Category Archives: Quote & Unquote
There’s an abundance of wisdom out there; this is my attempt to be learned by borrowing some of it for personal perusal.
One of the best prayers we could whisper to God everyday is, “Lord, I’m available”.
With that introduction, I preached the second installment of FAT & Hungry at the R-AGE Leaders’ Retreat.
Neal Maxwell once said, “God does not begin by asking our ability, only our availability, and if we prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” We’ve heard it time and again that God isn’t looking for our ability but our availability. But what does it mean to be available?
I believe that a practical way to see availability in ministry is to have a “can do” attitude. After all, according to Philippians 4:13, it’s not a far-fetched idea to assert that a “can do” attitude is actually biblical. However, the “cannot” attitude has infiltrated the church and perhaps has even become her anthem.
If we were to examine 1 Samuel 17, we can pick out five ways to develop a can do attitude through the life of the shepherd boy David.
1. Know who you are (vv45-47).
David could wipe out Goliath with one stone because he knew who he was in God. With God, all things are possible – this should make Christians the most positive people on earth. Others thought Goliath was so big that they can’t beat him, but David thought Goliath was so big that he can’t miss him. David’s winning attitude came from it all being about God and not about him or Goliath.
2. Say what you know (vv34-36).
David focussed his attention on what he knew. Having battled with a lion and bear in his shepherding duties, he chose to look at the positives rather than the negatives. And with that, he bravely offered himself to battle Goliath. When uncertain moments come, do we focus on what we know or do not know? Sometimes, we are not as helpless as we think, so let’s stop declaring a negative self-fulfilling prophecy upon ourselves.
3. Start where you are (vv17-22).
David got involved in this battle because he was simply carrying out his father’s instructions to bring bread and cheese to the battlefield. He bloomed where he was planted and didn’t complain about where he was or what he was doing. Sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You can’t have a “can do” attitude until you embrace where you are. Mother Theresa’s words to those who wanted to join her cause was, “Find your own Calcutta.”
4. Use what you have (v40).
Saul offered David first-class armour and weapons but David chose to use what he had and could find around him instead, namely one sling and five stones. What do you have in your hands that God could use? Let’s stop lamenting about what others have and what you don’t. Instead, let’s ask ourselves about the talents that God has deposited within us and the resources that we have. If God can use David’s humble elementary weapons, God can use whatever we have in our hands.
5. Do what you can (vv48-51).
David did what he knew and what he could – running onto the battlefield and confronting Goliath with his slingshot. Let us learn to do what we can with what we have. Johnson and Johnson started with sterilised dressings to help prevent infection from airborne germs. Bill Hewlett and William Packard started with a simple audio equipment in their garage. If God has called me to do something, it can be done for God will use what you have to bring glory to Himself.
To add on to these five ways, there are four strategies that we can apply to develop a “can do” attitude.
- Pause and redirect: Resist the “cannot” mentality and redirect it into positive actions.
- Divide and conquer: Take big goals and break it down into bite-size short term goals.
- Stop and evaluate: Take stock of progress and proceed with lessons learnt in wisdom.
- Rejoice and celebrate: Take time out to recognise and celebrate what God has done.What you don’t recognise, you don’t celebrate. What you don’t celebrate, you don’t enjoy. What you don’t enjoy won’t last.
Then I shared four practical areas that we could demonstrate our availability in:
- Pre-occupation: If you are consumed by your work or studies, then you aren’t of any use to the ministry. If something is important to you, make time for it.
- Priorities: If you can’t be available for majority of events, it shows that ministry is not a high priority for you.
- Presence: A leader who is available leads a flock to being faithful. Learn to be available for your sheep when they need you. And learn to give people access into your lives – upwards with your leaders and mentors, downwards with your sheep and sidewards with your peers.
- Posture: Simply put become someone the ministry can count on when help is need. If you keep telling people that you’re busy, sooner or later they’ll stop approaching you.
When many people each do a little, great feats for God can be accomplished. Remember always that we are not here to be served but to serve others – let’s lead by serving and serve by leading. I’ve always considered it a privilege to lead and serve. And because I consider it a privilege to be a part of what God is doing in His church, I will make myself available for Him to use.
Sometimes it’s not about being the best, but being available.
