by Dn. Gideon Loh
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
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
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
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
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
“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?
“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
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
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
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
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
Qing Ming Jie is the time of the year where people who observe it go to the tombs of their ancestors to remember those who are no longer living. It is a common practice for families to offer prayers, food, paper models/monies and joss sticks to the departed during these visits. Part of the goal of such visits is to “sweep” the tombs.
I am reminded of another important day which we observe during this same period. Christians remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday and the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. We also remember a tomb, but we remember an empty tomb.
Both Qing Ming Jie and Easter provide us with an excellent pause to consider the topics of death and life beyond this world.
The swept tombs during Qing Ming Jie do tell us something about life and death, the empty tomb in the Easter Story on the other hand tells us more.
- Through the swept tomb, we are reminded of the need to honor our ancestors and by extension our elders, in their death. Through the empty tomb, we are commanded to honor and love those around us, in life (Exodus 20:12, Mark 12:31).
- Through the swept tomb, we catch a glimpse of the care and love of living family members for those who have departed in the offering of yearly sacrifices. Through the empty tomb, we see human’s greatest need being eternally met in the risen Savior Jesus, who gave His life as a once-for-all sacrifice to decisively defeat sin and death (1 Cor 15:55-57).
- Through the swept tomb, we recall the good life of those who had departed and the need to uphold the legacy they left behind. Through the empty tomb, we are told of the One who lived a perfect life and died a perfect death so that all who believe in Him become joint-heirs with Christ, sharing in both His sufferings and His glory (Rom 8:17).
- Through the swept tomb, we are confronted with the brevity of life and by extension, our mortality. Through the empty tomb, we are reminded of the eternality of our souls and the decisions which determine their ultimate destination (Matt 10:28).
This season, let us conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the glorious hope we have in Jesus, the Risen Savior who left behind an empty tomb, one that needs no sweeping.
“..but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..” 1 Pet 3:15
Dn. Gideon Loh
A huge animal recently appeared in the news on 18 March 2019. A whale was found dead in Philippines, despite earlier attempts by local authorities and fishermen to draw it back to the sea when it was found stranded in shallow waters. It was later discovered that the dehydrated whale had died of starvation because it had 40kg of plastic in its stomach, which made it impossible for the whale to eat or drink.
How do we, as Christians, view such news?
The Bible tells us that God created the world (Gen 1) and that the world belongs to Him. Till today, He provides and cares for His creation (Ps 104:10-14, Lk 12:6). The Bible also tells us that after creating mankind, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it (“abad” in Hebrew) and keep it (“shamar” in Hebrew).” (Gen 2:15)
“Shamar” generally has the sense of protecting, watching closely, and guarding (see “keep” in Num 6:4), while “abad” has the sense of serving (Gen 29:18) and cultivating (Gen 4:12). Interestingly, this same pair of words appeared again in Numbers 3:7-8, describing the duties of the Levites: the Levites are to “keep guard” (“shamar”) over the needs of the priesthood and the furnishings of the tent of meeting, as they “minister” (“abad”) or do the work at the tabernacle. If this is so, then Genesis 2:15 is saying that God gave us the responsibility to steward, protect and watch over His “good” creation.
Sadly, in another news article published a few days earlier, on 15 March 2019, scientists have estimated that the world population of less than 8 billion people produces around 300 billion kilograms of plastic waste annually, and half of them were used only once (i.e. single-use plastic). In 2017 alone, Singapore produced around 815 million kilograms of plastic waste with a population of around 5 million. Since plastic is not biodegradable, this plastic waste has simply ended up in slums and dumpsites overseas, in the bellies of sea creatures, or disintegrated into micro-plastic and winding up in fishes and crustaceans that we later consume.
In light of Genesis 2:15, will you join me in making baby steps as Guardians of The Earth by reducing our use of single-use plastic? Let us be good stewards of this earth that God has created. Let us learn from our Saviour Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His comfort and convenience for the salvation of mere creatures like us. Let us resist the temptation to prioritize our convenience over the wellbeing of those under our care. Let us work hard to care for one another, and for the “good” earth that God has created.
