Monthly Archives: November 2012

For God and With God

There are many things we might want to do for God. We set goals and get busy with doing many things. We think that we could please God by doing all these things for God. But doing things for God does not necessarily mean that we are doing those things with God. We might in fact, moving faster than God or worse, we might reduce our actions to mere rituals to satisfy our own ego in the name of God. We need to know that what please God is not that we have a whole lots of things that we want do for God, but more importantly, we are doing things God wants us to do together with Him. As parents, we might understand this point better. There could be a lot of things we do for our children. But they are never satisfied. What is important is to do things with them. Doing things with them is actually more important than just doing things for them. Some parents just missed the point when they are so busy. Since they are so busy and tired, they can only afford to do things for them. They send their children for many classes to help them improve. They provide a lot of things for them as well yet their children still do not appreciate them. They even get angry with their children for not understanding how much they have sacrificed. They do not realised that doing things with their children is more important than just doing things for them. Though God is not in need of our time, He longs for time with us. He seeks opportunity to do things with us rather than just expects us to do things for Him. Let us, therefore, not rush into doing ministry for God but to do ministry with Him. Serving God is about relating and being. It is not just about doing and completing.

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Segmented or Connected?

Many people live their lives as segments: family, friends, work, recreation and religion. This might sounds good and I do agree that there is a certain degree of segmentation that we need to apply. But the main issue is with our faith. For most Asians, they see that their faiths have very little to do with their lives. They could be swearing and cursing outside but suddenly turned very religious in their place of worship. After worshipping, they are back to their old self again. For them, there is no need to demonstrate consistency between their life and faith. However, Christianity should not be like this. God never dwells in a confined segment called religion in our lives only, He is our whole life and being. In fact, Christ should permeate every segments of our lives so that we might be changed in all aspects.
If we were to segmentize God, we would end up putting on a spiritual mask. Not only that, our lives would remain unchange no matter how long we believed in Him. It is therefore important to be connected with God in all areas of our lives. We need to open up our lives and let God change the way we handle ourselves, our family, our friends and our work. Only then, can we live out authentic Christianity. If not, Christianity would just be like an ornament – just fit for show. Let us allow God to impact our lives as a whole and live lives that are connected to God.

Complicating or Simplifying?

We live a busy and hectic lifestyle. As we grow up, our responsibilities increase. Our work gets busier. Our service in church gets heavier too. We just keep adding things to our lives, hoping to keep up with our way of life. No one knows how much more we could take.
We live in a trapped situation that make us think the more the better. If our children go for more courses, they would be more competent. If we work harder, we could provide better for our family and go for more holidays. If we have more activities in the church, then we would have more fellowship and church would grow faster. The list goes on. We just keep adding and keep telling ourselves that we have no choice.
Indeed, we would have no choice if we want to keep our mindset. Unless we are willing to substract some things in our lives, we would only get busier. But taking things out of our lives would require wisdom. Without wisdom, we might actually remove the wrong things. For some, they would cut their devotion time with God or going to Sunday service. That would be detrimental to our spiritual life. What we need to do is actually to consider ways to simplify our lives with the wisdom of God. I know that it is not easy to bring down our standard of living when it has been raised. But only in simplifying our lives, then we could see how luxurious our lives have been. We could have a feel of living without whatapps or smartphone games, cutting down on TV serials or music, skipping our holiday trips or additional courses, take the public transport instead of driving around, etc. There are always things we could cut down so that we could free up our time. We could then use this time to meditate on the Word of God and pray to the Lord. We could reflect on our lives and plan for our lives. We could spend quality time with our family members. We could just relax and do nothing. There is no need to always go for more.
The church has a role to play as well. Many a times, instead of helping believers to find rest in God, the church join in the rat race too. It is as though that they are trying to compete for more time from the believers and then make them even busier. Do not get me wrong, I am not against serving God. What I am saying is that the church could not just be getting believers to do things for God without letting God do things for them. There need to be proper feeding and contemplation to build the spiritual life. If we have so much output, we would be too tired to receive spiritual input from God. The church should not tired out the already worn-out generation, she needs to refresh and restore them.
Frankly speaking, this has to start from the leaders. Many leaders think that they have so much to do. They think that God has called them to do a lot of things. They even quoted from the Bible to say that Jesus lived a very busy and hectic life, so should we. Well, we could surely get very busy in ministry, as much as we want it to be. We might even feel good to be the most important person around. It is as though we are indispensable. Sometimes, there is even guilt when we take a rest or spend time with our family. But I am worried that many today are living a life busier and more hectic than Jesus. They might be more important than what Jesus meant for them to be. They have so many meetings to chair and so many assignments to complete. They might also be more tired than Jesus. Instead of helping believers to slow down their pace in the society, they ended up speeding up the believers’ pace of life because they could not even slow down theirs. Well, there are some who use the Second Coming of Christ as the reason to push the congregation. But ironically, by serving God so hard, some ended up becoming like those virgins without sufficient oil for the lamps. They would be dried up when the Bridegroom comes! It is time the church take a step back and review our existence. It is not just our lives that need simplication, the church must lead the world in this simplication process. Perhaps we are having too many structures or committees. Or we might be having too many programs or trainings. It is time to simplify so that we could be more effective and spend more time building meaningful relationship. We must be careful not to be too carried away by our goals. We should not put programs before people since the programs are meant for the people. We could not drive people to evangelise. Neither could we compel people to stay in our church. But we could build a conducive environment for people to relate and enjoy being around. We could love and encourage people to fulfill the purposes of God. All these could only take place, if we were to simplify certain things in church. Or else, we would just end up with having more blue houseflies in church-busy running around and making a lot of noises without making real impact in the kingdom of God.
Let us stop complicating our lives and our church, simplify them today.

