Category Archives: Current Events

He Lifted Me

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Ps 40:2 NIV)

Seeing the injustice, unrest, and chaos of this society, we may have feelings of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, anger, helplessness, or even hopelessness. Is getting trampled on by ruthless scoundrels justifiable? Violence is not the answer – we need to come together, lift each other up, and ensure justice will be served. Most of us are going through the same storm, albeit in different boats. The storm may be uncertain, but we certainly are in our own boats and trying to learn how to navigate through this storm. When I am in despair, I look to King David and his words of wisdom in the book of Psalms.

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The Widow’s Choice

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.” (1 Kings 17:13)

It is a most difficult time for the widow of Zarephath. All that remains in the poor woman’s house is a handful of flour and a little oil to make one last meal before she and her son wait for death. At this moment, Elijah asks her to make him a small cake first and then one for her family afterward.

In today’s turbulent economic times, we face a similar dilemma the widow had to face. With over 13 million people unemployed in the U.S. right now, many of us struggle to make ends meet. If we are recent graduates, we may have already sent hundreds—or perhaps thousands—of cover letters and resumes attempting to find a job. And if we are so fortunate to already have a job, we may have been constantly working overtime in fear of being laid off. Like the widow, we often find ourselves forced to make a choice: Do we use the precious time we have to serve God first in His church? Or do we put ourselves first to ensure our survival? Continue reading

Reminiscence

Yikes. It’s raining again. I really need to get used to the unpredictable weather here. But I have to say that it’s a blessing to be in a room where I can keep nice and warm. The Retreat-ers had their outing just now, and I was freezing to the bone! Initially I felt like a fool wearing 5 layers underneath on a typical summer afternoon in Edinburgh. But later, I felt not an ounce of regret because when we climbed onto Scotland’s Disgrace, my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. If I hadn’t worn those layers, I think my teeth would have dropped off. The view was splendid though. I could actually see the clouds! I could never really do some proper cloud-watching because of those skyscrapers back home. The clouds were just magnificent. I finally understood how the clouds could be God’s chariot.

Then we went to the Botanical Gardens next, and I felt that it was beyond serenity. There were pigeons eating off human hands, all kinds of trees imaginable swaying gently in the afternoon breeze, and such a plethora of flora around us. I’m sorry if I sound really deprived, but there were so many daisies!!! I’ve heard about them in storybooks and seen photos, but I haven’t really seen them in real life before. I don’t know if the locals look upon them like weeds or mere ornaments in the grass, but I just felt blessed when I saw so many white daisies in the expanse of green.

When I saw such beauty and harmony surrounding me, this passage from the Bible came to mind:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.

(Isa 11:6-9)

I imagined how much more beautiful and harmonious it would be in the holy mountain of God. Everyone would trust one another fully, and there would not be any deceit and strife. There would be no need to build up our physical and emotional defences. All of us, including the animals, would truly be one big family dwelling in the presence of God. Sigh, I really can’t wait for that day to come…

We moved on to visit the Edinburgh Church. Once again, I’ve seen the church in photos, but nothing was as spectacular as the real thing. I felt the history practically oozing out of the building! God has really blessed the True Jesus Church, don’t you think? He prepared the building for us and gave our members the opportunity to worship Him in a place so awe-inspiring, so rich in history. In some way or other, He really provides for us. I can feel Him guiding the true church, slowly but surely.

After that, we went back to Gifford Park Church for yet another love feast. Gah, I think I’ll weigh considerably heavier by the time I get back to Singapore. I think my pants feel tighter now. But who cares, right? 😉 I really thank God from the depths of my heart for the love of older brethren here. They come to church every single day to cook every single meal, and they always insist that we eat on time when some of us get too engrossed in our writing. With every bite, I feel and taste their love, and I am honestly touched by the effort and time spent in preparing the meals for us. This is actually one of the rare times when I sincerely ask God to remember someone’s labour of love.

I really should end my reflections already, but I have a prayer request! Please, please, please do pray for us, because quite a few of us are getting stuck in our full-length articles. Pray that God will give us a “teachable heart”, and let us absorb those things which we’ve learnt like a sponge. We all hope to be His pens, so pray that He’ll give us ink, because pens can’t work without ink! (I’m feeling really dry now…)

Oh, it has stopped raining! Okay, back to work! 加油吧!

P.S.: Hoi! I really can’t work well with boxes and dots okay! Hmph. (Haha!)

Day 5 EWR 2007

[Welcome to TJC Discovery Channel on BBC.]

Today we will be taking a rare glimpse into the life of – the EWR participant. We are currently on location at Gifford Park Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, where there has been a recent sighting of these fascinating creatures.

Usually uncommon, they appear in relatively large groups once a year, gathering in locations found within the English-speaking countries.Their numbers have been growing over time, increasing from about 11 in 2006, to 16 in 2007.

EWR participants prefer an enclosed habitat, spending most of their time inside one room. Their primary activities consist of sleeping, praying, eating, sitting, eating, praying, and more sitting.

