=742= Stories to Tell: Ugly Wife

“Mum, why must I be engaged to Lisa? Why couldn’t you arrange me to be married to a prettier girl instead?” Roy complained.

Mum was shocked and responded, “Roy, shame on you for saying that! Lisa is a great girl, she may not be prettier than most girls, but she is very good at managing a house! Just look at her family! All the cleaning and cooking are done by her! She has such a patient heart, it will be good for you, for you are always so impatient.”

“But Mum she is ugly! Just look at Tom! His wife is so pretty, why can’t I have such a wife?” Roy argued.

“Oh, don’t you dare start on your brother now! So what is so good about Mary? She may be pretty, but she doesn’t cook! Her temper is horrible! Remember dinner two weeks ago? She was showing that black face because we did not serve her favourite garlic bread. Trust me Son, having a well mannered wife will be good for you!”

“Mum, can’t you find someone that is pretty and nice?”

“Roy, the world doesn’t revolve around you! Who knows how long finding such a girl would take? Your father and I have been praying for your spouse for a long time. We have talked to several potential woman for you and we think that Lisa is the best woman for you! You will be lucky to have such a noble woman!”

“I don’t want a noble woman, I want someone that is pretty! Someone attractive! I want other people to admire me!”

“Son, why is your heart so evil? Remember that we are all created by God. We are all given different things from God. What good is physical beauty? Will she remain attractive 40 years later? What good is a wife that makes other envious and covet? What good is a woman that entices other men? What good is a woman that causes other people to sin? Stop desiring such evil things my Son. Look to God, may He bless you with a new heart. Do not chase after the things of this world. Chase after things that will last forever.”

“Mum, I understand where you are coming from, but my heart is so conflicted.”

“Dear Son, the heart is deceitful. Not only that, it is forgetful. Why covet over things that your brother have? There is so much to give thanks for, why are you not content? Love God my Son. Do not despise Lisa. She is a noble woman that your father and I have chosen for you. She will support you through hard times. She will correct you when you are wrong. She will love your children and you immeasurably. Spend more time with her, you will realise that she is more than just her looks.”

“Mum, please pray for me. I want to love Lisa, but my heart isn’t letting me. Perhaps I don’t know how to. I just get so bitter whenever I see Tom and his wife. She is so pretty and I want her for myself. However, I know that it is wrong and I will stop myself. Please help me.”

“Roy, my dear Son, of course I will pray for you. You know what is wrong and you avoid it. I am proud that you know the difference. Don’t worry about loving Lisa. God loves you no? Start with something simple, perhaps just buy her a stalk of flower once a week and spend some time together to talk. The Lord brings unlikely people together. You know that, remember Jason? You found it so hard to work with him that first year, but after that, you guys became such great friends. So why is that impossible for you and Lisa?”

“That is true. Mum, thank you for your wisdom. Please pray for us.”

“Yes dear, of course I will.”


=741= Thanksgiving: Drumming

I just want to give thanks for such a wonderful group of people that are so willing to take me in and teach me. I am certainly not the best drummer, but they have showed me such grace.

I cannot reveal more details, but I am so thankful. I am quite embarrassed and ashamed about my playing, but they have been so kind. I am so excited.

The question was:

Should people take grade exams?

Grade exams are very technique based. It is a show of technicalities. It is like English. Grade exams are what increases vocabulary. You don’t need the most fancy words to write essays; you can write an essay with simple words. However, with more vocabulary, you can write more complicated essays. Same for music, you certainly do not need the most fancy beats to make music–I play simple almost all the time. However, with more technique, you will be able to play better and conquer more complicated things.

Returning back really feels familiar and yet it is so uncomfortable to play this way again. Perhaps I have been playing so long, I have lost the drive to improve. Lord, thank you for this open door. May this door bring more opportunities!

Thank you Lord!


=740= Word: Entitlement

There is this toxic quality that I see so often and it really annoys the heck out of my being. The quality of entitlement.

