End of Life instruction and 2 Pet 3:9

The Lord is …… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

My 82 year old widow sister, childless, was admitted to the hospital for the third time, after spending 12 days and then 16 days in the hospital and then transferred to a community hospital. The community hospital, after more than a week, called and informed that she has to be readmitted to the acute hospital for dialysis as they could not render proper treatment.

For the next two days, I noticed my sister was not on dialysis. I asked, and was told that there was a misunderstanding (by the community hospital?) whatever it meant.

Then a doctor called one afternoon. Mainly she asked what was my ‘end-of-life instruction” for my sister. I asked  – was this about the AMD? – silence. What was the prognosis? Was there something I need to know? No clarification. The silence was puzzling. So I said “let me think about it and pray about it”. She said she would call back for my decision in a few days.

I became unusually alarmed and alerted family members. That evening I visited my sister. She was alert and definitely it wasn’t terminal or life threatening.

The next morning, I was on the way for a meeting requested by a medical social worker (MSW). I prayed – “Lord, what is your leading – as I have to give a reply about the EOL instruction.” The impression was very strong and clear – ‘resist, until your sister believes in the Lord Jesus!’ I told the MSW and another doctor who sought me out and commented that the 1st doctor was not tactful as it alarmed me.

Unexpectedly again the 2nd doctor asked about the EOL instruction as I was only expected to respond in a few days. He explained about withholding resuscitation. So since he asked I replied – “No, I will not concede until my sister believes in Jesus”. Somehow, to the 1st and 2nd doctor, I became uninhibited about my faith. He said “So it is religious?” I asserted, and said a miracle could happen. But he countered that it would be a medical decision. I also countered – No, I know a little about medical conditions and would like to be contacted and consulted when the need arose. He then said something that it would be the ‘decision’ of senior doctors. I stood firm. He then went off.

Fifteen minutes later, he returned, and said that the 1st doctor had already spoken to my sister that morning and my sister gave her consent! “No, I discount that, as you know my sister has Alzheimer, and she could not have understood.” The 2nd doctor again reiterated that it would be a medical decision by senior doctors.

The good outcome was that I became vulnerable. Normally I will reach out to any who asked for help, but would myself refrain from asking for support. I had to humble myself. I turned to the church’s visitation team and my cell group – for prayer, for support and for my sister to trust in Jesus!

That evening, I became disturbed that they might not render proper due care for my sister! I began to write to the hospital, to the Ministry of Health, to my Member of Parliament who’s also the GPC chairman for Health, etc. Many thoughts and promptings flowed through my mind, which surprised me.

To both doctors, I had brought up the Advanced Medical Directive (see – https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/legislation/legislation_and_guidelines/advance_medical_directiveact.html)

In the absence of an AMD, I believe proper medical care is appropriate and should not be withheld. There are many safeguards e.g.

 You are not being forced into making the AMD.
 You are of sound mind.
 You understand the nature and implications of making an AMD.

 Validity
It is NOT compulsory. The AMD is valid only when it is made voluntarily. No one can force another person to make an AMD.
No one can make an AMD on behalf of another person, whether child or adult (even if the person is mentally incapable of making an AMD on his own)
 Coercion
It is the doctor’s responsibility to fully explain and discuss the matter with the person and to ensure that he/she fully understands what he/she is signing.
Forcing or misleading another person into signing an AMD is an offence punishable under the law.
If convicted, such a person can be fined and imprisoned and disqualified as a beneficiary.

The hospital called me as I had written. I mentioned my concerns. Why was I asked repeatedly for the EOL instruction? It was akin to the AMD which has many safeguards for the sanctity of life. I said my interpretation and impression was it looks like a Trojan Horse to bypass the AMD already in place. (I just googled and that EOL instruction is a type of a medical directive.)

I realized it is so subtle and insidious – the EOL instruction is a Trojan horse, unknowingly and ignorantly promoted to withhold resuscitation before a person comes to faith in Jesus. A work of evil, in this world of evil, dispensing words of evil against our Lord’s words of life!

Jesus said in John 10 “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

HALLELUJAH !!!!!! “The Lord is …… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Church members visited, witnessed (in dialects) and prayed for my sister, members whom I have never met or spoken to! On a second visit, after we prayed, a church sister prompted that I should lead my sister to ask Jesus into her life. My sister did so! All these years she was deep into Buddhism, and had resisted. The next evening, I asked her whether she knew what she did, and whether she wanted to be baptized. She assented!