Mrs. Grace Gan
The noted British economist, John Maynard Keynes, is famous for his quote, “In the long run we are all dead.” He wrote this in the context of refuting other economists’ view that governments should not interfere with the economy, as in the long run it will stabilise itself out. While Keynes was not specifically thinking about spiritual things, ironically his comment does have a ring of truth to it.
We are often more concerned about our short-term circumstances than our long-term relationship with God. In Luke 13:1–5, some people asked Jesus about the Galileans who were massacred while sacrificing in the temple. Such tragic circumstances led them to question if these people were especially sinful and this was why God allowed them to die in such a terrible way.
But Jesus’ response clearly rejected this belief that bad things are always happening to bad people and that good people will escape such an end. Jesus even continues to emphasize the seriousness of His rejection by referring to another tragic accident, where a tower in Siloam collapsed and killed those who were inside. He went on to warn His audience that in the long run, they will also perish, unless they repent.
Whenever we are met with bad news, we tend to think that God is punishing us for some sin in our lives. This thinking assumes incorrectly that we can maintain our “goodness” such that God will not visit us with punishment. I recently saw on the news that a lady in Japan has been officially acknowledged to be the oldest person in the world at 116. If the idea that bad things only happen to bad people is true, then this lady must be the godliest person in the world!
However, if we dare to admit it, regardless of how long we live in this world, “in the long run we are all dead.” The fact is that we do not even know when we will die. That is why Jesus was so serious in His warning to repent or perish. While we have the time that God has so graciously given us, we ought to make sure that we are right with Him. And according to the Scriptures, no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6).
If we think it is unjust that bad things can happen to good people, we must realise that this only happened once in the history of the world. There is only one person who can be called good, and He is Jesus Christ.
Dn. Mervin Lin
It’s a shrug.
That’s the reaction I guess I’d get if I were to ask millennials what Lent meant to them. I’m also pretty sure that that would be the reaction of most twenty-first century Christians, especially, those who don’t have traditional liturgical worship experiences.
So, a little introduction...
Lent is the 40 days before Good Friday, always starting on what is called “Ash Wednesday.” (Though Eastern and Western Christian traditions count it differently.) The 40 days are traditionally observed by the faithful to prepare for Good Friday, the holiest day of the year.
Christians who observe Lent use it as a time for prayer and devout reflection. Preparation for Good Friday would also involve fasting and more time in prayerful meditation on Jesus’ sacrifice. Some will forgo (at least temporarily) some hobbies, some kinds of food, or activities such as staying off social media, mobile phones, etc.
Why 40 days?
After his baptism, Jesus withdrew to the Judean desert and fasted for 40 days and nights. And when he was in a physically weakened state, Satan came to tempt him to try to frustrate His mission on earth. He didn’t fail us. So, by observing Lent, Christians are remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Lent, sadly, is a little off our radar in our culture today, as it stands for things we have little time to think about.
You might want to spend the next few weeks praying more often than usual, attending church more often, reflecting more deeply on the human propensity to sin, and stepping up your efforts to be holy.
It is important however to keep in mind an important point: you don’t “do” Lent to earn grace or get more merit points of salvation. You do it simply to remember and appreciate more deeply Jesus’ sacrifice, and thereby, thank Him for all He has done for you.
How you observe Lent depends on how traditional you like your Christianity. However, let us choose to observe Lent as we should never want to stop being grateful to Jesus Christ for He“offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” and is now “at the right hand of God interceding for us.”
Rev. Robert Chew
In John chapter 15, Jesus spoke directly to the needs of His disciples who will believe in Him following His departure. His message touches upon the issue of discipleship which involves clear instructions for how they ought to live and survive among antagonistic Jewish leaders and suspicious Roman authorities. His definition of the Christian experience is often held in sharp contrast to those of our own.
