…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
Its been a joy serving the Lord with you.
There is much to thank the Lord for what He has done in our midst this year.
Everyone has put a lot of hard faithful work and dedication. Praise God!
Yet, … there were moments when we could do better.
Thankfully we are not faced with ethical or moral issues;
and there is sound Biblical teaching in our midst.
As we enter the new year, … some prayers and thoughts:
Let’s join Paul to “… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14 (NIV)
Let’s leave the past behind.
Let it go.
Start a brand new page.
Like water flowing under a bridge,
what has happened in the past,
we’re not able to change or undo.
However, we can influence the future.
Our attitude determines our future.
If we dwell in the past, … we’ll live in the past,
… we’ll not be able to press on ahead
to what God has in store for us in the future.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
Let’s not miss the new thing He’ll be doing in our midst 🙂
This church ministry is for ourselves, our generation
… as well as the older generations,
and future generations,
and others who have yet to know Jesus,
and still others from very different backgrounds and culture,
and still others in the nations.
Hence, ongoing change, leadership renewal, innovation is inevitable for the church ministry to remain relevant & vibrant to serve the needs of the people in the community.
For example, in a space of a few short years, we now mainly consume information through mobile devices, internet and social media, rather than physical books/media, or carry physical bibles to church … or read a physical newspaper.
Agree … none of us like change, we are all creatures of habit.
However, when Jesus invited us to follow Him,
He invites us to live a new life, … i.e. change.
Granted we also don’t want change for change sake,
or change for the sake of being progressive, trendy, hip.
Let prayer and His word be our compass as we navigate the waters of change.
The New Testament church was not perfect either,
there were also disagreements, eg.,
— Paul urging Euodia and Syntyche to work together to settle their differences (Philippians 4)
— Paul and Barnabas’ sharp disagreement over having John Mark in their missions team, ... Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. (Acts 15: 38 NIV)
No one is perfect, … even apostle Paul.
Hence, let’s not allow unfulfilled, mis-matched expectations or disappointments,
hinder us in anyway from moving forward.
Let’s be prayerfully patient … giving time and space for others to develop … and build understanding.
In John Mark’s case … much later, Paul wrote to Timothy, “.. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry“(2 Timothy 4:11 NIV)
God is at work in each of our lives, through the situations in our lives, … to work the good, to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:28,29)
Its always easier to criticise and complain from afar,
how cold and dark things are,
than to draw close, roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty,
and help light a warm fire.
“Criticize by creating something beautiful” — Michelangelo
Blaming others generates more heat than useful light.
Rather, let’s move forward with encouragement & a problem solving attitude.
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Sometimes when iron sharpens iron, … sparks fly,
… smouldered by our humility & forgiveness for one another.
Perhaps, through iron sharpening iron, … we’ll be led to better solutions and outcomes for His glory.
Through humilty, disagreements can become constructive, enriching and positive, … as long as we are open to listen & learn from one another.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First go and be reconciled to them;
then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23,24 (NIV)
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)
Let’s be peacemakers,
building bridges of reconciliation, forgiveness & humility;
saying ‘I am sorry’ … ‘I forgive you’
Fyi. In the early church, when problems or challenges arose, the leaders convened to solve matters through evidence, prayer, agreement, and the scriptures (see Acts 15, council at Jerusalem).
He who is without sin among you,
let him be the first to throw a stone at her.
John 8:7 (NASB)
Let’s remember Jesus words to His disciples,
“for whoever is not against us is for us”
Mark 9:40 (NIV)
and Paul’s attitude towards others in the ministry,
But what does it matter? The important thing is that
in every way, whether from false motives or true,
Christ is preached.
And because of this I rejoice.
Philippians 1:18 (NIV)
Not ‘them and us‘ … but ‘we‘,
fellows on the same ship … fellowship.
Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “neither do I condemn you” (John 8:10)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14, 17 (NIV)
His glory is full of grace and truth.
Truth without grace … evolves into joy-less religion, a set of rules to measure up to.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Romans 14:17-18 (NIV)
Let’s also not have an attitude like the Corinthian church where
One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”;
another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV)
but rather, see leadership, and leadership changes as
I [Paul] planted the seed,
Apollos watered it,
but God has been making it grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
Paul’s ministry was not, and will never be exactly the same as Apollos.
(eg. our spouses will never be exactly like us 🙂 😦 )
Paul and Apollos were complementary ministries to the Corinth church for a time and season … one sowing, another nurturing. Different, but beneficial.
Paul and Peter’s ministry and scope were also different, but complementary.
Its also true, ministers excel in different areas.
Peter, describing Paul’s letters said, “our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, … There are some things in them that are hard to understand … “2 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)
Ultimately, it’s God who makes things grow.
Focus on Jesus … not personalities.