数字,决志与素质

现在很多教会都很积极的想要建立更大的教会。虽说是为了要让更多人决志信主,但也有时候是为了数字,要自己的教会得到荣耀。教会可能以神的名誉,建立自己的国度,导致教会非常注重外表,而忽略了内心的改变。教会也会因太着重服事,而忽视了个人的灵命与成长。到头来,教会可能只是个空壳子。我们看到西方教会的衰退就是很好的例子,往年的风采去了何处,真是可悲。
今天教会可能有很大的数字,但并不代表信徒会有素质。决志与素质必须取得平衡。我们不需要为了得到数字而放弃素质。教会建立得慢,好过建没有根基的教会。而且,教会大了,分开管理也并不是件坏事,可能还可以训练出更多的领袖。让教会回到十架的根本,不要太看重数字,而要求主赐下有素质的决志。神的救赎才是最重要的。必然,人只能撒种,唯有神能使他们成长,我们又何必扮神呢?

愧疚的推动或爱的激动

要信徒自动自发的在主里成长并不是一件容易的事。通常领袖都需要以不同的方式鼓励信徒。鼓励的方式虽不一,但最糟糕的却是以愧疚推动人。这些人通常滥用神的全柄审判人,还使人背了一身的重担,不但无力服事主,也没有勇气亲近主。生命也就失去了喜乐。这种推动方式以我们的缺乏为主,而不是从神而来的富足。这种方式只让我们看到自己为何没有尽力,没有做得更好和做得更多,但却没有看到那全能,全知,全在和全权的主。这样的方式违反了圣经的教导,因为耶稣来,是要以祂的爱来激发我们,除去我们的重担。祂不再以律法来逼迫我们,而是把律法写在我们的心里,好让我们活在主的恩典,自动自发。
愧疚的推动方式出于一种审判的态度,所以带来严重的伤害。其实若别人不说我们,我们心里都已经不好受了,别人的论断,只加添我们的愧疚。我们即不愿他人用这样的方式对待我们,我们也必须改掉这种坏习惯,学习以爱来激发他人。神的爱能以不同的方式激发人。不单是写在我们心中的律法,也包括神的应许,使命和异像。所以我们也可以用耶稣的模式去鼓励激发别人。但切记,这并不代表我们就盲目地去掩饰我们的过错,而是以鼓励的方式,改掉过错,下次做得更好。
让我们不再以愧疚的方式推动人了,那是很累人的一件事。让我们活出主的丰盛,脱去愧疚的捆绑。让我们尝试以爱来激发他人,下一次他可能给你一个而外的惊喜,因为他不再需要你去推动他了。他将有一股从神而来,发自内心的动力,让他自动自发。这就是爱的力量。

