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Posts in Ministry
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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Why Israel?
 

AG’s story of being grafted into God’s greater storyline

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“Did you know that Israel is one of the most unreached people groups of the earth?” We were having lunch with Samuel Whitefield (IHOPKC and OneKing Ministries) and I remember this question and fact confounding the predispositions in my mind and piercing my heart all at the same time. ‘But isn’t this the place where Jesus walked? Surely there should be many followers of Jesus? But aren’t there so many Christian pilgrims who go there every year? Do you mean Israel, God’s own people, do not have the gospel?’ The disparity between my assumptions and reality was much too confronting to simply forget. 


To be honest, Israel - or the Middle East - was not a location that had remotely crossed my mind as a region Awaken Generation would have a role to play in. But sometimes, God grafts us into a storyline much greater than what we could dream or imagine for ourselves. Being invited to understand the redemptive story of God reconciling His family in the nations (including Israel) back to Him has astounded and provoked me greatly in my worship of Him as King Jesus. 


The reason why as believers we should have an interest in Israel is simply because the Father does. He is a promise-keeper, and the promises that He made to Abraham and the Israelites still stands today and will be fulfilled according to His righteousness. It is absolutely stunning that as gentiles in the nations, we have a role in seeing Israel receive Jesus as her salvation. 

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The Story of Obed-Edom 

Two days before the AG team made our way to Israel, we gathered for our usual Monday devotions. We did not expect the Lord to crash into our meeting the way He did. As His presence gripped our hearts, the word that was released was ‘Obed-Edom’ (2 Samuel 6). We began to study the story of a gentile who hosted the ark of the covenant at his home till his whole household prospered - it was this man’s profound revelation in hosting the presence of God that provoked King David to bring the ark of the covenant back to the heart of Jerusalem and ultimately set up a worship ministry that consisted of singers and musicians ministering to the presence of God. What was most interesting was the fact that Obed-Edom, as a gentile, was assigned and appointed to be a part of the worship ministry in Israel - what a privilege and honour! We believe this a beautiful prophetic picture of the role the gentile nations have in provoking Israel to yearn for its rightful inheritance in King Jesus.

One of the highlights of our trip was actually spending some time at Obed-Edom’s house! It is currently a church that is looked after by a company of nuns from the Philippines.

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Dor Haba Worship Camp 

It’s easy to feel removed from the conflict that is rife in the Middle East, especially when we are halfway around the world. So to be right in the land itself with young people of Jewish, Arab, and Palestinian backgrounds all in one camp, being able to teach on worship and help them unlock the song of the Lord in Hebrew and Arabic was such an eye-opener. I believe prayer and intercession is so powerful and needed over this nation, but there’s something so exceedingly special about being able to have real conversations and form real friendships with the people of the land. 

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We realise that there may never be a political solution for peace, but yet it is only through Jesus that reconciliation can happen and there can be true peace (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We had the privilege of witnessing this on the last day of worship camp. The tension between the two people groups were very real, you could see it carried by the kids who have learnt hostility, hurt, and offense from the generations before them. But on the last day as we invited the kids from Bethlehem to be prayed over, the presence of Jesus filled the room, and great weeping, forgiveness, and reconciliation took place as the nations gathered to pray, prophesy, and call out destiny in them.

It was such a beautiful picture of God’s heart for the nations, that His heart is really for family - for every tribe and tongue to be adopted back into the family of God. I love that none of us miss out on this, not one; we are all welcome to the family of God. 

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Worship Night in Jerusalem 

The picture above is why I so believe in the power of worship in hosting the presence of God and bringing forth salvation. This is Kelly - she is Jewish and was born and grew up in Jerusalem. Kelly encountered the love and presence of Yeshua last year at the worship night in Jerusalem and subsequently went on a journey in discovering the Holy Spirit and giving her life to Him! At this year’s worship night, she testified of how the Holy Spirit completely changed and transformed her life and prayed in Hebrew over her nation. To see her dance and worship with lifted hands in adoration of Jesus filled my heart with immense praise and thanksgiving to a God who would use the gentiles of the earth to bless Israel with the gospel of salvation. 

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I leave you with words from Psalm 122, a chorus that we sang so often over Jerusalem. We pray that the Lord will grip your heart with the beautiful redemptive story our Father is writing over the nations and over Israel - will you respond to His invitation? 

