In Conversation…

Met up with Pastor J recently to have another session of conversation. This time round I shared with him ten years and earlier. I recalled my days with CP and how the many episodes with the Senior Pastors and the many things that happened during those years. It is interesting that what seemed so important a matter then…when you look back now they seem so trivial. They are now so unimportant  that we don’t even talk about it. This is really very strange. I guess at each stage of our lives, different things would mean differently to us. In fact different events in life will also have different significant at different time. Its so amazing life can be. I also shared with him what I went through…my ups and downs over the past 10 years. I have been through a lot and I really thank God that I am still standing tall before Him and before men. Indeed, for the past so many years, God has been my ever-present help in times of need. Without Him I am nothing…with Him I can do all things.

One particular thing that I shared with Pastor J was my very hard lesson of thinking that I could do all these without God. How foolish I was! I thought that I could achieve success without God in my life. I was so wrong. God had to hit me real hard to get my attention back. I am so thankful to God that He went all the way to get my attention. When I was wayward, He was the one who went all out…at all cost…to catch my attention and draw me back to Himself. Who am I for God Almighty to do such a thing? But He did! How can anyone say that there is no God when God is so real in my life! I grew to understand that THE LORD GIVES AND THE LORD TAKES AWAY…BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD! Do not undermine His sovereignty! He is more real then you think He is. He can give you all the things you want or ever wanted. But within a snap of His fingers, He can make all that gone. He did that for Job and He will do it to anyone for the sake of His sovereignty! Is He a jealous God…Yes He is! Is He a self-glorifying God? Yes He is! As John Piper puts it….God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. Sometimes God have to bring us to the darkest valley so that we can be most satisfied in Him. Only then can He be most glorified! Strange isn’t it. It sounds like the God of the Bible is some super-ego being. Say what you may, He is God. That’s sovereignty!

I also shared about the possibility of going into Full Time Ministry. I know that my heart’s desire is to serve God in His service. I know that I can also serve God as a teacher, in the marketplace. But I just feel that my place is not in the marketplace. I want to do more for Him. I want to do more for His glory! Trust me, I am not God’s best candidate in this! I never think that I am His best candidate. But I am willing to be just a doorkeeper in His house! Even the sparrow have found a place in the house of God…just put me in one corner of His house to serve Him. That I am most satisfied.

That’s all for now. I am so excited about my Bhutan trip this coming Sunday. May the Lord grant me many new revelations as I continue to journey with Him!

the gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper Review: Bakery House Cafe@Upper Thomson Road (Yi Jia)

This is a little chinese cafe situated along the famous and ever popular Upper Thomson Road. Upper Thomson Road has over the past few years grew to prominence as a food paradise among the younger generation. A number of signature chains of eateries sprung up in the place over the past few years, for instance, Udder Ice Cream, Salted Caramel and etc. There used to be only a few very traditional coffee shops around this area that serve very conventional foods here, like prata and bak chork met. This Bakery House Cafe is one of those that has been around for a long time here in Upper Thomson. It is definitely not your new immigrant to this place. The bakery itself has a very traditional outlook as compared to the many new and modern cafes that have taken root here about 1 or 2 years ago. Being a bakery, the main selling point of the cafe has to be its bread and chinese pastries. It has a large variety of bread and trust me they are all so soft and tasty. The fillings are not your fancy kind from you know “what-talk” and other modern bakery. They are your traditional “tau-sar” (red bean paste), “char-siew” (roasted pork) and “lain-rong” (lotus paste). They do have like ham and cheese buns and sausage buns as well. I miss those good old days when bread is just bread. Trust me, you can find that kind of feel from this extraordinary bakery in Upper Thomson. The bakery also sell very nice “tau-sar pia” (chinese biscuit with red bean paste). If you are lucky, you may even get it real hot from the oven. I got it once and I tell you I fell in love with it.

Being a cafe, coffee is important. You would have noticed from my writings that I love latte. I would always enjoy a nice cup of latte every where I go. Anyway, fortunately or unfortunately, the cafe does not sell latte here. Yes, it sells your kopi O (black coffee) and kopi C (black coffee with condensed milk) and etc. I would enjoy a nice walk along MacRitchie Reservoir and make my way here for a nice cup of ice kopi O kosong (black coffee with no sugar). Normally I would also look out for fresh bake…if not any item from there should be fine. You may also want to try their traditional cakes…they are nice as well. Of course, this is not your kind of cafe that you can buy a cup of coffee and sit there whole day. Although I have never been chased away by the lady boss, but I normally will not sit there for very long as well. It’s just not a place you would like to do so. Such good haven of traditional taste will be good to share it with more people around. I brought my VP here once and I trust that he likes it here too.

