Thursday, November 22, 2007

Poetry In Motion - Rev. Dr. A.R. Bernard

Your life is an ongoing poem written by the hands of God... unique, beautiful and a testament of His infinite greatness. Recognize the vaue of your life in Christ Jesus and fully embrace all that he has called you to be!

In Mark 4, Jesus taught the parable of the sower, which illustrates four different types of soil in reference to the four heart conditions of man. Subsequently, His disciples asked Him to explain it and Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” From here, we can see that this particular parable is critical because it sets our minds to understand the parabolic form of God’s teaching and communication towards us.After the parable was explained, Jesus said to His disciples, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear ” (Mark 4:21-23).

Next, He gave them a very critical instruction: “Take heed what you hear” (v. 24). In another translation, it reads, “Take care how you listen.” So the important thing is not just the content of what you are listening to, it is also how you are processing the information that is given to you.
He went on to say, “With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.” What was He talking about? Well, a measure is simply a value. Basically, Jesus was saying whatever value you place on what you hear will determine its power, influence and impact on your life.

Now this explains how we can have thousands of people come to a service, sit next to one another, listen to the Word of God together and have the Word evidently influence and impact one person, while not work at all in the life of another that may be sitting right beside him.
It all depends on the value we place on what we hear.


The Word of God is powerful. His Word is like a seed that can come into our lives, germinate and produce a great harvest. But the Word will not work in our lives if we do not place a proper value on that Word.

The book of Hebrews says that the word that was given to Israel did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith. There must be the giving of the Word, but equally important is your response to the Word. Do not think that just because you come and sit in an atmosphere that is charged with the presence of God and where the Word is powerfully delivered, that all of a sudden your life is going to be changed magically. No! It all depends on how you respond to what you are hearing.

Whatever gets your attention gets you. Every time we hear something, we put it on a mental scale and give it a value. On a scale of one to ten, if we give only a “one” to a particular message, it will have very little influence on our lives. If the value given is a “ten,” the influence will be significantly larger.

That happens even in interpersonal communication. If a total stranger calls you a name that is out of character, you may get a little bothered or insulted by it, but the effect on you would be minimal. However, if someone you love and trust passes a derogatory remark about you, it hurts much more. Why? Because the relationship that exists between you and that person increases the value of his word.


The need for resolution of the identity crisis is common to all human beings. We all struggle to determine “Who am I?” And along with that we ask, “Why am I here?”, “What is my purpose?” and “How do I make sense of all that is happening around me?”
The first question is critical because if you do not resolve it, you cannot accurately understand how to resolve all the other questions that follow.

There are people who do extreme things trying to discover who they are. We have a barrage of influences coming from television, celebrities, movies and many other places that constantly compete for our attention. Our young people are exposed to these images and if they do not clearly know who they are, they will keep “switching identities” in emulation of these influences.
Discovering our identity is a tough challenge and everybody goes through it. We have people in jail for doing crazy things because they are trying to discover who they are. Not only individually but whole corporations, churches, large entities and groupings of people go through the process of trying to discover “Who am I?”

Why is an accurate knowledge of your God-given identity such an important thing? Because out of your identity comes your sense of value and self-worth. Low self-esteem exists when you do not value who you are. And if you do not value who you are, you tend to want to be someone else.

The Bible says that all things were created by Him and for Him. So if you were created for Him, then you can only understand your unique purpose and your sense of worth and value when you are in association with Him. Apart from God, you cannot fully understand and appreciate your value or your purpose in life. So if we are just trying to use our talents and abilities to make money and satisfy ourselves, we will never be truly fulfilled. There is a hole in your life that only God can fill. The devil will offer you drugs, power, money, prestige, fame and everything else to try to fill that hole, but the only one who can satisfy that need is God.The devil often comes to attack your self-esteem. Why? To reduce your value in your own mind. You may be of priceless value in the kingdom of God, but if you don ’t know your true value, you will end up wasting your life away instead.

Do you know how many people cheapen this wonderful image of God, diminish its value, and depreciate it? When you don ’t value something, you won’t do anything productive with it. You won’t do anything with your life and future if you don’t value it. But the truth remains that you are valuable to God. You are His poem—the expression of His glory. He has gifted you uniquely, wired you and designed you to present you as a beautiful creation to be appreciated by the world.

