Articles

Not Without Hope

From time to time we should remind ourselves that we are not living for the present only. We should always keep eternity in view.  

We can be living so comfortably in this world that we may be in danger of losing sight of our blessed hope. Sometimes we may feel that Christ’s coming could be so remote and far removed from reality that it becomes unattractive to us.  

After all, the philosophy of today’s society may be summed up in the letters YOLO, which stands for “You Only Live Once.” This echoes the attitude of, “let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die” which Paul was warning the Corinthians against (1 Cor. 15:32).   Underlying this philosophy of life is the belief that death is the end of the road. There is nothing to look to beyond death. Such was also the view of the people in Paul’s time. Death was viewed as a sleep from which there would be no awaking. For example, Catullus wrote: “The sun can set and rise again/ But once our brief light sets/ There is one unending night to be slept through.” Theocritus (Idyll, 4.42): “Hopes are for the living; the dead are without hope.”

The Thessalonian believers were also not immune to such fears and hopelessness. In fact some of them still associated death (sleep) with an utter lack of hope. We can understand how distressed they might be by the death of fellow believers prior to Jesus’ return. To them it would have meant the end of any hope of being with the Lord in the future; that the wait for His Son from heaven had been in vain.

In response, Paul offers a profoundly different understanding of death, the future, and the fate of believers. This understanding is grounded solidly in the most fundamental event in history: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the source of the hope for the Thessalonians as well as for us today.   

From 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we are reminded that what will happen in the future is not an end, but only a means to an end. The final destiny of Christians who died before the coming of Christ is not death, but rather the resurrection leading to life with the Lord forever.

Knowledge of the future and the coming of the Lord ought to shape and influence how we live in the present.

Finally, we should use what we know to encourage one another to love and good works. Let the words of the refrain encourage us:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Rev. Mark Tay

True Blessedness

I recently read an article showing how six global trends indicate that the world is slowly improving. These trends are:

Extreme Poverty.  In 1940, about 75% of the world was in extreme poverty, but today that number is 10%. That means 75% of the world are making more than US$1.90 per day. It might not seem a lot for us, but making any less would make it difficult to survive anywhere in the world.

Basic Education.   In 1820, only a privileged few were able to get basic schooling. Today, the number of classrooms and schools around the world is remarkable. At this moment, 86% of people today have access to basic education.

Literacy.  In line with the increase in basic education, literacy has increased from 12% to 85% over about two hundred years. This has a huge impact on missions, as the gospel can now reach most people via the written word. When you add the proliferation of the Internet to this, the reach of the gospel today could be wider than we think.

Democracy.  In 1900, only 1 in 100 people lived in a democracy. Today, 56 in 100 live in a country with free and fair elections. Democracy is a blessing from God, because it allows the changing of governments to be a peaceful process.

Vaccination.  We are blessed to live in times when many diseases are prevented by vaccinations. Two hundred years ago, this medical technology did not exist. Thankfully, 86% of people in the world are vaccinated against many basic and devastating illnesses.

Child Mortality.  As recently as 1920, 30% of infants would die before they reach their 5th birthday. Since then, improvements in housing, sanitation, medicine and science have reduced this global rate to 4%.

We live in an age, where life can seem to be naturally blessed. Modern science and technology have pushed us further away from the curses found in Gen 3. It is no wonder that people might be led to think that they have all they need on this earth to be happy. Regardless of how good a life one may have in this world, it will never reverse sin and death (Gen 2:16–17). It is only in Christ that we find true blessedness that will survive even the world that we are living in.

Dn. Mervin Lin
 

The Legacy of Faith

What eulogy would people share about us at our wake? Will they commend us as a person who has lived life to the fullest for God and a life worth emulating? Yet this is precisely what the author of Hebrews reminded his hearers regarding their forefathers’ example in Hebrews 11:1-7.  

In this short passage the phrase “obtained a good report” appeared several times with variations in verses 2, 4, and 5.  This good report is in fact God’s commendation. It is as if God is saying to them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:21).

This brings me to the question for each one of us to ponder seriously. What legacy would we leave behind for our children and our children’s children to follow? How can we live a life that pleases God and receives His approval and commendation?

The key is found in the three examples of faith i.e. Abel, Enoch and Noah. All three lived lives that were pleasing to God. Each one demonstrated in his own unique way what it means by the phrase, “The just (righteous) shall live by faith” (Heb. 10:38 / Hab. 2:4).

