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Posts in Discipleship
The Greenhouse Effect: Building Healthy Team Culture
 
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Gossip, backstabbing, politics. Sound familiar? Many of us have experienced these things first-hand, or have even used them to get our way. Despite often being associated with the workplace, in reality they run deep even within our Christian communities.

What would be like if we didn’t have to deal with a negative team culture? Is it even possible, especially when your situation seems bleak? I believe it is.

Greenhouse: The 5 C’s

Recently, AG held a leadership elective about building a healthy team culture. Our Senior Leader Calvin presented to us the ‘greenhouse’ concept. Let’s think about that idea for a bit. Firstly, what is a greenhouse? What does it do? Well, a greenhouse is a structure in which plants are grown and nurtured, especially the ones that require specific conditions to thrive. The temperature, humidity, and many other parameters are controlled so that the plants within it can flourish.

Wouldn’t it be great if our community, ministry, or church had dials and switches with which we could alter its culture? The good news is that there are! However, as with most things in life, using them is not quite as straightforward as flicking a switch. Building anything takes time and effort. How then can you make your community, ministry, and church a greenhouse? Calvin shared about the five C’s that make up a healthy greenhouse: Character, Competency, Chemistry, Culture, and Calling.

I’d like to talk about one of them in more detail - Culture.

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Culture

Many have approached to share how the culture at AG had blessed them. They often share about how different it is to the cultures they had experienced before. Was it by chance? Did the AG culture organically evolve into what it is today? All of here would answer that with a resounding ‘no’!

We believe that core values, when communicated, demonstrated, and enforced, play a vital role in shaping any culture. These are the core values that AG fights to uphold - a passion for the Presence of God, a Culture of Honour, Mentorship & Discipleship, Relationship in Community, and Creativity & Excellence.

These are more than fancy-sounding buzzwords. These are truths that we believe are on God’s heart for the Body, and keys to crafting a new wineskin into which He will pour out more of Himself.

Let’s take a closer look at two of those core values.

A Passion for the Presence of God

Any organisation can plan events, create communities, and build a sense of belonging. But without the presence of God, it would ultimately amount to nothing.

We must be like the Israelites who encamped around His presence - in the form of a cloud - in the wilderness. When the cloud moved, they packed up and followed. When it stopped, they set up camp. We seek to be utterly and completely reliant on His voice to direct us, and His presence that renews and empowers us.

Like Moses, we, too, do not want to go anywhere without His presence. Are you dependent on God no matter where you go? Will you obey willingly as the Lord directs?

A Culture of Honour

To honour someone is to give value to them; to affirm them. It’s not about whether they deserve it or not; we are called to honour because we are people of honour.

We see each person as sacred, made in the image of God Himself, and therefore since Jesus has bestowed so much value to us by dying for us, who are we to do otherwise to our brothers and sisters?

Could we honour and celebrate them for who they are, instead of stumbling over who they’re not? How are we demonstrating love, affirmation, encouragement, and kindness to our brother?

In conclusion...

Calvin elaborated on the four other ‘C’s that would help develop a Kingdom culture within your community. To attain this may sound daunting to some of you, but be encouraged that our God cares about our communities more than even we do, and He always, always empowers those He calls!

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If you or your ministry would like to receive leadership training or find out more, contact us at info@awakengeneration.sg!

 
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Detours & Destiny
 
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By Caleb Kay

27 November 2017: I attended the graduation for Awaken Generation’s Class of 2017 alone as a guest. I was friends with a few members of the staff, had played the drums once or twice with them, but that was it.

I had just landed a new business development job, with hopes of saving up to head to Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry this year in August. It felt like God was opening all these doors; I had all these plans and dreams in my head.

I thought I was stepping into my destiny.

26 January 2018: everything derailed. Towards the end of my 3-month probation, I was unexpectedly let go, and given just three days’ notice of my termination. I was devastated. The entire weekend, I wrestled with my identity and self-worth: “was I really not good enough?”

I wrestled with God: "why did You open doors only to shut them in my face?"

Unbeknownst to me, God was setting things in motion. Just the week before my termination, I had arranged for a lunch with Ian and Calvin, just to catch up, and it was at that lunch that I was offered a short-term position at Awaken Generation.

One year on, as I witnessed our Class of 2018 graduating - now as a full-time staff in Awaken Generation - and thinking about where I was a year ago, I’m truly lost for words at God’s goodness.