Don’t let anyone rob you of your value to God. Don’t let anyone depreciate you and diminish the importance of your life to human society. The self-worth that you discover in Him is the firm foundation upon which you build your life. Your greatest value in life is your value to God!
You can know for a fact that people will never value you the way God does. Why? This is because the value that people place on you tends to be emotionally driven. If they are happy with you, you are wonderful and you are of great value to them. However, if they are upset with you, your value will change; it will drop. So it is important not to make the mistake of trying to draw our self-esteem and sense of value from other people. The end result would only be hurt and disappointment. It is important and wonderful for us to encourage and to give value to one another. But the reality is that the only One that can give you a consistent sense of worth and value is God.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Releasing The Promises of God By Breaking The Night Terror - Ps Kong Hee

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."
Prov. 13:12

Very often, well-meaning Christians hear the preaching of the Word and they are promised, "that God will fulfil our dreams and visions ... that God will grant us the desires of our hearts."

Yet how many of us have promises that we are standing on, that are yet to be fulfilled?When promises for our lives are not fulfilled, we can become easily discouraged. We also become susceptible to the devil's attacks and may start to doubt God's love and faithfulness toward us.

Too often I have see many discouraged ones grow to despise the Word of the Lord in their lives because of unfulfilled promises, becoming hardened, cynical, negative and full of unbelief.

When I was growing up as a young man in church during the 1980's, I had many friends who were just like me. We had a call, a destiny. We were on fire. Many of us attended Bible colleges and night classes to study more of God's Word.

We all had promises and powerful prophecies given to us. Some of us were prophesied to be evangelists, prophets and have great ministries for the Lord! But time past ... and the promises were not fulfilled.

Some of my peers eventually walked out of God's will for their lives, while others ended up on the sideline watching Christianity as spectators.

Just how did I get through that period of discouragement and wait out the fulfillment of God's promises in my life? How do we get the promises of God released into our lives?


You know, Abraham spent a great part of His life waiting for his promises to be fulfilled."Now the Lord had said to Abram:

"Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you." Gen. 12:1

"So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him ... And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran." Gen. 12:4

Bible scholars tell us that this was not the first time that God called him out. Apparently, the first time God spoke to Abram was 25 years earlier.

Now, what exactly did God promise him? If you will read in verses 2 and 3, you will see that there are exactly 7 promises given to Abram. But most of these promises were not fulfilled immediately.

You see, to become a great nation, you've first got to have many descendants. But how can you talk about descendants when you don't even have a son?

Abraham didn't have his son Isaac until he was 100 years old! God's promise to give him a son took 25-50 years to come to pass!


While the promise of a son took a long time to come to pass, the promise of prosperity was very quickly fulfilled in Abraham's life!

The truth is, prosperity and financial miracles occur most frequently. Yet, the devil deceives us into thinking that it is rare for God to work financial miracles. Just look at the next few verses:

"Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold." Gen. 13:1-2

"Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together." Gen. 13:6

Friends, here is something about prosperity that we don't realize. It doesn't take a lot of faith to enter into prosperity. The money that we put into our offering bucket ... God calls it a seed. The Bible says that when you sow a seed, you'll reap a harvest.

Now, do you think a farmer must be a great man of faith to harvest a crop? No! The power of reproduction is in the seed. If you take a good seed and sow it into good ground ... whether you have faith or not ... it will grow into a harvest!

It doesn't take nearly as much faith as a lot of people think. What does it take to have prosperity in the Lord? It basically takes obedience to His Word!

God says, "Give, and it will be given to you!" The moment that financial seed goes into the ground, there is power in that seed to do the rest of the work. You don't need faith in that seed, you just need faith in the Word!

Entering into prosperity is not difficult: it just takes simple OBEDIENCE to God's Word.Pay your tithe faithfully, give your offerings generously, don't make it a habit to get into debt, keep your life in order. If you observe the Laws of the Harvest, you WILL get a big harvest!While God's promise of prosperity was fulfilled in Abraham's life, the rest of the promises did not come to pass.


