Church History: The Age of Universal Christianity (70-312) Part 1

After the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem, the church laid plans for the long term. This process shaped its character for many generations and was a result of a spiritual vision of all Christians being in one body. The spread of Christianity during this time was helped by a field that was prepared for harvesting. This field was the God-fearers, Gentiles who were interested spectators of the Jewish religion. They were equipped with the understanding of the Old Testament and in faith were able to embrace Christianity.  

Christianity spread north, then west. It was predominantly the religion of the poor. The exception to this was the churches in North Africa who spoke Latin and tended to be of the upper class. Even though the church started with the support of the poor and despised, by the end of the second century many of the keenest mind were becoming Christians. They in turn became the defenders of the faith against rumors and false accusations. The church continued to grow on the unshakable assurance of salvation, meeting the needs of the people at that time and expressing love to one another. The church is truly one body when it is driven by the gospel to bring all men to faith in Jesus Christ. 

The persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire was not uniformly applied throughout this time. The main reason for persecution was due to the Christian’s life ethic of holiness. This caused them to stand out in their pagan society due to the way they lived. The people became suspicious of them because of their lack of conformity. The desire not to compromise their faith led them to become enemies of the Roman Empire. 

The onset of heresy drove the church to shape good theology. The first century Christians formulated their beliefs against the errors they encountered. Some of the first heresies were directed at the nature of who Jesus was. There were heresies that denied His divine nature and some denied His human nature. But the main heresy to emerge was called Gnosticism. It believed in the dualism of spiritual versus material, where the former was seen as good and the latter as evil. This resulted in the rejection of Jesus’ humanity by Gnosticism. The Apostle’s Creed was a result of the clarification of orthodox convictions in order to cast out the gnostic heresy. The church today is indebted to the doctrinal struggles of the past, as it stands on the shoulders of those who had wrestled with these issues and remained faithful to Scripture.

Dn. Mervin Lin

“Blessed are the merciful…” - Matthew 5:7

This story may bring warmth to your hearts. (It could also bring tears.)

On July 3 Ip Lee Lee and Daniel Hoo from our Grey Matters ministry visited two Christian ladies Adalena and Pei Yann who run Antioch Toa Payoh Outreach. Their ministry is as simple as it is profound: they started by knocking on doors of one-room flats in Toa Payoh to give cooked food to the poor residents.

Adalena was moved to these acts of mercy after God saved her from the clutches of death.  She offered herself as a vessel to be used by God to minister to the old, the sick, the desolate, and the aged folk in Toa Payoh. She and her ministry partner, Pei Yann, themselves struggling with illness and other limitations, carried on the work with passion.

After the residents became familiar with them and became more open, these ladies started to openly pray for them. From food, prayers, and bible stories, they started to offer other practical assistance, like, lending them wheelchairs and accompanying them to the doctors, and helping them to read their mails. Regular gatherings are arranged in the void decks for mundane but necessary care like cleaning, toenail clippings, shoulder massages, etc.

Through word of mouth, they now are able to reach out to more the single-room dwellers in the neighbourhood.

I ask: What can I do for Christ? My answer: Small services.

Small services are often all we have it in our power to render.

Small services are sufficient to show love for the Saviour.

Small services are invaluable--often trivial--like the “cup of cold water” Jesus alluded to.

Small services shall be richly rewarded: “He will by no means lose his reward.” 

From Thee all skill and science flow,

All pity, care and love,

All calm and courage, faith and hope;

O pour them from above.

Pastor Robert Chew, with contributions from Ip Lee Lee and Daniel Hoo

Count on me, Jesus Christ

“Count on me Singapore, count on me to give my best and more

You and me, we'll do our part, stand together, heart to heart

We're going to show the world what Singapore can be

We can achieve, we can achieve”

I remember growing up singing countless National Day Songs from 1980s such as “Stand up for Singapore”, “Count on me, Singapore”, “One People, One Nation, One Singapore”. The lyrics and the tunes of these familiar oldies have stayed with me through the years and I’m sorry to say that to me; the newer National Songs have failed to grip my heart with the same passion and heart-wrenching emotions.

