‘Christianity will never be a friend of this world. Christianity holds out the only arm of salvation to this world, they will never be friends. Christianity will never crossover, but demands that the world crosses over to it’ – Paul Washer, The True Gospel. http://youtu.be/G7X24_vOWwU
Let me start by saying that there are many godly people who attend church. There are many who have discovered and accepted Christ in a church and there are plenty of positive things about attending church. I am trying to put down churches as a place to gather amongst Christians or a place to hear the word of God. In fact, I have learnt a while back (since I haven’t been attending church), that no one should assume that the other party is not following God’s truth or walking closely with God, if they don’t attend church. Each of us will need to be personally accountable for our own walk with God.
For Christians reading this: I am not a know-it-all in these matters. All I hope is to humbly share my insights with this post, anyone can agree or disagree with what I have mentioned in this post. But it will be pointless to argue as I do not want to invite any fruitless discussions about matters on doctrine.
However, I will be vulnerable and share that I have been keeping very quiet and have been feeling grieved on this issue for quite some time, and I know I will not feel peace if I don’t say it.
But one thing I request.
Really do take into consideration with the thoughts that I shared in this post, and if it brings up any doubt in your heart or Spirit. Do go direct to God and ask Him to reveal the truth to you, as we cannot be apathetic Christians.
If you are not a Christian, and it sounds all greek to you in the post, or if you think that I am a bigot, I can understand.
Mega-churches in Singapore
Here I share my thoughts about this thing we call church in Singapore. Church, that is represented by the two biggest mega-churches in Singapore. What I am about to share is not going to sound good, and might get many criticized by many, likely, even offend some of you reading this, who are attending these churches mentioned here.
In regards to the 1st mega-church which is now under investigation by the authorities. I truly do not agree with what this church has done. Sure many will say that it is not my money, and ‘we gave willingly’, or that it’s non of my business or that I have no right to comment.
But, I will not call a pot white when it is black. My stance on this issue goes back to the quote I shared above, which supports the rationale why I feel that church’s focus behind this ministry is flawed. In other words, what the church did, goes against what Christians are called to do in the bible (kindly see the verses that I have linked to at the bottom of this post that speaks about what God has to say about being a carnal Christian).
The parties involved are not guilty unless the law convicts, but for a church, or for any church, the bible is the final authority that will guide their decisions, as well as their conduct of a church in this world, and with this world. I prefer not to focus on what the world thinks about it, as measured by standards of the world. For me, it matters what God thinks, or what the bible says.
This verse in Romans sums up what the bible has to say to this issue :
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. …Romans 12:1-21
I may not agree with what the church has done, but it doesn’t mean that I agree with many of the comments that are made from this Facebook page.
I question the purpose and the motives of many who frequent and comment on the page. There are hateful comments from people I hope are not Christians, since I can almost feel that they seem to be ‘gloating over the church’s misfortune’. Many sound thrilled to see the ‘drama’ unfolding, with the exodus of members from this church that have ‘fallen from grace’. While others think that the law is not doing a good enough job, and are keen to run their own investigation of the church.
Often, while reading the comments, I can almost picture these people at times grinning from ear to ear with their comments, “See I knew it, my church is the right one, definitely not this one.”
What the spectators of this ‘drama’, or the participants who are actively adding fuel to the fire don’t realize, is that it is not just that mega-church that is under the scrutiny of law with issues. Many churches have issues, as no church or leader of the church is infallible.
What’s the Truth?
Let me state this clearly first. This post is not written from a christian who has been spurned by any member of the church, or have harbored any past bitterness for any of the churches. In fact, the people whom I have come into contact with from both mega-churches has always been positive.
The only problem I have experienced is the inability to reconcile the actions of the 1st mega-church to the words in the bible. And I have experience the same for the 2nd mega-church, as I am not able to reconcile what is communicated from the sermons in church to the word of God.
It is up to you to conclude then, by the time you finish reading this post, if there are indeed issues with these churches or simply it is just me with the problem.
For me, the bible has always been the inerrant word of God. So when it comes to determining the accuracy of what is communicated in through church sermons or messages, is to research the topic in questioned in the bible. There are bible tools online that can help you find topics that are mentioned in verses of the bible, in both the Old and New Testament books.
So in order to do an objective and exegesis study to analyze the meaning, one has to understand the verse in context of the whole chapter. If there is any further confusion about the topic, it is always best to use the concordances online to search the meaning of the word in Greek or Hebrew and try to understand the meaning of the word in the verse. If you are still experiencing confusion? The best method I recommend for a Christian is to bring that confusion to the Lord in prayer, and ask Him to reveal the truth to you.
