How do we build intentional relationships with people?—By caring more about the needs of others than how they treat you!

This blog series aims to help you build intentional relationships with people because of the foundational principle that the gospel spreads through relationships. John already shared with you the first answer to the question:

 

How do we build intentional relationships with people?…

Ask questions!

 

Today’s answer that I would like to bring to light is:

 

Follow Jesus’ example of building intentional relationships by caring more about the needs of others than how they treat you!

 

It is so easy to care for someone who appreciates you, but it is a whole different story to care for someone who doesn’t deserve your love or when they don’t treat you well. I am guilty of this!

 

We will always be flawed as human beings, looking at the speck in our brother’s eye, but not noticing the log that is in our own eyes! We easily forget how God has been patient with us all these times! Isn’t it true that God’s patience toward us is greater than our tolerance toward our friends, co-workers or acquaintances or strangers?

 

So, how do I quickly come back to my senses when I get discouraged with people? Easy! When I am tempted to lose patience with someone, I think how incredibly patient God has been with me! As I reflect on his patience toward me, it also makes me remember that he is still patiently waiting for others. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When we freely receive God’s patience, it compels our hearts to share it with everyone around us. When you show unworldly love—a love that is sacrificial and without boundaries, preferences, or condition—God’s character shines forth.

 

Throughout his life, Jesus demonstrated his care and compassion for people. Jesus thought of others before he thought of himself. He genuinely cared about people, even when society considered them sinners, unlovable or unthinkable. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, fed thousands of people, healed the sick and breathed life into the dead. He spent a lot of time caring and providing for the needs of others.

 

Jesus spent most of his time thinking and placing the needs of others before his own. Even in his agony at the cross during his last few hours before his death at the cross, Jesus’ concern was for the forgiveness of the Roman soldiers who mocked him, beat him, spat on him, whipped him, put a crown of thorns on his head and nailed him to the cross! “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus lived a life of complete humility and led by serving.

 

If you want to follow Jesus’ example of building intentional relationships, you have to start by getting down on your knees and asking God to change your heart and teach you to love others with kindness and compassion regardless of how they treat you! In Ephesians 2:10 it says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

As Christ’s followers, we have been sent by Jesus into every encounter with every person, in every circumstance and in every day of our lives. To whom God has sent you to lend a helping hand? To whom God has sent you to pray for or maybe to encourage someone who much needed it? Does someone in your workplace need a ride? Does someone need a simple act of kindness—perhaps a struggling mum at the store or an elderly that might need some help? Be observant to the needs of others. As Christ’s follower, we have inexhaustible opportunities to follow Jesus’ lead to love, care and serve those people around us. If at times we get disheartened, show the world the ONE who is patient with us. Are you ready to answer Jesus’ call?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why the gospel is relevant in today’s age?—Because people are searching for community more than ever!

One of the things that are common to humans across cultures is the need to belong to a community. This is one of the reasons why people look for a community to belong to every time they move to a new place or venture into a new field. God has called me to homeschool our children and we have needed a community of homeschooling families. We have found a group who have been very helpful as we embark on this journey. Now, although I’m still a novice in this field, surprisingly I already find myself encouraging and helping three other mums who have been contemplating whether they would give homeschooling a shot.  

 

A sense of belonging is a human need to survive, just like the need for food and shelter. Abraham Maslow in 1943 proposed that our human need to belong is one of the five necessities required to attain self-actualisation. In fact, after physiological (food, water, warmth, and rest) and safety needs, he placed the need for belonging as the next level in his “Hierarchy of Needs”.

 

God has created us as relational beings, who need community with others. Some meet their need for belonging in their family, friends, or church, and others on social media. However they do it, people are searching for meaningful community. For those who don’t find it, although they may be surrounded by people, their loneliness has taken a toll on their self-esteem. God reaches into these people’s lives and brings them into the Christian community where they find healing and wholeness.

 

Why is the Gospel relevant in today’s age? Because people are searching for community more than ever!

 

That means that we need to build meaningful relationships in two directions. On one hand, we need to be building strong spiritual relationships with people who love the Lord and, on the other hand, with people who haven’t encountered God in their lives so we can walk with them towards Christ.

