“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Gethsemane B-P Churches of Singapore and the Philippines were guided by the grace of God to assemble their youths for a 5-day camp (21-25 Dec) in Cebu City, the Philippines. The main aim of this camp was to instruct and equip them to overcome the wicked devices of the world that war against their souls. The youths were taught from the Word of God by 8 preachers who came with prayerful preparation and a holy determination to persuade the youths with God’s Word to be overcomers of worldliness. With much biblical wisdom and discernment, the preachers unmasked the world’s satanic snares that are set against the Christian youths in the world around them. God’s servants pleaded with the hearts of our youths to be vigilant against temptations and bravely stand for Christ with clear understanding and firm conviction of the biblical truths.
There were also 3 youths from Pusan (Korea), brought by Pr Park (a graduate of FEBC), and 2 from Manila (the Philippines) who were relatives of our church members. With much thanksgiving for the ministry among the youths this past week, we publish some of their testimonies below (with more of them to be published next week):
The recent youth camp was indeed a great blessing to me. It was such a privilege for me to spend 5 days with fellow believers. The messages preached were the LORD’s own rebuke and reminder to me to be very cautious against temptations of sin that would come even through simple and mundane activities and events of life.
Everyone in the camp was friendly, and I felt comfortable talking to the youths from different churches. I thank God for enabling me to be part of this youth camp. I look forward to the next youth camp. All glory be unto God!
Ithank the Lord for His bountiful provisions, allowing my sister and I to attend this youth camp. Thank God for the faithful preachers who have expounded on the ways to overcome worldliness. Through the messages, I am reminded to flee away from youthful lusts and to set my eyes on heavenly things only. For youths, temptations are plenteous and the worldly things are alluring. However, the Bible warns us not to be deceived. Instead, we are exhorted to resist the devil and draw nigh to God. I pray that I would be an overcomer and increase my faith in Him so that as I return to school next year, I would be a vessel fit for the Master’s use. All glory be to God!
Greetings from Cebu! Thank God for the recent combined Youth Camp of Gethsemane B-P Churches of Singapore and the Philippines. I thank God for the provisions and blessings, especially for the payment of fees for the camp. Pastor Reggor told the youths in our church a few months back to save up money in our piggy banks. We managed to save up to about a quarter of the fees. But the Lord provided the rest. He did not forsake us, His children.
I also thank the brethren from Singapore, Korea, Bogo, San Antonio, Bohol and Pangasinan. The camp was full of joy and encouragement. The messages were preached with truth and power. They opened our eyes that this world is filled with temptations of sin, and we need to overcome them all. I hope and pray that we could have this sort of camp again.
I would like to thank God for granting me the privilege to join this youth camp. This camp has helped me tremendously as I do not know how to overcome the worldliness inside me before the camp.
One message that applies to me a lot was overcoming social media addiction. I have been addicted to Facebook, WhatsApp and other apps on my phone. This had taken a lot of my time. I could have used those times to study God’s Word. But after listening to Eld Richard Tiu’s sermon, I know that time is precious and I have to make something productive out of it. We should keep ourselves occupied with spiritual things. May God help me to awake, arise, walk and work in service for Christ.
Another message that applies to me was overcoming ungodly friendships, preached by Pr Donald dela Cruz. I have classmates who are very vulgar. Every sentence they speak has a vulgar word in it. This kind of friendship can be influential, which I have to avoid. I had tried spreading the Gospel to them but all they said was “boring”. If they hate God, they are go with them, I will be destroyed by them (Proverbs 13:20). My friends should be godly, lovely, loyal, as well as humble. As for some of my closer classmates who are unbelievers, I should share the Gospel with them without shame and be a living testimony for others to join me in God’s Kingdom. Through this combined youth camp, I have learnt that I can only overcome worldliness with the power of God (1 John 4:4; Titus 2:12-15). I have to lead my life with godliness and contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).
All glory be to God!
Thank the Lord for a blessed camp, especially for a good time of fellowship with the youths from the Gethsemane B-P Churches of Cebu, Bohol, Bogo, San Antonio and Pangasinan. Thank the Lord for timely rebukes and chiding from the Lord through His Word. How many times I have fallen into the subtle lures of worldliness which I have gotten so used to! How indeed the devil works so powerfully to hinder many of our youths from listening to the Word of God, even by inflicting some of them with illnesses – but thank our Almighty God that He never forsakes His own and healed them quickly. I certainly look forward to the next youth camp soon!
The birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by the virgin Mary in a manger was celebrated by the announcement of an angel and a big choir of heavenly host praising God in the Highest. So we hold special praise services during Christmas to commemorate His first coming.
To further celebrate this event, the angel extended the message of goodwill to the whole world, “And on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Because the Saviour had now come, God the Father was so happy that He proclaimed an amnesty to us sinners, so that if we turn to Him, He would forgive all our sins and receive us back to Himself.
Christmas is “Glory to God”. Christmas is “Good will toward men”. When Christmas comes round once a year, the whole world rejoices and the amnesty offer is extended once again to those who have never heard of the Saviour.
How can we extend the glad message of salvation to those who have never heard it? One very convenient way is through members of our church – if only you would bring a new friend, yea, even a member of your extended family, to our Christmas Service.
When you bring your friends to church for the Christmas praise service, tell them that Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was born of the virgin Mary in a manger in the Holy Land – God’s Son becoming man that He might suffer for our sins. He was crucified and buried. On the third day, He rose again that we believing in Him would not die but live forever and ever. This is the everlasting life we, Christians, have found, and so we celebrate His miraculous birth. If you believe in Him, you will receive that everlasting life. Don’t you feel that heavenly touch by the singing of the carols?