Perhaps as I grow older, I became less patriotic. I can’t remember when was the last time I watched the NDP Parade from start to end. I can’t even remember the title of last year’s National Song because I hardly hear it. Gone were the experiences I had in school where I’ll be standing side by side with my Malay and Indian friends in the hall, singing loudly and offkey to “what Singapore can be”. As I grow older, I grew inward-looking and focused primarily on my family, finances and health. My circle of pre-believing friends also shrank and shrivelled.

One of them asked me, “You’re working in a church? Aren’t you like a priest? How is it that you can get married?” That’s when I realised that my impact on my pre-believing friends had been minimal. Much like how the Romans viewed the early church Christians with much misconceptions – calling them incestuous (because they called themselves “brothers” and “sisters” and yet married one another), atheists (there was no imagery or idols within the early church) and cannibals (that Christians consumed the blood and flesh of Jesus during Holy Communion); there will be much misconceptions and a skewed perspective of what Christians are, and what we stand for IF we do not show our pre-believer friends what Christians can be.

Perhaps from this National Day onwards, we need to be more intentional in showing Singapore the way we trust God for our family, finances and health. Everything we say and do ought to reflect our full confidence in a Risen Christ for our lives in this world and the next. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Singapore is watching us. Our pre-believer friends are watching us. To Jesus, we ought to pray then, “Count on me, Jesus, to give my best and more. That we as a church will do our part, stand together, heart to heart. To show Singapore what Christians can be. Because Jesus, you have already achieved. You have already achieved.”

May Singapore hear the news of salvation through us.

Daniel Gan

“Praying with the Psalms” 

“Praying with the Psalms” (by Rev Timothy Keller) was selected for Sunday Bible Class’s study this year because it resonates with our desire as a ministry and church to grow in our intimacy with Christ. In fact, our church vision statement also carries the same aspiration: 

We make passionate and faithful disciples of Jesus

who abide in an intimate relationship with Christ

as they impact the community

 

Making passionate and faithful disciples of Jesus and impacting our community are but the fruits of a church that is walking closely with Jesus. Prayer and meditation of God’s word are the keys to developing that intimacy with Christ. Praying with the Psalms is helpful in this pursuit because the Psalms are exactly that, prayers. Israel has been using this collection of sung prayers for worship from ancient times till present day. Here are 3 benefits of praying with the Psalms:

 

- the Psalms teach us how we can pray in all of life’s situations. They prepare and inform us on how we can deal with every possible human emotional experience. In the psalms, we are taught how we can express the different feelings with words to God who hears. Words that can communicate our praise (Ps 29) gratefulness (Ps 9), despair (Ps 77), anxieties (Ps 70), contentment (Ps 23) and the longing for vindication (Ps 17).   

 

- the Psalms move us beyond our emotions to rest on God’s truth. While we can’t deny our emotions, we can and must have them weighed against the absolute promises of God (1 Pet 1:13). Praying with the psalms reminds us to deal with life’s defeats and victories with God’s immovable truth. Delving stubbornly into our problems and refusing to see them against the backdrop of God’s promises, providence and power makes one culpable of unbelief. Reliance on emotions, devoid of God’s word to direct our faith and life will only lead to more confusions and anxieties.

 

- the Psalms assure us that we can be honest with God. Looking at how the different writers spoke with God and how God revealed Himself to them, we can sense the complete honesty from the writers as they are met with the steadfast love of God. We can approach the throne of grace with boldness because Jesus, our Great High Priest is the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins (Heb 4:16), thereby permanently reconciling us to God (Rom 8:38-39).

 

There can never be any relational intimacy without communication, trust and honesty.

Deepen your prayer life. Pray with the Psalms today.

Dn. Gideon Loh

Our Memories of Moriah Bible-Presbyterian Church

by Wei Jian and Cherie Leow

Exciting, challenging, foundational… These are some of the words that Cherie and I will use to describe our journey in Moriah BP Church. However, if there is one word to sum this 21-year journey, it would be GRACE. We all know, 21 years of age marks the end of our youth and the big step into adulthood. So as Moriah celebrates her 21st Birthday, we thought why not focus the sharing on remembering God’s GRACE shown to us during our pre-21 years’ period…our Youth Fellowship (YF) days. 

As some of you may know, Cherie and I were in our late teens (17 y.o.) when we moved from Sembawang BP Church with 80 other members. We were both in the YF and while there were only 7-8 of us then, we thank God for His GRACE that led us through the ups and downs of ministry life and our teenage years. He alone sustained and guided us in spite of our immaturity and failings. Led by His faithful and humble servants, Bro Joshua and Bro Mathews, the YFers grew in faith and expanded as we tried to reach out to the Simei community. 

