Church, we’ve messed up

Today in His presence I wept.

I felt the anguish and deep grieving of the Holy Spirit from the aftermath of the recent development of the Supreme Court in making same-sex marriage legal in America.

Truth be told, the grief I felt is not so much because of what Obama did or the Supreme Court or even the LGBT. Because the legal law has never been the answer to address the matter of homosexuality.

The grief I felt is because the Church has messed up. Instead of manning up, we have shifted blame and looked at all the possible perpetrators except ourselves.

God have always reminded us that judgement will fall upon His people first as the custodian of the Gospel who are responsible to shine His light in our dark and fallen world.

So we, as the Church have messed up.

We were (and still are) the answer but we never did provide the answer in being the light for the world.

We had and have the authority to define marriage which is based on truth; to accurately represent and strongly defend this institution. But we messed up.

How can the Church have authority when people in general perceives “Christians divorce are at the same rate as non-Christians”?

How can we defend the sacredness of marriage between man and woman when the Church is constantly afflicted with scandals of adultery or sexual abuse?

Clearly because we have failed to firmly define marriage in society that other people groups are stepping in to redefine marriage according to their own pleasure rather than God’s pleasure.

We’ve messed up. Forgive us Lord. We repent. Please heal our land.

At this point, the Holy Spirit reminded me that He is Immanuel- God is with us. He is with us even in the midst of darkness. That’s His promise.

As long as His light shines,there is Hope. Unless the Church stands in agreement on His truth, we cannot reflect the fullness of His light to disperse darkness.

Without light, people will remain in darkness. And currently, the world is not able to see the Light through the Church.

“… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

God knows you

“You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.”

Ezekiel 28:13

I have been reading the book of Ezekiel for my daily devotion. And this verse intrigued me for quite awhile.

You see I don’t even know the specific names of every gem stones. When I see one or more or another coloured one, to me they are all the same. For sure, I won’t be able to name them.

But interestingly, God knows the names of these gem stones! He created them and named them. He knows how each one is different from the other.

Similarly, the Holy Spirit showed me how God knows each of us by name. He created us and He calls us by name. If He can name and call out each gem stone, how much more precious are we?

Although we might be the same species called humans. But like gem stones, to God each of us are different from one another. He designed each of us uniquely with our own individual characteristics.

So if you think you’re not special, think again. And if you think God doesn’t pay attention to you or doesn’t love you think again. These are far from the truth, you are precious to Him and He knows you by name.

Remember there is only one YOU. If you’re a diamond, don’t try to be an emerald. You will never be an emerald. And you will never be truly fulfilled as you are not being you. He created you to be YOU. So love YOU like how God loves you!

A rainbow from God

After 4 years in Vietnam, God called me back to Singapore for His next assignment in Singapore. And on my flight back, God gave me a message through a rainbow.

As the plane was in mid air right after take off, I spotted a rainbow (above pic). I thought that was a miracle sighting since its in mid air. I was quite happy to see that although it was a faint glimpse of a rainbow.

But as the plane went higher, I realised what I had seen earlier was just the beginning of the rainbow. In next scenes (above and below pics), I saw the whole arc of the rainbow with full spectrum of colours. It was beautiful!

This was what God impressed upon my heart with what He showed me:

1. He is a covenant keeping God.

He will keep His promise to see Vietnam saved cos He loves His people. That’s why He gave us Jesus as the atonement. So what He started in our church community in Saigon, He will see it to completion. Our group is part of His grand purpose to reach the lost and disciple this nation.

Personally, it was an assurance and reminder that God is in control and He is leading our group with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

2. The best is yet to come!

Like how I thought my first glimpse of the rainbow which was only the first part was wonderful. And I was quite happy about that but God showed me more than I had expected and beyond.

Similarly, I might think that the first 3 years as a community was the best thing that happened to us. But God is saying that this is just the beginning, we aren’t seen nothing yet.

If we keep trusting in Him and stay on this journey of faith with Him, He will show us even greater things and the full spectrum of what He had planted in this community.

In other words, God has great plans for each of us and for our community. This is just the start of experiencing His love and abundance that will be revealed more to us as we trust in Him!

I don’t usually sit at the window seat. But I chose the seat this time as I was returning. So to see this is significant and to have the rainbow over Saigon is even more significant.

God is good!

Follow me as I follow Christ

1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ”

I never quite understood Paul’s words until now where I can relate with his situation in why he said those words and the intense emotions he must felt when he said those words. To know His word is one level, but to see those words coming to life is a whole new level.

Paul planted many churches and I can imagine how it must have been difficult for him when he had to move on to his next assignment. He planted churches not by franchising but for each church community, he personally laid down his life as a seed for God to germinate and develop into a plant to give birth to a church just as Jesus did.

One concern: What happens next?

