Monthly Archives: February 2014
Running Away Or Towards?
Things don’t always go our way. But it is during these times that we show who we really are. Is what that is within us really greater than that which is in the world? Or our inner world collapses when things go wrong?
There are some people who tend to run away when things go wrong. They don’t want to face the reality. They try to avoid the situations for fear that they would be reminded of their hurts and pain. They don’t even want to come to God for help. Some just feel too guilty to come near God. However, running away can aggravate the situation and complicate the matter.
Instead of running away, we should run towards God. While God may not give us a direct solution to our situation, He guides us to the right path. He cools us down to grants us sensibility and serenity. He shows us the truth and empowers us to handle the situation.
Next time when something goes wrong as it always will, run towards God, not away from Him.
As the society advances, we work hard to prevent unnecessary hiccups in life. We ensure our transport system goes well, our company runs well and our education system functions well. While it is good to get these systems up and running well, we must remember that they do fail us at times no matter what. There is nothing fool proof and there is no Titanic that even God cannot sink. We need to be realistic about life.
But what is more crucial is how much we can tolerate such inconvenience. We can end up having such a high expectation of the systems that we start to complain whenever something goes wrong. We become intolerant to others’ failures. We think that they should get the job done well. They shouldn’t allow mishaps to happen at all. It’s their responsibility and it’s all their fault.
Secondly, we can become superior. In all these fault picking, we see ourselves as superior to others. We think they should serve us because we pay for the service.
Thirdly, we become inflexible. In a sense, we are handicapped. We do not know how to go round the problem. We do not know how to live with problems. Problems becomes something bad. But this is not necessarily true. The Bible tells us that God uses problems to build us up. Problems can train our patience and shape our character.
All these can have implications on our family. Our children are looking at us all the time. They see how we react to things in life. They would end up expecting us to solve all their problems. We become their servants rather than parents. They would not know how to solve their life problems and expect everything to be perfect. Dear parents, it’s alright to meet with problems, let your children solve theirs too. Let them face the real world and be shaped to be a strong yet flexible generation.
A Forbidden Word
Have you ever wondered why Christians these days seem less committed as compared to the first century Christians? Try to get them to follow you and you may get questioned back. It’s not as simple as Jesus’ call of “follow me” anymore.
Perhaps, one of the most crucial reasons is the lack of preaching and teaching on repentance. Repentance has become a forbidden word in many churches. We focus more on love and grace of God. When we want to talk about repentance, we speak briefly about it. We go around it and dare not talk boldly about it. We don’t even dare to confront the sins directly. We are afraid that we would offend our members and chase them away from church. Gone are the days of John Sung, and the other great preachers.
The impact can be great on the church. Firstly, we compromise the holiness of God. We emphasize on the love and grace of God more than the holiness of God. But our God is a holy God and He calls each of us to be holy. People who truly understand the love of God would respond in holiness. They would repent from their sins. Secondly, we produce weak Christians. When there is a weak call for repentance, we produce carnal believers who are self-centred. They end up living their old lives and indulging in their sins. They remain attention seeking and create disunity in church. This problem also affects the quality of leadership in church. We would, as a result, produce weak leaders to lead the church. This deteriorating phenomenon is a worrying crisis that we need to pay attention to today.
Thirdly, we give a bad testimony to others. We are called to be the light and salt of this world but because of the lack of repentance, we are giving a bad testimony to others. In fact, it is not difficult to see heartbreaking behavior of our fellow believers today. It is really sad to see that some Christians are among the most prideful, snobbish, arrogant, egoistic, grudging people around. They expect others to live for them rather than to live for others. They expect others to wait upon them rather than to serve the people. They complain almost about all things.
We need to bring this word “repentance” back into our dictionary. God is still calling us to repent and live a godly life for Him. Will we be bold enough to heed this call today?
Reading Too Much Into God’s Word
As our audience gets more intellectual, there is a tendency for us to to make our teaching more and more academic. We try to find new “teachings” and new “meanings” from the Bible so that we can impress our audience. But as teachers of the word, we must be extremely careful for we will be judged more stringently than others. We must be careful not to read too much into the word of God. Some can end up expounding every word in a verse. Some use Hebrew and Greek so much that nobody understands. Of course, some actually have little knowledge of these native languages but they just refer to word study guide. But the usual problem is that while only certain nuance is only used in a certain context of the Bible, the teacher gives the whole spectrum of the meaning of the word used. While it may amazed the audience, biblically speaking, it is using a word out of context. The general audience today do not bother much, they just want something interesting. But as a teacher, we need to be careful. We are not called to be entertainers or brain teasers. We are to be faithful to the word and be a good workman approved by God.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not against Bible study or going deep into the word of God. I am just cautioning against reading too much into the word of God. God has chosen to make certain things plain, so don’t read more than what it should. Anyway, as teachers of the word, we are not here to impress others, but to impress the word of God into the hearts of man. Don’t make the simple things of God complicated, let’s make the complicated simple.
Pitfalls of Discipleship
A lot of people know the importance of discipleship. But to carry it out effectively is the challenge. It is not easy to know what content to use. Even when we have good content, it still depends on the discipler to shape and pitch the discipleship process. Here are a few pitfalls to beware of.
Some discipling programmes just too academic. They focus a lot on head knowledge. As such, disciples get to know the Bible well, but they often lack the experience of God and a big heart to serve God. They end up spending too much time arguing about theology and strategy, but hardly got the passion to get things done.
On the other hand, some programmes focus too much on experience. They are usually actively engaging in spiritual warfare. They look for signs and wonders. They pray for healing. They listen to God’s prophetic word. They may even quote a lot of Bible verses. But they are often not properly grounded in biblical theology and principles. They tend to skew towards only a certain aspects of the Bible.
There are those discipling programmes whose main objectives are to get people out to serve. Not that serving is bad, but they miss out the task of shaping the inner man. These people end up running programmes for the church, but they are not renewed from within. Some may still be carnal rather than spiritual.
Some rely too much on their discipleship classes. They just run those programmes again and again, hoping that those classes would make disciples. They just do the same thing every year. But some of these courses may be outdated and warrant a review. They forget to work out discipleship for all their members rather than only those in classes.
A call for reflection and balance
We need to constantly reflect on the things we are doing. We may be very experienced in ministry. But our experience are not always right and we don’t always learn from experience. In fact, our experience can be a hurdle instead. We need to critically review the things we are doing and be courageous to call for a change. There is no point in doing the same old things again and again.
We also need balance. We tend to focus on those areas we are good at. But in discipleship, we need to disciple not just the head, but also the heart and the hands. We need to depend very much on the Holy Spirit to keep us in check all the time.