December 5, 2018
Good morning everybody. We would like to share about our journey and what God has done in our lives through Life Group. As Christians, we regularly attended church services on Sundays before we joined Life Church. However, we entered a season where we feel that going to church is just becoming a mere obligations, and different things in life have taken our priorities away from God, Himself. Our lives were just going through the motions. Our days were packed with busy schedule. Inevitably, we felt tired, lost without purpose, our spiritual lives were neglected, our souls were empty, and it slowly took a toll on our marriage.
3 years ago, in December 2015, through a divine appointment, we came to Life Church after an invitation from a friend. Not long after that we started to join Life Group in February 2016. At the time, the lesson was based on Alpha Marriage, exactly what we needed! For a young family like us, with 2 kids aged 6 and 2 then, going to Life Group was something that unimaginable and very challenging, since we had so many doubts in our minds, who will look after our kids, can we cope with additional schedule to attend another activities, and so on and so on… However, it is quite a surprise and encouragement for us to see fellow members with young kids, attending life group with such hunger and joy, not as burden or obligation. They understand the struggle of young families and with their own life situation, they are still willing to welcome and journey together with new members with loads of issues like us. This is something that we thought would be impossible to do, raising a young family as well as having a heart to look after other families, it seems too good to be true, and it leave a very deep impression in our hearts.
I would like to share how we’ve grown since going to Vineyard Life Group. I used to feel alone in this marriage and I used to put all of my self-worth and satisfaction from work. Work became priority for me and work became my identity. Through Alpha Marriage course and discussions in our Life Group, I felt God was revealing to me that what I was doing was not right. I was very grateful that one of the “mandate” from Alpha Marriage was carving out time in the middle of our busy lives and dedicating it for Marriage Time. We started doing that, and in the beginning it was hard because we were addressing years and years of resentment and we often ended up fighting more. I said it was hard but it actually wasn’t because over time God helped both my husband and I to change from the inside. Once the resentment is out, we no longer see each other as enemies and we started appreciating each other again. I know God has helped me because in the past it was almost impossible to do what the Bible says in Ephesians 5: 22 “Wives, respect your husband” but now it’s only hard half of the time.
Another issue I was struggling with was with my attitude towards work. This year we are learning what brokenness is and what does it mean to be broken. Again, God was revealing to me that because work has given me satisfaction, work has become my idol and also my pride. Even with that knowledge in my head plus with the support and prayers of my Life Group, it still took me 2 years to finally learn the lesson. My Life Group knows my struggle and my Life Group was also there when I shared about how heartbroken I am (at the end) when what I’ve been working so hard for amounted to nothing and when my pride was being grounded to powder. At that time, I know that God has not abandoned me and His grace was there through the support of our Life Group.
Reflecting back to our journey, we started with a quest to safe our marriage, and we found God along the way. We are so grateful that God is not giving up on us. We are so grateful that our Life Group did not put any judgement on us and being patient with us. We are so grateful to have such a wonderful Life Group leaders, who despite of their own limitations and own circumstances, they cared for us, spent time with us, listened to our issues, and shared tears in prayers for us. We know that our Life Group is certainly not perfect. If it was, I’m sorry because it is now not perfect anymore since we joined 3 years ago. But whatever situation it was, our Life Group is more than enough for us.
Today, we would humbly say, if we can stand in front of you, it is also because of God’s work in our lives through the Life Group we are in. What would our live be, without Life Group. What would your live be, without Life Group.
We first came to Life Church on 26 Feb 2017. We just came along with a friend who was invited to visit this church. By Monday my husband and I already look forward to the next Sunday to come again. Our first impression was that it is different. What is it? Now we know that it was your intention and your authenticity.
Having spend the last over 20 years in a Chinese church we found ourselves learning English again. To name a few, starting with IDMC, then ABCD, ADID, SPO, 3As, 3Ps, 4Rs, 4Ss, 4Ts… and it got harder, “paradigm shifts, anthropological thinking, ontological inversion.. Week after week our hearts were pricked by the message and we were brought down to tears. We heard God speaking deep into our hearts even though it was Pastor Paul’s voice. It was a season of trimming and pruning, digging and replanting for us.
A few months later we started joining a life group. Because we also came from a cell group church, initially we were comparing, and between the two of us we started criticising and complaining. We thanked God that he was quick to rebuke and correct us. Very soon He opened our eyes to see that the leaders are chosen because of their life and obedience, to be faithful not to be perfect; to be available not to be faultless. We saw our leaders sacrifice their time, talent, treasure and territories week after week as we attend in comfort and convenience. We started praying for them. We also prayed that we would have a more patient, gentle and sensitive spirit with attentive ears, and an open, teachable heart. Coming from a more reserved culture, we were surprised to see how openly people shared about their private struggles and pain. Of course now we understand that was brokenness we saw. Our heart ache together, we prayed for one another and rejoiced and praised God together as we see God’s hand move among us.
God has his reason to take me to life church to humble myself and to be broken. For the last thirty years, I was proud to depend on my own strength and talent to survive in this secular world and within the church. I thought I have done pretty well in comparison to others. However I was struggling with the fact that self righteousness has prompted me to criticise others without hesitation. I can see the wrong from others but was ignorant to my foolish self-indulging behaviour. I was acting as if I am the only person holding the truth. I was struggling to see what His plan is for me. Confrontation, accusation and arguments were unavoidable. At the end I had to get away from it all.
But God did not give up on me and he brought me to life church to experience a different way of Christian life. Life church is not perfect, but your focus is directional toward God, your mandate is the unshaken waving of the flag of IDMC and we are marching toward the goal to be authentic. I will embrace this whole-heartedly and it is a necessary journey for me to be broken again and again. To take on this necessary journey, I need to be part of an Authentic Biblical Community. Through support and prayer from life group I have a better chance of becoming an ABC- Authentic, Broken and Courageous.
Hebrew 10: 19-25 19 Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Another testimony was from earlier this year. A probing question from my daughter pierced me one day when she asked me what I have been learning in church. I told her I have been learning ‘stewardship, surrender, paradigm shifts of my inner life, brokenness…’ She said, “ Mum, you are only giving me words, but what is it, how? “ She was making me accountable. She was asking me “How have you responded?” “What are you doing differently?”
In this season, God has gradually revealed my sins and my pride, convicted me of my pretence, self-centeredness, half-heartedness, double-mindedness, worldliness. He’s telling me to make Him the most precious in my life, to put Him back into the equation, let Him dictate the terms of how I live, to give more generously. My perspectives, pursuits and purposes must change because I owed Him my life. He is my creator, redeemer, owner, ruler and sustainer. In the end only God, His kingdom and the souls of men will last and I don’t want to live a wasted life.
Looking forward, I must continue to pray that I am not only a learner but also a doer of God’s word. Please make me accountable.