Abel showed that the righteous will conduct his or her life by faith even in the face of suffering or death.  “And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”  (Heb. 11:4)

Enoch proved that the righteous will overcome death by faith. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.” (Heb. 11:5).  

Noah demonstrated that the righteous does not have to fear the final Judgment by faith. “By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7).

From the beginning to the end a life of obedience in trust of God’s promises and dependence on his power is the real secret to pleasing God.

Let us then emulate the faith of the ancient faithful, be inspired by their perseverance and focus on the ultimate example of endurance and the One sufficient to enable us to reach the goal of our pilgrimage and cross the finish line of our race (Heb.12:1-3). In this way, we will leave behind a legacy of faith for the future generation to emulate.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb.12:1, 2)

Rev. Mark Tay

Tolerance and Harmony

As we prepare to celebrate with the rest of our fellow-citizens our nation’s Fifty-third National Day, I would like to share this brief personal statement on the issue of
tolerance and harmony in Singapore   

In a discussion held on the issue of living in harmony in OnePeople.Sg, one paragraph reads as follows:

From schools to public housing and National Service, we have infused our public institutions with opportunities for Singaporeans of different backgrounds to come together, understand one another and respect our society’s rich diversity.

That is a valiant idea … “come together, understand and respect” our diversity--a diversity that could be both our strength and our weakness. What will make the difference?

“In Singapore, we start with the irrefutable proposition that the alternative to multi-racialism … is genocide in varying degrees” says the late Mr S. Rajaratnam (1959-1965) when he was the then Minister for Culture.

The nation’s founding leaders were well aware of the fragility of our social harmony, and of the real possibility of fracture in a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. 
Over the years, three fundamental principles are promoted to maintain social harmony; these are:

- Multiculturalism: Different ethnic groups were encouraged to come together as one united people without giving up their cultural heritage or beliefs.
- Secularism: Backed by the rule of law, the State is secular, but not against religion. Everyone has the right to practise their religion freely.
- Meritocracy: Opportunities are bestowed based on individual merit and performance, without bias to any race, creed or social-economic background.

We should wholeheartedly support these and do our level best to strive for harmony. To this I would add the Christian ethics of love and tolerance, which is our calling. Without them there can’t be harmony.

Happy birthday Singapore!

Pastor Robert Chew

How to be like God (Judges 17:1-6)

Here is the story of Micah, a son who stole some money from his mother. Micah’s mother, having found out that her money was missing, uttered a curse on the “thief”. The son heard the curse and was afraid. He then returned the money, lest he suffers the consequences of the curse. His mother was thankful that her son had repented and returned the money. Alas, what was lost is now found. She then told the LORD that she will give ALL the money to Him for “religious” use… only to end up giving a small portion instead! The son then put together all things religious, even appointing one of his sons to be a priest (non-Levite) at home! 

What kind of parenting was responsible for raising a son who would steal from his own mother? What kind of son would steal from someone who had provided for him his whole life? What would make someone break a vow made to God? How could Micah appoint priests? How could one be so “religious” yet lived an incoherent life? This family seems religious but their “religion” has limited power over their lives. 

Here are the ironies. Micah feared the consequence of the curse uttered by his mother but not the consequence of violating God’s law. His mother cursed a thief only to end up stealing from God herself. This one’s my favourite: Micah actually means “who is like God?”! 

Micah was picking and choosing what to believe about God. His mother was doing the same. Micah seemed to think that his mother’s curse was more important than God’s “thou shall not steal”. His mother actually believed that “thou shall not steal” only applies between people. 

Micah’s god was just a tad less powerful than his mother. His mother’s god was big on grace and less on law.  Both would make decisions that please themselves, and then rationalise that the same please God also.  The reality is, Micah and his mother are really worshipping themselves. They “did what was right in their own eyes, since there is no king in Israel”. They lived and made decisions as though they “are like God”. 

Here’s the thing. Dysfunctional individuals give birth to dysfunctional families and communities if we continue to recreate God rather than to have God recreate us in Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to save and rule all that belong to Him. Why do we accept Jesus as Savior but never as Lord over ALL of life? The promised abundant life in Christ is possible if we would continually surrender our heart-thrones to the King. Perhaps this is when we are most like God; when we surrender our life as Christ did, to the glory of God. 