When you expect certain things to happen and when they don’t you get angry or annoyed. When you feel you are so entitled that you think that you are above certain job scopes.

I have been thinking, I rather be a cleaner that is happy with work and pay than to be a finance manager that is unhappy with his pay and is stressed out everyday.

When you feel entitled, it is just so sad to see how thoughtless you can be. I wonder will there ever be a time when you will be brought down and be humbled?

The entitled are selfish because they think that they deserve it. Truth is that no one owes you anything. Nothing comes easy and it is just so sad to see people not knowing that.

Let me just point out that being easygoing isn’t the same as being lazy. Everyone can see body language and hear tone. It is disheartening to see people put on the facade of being easygoing, but gets irritated with simple things.

-sigh- O my heart, please be still within me.


=739= Thanksgiving: Stage 2

Stage 2 was a tedious process, I had to do quite a bit of reading and had to really practice very hard to film that video. Thank you for blessing me with such great teachers. Lord, thank you for your delayed blessings.

I always get confused to where is the line when I should have faith and when I should expect things would happen. As long as I have faith of a mustard seed, I can move mountains right?

However, when I pray against bad weather, when I command the skies to stop pouring, how would I know when to expect things to happen? If it continues to rain, do I have little faith?

I think this is a struggle for many. Why do some people get healed and some don’t?

An attitude that I always see with modern day healers is that they would pray, if it happens, praise God, if it doesn’t, they move on. It is certainly wise to not dwell on it. Like for song writing, I always simply record whatever I get inspired to come up with. Whether I use that melody or not is a separate question. If I dwelled on one melody, trying to develop it to a full song, I would have never written some of my favourite lyrics. Perhaps our prayer is just like that recording, whether they get healed is a separate issue from the prayer. Healing doesn’t come from us, healing comes from above. The more people we pray for the better we get at it.

Perhaps faith is practicing something God said will work again and again. Faith is practicing it even though it did not work. God said it will work, I have faith in God and not the healing.

Something that I have been doing constantly is what I was taught on healing by PsM. A 3 step process.

  1. Cover myself/person I am praying for with the blood of Jesus.
  2. Bind the works of the evil one.
  3. Command the pain to leave. (Not ask God to remove the pain, you command it to move)

Ever since then, I have always done it, be it my eczema or an ache, I have always tried it. To be honest, most of the time it doesn’t work.

I applied it to other things aside from healing too. Whenever it rains without warning, I would command the clouds to hold the rain until I reach home. Once again, it doesn’t work most of the time. Perhaps it sounds silly bah, but Jesus said that if I have the faith of a mustard seed I can ask a mountain to move and it will move. If he said that, I am going to try it until I see it work.

Today I saw it work twice.

Today, once we reached the sunrise spot, it was extremely cloudy and it started to rain. I then commanded it to stop. My friends thought that I was joking, but I really wasn’t. I had a thought that it will stop raining and it will show the view. However, even after sunrise, which we couldn’t see due to the clouds, it was still extremely cloudy and there was no trace of the nice view. I then checked the weather forecast, it said that the clouds won’t clear until 8am. So after waiting for a while, we made a decision to go down. Halfway down, the sky began to clear a slight bit, my guide told me that he thinks that it will clear, after much thought, I still decided to descend further. However, it really did clear up.

It was until later that I remembered the thought of the clear view. I regretted descending.

It reminded me of the Israelites refusing to claim the promised land. God told them to, they refused, God cursed their entire generation to be unable to see the promised land except Joshua and Caleb. They regretted their actions and attacked and lost terribly.

I think the lesson is to listen to what God says and not what we as humans would say, or perhaps an app would predict. How to discern whether it is God is a different issue altogether.

Next important lesson is that if you made the wrong choice, don’t look back, move on. If the Israelites had not attacked after refusing, perhaps they would not have lost their lives.

Perhaps that is why lukewarm people are despised, because they wouldn’t choose either side and as a result, they get neither.

