Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reproduce and Remember

Studies in 2 Timothy: Paul’s Last Words 
(Discipleship & Leadership Development) II  
Preached in DUMC on 4 & 5 Feb 2012
Audio Sermon can be downloaded here: Audio Sermon Download.
Reproduce & Remember (2 Timothy 2:1-13)
By Pastor Chris Kam    
(Summarized by: Ng Phaik May and Emily Foo)

Picture this: an older man, Apostle Paul, coming to a younger man, like a spiritual father coming to encourage a spiritual son. 

What did the older man do?  He encouraged him, exhorted him, affirmed him, equipped him, empowered him and enabled him to be faithful in the ministry.  How many of us would love to have a spiritual father like that?  We all need a spiritual father like that. 

But how many of us would think that we need or aspire to be a spiritual father or mother to someone?  Just as much as we receive that kind of love and encouragement from others, we should also be doing the same for people around us. 
Do we have stories like that in DUMC, where we are encouraged and we in turn encourage someone else?  Here is a testimony from Amy and Warren Tan, who were married not too long ago.

Amy and Warren
Prior to getting married, Amy and Warren were courting for about three years and they have been married for more than two years already. 

As they were a couple who were ‘crazy in love’, after three months of courtship, they knew that they wanted to get married to each other, but of course they knew that they were not ready, because she was only 21 years of age.

At that stage of their relationship, they realised that they needed help, because they were so in love with each other.  Since Auntie Stella (wife of Pastor Chris Kam) was a mentor to Amy already, Amy suggested to Warren that they, as a couple, should go see Pastor Chris and Auntie Stella to get their advice on what to do.  Pastor Chris, being someone who knew Amy for many years, called Warren one day and invited him for breakfast.  Warren was really scared because he thought when a pastor calls you up, it usually means that you are in trouble.  Warren thought that counselling was for people who needed help, and at that point of his life, he was proud and assumed that he knew how to take care of Amy.  He then realised how wrong he was.  Through that first meeting and subsequent relationship counselling, their lives were changed. 
Amy chose Auntie Stella to be her mentor because Amy found her to be very practical, and she always sought to relate and to empathise with Amy.  Amy thought that was very helpful for her.  What did Amy and Warren learn from Pastor Chris and Auntie Stella? 
Three things came to mind: how humble they both were, how practical the both of them were and how God-centred the both of them were.  Amy and Warren learnt a lot because in the early stages of their relationship, they made a lot of mistakes and as with any couple, they had their issues and problems.  Whenever Amy and Warren approached Pastor Chris and Auntie Stella, they felt that they could share openly, transparently and honestly.  They never felt judged or condemned.  Through each and every issue Amy and Warren had, they would encourage them, and Amy and Warren could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  They were always very encouraging, and Amy and Warren are always grateful for that.  Hence, they want to model their lives after Pastor Chris and Auntie Stella’s.  Today, they stand proud to be their disciples. 
For Amy, it is also the element of humour in a marriage, which is very important.  During each counselling session, Pastor Chris and Auntie Stella never failed to have a joke between each other, and they will laugh at the other’s jokes.  Amy was in awe in that after more than 20 years of marriage, Pastor Chris and Auntie Stella still have fun with each other, which is contrary to what most people believe about couples who have been married for long.  Amy and Warren thus incorporated humour into their own lives as well, because it is so much more fun and exciting. 
To courting couples, Amy and Warren have this to say: before deciding to get married, it is always good to seek an older couple for purposes of accountability, and if you are already planning to get married, look forward to the Pre-Marriage Counseling (PMC), which sets the foundation for married lives.  To married couples, the couple firmly believes in counselling and discipleship, and it is also important that each of us takes somebody on to mentor to as well.

Mentoring, discipling, counselling, etc. is actually about a life affecting another life.  You do not need to know a lot in order to affect somebody.  You just need to be authentic about your life, and begin to pass it on.  DUMC has actually married over 300 people over the last 18 years, and every couple has gone through the pre-marital counselling (PMC) process.  Right now in DUMC, there are more than 30 couples being counselled by over 30 other older couples. 

