sermon recap: time for spiritual puberty!
First and foremost, I think it was amazing that R-AGE spammed Facebook over the weekend with testimonies of how God impacted our lives. I shared about purchasing Skyville with HY. Click here for the Facebook note and here for the original testimony. This activity was part of the Evangelism Pillar that RL, KY and I produced. It’s a simple idea that turned out to be brilliant beyond our imagination; we designed a lesson to help our youths share how God changed their lives and to tag at least five Christians and five non-Christians, then invite them to R-AGE services this weekend. It went better than we had expected and I’d like to believe that it’s an activity worth repeating a few times every year.
I can’t wait for Saturday! The first PLUG & PLAY (!) since PIERCE will take place at 2:50pm – bring your friends this Saturday and be early! With PUSH at 2pm, service at 3pm, Be Our Guest at 4:45pm and cell at 5pm, July looks set to close on a high! RY will also be preaching the third installment of the LIVE LOUD series. We’re doing a verse-by-verse study on the book of James and I had the privilege to open the series with the overview. CX preached last weekend and I’ll be preaching again next weekend. I know this sermon recap is two weeks late but better late than never!
- James is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get and an in-your-face book that teach us not just to live normally, but to live it out loud for everyone to see. The author is straightforward, direct, practical and honest. He was writing to young Christians who were scattered and were facing trials.
- These five chapters are like a synopsis of the issues that the church faced then, and even now; the things that caused disharmony in the fellowship. The one root problem in these issues? Spiritual immaturity. James exhorted his readers to mature spiritually.
- People, unlike the all-knowing God who can see through your heart and know instantly if there is faith in there or not, cannot see the contents of our heart; the world knows the faith in our hearts by examining the works of our hands.
- BH phrased it perfect: “We are not saved by works but we are saved to work… …Faith is the root of salvation but works are the fruits of salvation.” Works are indeed the consequences of salvation. “People will work because of their salvation for work comes forth from faith.” (Woohoo! I can’t wait to meet BH for our mentoring session on Wednesday morning!)
- Maturity is not 1) how old you are, 2) how much you know, or 3) how much you have done, but to be “brought to its end; a finished state; at completion; perfect human integrity and virtue; and a full grown adult of full age”. It is a process that doesn’t stop until we meet Jesus Christ.
- He offers us eight distinguishing marks of maturity. A maturing person:
- Is positive in the midst of problems (James 1:2)
- Keeps his or her desires under control (1:4)
- Is accepting of others (2:8-9)
- Has consistent beliefs and actions (2:17)
- Is careful with his or her words (3:2)
- Strives to be wise (3:17-18)
- Has a humble attitude (4:10)
- Is connected (5:16)
- We have to love God and others actively (NT) and passively (OT). It’s extremely easy to fall short of God’s holy standard so it is only by God’s grace that we can make the cut. I always believe that the way we treat the least and the weakest of us show us how strong we truly are as a ministry.
- The mark of a true Christian isn’t in a perfect lifestyle, but a lifestyle that is being perfected. Your friends will recognise the effort that you make to change. If you keep doing what’s right, no one can tell you that you’re wrong. Consistency is proved and achieved over a long period of time and reputations are built on consistency.
- When there’s a breakthrough with our words, there will be a breakthrough with our lives. I issued the official R-AGE language challenge: to once and for all get rid of crude words on top of all known vulgar words – from real-life conversations, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and MSN. Let people notice the difference by noticing the absence.
- People may admire a person if he or she has a righteous, faultless and sin-free life but people will respect a person who desires to change. Wisdom is necessary for maturity because it will govern the way you speak and behave; so always strive for wisdom.
- I introduced IBM (In-Between-Meetings): I encouraged everyone to have at least one IBM in the week. Initiate and organise meet-ups beyond the weekends – be it to study, pray, eat, or even play together. Don’t give up meeting one another. A united youth group goes beyond meeting once a week!
