DAY 5 – EMBRACING THE SELFLESS

I don’t talk about anything meaningful with Patrick until the bus ride. I tell him about culture and how I think people in developed countries have so much but have so little. He thinks there’s some truth in that. I wonder what he thinks of truth.

Conversation continues and I go ahead and he says no one can know what is truly inside a man, so I foolishly list external things like joy, kindness, and other fruits of the Spirit. He disagrees, saying its all a little superficial. He’s completely right, of course. Those things in themselves are nothing. The only thing that matters and will ever matter is Jesus. Do they have Jesus in them or not? There is no other distinction.

I meet up with Alay and Ben, and Alay doesn’t know about Patrick at this point, but he will soon. There are a few questions I’m asked to answer which I will summarize as this:

Am I saved?

I don’t care how people put it – most things people do, ask, or think as a Christian revolves around this one question. I quickly discern that the conversation is all about self, self, self. I’ll change the focus.

Let me propose the anti-thesis.

Is my life bringing glory to God or not?

Now the question no longer looks inward to self, but turns outward towards God. When we truly get to the state of asking this question, then it matters not whether we end up in heaven or hell, because we are deserving of hell regardless of works.

When the Christian stops looking at self and removes self from the throne, the focus is now on the LORD. We bring glory to God and let Him do the rest, most problems in the Christian’s life would be solved, if they just did this very thing.

I head downstairs and my hearts on fire. I speak with Will about the things of the Kingdom – staring at him I don’t feel a hint of doubt in my bones when I speak to him.

‘Patrick is going to unite this church.’

I stare into his eyes and I see them well up. I wonder if he hears that or if he believes that. Patrick, belief is more than what humanistic definitions will tell you. It is the most powerful weapon a Christian can have along with God’s word.

I meet Simon, CEO of pioneers.org. We talk about loving the masses versus the individual, and conclude both are important. I’m meeting with him tomorrow to plan my impromptu talk on Sunday.

I drive home, and as I’m praying I begin to understand and weep over the selfishness of modern Christians today. We claim to possess the key to unconditional love and everlasting life, but 90% of us are too selfish to ever share it with anyone even though its freely given.

I weep and repent of my selfishness now and over my life, and sheepishly put my hand up to love the Patrick’s of this world. The ordinary man, so to speak. We are watchmen (Ezekiel 33) and will be held accountable for men’s blood if we don’t blow the trumpet.

I go from weeping bitterly to laughing with Jesus in the span of 2 minutes. We talk and He asks what I would ask for if I could have anything in the world. I think hard and know I would ask for the LORD to speak of me after I die because I know that is truth. I think harder and it hits me so simply.

I want the LORD to say of me:

Terence Wong believes in Jesus Christ.

I read a prayer list at night and I use the word of God to cast doubt out of my heart and render it useless and ineffective against me now and forevermore. (Matthew 16:19, Mark 11:25)

Patrick, God’s word created man, and it is far better than any modern medicine. By His word we will command your eyes to see. Believe and don’t doubt.

Psalm 107:20-22

Terence

__________________________________________________________

Thoughts from Joel

The more I grow, the more I realize the gigantic obstacle our selfishness is to our obedience to Christ, and because of me placing increasing importance on being completely humble towards God in our lives, I couldn’t help but read this post with a big stupid grin on my face.

The journals up to this point have shown many aspects of Terence, including his faith and boldness. Yet to me (and Terence if you look at DAY 4), selfishness has been one of the biggest obstacles Terence has, at the time unnoticeably, struggled with during this ordeal, and here we have the post where Terence has finally begun to understand the selfishness that exists in all of us, and the importance of vanquishing that selfishness in order to give our entire selves to Christ.

I thought Terence’s epiphany could largely be seen in his asking of two questions:

“Am I saved?” and “Is my life bringing glory to God?”

These are the questions of Christianity, aren’t they? To me, they reflect the level of growth a person has reached, with the first question something a new Christian may ask themselves, and the second question representing the growth in us as we mature in our relationship with Christ.

