Radical Discipleship

Recently, while reading the Acts of the Apostles and preparing to teach a class on it, two characters in the book caught my attention – Stephen, the first martyr of the New Testament Church, and the Evangelist Philip (not to be conflated with the Apostle Philip) were not part of the apostolic leadership. Some may even argue that they’re peripheral to the main narrative of the Book of Acts. Yet their significant acts left a deep impact on my heart.

Stephen was described as being full of faith, power, and the Holy Spirit. He did great wonders and signs among the people. The men who opposed him were not able to resist the wisdom and the anointing by which he spoke. They were cut to the heart as Stephen preached, Saul being one of them. As they stoned him, the Lord Jesus stood up to honour the glorious homecoming of His martyr, Stephen.

Philip the Evangelist led a city-wide revival in Samaria. He preached the Gospel with signs and wonders following, the demon-possessed, paralysed, and lame were healed. At the height of that move of the Spirit, he obeyed the voice of the Spirit to go to a desert road where he led the influential Ethiopian eunuch to Christ.

Ethiopian historical records believe that it was this official who brought the Gospel to the nation of Ethiopia. Subsequent to the salvation of the Ethiopian, Philip was translated by the Spirit to Azotus where he preached in every city till he reached Caesarea.

These exploits may be commonplace in the book of the outpouring of the Spirit, but what amazed me was the fact that both Stephen and Philip were first mentioned in Acts 6 when the Church was growing and the widows were being left out in the daily distribution.

The assignment given to them by the apostles was to serve tables! With no disrespect to those who serve tables, I figured a better use of men of such calibre would have been some great missionary endeavour to the nations or in an international evangelistic ministry!

Considering the fact that such powerful men were appointed to a menial task, could it be possible that the level of anointing they walked in was commonplace in the Early Church? Maybe being full of the Spirit, faith and power were the minimum standard for discipleship then! Perhaps those whom we think are radical are simply living the normal Christian life.

It’s not the elite standard, but the minimum that will change the world. Let me state an example that may be more relatable. If Singaporeans believed that the minimum obligation of being a Singapore citizen was to pick up every piece of trash we saw on the streets, help as many people in need as we can, and give way to other road users, this country would look very different.

Often, we think that those who truly change the world are the radical ones, the heroes, and the super Christians, and in so doing we unconsciously believe that we can’t keep up to that standard. When we read the Book of Acts, we see radical acts of God performed through radical people. What if it’s just a picture of the normal everyday lives of faithful believers?

The disciples of Jesus were ordinary folks. They were fishermen, tax collectors, and social outcasts. Yet God used ordinary men like these for His great task of global salvation. The Early Church was of one heart and mind – they met constantly and shared everything. They were a movement of the common people, not a radical few.

How many of us live daily with a burning conviction that we’re to be full of the Spirit, and wisdom and miracles are part of our normal lifestyle? How different will our lives look like if the discipleship we believed to be radical was just normal Christianity? What if the minimum expectation of being a disciple of Jesus is to be filled and directed by the Spirit of God, hear His voice, preach the Gospel with signs and wonders following, and to bring transformation to cities and nations?

The potential to live a ‘radical’ normal Christian life is within every one of us. When we’re afraid that the elementary standard of discipleship will become an unbearable burden, we limit what God can do in our lives. Jesus lived the life we’re supposed to live, the glory that we fell short of. Yet, when we were born again, we were restored to grace and our birthright of a supernatural life.

If we think the ultimate goal of the Christian life is to escape hell and go to heaven, then we’ll be destined to superficial Christianity and miss out on the greatest experiences that Jesus paid the price to bring us into. Leonard Ravenhill said, “Are the things you’re living for worth Christ dying for?”

This Pentecost Weekend, as we honour the Holy Spirit, let’s allow Him to renew our minds and empower us, so that what seemed impossible before will start to look normal. May we inspire one another to live out a new normal Christian life that looks like ‘radical’ discipleship.


Ps. Sng Peh Han

A Mind-Blowing Truth

It seems so easy to gloss over the weightiness of Scriptures because we’ve become so familiar in our Christian walk. I think one Scripture deserves much more attention from all of us.

“To Him Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Rev 1:5-6

With one and half verses and 37 words, John the Revelator postulates something so profound and earth-shaking (I don’t mean to exaggerate here, but I mean it earnestly).
 
Consider the magnitude of what Christ has done for us here:
 
He loved us.
He washed us from our sins.
He washed us with His own blood.
He elevated us to become read more…

Words of Truth

I’ve heard this said, “Don’t mix your words with your mood, you can change your mood but you can’t take back your words.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently complimented our Prime Minister for controlling the Covid-19 situation effectively. It said his words turned out to be meaningful compared to other leaders. Two months after his first speech, we got over some huge bumps in the ‘controlled’ environment.

He communicated the situation to Singaporeans and I don’t think they’ve an easy job manoeuvring through some of the landmines. But what was key was their commitment to communicate, to keep the country in a state of peace and security amid uncertainties.

Our Lord Jesus was a master communicator and people were always amazed at His authority, power, and insights. His words evoked mental and emotional read more…

Caves of Hope

“David… escaped to the cave of Adullam.” 1 Sam 22:1

While you may not necessarily think so at the moment, staying home for a few weeks may not be so bad. Consider 3,000 years ago, David was involuntarily quarantined in a cave called Adullam. Now, a cave is not a very inviting nor desirous habitat. The indoor plumbing is horrendous. Beds are rock hard. Even a 2-watt bulb would be cause for celebration. Your wife will definitely not like the kitchen. And, no Netflix.

