It’s Not Just About Going to Church

I am afraid that for many, being a Christian is merely about going to church on Sunday, joining a cell group, serving in a ministry and playing Christian songs in the car or while traveling on public transport. It’s more than that. Being Christian is primarily about repenting from our sins, turn to Jesus, obey His Word, follow Him and live a holy life pleasing to God all the time, 24/7. And this includes all the time between Sunday services, between cell group meetings, and between spending time serving in a ministry. It is about being truly Christian and faithfully obeying the Lord ALL the time. While we can’t be sinless on this side of eternity, we can sin less, helped by the Holy Spirit living in us. It is about knowing His truth and letting His truth set you free from sin, it is about having a God-honoring temperament, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, loving people, being kind, gentle, good, it is about having self-control too. It is about following Him and the leading of the Spirit wherever we go. It is about the relevance of the Christian faith in my workplace, my school, my neighborhood, amongst my colleagues, my friends, my family members. It is about not compartmentalizing my life into faith, work, and family. My whole life is my Christian life and my faith life. It is about not ranking God as #1, family as #2, work as #3 and church as #4, but about making God #1 and the only ONE we give top priority to in relation to family, work and church! It is about thinking about how to glorify God in everything we do. How do I glorify God through my work – whether I am a pastor, doctor, businessman, lawyer, hawker, bus driver, engineer, accountant, clerk, receptionist, singer, actor, songwriter or full-time church worker? Do pastors need to be conscious about glorifying God at work? Most certainly! Do people working in a non-Christian environment need to be conscious about glorifying God at work? Absolutely! What does it mean to be truly Christian? It means less of me, more of Him; His will be done, not mine; His Kingdom come, not mine. It means ALL for Jesus. Sharing here a song that I have missed singing in church amidst the many new songs we have – this is pure worship, unconditional offering and complete surrender! “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil.1:21)

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Same Sex Attracted

SSA people have real struggles, for them, it is not a lifestyle choice, they feel that it is who they are from the time of birth. Those who love them often feel the same way, though some loved ones are heartbroken and some families go through very difficult times when they come out. The fact remains – it is a real thing to them and they don’t feel like they can just make it go away by waving some magical wand. Amongst them, some truly believe in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. They believe that they are sinners like everyone else, and that they need to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus. For easy reference, let’s refer to this group as SSAJP – which stands for Same Sex Attracted Jesus People. SSAJP believe that they were made with strong feelings (in particular sexually-driven feelings) for those of the same gender as they are, yet they want to be faithful followers of Jesus. Amongst SSAJP is an ordained minister of the church and he said that while he acknowledges that he is same sex attracted, in order to be a faithful follower of Jesus, he has chosen NOT to have sex with another man or any man for that matter. Though he is allowed to marry another man according to the laws of his country, he has chosen not to because he maintains that the Bible explicitly teaches against it. He has also decided that having sex is not the top priority in his life – following Jesus is. He feels that our society has glorified sex and extolled it to the point where people feel something is wrong with them if they don’t have a partner to have sex with. The video attached to this post features him (Sam Allberry) sharing his story. Therefore, as a church we need to know there are SSAJP around us and we need to embrace them, love them and disciple them to be faithful followers of Christ, so that they may truly worship God in every aspect of their lives, live a pure and holy life in the eyes of God, and a life that pleases God, not man and certainly not ourselves. (Additional note: We do this not only for SSAJP but all SSA people including those who have sexual relations with one or more partners – embrace, love and disciple them.)

In Your Anger, Do Not Sin

In your anger, do not sin! That’s what Paul tells us in Eph.4:26. This often means not to lash out and express our feelings and emotions without retrain. The person you and I are talking about could really be in the wrong, and our anger may be justified but the Bible says not to sin in our anger, so how you and I respond and react makes all the difference. Above all, show forth the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control (Gal.5:22).

Live It!

What now, after the great service? Is it back to the same old, same old? Been there, done that? God forbid! Let the Word of God sung, prayed or preached remain in you, meditate on it, toss it over in your heart and mind, love it, live it and be victorious! I was reminded this morning that as long as I choose God’s path, as long as I live rightly in the eyes of God, pour out my life to Him and into the lives of others, as long as He is my priority, always Him first above all else, God will be with me and bless me. And of course, the blessing could be tangible or intangible – as He sees fit. (Isa.58:1-14)

Sleep Early

Sleep early, go to church tomorrow, pray, worship the Lord, it’s not a concert, you are not the audience, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you, you sing to Him and He will respond to you, you surrender and He rules, give attention to the preaching of the Word, don’t fall asleep, God has something to say to you no matter who is preaching, reach out to a church member or visitor, you’ve been blessed to be a blessing, give thanks to God for He is truly good!

Is Real Life-Change Happening?

Possibly the most difficult thing most pastors and church leaders face is teaching, leading and helping believers obey everything the Lord had commanded us. The question is how can we do this most effectively? There are many things we can do that contribute to it such as life-changing sermons, God-encountering worship and prayer, authentic friendship, warm small group life and insightful Bible study. All the above in so many churches need to be scrutinized and reformed though. Beyond the above, I think there is something else of critical importance – ONE-TO-ONE mentoring! The most natural way this can take place is within a small group. I have come to realize that I can have good attendance at small group meetings and inspiring meetings but if no one in my group (including me the leader) takes time to befriend, support, encourage and guide one another at a one-to-one level, we won’t be able to help fellow believers obey everything the Lord has commanded us. And without obedience, we will not fulfill God’s destiny for our lives.

The Test of Successful Discipleship

A very important key to intentional discipleship is found in what Jesus said in Mt.28:20a – “and teaching them to OBEY EVERYTHING I have COMMANDED you.” If every Christian in every church obeys everything Jesus commanded us, disciples and disciple-makers would explode exponentially! Well-crafted sermons, passionate worship, gourmet food, warm fellowship and intensive Bible study are all great but if they don’t result in fellow believers becoming obedient, then we have all wasted each other’s time, worst still, we have simply played church! That’s the big test of successful discipleship.