Category Archives: Affirming Faithfulness

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and His mercy endures forever; I recount His great faithfulness through my blessings.

conversing with God // week one.

If I can keep this up, I’ll try to consolidate my daily devotional reflections at the end of every week.

If I can…

// 1 Jan | Mark 1

In preaching the Gospel and doing God’s will, Jesus must be to me three things: the motivation, the means and the message. For without which, I’d have no purpose, no power and no point.

// 2 Jan | Mark 2

Continuous conversations with and a downright dependence on God remind us that salvation is for those who know they are sinners, not those who think they are righteous.

// 3 Jan | Mark 3

Discipleship 101 according to Jesus:

  1. Separate the serious from the curious.
  2. Invite those you want to go with you.
  3. Wait for willing ones to respond and come to you.
  4. Appoint them formally and call them your disciples.
  5. Allow them to follow and accompany you in ministry.
  6. Enable, empower and send them out to preach the Gospel.
  7. (Show them where your authority comes from and) provide opportunities for them to exercise their spiritual authority by faith to help others and set them free.

Strangely and stupidly enough, some of us desire to be accelerated to #7 before we accomplish #1 to #3.

For me, #3 is the most important step in discipleship because that’s the trigger point where a congregational believer grows into a committed one by being willing to die to himself and take up the Cross – the marks of a true disciple. #3 is also the only step where discipleship is not determined by the intentionality of the discipler but the initiative of the disciple.

Let us not be too hasty to do God’s work before we even surrender ourselves to His will and way.

// 4 Jan | 1 Peter 4

God-fearing Christians should EXPECT suffering, for God’s purpose in it is to help us IDENTIFY with Christ, and to enjoy the VICTORY that He has already won. Doing GOOD in the face of suffering, especially responding in LOVE to both friends and foes, creates a powerful OPPORTUNITY to share our faith. When we undergo fiery trials knowing that God is both SOVEREIGN and FAITHFUL, we will be RESTED not restless, for He is in CONTROL! God, I entrust my soul to You!!!

// 5 Jan | 1 Peter 4:1-9

On top of expecting suffering as a Christian, I want to EMBRACE suffering for it identifies me with Christ (since He suffered in the physical). But more than that, it allows me to experience the victory over the power of sin that He won on the cross. That is why my internal attitude towards suffering trumps my external ability to withstand it; an attitude of love displays my relationship with Christ, covers my own sin and causes my sins to be forgiven. Lord, help me to embrace suffering with an attitude of love!

// 6 Jan | 1 Peter 4:10-19

The Master has entrusted each of you with at least one spiritual gift (out of a minimum of 19 varieties) to use and manage well for two purposes: 1) serve each other and 2) bring glory to God. So the question isn’t whether you have a spiritual gift or not (because you do), but whether you are using it for its intended purposes, or to serve and bring glory to yourself. Serving with your God-given gift is a privilege; it isn’t something you have to do, but something you get to do.

Advertisements

the importance of spiritual peers.

The older you get, the more you don’t take things for granted.

Tonight’s no-frills dinner was an example of that. This meeting was Lionel’s initiative and had to be planned a month in advance. Lionel bought dinner up to his place and I enjoyed a time of catching up with him and his wife, Jeanie. Ministry is so intricately woven in our tapestry of life that it was an inevitable conversation topic among us.

When Johann arrived 30 minutes later, we got down to why we gathered tonight. It was refreshing to share about what the Lord was doing in each of our lives, as well as how we could keep each other in prayer in such an unpretentious manner. I enjoyed how we ended the night lifting each other up in prayer.

I don’t know about other (youth) pastors, but I find that as I age and as I “climb” the leadership rungs, there are lesser and lesser spiritual friends. That is why I appreciate what we shared tonight – three men whose histories intersect, who are in different seasons of life, who like and love each other, coming together to share honestly with each other.

It was nice to find a platform to share about ministry aspirations and frustrations, marriage and wedding preparations, parenthood and career, among other things, and know that you won’t be judged or frowned at for what you say. We had nothing to lose, nothing to prove and nothing to hide. And that was a breath of fresh air.

Spiritual peers are a blessing to any man.

the conclusion of AIYS 2012.

