Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mixing Business With Mission

I have been through a number of paradigm shifts in my thinking in the past few years, particularly these past few months when I clearly heard God say to cross the Jordan and start a new season.

This particular paradigm shift started off with a conversation with a businessman who used to be a minister in a church. He said, "if a disciple is someone who loves God, loves the world they live in and loves their fellow believers; then I can't see why someone exclusively focusing upon doing church based ministry is responding in a more dedicated way than anyone else." I must admit I have been thinking that way for years, but what he said is so true.

More and more I realize that, in terms of mission (or loving the world), it is more advantageous to actually be in business than locked away in church ministry.

I have read Mike Frost & Alan Hirsch's book "The Shaping Of Things To Come" a few times. They claim that the basic mission principle is that if you want to be effective as a missionary you have to have proximity with those you are reaching out to.

I think businesses are places where Christians need to be in, not just to put food on the table and to help fund real ministry, but as a primary place of ministry/mission/faith itself. I also think that business, commerce and enterprise is perhaps the most powerful influences on our society in the west. The church used to play a major role in society, but now it has become the fringe of the society.

Businesses are now taking on the role of providing avenues for social concern and welfare, sometimes more so than the church and the government. I believe this will continue to happen in the future. Some business people do want to make a difference. They often just need to be encouraged to do so and see ways of ethical, life giving business to be modeled for them.

Mission and business are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They can be mixed together. Recently I actually did something that I thought I'd never do (since I quit my marketing executive job at Optus years ago to study at Bible College): I started a business!

When I start to be involved in the business, I'm beginning to see that rather than these being temptations or distractions from a life with God - they are actually quite often God at work within and around me. Now I see myself as a part time tent-maker business person or (in mission term) a bi-vocational missionary.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I was in a workshop that was organised by my network of Christian business friends. I was told to imagine that my life is a fountain. If we focus on ourselves only, we will be too dry or clogged up, but if our focus is shifted to others, the living water of God's love will flow through us to people around.

I have a goal after this workshop: to have every person I encounter experience some of God's love through me.


Dear Father God, please fill me up and provide all the living water my fountain needs to overflow into other people's lives. I want to PASS IT ON!! Lord, You have unlimited strength. Oh Holy Spirit, You are the only reliable source of fulfillment. Help me to see people as You do. Give me Your perpective on the people I meet so I can see them as You view them. Lord how I want to have genuine compassion for acquaintances and strangers in my community. This is my heart and ernest prayers. In Jesus name, amen!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Australian Of The Year

Apart from spending some quality time with D on Australia day, one of the highlights on the day was to watch on TV 'Australian of the Year 2007' live. Since 1960 Australia has celebrated the achievement and contribution of citizens through the Australian of the Year Awards. The awards profile leading Australians who are role models for us.

This year's winner is Prof Tim Flannery, who had helped millions of Australian better appreciate and understand the environment. He has encouraged Australians into new ways of thinking about our environmental history and future ecological challenges.

Tim is one of the world's leading scientists and an internationally acclaimed explorer and environmentalist. He has shown that human activity is drastically altering the Earth's climate and these changes will have a devastating effect on life on this planet unless we change our behaviours.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

I have read a book called "Who moved my Cheese?' by Dr. Spencer Johnson which describes change in people's work and life. It talks about two mice that lived in a maze. One day, they found a big cheese, so they kept going to the same direction which allowed them to eat the cheese day in day out. However they still kept on going to the same place even though the cheese was finished as that was the safest and the most comfortable place to go. Realising that they couldn't find any more cheese there, they were discouraged and had to gather courage to find the new cheese somewhere else. When they did, they felt so joyful and happy.

I don't know about you, but certainly in my life, God has at different times called me to leave my comfort zone to start new seasons / ministries / ventures in life. When we leave our comfort zone, our vision is enlarged, and we learn things that we woudn't have expected to learn in our own comfort zone. It's like what Jabez's prayer to ask God to enlarge his territory. As our horizons are broadened, God gives us opportunites to grow, to be transformed and equipped to serve Him better.

True it is hard to let go of the familiar and to face changes in lives. God understands that letting go is difficult, but He has called us to move on to a new life without looking back. And I thank God for that! I know He will give me the strength and grace to do whatever He calls me to do, now and in the future. What about you?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Wine & New Wineskins

On my laptop screensaver, I have a picture which says: "Caution, paradigm shift ahead." I am really anticipating a paradigm shift as I move to a new season of my life in 2007.

