The How, the Why
It’s been just over 7 months now in CMA, the Church Ministers’ Apprenticeship programme in CERC, and I have learnt so much during this time, more than I am able to articulate on this blog – but I will try.
I often get asked these two questions below and I hope these short paragraphs suffice!
My number one reason for doing CMA, which is the primary reason that keeps you going is this – a deep love and concern for Jesus’ glory, His Gospel and His church.
It all started when I was studying medicine in IMU and first joined a Two Ways to Live evangelism workshop that was being conducted by my high school senior at the time, Jerome Leng. During the couple of months I was deeply challenged to consider my own understanding of God and Christianity and soon realised that I didn’t actually understand the gospel.
After months of having to come face to face with God in His word, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I attended Word Works by the Gospel Growth Fellowship on 1 Corinthians. That’s when it all came together for me.
I finally understood that God had to be at the centre of Christianity, and that I couldn’t just choose doctrines or aspects of God that I agreed and disagreed with – this God is a big, big God. I realised that I had been presuming way too much of His grace, love and mercy that somehow I was the one dictating what God should and should not be like. I had to repent of much, and what a great start it was; to be humbled by God’s Word and to throw away existing presupposed knowledge of Him to now sit at His feet and listen to Him properly in His Scriptures.
It was fairly binary for me and in some ways, a fairly simple decision. Once I got this Jesus, His Lordship, His glory and what He deserves, my response to the question ‘Why not consider Full-time Paid Ministry’ was ‘Yea hor, why not?’. At the risk of oversimplification, that was the start towards this decision that landed me where I am today [if you want to know the full story, come chat with me over coffee 😉 ]
How has it been?
CMA has been extremely humbling thus far. Being able to do word ministry on a full-time paid basis is something I am aware not many people have the privilege of doing. There are others in church who have the same desire but are unable to due to circumstances, and I constantly remind myself that serving this King is both my duty and privilege.
Of the many lessons I’ve learnt, i’ll try to condense them down to a handful (for now). CMA has…
- helped me appreciate word ministers on a whole new level
Having to preach 4 sermons consecutively at Monash CF camp on top of writing camp bible studies certainly pushed me in every sense of the word. The amount of thinking, writing, rehearsing and delivering needed for one sermon taught me that I should never take faithful word ministers for granted. (Go thank your pastor/word minister/gg leader today!)
- given me a chance to (really really) love the church
It was great hearing Reverend Phillip Jensen, who trained Pastor Robin as his ministry apprentice, preach on Ephesians at CERC Camp recently (check out sermon recordings here) is awesome in reminding and teaching us that God’s Church is how God creates a new humanity who will belong to Christ and be Christ’s people who live for His glory. CMA constantly challenges your servant-heartedness (or lack thereof) in loving the church sacrificially day in and out, and bearing with each other’s weaknesses as you yourself learn to be godly and to kill sin.
- taught me to never take this church for granted!
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that faithful preaching is the norm, especially when we get spoiled by really rich, exegetically faithful, theological and God-glorifying sermons each week in CERC. What helps is talking to Christians from various backgrounds, some of whom don’t actually know the gospel despite calling themselves Christians for years. It reminds me that we can never assume the Gospel (ever!) and that we must always work hard to protect the faithful preaching of the Word, whilst striving to teach, correct and help others understand this glorious Gospel too.
- taught me that you should never fully trust yourself
You learn that total depravity, a term coined to describe the fallen state of human beings that has enslaved our minds, hearts, thoughts and actions to sin – is 100% true if you do ministry long enough. I’ve learnt that human beings are often self deceiving and can easily fall into the trap of listening to our own fallen logic, emotions and perspective. Often times, we become defensive when a loving brother or sister tries to rebuke us because we feel attacked or plotted against. Or we take things personally when things aren’t even personal.
The reality is that we can’t and shouldn’t fully trust ourselves. Instead of falling deeper into the inadvertent spiral of our fallen logic and self justification, it might be better off asking for a godly brother or sister to help spot our sin and inconsistencies.
Sometimes, we should just pause, take a step back and be quick to repent if necessary.
And this is consistent with what John Calvin, a famous Reformer in the 1500s, said
It is of no slight importance for you to be cleansed of your blind love of self that you may be made more nearly aware of your incapacity, . . . that you may learn to distrust yourself, that you may transfer your trust to God.
That’s all the time I have for this first blog entry. Do let me know your thoughts by dropping me a comment or coming to talk to me in church. Till next time!
Posted on 10th October 2018