the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Friday, July 31, 2009
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The lovely couple in the picture above came to my stall last night :-) Peter Sze and his wife are from KL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the sake of those not familiar with Southeast Asia) and they came to Singapore for a 2-day visit yesterday. I am so honoured that they squeezed me into their itinerary and dropped by my stall last night, together with Peter’s sister-in-law and her two kids.
I “met” Peter on facebook not long ago through our network of friends comprising mostly of Christians who embrace the gospel of grace. It is so amazing that even though we (the network of friends) are from different countries and time zones, we are able to connect with one another through facebook or our blogs and share in the joy of the gospel. Indeed, our true connection is GRACE … technology is just a facilitator.
However, while technology is helpful, it still can’t beat real face-to-face interaction. That is why it is such a joy to see Peter and his wife in person and be able to chat and laugh together. It is also why our “Tao Suan Fellowship” is meeting again next week at my stall; which is also what Hebrews 10:25 encourages - “let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
The friends in TSF are all connected in and through Grace. It started with us commenting on one another’s blogs, and then Malcolm came to visit me at my stall, and later Jeffrey also popped by … and then we decided “hey, why not organize a little gathering so that we can meet one another face-to-face for the first time?”, and later we decided “hey, why not meet again?” and the TSF evolved from there, with more and more new faces added :-).
I heard from Kat that Alan Hiu, who lives in Kuching, Sarawak, will be coming to Singapore soon and she will be bringing him to my stall for a face-to-face meeting and of course, a taste of my desserts. By the way, Peter and his family ordered some of my desserts and I intended to give them a treat BUT Peter and his wife insisted on paying. They said they came specially to bless me, and insisted that they want to pay, quickly stuffing two $10 notes into my hands; in fact, they overpaid! (their orders actually were less than $10) Oh, how grace overflows … they remind me of how our Daddy God overpaid the penalty of our sins with his Son, Jesus.
I wonder if we should rename our TSF as “Grace United” ….
Friday, July 24, 2009
I visited thywordistruth’s blog and he posted this video of an excerpt of a sermon by Pastor Steve Lawson (who???) with the following transcript:
KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?
OSTEEN: I don't think it's that hard. To me it's fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family -- I don't feel like that at all. I'm not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I'm just living my life.
KING: But you have rules, don't you?
OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To life a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that's really the essence of the Christian faith.
KING: That we live in deeds?
OSTEEN: I don't know. What do you mean by that?
KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.
OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...
KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...
KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
Again, we see another pastor riding on the fame of Joel Osteen. Based on an interview of Joel Osteen on the TV show Larry King Live on CNN, Pastor Steve Lawson (who???) accused Joel Osteen of not knowing or daring to declare the gospel.
However, is that true? Larry King asked Joel a very loaded question of who goes or who doesn’t go to heaven. This question should be answered within the walls of the church, not live on CNN. Larry King pushed the question further by asking whether Jews or Muslims can go to heaven, whether they are wrong …
I don’t mind Joel looking stupid on TV by not really answering this question on CNN, rather than be really stupid by answering it directly and then cause religious conflict, not to mention bring danger to himself and his family if and when extremists decide to respond.
This type of question will never be allowed on Singapore TV because the Singapore government knows how fragile our country’s racial and religious harmony is, and how one little spark can start off a huge fire of hatred which cannot be controlled.
There is a proper time and place to declare the gospel but it is certainly not on a 1minute interview with Larry King.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
My sister-in-grace Geri was forwarded this video by her cousin-in-law and asked me for my opinion on it, and I thought I’ll share my views with the rest of you too.
My immediate gut reaction is that it is not fair for Ps MD to just show a 5min clip of JO's sermon and then preach against what he said because JO's words can be easily taken out of context. Also, I believe (rightly or wrongly) that MD is riding on JO's fame, just like unknown pastors in Singapore will surely get noticed when they mention something about NCC or Pastor Prince in their sermons.Ps MD said "In your pursuit of joy, you gotta be really careful; just because it's in a Christian bookstore, radio and TV doesn't mean it's right. You gotta be discerning."
I agree with Ps MD that we have to be discerning; and I've discerned that what Ps MD preached in his youtube video is wrong!
When he said "in your pursuit of joy", he has already started off on the wrong foot because we don't have to pursue joy, as if it is some goal we have to attain. Joy is found in the presence of God and we have obtained this joy because we have been ransomed and given His righteousness; there is no need to pursue it. The joy remains in us when we remain in God's love ie. we are conscious of how much God/Jesus loves us.