Tonight’s the final time I will fall asleep in Asia Pacific Theological Seminary, Baguio.

AIYS 2012 has been a blast. By lunch tomorrow, I’d have sat into nearly 70 (!!) classes – that’s like attending 10 IDMCs! I’ve learnt so much from the instructors here; there’s a truckload to take home – new knowledge acquired, a renewed passion, a lifted spirit and of course, new friends and ministry partners from around the world.

The Lord has spoken to me personally and through pastors and friends who prayed for me. That’s crucial because I know if God is for me, then I can proceed with His approval. The trick now is to not go ahead of God, but to trust in Him and wait for Him to pave the way for me in the things that He’s impressed upon my heart to implement.

I’m thankful to Grace AG for sending me to AIYS 2012. The next AIYS takes place in 2015 and I declare this by faith – I will bring my full-time staff team with me.

Frankly, I think I’ve already reached saturation point for lessons. All I want to do now is to reflect on the 60+ notes, distill the ones that challenge me and sieve out the ones that are applicable to R-AGE. AND PUT WHAT I’VE LEARNT INTO ACTION. Otherwise, it’d be pointless.

And speaking of action, I’m pleased that there’s no chapel service tonight because traditionally, the last night’s always reserved for Balut Party – a rite of passage for AIYS delegates. I’ll let the photos talk!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Watch me gobble down the hot chick! @ http://www.facebook.com/v/10150966084595973

glory > burden > fear.

Ps Julie Khoo gave an altar call last night and I responded to it – my first time at the altar since AIYS 2012 started. I asked God to confirm the things He had been putting in my heart because the weight was too heavy to bear by myself. I shared this burden with Brian, Jamie and a couple of others whom I shared meals with. I needed the Lord to give me strength, courage and wisdom.

In that 15 minutes kneeling down, two people came to pray for me; I recognised Ps Julie’s voice and I caught sight of a pair of red sneakers and realised it belonged to her assistant, Ps Danny Tan. Both of them had only arrived the day before and had no idea what God was doing and stirring in my heart the past week.

As I stepped forward, I wasn’t emotional at all, as expected – that’s just how I am. But I had faith; I knew God would speak to me. So I asked the Lord to help me remember this altar call experience.

Ps Julie and Ps Danny won’t know this until I tell them – both of them prayed identical things over me. And along with what the Lord had already revealed in my heart, I saw a complete picture of what’s next for me and what’s stopping me from getting there. Ps Julie prophesied over me almost immediately and described the vision she saw. When she laid her hands on me moments later, I broke down; I will never forget how the Lord broke my heart for R-AGE, its leaders and the campuses in Singapore. I had faith that God would speak, but I didn’t expect myself to weep this way.

With a new found confidence, I returned to my seat to record what I had received from the Lord. Amidst the seven things God revealed through Ps Julie and Ps Danny, I remember receiving this personal revelation as I walked back to my row:

“My burden is greater than my fear.
Your glory is greater than my burden.”

I skipped the after-service fellowship and retreated to my room. And as I wanted to remember that God gave this to me when I was in the Philippines, I opened up Google to translate that line into Tagalog, and posted it as my Facebook status:

“Aking pasanin ay mas malaki kaysa sa aking takot.
Ang iyong kaluwalhatian aymas malaki kaysa sa aking pasanin.”

The next morning, just before the second session began, I read aloud the Tagalog translation to my Filipino friend, Ps Welfert, just to share with him what God had done with me last night.

With tears welling up in his eyes, he told me that what I’ve read to him were actually lyrics from a Filipino worship song called, “Salamat Panginoon”! The essence of the song is about how God’s presence is bigger than my struggles, pains and worries, and how great favour will come with the Lord because He is control of what’s going on.

I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

It was a powerful moment for the both of us. Welfert got emotional as he shared the meaning of the song with me. God ministered to the two of us there and then – what a divine revelation and confirmation!

God is good, so good. And He is faithful – I know He will go before me. My confidence in the Lord for the task ahead is rising! Praise the Lord for the spiritual monument that He’s building in my life through AIYS 2012.

of anointing, kindred spirits and connected hearts.

