During his last visit to City Harvest Church, advisory pastor Phil Pringle spoke to City News about how to start the year right by planning our lives around God.
By Yong Yung Shin
What are the things you’re seeing on your travels to so many places this past year?
I think all around the world, there’s a rising tide of a new move of God, especially in India and China, and in Europe—many things that have not happened in Europe are happening now, great moves of God; I think we can learn a lot from these new-day churches and new-day moves of God.
What are some of these moves of God?
Things like where children are involved in leading worship. As time passes, it is going to be evident that younger and younger people are going to be used by the Lord to reach this generation, and I think we need to be prepared to make way for that.
You spoke about God-centeredness versus self-centeredness the last time you were at CHC. As we step into a new year, how do we plan with God at the center and not our own interests?
We should submit and not just commit our plans to the Lord; I know “commit your plans to the Lord” is Scriptural but within the word “commit” is the sense of “submit”, that God can say yes or no—if He says no, we need to be okay with that. Sometimes good is the worst enemy of best, and the best plan we can have is God’s plan.
Sometimes His plan doesn’t look as glamorous or important but God always starts small, with a seed. Inside every seed is a tree or a beautiful new plant, and once that seed is in our lives, there’s a process that the life of the seed always travel through and one part of it is death. Jesus says unless it dies, it brings forth no fruit. We all need to bring our dreams to God and allow them to die before Him so that He can resurrect it by His power.
This is a challenging thing, a deeper kind of life if you like, especially for people who are wanting to be married, to have children or start a business. To actually say, “God, I surrender my plan to you” and really trusting Him with your whole life, that can be kind of scary—believing that God is there, that He loves them, and that He has a plan.
This doesn’t mean we have to be inactive or sit at home passively waiting for the will of God, we need to be actively involved in doing things in life, because the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, so as you take steps you find yourself being unconsciously, sovereignly directed by God. And as we take steps, every now and then God says no, and at that point we need to be able to adjust and follow His voice.
If a tree is growing bigger, there should be more fruit. If a house is getting bigger, there should be more people. So, I would say that measuring your growth can be similarly done, but it’s also when people acknowledge the changes in your life. Perhaps once upon a time you might have gotten angry in a situation but now you’re more patient. Or if you’re wiser in the way you talk or behave; it’s noticeable.
I think it’s not right for us to tell others that we’ve changed; it’s always better to let other people tell you that you’ve changed.
What’s your start-of- the-year planning routine like?
There are several areas. On the top of my list is how I spend my time, because once you’ve spent it, you can’t ever get it back. So I make sure that I am putting my time into my highest priorities, which are church-planting, church-building, my family. So when I get invitations to attend this or that, I really have to think hard, and I know sometimes I get criticized if I don’t show up at certain events, but I can’t afford to accept every invitation; time is too precious to be simply spent doing things that are not our highest priority.
In my character, if I see an area that needs improving—and always, there’s something—if I find part of my mind or heart is wandering, or I’m a little low on faith, then I will renew my devotion to the word of God, and to prayer.
In terms of fitness, I try to spend an hour a day exercising to make sure my body is working well to be able to do what God has called me to do. I also renew my goals in terms of my family and friends, making sure that I am spending enough time with them. It’s very important that we’re intentional in spending the time that we have, rather than just letting things happen.
What are three things you’re thanking God for this year?
I thank God for my family, my church. I thank God every day for Jesus saving me. I thank God for City Harvest Church, for Pastor Kong and Sun, how strong they are. I thank God for all the churches that are springing up all over the world. I’m thankful for all the new friends I’ve made, and the old friends that have been faithful and true. I’m just thankful.