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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.

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insulting God.

I just ended a Skype interview with DL and it brings me to the mid-point of 15 one-hour interviews with the potential REAL candidates. One question asked during the session was, “Are you currently struggling with any addictions or sins?”

Through the interview sessions, everyone shared about different sins and struggles and it got me thinking about why we actually choose to sin. (Being caught in a bondage is different in that you actually do not realise that you’re in sin.) More often than not, sin is a choice. It was a choice for Eve, Adam, Cain, David, everyone else in between, and us, of course.

I’ve sinned plenty in my life, some with more dire consequences than others. Some sin hurt me, some hurt others but all sin hurts God. I believe that we sin because we seek its apparent fleshly pleasures which brings apparent (and short-lived) gratification to our carnal self.

Hence, I conclude that we choose to sin because we do not believe that the pleasures of God are better than the pleasures of our flesh. Our innate hedonistic nature prevents us from being contented and our ‘human’ nature drives us to seek satisfaction in physical/worldly pleasures.

That epiphany isn’t the scary bit. What frightens me more is that by choosing to derive pleasure from sin, we are indirectly mocking God – that He’s not good and/or able enough to satisfy our hearts’ desire. The next scary bit is – what then does our heart desire? More often than not, if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll actually realise that we prefer the pleasures of sin to the pleasures of God.

Oh God, how we need Your holiness to sanctify us!
How we need Your grace and mercy to overcome sin!
How we need Your love and forgiveness to cleanse us of all unrighteousness!

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