We can still remember those Friday nights when we had YF committee meetings, and we would discuss and argue (as usual!) about ministry matters into the wee hours of the morning. Looking back, while sometimes we laugh at ourselves, we also lament where our youthful passion for God had gone. The Psalmist in Psalm 84 wrote a psalm of great joy and longing for God. It reminded us to long for a deeper relationship with Him.

“Our youthful days will come and go,

but our youthful passion for Christ should ever remain”

Well, back to our recollection… We can still vividly remember, and sometimes reminisce with other YFers, about past countdown fiestas, YF outings, mid-week fellowships, mission trips. YF camps were a highlight – Dare Explorer, MADness Unlimited, Fishers of Men etc which we had fun (sometimes too much fun) doing skits, music jamming, amazing races. Yet in our imperfections, God’s GRACE sustained His people. All glory to God, for by His GRACE, many of those “Simei Youths” who joined the YF have gone on to serve the Moriah family in different ways. Youths ranging from Mervin Lin to Clarence Wong, Benjamin Wong to Ho Zhiwei and Alicia Yap to Jonathan Jeganathan.  

 

21 years on, and we’re now closer to 40 years old. What we learnt and experienced during those days in YF was a needful foundation for our life’s ups and downs. This journey has taken us from YF to YAF to HCG, from partners in ministry to partners in marriage. It certainly hasn’t been easy; God convicts and chastises us of our sins, He challenges us out of our comfort zone, He chooses to answer some of our prayers and withhold others. Suffice to say, without YF and God’s sustaining GRACE, adulthood would have been impossible.

Likewise, the past 21 years have indeed been exciting, challenging and foundational for Moriah! We have consistently witnessed the sustaining GRACE of God. So, as we step into the precipice of “adulthood”, let us do so with confidence!

The journey will not be easy - we will be tested, we will need to put aside our pride, fears, distrust, and embolden ourselves to build His church one brick at a time. The ever faithful God will sustain us as a family and empower us to be a beacon of light in our community here in Simei. 

Isaiah 40:30-31

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Calling on all young people,  “Give of Your Best to the Master!”

Back in the 19th century, a young man by the name Charles Thomas Studd, founder of World Evangelization Crusade (1860 to 1931), was in church on a Sunday morning. When the offering bag reached him, he found out that his wallet had no cash.

He took a piece of paper and wrote, “I am offering myself to Christ to serve Him...

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” That note became his tithe & offering to Christ that morning! 

After graduating from Cambridge University, Charles became a missionary to China under China Inland Missions (today’s OMF). Subsequently, he served in India and Africa.

At the age of 25, he inherited a large sum of money, yet felt led to give his entire fortune to Christ! "This was not a fool's plunge on his part. It was his public testimony before God and man that he believed God's Word to be the surest thing on earth, and that the hundred fold interest which God has promised in this life, not to speak of the next, is an actual reality for those who believe it and act on it."

Charles gave thousands of pounds away, even before knowing the exact amount of his inheritance!

In later years, Charles was stirred by the need for missionary work in Central Africa. Penniless, against doctor’s advice to travel, rejected financially by a Committee, yet told by God to go, C. T. once again staked all on obedience to God. As a young man he staked his career, in China he staked his fortune, for Africa he staked his life. "Gentlemen, God has called me to go, and I will go. I will blaze the trail, though my grave may only become a stepping stone that younger men may follow."

When financial support became low, Charles proclaimed, "Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands."

Charles sailed, contrary to medical advice, for the heart of Africa in 1910, where he continued to work until his death in 1931.

What is the moral of the story? God takes note of our offering and will honor it!

In that simple act of worship, C.T. Studd presented himself as a living sacrifice to Christ. A simple act of worship and consecration resulted in a life-long service to Jesus Christ!

Studd continues to be best remembered by many for the poem, "Only One Life, 'Twill Soon Be Past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Mr Gn Chiang Tat

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, ...

… and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord,

until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. - Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

To all the people of God to whom Moriah Bible Presbyterian Church is your local church, let me ask you two questions concerning the church’s future.

