Going Beyond the ‘Churchy’ Things

James Tan

Two points remain in my mind after attending AWE2020 two weekends ago.

On Day 2 of the webinar, in the teaching session on the aspect of Refinement in the Alignment Check A-R-E-A (Alignment-Refinement-Empowerment-Assignment) framework, Pastor Henson said that church worship, tithing, church ministries and short-term missions work are basic commitments of a Christian.

I have done all these ‘churchy’ things over almost 50 years of my Christian walk. Serving three years as a full-time missionary was the pinnacle of my Christian service besides having served as a co-chairman of the church board of deacons and helping in Christian education. Together with my wife, I also pioneered a student care community service and outreach project.

But what Pastor Henson said next caught my attention. That unless we have progressed beyond all these church activities, important as they are, we would have stagnated in our spiritual growth. If we miss out in being refined to become like Christ, we may even misalign with God’s purpose of our salvation — to become more like His Son to reveal Him rather than to secure a place in heaven. Although I can consider myself a very mature and committed Christian, I agree with Pastor Henson that I am still work-in-progress. I still have some rough edges to work in my life with God, particularly in purity of mind and motives like those of Jesus.

After AWE2020, I am more alert to how I should show Christlikeness in my present primary roles and assignments as a grandfather, a husband, a son and a sibling in my family circle, and also as a professional counsellor and trainer.

Another insight of Pastor Henson helpful for me is to serve God and people from a position of weakness and vulnerability so that all glory goes to God. It is so easy for me to place confidence in my flesh and abilities and miss out in wholehearted dependence on God for His strength and wisdom in Christian service.

I still have some distance to follow my LORD Jesus Christ’s humble example of walking the way of the Cross in denying Himself and laying aside His position as the Son of God with all glory and rights. Christ in human form took on human limitations and vulnerabilities, but sinless in order to serve and save humankind as a humble obedient servant of God (Philippians 2:7-8).

Immediately after the AWE2020 weekend, I had to cope with two challenging assignments. Remembering what Pastor Henson said in AWE2020 that abilities do not dictate assignments, abilities facilitate assignments, I became more aware of my need to learn to go about my assignments from weakness and vulnerability.  I found myself consciously looking up to God for help and ideas to engage some resistant, disinterested ex-offenders in my rehabilitative workshop with some success. I thank God that I also managed to keep my cool with difficult clients.

As for the second assignment, I was apprehensive about using the zoom technology for the first time for a webinar on parenting. I am grateful to be able to rest in the presence of God and His help as I struggled with some technical difficulties during the practice run before the actual event as well as managed a few hiccups along the way during the live webinar. Learning to serve from a position of weakness and vulnerability has helped me to rest on God’s presence and resources for both assignments and reduced stress and anxiety to be in control of the assignments and their outcomes (2 Corinthians 12:9).

For the past two years, my friend had been inviting me to attend AWE, and I am so glad that I have finally signed up and benefited so much from AWE2020! Praise God!

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