Here are three things I’ve learnt on this journey:

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Detours Are For Growth

I remember how I felt when I got the news that I was going to be terminated. I remember my mind going into overdrive, planning how to update my resume and who to send it to.

In the midst of swinging between self-deprecating thoughts and psyching myself up to blast my CV to potential new employers, I suddenly felt a prompting upon my heart to stop and worship. It was so tough and I remember barely getting past a verse and a chorus before choking up.

But then there was a peace - in the midst of all that chaos and turmoil.

I’d like to think that I grew more in the heart of a worshiper in that moment. It was in that eye-of-the-storm moment that I realised what it was like to worship through the pain and to be given a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.

Detours Are For His Glory

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

For a way to appear in the wilderness, and rivers to flow in the desert, we must first take a detour into the wilderness and the desert.

An impossible circumstance is a prerequisite for a miracle to take place.

It was because of this sudden interruption to my life that I could see God’s providence, with a position in Awaken Generation offered to me just a day after my termination.

It’s in the detours that our faith is tested and strengthened; it’s in the detours that our character is refined and purified; it’s in the detours that we are brought to a place of complete, total reliance, so that God can come through for us, and so that we can get through only because of God.

Distraction & Deception

Oftentimes, with detours come distracting, deceptive, and destructive thoughts. I constantly found myself wondering if I could’ve done more to retain my job. I doubted the abilities God had given me and the fact that when God created me, He said, “this one is fearfully and wonderfully made!”

Even joining the AG staff team felt like a detour to my Bethel dream, and there were real doubt and fear: would God be able to provide? Was this the right path?

I’ve since realised that fear is a tool of the enemy, and that fear is not our own; when we step out in obedience, the enemy projects his fear onto us. Our obedience makes the enemy afraid, because it advances God’s kingdom and His purpose in our lives.

In Joshua 1, God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous; it’s not merely an encouragement, but a command, to be obeyed.

Take detours in your stride! Step out with confidence and courage, eyes firmly on the Lord, our God, who is ever with us.

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Detours: The Route Towards Destiny

David was anointed to become king when he was merely a teenager. Little did he know that the path to his eventual destiny as king would be riddled with detours, discouragements, and even danger!

Psalm 27 is one of the most-quoted passages on worship; the entire psalm is penned by David as a declaration of courage, with his security rooted in his desire to seek God and God alone. David was unshakeable in his obedience because he kept an unwavering gaze upon an unchanging God.

Sometimes walking into our destiny may require us to take what might seem to us like a detour.

My season with my previous employer, along with the dramatic and sudden termination, felt like a huge detour (a derailing, even) but what gave me perspective was a realignment of my gaze to Christ.

Perhaps you may be considering taking a year to join Awaken Generation’s year-long programme. Perhaps you’re counting the cost and it may seem like a detour.

But I know that God wastes nothing. He is never too early or late; His timing is always perfect, and even when we think we are too far out on a detour, God still uses those detours to direct us towards our destiny. What keeps us walking steadily is a steady gaze on the Lord.

Whatever battles you are facing, step out with boldness and courage, for the Lord, your God, is with you!

 
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Meditating on the Word
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Interview with Josh Yeoh

What does it mean to meditate on God’s word?

It means to slow down the reading pace, to prayerfully contemplate every word and every phrase, looking for deeper and fuller meanings. Meditation is the art of digging out the most that we can from each and every word.

So often we read the Word as if we’re doing a workout – reading plans, checklists, and such. The art of meditation is what really unlocks the riches of the Word. It means to not take things at face value, but dialoguing with the Lord about it. Each verse or passage is a doorway into encounter with God; it’s an expression of Who God is.

Meditation on the Word is the key to the often-asked question: How do I hear God? The same way He has been speaking since we’ve had the Word of God! It causes us to know Him more and hear Him better. How far or deep should we go?

Why is meditating on and studying the word important in our spiritual walk? Does it practically benefit us?

Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For thenyou will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Every tool for succeeding in life is within His Word.

The Written Word of God is revealed by the Living Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” The source of illumination is the mouth of God. Meditation made me feel like Aladdin entering the cave of wonders; there’s so much more! There’s a difference between looking at a photo of Niagara Falls and actually standing before the roaring waterfall – that’s how it is to read a book that God wrote and commune with the Holy Spirit that inspired it.

