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R-AGE goes cold turkey!

Over the weekend, I preached a sermon titled, “Shut Up and Get Out!”. In it, I challenged R-AGE to embark on a social media cold turkey experiment like I did. The purpose of this was to eliminate audio and visual noise and distractions from their lives, so that they can enjoy the benefits of the discipline of silence and solitude, with the ultimate objective of hearing from God.

I gave instructions on this absolute abstinence from all social media platforms including the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogspot, YouTube, as well as Instagram and FourSquare. They had to disable email notifications from all these platforms too so that they won’t know what’s going on when they’re not logged in.

I told them to tag or text me when they began so that I could cheer them on. The deadline that I gave was to accomplish this before 31 Dec 2011 and to journal their experience, as well as what they heard from God during those 72 hours. I was initially skeptical on the take-up rate, so I was pleased by surprising response.

Immediately after I closed in prayer, I received an SMS from a youth who declared her fast immediately. Later in the evening, I received an SMS from a youth leader who told me that his two younger brothers and himself have commenced too and instead of a 72-hour fast, they will abstain from social media until the end of the year.

On Facebook, an entire youth cell group decided to fast together – I reckon it must have been their leaders’ initiative. I know a couple of other cells have also decided to go cold turkey together. I’ve also received a few other messages from a few more youths who decided to rise up to the challenge… One dialogue that really tickled me (screenshot pictured below) was a conversation between two 14-year-old boys.

Above and beyond this experiment being an exercise of healthy conformism or making a cool statement, it is my sincere prayer that my young people will understand the power of solitude and how silence may help them to listen out for the still, small voice that Elijah heard in 1 Kings 19 amidst the chaos that surrounded him.

May this radical little experiment result in a greater spiritual depth in my youth group! I sincerely hope that in this period of voluntary extended silence, we will learn that:
  • God is always in control of situations where we think we must intervene in;
  • God can manage situations where we thought our input was necessary.
  • God can sharpen our observation and listening skills when we refrain from speaking.
  • God can bring freshness and depth to our words when we finally say something.

Oh, do remember to let me know if you plan to embark on a social media cold turkey experiment yourself after reading this… I’d love to cheer you on! I can almost guarantee success IF you stick to the abstinence absolutely!

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a September stock-take and an October onslaught.

It’s always therapeutic to do a stock-take after an eventful week, which would have been impossible to pull off and not fall exhausted on my face, if not for the grace of God that saw me though. Warning: long post.

Monday: attended QC (Questions and Contributions) time and a monthly mentoring session with Ps Edmund Chan; ’til this day, I still thank God for the divine appointment in which He has connected me to Ps Ed; what a privilege and honour.

Tuesday AM: led worship at the Tuesday staff devotion with Ps Meng Cham; that’s how I will do it from now on – being accompanied by a seasoned musician makes it so much more enjoyable (because I won’t need to practice with my guitar!)

Tuesday PM: prepared for and sat through a staff meeting, which was a heart-wrenching experience and threw me off my momentum; I’m thankful for Ps Ronald who patiently listened to me rant and vent my frustrations. This forced me to come before the Lord that evening to seek His face. And I’m glad I did. The Lord spoke to me through Genesis 13 and Hebrews 6.

Wednesday AM: Caleb crashed at my place the night before and we watched Man Utd surrender a 2-0 lead to Basel and equalised in typical United fashion at the dying minutes. I struggled through the second half, to be honest. I’m really getting old…

Wednesday PM: led worship at the weekly Wednesday church prayer meeting (J333) with Rafael.; exposing youth musicians through my J333 duties gives me renewed purpose when I find my name on the worship leading roster. My next session is on 30 November and I’ll go over-the-top because I’ll be teaming up with Ps Ronald and the church will be praying for R-AGE.

Thursday: presented the 2012 R-AGE budget in front of the Head of Administration, accountant and finance manager of Grace AG on Thursday (my first time presenting with Excel spreadsheets); administration is really not my strength. Thank God for Ps Ronald who rescued me by answering on my behalf on a few occasions.

Friday AM: had a delectable dim-sum lunch at Royal China @ Raffles Hotel with Sheryl from Eagles, together with Daniel and Xavier too, and joined the Vantage Point magazine editorial team. (I just received my first email from them!)

Friday PM: sat through another staff meeting, and wondered what it would be like next year when I’m chairing it.

Friday EVE: spent time with some of my favouritest people on the planet at the GII Shepherds cell, and facilitated our Harmony of the Gospels lesson; Yixian said if we continued at this pace (in-depth but extremely slow), we’d take two years to finish the book.

Saturday AM: led the R-AGE 2012 manpower deployment discussion with Caleb, Keith, Kenneth and Rachael; yes, R-AGE leaders, we were deliberating over your fate next year! HAHAHA. I can’t wait to see youths lead youths!

