Zoombies

In this time of safe distancing and stay home, zoom has become our primary means of meeting, working and communicating.

Zoom is our new selfie as we view and project ourselves virtually on screen, hopefully presentable at least for the top half.

Zoom has now become a large part of my life.

I have regular staff meetings on Zoom.

I have daily morning devotion on Zoom.

I have evening teaching every Monday on Zoom.

I have evening vesper every Tuesday and Thursday on Zoom.

I have church prayer meeting on Wednesdays on Zoom.

I have Friday Fun Fellowship on Zoom

While I am thankful for the Zoom Apps that allowed us to stay connected with people, yet I am starting to feel the increasing fatigue that comes with staring at tiny boxes of people on my computer screen.

Zoom ZombiesThere can be no doubt I am bitten by Zoom. I have red eyes like zombies from the strains of staring at the screen for a long time. I look like a zombie with dark eye bags from the exhaustion of being continuously online.

I have turned into a Zoombie.

Before you give me a headshot to put me out of my misery (the way to kill zombies) I want to tell you there is a cure for this “Zoombie” virus.

It will take deliberate effort.

Go for breaks from your computer screen.

Go for walks in the parks and look at trees, plants and flowers. These are not virtual things.

Go take your dog for a walk round your neighbourhood.

Go read the Bible or a book that is not e-version.

Go for a structured time of play (non-video games) with your kids.

Be sure to wear your facemask when you are in public places. You don’t want to catch the Covid virus. What you want to kill is the “Zoombie” virus.

It is in such a time as this, the call of Jesus is as vital and essential as ever.

He said, “Come away from the people (which may include those online). Be by yourselves and rest” Mark 6:31.

Story was told of a man who challenged another man to a wood-chopping contest. The man who challenged his friend worked very hard, stopping only on occasions. The other man took many breaks and had a good lunch. When the day came to an end, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped more wood. “I don’t get it,” he said. Every time I checked, you were taking rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. “But you didn’t noticed,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my axe when I sat down to rest.”

It is tempting to imagine the harder you work like a zombie, the more you would accomplish. But remember it is always good and necessary to take breaks to reflect, recharge and refresh. Believe me, you need that.

Don’t become a Zoombie like me.

Homeless

Jesus was a homeless Person.

He was born a homeless baby in a borrowed manger of a stable. His parents were rough sleepers seeking shelter after shelter as they ran from the murderous intention of King Herod.

Right after his baptism, he began his ministry as a homeless person. He said of himself, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).

Foxes and birds all have sound safe sleeping places. But Jesus, the Son of Man did not have a place where he could lay his head on a pillow and call it home. He lived most part of his earthly life and ministry as a homeless Person.

He died a torturous death on a cross, homeless without the care that dying person can expect in a home.

There is no person who can identify with the homeless better than Jesus. Even more, he is a friend of the homeless.

In Mark 5:1-20 Jesus met a demon-possessed man in Gadarenes. He was a homeless man living alone among the tombs. People distanced themselves from him because of his destructive behaviour. But without being asked, Jesus delivered this homeless demoniac and brought wholeness to his body, mind and spirit.

Jesus cared about this homeless man. And he was not the only one.

In those days, lepers lived lonely lives away from their family and loved ones in isolated communities. In Mark 1:40-45 a leper flouted safe distancing, came to Jesus, fell at his feet and said, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”

Jesus’ heart went out to this lonely desperate leper. And his healing touch allowed this leper to no longer sleep rough but return to his home and family.

HomelessA recent nationwide study revealed there are about 1,000 homeless people in Singapore. They slept on the streets and in places like our housing void decks, commercial buildings and playgrounds.

They are at our doorsteps in our neighbourhood. We might even walk pass them without noticing or perhaps couldn’t imagine there are homeless in our affluent society.

Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. He painted the painful contrast of the rich man who enjoyed every good thing but ignored the homeless Lazarus who had nothing.

The painful contrast continues after their death. Lazarus was carried away by angels to be comforted in Abraham’s bosom. Whereas the rich man had gone down in Hades to be tormented . When he looks up, he sees Lazarus at the side of Abraham. He pleaded with Abraham to “send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.”