The second is fantastic, I was struggling really hard before my trip to Indo to do up a video. I spent 4 hours trying to do it up and I just couldn’t do it. My sister and mother were commenting that my temper was really bad at that point. In the end, I decided to do it after the trip. Praise the Lord for blessing me. I am no longer required to. Praise to you Lord.

Thank you for so much favour in my way O Lord! You are amazing.

Indo is amazing by the way! AHAHA!


=738= Word: Pray

There is a lesson that I learned the past week, to remain loving and kind, without any prejudice, you need to pray. There are so many instances when the words you speak will not be godly or wise because of your personal attachment to a problem.

Imagine a friend complains about this dude that you don’t like. It is all too easy to diss the person and give bad advice. There is a need to be impartial.

Now let’s say this church member complains about this leader about the things he say. Perhaps he questioned his faith and he don’t like it. Before giving advice, one should pray.

When you pray, you take on God’s perspective and His heart on things. It will help you give advice out of love and not personal likes or dislikes.

May we be careful with the advice we give and the words we say in the name of the Lord.


=737= Music Talk: Rhythm and Emotions

I just re-watched the video where Jacob Collier explains harmony and how harmony uses the combination of notes to express an emotion. Using tools like adding more notes, rearranging the notes(invertion) or even leaving out notes, you come up with vocabulary to express an emotion to tell a story.

That got me thinking, could rhythm do the same? Could rhythm express emotions?

My conclusion is that it is possible and I will attempt to explain why and how. Just like how people typically describe major as happy and minor as sad, I will use generalisation like that to help illustrate how rhythm expresses emotion. Next, I am a drum set player, so I will be talking about rhythm very much like a drum set drummer. So without further ado, let me explain.

I think the easiest illustration about how rhythm expresses emotion is with a reception bell. Imagine that you are a receptionist and when you hear a bell, you would get up from your seat to the counter to serve your customer. The first customer rang once and waited patiently. The second customer was in a hurry, hence he rang the bell repeatedly. If you hear the bell once, it doesn’t mean much to you. However, if you hear multiple rings, you will immediately know that the customer is impatient and is rushing you.

How is that possible? It is the same bell, the sound stays the same and yet you can hear emotion. Why? Rhythm.

The first way rhythm can express emotion is by volume. How soft or loud you play something. Imagine closing a door. Closing normally wouldn’t invoke anything, but slamming the door would immediately send the message that you are annoyed. To generalise, the more passionate your emotion, the louder you play. The more intimate your emotion, the softer you play.

The second way is by tempo or pace. Imagine two guys, one guy is bored, so he taps the table with a slow tempo; sighing after a few taps. Now the second guy is excited, he is about to receive something! He also taps the table, but with a slightly faster tempo. Now think of another example, think about trying to get someone out of the house because you guys are going to be late. If it is still early, but going to be, your reminders will be few. However, if you guys are already late, you will rush the person by constantly reminding the other party that you are late! Tempo can express emotion very well. Typically slower tempos expresses Laziness, Boredom, perhaps Seriousness. Faster tempos expresses Joy, Happiness and eventually Rush, Thrill and Frantic.

The third way I would say Space or variation in tempo. Space between the notes you play. If you think about Anxiety or Panic. You will know that the feeling isn’t a constant feeling. It is a sudden jerk, then you trying to slow yourself down, but failing then you get into a panic attack again. It is irregular. If you break out of the tempo framework, you will realise that sometimes there is a need to break out of tempo to express certain emotions. Think about the very common Retardation in music. It typically gives the listener a sense of release. Like the listener can finally catch their breath. It is the end. It is finally after an exam paper and the time stops, it doesn’t matter if the result is good or bad, it ended. Think about speeding up, speeding up from a slower tempo gives the feeling of urgency. It no longer functions normally, you have to rush. From fast to slow gives the feeling of resolution and release. Slow to fast gives the feeling of urgency.

The fourth way I believe is the sounds you choose. Think about every horror movie, you hear chains rattling and cymbal scratches and you feel scared and alone. Imagine replacing chains rattling with a snare hit. It will not sound scary at all. Or perhaps replacing the sound of bells with a ladder slamming on the floor. One gives the feeling of tranquility, one gives a big shock.