There is a cry across the body for intimacy. There can be no intimacy without conversation and communion. If we truly love God, we will love who He is, not who we think He is. If we only love the idea of a God that we create in our minds, it’s at best, fantasy, and at worst, idolatry! Meditating and studying the Word is a way of conversing with God - with the ultimate goal of knowing God - is the doorway into such intimacy.

Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Meditating on the Word is how we slowly transform our ‘inner well’, so that we are depositing ‘good treasure’; so that what comes out in our speech, thoughts, and behaviour is Christ-like.

Proverbs 16:26 says, “A worker's appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” We labour because of hunger. Similarly, as we meditate more and go deeper, we get addicted; hungry for more revelation!

How should we do it? Are there any action steps we can use?

Have a sheet of paper or journal where you write your meditations. Also, have a column or separate piece of paper. Your mind will likely wander to other things, such as to-do’s. This separate section is where you pen down all your stray thoughts, so that you can push it out of your mind for the moment without the additional thought-traffic. You can then proceed with a clear mind.

You may combine pray-reading the Word with meditating on the word. Theology must lead to doxology. The study of God must lead to the worship of God. Here are some practical handles you may find useful:

  • Write down one or two verses that you will be focusing on.

  • Slow the pace way down. As you read, meditate on each word or phrase. For example, in ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!’ (Psalm 84:1), take time to meditate on ‘how lovely’. Why ‘lovely’, not ‘awesome’? God is intentional with His word choices. There are so many layers of what He wants to reveal. Where is His ‘dwelling place’? How do we get there? Think of it as sitting down with your favourite author over a coffee, and asking them about their inspiration for this or that character, or idea.

  • Study the word / phrase:

    • Context: verses that precede and follow. David Pawson said: “A text out of context is a pretext.” We sometimes apply a verse out of context and it becomes false or inaccurate. Look for what’s before and after, in that book.

    • Look up word meanings; translations; lexicons at BibleHub.com or apps such as Blue Letter Bible. There are sometimes layers we miss.

    • Cross-reference it with word studies online.

    • Where there’s repetition, ask: What is its meaning? Why is it there?

    • Symbolism: What do they represent? Any deeper spiritual meanings?

    • Speak, pray, and sing the scriptures back to the Lord.

    • Do it in the context of Worship.

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Meditating on the Word

Interview with Josh Yeoh

What does it mean to meditate on God’s word?

It means to slow down the reading pace, to prayerfully contemplate every word and every phrase, looking for deeper and fuller meanings. Meditation is the art of digging out the most that we can from each and every word.

So often we read the Word as if we’re doing a workout – reading plans, checklists, and such. The art of meditation is what really unlocks the riches of the Word. It means to not take things at face value, but dialoguing with the Lord about it. Each verse or passage is a doorway into encounter with God; it’s an expression of Who God is.

Meditation on the Word is the key to the often-asked question: How do I hear God? The same way He has been speaking since we’ve had the Word of God! It causes us to know Him more and hear Him better. How far or deep should we go?

 

Why is meditating on and studying the word important in our spiritual walk? Does it practically benefit us?

Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Every tool for succeeding in life is within His Word.

The Written Word of God is revealed by the Living Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” The source of illumination is the mouth of God. Meditation made me feel like Aladdin entering the cave of wonders; there’s so much more! There’s a difference between looking at a photo of Niagara Falls and actually standing before the roaring waterfall – that’s how it is to read a book that God wrote and commune with the Holy Spirit that inspired it.

There is a cry across the body for intimacy. There can be no intimacy without conversation and communion. If we truly love God, we will love who He is, not who we think He is. If we only love the idea of a God that we create in our minds, it’s at best, fantasy, and at worst, idolatry! Meditating and studying the Word is a way of conversing with God - with the ultimate goal of knowing God - is the doorway into such intimacy.

Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Meditating on the Word is how we slowly transform our ‘inner well’, so that we are depositing ‘good treasure’; so that what comes out in our speech, thoughts, and behaviour is Christ-like.

Proverbs 16:26 says, “A worker's appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” We labour because of hunger. Similarly, as we meditate more and go deeper, we get addicted; hungry for more revelation!

 

How should we do it? Are there any action steps we can use?

Have a sheet of paper or journal where you write your meditations. Also, have a column or separate piece of paper. Your mind will likely wander to other things, such as to-do’s. This separate section is where you pen down all your stray thoughts, so that you can push it out of your mind for the moment without the additional thought-traffic. You can then proceed with a clear mind.

