GST credits

With the financial woes around the world, the Singapore government has come up with an inventive scheme to give citizens money; called credits. Employers are given credits, ordinary folks are given credits — to hedge against rising costs, loss of jobs and hardships. Many are glad and some rile that it’s little and in effective.

But this makes me think of another credit we who trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour have: it’s called the credit of righteousness. Unlike the cash and incentive credits; this one in unrelated to performance, background and future prospects! God freely gives it to all who would receive it with humility. It is the credit that allows us to come to God and call Him ‘Father’. It is the credit that sets down a deposit for a heveanly home. It is the credit that is signed, sealed and delivered right into the depths of our hearts through the power of the Spirit.

Do you and I know anyone who needs this credit?

Do you and I who have it rely on it fully and experience it joyfully?

G -race

S – alvation

T – otality

this is what God Alimghty offers us – in good times and bad; since the beginning of time. Let;s open our hearts and receive it afresh – especially during this season of Lent; when we are drawn to rememeber the meaning and power of the Cross.

Struggling Christians!

I know we are all thinking in terms of the current economic gloom. Yes, that is indeed painful for some – and – as a family we must reach out to lift up. No one within the family should be needy. Not when we are called to reach beyond our family in Christ to a really needy world.

I was thinking this morning about ‘struggle’ and how there are two ways Christians struggle. The first is when we refuse to fully follow Christ. Here the struggle is one of surrender, allegiance and obedience. There is this constant tussle between the self’s ambtions, fears, strongholds and God’s love. This happens to all of us; but to live in this state is far from what God gave Jesus up for.

There will be struggle, but the struggle must be against the forces and structures in society that oppose God’s will: rampant consumerism, oppression, injustice, disunity, untruth. This is where we are to pit our skills, training and imaginations against.

Indeed, when we are engaged in the right struggle (the second one), then the struggle of the first kind becomes less burdensome. Victory over self is not obtained by an over-focus on self. It occurs when we fix our eyes on God — who in turn directs them to others.

May the Spirit lead us into the struggle and victory of Love and Light.

how our lives unfold in regard to…

08 was a very significant year for us. Churchlife! grew and reached a wide spectrum of churches; and we worked out a partnership with Riverlife church that we hope would be a synergistic growth path for us both.

These are not a result of human endeavour. Instead, we see God’s hand working to lead, stretch, and position us for His purpose and pleasure. The fun thing is we discover that His pleasure is more and more ours! We know we are far from being completely yielded to Him (as evidenced in the way ‘we’ surface in our thought and preferences); but God graciously accepts our ‘heroic’ declarations of surrender and submission (even though these happen in the quiet and /or panic moments)!

In the end, as someone once said; we need to measure everything by how our life is unfolding in regard to our eternal relating to God. He is who we return to, who we account to, who we belong to. He is the One who loves, saves, leads, transforms us.

May our lives and therefore minsitry this year continue to be fuller flowering of this deep truth which we are only just discovering in our depths.

Bless you for being a part of our journey!

Great and Near

Nearly twenty years ago, a group of theologians wrote about how our thinking and experience of God swings between God’s Greatness (Transcendence) and His Nearness (Immanence).

It is hard for us to grasp BOTH at the same time. We associate Greatness, Holiness and Might with distance. While we associate God’s peace, mercy and comfort as nearness.

This is a result of our creaturely limitation. We are deeply aware of our own sinful nature, really. Hence Good, God, Heaven cannot be near us.

We also feel keenly the pain of our frailty and our falleness. Hence we hunger for help, comfort and answers.

God IS both Great and Near. This is the glorious message we have. Yes, we dont tell it very well sometimes; but it IS the message. It is a mystery that God can dwell in us and with us through the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery that God was once man and walked on our earth. It is a mystery that one day we can join God in heaven and make that our home!

Wow. When i ponder this, I get all excited about preaching and sharing His Incredible Offer of Grace.

We cannot figure it out; but we must set our minds on it. What else is worth pondering?

the dangers of fear

From Spurgeon (modernised):

Christian, do not dread the possibility of bad news. After all, if bad news distresses you, in what way are you different from other men? Others do not have your God to fly to; they have never experienced His faithfulness. Naturally, they are bowed with care and cowed by alarm and fear. But you profess to have a different spirit. You have been born again into a lively hope and your heart lives on heavenly things! If you are as easily distracted as others, where is the grace you have received? Where is the dignity of the new nature you claim to possess?

What’s more, fear does us a great deal of harm as it makes us vulnearable to sins that arise in trying circumstances. The ungodly when overtaken by evil rebel agianst God, murmur and conclude that God deals harshly with them. Will you fall into this same sin and provoke your Father in heaven like this?

Yhe unconverted also run to wrong means to escape trouble. If your mind yields to the present pressure; you may well do likewise.

No, instead, trust in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.

O how can we glorify God if we play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in fires of adversity. Doubting and despondency do not magnify our Lord.

Take courage, rely upon your covenant God and ‘let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’.

for or against?

With the American presidential elections on, people are taking sides on a variety of issues.

Jesus too mentioned the need to take sides: “he who is not for me is against me”. We should ask, what does Jesus have in mind? what does Jesus see as being for him?