Coincidence or Confirmation?

Two days after my sister prayed, the church’s devotional reading was titled “The Lord saw her, He had compassion on her,….” Indeed! Thank you Jesus!

I began to share with others how my sister had prayed to receive Jesus!

Oh, how I love to hear His story of Salvation, I like to tell the story … (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lelJPwbuFPQ)

Later I received a posting on the Trojan Horse. (https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/07/trojan-horse/).

Yes, for those who have threatening conditions or terminal illnesses and have yet to believe in Jesus, we must pray for their health and salvation, for their health to be extended until they repent and believe in Jesus rather than consider a EOL instruction not to resuscitate.

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Making Disciples – teaching them to obey

Matthew 28″  16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 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.”

 

Dee Xai Per, a believer in his forties has been attending a local fellowship.  One Sunday, the pastor gave an altar call, and asked the church to deny oneself, and give up all. The pastor had Luke 9:23 in mind.  This passage is one of the seven commandments Jesus gave from the Gospels.  And any faithful disciple maker would be ‘teaching them to observe all that Jesus have commanded”

 

Luke 9:23  23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Many groups and churches exhort their members to discipleship and use “discipleship” passages as above, in carrying out the Great Commission.

 Dee Xai Per wanted to be faithful and obedient, but at the same time he was unsettled, and shared his feelings with another church member.  This other church member asked me what does it really mean, to deny ourselves?

It is clear that v27 was specifically about how Peter, John, and James would witness Jesus’ transfiguration with their own eyes.  But was Jesus also tenderly exhorting and hinting to  Peter ahead of time (at Jesus’ trial) to deny himself rather than to deny Jesus (Luke 22:34).

And what about 2 Tim 2:12 – if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;”?   

Did Jesus rejected Peter who denied him, or was Jesus inconsistent.  We know Jesus reinstated and restored Peter!

And when we go into all the world to make disciples, like the pastor, we are to ask people to deny themselves.  Where else in the NT do the apostles demanded that believers deny themselves and give up all?

I found the following passages of denial –

2 Tim 2:12   if we deny him

2 Tim 2:3    He cannot deny himself

Titus 1:16   but they deny him by their works

2 Pet 2:1   denying the Master who bought them,

Jude 1:4   deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Oh, the apostles didn’t do a very good job!  They failed to ask believers to deny themselves! They proclaimed that we cannot deny the Master!  I wonder what it means not to deny my Master? (Why then do the pulpit command and charge believers to deny oneself; rather than point to Jesus [like the greatest man borne of women – Behold the Lamb])

I always remind myself to return to the scriptures when I come across any difficult passages.  If they are from the OT, and if they are important, Jesus and the Apostles would have explained, illumined, applied and fleshed out the application of the teaching or truth in the NT.  And if the words of Jesus are knotty, a good approach would be to find allusions and examples  from the Apostles.

As mentioned above, why can’t we find any incidence of the Apostles teaching the believers to deny themselves?  When I grappled with this, I was brought to the example of Paul, of how, implicitly, in a single-minded and resolute manner, denied himself, putting no confidence in the flesh – and its about solely relying on Jesus, relishing Him in all ways, always!

 

Phil 3: For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of ChristIndeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 

Paul is saying, it is all about HIM Do not deny His sufficiency and supremacy! He cannot be replaced, misplaced or diplaced!

Jared Bumbers wrote in   http://ftc.co/resource-library/blog-entries/indicatives-and-imperatives, (and the underlined words reflect the conundrum faced by Dee Xai Per.)

Read most of the books on Redemptive Historical/Christocentric preaching, and you will find warnings against moralistic preaching. Moralistic preaching is preaching that focuses on the biblical commands without connecting them to the gospel. It is preaching that is heavy on the imperatives and lacking in gospel content. Moralistic preaching leads to one of two things: a false sense of self-righteousness, or despair.

 

But I must not forget about the “give up all …”  Is there any example of the Apostles teaching the early church to give up all?  And sacrificing wealth would be archetypal of giving up all. Well, I can think of two accounts –

1)  Acts 2: 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…”

2)  2 Cor 8  We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, …

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich…” 

 

Well, we get the drift.  The early church, upon knowing Jesus, willingly and wholeheartedly, gave.