There are certain promises that all of hell will rise up to stop from being fulfilled. And one of that is the promise of a great nation that will bless the whole world. All of hell rose to fight that one!Then all of a sudden, 3 simple things happened in Abraham's life. And when Abraham responded correctly to these 3 things ... the dam of hindrance was broken and all the promises of God came flooding into his life!

"After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." Gen. 15:1

Abraham had come to a point where he felt like giving up ...

"But Abram said, "Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" Gen. 15:2-3

If you cannot see it, you will never have it. You can have stacks and stacks of prophecies given to you, but until you can see your vision through the eyes of your spirit ... it will never come to pass!Now, without a vision the people perish. The devil will do his utmost to stop you from seeing the fulfillment of your promise.

The Power of Focus - Ps Kong Hee

A double-minded person constantly swings between conflicting choices in his life, achieving nothing but confusion and disarray. Discover the power of focus and let God's creative glory bring energy and power to all you do.

As a young boy, I loved scouting. I was enthralled when using my magnifying glass. Often I would focus sunlight through my magnifying glass on a matchstick, or a bunch of leaves, to see how long it would take to start a small fire. (My mother would become very upset with me for playing with fire!) I did learn something as a little boy: Focused light has tremendous power! On the other hand, diffused light, or scattered light, has very little power. Noted pastor-philosopher, Rev. Dr. A.R. Bernard, defines focus as "the center-point of attention."

In Luke 11:34 (KJV), Jesus teaches, "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness." By talking about the need for singleness of vision, Jesus was advocating the power of focus. When you are single-minded, you are focused. When you are double-minded, you are constantly vacillating between two opinions. Double-mindedness will make you a very unstable person (James 1:7-8). But through mental and intellectual focus, the glory of creativity will be released inside of you.


Take the sun for instance. The sun is a powerful source of energy. Every hour, the sun washes the earth with billions of kilowatts of energy. The temperature of the outer, visible part of the sun is nearly 5,500 degrees Celsius. With some sunblock lotion, you can easily sunbathe for one to two hours without any problem.On the other hand, a laser is a relatively weaker source of energy. A laser takes a few watts of energy and focuses them into a coherent stream of light. Yet, with laser energy, you can drill a hole into a diamond, cut through steel beams, or wipe out cancer in a human body. In fact, you can focus that little laser energy into temperatures that exceed 5,500 degrees Celsius—hotter than the surface of the sun! Focused light has tremendous power!

As such, what Jesus teaches about focus is very important to us all. Why? Jesus answers, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:14, 16).

Focus can bring energy and power to whatever you do. Churches with focus have greater impact in a city than unfocused churches. The future of your business or career depends on the focus you put into it. Remember the old adage: If you are a Jack of all trades, you become a master of none!


One of the greatest illustrations of the power of focus is the "Great Cola War" between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola. In the mid-1980s, the market shares of Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola were about even.Pepsi then started buying Frito-Lay—the maker of "

Lay's Potato Chips"—the world's largest snack food company. Pepsi then bought Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC, which were the world's largest pizza, Mexican and chicken fast food chains respectively. In addition to that, Pepsi also owns Hot n' Now, Chevys, Californian Pizza Kitchen, DÌAngelo Sandwich Shop, and East Side Mario's. Altogether Pepsi owns 24,000 restaurants, making it the largest restaurant owner in the world. In comparison, McDonald's has only 14,000 restaurants.

In the drink's department, Pepsi owns Pepsi Cola, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Pepsi XL, Mountain Dew, 7-Up, Slice, All Sport, and even Lipton Tea. And just for kicks, Pepsi also sells Russian vodka in the US.When you look at the parent company PepsiCo, it is very impressive. It has a much bigger spread than Coca-Cola. After all, Coca-Cola is only a beverage company, period. But while PepsiCo is worth US$44 billion, Coca-Cola is worth twice as much at US$93 billion. Per dollar of sales, Coca-Cola is worth almost four times as much as PepsiCo!Pepsi's philosophy is to be all over the world as quickly as possible. Coca-Cola has a simpler, more focused mission: To be number one in America. First, America, and only then, the whole world. That is the power of focus.Let us look at another comparison. While Pepsi owns 24,000 restaurants, McDonald's only owns 14,000 restaurants. But Pepsi's restaurants make only US$400 million in annual profit, whereas McDonald's restaurants make US$1.1 billion in annual profit. The 24,000 restaurants that Pepsi owns have an estimated combined value of US$10 billion. In comparison, the 14,000 restaurants that McDonald's owns are worth US$31 billion. The smaller, more focused company is worth three times as much as the larger, less focused company.