What Apostle Paul had in mind was, whatever he builds on, it must be built to last.  Apostle Paul does not build short-term.  What he did was that he imitated the Lord Jesus Christ, in the way the Lord Himself discipled 12 people under Him.  In other words, the entire future of the Christian faith was in the hands of 12 people.  That is a scary thought.  Jesus Christ came to earth and entrusted everything to 12 people, and it was only over three years.  Apostle Paul copied this strategy.
What does it mean, ‘to pass on’?  It is really about investing in people’s lives.  If you were to remember one thing from this sermon, it is about investing into another person.  We should not invest into things because things will not last.  But when we invest into people, it will last.
For example, in ‘RM5’ shops, most items will be labelled with a ‘Made in China’ label.  For some reason, this does not ring positively among most people, as compared to products with a ‘Made in Japan’ label, where the perception changes immediately.  What would people’s perception be, if we are labelled with a ‘Made in DUMC’ label? 
There was this story, about this businessman from DUMC who ordered a huge consignment of umbrellas from China.  He negotiated for a lower price from the supplier, so that he can get another consignment.  The supplier agreed to provide a discount.  Soon enough, the huge consignment arrived and when the businessman opened the parcel, to his horror, what he found was only frames of umbrella (without the nylon cloth).  Frantically, he called the supplier and complained.  The supplier said that since the businessman wanted a discount, this is what he would get.  What is the moral behind this story?  When you want something of excellence, you actually have to pay for it. 
In our context of investing into people’s lives, what do we pay, in terms of making this effort here?  It requires your energy, a process, and the know-how.  It also requires a desire in our hearts to be excellent.  In other words, if you want something to be good, there is no quick fix.  You cannot take short cuts.  You have to invest into people’s lives if you want people to be excellent disciples. 
Apostle Paul gave two simple instructions as to how this can be done.  One, he said to reproduce yourself.  Two, while you do that, remember Christ. 

A. Reproduce

1.   Look at yourself
As we do this, pray that in the days to come, people will not only see a ‘Made in DUMC’ label, but one that says ‘Made in Christ’ in us.  We thank God for the privilege of being able to invest in the lives of somebody else. 

What does it mean to reproduce ourselves? 
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  (2 Timothy 2:1)

Before you reproduce yourself, make sure you look at yourself first.  You cannot reproduce something you do not have.  You can only reproduce something that you do.  Apostle Paul asked Timothy if he was strong in the grace of Jesus Christ because at that time Timothy was going through a difficult time.  Timothy was being persecuted and was probably wondering why he has to go through all these.  He may even be at the verge of giving up.  Are you right now going through a difficult time?  Be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The problem with many of us is that we do not know how to be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Before we even talk about reproducing ourselves, we need to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

How does God grow us in His grace?  God often grows us through trials and tribulations and difficulties in our lives.  We do not normally grow during good times.  In fact during good times, we forget God.  We see it over and over in our lives and in the lives of God’s people as well.  Therefore, strangely, we often grow in the grace of God through difficult times in our lives.  In the mind of Apostle Paul, Timothy will grow if he maintains the right attitude towards the problems and sufferings in his life. 

Are we living in difficult times right now, for us living in urban Kuala Lumpur?  Reading about the persecuted churches around the world and people who died for their faith, we are living the good life, compared to what is going on around the world.  And we can thank God for that. 

While studying in Australia, in the midst of a good country, somebody reminded Pastor Chris of: If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5)  

It means simply this:  when you are racing with men on foot, if you fail in that, how in the world would you be able to fight with those on horses?  If in a safe country, you keep falling as a Christian, how in the world would you be able to survive when persecutions really come? 

While in a safe environment in Malaysia, e.g. the freedom to come to worship God every week, how are we doing as Christians?  How is our relationship with God? 

