t spend enough time at home, and I would be reading this book called Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science. Then I began to see the irony. I was about to choose to stay home and read about the evidence for God when I could be in church experiencing the evidence for God. I decided if I can get off work on time, I will make my way to church. And yes, God made it happen.

SURRENDER MY DAYS

Standing in the church hall that night made me feel out of place. I was not used to worshiping God in church among the “stronger” Christians on a Wednesday night. Sure I listen to sermon at home on weekdays but it’s not the same to seek God on your own time and comfort versus rearranging your schedule to be at His altar. I clapped and lifted up my hands during praise and worship like I usually do on weekends but deep down I was wondering if the awkwardness of being in God’s presence that night will go away. Finally I did what I need to do. I prayed and invited Jesus to be Lord over my life Monday to Sunday.

LIVE ON GOD’S TERMS

I wake up to pray and listen to sermon every morning, read a Christian book on my way to work, and read the bible at night. On the surface it seems like I have my spiritual life figured out. I even prayed for God to enter every room of my life but I didn’t realize I only hand Him the keys on Sundays and Fridays.

Is God a guest or is He the owner of your life? When we choose to live for God it means He holds the keys and has access to every room in your life. Matthew 16:24 says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  It doesn’t say to follow Him on a specific day because following Jesus is a 24/7 commitment. Jesus is not a counsellor or therapist whom you schedule your time with. He is the leader of our lives and He has the privilege to rearrange our schedule. We live under His terms and not the other way around.

OPEN WHEN HE KNOCKS

If I had said ‘no’ when my leader asked me to come to the meeting I wouldn’t be writing this. It wasn’t the first time my leader asked me to a church event, few of which I declined but there’s one thing I learn – I can keep saying ‘no’ to man, but I can’t say ‘no’ to Holy Spirit forever. Every time you say ‘no’ to God, you’re distancing yourself from Him and disobedience will eventually dull your spiritual senses. Unless you’re ready to live without God, don’t let yourself slips into a place where you’re no longer bothered by Holy Spirit’s prompting. The fact that you’ve read my writing to this point, I hope means that you have the desire to live out the life that God calls us to have and so let your heart be open to Him 24/7.

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Put up this sign for God. Photo Credit: Pinterest, Etsy.com

X,

Mel.

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The Conversation

Conversation is a window to the World different from mine. It changes my perspectives and there’s always something to learn from the different characters we meet. The past few weeks I am privileged to be able to have conversations with friends whom I haven’t met for a while, new acquaintances I come to admire, and people of higher position than I am who opened up themselves.

One of them is my couple-friends who are moving out of the country next month. They have 2 beautiful kids and they shared how they might someday adopt a child because they, especially the wife, just can’t see a child suffers and not do anything about it. After she became a mother she sees every child as her own. I’ve heard mothers said that before but I could sense how heart breaking it is for her to even talk about deprived children. I know adoption is common now but I come from a typical Chinese family where adoption is taboo and the only reason one would adopt is because they are unable to bear biological child. It’s heart-warming to see a couple with such openness and genuineness about adoption.

Another interesting conversation I had was with a couple who owns a sound studio I met through work. The husband had to concentrate on the actual work so I didn’t get to talk much with him but while waiting for him to complete the task, his convivial wife kept me fascinated with stories of what they do. I know zilch about audio and as I listened to the wife sharing the process of composing and orchestrating a song for advertisement, it’s like walking into a Narnia wardrobe. It’s my first time being exposed to the audio world, and I began to understand why there are so many audiophiles around. Also, I’ve never met anyone who loves watching movies as much as this lady-boss. Even I, a self-proclaimed film buff, will gladly pass my crown.

And last week, I was at the right place where I met someone senior who shared briefly about how he arrived at his current position, and the choices he made along the way. It makes me see under the layer of titles, people are quite the same. Yes, some people are pretty much born-leaders (I met them too) but even born-leaders went through a period a grilling and reshaping. I’m just very humbled to hear about their vulnerabilities.

There are more conversations I have been blessed to have, and the more I speak to people the more I realised the importance of a conversation. You gain knowledge, understanding and relationship at the cost of nothing (or the price of coffee). When I was in New Zealand, people – strangers just like to greet one another and talk. I was always very fascinated with that. It’s a shame we don’t have that culture here but no matter where we are I’m sure conversations can happen. When it does be sure to listen.

X,

Mel.

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