 

Isn’t that one of the huge marks of Jesus’ way of life? As we read the Bible, we see how he regularly spent relational time with those who didn’t follow God and who didn’t bother to attend organised religious activities. Because of that, but he was branded a “friend of sinners”. Jesus’ actions in spending time with sinners were in perfect accordance with his mission to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He went to where the need was because, “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). He knew that what motivates a person to move towards God is almost always a meaningful relationship with someone who already knows him. 

 

If we are followers of Christ, we must imitate this massive feature of his life. People are searching for community more than ever. God wants us to reach the people we know to let them hear that it’s ONLY through the price Jesus’ paid on the cross for our sins that we can have peace with God and become a part of his wonderful family on earth.

Why the gospel is relevant in today’s age?—Christian life stands out as so different!

I have never seen a time like this, where people all over the world are getting sick, anxious, confused, filled with uncertainties, and the economic growth is declining as the effect of the pandemic. As COVID-19 escalates around the globe, fear lingers even quicker than the virus itself! Empty shelves and crowded checkouts in grocery stores provide visual representations of the panic surrounding the spread of COVID 19..Social media photos of empty streets, shuttered shops and restaurants, reduced public transit service, closed borders and issuance of “stay-at-home” order to control the outbreak are the government officials’ response to address this public health emergency.

 

Why the Gospel is relevant today?

 

The Gospel is relevant because Christian life stands out as so different!

 

While my newsfeed and group chats are full of real-time panic-inducing news articles and updates about Corona Virus, you can easily spot on Christians, who view things differently. I know someone who is currently busy acquiring some supplies from other compassionate people and delivering them personally to disadvantaged people. You will see her optimism and how she responds in love about every given situation. You would always see her pointing people to the unshakeable hope we have in Christ. My colleague mentioned a senior band who call themselves, Ambassadors for Christ. They usually perform in daycare and age care, but since the outbreak, they started to spread the message of hope by singing in their garage.

 

As God’s people, our hope is not in anything that belongs to this world or even in our physical health, because we are looking from our lens of faith knowing who God is and who we are in him. Our confidence lies not on our own situation, but in the nearness of Christ. His perfect peace dwells in our hearts as we TRULY trust in him. We are called to be like a “lighthouse in the darkness” and, “a city set on a hill” that “cannot be hidden.” How does that practically look like? As it says in “Galatians 5:6b, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”. REAL FAITH LOOKS LIKE LOVE—BEING GRATEFUL AND GENEROUS amid everything that is happening. We are grateful that even the fear of death cannot separate us from his great love (Romans 8:35-39), and we are generous, because we genuinely care for others. We recognise that even difficult circumstances such as this are opportunities to be a witness for Jesus!

 

As Wayne Alcorn, National President of Australian Christian Churches said, “God’s plan for the planet is the church. His caring force in the earth are people like you and me…Maybe this is the time, in the midst of all these darkness and fear and terror, for you and I, to do what scriptures tells us to do, rise and shine. There’s a wonderful verse, it says, “Rise and shine for your light has come.” (Isaiah 60:1a) Perhaps, this is the greatest moment for the church, despite the terrible times we are in. Just because people are socially isolated, it doesn’t mean that they have to be lonely. Maybe you and I can pick up a phone, maybe we could facetime somebody, maybe there’s a neighbor that needs their lawn mowed, maybe there’s somebody that needs you and I to go and get some groceries or help them with some of the basic needs of life, you probably know a friend whose lost their job, maybe there’s some practical, simple way that you can show tangible expression of the love of God. This really is, a very difficult time for humanity, but in the midst of it, God’s got people like you, He’s got people like me, let’s rise and shine and let’s show the world, that in all of these, God is still real, God is still love, and he will show them his love through people like us.”

25th of April: Anzac Day, “Lest we forget”

Today is a significant day for Australia and New Zealand. Anzac Day is named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who served in the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War (1914-1918). The bravery, dedication, mateship, and fortitude—in the face of the adversity of those who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula shaped the national identity of Australia.

 

Anzac day is a solemn day of national remembrance of those Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who sacrificially fought and died for their country, and others who have served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

 

Lest we forget. Let us also take this day to remember the overwhelming, never-ending selfless love of God. Christ sacrificed himself on our behalf, though we don’t deserve it, paying the infinite and eternal penalty only he could pay (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of his love for us, Jesus laid down his life, paying the penalty for our sins. (1 John 2:2) Jesus died in our place, for our transgressions, and he was raised again, he is alive today, and we can have a growing and living relationship with him. (1 John 1:12)

 

 

We need to decide what kind of Christian life we want to live and what we are willing to do to get it. There’s a kind of Christianity that basically says, “We have joined the religious club”. The focus of this kind of Christianity is just to tick the items in the list of rules, rituals, rites, or good works; it doesn’t demand too much of us because it doesn’t impinge profoundly on our inner life. It’s ‘Comfortable Christianity’—we want God to be involved in our lives, we want him to be committed to us, but we don’t want to go too far in our commitment to him.