One think I must mention is that it is probably the only cafe that operates on Monday in the area. So, if you are looking for a lesser crowd, avoid going on Monday. Other days are fine except probably in the morning.

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Burnt Out…

I was told last week that I am having a burnt out. Mentioned this to a friend as well…and perhaps I am really having a burnt out from work! Yup, got myself burnt while working….how interesting life can be. Very interestingly when I met up with a friend who was a missionary in Africa a number of years back, and he said that the African have no idea of what a burnt out is. It’s very interesting that burnt out is guess a very modern or even post modern idea. I wonder who came out of the term….let’s ask google…According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by Herbert Freudenberger. It is defined as an experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Burnt out is not a recognized mental disorder in the psychological field but it is often marked by inefficiency in work and disinterested in the things that usually would. It is rather different from depression as depression would often lead to something more serious. Source of burnt out can come from many. It can be due to lack of fulfillment at work, disappointment and etc. It is basically some kind of mental and emotional exhaustion. So if there’s such a thing called physical exhaustion, there should be something called mental or emotional exhaustion.

Ok, this is probably what Elijah was going through and what I am going through now. We are both very tired and we both need a rest very critically. After his glorious victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah was totally exhausted and he had no more energy to carry on…and what more, Jezebel post another challenge to him and wanted to kill him. She sweared by her life that she would get Elijah killed. Upon hearing this, Elijah must be thinking…NOT AGAIN! NOT ANOTHER CHALLENGE! Yes, that’s how I am feeling now. I am just very exhausted! Of course, I am feeling much better these couple of days cos I have taken time to rest and to be able to not think about work. Of course, I am one person who cannot survive if I don’t think. So there’s still quite a number of things that I need to think through.

Elijah ran away from his profession as a prophet and I am taking my sabbatical leave to recuperate from our fatigue. I can understand where Elijah was coming from. He probably thought that there’s nothing more for him to contribute. To me 1 King 19:9-18 is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. Elijah did not hear God in the earthquake nor the strong wind. God is not found in the big Hooo and Haaa of life. In this passage, God’s voice is heard in the low whisper. God’s voice is heard is heard in the quietness of our heart and mind and soul. Until and unless that our hearts is at ease with God, very often His voice is marred by the other things that we allowed to interfere in the connection. This is not to say that God’s voice is weak. It is because we have allowed ourselves to be so clouded by other voices.

I recalled when I was in Mongolia and how I could hear the sound of silence so clearly in the night. It was so silent that you could hear your own heart beating. Its so hard to find this kind of quietness in a buzzing city like Singapore. But that doesn’t mean that our hearts cannot be at ease with God. I am trying to set my heart at ease with Him so that I can hear Him more. It’s not easy but the Holy Spirit is leading me into it. Each day, my heart is more at ease with God and each day I can hear Him more clearly. My prayer to God for today is that He will lead me besides the quiet water. Talking about quiet water…the closest you can get is really at Macritchie reservoir. The water there is so still and so quiet. It can really calm your soul….oh well…yes sometimes under the hot sun.

Yes, we all need to find that quiet spot in our heart that we can hear Him. I am still hearing Him to have me let go and rediscover myself. I love the Jacob story that he lost his Jacob’s identity and found his new identity as Israel. He wrestled with himself. Gosh…that’s the most difficult thing to do. God’s grace was upon Jacob. He was holding on to God. That’s grace. It seemed as though he was wrestling with God but it wasn’t the case. God was basically a buffer. God allowed Himself to be held on so that Jacob would not hurt so much in the process. However, Jacob’s struggle grew so intense that God had to break his hip-bone so that he could feel the pain. What a beautiful picture of God’s grace in our internal struggles. I am experience this right now. I hope I will not wrestle with myself to the point that God has to break my hip-bone. Jacob had so much to struggle. He had to struggle with his past as a thief and as a cheater. I also have lots to struggle with.