But Abraham pointed out there is now “a great chasm” between them. During their earthly existence, they lived a very short distance from each other. The rich man had every means to help the homeless but he conveniently or cruelly omitted to do so. Now they are eternally apart and even if Lazarus wants to help, he is unable to do so.

Mother Theresa said, “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

Can you see Jesus? Do you see his face?

He is on the face of every homeless.

Zoom Zombie

In this time of safe distancing and stay home, zoom has become our primary means of meeting, working and communicating.

Zoom is our new selfie as we view and project ourselves virtually on screen, hopefully presentable at least for the top half. Zoom has occupied a large part of our life.

I have regular work meetings on Zoom.

I have daily morning devotion on Zoom.

I have evening teaching and equipping every Monday on Zoom.

I have evening vesper every Tuesday and Thursday on Zoom.

I have church-wide prayer meeting on Wednesdays on Zoom.

I have Friday Fun Fellowship on Zoom

While I am thankful for the Zoom Apps that allowed us to stay connected with people, yet I am starting to feel the fatigue that comes with staring at tiny boxes of people on my computer screen.

Zoom ZombiesThere can be no doubt I am bitten by Zoom. I have red eyes like zombies from the strains of long screen time. I look like a zombie with dark eye bags from the exhaustion of being continuously online.

I have turned into a Zoom Zombie.

Before you give me a headshot to put me out of my misery (the way to kill zombies) I want to tell you there is a cure for this “Zoombie” virus.

It will take deliberate effort.

Go for breaks from your computer screen.

Go for walks in the parks and look at trees, plants and flowers. These are not virtual things.

Go take your dog for a walk round your neighbourhood.

Go read the Bible or a book that is not an e-version.

Go for a structured time of play (non-video games) with your kids.

Be sure to wear your facemask when you are in public places. You don’t want to catch the Covid virus. What you want to kill is the “Zoombie” virus.

It is in such a time as this, the call of Jesus is as vital and essential as ever.

He said, “Come away from the people (which may include those online). Be by yourselves and rest” Mark 6:31.

Story was told of a man who challenged another man to a wood-chopping contest. The man who challenged his friend worked very hard, stopping only on occasions. The other man took many breaks and had a good lunch. When the day came to an end, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped more wood. “I don’t get it,” he said. Every time I checked, you were taking rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. “But you didn’t noticed,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my axe when I sat down to rest.”

It’s so easy to imagine the harder you work like a zombie, the more you would accomplish. But remember it is always good and necessary to take breaks to reflect, recharge and refresh. You need that.

Don’t become a Zoom Zoombie like me.

 

 

Covid Lepers

Nothing scares people more today than hearing someone says, “I’m Covid-19 positive.”

It makes them jump in fear and quickly walk away, covering their mouths and noses.

Such reaction was common in ancient times when people encountered a leper telling everyone, “unclean.” Those nearby who heard it would quickly walk away.

Are we treating Covid-19 cases like Covid lepers?

In those days, when there was no cure for this dilapidating disease, lepers were treated like outcasts. They were doomed to lived in isolated communities away from their families and loved ones.

Today we read reports around the world of the Covid fear that triggers discriminatory, racist and xenophobic behavior.

People, particularly foreign workers are deemed, “unclean” like lepers. They are been turned away from shops, restaurants and even their rented homes. Some were verbally abuse, harassed and even physically assaulted. Even those who have recovered fully from this deadly virus feel they are being stigmatized and shunned by others. No one wants to be around them. They make people uncomfortable.

Are we treating people who are Covid-19 postive like lepers?

How did Jesus treat lepers?

It is clear from the Bible that Jesus is not disgusted with lepers and their dreadful condition. In all the accounts in the Bible (Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, and Luke 5:12-16) Jesus reached out to the lepers, even touching them to heal them. He demonstrated for us the great compassion of God towards the sick that are mostly despised and loathed.

If Jesus is our example, shouldn’t we do the same?

Instead of shunning the Covid positive, we should be serving them. Providing whatever help they might need like delivering food, care packages and sewing facemasks for them. Bless the hearts of those did.

Instead of ostracizing the infected we should be offering our prayers for them to recover quickly. After all God is always on the side of health, wholeness and well-being.

Instead of treating them like lepers, we should be touching their lives. There can be no better time than the quarantine period when their hearts, souls and spirit are desperately open to the living God.

