The Good Shepherd (Pt 5)

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them… I will shepherd the flock…   Ezekiel 34:11, 16

Not too many years ago we used to drop our grandchildren at a Sunday School class.  Only one door to the Sunday School class would be left opened so that every child was properly accounted for.  On top of that, we would have to register ourselves, leaving our identity card number with the shepherd or the teacher-in-charge.  The data would be stored in a computer.  We would then rush to attend the evening service at that same church. 

Guardians were not allowed to take their child out after Sunday School without checking with the teacher-shepherd stationed at the only door to the Sunday School class. We would have to stand in the queue with other parents while waiting for our turn.  Although we could see our grandchildren in the room, there was no way that our grandchildren could get through that door to us – – not until we had our identity cards scanned, and our grandchildren called by name to the door.  Was this a cumbersome process? But not for us! For us, this was a caring church, a church that shepherded the flock under its care, fully accountable. No stranger could get his hands on the children in their care. The children were safe!

The apostle Peter encourages the shepherd to diligently and responsibly, care for his sheep.  He says,  “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing eager to serve.”  The language here is straightforward, easy to understand except that here in Singapore we have no sheep farms and no shepherds!  So our appreciation of that relationship between the shepherd and sheep, well . . .  lots of gaps possibly! Sheep flock together.  They follow their shepherd.  They are obedient –  compliant if you will.  Now these are rare qualities.  They are not found in other animals.  The general tendency for most other animals is that, they would have their own minds, a bit rebellious even! I often take morning walks with my wife.  We often meet people taking their dogs for a walk in the cool of the morning.  In some cases, it seems to us, that the dog is taking his owner for a walk, pulling away in a different direction. 

Sheep and lambs may follow you, but they do go astray.  Lambs that go astray may be preyed by wolves.  That’s where the shepherd comes in. He needs to make sure that his sheep are gathered together and they do not go astray.  Peter tells us that there is a reward for the conscientious shepherd:  4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” Note how quickly he shifts from the sheep metaphor to us, people (God’s sheep). In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5 NIV.  The exhortation “you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders” is meaningful to me.  It is important that new or young Christians look up to older Christians.  Here, Peter establishes a two-way interaction.  Inasmuch as your shepherd-pastor has a responsibility to care for you the sheep, it is clear we need to respond to our shepherds. Peter expresses it as,” you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.” Is this possible?  Of course, if “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” I remember a fellow pastorelder (shepherd) telling me that when we live closely to our sheep we smell like one.  He is right.  It needs humility to be a shepherd. You must be willing to leave the luxurious comforts of your homes  to be among your sheep. This is the reason for God to ask his prophet Ezekiel to prophesy against the shepherds of Israel.

Sheep are all important to God.  Leaders are God’s under-shepherds.  They are charged with the responsibility to care for the sheep.  It is important that the sheep submit to their shepherds.  In the Old Testament God portrays Himself as a Shepherd. This shows how much God cares for his sheep, Israel.  The Bible also portrays Jesus as the Lamb of God that has come from heaven to redeem us. Jesus (our Shepherd) has to suffer the indignity of being exposed to the stench of sin among His sheep, Israel. The Word of the Lord came through Ezekiel showing God’s concern over His sheep, “6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”–  Ezekiel 34:6, NIV.

Applying this to our times, we are God’s sheep too, lost in sin. God sends Jesus to look for us.  Those among us who are pastors and elders have to make sure that our sheep (our church members) are not scattered and left wandering over all the mountains. So, what happens when the leader or undershepherds of Israel fail? 

God lovingly steps in.  For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.
I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered…
I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and
I will bring them into their own land.
I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel…
I will tend them in a good pasture,…
I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,
I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.
I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak,
I will shepherd the flock with justice. – Ezekiel 34:11.

You will find no less than ten “I will…” statements above. Note the emphasis and determination in verse 6, “I myself will search…” Not “I shall” but the emphatic future tense “I will…
When God says, “I myself will…” it is even more emphatic.
It denotes that it is a personal matter with God. It is all-important to God. Now we find another string of I will… that God has promised. You see our Shepherd is faithful. God loves His sheep. God will search, rescue, bring them into their own land where they belong, pasture them, tend them and shepherd them.  So the list of God’s good shepherding continues:

I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered.
I will judge between one sheep and another.
I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.
I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them…
I will make a covenant of peace with them…
I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.
I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
– Ezekiel 34:22 – 26 NIV

In verse 16 God says, “I will shepherd the flock.”  Not only that, in verse 23 God promises to place over them one shepherd the son of David on the throne. God will send them a Good Shepherd.  Shepherds are pivotal to God’s plan.  With this as background why don’t you read John 10?  It’s a great exposition by Jesus himself concerning the Good Shepherd.  That’s our topic for our next exhortation too. 