 

But there’s another kind of Christianity that we can choose. It’s the “all-in” kind of Christianity. The kind that we see men and women of God in Scripture, living, the kind that we see some people we know living as well. This kind of Christian has come to a fork in the road in their lives—a time in their Christian life when they encountered God very deeply and sensed that God was saying to them, “I did not die for you so you could continue to live for yourself, just adding some Christian benefits to your life.”

 

No, as the apostle Paul puts it, “For to this end, Christ died and lived again that he might be Lord, both of the dead and of the living.” God doesn’t want to be a comfortable addition to your life. He wants to turn your life upside down! This is the reality of the Christian life God wants for you.

 

Those ANZAC soldiers were reflecting the way God loves. God wants you to respond to his love by loving him back in the same all-in way that he has loved you.

 

There’s a song by Hillsong that beautifully expresses this:

 

Heal my heart and make it clean

Open up my eyes to the things unseen

Show me how to love

Like you have loved me

Break my heart for what break yours

Everything I am

For your kingdom’s cause

As I walk from earth into eternity”

 

Lest we forget…

 

 

 

When to talk to someone about God?—when you sense their deep feeling of inadequacy, brokenness or isolation

 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:3-4

 

We can’t have a witnessing lifestyle without a praying lifestyle. We should pray to God to create witnessing opportunities for us. While we are persistently praying for open doors, we should also be praying for spiritual discernment to know when the door has opened.

 

But what do these open doors look like?

 

Today’s answer to the question, “When should I talk to someone about God?” is…

 

…when you sense their deep feeling of inadequacy, brokenness or isolation

 

I met Ria in a local playground. She was looking after her 2-year-old son at that time. She looked sober and lonely when I approached her to kick off a conversation. After our discussion moved past the surface to a personal level, I discovered that she just recently migrated to Australia. Her stories and body language conveyed her deep sorrow because it was her first time to be away from her parents, friends, and home country while she worked on adjusting to her new environment. Right at that moment, I felt the searching heart of a person who is ready to hear God’s transforming hope and grace.

 

I shared with her how I also struggled when we moved to Singapore many years ago, before we moved here to Australia. I made myself vulnerable with her and shared how I met God during those trying times. I did not give her a grand Gospel presentation, but only my testimony that there is real hope and freedom through Jesus. I told her that God loves her and cares about everything that matters to her. She was greatly moved when I prayed for her. She was a bit emotional as she responded in Christ’s invitation. Her face was beaming with gratefulness before we parted ways.

What do open doors look like? These phrases might help you: deep feeling of isolation, inadequacy, brokenness and misery due to a variety of reasons like relationship struggles, death of a loved one, health issues etc. When any of these events happen, people’s hearts start searching for answers and they are often receptive to hear the Gospel. These life events become doors of opportunity to witness for Christ. Pay attention as life happens to people and prayerfully step in with your testimony and by the blood of the lamb you will overcome!

 

When to talk to someone about God?—When God prompts you!

This blog series aims to help you know when ‘now is the time’ to share the gospel with the person you just met or with someone you are walking with towards Christ. John and Andrew already shared with you the first two hints we must recognise:

 

When to talk to someone about God? …

When they ask a question about God, your faith, church, or spiritual things 

When their life is falling apart, or they are facing a crisis

 

Today’s answer that I would like to ponder is:

You know it’s time to talk with someone about God …When God prompts you!

When we receive Christ, we have been reborn in the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). The Holy Spirit resides in our hearts, bringing with him an entirely new life of love, relationship, and service to the Lord. Jesus said that the people who trust God would be like sheep who recognise the voice of their shepherd and follow him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). The Holy Spirit was given to lead, direct, and comfort us (John 14:26; Acts 7:51; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20).

 

So, learn to listen and obey when God prompts you to speak to someone in your life about God.