Success is all about focus. Your vision is what you focus on; vision is what you see. Focus a camera on a flower and shoot. The emerging picture will not be a tree. Your vision must be a picture of what you choose to focus on. You will not experience success in life if you focus on anything other than the source of Life—Jesus Christ. No wonder the great apostle Paul says,

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14)

Paul took all the energy he could muster to focus on the purpose God had put in front of him.

When you read about our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels, you will find that He was the most focused person in the world. He was always focusing on His Father's work. There was never a day that went by where Jesus was idling or getting distracted. Even at the tender age of 12, Jesus was already about His "Father's business" (Luke 2:49). Jesus never did or said anything that wasn't first initiated by His Father.In Luke 9:51-53, we read that Jesus was so focused in what He needed to do—going to Jerusalem, going to Calvary, going to the cross—that He could not be distracted. Three times in that passage, the Scripture describes that Jesus was so resolute, the intensity of His focus was evident all over "His face" and posture. He was 100 percent single-minded to be the Savior of the world.

Jesus ran His entire life according to God's purpose for Him. He fully concentrated on His life assignment. While He healed all who came to Him, He didn't heal every sick person in the places He visited. While He delivered the oppressed who came to Him, He didn't cast out every demon in every town.When He was at the pool of Bethesda, there was a great multitude of sick, blind, lame and paralyzed. Jesus only healed one man who had an infirmity for 38 years. Only one! Why didn't He heal the rest at the pool? Because it was not His heavenly Father's assignment for Him that day.

Countless times when Jesus went up to the Jerusalem temple to pray, He would have passed by a lame man by the Gate Beautiful. But not once did He stop to heal him. Why not? Because again, it was not God's assignment for Him. It was a task meant later on for Peter and John after the Day of Pentecost. As far as Jesus was concerned, He had to stay completely focused on His purpose.

Salt And Light - Ps Kong Hee

Recently, Dr. A.R. Bernard paid a long overdue visit to our church. In one of his sessions, he shared about the Church as the prophetic voice to its contemporary generation. To be that prophetic voice, there are two possible models we Christians could choose to adopt: (1) an antagonistic model where we cry out judgment, sparing no one in that process, or (2) a non-antagonistic model, much like the ones Joseph and Daniel had adopted in their lifetime.

Many of us long to be the prophetic voice of the Lord, but where from? We could speak prophetically from within the safety of the four walls of the church, shouting and yelling out slogans, preaching to the choir on most weekends. Or, we could proclaim our oracles in the "wilderness" of the world where we have to engage the culture of an unbelieving, godless generation.


Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite scripture for many of us in the Charismatic-Faith circles. It says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." We quote, confess, preach and teach on this verse time and time again. We love the promise it contains because it helps us to anticipate the future with faith instead of facing it with fear and apprehension.

But have you ever wondered what the context of Jeremiah 29 is? It was a promise given to Israel when they were in captivity in Babylon (29:4). The empire of Babylon was the most idolatrous regime in the ancient world, with thousands of gods that its citizens worshiped and revered. As such, Babylon is a symbol of everything pagan and occult. And it was precisely in that setting of a worldly and ungodly culture that God was telling His people: "I have great plans for all of you!"

In the midst of a godless people, God exhorted His people to thrive and prosper. They were to put their roots down—build houses and dwell in them, establish businesses and profit from them (29:5). They were to assimilate themselves fully into Babylon by raising their families there; to increase and not diminish in their presence and contribution to that society (29:6). They were not to be antagonistic as a community but to seek the peace and prosperity of the world God had placed them in, because if their city prospered, they too would prosper (29:7).