Not just sugar and spice and everything nice
Do you know that the true gospel actually offends?
The true gospel convicts the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgmental to come. You can go ahead and throw stones or LOL at those who are willing to go out on a limb to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near, or God’s judgement is coming”, but that accurately depicts the truth in the gospel.
In fact, spending time reading the bible, I have said this to myself countless of times, “Oh no, did the bible really said that?”. I have learnt not to just take the good sounding parts and neglect the bad sounding ones, and know that I cannot positively confess, “I am under the new covenant, this do not apply to me!”
My journey leaving the 2nd Mega-church started when I felt that I needed to research what I have been taught in Church. I did countless research on the internet on the ‘Word of Faith’ doctrine, about the concept of being ‘Once saved always saved’, and the verses that promoted the concept of effortless Christianity in this church. I researched for days, weeks and months. I prayed for God to reveal to me to pull down the spiritual veil of what has been taught in the church and show me the truth, and what I found out made me sick to the stomach.
There were endless questions running through my mind and I questioned, “Why is the Jesus that I learnt from the bible not the same Jesus that I learnt from this church?”. Often, I questioned the sermons, checked the bible after every service, and I discovered, “The bible didn’t say that, why is that the Pastor didn’t say it, why did he left out that section, why is the full truth not told?” “Why only share the ‘bless me’ parts of the bible, and then say that we can ask for what you desire?” “But what about the will of God, our repentance, our obedience to God, our sanctification?”
Then this words came to me:
Did you find me? Did you seek Me?
Did you call out to Me?
Did you humble yourself and become my servant, not just my child?
Did you truly surrendered your life to me? Are you willing to trade your life and desires for this world, for me in eternity?
Are you willing to follow Me, no matter what? Are you my disciple? Can you say that I AM YOUR LIFE, if you are a Christian?
Find Me while there is still time.
The answers I had to those questions were lame “Maybe sometimes”, and “No” to the rest. I realized that I have just been a spectator the whole time, but never been really a true disciple, a true child of God.
Then I found these verses in the bible :
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” - Matthew 7:13-14
And I was shocked by these other verses I found :
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:21-23
I was far from being able to do what was listed out in the verses, and was absolutely sure that my Christian walk at that point in time definitely did not do the will of God. The church didn’t say that there was a need to do that. And I wonder how much this verse applied to me, since I am far from being willing to follow the will of God, was taught to believe that law didn’t apply to us anymore, as we are now in the new covenant.
I questioned if I have really truly received Christ in my life, as I was not sure anymore that I had.
Subsequently, I found this verse that the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement to come (John 16:8-11). Have I been truly convicted? If I haven’t been convicted means that the Holy Spirit is not in me! So I have been speaking gibberish in tongues the whole time. I needed to be sure, very sure that I was convicted and needed more than just changing my mind about my sin, but truly go on my knees to God and humbly repent.
In order to make Christ my life, the bible said that conviction and repentance is part of the process. Conviction and condemnation are two different things as you can do all without the chest beating and flogging. And there is nothing wrong even if you go on your knees, be humbly repentant when you pray, as God never turns away a repentant, broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).
I also found out that being a Christian in these last 5 years is so darn hard. Do I just give up and assume that I am fine and dandy just because I am saved. No…I am still going to try to be that obedient child who will follow the will of God. Even Paul the apostle said it himself that it is hard (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). I needed to hate my sin, loathe my carnality, to be truly be thankful for God’s remedy: the death, the burial and the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
So for this 2nd Mega-church who preaches effortless Christianity, and for those of you reading this attending this church. The truth is that this church has been just serving you the good bits, and have left out all the tough bits of being a Christian. What is not given in the full truth is a lie.
I have never under-mined the grace of God as it has always been a fundamental message of the gospel. But grace with a dash of carnal christianity or the never-ending promotion of effortless christianity? These concepts are akin to feeding a child with 5 spoonfuls of sugar, and top it with sickly sweet candy to make the bitter medicine go down.
Truth with some amount of leaven mixed in is still a lie, and there is no compromise for that. At that point before I left the church, I was not confident that I will be able to chew the meat and successfully spit out the bones from every sermon, as I was concerned that my mind will eventually be changed to be bought into the lie.
I did not want to think so highly of my human carnality either, neither was strong enough or knew the bible enough at that point to take this risk. I was certain that I will continue taking in the lies, sermon after sermon, if I stayed at this mega-church.
I decided that I cannot be apathetic and risk my soul in peril. So I left the church and never looked back.