Prayer
Lord change my heart today. Help me to find true delight ONLY in You. Let me do what is right in my own eyes ONLY if my eyes are filled with Your Light. Let the light of your truth and grace shine through my willing and joyful surrendering. I pray this in your name, amen

MBPC Sunday Bible Class (SBC) is completing the study of Judges today. We will be continuing our study on the lives of Daniel and Joseph from 12 Aug onwards. Come join one of our classes if you are not part of SBC yet. Contact mbpc.sbc@gmail.com today!
 

World Cup? Or the Cup won for the World?

World Cup. A momentous worldwide event that happens once every four years. An event that draws people of diverse age, culture, race and gender to come together because of a common pursuit. A love for soccer. 

We all started with our favorite team in the World Cup and we studied the statistics of each player in the team. We watched highlights and replays of their goals, fouls, misses and we either cheered or screamed at them. As quarter-finals became semi-finals and semi-finals to final, and our “favorite” team dropped off the list of competitors, we shifted our attention to the final two teams; France and Croatia competed for that coveted trophy. France emerged victorious and won the World Cup. 

We gathered in communities to watch the finale – churches, neighbourhood community centres, friends’ homes and even at void decks. And for that moment, we were united in our love for soccer. For that brief moment, we were one body and then it’s gone, till the next World Cup in 2022.

A momentous worldwide event also happened thousands of years ago. An event that drew people of diverse age, culture, race and gender to come together because of a particular pursuit. The love of God. 

For the first time, God entered history as a man, as Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose   for the sins of man. 

It started with many different players – Herod the Great, John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, Caiaphas, Jesus Christ, etc. The masses were studying every action of these players and were either cheering or screaming at them. As the final day drew close, they were left with the final two “teams” – Christ and Death. Christ proved to be victorious and won the “World Cup”.

Unlike the World Cup 2018 that France won, Christ will never lose this “World Cup”, for this “Cup” of thanksgiving was won in exchange for the cup He drank at Gethsemane (1 Cor 10:16; cf. Matt 26:39). He drank so that all of us can drink from this cup of thanksgiving – a new covenant in His blood – in remembrance of God’s love and our love for Him. 

We are all united as one body… not for a brief moment but for eternity, in fellowship with God, in Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

Daniel Gan

Pastoral letter from Rev. Robert Chew

Dear Members and Friends of Sembawang-Moriah BPC,

On behalf of the church Session, I write with sincere thanksgiving to God to formally acknowledge what you already know.

The Lord has deepened and strengthened our abilities to carry out the work of ministry here in Moriah and Sembawang. And for this, we are exceedingly grateful.  

We are thankful to God for Daniel Gan and Grace Wan, both of whom graduated from the Singapore Bible College from the Master of Divinity programme in May. (They also got married just before their graduation!)

Both Daniel (who was already active in serving the Lord in Moriah before embarking on his M. Div. studies), and the now Mrs Gan have joined us as full time pastoral staff to serve the Lord here in Moriah.

Daniel’s focus will initially be on serving in the pulpit and youth ministries (both YF and YAF); and, Grace’s on the young ladies and children ministries. Both of course, will work closely with the existing pastoral staff and Session to further develop and grow the church’s God-given ability to shepherd the flock. 

Because of God’s rich and infinite grace, He will over time call and appoint Daniel and Grace to new tasks and challenges to which, it is our prayer that they will, together with the existing pastoral staff and Session, rise to meet with unity and love and discharge all appointments with diligence and humility. 

We would like to call on you our members and friends to give thanks with us to God for being our great Provider and the loving Giver of all gifts. Pray constantly with us for His Spirit, His wisdom and His knowledge to keep, guide, and lead us to use His gifts to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.

Let us raise our eyes and hands to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, we are your stewards, let us be found faithful.”

Pastor Robert Chew

Pastoral Letter from Rev. Robert Chew

8 July 2018

Dearly beloved of the Lord,

We are filled with joy today as we celebrate our twentieth anniversary.

With rejoicing we echo the opening lines of the sixty-sixth psalm – “Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.”  We shout for joy because of God’s manifest grace and bountiful blessings.

