Let’s Be Impressed With God!

I remember Floyd McClung shared in a conference in 1991 about a prayer meeting he had attended in Stockholm. He said something like this, “As pornography especially child and teen porn were rampant in Stockholm, those who were at the prayer meeting shared with each other the latest news and updates about it. They talked about how terrible the perpetrators were and how horrible some of the cases were, etc. They kept saying to each other, “did you hear about this case ….”, “did you know …”, etc.

This went on for quite a significant amount of time. At one point, an elderly lady who had remained quiet the entire time suddenly spoke up. Since she was new and had been quietly listening, everyone stopped and gave her the floor. She said, ‘Looks to me like you are all pretty impressed with what the devil is doing in this city, going on and on about the details of each horrific act committed; shouldn’t we be more impressed with God and what He is able to do amidst all these when God’s people pray? We should get on with the prayer meeting.'”

Lately, there’s been a lot of videos, pictures, texts, etc. about Covid-19 sent back and forth amongst many people on social media. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to keep each other updated. But maybe, just maybe, we too should be more focused on God’s greatness and power, and on what He wants to do and is able to do in our world today. Let’s be impressed with God!

Psalm 68:1 God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! 2 As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! 3 But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him! 5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. 6 God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. …

32 O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah 33 to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 34 Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. 35 Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel–he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Barnabas Chong

Many of Us Have Rather Amazing Mental Capacity and Intelligence!

A young graduate said, “I’ve got a degree, finally!” Another said, “I completed my master’s degree!” Yet another said, “I did it! I hold a phd now!”

This is common in Singapore, so many Singaporeans have achieved great things – for some, it’s educational, for others, in various fields of specialisation. The intellectual capacity of many Singaporeans are amazing. I have a friend who doesn’t have a university degree – but every time we talk, he seems to know so much about so many things!

I have also heard many people say that Christianity is a middle-class religion – well, it is not – but the truth is, there are many in the church who are doing very well in their careers, many who are highly intelligent and middle-class (but that doesn’t mean Christianity is a middle-class religion or middle-class only religion).

The puzzling thing is this – while there are many folks in church who are so intelligent, who have such great mental capacity – but when it comes to sharing our faith with non-believers, we are often clueless! We find it difficult to answer tough questions non-believers throw at us.

What does this tell us? I think it is as simple as this: we have not put our amazing and intelligent minds to LEARNING how to share our faith.

We would sign up for 8 hours of cooking class to learn to cook, 12 hours to learn how to invest our money, 20 hours to learn how to play golf, 10 hours to learn how to dance, etc., but we will not sign up for a course in church on how to share Christ. We would rather invite them to come listen to Nicky Gumbel (for instance) share the gospel on our behalf! What have we become? A generation of inviters? Thought we are called to be a generation of witnesses. Nothing wrong with the Alpha Course, I love it and it has led many to Christ – but it should never become something that make us not promote personal one-to-one sharing of our faith.

A good starting point in learning how to share our faith is for instance, instead of watching all kinds of humorous and entertaining YouTube videos, to watch this one and see how Ray Comfort shares the gospel with two young persons. There’s a lot we can learn from this 19 min video.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” (Phil.1:21-22)

Barnabas Chong

Two Ways People Respond to Pain

Two possible responses from those who go through pain. Take control or give God control.

I have often seen those who decided to take control of the situation themselves fail time after time, go through more and more pain. They get angry with everyone and they get angry with God for not helping. But how can God help when we keep turning to our own wisdom and our own ways? They have no patience to wait on the Lord, they didn’t stay still enough to hear what God had to say about the situation. They wanted something done instantly and were not willing to let God do it in His time. As a result, their problems kept recurring, they just won’t go away. There were occasional seasons of calm and rest and that was only because human wisdom can help for a while, but in the long run, the problem was not solved. The heart still hurt because healing didn’t and couldn’t take place.

On the other hand, I’ve seen those who give God control and laid their pain at His feet. They humbly realised that they were absolutely in need of God and His wisdom. They listened to godly counsel, and they waited upon the Lord and listened to what He had to say. Then, they acted in obedience no matter how difficult it was to do so. They didn’t take matters into their own hands, they waited patiently for the Lord to act in His perfect time. Though deeply troubled, they chose to find rest in God and in His Word. Though the waiting took time, it was always good in the end. Healing took place – it came from the Lord and His Word.

So, in times of pain, should we take control or give God control? The answer is obvious – complete surrender to His love, grace and will. The God Who is love and Who is perfectly righteous will not and can-not do wrong. His love never fails and His mercies are new every morning!

Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Barnabas Chong

Can a Student Go to School Daily and Not Learn Anything?

Can a student go to school daily and not learn anything? Of course. Can you attend a seminar on investment and come out not knowing how to invest? Of course.

Is it possible then that a person goes to church regularly and yet not think, talk and act like a Christian? OF COURSE! Can a person sing worship songs with great zeal without being a true worshipper who lives a life of surrender to God? Yes, most definitely. Finally, can you and I go through a discipleship programme without becoming a true disciple of Christ – one who is faithful in following Him and obedient to His Word? Without doubt, yes!

In each of these scenarios, what does it take to emerge as one who has learned and is changed by what is taught? What do we tell our children when they don’t do well in school?

We tell them to get interested with what is taught, pay attention, do the reading, do the homework, make sacrifices, play less, be more focused, ask questions when they don’t understand, learn materials from other schools, work on their past exam papers, don’t give up, make friends with the hardworking students, don’t hang out with those who are not interested in school, etc. It’s mostly the same for everything else.

Ps.1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Barnabas Chong

Two Most Important Things Are Now the Two Weakest Things?