For most of us. agreeing means we agree to a thought or idea. But there is more. Jesus is looking for a deep heart agreement that shows in action. The Pharisees claim to seek God’s will as Jesus does; but they were unable to discern Jesus identity and mission. What about us? How much of the person and purpose of Jesus do we really understand and live for?

So many things can get in the way. The fear of failure, the cost of sacrifice, the possible rejection, the approval of man. None of these can be overcome by clear thinking alone. Indeed, without being on our knees in desperation because we realise how fraudulent we can be, there is no way for grace to lift us up and set us upon a rock.
When grace has been poured out; stand up, be strong and be courageous.

i member leh..!

“Member?” the cashier at the NTUC check-out routinely asks.

The question is meant to elicit a twinge of regret at the loss one will suffer for not being a member – no discounts, rebates or freebies. 

This is our understanding of membership today. Membership = privileges. The chief end of all membership today is ‘what’s in it for me?’.

I wonder how much of this expectation has crept into our other uses of ‘member’ – of family, profession, church. What does it mean to be a member of a family? what does it mean to be a fellow-doctor or teacher? What does it mean to be a church member

The current climate not just of ‘me’ but ‘me first’, makes this worse. We easily start with what we deserve, need, want…and find a way to explain things to ourselves. We can even make it sound noble and giving!

But we cannot fool God.

In his wisdom, one of the correctives for this is his call to us to be part of the church. To God, church means a supernatural gathering of His people who witness and confront the world. To God, church means a divinely bonded people who will care and sacrifice. To God, church means a glimpse of heaven, of the way things are meant to be.


a state of of the union

i have always been awed by this phrase  “state of the union”. it comes from the US where the President gives us mid-term report to describe how the nation is faring. the backdrop is the harsh reality of a bloody civil war that made the formation of USA possible.

But there are 2 other unions that concern me much more. As a marriage and minsitry partnership, we are very watchful over the state of our union and agonise, talk, pray, debate, resolve….seeking His will at each turn.

The other union is that of top priority to God Himself. It is the union between the bride and His Son. Yes, the state of how close the church is and how she is doing as Christ’s bride.

Sometimes when we look at churches seemingly fighting so many battles at so many fronts, it is easy to despair. But our hope is not in ourselves no matter how noble our intentions. Jesus is totally committed to His bride and He has promised to cleanse and prepare her for himself.

For each of us as members and leaders, the question is this: do we treat the church the way Christ wants us to? Are we exerting our energies and discharging our duties in a manner that honors Him? Are we praying, longing and exhorting each other to seek the glorious day of the bride’s full readiness?

We think that we cannot love Jesus and disdain His bride. So even while we love imperfectly and suffer the limitations of sin, we must grow our love for Jesus and His bride. Join us. Pray for us.

trusting His Intent

Deuteronomy 32 is a fascinating account of God’s ways and how He deals with His people.

In verse 11, the picture is painted of an eagle who purposely shakes the young eaglets of their complacency and sets them aflight. Ready or not?! There it seems to be only one way to learn to fly – to fly. So mom eagle ‘stirs up its nest’ – she kicks those young birds out into the air.

Then she ‘hovers over, spread wings to catch, and carries them’

We prefer God to hold our hand, pat our backs, call our names, shine a light, shower a miracle. But this?!

One speaker puts it this way: God wants us to soar.

We of course just want to trod along, or in common parlance, ‘cope with life’.

From the way it’s described (and if we think of the backdrop of the Exodus), God’s people soar when they allow Him to take them out, set them off, and they learn to trust Him while in mid-air, mid-point, mid-section….while in a desert of unpredictable and often harsh conditions.

Admittedly, like the Israelites we are more interested in licking our wounds, missing the good ol’ days then moving froward with God. Instead of soar, we are often sore – with complains, misgivings, doubts, fear, anxiety.

Let’s encourage each other to be willing to step out, free fall, and soar!

abundant life = ?

THis is what pastor Eugene Peterson wrote

We wake up each morning to a world we did not make. How did it get here? How did we get here? We open our eyes and see that ‘old bowling ball the sun’ careen over the horizon. We wiggle our toes. A mockingbird takes off and improvises on themes set down by robins, vireos, and wrens, and we marvel at the intricacies…. There is so much here–around, above, below, inside, outside. Even with the help of poets and scientists we can account for very little of it. We notice this, then that…. Before long we are looking out through telescopes and down into microscopes, curious, fascinated by this endless proliferation of sheer Is-ness–color and shape and texture and sound.

After awhile we get used to it and quit noticing. We get narrowed down into something small and constricting. Somewhere along the way this exponential expansion of awareness, this wide-eyed looking around, this sheer untaught delight in what is here, reverses itself: the world contracts; we are reduced to a life of routine through which we sleepwalk.

But not for long. Something always shows up to jar us awake.

[Source: Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places]

One of the things we need to think about as we read this is what Jesus meant when He said He came that we may have abundant life.

I am afraid we have defined this in Singapore’s standards and equate it with having more cash, convenience and less pain!

What would our brother and sister in Myanmar think when they hear these words of Jesus ? Or our brothers and sisters in war-torn Sudan? What does the abundant life mean then?

Looks like we need to mature and outgrow our tendency to limit God’s Word and Will to our routinized lives and habits.