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by | posted 18 July 2018, 11:29 AM

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Staying in your secret place with God 24/7

by Jason Chua, Burning Hearts | 17 July 2018, 6:51 PM

When people find out that I run Burning Hearts House of Prayer, they often say, “Jason, you look so young!” because we don’t normally equate young people and prayer together. We tend to think young people don’t usually like to pray.

To be honest with you, prayer was never something I enjoyed from a young age. But it was due to a season of burnout as a youth pastor that my own prayer journey was kickstarted. This was when the Lord gave me a measure of grace to learn how to enjoy prayer.

When that happened, the Lord led me to a place in Kansas City where the prayer room runs 24/7. For 6 months, I had to be there for 6 hours every day with just my Bible and my notebook. Nothing else. No iPad, no phone, just solely given to God.

And I can tell you from experience that if you have to spend 6 months having to pray for 6 hours a night and you don’t learn to enjoy it, you will be bored to death.

Even though I was a youth pastor, my capacity for God was really small – I could only give God my attention for 15-20 minutes.

I quickly realised this within the first few weeks, that even though I was a youth pastor, my capacity for God was really small. I could only give God my attention for 15-20 minutes before my mind would start drifting or I’d run out of things to pray.

I mean, I did all that I could. I prayed in tongues, I read the Bible – as many chapters as I could – I took out my prayer list and prayed for as many people as I could. I prayed for my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, my girlfriend, my dog … Everything.

And after doing all that I’d look at my watch and it would only have been 30 minutes and I’d have 5 and a half more hours to go! It was really a challenge. But through my time at International House of Prayer Kansas City, I learnt some handles and tools that I hope will help all of you cultivate a life of prayer.

PRAYER IS A GIVEN, NOT A GIFT

I cannot over-emphasise how important a life of prayer is, because that is our life in God. Some people think that prayer is a gift, that there are only a handful of people who are gifted to pray, who will be part of intercessory ministry.

I just want to debunk that to say that prayer is not part of the fivefold ministry: You don’t see the word intercessor in the fivefold.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ …” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Not only do you see prayer as one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10), in fact, God calls His house a “house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7). So if you’re a part of His family, you are actually made to pray. If you’re a Christian, you are called to pray.

In Matthew 6:5-6 it says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. Then your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

This means it doesn’t matter how you feel – when you choose to make that space to come before God and and make prayers to Him; He is actually there. Whether you feel it or not, He is there, witnessing the very act.

To know that my Father who is in secret sees me praying and hears my prayer gives me great confidence and courage to keep coming to Him.

PRAYER IS MORE THAN WORDS

People ask me, “Jason, how do you have time to pray in secret … Or have time to pray for one hour?” I tell them I don’t really do that, not because I think an environment without distractions is not important, but because when you’re living in Singapore it’s agreeably hard – with little space and time.

Prayer, I believe, transcends time, space and your words. Paul said to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and I used to wonder how we can even do that. Does it mean praying non-stop: “Father, Father, Father, bless me, bless me, bless me”? Or non-stop praying in tongues?

I don’t think that was what Paul was trying to say. Prayer is so much more than the words we say. It is a state of connecting with God in that place of communion.

Which means I can be travelling somewhere in the MRT, and if I were to close my eyes and give my attention and whole awareness to God, I can have conversations within me and have this sense of connection with Him.

I believe that to God, this is prayer, because He does not just read our words – He reads our hearts. He reads our thoughts, He communes with us in every aspect of our being: Our body, our soul, our mind and our spirit.

I will have conversations with God throughout the day, using these pockets of time to meditate on Him or even recite simple verses and truths under my breath. This constant connection with God fills my mind space with Him, His nature and His love.

If you were to do this regularly, you will see yourself expanding in your capacity for God. That’s because you’re not being distracted by what the world throws at you; your mind is being set on things above, you’re constantly engaging and being connected to Him. This is how God can be involved in our daily lives.

You see, it’s more than just a space that we carve out in the room. The secret place is actually right here in your heart. We can be in union with God anywhere, at any time, in our every innermost being.

I just want to encourage you because it requires some spiritual muscle to do this, but as long as you begin to give Him that space, believe that God is there and that He sees and hears everything in secret.


Jason Chua will be speaking at The One Thing Gathering 2018, which will see hundreds of young adults unite with the International Houses of Prayer across the world to behold the majesty and beauty of Jesus.

Happening from July 19-21, 2018, for the first time in Asia, the gathering calls for young people who have purposed in their hearts to live with abandonment and devotion to Jesus, to do His work, be His voice and see His transformation in the nations.

To register your attendance, visit their page.

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Do you see the treasure in your field?

by Charis Tan | 17 July 2018, 3:30 PM

Giving up everything to buy something that looks like it’s worth nothing is only a joyful situation to someone who has seen the treasure in it.

“Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’” (Matthew 13:44)

After I read this verse, I mulled over it for days and days. I puzzled mostly over why the man didn’t take the treasure for himself. Why did he cover it up again, then sell all he had to buy the entire field? Who in their right mind does that? Wasn’t the treasure the only thing that had value?