Isn’t it interesting that the two most important things that Jesus commissioned us to do (in the Great Commission – Mt.28:18-20) are the same two things that are weakest in most churches today?

First, evangelism. Winning souls wherever Christians are located daily is not a strength in too many churches. When the church today thinks of evangelism, we usually think of massive outreach efforts, large scale events that we do a few times a year (not to mention spending lots of money running these events). We don’t think about winning souls daily in our work places, schools and neighbourhoods.

Second, discipleship. While most churches run Bible studies of all sorts, often well-attended too, yet disciple-making the Jesus way seldom happen. Discipleship does not take place in a classroom, it takes place in daily living when we do life together – it’s a daily mission out in the streets, in public and wherever God places us. In these contexts, we can then encourage and teach each other to obey everything Jesus has commanded us – that’s the Jesus way. There is no point in singing passionately about how much we love Jesus and walk out the church doors and not live in obedience to Him (or as Billy Graham said, “deny Him by our lifestyle”). There is no point in having warm fellowship and do all kinds of fun and interesting things in church with fellow believers when we don’t seem to care about a larger world of non-believers outside the church.

Has the devil rob us of something here? The devil is an expert in switching the price tags so we end up valuing the things that are of lesser value. The church today must stay true to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, otherwise, we are just another exclusive club.

Mt.28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Barnabas Chong

Covid Check

We have just entered the Season of Lent. Besides praying, fasting and giving, Lent is the time for the annual spiritual check on our souls.

Covid CheckAs I did some soul searching today I realized how much we fear the Covid-19 outbreak.

Covid-19 has changed the way we work, the way we conduct our meetings and the way we socialize.

It has brought up the best of us and the worse of us. Some are willing to share their supply of facemasks and hand sanitizers. Others hoard them. Still others charge exorbitant prices for them.

The Covid-19 fear has led many into irrational behavior of panic buying. I can understand buying up surgical masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizers. But toilet papers?

Just when you thought this weird reaction is only peculiar to Singapore, you read about the snapping up of toilet papers in Japan that cleared the shelves of every shop.

After the rapid spike of Covid-19 cases, South Korea and Italy join in the panic rush to buy masks and groceries in drugstores and supermarkets. Pharmacies carried signs saying they’ve run out of protective masks and hand sanitizers.

People are so scared of the corona virus.

To top it all, market survey shows 37% of drinkers won’t touch Corona Extra beer because of the epidemic fear.

If we do a Covid check, we might easily conclude we fear the virus more than we fear the Lord.

If only we fear God like we fear Covid-19, which we cannot see but know for sure is real and deadly.

If only we monitor our spiritual temperature regularly like the way we conscientiously do now.

If only we wash our souls as much as we wash our hands and sanitize them whenever we touch something suspiciously unclean.

If only we masked ourselves to prevent the spread of sinful infection in our lives and the lives of others.

If only we avoid visiting and going to known places that contaminate our minds and our bodies.

If only we self impose isolation just to be in solitude with the Lord.

If only our travel history shows that we have been in the Presence of God.

If only we read the Bible like we read the report of Covid-19 day after day.

If only we be just as weary of rumors of false teachings, fake insights circulating in the Internet, WhatsApps, Twitter and FaceBook.

If only we buy up opportune time to fill up our treasure trove of spiritual knowledge, insights and revelation instead of storing up rice, instant noodles and toilet papers.

If only we fear the Lord like we fear the virus.

LeCrae said, We fear circumstances so much because we fear God so little.”

Jesus made it clear: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). 

Let the spiritual check this Lent reveal that.

In the Face of Death

Lent is the season we are made to confront our mortality, and all the more so with Covid-19 looming over all our heads. As for our church, more acutely than ever, we are confronted with the fragility of life with the sudden passing of a dear sister. For all our medical and technological advances, death can only be delayed, not avoided altogether.

Death, for all its cruelty, however, when seen from God’s point of view, can be a great wake up call.

  1. Death challenges us to live for what’s eternal
    With Covid-19, God has exposed how vulnerable we truly are as stock markets tumble and fall. Sure, we all need money to pay the bills and put food on the table. Sure, God has called us to our vocations, but the question is – is money our God or our servant? Are we living only for ourselves or also for the benefit of others? From God’s point of view, money is useless in eternity. Only God is the true Provider and our source of security. And because we trust God to provide, one of the best uses of money is to help those in need. The poor will only be with us on this side of eternity. Will our wealth perish with us or will our wealth be used to rescue the perishing?
  2. Death challenges us to live from what’s eternal
    Someone once said, “If it’s not worth dying for, it’s not worth living for.” No one on their death bed lamented they could have spent more time at work; everyone longed to be a better child, spouse, and parent. Are you chasing promotion or prestige? Are you so angry with a family or friend that you have stopped all communications and fellowship? In light of the brevity of life, we have to ask ourselves, “Is what we live for really worth it?” My fellow Christians, learn to let go, forgive, and trust Papa God to take care of you – in every aspect of your life. Let’s live every day with a divine perspective.
  3. Death challenges us to live by what’s eternal
    Death challenges us to ask, “How are you living your life?” Are you living with a godly fear and clear heavenly purpose, relying on God’s Spirit daily?” Or as John Wesley would ask, “Is your life bearing the fruit of repentance and the evidence of salvation?” Death is scary, but it’s scarier if we fail to allow God’s eternal life to flow out through us day by day. Only God’s Spirit can empower to truly live holy and righteous lives, wholly pleasing to God. May we re-learn how to walk by faith and not by sight, living daily as we are led by the Holy Spirit. After all, it is only by God’s Spirit that we live, and move, and have our being.