It is within the context of one actively engaging the world and its culture that God promises: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (29:11). And this concept of not shying from the world is a consistent theme throughout the Word of God. After all, didn't the psalmist say that it is in the presence of our "enemies" that God would anoint, elevate and prosper us (Ps. 23:5)?

Thus, Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise for the people of God who are living in this present world. Our greatest value to God is right here on this earth, not when we get to heaven. In fact, when you think about it, heaven is just a temporary holding place for us before we get back to rule and reign with Christ when He returns in glory and power.

All throughout the Scripture, the likes of Joseph, Daniel and Esther had adopted a non-antagonistic stance toward the world. That was because they understood the basic principle that relationship precedes ministry. In their interface with the world, the central issue is one on trust. That is still true today: Do non-Christians in the world trust you enough for you to speak into their lives?


Dr. Bernard introduced the three Greek words for "world." The first can be found in Matthew 13:22 where Jesus talks about "the cares of this world (aion)." Aion refers to a period of time, or a generation, in human history.

The second can be found in Matthew 24:14 where Jesus says, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world (oikuomene) as a witness to all the nations." Oikuomene means land, territories and geographical nations.

The third Greek word that is translated into English as "world" can be found in Mark 16:15 where Jesus says, "Go into all the world (kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature." This use of kosmos by Christ is very interesting for it means to penetrate every social order, arrangement or culture—the way human society is organized.

In their study of human culture and human development, many sociologists and anthropologists have agreed that every society is made up of seven pillars: (1) religion, (2) family, (3) business, (4) education, (5) government, (6) arts, and (7) media. The latter five of business, education, government, arts and media make up what is called the "marketplace." And the Great Commission that Jesus Christ gave is not only for us to preach in every geographical nation, but to engage the social order within that territory, especially that of the marketplace. To do that, the Church has to be relevant and contemporary to the cultural context God has planted it in.

In Acts 2, what happened when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost? The believers spoke in new tongues. Immediately thousands of people in Jerusalem understood what they were saying in their own language and cultural context. That, by itself, sends us a powerful message that the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the ability to present the gospel in a way that the world could understand.

As such, if a lawyer, doctor, businessman, professor, politician, actor, model, or movie director comes to your Christian gathering, would he or she understand the love of God for them? This ability to present the gospel in a way our contemporary society could relate to is one of the greatest challenges for every local church in the 21st Century.


Among the unchurched, Christianity is often thought of as an irrelevant, antiquated, religious belief system that dates back 2,000 years ago. And when we the Church keep presenting the gospel in an archaic and outdated way, who could blame them? But the tragedy of it all is that when we insist on doing that, the world won't just think that we are outmoded, unexciting and boring, they conclude that God is outmoded, unexciting and boring! (Which is an insult to Him because He certainly is not!)

We must change how we think and communicate the reality of Christ to the world. The gospel needs to be re-presented, not just represented. The onus is therefore on us to re-present Him anew in the 21st Century.

But how could we live in the world, and not be of the world? How are we to dominate the world, and not be dominated by the world? How are we to function in the world, have a relationship with it, and all the while not be influenced by it?

The easy, Pharisaical route is to sever our members from the world. Keep them within the four walls of the local church! Carve out a Christian ghetto for them to live and function in! The easy, Pharisaical route is through legalism—creating manmade rules that mandate our members to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Such legalistic attempts may keep our members unexposed and innocent, but in that process, they also make them naive and gullible in regards to the real world.

It is no wonder then that so many Christians are afraid to engage society, its culture and marketplace. The problem is this: You can never lead those you fear! Isn't it true that when a pastor is afraid of his eldership board, he can't lead them? The same is true for the entire church: if a church is afraid of the world, its members can never become leaders in society. You just can't lead those you fear.Becoming a contemporary Christian to engage the prevalent culture of the day is not the same as getting the approval of that culture. If you are looking for cultural approval, you will end up compromising. And by doing that, you are allowing the world to define you, and to lead you. The power to define is the power to validate. As long as you are the head and not the tail, you will excel and lead in the world. And when you become a leader in the industry God has planted you in, you become the one who validates others, not the other way around.