Maybe you’re just starting to ask yourself if you’re saved or not, or maybe you’ve just begun to realize that this life isn’t about you, but about bringing glory to the One bigger than you and everything else in this world. Maybe you’re living a selfish Christianity, but at some point we all must realize our irrelevance, and the relevance that this realization gives us in the overarching plans of God.

It is not until we realize that we are never number one that we can ultimately realize what we can accomplish through the One.

Finding significance in my insignificance,

Joel

DAY 4 – THE QUESTION BEHIND A CIGARETTE

The first lecture ends and I get up to take a drink. I tell him I brought him lunch, and he sounds pleased, saying, “I’m glad you didn’t run out of bread this morning!” I’m about to show him food that doesn’t spoil or run out. I wonder what he’ll think of that.

Lunch time and we have a feast! We talk about mixed marriages, as we have an American-Japanese sitting with us. Patrick makes a comment on how much these people overcome culturally, and how that’s something quite admirable and we shouldn’t take it lightly. He’s wise, and seems to think deeply about things.

On the bus to the field trip and I overhear a conversation, or debate, about women being in the front lines of an army. This woman is trying to defend that argument so stubbornly – it’s as if she ever conceded that women couldn’t fight in a war, she would be saying that women and men are not equal in the kingdom. That’s not the case, unless you believe unisex boxing should be legalized. Men and women have different roles to play on earth – both noble and worthy.

Walking through the woods, I ask Patrick what he thinks about Scotland. He tells me there’s a cloud hanging over the people there – they are a bit melancholic. I’m surprised at the vivid description. I press in further and ask about his visa status. He has six months, and hopes to get a job. He says the future is uncertain and he usually takes his time to make decisions. I agree and tell him you never know what will happen – life’s pretty crazy sometimes.

I feel in an almost comical position. It’s like I can see Patrick’s life on one side and the Mack truck that’s about to hit it on the other side, and he has no idea its coming.

We stop for a while and Patrick gets out a cigarette. I stare at him and we talk about the reasons why you would smoke. He says for some enjoyment and I say you could find the same joy from things that aren’t bad for you. Patrick replies with something amazing.

“Well, if people knew they could find enjoyment from things that aren’t bad for them, why don’t they do it?”

I’m awestruck at the simplicity and truth of the question. Yes, why don’t they? I see he’s put his cigarette away. Good.

I ask him what he does for fun, and he replies with the usual tings. He also says he’s catholic, and that’s something that infuses his life. I want to ask him whether all that he does makes him happy – how I know people who have met Christ are always filled with joy.

Patrick, you’re going to live life as it should be lived – full of color and joy in the LORD. Be excited! Get ready for day 5!

Terence

________________________________________________________________________

Thoughts from Joel:

“Well, if people knew they could find enjoyment from things that aren’t bad for them, why don’t they do it?”

This single question.

To me, this question is the reason Christians must be examples of their faith – sharing it through the means they’re given. It’s a very convicting thought, to think that we don’t share our faith with people when we know the things our faith can accomplish. I think about it as the same basic concept of someone discovering the cure to cancer, only to tell a select few about it for fear that not everyone would believe it’s true. You might be saying, “That’s nothing alike! You’d have to be an idiot to be afraid of curing cancer!”  But think about it. The only reason not to share the cure for cancer would be if you weren’t sure it actually worked! Do we find ourselves questioning whether our salvation works?

Even with the occasional questioning of our faith (which will happen), another reason we’ve concocted to avoid sharing our faith is the fear of offending. This fear has begun to run rampant in Christianity, and I see it in myself constantly as something I’m always working to overcome. We’re constantly telling ourselves that we don’t want to offend a friend or lose a friendship because of our boldness, constantly validating our insecurities.

