THOUGHTS

Some of my thoughts and musings on faith, life and ministry. All that is posted here are of my own opinions and do not necessarily represent any organisation, church or ministry that I am a part of/affiliated with. 

Why Does God Make Us Wait?

Waiting: we all have to do it at different times in our life. It could be waiting for a reply from someone (email, text etc), waiting in line at the shops, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for our plane/bus to arrive/depart - waiting is part of everyday life. Most of the time we are made to wait for legitimate reasons: a person could be occupied and had no chance to read our message, our food is still cooking in the kitchen, there is still an ongoing appointment, the flight crew could be still cleaning up the plane and prepping it for boarding and take off etc. 

Other times, the process of waiting is made longer due to neglect or inefficiency (orders getting mixed up, appointments taking longer than they should, staff not being responsible) and that is when things get really frustrating - when we feel like we have been waiting a lot longer than we should. We have all been there... I once waited for a flight that was delayed for 8.5 hours. 

For those who have been following Jesus for a while, we know this to be true as well: there are times we have to wait on God. It could be for a variety of things: waiting for answered prayer, for a breakthrough, for healing, for provision, for direction, for a dream to come true and so forth. 

Sometimes what we are seeking comes almost instantaneously, but other times we are made to wait excruciatingly long that it almost seems like it is never going to happen. Why does God make us wait? Does He have good reason? Is He too busy answering other prayers? Or is he like the frustrating officer at a governmental office (inefficient?) 

 

1. WAITING BUILDS OUR RELIANCE ON GOD 

I believe the reason God sometimes makes us wait is just so that we will continue to learn how to rely on Him - and only Him.  Imagine if all our prayers were answered immediately, the tendency would be that we will only go to God when we want or need something - it is human nature! If this were to be the case, prayer would not be an act of seeking and connecting with God. It will be like simply going to an ATM Machine and keying in the correct combination to get what we want.

If God answered our prayers quickly and swiftly imagined how spoiled all His children would be. Have you ever seen a spoiled child behave when he does not get what He wants? He moans, whines, throws a tantrum in an effort to get his parents to succumb to his wishes. While we are considered children of God, God desires us to be mature as well. Jesus only spoke of us having childlike faith - not childlike behaviour!  

Waiting produces that kind of maturity that God desires, a kind of maturity which only comes by actively spending time with God and learning more about who He is. Often when we are waiting on God we can be very spiritual... We spend more time worshipping Him, reading His word, praying. When we are waiting on God our hearts are actually more open to the things of God; and the temptation to grow cold and complacent is when things actually start going well for us. Think about it. 

God desires a relationship with us more than anything else. In fact, He created us to be in relationship with Him! The precious time spent with Him while waiting definitely outweighs the actual time waiting because in His presence we are able to find all that we need: peace, wisdom, revelation, clarity, strength, perseverance etc. 

Lamentations 3:25 (NKJV)

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

 

2. TRUST GOD - TO BE GOD

One thing I have realised is that God's delay is not His denial. We have to trust that God knows best and trust in His timing. God as our loving Father wants what is best for us, and in His infinite wisdom He is able to discern when the right time is. Imagine a 14 year old wanting to drive a car. His father would not deny this kid the opportunity because he is mean - but simply because the father knows the kid is not ready for that kind of responsibility yet. 

Many great men in the bible had to wait. Joseph waited 13 years before his dream came true. Abraham waited 25 years for a child to come AFTER God promised him one. Moses waited 40 years before he became the man to free Israel from Egypt. David waited 12 years before he became king. Jesus waited 30 years before He started his ministry. 

If you are waiting on God, guess what: you are in good company! Do not be too obsessed with the destination, just enjoy the journey. In due time, God will come through. Do not worry, His timing is always PERFECT; even when it seems like it is too late. Just ask Lazarus. 

 

3. GOOD... OR GOD?

There comes a point of time of course the wait could be too long and the outcome is not what we wanted... and the waiting was all done in vain. What do we make of this if it happens? How do we process it? 

God's nature is not to withhold good things for no good reason, in fact the bible tells us that because He has already given His best (Jesus); He will now not hold back on ALL of the rest! (Romans 8:32) So God does not want to give us the best things in life, but things that we think are good may not necessarily be the best for us. 

In Luke 11:1-13, my favourite scripture on prayer; Jesus teaches how we should be bold and shameless when presenting our requests. He sums up His teaching by saying:

Luke 11:9-12 (NIV)

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

It sounds like a certain thing: just ask and you will receive! Whatever that you want! BUT... sometimes we do not realise that while we think we are asking for a "fish", we in our limited understanding are asking for a "snake". We believe sincerely that we are asking for an "egg", but in reality we are asking for a "scorpion". 

I know this for sure: anything that seems good by natural or worldly standards but in actuality draws us away from God - is not a good thing. That job may seem really wonderful, that girl or guy may seem heaven sent... but if it comes in the way of our relationship with God...

God sometimes denies us the good things, so that He can give us the BEST (God) things. This is where point (1). and (2). comes in. I can promise you this - God knows what He is doing, and He always has a greater plan. 