Meanwhile,28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28 – 31 NIV.


Don’t sing false promises to God.




“Christians don’t tell lies – they just go to church and sing them.” – A. W. Tozer

We walk into church every Sunday and lie to God. In fact, we blatantly lie to Him over and over again, sometimes not even knowing what we are saying.

It’s harsh, but more often than not it’s the sad truth.


The songs that we sing in a weekly time of worship are powerful, challenging mindsets and provoking introspection, and sometimes tears. But there is still danger in this simplest of actions: “You can have it all”, we sing, countless times over. But in our hearts there is still selfishness. There is still sovereignty of self. No way are we really going to let God have it all.

About a month ago I remarked during the worship debrief that it was really nice to hear the entire congregation singing You can have it all together. A thought came to me and I added, “I hope they meant it.”

Do we mean it? Maybe in the moment, with the music playing and everyone singing the same thing in unison. But the moment service ends, our actions cry otherwise. We go back to living for ourselves, forgetting all the lines we just sang. And then it’s reduced to nothing but a nice tune. Well, until the next week, when it’s sung again. And the next week.

Obviously this isn’t something done intentionally, but it happens nonetheless. So how can it be different?

The first step is to understand the meaning of the words we sing. This doesn’t have to be a huge in-depth literary analysis. A few examples: it can be something as simple as taking a moment to ask: Okay. So what does it mean for God to have it all? Am I really sincere in saying that God can have every part of my world?

Do I really want God to let me walk upon the waters wherever he calls? Would I really be ready for that?

Have I really given God my heart and soul? Is it true that I live for Him alone?

These are scary questions to ask.

Sometimes it feels easier to just sing a nice tune and space out during worship.


But these realisations shouldn’t shame us; rather, they should help clear a path for liberation.

Once we realise what the words we are singing truly mean, and whether our own hearts are in sync with the song’s message, we can ask further introspective questions. 

What is currently holding me back from following through with what I am singing?

What can I change in my own life so that next time I can sing with all sincerity?

Something that I personally feel is that it is okay to NOT sing. This parallels with refraining from taking communion if you do not truly understand its significance. I believe that if I am not yet ready to identify with certain lyrics, it is perfectly acceptable to refrain from singing and instead search my heart to find out what is restraining me.

But also, if I know deep down that I don’t feel it on that day, I can make a decision to sing it into reality. For our words have power, and when we utter declarations of God’s promises, it is part of the exercise of faith. (Likewise, this applies in the area of uttering words of agreement with what is not from God. Let’s be mindful of what we give power to!)

Worship in song is one of the most powerful ways to commune with God, but it’s so important to mean what we are saying, thus speaking out declarations of life and truth into the spiritual atmosphere. If we can all truly believe and follow through with what we sing in church, the seeds for revival will flourish into a full-blown wildfire that much sooner.


Preparing For Your First Mission Trip

I took my first missions trip when I was 20 years old. I’d always heard about missionaries and missions trips before but had never been on one myself. The life of a missionary was pretty fascinating to me.

The memories are foggy, but I can vaguely remember jumping on a bus with my church on a 7 hour road trip to serve an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico for one week. Our mission? To do something as simple as supporting the long term missionaries there, helping them build a new roof over their kitchen, praying for the sick and inviting those in the community for a special Jesus Film night. What we did seemed insignificant at time…but looking back now, the power of a group of people sacrificing their summer vacations to serve those in need was priceless.

Nothing really could prepare me for the experience I was about to have though. The amount of poverty I was exposed to was alarming, and an environment of great need was not something I had ever seen before in all my years of growing up in my comfortable American suburban life. The trip grew my heart for those less privileged, and drew me closer to God’s heart for the nations. I remember a group of us praying for a blind man to be healed and seeing Jesus touch his life. I remember seeing one of my backslidden teammates have a powerful encounter with Jesus on the trip, leading him to radically rededicate his life to Jesus. The trip was an eye opening trip for me, and showed me that the world was greater than my own, and its needs far greater reaching than what any well meaning group of people could ever provide for. While some of the most meaningful moments were the simplest moments, the trip left me wondering if I could do more.