Saturday PM: preached an apologetics cum evangelistic sermon (my first attempt) for the Same Same But Different evangelistic service at R-AGE@GII. I actually enjoyed my preparation more than my execution. It was intellectually stimulating to read in greater detail how atheism, pantheism and polytheism (among many other -isms) stood against theism.

Saturday EVE: chaired the Bare Bones 2012 coordination meeting with Nicole, Keith, David and Grace – who have proposed some spectacular ideas for the year-end conference. It’s gonna blow Grace AG away; everything is going to be significantly leveled-up! I’m delighted to be working with such exceptional youth leaders. Watching Man Utd defeat Norwich 2-0 capped my day.

Sunday: preached the same sermon at R-AGE@GI. I took the opportunity to clear up some personal administrative work while waiting to have lunch with Huiyi and Yixian. After a short nap to recharge my batteries, I resumed studying for my 60% News Studies paper (the next day), which I have burned midnight oil for in the past seven days. Little by little, I’ve conquered the paper.

Monday (today): praise God for a relatively easy exam paper! It’s different when you understand what you are reading and memorising instead of mugging just for the sake of. I managed to finished the paper with an hour to spare, so I brought forward my appointment with my hairstylist. It’s 4pm now (at the point of writing) and my head literally and metaphorically feels lighter.

I’m going to complete this blog post before I go ahead to prepare the slides for the R-AGE 2012 Ministry Action Plans (which I’m presenting to all pastoral staff tomorrow!) Then I’m going to head out to China Square to treat my family to a nice dinner of Crab Bee Hoon @ Don’s Pie Club. We’re celebrating my sister’s belated birthday (1 October), as well as my 8th 21st birthday in advance.

This week, I also managed to meet Caleb and Lucas for lunch and mentoring on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. I thoroughly enjoy investing time into young men who possess a desire to grow. Lucas’ huge appetite for growth reminds me of me, especially in the way that I pursue my mentors. I told him to never lose his hunger (okay, boy?).

After our  mentoring session over coffee in Starbucks@Tanglin Mall, he asked, “How do you do it, Bro Joey?” It being managing the many things on my plate. I couldn’t find an adequate way to answer him except to say, with all sincerity, that this capacity is a God-given gift; how could I take credit for the grace of God? I told him to ask God for it as well, because I think God will give it. (I didn’t tell him about the price of increased capacity though, but I’m sure he’ll figure that out himself.)

September has been an exceptional month in ministry. Besides starting R-AGE on the Spiritual Disciplines: Training in Holiness sermon series, I’ve also been planning for R-AGE in 2012 and meeting up with lots of youth leaders who might be serving alongside me next year. I am convinced that it’s my time with the Lord everyday that’s keeping me afloat.

I’ve also been reading non-stop throughout the week (and at an aggressive pace too). Besides the Bible during my daily devotions, sermon preparation materials and academic texts, I’ve also been feasting into Edmund Chan’s Cultivating Your Inner Life, Philippe Auclair’s Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King and Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters. I think I’m concurrently reading eight books – and I love the variety! This is effective for someone like me who gets bored easily.

On a more personal note, I’ve also been spending lots of time with Huiyi with our wedding preparation; we’ve reserved Sunday afternoons to visit bridal studios and photographers, as well as to plan for our big day. The highlight of these trips is to catch a sneak preview of my wife-to-be when she emerges from the changing room in glorious, gorgeous white; she’s gonna be the most stunning bride in all of Singapore next August – you have no idea how much we are looking forward to be married to each other!

I’d probably be packing my luggage midway when this post is published; Jetstar is going to take me to Perth at 5:45pm (Tuesday). I look forward to hanging out with Chin Seng, Ervina and Liang Zhi, but the highlight of my trip is to spend time with Ps Edmund and Ps Ann. I’ve been looking forward to this trip ever since I purchased the air tickets (super cheap!) a few months ago.

When I began my mentoring journey with Ps Edmund around this time last year, he emailed me his traveling itinerary and invited me to follow him on one of his countless trips; so here I am, excited and still starstruck, counting down the hours before I get to spend quality, uninterrupted and extended time with a God-given mentor, whom I’m sure will sharpen, challenge and inspire me!

October, I am ready for your onslaught!

Quenching my spiritual thirst with living water! (@ The Pinnacles, Perth, Australia)

interrupting heaven, everyday!

Enjoy this sermon preached by my favourite preacher in Grace AG – Ps Ronald Yow. This is part IV of the sermon series that R-AGE is embarking on until the end of the year: Spiritual Disciplines – Training In Holiness. You can download the audio recording here.

Remember, there is no short-cut to holiness, godliness doesn’t take place overnight and Christlikeness is a daily process; there is no substitute for QT if you desire intimacy with God. So have you spent time with God today? Begin with a simple five-minute prayer!

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take, take, take it all in again.

I apologise for the delayed update of last weekend’s sermon because work has caused this week to pass rapidly. It’s well-documented that I’m not a fan of administrative work (even though I think I’m pretty decent at it); I spent the bulk of my energy in the last few days assembling the ministry action plans and the budget for R-AGE@GI and R-AGE@GII. It’s a huge step up from last year where I only needed to put together the R-AGE@GII budget.