I used to get worked up by churches’ plea to give. And I just had to voice my conviction on this.  If any pastor or church advocate and cojole giving a specific definite amount (it happened to me – give the year-end bonus, give ten percent, give the entire GST cash voucher from the government etc), they would be going against the scriptural teaching.  Scriptures say I am to decide in my own heart, (Paul probably understood the pattern by Abraham and Jacob who both unilaterally decided the amount, as against distorted teaching of a certain amount of the tithe demanded in the abolished levitical system. Melchizedek and the Lord would accept whatever Abraham and Jacob offered – it happened to be 10%.  It could be 2%, or 20% – it is acceptable. But it was willing, and wholehearted.  We need to define the 10% freely offered, or the 10% tithe demanded in the levitical system.  So I want to determine what the church means.  If it is defined as the former willing and wholehearted offering, then the teaching is “12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”)  being willing and wholehearted  (2 Cor 9: “Each one must give as he has decided in his hear t not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”)

No body should dictate to me.  It would be joyful, spontaneous, invigorating and life-giving when my faithfulness is willing and wholehearted. The entire book of Hebrews is an excellent pattern and application in teaching, persuasion, and exhortation. The author could have just used Heb 13:17 – “Hey guys, just listen to me, obey me …..”.  No the author presented Jesus, portrayed Him as Great, Good, Gracious, Glorious and worthy of faith, solely on Him.

 

I believe the same principle and practice applies to discipleship and obedience. Just lift Jesus up. Point to Jesus.  And see how believers will respond to HIM! (as in Acts 2, and 2 Cor 8).  Upon knowing His awesome love and amazing grace, those who are forgiven much will love much!

The ESSENCE of WORSHIP

Many years ago, I moved, and began to visit a few churches in the neighborhood to find one my family could settle in.  We ended up in a Pentecostal church just 4 blocks from our home. The only reason we chose this fellowship was the exuberance of worship which I was seeking. Why was worship the criteria rather than the doctrinal, ministry and teaching aspects? Somehow, worship is something I value and relish.  Not endowed with a wide vocabulary, my personal worship in prayer is so limited and short. Whereas worshiping in the church with the lyrics flowing on helped me to see God in his Glory and Greatness. One of the churches we visited was definitely sound and solid in the bible.  But when I thumbed through the church hymnal, I could literally count about 25 hymns / songs devoted entirely to the worship of God out of 600 songs in the hymnal! The other songs were all about our Christian lives – e.g. Onward Christian Soldier etc etc.

John Philips observed that Worship takes precedence over our walk and work before the Lord, as recounted in Hebrews 11!

Heb 11:4  Abel          Worship

Heb 11:5  Enoch       Walk

Heb 11:7  Noah         Work

Wanting to really worship and enjoy my Lord,  I listed down passages (25 years ago) on worship with the help of a concordance; and read books on the subject.  And the outcome is an outline which can be read in its entirety here.

Outline of The Essence of Worship with scriptural references

I read books which describe the worship services of various denominations, complete with the liturgy; while others speak of the value of worship.  I realized that believers expressed their worship in diverse ways, according to their culture, denominational creed and the conditioning (influence) of the group they identify and grow up with. Regardless of the outward expression of the worship, the experience of God is always personal; having been touched by His Holy Spirit and responding with awe and amazement.  And before I can even experience and express my worship, I believe I need to be convicted of what the Almighty God has to say about worship ie. The Essence of Worship.  Knowing the essence would definitely help me to come to Him, in season and out of season.

And the experience of worship flows from us in expressions and forms consistent with our conviction, our culture, the circumstances and context of the gathering, our exposure and upbringing (conditioning) and our character and temperament.  The various expressions of worship as in the various churches and cultures must be seen in this light.  We do not have to be twins to be brothers and sisters. We only need to love, adore and worship our Heavenly Father to be brothers and sisters

 

“Where was Moses bringing the children of Israel when they left Egypt?”  The normal response is “the promised land.”  Yet that’s not true.  He was headed for Mount Horeb, or Sinai.  Remember God’s words to Pharaoh, through Moses, “let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert.”  (Ex 7:16)  John Bevere in ‘Drawing Near’

Worship 1

THE ESSENCE OF WORSHIP

  1. THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DESERVES
    1. He is the Sovereign   – worship Him for Who He Is
    2. He is my Saviour    –     worship Him for what He has done