You may combine pray-reading the Word with meditating on the word. Theology must lead to doxology. The study of God must lead to the worship of God. Here are some practical handles you may find useful:

  • Write down one or two verses that you will be focusing on.
  • Slow the pace way down. As you read, meditate on each word or phrase. For example, in ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!’ (Psalm 84:1), take time to meditate on ‘how lovely’. Why ‘lovely’, not ‘awesome’? God is intentional with His word choices. There are so many layers of what He wants to reveal. Where is His ‘dwelling place’? How do we get there? Think of it as sitting down with your favourite author over a coffee, and asking them about their inspiration for this or that character, or idea.
  • Study the word / phrase:
    • Context: verses that precede and follow. David Pawson said: “A text out of context is a pretext.” We sometimes apply a verse out of context and it becomes false or inaccurate. Look for what’s before and after, in that book.
    • Look up word meanings; translations; lexicons at BibleHub.com or apps such as Blue Letter Bible. There are sometimes layers we miss.
    • Cross-reference it with word studies online.
    • Where there’s repetition, ask: What is its meaning? Why is it there?
    • Symbolism: What do they represent? Any deeper spiritual meanings?
  • Speak, pray, and sing the scriptures back to the Lord.
  • Do it in the context of Worship.
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Spiritual Family: What Does It Look Like?

by Calvin Hong & Shawn Wong

From the beginning of humanity, God showed that His design of Family was something special. He thoroughly enjoyed the company of Adam and Eve and they enjoyed His presence. There was no shame, nothing to hide, and in fact, were without clothes! They were completely vulnerable.

But because of sin, a separation occurred. The natural instinct of Man since then has been to cover ourselves up; to protect and defend ourselves. However, in God’s original design of Family, there was no need to be ashamed of anything - because He is a God of covering.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it was because they chose not to trust God when He instructed them to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Instead, they chose to listen to another voice. They did not believe that God did not mean them harm, nor that He knows and wants the best for them. They didn’t have a Family mindset.

But God fights for Family.  He could have chosen to wash His hands off of humanity and restart creation. But ‘He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.’ (Phil 1:6) In order for sin to not have a hold on mankind, the spilling of the blood of an animal was required as atonement. He then spilled the blood of His Son Jesus to permanently reconcile all of humanity to Himself. He is a God who covers. He calls us Family, and He values Family.

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We all need a spiritual family - a community of people who genuinely love and care for us, who point out the veggie leaves in our teeth (literally and figuratively), and who are unafraid to say what’s needed to see us step into our destinies. Here are 4 truths about building healthy relationships within a culture of family that I learnt from my friend, Victoria Jeffs from Day2 International. These points sum up how we can relate to each other in a healthy way and display God’s original idea of Family to our brothers and sisters in Christ:

  1. “I mean you no harm.” It means you only have good intentions for your family members – to see them prosper and succeed. It means wanting to bless them and to be a key part of a their lives. When they’re convinced of this, they become more honest and vulnerable, and more willing to allow you a place of influence in their lives.
  2. “What matters to you matters to me.” There are important things that we are all after. Ask yourself: How can I as a family member help guide and build you so you can fulfil your purposes and dreams? Each of us has different needs. However, though we try to do what’s humanly possible for them, we don’t try to become the Holy Spirit - for it is God who actually makes the change and transformation in their lives.

  3. “I only want what’s best for you.” It means seeing the gold in someone, instead of stumbling over their shortcomings. It’s about looking out for each other. There’s no competition within Family - it’s about helping each other climb our ladders, to be the best that we can be.

  4. “It must pass the test of seasons.” How can we build a relationship with someone unless we’re willing to spend time with them, be vulnerable, or willing to invest in them? Doing all that takes time, patience, understanding, and grace. Seasons involve ups and downs, and Family lasts regardless of them.

We all make mistakes. That’s why God in His grace covers our lack. Likewise, that’s the example we must follow. Let’s all ask: Do we cover each other despite our failings, or do we openly reprimand and shame? Do we pray for each other, or cast judgmental looks and express disgust in subtle ways? May we grow in love and be living testimonies who rightly display God’s original design of Family.

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Many thanks to Day2 International for the 4 Truths. Do visit their website at www.findyourday2.org!

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