When you look at yourself, you will realise that there are still so many Christians who are struggling with themselves.  They spend so much time struggling with themselves that they have no time for others.  And that is the strategy of the evil one, who makes you so busy with yourself that you have no time for others.  In DUMC, there are many platforms for you to grow, to get out of yourself, and to be the kind of person that God wants you to be. 

2.  Look at others
Do not misunderstand. You do not have to be perfect before you look at others in the journey of growth.  The average Christian live only for themselves because most of the time they are struggling.  The only things they leave behind are their wealth, status and the food they consume.  These are broken things which do not make life worth living. 
What is the strategy that Jesus used in sharing the love of God among people?  The strategy is very simple and does not involve great crusade meetings.  The strategy?  One touching one.  If this is practiced by each of us, then in 30 years, the whole world can be touched.  If anything that we do in church does not involve building people, then don’t do it because it is a waste of time. 

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  (2 Timothy 2:2)

What are the things you look for as you look at others?  Paul is confident of how people view him as he shares in front of witnesses.  There is nothing in his life that people can use against him.  Cobwebs in our lives will one day be out and that is the fear of most people in leadership positions. But Apostle Paul is very clear – whatever he says in front of witnesses, he says it with clear conscience, that is, he not afraid of people finding out about his life.  And that is why he lived a very consistent life and is not afraid of what others will say of him. 
If we live our lives with integrity and authenticity, we have no fear in life. 

The most important thing in ministry is to invest in faithful men and women; or at least the potential to be faithful.  Do not invest into people who are unfaithful.  But look, observe and pray, and look for these reliable people. 

Pastor Chris Kam shared that in his journal, he has a page that contains a ‘List of 30’, where he asked the Lord for a list of 30 people that God has made him noticed in his life.  Over the years, he will jot down the names of those people that he has noticed, that he thinks has potential.  He will then pray to the Lord as to who He wants Pastor Chris to invest in. 

Then God will begin to show certain people to him and he will make time for these people.  These do not happen overnight.  The ‘List of 30’ has made him realise that investment in people is one of the most important things in ministry, not speaking to huge crowds.  It is really about investing, one-on-one, into people around you. 

If this is something so important that the Lord Himself did and Apostle Paul reminds us to do, then why has this been a neglected in ministry and in the church?  How many of us make time for people regularly?  The main reasons we do not are because it takes time, effort, a lot of inconveniences and it costs money too.

3.   What do we reproduce in our disciples? 
What is discipleship?  Discipleship is simply reproducing ourselves. The key idea behind discipleship is to reproduce.  It is imitation.  However, it is not imitation in a negative way, as you would see imitation goods being sold on Petaling Street.  These pirates usually copy brands like Nike, Adidas, etc, but not brands like Bata. Why? It is perception of the brand. The famous ones are worthwhile to copy!
Imitation happens all the time, even in the bible. Here are a few examples:

Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Corinthians 4:16)
Apostle Paul urged the Corinthians to copy him.  Like how Amy and Warren copied Pastor Chris and Stella with regards to humour. 

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:12)

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Is discipleship a tough concept?  No.  It is basically reproducing ourselves, people copying you as how you would copy Christ.  That is all that is needed in discipleship. 

Discipleship is not about just teaching.  Most of us shy away from discipling people because we think we must be so well-versed with the Bible that we must know everything from Genesis to Revelation.  That is a misnomer. 

A discipler would just need to walk one step ahead, and bring someone along with him/her.  Some of us may be two or three steps ahead, but all you need is just to be one step ahead, and you can bring someone along with you.  It is okay to bring someone else along with you because you are following someone else too.  You are not doing it yourself because you are also looking to Christ.  That is Jesus Christ’s strategy of world evangelism.

But remember, you cannot pass on something that you don’t have.  That is why it is so important that you grow in God.  In DUMC, in a safe country, we have plenty of opportunities to grow.  But why are we not taking these opportunities to grow? 

Apostle Paul has shown us three things that we must reproduce in people.  He brought up the analogy of the soldier, athlete and farmer. 