Just during the past Holy week saw more than 117,000 came to faith in Christ across more than 100 nations. It has been dubbed, “The Great Quarantine Revival.”

covid lepersThe Covid-19 pandemic has brought untold and unprecedented woes on many people. This shouldn’t be a time for us to be retreating for self-preservation. Rather this a karios time for us to be entreating our God to show His love and mercy and be engaging in acts of love for those in need.

May this be the defining moment for the Church.

Keep Your Distance

Social distancing has become the new normal in our world ravaged by Covid-19.

Social distancing is about safe distancing. It is to prevent you from catching or spreading the virus.

Today, at many places you’ll find lines and boxes drawn to show where you should stand in the queue, be it at the supermarkets or wet markets, even in the elevator lifts.

The objective of social distancing is to avoid physical contact with anyone who could well be an undetected asymptomatic spreader in our community. This strict measure aims to flatten the epidemic curve of this infectious and deadly virus.

For this to work, everyone needs to do their part to keep their distance until the virus could no longer find any host to propagate.

When I reflect on our widespread social distancing I am reminded of what the Bible says about safe distancing.

Scriptures urge us to stay away from the infectious contaminating influence and corrupting ways of the world.

II Timothy 2:16-17 “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.”

Gangrene is bad flesh that spreads infecting the good flesh.

Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.”

Keep your distance.

Proverbs 26:20-22 “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

Keep your distance from the company of talebearers, gossipers and contentious people. They will infect you with their poisonous words.

Ask yourself. When you are around them, does it have a good effect on you? Were you at times led into gossip yourself? Did you join in the complaining and tale bearing? Did they stimulate your spiritual growth or perhaps stunt it?

Keep your distance.

I Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

The water droplets from their attitudes and opinions can land inside your mind and heart, infecting your thoughts, shaping your perspective and influencing your behaviour.

Keep your distance.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”

Keep your distance.

No doubt we will never live in a vacuum yet it would be wise to limit our exposure to bad, negative and infectious influence that draws us further away from God.

The truth is we become whom we spend the most time with. Be aware of the company you keep.

If need be, keep your distance.

Rights & Responsibilities

A friend of mine who worked actively in industrial relations said union leaders always talked about their rights. My friend would listen and then respond, “I hear you, and I understand these are your rights, but could you tell me what your responsibilities are?” This was often followed by profound silence.

Children love to receive gifts, but try asking them to do housework or share their toys. Silence.

John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

There are Christians who like to claim their right to God’s blessings, but ask them about their responsibilities, LOUD SILENCE.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.” – Lk.12:48 (CSB)

Barnabas Chong

How Would You Remember Jesus this Easter Weekend?

God made the world, loves the world, wants none to perish and therefore sent His beloved Son Jesus to live on earth and die a cruel and painful death on the cross to save us from our sins. All who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!

But how would those who are perishing believe if we don’t tell them? And when do we plan on telling them when so many amongst us only care about and spend most of our time on church services, fellowship meetings, leadership meetings, bible studies, special worship events, Christian seminars and conferences, self-care, personal spirituality, etc.?

While we remember the Lord Jesus this Good Friday-Easter Sunday weekend and what He has done for us, while we soberly and warmly remember His unconditional and sacrificial love, let’s also remember that He did not do this just for us but for the whole world!

If we merely remember Jesus without going out there to tell people about Jesus, if our idea of Christianity is what we do within the four walls of the church building, then we are remembering Him amiss and He finds no pleasure in that.

Our remembrance of Him must be accompanied by a desire to bring Him pleasure through fulfilling His desire and purposes in the world. Have a blessed Easter Weekend.

Jn.3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. …. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Barnabas Chong

Called to Teach and Train

We gotta remember that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are not only called to do the work of the ministry according to their offices and capacities but are intended to equip the saints for the work of the ministry!

That means these five groups of anointed ministers are to teach and train every believer to serve. Conduct classes or through other means, to teach and train them in leadership and church planting (apostolic), operate in the prophetic, preach the gospel, provide pastoral care and teach the Word whether to children, youth or adults.

They are not meant to be celebrities, superstars or ultimate rulers, they are meant to serve the Body of Christ through faithful, intentional and effective teaching and training so that believers can do the work of the ministry. When this happens, the body of Christ is edified and grows to maturity.