It’s becoming apparent to me that most youth pastors served as worship leaders in their previous lives. I could rattle off multiple names off the cuff — Glenn Lim, Andy Yeoh, Chris Long, Pacer Tan and lately, myself.

I meet another one tonight. His name is Brian Lopez, a Filipino. And I’ve not met another worship leader with an anointing as strong and pure as his. I’ve met many worship leaders, but not one that carries the entire service with his anointing alone. I really wished I could teleport the CAMY worship leaders to the service hall to watch Brian’s team lead worship. They will capture their imagination.

I’ve grown out of the Hillsong United and Planetshakers phase of my life. I’ve enjoyed their music and how they’ve led me time and again into the presence of God, but no matter what (and I’m not being racist), they’re non-Asians. So to see an Asian expressing his heart of worship to God in such an uncontaminated manner was breathtaking and inspiring.

We connected with each other after service ended and had a marvelous time sharing our hearts out on matters in the ministry that were close to our hearts — from leadership, to shepherding, to expository preaching. I haven’t met a kindred spirit in a long while.

In Brian’s words, “Man, why haven’t I met you earlier!?” I thank the Lord for fusing our hearts together as we prayed for each other.

I look forward to bringing Brian Lopez down to R-AGE.

Reflections on being courageous for the Gospel.

I guess it’s about time I breathed life into my blog, again.

Over the last weekend, I preached the final installment of “The Call of Duty: R-AGE digs deeper into Ephesians”. It was based on Ephesians 6:10-24 and the armour of God. I titled the sermon, “Is there courage in R-AGE?”. I had the luxury of having three weeks to prepare for this sermon (due to the combined adults and 180° Easter outreach services) and extra time meant that this sermon could pack more punch.

Most times at the end of a service, I always feel I’ve preached the worst sermon of my life, but surprisingly, I enjoyed preaching this one. Not because I tickled minds with interesting nuggets of information, but because I felt that I had executed the prophetic burden God laid on my heart for the youths. It’s similar to Apostle Paul’s cry for the believers in Ephesus – to boldly proclaim the Gospel. I challenged two groups of young people at the altar; those who used to preach the Gospel boldly and those who have never preached the Gospel boldly before – that the Holy Spirit would strengthen them to do so.

While I was thankful for those who responded, there were more who didn’t and I wondered why – was it due to my inadequate delivery of the message, their apathetic spiritual condition or simply because God didn’t plan it that way? Or was it something else beyond my comprehension? I couldn’t put a finger to it but it drives me to intercede more intensely for my beloved youths.

David Lee was the emcee for R-AGE @ GI and at the closing of the service, he echoed what I had actually said at R-AGE @ GII – that the responsibility of evangelism doesn’t fall on the shoulders of the leaders, pastors and those who are more fervent in their faith, but on everyone who calls himself a disciple of Jesus. How could we remain unmoved if the love of Christ has already moved us? It is my earnest prayer that R-AGE would experience the Father’s love first-hand!

“Stop evangelising. Instead, start loving people in the name of Jesus”, I first heard Ps Edmund Chan say that when I traveled with him to Perth last October. He repeated that statement at the recently concluded Grace Leaders’ Retreat and it was a sobering reminder for me. I had a short SMS exchange with Gabrielle Ong this morning and I encouraged her not to give up on proclaiming the Gospel to her pre-believing friends. I told her that one of the most effective ways of demonstrating the Gospel is to find opportunities to pray for people – you “speak life” into them and they get a chance to see your faith in action. It works!

Back to the sermon… Well, I’m not sure about other preachers, but the thing I enjoy most about preparing a sermon is how much I learn and am challenged through what I read and write. I already know what God would want me to do in response to my sermon and I look forward to walking in obedience this week. It is my prayer that R-AGE would take ownership of the souls within their communities who haven’t met Jesus.

Even as I type this, my heart is moved by the compassion Jesus has for the ones who are suffering and the ones who do not yet know Him. I am thankful for the Spirit’s reminder in my life – that my occupation isn’t one of a part-time youth pastor but a full-time Gospel preacher! I must never lose sight of reconciling others to God through the Gospel!

It’s going to be an awesome week, my dear friends. Let’s raise the shield of faith on each other’s behalf, gird up our loins with the written truth, wield the power of the spoken truth and advance the Gospel for the King! What a privilege to shepherd R-AGE – I am thankful for this season of my life. God is good.