[Credits: teaching materials adapted from Benny Ho and Scott Martin.]
To find out more, visit www.GDC2013.com.
Mark 3:14 – And Jesus appointed 12 to be with Him, that He might send them forth to preach. This is the key strategy of Jesus Christ for world evangelisation. Intentional disciple-making and a call to a radical new testament discipleship to Jesus as Lord of all.
It has been said, that the world is in trouble and the church is in need. Sure, we have said that the world is in trouble; look at the financial meltdown, global warming, the rise of terrorism. And we look at the church, we say that the church is in need; the church is in need for more manpower, more missionaries, more pastors, more money, more buildings.
But we got it all reversed – the world is in need and the church is in trouble. Superficiality, immaturity and mediocrity has characterised the church. Carnality and compromise has robbed the church of her spiritual power and her spiritual authority to make a difference in this world.
There is a need for us to come back to the ancient paths. There’s a need for us to come back to the Holy Scriptures to understand the call to disciple-making. Today, God is on the move. We are healing a fresh call, heeding it, hearing God’s call from on high – a call to disciple-making, a call to make Jesus Christ Lord of all.
The Global Congress on Discipleship (GDC 2013) is issuing that call. We aim to bring together 10,000 disciple-making leaders and disciples from all over the world, to champion the call to disciple-making, to return the church to her disciple-making roots, to go make a difference. It is my belief that intentional disciple-making is the key to world evangelisation. At the heart of that key is radical discipleship to Jesus.
We’ve brought together good men to come and champion that call; Robert Coleman, on The Master Plan of Evangelism; Ravi Zacharias, to give us his exegesis of culture and the state of the church today; pastors like Randy Pope and Peter Tan-Chi, disciple-making pastors who will champion the call of disciple-making in the local church; leaders like Bill Lawrence and others, giving us a call to lead from the inside-out, to make disciples; and then there are others, like Luis Bush, calling us to come back to discipling the young in the 4/14 movement.
Come and join us, we want to see the move of God as never before because this is the critical need. The church is in serious trouble but God is restoring the church. There is a compelling call, a compelling vision, to go make disciples, revitalise the church so that once again it can make a difference. Once again, there is a transformational power in the life of the church to turn the world the right side up for Jesus.
This is at the heart of the GDC 2013; the Global Congress on Discipleship is not issuing only a call. It is giving a model. It is championing the vision and the strategy necessary to return the church to her disciple-making roots. So whether you’re church pastor, a missionary, a para-church leader, a lay leader, come together and let us champion this call because God is on the move, and you and I are part of history.
So God bless you, we pray that the world would come together and see what God’s strategy is as we join our hearts in GDC – the Global Discipleship Congress in May 22-25 in Manila, Philippines. See you there.
— Rev Edmund Chan
Unity is important because Christianity is not meant to be done alone, but with the your immediate family, your church family and spiritual family of other believers worldwide. I believe this meeting in Luke 1, between a teenager and geriatric, is one of the most important in the Bible and teaches us a lot about unity.
1. Unity requires being humble in spirit (Luke 1:26-38)
With the Messiah in her belly, Mary could have behaved arrogantly and acted like she knew everything, but the she demonstrated her humble spirit in the way she followed the instructions of Gabriel to a T – carefully, diligently and quickly. Her statement of faith was also astounding; she barely knew what she was in for and yet she said to Gabriel, in effect, “Use me anyway you want, even in the lowliest manner because I believe in God!”
Elizabeth, however, who was also miraculously pregnant with one of the most important characters in Jewish history no less, was just as humble in spirit. I think it takes a ton of humility for a reputable old lady like Elizabeth to acknowledge a teenager without any reputation and that the baby in her to be greater than her own.
When we humble ourselves before each other and relate without needing to prove anything, there’s a sense of identity and camaraderie. Talking to each other about what Jesus is doing in our lives builds our faith and deepens our fellowship.
2. Unity requires making things happen (Luke 1:39-41)
Since Mary had no clue what Elizabeth had experienced, she took two steps of faith that day: to believe that she was going to be pregnant without sexual intercourse and that an old woman was six months pregnant. Her steps of faith (pun unintended) to travel around 160km from Nazareth in Galilee to Hebron in Judea shows us her willingness to make things happen. I wondered what she must have pondered over as she made that journey, since she couldn’t confirm that Elizabeth was pregnant until she saw her for herself.