Eph.4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Barnabas Chong

Mandatory Aloneness

A colleague reminded me the other day that we need to be careful not to be the kind of Christian who lives for the Sunday Experience whether in church physically or online. This time of mandatory aloneness is indeed a good thing.

Every believer should learn to commune with the Lord without someone else helping us. We should want to commune with Jesus without being told to.

Every believer in Christ should rise up and learn how to worship and sing to God without a band, worship leader, YouTube, Spotify, etc.

Every believer should learn to read the Bible on our own – be encouraged, inspired, taught, trained, corrected and even rebuked by the Word of God through personal reading without anyone interpreting it for us.

Every believer should respond to God’s Word by living a life of faith not fear, giving not just receiving, serving not just being served, peace not anxiety, joy not sorrow and victory not defeat.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

MANDATORY ALONENESS: FACs (Frequently Anticipated Comments)
1. “Not everyone can sing on their own, that’s why we need the worship team and worship leader to help.”

Reply: For the minority (I’m pretty sure we are referring to a minority) who don’t know how to sing on their own, teach them to just read the words with a devoted heart, or half sing-half speak, or just sing the words to their own tune. It’s ok for them that every song sounds like “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” or “Amazing Grace”. It’s the devoted heart that matters. And I guarantee that Jesus wouldn’t mind too. You who know, teach them.

2. “Many don’t know know where to start and how to read the Bible on their own.”

Reply: To be honest, that’s an indictment on the way we have done discipleship in church. Anyway, you can still teach them now, better late than never. Create a video or just call them on the phone, and walk them through a verse or a passage. Do that a couple of times, they should get it. For those who still don’t get it, isn’t this circuit-breaker month a wonderful time to slowly guide them day by day until they get it?

3. “Many of our members say they have problems praying.”

Reply: Teach them how to pray, pray with them over the phone. More importantly, get them to pray with you. Keep it short and simple. As long as a person has breath in them and can talk, they have the ability to learn how to pray.

Barnabas Chong

Elaborating on Yesterday’s Post: A Pilgrim’s Regress

Elaborating on my post yesterday, “A Pilgrim’s Regress”, I just want to say that the Christian faith is not ALL ABOUT ME, but ALL ABOUT GOD.

Sure, God loves us and demonstrated that unconditional love through the finished work of Christ on the cross (Jn.3:16). What greater love is there? (Jn.15:13) It is done, the work of redemption is finished, we have believed and we continue to believe and are thankful. Nothing can and should shake us from this foundation – not a health crisis, financial crisis or relational crisis for nothing can separate us from the love of God! (Rom.8:35-39)

Does God love us? Absolutely! Does He treasure us? Of course. Does He have good things in store for us because He is a good Father? No question about it. Is He faithful to us? Most definitely.

However, that is not all. There are a few other things (maybe more than a few) about being a child of God.

1. He loves us and He expects us to love Him back and not love the world, not love anyone or anything more than we love Him. (Mt.22:37, 1Jn.2:15)

2. He treasures us as the apple of His eye and at the same time, He expects us to delight in Him. When we delight in Him, He gives us the desires of our hearts. We gotta make Him our treasure – finding God and His Kingdom should be like finding that precious great big pearl! (Ps.37:4; Mt.13:46)

3. He has great plans and good things for us, at the same time, He expects us to discover those plans and fulfil them! He is generous with us and He expects us to be generous with Him and towards others. To whom much is given, from whom much is required. (Lk.12:48)

4. He is faithful, absolutely faithful and He expects us to be faithful. Faithful to Him only as our God and have no other idols in our lives – not our jobs, our spouses, our children nor our friends. Sports, hobbies and other interests should never be in the way of us making and giving time to serve the Lord and His church. We are called to be faithful and obedient which will result in fruitfulness. (Exo.20:3; Mt.25:21; Heb.3:14,15)

5. He is with us all the time and so He expects us to fear nothing and not be anxious about anything. Don’t worry about our heath, finances, jobs and our loved ones. Do not even fear death! When we look to Him and pray, the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding will rule over our hearts and minds keeping us in Christ Jesus. And think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. Don’t think of what is impure, depressive, negative, worrying, etc. (Phil.4:6-8)

Barnabas Chong

A Pilgrim’s Regress

“I am a Christian and a pretty positive one too!
Love God’s promises in the Bible
and all the encouraging and comforting words.