I had no answers; all I knew was that God was challenging me. I had been praying about my workplace and my office, and God imprinted three words on my heart. It felt like they were ringing loudly in my ears. Buy the field, He said. I want you to buy the field.

God is looking for people who are willing to sell all to buy the field. But first, we must see the treasure in it. And God convicted me of this one thing: That my sacrifice is joyless when I don’t have vision. That is, after all, how Jesus was able to commit Himself to the biggest sacrifice of human history (see Hebrews 12:2).

He was able to go to the Cross to die because He saw the treasure that was the souls of man.

Our ability to see the Kingdom of God in what people claim as barren land is what’s going to restore it to its original purpose.

Only recently did I realise the answer to the mystery of why the man in Jesus’ metaphor put the treasure back in the field. It’s because the parable illustrates God’s desire for us to see every situation and environment through the lens of His redemptive plan.

The kingdom of God is in the field He’s sent each of us into. It’s the treasure we must find in it, wherever we are. The field to Him has purpose and destiny, and He knows that finding the treasure in it is what will motivate us to redeem it.

This is what God has always wanted: The souls of man. The souls in your workplace, the souls in your family, the souls in your circle of friends. What will you give to take ownership of where they are found?

Jesus proceeds to confront the Pharisees with this question in Matthew 23:19, “Which is more important – the gift on the alter or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” The treasure in the field sanctifies it. Our ability to see the Kingdom of God in what people claim as barren land is what’s going to restore it to its original purpose.

What field are you standing on that God is challenging you to sell all and buy?

If you’ve committed your life to God’s hands, then you can rest assured that nothing in it is left to chance. I know that if at work I cultivate the willingness to lay down my life for those around me, see the gold in them, and demonstrate the love of Jesus, I form a (possibly crucial) part of His pursuit of them.

When it’s time to be brave, be brave. Don’t settle for love that is anything less.

But before all that, ask God to give you the eyes to see the treasure in that field. Therein you’ll find all the joy you need.

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So you didn’t like the sermon

by | 16 July 2018, 8:50 PM

Have you ever criticised your church?

Recently, a good number of my brothers and sisters-in-Christ — people who are close to me — are beginning to have their doubts about their churches on a number of issues. Some weeks it’s about something the preacher said. On another, it might be about a reckless choice of song during worship.

While it’s crucial to keep standards and be sensitive to audience feedback, upon reflection I honestly find that a lot of the criticism comes from a place of pride.

We all care for our church to varying degrees, but I find myself wishing more effort was spent on ensuring there’s edification and encouragement after a disagreement rather than a pat on the back for saying something theologically clever.

Because there’s always going to be something to disagree about, we need to learn how to disagree without causing dissension.

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Timothy 6:4)

Whether it’s theological differences or wrong song choices, there’s a great deal in the Church today with the potential to divide us if we let it. But there’s also a lot more common ground than we realise.

So how can we have unity without uniformity? How do we disagree within closed ranks? If we want to call ourselves a united body of believers, these are questions we must have answers to.

PRIDE AND POSTURE

Recently, I attended my church’s bi-annual camp in Malaysia. Going with a group of young people, it was actually my first time attending such a camp and I didn’t really know what to expect.

The camp turned out to be very heavily focused on family issues like marriage and fatherhood, so a lot of the singles quickly felt left out in terms of content and context.

By lunch, it had gotten to a point where I had been in multiple conversations about the sheer irrelevance of the sermons. That sort of conversation really fed into my bitterness about the camp. I worked my socks off last week to clear assignments, paid $500 and took a 9-hour coach ride to be here for this?

That attitude of mine lasted until the night service, where I repented for being so stuck up and insistent on my own way. As the speaker ambled up the stage, I told God quietly: “I know You didn’t bring me here to waste my time, and I don’t want to waste Yours. You have something here for me, and I really want to learn it. Help me to be humble as I listen.”

And everything changed after that. When I pressed in to learn humbly, something clicked. And I began to listen to what the speaker was saying — the importance of getting marriage and fatherhood right. And so I learnt.

My personal belief is that a lot of our reactions today stem from entitlement.

Marriage, fatherhood, motherhood and family are not things that singles get to ignore. In fact, until that night I was tempted to believe that holiness in the home was just something that happened once I got married.

Nothing could be further from the truth — it takes the real hard work of fathers to be the spiritual thermostat of their homes. It takes discipline and time today. As men, our spiritual disciplines and walk with God must be on point if we want to lead a godly family.

I can’t speak for my whole generation, but my personal belief is that a lot of our reactions today stem from entitlement. At least for younger Singaporeans, you want anything — you snap your fingers and there you have it. Instant gratification in just the way you desire. So I find that we tend to react poorly when we don’t get that.

We’ve gotta respond instead. When we encounter a situation we’re uncomfortable in, we need to stop complaining as the first recourse. I know how much I need to shut up for a second and ask God what He’s doing; I’m scared to think of how much wisdom I’ve missed out on just by merely dismissing it before I really hear it.

And if you know me, you’d know I have a very binary view on life, in that every decision either takes you closer to God or further away from Him. So the next time you start openly disagreeing with a sermon or song, check your posture. At the heart of it, do you just want to sound right? Do you just want people to agree with you?