Elizabeth had no idea that she was going to receive a visitor that day, or that the visitor was Mary, or that Mary would be pregnant with the Saviour of the world! So for Elizabeth to greet Mary so spontaneously, she must have received a revelation and acted upon it. With her act of faith, she brought the both revelations to a full circle. She went on, in effect, to repeat what Mary said to Gabriel, “You are blessed because you believed the Lord would do what He said.”
Mary greeted Elizabeth in faith and Elizabeth responded to Mary in faith. Extraordinary revelations require extraordinary faith and obedience, and produces extraordinary results.
3. Unity requires honouring others above yourself (Luke 1:42-45)
Elizabeth congratulated Mary (“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed”), condescended herself before Mary (“Why am I so honoured, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?”), confirmed Mary’s encounter with Gabriel (“When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy”) and commended Mary (“You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said”). All that must have levelled up Mary’s faith!
Elizabeth could say all that Mary because six months ago, she did the same thing in faith. If we do not deserve the favour that God shows us, we shouldn’t envy those the Lord has given more favour. Moreover, those who have personally experienced God’s faithfulness would naturally encourage others to put their faith in God.
4. Unity requires hanging on until it comes to pass (Luke 1:56)
Mary didn’t leave after that encounter but stayed with Elizabeth for three months before she returned home. I think she wasn’t there just to help a relative through the crucial months of pregnancy but perhaps to see through God’s promises surrounding both of them. I’m not sure if she witnessed the birth of John the Baptist but I know she definitely saw enough to know that Elizabeth was ready to go into labour.
Being a part of Elizabeth’s life in the first three months of her own pregnancy must have given her courage when she eventually returned to Nazareth to ready herself for the next six months of a gossip-filled, doubt-inducing, fear-instilling and awe-inspiring pregnancy. She was probably visibly pregnant but she was definitely convinced, comforted and convicted of the miracle that was about to take place through her. Through Mary’s care-giving with Elizabeth, God must have done some faith-strengthening with Mary.
What does unity look like and what stops us?
Unity is when all of us worshipping God with abandon; so don’t worship Him with arrogance, thinking you know better. Unity is when all of us are acting out our faith with obedience; so don’t respond with indifference, waiting for someone else to do what God has called you to do. Unity is when all of us are serving each other with selflessness; so don’t let your ego get in the way, putting your needs first.
I believe that the sole purpose of these two unbelievable pregnancies is found in Luke 1:37. To prove that nothing is impossible with God and that no man should take the credit for a miracle of God. If a virgin like Mary and a geriatric like Elizabeth can give birth, then surely God can bring revival to R-AGE, for nothing will be impossible with God.
It’s a lofty dream but I know one day, by faith, it will come to pass. I believe with all my heart that when revival comes to R-AGE, it won’t be through a large corporate fire, but through the small fires that we fan daily. I believe it with all my heart and I will hang on to it until it comes to pass or until God tells me I won’t see it in my time as a youth pastor.
Here’s an abridged version of the sermon I preached at the final youth service of Grace Retreat 2012.
The story of our faith is unbelievable to a thinking mind and sounds like a fairy tale to non-believers; any argument made would probably be counter-argued. That’s why it is important for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit – so that He’d confirm our message and make the Kingdom come alive. Hence, let us not dilute the power of God through the Holy Spirit!
Authentic Christianity with the power of Spirit is attractive because it makes you want to want it. When God’s power shows up, people would naturally talk about it; and it is more persuasive than cutting-edge creativity or intellectual brilliance. We are limited by our own ability, but one act of the Holy Spirit changes even the most stubborn mind. But it is ironic that we still choose to rely on ourselves.
Always remember that the power we receive when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (Acts 1:8) is mighty, miraculous, supernatural and environmentally-changing. That power was given to us for us not to be witnessing but to be a witness; it’s not what you do, but who you are. Therefore, be convinced that the Spirit is a catalyst for unbelievers to be drawn into the Kingdom.
On a personal note, I don’t want to lead a numerically large, but a spiritually powerless youth group. It is my prayer that R-AGE youths become Spirit-filled disciple-makers. After all, we are called to be a pentecostal Spirit-filled ministry. Let us not mute ourselves to the spiritual realm that the devil is trying to rule, but tap into God’s power that is available to all.
