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!

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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

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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.

7 Traits of False Teachers

wolf-sheepThis is an extremely useful read especially in the times where we are in as Christians. Even Jesus warned us of false teachers, therefore we should heed of his warning and be vigilant. Because there’s no doubt that the devil has infiltrated our churches and are leading our people astray. Hence, be discerning and we will not just save ourselves, but those around us. 

“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:1)

There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” in Peter’s words. It’s a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That’s a matter of history. False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people.

In the same way Peter says, “There will be false teachers among you.” Notice the words “among you.” Peter is writing to the church and says, “There will be false prophets among you.” So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.

There is no such thing as a pure church this side of heaven. You will never find it. The wheat and the tares grow together. Warren Wiersbe writes:

Satan is the counterfeiter. . . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). . . . Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).

Read the full blog post presenting the 7 traits here>>>

 

Thankful for my wife

IMG-20150511-WA0002Since late last year, God revealed to me that my season in Viet Nam would be coming to an end. And that the next chapter is to return to Singapore. Hence, I had made plans to return to Singapore next year.

However, God had other plans. He orchestrated a job opportunity for me that will allow me to return to Singapore much earlier as I would have anticipated. In addition, the new company was willing to wait out my 3-month resignation notice!

Thus, next month I would be returning to Singapore to start my new job.

This new development also prompted my wife to look for her job in Singapore. And recently she received an offer to a job that would further her career as a professional counsellor. She begins her new job in a week’s time! Praise God!

Thus far, it has been amazing to see how God is working ALL things for us to return to Singapore with such ease! Too much ease that we cannot deny we are in the will of God. So that is assuring that we know we walking with Him. And that’s all that truly matters to me- that we are following Jesus!

I’m also thankful to God for my wife.

Without her love and support, I would not be in Viet Nam for the last 4 years. My wife demonstrated her love for me when she resigned from her dream job which she was then a school counsellor. And she did that so that I could pursue the vision and purpose of God for my life!

I must admit I have often took her for granted and her sacrifice. That’s why I’m so delighted that she now has this new job where she can continue to pursue her vision and purpose of God in her life from where she had left off.

In our next season, I believe it is now my turn to rally behind her and to see to it that my wife becomes all that she is destined to be and achieved in Christ!

 

The Boat by Nam Lee

The Boat is written by Nam Lee who is a Vietnamese-born Australian writer. This book comprises a collection of short stories of escape journeys from Vietnam after the reunification happened in 1975.

It is difficult to fully understand what the war or the reunification meant to the people who were directly involved in that historical episode. But here’s one painful and turbulent experience recounted for us.

Watch the interactive graphic short story here>>>