Still, if you plan to be there for long, you ought to head over to the stores to pick up a broom, mop, and a few supplies to make your cave a bit more homey. Put a few pictures up on the walls (if you can figure out how!) You shouldn’t have to walk far to read more…

Fulfilling The Great Commission Amidst Covid-19

For the past 10 years, our Couriers short-term missions programme would’ve been launched around this time to send our people out to the nations. Without fail, God always shows up in wondrous ways as they go – thousands are saved, healed, and blessed. Our Couriers volunteers come back rejoicing and transformed!

However, the Great Commission is not just an annual short-term missions programme. If that was our perspective and endpoint of missions, we’d have greatly failed. The Great Commission is Jesus’ final commandment to His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:16-20). Mission opportunities abound around us while we’re homemaking, working, commuting, etc, in Singapore or anywhere in the world. It’s to be our daily mission.

There’s a greater urgency for The Great Commission in the COVID-19 global pandemic. Many people read more…

The Key Is In The ‘Beginning’

If you’re like me during this ‘Circuit Breaker’ lock-in with young children, you start your day early with your morning devotions and emerge full of faith and grace. Then, when the clock strikes 8am, the first giant called ‘Home-Based Learning (HBL)’ is unleashed, followed by the second giant called ‘Work From Home (WFH)’ at 9am.

As the day wears on, these giants often end up fighting each other, competing for the trophy called ‘Wi-Fi connectivity’, with the winner enjoying smooth and seamless video conference calls and online streaming.

If you and your spouse are working, there’ll be this internal struggle within you – “Whose job is more important?”, so that the one with the ‘less important’ job will have to fight that HBL giant and rescue the helpless child. When it’s lunch-time, you think it was just read more…

’Ritardando’* Time

2020 began with a bang for me. On the first day of the New Year, I was caught on camera for speeding and slapped with a hefty fine and demerit points for failing to conform to a red light signal. The traffic light had just turned amber and I had thought I could make it across at my current speed. I was wrong! It wasn’t the happiest way to start the year, but I felt that the Lord was teaching me some precious lessons in preparation for the coming days of peril. 

Slow Down to Stop

For those like me who need a refresher course, amber means slow down and prepare to stop! Period. 

One of the characteristics of modern life is that of ever-increasing speed. Let’s be honest; even during this period of quarantine and enforced rest, it’s still very read more…

Unprecedented

In all my life as a believer, I’ve never seen what I’m witnessing right now – this Covid-19 crisis is certainly setting the Church up for the ‘Return of the King’!

Everywhere in the world, there’s a spiritual awakening. It’s unprecedented. Various ministries are launching major global prayer initiatives, and seers are exploding with incredible visions. I believe this growing crescendo is building up to that one moment where we’ll see the spark light up a massive global revival. Yup, the day we’ve all been speaking about is now here. It has come!
 
For starters, this week we celebrate Passover on Apr 8. It’s epic. For the first time in 2,000 years, Passover 2020 will be celebrated the way they did on the 1st Passover evening in Egypt, in family units. I find this remarkable. In the read more…

Presence & Provision

The Parable of the Prodigal Son comprises three central figures – the father, the prodigal, and the older brother. While a substantial portion of the narrative focused on the prodigal, the title of the parable in fact points to the real target audience rightly being the older brother. After all, the Lord was addressing a complaint from the Pharisees and scribes about the sinful company Jesus was keeping.

I point our attention to Luke15: 31 – the father’s response to the older brother who complained about his once-profligate sibling. The father said, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.”

Let me categorise the reality that escaped the older brother – he had presence and provision without limit. He had the two most highly-prized assets in the household, and yet, neither realised it nor luxuriated read more…

Maturing Through Crisis

This Covid-19 pandemic is like a huge reset button that ‘rudely and forcefully’ interrupted our routined lives; without ample warning and without our consent. It’s heavily featured on every country’s news headlines and dashboards. Suddenly, things that once mattered to us don’t really matter anymore.

Every day, we’re forced to evaluate and decide on what are the truly important priorities in life. Our values & convictions are constantly challenged against this backdrop. And just when you think one wave has subsided, another wave sweeps in. Our National Development Minister Lawrence Wong just said on 25 March 2020 that Singapore is only at the “beginning of a very long fight” against Covid-19.

The fight against Covid-19 is not just a collective battle, but an individual and a personal one. Perhaps the greatest revelation during this crisis – one that has eternal value – is not the medical read more…

Possessing the City Gates

Cities don’t have walls anymore. We don’t have to pass through massive, guarded gates which are impenetrably barred at night, or in times of danger. People come and go at will, bringing with them their wares and cares. There’s no inspection, no questions asked. There may even be a big ‘Welcome’ sign.

We’d have to go back a millennia or more to fully grasp the importance of walls and gates of the city to the people in Biblical times. What was their purpose then, and what’s their relevance to our lives today? If we fail to understand their meaning, we may inadvertently be leaving ourselves vulnerable and defenseless. This is no time to be caught unawares! We need to increase our vigilance, and ensure our gates are secure.

The first mention of possessing the gates of our enemies came as read more…

Thriving Through The Seasons

In 1 Chronicles 12:32 is a description about the sons of Issachar that we’d do well to emulate – they had understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do. We can be swayed by the circumstances and uncertainties of the times we’re living in or we can find answers to these questions ‘What season am I in? What is God doing in my life? How do I respond?’

When we don’t know the season we’re in and what we ought to do, we might wish we’re in someone else’s season, resist what God is doing in our lives or try to get out of His timing. Instead of going through each season victorious, we barely survive because we don’t recognise what the Teacher is trying to teach us. The process of learning and growing can be frustrating read more…

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