To many of us, the Christian experience is simply about believing the right things about God. Or, it is a matter of living a Christ-like life. However, we often left out the most important aspect which is the mystical, spiritual, and internal dimension. I believe this is precisely what our Lord is talking about when He uses the image of the vine to illustrate the reality of the Christian experience.
How do we know that we are intimately connected to Jesus Christ? Jesus Himself gave us three practical ways.
First, a true disciple must be vitally connected to Jesus and His Word, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you …” (Jn. 15:7a). To abide in His word practically means that Jesus’ words take root in the disciples’ hearts so as to govern their attitudes and actions. It is a growing absorption of Jesus’ teaching that will transform their lives.
Second, because of this growing conformity to Jesus’ teaching, His disciples will be effective in their prayers, since these will be uttered in accordance with God’s will, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15: 7b). Those whose lives are so in harmony with Jesus will find their prayers controlled by His word, and such prayers will be answered and bring added glory to God.
Finally, a true disciple will remain in Jesus’ love (Jn. 15: 9, 10). Here Jesus simply tells them, “Make your dwelling in my love” (v. 9b), that is, “Make my love for you be your very identity”. Who are you? You are those whom Jesus loved. This will always show in their love for one another (Jn. 15:12, 17).
The person who is thus attached to Christ in His Word, prayer and love will inevitably produce more and more fruits. Thus, the issue is not about fruit-bearing itself. It is about whether we are vitally and intimately attached to Jesus Christ, the True Vine.
There is no higher goal for us to strive for than this.
Rev. Mark Tay
God is love. God is gracious. God is merciful.
But there is also the other side. God is angry with our sins, angry with our disobedience and with our hardened hearts. He is offended, He abhors all our fornications and sins, His wrath is dreadfully provoked by them. Yes, God is love and full of grace but we take lightly the truth that He is also our Righteous Judge - One who will surely return to judge both the living and the dead.
Time and time again He has invited the sinner to repent.
Ezekiel 14:6 “”…. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices.””
Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”
Do we expect God to justify His actions? He has every right to let the fire of hell consume the sinner. The sinner stands at the very brink, hanging by the thread of his life, between the fire of eternal hell and eternal salvation.
Joshua 7:15 “He who is caught with the devoted things (idols) shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.”
Are we disturbed by the wrath of God and the severity of God’s anger and punishment? Our problem is that we don’t think that sin or breaking God’s covenant are such big deals. We cannot understand Jesus when He tells us we should be willing to go to the extreme to avoid sin. (Matt 5:29-30)
Our reflection then is “We must not take the wrath of God lightly”. So, be careful then as to how we should tread our paths, lest we anger God. We will do well if we heed this instruction in Galatians 5:16 “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Elder Handson Fu
I will be celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary with Sharon this week! I thank God for how He has shaped our love for each other over the years. Just a few days ago, many were also busy talking about “love” but what can love look like in real life? Following is a personal letter written by someone dear to Sharon and I. This person was hospitalised at the point of the letter. She was 90 years old and her husband was 92.
You have accompanied me for 72 years of our marriage, I could not imagine that this unexpected situation would cause both of us to be separated for the first time and up to 20 days. Due to bacterial infection in my liver and blood, I have to be on antibiotics to clear the abscess as an operation would be too dangerous. Hence, I will not be able to return home for the time being. Please forgive me for not being able to take care of you. I can only plead in tears in the presence of the Lord, may the Lord be with you and grant you strength to stand up and walk again so that you can take care of me. Now that we are both of age, it is indeed our greatest blessing to have children who tenderly care for us... May the Lord bless them for being so filial! Hopefully in the next few days, the doctor can arrange for me to go home for a short while to chat with you and make you laugh again.
Most importantly, please be patient so that those taking care of you will not be put in a difficult position. If you have strength, please stand up and walk around to let your blood circulate. I love you, …love you forever. To have a husband who never leave nor forsake is the greatest blessing of my life.
My hands are shivering as I write, without glasses and proper lighting, all is written in a mess. Please don’t laugh at me ok?