Would the purity of the gospel be eroded after he leaves. Would people slip back into trusting in the law (religion) over the grace of God for their salvation? Would they live according to their flesh or walk in the Spirit?

He implored, IMITATE ME as I imitate Christ. He meant please do not compromise on the standard of His word that I have set with my teachings and my example lived out during my time with you. That is how you should also live your life sold out for Christ and the gospel.

Second concern: Who will they follow?

After Paul move on, it would be possible for the community to be at lost in the transition. And at such a state, it would be easy for people to follow or look to people or personalties over Christ Himself.

Paul implored, imitate me as I IMITATE CHRIST. He meant please follow Christ as your priority like how I have. Paul wasn’t part of the original 12 disciples or apostles of Jesus. Although he submitted to them, but he did not blindly follow any of them. For e.g. when Peter erred, Paul did not hesitate to correct Peter.

I can imagine the clout, reputation and superior status the original apostles such as Peter or John must have had. Almost everyone would have readily followed and obeyed them at a command. But Paul wasn’t into that. He stood his ground on His word and had such an intimacy with God that gave him the strong loyalty and obedience to Christ first to the point even in the face of death (he was beheaded for the gospel).

So today, let the words of Paul not just be a reminder to follow and trust in Christ alone, but also an inspiration to continually challenge you to live your life in such a way that you are able to persuade and convince others to imitate you because those around you can see Christ in you!

5 Lies I used to believe about being a Christian

These are basic truths to grasp, but most of us believe and live the lies instead. Until we believe right, we can never truly live right in effectively represent His kingdom.

Growing up in church, I thought I had just about everything figured out about being a Christian.

That all changed for me one day when I visited a church that was much different than the straight-laced church I grew up in. It was a place where people dressed and acted the same on Sunday as they did the rest of the week. It was a place where it was OK to be honest and open about doubts and struggles. There was even an atmosphere of excitement and celebration that was expressed during worship.

All of this was very new to me. There was such of contrast in this group of believers that I had to question much of what I believed about being a Christian. What I discovered is that some of my “Christian beliefs” were actually misguided and inspired more by worldly religion than the Word of God.

It’s obvious that non-Christians have some misconceptions regarding Christianity, but often those who grew up in church, do too. Here are just a few of the lies I used to believed about being a Christian:

Read what are the 5 Lies here>>>

Living for the Gospel of His kingdom

image

This is the exact spot where God revealed to me His vision and Heart for this land as I was prayer walking through the city of Saigon.

It was here that He first showed me how much He loved these people and His plan to lead them out of their spiritual ‘wilderness’.

I was deeply moved and was drawn to play a part in His redemptive plan for Viet Nam. I responded to Him with this prayer: “If you want me here, here I am, send me. I am willing.” 

That was a decade ago when I first visited Saigon for a short missions trip. Subsequently, I continued to make yearly similar short trips to Viet Nam.

I did not know when or how God was going to send me. But I believed He would, and faithfully prepared myself while I waited.

God enlarging my vision

Later in 2008, God re-directed my steps and also challenged my traditional worldview on missions. He expanded my vision and understanding of Him, the Church, and His Kingdom.

God showed me how I could be relevant and equally effective (if not more) by partnering with the Holy Spirit through the marketplace to engage the culture wherever I’m planted in demonstrating His love and power, just as Jesus did during His earthly ministry adopting a ‘tentmaker’ model.

By this, I do not mean that we jump into ANY job that we can get our hands on to secure our livelihood and residency in that country as a ‘tentmaker’. That job or business should be one that I’m designed for in fulfilling His purpose in my life as well.

This is because our secular work is an equally sacred ministry assigned by Him. And it’s His desire for us to enjoy our work, and not endure. Because when we enjoy what we do, we excel. And when we excel, He is glorified.

Secular work is not a means for church ministry. Our secular work is ministry. It is where we can add value and make a positive impact by representing His kingdom and being an influence towards advancing His kingdom.

That is the kind of gospel that needs to be planted. The gospel of His kingdom and not just salvation.

God answering my question

Fast forward to today, I have now lived in Viet Nam for the past 4 years after He sent me by orchestrating a job opportunity that required me to be based in Saigon. Indeed, He is faithful.

Since arriving in Viet Nam, there hasn’t been a day I have not asked God this: “God now that you’ve sent me, what do you want me to do?” 

Ironically, I have finally discovered the true answer as I’m getting ready to return back to Singapore for my next God-assignment. That answer I have now understood is to prepare me for what awaits me ahead.

On hindsight, if God had answered me much earlier, I probably might have questioned the rationale of His directive for me to come to Vietnam.

Why waste time to take me to Viet Nam and bring me back? Huh… come here for such a short time and leave after establishing life here? 

But God being God, He knows best. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than ours. May His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.