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Posts in Discipleship
Building a Prophetic Culture
 
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Have you ever received prayer and the person started to share about the very things on your mind or the dreams in your heart? Or have you ever received ‘impressions’ about someone’s emotional state or situation as you pray for them? Perhaps, you’ve also had dreams that ended up actually happening in real life. Well, these are some examples of the prophetic.


I believe that the prophetic is not complicated. It’s so simple that even children can move in it! I have activated children as young as 6 years old to do so. When I teach them about the prophetic, I love using the analogy of a postman. The job of a postman is to deliver the letter that he/she has received from the post office to the recipient. Prophecy works in the same way. Our role is to receive words or messages from God and deliver them to people.

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God’s heart for humanity is relationship, and relationship-building requires communication. God wants to communicate with us! One of the main elements in the prophetic is recognising God’s voice. Without hearing His voice first, we cannot receive any message. There’s a difference between learning to ‘hear’ His voice and ‘recognising’ His voice. The ability to hear His voice is already within us. Our job then is to recognise it, just as a newborn learns to recognise the different sounds they hear around them. 


“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
John 15:15

The prophetic is birthed from a place of intimacy with God. Growing in it is about cultivating this friendship. When we pursue His heart, we get to hear His heartbeat for humanity. It is through intimacy that the prophetic can be released with His love.

God does not want to just receive you as children into His kingdom and ignore you by not giving you the ability to hear His voice. God is a good and tender loving Father who loves to speak to His children. We have the privilege to hear His voice daily because of His love. 

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“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” 
1 Cor 14:3

The heart of prophecy is to reveal God’s heart to the person in front of you. It is not about calling down judgement, or a doom and gloom message. The essence of a prophetic word should be edifying, encouraging, and comforting for the people receiving it. The heart of the message must be filled with God’s love and hope. A prophetic word is an encouraging word that always has the element of God’s restoration and redemption in people‘s lives. Encouraging words build people up, while negative words tear people down. 

“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”
1 Cor 14:4

Paul said that when we release prophetic words, the church is being built up. A strong church is not defined by its physical size but rather, it is made up of strong people. When we prophesy over our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are building them up with God’s destiny for them. When a prophetic culture is established, the fruit is an encouraging atmosphere—one where people encounter God’s love through prophetic words. 

Learning to hear from God is a lifelong journey. The truth is that we do make mistakes and hear wrongly along the way. But the main thing is seeking to maintain a heart of purity as we grow in hearing His voice, admitting our mistakes, and moving on. We should not stop prophesying just because we have made some mistakes along the way. A toddler does not stop learning to walk just because he has fallen down a few times. 

The primary goal of the prophetic is not about operating in a gift as much as it is about knowing God’s heart. Growing in this gift is actually growing in hearing His voice on a daily basis. Before you can hear a message (for others), you have to first identify and discern the voice of God in your life. 

He speaks to us all differently. Sometimes, it could be a specific verse from the Bible. Other times, we may get an impression, a vision, or a voice in our spirit. He can also speak to us through dreams. If you can hear God’s voice for yourself, you can most certainly hear God’s voice for others. Don’t disqualify yourself from being used by God to release the message of love that He has for the people around you. Everyone can prophesy!

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Ps Clement Sim, one of AG’s guest writers, graduated from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM, Bethel Church) in Redding, California, and is currently a pastor at Soakability Church, Singapore.

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What Does a Culture of Honour Look Like?
 
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“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”
- Romans 12:10

A Culture of Honour: The Atmosphere of the Greenhouse

Here at Awaken Generation, we often talk about the ‘Greenhouse’ - it is heaven’s ecosystem; the values of the Kingdom that we, as a community of believers, choose to live by that causes us to flourish.

The culture of honour to a person is what soil is to a seed. It is the cornerstone of kingdom culture and a foundational ingredient in the greenhouse that causes every living thing to flourish.  We hear this phrase a lot, but what does it mean?

Simply put, the culture of honour is being able to relate to people according to what God thinks about them.

When we as a Body live with a culture of honour, people will flourish in their God-given destinies and assignments. We are, in a sense, honouring God’s original intention when He created each of us.

A culture of honour sees David as a King and a man after God’s own heart, even though he was a mere shepherd boy, the ‘runt’ of the family, a murderer, and adulterer. A culture of honour sees Gideon as a mighty man of valour called to triumph over his enemies, even though he was hiding out in fear at the threshing floor. A culture of honour sees Joseph as a saviour and a blessing to his family, even though he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. A culture of honour sees Abraham and Sarah as the father and mother of nations, even though they were old in age and had not borne any children. 

These great men and women of God, just like us, have made many mistakes - but to honour God’s original idea was to see them for who they were created to be.

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Humility & Honour

You may be wondering, “What about the many who don’t deserve it? The ones who aren’t honourable at all?”

Honour isn’t based on a person’s character,  whether or not they deserve it. Honour is based on our character - whether we have the humility to give it. In other words, we don’t give honour because someone is honourable, we give honour because WE are honourable.