But we must ask ourselves this one stinging question: If a friend decides to neglect you because you shared your faith with them, are they really a friend? Is it really that offensive to share a belief with someone, especially a belief Christians believe has the power to save our souls? If a friend abandons you because of this, many times it means they’ll be thinking about it, so we must be proactive in this situation, continuing to show them Christ’s love, and constantly praying for them.

We must share our faith out of love for the people around us. We’re all in the same world, asking the same questions, yet some people have never heard the most important answer because the people around them were afraid they wouldn’t take it well.

By not telling someone of the one thing that can save their souls for eternity – especially someone we claim to care about – we do nothing except show how little we truly care about them; leading them along the path towards hell.

Convicting? It should be. We have to realize that when we make excuses to share our faith, even when we hear the spirit calling us, we are letting someone travel towards hell.  I have let many people take that road, and it breaks my heart.

Praying for boldness,

Joel

DAY 3: A LOST FOCUS

9:10 and he walks through the door. Of course he’d be here, God’s in this. Patrick doesn’t sit next to me today, and I’m fine with that. Jesus loves him no matter where he sits.

I’m completely zoned out in this lecture. My mind is on the things of the Kingdom and I wonder whether any of this is sinking into my mind. Break comes, and it’s stopped raining. It’s beautiful outside, and the air smells fresh and new as I head to the café. I sit down on a couch and read the newspaper – the daily verse is the only thing worth reading these days.

It’s about the future glory of the suffering servant [in Isaiah 53] and how he will get his reward. I smile as I imagine the joy of Jesus when Patrick comes home! I look up and there he is. I stare at him and he says hi. I wave. Patrick makes his way outside, and I see the doors close behind him. I watch him standing there as he takes a sip of his coffee and has a look around the park.

I wonder whether he has any idea that he breathes in the very breathe of God; whether he has any idea his life is about to be turned upside down.

Lecture starts again, and I realize that I am inexpressibly at peace, convicting me I am here right now for a purpose, and suddenly I don’t care about later. I’m relishing the moment.

Half an hour into this peace and I’m convicted of something. Patrick is going to unite our church[1].

I feel a call on my heart to bring this story to the congregation. We’re going to love this man unconditionally. He will look at me with teary eyes and ask what he ever did to deserve this.

“I ask Jesus the same question about myself,” I’ll reply.

He had some tuna sandwiches for lunch yesterday, pretty crudely made. I make my way up the stairs to the café. Patrick is there by himself, with his lunchbox. I stare at him until he looks up and beckons me over. He suggests we sit inside and I bring him over to my friends. We start talking as we eat our food. I look over at his tuna sandwiches and then down to my leftovers. We talk about food and he tells me he eats wok in a box, but it’s not the same as real Asian food. I tell him I’ll bring him some food tomorrow and show him what real Asian food is like. I wonder if he’s hungry for the only bread that satisfies; whether he would be interested in the water of life.

I can’t get over the crudely made tuna sandwiches, and I wonder how long it’s been since he ate a home-cooked meal. It was then I dared to believe that the families of the church would have compassion on this man and give him food that contains love.

Conversation continues as I hear him swear for the first time. I had no indication of his faith up until now and I think to myself how one word could damage ones credibility as a Christian. If one word can damage your credibility, how about one’s actions or lifestyle? “You will know by their fruit” pops into my mind.

My mind runs wild for the rest of the day, as I can’t stop thinking of the day Patrick sits in front of the church as the members of the congregation come up and read these letters holding back tears, and how out of nowhere his life gets turned on its head as Jesus breaks in.

Megan sent me an email today containing a link to an article on our responsibility to be irresponsible to Jesus. It was then I was convinced that I would ask the church on Sunday if they were serious about being missional. You can thank her for that Patrick – any generosity you receive comes from her role in this story; and the father, of course. Megan will be praying seriously for you – she’s jumping for joy in her heart at the work God’s doing!

I told my family about Patrick today, and Aaron was approving. He’ll pray for you, I have no doubt. Patrick, when you meet my brother Aaron, could you tell him to look you in the eyes and see the work God has done? Everyone would be better off if they could see his eyes.