  1. How will you help to safeguard our “common salvation” and “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints?”

  2. Where do you see this church in twenty years time? And what role will you play to get it there?  

A little backward looking to help us look forward...

Moriah Bible Presbyterian Church opened its doors for the first English worship service on 12 July 1998. This means in two weeks time we will celebrate the church’s twenty-first anniversary. It seems to me like we got here in the blink of an eye. 

I still hold images in my head of the then Session, sitting in a not very brightly lit sitting room of a corner terrace house (which also served as our “mother” church). The Session met monthly to discuss the normal run of the mill matters of a young small church. On several occasions, however, the Session was forced to deliberate about the church’s future as we were then legally notified that we cannot continue as a church in that house. (Our neighbours complained about us.)

Since then, as they say, there’s a lot of water under the bridge. But they are, to me (and I’m sure also to other “Merdeka Generation” leaders), refreshing thirst-quenching waters. Because we can look back with joy, praise, and thanksgiving to our loving, faithful, and covenant-keeping God. He led us and kept us through our “Sinai wilderness”, helped us crossed our “Jordan River”  and, so to speak, set us up on Mount Moriah - the site of one of the great acts of faith in the Bible. 

The baton of our future pastoral ministry and our doctrinal stand is now slowly but surely passing to new and younger hands. Will you be here to take this baton? How willing and how firmly will you grasp the baton? And where will you run to and in what direction?

Only you can answer these questions. By the grace of God, I strongly urge you to take Hosea 10:12 - the epigraph above - into serious consideration as you reflect on these questions. And may God bless and lead you forward.

Pastor Robert Chew

Church History: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (6 BC – AD 70)

Jesus’ ministry was reminiscent of Israel. However, where she failed, He was faithful and ushered in a new covenant. This all happened against a backdrop of oppression by the Romans on Israel. Amid this foreign occupation, several factions arose in Israel to resist and respond to the enemy. But Jesus’ ministry had a purpose that distinguishes it from among these factions.

Jesus began His ministry at the ford of the Jordan, as John was baptizing there. He had a similar proclamation of repentance and belief in the gospel. Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. He backed up His message with sign miracles that showed the new age has already come, but His popularity caused the Pharisees to resent Him. The message that Jesus brought was one of repentance and grace. This was in contrast to the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. His kingdom was one that was governed by love and service as opposed to lording over others. However, Jesus’ disciples and the crowds did not fully understand His role in God’s plan of redemption.

In the last week of His ministry, Jesus challenges the Jerusalem authorities to recognize the arrival of His kingdom, but they rejected and killed Him instead. Before He died, Jesus instituted a way to remember the new covenant in His blood. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, His message was spread by His disciples. Jesus had opened their eyes to discover that the Old Testament had a message for the entire world. Its central purpose was to promise the Messiah. Even the Old Testament law and temple rituals were temporary means that pointed to Jesus Christ and were fulfilled by Him.

It was not until the Pentecost event that the Christian church grew exponentially. Peter’s preaching was used by the Lord to add three thousand followers to Jesus. The rapid growth eventually resulted in the inclusion of the Gentiles. It was Paul who theologically clarified that this group of believers need not submit to the Jewish law. Paul was instrumental in bringing more Gentiles into the church. This eventually led to the decline of the role of the Jerusalem church and the character of Christianity moved from Jewish to Gentile.

Dn. Mervin Lin

Pray For Our Mission Team

This year marks Moriah's first Combined Mission Trip to Cambodia comprising YAF members, adults and some children. The theme, "Every Cambodian A Christian, Every Christian A Disciple, And Every Disciple An Evangelist" represents the team's aspiration for our Cambodian brethren.

The YAF's fund-raising activities met with immediate and generous support from the congregation, raising some $8350.  These funds will be used to defray YAF's costs, and to pay for the various programme costs, including hosting the outstation pastors' and leaders' attendance at the 2- night- 1- day Pastors' Conference in Phnom Penh.  The Pastors' Conference seeks to encourage our missionaries and their leaders to a closer walk with Christ, whilst equipping them for the work of the Gospel.

The team will split into two groups on Friday, 7.6.2019: one to Kampong Som (Ps Nehemiah and Ps Rithy's stations), and the other to Kampong Thom (Ps Sokhon's station where the student dormitory is located). The teams will engage in visitations, fellowship, teaching, painting and children and youth programmes.

