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Hi good morning everyone. My name is Aaron Lee and I have been living in Thailand for about 2.5 years. I am married to Cherilyn my wife for 6 years and we have a daughter named Alaryse. This is a picture of my family.
A little background about myself. I’m an introvert though many people find it hard to believe that. During my growing up years, I was quiet and shy. I had very low self esteem and I didn’t like myself very much. I did not do well in my studies. I failed my O levels and I went to ITE. Last time it was called it’s the end. I don’t know if that’s still what they call it. For me it was where it was the end. The end of myself and where I found God. Do I regret going there? No. Because God has a plan from the very beginning. When I was in ITE, I was depressed and I was at the end of mysef. I had nothing. To me I had no future, no joy, no hope. Until a friend of mine invited me to Church. And God touched my heart there. I was listening to heavy metal during that time and I was anti Christians then. But as I went to Church. I heard a sermon that touched me and i began to explore Christianity. I had started to pray and experienced answered prayers. But I didn’t like Christians so i didn’t go to Church.
So when I was In ITE, i went on a community service trip to guess where Chiang Mai. This was 18 years ago. And there I met Pastor Aaron Koh. So after I came back to Singapore, Pastor Aaron invited me to Brighton and I received Christ and began my spiritual walk with God here. So as I started to know God and grow in my spiritual walk, I began my journey of service in church. I began by serving in the CG, then I served in the worship team as a bass player , then I became a CGL and then I began leading worship. A few years after that I got married and soon after that I went to Thailand as a missionary.So that’s my journey so far in a nutshell.
So today I want to share with you about how to build a transforming culture. I would like to ask you a question.
So that’s my journey so far in a nutshell.
What is culture?
What is culture?
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In this verse that we just read, do you know when did Jesus say this? This is just before Jesus ascended to heaven. When this is what Jesus said just before he ascended to heaven. How important do you think this is? It’s like the lasts words of someone who is dying.Do you think it is important? Yes, this has great importance because these words are the words that Jesus will leave with the disciples for them to continue the work of Jesus.
So Jesus calls the disciples to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. What does each of these place mean. Why did Jesus mention them and what is the significance of each of them. How can we learn from them?
1. Jerusalem - the transformation of our hearts
Jesus came to Jerusalem during the final times of Jesus’s ministry. This final ministry is traditionally called the passion which includes the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the last supper and finally the crucification of Jesus Christ on the cross just outside the City gate.
Jerusalem, as the most holy and sacred place, represents our home or the center of the church’s activities. This is what the Catholic Church refers to as the “Domestic Church.” This is our home or family, the smallest body of gathered believers in Christ.
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
The Early Church Fathers understood that the home was fertile ground for discipleship as it is the place where we first learn about God and how to live as a Christian. Questions to reflect upon include: How does your home prepare you to share your faith with others? How do you prepare your children to share their faith?
Our Jerusalem is where we really come to know the love of Jesus Christ and commit our lives to him. Just like the disciples, who witnessed Jesus love for them by washing their feet at the last supper and later witnessed their saviour being crucified for their sins. They truly committed their lives to Jesus and put to death their old lives and took the new life the Jesus has given.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
Jerusalem is also the place where Jesus called the disciples to wait for the Holy spirit to come upon them before they went out to do the work of God. So it is also a place where we are filled with the Holy spirit and equipped to serve God.
My Jerusalem for me was when I came to Church as a non believer and I was faced with the truth of the Gospel that Jesus loves me and gave himself for me. No one had told me that they loved me the way Jesus did. I wanted to know this love of God. I made a decision to turn from my old life and live a new life in Christ. And I received the Holy spirit and began to serve in Church. It is in Church and in serving that I learned about accountability and community.
So it is also a place where we are filled with the Holy spirit and equipped to serve God.
I learned that by allowing others to speak into my life was very disrupting to my life, but it is the thing that make me grow. Allowing God to speak to our lives through our brothers and sisters builds us up. Allowing God to disrupt our lives with his plans is what discipleship is about. We might not like it in the beginning, but if we allow God to shape our lives through disruption, we will learn to like it and also depend on it for wisdom in leading our lives. This is what discipleship is about. God disrupts our sinful desires to lead us onto the path that brings life.
My mum was not a Christian then. She did not like me to go to Church and spend so much time in Church. She started to persecute me. By saying things like I don’t bother about the family and that my sister is such is better child than me because she stays at home more. But I persevered and tried all ways to show her the love of God. I prayed hard for her salvation for 5 years before she got saved. I asked her before why did she receive Christ. She said it is because she saw how God changed my life.
Jerusalem is also our home where our family members who are the closest to us sees the change in us. So when we receive Christ and allow God to change us, our family members will oppose us the most and they will also observe the power of God the most.
If we watch action movies. What happens when the bad guys want to threaten the hero? The bad guys will attack his family and say if you don’t do as I say I will kill you parents. Satan also also the same. he will use our families to try to black mail us. share about mum’s story about holding joss stick.
Our families are the closest to us and also the hardest for us to outreach to. But we need to persevere in our walk and pray for our families. It will take a long time. But if we persevere and honour God in the process, I believe God can save our families.
2. Judea - the transformation of our compassion
Next, Jesus lists Judea. Judea was the neighbourhood where Jerusalem was located. So, after beginning at home, Jesus urges the disciples to go out into their wider neighbourhoods to spread the good news. We can only share the good news of Christ if we have first encountered it in our home and can take that love into our wider communities to reach others.
