Category: Community

Beyond our bubbles

I came across this outside a local restaurant recently – Covid-safe dining in isolation. Is this indeed the new normal? It also made me wonder if as Christians & the church, are we guilty of living in our isolated bubbles? Another way of putting it is, do we exist in our own echo chambers? 2 Tim. 4.3-4 warns us that a time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but gather teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear, suiting their own desires, turning away from the truth. May we instead heed Jesus’ instruction to be salt of the earth & light of the world, not hidden, but to shine our light before people that they may see our good works & glorify God our heavenly Father (Matt. 5.13-16).

In these challenging times of the global Covid-19 pandemic, children and students can get too little or too much exposure to news and anxiety. As parents and leaders, we need to figure out a balance between the two and avoid too little or too much.

Tim Elmore wrote an interesting post “How often should we talk about the pandemic with our kids?” where he draws from personal experience and also discusses an upcoming book “The Pandemic Population,” where he interviews Great Depression kids and shares their responses. Here’s a summary.

Guidelines when talking about crises with kids:

  • Give them only as much as their minds can handle
  • Start the conversation over a meal; wait for them to ask a question
  • Let the news reports spark the conversation
  • When an overload is observed or building, stop
  • Move on to age-appropriate topics; let kids be kids

Great Depression kids’ responses:

  • The majority of them were not aware they were living in the Great Depression
  • Everyone felt they were all the same and we’re in this thing together
  • People maintained simplicity, gratitude, and contentment
  • Adults raised kids collectively and worked to build morals and work ethic
  • Good attitudes and virtues seemed to be paramount

Read the full article here.

Learning community

Every Tuesday, the PhD ICS (Intercultural studies) community (seniors, juniors, professors) meet together for lunch, with occasional sharings on relevant academic or missiological topics, and personal testimonies of those in the program as well. It has truly been an enriching and inspiring time for myself, even as I begin on the journey myself. I am indeed thankful to God for this rare opportunity, and more and more each day, I see His hand in directing me and my family here.

I had previously wanted to post a picture of our regular weekly lunch gatherings, but due to Covid-19, school closures & social distancing, we had our first virtual meeting via Zoom, ala Brady-Bunch-like, where we shared, reflected and prayed together. I am encouraged & appreciative of this group, when you miss family and home, especially in the midst of this pandemic world crisis.

Life on life

Just last week, our Young Adults spent 4 days at a serene and simple retreat centre in Malacca. God blessed our time together, being challenged and encouraged by God’s Word and Spirit through the speaker, the retreat activities planned by the organizing committee, and the many good opportunities for reflection, deep sharing, prayer and fellowship. At the same time, we were mindful to prevent this from simply ending up as a “mountaintop experience.” Rather, we hope that what we learnt, shared and committed to would continue on into our daily lives beyond the retreat.

One of the precious lessons we learnt and were reminded of was the sharing of life stories or “narratives” with one another, in the context of a safe and loving spiritual community. Paul writes about this to the church in Thessalonica, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Thes. 2:8)

Are we sometimes guilty of focusing so much on the Word and teaching ministries (which is something we should be thankful for and continue in), but yet we do not go beyond that to sharing our lives with one another? As the old saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.” Paul understood this; Jesus modelled this, sharing his life and ministry with his disciples for 3 years. Mark 3:14 records, “He appointed twelve … that they might be with Him and that He might send them out …” Even the Sanhedrin council (of rulers, elders and teachers of the law) recognized this, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

There is something valuable about sharing life together, when two or more people spend quality time in deep and meaningful spiritual and life conversations. Perhaps the greatest challenge is the precious commodity of time, as well as the increasingly fast-paced, multi-stimulus, high-stress environments most of us are accustomed to. As the year comes to an end, and we reflect and give thanks for what God has done in the past year, may it be our prayer to develop spiritual friendships, to have opportunities to share life on life, and allow God to work in, through and among us, to reflect Christ for His glory, “for where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt. 18:20)

Connected (Heb. 10.19-25)
1. Draw near to God (vv. 19-22)
2. Hold unswervingly to the hope (v. 23)
3. Consider how to spur one another on (vv. 24-25)
We as God’s people seek to connect to God, be anchored in hope, & encourage one another in authentic Christian community.

Sermon slides here.


A friend in need

No doubt you have heard the expression “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” The origins of this idiom is unclear, and seems to date back centuries, such as ancient writers Ennius, “A sure friend is known in unsure times,” and Euripides, “It is in trouble’s hour that the good must clearly show their friendship; though prosperity by itself in every case finds friends.” But why is a friend in need truly a friend? One suggestion is to emphasize or phrase it this way, “A friend, in need, is a friend indeed (or even ‘in deed’),” meaning that when we are in need, those who help us or continue to be a friend to us, are truly our friends.

The Bible puts it this way, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17) Jesus Himself showed us the greatest example by His obedient death on the cross, in His own words, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)

When is the last time you had a friend in need? How did you react or respond? How far are we willing to help or love our friends, at our convenience, or at a sacrificial, personal cost? Would we be willing to “lay down our lives” for our friends?

Amongst our circles of friendship, think about those who seem to be more troublesome or needy. Are we often irritated or try our best to avoid or shun such people? Here, we are not talking about the stranger on the street, or even the neighbours around us. Among your friends, are there those that you tend to distance yourself from, particularly because they always seem to need help or attention? In this day and age, perhaps it seems easier because all we have to do is unfriend or unfollow someone on social media, or block or mute them on our messaging apps or devices.

How can we be better friends to those in need around us? Let me suggest some practical ways. Firstly, pray for your friends. Commit some time each day or week to intercede to God for them. Even when they hurt you or take advantage or you, God’s word reminds us to even love our enemies and pray for them, perhaps in this case, our “frienemies”. Secondly, be concerned about their lives. Don’t just turn to your friends when you yourself are in need, but take an interest in what’s happening in their lives, the goods and the bads. As we understand more of what they are going through, perhaps God will open a way in which you can be a better friend to them. Lastly, be there for them. Presence is more important and valuable in life than presents. When they need a shoulder to cry on, when they need an extra dose of encouragement and support, when they celebrate their victories, through the highs and lows of life, where will you be? By their side, being a friend, or busy with our own life, or other pursuits or things? Don’t wait until your friends are gone, to regret not being a better friend. With God as your source of love and strength, ask God to make you a better friend today.

United in Christ

Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself.
Ephesians 2.20 NLT

Our young adults had their annual retreat this year from 14-17 Dec at Quayside Hotel, Malacca. About 40 of them braved the checkpoints and the 5-hour coach ride for 3 nights, on the theme “United in Christ,” taken from Ephesians 2.20. Our speaker was Rev Dr Desmond Soh, a lecturer from Singapore Bible College.

PC: Desmond Soh

#orpcyam #unitedinchrist

Membership Sunday

Membership Sunday – praise God for the 4 baptisms, 5 confirmations, 8 transfers (including 3 youths & many YAs)

A police officer, Bobby White, in Gainesville, Florida, responds to a “noise disturbance” call complaining about a group of kids playing street basketball, by joining in their game. He then promises to return with “backup,” surprising the kids with an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. #hoopsnotcrime

Update (4 Feb 2016):
The Orlando Magic basketball team has invited Officer Bobby, and 9 of the young men, their families and 2 other officers, to a Magic game, where they will sit courtside during practice to meet the players, and each will get a basketball. #puremagic

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