I am grateful that Moriah is a mission- minded church.  We spend more than 13% of our annual budget on missions (excluding off-budget collections by groups and individuals), and the mission committee undertakes several mission trips yearly to encourage our various mission stations spread over Batam, Bintan, Cambodia, China, Myanmar and North Thailand.  Our congregation has been supportive monetarily, and in allowing their children in the YF and YAF to participate in such trips for the past 10 years and more.

I would like today to quote Rev. John Piper: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't.”  This week, 5-10 June 2019, our combined mission team will be worshipping God with our Cambodian brethren through the various activities stated above.  We seek to encourage and equip our missionaries, their leaders and the local churches to actively live out the Gospel powerfully.

As you read this article, My call for you is to PRAY: for more labourers (Matt 9:37-38); for the safety of the team; for the team to be empowered by the Spirit such that "the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored" (2 Thess 3:1); that our Cambodian brethren may be edified; and that the efforts of the team will please God!

Lastly, pray also that our Lord's Commission becomes relevant to you; not only as a command, but because you desire to please him and partner Him in His exciting work!

Dn. Kenny Khoo

Work and the Worship of God

Work and the Worship of God

For the Singapore worker, the notion that our work serves as a form of worship to God might seem laughable. A recent report by Mercer found that employee satisfaction in Singapore has declined over the past three years, bucking global trends. Our direct experiences with colleagues and employers would only serve to affirm this and other surveys which place the Singapore worker below our regional and international counterparts in employee and workplace satisfaction. Indeed, our daily work is tainted by sin and marred by a deep-seated sense of estrangement and alienation (Gen. 3:17-19).

Yet, Christians possess the ability to radically reshape the manner in which we exercise our faith and glorify God through our work.

First, with our work oriented towards the Audience of One, we may find rest from our constant struggle to seek acknowledgement from our colleagues and employers. This is not to trivialise the role and work of affirmation, but to recalibrate and recover the source through which we may find true affirmation. As Christians, we are called to glorify and worship God in all spheres of our lives (1 Cor. 10:31). This frees us to focus on work which is right and good, knowing that we are God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

Second, with seemingly trivial tasks such as eating and drinking possessing the potent capacity to glorify God, then there is no menial work. Tim Keller observes that "Jesus came not as a philosopher, not as a general. He came as a carpenter. The Bible says that all works matter to God.” We are freed from the ceaseless pursuit of status and prestige to rest in the assurance that even the smallest and simplest task, whether inside or outside the church, saturated with integrity, faithfulness, and justness in service to God and man, pleases and glorifies our heavenly Father (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:23).

Finally, just as God sovereignly directs us to particular roles and tasks in life, John Calvin observed that it is also God who fills each role with a dignity rooted in his Personhood. Indeed, it is only in our ultimate rest that may we find ultimate worship. As Christians, we are not called primarily to something or somewhere, but to Someone. While our work might be imperfect and in many instances fraught with injustice, we find our full assurance and acceptance in the complete work of Christ. His perfect labour enables us to please and glorify God (1 Pet 2:5–9). For the Christian worker, Jesus' invitation is never closer, truer, or sweeter:

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat. 11:28–30)

Ho Zhi Wei

King of Thrones

The TV Series, Game of Thrones aired its final episode earlier this Monday. And all over the world, fans are bemoaning the lackluster season and finale. They were so disappointed and discontented that over a million of them signed a petition calling for a remake of Season 81. They really didn’t like the ending and disliked that Bran, the Broken was on the Iron Throne and not Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion or Sansa.

It’s a fact that we face disappointments often in life. And disappointments come about because we have hopes and expectations. But is it wrong to have hopes? To have expectations? I don’t think it’s wrong, but an issue arises when our hopes and expectations are not tempered through the lens of God’s Word, but rather, through the lens of “what we want” and “what we think is best”.

You see, when our hopes and expectations fall flat, we grow discontented, disenchanted and disillusioned with God. Our discontentment tells us that “we deserve better” and that God is not “giving us what we deserve.”

  • Many people don’t like the ending in the Bible, that all who refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of the King of Thrones will be thrown into hell and everlasting fire. (Matt 13:42)

  • Many people don’t like the Final Season where Christians have to suffer and go through countless tribulations. (Acts 14:22)

  • Many people don’t like the fact that King Jesus, the Broken is going to sit on the Throne. (Rev 7:17) They had someone else in mind for the Throne!