Throughout the night I became aware of a few things I need to watch out for. First is the humanistic question of how. Any Christian should delete that word from their vocabulary.

Second is the humanistic notion that God only comes for the masses and not the individual. Patrick is a son of God, and the LORD would move heavens and Earth for this man. There is no such thing as too much fuss over one man.

Lastly is doubt. I realize in my heart what it means to grieve the Holy Spirit; people’s doubt grieves my heart and the Father’s heart like no other. Patrick, I decide there and then, my belief is stronger than anyone’s doubt. You can count on me.

*Notes from home:

I survived, just received something like a prophet’s welcome in his home town last night [Luke 4:24]. Never fun. More and more, I’m aware of the spiritual battle that goes on out there. Patrick, you may not know it now but we’re part of something bigger, and all of us would fall without the strength of our God to see us through.

10 p.m. last night and I ask Jonathan to pray for me. Patrick, this man is Jonathan from David’s time to me. I don’t know when he got the message but things changed quickly. My dad came up to me soon after and prayed for you Patrick and gave me his blessing. Its times like these that I wonder what our Father in heaven is doing at that moment.

Jonathan spoke Psalm 62:1 over me, and I know for sure I won’t be shaken. The LORD’s hand and favor are on that man and I sometimes wonder if he realizes it. He will do amazing things one day, when he walks by faith.

I couldn’t fight this fight by myself and when you stare into my eyes Patrick, you’re seeing the eyes of Jesus and all the names you see written in this book. The army is growing. Praise God!

Terence

[1] A note from Terence:

When I wrote ‘Patrick Gray is going to unite the church’ in my mind I was forecasting what I thought a united church looked like. Reflecting a few months onwards, I really had no idea what unity was back then. As Joel pointed out in day 1, you can still see huge chunks of pride dripping off my sentences “He will look at me ” [instead of looking at Jesus] “Standing in front of the whole church” . What I wanted then was a bang, it had to be big, it had to be noticed, and it had to be me. I was thinking of everything that we [humans] could do for a man. Right now it was all about me and my plans, I would not let them go at the time, I would not budge on the celebration, the fanfare, the speech, all of it. This will percolate into my writings for a few more days.

“Unity”

If you asked me about unity back then, I saw it as a corporate sweep of like-mindedness. And if I’m honest it was a like-mindedness to me and not Jesus. I needed people to see things my way and I needed it soon. This however, is so far gone from unity that I don’t even know what to call it. Lets say pride again.  While I don’t claim to know the tip of the iceberg of what true unity is I do know what it’s not. It’s not carbon copies of me, that would be horrifying I would think. It’s the many faces of Christ manifested in this people, each bringing diverse gifting’s and new [but true] mindsets to the community. The one constant in everything is Jesus. I know that much.

A church is never four walls and a roof. And if you put 50 people inside a building with a cross on top that doesn’t make it a body. A church is sometimes referred to as the body of Christ and by implication is far more organic than a structure. It’s a body as in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 with Christ as the head. And I suppose by that definition it extends back into the family, into the schools, into the workforce. A living, breathing organism. When we step outside those four walls, we don’t leave the church, we are the church.

Prophets welcome in his home town

While there is a certain degree of truth to this, again most of it was my pride. The family unit & parents are divinely appointed by God as an authority [and blessing] over a child’s life. To me they are the most important and valuable source of advice and counsel I can get. I was still too wrapped up in my own plans for Patrick to listen to anyone’s opinion, anyone who questioned me at the time I regarded as a hindrance to the cause. My parents obviously noticed and tried to address these character issues of mine but I would not listen at the time. I had a superiority complex that sorely needed addressing and you will soon see how God dealt with that.

A note from Joel:

This was the day I became a part of this story, and it’s extremely humbling, to say the least, to see something you wrote mentioned in the context of someone’s life. I don’t think many authors get the opportunity Terence is giving me in this, and I feel quite blessed.

