At the GI youth service last weekend, the service emcee Nicole Chee asked a poignant question after the worship team led us into a chorus of Joy To The World.
“Have you prepared room in your heart for Jesus?”
Perfect. I couldn’t have said it any better.
With that, I want to go into this Christmas preparing the room in my heart for Jesus to be the main occupant once again. It’s time to check-out the mess and check-in the Master.
One of my colleagues mentioned that in light of the overwhelming activities that all of us are involved in, church workers ironically celebrate Christmas after Christmas is over.
Christmas isn’t a season, but a sentiment. I want to celebrate Christmas everyday by thanking God for what Jesus has done in my life. Christmas – my life without Christ is just a mess.
For now, I shall sign off with three of my favourite videos surrounding this festive season. Blessed Christmas!
This got me to smile:
This got me to realign:
And the first time that You opened Your eyes – did You realise that You would be my Saviour? And the first breath that left Your lips – did You know that it would change this world forever? And I, I celebrate the day, that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life. — “I Celebrate The Day” by Relient K
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.
38 chapters and over 18,000 words later, I find myself smiling at what I have accomplished. This is a personal achievement really, as an author and as Huiyi’s fiance. There was no way I would have completed this if I wasn’t in love with someone who was worth the effort and pursuit.
The thing about Huiyi is how she, by being who she is innately is – a simple and private lady – has turned me from a fickle-minded man with commitment phobia into a man who desires to love her not out of convenience but out of commitment.
Funnily enough, not once did I ever feel the need to please or satisfy her. It was natural for me to want to do it. And I guess you could say this is one of the few and rare instances where a want is so much more desirous than a need.
Like many other couples, “P.S. I Love You” is one of our favourite films because of the concept of the film and the thoughtfulness of the male protagonist (more like the mother of the female protagonist if you watched the film).
It is also from this movie that we have come to embrace “I love you ‘til the end” as the motto for our relationship. It’s such a big part of our lives that we are considering naming our daughter Ilytte, if the Lord wills it, of course. (By the way, if we ever have two daughters, the younger girl might just be called Mizpah.)
August 2011 would be the 45th month of our courtship and by God’s grace, in another 12 months we would be pronounced husband and wife.
We have argued countless times and we have experienced numerous cold wars – I think that’s all part and parcel of every growing couple. And it’s all about getting to know each other better everyday.
Many couples will identify with this – there are still new things that we discover about each other daily, that are as repulsive as they are ravishing, and we are honest enough to admit it. But love isn’t about rejecting what’s nasty and choosing what’s nice.
Love isn’t just commemorative or occasional and it is neither an annual nor a monthly affair. No, love is about embracing and liberating; love is about using the yesterday’s pain today to heighten tomorrow’s pleasures.
So yes, we believe that love is everyday. And everyday we must choose to love each other more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. Love is both a verb and a choice, and we must choose to make love an action.
It is my desire that one day, you will come to know in your heart that my Saviour, Jesus Christ, has loved and you and I to the point of death. He is the one that has truly loved ‘til the end.
And so, He remains our inspiration and motivation for wanting to love each other ‘til the end.
Our prayer for every person who reads what I have written is that down the road of life, they will find someone whom they can love every single day, and ‘til the very end.
Why? Because that’s how my God loves me. And that’s how I hope to love Huiyi, by God’s grace, as Christ loves His church, ‘til the very end.
Huiyi and I can’t wait for 12th August 2012 – the first day of the rest of our lives together. We hope to see you at our wedding!
This morning, I was powerless to prevent the bus from taking off without me.
Normally, I would leave home when SBS iris tells me that my bus was going to depart in 5 minutes. I did likewise today but forgot to compensate for my temporal geriatric movements. One of life’s depressing sights is to catch sight of your bus only to see it leaving the berth. Unlike other mornings, there was no way I could have chased after the bus if I hobbled like Jacob.
The Holy Spirit brought to mind a song which Jeanie led during the leaders’ retreat last August. I vividly remember it for it was my first time hearing the song and I had to quickly grasp it before strumming it out on the guitar for the worship leader. Today, only two lines flashed in my head.
Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows…
… Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus.
I smiled and thanked the Spirit for such a timely reminder. So many times, we get so uptight and insecure when we miss opportunities; have we forgotten that our good God who bestowed this opportunity for us has the magnanimity to provide another? Do we sometimes trust our instincts more than we trust the One who gave us these instincts? Shall we then move away from looking at what we know and fix our eyes instead on Who we know?
Are you chasing grades in school?
Are you chasing promotion at work?
Are you chasing legacies in church?
Are you chasing favour amongst colleagues?
Are you chasing popularity amongst friends?
Are you chasing acceptance amongst family and loved one?
Are you chasing after… yourself…?