But, when our hopes and expectations are interpreted through the lens of God’s Word, things begin to look different.

  • We see that King Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, suffered and his body was broken on the cross for our sake (1 Cor 11:23-24) because God loves us (John 3:16).

  • We see that just as Christ has suffered, we are expected to suffer and go through tribulations because it shapes us to produce endurance, character and hope (Rom 5:3-5).

  • We see that although we suffer with Christ in our lives, we also share in His comfort (2 Cor 1:5).

Only when we see God’s directions for us in life as good, would we become contented, knowing the joy He has for us as we say in unison, “King Jesus Christ the Broken, Ruler of All Kingdoms and Protector of His people. Forever may He reign.”

Mr. Daniel Gan

Role Of Fathers

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Parenting seminar where Mr Gn Chiang Tat shared on the father’s role.

 

Close to 40 people, Parents with children of all ages, married couples with no children yet, and a soon-to-be-married couple came. I believe everyone was challenged, received great insights and brought home personal reflections and take-aways - fathers learning biblical principles and practical tips, wives appreciating the role of their husbands and the need for their support, fathers who were convicted that it was never too late to seek reconciliation with their children or even with their own fathers.

 

The seminar gave us an opportunity to journey back to our childhood and pen down any positive or negative impact our fathers had on us. Personally, this exercise proved enlightening. The way ten different siblings perceived our father was clearly different. I saw him as responsible, hardworking, instilling good moral values to his children and providing his best for the family despite our poor background and he not being perfect. Some of my siblings, however, felt he had not done enough for them.

 

We also learned about 6 Ls for the father: Lead, Learn, Laugh, Listen, Labour and Love.

 

Leading is about being consistent, authentic and a good role model. Fathers must learn constantly and adjust – learn from our wives’ feedback, from others and from our own mistakes. It’s important for fathers to have light-hearted moments with our children too: laugh, unwind, hug, have fun – it’s not all serious business of instructing and disciplining. Then, it pays to practise active listening (Jas 1:19) with our children – be slow to give solutions and answers; rather, listen and engage them to find their own ways. We were also reminded to labour and persevere in love, no matter what and whether our children fail to conform to our expectations (Gal 6:9, Prov 19:18). Finally, fathers are to show love and affection both to our children and to our wives. A piece of good advice I picked up: husbands should show love to their wives because our children have this deep sense that they are the product of the union of their mother and father. Very profound.  

 

Before making a pledge, fathers were asked to rank the 6 Ls, in order of “strength” down to “opportunities for improvement”. Their wives for their husbands too. It was for self-awareness and feedback. Interestingly, a quick poll showed gaps among almost all the couples. Having reflected on my own childhood, I realise that my wife’s and children’s perception of me as father is an area that I had neglected and need to work on.

 

After the seminar, I was also challenged to consider why King David, a man after God's own heart, did not have good success as a father. He was the leader of a great nation. He had authority over his generals and his mighty army. But he had little control over his own actions and his sons. He had disobeyed God. 

 

It has led me to conclude that our walk with God and accountability to Him are fundamental to being a good father. This is where the father’s role starts.

 

Elder Max Tsang

My Wish this Mothers’ Day?

Mothers’ Day has not always been a joyous occasion for me since I lost my mother to cancer 12 years ago.  I was inconsolable for a time – regretful of things I said or did not say; as well as the many things I should have done for her during those final painful days – the list is too long to enumerate.

I had always taken her for granted, of course!  She drove me everywhere – to school (5 days a week), swimming training (3 times a week), to choir and piano lessons.  I don’t even remember saying: “thanks Mom”! She loved us and spoiled all her four children, making each one feel special in her sight.  I think this was the essence of my mother’s love – a love which knew no bounds and expected nothing in return. Sometimes, I think that we really didn’t deserve her!

Someone once told me to never forget one’s mother’s voice when she is long gone.  One night, in a vivid dream, I heard her calling me loudly in her unique voice – it was a sweet moment indeed, so every now and then, I try to “hear” her in my head!