As such, the whole challenge of engaging culture is not for the fainthearted. It is really a contest of influence—who is influencing whom. And because we have a value system that is diametrically opposed to the world, the world won't like us. However, our job is not to make the gospel acceptable; our job is simply to make the gospel available.We do have an important job here on earth. In the Bible, Jesus prayed to God the Father not to take us out of the world (John 17:15).

As long as we live out the life of Christ daily, we become the light to this present social order of family, religion, business, education, government, arts and media. We shine as we excel, prosper, succeed, and become the leaders in those arenas.

When you understand the mandate of kristos kai kosmos—Christ and culture—you understand the many conscious efforts the heroes of faith took to make themselves relevant to their contemporary society. To them, the message was sacred, but their method to communicate it was not. They used different means and ways, sometimes even appearing somewhat "worldly," to earn the right to speak into the lives of their intended audience.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Understanding Excellence - Ps Kong Hee

Mediocrity is a curse that God wants to remove from our lives. Learn the practical steps needed to overcome the enemy called "average" and develop an attitude to excel in all that you do!

By Kong Hee

"Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm." (Dan. 6:3)
As a major biblical concept, excellence as the verb "to excel" appears no less than seventy times in Scripture. God reveals that excellence must be an important virtue and quality of every Christian's character and lifestyle. In Daniel 6:3, the Aramaic word for excellence (yattiyr) defines someone who is "pre-eminent, extraordinary, surpassing and going beyond expectations."


What does it mean to excel or to have excellence? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, excellence means:

-To exceed a given standard that is ordinary, average, terrible or unworthy.
-To be first-rate, first-class, exceptional, peerless, matchless, foremost, exemplary, top-grade, outstanding, superior, superb, superlative, splendid, deserving admiration, topnotch, A-1, marvelous, extraordinary, awesome, brilliant, fabulous, fantastic, heavenly, mind-blowing, stupendous, super, terrific, wondrous and pukka (best quality)!
-To be superior in quality, greater in quantity, to transcend your job description, and to outdo yourself each time.

The third aspect of this definition really appeals to me. Let me explore it with you carefully:

1. To excel means to be superior in quality.

Will Foster once commented, "quality never happens by chance, it is always the result of high intention." In other words, you intentionally go for quality! You pay great attention to details.

When you excel ...

-Go beyond just doing a job. Finish the job well.
-Reach beyond just selling a product. Meet your customers' needs.
-Desire more than just clinching a sale. Add value to your client's objectives.

That means that if you are a road sweeper, you sweep the floor as if you are Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, or Beethoven composing music, or Shakespeare writing poetry. You should sweep the road so well that all the angels in heaven will stop for a moment and admire your work saying, "Wow, there goes a great road sweeper who is doing a quality job."

For us at City Harvest Church, our motivation for constructing a new church building had to go beyond being merely functional. If function was all we cared about, then we would have built just an ordinary meeting hall that was both bland and mediocre. However, we wanted to construct a complex that would both inspire and challenge people to dream big dreams for a great God. We reached for excellence!

As such, all the finer details of the entire construction were extremely vital to the church leadership. The cleanliness and hygiene, the greenery and landscaping, the positioning of our furniture, the comfort of our chairs, the color scheme and lightings of our halls, the quality of air in the building, the paint job, the cleaning of unsightly scratch marks, fingerprints and sawdust in the facility were all important details that reflected excellence. We wanted a building that was excellent, not extravagant. We built a superior structure that would give God, not man, all the praise!

2. To excel means to be greater in quantity (i.e. to get more done).

Men and women of excellence are as productive as they can be for the Lord. Let me give you an example of what mediocrity instead of excellence may look like at the office.The mediocre employee always arrives a few minutes late for work. Then he blames his tardiness on the weather and traffic. Once in the office, he takes a long time to settle into his job. He's among the first ones to go for tea breaks and lunches and is usually among the last ones to get back to work at his desk. Instead of staying productive on his job, he is usually found chitchatting from cubicle to cubicle. Secretly, he uses office hours to promote his own personal multi-level marketing (MLM) products.

Half an hour before the official time to leave the office, our mediocre employee starts packing up. We find him freshening up in the restroom to get himself ready for his evening program.