He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him,He shall see His face with joy, For He restores to man His righteousness.
"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
2 Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘ For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’”[a]
3 Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
In reference to Ps Joel's clip, Ps MD said "by that definition, walking closely with God in maturity of faith means you are wealthy, with good relationships, living in victory, without pain and without anxiety, excludes Jesus."
Ps MD is saying that Jesus walked closely with God but he was was not wealthy, did not have good relationships, etc ... he said Jesus "was born in a poor family, worked a common job for 30 years, spent 3 years in ministry flat broke, homeless, sometimes hungry and when it came time to pay his taxes, like some of you, he couldn't afford it."
Firstly, I think Ps MD has taken what Joel said out of context. Joel is not saying that wealth, good relationships, etc means that you are walking closely with God. From what I understand from the 5min clip, Joel was preaching about the rights and privileges that we, as children of God, have and that we should see ourselves in that light; poverty, poor health, etc should not be accepted as your lot in life.
Ps Joel :
"You are not ordinary, you come from great stock. Your Heavenly Father spoke the worlds into existence. Long before you ever got here, He was thinking about you. He didn't create you to be average, to barely get by, have all kinds of things holding you back, you gotta get the right vision.
God created you to be totally free, to have peace in your mind, to have divine health, to have good relationships, to have plenty to pay your bills, God created us as victors, not victims.
Fight the good fight of faith, know who you are - the seed of Abraham. You have rights and privileges, one of those privileges is total victory." (emphasis in bold mine)
Secondly, Ps MD is absolutely wrong to justify poverty, pain, worry, etc as normal in a Christian life because Jesus had all of those! I really lost all respect for Ps MD when he said Jesus was flat broke, went hungry and couldn't afford to pay his taxes! What he said betrays a lack of basic bible knowledge which even I, a hawker, have! (I'm not trying to boast here, just registering my indignation at his incompetence).
Yes, Jesus was born in a poor family BUT his birth made the family rich! When he was a young child, magi came with treasures to worship him and the family received gold, frankincense and myrrh which more than sponsored their escape to Egypt shortly after:
11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
Traditionally, we believe that Joseph was a carpenter, but the word in Greek can also mean a skilled craftsman, nonetheless why should it be labeled as a "common job"? Does it mean that one can never be rich by being a carpenter? You can buy cheap furniture at "Courts Superstore" but expensive furniture can also be found at high-end stores like "Space" in Millenia Walk.
Did Jesus really spend 3 years in ministry being flat broke? If he was flat broke, how could he have a money bag and a treasurer (Judas)? - John 12:6 "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it."
Was Jesus truly homeless? No! Jesus traveled from place to place on foot to preach. How could he set up a home at every place that he went? He would have to sleep in somebody's house at the place he was preaching. He can't go home often because he walked; he did not travel by car, train or plane. I'm sure Peter Youngren has his own home in his hometown but surely he won't be buying a house at every city he preaches in, will he?
Did Jesus really couldn't afford to pay his taxes? This is a total misinterpretation of Matt 17:24-27 by Ps MD:
24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"
25"Yes, he does," he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?"
26"From others," Peter answered.
"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
The key issue in those verses was NOT that Jesus couldn't afford to pay the temple tax BUT rather Jesus declaring that He is the Son of God and therefore He DID NOT HAVE TO PAY the temple tax. Moreover, Jesus did "pay" the temple tax, for himself AND Peter, not with his own money but with money in the mouth of the first fish that He told Peter to catch.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The article said "The success of the campaign was due to the sacrificial financial contributions of both leaders and members and to divine intervention, BCC Senior Pastor William Lee noted.
The leadership decided to rebuild the premises so as to ‘maximise’ use of the space the church has occupied since the 1970s as ‘good stewards’ of what God has given them.
They started to raise funds in August 2006, but many members did not see the need for the expansion then.
The Senior Pastor called his leaders together and urged them to set an example of giving. By the end of the meeting, the more than 30 pastors and leaders had pledged $1.7 million toward the rebuilding.
When The Rev Lee again approached his congregation in September that year, they pledged $5.5 million, bringing the total amount to more than $7 million. Time passed and the fund increased to $14.8 million, just $1.5 million short of the full amount."
While there is absolutely nothing wrong and it is commendable that the church leadership set an example of sacrificial giving which the members followed, it is interesting to note the difference in approach from NCC to the raising of funds for a church building project.
