Thursday, March 24, 2005

My Testimony...

Well, I am at this point in the Masterlife series that I am to practise writing a testimony, so here it is...

My Life Before I Followed Christ
I have been very blessed even before I ever knew about Christ. I was born into a rather traditional Chinese family and have self-sacrificing parents whose only true desire was to make sure me and my sister grew up ok and are happy. As such, I did not lack anything growing up and had a head start in life through my education and confidence in life. I have been exposed to Christianity/Catholism from a young age, but saw it more as a "repent or go to hell" thing so there was abosultely no buy-in from me. :)
Many years later, I had what I thought was the perfect life for a Singaporean - great job, fast car and a air stewardess girlfriend (don't ask me why, but those 3 seemed to be the stuff of dreams back then). But you know what, for some strange reason, I was NOT happy. I was even depressed sometimes, especially when I cannot fill my time with working and being merry - e.g. there were nights when my friends had other engagements and I would be alone at home, and the feelings of depression and nameless anger would start. Needless to say, I was NOT the most pleasant guy to be with, even for my parents, as I was angry with them for not providing me with EVEN BETTER things in life!

What Happened?
Over time, I broke up with the air stewardess girlfriend, and I met someone else - you guessed it, my wonderful wife! :) She was certainly not destitude, but being from a large family, she also did not have a lot of the things that I had. BUT, she had JOY in her life. I could tell that she was genuinely happy and I could not figure it out. We started dating, and I remember one day, she lost a very expensive necklace of her mom's. She was freaking out and praying, and I decided to help pray too. So I literally said one of those "God, if you are really there.." prayers, and lo and behold, she found the necklace shortly. Still, I was not totally convinced - that could have been just a freak incident. I started attending some church services with her (as all good aspiring boy friends do) and while we were visiting churches, we came to Christ Methodist Church. For some reason, the sermons there really spoke to me in the 1st few weeks that we attended them. I can't really recall what the content of the sermons are, just that they really spoke to my heart. I guess that was the turning point for me, when I realised that Christianity was not about "obeying rules or go to hell", but about having a RELATIONSHIP with a loving God. So I commited to attend the services at Christ Methodist Church and even joined a Care Group (basically a small group that meets regularly to pray, study the bible, chit-chat, and have fun). Looking back, the Care Group had significant impact in my decision to stay in church. Having a group of (eventually) close friends with the same faith with whom I can talk about ANYTHING (my fears, desires, mistakes, encouragements), knowing that I will not be judged, but instead have emotional and prayer support is a tremendous thing. (If you are not in a Care Group, you REALLY ought to try it. It will feel kinda weird the 1st few meetings, but once the ice is broken, you will have loads of fun and be blessed tremendously.)

My Conversion
It is actually kinda hard to place a moment in time when it happened, but I gradually understood a few important facts:
  1. Christianity is about having a RELATIONSHIP with a loving God, not about obeying rules, giving money, trying to be good, etc...
  2. God is good, and so cannot tolerate sin. The very definition of sin is that which displeases (or does not honour) God. So rather than a God who sets rules and punishes us when we break them, I now understand that our God is a very strong and very pure God - that He is not a wishy-washy, whatever-happens kinda God, but a God who has a strong personality/character and one who is true to His principles.
  3. When God created us, He chose (out of His love) to give us free will - otherwise we would be like robots. When God made that decision, He knew that He is relinquishing control over us, and literally giving us the option to turn away from Him (i.e. to sin). This concept may be hard to grasp, but I know that as a parent, I would rather give my children the will to decide to how to live their lives, rather than to have children who are not able to think for themselves.
  4. So since God hates sin, and He has promised to punish those who sin (to correct us so we live according to His will - which is good, perfect and pleasing), AND at the same time, He loves us too much to let us receive the full result of our sin - DEATH, the only way He can reconcile us to Him is to punish HIMSELF! For who else can pay for all the sins of all people for all time once and for all? Certainly not mortals like us created in His image.
  5. That's just what He did - He stepped into time in the form of Jesus and died for each one of us - without having any control over who will actually be saved, because He has also given us free will to chose to accept Him or not. That means it is fair for me to say that God made that sacrifice even if it would result in only me being saved - how's that for a persoanl God?

