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Pastoral 2013

A Blind Church?

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Jesus spoke of the Laodicean church, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

The spiritual blindness that Jesus once warned of now engulfs almost all churches of our time. Whether they be charismatic, evangelical, fundamental or reformed, there is a sense of self-satisfaction that conveniently ignores the dreadful spiritual and moral darkness that has quietly encroached and settled in amongst them.

What is this fearsome blindness? It is worldliness. Worldliness overshadows every aspect of the lives of people in the church. It is pushing godliness out of the ministries and lives of their leaders and members. Churches are crowded with carnal and materialistic people. Any form of emphasis on modesty, purity and godliness is considered weak and useless, while tolerance of carnality and worldliness is cherished as profitable virtues.

The appearance, mannerism and pursuits of members of modern churches speak volumes about the tragic level of accommodation of worldliness that exists within the churches today. It is all too obvious that preachers who have been entrusted to “preach the word… reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” have drastically failed in their duty. Many preachers, even those who claim to be biblical preachers, shy away from rebuking carnality within their congregations.

In fact, preaching has become much worse than that. Licentious preaching is heard everywhere. Many preachers have deteriorated to the point that they even make fun of preachers who warn relentlessly against the worldly mentality of the churchgoers. The “acceptable preaching” of our times requires refrain from rebuke of carnality, but ready reassurances and blessings to all churchgoers, even to those who indulge in carnal living.

Gethsemane, my beloved church, are you also going blind?

 

Extracts from Testimonies of 7th Bible Witness Retreat

 

“...There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, ... For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

It is difficult to remain silent, and not to give thanks for the opportunity to attend the recent Bible Witness Retreat. Two days before the retreat, I brought my son to the sports stadium. We jogged and played on the monkey bars. Then he saw some markings on the floor and asked me what they were for. They were actually markings for the standing broad jump. I took the opportunity to teach him the technique of doing it! I demonstrated to him thrice. Little did I realize that I strained my brittle joints.

Some 10 months ago, I had continuous attacks of joint swelling on my feet, knees, fingers, wrists, elbows and hips. It was so severe that it not only affected my mobility and but also my sleep. Medical tests confirmed that I do not have gout, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. It puzzled everyone and the rheumatologist could only conclude that it was reactive arthritis, caused by a severe viral attack that I experienced a year ago. Thankfully, it is a passing phase according to the rheumatologist, and that the body should be able to heal by itself. For the last couple of months, I had no further attacks.

Maybe I became a little too optimistic about my recovery (or like what Pastor said in the BW Retreat – I was quietly impatient, just like Jonah), and went ahead to demonstrate to my son how to do the standing broad jump. However, that Monday night, my left foot swelled and I experienced unbearable pain. I popped 3 painkillers consecutively, yet the pain did not subside. I could not sleep the whole night because of the pain. The pain and swell did not subside on Tuesday. I began to doubt the possibility of attending the BW Retreat the next day. When Wednesday morning came, my right foot also started to experience slight pain. Not a good sign! Because of the pain on the left foot, I had to use my right foot to move myself around (including hopping). It was obvious that I strained my right foot as well. Nonetheless, I had decided to go ahead with our plans to attend the retreat

The Lord is good; and He has always been good. The immigration officers, seeing my struggle to walk, allowed me to sit on board the coach while clearing the customs both ways. At the resort, I was given a wheelchair to ease my mobility (and to let my boy had some fun pushing me around)

Because of this infirmity, I had the opportunity to talk to newcomers (like Uncle Wai Mun, Auntie Jolyne, Auntie Magdalene, Auntie Nancy, Bro Herbert, Sis Oktavia, etc.), whom I might not have spoken to if I was well. Many also shared with me the infirmities that they had. Because of this ‘common ground’, we were able to connect better with one another. We could pray for each other more effectively.

Truly, the Lord spoke to me not only through the messages preached by Pastor, but also the testimonies of those who suffered similar infirmities. I am also grateful for the BW team who had laboured late into the nights to prepare the materials and to co-ordinate the logistic matters to make this retreat possible.

I had a fruitful retreat. Praise be to the Lord!

Jenn Lee
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Praise the LORD for another opportunity in the recent 7th Bible Witness Retreat to study God’s Word with like-minded brethren. It was a privilege to study the book of Jonah in-depth and learn spiritual truths that have much practical application for daily living.

Thoughts of Cheerful Givers
From the offering bags.

Give, even if it “hurts our pockets”.

Jesus saw a poor widow casting 2 mites into the treasury (Luke 21:1–4), and said “Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”

 

Thank You God for all the
blessings you have given me.
Deuteronomy 14:22
God’s blessings be upon us.

—A sinner saved by grace

 

“We welcome notes of thanksgiving and
encouragement for the church as we set out
to fulfil the work of the Lord through the
collection of funds for various projects of
our church and our missions.”
— Pastor

God answered many of our prayers made before and during the retreat. He healed Pastor’s voice speedily (he could not preach the night before at the prayer meeting) and mercifully sustained it so that he could deliver 5 sermons to us. Praise God for enabling Aunty Jenn to partake of the blessings in this retreat with us despite the setback of her joint swelling. Now, she is healed and walks to praise Him! Above all, He revived many a backslidden heart and subdued our rebellious spirits.

Praise God that this time round, some of my closer friends could attend this retreat. We could gather at the end of each day to ponder on the day’s lessons and seek God through prayer as one; a bonus to grow in love towards God and one another.

Jonah’s declaration was succinct as in “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). This was powerful, for it was in God’s marvellous plan to bring to repentance the people of Nineveh. O how we need to pray for preachers that will faithfully bear God’s Word. Jonah’s submission to God brought a great stirring in the hearts of the Ninevites. I learned that I should pray that servants of God in our time will not fear criticism from people but will rejoice in the privilege of preaching His Word in the way God directs them.

Dorcas Koshy
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I thank God that I was able to join the recent retreat. I am thankful for the messages preached. In our difficult moments, when our hearts are sad and disappointed, God’s words comfort us. A precious lesson we have learnt from Jonah is that we cannot be self-centred. God has forgiven Jonah and the Nineveh people, so we also have to forgive others. I will try to apply this in my daily life.

Leesei