Love the fact that God is love,
compassionate, kind and caring.
Love that He always protects me
and that He is always faithful to me.

Love that He doesn’t want me to
do anything that I don’t want to;
and I only need to do what I feel like doing.

Love all the wonderful, uplifting sermons
that remind me weekly of how much I am loved,
how blessed I am and how special I am.

I must be pretty amazing the fact that
God loves me that much!
I am a Christian and a pretty positive one too!”

– A Pilgrim’s Regress

Barnabas Chong

Have You Ever Been Told to Obey Everything?

Have you ever been told that discipleship is about teaching and helping each other (including ourselves) to OBEY EVERYTHING Jesus had commanded us?

That’s what the Great Commission passage in Mt.28:19-20 is all about. “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus said, “go make disciples”, “baptizing them” and “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you”. But for whatever reason, many of us simply looked at “go make disciples” and started Bible study programmes! Discipleship does not merely take place in a classroom! It may start there (or maybe not), but it sure doesn’t end there.

Bible studies are never meant to be purely informational, it’s supposed to be transformational. Without the walk, Bible studies are just all talk. Jesus was super clear, yet we seemed to have missed it. He said, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. I missed that for many years too! Our wrong focus could be why so many amongst us who have attended CGs for many years, gone to Christian seminars and conferences, listened to the best speakers can end up living a relatively untransformed life – unchanged temperament, continuing in bad habits and sinful lifestyle, etc.

A transformed life in Christ should look like this: Becoming a disciple who desires and pursues perfect obedience (though we know full well that we may not be sinless on this side of eternity – but we can certainly sin LESS). It’s about becoming a disciple who make disciples who go on to make disciples, because following Christ is not about just me making sure I follow the spiritual disciplines and be personally holy, it’s about making disciples one-by-one.

I’m not saying we have not ever said anything in church about obedience. It’s just that we don’t seem to link obedience to disciple-making sufficiently – in a way that every believer becomes determined to be a quality disciple and realise that the key is in learning to obey everything, not acquiring skills to lead bible study, worship, prayer, outreach, etc. It begins with me learning to obey, and teaching others to obey. It’s about living a life of obedience as a role-model and giving time, one-on-one to help a fellow disciple obey too.

Barnabas Chong

You Are Blessed When You Read the Book of Revelation … Really?

“You are blessed when you read the Book of Revelation!”

An oft repeated phrase I’ve heard since I became a Christian more than 30 years ago. The basis: Rev.1:3 “Blessed is the one who READS aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” The focus many have placed is on READ the words of this prophecy (Book of Revelation). But what about the second half of the verse that says, “those who HEAR and who KEEP what is written in it”? What does it mean to keep what we read?

An easy way to get a little more details is to jump straight to the last chapter of Revelation. Repeating His words in 1:3, Jesus said now in 22:7, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.” He went on to say in 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, TO REPAY EVERYONE FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE.”

We also see in the 7 letters to the churches how our Lord rebukes those in the churches who DO WRONG and promises His blessing only to those who CONQUER and who REMAIN FAITHFUL to the end.

The Book of Revelation is not a book to read and claim God’s blessing – to do that is to miss the main point. Yes, we are to read it and the primary message is the call for all of us to DO WHAT’S RIGHT, CONQUER SIN AND IDOLATRY, and REMAIN FAITHFUL to the end.

Barnabas Chong

Home Alone

If you are home alone under Stay Home Notice or quarantine, don’t waste it.Germany Virus Outbreak

This is a unique time for you. It may well be the “pause” you need in your life.

To be home alone is to be away from the crowd with their constant clatter of words and clutter of activities, besides curbing the spread of virus of course.

Home alone can be the “desert time” that our Lord frequently observed during His earthly ministry.

Jesus spent 40 days alone in the desert before He began his ministry (Matthew 4:1-2). He was alone in the desert hills before He chose the Twelve (Luke 6:12). He spent “desert time” in a lonely place when he learned of the death of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13). He spent “desert time” by himself regularly (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35). He even tell His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place” (Mark 6:31).

Make your home alone that “desert time” of purposeful solitude.

Let it be a time of cultivating that inner sanctuary, creating space for God to speak and made Himself heard. Who knows God might want you to reevaluate your goals and objectives in life.