Many years ago, the towkay of Yick Woh Watch Company in North Bridge Road came to join our church. How he became a Christian was through the singing of carols one Christmas eve. A group of carol singers sang so sweetly outside his shophouse that he felt the angels were singing to him. He received Jesus into his heart and was saved!
The world celebrates Christmas, not worshipfully for the birth of Jesus Christ, but by making merry and getting drunk for their own enjoyment. In their hearts, however, there is sorrow and sadness, fear and frustration. Christians in many parts of the world are praying in fear of terrorists’ attacks. The world situation is getting from bad to worse, not to talk of international relations. There is no peace in this world outside Jesus Christ, not even between two most intimate persons like husband and wife, mother and son.
A Singapore couple migrated to Perth, but a new country did not hold them together. The couple’s marriage almost went on the rocks. Fortunately, husband and wife repented and returned to the Lord Jesus Christ and so their marriage was saved. The husband said to me, “Today, you see couples going in and out. They appear happy outwardly, but most of them are on the point of breaking down.” Is that the situation with you, especially when familiarity breeds contempt? You need to hear Paul’s triple admonition, “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33), to revive your marriage. The love and peace of Jesus Christ can heal your virtually brokendown marriage. Will you make peace with each other and for Jesus’ sake?
There is no peace between husband and wife; there is no peace between mother and son! An old lady complained to me of the lack of filial piety towards her after her son got married. He used to support her with $300 a month; but after marriage, he reduced it to $200 even though his combined salary with his wife was about $7,000! Here is a lesson to sons. Giving support to your aged parents is part of Jesus’ teaching. Giving support to our aged parents must be done willingly and lovingly. Otherwise, as a Chinese saying goes, it is “no better than taking care of dogs and horses”. This Christmas, let unfilial sons and daughters search their hearts and return as loving children to gladden their parents’ hearts. Let the peace and goodwill of your Saviour reign in your hearts.
“On earth peace, good will toward men” is offered to the Church. How many churches are split? If we submit to the Lordship of our Saviour and realise how many times (yea, even beyond “seventy times seven”) He has forgiven us, we will have no recourse but to forgive one another.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Admittedly, this timely Christmas offer to a warring world will not be heeded – if a nuclear war breaks out, nobody has the power to restrain it from spreading. But Christians are for peace and we must not cease from praying for God’s peace and goodwill offered to all mankind.
In Gethsemane, much attention has been given in providing sound Gospel-oriented spiritual activities for children and youths since the early years of the church ministry. We continue to pay a lot of attention to providing biblical nurture to all of them. Under the Gethsemane Children’s Ministry, we regularly hold Junior Worship, Catechism Classes, Children’s Choir on Sundays, and have recently resumed our children’s programme on Saturdays (2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks). On the top of all these activities, the GCM committee also holds seminars for parents and teachers. Besides, we publish articles in the church weekly, Bible Witness for children, and air special programmes on Bible Witness Web Radio. As for teens and youths, many programmes are also being organized on a regular basis by Gethsemane Youth Fellowship. Continue to pray regularly for the effectiveness of all these programmes in guiding our children and youths. Pray for those who minister to them as well. I would also like to exhort the parents to encourage your children to participate in all these ministries without fail. If necessary, come with them and also offer your help.
Praise the Lord for the Daily Vacation Bible School (9-12 Dec) organized by the Gethsemane Children’s Ministry. This fourday event was attended by 65 children. About 25 of them were relatives and friends of our church brethren. Pr Kelvin Lim and the GCM committee members (Bro Kenneth Wong, Bro Neo Kian Seng, Sis Choy Luan Kheng, Sis Winnie Yap, Sis Kamalamangai and Sis Melissa Mah) have laboured much in the Lord in the planning, organizing and overseeing of this annual Gospel outreach to the children.
We also thank the Lord for those who laboured to teach the Word of God – Pr Jeremiah Sim, Pr Samson Hutagalung and Sis Carolyn Koshy. It was truly joyous to see several fathers and mothers, ladies and youths of our church helping with fetching children, singing sessions, art and craft, games, logistics, refreshments, etc. We are grateful for The Gethsemane Care Ministry brethren who have made their premises available and ready for the DVBS.
The Gospel work among children should never be neglected. Our church must continue to give all diligence to strengthen efforts to guide our children in the ways of the Lord. Parents must enthusiastically support every effort of the church to educate the children in spiritual matters by bringing children to such programmes. Nothing should be given greater priority in our children’s life than their spiritual nurture. The Lord has commanded, “And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters…” (Deuteronomy 12:12).
Next week, a combined youth camp comprising our GYF and the youths from our mission churches in the Philippines will be held in Elsalvador Beach Resort, Cebu. A total of 103 people (youths, committee members and preachers) have registered to attend this camp. All our preachers from the Philippines (Rev Reggor, Eld Richard Tiu, Eld Eliezer Ortega, Pr Edsel Locot and Pr Donald dela Cruz) will attend the camp throughout and minister to the youths. Bro Andrew Koh, Pr Dennis Kabingue and I will also be ministering God’s Word. Eld Alan Choy, Diana Chan (GYF Committee members), Carolyn Koshy, Choy Luan Kheng and Lynn Koh will also be in the camp to guide the youths. We are glad that some adult members of our church (Sarah Yong, Sharon dela Cruz, Nancy Lau, Cecile Batrina, Katherine Wu, Daryl Kabingue, Jessica Lim and Kenneth Wong) will also be joining the camp.
The camp theme is “Overcoming Worldliness”. There will be 10 messages on the following topics: (i) Worldliness and Its Dangers, (ii) Counsels against Worldliness, (iii) Overcoming Ungodly Friendships, (iv) Overcoming Pride, (v) Overcoming Sexual Sins, (vi) Overcoming the Love of Money, (vii) Overcoming Homosexuality, (viii) Overcoming Social Media Addiction, (ix) Overcoming Substance Addiction, (x) Rewards of Godliness. Apart from those messages, there will also be a workshop and 2 “Question & Answer” sessions.
I praise God for all who have laboured (and continue to labour) to make this event an enjoyable and edifying experience for our youths. And also, I praise God for those who have prayed and supported financially so that all the youths can rejoice as they gather in the presence of the Lord.
If parents or any church member need to contact us or the youths in emergency situation, please call Rev Reggor Galarpe. If no emergency, please do not call him, as he will be busy with many aspects of the camp, including preaching.
By the rich mercies of God, both Carolyn and I finished our 10-day visit to our church’s Ethiopian mission stations. We spent most of our time in Alem Gena, where we have built a churchcum- GBI complex to advance the preaching of the Gospel in Ethiopia and the neighbouring countries. The work of the Lord here has been increasing, but certainly not without struggles within and without. We are very thankful to witness that the Lord has mercifully preserved and blessed the work.
I have taught ‘Christology’ in GBI for 7 days, about 5 hours daily. GBI has presently 15 fulltime students (Mon-Fri) and about the same number of parttime students (certain weekday night classes and on Saturday). Rev Ephrem and his family live on campus, and bear much of the administrative and teaching responsibilities. Pr Engida, who is stationed in Addis Ababa, comes to Alem Gena once a week and teaches in GBI. Pr Imane, who also lives on campus with his family, is juggling his studies (Masters in Theology) at Ethiopia Graduate School of Theology and his teaching responsibilities in GBI.
Two of the students, Bayera Nurgi Tura and Dejene Daka Dantero, have completed their 3 years of theological studies and ministry training. Last Sunday, in conjunction with the combined worship services of our two congregations, their graduation service was held. More than 160 worshippers gathered together for this blessed occasion. Incidentally, Bayera has been reaching out to a farming community in the middle of a very large farming area in Sebeta region, which is about 40 minutes’ drive from our church in Alem Gena. Our Ethiopian brethren have decided to buy a piece of land (of about 2,000 square metres) with the money left from the Building Fund. This is to build a temporary structure for a worship gathering area, and a small mud-house for Pr Bayera to stay while he reaches out to the community there. I have gone with Rev Ephrem and Pr Bayera to view the place, which is a very remote area with no public transportation. People need to walk a very long distance (along a new road that is being constructed) or ride on horse-carts to get to that village. We travelled to the place via the church van – it was a very rough and bumpy ride. People in this place generally worship household idols and are superstitious. Let us pray that the preaching of the Gospel would turn many to the living God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, in order that they may be saved.
We left Ethiopia on Wednesday (2nd Dec) morning (7.30am) and only arrived in Bomet at 8.30pm. We were received at the Nairobi (Kenya) airport by Rev Eben Yoon (Bible College of East Africa, Nairobi) and another Korean young man who is studying at BCEA. Together with them was Pr Charles Sang, an FEBC graduate who now reaches out to a community in the outskirts of Nairobi as a preacher of African Gospel Unity Church (AGUC). He came with two young boys from Bomet in a minivan to fetch us. After a short fellowship with Rev Eben Yoon, we left the airport for Bomet. It was a long journey of about 6 hours. Though we were expecting to reach Bomet by 7.30pm, the van’s tyre burst just about 15km before Bomet. It was pitch-dark everywhere, without lights along the road. The driver tried to change the tyres with help of the light from our mobile phones, but the tools in the van malfunctioned. As we prayed in our hearts, God sent a man, who was walking along a side road, to help us. He kindly called his friend on his mobile phone to bring some help. Thank God, after waiting for almost 40 minutes, help arrived. God has been merciful and we safely arrived in Bomet. We were heartily received by Rev Michael Koech (Principal of Bomet Bible Institute) and Rev Jonathan Langat (Pastor of AGUC, Bomet). Sis Carol Lee (Truth BPC, Singapore) was also there. (She has been coming to Bomet for the past 11 years – during the Nov-Dec period – to train youths and also to help in the Bible College.)
I preached in the Missions Conference of AGUC on Thursday (3rd Dec) and the Graduation Service of Bomet Bible Institute on Saturday (5th Dec). We travelled back to Nairobi on Saturday afternoon and are staying in BCEA, Nairobi. We have been looking forward to having fellowship with Rev & Mrs Mark Kim, who lead the work in BCEA. I am also invited to preach God’s Word in BCEA’s Campus Church during Sunday Worship Service. Soon after the worship, we will head to the airport for the return flight to Singapore via Dubai. Please continue to pray for us and hope to see you all on Tuesday night, at our Bible Study and church prayer meeting.
I am thankful to the Lord for your ardent prayers and generous gifts for the Building Project. Please make it a point to come for the next “fasting and prayer” gathering of our church on Tuesday (15 Dec). Let us seek the Lord’s help to obtain a place that is 4 to 5 times bigger than our present CRC, in order to meet our urgent need for sufficient space for office and fellowship meetings. He who has been our “very present help” will come to our aid, if we sincerely and earnestly seek Him. Come and pray and be a channel of His blessing in the work of the Lord in Gethsemane. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalm 146:5).
Iwas born with profound deafness, but God is good to me and provided a way for me to have my hearing. I was almost 6 months old when my parents discovered that I was deaf. At that time, hearing examinations for newborn babies were not so advanced. This was the reason why my deafness was not detected. For 6 months, they thought I was a “good” baby who did not cry.
One day, my father tried to get my attention with a wind-up music toy behind me. When I did not respond, he became suspicious that I was deaf. Upon confirmation of my deafness by an audiologist, an era of “uncertainty” began in my parents’ life. Relatives were informed, my parents’ church leaders were asked to pray, and a second opinion was sought from another ear doctor. Thank God for all the people whom He sent to advise my parents and the wisdom He gave the doctor who diagnosed me with profound hearing loss. As Singapore hospitals in those days were lagging in hearing implant technology, a Singaporean audiologist advised that I go to Sydney, Australia, for a hearing implant at The Shepherd Centre.
Thank God for His grace and provision (through my parents) for all my operation-related expenses, which amounted to no small sum. I was operated on 1 September 2001, which lasted a few hours. My head was “all bandaged” (that scene was captured in old photographs taken by my father). On 17 September, Dr Gibson (doctor in charge of my implant) switched the implant on. According to my parents, they called my name, and I responded by turning my head. They were thankful and rejoicing that I could hear them calling my name. Thank God for a successful operation!
But that was not the end of our troubles. I still had to go through many rounds of speech therapy both in Australia and Singapore, until I spoke my first words in April 2003. I truly thank God for my parents’ patience and dedication during this period of time. Hearing was not the only problem I had to deal with. I was delayed in speech and walking as I had bad motor skills and my parents sent me for various therapies in Singapore. It cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That was not all. From infancy, my mother noticed I was unusually quiet and did not interact with other children. She closely observed me and the warning signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were confirmed by our own research. I was sent for a formal diagnosis at KK Hospital, where the specialists confirmed that I had Asperger’s syndrome, a type of ASD. That was 2005. Unsure of how to handle my hyperactive behaviour, my parents sent me for occupational, behavioural, social skills and even hyperbaric oxygen therapies to mitigate my condition. All these therapies helped me but I know that it is God who has given me the grace to improve. Praise be unto Him!
Looking back, I thank God for blessing my life in tremendous ways. Since I started schooling in 2007, the LORD has led me step by step and helped me in many ways. I enjoyed school though it initially was difficult as people around me did not understand me nor my condition. Some teachers even disliked me as I liked to ask a lot of questions and walked about when the lesson became boring! Yet God has always helped me to do well in my studies, even till today. Thank God my parents did not ignore my early signs of autism but had sought early intervention; as such, that I could attend mainstream schools. I now sit through lessons without walking about. Though I still ask a lot of questions, I learn to wait and be patient until question time. I can talk to schoolmates and engage in class discussions, sharing opinions and ideas. I did many presentations in front of my whole school and even joined an overseas exchange programme.
By God’s grace, my problems with hearing and autism did not hinder me from doing what normal people do. With the cochlear implant, I could hear mostly normally. I could play the piano, participate in physical education-related activities in school, cycle, hold conversations with elderly friends in the park, and sit for my Listening Comprehension examinations under normal conditions. I wholeheartedly thank God that my autism-related problems did not impede me from all of these. Indeed, “autism is not a disability; it’s a different ability.” Praise be to God!
I thank God for sending Aunt Cecille to look after me; she had a great impact in my life. Thank God for her patience and dedication even though I can be naughty at times! It was in January 2015 that I was introduced by Aunt Cecille to tune in to “live” Sunday sermon broadcasts through the Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church website.
Thank God for Pastor Koshy and his preaching of God’s Word and sound Biblical doctrines. God used Pastor Koshy’s preaching to speak to me and convict me of my sins. During that time, I was not active in my church due to lack of support and limited spiritual preaching. I fervently pleaded with my mother to allow me to attend Aunt Cecille’s church, on condition that I finish all my homework and study well. With my mother’s agreement to my proposal, my first attendance at Gethsemane B-P Church was at the “Scripture in Song” event towards the end of December 2014. And I have not looked back since – my parents now allow me to permanently attend Gethsemane. I thank God that I can attend Youth Fellowship meetings, and even Tuesday night prayer meetings. It is my humble prayer that the LORD will sustain me in the faith and use me for His glory.
As I look back, I thank the LORD for His faithfulness in my life, His mercies and compassions towards me, which “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). I pray that I will always call upon the LORD and depend on Him for leading in my life. As my “life verse” reads, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).
To God be all the glory! Amen.
I always had the desire to serve God. But at the same time, I was hesitant to serve God full-time as I was not sure of my calling. After my Pre-university studies, I thought about enrolling in a seminary in India, but ended up studying computer engineering in university. While studying there, I backslided. But God’s grace brought me back and I began to study the Bible seriously, trying hard to practise whatever it says to the letter. Moreover, I regularly listened to the preaching of various pastors through the internet. I also began to read books and articles relating to the Christian ministry. In the process, I became very legalistic and soon took pride in my socalled spiritual growth.
While I was in my third year, I was made aware (through the preaching on the internet) of the reformed Calvinistic doctrines of the Bible, to which I fully agree as they are completely scriptural. Though my church does not hold to these doctrines, I continued to worship there as there is sadly no reformed church at all in my own state (Kerala). But deep in my heart, I was very convicted of the doctrines in the “Westminster Confession of Faith”. My prayer was that a church holding to the reformed confession of faith could be started in Kerala. The doctrines I learned from God’s Word through these reformed preachers made me understand that I cannot do anything to please God. It is only the sovereign grace of God which has elected me to taste the goodness of salvation.
Meanwhile, thoughts about serving God again came to my mind. But I was in a confused state as I had plans for higher studies and ambitions for a good career. I shared my concerns with one of my close Christian friends in the campus, and began to pray about it. I had been reading through the Bible and was reading Acts during that time. Verse 8 of Acts chapter 1 kept resonating in my mind: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” As I meditated on this verse, I became convicted that I should serve God to spread the Gospel.
After graduating from the college, I began to look out for a suitable Bible college where I could begin my theological studies. Though there are many seminaries in India, very few teach reformed theology. As I knew Rev Koshy, I expressed to him my desire to study theology and enquired about Bible colleges in Singapore, and in particular, about FEBC. He encouraged me to apply to FEBC. After giving much thought and prayer, I applied to the college and God opened the way for me to come and study in FEBC.
Even after coming to FEBC, I still doubted my calling, and frankly had several times thought about quitting my theological studies. At the start of 2015, I had to go back to India but did not come back to continue my studies. During that time, God, through many providential circumstances and through His Word, again convicted me of my calling. Luke 9:62 says, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” I became very sure that I have no option to look back. I must finish what I had started with the Lord’s prompting. Thus I came back and resumed my studies in July 2015. May the Lord grant me the grace to complete the training to be equipped to serve the Almighty God.
Another Reason for A Larger Church Resource Centre John Peh
For the last 10 years, Pastor’s library has been made available for the reading pleasure and edification of God’s people through the Bible Witness Bookroom at Hong Lim Complex. When it was open to all, about 1,800 books were on display from Pastor’s own private collection. It has grown now to about 2,800 books, some of which have been donated by some like-minded brethren while others are from Pastor’s own acquisition. This library is a treasure house of knowledge in matters related to the truths of God’s Word. Pastor’s prayer and hope is that all the books in this library would be accessible to our church members and preachers.
There are still hundreds of books at CRC in Pastor’s office that are yet to be added to the library. Whenever I meet Pastor in CRC to discuss matters of the ministry, I have noticed that the book cabinets are filled to the brim with books, besides a lot more books being kept on chairs, small tables and the floor of his office. There is no more space for bookshelves in the bookroom or in CRC.
Presently, because the church office and library are in 2 different locations, the books are not easily accessible to Pastor and our preachers. A number of times, in the midst of their study, they have to come down to the bookroom to get the books they need. At times, to make it more convenient for them, I would bring the books down to the church office. When books are at different locations, it is also not possible to catalogue and keep track of them.
We also need space to archive, copy and distribute (in digital format) Pastor’s sermons and teachings, which have been recorded from past worship services, seminars, retreats, camps, etc. Through Bible Witness Media Ministry’s various initiatives, we hope the truths of God’s Word that we receive from Gethsemane B-P Church can be brought to His people in other places for their spiritual nourishment.
As the Lord has given me the opportunity to be more involved with BWMM’s efforts to make all these resources available to believers in our church, country and overseas, I am profoundly persuaded of the acute need for a larger Church Resource Centre. I feel moved in my heart to encourage all of you, my fellow Gethsemaneans, to earnestly pray and support our Church Session’s decision to raise 5 million dollars for procuring a bigger place for the Church Resource Centre. We are still short of 3 million dollars; hence, let us give generously to the church building fund and also pray fervently for the successful completion of this project soon.
May the Lord hear our prayers and speedily answer our request for a bigger place for CRC!
In recent days, from time to time, I have found my heart being very anxious about our church’s building fund. Our desire and prayers have been that God will provide 5 million dollars, the fund needed to purchase a suitable venue for our church’s activities. The need for such a place is very dire, knowing that such a place is urgently needed for next year’s activities. However, we have only been able to collect about $1.4 million to date. With just about 45 days left, anxiety does assail my heart!
But praise be unto God, He has not left me without His gracious peace. His Spirit reminds me of His promises, His past works, His faithfulness, etc., which give me peace and assurance that He will see that all needs shall be supplied.
The exhortation in Philippians 4:6 is of particular help to all His children who encounter anxious moments. If we follow the divine counsel in this passage, we will all be able to withstand the attack of anxiety and overcome it. Please consider the exhortation based on Philippians 4:6 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Well, that is an old way of saying “be not anxious about anything”. The Greek word (merimnáō) translated “careful” does not indicate that we should not exercise care in carrying out our responsibilities. The same word is used to teach us to care for one another (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:25). We are also taught in the Scriptures to provide for our families (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). The advice here is that we should free our minds from anxiety and worry.
An incessant concern for our temporal affairs is an evil that we should avoid. Firstly, it expresses lack of faith in God’s goodness and mercy. Anxiety proceeds from a heart that refuses to accept God’s good providence. Our Lord Jesus has assured us, saying, “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). Jesus also warned that to worry about daily necessities of life is to be like the Gentiles who know not the goodness of our God (cf. Matthew 6:32a). Let us not dishonour our God by worrying about our needs, our responsibilities, our troubles, etc. Anxiety equals distrust of God’s care for His own people. Anxiety is a sin, for it refuses to trust God’s gracious and good providence.
Secondly, the evil of anxiety is also seen in its effects on oneself. Anxiety will lead to self-destructive conduct and attitudes. Anxiety weakens a person physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. An anxious mind produces nothing good, only added trouble. Anxiety causes a person to be unhappy, moody, grumpy, illtempered and depressed. It has even turned some into maniacs! Anxiety is also known to cause severe physical trauma, resulting in migraine, body aches, vomiting, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, etc. Worse still, many have abandoned Christ because of their anxiety for material gain. Jesus said in Mark 4:19, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Anxiety will cause a person to be self-focused and worldly-minded.
One’s anxiety can also affect those who are around him. Obsessive mannerism caused by anxiety had wrecked many relationships and filled homes with unhappiness and quarrels. So let us cast off anxiety from our hearts. Whenever it assaults us, let us go to the LORD in prayer, and take hold of all His promises. Get rid of anxiety, and be more cheerful and productive by the grace and knowledge of the LORD.
“But in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Herein we have the remedy to the terrible malady of anxiety. Prayer helps us to battle anxiety and get rid of it from our hearts. By praying to God, we can repress anxiety. Prayer frees us from anxiety.
Prayer is the expression of our faith in the Lord. We tell the Lord all our needs and troubles in prayer because we trust in His help, which He has promised. When we pray, we affirm that God cares for us, and that His care for us is the best. Every praying man declares that no one ever cares for him like his God. When the heart is taught to believe in the good providence of God and encouraged to express that faith by communing with God in prayer, anxiety will naturally be resisted and driven out.
We are instructed that “in every thing” we must pray. “Don’t be anxious about anything, but pray about everything!” is the divine counsel. There are some who pray only when great needs or troubles come upon them. If we do not pray in everything, even what appears to be a “small matter” can fill our heart with anxiety and wreck our peace. Nothing is too small to destabilise our life; hence, nothing is too small to bring to God. If we are ready to believe that nothing is too great for God to care for, then let us also believe that nothing is too small for us to confide in Him. God, who made this gigantic universe, also cares for the tiny sparrows.
Prayer is the soul’s believing and reverential approach unto God. It consists of supplication, thanksgiving, etc. The word “prayer” denotes general prayer, which is a humble and reverential approach to God for help. The word “supplication” denotes a plea for a specific matter, thus expressing one’s craving for divine supply in his life. The word “thanksgiving” denotes grateful expressions of joy and confidence in God which honours and pleases God.
It is with thanksgiving that we ought to make our requests known to God. A prayer without thanksgiving is a selfish prayer. Can it be right to pray for benefits and never honour our Benefactor? Thanksgiving will prevent us from being preoccupied with our wants, and it will fill our minds with the praise of our benevolent God. Do not offer a formal prayer to submit a wish list. Let your prayers be “perfumed” with praise. In our sufferings, let us sing His praise and pray. Take the hymn book and sing as you pray.
To all who pray with thanksgiving, God assures: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Though unfathomable to men, the praying Christian shall experience the powerful work of God’s peace. His peace shall protect us from being wrecked by anxiety and its foolish ways.
Dear Christian, are you always looking unto Jesus? Living a life of sincere faith means that your eyes are constantly fixed on Christ. Looking to the Lord is an absolute necessity for a Christian to live triumphantly for the Lord’s glory. Let us consider two specific biblical exhortations to all Christians concerning keeping our eyes on Christ.
The Christian life is a race in which God’s child is focused on Christ from the beginning to the end. Christians are exhorted to “run with patience the race that is set before us” by “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The Greek word for “looking” (aphoráō) literally means looking away from one thing to some other thing in a steadfast or intent manner. It has been used to denote the fixing of the mind upon something. It expresses the mental posture that all Christians should maintain in relation to Jesus, as they run their Christian race. It should be a holy habit of our souls to keep the Lord Jesus in our view.
Looking at Jesus at the beginning of the race and then totally keeping Him out of view, is not the right kind of faith that Scripture teaches us. We should never lose focus of Christ in our Christian race. The reality is, some of the people who started the race with us may drop out of the race altogether while some others may be distracted and refuse to keep up, thus leaving us disappointed and troubled. But we must not let our minds be affected by their quitting. We must look away and fix our thoughts upon Christ. Even if all around us are a constant encouragement to us in our Christian race, it could well be our own lethargy and lust that hinder our race. Only when our minds are steadfastly fixed on Christ can we then overcome all distractions and obstacles, and complete our Christian race.
We look away from all else to Jesus only, for He is “the author and finisher of our faith”. The Greek word for “author” was translated earlier as “captain” in chapter 2, verse 10. There it was said of Christ, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Christ has set the path and He calls us to follow Him. It is Him, not the crowd, that we follow. The course of our race is shown by Him. He leads and we follow. His is our Guide, Strength and Motivation in our Christian race.
Jesus, the author of our faith, has entered the heavenly sanctuary as our forerunner (6:19–20) and has opened “a new and living way” for us that leads to this sanctuary (10:20). He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 1:17; 21:6; 22:13). He is our perfect Saviour and Captain who is able to perfect all who have placed their trust in Him.
Titus 2:13 depicts Christians as, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” As we live on earth in this present age, we anticipate our “blessed hope”, which is “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.
The Christian’s hope of Christ’s return is called “blessed”. The word “blessed” denotes all the blessings of His divine presence (cf. 1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15). What a blessing it is to have such a hope! Eternal blessings await Christians at His coming. When He comes, we shall be eternally delivered from all the temptations and trials of this world, and shall enter into eternal sinless perfection, joy, bliss, rewards and glory. We live every day with that sure hope. So we long for His return. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
There has been some debate as to whether “that blessed hope” and “the glorious appearing” of Christ are two different events, namely Rapture (cf. 1 Thess. 4:6-17) and His return to this earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (cf. Rev. 19:11- 21). But there is little in this verse’s context to suggest that Paul was distinguishing those future events in connection with Christ’s return. Paul was simply saying that we are looking for the blessed hope, which is the appearing of the Lord. Although we understand those events of Rapture and His subsequent glorious return to rule the world for a thousand years (cf. Rev. 20:1-10; Isa. 2:1-4, 11; Ezek. 37; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:13- 14; Zech. 14) as distinct, Paul is here referring to the return of Christ as a whole, and not its various stages. The blessed hope is a fixed historical reality which we long for.
Two weeks ago, I have written to warn all Christian youths about the dangers of the dating practices that are prevalent in our society. It is generally a relationship whereby two unmarried individuals pursue a relationship purely based on their carnal senses. The outcome is flirting and fornication; and most of such relationships do not culminate in marriage either. Christians should not follow this worldly and sensual kind of dating that is so widely accepted as the norm in our society.
Such dating habits in schools and colleges lure many Christian youths into intimate relationships with unbelievers. This is creating a serious spiritual situation in Christian homes and churches. Increasingly, Christian youths become “trapped” in the sticky web of carnal relationships, eventually betraying spiritual truths, holiness and even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself whom they once professed. Tragedy, O utter tragedy! Souls “drugged” and dragged into the darkness of wild, sinful passions!
Dear youths, if I would not tell you about the evil of this unguarded pursuit of the world’s dirty game called “dating”, I am guilty of not doing anything to warn you of its dangers. I, for one, certainly do not want to bear the awful guilt of not telling you of the divine warning against building intimacy with the unbelievers. After reading what I have written to you, if you would still flirt with the worldly ones, then I cannot be held responsible for your choice of the worst for yourself. Please read carefully and take heed to what God’s Word teaches you.
The apostle Paul further exposes the foolishness of such an ‘unequal yoke’ through a series of rhetorical questions: “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
There can be no spiritual wholesomeness in a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian. No harmony whatsoever, but the worst conflicts of eternal proportions! The disparity and conflict between a Christian and a non-Christian will be just as between light and darkness, between Christ and false gods like Belial. Certainly there will be no blessing of the Lord upon such an unbiblical union.
When you choose an unbeliever, you have deceived yourself to accept the worst choice you could have made. An unbiblical alliance is an unholy alliance. It will prompt you to ungodly conduct. Corruption is a gradual change. Silently but surely, evil communications corrupt good manners. All the good manners that you have learned as a Christian child will eventually be lost.
There is no safety in the company of those who have no fear of God. They have no spiritual and moral principles to abide by. They are openly immoral or unprincipled. Such association is dangerous to a true Christian. To have one who is destitute of faith and holiness to be your trusted friend is to endanger yourself with all sorts of ungodly evils.
Mutual prayers and biblical exhortations will not grace their family life. Worshipping and praying together as a family will also not be possible. Christ will not be the head of their home! Without spiritual unity with Christ, there can be no ultimate marital unity, marked by Christlike love, submission and unity. Marital life is not just a sexual union. A proper relationship with God is indescribably more important than sexual intimacy. Though there is physical pleasure and satisfaction in family life, it will not at all be joyful and successful without dependence on and obedience to God. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). Consider the remarkable description of a godly home in Psalm 128:1-3 – “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” Just imagine what you would be really missing, when you choose an ungodly relationship.
If you are single, the most obvious thing to do, in the light of the above biblical counsels, is to avoid any intimate companionship with an unbeliever. Do not begin an ungodly relationship with an unbeliever.
If you are dating a non-Christian, you should leave that relationship at once, for the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”.
Every year, we set apart the last Sunday of October as “Reformation Sunday.” We take time to remember the persons and events that were part of the 16th Century Reformation. Why do we commemorate something that happened almost 500 years ago?
Today, we remember the Reformation for the following reasons:
Christian youths – even teens – have been following the worldly practice of dating, which is thoroughly unbiblical. Many seem to be totally unaware of the dangers of “dating”. What is biblically wrong about modern “dating”?
What is called “dating” today generally refers to maintaining a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite sex. To an increasing number of youngsters in our society, dating is simply “having fun” with someone of the opposite sex with no strings attached. In Singapore, dating is becoming common among even young teens of secondary schools. The dating of youths from tertiary educational institutions frequently involves booze, drugs, holidays together, sexual intercourse, etc.
Dating is largely patterned after what is portrayed by the entertainment world in movies and suchlike – a relationship based on sensual feelings and fantasies. In dating, friendships are forged through fleshly attractions, such as good looks, cute smile, sensual appearance, amorous voice, flirtatious speech and behaviour, fashionable and trendy attire, a groovy car, etc.
Even Christian youths begin dating on the basis of such sensual appeal. Christian couples, who date much like the world, fall into many spiritual, moral, emotional and social problems. Dating opens the youths to temptations of sin. Improper sexual conduct, sin and damaged testimony often plague such youths. More troubles and evils ensue – disappointment, depression, guilt, shame, quarrels, resentment, vengeful spirit, etc. The relationships with parents and friends also become tumultuous.
When a dating couple agrees not to date others and stay together for an extended period of time, they are considered “going steady”. They become attached romantically, emotionally, and often sexually. They often behave like a married couple. However, it does not have the commitment of a faithful marriage relationship. Their relationship is generally unstable and unpredictable. It is a phoney, sensual liaison, a counterfeit marriage relationship. Then, when the boy or girl gets bored with the relationship, or suspicious of the other, or get caught cheating, or simply decide that someone else is more desirable, the relationship is ended.
So often, dating is a temporary flirting, rather than a permanent, godly relationship. Many of them do not end up in marriage. Breaking up often involves heartache, anger and many negative emotional consequences.
Some “succeed” only after going through several dating experiences. People who enter marriage after a string of failed dating relationships often manifest the distasteful experiences of distrust, suspicion, anxiety, etc. It is not uncommon that such marriages end up on the rocks.
Dating, which is founded on worldly principles, promotes fornication and destructive behaviour among young people. Hedonistic attitudes maintained in such relationships engender disrespect, ill-treatment, and desensitizes moral discernment. The resultant marriages are like the houses built upon sand, ready to collapse.
In the Corinthian church, some have been living sensually. The apostle Paul was very disapproving of those who conducted themselves in an impure and sensual manner. He warned, “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2 Corinthians 12:21). Paul’s point was that members of the church who conduct themselves in sensual and worldly manner bring shame to the Lord and His church. It is utterly humiliating to a godly congregation that some members live worldly and in fornication. Earlier he had warned, “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand” (1 Corinthians 10:8); as well as, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). A life of fornication not only destroys relationships, but also one’s emotional, mental and physical health.
Dear youths, do not engage in the worldly kind of dating. Let every young Christian know that “this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God’s Word admonishes us in Colossians 3:5-6 that we should “mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” Again, we are told, “fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3).
We thank God for last Lord’s Day worship, which was attended by 24 adults and youths, plus 8 children. Praise the Lord also for enabling us to hold our first post-service fellowship group meeting last Sunday, beginning with the Men’s Fellowship. 4 of us gathered together to encourage ourselves to fulfil our Godgiven duties both in our family and in the church.
We also thank God for the safe arrival of our visitors. My mum and cousin arrived last Saturday night, followed by Sister Joy-joy on Sunday morning (5 am), which enabled her to also attend our worship service.
Thank God for helping the livelihood of our brethren. The rice harvest is now ongoing and the Lord has given those who are farmers in our midst good produce. Some other brethren, whose livelihood is fishing, also had their harvest this week. Thank God for His bountiful blessings from both land and sea. My constant prayer is that their trust in their great Provider will grow stronger.
By the way, this week, we are planning to resume our Bible Study / Home Visitation at the Pogaro area, to be scheduled every Thursday. After praying earnestly, the Lord moved my heart to conduct a weekly Bible study to strengthen the faith of the brethren and also to encourage more people to seek the Lord. The place is more than an hour’s drive from our Pangasinan mission station. May the Lord grant us a great harvest of souls.
I would like to exhort all of you to be full of faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness, as we find ourselves currently in need of a huge sum of money (more than S$3.5 million) to complete the Church Building Project. Furthermore, the need to attain this sum in less than three month’s time is making many of us very anxious, causing us to think how we can raise such a huge sum. Brethren, I am assured that this is His appointed time for us to believe and see His power to help us. If we remain full of believing prayer, He will work for us. Let those who are directed by the Lord give as He has enabled them. Let all who are burdened for this work pray earnestly.
Unwavering faith in God’s faithfulness is a prerequisite to success in the work of the Lord. If we doubt His fidelity, we would become weary and fearful, paralysing us from doing His work confidently. We should never suspect His power to help us to accomplish that which He has called us to do.
To encourage everyone, I publish the following article (with minor editing) that I wrote almost twelve years ago when we were pressing forward to buy the first Church Resource Centre.
“The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build” (Nehemiah 2:20). That was Nehemiah’s reply to Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem who laughed and scorned at the plan of God’s people to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. When the enemies despised them, Nehemiah and his co-labourers trusted in their God for help.
God’s people are never left to be alone in their labour for Him. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthian believers, “We are labourers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9). What a comforting and reassuring thought! Praise the Lord!
In the work of the Lord, we cannot do anything without Him. Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). But once our hearts are led by His counsels and established in His promises, nothing can stop us from labouring and building for Him.
Nehemiah declared before his enemies, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us”. What a bold affirmation. Can we be this sure of God’s help? Most certainly!
As far as Nehemiah was concerned, it was not a presumptuous claim. He was not making a hasty, incautious, selfconceited, over-confident assertion in order to derail his enemies’ plans.
His confidence in the Lord’s blessings was the result of his prayerful determining of God’s will concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem and His temple. After carefully assessing the needs of the rebuilding of the city of His people, Nehemiah took time to pray. He prayed, “O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy…” (Nehemiah 1:11). He personally sought the Lord concerning the work. As he sought Him in prayer, he was assured of God’s sure blessings.
Everyone who seeks God’s will in prayer and then stretches forth his hand to fulfil that which God has led him to do, can be assured of His good blessings. God will not forsake those who labour to do His will. He will most certainly prosper them.
So if you make sure that your desires are His desires, and your plans are His plans, you will have all of His guidance and blessings in the future, so much so that you can say, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us”.
This was the case in Gethsemane B-P Church. We saw the need of a building for a church resource centre. We sought the Lord in prayer and were ready to fulfil whatever He would lead us to do. We carefully examined our needs and understood what we needed. We then sought to obey the Word in meeting the need of the church. When the Spirit of God began to lead us by His truth and providence, we too affirmed in our midst the words of Nehemiah: “The God of heaven, he will prosper us”.
These magnificent words of faith and confidence have serious implications in our midst. It means that we would not seek any man’s help in a way that would contradict God’s Word. By His grace, we boldly decided not to approach banks for loans, or people for interest-free loans! We believed that if we would go forward by the way of the Lord, He would prosper us. He did just that! Praise the Lord!
Hitherto, we have experienced the same kind of provision from God in publishing the Bible Witness magazine. We thank the Lord for seeing us through fourteen years of publishing. Men may despise, but God will help. Men may reject and oppose, but God will bless and prosper! We can trust God to keep His promises.
Nehemiah 2:20 not only talks about divine leading and help, but also the responsibility of His servants. It calls us to duty – “Let us arise and build.”
God’s promises do not make His servants sluggish or lethargic. On the contrary, recognising God’s good Hand in a project grants great motivation to press on even in the midst of opposition. It gives His servants willingness and readiness to sacrifice, and also to set themselves apart to accomplish the work that He has called them to do.
The only proper response to the Lord’s goodness and promises is to “arise and build”. People’s resolve to do His work is a token of their conviction of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness.
We have found this truth being illustrated powerfully among the brethren in Gethsemane B-P Church. Having been convicted of God’s leading and goodness, they gave themselves wholeheartedly to acquire the building. They sweat and shed tears. When disappointment and anxiety arose, they went to the Lord with renewed trust. The Lord was always there to strengthen hearts and hands to work even harder. Many prayed earnestly. Many gave generously. While some searched for an appropriate place, others gave plenty of thoughts to prepare and furnish the new place.
The rest is history – God did prosper His people! They arose and laboured! God’s work was done!