They are very slothful creatures, consuming about two times their weight in food everyday. Their main diet consists of 3 large meals per day, along with tea, coffee, and a large variety of snacks, including candy, chips, and dried fruit…
etc, etc…

…Through the eyes of a first-time EWRer =3]

Today was our outing day! We have emerged from our lairs, and have ventured into the fresh, clean Edinburgh air.
We spent a bit of the morning at the beautiful Calton Hill, then in the afternoon we visited the Botanical Gardens, and explored the astonishing castle-structure of Comely Bank Church.

It was a great day out, thank God for the sunshine (and the bit of rain), I think we were all grateful to have a smal break from writing.

So I’m supposed to do a reflection:
I hadn’t really expected to find myself in EWR this year. I don’t feel like I came out of my own accord. Through the persistent nagging and encouragement of my best friend, I was dragged half-way across the world to Edinburgh, Scotland.

So here I am now.

It has been 5 days, and I really thank God that I was given the opportunity to attend this year’s EWR. It has opened my eyes and my heart towards the Literary Ministry (LM), of which I had not given much concern to in the past.

The one thing I learned is that even though I’m not a good writer, I can still serve God through writing, because it’s not only about the technique, or style. You’re not trying to find the fanciest word, or the choicest phrase. You’re not writing to impress anyone. The writing we do is not like the writings of this world because it is all for God.

Everyone has experienced different things with God, and one way to share that is through our writing. What we write can edify other believers, guide truth-seekers, and move people to think about how God has touched their own lives. This can only be done through a lot of prayer and meditation on God’s words. We don’t want to write what we want to write, but what God wants us to write. In that way, God’s love can reach many people.

It’s nothing new. For we all have a part in salvation today, because of one very ancient piece of literary ministry – the Bible, duh! 😀

So we are nearing the end of EWR, there is only one more full day (*tear).

I pray that I can take what I learned here and share it with others in my local church, to hopefully inspire them to serve God through LM.
Oh, but there is actually more to LM than just writing! I could go on, but for full details you can send your inquiries to lm@tjc.org.
Just to name a few:
– for all the computer whizzes out there, there is a lot of work needed in computer programming, website design, and publication formatting.
– There is a need for sermon/testimony transcriptions.
– There is a need for translation of Chinese materials into English.
There is much more to be done! May God guide this work.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the brothers and sisters of Gifford Park Church, who have provided us with such comfortable accomodations, and a never-ending supply of delicious food. We haven’t even had to do any cleaning!

As if that’s not enough, we also received small souvenirs on behalf of the entire church – Scotland mug and shortbread (yum!), and a beautiful EWR bookmark.

It is too much – thank God for their love.

May God guide us when we all go our separate ways, and may we continue to have a burning desire to serve the Lord.

Day 2 of EWR 2007. 11.20pm.

After a grueling few hours of writing, editing and peer-reviewing, our devotionals are all wrapped up. One of the things that was a good reminder when we are reviewing one another’s work is the importance of humility when receiving your critique from others. We know our writing may not be perfect, true, but sometimes, we might get defensive about our work because it is essentially a part of us that we have given to others. It is not natural for us to be an exposed target, but if we centre our thoughts towards one goal–which is to edify the readers by leading them to God–we can see that the arrows of criticism actually direct us to say what we want the reader to get out of our devotional.

A very poignant memory of today was during Creative Writing, whilst reading Songs of Homecoming in Manna. It was so beautifully written that you could see the true emotions and heart of the author. From its imagery, its expressions, the voice of the author, we were all in awe of God. As each Song progressed, we could not help but feel our worship towards God and His presence with us. Sounds too good to be true? It is so good to be true. If we can touch others enough to draw them closer to God through our writing, then we have already achieved our main focus of writing for God.

Moments ago, we had a getting-acquainted sharing involving answering questions about ourselves, coloured paper and a video of EWR 2005.

Out of the four questions we each had to respond to, for me, the most vivid answers came from two questions. The first was: “What is your favourite snack?” I never knew that such a straight-forward question could have so many complicated answers, like, “Well … it depends on which country I’m in: If I’m in America, then I would have to say …; if I was in Singapore, it’s got to be …; but if I was in Malaysia, it’s … for sure!” But this is what makes sharing good–you get to learn about one another’s differences, and appreciate that these differences make each of us unique.

The other question is: “What is your greatest fear?” This question made me realize that each of us has fears, whether spiritual and/or physical. But for many of us, the worst fear is to be separate from God. Nothing can be worse than to break off our spiritual ties with our Creator; to be not acknowledged by God; to be so far away from Him that you cannot feel Him anymore. The pain of knowing that God is not in your life is just too overwhelming for us, because we can actually feel, right now, how good it is to be with God.

Our sharing was followed by passing round our reflections towards one of the four questions/statements:

From EWR, I hope to gain…

My passion for the Lord is…

My fondest memory of serving the Lord is…

To me, Literary Ministry means…

From the responses, I was truly moved to see that we all had a heart and zeal in serving the Lord. In whatever capacity we filled, in whatever abilities we are blessed with, no matter what challenges we would face, our hearts are for God, and we want to give Him the best in our service. Hopefully, when the members in Gifford Park church see our responses, they too may be inspired to join us in the workforce of Literary Ministry!