This last period has been an incredible journey for me. Every step of the way I have walked under the guidance and blessing of an Almighty God, our Alpha and Omega; the First and the Last.
Early parts of it were not initially recognised as being a part of this journey and theme, but with reflection, it all seems to be aligned to, and of God. Conversing with colleagues over lunch about our respective faiths and enriching each other with our stories is so good for our souls.
Christ is my reward, and all of my devotion
Now there’s nothing in this world that could ever satisfy
The purpose of worship (whether it is at cell group or at Sunday church) is to help us (re)focus on God. To give Him the centre of our attention. To humble ourselves and acknowledge His lordship and mercy over us. It goes further than just that “Father”-type sovereignty though (you are Holy and above us whilst we are below and unworthy) – we embrace the “Son” and recognise Him as our Saviour, sent to love and save us. We celebrate the “Holy Spirit” who dwells within us believers, as One who empowers us to achieve greater things.
Through every trial, my soul will sing
No turning back, I’ve been set free
Having the opportunity to hear from God, to receive His teaching, via leadership sessions is not necessarily about learning something new. Instead, the frameworks and tools help to reaffirm what we already know as believers. The One Another ministry and discipleship models all articulate what should come naturally as believers, in inspiring us to build up the body of Christ/Kingdom of God here on earth. Whenever someone prayers the Lord’s Prayer, they are seeking God’s help in bringing Your Kingdom here on earth. It’s not about preparing for an afterlife – it’s really about how we live our lives as believers here on earth.
Christ is enough for me
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need
In the last few months, I have found it more natural and easier to talk about Christ; after all He is an integral part of me. Christ is indeed all I need. Our church’s series on “My Faith In My World of Work” is an incredible opportunity and aligns well with how God is working to build my personal faith. Coupled with concepts like “work life balance”, I have been on this journey where “work” is not limited to a workplace or company, but is instead the work that God has me doing in the lives of others. Indeed, there is a secular view that it’s not work life balance, but only life balance given the large proportion of our lives spent in the workplace, whether you are a believer or not.
Christ my all in all, the joy of my salvation
And this hope will never fail, Heaven is our home
Whilst quite a few of my old “bigger” cell group are soon to embark on a mission trip to Cambodia, God has also seen to it that those of us remaining here in Melbourne are just as connected to Him in supporting the team, praying for them, and building each other up. The opportunities in helping to lead my immediate cell group form a natural way to ensure both a personally healthy spirit and I recognise this as God’s way to help continue building my faith. The responsibilities are vast but immensely enjoyable. Helping new believer members prepare for baptism is just a joy for us all. The mutual encouragement helps to strengthen our ties to one another as well as to Christ.
Through every storm, My soul will sing
Jesus is here, To God be the glory
This is to say life isn’t easy. We all have been challenged in our own respective walks – some by suspicious colleagues, physical ailment (like my self-inflicted cold) and others. Learning to praise God during these storms is not something that comes easily or naturally; but undoubtedly comes with the passing of time and gradually built up experience. Rushing and pursuing our own agenda apart from God needs tempering against His sovereignty and will. Through this, we again arrive back at God! Seeking God first ultimately shows us the path He would have us walk.
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, No turning back
As God is our source of inspiration, He has watered me as His plant and I was able to try out two new forms of innovation in His service. The first was simply to host a Prayer Conference Call last Monday evening. In part, this was to address the difficulty of gathering the required people together. I started off by sharing a story that I had first received in 2009 titled “God’s 26 Guards” (included at the bottom of post). Irrespective of the source and truth (which has been debated on the Internet), I thought it highly appropriate to share and start us off. The main prayer focus was on the upcoming baptisms and this group was limited to the two being baptised and the two of us helping. The 30min prayer session was well received by all and we plan to repeat this again each week in the lead up to baptism.
The other innovation was a different approach to cell group worship. In part, since I was avoiding the need to sing, I tried out a different format. Each person was given an A3-sized sheet of paper and plenty of coloured pens were made available. Each person was then instructed that the one drawing they would create would be guided via components which I would announce one at a time followed by a 1-minute period where I played the piano of a well-known worship chorus. So, we began with God the Father, followed by God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and finally You/yourself. At the end, we showed and shared our finished drawing to the group. We then spent time in worshipful prayer. One lesson learnt afterwards was that I had apparently not explained fully that this was our time for worship – and there was a misunderstanding that the activity felt more like an ice-breaker…
The cross before me, the world behind me
No turning back, No turning back
Technology plays a key role in not just my life, but also my friends at church. Our numerous WhatsApp chat groups are highly active and our conversations are infused with prayer requests and general sharing. The prayer conference call is just the latest step I have taken in helping the group remain connected during the week – and there is a thought to trial it out as a way to help connect those of us who are unable to attend cell group on a Wednesday evening in person.
This weekend has a busy one in Melbourne – there was Tough Mudder in Philip Island, Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship and a bike ride marathon in Torquay!
I pray that this season of closer connection to God continues since Lent itself continues and Easter still feels so far away (3 weeks). As part of Lent 2014 I plan to fast over the final fortnight; the first week eased in with a daylight-hours fast (no lunch) followed by the final week of a more complete fast from food.
God’s 26 Guards
A missionary on furlough told this true story while visiting his home church in Michigan.’While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point.
On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money
from a bank, purchase medicine, and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident…
Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, ‘Some friends and I followed you in to the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs… but just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.
At this, I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite… the young man pressed the point, however, and said, ‘No, sir, I was not the only person to see the guards; my friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.’
At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened.
The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story:
‘On the night of your incident in Africa , it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you…
Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?’ The men who had met together to pray that day stood up. The missionary wasn’t concerned with whom they were, he was too busy counting how many men he saw.
There were 26.
– baptism from the other side
– Lent & fasting
– iMac in worship – a year on >