Soldier: Obedience and a clear mission call
Being a soldier imitates the obedience and a clear mission call. 

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.  (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

In other words, Apostle Paul is saying to Timothy, obedience is key.  You need to obey God and teach others to obey Him.  When you obey God, God is going to challenge you to do things that we do not want to do.  But as a soldier, we will obey.  So that is something we have to reproduce in our disciples. 

Expect hardship as you follow Him.  During the days of Apostle Paul, there are very few full-time soldiers.  Many of these soldiers are farmers, blacksmiths, etc., but they will be called into and paid for their service.  And they will be away for a period of time before returning home.  They will miss their families, but they will obey their commanding officer and go. 

In the movie Gladiators, Caesar asked Maximus how long he has been away from his home, to which Maximus replied, two years, 246 days and this morning.  In other words, he was longing for his family.  He was counting the days.  But he will obey his commanding officer despite the hardship, and does what the commanding officer asks him to do.  He will only return home when the time is up.  That is called obedience and a clear mission call. To be ready for hardships and sacrifices - these are demanded of the Christian life. 

Do we understand that the Christian call is a call to obedience?  The Christian life is a life of spiritual warfare, whether you like it or not.  When you are a man, you are a warrior, fighting for your rights.  Too many men are losing their own lives and families to the world.  Therefore, we need to learn to be soldiers of Christ.  Every man should recognise that he is a soldier of Jesus Christ and should fight for what is his.  That is the spirit of a soldier/warrior that we need to reproduce in men. 

Athlete: Discipline – play by the rules
Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5)

As an athlete, we train people to be disciplined.  There are rules that we play by.  In ancient Greece, before an athlete competes, he needs to go before the god of that time, Zeus, as well as the priests to say that they have already been training for ten months for the games.  If they have not trained for ten months, then they are out of the competition. 

That is why we need to reproduce discipline in disciples.  They would then do what is right and will not fumble.  In DUMC, there are many platforms that can be used to help with our Christian life. 

For example, cell groups, whereby there is a community people who can help you.  We must be disciplined in our family lives as well, such as making time for our spouse and children.  The School of Leadership programme helps make you strong. So, have the discipline to sign up and mark it in your calendar.  There are many platforms in DUMC that will help you grow but it takes discipline. 

Farmer: Perseverance and hard work with an end in mind
The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.  (2 Timothy 2:6-7)

The hardworking farmer perseveres and does not give up.  Even when the going gets tough, he keeps going because he has a fruit in mind.  What you need to reproduce in people is the ability to look long-term.  You look say 10 years down the road and see what your disciple would become when we disciple them properly. 

Do the soldier, athlete and farmer speak to you about your life?  Because that is what you need to reproduce in people.  And you cannot reproduce, if you do not have it.  Pastor Chris then challenged us to put some simple goals in our personal life and grow in those areas.  There is no easy Christianity.  Often, we do not take our faith seriously enough. 

Pastor Chris then quoted A. W. Tozer in Men Who Met God: ‘We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living.  This attitude finds its way into the church.  We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury.  As a result, discipline has practically disappeared.  What would a violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician’s instrument were all hanging loose, not stretched tight, not ‘disciplined’?’ 

B. Reproduce
We need to toughen up ourselves a lot more in our lives. 

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.  This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.  Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.  Here is a trustworthy saying:   If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.  If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:8-13)

In all that you do, Christ must be the centre.  When you reproduce yourself in other people, Christ must be the centre, because Christ gave an example of what it means to give His life to us.  Therefore, when He gives His life to us, how are we then to give our lives to somebody else? The greatest gift that God has given to us is the gift of eternal life.  And that is the greatest gift that you can give to somebody else.  But the second greatest gift after the gift of eternal salvation is to help the new believer grow so that he may be the man or woman that he or she ought to be.  That is discipleship.