     2.  THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DESIRES

      3.  THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DELIGHTS

      4.  THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DEMANDS

“Worship is to be exercised now or it will be enforced later”

“In commanding us to worship Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

 

Worship 2

THE EXPERIENCE OF WORSHIP

My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God…”  Ps 84

  1. OUR WORSHIP MUST BE SPIRITUAL
  2. OUR WORSHIP MUST BE SCRIPTURAL

“… the context of our worship is the doctrinal system of the Bible.  Whether in preaching or praise or prayer, every activity will be governed by the truths of the Bible.  The first question to be asked is not whether some aspect of our worship is helpful or stimulating or enjoyable, but whether it is true. … It is the ultimate criterion, namely the self-disclosure of God who has spoken clearly and decisively to men.”   (in ‘Christian Worship’ by Herbert M. Carson.)

  1. OUR WORSHIP MUST BE SINCERE

Hos 6:6      “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.”

Matt 9:13

Matt 12:1-8        (What our Lord emphasized here was that the act of sacrificing and offering must ever be accompanied by the consistent life and sincere attitude of the offerer, if his worship is to be acceptable.  If the choice is between strict observance of ritual, and goodness and sincerity of life; then the latter must always take the precedence.)

 

Worship 3

THE EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP

” … Declare the praise of Him who called you …”  I Pet 2:9

  1. WORSHIP IS VERBAL

            In Praise

   In Songs 

  1. WORSHIP IS VISIBLE

Gen 24:26         “Then the man bowed down and worshipped the LORD,”

From the book “Worship” by R. Allen pg 132 :-

“We are not simply spirit beings.  We are more that hearts or souls or ‘inner beings.’  We are persons possessing an intricate complex or physical and spiritual realities.  We who worship God truly with the heart, do so with our physical bodies as well.

We err if we think that by merely doing an act we will necessarily be different, posture being a means to the end or worship.  We may often find that the outward act might well lead to an inward reality.  Eugene H. Peterson explains this in commenting on Psalm 134 with its command to lift up one’s hands.

We are invited to bless the Lord; we are commanded to bless the Lord.  And then someone say, “But I don’t feel like it.  And I won’t be a hypocrite.  I can’t bless the Lord if I don’t feel like blessing the Lord.  It wouldn’t be honest.”

The biblical response to that is, “Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord!”  You can lift up your hands regardless of how you feel; it is a simple motor movement.  You may not be able to command your heart, but you can command your arms.  Lift your arms in blessing, just maybe your heart will get the message and be lifted up also in praise.  We are psychosomatic beings; body and spirit are intricately interrelated.  Go through the motions of blessing God and your spirit will pick up the cue and follow along.  “For why do men lift their hands when they pray?  Is it not that their hearts may be raised at the same time to God?”

If we always waited until we felt like worshipping, we might not worship at all.  We simply do not jump out of bed every Sunday morning shouting “Hallelujah, today we get to worship the living God!”  There are likely some Sunday mornings in which we barely make it to church at all.  But there are times among those “down” mornings when we are surprised by the grace of God and we find ourselves worshipping in spirit in truth.  That would not have happened if we had not first got our bodies (to church) in motion.

“Heart worship and body worship are not mutually exclusive, they complement each other.  “To tie it all together – we simply can’t be spiritual without being physical.  For man was never created to be either just a soul or just a body.  We are not one or the other, but both.”  -Peter E. Gillquist in ‘The Physical Side of Being Spiritual’

 

  1. WORSHIP IS VIBRANT

“The person and nature of God can be seen by the worship displayed by His people.”

Christianity Today ran a splendid article by J. Daniel Baumann on the importance of true worship.  Baumann argued in the article that “biblical worship … is celebration” … insisting that “the characteristic note of Old Testament worship is exhilaration.  He explains  ‘That is not to say we are to be flippant or careless (see Ps 89:7), nor that we gather in order to exchange emotional highs and get spiritual goose pimples.  When I was a child, I was given to occasional restlessness during church services.  I was admonished to “sit still, you’re in church.”  Somehow I got the wrong message.  My folks never intended it – but I was getting the impression that God was a grouch; I wasn’t convinced I could even enjoy him.  I’ve changed my mind, or, better yet, the Bible is changing my mind.’