4 Rs to Repeat

When we go to a rally or a revival meeting these days, we would realize that the content of a message is rather different. There are more and more sweet talk coaxing people to receive Jesus. Some even hardly talk about Christ, but are just mere motivational or inspirational talks. Sometimes to the extent of forsaking the call to repent. I had ever faced this temptation as well. I was tempted to preach a message focusing on the goodness of God so that people would find it easier to receive Christ. I knew that if my call for repentance was too strong, my rally would surely be a failure. Sure enough, whenever I preached for the people to repent before our loving God, the response was few. But I knew that was what God wanted me to do. He was not looking for numbers to boost my ego or made me accountable to my church, He was looking for genuine disciples. That is why there was such a thing as the full Gospel I supposed. We must shift from a soothing Gospel to a complete and wholesome Gospel. The Lord has been reminding me of four things we should repeat in our Christian walk.
The first is Redemption. This is our inner motivation. Without Christ, we are condemned and hopeless. The grace and mercy of God reached out to us while we are still sinners. It is in this loving redemptive work of Jesus Christ that we have eternal life and hope. As such, this redemption should always be our inner motivation that cause us to live a holy life and to serve Him.
Secondly, it is about Repentance. Repentance is actually our response to Christ’s redemption. If we really understand the love, grace and mercy of God that He saves us while we are still sinners, then we should respond by repentance. We should be living a new life for God so that we would bring glory to His name.
Thirdly, there is the Relationship. Relationship is our sustenance. If we are to sustain our walk with God, we would need to build a healthy and close relationship with Jesus. If we do not maintain and grow this relationship, our walk with Jesus would become a chore. Serving God would become joyless. It would simply be reduced to a task.
Last but not least, we need Renewal. Renewal is the way to transformation. If our minds are not renewed, we would then only experience behavioral change and this change is only temporal. As a child of God, we should transform into His likeness and restore the image of God in us. We need a change in our worldview or mindset so that we may understand the things of God and His will correctly.
These four aspects are very much needed today and should be reminded again and again. By no means that they are sequential, but more often than not,happen concurrently. Let us not just go for watered down messages to tickle our ears, but be ready to take in solid food from God, then we will experience growth beyond what we can expect.

Spiritual Service and Spiritual Life

In the midst of all church programs and activities. Christians must never forget going back to the basics. I have seen many people too busy serving God that they neglect their spiritual lives. It is as though God demands our service more than the relationship. This is never true. God treasures our relationship more than what we can do for Him. It is silly to sacrifice our spiritual life for the service. In fact, our service can become meaningless and futile if it is not done out of a relationship with God. Sometimes, even the pastors are not aware that their members are not doing well spiritually. They are just happy that people are involved in service. We have valued church service more than spiritual life in most cases. In the rush to push for our goals, we forsake our relationship with God. Spiritual service must always be an outflow of our spiritual relationship with God.
There are those who also sacrifice their family because of serving God. Well, God must always come first but that does not mean that we put our family last. The children are already deprived of their time with their parents when we are working, should they get the balance portion of our time and commitment? It is as though training our kids are not serving God. No, children are precious gifts from God and we need to serve God by taking good care of our family. How can the maids have a closer relationship with our children? How can our children stick closer to a smartphone or a ipad than us? We need to spend quality time with them. Play with them and don’t just get them to study.
Of course, there is another extreme where people are spending too much time with their family. We get our children to learn so many things that we do not have time for church. We need a balance. But a fact remains, only spiritual parents can produce spiritual children. In the midst of our service and work, and trying to provide and take care of our children, we cannot neglect our spiritual lives. We do not want to just give our children our frustrations, our anger or our worries, we want to give them a spiritual inheritance. This would have to begin with us.
If we really want to serve God, take care and grow our spiritual lives. If we really care for our family, do give them quality time and have a quality spiritual life so that we can give our children a spiritual inheritance.