Let me count a few of these for your thanksgiving:

By His wisdom God helped us to build ourselves up in our most holy faith; He kept us in the love of God; and, faithfully we are able to wait for the mercy of the blessed hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
The pastoral staff and session have been deepened and strengthened. They have been gifted and empowered with the sacred ability to teach and preach His Word. This is truly praiseworthy because it’s a grace only God can bestow. 

God has raised and appointed new leaders and new (and younger) people who are stepping forward to actively engage in the work of edifying the body of Christ and glorifying the Lord.
  
Our desire to carry out the Lord’s Great Commission has remained strong. We have seen larger and wider participation from members and friends in overseas missions. Locally, we were blessed with the privilege to be vessels of Jesus’ gospel visibly calling some into His kingdom. 

The nascent Building Fund and Grey Matters ministries are taking shape and moving in the right direction. I invite you to pray with us for God to guide and direct these according to His will and for His purposes.

Whilst it is the twentieth anniversary we at Moriah BPC are celebrating, we can, however, as a branch of Sembawang BPC, look back and thank God for forty-eight years of God’s visible blessings on our church. Truly He has done wonderful things.

May the Lord continue to grant His grace for us, to go forward with confidence and earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints so that His Name will forever be praised. 

Humbly in Christ,
Pastor Robert Chew

 

REFLECTIONS ON SEMBAWANG BPC’S RETREAT 2018

Theme: Hear the Call of the Kingdom

This year our Church retreat was held at Best Western Hotel, Panbil Batam, a change from our usual haunt of Melaka. With this change of venue, we hope to give our campers a different flavour of people, food and culture. 

We thank God that Mr. Lim Chien Chong, Director of Youth for Christ, International accepted our invitation to be our camp speaker. He brought a series of messages that were both timely and practical. Judging from the response and robust interaction in our discussion groups, it was apparent that they thoroughly enjoyed Chien Chong’s teaching! By God’s grace, we will put what we have learned into practice to the glory of God. 

One of the highlights of our retreat is the visit of the children (about 20 from 3 to 16 years old) of the Filadelfia Grace Orphanage. Under the leadership of preacher Ang Liang and her dedicated staff like Maria and Fransina, the orphanage is doing a wonderful work of raising these children into future ambassadors for Christ. In line with our theme, Hear the Call of the Kingdom, we set aside some time to reach out to these children and bless them with tangible gifts of school supplies like uniforms, shoes, books and towels (the last item was donated by a member who could not attend due to other commitment).  After our meeting where they sang and shared with us, we adjourned to the hotel’s swimming pools where they could enjoy an afternoon of delightful food and fun-filled swimming! According to Sister Ang Liang, these children thoroughly enjoyed their special afternoon with us. As Chien Chong reminded us in his first session, ‘The Christian Servant,’ we serve by giving just as our Lord Jesus came to serve and to give his life for us.  

Our retreat at Batam seems to pass so quickly. One moment we were packing and looking forward to it, the next we were saying ‘goodbye’ to one another as we went our separate ways. However, I believe God has heard our prayers and has done His work in our hearts.  Just as we sang the theme song, Hear the Call of the Kingdom, we were also challenged by its chorus:  

King of Heaven we will answer the call
We will follow bringing hope to the lost
Filled with passion, filled with power to proclaim
Salvation in Jesus’ Name 


Rev. Mark Tay

Reflections on the Church Camp - PECULIAR PEOPLE 2018

During our church camp, I can see how God has blessed us with a solid leadership and awesome team members that brought forth the warmth of our MBPC family. Inspired by the messages given by Mr Gn, I am convicted that with compassion and endurance given by God, we can take the risk to embrace each other as God’s family. 

I am likewise greatly encouraged to see our next generation stepping up to give themselves to the Lord in serving and organising such energetic and creative activities for us all. This, I am sure, will provide us with the much-needed firewood to keep the light burning bright in our mind, heart and soul.
(Lim How Oo, Andrew)
 

This was my 2nd Moriah church camp. A key take-away for me was how each of us in the family of Christ should take risk, to be vulnerable, by opening ourselves up to others and be vested in the family - no man can be an island. Mr Gn’s message has given me greater clarity for the reasons to be in church. 
 
Besides worshipping corporately on Sunday, the church is also a gathering of community to uphold one another in Christ and to stimulate/stir/spur/provoke one another unto good works. In this regard, I was greatly moved by the sharing of the missionaries from Kyrgyzstan - how they had forsaken comfort and safety for God’s work. 
 