Moving on, it’s amazing how much Terence learned through this experience, which is pretty evident in the comments he made above. I think it’s pretty common for all of us to be where Terence is now, looking back and thinking to ourselves, “did I really think that? Wow I’m glad God didn’t let that happen!”

Its funny how good God is at throwing wrenches, and how we still always think we know what’s going to come next in God’s plan. After watching our pridefulness each day, you’d think God would be doing a continual facepalm.

“The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”  – Proverbs 20:24 (NLT)

Do you find yourself planning ahead of God? If so, I hope you write your plans down in pencil.

WORDS FROM HOME*

*This is an entry written between Day 2 and Day 3 in Terence’s journal. It serves as a way of showing you the support Terence received from his church family, and his thoughts as this whole experience continued to sink in.

Patrick, the children of God have responded. Your brothers and sisters are praying for you and eagerly expect your arrival.

Allie was the first. She’s praying for me and for Jesus to work through me in your life. She found some verses in the Bible on color – I never thought about it that way – perhaps the colors you don’t see are symbolic? We’re praying for you to see blue – the symbol of the deity (God and The Trinity). The Father loves to see you laugh and smile, Patrick, and Allie will make that happen. She is such a joyful person, filled with life in the Spirit.

Kevin was the next brother to be moved. HE is excited for you and will pray for you Patrick. I met Kevin at FRESH camp, and he’s an amazing guy – very gentle and honest.

Nathan prophesies Isaiah 33:5-6* over your life Patrick. He’s encouraged and excited for what God is doing. You can speak to him and talk about the words from God he has for your life. I owe a lot of my courage and boldness in Christ to this man. The first of our peers to be fearless in the marketplace, I’m honored to fight alongside Nathan.

Pik proclaims Matthew 5:3-10* over your life Patrick. Blessings are yours in abundance. I laugh to myself as I think of this woman of God. I can feel her excitement and anticipation bursting at the seams of her heart. Similar to how I feel really.

Lizzie would like to partner in prayer for you Patrick. She’s praying till the day you come home. Lizzie is out there on the battlefield on the front lines. Amazing things are happening in her life! She prayed for a man named Jimmy the other day. He’s depressed and stressed. Maybe you two will meet one day Patrick.

I can’t wait for you to meet these saints, Patrick! There will be more in this journal as the days go by – you can be sure of that!

Terence

_______________________________

Notes:

*Isaiah 33:5-6

5 Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven,
he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
6 In that day he will be your sure foundation,
providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

*Matthew 5:3-10 : The Beatitudes

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

____________________________________________

This is a bit of an aside, and I have no idea how it will sound in the morning, but after reflecting on it all day I actually think it fits well with Terence’s story, especially since this post basically shows us the hearts of the community Terence is involved in in Adelaide.

As I went through my quiet time today, I found myself reading the book of Jude, and was especially struck by verses 22 and 23, which say

22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others,but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

As I reflected and prayed on this verse, I found myself asking how we go about showing mercy to others, while simultaneously “hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Basically, I found myself reflecting on how we can go about living the oft-used Christian mantra “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

I’m sure I’ll write about this idea later, but for now I just want to point out the love that the people Terence mentions in this post show towards a man they haven’t met. When I reflect on this entry, I can relate to this experience. I’ve prayed for people I haven’t met often, unaware of why, but simply because someone asked me to. I’ve actually prayed for Terence and Patrick in this way, before I knew what this story entailed. It’s quite easy, really, to feel  a sense of love towards someone you haven’t met – someone whose sins haven’t been made aware to you. Basically, it’s easy to pray for strangers without judgement.

Yet I find myself asking one question: If I did know the strangers I prayed for – all of the sins that ‘contaminate their lives’ – how would my prayer for them, and my heart towards them, change?

Ask yourself this question. Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself, and maybe you won’t. For now, it’s just something to think about.