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote :  “There are no people in the world who have such a right to be happy, nor have such cause to be joyful as the saints of the living God …  Why, brethren, true praise sets the heart ringing its bells, and hanging out its streamers.  Never hang your flag at half-mast when you praise God; no, run up every colour, let every banner wave in the breeze, and let all the powers and passions of your spirit exult and rejoice in God your Saviour.”

Herbert M. Carson in ‘Christian Worship’ :

“A healthy stirring of the emotions is produced by the truth of God applied by the Holy Spirit to the mind and conscience and will.  It is from that impact of the Word that the deepest emotional experiences emerge, and it is here that we find the secret of the depth of feeling associated in Scripture with true worship.  It was this appreciation of the truth which led the psalmist to tears of repentance.  It was truth also which stirred him to joy and gladness, and at times to exaltation of spirit.  A false emotionalism acts like a drug which dulls the sensitivities even while it seems to stimulate, so that the addict needs more frequent and stronger doses.  A true emotional stirring is one that not only stimulates us to worship, but deepens our spiritual zest and gives us a capacity as well as a passionate desire for deeper experiences of the fullness of God.

It is possible to err in this matter is different ways.  There are congregations where the stress is all on objective truth.   There is little scope for emotional release and the result is a people who are strong in doctrinal knowledge, but apparently dull in spirit.  The service of worship in such a situation can become frigid and lifeless.  At the other extreme are those who live in a state of constantly induced excitement.  The subjective element has taken over as the objective has receded.  The result is a sorry condition of superficiality where all too often people are ready to grasp at any new novelty, and to be led astray by all kinds of doctrinal aberrations.

 

Worship 4

Worship is far more rooted deep within our heart, mind and spirit than we can ever imagine.  It emanates from our knowledge of God, of Who He Is, What He Is to us, and what He has done in our lives.

Knowing His demand for our worship, His desire for our worship, His delight in our worship and His worthiness of our worship propels us to acknowledge His Supremacy and Lordship, adore His Highness and Majesty and appreciate His Mercy, Grace and Peace.  This conviction drives us to exalt His glory and to enjoy His greatness.

This experience of worship flows from us in expressions and forms consistent with our conviction, our culture, the circumstances and context of the gathering, our exposure and upbringing (conditioning) and our character and temperament.  The various expressions of worship as in the various churches and cultures must be seen in this light.  We do not have to be twins to be brothers and sisters. We only need to love, adore and worship our Heavenly Father to be brothers and sisters.

 

Living Sacrifices
The believer’s worship can now be found in Rom 12:1-2 – that which is spiritual, sincere and sanctified by obedience to scriptural truth.

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

 

Confirmation Bias, and Blunder

It’s a long time since I learnt something as fresh, insightful and illuminating as Confirmation Bias – from the link below, and the appended YT’s that accompany it.  I showed it to my wife to cross-check whether there’s merit in this phenomena as described.  She said ‘definitely’ – the article has put a handle to this unconscious and insidious predisposition that prevent us from learning.

“Confirmation bias” is the name for a very common trait that all human beings share. When we favor information that validates our pre-existing beliefs but refuse to consider information that threatens our pre-existing beliefs, we are demonstrating confirmation bias; other names are confirmatory bias, my side bias or subjective validation. 

Confirmation Bias – Pirate Christian

Video – Confirmation Bias

One of the enduring tags I treasure was from a YFC A5 calendar? (if I remember correctly) with a page showing a man on a parachute, with the caption “Our mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open”.  I suppose this was an antidote for Confirmation Bias.

When my daughter followed her friends and started attending NCC, I had to visit and see for myself whether the teachings of NCC were sound.  I even wrote to their leadership twice when my daughter narrated what she had been hearing from the youth leaders! And there were a few heated exchanges with my daughter regarding her convictions based on NCC teachings! She chose to be baptized there instead of the church she grew up with. I concluded then that services at NCC was God’s hip way of reaching the MTV generation, with their smooth, swinging worship music and the smart and groovy ‘uniforms’ of the ushers and leaders. (NCC has since discarded such adornments)

I had the personal preference to attend churches in neighbourhoods I stayed, seeing how the NT believers were always identified by the location they resided.  As I had moved a couple of times, I changed membership, just to be identified with the Christian community where I lived, without much concern for the denominational legacy.  I thought my ‘grounding’ in scriptures would insulate and immunize me from doctrinal inadequacies and anomalies, while giving credence to Christian love and brotherhood.