As we face life’s tribulations, the church is a safe refuge where members in the family serve, pray and uplift each other. At the same time, as we give more of ourselves, we in turn become vessels for God’s answers to others’ prayers. I pray to be more vested in Moriah and this testimony is my own small step towards this.
(Edwin Ho)


Oh how good it is
On this journey we share
To rejoice with the happy
And weep with those who mourn. 
For the weak find strength
The afflicted find grace
When we offer the blessing
Of belonging. 

(Church Camp Theme Song, 2nd stanza — “Oh, How Good It Is” by Keith and Kristyn Getty)

Why Do We Practice Infant Baptism?

Infant baptism has been rejected by some as being unbiblical. A common objection is that infants cannot profess their faith and therefore should not be baptized. Is there a case for infant baptism, if we examine the Bible closely? 

God’s Covenant with Abraham and Its Sign    
In Gen. 15, God made a covenant with Abraham. This covenant would be a means by which all God’s people will be blessed. This was not a covenant of works, but only of grace alone. In Galatians 3:29, if we are Christ’s, then we are also Abraham’s spiritual children and heirs according to the promise.    

After this covenant was made, God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision. It was to signify the removal of spiritual uncleanness and God’s promise of blessing on Abraham’s family from generation to generation (Gen. 17:10–14). Even though none of his family had professed faith in this covenant, they had to be circumcised. Here we see the application of the sign without the requirement of faith for salvation. 

Paul called circumcision both a “seal” and a “sign” of righteousness that Abraham had by faith (Rom. 4:11). A seal is a visible pledge of God that when the conditions of His covenant were met, the blessings promised would be applied. Therefore, God did not require parents to wait until their son could express faith before administering circumcision.     

The Covenant Continues, but the Sign Changes    
The bloody sign of circumcision no longer remains appropriate after Jesus has shed His blood once for all to remove our sin (Heb. 10:10; 1 Peter 1:18). Therefore, we receive a new sign to indicate what Christ has done for us. Baptism with water is now the sign of the washing away of our sin (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 9:14). Also, Colossians 2:11–12 tells us that salvation comes through faith alone and that circumcision has been replaced by baptism.    

While the sign of the covenant has changed, the extent of it do not. The promises continue to be extended through parents unto their children (Acts 2:38-39). For the children to reap the full blessings of the covenant, they must express their own faith in Christ.

When we baptise our children, we are keeping with the example of faithful families from long ago. In faith with obedience, we devote our children of the covenant to Him.  

Dn. Mervin Lin

The Legacy of the Christian Father

Next Sunday, we will be honouring all our fathers on Father’s Day. It is good that we take the time to recognize them and let them know how much we love and appreciate them. However, there are many children in the world who suffer much because they are fatherless. Charles Colson in his book, How Now Shall We Live, highlighted the problem: 

  • Children of divorce suffer intense grief, which often lasts many years. Even as young adults, they are nearly twice as likely to require psychological help. 
  • Crime and substance abuse are strongly linked to fatherless households. Sixty percent of rapists grew up in fatherless homes, as did 72 percent of adolescent murderers and 70 percent of all long-term prison inmates.

Although we may think that the above is an American problem, yet we should not ignore the fact that divorce rate has been rising in our nation too. We are seeing more and more broken homes in our society today. As such, it is incumbent that Christian fathers should set the example and shine for Christ by leaving lasting legacies to our children so that they in turn will continue to impact their children for Christ.  

At the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan, his son Michael gave this tribute, “I was so proud … to be Ronald Reagan’s son… He gave me a lot of gifts as a child … But there’s a gift he gave me that I think is wonderful for every father to give every son … the gift that he was going to be with his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ … He told me about his love of God, his love of Christ as his Saviour… And I hope to honour my father by giving my son, Cameron … that very same gift he gave to me.” 

Michael Tait shared two of the most important things he learned from his dad:

  • Love people. “He cried … he laughed with people. Everybody was his friend. He couldn’t care less about your race … nationality … socioeconomic status, whatever. All he care about was you, your soul.” 
  • Live for God. “Don’t get caught up in the things of this world, because they’re just fleeting. The world will get the best of you if you let it, so live for God. 

Know God, Love people and Live for God – these are the legacies we should leave to our children. I pray that by God’s grace, we will rise up to this challenge.  