He never meets his deadlines and is usually disorganized. He always forgets what he has promised to do and is habitually displaying a pattern of shirking responsibilities that are his. He then wonders why he's never promoted or why he never gets a better bonus at the end of the year. In order to save face, he has to find some "scapegoats." He usually blames his mediocrity on his bosses or tells others how he's being unfairly treated at work.

Our dull, unproductive employee invents a conspiracy theory that he is being backstabbed by all his colleagues whom he claims are jealous of his success! Sometimes, he may even blame his lack of success on the education system or society at large for being unfair toward him, for not giving him a chance to move up the economic ladder in life. What does the Bible have to say?

The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. (Prov. 10:4)3. To excel is to transcend your job description. The person of excellence doesn't do just what is expected of him or her. An excellent person goes beyond the call of duty. The person who is average says, "Hey, this is not my job, I'm not paid to do this!" The excellent person says, "I am here to provide the best service possible to my clients or customers even if it means going the extra mile."Mr. Badum Dev is a 45-year-old senior customs officer at the Singapore Changi Airport. His job is to make sure that passengers arriving into Singapore don't bring in what they shouldn't.

On September 3, 2001, a certain Madam Sukvindar Kuar and her two children came from New Delhi. They were on their way to Canada but were stranded at the airport because their flight was canceled. The woman and her children had only $200 left, spoke very little English and had no friends or relatives in the city.

Badum could have minded his own business and looked away. After all, helping stranded passengers was not in his job description. He was not in charge of customer service.However, the man took the trio home to his crowded 5-room flat. Together with his wife and kids, Badum made a room available for the three poor strangers from India. For the next few days, he personally tried to get a ticket for them. He called their travel agent long-distance in Canada repeatedly—all at his own expense. Badum even offered to pay for new tickets if necessary. The woman and her two children finally left for home four days later.In January 2002, Badum was awarded Changi Airport's Service Personality of the Year award. According to The Dictionary of Word Origens, to excel also means, "to rise above others." That's exactly what Badum did! He transcended his job description and rose above the employees around him. By doing that, he displayed a tremendous spirit of excellence! The next time a new round of promotion comes, guess who is going to get promoted first? You guessed it, Mr. Badum Dev!

Every single day, the person of excellence thinks this way:

"I am not selling my time and soul just working for the money. I want to make a big, big difference in the lives of others. The world is going to be a better place because I am here and God is working through me!"

Building A Church Without Walls (Part 1)

By Pastor Kong Hee

I recently discovered a most fascinating research. A team of 15 surveyors spent hundreds of hours interviewing and studying unchurched people in developed urban cities. During a period of two years, they entered the world of the unchurched, taking the time to listen to people of all age groups and finding out the concerns they had toward their own lives and toward their relationships with those around them. From the rich, to the middle class and the poor, from the uneducated to the professors and doctors, they spoke to people from different races and varied ethnic backgrounds.

The survey confirmed that most of the unchurched are in fact all around us—our neighbors, coworkers and colleagues, classmates and family members. That leads to another conclusion: that the unchurched have much more in common with believers than what we often suppose. Many of them share our same moral values—honesty, education, hard work, filial piety, etc.

The unfortunate truth is that a large number of Christians think of the unchurched as "fire-breathing pagans" who are, for some unknown reason, furious with us. They are viewed as pagans that don't believe in the existence of God. Apparently, they hate the church so much that they want to destroy all Christians. Yet, an interesting result of the survey reveals otherwise—a whopping 95 percent of "unchurched persons next door" do act like churchgoing Christians.

Now, of course, there are basic differences between churched and unchurched people. The most important distinction is that they have neither received salvation through Jesus, nor are they motivated to please God through their lifestyles. Apart from that, some of the common ties that they share with believers include:

-The unchurched are concerned about their families.
-Their moral values are not too radically different.
-They work alongside us.
-Their children play together with our children.
-Some of the unchurched may even be the teachers of our children.
-They carry friendly conversations with us.
-They often have similar financial burdens.
-They are just as patriotic as we are toward our country.
-Many of the unchurched even live in the same homes as we do ... they may be our unsaved family members!