I stayed on and identified and immersed myself in my previous church for more than 10 years, even when I was ever mistreated, not to mention the many precepts and practices there were contrary to my convictions. Yes, I did write to leadership on occasions. None of my outside brethren asked why I attended a Pentecostal church that is deficient in sound doctrine and majored on soliciting money for missions. Often, after Sunday services, I would have mental sword-fighting with the content of the sermons. It wasn’t as what Jeremiah experienced -“Thy words were found, and thy words became to me the joy and delight of my heart”. Sometimes it would be finding sand in your mouth when you try to digest the sermons.  Sometimes it would be smoke that brought tears, and smarting pain in the eyes, rather than tears of fear and trembling; joy and worship.

I had started visiting Queenstown Remand Prison as a counsellor, then went on to the high security Tanah Merah Prison and the Changi Prison, conducting Sunday services and administering the Memorial emblems of the Bread and Wine. As those visits were on Sunday mornings, I didn’t want to miss church. So I looked for churches with afternoon services and weekly remembrance of Jesus’ finished work. So that was how I began to attend NCC as a visitor.  My daughter was no longer there, having gone overseas.

And was I surprised. The unveiling of Jesus in the pages of the OT really was a joy and delight. Having begun and baptized with the open Brethren, the weekly search light beamed upon Jesus during each memorial communion was honoring to my Lord, and inspiring to me. So I continued there, as a guest.  To be a Berean, I had to be a parachutist with an open mind! I read widely and searched deeply on this Gospel of Grace as preached by NCC. Finally, I told my wife, let’s go to a church that preaches the Word that engenders faith (Rom 10:17), and not fear, as in many groups advocating the imperatives. My wife later recounted – “it is finding our first love, falling in love with Jesus again”

Some were surprised that I moved to NCC; probably due to their understanding of my doctrinal convictions and the notoriety of Joseph Prince and NCC. But none raised an eyebrow when I attended the previous Pentecostal church! Two of my dear brothers, serving the Lord overseas were watchful over me. One of them, who had lived with Roy Robertson, stayed with Walt Henricksen (author – Disciples Are Made, Not Born), studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, came to Singapore with his wife and met my wife and me and asked (cautioned) about my association with NCC. I am deeply grateful for their concern and covering.

I am ever asking the Lord to be my Captain, Covering, Companionship, Comfort and Counsel.  Yes His counsel, to teach me in my pilgrimage as I make my way home to dwell with Him! And before I could receive His counsel, from Himself, as a Berean, or as a Ethiopian, I must make sure that my beliefs, concepts, even convictions are not burned as ROM in my heart and mind, but remain as volatile RAM, easily erased by my Counsellor, replaced with the Words of Life, and then imprinted deeply, that I may know Him accurately and truly, see Him clearly, hear Him soundly, love Him dearly, walk with Him closely, serve Him faithfully and treasure His family intently.

To do this, I must watch out for “Confirmation Bias, and Blunder”, ever validating my loyalties to any denominational or creedal conclusions and convictions upon my understanding of scriptures.

 

 

HE has spoken to us by HIS SON

Christology

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me”

Many years ago, I attended the launch and presentation of a book on Israel, and the author listed the subjects in Systematic Theology normally taught in bible schools.  He remarked that Israelogy has been left out of most the theological curriculum. I agreed fully. Arnold Fruchtenbaum had written about this and championed for this neglected subject to be included.

However, when I looked at the list on the board, I realized that Christology was placed as one of the subjects together with the rest.

Suddenly it dawned on me that studying and experiencing Christ should be the all-encompassing, all-embracing, grand and sweeping preoccupation, way above every other subject!  He cannot be replaced, misplaced or displaced!  Even the song sung by Israel Houghton “Jesus At The Center” could only scratch the surface of Him Who is all worthy. I believe if seminaries and bible schools would teach the supremacy and preeminence of Jesus and His finished work on the cross as the central thread and axis around which all other subjects are wound, the ramification would be awesome and life-changing in the churches.

