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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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.

 

 

Denominational loyalties and Confirmation Bias

Many years ago, I read a sermon by a relative who was also a pastor in a local church.  Somehow, the message drifted into the scenario concerning mega-churches and charismatic pastors in Singapore.  He said that many pastors in mega churches were not accredited or ordained, and as such has no real legitimacy in teaching the scriptures, unlike his denomination, and obviously hinting that he was ordained, with a Rev. to his name.

And recently I read something similar in a blog on Ecclesiology and the lack of it.

…. A group of Christians coming together at a member’s home for worship and bible study, is not a Church. A group of Christians coming together to have a memorial “Lord’s Supper” is not a Church. A Church is where God rules and reigns through the ordained ministers, elders and deacons He gave to His Church! No ordination, no Church! God may be present of course, since God is always present where two or three Christians come together for prayer (Mt. 18:20), but that is not the Church. God after all is omnipresent, so just because God works salvation through sharing of testimony does not make the gathering where the testimony is shared is the Church.

….. They have no real offices and no ordained ministers, thus they are not real churches. Since they are not churches, their baptisms are invalid and their “Lord’s Supper” sacrilegious, a mockery of the true sacrament instituted by Christ. To partake in such “Lord’s Suppers” therefore is sin.

(http://puritanreformed.blogspot.sg/2016/04/ecclesiology-and-lack-of-it.html)

 Wow! Wait a minute!  Sacrilegious?  Mockery?  Sin? Am I reading correctly from the last para above?

The above do not sync with my own Confirmation Bias, but definitely are minor issues that do not  disturb or distract me, even when it involves people I know.  Only when issues are critical or essential would I examine the different views against orthodoxy, my own interpretation of scriptures and deliberate which is more convincing, defensible and sound. Denominational or institutional bias related to interpretations of scriptures, and unconscious and subconscious opinions which bothers on preferences for certain principles, and practices, could lead to prejudgment towards alternatives which might even be more substantiated and demonstrated.

It happens all the time. And Confirmation Bias within institutions with the GroupThink consensus and coherence phenomena prevents us from fidelity and adherence to truth.

My senior pastor Joseph Prince openly acknowledged his indebtedness to Hagins and the WOF teachings – which many evangelicals would raise alarm bells. Yet his signature emphasis on the Gospel of Grace is refreshing and radical.

While Prince’s adoption and adherence to the WOF aspect of prosperity is devoid of guile and / for gain (attributing it to be part of our legacy and inheritance in Christ to be blessed), very few outside NCC perceive and discern the distinction and difference.  With a broad brush, NCC and Prince has been painted as “birds of the same feather” with the shady aspects of the WOF.  This unfortunate Collateral Damage brings unwanted and unwarranted discredit to Prince’s Gospel of Radical Grace!  I suppose his Confirmation Bias along denominational loyalties and legacy has blindsided Prince to some degree, or he is just echoing the cultural societal preference of American believers towards wealth and health.

Even though Prince’s version of prosperity is not out of guile or gain, his teaching is flawed, in my opinion.  This is where my own Confirmation Bias pops up, and prompted me to dig further and deeper into the scriptures and the experience of the body of Christ. Hence, my blogs on the matter to share my own opinions. My profile picture is a call to discernment against distortion from the pulpit.

One Sunday, Pastor Prince spoke on tithing, which was a position the church used to hold.  I was prompted to write to him via another pastor about Prince’s incomplete treatment of a passage which was used to imply that God has a high regard for tithing. A few weeks later, he alluded to giving, in two separate sessions in New York and Dallas; and in both occasions, appeared to have come round that tithing is not mandatory. Initially I had wrestled much whether I should write.  So it appeared that indeed, it was a prompting from the Holy Spirit.  Since then, the term tithing is absent whenever the offering bag is passed around, though there were attempts to be creative in the use of phrases lest members are tempted to license in not honoring God with our substance! Salute to my church for using their parachutes! And for tweaking and rebooting this confirmation bias!

At least NCC is bold to change when faced with strong scriptural exposition and explanation. (NCC also instituted weekly Communion in accordance with NT evidences, from monthly routines.) Someone had commented that I am a rare breed, to comment on NCC’s sermons. And I hope I can continue to do so. As a son of my heavenly Father, I’ve become a brother to His other children, and I am also my brother’s keeper.

It is daunting and unpleasant, and could be misunderstood and misinterpreted as being disloyal. But I love my Lord more, and the unchanging truth of His Word! Once, Pastor Prince spoke out to the bible policeman and fault finders in the church, telling them (me?) that the pew is not meant for such people! (see my blog titled Bible Policeman). And once, Pastor admitted that the pulpit is not always right, and there are specks and spots (was it in acknowledgement and response to people holding up the mirror of the Word?)