Rev. Mark Tay

Peace Making and You

The oldest psalm in the bible is Psalm 29. The last verse (11) in that psalm says, “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!”  The last word here is “peace.” 

The voice of God was heard at Jesus baptism; and in Mark's gospel that same voice demands that all should "listen to him." This same Jesus is the "Prince of Peace," using words borrowed from Isaiah. Hence, the very oldest poem in all of the Bible proclaims that the essence of God is peace, and because that is so we are called to be makers of peace too.

The seventh beatitude (Matt. 5:9) pronounces a blessing on peacemakers: “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  

A blessing is here pronounced on all who, having received reconciliation with God through the cross, now strive by their message and conduct to be instrumental in imparting this same gift to others. By word and example such peacemakers, who love God, one another, and even their enemies, promote peace also among men.

In a world full with the absence of peace, peacemakers are relevant, vital, and ought to be a dynamic force. Aspersions are frequently cast upon “the church” as if its influence in peace-making is pitifully insignificant. If, when the word “church” is used, the reference is to an institution in which dead orthodoxy prevails, the charge is probably valid. 

On the other hand, as Baker in his N.T. commentary says, if the reference is to “the army of Christ,”  that is, the sum-total of all true Christian soldiers, redeemed men and women of all generations, religions, and races who wage the Lord's battle against evil and for right and truth, the right reply to those aspersions is: “Without the influence of this mighty army how much worse would the world be?” 

True peacemakers are all those whose Leader is the God of peace (1Cor 14:33; Eph 6:15;    1 Thes 5:23), who aspire after peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14), proclaim the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15), and pattern their lives after the Prince of Peace (Luke 19:10; John 13:12-15).

If our Lord is the Prince of peace shouldn’t we be striving for this peace all the time? 

Pastor Robert Chew

How to get the best out of the Church Camp?

In 2 weeks, about 190 of us will be heading to Malacca for our biannual Church Camp. There are indeed many things to look forward to. Some seek a time of respite, others an extended time of fellowship with fellow brethren and still others, the opportunity to immerse themselves in the living word of God. 

So how can we get the best out of the camp? 
Pray for a heart that is prepared, peaceable and participative. 

Prepare to have your heart challenged, your comfort zone disturbed and your status quo changed. See yourself as a half-empty (or half-full) glass to be filled by God’s Word ministered through preaching and conversations. Purpose in your heart (Luke 14:28) to rest, realign and recharge. Camps provide the time to rest from our work, a time to realign our spiritual compass and a time to plug out of self and plug in to the Savior. 

While we have been seeing each other in our weekly worship services, we will now be interacting and living in close proximity for a good 4 days in a camp. Conflicts,  disagreements and differences can happen. Seek to live peaceably (Rom 12:18) amongst all campers (even guests and employees at the hotel). 

Participate. We are members one of another in the same body of Christ. We are to build each other up into maturity in Christ (Eph 4:16). Ask the Lord to provide “opportunities” to have good and deep conversations with some during the camp. How do you intend to be a blessing as you participate? Be engaged and present at the Camp in such a way that will spur others to greater faith and love. 

Do you desire a meaningful and memorable time with God at the camp? Be prepared, be peaceable and participate!

Lastly, let us commit all campers to the Lord. Pray for hearts to be changed. Pray for the birth of new spiritual friendships and the strengthening of existing ones. Pray for God’s Word to be preached faithfully and powerfully. Pray for conversion of all pre-believers. Pray for safety in travel and in the camp. Pray for the seniors in our camp, as well as those with young children. Pray for the Camp committee members and partners to discharge their duties diligently and joyfully. 

Looking forward to the camp! 

Blessings, 
Gideon

How To Pray?

I remember as a young Christian, being very nervous about being asked to pray before a meeting or even saying grace before a meal. Today, although I am used to praying in public, it can still be an unnerving thing to be asked to do it suddenly. On the other hand, we all have heard before how important it is to have a healthy private prayer life. 

However, we still struggle to pray regularly. Perhaps we remember to pray right after we lie down at night in bed, but end up falling asleep before we can say, “Amen.”

There is something about prayer that makes it difficult for us to take up naturally. For most people, I think it is the fear of not knowing what to say or saying the wrong things, due to a lack of confidence in one’s own ability. As for private prayer, we sometimes do not know what to pray for, except to petition about our own needs. This is expected, because prayer is an activity that is unnatural to the old self. Nevertheless, prayer is crucial to continuing in the Christian life (Rom. 8:15).