Jesus at the center of it all, Jesus at the center of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be, it’s always been You, Jesus, Jesus

Jesus, nothing else matters
Nothing in this world will do
Jesus, You’re the center
Everything revolves around You
Jesus, You at the center of it all, The center of it all

From my heart to the Heavens, Jesus be the center
It’s all about You, yes, it’s all about You
From my heart to the Heavens, Jesus be the center
It’s all about You, yes, it’s all about You

So Jesus, be the center of Your church
Jesus be the center of Your church
And every knee will bow
And every tongue shall confess You Jesus, Jesus
Say His name, Jesus, Jesus

From my heart to the Heavens, Jesus be the center
It’s all about You, yes, it’s all about You 
     

Our brethren in City Harvest

I wanted to be a Sentry

Somehow, seeing the posting of someone (whom I knew) in the FB “CHC Confessions” of the present sad saga in Singapore, I joined in the fray. What developed was unexpected, and rather illuminating, and revealing. I just wanted to chat about issues in terms of principles and precepts from my own perspective, and wandered into the playground involving personalities (and probably Chinese whispers [I just learnt this new phrase]) .

I posted deep within Tan Sin Liang’s input in “CHC Confessions”. He is a prominent, competent and astute lawyer, and presumably also a lay Baptist teacher. The gist of my last posting is as follows:-

A dear brethren sent me a private message not to engage in unproductive banter (with someone else). I listened and this is my last post, after waking up this morning with promptings. Hopefully posting this deep within our dear TSL’s post will be relevant (to those in this particular thread) and not cause unintended collateral damage.

Paul in his pastoral letters admonished Timothy to be faithful as a student, a son, a servant, a steward, a sower, a sportsman, a soldier and a sentry. Having been concerned with our CHC brethren, I jumped in, for wanting to be a good son, I must also be a good brother, not throwing stones in these circumstances as all of us (the rest of believers in Singapore with our common testimony) are in.

And trying to be a sentry, I shared teachings from others who can teach and train and talk so much better than myself. I am convinced that the source is just like what AW Pink (http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Parables/parables_03.htm) and messianic Jew Jacob Prasch (in Youtube, see earlier blog) warned about (the birds of the air) in the prophetic parables of Matthew 13 and from Rev and Zech, the Birds (our enemy), the Basket (doctrines of demons), the Bimbo (the harlot who tempts and taunts the bride of Christ) and Babylon (the seat of false teaching and religion).

We have cautioned against the distortions and deceptions from the pulpits which led to the challenges we now face in Singapore. But somehow, many of us from the pew has joined in to cast doubt, divide, distract (I prefer more light than fireworks). I felt it could be done with more discernment, discretion, (depth, decorum and dignity, a a lot more hugs). God says pray for wisdom to discern and our comments and conclusions, concepts and convictions should be consistent with – Spiritual revelation, not secular reasoning (Mk 8:16, Prov 3:5,6) or worse satanic reckonings coming from the prince and powers of the air (all these three sources of  wisdom are mentioned in James)

We have advocated a return to scriptures which teach us to be pure in our message, motives, ministry and methods – to nourish, nurture and nurse those who are young in the faith (lambs), and to model, mentor and mature those who are older (sheep)  (1 Thess 2). In advocating bible study, the fruit of our study will show in our talk and walk (how we relate and respond with all alike, rather than react). Paul said – no guile, no guise, no manipulation of people, no massaging of message to camouflage words and concepts of evil and lies to displace and replace and displace the Words that are eternal and living, I asked a pastor, if any other disguise as a sheep, will the person in disguise bark, howl or baa. I think the birds of the air will try to baa, quote scriptures and sound Christian. And one could unwittingly missed out on spiritual revelations and wisdom when our convictions stem from secular reasonings and satanic reckonings. We can discern, differentiate and distinguish the talk and the walk . Jesus recognised the momentary disguise of the bird in Peter.  Peter had unknowingly allowed himself to be persuaded by words that did not come from spiritual revelation!

Let us be careful of the birds – watch these YT. It scares me, and I trust it will help us to be aware, awake and alert in these last days.

The Most Important Chapter in the New Testament

Heretic, Lunatic or Fanatic

Two months ago, I shared Jacob Prasch’s sermon on the “Birds of the Air” with a pastor, and showed how these same birds (agents of Satan) returned and resided in the tree mentioned in the parable of the Mustard Seed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SCHAThQVCY

Two weeks ago, the pastor lamented that when he shared this interpretation with his cell-group, the members were incredulous, and said that he borders on being a heretic, lunatic or a fanatic with his views.  The cell members had gone on to refer to commentaries and other resources which have the orthodox teaching of the mustard tree growing big to offer shade and shelter to the needy and helpless.  His teaching has not been too convincing!