Have a look at the world God created,
… the many different kinds of animals, insects, fruit, flowers, etc,
the different tastes and smells we experience,
no two sets of fingerprints are exactly the same,
the diversity of gifts in the body of Christ (described in the Bible),
evidently, God loves diversity, variety, potpourri,
He created so much of it.
He’s ok with differences,
why shouldn’t we?
18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body,
every one of them,
just as he wanted them to be.
19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
1 Corinthians 12:18-20 (NIV)
Hence, rather than bland, colorless uniformity or conformity,
its many parts, … but one body,
each and every part exquisitely placed there by Him,
Unity in diversity.
Inter-dependence, … not independence,
or dependency on just one group or person.
Intricate, delicate, complex …
the whole much, much greater than the sum of its parts,
like the marvels of the human body.
Let’s celebrate & embrace His creative diversity and variety in our midst,
and not stifle or crush it.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you” ..
1 Corinthians 12:21 (NIV)
For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together];
you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard],
1 Corinthains 3:9 (AMP)
We, though diverse, are all God’s fellow workers working in the same field,
desiring the field to yield an abundance of fruit for His glory.
I thank my God
every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:4 (NIV)
I need you to survive
It is clear that we love this church very much,
and are deeply concerned for its wellbeing,
… the church that Jesus gave His life for.
Jesus said. “… I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18,19 (NIV)
Jesus will build His church. He said so.
He entrusts us with the keys of the Kingdom to faithfully use,
He builds His church.
Sometimes, … the ministries God sends our way,
may come in unexpected, unconventional packages.
Matthew 11:18,19; 13:55-57 (NIV)
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?
Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
57 And they took offense at Jesus.
Luke 5:33 (NIV)
33 They said to Jesus, “John’s disciples often fast and pray,
and so do the disciples of the Pharisees,
but yours go on eating and drinking.”
Comparing ministries is not helpful. Everyone is different.
Its not about preferences or opinions,
rather its about the fruit and anointing of the Holy Spirit,
the presence of Jesus.
Jesus also said, “Stop judging according to outward appearances;
rather judge according to righteous judgment” John 7:24 (HCSB)
God said to Samuel,
“Man does not see what the Lord sees,
for man sees what is visible,
but the Lord sees the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (HCSB)
Its wiser to adopt an attitude of,
1 John 4:1 (NIV)
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Matthew 10:41 (NIV)
Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
Issues should be examined in the light of the word of God, rather than one’s subjective opinions, tastes, tradition or culture, or what the majority thinks. For accusations, it has to be evidenced based. —- 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Timothy 5:19,20 ESV)
It’s true that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
Furthermore, its healthy to think things through, rather than accept everything or blindly follow.
However, when strong opinions or criticisms are not backed up by the word of God, it should be disregarded; … an energy-zapping rabbit trail.
(its hard to resolve such matters without a shared basis/yardstick for discussion, and it usually generates more heat than light)
Its takes humility to lay aside our opinions to work towards agreement with others, and move forward together.
Sometimes, perhaps … it may be better to step aside, so as not to hinder the progress of others.
Ultimately, everything has to be measured against the word of God,
not by our human standards or our ‘whims & fancies‘ and opinions,
or what the previous leader was like.
God sees everyone’s heart … ours also 🙂
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV)
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:20-22 (NIV)
Let’s continue to build our church ministry upon the chief cornerstone of Christ
and His Word, so that the Holy Spirit dwells in our midst;
so that we grow and are built together into His sanctuary where He reigns and dwells.
By His Word and Spirit let’s continue to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:10 (NIV)
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone …
Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)
In the midst of our sometimes strong opinions, and disagreements about how to run things, … or how things should run,
let us respect and honor one another with humility,
young and old, greatest and least;
let us serve & bless one another in humility.
Let’s also be careful that we do not develop an over-critical or hypocritical spirit,
and end up taking the nature of our adversary, satan.
… For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
Revelations 12:10 (NIV)
Let’also take time to prayerfully listen and pay attention to one another’s views and concerns, … rather than dismiss them prematurely.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak
and slow to become angry,
20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1:19,20 (NIV)
For the greater good of everyone in the church, perhaps a ‘win-win‘ compromise, or ‘agree to disagree‘ attitude may be helpful for us to move forward.
Let’s also live out and pray Jesus’ prayer and example for his disciples
at the last supper,
26 … the greatest among you should be like the youngest,
and the one who rules like the one who serves.
27 … I am among you as one who serves.
Luke 22:26, 27 (NIV)
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.
Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:22,23 (NIV)
Finally, as followers of Jesus,
Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything
that they may ask,
it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
For where two or three have gathered together in My name,
I am there in their midst.”