May the Lord have mercy upon us…as we continue to journey with Him. It’s been very exciting journeying with God and listening to his low whisper.

the gatekeeper

Cafe Hopper Review: 3 Cafes and 1 Lane

Yesterday I met up with a friend and we were all ready to do some hopping. We were all so excited about the meeting….we really planned to go to just one cafe to have lunch and coffee tasting. In the end, we hopped from one cafe to another and we both had an over dosage of caffeine. But its was fun though. Went to some very interesting corners of Singapore and for this entry I am going to review 3 coffee places and 1 lane in Singapore. Our original plan for the day was to visit Wimbly Lu, a coffee place hidden at a corner of Jalan Riang. Where is that? Never heard of it before? Me too! Apparently, “riang” means “happy” in malay. So if I may translate this, it would mean Happy Walk! I must say that the place lives up to its name for sure.

When we arrived at Happy Walk, we were shocked to see Wimbly Lu closed and it would only open at 1pm. It was 12 plus then. We stood around and now knowing what to do next. There was an italian pizza restaurant next to Wimbly Lu and a seafood house which was not open as well. We came out with this brilliant idea of having pizza for lunch a La Pizzaiola and once Wimbly Lu is ripe to operate, we will move there after lunch. Cool idea right! So let me start with La Pizzaiola.

La Pizzaiola

We were very warmly greeted by the staff in the restaurant. The place has a semi outdoor dinning area….air-coned but with glass ceiling that allow our warm sun to penetrate through….that’s greenhouse I guess with air-con. We decided to sat on the high table and chair. Not too sure what we wanted to eat or order, we decided that since it’s a pizza place we should try their pizza right. How can we eat fries in a pizza house. We ordered the Bufflolina Pizza and decided to share that one together. I always appreciate the wait between when we have ordered our food and when the food arrive at our table. Usually that moment always set the tone for the entire time together. So, it’s very important to set the tone right and I guess we did! After all we have known each other for quite long…any tone also can do!

The food came very shortly and we were surprised by the portion of it. The one-man pizza is more than enough for 3 persons to grab. The pizza has very nice crispy crust. Although it is mainly tomatoes and cheese, it is not too plain as well. The taste of it is just nice. There’s a bit of the sourish taste from the tomatoes and the cheesy sensation adds some vibes into the pizza as well. No meat…but meat and veggies don’t really have a place in this round circle. We just love the plainness of it. I must say that the pizza is a good start to our hop that day.

The team of staff in the restaurant is friendly and we simply love their hospitality and service by them. If you ever visit the place, do try to sit at the semi-outdoor area and have a feel of dinning in the out-in door. I think it will be cool to do that in the evening as well. I believe that the place will come more alive at night with all the nice cosy lighting.

Wimbly Lu

Our next stop was Wimbly Lu. There is like so much of expectation for this place. So much has been said about this place and I was so excited to see that vintage beetle right in front of the cafe. Seeing this place right in front of me is like arriving at a pilgrimage place…like seeing the Western Wall right in front of you or the Great Wall of China. I took quite a number of pictures while my friend puff all her way. You will enter the cafe with a very swiss cottage kind of feel but some part of the furniture sort of give that feel away as well….so also not quite there really. Like La Pizzaiola, it was a little semi outdoor area at the back of the cafe. The bakery is opened for all to view. It can be pretty exciting to see them baking the cakes.

I ordered their famous root beer cake with vanilla ice cream and my friend order their double chocolate. We both agreed that the double chocolate taste pretty ordinary. Not really what we would expect from Wimbly Lu, especially it is acclaimed for their chocolate products. However, the root beer cake with vanilla ice cream truly surprised us. The taste of root beer on a piece of cake is very refreshing to me and mixed with the all time familiar vanilla ice cream, it’s really a perfect match. I simply love this masterpiece of cake! Just when you think that is all, deep underneath the wine glass is a pool of chocolate sauce for you to plunge that last piece of root beer chocolate fully into it. Slowly dig it up from the deep mud….and swallow it into your mouth. Oh, before you totally consumed it, let the last piece see the last light by allowing to drip a little of the chocolate sauce….not too much…just a little of wastage will do!

Don’t try the coffee. Of all the latte I have tried so far, this is one of the not so good one. It’s very ordinary. I think this is forgivable as their main selling point is not their coffee and never their coffee.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Let me say this, this is the most exciting part of our hop for the day. CSHH is one of the most extraordinary cafe I have ever visited so far. It is so legendary. It is situated along Tyrwhitt Road which is a parallel road to Jalan Besar. From the outside, you would never imagine that a cafe haven dwells within. It looks like a pretty rundown hardware warehouse from the outside. You can choose to enter the cafe through the main door or you can also do so by the gate leading to a little courtyard which again looks like an abandoned old factory.