I read an article by Rick Warren regarding new wine & new wineskins today, which really challenged me. Pastor Warren said, there are three new "wines" that we will have to face in 2007: new problems, new pressures, and new possibilities. To handle these new challenges, you'll need the new "wineskins" of creativity, conviction, and courage.

I know that with these new wines, my old ways of thinking and paradigm, old attitudes will not work anymore. That's why the Bible says, "The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them." (Proverbs 18:15 LB).

In my new 'tent-making' business endeavour and relationships, I am open to new ideas and paradigm shift (new wineskins for new wines). I pray that the Lord will give me the creativity, conviction and courage to handle the problems, pressures as I welcome new possibilities for growth.

Towards the end of last year, God gave me the picture of Joshua and his tribe stepping into the Jordan River as they start a new season. I have also stepped out in faith to the business world, where I need to build contacts, networks and people. There's always an element of risk in any new venture and idea, but I trust that the Lord will see me through it all. Hosea 10:12 says, "Plow new ground for yourselves, plant righteousness, and reap the blessing your devotion to me will produce!" (GNT). That is so true!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cosmic Renewal

A friend of mine Siu Fung from World Vision wrote an insightful article. It is about God's creation, the environment and "cosmic renewal", particularly water. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I do.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Man Of The Narrow Road

I received a poem written by a World Team missionary for his field leader who was willing to follow God's (sometimes difficult) calling to influence his peers in preparing the soil for the gospel. In the words of the writer, this leader is "a great example of humility to us all." I pray that God will empower me to learn from this person.

Among men there are few
as gentle and kind
as this man I know -
the man of the narrow road.

It is surprising to find
a core of strength
hid within the benevolent shroud -
he goes on when others may falter.

He is one who has served in authority
and willingly passed the staff to another.
He doesn't seek his own
but treasures God's will above all.

Vision for him is kept alive and fresh
when others can't see it at all:
he is passionate
but doesn't put it on parade.

He does to go where others may not
he goes according to the Call:
he doesn't wait for the approval of critics,
though he values the counsel of the saints.

His common prayer is that of joy
for himself and those around him,
in spite of many trials and tests -
some of which have come through friends.

Among men there are few
as gentle, strong, and faithful
as this man that I know -
the man of the narrow road.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Self Discipline

Since writing my previous post on balanced lifestyle last week, I've been thinking quite a bit about 2 Timothy 1:7 (a verse which I believe God has given me in the beginning of 2007, especially after a goal setting seminar and workshop that I attended).

I confess that when I don't live in God's strength (but on my own), I often lack the spirit of power, of love and self-discipline. When that happens, I often experience timidity in life, in ministry and in business.

Kc asked if self-discipline is related to submission in the comment of my previous entry. That really got me thinking about self-discipline in depth. The Greek word for self-control (the fruit of the Holy Spirit) comes from a root word meaning "to grip" or "take hold of." This word describes people who are willing to get a grip on their lives and take control of areas that will bring them success or failure.

In a CD that I heard yesterday, the speaker said that the most valuable lesson that we could learn is the ability to make ourselves do the thing we have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It's always hard to have the self discipline. Hard work is really the accumulation of the easy things we didn't do when we should have.

John Maxwell said that self-discipline is the price tag of leadership. There are two paths that people can take. They can either play now and pay later or pay now and play later. I think the concept of "Pay now, play later" is an important self discipline. There is really no such thing as a "free lunch." A business associate said something which really makes sense - A person without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself. He belongs to whatever can make captive of him. When we pay later the price is greater (consider the interest rate of your credit card).

I am committed to doing the things I have to do that causes growth and help me achieve my goals and God-given dreams, rather than just doing the things I like to do. That really takes self discipline. I pray that I can always take hold of my life in submission to God so that I can truly have the self discipline - after all, the water does not flow until the faucet is turned on!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Balanced Lifestyle

“ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. “ ( 2 Timothy 1:7)

One of the goals I have this year is to acheive a balanced lifesytle in all aspects of my life: physical, mental (personal growth), spiritual, family, financial, business / career / ministry, community, and social / relational / emotional. I have been reading the scripture and books, and listening to CD's about personal development, and how to grow in these areas.

In regards to personal growth and mental wellness , the above scripture in 2 Timothy 1:7 gives me the key. I thank God that He has given me a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. I know that without Him, I can do nothing. And the other day I learned from a CD that the big five challenges and difficulties in life are discouragement, change, problems, fear and failure.

I believe that life has a divine purpose, so the greatest mastery over life for me has come through understanding my God, and to live my life according to God's plan, principles and purposes. There is a season, there is a time for everything. Knowing what time and season it is in our lives and seeing what our life is through His eyes and trusting Him for that ! I normally cope with stress by managing my day, taking rest breaks, doing things that are relaxing, not draining on the battery and going out with friends, trusting God and His Word. Getting into the Bible, knowing that He is in control.