The Greek word for ‘agree‘ in this verse is symphōneō,
to be harmonious (Strong), … from which the English word ‘symphony’ is derived from,
A harmonious expression of love, through diversity & variety.
Psalm 133:1,3 (NKJV)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Let’s come together in humilty and work towards agreement,
so that Jesus is in our midst,
He answers our prayers,
He commands His blessing.
… All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)
we allow Satan to outwit us (2 Corinthians 2:11),
give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26)
& a bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15)
in our midst.
Whatever happens, let us continue to be confident of the Lord working in our midst,
even through our weakness, … as we continue to pray and depend on Him in His work.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10 … For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (NIV)
In our marketplace work, there are probably times we may not totally agree with our managers or colleagues, and we voice our concerns and suggestions.
Whatever decisions are made or changed,
we are all expected to follow through.
(as long as it does not violate God’s word).
In God’s family,
Submit to one another
out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)
With God’s help and grace,
let’s be a source of encouragement and support
rather than being a stumbling block or wet blanket.
Let’s be good examples for God’s flock (1 Peter 5:3),
Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with
13 Bear with each other and
forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body
you were called to peace.
And be thankful.
17 And whatever you do,
whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:12-14, 15, 17 (NIV)
Let’s maintain a grateful joyful heart in all situations,
And be thankful,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray continually,
18 give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Some practical suggestions
Its true that with a change of leadership, the ministry emphasis in church has also evolved or changed. This is an area we need to focus on coming to agreement on.
like to suggest 4 simple, practical steps,
(from marketplace experience)
* Let us meet together, pray to agree and prioritise ‘WHAT’ we hope to achieve this year and next.
i.e. … define shared objectives.
As Christians, the ‘Why?’ is just as important as the ‘What?’, and how it aligns with the scriptures.
Coupled with the ‘What?’ is also ‘Who are we serving?’
This prioritised list of ‘What, Why, Who’ should also be shared with everyone in the church in simple English. Please avoid the use of jargon, buzzwords, clichés.
Can two people walk together without agreeing
on the direction?
Amos 3:3 (NLT)
From time to time, review and modify this prioritised list,
as things and circumstances change.
Define things clearly, early
… reduces ambiguity, disunity later.
* After the ‘WHAT‘ … then we are ready to prayerfully share and agree
on the ‘HOW?’, and … followed by possibly ‘When?’
i.e. how and when to effectively achieve these things,
with a realistic and achievable plan based on the resources, the ‘Who?’ we have or is willing to volunteer to lead or be involved.
Some things in the ‘What’ list may drop off, due to a lack of available resources or volunteers.
As the ‘How?’ is being discussed, let’s remember,
There are different ways to serve,
but we serve the same Lord.
1 Corinthians 12:5 (ERV)
Rather than being a top-down thing like marketplace organisations,
getting everyone involved early in the planning and praying,
builds commitment, ownership, and trusting relationships.
The brain can only walk as fast & as far,
as both feet are able to carry the body.
At times, it seems, … the brain is miles ahead of the feet.
* Regularly review our execution,
with the plan and objectives.
Maintain transparency & accountability.
* Introducing major changes in any organisation requires patience, planning & a personal touch with those affected. Sometimes, we may need to patiently hand-hold folks from where they are, … and bring them across the unfamiliar valley of change to the other side to reap the benefits of the change.
Be empathetic, some cultures and age groups are more open to change than others.
Can the group handle the pace of change?
Change takes time.
Any car still takes a finite time to accelerate to the desired speed of the driver.
Unlike the corporate world,
in church, … we are working with a group of volunteers with varying abilities.
A final thought,
How fast can a family walk together?
As fast as the smallest child.
How fast can a group of friends run together ?
As fast as the slowest running friend.
Let’s move forward together,
at a realistic, achievable pace.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
Luke 15:4 (NIV)
The good shepherd takes His time with nursing ewes,
He helps the lambs to keep up by carrying them.
He goes out to search for the one sheep that was left behind somewhere.
1Accept the one whose faith is weak,
without quarreling over disputable matters.
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God
and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace
and to mutual edification.
Romans 14:1, 12,13, 17-19 (NIV)
May the Lord bless His work,
and He alone be glorified!
15:5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,
6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic,
love one another, be compassionate and humble.
Romans 15:5-7, 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
Let us grow like the church in Thessalonica,
We thank God for you always.
And that’s what we should do,
because you give us good reason to be thankful:
Your faith is growing more and more.
And the love that every one of you has for each other is also growing.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 (ERV)
bro Lim 林弟兄
P.S.: Migrating birds fly cooperatively in V-formation to save energy in their long migratory journey. Each bird takes turn to lead the group. The birds who are behind the lead bird save energy by benefiting from the air flow of the lead bird. The load is shared.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
December 29, 2015
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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