And that can happen in the solitude of a morning cup of coffee or in the evening before bedtime.

Some of you have children at home and find yourself busier than before trying to meet their needs and demands. All the more, you would need to find a suitable time and quiet corner in your home to be alone with God.

So often God speaks but we cannot hear because we are just too busy.

To be home alone is to be still before God and know that He is our God, even when the mountains quake with threatening pandemic (Psalm 46).

Home alone shouldn’t be an empty time of loneliness. Rather it can be a fulfilling time of growth.

I believe in this season of stay home, God is on the move even more than ever to make us better disciples.

As you stay home reach out for your Bible, not click on Netflix. Let your stay home be a time you play your ukulele, guitar or piano and sing praises to the Audience of one. Let your home alone be a time you pray and pray for those in need despite social distancing.

Develop your sensitivity to God and others during your stay home.

Thomas Merton said, “It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers.”

Cry like the Psalmist, You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You” (Psalm 63:1).

May God use your Home Alone “to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Perfect Peace

The sweetest words from the Bible I heard when I suffered a severe life-threatening infection that made my kidneys fail, liver failing, heart flatlining, blood pressure dropping drastically about 9 years ago were these words: “His mercies are new every morning!” (Lam.3:22,23) It came from wife of my caring cardiologist Prof James Yip who visited me before I slipped into unconsiciousness (they were both members in a church I had pastored before).

The Lord did not say at that point that He was going to heal me. All He said was His mercies are new every morning. And that was enough! And all I needed to know was that through it all, the Lord Almighty was with me. When He is with me, who can be against me?

When He is with me, both living and dying were in His hands and according to His perfect timing. His mercies were more than enough. I had no anxiety, but physical pain, plenty. Told the nurses 15 when I was asked to score the pain on my diseased left leg on a scale of 1 to 10. But deep within me, I was perfectly at peace.

That’s what we need today amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic – perfect peace. Understand this, the degree of peace you have is directly proportionate to the degree of trust you have in God. More trust, more peace. Less trust, less peace. No trust, no peace. Perfect trust, perfect peace.

Isa.26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

Barnabas Chong

One Victorious Way to Fight the Coronavirus

One victorious way to fight the coronavirus – being FEARLESS in the face of death! A few things the pandemic has done to us: (1) brought about fear and anxiety (2) undermined our faith – just look at how flustered we are and how we desperately grab Bible verses to comfort ourselves (3) robbed our peace – isn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace – when we embrace Him, we have embraced peace! (4) instilled the fear of death in us – wait a minute; haven’t we already read the end of the “story” in the Bible? Don’t we know that we win in the end, that we are victorious over death and the devil? When we have Jesus, we already have the full confidence that eternal life is ours! That is His spiritual blessing given to all who follow Him. So, we need not fear death – instead we should be able to say as the Apostle Paul did, “O death, where is thy sting; O grave, where is thy victory?” (1Cor.15:55 KJV) When we become fearless in the face of death, as the early disciples were, there will be no more anxiety, fear, lack of faith and lack of peace.

Barnabas Chong

 

1756 Repeated?

In 1756, Great Britain was faced with a threatened invasion by the French.

It was an uncertain time for the whole of Britain. Fear spread throughout the nation. Every British citizen was frightened of this dreaded French invasion.

1756 RepeatedAnd the King of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer and fasting. It was to be a day when the whole of Britain would cry to the Lord for mercy.

And John Wesley on 6 February 1756 recorded this in his Journal. He wrote:

“The fast day was a glorious day, such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God heareth prayer and there will yet be a lengthening of our tranquillity.”

Then in a footnote, John Wesley added:

”Humility was turned into national rejoicing for the threatened invasion by the French was averted.”

Today we face yet another threatening and devastating invasion, that of Covid-19.

Surely this cannot be a time for Christian believers to stay home to eat and watch Netflix. Rather it should be a time to stay home to fast and pray. It is not a time to clear the shelves of the supermarket. Rather it is a time to pour out our selves to cry to the Lord our Redeemer for mercy.

And who knows, God might just turn the cries of His church into a national rejoicing as He did in 1756.

Will it be another day footnoted in the annals of our history that Singapore has scarce seen since the days of SARS?