Rejection is simply a redirection from God.
God has 3 answers when we ask Him for something:

1. Yes
2. Wait
3. No, because I have something better - or I have a greater plan.





Some Thoughts On Youth Ministry In Malaysia And Around Asia

Recently I had the privilege to minister at The Edge in Singapore after being invited by Pastor Jeremy Seaward who not only leads The Edge but is also an executive pastor at Victory Family Center. Before the youth service, we had the chance to get together and just talk about the current state of youth ministry in Malaysia and all around Asia. I share some practical things I have picked up through my own experience on how we can be effective in this day and age. 

The interview is recorded as part of Pastor Jeremy's initiative called Elevate Collective which basically serves as a resource for youth pastors and leaders in the Asia Region. You can check it out here. 

Hope the video above blesses you! 

 

Teenagers: Why You Need To Attend Youth Meetings

NarrowStreet ! 

NarrowStreet ! 

Are you a teenager and are wondering: why do I need to be a part of my church's youth? Can't I just go for the church's services? Maybe you are a leader/pastor and you want reasons to encourage those under your care or those you are trying to reach out to. I offer some reasons below. 

Before I do, I understand that some churches may not have the resources to start or sustain a youth ministry: and that is OK. I am writing to those who already in a church with an existing youth program.

1. IT IS BIBLICAL

Acts 2:42 (NLT)

The Believers Form a Community
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[a]), and to prayer.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

The Bible does not suggest that a Christian should be part of a church, in fact it is IMPORTANT that a Christian does. It is only through a community that one can truly flourish as a believer. Do not be misled into thinking that you can grow alone. In fact, Christians who refuse to be a part of any community often have issues in themselves that they have to sort out. 

Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out.

- Billy Graham

 

2. JOURNEYING WITH PEERS IS MORE ENJOYABLE

Anything done with friends is automatically more fun and meaningful.  We go to the movies, meals, play games with friends... so why not grow in faith together as well? Youth is a great place to share dreams, ideas, hopes, struggles and fears with people who are going through the same stage of life.

Heres the thing: it takes effort to make meaningful friendships at youth. I hear many say: "I get along with my school friends much better than my church friends." Want to know why? You probably spend at least 5 days in school but only 1 or 2 in church... so of course you would be more familiar with your school friends. All the more reason you need to be at youth REGULARLY. 

School friends are great, keep them by all means; but some of them may not be Christians and cannot help your grow in Christ. Make the effort to connect with more people your age at church! 

 

3. THE MESSAGES ARE MOST LIKELY EASIER TO UNDERSTAND

Have you ever been to the main service and have absolutely no clue as to what the pastor is saying? You are not alone. Most church services are more geared towards adults, it is just the way things are. It defeats the purpose of going to church if you go home learning nothing. 

I am going to safely assume that your youth pastor will at least be a whole lot more understandable, his messages are more applicable and hopefully he is funny as well. But, if you say that the messages in youth are too shallow or you often learn nothing then...

 

4. SERVE! 

Romans 12:11 (NLT)

11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

If you think yourself as more mature than others in the youth group, then you really should consider serving as a leader. We are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and I am guessing as a young person you would not feel comfortable fulfilling this commandment on adults. 

The youth group is a great place for you to develop your gifting and abilities. There is a saying in my church, that TASK = C.A.S.K (Character, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge). Every task that you do whether big or small is an opportunity to grow in C.A.S.K. 

Serve in any capacity that is needed, not in the avenue which you want. Do not only go for positions of "glamour" or serve to get attention, but do it because you love God and want to grow. We should always desire for others to see Jesus and not for others to see us through our service. 

Serving can be done in a variety of ways: setting up the hall, playing in the worship team, leading a small group, welcoming new people, taking care of younger ones in the group, making sure your pastor has water before he preaches... anyone can serve!

 

Hope this clarifies some things, have a blessed week ahead! 

 

Growing A Youth Ministry

What does it take to build a strong youth ministry? Some say it's all about the program: vibrant worship, relevant preaching, cool giveaways, epic games and so forth. The content of your program does matter of course, but it is not the be all and end all. I would suggest that one component is extremely important: Relationship.

Let's put it this way: imagine you were invited to a party in which you had to put up with bad food, poor choice of music and maybe some lame attempts at getting a game going. All these things you will forget and forgive eventually when the party fades into memory, but one thing that might stick longer is: if nobody talked to you at the party.

The horror! Imagine yourself standing in a corner trying to look like you are meant to be there or getting introduced to a bunch of people who do not really seem keen to hang out with you... how awkward! I'm not sure if we realised this, but this often happens to a lot of people who come through our programs and churches. 

Having a cranking program but no follow up can be counterproductive, and the most effective way of making someone come back is to make them feel welcomed. This to be honest, takes a lot of intentionality. When I first took on the youth ministry I am in, the one thing I had to do was drill into my leaders that they needed to break out of their cliques and to start looking out for people. 

So apart from just focusing on getting the worship, the games and the preaching right; make sure you (and your leaders) put extra effort into befriending and connecting with both existing and new people.

One problem that many ministries face is that they can become so comfortable and familiar with the usual regulars that newcomers find it hard to fit in. This too takes intentionality to overcome (I actually forbid my leaders to hang out with their friends during youth, they can do that on their own time). 

We have to remember that people matter more than the programs, and discipleship is most effective when done via relationships. Build a culture in your ministry where people are cherished and celebrated; where everybody who walks through the door feel like they belong - then your ministry will definitely grow!