In the Gospels, Jesus taught that prayer is not to be used to impress others of one’s piousness (Matt. 6:5–6). If we are called upon to pray in public, our attitudes should be the same as if we are praying in private. We should not be anxious about what other people think. Jesus also taught that it is wrong to pray lengthy prayers with the hope that it will manipulate God into answering them (Matt. 6:7–8). When we pray, we ought to be trusting our Father to hear us, rather than our own eloquence or fervour. 

The best way to improve our prayers is to be immersed in the Word. The Psalms is a good place to learn how to pray. It contains not just prayers of praise and thanksgiving, but prayers of lament as well. Of course, the Lord’s Prayer is a good example of how we ought to pray.

Regardless of how “well” we pray, the Holy Spirit must intercede because we are weak and without discernment. He prays on our behalf that which is in perfect accordance with God’s will (Rom. 8:26–27). Therefore, my friends, please go forth and pray confidently without hesitation. The Holy Spirit is here to help you, even without your knowledge.

Dn. Mervin Lin

A Tribute of Praise to All Our Mothers

The abuse of women in the family is a manifestation of the sexual illness of our society. We live in a sex-diseased society that has developed multi-fold ways to debase women. Movies and TV focus on rape, violence, and “use” of women. One fourth of all the sex images in “cybersex” involve the torture of women. Virtually everyone agrees all this is terrible, but no one does anything, and “good” people still take part. 

Christian must separate themselves from such “entertainment” and from such treatment of women. As Paul said, it “must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Eph. 5:3). 
   
It is time for Christians to speak strongly for justice of women. Christian men have a responsibility to support all women, single or married, without being patronizing in the process and without turning the responsibility into an opportunity for sexual exploitation. As such, I am convinced that we must not only speak up for them, but we must also honour them especially on such an occasion as the Mothers’ Day.
   
I read recently in our Straits Times about a wonderful woman who quit her job to take care of her daughter who suffered from a neuro-muscular disease and was not expected to live beyond twelve years old. 

With tender care and a mother’s unconditional love, Madam Yong raised her daughter beyond all human expectations.  Madam Yong, who got divorced when her daughter, Vivian was just three, said, “I am with her every minute, every second. I’ll shower her with love and make every day a happy one so that she can live longer in this world.”  Yes, what a fantastic mother! 

What a refreshing and challenging story! She deserves to be praised and honoured by all Singaporeans! I wonder what if the roles of the mother and daughter were reversed. Or for that matter, what if you have a mother who is totally bedridden, would you take good care of her? Like Madam Yong, would you say, “I will shower my mother with love and make every day a happy one so that she can live longer in this world”? 

I wish all our mothers and grandmothers a blessed and joyous Mothers’ Day. We thank God for your labour and sacrifices of love to bring us into the world and nurture us to be decent and honourable citizens and above all to teach us in the ways of the Lord.

Rev. Mark Tay

The Face of Kindness

Do we have it? How do we show it?

Conflicts, disagreements, and differences are unavoidable. Of course, they occur not only in godless societies but also in every community of faith.

The issue for the Christian who wants to follow Christ is: What should our reaction be? How should we respond?

The apostle Paul enjoins us to be “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph 4:32, NIV here and after). 

The adjective “kind” here ranges in meaning from “fit for use, useful, mild, pleasant, benevolent” (Thayer). The verb form is used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 in relation to the subject of love: “Love is patient, love is kind.”

This latter reference puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Christian to show himself or herself to be “mild, kind, or use kindness” (Thayer)

Jesus taught more elaborately on this.
In Matthew 5, he says this: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (v. 23-24).

And in Matthew 18, “If your brother or sister (fellow believers) sins (against you – in some manuscripts), go and point out their fault, just between the two of you (v. 15).

The significant implication is the teaching that whether you are the offending party (as in Matthew 5) or the offended party (as in Matthew 18) you take the initiative to go and seek reconciliation. 

On Matthew 5:23, Adam Clarke commented that “A Christian, properly speaking, cannot be an enemy to any man; nor is he to consider any man his enemy.” 