A number of NCC's church leaders and members may well have given sacrificially too, however what I want to highlight in my article is not the actual giving but rather the way we are taught to give.
If I remember correctly, NCC members were never asked to give sacrificially to the building project. In fact, in his sermon "Arise And Build — Practical Lessons From The Story Of Nehemiah", Pastor Prince showed us how God will provide the abundance for us to sow into the building project. We were specifically told that we do not have to give up this or that to give to the building project; we will give out of our abundance. This is what I call believing in a mega-God.
BCC Senior Pastor William Lee was reported in the article to have said: "Without God, we can do nothing. We can have all the intelligent people, all the consultants that you have, all the experts of church growth that you have – all you have is a mega-church perhaps. All you may have is a church that does church, but the presence of the living God would have left it.
Bartley Church is not looking to be a mega-church… Bartley Church is going to be a church that believes in a mega-God." (emphasis in bold mine)
What Rev Lee said seems to imply that a mega-church does not believe in a mega-God and does not have the presence of the living God. However, when you compare the two different approaches of BCC and NCC, which is the church that truly believes in a mega-God? The church which asks you to give more of your limited resources ie. sacrificially or the church which teaches that God is going to bless you with more resources so that you can give out of your abundance?
2 Corinthians 9:9-11 (NLT)
9 As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity" in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
When a church truly believes in a mega-God, it does not have to be "looking to be a mega-church"; it can't help but become one.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
In the verses I cited, you correctly pointed out that James 1:2-4 & 12 and 1 Peter 1:7 merely state that T&T can result in good for us but do not say that T&T come from God. But NEITHER do the verses say they come because of our doings or the devil.
If we attribute all T&C to our own doings or the devil, I think we give too much credit to the devil and may sound like one of Job's friends. haha
God is in totally in control. He is threading and weaving every thread of our lives including our disappointments and pain into a grand design. Why He SEEMS to send us T&T is a holy mystery. The T&T, I refer to above are extremely painful events which happen beyond our control, either due to mistakes of others or unknowable reasons.
Your interpretation of Isaiah 48:10 is better. I like what you write and enjoy reading them.
Are you saying that there is scriptural support to say ALL T&T come from our own doings or the devil?
Abraham was tested. Job was tested. I have read far too many autobiographies of great men of God who faced T&T throughout their lives to accept that all T&T come from our own doings or the devil.
In the "The End of the Spear", Steve Saint wrote that he believes that God purposely arrange for his father and the other 4 missionaries to be killed for the greater purposes and glory of God.
James reminds us to consider the latter end of Job's life ( James 5:11). But that still doesn't answer why God let Job suffer in the first place.
The impossible question which has plagued a number of believers is : If God is love and has all the power to remove suffering, why does He allow good people to suffer?
However, my response to Stanley's excellent article is not about God sending T&T to test us. My point is that not ALL T&T come because of our doings or the devil. And that God does use T&T to test us for reasons we do not understand eventhough at the end the result is for our own good.
My personal view of the devil is that he is a defeated small fly. He cannot bring us any T&T nor do us any harm without God's permission. He is not an equal to God. God is God even if we do not understand the holy mystery of suffering and the problem of evil.
(2) T&T= the problem of sufferings and our own doings and he devil = the problem of evil.
(3) Whether God "seems to send" and though "he may allow it", is a question of semantics.
(4) Job 42:11 indicates that God is responsible for bringing T&T to Job.
(5) Not all God's children experience T&T in the same measure. Some are tested severely and some are not.
(6) Now we dont understand. But at the end, God will restore and turn all our T&T into his glory.
You are giving God the wrong credit (if you can call this credit)! The lesson in the book of Job is that the devil is the one who brings on all the T&T while God is the one who restores, nay more than restores, for Job received DOUBLE what he had in the beginning!
Yes, there is no logic to it. There is only faith. There is also no logic to say that parallel lines will meet. But they will meet in the realm of infinity. God is above logic, time and space. For many people, there is also no logic to the doctrine of Atonement.
God is good because the bible say so. God is responsible because that is the best biblical view I can accept. I can trust God who is ultimate responsible for these destruction. I have witness his interventions in my life and others.
The devil is a created being and is subject to the control of God Almighty. In the book of Job, Satan is a minor player. What did Job cry out to God? " I cry out to You, but You do not answer, You have become cruel to me; You oppose me with the strength of Your Hand" ( Job 30: 20-21). Job holds God responsible and not Satan for his T&T.