What Being a Christian Means to Me?
Because He loves me, I want to love Him and honour Him in return. So I

  1. Accept Him into my life as Lord and Saviour (latter is so much easier than former, but they come together) . :) Having him as my Lord means literally, putting Him first in EVERYTHING.
  2. I seek to deepen my RELATIONSHIP with Him by communicating with Him (via reading His Word and praying).

The two feed each other, because when we communicate with the Lord, He continually shows us areas in our life that may not be right with Him - i.e. not in line with His good, pleasing and perfect will - and so in response we continue to make Him the Lord of our lives by changing these areas to please Him.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Having a BALANCED walk with God

This is the "Disciple's Cross" illustration from the Masterlife series, and to me it is a good summary of the Christian walk.
  1. First and foremost, the starting point has to be the willingness to take up our cross DAILY, so as to have a relationship with God.
    "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
  2. So how do we have a relationship with God? The vertical axis of the cross reminds us that the two main areas of communication with Him are Prayer and His Word. Experience has shown that if either one of these is missing, we lack the means to communicate with our Lord. It would be like complaining that our best friend or family does not call, when we are not even at the phone to hear it ring.
  3. Finally, the horizontal axis points to what overflows from a close walk with the Lord - Fellowship with fellow Christians and Witnessing to non-Christians. This forms the basis of our Ministry or Service for the Lord.

I have found this simple illustration to be very useful in checking my walk with the Lord. Anytime that we find that the 4 elements in the vertical and horizontal axis of the cross - Prayer, Word, Fellowship and Witness - not being in balance in our lives, is an indication that we need to check our walk with God. For example, reading His Word but not praying could be a sign that I am relying too much on my own understanding/interpretation of His Word and may even be playing "Bible lottery" - you know, the dangerous game of flipping the bible to a random page/verse and trying to find a specific answer to our need of the moment. Or, another example is if I am consistently praying and reading His Word, but have no ministry (to Christians or non-Christians) to show for it, I am in danger of reading/knowing His will but not doing it.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. " James 2:14-17

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So What's the Deal with Intentional Discipleship?

Over the weekend, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to do more justice to Intentional Discipleship (instead of jus the few cursory lines I have written so far), so here is a lay man's understanding of what it is all about...

  1. I guess the starting point is that our Lord's salvation plan hinges on us KNOWING about His saving grace and ACCEPTING it into our lives.
  2. The Great Commission from Jesus gives us a hint of how God intends to do that:
    "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
    The Lord intends to use Christians as His predominant means of spreading the good news of His saving grace and bringing fellow brothers and sisters to accept His saving grace. Yes, the Lord's salvation is dependent on the will and actions of Christians! Such is the beauty and love of our Lord that He INVOLVES us in His salvation for the world.
  3. Hence there is a responsibility for Christians to (1) grow to become matured Christians, so that (2) we can do the "good works" God prepared for us to do as part of His awesome and perfect salvation plan for the world.
    "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. " Ephesians 2:8-10
    "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-13
  4. So, salvation is a PROCESS and not just an INSTANCE of accepting Christ. It is a LIFETIME of the following 3 actions on a DAILY (Luke 9:23) basis.
    (a) Repentance & Acceptance of Christ as Lord
    (b) Making a fundermental change to live a Spirit led life (Galatians 5:16-18) , i.e. becoming a Disciple of Christ
    (c) Doing good works - i.e. service in church - among believers (Ministry) and service among non-believers (Evangelism)
  5. And... finally, Intentional Discipleship is (as the name implies) a DELIBERATE process to grow into a true Disciple of Christ and to help others become Disciples of Christ, in accordance to the Lord's good, pleasing and perfect will. The actual process itself varies and there is much material on Intentional Discipleship on the Internet, but for me, the functional components are:
    (a) Putting God first in everything, everyday.
    “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
    (b) Learning to be a Disciple - being a living sacrifice. Building a RELATIONSHIP with God though the two pillars of studying His Word and prayer.
    "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2
    (c) Service in church (ministry) and among non-believers (evanglism) - see Ephesians 4:11-13 ab0ve. Checking myself against the fruit of the Spirit.
    "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol. Against such things there is no law. " Galatians 5:22-23
    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1-2

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Informal Training Plan

Ok, looks like some sort of training plan is needed to keep on track. This is what I will shoot for starting Week 3:
  • Sunday: Swim
  • Monday: Run
  • Tuesday: Bike
  • Wednesday: Swim
  • Thursday: Run OR Bike
  • Friday:Swim
  • Saturday: Bike/Run

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Update: 2 Weeks into the Plan...