When you entered the cafe, you will be dumbfounded what you have discovered. Its has a very cool decor that looks some sort like a warehouse but not so because of its modern flare. I love the island counter that allow customers to survey what the staff are doing throughout. Sometimes the staff would hold a mini meeting or discussion which makes work looking so cool!

We both ordered cold coffee and guess what, CSHH surprised us again by the way they serve their coffee. We were again dumbfounded by it and stood there for a while before the guy at the counter explained to us what’s all the arrangement is about. The coffee is served in a brown bottle that looks like either some chemical or some medicine. We are given a large cup of ice and a few packs of milk and a small cup of sugar. Now honestly, the coffee tastes a bit weird for us. It’s very light but you know what, you will have so much fun trying to mix your very coffee. I enjoyed seeing the milk flowing into the coffee. It’s so sensational! You must visit the toilet of the cafe. I shan’t say too much about it cos it has one of the most unusual basin in the toilet.

Well, we did not get to try out the food because we did not really have the appetite to eat anymore but certainly we have the energy to move on to our next destination, Haji Lane.

Its been one of the most exciting cafe hopping session so far. All thanks to my friend!

the gatekeeper

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Day without destination

Today is rather special. I woke up without any agenda for the day. I didn’t know where to go either. I only knew that I have a lunch appointment with another old friend and that’s all. And just then, JH smsed me and asked me where would I be hopping to today. I really didn’t know where I would be hopping to but I was thinking maybe today I would go slow with my cafe review and reflection. I have 65 more days to do all these anyway. Its not too long…but neither is it short. I am definitely beginning to love my new job as a cafe hopper and certainly would be nice if I can be paid for this. Its great to see readership for blog going higher each day. I have hit 48 readers yesterday. That’s the highest so far in a day. I am sure that they have also read my  journeying with the Lord.

Today, I really have nothing much to input in my blog….still I can sense His Presence with me and I love the assurance that He is with me! I don’t need anybody else. All I need is this Constant Companion…who will never leave me nor forsake me. Thank you, Lord, for being with me!

the gatekeeper

Cafe Hopper Review: Habitat Coffee@Upper Thomson Road

Your natural abode is what they spelled under their name. An interesting word to use…abode. Abode always give people a deep sense of serenity and quietness. That is the kind of feel that I get from this cafe. There is a strong sense of familiarity and warmth when you enter the cafe. You hardly can recognize who is the boss and who are the staff. They are so blended together and this makes the place very homely and warm as well. I particularly love the big wooden table that is beside the counter. I always feel like I am sitting at my own kitchen. I will have my lappy and will be typing my way in my blog and reviewing cafes. The big table is one corner you must experience in the cafe itself. I am always tempted to get a slice of the strawberry shortcake as its doesn’t look short at all. It looks huge and for someone who is diabetic it is definitely a no-no!

Let’s talk about coffee. They will always decor the coffee. Yes, the decor is always leafy. When I was there for the first time it was a pleasant surprise but after a few visits it becomes a familiarity to me. I would find it peculiar if they serve me a coffee without the leafy decor. In short, I love coffee with leafy decor on it. It always warm my spirit when I see people doing that. I had another surprise this after when I ordered the Shepherd’s Pie. The pie was so perfectly done. The crust was not too wet neither too dry…it was an almost perfect mix of the whipped potatoes. The crust topping was smooth and it doesn’t cause a sense of discomfort to the throat when you swallow it down. The filling of the pie was tasty and you don’t have that beefy taste even though its beef. I think its one of the best Shepherd’s Pie I have ever tasted. A big thumbs up for the Shepherd’s Pie as it simply made my day.

Oh we are suppose to talk about the coffee. Well the coffee is smooth but the after taste sort of minus some points from it. But overall, this can be easily compensated by the Shepherd’s Pie I guess. They serve each coffee with a Lotus caramelized biscuit which I will not share with anyone. The last time a friend took the biscuit without me knowing and I was so upset. I felt something was missing. The cakes also look very tasty and tempting but I am not touching the untouchables for now. Oh yah there is one thing I must mention. Yes, they do give number to customers who have ordered but this cafe do it with a little twist. There is a quote in all the numbers about home. I received number 3 today and quote says, “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” I always find the quite very intriguing. I can’t wait to get my next number.

