What Astonishes And What Transforms

In the Parable of the Sower found in Matt 13: 5-6, Jesus described the seed that fell on stony places this way. He said, “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.”
 
Beware of ministries that spring up overnight without preparation. You’ve never heard of them and all of a sudden, like shooting stars, they’ve huge crowds flocking to their meetings. People are attracted to the razz-ma-tazz. They’re attracted to what glitters. But look at what the Scripture says. These seed fell on stony places, where there was not much earth, and they immediately sprang up, why? Because there was no depth. If you’re going to be established, then it’s going to take time. There are no short cuts to this.
 
We’ve all witnessed the grand fireworks display on National Day. For 10 minutes or so, we’re enthralled by the lights, the colours, the flashes, the sound of the explosions, the smell of gunpowder, mixed with the oohs and the aahs, and the exclamations of admiration and awe. Everything in that 10 minutes is designed to razzle dazzle us, to fill us with wonder. 

Then, as quickly as it started, the show’s over, and the night sky returns to its darkness and silence again. But if you had a chance to walk where the fireworks display actually emanated from, all you’ll find after that dramatic display of pomp and pageantry are ashes, burnt cardboard, fuses, wires, broken fireworks. 10 minutes of glory and then, ashes.
 
How many people start off with a bang – charismatic preachers, lofty speakers, men and women who sing like angels but after the razzle dazzle, they all disappear. From a distance, they amaze their audience, but up close, they tarnish.
 
Benson Idahosa once said it takes about 20 years for a church to enter into the fullness of her destiny. I agree. It takes time to be established and to find out who you are. I think most churches make the mistake of writing their values statement or missional statement within the first two years of their beginnings. That’s not only premature and inaccurate, but it gives the church a false centre and vision. Why? Because you don’t have enough history. You don’t really have any idea who you are or what’s important and what’s not.
 
If you enter a totally dark room with no light, and then light a candle, all of a sudden, the darkness is dispelled. Just a simple light and darkness is overcome. What we need in the Church today is an army of simple candles, tiny flames that will bring about the most powerful changes.

Albert Einstein once said, “Instead of being a successful man, seek to be a man of value. The rest will come naturally.” Don’t focus on what astonishes. Focus on what transforms. Don’t let yourself be impressed by those 10 minute firework displays that leaves everyone gaping with astonishment for a brief moment, and then it’s all soot and ashes after that. Look for something eternal, something deeper, because our call is not to amaze our audience. It’s to seek transformation.
 
Think about it. The greatest event that ever happened on earth was when Jesus died on the Cross. It was the epic battle between heaven and hell. But you don’t see any dramatics, do you? No fireworks, no smoke machines. No fancy stuff. Just a broken man hanging on a bloody Cross and a Father who was grieving in heaven.

The only sound you heard were the screams of people in horror, the sound of an earthquake, the accusations and mocking of those who hated, and the weeping of those who loved him. There was no glamour in His death. There was no beauty that we’d desire Him. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with our grief. But what a difference He made in humanity!

Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong

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