The Message has to be right, since the church is growing so fast!
So then I am trying to imply that everyone attending these churches are shamelessly sinning? Did I say that? With a sincere heart, I can truthfully tell you that I do not condemn or judge people who attend these churches, but rather, I was there before, where you are now. I know how it feels like, I will feel offended, indignant and defensive towards anyone who questions my beliefs.
Again I reiterate, it is not you that I have an issue with. I have an issue with the gospel message that is not preached in truth, and pastors who are not shepherding the flock down the right path.
Or did I cheapen grace, obviously not. Law and grace both has its place in the gospel message, one cannot do without the other.
Then many will ask, if this church is not preaching the right message or doing right, why is the church growing? Beats me. But we can’t only use our human logic to relate; that this church has to be good, that’s why it is growing exponentially. They are many house churches, that we are not aware of, that preach the true gospel, but still remain small and insignificant. Do you really think God uses the world’s ways to measure success in His eyes?
Often, God’s ways are not our ways, so it is good not to assume that we know all the answers to how the Kingdom of God works.
But I do know the fact that church growth has always been a key focus for big churches, the bigger the congregation, the more money the church will need to sustain the full time staff, premises and facilities. Some pastors choose not preach the unpopular parts, the not-so-good-sounding parts of the gospel, in the fear that people will not faithfully return and God forbid, don’t want to tithe!
If church growth is the focus of many of these churches, the gospel message needs to sound good and palatable, so people will come back to listen. Even better become members, so that they will make a commitment to tithe 10% of their income monthly. So by tithing to these churches, are we still focused on furthering the kingdom of God, to give to charity, help the poor or the marginalized, or are we just furthering the Kingdom of the Pastor and church?
I used to think I gave to the church as I trusted Pastors to be good stewards of the tithes, and I am giving to God for the furtherance of God’s kingdom, but these days, I am not sure anymore.
Fellowship is not limited to churches
Could the solution be going to small churches or an informal ‘church’ that consists of a small gathering of believers? Maybe, that may be more effective for some people.
There is no command in the bible that says that a believer in Christ must attend a church building in order to worship God. Christians can worship God by our obedience to Him in every day or our lives in every area in our life. That’s true worship. And not neglect reading the bible and praying daily, that will be how God can speak to you!
Indeed we are told to gather together in His name. But fellowship is not limited to geography or location. I have fellowship online with a group of like-minded Christians who are located internationally, where we are able to edify and pray for one another daily, I am closer to them than to any fellowship that I have joined in the past!
I can now say that I have truly found God. And it has been an amazing journey since, that is getting more amazing by the day, better than what any Pastor has said of the Christian life, from that 6 churches that I have been part of for the last 13 years.
And what I abide daily is,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6:5-7
And He has constantly overwhelmed and bowled me over with His love, even before I have come to know and love Him, time after time, love that is beyond any love that I have experienced or come to know in this world.
In my parting note of this post, do have a quick look at this video from Paul Washer. Many Christians and non Christians dislike Paul Washer, as he tends to deliver some hard hitting truths that don’t sound good at all. You would either hate him or will find his message convicting.
2. Friendship with this world separates us from God - James 4:4
3. We do not conform our lives to the ways of the world - Romans 12:2
P.S : I do appreciate the thought and the concern that some of you have in regards to my last post, sincerely hoping that I will find a church one day that will suit my needs. Maybe someday, it will be His will and not mine, and it will be a fellowship and not a church! Don’t get it wrong, I am not vehemently against churches, just that I don’t wish to deal with the imperfections from Churches and their half-truths at this point of my life. And I don’t subscribe to the belief that I will eventually find peace when I find the right church. I have learnt to be perfectly content at the state I am in, and my joy and peace will always be in the Lord, not in a church or a fellowship.
Next post – How much time do we have to dabble with our beliefs and be apathetic to our faith? The next post will be focused on this topic.
The King Ant at his K1 Speech and Drama performance in Nov 2012
1 month before the performance, I asked him if he could remember his lines. He recited them for me without referring to the handouts and was so confident that he could remember.
A week before the performance, I asked him again. And he told me that it was easy and he would have no problems.
He was ready, or so I thought.
Watch the video (excuse the shakiness ) and see how his performance turned out. K is the tallest one in the group of yellow ‘ants’, who was wearing a gold ‘bib’.
Looked like he was being particular about where the mic was placed and did not want to say his lines until the mic was leveled to his face, isn’t it?