As Christians we cannot live as secret Christians. Although being a Christian might make us stick out like a sore thumb, we need to shine for God. The very reason that we stick out is because we have life that this world of darkness does not have.
Sometimes we are afraid that if we speak to our friend in the army or in school that we will be rejected or made fun of. But you never know if the time and effort that you spend to try to share about God will make a difference to that person. If you will not share your hope with people, you have no chance of making a difference. Someone once saw us lost and had compassion on us and shared the gospel with us. Will we just keep to ourselves after that just because we are afraid of being rejected? The world is lost without God. We have a chance to provide a hope.
34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
When I was in the army, I had a friend who was gay. He was open about it and he would share with me about his relationship with other men. i wanted to be his friend so I just listened. As he shared about his life, I also shared about my relationship with God and how he has changed my life. He would always just brush away what I said to him or make fun of it. was not expecting him to want to know God anytime soon. So one day he suddenly disappeared from camp. He stopped coming. I tried to call him but he would not pick up. I later found out from him that he had stabbed a man that he was having a relationship with. He was later found guilty and sentenced to jail. I was not able to contact him after that.
About 3 years later, someone from the church office gave me a letter. it was from Changi prison. My friend wrote to me from Jail. He told me that he had received Christ in Jail and he thanked me for sharing Christ with him 3 years ago.He has repented of his old way of life and decided to allow God to help him to change his heart. When I read it, i was shocked. God used those times of sharing to change his life. To help him to know God. God is teaching me that his ways are higher than my ways. God always has a plan.
3. Samaria - the transformation of our preferences
Lastly, Jesus asks us to go to Samaria. Now it must be noted that the Jews avoided Samaria and saw the Samaritans as outcasts who were not to be trusted. Yet in the Scriptures we read that “Jesus had to go through Samaria” ().
Jesus went to Samaria where no jew would want to go. Jesus was responding to God in obedience. Many times we call ourselves Christians and we say that we have chosen to follow Christ. But at the same time we will follow Christ but there are some things that we will not do. Like going to the mission field or becoming a CGL. Are we like that?
Christian or disciple?
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Christian or disciple?
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
I asked myself if i had a chance to minister to my younger self today. What would I say. I would tell myself to give all my dreams and hopes for my future to Jesus. And Jesus will take my broken tattered life and give me a life full of hope and joy and a future that is amazing. My old self would have said you must be crazy. I would say believe it. Because I am living that life now.
When I was your age I was on a quest find my identity. I couldn’t study and I did not really fit in. As you can see in the picture, I was not really the cool type. So went to the dark side deciding that that was cooler. Since i felt that I had no future, i bought into the lie of Satan that life was not worth living that it was better to die young. Why go through all this suffering in this world just to die later. So I decided to find the meaning of my existence. if I could not find it, I told myself that i would just end it all.
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So in my quest to find my purpose, Jesus found me and told me he loved me and will give me my true purpose in my life. It was the first time that I had heard of such a promise. No other religion promises that. So I took the plunge and decided to throw away all my old dreams. I love to sing and i dreamed of being a professional singer. But I prayed and asked God if he approved. God replied and said that I was to use my talent to bring him glory. Later on I joined the worship team and began to lead worship for God. Remember I told you that when I was young I could not speak well, i was afraid of speaking to large groups. I was afraid of girls because i was afraid that I would be rejected. I was never the leader type. This was my old self. I cannot do many things. But when I came to Christ, God says I have made you to great things for me. You can do it. Many times we think that we are not good enough, but I want to tell you today that God is good enough.
God is the great provider. And We will only find our true identity and destiny when we are willing to lose our old life for Christ sake. Only then will we find our life.
As i grew in my Christian walk i learned to hear from God and allow him to have the final say in my life. I may have many preferences, but if God calls me to do it. I will do it. Because I have come to realise that many times I have the gifting of driving my life into the tree when I’m the one driving. It’s true. But when Jesus takes the wheel. We go places man. God made me lead CG. I’m an introvert, why would I want to do that? God made me lead worship, I am so afraid of speaking to large crowds. God led me to Thailand on mission trips and I saw that the thais have no hope nor future. I felt sad for them. They reminded me of me. i told God that i want to help. I was willing to go to the field to help to share the message. So God eventually called me to go help Ps Aaron in BKK. then after 1 year, God suddenly called me to CM and i had to be Pastor of that Church. Wow now i needed to preach and I need to preach in Thai. I tell you this is the hardest thing I have done in my life. I never preached before.And i don’t like speaking in front of large crowds. I really plead with God. please don’t make me do this. But God insisted. So I just try. Throw face nevermind, just do it. You know what? God spoke through my first message in thai to the people. Actually thought it was horrible, but after that members came and told me that the language was bad but the message spoke to them. I was shocked.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
External culture is a reflection of the internal culture of the hearts of the people.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
External culture is a reflection of the internal culture of the hearts of the people.
Then God spoke to my heart and said to me that it is not about how good I am but it is about how good and powerful God is. It’s all about God’s glory. This humbled me. When I give up my preferences to serve God, my life is changed and God is glorified.
In order for us to go out there and change the culture in the mission field. We need to allow God to change the culture of our hearts, the culture of our compassion and the culture of our preferences. If we are willing to do that, we will be ready when God calls us. be it to the mission field or to do other things with our lives.
But we can only do it with the help of the Holy spirit. So let us take this time to respond to God today. And ask God to change the culture of our own lives.