God is totally in control of everything. He can cause disaster or he can prevent it. He controls every detail, even the fall of a sparrow. The greatest natural disaster in the Bible, the great flood was God's work, not Satan's (Gen 6-8), where God (not even with Satan's help) flooded the whole world and destroyed practically every living thing.
God causes earthquakes, especially when he is angry (Job 9:5, 28:9, Ps 18:7, 77:16-18, 97:3-5, Isa 2:19, 24:20, 29:6, Jer 10:10, Nahum 1:5, Heb 12:26). He causes the mountains to be thrown down and the valleys to fill (Ezek 38:20).
Can we trust a God who causes natural disasters. The answer is Yes.
2. To hold God responsible and to blame God is two different things. Our view of God must be so BIG to accept that He is responsible and He can JUSTIFIED and restore everything that have ever happen. In other words, all mysteries and "why no logic" will be resolved in the end. He will turn our every agony into his Glory.
3. To digress a little, most of us will be surprised if we see people like Hitler, Stalin, or Osama in Heaven. But who can prevent God from extending his Grace to these people? After all, we are saved by grace and not that we have not done wicked things.
4. Isaiah 45:7 is clear: "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create DISASTER, I, THE LORD, DO ALL THESE THINGS.
5. We have to trust him regardless of anything. And who amongst us can understand the problem of evil and sufferings.
In my view, in our desperation, we may blame God. But God understands and He can accept all our anger. Have you ever being angry with God?
If as you said, Satan is responsible for all of Job's T&T, why doesnt God said so to Job?. I mean, God could have said, "hey, look here Job, this is all Satan's doings and dont you dare blame me.
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
(pic source: http://www.alphabet-soup.net/goose/humpty.html)
My blog posts are also published in Facebook and one of my FB friends made a comment that while trials and tribulations are usually of our own doing or the devil’s attacks, he believes that God does send them too to test us.
Here’s our little exchange on FB:
Friend: God uses trials and tribulations to test us. (James 1:2-4 & 12, 1 Peter 1:7) A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. ( Psalm 51:17)
Me: Yes, trials and tribulations (T&T) do test us but God does not send them on us. James 1:2-4 & 12 and 1 Peter 1:7 merely state that T&T can result in good for us but do not say that T&T come from God. As I have pointed out in my post, T&T come because of our own doing or the devil's but God can help us come thru them stronger.
Friend: You are right. But not all T&T come because of our own doings or the devil. There are instances of when bad things happen to His people. Since God is our protector and engineer of our circumstances, we have to acknowledge that God is testing us for reasons that we may not understand now because His thoughts are higher than ours. "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." ( Isaiah 48:10)
I wanted to reply him on FB but I realized that I can’t squeeze what I want to say into the little comment box there, so I decided to reply him here on my blog.
My friend quoted Isaiah 48:10 to support his point that God does send trials and tribulations to test us for reasons we may not understand now. However, I totally disagree with such a view, and I would also say that Isaiah 48:10 has been misinterpreted by my learned friend.
Looking at Isaiah 48:10 in context, take note that God, in the verse, was not addressing the Church. God was, in fact, talking to the nation of Israel which had turned away from Him and was worshipping idols:
Isaiah 48:1,5 (NKJV)
Hear this, O house of Jacob,
Who are called by the name of Israel,
And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah;
Who swear by the name of the LORD,
And make mention of the God of Israel,
But not in truth or in righteousness;
Even from the beginning I have declared it to you;
Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you,
Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them,
And my carved image and my molded image
Have commanded them.’
Moreover, if you continuing reading to Isaiah 48:11, you will see God explaining why He “refined” and “tested” Israel:
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it;
For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another.”
God did it for HIS OWN SAKE, not Israel’s sake; God did it to re-establish His glory to Israel, to remind them that, without a doubt, He is the ONE and ONLY GOD:
Isaiah 48:12-13 (NKJV)
“ Listen to Me, O Jacob,
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them,
They stand up together.”
Actually, Isaiah 48 is not about God’s “refining” and “testing” but rather it is about God’s redemption! As you continue reading from verse 14, you will see God revealing his redemption plan for Israel:
Isaiah 48:20-22 (NKJV)
20 Go forth from Babylon!
Flee from the Chaldeans!