So, 2 weeks into my plans to pursue Intentional Discipleship & to complete a Sprint Triathlon, and how are things going? Time for an update on my observations/challenges:

1. The Plan
The intention was to keep the plan simple:

  • Intentional Discipleship
    - To keep to my daily Quiet Time with the Lord - to spend at least 30 mins daily on prayer and 30 mins on Bible Study. I believe that a balanced walk with the Lord requires equal focus on both.
    - To continue serving as Care Group leader and in the Toddler's Playgroup every week.
    - To continue to make myself available to the Lord as prompted by the Holy Spirit.
  • Training for Sprint Triathlon
    - To commit to the "2 X Weekly Plan" - i.e. bike, run and swim twice a week. Perhaps build to 3 X swim a week since this seems my weakest event.
    - To keep it simple: Will not followed a structured plan as my schedule is kinda hard to predict with business travels and family appointments.

2. Time is a rare commodity
I must admit that I under-estimated how hard it would be to make time for both pursuits. Being a parent of young boys mean that I have time to myself only when they are either napping/sleeping, eating, or otherwise pre-disposed, so finding the extra hour has been very challenging. The "tri" idea being new (and still exciting), I am afraid I have been cutting back on my Quiet Time (prayer or bible study time) to go running, biking or swimming. Have decided that I need to set and KEEP TO some ground rules, and to keep to it SIMPLE:

  • Top priority must always be time for the Lord! If something has to "give", then it has to be either training time or time with the kids. If I am not right with God, everything falls apart anyway. "He will dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1 - I can only find rest and peace in Him when I continue to put Him as the Most High in my life.
  • Bible Study: Commit to spend at least 30 mins on Bible Study daily either in the mornings before work starts or over lunch-time at work. Weekends/Holidays, I commit to NOT doing any training until my Bible Study is done. If I work out first thing in the morning, there must be a realistic plan for me to make time for Bible Study later in the day.
  • Prayer: Commit to spend at least 30 mins in prayer nightly before I sleep. I tried praying while running the other way, and was amazed that it actually helps me to (1) focus on the prayer, and (2) forget about the "pain" of running. :) PRAISE GOD! I guess it works for me because I tend to be easily distracted, but running forces me to concentrate on just one thing, which is perfect for prayer. Will continue to practise this as a way to be more time-efficient and hopefully improve my prayer life as well!
  • Training:
    - The swim is probably my weakest event - goal is to move to 3 X swim a week.
    - Run is okay but slow - I should be able to consistently do 2 short runs a week (approx 4 km), but the goal is to go for at least one long run (> 5km) a week.
    - Slow on the bike too. Goal is to go for at least 2 X 30km rides weekly and to build to an average speed of 30km/hr (currently about 26-27km/hr).
  • Making better use of time - To try harder to find ways to combine activities. Prayer while running is one example. Another is to bring my kids cycling and run with them. Just got my older boy (4 yr old) a 16" bike and took him biking while I ran at the East Coast. It worked very well, except (1) we have to figure out what to do with my younger boy (2 yr old), and (2) he was too fast for me! :) Just a couple months ago, he was too slow for me on his 12" bike! Kids grow so fast. PRAISE GOD! All said, it was great fun, good for building my son's fitness and confidence, and a great way to motivate me to run faster (otherwise he has to keep waiting for me to catch up). I strongly recommend this to any parent struggling to find time to run.

3. The Finances

I already have a post on Finances and will use the comments to add additional $$$$ spent as I go along, but it sure is easy to get sucked into spending a lot on "tri" stuff. E.g. decent cyling shorts cost SGD$50, but I can't seem to find "tri" shorts for less than SGD$90. There are also many hidden costs - some examples:

  1. Bike glasses - I may need them soon as the trucks along Changi Coastal Road kick up a lot of sand when they zoom past. Coolest brands are no doubt Rudy Project and Oakleys, but oh so expensive!
  2. Bike Pump - Trying to re-use my old ones but nowadays the road bikes need fearsome pressure in the tyres. The rubber washers on my old pumps are brittle... Wonder if I should get them replaced and if they can hit the high presures even with new washers?
  3. Cycling gloves - decided not to get them for now, but they are good protection in case of falls, and probably improve riding comfort.
  4. Heart Rate Monitor - Have not gotten one yet but heard a lot about the benefits of using one from my buddies who are more "serious" runners. To me, this is a really very cool toy which can come in handy when motivation gets low. :) Have my eye on the Polar S625X - this baby has got bike monitors (for bike speed, distance, cadence) and can even tell running speed and distance! Some think the bike computer should ideally be seperate form the heart rate monitor, but me being me, combining it means one less device to lose or damage.
  5. Tri Gear - Do I really need tri shorts or suits just to do a Sprint Triathlon? Will try to get just one pair of "cheapo" tri shorts from Australia (courtesy of a very kind sis-in-law), and decide after I have tried them.
  6. Tri Bike - Probably the single most expensive item will be a decent Tri or Road bike. Been looking at Giant bicycles because it seem to offer the most bang for the buck. But.... Even then we are looking at between SGD$3-4K for a Giant TCR Composite 3 or a TCR Aero 1! This will have to be a very carefully rationalised decision. So far my trusty old (15 yr old) Centrurion Ironman is doing fine and I am having good fun riding it, so this is one investment that I will want to postpone for as long as possible. :)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My 17 Year Old Bike is Re-Activated!

So, this here is my bike from colleage days - a 1988 Centurion 'Dave Scott Ironman Expert' which I bought brand new in L.A., California. Rode it for a few years in L.A. and Vancouver, the latter even in winter snow, and it has served me well all those years. A very well built (steel) bike with a decent 105 group, to which I added Look clipless pedals, Profile Design aero tri bar, etc.

As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to save some cash by re-activating it for my Sprint Tri bid - replacing only essentials like the tyres, brake pads and the saddle, since it is still in overall pretty good condition.

These pictures were taken just before the 1st test ride after re-activation, and I am happy to report that it works just fine! Since then I have used it in both solo and group rides, and I must confess that it feels great to over-take guys in bikes costing 10 times more. ;) I still cannot really keep up with my super fit buddies in their fancy Orbeas, but I believe it has a lot more to do with my (lack of) fitness than the bike.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Couch to Sprint Triathlon - BUDGET

Ok, so here is the budget/actual damage so far...
  1. Bike - I decided to re-activate my 15 year old bike (steel frame, 105 grouppo, look pedals, aero add-on bar). Cost of new tyres, seat, brake pads, chain, and complete servicing = SGD$290
    [On hind sight, could have gone for a brand new Giant TCR for about SGD$1K and then sell it in a few months for about SGD$700 or so, if (when?) I wanna upgrade to a better bike. Would have been the same cost of ownership if I eventually upgrade to a better bike. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.]
  2. Biking Apparel - All the old stuff either fell apart or has become too small (OK, OK, I gained weight since then). SIDI shoes, cleats, shorts, jersy = SGD$280
  3. Running Shoes - ASICS Kayano. Budget SGD$200 (probably less, have not bought - out of stock!)
  4. Heart Rate Monitor - May not really need this... Polar S625X with Bicycle Set. Budget SGD$650
  5. Goodwill Contributions - Wireless bicycle speedometer from my good buddy CM.
  6. Others????

So I am thinking that perhaps a total BUDGET of about SGD$2K? That sure is a lot of money to spend to join my 1st Sprint Triathlon! But... I believe the process is just as important (if not more important) than the event itself, and I figure I am going to have a lot of fun preparing for the event.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Couch to Sprint Triathlon - TRAINING LOG

Ok, so I have decided to have a go at my 1st ever Sprint Triathlon - 800m swim, 5km run, and 20km bike. Not a big deal you say? Well, yes... except I am fast approaching 40 and I do not currently exercise regularly.

Swim - I can swim, but cannot even do front crawl for 50m, let alone 800m. This may well be the most challenging.

Run - I have been running off and on, but limited to about 4km max.

Bike - Last time I rode my road bike was about 15 years ago! Do I buy a new bike or re-activate my old bike?

I will use the "comments" to this post to log my daily training, just to keep track of how I am doing towards my goal...

Moving in the Spirit...

Since I am recording my physical attempts at the Sprint Triathlon, I thought I should also record my (even more important) spiritual journey to Intentional Discipleship.

Since my church took on the Intentional Discipleship program, I have started serving as a Care Group leader. A Care Group is essentially a group of Christians who gather on a regular basis to pray, worship, fellowship, and learn the Word. My Care Group is called "Life With Christ", and it has been a huge blessing to me - more than I can reasonably express! Recently I have also started helping out with the Toddler's Ministry in my home church - I must admit I look kinda silly leading the songs and little dances, but the Lord has put the love of young children in my heart. I can honestly say that I now find great joy in both areas of ministry in church.