Forever being taught,

Joel

DAY 2 – A MAN CONVINCED

9:10 and I glanced at the door, wondering if he’s coming today. A few minutes later I look back and he stands there, looking lost and confused. When he notices me I smile and give him a wave as he proceeds to take a seat next to me.

I wept for this man last night. It was almost as if I could see straight into this man’s heart – the utter despair, desolation, and loneliness came over me and I wept bitterly because I knew it didn’t have to be this way for him. Luke 15* came alive last night and this morning and you can see the stains of my tears as I wept over this lost son. Half of me wept for joy at the celebration the Father will have for this man.

I had a vision last night. We’re going to hold a celebration for this man. When the Father reveals himself to this man he’s going to come with me to my home, the Father carrying him on His shoulders. I’ll open the door and everyone will be there. All who loved this man as Christ does will welcome him home and celebrate with the Father.

During the lecture I tell the angels that encircle the lecture room that this is the lost sheep who will be found. I bet they’re excited and I’m thankful God would use a nobody like me to do His work.

Ten minute break and I lean over and ask, “Patrick, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Terence?” He knows my name. I’m glad he remembered.

The second lecture starts and I’m getting distracted by the guy in front of me to the right and the other guy to my right. One’s playing on his laptop, the other on his phone. I realize after awhile that the god of entertainment is having his way with these guys, and it’s getting to me too! I roar in my heart and tell the god of entertainment to go in Jesus name. No sooner did I finish my sentence when the phone guy stops, puts his phone back in his pocket, and the laptop in front of me runs out of batteries.

Wow. God is here!

Lunch time and Patrick takes his seat on a table of four. It’s a beautiful day and I’m content to observe from a distance. I watch them talking for 15 minutes and I wonder if anyone is actually listening or if everyone is just talking. I wonder if anyone cares about the well-being of this man the way I do; if anyone has ever asked him what he really feels.

Practical time and I notice something about Patrick. He will never dismiss anything you say. Most people, including myself, would be guilty of dismissing people with an ‘I don’t know’ or an agreement just to avoid conflict. I realize coming home now that this man listens acutely to what you say and doesn’t haphazardly choose his words. He makes me wonder whether any of us think before we speak like Patrick does.

The end of the day comes and I ask him how he likes Australia. He says he like the independence and he dreads going back home (to Scotland). I ask him whether the people over there are different.

“Well, the people here are . . . interesting. They’re . . . hmm. . .”

I smile and say  nothing I’ll show you what people are like over here I thought to myself. The children of God all will. Then you’ll give me an answer. See you tomorrow Patrick. Get ready for day 3.

____________________________________________

*Luke 15 is the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son:

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.                – Luke 15:3-7

“Half of me wept for joy at the celebration the Father will have for this man.”

This is a wonderful thought. As I read over this entire journal for the first time, the one thing that struck me was the faith that Terence had in Christ.  Not once does Terence use the language of a man unconvinced and hopeful, but instead uses the language of a man convinced and expectant, only wondering when God would achieve His goal. That is why I decided to name this post “A Man Convinced,” because I felt this was  the point when Terence truly believed God’s call on him to love Patrick, and even though he isn’t quite sure what God is going to do with his obedience, he is convinced God is going to use Terence and the love he shows to achieve something great.

I also loved the moment of observance in this journal, when Terence is simply taking in all that is happening around him and Patrick, and realizes the qualities of Patrick that I don’t believe would have been noticed if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit helping and guiding Terence to love Patrick as Christ does. It’s amazing the things we’ll notice about people when we truly care about them and their well being, rather than only caring for people out of our own agendas and obligation.

Here’s a question I leave you with: Can we truly love someone as Christ loved them if we simply do so because Jesus told us to? Or must we first embrace that love which Jesus has shown us? Without understanding the love that Christ shows us can we truly love those around us out of anything except obligation?

We must strive to love out of Jesus’ command, but learn to love based Jesus’ actions and the example of that love He’s shown us in our lives, as well as in His word.