(This letter was written 2 weeks before her discharge on 24 Mar 2017. Her husband went home to Christ 1 week after.)
If you are married, does the above look like how you will deal with separation from your spouse? Is this how you would yearn for each other’s love, affection and presence even with persistent flaws? If your answer is yes, rejoice! You have what it takes to put in perspective the marital conflicts and challenges you are facing right now.
But if the above seems like a movie scene to you, would you ask God to overwhelm you with His love, so that you will be able to avail such sacrificial and unconditional love to your spouse now?
If you are single, may this letter remind you of the faithfulness of God. His love will never leave nor forsake you. He will never abandon you. You belong to Christ.
Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
In 1740-1742, there was a mighty movement (known as the first Great Awakening) of the Holy Spirit of God in the churches in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA., of which one church was where Jonathan Edwards pastored. Stirred by the Spirit to deal with issues raised by the movement, Jonathan Edwards wrote a small but significant treatise titled “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God”.
In one chapter, Jonathan Edwards listed out those signs that infallibly prove that a work is of God. A major sign seen in a true revival is that believers will experience a deep hunger for God’s Word. As someone observed, “True revivals turn the people of God into busy Bible-beavers. Bibles long set aside in favour of TV Guide began to be eagerly searched and devoured.” Loving and obeying God’s Word is a very major sign of a God-sent revival.
Many years ago, a revival broke out in a foreign land. One of the young converts who failed to catch the word “revival” mistakenly said this in a report: “We are having a great re-Bible here.” Amen!! The Bible is so central to God’s reviving work, that while we might laugh at the young convert’s mistake, we also ought to say that there is no difference between “re-vival” and “re-Bible.”
God-sent revivals build people up in the truth. People’s hearts were filled with the hunger for the Word of God. During times of revival, people become humble in God’s presence.
Are we experiencing a revival in our midst? Do we have a hunger to read and study God’s Word? It is my earnest prayer that our congregation will experience a “great re-Bible,” I mean, great revival. It is my prayer that more small groups will be formed and more leaders will be trained and equipped to lead and to handle the Word of God. (cf. 2 Tim 2:15).
Prayer: “God please send us a mighty Holy Spirit revival! May we have a ‘Great Re-Bible.’”
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves,
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
(2 Chron. 7:14)
Rev. Eddy Lim
Let me first offer a prayer to all our Chinese members and friends as you and your family celebrate the Chinese New Year. May God in His supreme sovereignty and boundless grace bless, keep, and sustain you and all your family members throughout the year.
We come again to the time when we will, with some mementos of goodwill and tracts, be “doing” an outreach to the people in our community.
I’d like to share a couple of thoughts on “outreaching.”
Avoid a One-off Mentality
In the parable of the “ten minas” Jesus tells the story of a “nobleman” who gives to his ten servants “ten minas.” The nobleman’s instruction to them is “engage (or “occupy” as in the KJV) until I come.”
Obviously, this is a call for disciples of Jesus Christ to be occupied in, or carry on, the business of the gospel, and to improve on the “minas” He has given them.
When we accept this “occupation” we can’t treat it as a one-time, one-off occupation. Neither should it be viewed or treated as a separate stand-alone undertaking. To me, “engage/occupy” implies a process of personal stewardship - a life-long occupation. It is until He comes!
What does the bible say about what we should be doing when we are outreaching?
I have space to cover two points.
First, show compassion. Compassion fills the pages of the Old Testament and the Gospels. This is a challenge to the followers of Jesus. The Bible speaks of God having compassion for Israel. It tells of a Savior who suffered for the world, and it asks us to live and act compassionately.
Compassion means someone else’s heartbreak becomes your heartbreak. Another’s suffering becomes your suffering. True compassion changes the way we live.
Second, “to save”. Jesus came “to seek and to save” the lost. This brings up the overarching purpose of outreaching - God wants to forgive sinful people. He wants to heal them. So, we bring the good news to people for God to heal their brokenness.
Rev. Robert Chew