What a thrill it was when Mom gave her life to Jesus and was baptized.  By then, all her children had married Christian spouses – it made no sense for her to continue her ancestral worship, so she willingly gave that up.  She was in her fifties when she became a member of Bartley Christian Church. For almost 20 years, she faithfully attended service, sang in the choir, joined Bible Study, and contributed some of her best dishes to the Ladies Fellowship.  She was so loved by her church members.

Today, as a mother and grandmother, I readily admit I don’t possess even a fraction of my mother’s capabilities; nor have I demonstrated a love as selfless as hers.  I get emotional when my children say something hurtful; frustrated and angry when they fail to show appreciation; and disappointed when they don’t take my advice – everything my Mom never did.  She definitely was a hard act to follow!

So what is my wish this Mothers’ Day?

That the Lord will make me more like Mom – stoic in the face of adversity, persevering in spirit, prayerful in need, enduring in love, never complaining, possessing the patience of Job and above all, faithful to her Lord unto death.

Mrs Fu Yayin

“Love the Lord your God”

John 14:21

Jesus said:

“He who has my commandments and keep them, he it is who loves me.”

What then is Jesus’s command for each one of us?

Mark 12:30

“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart…..”

I have been moved by the testimony of Dr Helen Roseveare in her book “Living Sacrifice”. Her testimony has caused me to search my heart if I truly love the Lord as I struggle with some of my disappointments these past months.  

The spiritual and emotional cost in seeking to love God with all of my heart is in giving up of pride, self -reliance, self-justification and self- pity.  To do this I then have to give God my heart to break, to re-mold and to fill with overflowing love.

How often are we tempted to assert our right to say  “Yes” or “No” when faced with circumstances. But God seems to say. “ But you will be hurt. Yes, it will cost you time and involvement. Your heart may often be crushed; some will try to take advantage of you, and others will misunderstand you. It can easily lead to false accusations, misconstrued motives or even deeper pain. But that is My way, the way of the cross.  Are you prepared for it. “

Yes Lord Jesus , may the sheer wonder of the greatness of your sacrifice break my heart afresh. I love you.  Give me your grace as I desire to give you my heart that you may fill it and overflow it with your own self-giving love for all among whom you will send me to serve.

Elder Handson Fu

A word from Rev. Robert Chew

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, one of the best known apologetic books, says that

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

For many Christians today, the idea of stewardship is only associated with sermons they have heard about church budgets and building programmes. This is a very narrow view.

What is stewardship, biblically speaking?

Bill Peel (thehighcalling.org) describes stewardship as “an expression of our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all-encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service, recognizing that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves.”

Deuteronomy 8:18 confirms this: “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm his covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

The church’s Annual Congregational Meeting held today is to give an account of what was done by you and for you by the church leadership. God owns everything, we are simply managers or administrators acting on His behalf. This is the fundamental principle of biblical stewardship. It is the church’s and its members' responsibility to give and to receive this public accounting.

While God gives us “all things richly to enjoy,” nothing, in fact, is ours. We are responsible for how we treat it and what we do with it. As His stewards, we are responsible to manage His holdings well and according to His desires and purposes.

Like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, we will be called to give an account of how we have administered everything we have been given, including our time, money, abilities, information, wisdom, relationships, and authority.

I commend this idea to you as you receive the report annual congregational meeting and vote for our leaders, and approve the proposed 2019 budget.

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Robert Chew

280419 ACM 2019

What’s so Good about the News?

A while back, I received a Facebook invitation from a sister in church, sharing with me the good news that the much anticipated Jewel in Changi Airport will be opening soon for public preview! After hearing all the exciting news about A&W and Shake Shack, as well as the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, we have all been anticipating it’s opening. This sister had registered for the public preview, and was inviting me to register as well.  

It is indeed exciting to be a part of the preview, to witness the Jewel’s amazing architectural achievement and to tell others about it on social media. But far greater than the spectacular achievement of the Jewel, is God’s glorious achievement of redemption for all humanity. Two thousand years ago, some ladies had gone to the tomb of their beloved saviour, expecting to embalm His badly mangled body. Instead, they received the good news that the Jesus who was crucified, bearing the sins of all humanity, has come back to life on the third day. It was such great news that they immediately ran to tell the disciples. But, the question is, what is so good about this news? Allow me to focus on three reasons.