With a voice of singing,
Declare, proclaim this,
Utter it to the end of the earth;
Say, “The LORD has redeemed
His servant Jacob!”
21 And they did not thirst
When He led them through the deserts;
He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them;
He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.
22 “ There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
Take a look at v21, God did not send trials and tribulations on Israel when they were in the desert. In fact, God rescued them time and again, even causing water to gush out of a rock for them.
God did not push Humpty Dumpty off the wall! God does not break us, He restores us, even Humpty Dumpty which all the king’s men couldn’t put together again.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
(pic source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpty_Dumpty)
Humpty Dumpty is a nursery rhyme which I learnt as a kid and it is so ingrained in me that I still remember it till this day. Last week, I had a chat with two sisters-in-grace and we had a mini-discussion on the “brokenness” and the “breaking process” of a Christian. I have been thinking about this for the past few days and Humpty Dumpty came to my mind.
God was speaking to me through Humpty Dumpty. He (God, not Humpty Dumpty) asked me, “How did Humpty Dumpty fall?” Hmmm, I have never really thought about this but I have always assumed that he fell down on his own. God said,”Exactly! He fell on his own but have you thought about the fact that Humpty Dumpty has no business sitting on a wall in the first place? He is setting himself up for a fall! Many of you think that I am the one who sat Humpty Dumpty on the wall and pushed him off!”
Many Christians hold this belief that when they are going through trials, it is because God is “refining” them or bringing them to a state of “brokenness” (Steve McVey calls this the “breaking process”) so that He can transform them. Steve McVey, in his book “Grace Walk” wrote that “brokenness is a condition that exists when a person has given up all confidence in his own ability to manage life.” I tend to agree with this definition of “brokenness” but God is not the one who brought this “breaking process” upon you.
When we, Christians experience trials and tribulations, many of us like to think that God is the one who sent them to teach us a lesson. However, I must stress that this is not true, God does not send us trials and tribulations. In John 16:33, Jesus says “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Take note that Jesus said you will have tribulation BUT He did not say that He gives you the tribulation. Many times, if we are honest, we’ll have to admit that we brought trouble upon ourselves and sometimes it is the devil, working through other people, who attacks us for the devil comes only “to steal and kill and destroy”. (John 10:10)
Let’s take a look at the life of Joseph (Genesis 37 – 50). Joseph went through a lot of trials and tribulations before he eventually became the top official of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Did God give Joseph those trials and tribulations to break him? No! In fact, “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered” (Gen 39:2).
Who threw Joseph into the pit? His brothers, not God! Who sold Joseph as a slave? His brothers, not God!! Who falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape? Potiphar’s wife, not God!! Who threw Joseph into prison? Potiphar, not God! You say God is working through those people to bring trials and tribulations on Joseph? But how can God work evil?! “How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?” (2 Cor 6:14-15)
Let’s also take a look at the life of the younger son in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-42). The younger son demanded his share of his father’s possessions and wasted it all on prodigal living and eventually became dead broke. He even had to get a job feeding pigs in order to survive. Imagine this, a JEW feeding PIGS! Did Jesus say that God put the younger son into that situation to break him? No! The younger son did that to himself! However, the younger son was eventually restored by his father when he was utterly broken (ie. “has given up all confidence in his own ability to manage life”) and decided to return to his father.
Psalm 23:1-3 says:
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honour to his name.
God does not lead us into trials and tribulations; He leads us to peace and rest, He renews our strength and guides us along right paths. When we get into trouble, usually it is own fault; as Psalm 23:4a says “Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” – take note that the verse says “I walk”, it does not say “He leads me to walk”.
However, even though we are not led but choose to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God walks through with us to bring us out of the valley – Psalm 23:4b “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Do not malign God; God does not break us, He restores us. He does not put us through all the trials and tribulations that we bring upon ourselves or the devil attacks with BUT He will walk with us through them all and bring us safely out. God is not the one who “breaks” us, we sat on the wall and fell!
“A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.” Matthew 12:20
Friday, July 3, 2009
continuing from Part 2 of my post …
9. Customers who order from my stall because it is near their seats
I have served quite a few customers who ordered from me just because they were sitting at the tables just outside my stall. Hopefully, some of them will come back as my regulars after they have tasted my desserts for the first time.
I suspect that one of the main reasons for Christians to attend a particular church is that the church is near their homes or at least conveniently accessible. That’s why it is so important for NCC to have a convenient location for its services.