It is a choice we make to honour others because we understand that everyone was created in the image of God and that each was born with a beautiful purpose in the kingdom to fulfil.  

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How to start building a culture of honour practically

Building a culture of honour may sound daunting, depending on your existing culture, but it’s not complex. Start with the simple act of encouragement and affirmation. This prophetic gift is the framework that edifies the Church.

Encouragement is to a person what helium is to a balloon. Words of encouragement are needed constantly because our thoughts are bombarded with criticism and negativity. All of us need the constant flow of encouragement from the family of Christ to remind us of who we are in Him.

Let’s learn to be generous with our words. Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The words we confess out loud express the beliefs with which we have chosen to partner; speaking it aloud is an expression of agreement with an idea - be it godly or evil. And where there is agreement, there is power and authority.

Let us always remember to champion people, not to remind others of their flaws and mistakes but to affirm & call out their God-given identity in Christ - as we do, we will see the people of God flourish into all God had destined for them since the beginning of time. 

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5 Ways to Value Your Pastor
 
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I have not been a Pastor for very long, just about 3 years. In my 30 years of being a Christian, I’ve been through Sunday School, I attended church as a congregation member and in 2004, I entered ministry to serve alongside my parents. In 2016, I answered God’s call to pastor. I was initially resistant because I saw my own parents minister and pastor for many years and saw the good, the bad and everything in between. Though I had seen God move in miraculous, supernatural ways throughout my life as a minister’s kid, I was also privy to the immense hard work and voluminous hours of pastoral ministry. It took me months of wrestling and questioning before I finally said yes and after almost 3 years, I can honestly say that I won’t trade pastoring for anything. The hard work, the pains of ministry, the tears… they exist; but nothing compares to getting up and serving God and His people every day.


Having said that, statistics show that Pastors aren’t doing very well. In a survey done by expastors.com* of more than 500 pastors in the US, 64% of pastors feel overworked, more than 60% of pastors fight depression and wrestle with anxiety, and a whopping 85% have considered leaving ministry. Although these are American statistics, I don’t think it’s vastly different in first world Singapore. Now that I understand the challenges of pastoral ministry, I would like to share a few things you can do to love and encourage your pastors and show them that you value them.

 

1.     Extend Grace to your pastor

Just having the title of pastor is weighty. Expectations skyrocket the moment people know you are a pastor. Pastors are expected to behave a certain way, speak a certain way, and always always go the extra mile for others. The moment we fall short, the tendency is to judge and criticise. But pastors are humans too and we make mistakes. Like you, we are on our own journeys of becoming more and more like Jesus. So do extend us grace. As we purpose to do the best we can and model Jesus’ life and ministry for you, there will be times we need your good will and support, and times we will need your forgiveness.

 

2.     Trust your pastor

With the widespread use of the internet and stories coming out about errant pastors or ministers, it is easy to be suspicious of those who are hold positions of spiritual authority. But we shouldn’t allow such stories to undermine the trust that is required for the church to thrive. Trust that your pastors spend time seeking the Lord and that they hear from God directly, trust that your pastors are for you and your destiny in Christ, and trust that they are well aware that they are accountable to God for you.

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3.     Honour your pastor by being present

I am a Xennial… (micro-generation born between 1977 and 1985). Growing up, I did not to have a computer in the house and got my first mobile phone in my early 20s. Us Xennials have witnessed how, in just 2 decades, we have become so connected to the world through our devices and social media. The flip side is that we have also become distracted. With access to the world of information literally at our fingertips, it’s been increasingly difficult to be present in church, in meetings, at meals, etc. It can get discouraging to sit across someone who keeps looking at their phone, or see congregation members scroll through Facebook or Instagram while we preach. I believe that if you value someone, you will honour them by being present and hearing what they have to say. Now that I know how much it takes to craft messages and write material, I want to honour the one standing at the pulpit, sharing his/her heart out by being present.

 

4.     Encourage your pastor to rest

In the 2016 survey mentioned above, 70% of pastors indicate that they have experienced burnout. Perhaps this is something that Singaporeans, not just pastors, struggle with. We unconsciously fill our schedules and end up being perpetually busy. Let’s not be ignorant, we ALL need to rest. We need to take time out regularly and allow ourselves to recover, reflect and recalibrate. Pastors need that so that they can be alert and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, healthy and strong so they can do the work of the ministry, and more importantly, be able to last the long haul. So encourage them to rest.

 

5.     Pray for your pastor

Nothing comforts me more than knowing that the pastorate is supported by the prayers of the saints. I have on so many occasions felt the tangible power of prayer of those interceding while I minister. Even the Apostle Paul thanks those praying for him (1 Cor 1:11). So please pray for your pastors in your time of daily prayer. We certainly need it and appreciate it.

 

These can actually be applied to any relationship… marriages, friendships and work relationships. I personally believe that as we purpose to value those around us, we can all be effective for the Lord wherever He calls us.  


*http://www.expastors.com/2016-expastors-pastor-survey/

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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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