Weekly Bulletin

“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)

  24 Jan 2021

Date: 12 January

Members and brethren of,
Calvary Kuching B-P Church
Gethsemane B-P Church, Singapore
All GBPC’s mission churches (in Ethiopia, the Philippines, India and China)

On behalf of the Committee of Calvary Kuching Bible-Presbyterian Church (CKBPC) and the BOE of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church (GBPC), we greet you all in the blessed Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

We have the joy of announcing that by the Lord’s providence and leading, CKBPC and GBPC have come together in a spiritual and fraternal relationship with effect from 1 January 2021. With this union, GBPC will take on the complete oversight of CKBPC’s spiritual and administrative LEADERSHIP as one of GBPC’s mission churches. We are grateful in the Lord, that the BOE of Calvary Jaya BP Fellowship who previously provided this role joyously and well has confirmed their agreement.

We pray the Lord will be gracious to bless our two congregations as we co-labour and strive to extend and prosper the cause of the Gospel in Kuching, throughout Sarawak and beyond. Amen.

Bro. Jeremy Teo
Chairman, Committee
Calvary Kuching B-P Church

Pastor Prabhudas Koshy
Chairman, BOE
Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore

Proposed Amendments to the Constitution Questions & Answers

Q1: Why is there a need for the amendments?
A1: The current Constitution was approved on 13 July 1995 and over the past 3 decades many significant events have taken place in our Church, the Bible-Presbyterian movement in Singapore, Christendom as a whole and society at large. The current Constitution, for our spiritual and administrative guidance needs to be amended to give legal standing for the reaffirmation of our Church’s beliefs and practices which are according to Scripture, and the approved doctrines and practices of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Presbyterianism, to confront the newer attacks against the Lord Jesus Christ, Scripture and its truths. The amendments are also meant to further strengthen the leadership of our Church by making provisions for more God-given, spiritually qualified and gifted men to serve as leaders of the Church.

Q2: What are these amendments?
A2. The proposed amendments may be categorised as: a) Restating certain paragraphs and sentences in the Constitution to clearly explain and support the unchanged Scriptural foundation of our beliefs and practices. Hence, additional Bible references are included; certain words and expressions are changed to firm up the church’s biblical beliefs and practices. In response to attacks from various quarters in the increasingly sin-tolerant world and alternate life style practices against the Lord Jesus and His teachings as recorded in the Bible, certain parts of the Constitution are re-stated to make our original and unchanged doctrinal position clear.

b) Following the Biblical teaching and aligning with the Presbyterian practices regarding Church leadership. The Bible is clear that the Church is to be ruled by elders – pastors (who are teaching elders) and ruling elders. Deacons render their invaluable services unto the Lord in supporting functions, rather than ruling. The present constraint of only nine Session members allowable is removed to enable more God-gifted men whom the Lord would be pleased to call to serve as elders, deacons and preachers in our growing Church and into the future. The requirements and roles of preachers are also clearly defined.

c) Updating relevant sections to align with the proposed amendments in a) and b) above, for example replacing the word “Session” with “BOE”, and necessary administrative updates, e.g. the change of official address.

Q3. What is the process involved in amending the Constitution?
A3. The proposed Amendments can only be adopted after the Registry of Societies (ROS), Singapore has approved them. The steps are:
1. Develop the first draft of the proposed “Revised Constitution of Gethsemane BPC, 2021” incorporating the propose amendments (completed by the Review Committee, comprising Pastor Koshy, Elder Francis Lee & Elder Mah)
2. Endorsement of the first draft, incorporating other changes by the BOE, GBPC (completed)
3. Endorsement of the first draft, incorporating other changes by the Session, GBPC (completed)
4. Communicate with members, GBPC (ongoing, to be completed by 5 Feb 2021)
5. Endorsement of the first draft, incorporating changes by members, GBPC (at the Extraordinary Congregational Meeting [ECM] on 6 Feb 2021)
6. File the first draft with ROS (to be done on 7 Feb 2021)
7. Receive reply from ROS (likely with questions and required changes)
8. Study (7) above, develop the second draft, incorporating agreed changes together with accompanying explanations to ROS for not accepting certain changes
9. Endorsement of the second draft by the BOE
10. Reply to ROS, with the second draft and accompanying explanations.
11. Tasks (7)-(10) continue, with the updated third, fourth, etc revision(s), till the final draft (as suggested by ROS and acceptable to the BOE) is achieved
12. Communicate with members, GBPC
13. File confirmed version with ROS for approval.
14. Receive approval from ROS for the “Revised Constitution of Gethsemane BPC, 2021”
15. Communicate to members, GBPC. (End of Project) s

  17 Jan 2021

As Christians, we ought to be a prayerful people. The Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, teach us the importance of prayer—both by exhortation and example (cf. Deut. 4:29; Ps. 50:15; 91:15; Isa. 55:6; Jer. 33:3; Lk. 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:8; Jam. 5:13–16; 1 Jn. 5:16).

Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, taught about the necessity of prayer (cf. Lk. 18:1), the manner of prayer (Matt. 5:24; 6:16–18; 7:7; Mk. 11:24–26; 13:33; Jn. 15:7), and the benefits of prayer (Matt. 7:8–11; 21:22; 26:41; Lk. 21:36; Jn. 15:16). He also gave an illustration as to how we ought to pray (Matt. 6:9–15). Moreover, Jesus assured us of His presence when brethren meet to discuss and pray according to His counsels, about matters or problems that would arise in the church (Matt. 18:18–20).

Jesus is our supreme Example. He was in the habit of praying alone, with His disciples, and with others, whenever it was necessary or deemed fit to Him. Though He was full of grace and glory, truth and might, He humbly prayed. He prayed to praise the Father (Lk. 10:21; Jn. 11:41), to yield to the Father’s will (Lk. 22:42), and to seek the Father’s aid for Himself and the people around Him (Jn. 12:27; Lk.22:32; 23:34; Jn 17:9, 15).

We must emulate Christ’s example in our lives and ministries, that we may effectively fulfil the Father’s will concerning us. Here are some examples of Christ’s prayer patterns:

Christ prayed alone:

  • “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mk. 1:35).
  • “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Lk. 5:16).
  • “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Lk. 6:12).
  • “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…” (Lk 22:31–32).
  • Matthew 26:39–44 records Jesus’ praying in Gethsemane prior to His arrest and crucifixion (cf. Mk. 14:32–42).

Christ prayed with and for others

The following verses show us that Christ prayed while others were with Him.

  • “And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him…” (Lk. 9:18).
  • “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Lk. 11:1).
  • “…he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering” (Lk. 9:28–29).
  • John 17 records Christ’s pastoral prayer for His disciples (who were with Him), as well as for all the future believers (vv. 1–26).
  • Christ prayed in public before people who gathered around Him

    • Jesus prayed before John the baptizer and others at His baptism—“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened” (Lk. 3:21).
    • Immediately after His upbraiding of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, Jesus prayed to His Father, which was meant to be heard by prospective believers—“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matt. 11:25–26).
    • Before the seventy who returned to Christ, He expressed His joy in the form of a prayer of praise and adoration, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Lk. 10:21–22).
    • Jesus “gave thanks” to God (eucharistéō—Mk 8:6; Jn. 6:11) and “blessed” (eulogéō—Matt 14:19; Mk. 6:41; 8:7; Lk. 9:16) before thousands of people as He was about to provide food for them.
    • At the grave of Lazarus, before all gathered there, He prayed—“And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn. 11:41–42).
    • Before the Jews and Greeks who gathered around, Jesus prayed as his heart was troubled—“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name” (Jn. 12:27–28a).
    • From the cross, Jesus prayed for those who crucified Him, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).

    A note of clarification here. Jesus did warn against hypocrisy in prayer, especially against the public display of piety with long and ritualistic prayers. He said, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 6:5). Some overly-reactive believers have used this warning of Jesus as a reason to renounce all public prayer. But neither the Lord nor the Scriptures ever taught against praying in public. As shown above, Christ often prayed in the presence of His disciples and in public. The Scriptural records also abundantly show that many godly men of the Old and New Testaments prayed in public. Rather, what we all should avoid is praying hypocritically, whether public or private. It is not an outward display of piety that God desires, but our hearts’ humility, repentance, and faith.

    (God willing, next week, we will look at the prayer pattern of the early New Testament Church.)

  10 Jan 2021

2020 was a year of changes! However, what has remained constant is the preaching of God’s Word in the Gethsemane Children Ministry (GCM). The Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) is an annual event of the GCM during the school vacation for our children to be nourished in the Word of God and to reach out to their friends, both within and without the church of Christ. Despite being nearly hindered from ministering to children due to the invasion of the coronavirus worldwide, especially with the implementation of the “Circuit Breaker” in Singapore (April – June 2020), we are thankful that the LORD is good to us! “We were troubled on every side, yet not distressed . . . cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). We were able to adjust quickly and GCM went online, with technical support from our brethren. All glory be to God!

With 2 sessions of GCM meetings held every Saturday (11am and 2pm), we were led to the idea of running our 3-day DVBS online for 2020. When restrictions on physical gathering and studio recordings were eased, the GCM committee decided to hold DVBS in a hybrid manner both physically and virtually! Instead of hosting the event via Zoom from our homes, the event was hosted in BWMM Studio in Gethsemane Media Centre (GMC). In doing so, some local children were able to physically participate in the event while others joined virtually, especially those abroad!

The conventional programmes of our DVBS were tweaked to suit the live-interaction on Zoom’s platform, which included the singing of hymns and choruses, the preaching of God’s Word and an activity time. Each day had two sessions: the morning session was for younger children (P2 and below), whereas the afternoon session was for the older children (P3 to P6). We thank God for the wisdom to adapt and adjust according to the needs, and for brethren who willingly offered their service for the smooth running of DVBS 2020, whose theme was “Christ of the Bible”. The children were taught on 3 names of Christ in the Old Testament: “The Seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15), “Shiloh” (Genesis 49:10) and “The Stone of Israel” (Genesis 49:24). God willing, for future DVBS, we will continue with the same theme and teach our children more names of Christ from the Law of Moses.

On behalf of the committee, I would also like to thank the respective parents for their unstinting support and cooperation in sending their child(ren) to GMC on time for the morning and afternoon sessions over the 3 days (16-18 December) of DVBS.

Jesus had said, “Suffer (allow) the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). I thank the LORD for sending us participants from near and far, (locally and globally). More than 50 children joined us in total! This is truly the goodness of the LORD upon our church and her endeavours to propagate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! Included herewith are some testimonies from the participants:

Testimonies from Children

Thaddeus, child of a regular worshipper since CB
I enjoyed the singing most. God is so good to me and I am saved. Jesus is my Saviour. I also enjoyed the Bible lessons. Thank you, Brother Cornelius and Aunty Luan Kheng!

Johan & Hannah
Thank God for allowing us to join this year’s DVBS. Even though we were not able to join together physically, we thank God for online-DVBS. Teacher Cornelius taught us from the Book of Genesis, on the topic: “Christ of the Bible”. In three days, we learned 4 names of Jesus Christ from Genesis – her Seed, Shiloh, Shepherd and Stone of Israel. Secondly, thank God for all the efforts of GCM committee to teach us the Word of God. We pray to God that many children will be blessed by the GCM. All glory to God. Amen.

Esther and Naomi (Cebu City, the Philippines)
I praise God that my sister and I were given this opportunity to join the DVBS 2020 – through Zoom. We thank God for the blessed and fruitful time spent together with children all over the world, learning and growing in the faith of the Lord. I pray that as we grow older, we may be able to keep in mind all the lessons that we have learned in DVBS 2020. All glory be unto Him!

Ryan Skariah
Thank God for the opportunity to attend DVBS 2020 – live at GMC. During the lessons, I learnt about Christ of The Bible. Thank God for giving Pr Kelvin the wisdom to teach us and nurture us in His wisdom. During the messages, I learned about “the Seed of the woman” mentioned in Genesis 3:15, the “Shiloh” mentioned in Genesis 49:10, and “the Stone of Israel” mentioned in Genesis 49:24, which are clear references to Jesus Christ. It is so wonderful to know that the promise of a Saviour is prophesied clearly in the first book of the Bible. Praise God also for all the singspiration leaders, for Aunty Luan Kheng who never failed to remind us to be attentive to the messages, for the AV crew who made sure that the programme could be brought to those at home, as well as for the games-leader, Bro Amoz. All glory be to God!

I thank God for the opportunity to learn God’s Word in the online Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS). Although I would have liked to attend it at GMC, I enjoyed all the online sessions. The DVBS’ theme was “Christ of the Bible”. I learnt the different names of Christ in the Bible.

Things I learnt during Brother Cornelius’ sessions:
1. There are names of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament – “Her Seed” in Genesis 3:15; “Shiloh” in Genesis 49:10; “Stone of Israel” in Genesis 49:24.
2. Jacob had many sons, and one of them is Judah, whom Jacob gave special blessings (in Genesis 49) – he shall: a) be praised; b) produce mighty warriors; c) be linked to “Lion of Judah”; and d) receive a sceptre and a crown.

Things I learnt in Preacher Kelvin’s sessions:
1. The Stone of Israel refers to Jesus Christ.
2. He does not come from the line of Joseph.
3. If you are heavy laden or weary in spirit, Jesus said, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

I like the teaching of God’s Word. I also liked the activities and games that were conducted. May God help me to learn God’s words well so that He can use me to serve Him in time to come.

Testimony from Combined Retreat of GYF and GYAF

Tan Yeh Wen
I thank God for overseeing the smooth conduct of the Retreat and for His Hand of protection over us. Truly, by His grace, not only were the respective participants able to meet in GMC over 2 days, but the live stream over YouTube and prayer meeting over Zoom were also smoothly executed. Thank God for His enabling grace upon all who laboured, for the participants, as well as for the planning committee (for their patience and forbearance), in the light of the many changes that have happened. Surely, we are weak, but He is strong.

Thank God for empowering Pastor Koshy and Bro Cornelius in ministering to us – for the challenges and rebukes which I have received through the messages – as well as for Pr Kelvin and Sis Abigail in ministering to the children. The divine commissioning and appointment of leaders into the church leadership instil in my heart a great sense of reverential fear – this is not for man to appoint on his own, nor for any to foolishly appoint another. The Lord’s working must be seen in that man through his inner calling and its manifested evidence. Without this, no man can enter into the church leadership, regardless of his physical gifts or position in society. It is then foolishness to claim to be called but yet manifest no evidence, and thereby go against the Scriptural order.

Thank God also for the lessons on the expectations of church leadership, namely stewardship, stedfastness, studiousness, stainlessness, stout-heartedness, flexibility, and teamwork / cooperation. Are not these also expected of consecrated Christians? That we are to be servants of the Lord in all humility; that we are to walk and remain in His way; that we are to be like the noble Bereans searching the Scriptures; that we are to abstain from all appearances of evil; that we are to be strong in the Lord, holding faith and a good conscience; that we are to be able to bear one another’s burdens, seeing we are members of the same body; that we are to build up one another in the faith, supporting one another’s service in the Lord, and to esteem others better than ourselves – these too are some of the qualities which we as Christians should strive to have according to the Word. Surely, these are not qualities confined only to leaders; rather, these are what we should all aspire to have a part in.

I thank God for the instructions on how to read the Bible as well, and how to derive lessons from the truth written in the Word better. In particular, the lesson on John 21:1-14, where we were taught not to be distracted from what the Lord has called us to do, but to remain firm regarding what He has instructed through His Word. There are many things which may seem innocuous in my life (including entertainment), but if that should distract me from the things which the Lord has called me to do, then what does it profit me? Better to part with these things than to have my service hindered.

Truly, praise be to the Lord alone, who has richly showered us with many spiritual blessings over the 2 days, in a time when a famine of the Word is clearly seen. But the sacrifice of the lips, even thanksgiving, will not be accepted except the heart be first consecrated to God, and wholly devoted to Him. May God be merciful unto us, lest we heard God’s voice clearly but yet perceived it not, neither laid it in our heart nor manifested it in our lives. Let the Word which has been so clearly expounded take deep root in every heart instead, and may God be pleased to cause it to bear much fruit in Him in His good time. God be gracious unto us to grant us a God-fearing church leadership, and that every member of the church may offer up spiritual sacrifices, as commanded by the Scriptures.

  3 Jan 2021

Jesus Christ is the firm and steadfast rock of foundation for our life of faith. Insecurity and anxiety plague those who fail to always exercise their trust in Him. However, Christians can prevent spiritual failures in their lives and attain a triumphant Christian life if they maintain faith in Christ, their great Saviour and Shepherd – “and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4b).

I think of the apostle Peter as an illustration. On one occasion, while Peter was walking on water towards Christ, he noticed the boisterous wind and began to sink. Fear and dread gripped him. Jesus rescued him, but with a rebuke: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (cf. Matthew 14:23-31). But there was a later event in his life in which Jesus taught him what it was to be rock solid in faith. Jesus had asked whom the disciples thought He was, and Peter had answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (cf. Matt. 16:15–18).

Many people have understood these words to mean that Jesus was going to build His church upon Peter. The Roman Catholic Church has interpreted Jesus’ words as a promise that Peter would become the first pope, and that the church would be built on Peter and his successors. We rather understand Jesus’ words as referring not to Peter himself but to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and argue that the church is to be built on this confessional foundation.

Peter’s own words in 1 Peter 2:4–8 provide us with his understanding of the above words of Christ to him. He insists that the Rock upon which the church or any individual Christian is to build is Jesus Christ.

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”

Peter’s insistence is that Christ is the Rock upon which His people are built up as a church. There is no suggestion whatsoever that he is the rock. In the light of those words of Peter, we can say that Peter (which means “a little stone”) wanted us to know Christ Himself is the Rock upon which He builds His church. Peter learned that Jesus is the only possible foundation for a sure and stable Christian life. Peter had biblical grounds for understanding Jesus’ teaching this way. He indicated it by three Old Testament quotations.

First, Isaiah 28:16. The prophet Isaiah spoke of God “lay[ing] in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation”. Peter also emphasised that “he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Peter 2:6). Everyone, who lives by faith on Christ and His Word, will be built up together as a spiritual temple God.

Second, Psalm 118:22. Jesus applied Psalm 118:22 to himself during his earthly ministry, so Peter had learned to interpret the verse as Jesus did (cf. 1 Peter 2:7). Jesus told a parable about a householder who leased his vineyard to some husbandmen (or farmers). They tried to take over the field for themselves, eventually killing the owner’s son, who had been sent to them to collect the profits. Jesus then asked, “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” His hearers correctly answered Him that “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus then applied it to Himself by quoting from Psalm 118:22, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” (cf. Matt. 21:33–42; Acts 4:11). By this parable, Jesus was teaching that God is the owner of the vineyard. The leaders of Israel were the evil tenant farmers. The servants were the prophets, and the son who was killed was Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, Christ is also the stone, rejected by the builders, who was to become the capstone (the head of the corner) of true biblical religion. Christ alone is the only sure foundation for His people.

Third, Isaiah 8:14. By using Isaiah 8:14, Peter added the thought of stumbling to the initial idea of rejection of Christ – “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (1 Peter 2:8). Peter also warned that rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s anointed Messiah, had a disastrous consequence, i.e. to fall spiritually or be lost forever.

Dear Gethsemaneans, may every one of us be strong in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Then we shall be like a house well-built on a strong foundation of rock. And it shall be said of us, that “the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:25).

Testimonies from Combined Retreat of GYF and GYAF

Ruben Skariah
I would like to praise and thank God for the opportunity to attend the combined retreat of GYF and GYAF. During the retreat, I have learnt many precious lessons from the 4 theme messages and 2 morning devotions. Through the morning devotions on the theme, “Offering Spiritual Sacrifices”, taught by Bro Cornelius, I learnt about 4 sacrifices that we need to offer:

(1) I need to offer the sacrifice of my lips through praise and thanksgiving – “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
(2) I need to offer the sacrifice of prayer. We are duty-bound to offer up prayers as our daily obligation as priests.
(3) I should offer the sacrifices of repentance and righteousness – “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD” (Psalm 4:5). In order for us sinful men to have our spiritual sacrifices accepted by God, we need to first repent of our sins.
(4) Finally, the sacrifice of ourselves for others. I need to pour out my life to be spent for the service of the faith of others.
Through the theme messages on “What Should the Church Leadership Be?” taught by Pastor, I learnt that church leadership consists of divinely designed offices, and men whom God has commissioned to those offices. Hence, leadership in the church ought to be a divine appointment, which is preceded by biblical evidence, and in line with biblical expectations.

I am grateful to God for the fellowship with both youths and young adults that I had during the lunch and dinner breaks. I also thank God for the Bible Reading session on John 21:1-14, which has taught me to read the Bible with more understanding. May God help me to delight in His Word, and grow in faith. All glory to God!

Joey Peh
Truly, thank God for the recent combined YAF-YF Retreat on 25 and 26 December 2020, where the truths about church leadership were clearly expounded.

It was an illuminating study, especially the section on having an intense spiritual desire for the work. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). The burden to preach was so strong that the apostle Paul described it as being “pressed in the spirit” (Acts 18:5) by a constraining force (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14).

I also praise the LORD for the morning devotions on “Offering Spiritual Sacrifices”. In particular, Philippians 2:17-18, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me”, struck me. The joy bubbling from those who minister and those who are ministered unto—merging as one ceaseless river of praise—is a wonderful sight to behold.

May God stir all His children to serve with gladness, and to receive the service rendered by others in the same body of Christ with much thanksgiving.

Judy Lim
I am very grateful to God for the combined retreat of GYF and GYAF. I thank God for granting our church leaders the perseverance in feeding us with God’s Word amid challenging times, and for the brethren who labour much in planning and making the camp possible.

I learned from the morning devotions that God does not desire “burnt offering and sin offering” (Psalm 40:6), but He delights in “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), “a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17), and “the sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).

Pastor taught us that God designs church leadership, and every member in the leadership is under His direct supervision. We were taught that a godly leader should serve the Lord “with all humility of mind” (Acts 20:19) and possess Christ-like qualities.

The apostle Paul exhorts, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). So, may we respond to our divine calling and continue the good work that the Lord has started in Gethsemane!

  27 Dec 2020

This year, the world was gripped with the fear of sickness and death. We have heard and read about millions falling sick and dying around the world. Just before the world was gripped by Covid-19, I had to endure the sudden departure of my only brother (younger by about two years). It was sudden. I am sure some of my readers also experienced the grief of death in their families or friendship circles.

As we are approaching the end of another year, we have no certainty whether we will live to the end of the next year. Will death come and remove us from this earth soon? No one can tell for sure. We had better be prepared for the end of our journey on earth.

I would like to share with you the perspectives of the devout Anglican bishop J. C. Ryle (1816–1900) on preparing for death by living well. The following article is the concluding section of his chapter on “Sickness” in his book, “Practical Religion”.

“Sickness” by J. C. Ryle

I conclude with a word of exhortation to all believers, which I heartily pray God to impress upon their souls. I exhort you to keep up a habit of close communion with Christ, and never to be afraid of “going too far” in your religion. Remember this, if you wish to have “great peace” in your times of sickness.

I observe with regret, a tendency in some quarters to lower the standard of practical Christianity, and to denounce what are called “extreme views” about a Christian’s daily walk in life. I remark with pain, that even religious people will sometimes look coldly on those who withdraw from worldly society, and will censure them as “exclusive, narrow-minded, illiberal, uncharitable, sour-spirited,” and the like. I warn every believer in Christ who reads this paper to beware of being influenced by such censures. I entreat him, if he needs light in the valley of death, to “keep himself unspotted from the world,” to “follow the Lord fully,” and to walk very closely with God (James 1:27; Num. 14:24).

I believe that the lack of “thoroughness” about many people’s Christianity is one secret of their little comfort, both in health and sickness. I believe that the “half-and-half, keep-in-with everybody” religion, which satisfies many in the present day, is offensive to God, and sows thorns in dying pillows, which hundreds never discover until too late. I believe that the weakness and feebleness of such a religion never comes out so much, as it does upon a sick bed.

If you and I want “strong consolation” in our time of need, we must not be content with a bare union with Christ (Hebrews 6:18). We must seek to know something of heart-felt, experimental communion with Him. Never, never let us forget, that “union” is one thing, and “communion” another. Thousands, I fear, who know what “union” with Christ is, know little of “communion”.

The day may come when after a long fight with disease, we shall feel that medicine can do no more, and that nothing remains but to die. Friends will be standing by, unable to help us. Hearing, eyesight, even the power of praying, will be fast failing us. The world and its shadows will be melting beneath our feet. Eternity, with its realities, will be looming large before our minds.

What shall support us in that trying hour? What shall enable us to feel, “I fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4)? Nothing, nothing can do it but close communion with Christ. Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith—Christ putting His right arm under our heads—Christ felt to be sitting by our side—Christ can alone give us the complete victory in the last struggle.

Let us…
Cleave to Christ more closely,
Love Him more heartily,
Live to Him more thoroughly,
Copy Him more exactly,
Confess Him more boldly,
Follow Him more fully.

Religion like this will always bring its own reward. Worldly people may laugh at it. Weak brethren may think it extreme. But it will wear well. At even time it will bring us light. In sickness it will bring us peace. In the world to come it will give us a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

The time is short. The fashion of this world passeth away. A few more sicknesses, and all will be over. A few more funerals, and our own funeral will take place. A few more storms and tossings, and we shall be safe in harbour. We travel towards a world where there is no more sickness—where parting, and pain, and crying, and mourning, are done with for evermore.

Heaven is becoming every year more full, and earth more empty. The friends ahead are becoming more numerous than the friends astern. “Yet a little time and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37). In His presence shall be fulness of joy. Christ shall wipe away all tears from His people’s eyes. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death. But he shall be destroyed. Death himself shall one day die (Rev. 20:14).

In the meantime let us live the life of faith in the Son of God. Let us lean all our weight on Christ, and rejoice in the thought that He lives for evermore. Yes: blessed be God! Christ lives, though we may die. Christ lives, though friends and families are carried to the grave. He lives who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel.
He lives who said, “O death, I will be thy plagues: O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hos. 13:14). He lives who will one day change our vile body, and make it like unto His glorious body. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, let us lean confidently on Him. Surely we ought to say daily with one of old, “Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!”

  20 Dec 2020

We have the great pleasure of receiving new members (including infants), 28 in all, to the congregation of Gethsemane B-P Church. In a time when many of our traditional evangelistic and ministerial avenues were hindered due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the Lord had mercy to use our continual efforts to preach the Word, through online ministries and small gatherings and visitations, to keep the “Gospel door” open. Unexpected opportunities which the Lord’s good providence has opened before us, helped to bring about an increase in attendance with regard to our ministries. Truly, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

It is important that present and new members of the church understand our individual and collective calling from God for our existence and functioning as a faithful and fruitful church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, I urge you to consider and pursue the following biblical truths concerning our calling as a church.

Church: God’s ‘Called-Out’ People

Church is a group of people whom God has called and assembled as His people through Jesus Christ. This truth is expressed in Paul’s first epistle to the church in Corinth – “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2; cf. Romans 1:7).

Only when members of the church are aware of their call of God and passionately pursue that calling will the church be able to fulfil its calling. Members’ understanding and obedient response to the call of God are paramount to the church’s faithful and effective functioning for the glory of God.

The church is called to belong to God:

The biblical depiction, “church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2; cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; and 1 Tim. 3:5), denotes that every local church – like those in Corinth, Ephesus and Galatia – belongs to God. God owns the church, having purchased it for Himself with the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 20:28). He has given the Headship of the church to His Son, Jesus Christ, who has given His life for her redemption for God’s glory. Paul wrote about the church in Rome that they were “the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). So, no one should ever lord over the church, but Christ. It is not an institution or organisation that should be controlled and directed by human ideologies and fancies which are contrary to God’s revealed purposes in His Word. The church belongs to the LORD God, hence it is referred to as “the house of God” in 1 Timothy 3:15.

The church is called to be an assembly of saints:

The church (in Greek, ekklesia – “the called out ones”) is formed by those whom God has called out of the darkness of sin and the world, to be an assembly of holy people. That is why Paul explicitly speaks of the members of the church that they “are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2b; cf. Roman 1:7). The word “sanctified” (hagiazo) means “to be separated from profane things and be dedicated to God for His use”. It is in Christ that we are sanctified from sin unto God. Christ cleanses us from our sins by His blood and imputes His righteousness to us, that we may be separated from sin unto God for His service. Scripture says, “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). In Ephesians 5:25-26, Paul said, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.”

Paul also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:2 about the congregation of Corinth that they were “called to be saints”. Being sanctified or separated from sin, the members of the church are “to be saints”. The calling of the church is to function as a congregation of saints. The church and its members are summoned by God to live a life of holiness in this wicked world. No organisation or group of people on earth is endowed with a holy calling, but the church and its members. Any member of the church who lives in worldliness and sin without genuine repentance defies God’s call and corrupts His purpose for His church. So, let us cease from every sin and live a holy life that pleases our blessed Master, who loved us and gave His life for our sanctification. Nothing weakens the church as much as the sin of its people. Thus, we must separate ourselves from sin and falsehood. Scripture reminds us again in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 – “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” The Lord has “saved us, and called us with an holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9). So, let us walk in holiness, in obedience to the calling we have received from the Lord.

The church is also called unto His fellowship:

As much as the church of God is called to be saints, it is also “called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). Likewise, the apostle John wrote: “truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Our fellowship (or partnership) with Christ, the Son of God, must determine every fellowship we have with people or organisations. Our fellowship within the church must also be based upon Christ. In other words, we should not enter into a relationship or fellowship that would dishonour or hinder our fellowship with the Son of God. John warned us: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). Paul also reminded us in Ephesians 5:10-11, “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Every church member ought to examine himself to see whether his fellowship with Christ is growing more affectionate and profound, or whether it is hindered by sins and worldly friendships and activities.

The effectiveness of a church is very much dependent on the strength of its members’ fellowship with Christ. If church members abide in Christ, the church will be a fruitful one. The stronger its relationship with Christ, the greater is the impact of the church as a witness to the world!

The church is called to be one united people:

In 1 Corinthians 1:24, we read: “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” God has called both Jews and Greeks alike, that they may have Christ as their power and wisdom. In the church, everyone, regardless of ethnic or national diversity, has the same spiritual inheritance. In Christ, every man, whether Jew or Greek, is called to partake of the divine provision of power and wisdom. All believers share in the same spiritual inheritance. Therefore, there is no reason why any true believer should feel that he is less privileged or more privileged than others. We are all joint-heirs with Christ! In Romans 8:17, Paul wrote: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Let us therefore regard one another in the church with mutual respect and love. Let us not despise, but esteem one another, and thus keep our unity in Christ for God’s glory.

In 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, Paul dealt with members of the church who were from different classes of society, and taught them how they should live as Christians though God’s providential appointments for them in society vary. He wrote: “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God” (1 Corinthians 7:17- 24). Even though Christians are all one in Christ, each believer should remain in the same calling which the Lord has providentially allotted to him. Jewish believers should not try to become Gentiles (by erasing the physical mark of the covenant), and Gentiles should not try to become Jews (by being circumcised).

A Christian’s past religious, racial or social background and his present vocation are of little consequence in his spiritual relationship with Christ. If the vocational status of a Christian can improve, well and good; if it does not, it is not a matter of concern. What matters is that every Christian should realise that he is Christ’s slave and needs to render obedience to Him. Every vocation then becomes Christian service performed for the Master (cf. Ephesians 6:5-8). A Christian can then live in peace in his calling to whatever earthly vocation, and carry it out as one responsible to God.

In the church, members must hold one another in high esteem (Philippians 2:3; cf. Romans 12:10). No church can prosper if it is not united by mutual love and respect. Selfishness and pride will ruin the church, but a sacrificial spirit and humility will promote its unity and strength. So, may all church members take heed of Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:3-4, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.” Paul also reminded us, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

  13 Dec 2020

Every Christian, who publicly testifies of the calling he has received from the LORD to enter into the full-time service of the church, has a holy obligation to be unwaveringly and wholly committed to the works that the Lord will give to him in the church. His desire to serve the Lord in the church must be all-pervasive; and nothing should be allowed to interfere with his obligations in the work of the church.

The apostle Paul’s words to Timothy, who received the Lord’s calling, are emphatic concerning the undivided attention he ought to give to do the Lord’s work: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

A full-time church worker, whom God has called into His glorious work, has the solemn duty to be loyal, dedicated like a soldier. Firstly, he must endure all kinds of hardships which he would encounter in the service of the Lord, that he may faithfully and efficiently carry out God’s work. He must be prepared to endure long hours of work (even deprivation of sleep), challenging conditions, rough treatment, loneliness, hunger, thirst, etc. If he is singleminded in his employment in the church to accomplish the maximum for the Lord’s kingdom, he will be enabled to be an overcomer of all his afflictions. Then he will be able to serve the Lord undeterred by his trials.

Secondly, the full-time church worker’s soldier-like attitude would mean that his devotion to his God-given areas of service would be full and total. A soldier in active service is totally dedicated to his nation’s army 24 hours a day, every day of the year. His health, his skills, his time are pledged to the military in which he serves. His life – all that he is — no longer accepts other pursuits of life as he has yielded himself wholly for the service of his nation’s army. A soldier can be recalled to duty from leave at any time, without notice and for any reason. His allegiance and his dedication are so complete that he is expected to put his very life on the line without question or hesitation!

Albert Barns, a commentator, while commenting on Paul’s statement that “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life”, wrote as follows: “This is always a condition in becoming a soldier. He gives up his own business during the time for which he is enlisted and devotes himself to the service of his country. The farmer leaves his plough, and the mechanic his shop, and the merchant his store, and the student his books, and the lawyer his files, and the doctor his clinic; and neither of them expect to pursue these things while engaged in the service of their country. It would be wholly impracticable to carry on the plans of a campaign if each one of these classes should undertake to pursue his profession. So with the ministers of the gospel. It is equally improper for them to ‘entangle’ themselves with the secular business, with plans of speculation and gain, and with any purpose of worldly aggrandizement. The minister of the gospel accomplishes the design of his appointment only when he can say in sincerity, that he is not entangled with the affairs of this life.”

Every good soldier of Jesus Christ will abandon all forms of secular commitments that will distract and impede his undivided attention in fulfilling his duties. Hence, a church worker should not take on anything that will distract him from his total devotion to the Lord’s calling. He must reject all matters that are irrelevant to the Christian ministry. Extraneous undertakings would divert his attention and diminish his contribution to the work of the LORD. He who allows himself to be entangled with secular pursuits is unworthy to be a soldier of the Lord’s kingdom. He who claims to be called to full-time service should not allow anything to hinder his usefulness and achievements in the work of the Lord. A faithful servant of the Lord will be sincere and fervent in the Lord’s work. He will not merely do his minimum duty for his Lord, but rather serves Him with all that he is and with everything that he has.

When Jesus called His apostles, they left their secular professions ultimately to pursue the Lord’s calling. In Matthew 4:18–22, we read of their total abandonment of their earthly career: “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him” (cf. Matt 9:9; Mk 1:16-20; 2:14; Lk 5:27-28).

Pursuing secular employment, business or projects, trying to earn more money, will impede the church worker’s focus on the Lord’s work. Christ warned His apostles against such conduct. He said, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). A church worker who is entangled in the pursuit of material gain is indeed in an unholy alliance. If he does not repent from his material pursuit immediately and turn to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, his departure from the work of the Lord is inevitable!

Church workers who openly or secretly pursue material gain will fail to give their very best to the Lord. Worse still, they will be bad examples of faith and commitment, and be unreliable and unsteady people in the work of the Lord. Their fellow workers cannot count on them when their presence and help are most needed. Neither will they be responsible and reliable co-workers. The apostle Paul wrote about a man named Demas who once co-laboured with him but eventually abandoned him – “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…” (2 Timothy 4:10). Sad to say, many churches and servants of God have been troubled by pastors, preachers and church workers who became distracted from the purpose of the full-time service when they began to pursue financially profitable business and enterprises!

Why would a man, who claims to have the calling and assurance from the Lord to serve Him full-time, turn again to the secular world and engage in business with it? No matter how difficult life may be, he who is called to the Lord’s work must press on with faith, patience and prayer! Let everyone who has already entered the full-time service, and anyone who desires to enter the ministry consider the words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Let all the workers of the church take heed not to be misled by “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches”, which will make one unfruitful (cf. Matt 13:22).

Let us all, who have entered the full-time service of the Lord in the church, cultivate the right thinking and attitude necessary to offer our utmost and the best for the high calling that we received from Him. Like Paul, let us say, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Let us commit our needs and struggles to our God who “is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Nothing is more important for His servants than pleasing Him who has chosen us to be a soldier. Every servant of the Lord looks forward eagerly to the rewards that Christ will give to all His faithful and loyal servants.

  6 Dec 2020

As a church, we joyfully and prayerfully anticipate, within a short period of three months, holy matrimonies of ten young adults. The prospective weddings are those of Darrell & Dahlia, Cornelius & Abigail, Jordy & Sarah, Yeh Wen & Hua See, Benjamin & Clara. May the Lord’s blessings be upon each of their families, that they may live together for His glory! I write this pastoral exhortation to every family in Gethsemane, especially to all young Christian couples, to tell you that if your family ought to matter to God, your family must focus on matters that matter to God – and that’s what really matters to be a blessed Christian family.

Why do our families matter to God?

It is God who has ordained family life. Families are God-ordained institutions. The family is meant to be a spiritual institution which ought to reflect Christ’s loving leadership of the church, and the church’s loving submission to Him. God’s Word – in Ephesians 5:22-33 – declares in no uncertain terms those divine intentions and plans concerning Christian families: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

As the above biblical exhortation insists, the goal of every Christian family is to promote the glory of Christ and His redemptive, sanctifying love and truth. God expects every Christian’s domestic life to exist and function for His glorious purpose concerning His church – that is the theology of the Christian family.

What shall then matter to our families?

Knowing God’s particular purpose for Christian families, nothing ought to matter to Christian couples more than being the servants of the LORD, be it within their domestic life or without. Every Christian home ought to be covenanted to the Lord to be His servants, as reflected in the words of Joshua: “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Every family must avow to be a biblical family, committing itself only to desires, pursuits and conduct that are in total conformity with God’s Word. God expects Christians’ families to be spiritually-minded in all aspects of life. The life and activities of the family members must be characterised by reverence and devotion to the LORD.

“Fear of the LORD” must characterise every Christian husband, the head of the household, as he labours and guides his wife and children (cf. Psalm 128). Nurturing a God-fearing family must be his primary goal. For this purpose, he himself must be a man of strong faith and abiding devotion to the LORD. Though there are situations when special grace is given to a lady (like a widowed mother, or the wife of a severely disabled man) to guide the family in the ways of God, it is the unalterable duty of the Christian man to nourish and nurture his family. Husbands who are negligent or complacent, and fail to actively guide their families into godly living and service to the Lord are guilty of dereliction of the most solemn duty that God has entrusted to them.

Every man must examine himself always to keep himself focused and committed to his God-given task of nurturing his family. He must persistently ensure that the counsels of God’s Word guide his thoughts and affections, that he may carry out the solemn charge of building his family for the Lord’s glory. It is indeed an accursed thing to encourage or allow the family to pursue an unscriptural, worldly manner of life. Every man who would not instruct his family to follow the Scriptures strictly is like Eli, the priest, who spurned his fatherly duty of rebuking and correcting his sons. Let none of us be vessels of God’s wrath “because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (1 Samuel 3:13).

Christian wives must steadfastly support and encourage their husbands to build a thoroughly devout, God-fearing family. The wife must be submissive and meek, prayerfully fulfilling her duties at home. For this purpose, she must examine herself and see whether she adheres to God-given duties of the young married women: “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). It is for the accomplishment of this divine calling for every Christian wife that Scripture admonishes every young woman in the church to “marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Timothy 5:14). Concerning women who neglect their biblical duties to be homely and godly wives, it is written as a warning that “some are already turned aside after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:15)!

Christian families, where husbands and wives throw the biblical instructions and admonitions to the wind, and pursue their self, material and worldly glory, are in great danger of reaping shame and sadness. If any of you has failed in your God-given family duties, repent and plead for God’s mercy, and amend your ways at once.

Testimony of God’s Goodness in My Life

All praise and glory be unto God for His goodness and faithfulness for giving me an opportunity here in Anda, Bohol, to serve Him in teaching the children. Who could have thought before the Covid-19 pandemic that I would be staying here, but God in His providence has brought me here. Indeed, God’s ways are higher than our ways. Isaiah 55:8 declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”

When my application to travel to Bohol was approved after two months of waiting, I believe it was an open door for me to go – and it was confirmed by Pastor Koshy’s and Pastor Reggor’s approval and support. But Anda was never part of the original plan. It was only later that Preacher Edsel decided it would be better if I could stay in Anda and minister to the children there. It started with only four of them, then the Lord slowly added more children, Sunday after Sunday. So much so that we started to face a good problem, when we came to a point of not having enough chairs for them. By God’s goodness and timely provision, we were able to make long chairs and tables for the children. Praise God for His goodness and faithfulness! I am thankful to God for this opportunity to impart to them the spiritual truths from the Word of God. May God be pleased to grant them salvation, in His own time and according to His will.

I thank God also for the many opportunities He has opened for me wherein I can minister to the brethren here and even be of help in the neighbourhood. Thank God for one instance whereby He enabled me to assist a neighbour in the delivery of her twins (a boy and a girl)! And may God enable us to share the Gospel with the parents of the twins, their relatives and neighbours.

Being hands-on in the field is never easy, for I often find myself inadequate for the tasks in front of me; but God is so good in sustaining and helping me week after week, and His grace is always sufficient. There were many challenges and trials along the way which sometimes did cause me to be drained emotionally, physically and mentally. But God has His ways of cheering me up, and giving me strength to press on and move forward through His Word, as well as through the children whom God used to remind me of my calling – which is to go and “preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7)!

I am thankful also for using the messages preached by Pastor Koshy (especially those on the Book of Ecclesiastes) to rebuke and comfort me. Of particular note to me are the lessons drawn from: Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”; and Ecclesiastes 3:11a – “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time”.

Indeed, every thing has a time, every thing has a season, and it is determined by God. Every thing has a purpose, every thing has a set of direction in God’s plan. Only God can make all things beautiful for us – in His time, of course. God is sovereign and He is in control of everything. May God continue to help us to patiently wait for His perfect time. While waiting, may God continue to sanctify us to be ready for the work He has purposed for us to do.

Brethren, please continue to pray for us.

  29 Nov 2020

Should the ministers of the Word (and others who are called to serve the Lord full-time) support themselves by taking on a secular job, or should the church provide them with a regular salary? To put forth the question more bluntly, is materially recompensing a pastor (or a preacher) by his church an unbiblical practice?

Some advocate that all preachers should support themselves because the apostle Paul engaged in ‘secular work’ on some occasions (e.g. tent-making when he was in Corinth – cf. Acts 18:3; 20:34-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9) in order to support himself. However, this was not the norm for either Paul or others who are called to be ministers of the Word (pastors, preachers, etc.). The instructions in Paul’s writings and the rest of the New Testament on the subject is that the church should support her Gospel-workers so that they may give themselves to the ministry of the Word and to the care of souls, without being burdened and distracted by their own personal and families’ needs.

Paul asked the Corinthians, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (1 Corinthians 9:11). In other words, Paul was asking the Corinthian church whether it would be too much to receive material rewards from them for the spiritual work that Paul and his apostolic team had rendered to them. In fact, Paul had earlier argued, “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” (1 Corinthians 9:7). Here, Paul gave three illustrations to show that paying workers is normal and valid, and hence it was nothing wrong for Gospel-workers to receive their wages/support. Paul put forward this truth through rhetorical questions which obviously anticipated the answer: “None!” Soldiers, farmers and shepherds do not fight or labour during the day and then take a second job at night to procure food, clothes and houses for themselves and their families. Soldiers do not serve their king and nation at their own expense. They are provided with food, clothing, arms, lodging, and whatever else is needed to live and fight effectively. Farmers who cultivate crops, and shepherds who tend their flocks eat their food and earn a living from the products of their farming and shepherding respectively.

The apostle then said that such an expectation to provide for the ministers of the Word is Scripturally lawful – “Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?” (1 Corinthians 9:8-9). The law of God, cited by Paul from Deuteronomy 25:4, states that God expects His people not to neglect the animals that labour for them. Even more importantly, according to Paul, the Lord’s command to care for their labouring animals was meant to teach His people about the duty to provide for the needs of human workers who faithfully and diligently labour. God’s concern is greater for men than animals (cf. Matthew 10:31; Luke 12:7, 24, 28). So Paul wrote, “Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope” (1 Corinthians 9:10). Paul’s emphasis is that God was speaking altogether for man’s sake, rather than for animals. Men should earn their living from their labour. The ploughman and the reaper should be able to work in the hope of having their share from the crops.

In fact, Paul observed that some who have been serving in the Corinthian church were already receiving material support from them – “If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather?” (v. 12a). However, he chose not to receive the material support that was due to him – “Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ” (v. 12b). Paul decided not to receive the support from the church in Corinth, not because that it was wrong to do so, but he felt that (in this case) it might have hindered the Gospel work. The Corinthian believers, who were young in faith (and with some from Gentile background), might have thought of Paul as peddling the Gospel for money.

He went on to affirm that the right thing is for the ministers of the gospel to receive support from the church – “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14). Paul provided two examples from Israel’s religious life and Jesus’ ministry. Paul’s first reference was to the Old Testament practice of supporting the priests who performed sacred services in the Temple with the tithes of crops and animals, as well as with portions allocated from sacrifices of the people. Because the tribe of Levi had no inheritance in Israel, God demanded that the Levites should receive their income from the gifts which the people brought to God’s sanctuary (Deut. 18:1). The priests received a share of what was offered on the altar. So, Paul’s emphasis is that the provisions for the pastors and preachers of the gospel should be based on the same principle of provisions for the priests and Levites of the LORD’s temple in the Old Testament. The second supporting precedent that Paul cited was Jesus’ instruction to His disciples whom He sent out to minister to the people – “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Jesus had advised His disciples that “in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house” (Luke 10:7; cf. Luke 9:4; Matthew 10:10-11; Mark 6:10). The Lord Jesus’ advice for His servants was that they ought to receive their support from those whom they ministered. Jesus considered the preaching mission to be a full-time task that would prevent the preachers from earning income in a normal occupation. So, He affirmed their right to be supported.

With all the above arguments, Paul had put forth a watertight case for the support of the full-time ministers of the Word. He had cited the social norm, God’s Law and God’s Son to prove the legitimacy and necessity of material recompense for the teachers of God’s Word. It would be difficult to overemphasise the force of Paul’s argument about the duty of the believers (or the church) to remunerate those who taught them. To the Galatian church, he insisted, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Galatians 6:6). Likewise, while exhorting Timothy, he wrote, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Timothy 5:17-18; cf. 2 Timothy 2:6).

It is abundantly clear that Scripture stipulates that the beneficiaries of the ministry of God’s servants ought to supply their needs. The remuneration which they extend to the minister must adequately provide for his necessities and personal expenses in equipping himself for the ministry. Providing a salary that would sufficiently support the minister and his family is the duty of the church where he ministers.

If it was Paul’s view that the church must remunerate the full-time workers of the church, why did he refuse his legitimate and irrefutable right to remunerations from the Corinthians at a great cost to himself? And why did he choose to be bi-vocational at times? Paul’s reason was that while he preached in pioneer areas in a pagan environment, he did not want the matter of his remuneration to be a distraction or hindrance to his hearers. He advocated greater flexibility in winning their hearts to the Gospel (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:8-11). Paul could hardly go to a new community and say, “The Lord commanded me to be supported by you.” Jesus’ words did not apply in the context of spreading the Gospel in the Hellenistic world. Modern missionaries too face similar circumstances as Paul in their pioneering work. Hence, the sending churches must support the missionaries. Paul himself gratefully accepted the help sent to him by the established churches, such as the church in Philippi – “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity… Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity” (Philippians 4:10, 14-16; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2; 11:8-9).

  22 Nov 2020

Written by Sharon dela Cruz

Lamentations 3:22-25 declare, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.”

I praise and thank the Lord for His grace and goodness, mercy and faithfulness in my life, and for the wonderful privilege to serve Him. Indeed, there is no greater joy than to serve our faithful and loving Shepherd. Through the many changing scenes of life, the Lord has been my Guide and Strength. In times of sorrow and trial, He has been my Comfort and Friend. As I learn to trust Him more and more, my prayer is that I may continually submit to His will for my life.

By God’s providence, I was led to study design and animation during my polytechnic studies. When I first started my course, it was my prayer that I could use these skills to develop children’s teaching materials in the future. I desired and prayed that I may use my talents for the Lord, though I did not know how or where I could serve Him in the future. During that period of studies, I was also searching for a youth fellowship to attend; by God’s wonderful working, I came to know of Gethsemane Youth Bible Hour (GYBH), and thereafter started regularly attending GYBH and services at Gethsemane BP Church.

Upon my graduation in 2004, the Lord answered my prayer and guided me to render some months of service to the Lord. I started as a volunteer in Bible Witness Media Ministry (BWMM) and was later employed as a full-time staff in this ministry. I was convinced in my heart that I should put my skills, energy and time fully to serve the Lord, rather than serving worldly companies and be vexed in my heart doing secular projects that promote worldly ideologies. I was exhorted through the Word of God, in 1 Corinthians 15:58, that I should give my best efforts for the Lord: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

I started with doing illustrations for various children’s materials and the Bible Witness magazine, in particular the series of comics on the life of Jonathan Goforth for the Children’s Page. Subsequently, I worked on the animation and graphics for the first production of “The Scripture in Song” DVD. With each new project for the children through BWMM, whether through DVDs, CDs, online and printed materials, I learned the importance and priceless value of teaching God’s Word, especially to the young ones, for there is no greater knowledge than that found in the Bible. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life. 5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:4-6).

I also thank God for the opportunity given to me to study some courses in FEBC. When I joined BWMM, Pastor Koshy encouraged us to take the Systematic Theology course so that we would be better equipped and grounded in the doctrines of the Bible, which I found to be a truly helpful and needful study. Praise God that He has enabled me to continue studying part-time courses online. I have been greatly blessed and have learnt many spiritual lessons under the guidance of Pastor and fellow labourers. Through the years, I have seen the Lord’s marvellous work in providing for our church. I particularly recall how our Bible Witness magazine used to be printed only in dual tone-two colours, but now the Lord has provided us with the means to print in full colour. Over the years, I have also witnessed how the Lord has always provided new brethren to serve when many left. Truly, the Lord is faithful.

In 2008, some months after the inauguration of Gethsemane Mission Church in Bogo, the Lord moved Pr Dominino to ask me to serve with him in the mission field. At first, I struggled with the thought of leaving my family and friends in Singapore to go to a foreign land, but I remember Pastor telling me to have the courageous spirit of Esther, that “If I perish, I perish.” The Lord rebuked me and convicted my heart with Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:37 – “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”. And so in March 2009, we were married in the Philippines and we laboured together in northern Cebu, in Bogo and San Antonio. By God’s grace, He enabled me to serve Him and I found much joy in teaching the children in both Bogo and San Antonio, as well as the various children’s ministries in Gairan and Binabag. The Lord also blessed us with our son, Nehemiah, in 2010.

However, in 2011, Domy was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – Pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare malignant growth characterised by the progressive accumulation of mucus-secreting (mucinous) tumour cells within the abdomen and pelvis. Though he went for many rounds of chemotherapy and tried various treatments, even coming to Singapore for surgery, the Lord took him home in July 2013. Through all the struggles, I thank God for His grace and strength, comfort and guidance, and for the love, prayers and generous giving of the brethren to aid us in our time of need. We truly experienced the Lord’s goodness and providence through the body of believers.

I would like to share 2 blessings that came through Domy’s sickness. Firstly, when Domy felt unwell in the beginning, a doctor misdiagnosed him with TB of the intestines, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Nehemiah had been suffering from a persistent cough that would not go away. His paediatrician, upon knowing Domy’s condition, decided to test Nehemiah for TB. The test came back positive, and Nehemiah was put onmedication for 6 months! Looking back, I see the Lord’s sovereign Hand working in all these events. Secondly, I recall the day after we received the news of Domy’s cancer, when we went home with heavy hearts and minds. It was a Saturday, and there was to be Youth Fellowship that afternoon. Domy decided to bring the youths to do evangelism in the Binabag and Libjo area. Through this effort, a senior gentleman, Bro Toto, was brought back to Christ after years of backsliding. He offered a small shelter next to his house for a children’s ministry – and there, the Libjo children’s ministry was born, which continues till today.

At that time, I did not understand why the Lord made me a widow at the age of 29, with a 3-year-old son to care for, but I took comfort in that the Lord knows the end of each path that I take, and when I am tried and purified, I shall come forth as gold (cf. Job 23:10). Indeed, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When I moved back to Singapore in September 2014, I desired to serve the Lord in any area that He would lead me to. However, I also had a duty to fulfil as a mother. I struggled for some time, facing criticism from some that I was neglecting my service to look after my child. But I thank God that I could still do little (but no less important) things for the Lord, even from home. I praise the Lord for every opportunity given to me to be part of this great work of spreading the Gospel and providing godly materials for children to be nourished up in the faith. I thank God I could finish the “Growing in Christ” animated Bible lessons (which are now on YouTube) for children to watch. I thank God also for enabling me to help in the packing and distribution of the Bible Witness magazine, and for Dn Lok’s patience in guiding and teaching me in these matters.

I also praise God that I can now have the privilege to work part-time in GMC, doing designing and coming up with illustrations for various projects, such as the activity book for the Genesis lessons, story-boarding and videoediting for the scripts being recorded for WebTV. Praise the Lord that I am also involved in transcribing some of Pastor’s messages, mixing of songs, as well as editing and compiling the weekly “Women of Virtue” segment for BWWR (Bible Witness Web Radio). I am particularly thankful for Sis Melissa, who patiently taught me how to use the software and do the mixing / editing. This became especially useful during the “circuit-breaker” period, when the choir had to do remote recordings from home. Praise the Lord for His enablement and grace each day.

Though I have faced some criticism for not working full-time and supporting my parents and child, and for not upgrading myself so that I could get a secular job and secure better prospects for the future, I thank the Lord for strengthening my resolve to still take care of Nehemiah and serve the Lord where He places me, trusting Him to provide. “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?… But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:26, 33).

I pray the Lord will continue to use me in BWMM, and/or in other areas of service in Gethsemane – for His glory and for the edification of the saints, and that I may serve Him in humility and faithfulness.

  15 Nov 2020

Written by Dorcas Koshy

On 1st of August 2020, I joined GBWL to serve in the area of music and multimedia. This would not have happened, had not the Lord broken me down greatly and moulded me through the past 2 trying year.

Though I have been earnestly praying over many years that I may know whether God would call me to serve Him fulltime, God has not confirmed that in my heart. Be that as it may, I would like to share my testimony prayerfully and with much gratitude, concerning how the Lord led me to offer my time and effort to the Lord’s work through GBWL. I hereby give
testimony not as one who is called into full-time ministry of the church, but as one who is constrained to glorify the Lord for bestowing on me so great a salvation (Heb 2:3), together with its accompanying spiritual blessings and benefits, that I can’t do otherwise but to serve Him.

His Gracious Sanctification of My Life

The Lord has been working in my life gently and yet firmly to bring me into subjection, that I may live humbly towards Him. He mercifully continues to show me the dangers of a lurking spirit of haughtiness and of esteeming oneself better than others. Through His Word and His providential working in my mind and life, the Lord has been instructing me on the value of submission to Him and towards those whom God has placed above me. Recent sermons by Pastor on the life of Moses, which I hear twice as I prepare them for weekly broadcast on the web radio, have been God’s gracious means of further sanctification and nurturing of my life.

I am acutely aware that the habit of rash speech must be tamed – for “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6). Thus, the counsel of Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 must be taken hold of by my heart – “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.” Through daily repentance, prayer, consecration and communion with the Lord, I pray that my thoughts, words and responses will be fully tamed and used by the Lord. “Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed” (Psalm 25:3).

His Gracious Equipping of My Life

I rejoice to recall the truth of Ephesians 4:8, that when our Lord “ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” I thank my Lord for granting me certain abilities and talents which I can trade for Him in GBWL. Many a time, I felt the talent(s) placed into my hand were too big and heavy, ‘not-my-thing’ for me to trade. But as Matthew 25:15 reminds us that the Lord gives “to every man according to his several ability”, none of His gifts must be pushed away. Rather, I received them with trembling hands, joyfully “trading” in His service with ardent prayers at the throne of grace. For God has commanded – not “whatsoever your heart pleaseth to do”, nor “only whatsoever you are familiar or secularly trained to do easily”, but rather – “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do”. Indeed, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). He will not deliver unto me His “goods” for me to trade for Him (cf. Matthew 25:14) if He has not the necessary graces at hand to be dispensed to me according to the prayer of faith. Praise Him for the exceeding great and precious promises given to me according to His divine power to do His will (2 Pet 1:3-4). In chronological order over the past 5 months, these are some “goods” delivered unto me, and areas of labour provided by Him:

Firstly, the necessitated broadcasts from home during the Circuit-Breaker (CB) compelled me to observe my brother using Vmix (a video streaming software), and preparing the necessary related physical set-up. Unknown to me, the Lord equipped me through that opportunity to assist now in the weekly set-up for Pastor’s GBI lessons at GMC, as well as the streaming of GYF and (soon to be resumed) GLF physical fellowship meetings from Level 2’s seminar room. This is just the beginning; there’s more to learn and to regularly upgrade – I just have to keep “trading”.

Secondly, I thank God for His enabling grace in the maintenance of social media platforms for TGCM till early October 2020. Allow me to recount particularly how the online Shopee shop was initiated in May. Hearing of our brethren’s lack of income during the CB and the possible closure of removal services, I asked Pastor and Uncle John Peh for permission to initiate a Shopee shop for TGCM (though that was during a busy time for me as I was still working on my graduating submission). As Shopee was revising several policies, it became harder and took more time than I thought, since online guides were immediately outdated and unhelpful. Frankly, I did wonder if this labour of love to “supply the want of saints” was worth it, as I also was concurrently struggling to complete my assignments. But 1 Jn 3:16-18 admonishes me: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Truly, He is a faithful God who does not fail us even in the least. The difficulties were from Him to once again prove the abundance of His power and goodness unto them who earnestly seek to be fruitful stewards of His provisions (cf. 2 Cor 8:14). Not only did He grant me grace to complete my academic work requirements and graduate (to my surprise) as best graduate, the Shopee shop was also successfully set up, which continues to be useful today. Incidentally, it was through Carousell that the order of 900 mask-cases from Bearyfun Gym came, and through Shopee that a rush-order of 300 mask-cases from a Citibank department came, alongside other smaller-quantity orders. Needless to say, while we work faithfully at whatsoever our hand findeth to do in “talenttrading”, God does the manifold multiplying!

Thirdly, I thank God also for grace to learn and build a simple CRM system for TGCM, with Bro Jordan’s recommendation of certain tools to systematise and increase the efficiency of TGCM Print’s order-collation and fulfilment workflow. My prayer is that the Lord be pleased to keep TGCM’s Gospel door open, for the bondage and destruction of vices will only get severer and darker. Thus, our light must shine brighter in this island, as the days become increasingly evil before our Saviour returns.

Fourthly, although Pro Tools is the digital audioworkstation software used here in Bible Witness, I was unsuccessful (providentially) in multiple attempts to set Pro Tools up from home during the CB. This compelled me to explore the next readily available option, Adobe Audition. Again unknown to me, it has proven needful and useful with a few crucial audio analysis and cleaning tools (that were lacking in Pro Tools), which have helped to better clean stray noises in many of the remotely recorded hymns. A key provision is also its usefulness in the recent prolonged ‘diagnosis’ of the highpitched frequencies experienced throughout our studios’ audio system, caused by electromagnetic interference from our GMC lift. With our own simple in-house recording and use of Audition, we could determine the frequency, loudness, etc. independently. (May the Lord continually grant His wisdom and grace to Dn Lok and team as they continuously troubleshoot this issue.)

Indeed, “Is there anything too hard for me?” saith the Omnipotent. By His enabling grace, today I also use Adobe Premiere Pro (a software I had not used prior to serving here), and am exploring the potential of Youtube tools (CC, autotranslation, etc.) for a more effective spread of the Word.

Thank God for the following biblical principles imbibed through these areas of service: cost-effectiveness over against extravagance; prudence over against parsimony; stewardship coupled with efficiency; patience / perseverance in tandem with compassion / courtesy. May I never misallocate / waste time and strength digging in the earth to hide my good Lord’s money (cf. Matthew 25:18); instead, may I rise early to trade daily. Ours is a high calling to service, to labour, to duty, to industry – such are opportunities not to be spurned foolishly. I pray that with clean hands and pure hearts, daily repentance and consecration, I may press on, be sanctified daily in the Spirit, and be “faithful in that which is least” (Luke 16:10). I pray that through this testimony, more hands (and hearts included, of course!) will be encouraged to labour diligently to fulfil the Great Commission, whatever the talent(s) He delivers unto us personally – as exhorted by the hymnwiter:

“Give of your sons to bear the message glorious;
give of your wealth to speed them on their way;
pour out your soul for them in pray’r victorious;
and all thou spendest, Jesus will repay.”
(from the hymn, O Zion, Haste!)

On a side but crucial note, I praise God for lovingly granting me much relief of pain in recent months. Though the usual aggravating factor of my pains – sedentariness – reached its peak during the pandemic-imposed CB, the Great Physician has been upholding me, that I may daily consecrate this frail body as a holy temple for spiritual sacrifices, in my seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33). “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb 12:28).

  8 Nov 2020

Written by Jordan Ballega

Psalm 66:16 declares, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” Indeed, I thank the Lord for this opportunity to share my testimony of His marvellous works in my life.

God’s Preservation of My Life

I truly believe that God has preserved my life, and all things that have happened in my life are due to His sovereign works, which are beyond my imagination and ability. I possess no merit of my own. Only God could have weaved such events into my life story. Never did I foresee that I would be able to land and even work here in Singapore.

I was born in a not so well-to-do family, and lived through a rather complicated childhood. All I could say is: those pains and struggles that I came across in those days were too early for my young body and mind to experience. Yet, that “eventful” life was allowed by God’s love and care for me. I managed to read a comics-Bible in my early age, and accepted Jesus Christ while I was in my secondary school. I thank God that in spite of all the hardships in life, I had parents who were dedicated in guiding me along the way. Looking back at all those past experiences, I never found a single moment that God had left me all alone in my struggles. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Due to financial difficulties, I thought I would not be able to continue with my tertiary education. However, God moves in a most special way. I found a scholarship brochure through a fish-wrapper, which gave me the idea to apply. To my surprise, my application was accepted and I managed to enrol in the university. Due to some unforeseen event that happened during my senior level of study, my scholarship was terminated following the closure of my programme. But another scholarship came along the way through God’s using people/ organisations to support my study. This would allow me to get my diploma, which I never imagine I would need later to apply for a job in Singapore.

Finally, I graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and began to search for a job, but God never opened the door for me to work in this field. Instead, I found my way into the multi-media industry. Thank God for the humble talent He has given me, though it never came to my mind that I would be serving God through this gift from Him. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God’s Leading in My Life

In my early years, I’ve been with various denominations – Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic and Charismatic. But God opened my eyes and showed me how Jesus Christ saved me from sin. God’s Word spoke to me: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). That was in 1999, and subsequently I was baptised in a Baptist church in Philippines.

I see it as God’s “provision” when I lost my job in 2010 and suddenly decided to look for a job in Singapore. As it was the year when (my son) Jored was born, it was one of the toughest decisions that I made, to leave my family in that crucial time. Never did it come to my mind that God was leading me in the contemplation of my decision.

I came alone to Singapore, not knowing anyone and having no clue of what was going to happen. Upon my arriving at Changi airport, I went straight to Lucky Plaza (around 12 midnight), with no planned place to stay for the night. Through communication with my wife in the Philippines, a brother from a Baptist church (who had been working in Singapore for some time already) came, and helped me to find a place to lodge for that night. Truly, God is full of mercy; He took care of me and sent His help in the right circumstances when I needed it most. By God’s grace and mercy, I found a job. Two years later, my wife, together with my son, were reunited with me here in Singapore. Despite the stringent Singapore government’s rules and regulations concerning staying here with my family, God’s supreme power has also settled that for us.

In Service to God

It was 2013 when God led my family and I to Gethsemane B-P Church (through Pr Dennis Kabingue who shared to us a Gospel tract at a bus-stop in Geylang). That was in the midst of another tough time when I needed to go back to Philippines with Jored, as the renewal application for my E-pass were rejected many times. Those were moments when we were looking for a church (with children’s programme) to worship in. God’s perfect timing brought us to Gethsemane. I thank God for leading my family to a faithful Bible-believing church to worship Him. And from then on, we’ve been drawn closer to Him.

God’s special calling came in the middle of 2020, when He closed every possible way and opened one single door for me to go through. I was retrenched due to the effect of the pandemic on our company, where I had worked for nine consecutive years. All we could do as a family was to pray and trust in our Almighty Sovereign God, and obey whatever He wants us to do. In fact, I had already prepared myself to go back to Philippines. Then, a week before my E-pass was to be cancelled, I messaged Pastor Koshy to bid my farewell and thanksgiving (after I was called upon to pray during one Tuesday Night prayer meeting). We talked over the phone and discussed about my retrenchment. Little did I realise that God would move Pastor’s heart to discuss the matter of my possible employment by GBWL to the church elders. When God brought this to pass, I was amazed that the rest were taken care of by the Lord. God’s counsel prevails despite all the uncertainty. Nothing can resist His sovereign will. As Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”

I started my full-time service to the Lord four months ago. There are “learning curves” that come along the way as I am not familiar with many things, but God’s Hand taught me what I should do. “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD” (Prov. 16:1).

I was assigned to serve in TGCM Print and lead my brethren in this department in terms of designing and social-media marketing. Thank the Lord for His blessing and wisdom He has bestowed upon me, together with brethren who co-labour with me: Sis Dorcas and Bro Andronicus who had assisted and laboured during the early stage and helped in marketing, as well as the dedicated team comprising Brothers John, Cayson, Arnold, and Teck Ern. With godly counsel, guidance and support from Pastor Koshy, the Lord has been blessing the efforts of every co-worker. May the Lord bless us with greater fruitfulness, that TGCM Print may have more projects, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic affecting every business in Singapore. Although the increased sales (from National Day till the recent clearance sales) are still not sufficient to support TGCM, we trust in God’s Word to keep moving forward. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). For if God is with us, He will surely give the increase of every labour we expend for His glory.

TGCM Print continues to introduce more designs, even as we promote commonly-used products, such as mugs, bags, T-shirts, masks (including mask-cases that prove to be very useful in this time of pandemic). Incidentally, TGCM Print had received hundreds of orders for mask-cases from different clients, including 900 mask-cases ordered by Bearyfun Gym! Besides the sales, we thank God for giving us wisdom to build a manual “CRM” system to facilitate the smooth and efficient running of our intricately-linked operations. By God’s grace, we are also looking forward to expanding TGCM Print’s network, such as consignment agreement with Tabernacle Bookroom of Calvary Pandan B-P Church. Do continue to pray for these – and more – blessings that God has prepared for this ministry. Likewise, thanks to all our brethren for their continued support, encouragement (to press on) and prayers for our TGCM Print ministry.

Looking back at all the struggles and challenges which all play a part in God’s unerring guidance and perfect timing in my life, I have no doubt that the Lord is with me to serve Him in Gethsemane. As for me, “I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed…” (Jonah 2:9). Truly, it is God who has prepared everything. My gracious Lord determines the outcome of every action that I take. He has already paved the path where I should walk, and will preserve my life for the days to come, wherever He wants me to be. He has absolute control over every event in my life. On my own, I am nothing. Yet, I have a God who is powerful, and His providence is assuring enough for me to move, work and to thank Him each day. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

All glory and thanks be to God.