The ancient “fathers” of our faith taught this:
A gift offered to God is not acceptable unless the giver puts aside his or her anger and becomes reconciled to the brother (Chromatius). One who hates is akin to a murderer (Theodore of Heraclea). Jesus does not receive the sacrifice of worship without the sacrifice of love. Not before or later but precisely while the very gift is lying there, when the sacrifice is already beginning, he sends you to be reconciled to your brother (Chrysostom). One who does not love one’s brother does not love the Lord (Cyril of Alexandria). Let brotherly peace come first, before one approaches the altar (Jerome, Augustine)

This is the way we show the face of kindness.

Pastor Robert Chew

Do you understand what you are reading?

It is often assumed that Bible reading, and Bible study are the same thing. On the contrary, they are really very different. Bible reading goes through a number of verses or even chapters for a general sense of what the Scripture contains. Bible study requires one to pause and reflect on the text. A deeper level of engagement is required to understand what is going on in the passage. 

Another difference is the requirement of resources apart from the Bible itself to help us understand the historical and cultural context related to the passage. I know some Christians who disagree with this. They make the claim that they rely only on the Spirit for understanding as they interact with the Word. Indeed, it is true that without the Spirit, we cannot understand the Word (Acts 16:14). However, the Spirit has also worked in the lives of many people who have dedicated their careers to develop expertise related to the Scriptures. As a result, they have produced all kinds of study Bibles, commentaries, concordances and Bible dictionaries to help us. We may not be able to get the same level of insight from a passage as someone who has spent decades working on it. It is my opinion that the Spirit can guide us through the expertise of others.

In Acts 8:26–40, the Spirit led Philip supernaturally to the Ethiopian Eunuch to guide him in understanding Isaiah 53:7–8. The Eunuch was mediating on this text probably for a very long time. He knew what it was saying, but he could not understand what it meant. Despite all the supernatural acts happening before and after this incident, the Holy Spirit still used the ordinary means of a human teacher to help the Eunuch. Philip himself, was someone who had previously been taught by the Apostles about the fulfillment of the Old Testament by Jesus our Lord (Luke 24:44–45; Acts 5:42). Therefore, we should not ignore the fact that God has given us teachers to equip us for the ministry and build up the church (Ephesians 4:11–12).

Are you studying the Bible today? Why not join the Sunday Bible Classes that start at 11:15am and begin to store up His word (Proverbs 2:1, NIV)? For “then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:5, ESV) 

Dn. Mervin Lin

A dialogue between the senior devil, Screwtape and a junior devil, Wormwood

(inspired by C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters)

My Dear Wormwood.. 

I see that Moriah is growing and people are stepping up to focus on their walk with the Enemy… We have to stop them.. here is our strategy again. 

Celebrate Consumerism 
Let them compare, from music to message to ministry.
Let them despise what they already have in the church.
Let them abuse the term “universal church”; so long as they remain in the “universal church”, it does not really matter which local church they worship and serve in. Let them believe that. 
In fact, if there is a way for them to downplay the church membership thing, make them think that there is no real need to be part of a local church membership. That way, it remains easier for them to leave when the “going gets tough”!

Cultivate Callousness
When they do stay in this church, let them just worship and go home. 
Encourage spirits of indifference, nonchalance and coldness towards everything in the church. 

Starve them of the Enemy’s instructions, that is known to revive their hearts. 
Let them misunderstand “salvation by faith alone”. No work equals no service!  
When they are approached to serve in the ministry, make them think that they are not good enough, that they are too old, too young, too busy, that they are focusing on their family, anything to make them say no. Because if lesser people are serving, the slower they will grow. We need more to suffer burnout so the church remains weak. 
You know what, let them understand “waiting on God” as sitting and not doing anything, this will keep their service at bay.

Create Confusion
If all else fails, let them serve and let them treat ministry as the ends. 
Make them focus on ministry alone and neglect Christ. 
Help them focus on numbers, activities and events and neglect the people. 
Every time they serve, help them to serve out of convenience and comfort. 
When they do see success, make that about themselves, don’t stop them, make them proud and make the ministry attractive and desirable. Cause the leaders to fight amongst themselves for credits. Cause them to be divided on non-issues. 

So long as we can keep them fighting, they will be distracted from their mission... and many will be isolated .. and when they are alone… they will be easy targets for us. Now go get them!

Your Uncle, 
Screwtape

(This week's article has been contributed by Dn. Gideon Loh)