Be warned that the forces of darkness will not cower at our intellect or be intimidated by our creativity, but will shut down when they encounter a disciple who is filled with the Spirit. The best publicity for Jesus is when a Spirit-led demonstration follows a Gospepl proclamation. After all, it just takes one powerful, significant and authentic move of the Spirit to accelerate things to the next level. Aaron Kok (one of my youth leaders) can relate to that, I’m sure. Click here to read his powerful testimony.
In order to be catapulted into a Spirit-led way of life, I’d encourage us all to practise a PDA Lifestyle (I borrowed this concept from my wise mentor, Ps Edmund Chan):
- Personal revival – meeting God daily.
- Divine appointments – seeing doors open.
- Active obedience – responding with faith.
You see, if you dare to do the ridiculous, God will do the impossible. God is looking for young men and women to take spiritual risks, out of obedience to what God is saying. God is looking for (young) people who would potentially change their environments. So, R-AGE youth, would you be the next person God uses to do something extraordinary in your school, work place or home?
I aptly ended with a quote I picked up from AIYS 2012 (where this sermon was birthed at anyway):
For me, living an ordinary life is not an option anymore. — Peter Parker (aka Spiderman)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3
I have mixed feelings about tonight’s prayer meeting.
Please do not misunderstand me; I sincerely believe that every prayer offered in those 60 minutes was uttered with the right intentions – to honour God, to spur each other on in the faith and to intercede for Grace AG.
But honestly, amidst the spiritual euphoria that was brewing in the room, typical of any church activity after a spirit-rousing church camp, I believe with all my heart that the way to sustain your post-retreat afterglow is tell yourself that you CANNOT do it on your own. That was what the Lord impressed upon my heart halfway through J333.
So young people (and adults alike), before you go around thinking you can spread the fire to those who didn’t go for the retreat, consider this instead: the way to prevent spiritual arrogance and complacency, and to promote spiritual growth and maturity, is to advance with humility on bended knees.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” — Psalm 51:17
The truth is, we can’t do it on our own. At least, that’s what I’ve learnt after 15 years of attending Grace Retreats. And quite frankly, I’m predicting the same eventual deflated outcome for you if you are intending to depend on your own efforts.
Therefore, I submit to you my honest thoughts. Serve other people and consider their needs before yours, ask the Holy Spirit to empower you, and be humble and the Lord will lift you up.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” — James 4:7-10
AIYS 2012 concluded with a riveting message preached by Ps Jesse Dedel. I’m still chewing on it but I thought I could share the same excerpt from the article he used in his sermon.
Well, if my youth group, church or nation is going to have a giant rise up against it, and it’s going to need someone with Someone in him who is greater than this giant, then I’d like to volunteer to be this someone with Someone in him.
Whenever children are born at a critical time in history, strange, supernatural things seem to go on in that culture. And people in high places know it. When those things take place, it’s in the demonic world that Satan puts out the contract on children.
In the records of the Bible each time a mass destruction of children fell on the world, a KEY LEADER was about to be born. Moses, Jesus – a deliverer was coming, and hell was afraid. As we’ve seen, the mass murder of children is not a new idea.
The contract is out again. It has come in our time, and it has come for our children. What does that say to us? What can we learn from this awful slaughter? We must ask ourselves: What is there about this generation that makes Satan so afraid? What does he see or sense coming that has triggered such an awful holocaust?
In the times of Moses and the Lord Jesus, that rage missed its marks. The targets of that destruction escaped each time. And the ones that got away did untold damage to hell’s domain. There is something precious and important about this generation, so deeply under attack.
It may well be the last generation before Jesus returns.
It may have among its ranks of survivors the makings of a major spiritual miracle.
There may be leaders-to-be rescued from the sword that will lead an entire generation of the abandoned, loveless, and lonely into the promises of God.
I believe that the children being born today are part of a whole prophetic generation God is bringing forth, and that’s why the enemy is trying to destroy them in any way he can – both physically and mentally. In the demonic realm the contract has gone out – and the contract on children today is greater than ever before in history. Much, much greater.
Source: Last Days Ministries
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.