This is the first time I’m embarking on such a mammoth task. I am thankful for Ps Ronald, who has given me the immense privilege of being responsible for these crucial administrative matters as well as for his patience in bearing with my non-stop anti-admin laments. I am also thankful for Ps Cuixian (who is the queen of administration) and her stupendous work of assembling the excel sheet – her formulas truly make the spreadsheets a work of art.

Then I found myself petitioning to God for a personal assistant as well as two ministry staff (one each for R-AGE@GI and R-AGE@GII) to help ease my load in the coming year. I’m not kidding on this – I’m seriously taking in applications – talk to me if you want to serve God in the youth ministry in a full-time capacity. It’s going to be a gargantuan responsibility pastoring 300 youths so the need for more hands on deck is definitely there; I approach my role next year with fear and trembling but also with great anticipation and excitement.

Well, while you’re considering joining me in the best job this world has to offer, help yourself to the slides and audio recording of last week’s sermon – about the importance of Memorising the Word of God. Heads up – Ps Ronald will be preaching this weekend (24/25 September) on Prayer as a Spiritual Discipline while Ps Leon will preach for the first time at R-AGE (8/9 October) on Worship as a Spiritual Discipline. I trust that they have a word in season for the young ones.

In between, R-AGE will stage Same, Same But Different (where I’ll preach an evangelistic sermon tentatively titled, “Cheemism”). I trust you’ve been putting in effort to invite your friends to this service – it may just change their life forever (in every sense of the word)! Also, I’ll be heading to Perth (yes, again) for a week-long ministry trip with my revered mentor (as well as to catch my breath!) in early October and only after that will I return to continue the sermon series with Fasting as a Spiritual Discipline.

I trust you’ve enjoyed the series so far. I look forward to leading a spiritually disciplined youth ministry.

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1 Timothy 4:7b (NASB) >>> …Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

take, take, take it all in now.

Last weekend, I preached the second installment of the sermon series (Spiritual Disciplines: Training In Godliness) that will take my youth ministry until the end of the year. As always, I pray that will bless you and inspire you to SPEND TIME WITH GOD EVERYDAY. That’s my sole objective. You can download the audio recording here.

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you can be godlike.

From now until the end of the year, R-AGE will embark on a sermon series called “Spiritual Disciplines – Training In Godliness”. I preached the first sermon (of 15) yesterday. This series was placed upon my heart midway through the 40DOC and I believe that if we can get our spiritual disciplines sorted out, revival will come not seasonally but daily. I will try to make as many of the audio recordings and powerpoint slides available. May the Lord speak to you through me!

There is no doubt. The height of revival is hidden in the heart for revival.

***

Spiritual Disciplines – Training In Holiness

Session 01 – You Can Be Godlike

By Joey Asher Tan

@ R-AGE Weekend Services, Grace AG Church

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You can download the audio recording here (expires on 12 September).

day five – if you want it, you must own it.

When I got home from Retreat, I went on a sleeping marathon. And thus it explains my one-day hiatus from blogging. Pardon the delay, these were what I’ve learnt and the things on my mind on the final day of Retreat.

  • Returning to our folly – our old ways – is as disgusting as a dog returning to consume its own vomit. There’s a reason why the author wrote about this sentiment with such an extreme and graphic analogy.
  • I’ve always believed that before revival begins in the smallest things – from our private spiritual disciplines to our individual evangelistic efforts – before it progresses to the large-scale level.
  • Only by the grace of God would we be able to “make it”. Don’t for one second think that we can experience or “attain” revival by our own efforts.
  • I liked what ZA said about how pentacostal Christians seem to over-rely on being (over-)spiritual to accomplish everything.
  • One word that was impressed upon my heart throughout the Retreat was, “Ownership”. Often times we fail to take onus of our own learning, reading, praying, and the likes. I concur that the victory of our hands and habits begins with the battle in our heads and hearts.
  • Since spiritual authority comes from time spent with God, it is imperative then, that we build an altar – a place of meeting and fellowship with God – daily. We ought to begin every day by moving with God in a new way.
  • DL concluded the Retreat by sharing from Luke 9:42 – that we should count the cost of following Jesus, care for each other and be committed to God.

So this concludes the end of my first Retreat as a full-time staff. My duties weren’t as eventful as I had hoped it to be – I say this because the youth committee did a splendid job. (By the way, KY, you have a wonderful gift with the younger youths and I thank God for His anointing upon your life. Remember to invite me to your contract signing!)

I thoroughly enjoyed the last five days, although I must be honest and say that the highlight of the Retreat took place outside of the Retreat. (More on than in the coming entries.) God is awesome and I’m awestruck by how amazing He’s blessed HY and I in the last two weeks. Without a shadow of doubt, the series of events definitely strengthened my faith in our good God, who gives us what we need and to deliver it in His perfect timing. How can I not trust and praise Him now? Glory to God!

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