His performance was far from perfect and it did generate some laughs from the audience along the way. Hb and I were disappointed when we finally received the DVD recently, and realized that the videographer edited the capture and it became a boring, almost perfect sketch in the video. Regardless of the result of the performance, it was a memorable experience for hb and I. While K on the other hand, thought that that his performance must have been quite a disappointment for us to watch.
He was really moody after the performance (photo taken above), right after the concert ended. He didn’t tell us why until we got home that night. Just before bedtime that same evening, he admitted that he actually forgot his lines, and he told me that he would not want to watch the video as his performance was horrible.
Our conversation that evening;
Mom : “Do you think you tried your best that night?”
K : “I don’t think I tried my best. I did not practice my lines properly.”
Mom : “You know that you didn’t put in your best effort, and why it didn’t turn out well. We are not disappointed in your performance on stage. It’s normal to make mistakes. We just want to make sure that you understand that you need to take the initiative to practice your lines. It is only when you know you tried your best, and if you still made some mistakes at your performance, you can be satisfied that you have gave your best. That’s all that matters. .”
Hb and I have already discovered a while back that K has issues with his self-motivation and initiative. We are using opportunities like these for him to experience failure and disappointment, so as to learn the importance of having initiative and be driven by his self-motivation.
Charlotte Mason has put it so aptly in her quote that there is a downside when children are nurtured to be overly dependent on external motivation and rewards.
‘Children must Stand or Fall by their own Efforts.––In another way, more within our present control, we do not let children alone enough in their work. We prod them continually and do not let them stand or fall by their own efforts. One of the features, and one of the disastrous features, of modern society, is that, in our laziness, we depend upon prodders and encourage a vast system of prodding. We are prodded to our social duties, to our charitable duties, and to our religious duties. If we pay a subscription to a charity, we expect the secretary to prod us when it becomes due. If we attend a meeting, do we often do so of our own spontaneous will, or because somebody asks us to go and reminds us half a dozen times of the day and the hour? Perhaps it is a result of the hurry of the age that there is a curious division of labour, and society falls into those who prod and those who are prodded. Not that anybody prods in all directions, nor that anybody else offers himself entirely as a pincushion. It is more true, perhaps, to say that we all prod, and that we are all prodded. Now, an occasional prick is stimulating and wholesome, but the vis inertiae of human nature is such that we would rather lean up against a wall of spikes than not lean at all. What we must guard against in the training of children is the danger of their getting into the habit of being prodded to every duty and every effort. Our whole system of school policy is largely a system of prods. Marks, prizes, exhibitions, are all prods; and a system of prodding is apt to obscure the meaning of must and ought for the boy or girl who gets into the habit of mental and moral lolling up against his prods.’ – Charlotte Mason Chapter 4, Volume 3
I have never been much of a singer, I can carry a tune but my vocal range is very limited and sing too softly. Hb is though, he serenaded me at our second date and sang live in front of our wedding guests.
K enjoys singing and loves to compose his own songs. Recently, I found him listening to granddad’s music on his iPad and singing along with it, during one of his ‘eye-training’** evenings.
Did he used to do the same when he was younger? Excuse me while I reminisce the days when he was still a tot at 2 and a half.
**A separate note about his eye training; I am heartened to share that his left eye’s vision has improved! We visited his opthamologist last week and were told that his eye test have improved by 1.5 lines. To further improve his sight, he will need to increase eye training to 4 hours daily. It will be tough to increase eye training sessions, but we will get there, eventually.
I glanced across the hall in my mom’s house and I see this photo looking back at me.
I think this physical reminder of my brother as a child reminds them that time is indeed fleeting, how it all felt like yesterday holding him in their arms and how that memory of that moment has been permanently engraved in their hearts.
I now understand how that feels, ever since I became a parent
A couple of months before, I was devastated when I realized that I was not able to retrieve the old photos from a hard drive that I had of K since he was born. However I am very thankful for this space that I have been keeping online and grateful that I have some photos posted on this blog since he was a couple of months old.
I was going through some old posts in this blog and to my horror, some of the old videos that I took of K were lost from the post. I did not want to have to experience the hassle of re-attaching the videos to the old posts, so I decided to do this for myself; start a meme on this blog to reminisce the old videos that I have of K.
I went through the old videos and the old posts and I teared over the time that have been lost.
What’s with these emotions that come along with motherhood? I used to pride myself for not shedding tears so easily, but now, just by reading and watching the old videos, tears are falling so freely.
This video was taken in September 2008, one of the earliest video that I have of K as a baby. This video was taken when my extended family was celebrating my birthday, but as the little boy loves celebrating birthdays and blowing the candle on the cake, he had his ‘birthday’ song sang to him too.
Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~ The Wonder Years
At 4 years, 11 months and 19 days, he tends to be a tad bit boisterous, has a slapstick-type of humour and fidgets non-stop when he is awake.
And he loves to dance and sing to his own self-composed songs. Which can be rather entertaining to see him prance around the house and sing at the top of his voice, alot.
Kyle's Dance Styles
He spends most alternate days in the week co-sleeping with us these days Somehow on the onset of turning 4 years old, he decided that sleeping with his parents in the same room, is more fun then sleeping by himself in his own room.
This is just one of the conversations we had recently, before bedtime in my room.
Kyle ; You know, I like to be with you and daddy, that's why I like to sleep in your room. Do you know that I think of you when I am sleeping in my room at night?
Mom : Why do you need to think of me when I am just next door?
Kyle : Because I miss you. You never think of me?
Mom : Nope, when I sleep, I sleep soundly, I don't think of anyone of anything.
Kyle : How can you not think of me, when I think about you!
Mom : You are not suppose to be awake anyway at night, so what are you doing awake and thinking of me?
Kyle : You never think of me when I am not in the room with you. I am very sad.
So there is this softie sentimental side of him. Which I tend to experience a little too much of, when he clings to my left arm when he sleeps with dh and I in our room…
Time is passing unbelievably fast. We are into the last 3 weeks of the school holidays and last weeks of 2011. I can hardly believe that we are going into 2012 in less than 3 weeks, and Kyle will be going into K1.
If I had a choice, I wish that my child don't grow up so fast. He is slowly losing his cherubic babyish looks, he lost his baby-smells many months back and is too quickly growing into an often sweaty and not so nice-smelling mischievous boy
He still has his endearing personality, when I told him that I hope that he will not grow up so quickly, he said;
"Mommy, I tell you something"
"I tell you what. I grow taller but I don't grow older ok, I will still be 4 years old for my next birthday…"
Aww…actually I would prefer that he doesn't grow taller or older, and will always remain my little baby boy.
I think he still can't wait to grow up quickly. He is always asking when he will be able to sit all the rides at Universal Studios, grow taller and stronger so he can hit golf balls much further.
We brought him to the driving range for the first time recently, and he is really enjoying the game and turning out to be quite a natural at the sport. I think his interest for golf plays a huge role in his quick progress in learning how to play golf.
After all of 90 balls and a little blister on his finger (after hitting too many balls and gripping the club a little too hard), he is looking all sweaty, rosy-cheeked and happy from his first experience at the range.
For the last two weeks, hb and I have been trying to get Kyle to perform his concert item at home, but he has never revealed his dance steps for his performance. His response to us each time we asked has been, "It's a surprise, cannot show you, You will see on the concert night." I am actually rather impressed by his resolve to keep this performance under wraps, especially when it comes to his usual ability to keep secrets :S
The theme for this year's concert was conceived after some of his kindergarten's teacher and staff had the opportunity to experience an exchange programme with two preschools in Cebu Philippines. They shared skills and knowledge teaching young children and were able to be an instrument of peace and blessing to the less fortunate. Despite the disjointed performances, this year's theme for Kyle's school concert was still very meaningful as it was a night of 'rejoicing and celebration' (from the words of the programme outline)…
'of the achievement of the children's development milestones, though songs and dance using musical instruments, may our hearts be encouraged to persevere in doing what is right. Let us draw strength from God, who is our Source of hope, to put others before ourselves, and recognise that we can be instruments to channel love and hope to others!'
"Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the Lord shines on you!" Isaiah 60:1'
Coincidentally, I chanced upon the same verse while doing my BSF studies of the book of Isaiah about 2 weeks ago, and I thought the verse really reminded me of Kyle's school.
This year's costume was a little more 'Chingay-liked', nonetheless, the kids in his class all looked adorable in their costumes, finished with gel and glitter in their hair. With the exception of one of the older group of kids who were decked out in pvc-liked black and red mid-driff tops with a black 'tie', complete with a silver chain tied to their black bermudas. I would have cringed if Kyle had to wear that costume, as it came across very s&m and cheena styled.
Here's a slight shaky video for the performance, Kyle is the third child from the right.
I have been looking forward to this since the start of the week; K's first school performance! Prior to this evening, K only divulged that he will be dressing up as a black ant, then refused to show me his dance, but told me that he will be performing a dance to the tune of "Nobody". It was also the first time I saw him dressed up in his ant costume.
Dh and I did not get good seats in the hall, so this shaky and blurred video was my best attempt to capture scenes of his performance K is the 1st black ant on the left of the stage.