Indeed, the Word is a mirror to each of us. And the Body of Believers can also hold up the mirror FOR each other, and especially for the church workers, lest we miss or misinterpret His purpose, plan, precepts and program for us all.

So I need to check whether my Confirmation Bias squares and sync with scriptural truth and teachings, and are not according to denominational traditions or mere opinions.

They Will Kill Us (the two witnesses)

Rabbi Threatens: Messianic Jewish Evangelists Deserve Death

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/Default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=27637

Last week, I read about the death threat by a Rabbinic leader for two staff members from One for Israel.  3 days ago, I went up to Eitan Bar (who was at St Andrews Cathedral), and said that I am praying for him.  He said “Oh, you know?”

I met him again yesterday at a function, and went up to him and asked whether he is afraid, added that he should not be afraid since the Rabbinical leader is based in New York and not Israel.  Eitan said that he is not so afraid of the rabbi, it is more of his followers all over Israel.  (Dr Erez confirmed that there are regular attacks from the extreme Jews.  So the threat is real, very real.  Let’s pray for our brethren – the messianic Jews.

And yesterday, Dr Erez surprised Eitan by disclosing that yesterday was Eitan’s birthday.  So spontaneously we sang “Happy Birthday” to Eitan.  And at the end of the session, sang again when a sister found a candle and put in on a cut-up banana cake (from which half the pieces were already eaten by us during the break) and walked up to Eitan.  We sang again.  O such a happy day.  I went up to Eitan, and said, without anything for his birthday, I shared from my phone the Youtube song “Rejoice O Israel” composed by NCC, and presented at the Southern Steps of the Old City of Jerusalem.  Both Dr Erez and Eitan has not heard that song, and would watch that video again in their own time. 

In a separate video response to Mizrachi’s threat, Bar and Vaknin asked for prayers for their personal safety, but also expressed forgiveness and love for the wayward rabbi.

“Rabbi Mizrachi, we still love you, forgive your incitement, and refuse to hate you back,” said Vaknin.

Yeshua said “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever killyou will think that he offers God service.” (John 16:2)

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.

Consumer, Customer or Communer

Exactly a year ago I blogged “The church member – a Consumer, Customer or a Community?” (see Aug 29 2014).

Then a few days ago, I was led to revisit this issue, and googled on the Consumer Church.  The results were more than I expected.  Many others have written on this, mainly on the state of the churches and culture in the west. A sampling is appended below:

“When you read the Gospels, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Jesus attracted large crowds everywhere he went. He was constantly playing to the consumer instincts of his crowds. Let’s face it: It wasn’t the content of his messages that appealed to the masses. Most of the time they didn’t even understand what he was talking about … People flocked to Jesus because he fed them, healed them, comforted them, and promised them things.”  “We are unapologetically attractional. In our search for common ground with unchurched people, we’ve discovered that, like us, they are consumers. So we leverage their consumer instincts.”—Andy Stanley in Deep and Wide (from http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2015/april-online-only/dangers-of-consumer-church.html)

http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.sg/2009/04/consumer-church.html

http://www.christianpost.com/news/church-growth-when-communers-become-consumers-135321/

 

I am not a sociologist, theologian or pastor to dwell deeply or intelligently into the merits of such phenomena and practices.  But I am concerned to try to discern what is excellent, pure and blameless from what is good (Phil 1:10).

There are principles and practices that are good and wise in the secular sense, but as people belonging to God and living out spiritual values and realities, we need to discern and differentiate the wisdom and practices that are spiritual, secular and satanic (cf James 3:13…  and the following scriptural passages)

1 Cor 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Col 1: And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

 

Purity in Message, Motives, Ministry and Methods

And last night, my son-in-law and daughter shared how they were asked to serve in a minor leadership roles in their church. We discussed at length about issues faced by “operating” ministries in churches today, and my rejoinder was that as we belong to God’s spiritual organic church and not a secular organization, we must flesh out spiritual values, principles, pattern and practices.  At all times, the biblical framework must be our operational manual.  Paul’s life, message, motives, ministry and methods were pure, as indicated in 1 Thessalonians 2 (see blog entry on June 2013 – Motives and methods in ministry

The above is just the background to what I really want to think through.

Many years ago, I asked another daughter whether she would attend Joel Osteen’s meetings in her city.  She would not, and said that people had to purchase tickets to attend, and she wondered why should people pay to listen to the gospel. Two months ago, I informed her that her previous pastor would be touring the U.S. again, and asked her to schedule to fly either to New York or Texas to attend, while waiting for the details.  We talked about this again three days ago, and she said that since the friends she contacted would not be travelling with pastor to go over, she will not attend the Grace Revolution USA Tour 2015.  She was looking forward to commune and engage with fellow believers! Otherwise, she said, it would be just like attending a concert, a talk, a meeting, and not relating and bonding meaningfully with brethren as a community.

