The final session with my leaders was the shortest one. There was no way they could have tanked (I’m learning youth lingo…) another trademark long sermon from me after being turned out at 4am to clean the entire church. I trust that the structured experience would be etched into their hearts for a long time. And if I can find the piece of paper that I scribbled down my debrief pointers (“Leadership lessons to be learnt”), I’d post in another entry.
At around 6:30am, we dismissed everyone. Most of them returned to their bunks and a handful became all-terrain sleepers; the GI Chapel morphed into a huge dormitory. At 10:30am, we assembled them in service for the last time, and I began my sharing by stating that we ought to be hungry for two things: God’s whereabouts (His presence) and God’s will (His plans and purposes).
However, what prevents us from getting hungry is when we are already being filled and have no more space in our lives.
I thought Kenneth Yeo brought out this lesson superbly at Minus One (an initiation of sorts involving the new leaders just before Leaders’ Retreat commenced). He split the leaders into a few groups, lined them up and got them to transfer water from a bottle at the start of the line into a bag at the end of the line by passing it from one person to another other via sponges. Then he introduced a twist by pouring a little Ribena syrup into each sponge, and challenged them to do the same thing without any trace of Ribena in the bag. The leaders instinctively used half the sponge to execute this task and ended up transferring less than half the original amount.
If you have too much of worldly things cluttering up our lives, how are you able to stay hungry for the things of God? Your appetite is directly proportionate to how full you are. Try eating an expensive dinner immediately after a cheap lunch – the thought of food would repulse you! If you want to be hungry for God, then you have to learn to de-clutter and de-accumulate. The scary but ironic thing is when ministry and church work clogs up your life and takes away your hunger – that would be a travesty.
In John 4:34, “Jesus said to them (his disciples), ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.'” I believe Jesus revealed to us the secret to being filled with the things of God. But to do the Father’s will, we must first know His will. Only then are we able to accomplish the Father’s work. That is why the Grace AG theme for 2013 resonates with my soul; paraphrasing what my senior pastor (Ps Calvin Lee) said, in order for us to effectively live life missionally, we must first be deeper in the Word.
Ezra understood that well. In Ezra 7:10, we learn that “Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the LORD and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.” Through this, I derived a four-step approach to God’s Word that I will share over the pulpit in greater detail in the last week of January. Grasping this, I believe with all my heart, has the potential to change the way we live as well as to change the world that we live in. If we are not changing the culture, we’re not changing anything. But if we, like Ezra, are determined to SORT out our approach to God’s Word, I’m sure we will constantly remain hungry for God’s presence and His will.
- Study: read, remember and reflect upon His Word.
- Obey: apply what we have learnt.
- Reap: the benefits of applying God’s Word.
- Teach: pass on these benefits to others.
In addition to that, I also shared Ps Edmund Chan’s “PDA Lifestyle“ with my leaders (which I will also teach in greater detail over the pulpit):
- Personal revival: experience revival everyday by getting deeper into God’s Word.
- Divine appointments: sense the Holy Spirit leading you into a divine appointment.
- Active obedience: learn to obey what the Spirit put upon your heart to do or say.
I believe that once you catch this method of evangelising, of loving people in the name of Jesus, you will never look at preaching the Gospel in the same way ever again. My desire for my (spiritual) household and I is to practise the PDA lifestyle and to leave the results to God. Sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily have to culminate in a dramatic conversion. Sometimes, all that’s needed at the moment is a simple spiritual conversation. All you need is to faithfully do your part, and learn to trust God for the outcome.
If you want to live from the inside-out, then your perspective must change; God didn’t call us to be a student, a teacher, a pastor, but to be a witness! Live your life in the Word and let the Gospel be seen in your life. We have to preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words. If anything at all, I think the X-factor of a believer is authenticity, and not perfection. I’d rather be real and flawed and to appear perfect. After all, if Jesus can love me even though I’m like that, then Jesus must really love me – that’s what the pre-believers should see in your life!
In summary, a hungry Christian is a growing Christian, and his appetite for learning and doing God’s will should never diminish regardless of his age or education level. If you call yourself a hungry and growing Christian, then I’d expect you to always seek the better way; choose the way of wisdom and apply it into your situations. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing.
It is my prayer that I’d always display an appetite for growth and an active pursuit for opportunities to mature in Christ.
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.
As my ears bleed from a terrible rendition of Nobody But You belted out by the Getai singer and annoying overenthusiastic emcees who try to rouse an apathetic audience, I can’t help but to smile at God’s sense of humour. So what if I’ve gotten everything ready for later – shoes, socks, tag, singlet, watch, shades, bread, banana, isotonic – and I’m ready to sleep at an unheard-of 9pm to wake up 7 hours later to run my second 42km. There was nothing that I could do to prevent a town council dinner from taking place right below my house. I can only chuckle at the unpredictability of life and thank God that He’s in it all.
This December is more intense than the previous years. However, there’s so much to thank God for:
- 15 intense days of school (with accompanying assignments), from 29 Nov – 13 Dec; I thank God for committed group mates and good lecturers.
- 4 days of Rhema conference (where I’m overseeing 7 vastly different services), from 12 – 15 Dec; I thank God for a thoroughly creative experience.
- A sermon to deliver on the weekend of 18-19 Dec; I thank God for many preaching opportunities this year and for my growth in this area.
- A REAL reunion with my beloved REAL champs on 20 Dec; I thank God for this bunch of youths who will always have a special place in my heart.
- A good break in Bintan to look forward to on 21-23 Dec; I thank God that I’m celebrating 3 years of God’s grace with my beloved girlfriend, Huiyi.
- A Christmas celebration at Jadene’s house on 24 Dec; I thank God for a wonderful group of colleagues who have been such blessings in my journey.
- A maiden baptism experience to anticipate on 25 Dec; I thank God for the privilege to baptise the youths whom He has given me to pastor.
- 4 days of REAL lock-in camp (where I’ll take on the role of Commandant), from 27-30 Dec; I thank God for sending me youths to disciple and train.
- 2 days of Leaders’ Retreat (where I’ll share my heartbeat and vision with the R-AGE @ GII Leaders!), from 30-31 Dec; I thank God for new leaders.
- And to conclude the month, I’ll be performing a song during Watchnight Service on 31 Dec; I thank God for 2010 and I look forward to 2011.
- And REAL 2011 begins 3 days later on 3 Jan (thank God I’ve already prepared everything!); before I know it, I’ll be marching on to March already.
For now, I have a marathon to run at 5am and a leaders’ meeting to chair on the same evening; I can’t wait to meet some of my favouritest people in this world! I apologise for the lack of updates and infrequent writing; I wish I had more time to think and write too, for a thought ceases to exist until it has been penned down. Do cover me in your prayers, my friends. I’ll leave you with the back of my running singlet; I hope it spurs you on, my fellow runners in this marathon of life – may we all run to win an eternal prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)!