August 31 to September 2, 2017.

This was my fourth time to attend the Intentional Disciplemaking Church (IDMC) Conference in Singapore.

When the conference ended, I was asked by a dear brother and pastor, Ps Chua Chung Kai of Covenant EFC, how my IDMC experience was.

It didn’t take long before tears started to flow (again) from my eyes. And he just gently uttered, “painful”.

In that quiet gap within our brief chat, something resonated between us. Then, I added, “it was painfully beautiful (emphasis mine)”.

To find ministry tools and effective methods in growing a church, I believe there’s a ton of material around the world and a few clicks in the world-wide web that cover such a need.

I think the IDMC is one venue, however, I would honestly say it is not the best place for this pursuit of getting tools – primarily because I think it wasn’t much intended for the purpose of methodology.

Rather, the IDMC is getting your roots aright. The why precedes the what and the how.

The annual Intentional Disciplemaking Church Conference is a place to meet with the Master who gave us the mission before we can even craft the proper methodology. In short, it is a time to know Jesus – well, together with 5,300 other leaders!

Ultimately, I believe with my whole heart that knowing Jesus underpins everything in life!

This year’s theme was something I hold so close to my heart. It was about rekindling our spiritual passion. I bought my conference ticket back in September 2016, thinking that this would be a timely personal retreat for me this year.

(Oh boy, how timely it was.)

Unlike the previous IDMC’s where I had the time and resources to move around Singapore, I took a solo flight this time with little luggage, a few bucks in my pocket, brought my old trustworthy EZlink card for my transportation, a budget room to lodge in, and a few e-books to keep my mind reflecting, rethinking… and realigning. Nothing fancy; just the essentials.

The opening night on August 31st was a call to break the “fallow ground” (cf. Jeremiah 4:1-4), which entailed taking out the thorns and big rocks in my life that kept me from loving the LORD with my all (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

I needed to further understand, appreciate and embrace brokenness – a holy, healthy kind of brokenness. I needed to grasp that I couldn’t really live apart from God, and I was in desperate need of saving, of redeeming and of changing.

I also realized how much my heart longed to see progress in my own life and in the things I have been entrusted with (such as work, ministry, relationships, etc.)

And yet, my heart resists the necessary change that has to first take place in me.

I realized how much I need Jesus, to live more in His grace and enjoy cooperating with Him.

In this personal retreat, I had a renewed fervor to get deeper into the deep things of God.

“Think-time” over kopi and toast.

 

The remaining days at the conference dealt with the four heart-wrenching yet subtle obstacles that keep one from a burning passion for Jesus: the primal wounds of the heart, the cynicism of the mind, the paralysis of the will and the overcrowding of the soul.

I plan to share more about these four huge items in the coming weeks, but for now, let me just say this: the LORD knows the unseen anatomy of our souls and He longs to transform us to be a certain kind of people who lives in His beautiful redemptive purpose.

Walking with Jesus is painful, but utterly beautiful.

While I could not reverse the failures I have made in the past, nor could I dictate what my life would look like in the future… the Lord is calling you and me in the here and now to walk in the dailyness of knowing Him, loving Him, and obeying Him in full abandon.

Reflecting still… I just can’t help but give thanks to the One who loved me – a sinner. I just can’t help but worship the One who holds all things together. I just can’t help but adore the One who has chosen to save me out of the mire and the ugly darkness of this world… and bring me into His marvelous, glorious light.

Oh, to the Triune God who loves a wretched man like me, thank You!

… May I truly live the rest of my days covered in the dust of my Master – Jesus.