While Mastery Over life means ruling and controlling over life, according to Keith Sehnert in his book Stress / Unstress, the greatest stress factor is the loss of control. In my own observations, some people just seem to handle stress better than others. Certain life habits can prepare you well for stress: they give you a kind of cushion for the hard knocks of life.

  • Follow an exercise program each week. This can undo some of the damage stress does to your system, lowering blood pressure and strengthening your cardiovascular system.
  • Eating nutritionally balanced and healthy meals. If you put good stuff into your body, your body will put out a good effort for you, particularly in times of stress.
  • It is easy to depend on nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine in stressful times - none of which are healthy to your body. Stop depending on them in stressful times and go for healthy lifestyle!
  • Take regular breaks during the day in order to relax. You will be more productive over the long haul. Remember the Sabbath and keep it free from work activities. You need time to hang out with friends but you also need time alone.
  • Assert your feelings in appropriate ways. Commit to honest, accurate communication. Couch your criticism in praise. Speak the truth in love.
  • Place a high value on your primary relationships, and set aside time to work on improving them. Supportive friends, family members and partners can cushion the blows of life,empower you to face your daily challenges, and undergird you with a sense of security and significance. Don't take your friendships and relationships for granted; make them a priority. Have fun. The best relationships are those with laughter,with people who can have fun together. Be an encourager and a servant; seek the well-being of the other.
  • Have work / business or a hobby that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose.
  • Have a strong faith. Stress comes when you sense you are not in control. There is comfort, though, in knowing that God is always in control. Set aside a regular time for prayer , bible reading and reflections. Rest and listen to God. Take time just to be with Him. Breathe your prayers. As you go throughout the day, take your prayers with you. Pray with others. You can cope with stress much better by joining others in brief times of prayer.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Important Virtues

I was reflecting on some all time old virtues as I read an article about important virtues that can make our lives new.

I truly believe that as Christians, we already have all that we need to make real progress in life. The following important but old virtues can help us make our new year a great one if we embrace them in a fresh way.

* faith - When we have more faith, our lives will progress. Embrace the gift of faith, and realise that it's essential and the foundation for all other virtues.

* goodness - Set out to be good by getting to know the One who is good – Jesus. If we learn to love God, we can then love other people.

* knowledge - Pray for the knowledge you need to be wise, and the humility to always remember that knowledge is a gift from God.

* self-control - Be self-controlled because we are grateful for the salvation you’ve received and want to thank God by pursuing holiness, because our prayers matter now and for eternity, and because we need to resist evil that is seeking to destroy you.

* perseverance - Don’t quit in tough situations. Don’t let setbacks defeat you. Remember the value in suffering: it refines your faith, it perfects your hope, it deepens your intimacy with Jesus, it trains you in holiness, and it weans you from sin.

* godliness - Develop Christ-like character and make our relationship with Jesus our top priority in life, and give His guidance precedent above everything

* kindness - Remember that God loves all people – they are all His children, made in His image. Decide to care for other people no matter what, recognizing that we can’t truly love God unless we also love the people He has made.

* love - Love unconditionally. Instead of waiting to feel love for someone, decide to act in love toward that person no matter what. Love the “least of these” (people you’d be tempted to trample or sidestep without love, such as prisoners, homeless people, or refugees).

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Resolution

A new year has begun and it's natural for us to set new priorities for ourselves. January tends to become a month for us to spend time to plan ahead and to focus on our goals. New Year's resolutions are always made about how one will try to make goals and stick to them through one's own will. The New Year is good in getting rid of old habits, to start afresh, to start anew, but what do we fill the New Year with? Should we not fill it with the One who has given us a fresh start?

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man." - Psalm 118:8 (NIV)

I hope this New Year, we will remember to put God at the centre of our lives, to set our goals in knowing him better and to becoming more and more like him each day. That is certainly one of my new year's resolution for 2007!

Happy New Year

Fireworks in Melbourne Posted by Picasa

The fireworks along Yarra River in Southbank on New Year's Eve marked the beginning of 2007 for Melburnians. I was enjoying the beautiful sights in my apartment with friends. The City skyline bursted into a rainbow of colour and sound at midnight.

As I was enjoying the fireworks which lasted for about 15 minutes, I was reminded again how time flies and moments need to be treasured as they go by so quickly! Therefore I am committed to living my life so that I can achieve my God-given dreams.