The fifth one I would say value of notes. Think of a straight beat vs a swing beat. One makes you feel like you want to head bang, the other makes you sway left to right. A simple 4/4 Vs 6/8 would prove my point too. They feel very different. 4/4 would give a constant pace, something is always moving properly. 6/8 would left you feel as if you are dragging your feet, taking deep breaths as you move along.

I am pretty sure that there are more points than the ones that I have come up with. Rhythm affects the way music feel in so many ways. We as drummers may be just an overly decorated metronome, but we can express emotions in so many ways! Why are we settling only for basic stuff? We as drummers should learn how to express ourselves behind the drum kit. Be sensitive to emotions and learn how to translate it to rhythms.

May we be better musicians for you O Lord! 🙂


=736= Music Talk: On Mandopop and Church Music

I have been thinking about the different music CCAs I could join in uni and I am really sad there isn’t a Mandopop CCA like NUS’ voices. I want to play Mandopop and the closest CCA to it is Blues and Jazz band, which is really out of my comfort zone. There is Hall Jam Band too, but I guess it will mainly be English music.

I always wondered why do I have such an affinity with Mandopop. Is it really out of love for 五月天? Part of the reason I guess.

I think there is also a connection to it because it is my mother tongue. It is the language that I use very often. Many people have said that they feel Mandarin is a heart language while English is more of a head language. Maybe just for Singaporeans, Chinese is used to express feelings and such while English is used for debates and intellectual conversation. For example, I have no clue how to say hermeneutics in Chinese. While on the other hand, 心酸 translated to English is just sour heart. One perfectly describes a feeling of the heart, while sour heart just sounds like a bratty and silly thing to say.

R once told me that because in Mandarin, one character is one syllable, the melodies of a Chinese song can be significantly more colorful than an English song; english tend to slur a bit more.

The most recent Adam Neely’s video talked about how many J-Pop artistes found inspiration from American Jazz Musicians. You can watch it here. It discusses how language inspires their music, it then goes on further to talk about how interesting it is that Japanese musicians find inspiration from American Jazz music to create something new, American musicians are now getting inspiration from Jap music to create something new and different.

That made me think quite a bit, perhaps I have such an affinity with Mandopop because our local church music finds inspiration from Mandopop. Let me explain.

There is this thing that Mandopop ballads always do that I think it is almost a signature to the genre. Mandopop songs love to stopstart at the climax, perhaps a chorus, sing the chorus broodingly, then come right back in, in the middle of the chorus possibly with plenty of punches. This creates a feeling of release, then pulls you back to an even higher level of dynamics.

You seldom hear this in English music. Stopstarts in English music typically just stop for a short time, perhaps two counts to give a dramatic impact, but seldom half a chorus. Even if they drop, they would slowly come back in gradually, not big and full of accents.

In the local church music, you actually hear this quite often. We love the sound of this dramatic drop then come back! I think that both Mandopop and Church music are both vocal and lyric driven.

I grew up with church music, I listened to Hillsong even before John Mayer or 五月天. That could be the reason that the music is tied so close to my heart and I relate to Mandopop the way I do.

I remember talking about drummers with my friend, saying that Todd Sucherman really have that rock sound. Then, my friend asked, “what kind of a drummer are you?” I replied, “Hillsong.”

While we admire different people for their playing, the sound that we eventually land upon depends on the songs we play the most. I play mostly church music, as a result, I sound more like a church drummer and not let’s say Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. However, because we admire such people, we bring elements that we admire from such people to our playing in church music. I was listening to Wild Horses by Niel Zaza and Todd Sucherman’s playing was so different and creative! I was practicing the verse groove of it and when I prepared for a set, I found that I could add it to “This Is Amazing Grace.”

It was so much fun playing a groove from another song in church music. I think that is how church music evolves. We bring elements from other pieces of music in to create something fresh.

May we always try to play well for you O Lord, may our music be fresh and new!