Presently, NCC is at Suntec City which is near the Central Business District and the shopping belt, and more importantly, near City Hall MRT station. In a few years’ time, NCC will be moving to One-North at Buona Vista and crucially, it is next to the Buona Vista MRT station and will also be served by a station on the upcoming Circle Line. It is also near the Ghim Moh HDB estate, Singapore Polytechnic and also the Biopolis, a large catchment area where hopefully NCC will attract some of them to listen to the gospel of grace for the first time, and then come back for more.
10. Customers who order from my stall after they could not get what they wanted from the first stall
I have seen for myself how some customers walk over to my stall and order from me AFTER they ordered from the first stall some desserts which they didn’t have.
Likewise, I know of quite a few NCC members who came from other churches to NCC because they could not find the answers they were searching for in their previous churches. Some of them were even disillusioned with Christianity until they came to NCC and found the gospel of grace. They are now able to see God as well as the scriptures in a different light through the anointed sermons.
Conversely, there are also people who have left NCC for other churches because they cannot accept the grace message. They are still looking for something to do to justify themselves and score points with God but they can’t find that in NCC.
11. Customers who order only take-away
I have a few regular customers who order only take-away. They do not eat at the hawker centre. It is always best to eat the ice desserts fresh because the texture of the ice is softer and you can also see the presentation of the dish (see top picture for examples). For take-away, what you’ll get is a plastic container with everything stuffed tightly inside because the ice has to be compacted to slow down the melting process.
Similarly, for whatever reason, there are people who listen to NCC’s sermons on CDs but do not attend the church services. It is good that they are getting the right feeding but it will be even better for them to come to church and experience the message live, and see and hear things that cannot be reproduced in the CD. Anyway, Heb 10:25 does remind us to meet together so that we can encourage one another.
12. Non-customers who simply don’t like me
Sad to say, there are people who refuse to buy from me simply because they don’t like me (for whatever reason). God bless them!
But I guess I am in good company … I know of some people who refuse to come to NCC because they don’t like Pastor Prince. I have also read quite a few blogs who attack Pastor Prince on a personal basis and reject the gospel of grace because of Pastor Prince. God bless them!
This is all I have for now, and if some of you think that I am a tad too proud because of my confidence in the quality of my desserts, then let me just say that I take pride in my work and I am not shamed to say that my desserts taste Gooooooooooood!
Sounds familiar? Someone said something like that centuries ago …
“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” Rom 1:16
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
continuing from Part 1 of my post …
5. Customers who buy from me when they saw a queue at my stall
Actually, this applies to many other stalls because Singaporeans typically like to join queues thinking that the reason why there is a queue is that the food must be good, although this (ie. the food is good) is not always the case.
Nevertheless, the queue has enticed a previously unsure customer to at least give the stall a try. This is true of New Creation Church where there’s always a queue for each of the four services on Sunday.
I have heard of a friend’s friend who joined the queue without knowing that the people were queuing to go to church. He thought it was for some really good shopping deal (a reasonable conclusion since NCC is situated inside Suntec City) but only found out the truth when he reached the front of the queue … and the irony was that he couldn’t get into the Rock Auditorium because it was already full by then! Anyway, he was so intrigued by the fact that people actually queue up for an hour to go to church that he went back the next Sunday and got saved … now that’s the really good deal!
6. Customers who switch to the other stall after queuing for a while at my stall
There are customers who don’t mind queuing for a little bit longer than usual because they really love the food and of course, there are others who don’t love it that much and therefore feel it is not worth their while or time to continue queuing and switch to the other stall.
Similarly, while NCC’s queue has attracted some people to the church, the very same queue has also turned off many people from attending the church. I have invited quite a few people to come and visit NCC and listen for themselves the grace gospel but the number one reason they give for not wanting to come is “I don’t like the queue!” The irony is, I suspect, that these very same people wouldn’t mind queuing up an hour to patronise a very famous food stall. The truth is that they are probably satisfied with what they are fed every Sunday in their own church and are therefore not motivated to try something different. They may even think that there isn’t much difference anyway. I know because I was once like that too!
7. Customers who buy from the other stall when my stall is closed
Every once in a while, I find out from my customer that they bought from the other stall when my stall was closed. Usually, the conversation begins like this: “That day I came but your stall was closed, so I bought from the other stall. Wah … not nice, yours still better.” (Ok, before you point an accusing finger at me and call me proud, let me stress that I’m telling the truth, otherwise how would I have known that they bought from the other stall?) These are the ones who graduate to join those in group 8.