Pastor Chris shared that he has been discipled by many people in his life.  He has followed some people very closely in his life journey. For some others, he followed from a distance.  There are also some where he followed by reading their books.  Pastor Chris is a good follower even until today.  But he is also a good observer of people. 

Pastor Chris shared some of his experiences with some of his disciplers over the years. 

Brother Rick Small whom Pastor Chris met while he was still studying in Australia, requested to meet up with him every Friday to work through issues like his prayer life and his quiet time.  He would also bring Pastor Chris along as he goes out to share Christ with other people.  Pastor Chris is to watch how he does it.  That is what Pastor Chris did every Friday for one whole year. 

Also during Pastor Chris’ university years, he met with Pastor Milton, a university pastor, who has a great compassion for people who are hurting.  Only when Pastor Chris was in ministry did he realise that it is true that people are hurting all the time. Pastor Milton taught Pastor Chris about compassion for people. 

Pastor Chris also met this other couple, Max and Irene Williams during his years in Australia.  They taught him what it means to have a Christian family.  They did not really teach this directly; he just watched their family life, and how they expressed their love for each other. 

In DUMC, Brother Yeoh Beng Keat, who is Amy’s father, actually mentored Pastor Chris to be prophetic.  Pastor Dr Ling taught Pastor Chris about having a passion for missions.  Pastor Kee taught Pastor Chris about family, hospitality and how they bring up their children.  Pastor Chris also shared that Elder Wong Cheng Mun and his wife Elena, who are the most humble people he has ever met, and he told himself that he wants to imitate them.  Senior Pastor Dr Daniel Ho taught Pastor Chris to have focus and faith in building Dream Centre.  For Pastor Edmund Chan and Wayne Cordeiro, Pastor Chris modelled after them from a distance, and he fell in love with the Word of God because of them. 

It is time for us to pour ourselves to other people.  The greatest joy that Pastor Chris and Stella had last year was when their youngest son Ashton, told them that they had taught him to love God more.  His second son, Shaun shared that they taught him how to handle the Word of God better as he talks to people, just like how his parents do the same when they talk to people.  Pastor Chris and Stella were also thrilled when his eldest son, Ian, asked him if it was possible for parents to conduct pre-marital counselling for their own children.  Ian requested that his parents themselves conduct pre-marital counselling on him, because he has seen how his parents had conducted the same on others. 

Discipleship is not about the big things you do for people.  Sometimes, people do catch the little things that you do like story of Mr Holland. 

Mr Holland’s Opus
Pastor Chris then shared from an extract of the movie, Mr Holland’s Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss, which is about a high school teacher, Mr Holland, whose desire was to be the composer of a symphony, which was his first love.  He wanted to compose music and be famous.   But because of the situation in his life, he remained a high school teacher for 30 years, in the same school. 

The final scene depicts Mr Holland’s last day of teaching as he was about to retire.  He wondered if he has made a difference, if people would have remembered what he has done, or whether he has wasted his life.  This is because in his mind, he still wanted to write the symphony. 

The excerpt of the movie shown is as follows:
On his final day as a teacher, Mr Holland is led to the school auditorium.  Hearing that their beloved teacher is leaving, hundreds of his pupils have secretly returned to the school to celebrate his life.  His wife and son arranged for musicians to perform, as a surprise to Mr Holland.  One of his students who became the Governor of the town asked the retiring teacher to serve as their conductor for their performance, as the curtain is raised to reveal an orchestra made up of his students over the past 30 years.  His wife and son looked on, appreciating the affection and respect that Mr Holland received, as he lifted the baton and began to conduct his opus.

Pastor Chris shared that in the lives of the world, Mr Holland may be a failure because he did not compose a symphony, but he has invested into the lives of so many students. That is his symphony. Over 30 years, he has made an impact in each of their lives. 

Pastor Chris’ prayer is for God to challenge us to live lives more purposefully. We are to live a life where we can reproduce ourselves in others, be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and to help us lead lives where others would like to imitate.

Would you reproduce and remember Christ?

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