Since the start of this year, our pulpit focus at Covenant Vision Christian Church has been “Discipleship”. I know this will not come as a surprise to many as “discipleship” has become somewhat of a buzzword in Christian circles. In fact, I am also aware that a certain prominent church in Singapore holds a yearly discipleship conference that is very well-attended – praise God for that and all He is doing in each local church! In our own journey so far, I have discovered that “discipleship” means different things to different people. Ask around and answers range from “Oh, very good”, “No time lah”, “Yes, I attend cell group”, “What programme are we using?”, “I’m already serving in church” to “Not for me.” Interestingly, “discipleship” also means different things to different pastors!
Whilst it’s easy to observe and critique others, I found myself asking, “What does discipleship mean to me?” and “Am I faithful to the Lord’s command in Matt 28:18-20?” Good questions, ya? But no easy or straightforward answers at all, I assure you. Allowing the Holy Spirit to search my heart, I saw so many gaps and areas that needed attention and improvement. Preaching and teaching “Discipleship” has made me very aware that everyone can talk it but not everyone may be willing to walk and live it.
At the core of true disciple making is relationship and involvement. It cannot be achieved through a programme, although structure, format and content are all helpful. It cannot be limited to activities in the church but must extend into the lives, situations and homes of the people. It is not mere bible study but showing others how to appropriate and live the Word. It is not directionless but brings purpose and meaning as the believer is directed and aligned with the advancement and establishment of the Kingdom of God. The goal of every disciple is to be like the Master, Jesus … and that requires extreme change and radical transformation, the result of a denial of self (and the world) as one determines to follow hard after Him.
Like Jesus’ first disciples, we too may be drawn to follow Him for all the wrong reasons … power, position, prestige and prosperity. Are these not the same messages we hear in our churches today? Jesus may have presented a picture of the Kingdom full of power and perks, but never once did He sugar-coat, minimise or hide the probability of rejection, persecution and death for the sake of the same Kingdom. In fact, He showed the way of obedience to the point of death, and expects His disciples to walk in those same footsteps. For sure, discipleship in theory is easy. It is putting discipleship into practice that we all struggle with.
Against this backdrop, the Lord led me to preach the series “I got in the way” across three Sundays. In today’s consumeristic and materialistic culture, we have fed our individualistic appetites and turned the attention to the huge “I” in each of us. Across three messages, I challenged the congregation to identify and confront the self-centredness which often prevents us from getting close to God, from obedience and from all He wants for us. Imagine what happens when we all bring our “I”s to church?! Jesus gave clear instructions to His disciples that if they truly wanted to follow Him, the “I” must get out of the way. I invite you to listen to this provoking series on Covenant Vision Media Centre. If you’d like to purchase a CD Set, visit our E-Store or Covenant Vision Centre.
By the grace of God, at least 13 individuals have responded to the call of discipleship. After meeting and sharing with each of them, they have all agreed to get into a a relationship of accountability with me. I am now praying for them as I walk with them through the Word and through their personal life situations. My objective is to raise these that they will in turn raise and disciple others in time. Although this is interesting and exciting, it also requires time and energy from my already packed ministry schedule. Please pray for me to lead these well so that every effort is multiplied into their lives and ministry.
I will be taking a break from the pulpit at CVCC for September and October. At Covenant Vision Spiritual Growth Seminars, I give thanks to God for enabling me to complete the entire “Philippians: It’s all about Jesus” series … 12 sessions in all! I always love to preach expositorily through a book to appreciate the full context and continuity of the Word of God. In fact, three of my members are listening to the teaching all over again and using the material for their fortnightly study. Do check out our Media Centre and E-Store if you’d like to do the same.
I praise God for the opportunity to impact lives not only in our own church but also in other churches through Covenant Vision School of Ministry (CVSOM). It was really rewarding for me to teach “Growing in the Word” to the Diploma Students. It was eight gruelling sessions of digging and getting deep into the Word of God through word studies, observations, context, interpretation and application! Indeed, how sweet is God’s Word, sweeter than honey!! On 18 & 19 Sept, I will be going over to Batam with four ministry teams of Certificate Students. I am certain it will be a power-packed weekend of ministry as the Holy Spirit works through these students in the local churches. Exciting! On Wednesday 15 Sept 7:30pm, CVSOM will host an OPEN HOUSE for anyone who is interested to learn more about our Certificate in Practical Christian Ministry and be further equipped for the work of the ministry. Do consider joining us at this event. Help us spread the word too as we believe this course will be a blessing to the Body of Christ. To register, simply email your name, church and contact to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
In the next months, the Lord will take me to different churches for ministry. Pray for me as I minister at Christalite Methodist Chapel (26 Sept), Faith Methodist Church Healing Service (1 Oct), Yishun Methodist Mission (10 Oct) and Fairfield Methodist Church Lunchtime Fellowship (5,12,19,26 Oct). I have also been invited by High Ground Family Fellowship (Davao City, Philippines) to speak at the Young Adults Conference on 12 & 13 Nov. This is truly an honour and privilege to be the guest speaker for this conference. I covet your prayers as I prepare for this upcoming trip with 7 others. We really want God to use us powerfully to impact the lives of these young adults to “Shape the City”!
Finally, some family news and update. The Lord continues to be faithful to our family of nine as we serve Him and His people. Although I don’t preach as much in other churches, His faithfulness never fails in the area of provision. The children are all growing up and eating more. Each week, as I do the marketing and groceries, it gets more challenging to stuff the items into the trolley. At times, Serene and I have to go together so we can use two trolleys! We praise God for His goodness as well as the obedience and generosity of the saints.
In a few weeks’ time, our eldest, David, will sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Being homeschoolers, he will be the first to blaze the trail for our family. Serene is doing her best to prepare him and I know it has not been easy amidst the other tasks and chores of a large household. Please pray for David as he goes through the papers. All we ask is for him to do his best that the Lord is glorified and exalted.
Sarah, our eldest daughter, has suffered from eczema and allergies for a few years now. Although mild previously, it has taken a turn for the worse in these past two months, flaring up with redness and swollen-ness, causing her much discomfort, itch and pain. Presently, we are putting her through an elimination diet but the effects have not shown yet. In fact, it has gotten worse. Although we don’t understand why or how this is happening, we are doing our part in the natural and praying for God’s intervention, restoration and healing. I have begun to fast and pray for Sarah, and I appeal to you to stand in agreement with me on this matter. Thank you for your partnership.
Well, that’s it for this newsletter! Thank you for reading and journeying with us. The challenges of ministry and family continue to be there, but we are encouraged through your love, your gifts and your prayers. More and more, we see God’s wisdom for community within His family. Through the support of brothers and sisters in Christ, we know we don’t walk alone for in and through community, we experience the presence of God in Emmanuel, God with us! As you have been a blessing to us, may the Lord likewise bless you and your loved ones.