 

You have to realise that the Holy Spirit will speak to you, guide you, and warn you about things. Pay attention to the things you might typically or inadvertently dismiss. Don’t reject random thoughts or ideas. Ask yourself if it is the Holy Spirit (or just your own voice) trying to tell you something. Recognising God’s voice, his prompting, ONLY comes with regular time with God through his Word (the Bible), conversation with him through prayer and through your growing relationship with the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit, your Helper, to sharpen your hearing, so you’ll recognise his voice and his words more clearly.

 

In Philippians 1:9, Paul’s prayer mentioned his desire for the followers of Christ to be filled more and more with love, with knowledge and all discernment from the Lord. Notice that the first thing we ought to be praying for is for our hearts to be filled with inexhaustible love. As I spend time seeking the Lord with all my heart, I get to grasp and experience his mind-blowing, selfless love for me and for everyone he placed in my heart to fervently pray for. Out of the richness of his love, I am compelled to bend my knees and pray that he will open my eyes to the things that only his eyes can see (1 John 4:19). That he will break my heart for what breaks his and that he will show me how to love others like how he has loved me—a perfectly unlovable, sinner saved by God’s grace! As I develop a heart that is in-tune with his heart, it becomes natural for me to ask and pray for knowledge, sensitivity from his voice and all discernment from the Lord as I witness for his name’s sake.

 

He sure loves answering those prayers! Although I am working in a community of believers, he has been opening my eyes to countless opportunities to witness for him in my daily life! Just as I am so familiar with my husband’s voice (even when he clears his throat!) though my eyes are shut, I know that it was God’s sweet, still voice that prompted me to pray for the IT guy who fixed our internet connection; that encouraged me to share the gospel with the mum whom I just met in a fast-food chain after I picked up the kids from their school; that whispered to me that the members of my family who were yet to know Christ were ready to hear and receive the TRUTH about Jesus; to be a listening ear to an anxious mum I met in a friends’ party which opened a door for me to pray for her and share God’s sovereignty over everything; that opened opportunities for me to “stand in the gap” and warn believers to return their ways to the Lord—and those have been just few of the times I have sensed the Lord leading me, among others!

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a person who has an outgoing personality, persuasive in speech, and has plenty of time in the world to socialise and meet up with people! I have as much trouble of my own as everyone does. I am only able to follow the Lord’s leading out of his inexhaustible resource of love, grace, compassion, empathy, which drives me to invite people to Him! And also, in doing all the witnessing, it is not me but it’s the Holy Spirit working through me, as it says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The Holy Spirit will empower your witness for you! If you are not pumped up with that, I don’t know what else can reassure you! Acts 1:8

 

Another truth that can encourage us not to look at our inadequacies as we engage people in God-conversation is the passage in Titus: ” But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 “He saved us”—it isn’t our job to save that person whom we are leading to Jesus. God saved us, “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit“. Regeneration is the beautiful truth that God sent his Holy Spirit to regenerate people, to open their eyes to his love, grace, and truth. It’s not up to us to penetrate through to the inner core of their hearts, or their distractions, or their disinterest in spiritual things. It’s the job of the Holy Spirit. He takes over the moment you step out in faith and begin sharing Christ with someone!

 

As we have all experienced the generosity of God’s grace and love, I encourage you to pray just like Paul’s prayer: pray that we will always be filled with infinite love for the Lord, for his people, with knowledge, wisdom and all discernment from the Lord! You will never regret the FULLNESS of joy and abundance of life you will receive as you take part in Christ’s agenda!

Fathers’ Day 2019

Happy Fathers’ Day!

 

Even though the Bible does not explicitly mention Fathers’ Day, we can see the importance of Fathers to God as he gave them special honour throughout history.

 

One example is when Abram’s name was changed to “Abraham”. God told him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.” (Genesis 17-4-6) It is evident that fatherhood has a place of honor in God’s eyes.

 

The Apostle Paul also clearly emphasised the importance to God of honoring our fathers, Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:3)

 

The Bible also uses the marvelous analogy of God as our father countless times (Isaiah 64:8; 1 John 3:1; Psalm 103: 13; Isaiah 63:16; Psalm 68:5; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 7:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6). A fathers’ role isn’t to be taken lightly. It’s important to look at God’s word to see the perfect example of what a father should be, to encourage fathers to work towards being more like our heavenly Father.