I think then, the only remedy to prevent chase exhaustion is to simply surrender. “Give them all” are three basic but profound words. A verb, a noun and an adjective (or pronoun, depending on how you perceive it). When you give them all to Jesus, I’m convinced that God will add to you according to His will. No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
It is my prayer that the next time you miss an opportunity, the Spirit would overwhelm you with peace and help you remember that, in His perfect timing, another one is just ’round the corner; and perhaps, the latter one might just be better. Unsurprisingly, I hopped onto the next bus 10 minutes later and while I arrived at the office slightly later, I still reached my destination.
In the past few weeks, I’ve already clocked 5km, 10km and 15km in the build-up to my second full marathon. I’m supposed to clock 20km next Monday but there’s a part of me (read: knees) that feels it isn’t really a good idea and that I ought to just stop at the 15km mark. Although it’s been physically demanding, I’ve enjoyed getting myself into shape and just sweating it out.
When I was younger (and a lot fitter), I used to speak in tongues, worship and pray during my runs (and I must say I went at a much faster pace!). But these days, I have to focus all the remnants of energy on catching my breath! I do look forward to communicating with God this way again once my physical stamina improves. For those of you live in the Ghim Moh/Holland Road vicinity, you can consider embarking on these running routes which I have created.
5.3km – 31m 37s.
10.4km – 57m 59s.
15.1km – 1h 36m 20s.
Scheduled for 15 Nov.
Scheduled for 22 Nov.
Now, no one in the right frame of mind and wrong frame of fitness will sign up for a marathon; I have no idea what possessed me when I registered for it this year. So, in my attempt at self-consolation, here are ten reasons why I’ve bordered on insanity, again.
Before the marathon
1. Forces me to exercise regularly so that I don’t collapse during the marathon; this should make me more disciplined and of course, fitter!
2. Bonding together with fellow runners who’ve also signed up for the marathon; this hasn’t happened yet, but I’m pretty sure it will.
3. Makes me watch my dietary habits; I’ve eaten too much (rubbish) and it has really perpetuated ill-health.
During the marathon
4. I can’t wait to design a runner’s tag that will bring glory to Jesus!
5. I can’t wait to run with this tag that will bring glory to Jesus!
6. I can’t wait to encourage others who are also running to bring glory to Jesus!
7. I really enjoy the camaraderie in running in cadence and to motivate and be motivated by fellow runners.
After the marathon
8. Bragging rights! I’m going to wear the finisher shirt with so much pride; I think it’ll be an achievement to have run two marathons!
9. Storing stories for my grandchildren – “Do you know Gong-Gong ran two marathons before?” – and watch their completely unconvinced facial expression as they try to reconcile it with the sight of my big belly.
10. Motivation (and madness) to sign up (again) for the 2012 marathon at a discounted price!
Well, regardless of whether you’ve signed up or not, I’d be delighted to have you join me for a run whenever our schedules are able to coincide. Holler then!
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James 4:17 (New Living Translation)
James concludes this chapter by issuing us with a stern warning. He doesn’t get any more explicit than this – he reminds us that it is a sin to know the good that we ought to do and yet not do it. This to me is a near-impossible standard to uphold. God gives us the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, which tells us the things we mustn’t do – kill, covet, steal, lie, etc; whereas Jesus tells us what we must do in the New Testament – to love God and our neighbour. A violation of either renders us sinful; it’s virtually impossible to acquit yourself of blame when the stakes are so high.
I propose that there are three things we can do with the life that God has given to us to steward. The good news is, these choices are ours to make. We can either spend it, keep it or invest it.
- Hedonistic – You can choose to spend it on your pleasures and make your life all about pursuing your goals and dreams. In other words, this life is all about you. I think we are most susceptible to this way of life.
- Egotistic – Or, you can keep it for yourself and be selfish, self-centred, and live like a hermit, as if no one owes you anything and you owe nothing to anyone. You inevitably become greedy, mercenary and inconsiderate. I think we unknowingly choose this way of life.
- Altruistic – Or (and I pray this you’d choose this!), you can invest it in the things of God and in His people, knowing that one day, God Himself will give you great returns – some of it on earth and most of it in heaven. Life is fast and it will soon past; only what is done for Christ will last.
Think about it for a little while – if everyone in this youth group invested their lives in the good that they ought to do, imagine what we would be capable of accomplishing for God! If the local church comes together, unified in one vision to bear fruit, I truly believe that we will be world-changers, history-makers and life-shapers! There’s so much power in the potential of us doing good unto all men.
So my question then to all of us is – What exactly is the good that we ought to do?
When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave us the Holy Spirit and left us with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. These aren’t great suggestions but great instructions for all of us to carry out. The former tells us to love God and His people. The latter tells us to go out and touch and impact lives for Jesus. I don’t know about you, but if you call yourself a Christian, then these two great instructions must sound good to you; these are what we must invest our lives in if life is uncertain and death is certain. And to help us along, we can depend on the Holy Spirit; we are not alone at all in doing good for the glory of God. May we learn to involve God in all that we do in this short life for His glory alone!