Years ago, a missiologist [a person who systematically studies the theory and practice of Christian missions] named James Engel created the Engel Scale. This is a system that identifies non-Christians and determines the best way to share the gospel with them. Measuring from a scale of readings that range from -10 to +3, this scale helps ascertain the level of progress in the soul-winning process.The research team that was surveying the unchurched decided to take the works of James Engel and build upon it, eventually coming up with a simplified "gospel receptivity scale." Named the Rainer scale (see below), after head researcher Thom Rainer, it features a scale of 5 different "faith stages"—U1 to U5, where "U" stands for the unchurched, referring to those who go to church less than five times each year. Every stage within the scale represents a group of people with similar levels of receptivity toward the gospel.

Antinomianism - The Seduction of Lawlessness (by Pst Kong Hee)

Antinomianism—The Seduction Of Lawlessness

Within the pages of the New Testament, we discover that Christian living is often referred to as "the way." In the four passages about "The Way" in Acts, Luke uses the term "way" (odos ooóç NT: 3598) to describe a way of life, a lifestyle, a direction, path or course that one walks that distinctly conforms to the holy and pure life and character of Christ. "The Way" (odos) also implies the purpose of life. Since we know that Jesus is the only way (John 14:6), we need to glorify Him in all we say and do, think and feel.

More than that, Christ Himself exhorted His disciples to walk by the "narrow way."

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt. 7:13-14)

A distinct difference exists between the narrow way and narrow-mindedness. Narrow-mindedness usually refers to a judgmental attitude or a critical mind-set. On the other hand, walking the "narrow way" does not mean that you have a distorted mental attitude; rather, you have a very clear focus of what righteousness demands.

Jesus says that on either side of the "narrow way" is a "broad way" that we can easily choose to walk. But He warns that if we choose this broad path, it will lead only to destruction. As we walk out our Christian life, the tendency and temptation to veer away from the path of righteousness by moving too far to the left or too far to the right is all too real. This has been typified throughout Church history, as entire church sects, movements and denominations digressed and perilously moved onto those broad ways—to the right and to the left.


In a three-part feature, "Just How Liberated Are You?" found in issues 12 to 14 of Harvest Times, I wrote extensively on the topic of legalism and described the harmful effect it has had on believers and churches alike throughout the history of Christendom. [Editor's note: You can find the three-part series on our online edition of Harvest Times at]

In Jesus' day, the Jewish community was the most regulated society in the world. The religious leaders added more than 1,000 commandments and laws to the Law given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai. The Pharisees and scribes were putting everyone under such close surveillance that life was becoming unbearable. Jesus was so upset that He rebuked them for their legalism:

"You guide the people, but you are blind! You are like a person who picks a fly out of a drink and then swallows a camel!" (Matt. 23:24, NCV)

Jesus was essentially saying, "You guys are ridiculously setting up rules and regulations that you yourselves can't even keep. You're nothing more than just a bunch of hypocrites! You have lost your relationship with God and now you're trying to make up for it by keeping a bunch of rules."

Those words may be scathing but they still resonate truth in Christianity today. Believers begin in the Spirit. They have a revelation of God. They experience the saving grace and enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Then for some reason, they have this tendency to lean back on manmade rules and regulations instead of continuing their reliance on the Holy Spirit by faith.

During the Charismatic Renewal of the 60s and 70s, the greatest hindrance to the infilling of the Holy Spirit was the legalism entrenched in many traditional churches. No lifting up of hands. No singing of up-tempo choruses. No praying for the sick. No speaking in tongues, etc. Many who succumbed to the controlling climate of legalism found it very difficult to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

While legalism may have been the biggest hindrance to the Holy Spirit during the Charismatic Renewal, Jesus warns us of another problem that would pose an even greater hindrance in the last days."

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." (Matt. 24:12)

Lawlessness (anomiaNT: 458) literally means iniquity, complete contempt and disregard for law, refusing and despising all law. Anomia is "living without law," which in culture leads to anarchy, and in Christianity to heresy, immorality and the complete casting aside of all restraints.

In the end times, the greater concern will be lawlessness—the veering to the left. The Antichrist himself will be called "the lawless one." While legalism may serve to weaken your conscience, a lifestyle of lawlessness will eventually kill the love you have for the Lord.