Of course, there will be those who don’t mind to continue buying from the other stall when my stall is closed as they feel that the standards are similar or are willing to accept a lower standard.
Similarly, there are NCC members who, for whatever reason, attended another church and finally realized or appreciated what good food they receive every Sunday at NCC, and there are also those who still cannot really tell the difference between grace and mixture.
8. Customers who don’t buy from the other stall even when my stall is closed
Some of these customers are those who graduated from Group 7 ;-) while some are those who really like my desserts and refuse to settle for any other (Mal, is that you? ;-)).
Likewise, there are many NCC members who wouldn’t want to go anywhere else because they know that they are receiving one of the best, if not the best, feeding from one of the best, if not the best, shepherds in the world. They know that they know that they know the GOSPEL is preached here.
(to be continued)
I have been selling desserts at Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre for the last 6 years. Initially, my stall was situated at the first stall of a row of six stalls but I moved to another stall 2 doors away (ie. now I am at the third stall) following a dispute with my previous landlord. After I quit his stall, my ex-landlord tried to rent out his stall but was not successful. In the end, he rented it out to his sister-in-law to sell ... DESSERTS.
Now, I have a direct competitor 2 doors away and she has an advantage because of her location - customers see her stall first before mine, and many of them cannot imagine that there could be another dessert stall just 2 stalls away. Anyway, for the last 2 years, I have encountered different kinds of customers and it recently struck me that the way these customers act in relation to my competitor and me parallels the reactions of Christians to the gospel of grace:
1. My regular customers who did not realize that I have moved 2 stalls away and continued patronizing the 1st stall
Many of my regular customers did eventually discover my new location (some of them found me again only after more than 1 year even though they often eat at the hawker centre) and feedback to me that they found the taste of the 1st stall's dessert different but continued patronizing because they did not know I had moved. Now that they have re-discovered my new location, they gladly come back to buy from me because my desserts taste much better (that's what my customers said).
This is like Christians who accept old covenant preaching, not knowing that God had moved from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion. I was one of them ... until I came to New Creation Church after about 30 years in my previous AOG church, and I must say the new covenant tastes much better! (Heb 8:6)
2. Customers who turn in from the aisle and stop at the 1st stall and immediately order there
I am not referring to customers who come to the hawker centre regularly but those who happen to drop by once in a long while (I can tell because their faces look unfamiliar). Many of them don't walk around to see what other choices they have, so they just stop at the first stall they see and just order. Some of them may have done so, thinking that desserts taste the same everywhere.
I think this is true of many Christians. I was also one of them who stay on at the first church they are introduced to and don't really bother to listen to what other churches are preaching and teaching, and therefore are not able to compare differences. In fact, I used to think that all churches should be preaching more or less the same thing. How wrong I was; I stayed at my previous church for about 30 years and never ever listened to other preaching until I came to NCC and Pastor Prince showed me the scriptures in a whole new light. Suddenly, the bible became interesting and the Christian walk exciting.
3. Some regular customers who switched to the 1st stall
I have a few (thank God, only a few) previously regular customers who have switched over to the first stall. It made me realize that even though some customers (again thank God, only a few) bought from me regularly, they did not really appreciate my desserts, and they switched the moment they had a different choice.
Some Christians in NCC have switched to other churches too, and I realized that some of us may attend NCC regularly but we may not have really understood and truly embraced the gospel of grace (it is actually the gospel but I use the term gospel of grace to differentiate from the “other” gospels – Gal 1:6-9). I guess some people just simply cannot or don’t know how to appreciate grace. How sad :-(
4. Some regular customers who tried out the 1st stall and came back
I also have some regular customers who tried out the 1st stall for a short while when it first opened and later came back to me again. Usually, when they came back, they would say with a sheepish smile “Your desserts still taste better.”
Some NCC members also did leave NCC for a while to attend other churches but later came back. It seems that they have a better appreciation of the gospel of grace now and enjoy their Christian walk more.
I have heard Pastor Prince say in one of his sermons before that for some members who were born again in NCC, it is sometimes good for them to attend other churches once in a while so that they can truly appreciate the difference between grace and mixture, life and death. There’s a Chinese saying ” 身在福中不知福 ” ie. being immersed in blessing and yet not knowing or appreciating it.
(to be continued …)