One minus point about the cafe is that it can be pretty warm as well. The air-con doesn’t seem to be very strong but after a while there, you grow to be use to it. I guess that’s the warmth manifested in its real sense. Oh, is my review bias? I guess all reviews are bias. No issue at all. I love the sight of the staff and the bosses sitting together cracking jokes and sharing with one another. Sometimes, sight like this becomes a natural decor to the cafe. I love this decor. A place where everyone can feel at home, whether you are a staff or just a passer-by at Upper Thomson Road, this place will definitely capture your spirit.

Overall, if you ever come by Upper Thomson Road, this is one place that you must drop by and enjoy its familiarity.

the gatekeeper

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Connecting….with God

I woke up this morning thinking of God! Again this sounds like an unusual thing to do in the morning but I was thinking about God in the morning. My first question for that day was, “Lord, what do you have in store for me today?” Or is this more like a prayer? Can’t really differentiate anymore. I had a good coffee time with my friend yesterday at Kooka Cafe and I was quite looking forward to today’s agenda. I decided to put this in my FB post, “Today I will start another new day of journeying with God! It’s so exciting cos you don’t know what you will get along the way. But you will know for sure that God is with you and that’s more than enough. What a beautiful morning to start the day with God in mind!” It feels good to be reconnecting with God in such a beautiful way. But I must say that the connection is not very stable yet. Sometimes I do experience lost of connection….don’t like to be disconnected anyway! 

I decided to read my Bible before I start my journey to savor the cafes in Singapore. I have done two reviews and will be doing at least one more for today. It will be quite exciting today cos I will be using my newly bought instant camera. I am getting more and more serious with my review of cafes in Singapore. Hahaha….So after this I will be blogging on the cafe for today. Anyway, I was reading from 1 Kings 18…oh if anyone think that the Bible is a boring book, they should read this chapter. Its so bloody action pack! In the previous chapter, Elijah prophesied  about a drought and the drought was very very serious. Try to imagine without rain for months or years and the people had nothing to eat. Not just that, with a drought like that, there would be social disorder that came along with it. Anyway, we shan’t dwell too much on the gloomy side. The drought had made Elijah a pretty much hated person in the area and obviously the King and the government officials were not very happy with him.

Now, Elijah post another challenge to the prophets of Baal. He challenged them to call for rain. I will spare you guys of the details….but please find time to read this beautiful chapter. Elijah big time shame his enemies and it was a great day of victory. It was basically the pinnacle of his career as a prophet. I am very sure that the people loved him and probably many were turning back to believe in Elohim. However, the chapter did not end gloriously. The story ended with Elijah running away to Jezreel. He ran away! He did! In the next few chapters we will see how Elijah plunge into a deep depression and he was totally lost after a great victory like this one. He hid from the Lord and from everyone. Elijah experienced a serious burnt out from his job as a prophet. At the peak of his career and the most probable time that he could win Israel back to Yahweh, he burnt out! What a lousy timing to be burnt out!

Yes, same for me! I decided to run away just when everything seem so perfect for me to move up the rank. Yes, I decided to run away when everything seem favorable for me. What am I doing, Ronneth? Am I mad or what? Perhaps I am! All I know now is that I don’t need another promotion or another affirmation from my bosses about me. I don’t think that is in anyway important to me. What I really need now, like Elijah, is to listen to the still, small voice of God. I need to get myself re-connected with Him. That’s what I really need. I will write more about Elijah’s burnt out tomorrow but for now my prayer and desire is that God’s Presence stay with me throughout this journey. Anyway, I am journeying with God and its been really a wonderful experience journeying with Him.

I felt as if God is speaking this to me:

“Ron, I want you to know that your burnt out will be over soon!

You are on the road to recovery and re-discovering who you are in my Son, Christ Jesus.

Be patient with me and wait upon me!

I want you to know that I will not leave you nor forsake you.

My Presence will go with you where you are.

Through the darkest valley, I will be there.

In the deepest ocean, I will be heard by you.

Fear not, for I am with you! My rod and staff will be with you!

Put your hand in my hand.

Put your faith in my faith!”

the gatekeeper