Will 1756 be repeated in 2020?

People Need the Lord

People need the Lord. Whether it is this current global pandemic or some other crisis in the future that causes people to fear for their lives, at all times, Christians need to remember that people need the Lord. We need the Lord, and those who don’t know Christ most certainly need Him. The words of this song by Steve Green comes to mind:
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Everyday they pass me by
I can see it in their eyes
Empty people filled with care
Headed who knows where

On they go through private pain
Living fear to fear
Laughter hides their silent cries
Only Jesus hears

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door
People need the Lord, people need the Lord
When will we realize people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right
What could be too great a cost
For sharing life with one who’s lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear
They must hear the words of life
Only we can share

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door
People need the Lord, people need the Lord
When will we realize that we must give our lives?
For people need the Lord, people need the Lord

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Many Bible promises have been circulated in recent months and they are mostly about how the Lord will protect us, rescue us, save us from the fowler’s snare, shield us from diseases and pestilences, “do not fear, for I am with you”, “God is faithful”, etc. See the trend – it is primarily about ME. But shouldn’t we go beyond that?

Yes, it is important to keep ourselves grounded and remember God’s promises. But how much comforting do we need? How often do we need to be reminded that we are His treasured possession and that He loves us? Maybe it’s time to remember that people need the Lord. Maybe it’s time for the comforted and secured ones to bring God’s comfort and security to those who are filled with care.

Jn.4:35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

Barnabas Chong

Rethinking Church

I have believed for a couple of years now that house churches have a huge advantage over large churches.

The increase in the number of people going to any particular church is often accompanied by several decreases, namely one-to-one connection and relationship, life-on-life mentoring and discipleship and finally, accountability.

All these three important areas in the life of a church decline as church membership and attendance go up. In a big church, it is so easy for people to remain anonymous, disconnected and un-discipled. To avoid interaction, there are people who come in shortly after the service starts and leave just before the service ends – no need to talk to anyone.

Today, many Christians have been forced to only gather as home groups for obvious reasons. Well, you may say that even when services weren’t suspended, we were already meeting in home groups or cell groups. True, but now, the only thing many of us have is home groups, not unlike the New Testament church – the only thing they had were house churches. They met daily and they grew phenomenally.

With only CGs meeting in homes, can we not do more than just sing a few songs, do Bible study, eat a nice supper and chat about the economy and the weather? Can we not be like the house churches in the NT that did ministry and outreach together, demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit, and fulfilled God’s Kingdom agenda without the need to meet corporately by the hundreds or thousands?

And when the suspension is lifted, when we gather together again as a large corporate body on weekends, I hope that we would treasure our gathering a whole lot more than we ever did!

I hope that we will treasure one another and look out for those in our church who have often been overlooked and connect with them because Christians are commanded to love one another as Christ has loved us. No one should be left behind. Love not only with our hearts and our words but with our actions – sharing generously what we have with one another especially those who are in need – that’s how an authentic Christian community should look like!

Maybe the “scattering” of the church due to the suspension of worship services is not such a bad thing – it brings us back to the days of the early church!

Ac.2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

1Cor.16:19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

Rom.16:5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.

Philemon 1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother. To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house.

Col.4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Barnabas Chong

The Scattered Church and the Gathered Church

In Acts chapter 8, a great persecution came against the church in Jerusalem, as a result they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

We are told in v4 that the scattered believers (the ordinary ones, not the apostles) went about preaching the gospel! In particular, through Philip’s preaching and ministry, many were delivered from unclean spirits, healed of sicknesses and converted to the Christian faith! An example of how THE SCATTERED CHURCH COULD BE A GOOD THING!

We may not call our current pandemic a great persecution, but it certainly scattered the church as many worship services have been suspended.

The question is, what will today’s scattered church do? Maybe the gathered church experience has made us insular and unhealthily comfortable, thus, in God’s infinite wisdom, He has allowed us (as one of the effects of the pandemic) to be scattered so that we may not get stuck within the four walls of the church, instead get out there to preach, deliver and heal so that the world may know Him. God is able to make all things work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose, so He can certainly turn this global crisis around to serve His divine purposes.

May we begin to see signs, wonders, miracles and salvations not only in our gathering but also in our scattering as believers rise above the tough times we are in.

Barnabas Chong