I’m done with you, now I’m coming for you.

It is finished. And I am relieved. I’ve completed two major milestones in the same week – RMIT and my book manuscript.

Praise God for how He sustained me through school, ministry, wedding preparations, and authoring in the last two years! I couldn’t have done it without His grace seeing me through. All glory to Him!

The following essay is my final piece of secular academic work. Thought this might help to fill the eerie silence on my blog…

***

Introduction: abstain to understand social media

From the first email sent in 1971, to the debut of the Internet in 1991, to the introduction of AOL Instant Messaging in 1997, to the launch of Facebook and Twitter in 2004 and 2006 respectively, the way we communicate has metamorphosed the way we socialise. Indeed, social media has become an extension of our personality. At times, it is uniform with real life, but in other instances, it can be altogether inconsistent.

An effective way to grasp the impact of social media in our personal and professional lives is through an abrupt and complete abstinence from it. For the purpose of this assignment (and its relatively personal nature), I embarked on and completed a radical 72-hour social media fast. My observations and recommendations are presented in this essay.

Examining the impact of social media

Cyberspace can elevate anyone to the position of an expert. Popularity instead of pedagogy has become the new credibility; with enough “likes” garnered, any opinion can be deemed believable and eventually accepted. This is the age of blogging and re-blogging, photo and video sharing, and social networking and bookmarking. Alarmingly, social media has overtaken pornography as the ascendant power of and predominant activity on the information superhighway (Qualman, 2009).

Suffice to say, social media has become the resident protagonist of new communication technologies. Jameson (2010, p. 4) aptly described social media “in the 21st century” as “the power of word of mouth… …kicked into hyperdrive by technology”. She echoed Bill Bernbach, founder of international advertising agency DDB Worldwide, who once said in 1989 that “word of mouth is the best medium of all”.

Social media is inescapable

According to Boyd (2011), social networks are “connected by information, time, and space… …[and] navigate life as a series of relationships”. Whether we realise it or not, people like watching others and being watched, and find ways to retain control in watching each other because everybody wants attention. Users adapt themselves and evolve with the improving technology that is available to them.

Social media abounds in multiple platforms. It is only when we disconnect ourselves from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, Instagram, WordPress (among many others) and all online chatting platforms that we realise its pervasive dominance in our lives. Besides its presence on the World Wide Web, social media is also proliferated through orthodox electronical communication means as well as applications on mobile devices; its convenient and seamless attachment to email notifications and mobile application badges means that one is required to effort before he can completely detach himself from social media.

According to McLuhan and Fiore (1967, p. 8-9), the media “is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life” and went on to suggest that youths “instinctively [understand] the present environment – the electric drama” and “the reason for the great alienation between generations” was “created by electronic information media”.

The widespread utilisation of social media is synonymous with Generation Y (or the Millennial Generation) and especially Generation Z (also known as the Internet Generation). Social media has evolved rapidly in a mere decade. And with mobile technology ameliorating at an even faster rate, it becomes inevitable that communication means between people have accelerated and eroded simultaneously through the rampant and seemingly irrepressible exploitation of social media.

Three benefits of refraining from social media

The first benefit felt from an absence of social media is increased work productivity. The Internet Generation is also known as the Multitasking Generation and this multitasking phenomenon is perpetuated by their employment of social media. By keeping oneself devoid of social media, greater concentration is afforded to the task at hand, and increases effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace.

The second benefit felt from abstaining from social media is increased physical rest. One of the key reasons for the prevalent nocturnal lifestyle of Generation Y and Z is the (self-induced) uncontrollable need to respond to social media activity straightaway; micro-blogging and instant messaging has instinctively encouraged users to reciprocate immediately. However, if the urge to reply is eliminated, users naturally wind down mentally, and allow their mind and eventually their bodies to rest.

Sagen (2005) labelled these users as the “microwave generation” and explained how almost everything is demanded instantly.

At what point does someone become so dependent on technology that in our world of instantaneous feedback we forget the virtues of patience and personal cultivation? We live in an era where cell phones, PDA’s and MP3 players are always within a finger’s reach and our dependency on these technological gadgets are such that we rely on them to communicate or entertain with one another.