…….

I had watched the live streaming of Jacob Prasch preaching in a small church in Devore. I just marvell at how technology has enabled me to listen to him live, and how a small church freely let people around the world consume the message, for freely they have received, and freely they gave to the community. And then the recording would be released in Youtube, Vimeo etc, for the equipping of the saints who can tune in anytime and anywhere. No restriction for people to consuming (The Bread of Life, the Fountain of Living Waters), for His Word are freely received, and as such freely shared. No necessity and agenda for recordings to be made, no marketing for customers – only a community to share with.

When the pilgrims from beyond Israel attended the feasts in Jerusalem, it made sense for them to travel only with currencies instead of towing sheep and doves and rams all the way from Syria, Egypt, Rome etc. So it was legitimate, wise and convenient to exchange their currency to shekels and purchase the animals for the temple sacrifice. Yet our Lord Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual”

Secular or spiritual wisdom in our message, motives, ministry and methods? The mandate is spiritual.

Upside?  Downside?  Solutions?  Cautions? – to quote Richard Dahlstrom, pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle when he wrote in http://www.patheos.com/blogs/richarddahlstrom/2010/05/05/being-a-church-in-a-consumer-culture/

Should churches view members and attendees as customers to promote their merchandise or as consumers of the Word of Life, or as communers in the community of the King?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was I “LEFT BEHIND?”

I was LEFT BEHIND

Earlier in the week, my wife informed me that she would fetch her nieces (visiting from Perth) for NCC’s third service instead of going for the first service at 8.30am.

This morning, I ate breakfast alone, leaving my wife to sleep late. The Ipad1 kept on crashing, so I did not manage to meditate the Joseph Prince devotions for today, nor complete the 2nd plan from the YouVersion Bible Plan. So I surfed a bit to find out how to do a reset for the obsolute Ipad1, intending to do so after I returned from church. I bathed, changed and left for the StarPac, where New Creation Church is located.

There was hardly any crowd – only a couple of straddlers –  when I went into the building.

Hei, where’s the family? (church slogan is Hei, we’re family).

Hei, where’s everybody? Hei, I’m being left behind? How can it be, my wife is still around, in bed.

Then I realised that today is not Sunday! I messaged my wife “Ooh, the Star is empty! Today is Saturday!” She message back “So funny, ha ha ha.”

And this verse flashed in my mind, with the thought “am I really so eager for church? For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (Ps 84:10)

So I decided to go to Chinatown for another breakfast of steamed glutinous rice with peanuts, mushrooms, and shallots, to assuage my moment of folly and futility.

Somehow, the writings of Howard Snyder came back to mind, (Community of the King, Problem of Wineskins). The family of believers is the community of the King, not the StarPac building nor the organisational structure of NCC, rather the called out community worshipping at the StarPac. (see earlier blog on Consumer, Customer or Community)

AFTER THE RAPTURE

What would have happened to the StarPac building (the NCC owns the 3rd to the 11th floors, built at a cost of about US 500M) after the Harpazo or rapture? Who would be occupying and using the building, the facilities, the world class sound and light fixtures. Would another religion move in, and “inherit” the auditorium and the auxiliary halls. Likewise for all the believers and churches of Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in this world!

On a personal level, who would be taking over my apartment, the car, my bank accounts, my assets etc. My family members would also have been raptured, and there wouldn’t be anyone to inherit or claim the assets here on earth.

The Israelites took with them the treasures of Egypt – the precious metal, stones, skins etc and subsequently used them for the construction of the Tabernacle – and within this mobile and living Tent God dwelt and related to His people (cf ‘The Problem of Wineskins”). That was the time they crossed the Red Sea and before they crossed the Jordan. Over the Jordan, it was a land of milk and honey, and God would tabernacle within His people .

With the Harpazo, the Rapture, we will not (or rather cannot) be taking anything with us. What would happen to all the assets and wealth accumulated, I wondered.

Would the enemy say – ‘huh, you plundered Egypt (type of the world), this time round, it’s payback time. It will be for the world’s picking. You Christians have named and claimed prosperity in faith, – your houses, your church buildings, your nice clothings, your cars, your investments; and it is all to be left behind. Very few of you learnt the lesson, that after Egypt, you embark on a journey as a pilgrim to the Promise Land. This world is not your home, you are just passing through.” (Am reading Pilgrim’s Progress for now – not easy reading as it was written long lo o o n n ng ago.)

P/S My wife wondered how this could have happened – going off to an empty church? I said “Maybe God wants me to write this blog”