 

As Proverbs says, “The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!” (Proverbs 20:7). The greatest gift you can ever give to your children is to live righteously. Children who grow up guided by godly fathers acquire greater knowledge and wisdom. They are more likely to make wise decisions in life, and therefore, succeed. Beyond that, God himself will bless the children of godly men. Godly fathers are not typical followers of “how to be a good father” checklists. Rather, they are followers of God before anything else.

 

Fathers, do you love your children? Forget about all the gifts or extravagant travel plans you think of to give to your children. Honour and love God above anything and anyone else and walk justly before God. That’s the greatest thing you could ever give to your kids. Always remember that your family’s future depends on how you live today!

 

You might feel that too much time has passed with the wrong priorities in your life. You may feel that you have lost your family through focusing on things that don’t really matter in the long run. But you need to know that it is never too late to turn back to God and put him in the centre of your life.

 

Put God in the centre and watch how he gets involved in your family relationships.

 

As we celebrate Father’s Day, today, as a father, let your family know that you are putting God at the centre. If you are a child, honour your father for the positive things he brought into your life. Encourage him in his walk with God.

Thank you for praying!!!

God is at work through EvangelismSHIFT!!

Thank you so much for praying with us! No one can deny the fact that God has been seriously doing his business of activating his people to live as witnesses in their daily lives through EvangelismSHIFT! It is really thrilling to think that since EvangelismSHIFT was launched in 2015, leaders from our pilot church became Facilitators of EvangelismSHIFT in other churches, and then leaders from those churches joined the growing group of Facilitators taking time out of their crazy schedules to take yet other churches on the 2-year EvangelismSHIFT journey! EvangelismSHIFT Is beginning to multiply through denominational and geographic networks.

John recently spoke with the senior pastor of a church halfway through the EvangelismSHIFT journey. John asked him if he was interested in being a Facilitator of EvangelismSHIFT in other churches as he continues his ministry. He immediately said, “Yes, I definitely am. As I’ve experienced EvangelismSHIFT, I’m convinced that this is the only way to create an evangelistic culture in our churches.”

EvangelismSHIFT was first launched In Perth, followed by our next batch of churches in the year 2016 in Raymond Terrace, the NSW North Coast and Northern Sydney.

Our current and third batch of churches are from Melbourne, Southern Sydney, Western Sydney, and another group in the NSW North Coast. It is not yet half-way through the year, but there is already growing interest from churches in New South Wales, Adelaide and in Perth to embark on the EvangelismSHIFT journey next year, 2020!

And the growth is also international. John North recently wrote, “I see capable leaders from five nations (USA, Fiji, Philippines, Canada and Australia) stepping out in faith to join our team full-time to launch EvangelismSHIFT in their own nations; as I witness the same multiplication happening in those nations that is happening here in Australia—it is no longer crazy to me to think that God is going to use us (you, me, AFCI, our growing network of Facilitators) to, yes, change the world!”

Last month, Bill Hodgson and John North led interaction on movement building from the life of Christ with AFCI leaders from Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania. These AFCI Leaders set a goal of being ready to launch EvangelismSHIFT in 2021 in their nations.

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How Christmas motivates us to live as witnesses for Jesus—When we receive a gift, we want to show and tell others about it

“WITH THE FESTIVE SEASON JUST AROUND THE CORNER, LET THE BUDGETING BEGIN!” I saw this quote somewhere, written in bold letters. True enough, this is the period of the year when people all over the world are spending a lot of time to find the perfect Christmas gifts for their loved ones. It made me recall a moment as a child when my mother gave me a CD cassette player. I immediately clasped my mum with tremendous affection and expressed how grateful I was to receive that gift. I hastily tried it out, my face beaming with delight!! Next thing, I transformed into a deliriously elated kid dancing and singing all over the house! Out of uncontainable delight, I even hurriedly brought the CD cassette player outside our house to share my amusement with my cousins and friends. I also brought it to school, parks, the school gym and every place I went to! That memory contains a fundamental truth about our nature as human beings: when we receive a gift, we love to share it with others!

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10 Common misconceptions about Christianity and Christians: #6 Christians are perfect people

People often think that Christians should be perfect people. Spend a few minutes talking to almost anyone outside the Christian faith, and you are almost guaranteed to hear tons of complaints they have about Christians. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” True enough, just like any precious object like a diamond, when genuine diamonds exist you can be sure there will be fake ones. Let’s dive deeper into this common misconception of people about Christians—that Christians should be perfect people

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