The Lord does lead and counsel those who ask for His light.  Following this resistance, somehow, the Lord lead us to the teachings of A W Pink, (The Prophetic Parables of Matthew 13) which I believe strongly ALL pastors and leaders must chew over and deliberate.  In the “Foreward”, Pink wrote

“We purpose giving a series of studies on the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, which, in the writer’s judgment, is, from the standpoint of prophecy, the most important chapter of all the New Testament. There is much in God’s prophetic program which must necessarily remain dark until the parables of this chapter are thoroughly mastered. At present they are much misunderstood and misinterpreted.”

The teaching / interpretation of AW Pink might have hints to the current saga of Christian leaders found guilty of CBT.  All the positive and negative comments in the social media and in the websites of those concerned do highlight the pain and torment the parties experience.  Perhaps, we need to see behind the trees (as in garden of Eden).

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Parables/index.htm

Extract :-

“Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took, and sowed in His field: Which, indeed, is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (vv. 31, 32).

It should be evident to all, that our understanding of this parable hinges upon a correct interpretation of its three central figures: the mustard-seed, the great tree which sprang from it, and the “birds of the air” which came and lodged in its branches. What does each represent ?

Now there are few passages of Scripture which have suffered more at the hands of commentators than the third and fourth parables of Matthew 13. They have been turned completely upside down; that is to say, they have been made to mean the very opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. The main cause of this erroneous interpretation may be traced back to a wrong understanding of the expression “kingdom of heaven.” Those who have failed in their definition of this term are, necessarily, all at sea, when they come to the details of these parables.

The popular and current explanation of these parables is that they were meant to announce the glorious success of the Gospel. Thus, that of the mustard-seed is regarded as portraying the rapid extension of Christianity and the expansion of the Church of Christ. Beginning insignificantly and obscurely, its proportions have increased immensely, until ultimately it shall cover the earth. Let us first show how untenable and impossible this interpretation is:

First, it must be steadily borne in mind that these seven parables form part of one connected and complete discourse whose teaching must necessarily be consistent and harmonious throughout. Therefore, it is obvious that this third one cannot conflict with the teaching of the first two. In the first parable, instead of drawing a picture of a field in which the good Seed took root and flourished in every part of it, our Lord pointed out that most of its soil was unfavorable, and that only a fractional proportion bore an increase. Moreover, instead of promising that the good-ground section of the field would yield greater and greater returns, He announced that there would be a decreasing harvest—”some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.’’ In the second parable, our Lord revealed the field as over-sown with “tares,” and declared that these should continue until the harvest-time, which He defined as “the end of the age.” This fixes beyond all doubt the evil consequences of the Enemy’s work, and positively forbids the expectation of a world won to Christ during this present dispensation, Christ plainly warned us that the evil effects of the Devil’s labors at the beginning of the age would never be repaired. The crop as a whole is spoiled! Thus this third parable cannot teach that the failure of things in the hands of men will be removed and reversed.

 

P/S.  I have written in the past about the devices of the enemy to cast Doubt on God’s Word, to Distract us from our pilgrimage, to Distort God’s Word, to Deceive we believers, and to Destroy God’s church.  Now, I realise that I missed out on an important truth – Disguise. 

I have hinted on looking behind the trees in trying to understand the sad saga of the Church in Singapore with regards to the guilty verdict of 6 church leaders.  Wonder whether any weight should be given to the following input on the adviser to the church concerned

http://phil-pringle-the-c3-church-satanist.com/

https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/diploma-mills-and-doctorate-dils/

 

It may be interesting to find out about the qualifications and credentials of church leaders, and the institutions they obtained their training :

http://c3churchwatch.com/tag/kevin-dyson/

Extract =

As pointed out in my previous post (here), City Harvest Church’s (CHC) Rev “Dr” Kong Hee and Rev “Dr” Phil Pringle obtained their master’s and doctorates from the grandly named New Covenant International University and Theological Seminary (NCIU), a diploma mill (awarding bogus degrees for money) in Lake Worth, Florida.

NCIU was founded in Auckland, New Zealand in 1978 by a New Zealander “Dr” Kevin Dyson, who has only very recently (September 2010) been appointed to the Advisory Committee of CHC, along with Phil Pringle, to improve CHC’s  structure, governance and accountability  (source).

Kevin Dyson is also on the Board of CMN Ministry, which is affiliated with Phil Pringle’s C3 Church (source)