First, Jesus’ resurrection proves that God has absolute sovereignty and power over life and death. In all of human history, mankind has been trying to find a solution to the problem of death. Yet even with our technological advancements, we have only been able to improve the quality of life. However, Jesus’ resurrection proves that God alone created all of life, and only He has the power to overcome the ancient enemy of death. In Christ, death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor 15:54b-55).

Second, Jesus’ resurrection proves that Jesus is who He said He is. Among all of Jesus’ claims while He was on earth, the most outrageous was His claim that He will be delivered, killed, and that He will raise on the third day (Mk 8:31, 9:31, and 10:34). But, Jesus did rise on the third day as He promised, hence proving that He is indeed all that He claimed to be while He was on earth. He is the Son of God; He is our promised Messiah; He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6).

Third, Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope of our own resurrection unto a glorious body (Jn 11:25). “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:19-23)

For us who have personally witnessed God’s amazing achievement, how can we not share this news with those who are perishing? Let’s go and share the good news of Christ’s glorious achievement: Jesus is alive! He has conquered death! And He has given us a sure hope for eternal life!

Mrs. Grace Gan

What Does It All Mean?

A PATHOS of thoughts and imagery fill my soul as I gently tiptoe through the meandering path of Lent to the cross at Golgotha. This happens every year at this time. I want to feel what Jesus felt in the last week of His life.

How did Jesus feel and what thoughts and emotions filled his mind when He was preparing to share His last meal with His disciples? Judas was there too!. The beloved apostle, John, tells us that, “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him” (John 13:2).  What pain, what humiliation must have run through the human mind of Jesus when He got down on His knees to wash the disciples feet (including those of Judas!).

When Peter reacted with unthinking objection - “You shall never wash my feet.” - the opportunity was opened for Jesus to teach us a most valuable lesson: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  (John 13:8)

How are we washed to have a share with Jesus? How do we tell others of the need to be washed?

What did Jesus feel when He took what must be heavy steps with His disciples across the Kidron brook to where the garden was? He had just shared the last meal with His disciples. He had just watched a “friend” leave the room for good - without saying goodbye - only to show up with His enemies, to that familiar garden, where in times past, they had talked and laughed, cried and hoped, learned and loved?  What it means to go on trial, to be flogged, to be crucified. What it means to look into the eyes of your mother one last time. What it means to ask, “Where are you, God?” What it means to inhale your last breath on a cross that was meant for us?

At a certain point, the reason for Good Friday is this: to teach us to detect the holy when the world denies it. To show us that the holy is present when most will resist it. To witness to the holy in those places and spaces where the holy is deemed not to be and not to belong.

You aren’t washed and you can’t have a share with Jesus until you have personally  journeyed past this point.

Pastor Robert Chew

Let’s Run Together

Living the Christian life is not easy. Acts 14:22 says we will go through many troubles, afflictions, hardships and sufferings to enter the kingdom of God. We are running a tough race.

Many years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine runners were in the blocks, poised and ready to spring forth at the sound of the gun.

It looked to all the world as though this was a normal race. But it was not. This was a race of a different kind. It was a special Olympic race, a race for the physically or mentally disabled.

The stand was filled with people sitting at the edge of their chairs, anticipating the moment of excitement. When the starter fired the gun in an instance, the nine runners all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with the pleasure of just running the race to the finish line and win.  However about 25 meters down, one runner tripped and fell, sprawling headlong down the track and began to cry.

The other eight contestants heard the cry. They slowed down. Looked back. Then they all turned around and every one of them went back and picked up their friend. One girl with Down syndrome bent down and kissed him and said: “This will make it better.” They picked their friend up. They said, “Let’s run together.” Then all nine of them linked arms and together they ran, hand in hand to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes.

Yes, God has given us the grace to run this race, but He wants us to encourage one another.  We do encounter difficulties and challenges in our spiritual journey, which in one way or another, affect us all mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  As a result, we are being ‘disabled’ to run the race ourselves. We do need to ‘hold hands’, so to speak, to run together to the finish line.

The Christian life is not just about ‘winning’ the race for ourselves – selfishly ‘ownself cares for ownself’. No! No! No! No place for the spirit of “kiasu” (afraid of losing), “kiasi” (afraid of dying) and “kiabo” (afraid of having nothing).  The Christian life is about helping one another to finish the race, to run to the finish line. (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25). May God help us.

Rev. Eddy Lim