Category: Church

News trickled in around the stroke of midnight in Singapore (UTC+8) on Wednesday night (21 Feb). It took a while for it to sink in, and I checked a few credible news sites before reposting, in a faint thought that it could be fake news. It wasn’t. Billy Graham had passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 99. Throughout the night, more and more news feeds poured in, eulogies, well-wishes, tributes, fond memories, most if not all, in great respect and gratitude for one of our modern giants of the faith, the great evangelist.

Thom Rainer wrote a great article of this historic Christian figure as he recollects lessons he learnt whilst visiting him in 2009.

Here’s a summary:

  1. A life pleasing to the Lord is a life of integrity.
  2. Our first ministry is to our family.
  3. Listen to critics, but don’t dwell on them.
  4. Humility is one of the greatest virtues of leaders.
  5. All that really matters is Jesus.

Read the full article here.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:21 NASB

His passing also reminded me of another respected American who also has been promoted to glory, also Baptist, also at the age of 99, also a great man of God.

Ps John Willis came to Singapore in 1966 after retiring at age 62 to help pastor our then starting-out young church at Bartley. I remember him fondly from a young age as he would share the gospel story through chalkboard art to the Sunday school children and during sermons. In later years, I remember him sitting by the main door of the church, shaking hands and greeting every single worshipper walking in by name. He married off almost all in our parents’ generation, despite being single. He was like the grandfather of the church family. He used to live on our church premises for almost 30 years, and after he passed in 2004, at age 99, we used to use his room for Bible study and awe at his wall-to-wall library of books (all read) and the simplicity and humility of his living and life.

2 scholarship funds at SBC and Moody were set up in 2004 from his bequeathed will, and in 2010, a book “An American we are grateful for” was launched, a hall at the newly rebuilt Bartley was named after him, and a missions fund was set up in his name as well.

Read more at the SCF book project here.


A short history on the impact and influence of the Protestant Reformation.

Let us be one voice

On this day in history, on 9 July 1963, the leaders of Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak signed the Malaysia Agreement to establish the Federation of Malaysia, which was formed shortly after on 16 September. However, less than 2 years later, on 9 August 1965, Singapore became a sovereign, independent nation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today is Synod Sunday, and its purpose is to foster unity and encourage communication among the Presbyterian churches in Singapore. This year’s theme is on the unity of the church, looking at Jesus’ prayer for the church in Jn. 17:20-23, in line with our church and camp theme, “One in Christ,” from Eph. 4:1-16.

Indeed, unity on different fronts continues to be of utmost importance, be it on a national level, or a spiritual level, amongst churches as the body of Christ. Why is this so?

Firstly, it displays cohesiveness and solidarity. The people that form a group that are united reflect that sense of togetherness, agreement of feeling and action, common interests, and mutual support. Where a church is united, we would see leaders and members supporting and encouraging one another, there would be synergy in decision-making, as well as a deep sense of community and relationships.

Secondly, it shows focus, direction and purpose. A group that is united would be seen to move as one towards a common goal, to fulfill its vision and mission, and to have wisdom and foresight towards the future for themselves and others. As a church, this would mean being clear of our God-given role and to pursue passionately all of God’s plans. Leaders would seek and serve God’s will for the church and beyond.

Lastly, it reflects the values and nature of the group, namely what it stands for, and what sustains it. In the church, our common identity stems from the person and work of Jesus Christ, where we seek to be united in, through and for Him. It also is a reminder that disunity can cause disrepute and disrespect, particularly if a church is divided, it often stumbles and hurts not only its own members, but affects how the world looks at us as Christians.

May we as a church always pray for and strive towards unity in Christ, as Paul prays in Rom. 15.5-6,

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Beauty for ashes

This week, our church sermon passage is on Daniel and the topic of ashes and repentance. In this season of Lent, it is indeed appropriate to reflect on what Christ has done on the cross, the costly grace and salvation that came at the price of our Saviour’s own life for the sins of the world. How often do we take for granted and let slip to the corners of our minds our wretched and sinful state, before we were led to repent of our sins and acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord?

Yet as much as we should not shortcut the process of salvation, and belittle the value and place of godly mourning, sorrow, and repentance, God’s word in Isaiah 61.1-3 proclaims,

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor …
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour …
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of a spirit of despair.

True repentance and Spirit-led life-change leads to a lifetime of beauty and everlasting joy (Isa. 61:7). God is in the business of touching and transforming lives, to bestow comfort for mourning, beauty for ashes, and gladness for despair. That is the true and amazing power and hope we have in the gospel message – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Have you experienced God’s saving grace and salvation in your life? Consider what Christ has done for you and I. Is there a loved one or friend in your life that has yet to come to know the Lord? May God equip and grant you His favour to proclaim His good news, and be an agent of hope and reconciliation for the Lord. May one and all come to experience Christ and be blessed with beauty for ashes this Easter weekend!

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