In essence we’ve turned into a “Microwave Generation”, which can be explained in two parts; one, that our reliance on technology has become so “all consuming” and commonplace that without it we’d be in a state of shock and two, we as human beings want everything now (59 seconds or less it seems). Look around you, there’s a “fast, quick, instant, speedy” service to just about anything you can think of including espressos, fast food, medical checkups and oil changes.

The third benefit felt comes in the form of increased world awareness. Instead of filling our minds with tweets and status updates, we gain the opportunity to keep ourselves abreast of world and national news. Due to prolonged overuse (and possible abuse) of social media, there is a conditioned and institutionalised need to check on the activities of, as well as to share our thoughts and observations among our social circles. The desire to speak and be heard drives people to be active on social media. This might be driven by a basic human need for validation and acknowledgement.

Social media in social environments

One cannot deny that social media has infiltrated the workplace. Organisations have discovered that social media is an efficacious way of reaching their target audience. A dearth of social media is inconceivable in this highly sophisticated consumer climate, especially if it involves getting in touch with youths. Technology assembles “the flaneur and the voyeur” and brings both to prominence; people take turns to watch and be watched because networks are increasingly salient (Boyd, 2011).

Social media has also taken relationship building to a new paradigm. Significant moments (like childbirths, anniversaries, demises, etc.) in social relationships are now magnified and multiplied through social media because it makes the sharing of these moments convenient and accessible. For example, instead of meeting up vis-a-vis, users now keep in touch with each other through weblogs; moreover, user-generated content on social media platforms also provides conversational currency during actual meet-ups. As such, social media has proven itself to be an immensely useful networking tool.

However, social media will continue to alter the way we communicate with real people. And if one is serious about reaching Generation Y and Z for business or personal reasons, then he must consider the capitalisation of social media. It is however, possible to wean off social media so while organisations may rely on the heavy use of social media, it is not wise to depend on social media as the sole platform of communication.

New communication technologies like this might result in Generation Y and Z being handicapped from expressing themselves in real life. They can describe their emotions online but struggle to do it offline in person. As a result, real life communication has eroded into undesirable superficiality because people might resort to tweeting about instead of talking about it. What is more hazardous is that this mentality is set to continue.

Conclusion: social media is a social concern

72 hours provides only a preliminary insight into a world without social media; although a longer duration is necessary for substantiated findings, three days may be sufficient to determine the effects of social media in our lives. For the sake of social balance, social media should remain a social utility instead of a social necessity. One merely uses it (and does not need it) to increase the convenience and efficiency of daily chores and functions.

Social media is here to stay and has become an integral part of the way we communicate; it has become the preferred way of communication. And since voyeurism and flaneurism are inevitable, instead of preventing access, people manage the attention they receive and divert it away.

Hence, instead of denying its impact or shunning the use of it, we must learn to educate ourselves with it, manage and grow with its regular development, and subsume it into our daily routines. To prevent being consumed by it, we should learn to set healthy perimeters for ourselves when we use social media, otherwise it may distract us from and destroy our priorities.

Now, if “people are the most important media” (Jameson, 2010), and if people are defined and made significant by relationships and society, then social media must not become the culprit that takes the “social” away from people.

Work Cited

Boyd, D. (2011). Dear Voyeur, meet Flâneur… Sincerely, Social Media. In Surveillance & Society 8(4): 505-507. Retrieved January 7, 2012, from http://www.surveillance-and-society.org.

Jameson, L. (2010). The Power of Six Degrees. In The Yellow Paper Series. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from http://www.ddb.com/what-we-think/DDB_YP__ThePowerofSixDegrees.pdf.

McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q. (1967). The medium is the massage: An inventory of effects. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Qualman, E. (2009). Statistics Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think. In Socialnomics. Retrieved February 2, 2012, from http://www.socialnomics.net/2009/08/11/statistics-show-social-media-is-bigger-than-you-think.

Sagen, E. (2005). Microwave Generation. In Kartooner. Retrieved February 3, 2012, from http://www.kartooner.com/archives/2005/11/29/microwave-generation/

%d bloggers like this: