May 20, 2014

So you say that you are a Christian.


So what?

I can call myself a Christian too. I believe in God. I believe that there is only one God and that He is God almighty!
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:19)
So you say you go to church?
I go but I hate it. I do not see much of a point in going to church if I live my life pretty decently anyway. One of the reasons why I hate going to church is because it is boring, nobody talks to me and they all seem so hypocritical. They are always preaching about loving one another and being this “family”. Well, how can they expect me to be part of their “family” if nobody talks to me?

Yeah… maybe there is the occasional “hi, how are you? Good.” conversation, but it does not go any further than that. Nobody takes the time to find out what is going on in my life. Nobody in church cares.

Say what? Go up and talk to someone first? Find out about their life?
No way! I am an introvert and it would be SUPER WEIRD. I would have nothing to say. We have nothing in common. I never felt like I belonged to this church. I only came because my parents dragged me here and now church is just one of those things, you know?
I mean, I love God and all and He is great. I pray to Him when I am in trouble and He answers me, I think? I really do not see a need for church.

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The first thing I want to give me thought on is:

Why should we go to church? 

Fellowship and growth.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
In the beginning of the book of Acts, we see that believers gathered often. They would meet, fellowship, pray, break bread together and listen to important teachings. They devoted themselves to these things. They knew the importance of being spiritually fed and growing with their fellow believers.
25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25) 
Church is a place where we encourage each other; but what can we encourage each other about if we know nothing of each other?

I implore you to sit next to someone you don’t know very well and find out about their lives. Perhaps it will take time and at first it may seem like they do not want to talk but you could always ask them what brought them to church in the first place?

Secondly:

“I am just not the kind of person to go up to someone I barely know and talk to them first.” “I am still young, let the older ones talk to everyone”. “I just feel like I do not belong. Nobody talks to me.” “Bunch of hypocrites talking about being a family and loving each other”
19 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Does this verse mean anything to you?

The love of God captivates. It overcomes all barriers – cultural, racial and even awkward situations. It changes you. You will never be the same once God’s amazing love has planted itself in you.

Why? Because if you recognize the significance of the Cross and of the life of Christ, would you not want to share it with people? Will you not go out of your way to encourage a fellow believer who could be struggling? Or a person who has been going to church for years but is still in the blur when it comes to Christianity.

Will you really let fear and selfishness prevent you from sharing the greatest thing on earth with the “strangers” you see every Sunday at church?

In my opinion, the seriousness of God’s love and grace should change our mindset on how we approach people. To ensure that our church is healthy, we have to be able to share our lives with each other and pray about it together. If there are issues in the church, talk about it. Give practical solutions. Pray together for strength to overcome internal issues that could affect the spiritual health of the church. A church with issues is nothing new. Peter saw it coming long before.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
So let me ask you then, what does the love of God mean to you?

- Evelyn Tan

Image taken from:
http://www.radicallychristian.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/A-Christian.jpg

Mar 18, 2014

Nov 22, 2013

"My thoughts on unmarried Christian couples holidaying alone together"

A reblog from http://pastorpeterko.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/my-thoughts-on-unmarried-christian-couples-holidaying-alone-together/


I’m going to get straight to the point: unmarried Christian couples holidaying alone together is a really bad idea.

Before I go on, let me clarify. I am talking to Christian couples. I assume that Christian couples are committed to sexual purity before marriage. If you are reading this and not Christian, this isn’t a word for you (though by all means keep on reading). I am also talking about unmarried couples. That includes engaged but not-yet-married ones. Furthermore, the issue is holidaying alone. I have less of an issue if they are with other Christian couples and definitely no problem if they are holidaying with one of the couple’s family, or if there’s a chaperone. No problem there.

Okay, now that’s settled, let me keep going…

I know all the arguments for this practice. And it seems to me that it’s growing in popularity among young adults in churches. Some of the reasons I’ve heard are: “It’s not like we’ll be sharing a room.” “Don’t you trust us?” “I know couple x and y and they did it and they were okay.” “Where in the Bible does it say we can’t do this?” etc. etc.

Here are some reasons I would still strongly advise against it: (And at the risk of sounding harsh, I may actually remove someone from leadership if, against all advice, they still went ahead and did it.)
  • Don’t trust yourselves. Friends, the heart is deceitful beyond all things (Jer. 17:9). The devil, your flesh and the world are against you. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that ‘your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ In sum, no, I don’t trust you and neither should you trust yourself. Don’t trust yourself that, in a place of no accountability, under some beautiful starry moonlight night, when you’re both tired and maybe had a few drinks, you’re not going to seriously compromise your sexual purity. Don’t trust yourself.
  • God doesn’t want us just to be minimalists in obedience. The ‘how far before I cross the line’ mentality behind these kinds of holidays is flawed to begin with. This is what the Pharisees did. In contrast Jesus called on them to go for maximum heart-obedience. You might set all these artificial lines for yourself, such as: ‘If we were sharing a bed/room, then that wouldn’t be okay; but if we’re not sharing a room, then it’s okay.’ Jesus said, ‘If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.’ (Matt. 5:29-30) Elsewhere, we’re called to flee temptation (2 Tim. 2:22). Friends, don’t be a legalist and a minimalist. Figure out the kind of life that pleases the Lord and pursue that maximally.
  • We are called as Christians to be above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 2:7-8). This is a call for church leaders in particular (and that’s why I may remove someone from leadership over this). Our reputation with outsiders matter… a lot! When your unbelieving friends hear that you’re holidaying alone together, their assumption is that you’ll be sharing a room, having a ‘romantic time’, sexually compromising in all sorts of ways. Now of course you can take the time and effort to explain: ‘No, we’ll be sleeping in separate rooms; we’ll keep our hands off each other; we’ll have a curfew; we won’t get drunk…’ But are you going to be able to explain that to all the outsiders you know? Furthermore, is it going to be convincing, or just sound to them like you really want to do what everyone else does but want to save a little bit of moral integrity? Again, why not aim for ‘above and beyond reproach’? Your Lord Jesus’ reputation is on the line. Why not instead give no one any cause to whisper or doubt?
  • You can wait. You really can. Our generation is particularly bad at ‘delayed gratification’. My fear is that God’s people are, on this issue, just becoming more and more like the world. Why can’t you wait for marriage to have that holiday alone? It really is much more gratifying then, believe me! You can share a room, share a bed, share lots of romantic moments, and (sorry for the crassness) ‘go at it like rabbits’… all for the glory of God! Is waiting a year, two years, however long, really that much of a problem given you might have a lifetime together?
  • Fight the idol of pleasure at any cost. Yes we Christians are being sucked into the hedonism of our world. And we need to actively fight the idolatry of pleasure, which in recent decades, because of wealth and cheaper airfares, is this thing called ‘travel’. Travel isn’t wrong. There are lots of good and pleasurable things about it. But any good thing becomes a ‘god-thing’ when you are willing to sacrifice more important things for it. What are you putting on the altar of this false god? Your reputation? Your purity? Your example and model to younger Christians? Friends, it’s not worth it. Know that there is a greater pleasure in waiting and pursuing God’s will for you with all of your heart.
Okay, over to you. Comments?

- Posted by Pete

Image taken from:
http://blog.42floors.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/beach-vacations-caribbean.jpg

Nov 12, 2013

We all once were

Today’s sharing is based on the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, which can be found from Matthew 18:23-35.

Two types of relationships are prominent in this parable. Firstly, the relationship between the King and His servants. Secondly, the relationship between the fellow servants. This exactly how it is in the kingdom of heaven. God, represented by the King, being just and righteous is to punish sin and “settle” accounts with those who “owe” him punishment.

                        

Two types of currency can also be seen here. The talent (mentioned a few times throughout the 4 gospels) and the denarii. The talent at the time would be equivalent to 6000 denarii and denarii, the daily wage of a servant. * So there are 365 days in a year excluding leap years. 6000 over 365 is slightly over 16 times! A talent is a lot of money, just imagine 16 years wages! The debt owed by the servant was beyond his capacity. Ten thousand 16 year wages were owed and it would have been impossible to repay. On the other hand, the fellow servant’s debt was 100 denarii, a small amount in comparison and was highly possible to be paid back.

How could someone that had been forgiven so much not have it in him to forgive? Forgiveness is never easy. Sometimes we feel that by holding on to the grudge we will have a reason to get back at them. We feel that by forgiving, we are letting them off the hook with no justice whatsoever. This is even more so when the person who wronged us is someone close to us. It is much easier to forgive a stranger. For me, most of it is due to the expectations we put on our close ones or even our view of others in light of ourselves. Even the slightest of things tick us off and becomes a stumbling block.
“For all have sin and fallen short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
We need to realise that all of us have failed God’s standards and that we were forgiven a debt that we could never ever repay. Like the servant who owed 10000 talents, we too were deep in debt and headed for punishment. It is God who forgave our debt and paid the price himself through Christ.
“For God so love the world that He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” – John 3:16
The relationship between the King and His servant is now reconciled and that is how it is between God and us as well. Part of living out the grace that has been shown to us is to do the same. In fact, it is almost a necessary criterion in coming to God.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24
All of us have sinned and will continue to struggle with sin as we undertake this journey of transformation with Christ. Failures, hurt and wrongdoing will happen but that’s where we as the church extend our salvation and forgive as God has for us.

Peace be with you, Amen.

- Alex Tan


*values taken from http://text.watv.org/english/qna/view.html?idx=1573 and http://www.keyway.ca/htm2000/20000511.htm