“We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, 
Peace be in your walls and security in your towers, 
For my companion’s sake, 
We say peace be to you…”

(spontaneous chorus by Jaye Thomas) 

For more resources to understand God’s heart for Israel, click here to check out: ‘It Must Be Finished’ and ‘Israel and the Great Commission’ by Samuel Whitefield.

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"Help! I did not expect ministry to look like this!"
 
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When I was asked by the team to write this blog, that was my exact thought: “Help! I did not expect ministry to look like this!”

But first...

Disclaimer: I don’t profess to know the whole works, and experiences definitely vary between individuals. I find it terribly challenging to pen these thoughts down as I still consider myself fairly young in ministry, compared to the many who have given their lives to serving God (who are way more qualified to write this), but I hope what I’m about to share from what I’ve learnt during my time in full-time ministry would bless some of you who are praying about or are in it.

Being Real

Full-time ministry was not something I considered going into while growing up. Having known family and friends in ministry, it never looked easy (or fun!). Audio was a growing passion and fast becoming something I could see myself doing for many many years. I’m not sure when it happened that I started desiring to use the things I’ve learnt to serve full-time in a church or ministry, but when I ORD-ed (left the army), I sent out my resume to various churches. I was eventually ‘picked up’ by “Oops!Asia” and that was my entry into full-time ministry.

June this year would mark my 9th year in ministry. Were these 9 years as I expected when I first stepped in? Definitely not.

I’ve heard people ‘glamourise’ full-time ministry:

“Wow! You get to serve God full-time! It must be fun.”

Great, and mostly true, but they only paint the side of the picture the public sees. The common reality is usually one that involves wearing multiple hats and handling multiple responsibilities, and no, not all of it is “glamorous”.

Not every organisation or church is able to hire extensively and fill every role and need. For example, here at Awaken Generation, all full-time staff do dual roles - one on the ministry front, and one on the organisational front. I handle all things Sound related, including teaching and running a stream, and I also manage the facility and logistics (making sure there is an adequate supply of drinking water and toilet paper).

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“Wow! You get to do music full-time! Such a good life.”

Other ‘realities’ and challenges I faced are with time and finances. There are busy periods and then there are waves-crashing-on-all-sides-thunder-lightning-hurricanes-perfect-storm seasons.

A friend once joked that in ministry, there is no full-time or part-time, only over-time. And we (have to) learn to ride the waves and the seasons.

Finances are challenging for me as well. This would almost always be challenging especially for those starting out, but it is also a journey of recognising God as the Provider. Is this the best-paying job? No, but it definitely is worth it. Our “yes” to God should not be laden with conditions and ideal situations. If He calls, He will enable.

“It must be easy working in a church, everyone’s a Christian.”

And yes, while everyone is (probably) a Christian, everyone is also a human being with flaws and weaknesses, on their own journeys, learning to manage their own struggles, occasionally celebrating victories, sometimes losing the plot a little, still having bad days amidst other good ones, and overall basically, still human. I hope you get my point?

 

The Reward is Better than the Sacrifice

A group of leaders visited Bethel Church in Redding and got to spend some time with the Bethel leadership team. During a Q&A session with Ps Bill Johnson, he was asked how they did it - travelling for long periods of time, long hours, late nights, and all while having kids and thriving families. Bill Johnson’s answer was that they would tell their children all the time that the reward is better than the sacrifice.

That statement stuck with me. Every one of us needs to remind ourselves that the reward is better than the sacrifice. And the reward can mean many things and come in many forms.

The reward of souls saved.
The reward of lives transformed.
The reward that awaits us in eternity.

And I believe very much as well, in the reward of God’s Presence and Hand on our lives. My pastor shared recently that the Levites (full-time temple workers) were not allocated a plot of land as their inheritance. Instead, God would be their inheritance; God Himself was their portion.

The Call of God

My last point is this, what is God’s call for you? Full-time ministry today doesn’t just mean working in a church or a Christian organisation, it doesn’t mean getting paid to do ‘Christian work’. I strongly believe that full-time ministry can and must look like each of us picking up the mantle to ‘go and make disciples’ wherever we are called to.

What is the posture of our hearts?

"Help, I did not expect ministry to look like this!"

‘Ministry’ here can refer to a whole array of activities, people groups, job scopes, and so on. When we say ‘yes’, let’s not enter each season with an expectation of the experience and outcome, but rather be expectant that wherever the Lord calls us to, there He will be, and where He is, He is enough.

June this year would mark my 9th year in ministry. Were these 9 years as expected when I first stepped in? Definitely not - they superseded any expectations I thought I had.

 
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