I feel rather strongly that both areas of ministry have been the calling of our Lord, and the testimony is a confirmation of many things that are very personal to me. I am sharing this in the hope that through it, the Holy Spirit will also speak to some of you, as clearly as He is speaking to me and teaching me.

Transformed from the inside

For a few weeks before my encounter with the Lord, I had been struggling with a lot of anger and frustration. I felt anger and dislike against most of the pastors and leaders in our church. I was also angry with some of my friends in church. I was even envious of one of my close friends who was moving powerfully in the Spirit.

I felt alienated every time I went to the Care Group (CG) leaders meeting or church services, like a stranger who could not get along with anyone.

I knew that I was unjustified in all of this, yet I could not explain my negative feelings.

My struggle with God

During my quiet time, I realized that I was on dangerous ground with the Lord. Major struggles would occur at night, when I would try to sleep, and could not. Jeremiah 32:40 came to mind: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear Me, so that they will never turn away from Me.” I kept asking the Lord to “inspire me to fear Him” and not to smite me in His anger, nor to turn away from me. I think it was the night before the Wednesday CG leaders’ meeting that I came to the “apex” of my struggles. I cried to the Lord that the price He wanted was too high - how could I give up everything to him? My fears and problems - those were OK to give up - but how could I give up my ambitions, my desires, my pride, my anger - EVERYTHING!!!???

My encounter with God

The next day, I turned up at the Wednesday CG leaders’ meeting just for the sake of attending. I was feeling totally out of it.

The pastors were teaching us how to minister in prayer in church, and at one point, one of them said something to the effect that “to increase in the authority of your ministry, you must submit to the line of authority God has set in place for His church - eg pastors accountable to God, you accountable to the pastors, etc...” For some reason, I felt that God was speaking straight to my heart, and I immediately told God that I would submit to all the pastors, the leaders etc.. That was when I started feeling the presence of the Lord with me.

Later, we were called up by the pastor for “impartation” - essentially praying for us in order to equip us for the Ministry. As I stood in line waiting to be prayed for, I continued to pray my prayer of confession and submission - it was nothing intelligent, I simply kept repeating “I submit” and listed all the things I submitted - my ambition, my wants (each one in turn), my fears, etc. So here I was, distracted by what was going on, and trying to concentrate on my prayer. Then as the pastor went down the line towards me, I started to shake. It began in my hands which were held facing up (as though ready to receive something), and as he got nearer to me, I started shaking more and more. All this time I still felt in control of my body, in the sense that I think I could probably have stopped shaking if I had wanted to.

When he got to me, he held both my hands, between the thumb and first finger. I remember him saying something like “It is time for you to move in the Spirit”. I starting shaking even more. Then I heard him say “There he goes…” to the helpers. I realised that I was “wobbling” but still trying to hold myself up with my calf muscles. He said something like “Relax, just receive” and so I did. I gently collapsed on my back.

I was conscious, and felt in control of my body. When I submitted to the Holy Spirit, I did not fall back on my own accord, neither was I flung back. I did not feel the usual sensations of being moved to tears, nor warmth in my body; instead I felt cold, and was shaking from my hands to my jaws to my legs. It was the first time in my life I felt this way. Quite a lot of us were shaking, and I know at least one lady who totally lost control of her body. For me, I felt that I was always in control of my body, but each time I submitted to the Lord (in prayer and in thought), my shaking increased. It was like I could control how much I want to submit to the Holy Spirit and each time I did, I shook. For me, the experience was not so much of elation or being moved by God, but a very humbling experience. True to His word, God had indeed sent the Holy Spirit to “inspire me to fear Him”.

How have I changed?

I still disagree with some of the things the pastors and leaders may say, and those who know me know that I am still the same brute of a guy, but I now KNOW that when I serve, I have to serve under God’s terms and not my own. I submit to the authority God has placed in the pastors and leaders, and also in all of you as my brothers and sisters.

Where there was anger, God has put His love. I find that I am less
quick to disagree or judge the pastors and leaders now, and I truly love each of them, and am moved to pray for them, obey them, and generally hold them in high regard. I think I am now better able to see how God sees them, and because of that it is more natural for me to submit to their authority over me. I still struggle (though less than before) and I still have fears, but I also have a renewed conviction that our God is real, and He is true to His word, to inspire us to fear Him. His presence is so real to me now and it is easier for me to praise Him and obey Him.