Or do you really want to lovingly build up the body of believers God has put you in?

Unity is generally an easier thing when we agree. But do we want people to also end up closer to God even – especially – in our disagreements? At the bottom line, it’s all about the net kingdom profit.

HUMILITY AND HONOUR

What if you decide that unity is the highest value in your church? What would your conversations sound like? How different would the way your ministries are run be?

Conversations either honour leaders or dishonour them. Conversations about members either respect them or belittle their concerns. Regardless, if they don’t have love in them, the harsh truth is they are just words meant to make you sound smart.

But if they are spoken in the love of God, they build up the church, its leadership and members.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

We don’t do honour very well, but we desperately need it. Especially when we disagree, we need to be able to have conversations that still encourage, edify and exhort. We are so frequently doing the very opposite, that Satan might as well recline on a deck chair given how terribly efficient we can be at his work.

We need to whip out Ephesians 4 a little more, and be mature enough to have conversations about the things we disagree with without being stumbled, or worse – stumbling others. Even if we don’t like a particular sermon, speaker or song, we need to be able to talk about these things in a way that still honours the brother or sister, that still allows for mutual edification and unity.

If it’s not mutual edification or unity, then it’s disunity and dishonour. And if you’re leader, you have the added responsibility with your words. The younger ones are looking up to you, and they will either watch your weekly disdain of the speaker or follow in the culture of honour you are making.

Look to make net kingdom profit.

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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3 things I wish I knew before starting university

by | 16 July 2018, 8:08 PM

It’s that time of the year again – university term is starting. Some of you are beginning a 3 to 4 year journey of college education, for the rest, it’s a brand new semester.

Well, whether you’re a freshman or a senior, one thing remains true: The time will be up sooner than you think. As someone whose 4 years could have been better spent,  this is written with one hope only – that you don’t waste that time.

So in the spirit of the article, I’m not about to waste more of your time. Maybe those who’ve gone before me have even more advice to give, but here are my 3 tips to save time.

3 TIPS TO SAVE TIME

1. YOU CAN’T ATTEND EVERY SINGLE CAMP

I’m gonna be honest with you: Not every camp will be worth your time. Many will offer to teach you things like how to bid for modules, or where stuff is, but really … You can learn that online. Another thing you can do online – do some research on what various camps are like.

This is a personal peeve, but camps somehow have the potential to devolve into poorly-disguised mini-games simulating kissing or other suggestive activities. Forced mingling is awkward as it is, but if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with people you’ve just met – I’ve seen how difficult it is to just walk away.

I did a quick poll with a few friends, and more often than not, we know now that O-Week friends don’t last. When it’s time to pick modules you’ll have to make new ones anyway — only this time without the pretend-kissing and/or influence of alcohol.

So pick wisely. Know why you’re signing up for a camp – and don’t feel pressured to either!

2. WORK ON YOUR WORK ETHIC

I had the worst work ethic throughout most of my university life. The freedom of picking arts courses compounded the problem of my indiscipline. Didn’t like a class? Skip it. Prof boring? Skip! Too early? Skip!

My ala carte attitude towards modules and lessons made for an awful attitude towards courses — which made for an awful attitude towards life in general. Things became about me. Did I like doing it? Was it convenient for me?

I took the general sense of entitlement and pick-and-choose spirit into my work outside of school and my friendships, and I paid high prices for that sort of attitude. It took a lot of time to unlearn, and a lot of painful days in the working world before I saw how damaging my laissez-faire university lifestyle had been.

What if you took university as practice for work? What if you worked on making your skills excellent, and your work ethic impeccable? Stepping into the working world might be easier by virtue of hard work in an internship or attachment. Either way, you’ll thank yourself for developing the right attitude and skill-sets to take into the workforce.

3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK “SO WHAT”

I think it’s largely fair to say that by the time I reached Year 4, most of my batch-mates were either just waiting to get out or enjoying life before work. By midway through most of us had read hundreds of works and written dozens of papers. The sheer volume of literature we were wading through week after week left me disillusioned.

What was the point of it all? Who really cares about this stuff? Does it really matter?

Some works change you, leave a lasting and profound impact on the way you think and read. Those are great. But for every 1 of those pieces you get maybe 9 more meh ones that just leave you feeling kinda scared. Scared that you’ll spend your life on something that ultimately doesn’t matter. Like reading or writing fluff.

Often the mundanity of my schoolwork in university awakened me to the idea that there must be more than this. And that was the best lesson I took from the dozens of modules I chalked up: Don’t waste your life.

Maybe, you’re thinking that I just didn’t have a good experience — that’s why I’m so salty. Well, you might be right, I’m certainly open to the idea that I got my university experience wrong.

But the one thing I got right was to question what I really wanted out of all of it. Was I just chasing a scroll? Was it just for a job? Was entering a local university just a matter of fact, or the logical next thing to do?

The points of pointlessness in my journey got me asking the hard questions, but the hard questions led to solid places for why I do what I do. If university is a place where one quests for knowledge, then let your quest lead you to a grand purpose in life.

Die well. There’s infinitely more to all of it.

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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