- I challenged all leaders: Having a mature individual around brings about steadiness to a group. Love it or hate it, leaders are being watched and mimicked. Hence, we should lead by example by setting and being the example for the younger ones who look up to us.
- Everyone grows up at a different rate and time, and the maturation point is what we strive for – being completely mature. God alone will bring us to that point. The key to unlocking maturity has nothing to do with us, but with God, so boldly ask Him for wisdom today.
- Selfishness and self-centredness is the greatest obstacle to maturity for it is instinctive to think about ourselves first. When we can’t look beyond ourselves, we can never look toward the needs of others. It does take effort to consider the needs of others’ better than our own.
- A maturing church is a growing church. Just like physical puberty, when you spiritual puberty you will experience all kinds of spiritual growth – gradual, sudden and new growth. When we emerge out of our comfort zone to mature spiritually, we will grow as a church.
I look forward to preaching again next weekend!
The moniker of misunderstoodsunshinekid sounds like some teenage bubblegum nickname that reeks of adolescence and youthfulness. And certainly not very appropriate for a man who turned 21 for the sixth time this year. There is, of course, a meaning behind this deliberate choice of words.
Coined towards the end of my time in Ngee Ann Polytechnic where I studied Mass Communication, it first appeared in the yearbook which was contributed by and distributed to every student in the cohort. The editorial team asked each of us for a photograph and three words that best described ourselves. Come to think of it, considering that I’ve not seen 90% of my school mates since we graduated, these three words would actually go a long way in helping us remember each other.
It was really amusing to see some of the entries. The more commonly used words were “Bubbly”, “Friendly”, “Outgoing”, “Sociable”, “Funny”, etcetera – basically words that were safe, correct and well, forgettable. There were some that went out of the box with “Nobody Knows Me”, “Damned I’m Good”, “Ahh Whatever Lah” and “I Am Indescribable”. But the one that tickled me most was “Humourous, Cheerful, Easygoing” and attached with the words was a really fierce, unfriendly and serious picture. Nice.
Without going into too much detail, here’s why I chose “Misunderstood Sunshine Kid”:
Half my life I’ve been misunderstood for my intentions, choice of words and actions. I’d like to believe that it’s always been love-hate with me; people don’t really have a neutral feeling towards me. They either like me or dislike me. And because of this I almost always end up leaving either a great or a horrible first impression. As I age, I’ve learnt to deal with it by simply not bothering about it; I cannot please everyone, so I’ve learnt to stop having to justify or explain what I say or do. I’ve embraced this as a part of me and the only approval I seek would be that of God’s. I’ve learnt to take myself less seriously and not be so uptight about what people say or think about me. Yeah, I know this sounds very teenage/emo/angst, but hey, this term was coined when I was a 19-year-old teenager.
I’ve always been a positive and optimistic person and I think that it rubs off on the people that I interact with, especially with those in my sphere of influence. I’d like to I exude a “You can do it” vibe. On a side note, my heart goes out to pessimistic and negative people, but how they live their lives is their problem, not mine. I desire to be contented and always joyful. Another ethos which I live by is, “I could always be happier but I am situationally contented”. That was a phrase I coined together with PL some years ago. To an extent this word contradicts the former, but both somehow capture a key essence of my personality and character.
I’m always up to some mischief and I’ve always enjoyed being cheeky and naughty. There is a difference between being childish and childlike. I never want to lose the sense of wonder that children have. I always want to retain the kid in me, for the kid that I will have in future. I am confident that I will be a father with the “sparkle” in his eye. You know, kids are actually very sensitive and can detect sincerity from hypocrisy. I enjoy playing with kids and I think they (know it and) enjoy it too because they see it in my eyes – that I really want to play with them and I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself. I’ve always dreamt about being the father that my father never was to me. And for that to happen, I’ll always have that boyish playfulness hidden behind a now older and wiser head.
Each word could be an entry in itself so I’ll just leave it like that until I decide to elaborate further.