Since then I have confessed to my CG about my unjustified anger and I also have to confessed to my wife for not listening to her and even getting angry with her for no apparent reason.

My plea

Come to the Lord and seek His Presence wherever you are! Come with an expectation and eagerness to experience Him in a real way. Bring whatever burdens, thanksgiving, ambitions, plans, etc you have and surrender them to Him. If you feel comfortable, ask your pastor/leaders for prayer and ask to experience the touch of the Holy Spirit. If you are not, come anyway and let God speak to you in a personal way.

To be honest, I am still trying to figure out what exactly is means to "move in the Spirit". So maybe you can also pray that God will grant me wisdom.

God Bless!

Intentional Discipleship & Triathlons

What is Intentional Discipleship?
"If a man would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
My home church (Christ Methodist Church, Singapore) has embarked on a "Intentional Discipleship" program, which has started with the 40 Days of Purpose program, and now has moved to the MasterLife series of books. In short, we believe that Christianity is a discipleship process and hence we need to be deliberate about our efforts to become disciples, and disciple-makers.

So what has Intentional Discipleship got to do with Triathlons?
Erm... Not much really, except that I have come to learn that both requires Intentional, Disciplined and Balanced effort in multiple disciplines to have results. In training for a triathlon, one should focus on weaknesses rather than strengths, to ensure that all 3 disciplines of Swimming, Biking and Running are equally developed - e.g. in my case, swimming seems to be the weakest discipline, so I have to work on that more. If I cannot even swim 800m, there is no point for me to be the fastest runner nor biker (not that I am either of those). :) In the same way, being a Disciple of Christ also requires balanced development in 3 critical areas:

  1. Putting Christ 1st in our hearts EVERYDAY and in EVERYTHING
  2. Relationship with God
    (a) studying His Word
    (b) prayer
  3. Relationship with others
    (a) with believers - Fellowship and Service in Church (Ministry)
    (b) with non-believers - Evangelism

For example, if I pray daily but do not read His Word daily, I run the risk of not being effective in prayer, because God's promise of answering our prayers is CONDITIONAL on (1) us remaining in Him, which (2)enables us to pray in accordance to His Will.
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." John 15:7
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Similarly, if I pray and read His Word, but do not serve my brothers/sisters in church, nor be a witness for God's grace to non-believers, I may have a good relationship with God, but I am not doing any of the good works that the Lord has set out for me to do.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. " Ephesians 2:8-10
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:14-17

What I am setting out to do...

  1. Continue to grow in Intentional Discipleship, with the aim to increase in the fruits of my Christian life
    (a) In being a channel for God's blessings and saving grace to the believers and non-believers around me
    (b) In growing the fruit of the Spirit within me
    "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
  2. Complete my 1st ever Sprint Triathlon by end 2005. Two reasons why I want to do this:
    (a) Believe it or not, I have started feeling bored in the free time I have between work and the family! Lately, when I have nothing to do, I feel like I am wasting precious time (and I am not getting any younger - mid life crisis???). I must confess that this has led to me being rather irritable and even depressed for no apparent reason. I believe the Lord wants me to focus on positive things and stop all these negative thoughts and feelings.
    "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. " Philippians 4:8
    (b) To submit my body to the Lord in the form of regular exercise (since my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, I better keep it in good condition). Me being me, I seem to be able to keep up with regular exercise when I have something to aim at, so the Sprint Triathlon is just that.
    "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  3. Have a lot of fun doing BOTH!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Who Am I?

Ok, this is a post-dated entry, but I figured that the logical start is a bit of background of who I am...

I am FAST approaching 40 (okay, okay VERY FAST), married to a wonderful woman, and the Lord has blessed us with with 2 lovely boys - 2 & 4 yrs old at the time of this post. I am first and foremost a Christian, then a husband and father, and then a middle manager at work. :) I started this blog with the intention of
  1. Sharing my faith, with particular focus on a "ground-up" view of Intentional Discipleship
  2. Documenting my attempts to go from the couch to my 1st ever Sprint Triathlon

My hope is that this blog may serve to encourage other similarly busy folks out there to make time for the Lord and to live life "to the full". For Jesus said "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10).