Since this trip the Lord has grown my heart for missions tremendously and called my husband and I to a lifelong calling to missions. Throughout the years I’ve been on various “missions” trips (long and short) and each one has been different from the last. Each trip has taught me something new each time.  “Christian mission” is the act of going into a different culture other than our own, and sharing the good news of Jesus with others.  It was modelled to us through His very life: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God sent Jesus into our world so that we could hear the good news.

Missions is not something we do because it’s sounds like a nice thing to do. As one of the last things Jesus said while here on earth, Jesus actually commands us to go into all the world to make disciples of the nations. (Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”)

So if you’re planning on going on a missions trip soon, what are some good ways to prepare for a missions trip?

1) Prayer: It’s important to root everything we do in prayer. Our goal as Christians on this earth is to be extensions of Jesus, to be His hands and feet to those around us. This is no less true when we go on missions trips. We want to reflect Jesus. As short term missionaries, we are representatives of Jesus…so it’s a good idea to represent Him well.

How do we represent Him if we don’t communicate with Him first about what He wants to do on the trip and what He wants reflected?  John 5:19 says “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” If we want to be like Jesus to the people we are reaching, we have to tune into His wavelength.

Spend time preparing your heart, and hearing His heart. Ask God what He wants to do on this trip. How does He see this trip? Ask for His eyes. Is there a word He’s given you about what this trip means for you, or a word you will be sharing with the people you will be meeting? Is there a name, or a face He’s highlighting to you of someone you are to meet? Matthew 7:11 says “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” If we ask the Lord to speak to us and whisper His desires and plans to us, His desire is to come through and speak to us.

2) Go with a humble, teachable heart:

Learn about the culture: We don’t have to be able to speak the same language to communicate with others of a different culture, but we can certainly take time to learn about their culture before embarking on our journey. Over the years I’ve found that one of the best ways to connect with locals is to show them we are genuinely interested in their culture and that we want to respect it. Nothing is more off putting than having foreigners come in to your culture with a proud “we know better than you” or “our culture is better than yours” mindset. I’ve noticed this instantly close doors to peoples’ hearts. In order for people to want to receive anything you have to say, build bridges, not islands.

Before we can embrace any culture, we have to learn about it. Take some time to read up about the culture you will be visiting in advance. Just because something is okay to do in our culture, doesn’t mean we can assume it is okay to do in the next culture we will be visiting. For example, while women wearing shorts and tank tops might be acceptable in this country, in another country, wearing these same clothes may give off the wrong impression to men. Women going out past a certain time period at night may be misconstrued as impious. Handing money to a cashier with the left hand instead of the right hand may be acceptable in this country, but totally offensive in the next. Taking time to learn basic customs, basic words, and proper behaviour/greetings can go a long way. It can reveal your desire to want embrace their culture, which in turn, can open up amazing doors to share the gospel.

Take time to sit with the locals, smile at them, share a meal together and allow Jesus’ heart to shine through you.

Submit to leadership. No matter how much you think you might know better, always choose a posture of humility and yield to your team leaders or long term missions team on the ground. After all, they have gone through the training necessary to prepare them for this trip, or lifestyle of missions if they are long terms. They may be more familiar with the people group you are visiting from the training received or their extensive time they have spent there, and may be aware of issues with the locals or government you may not be aware of. This is for your own safety, and also so that the mission is not compromised. I have seen compromised missions come in various forms…but ultimately some of these can be avoided just by simply submitting to leadership.

3) Have healthy expectations: Sometimes it’s easy to have big expectations for the entire village to get delivered, healed and saved, after a 1-week trip. I pray that these kinds of breakthroughs happen every trip, but the reality is, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes God just wants to use us to be the seed sower. From John 4:38, “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor…” we see that God sends some to be sowers, and some to be reapers. It’s okay if your trip isn’t a reaping trip. Sowers are just as important as reapers are!

It’s a really good thing to desire and pray for transformational things to happen in a community, but oftentimes, these kinds of things take time. That’s why our church strategically partners up with long term missionaries who can carry on the fire our missions trips have helped catalyse. It’s good to keep our expectations in check so that when grand things don’t seem to be happening, our worlds are not “wrecked.” I’ve been on trips where I went with low expectations – because I had no grid for what “should” happen on a missions trip – and came out sweetly surprised. I’ve also been on a trip where I expected grand things to happen and was sorely disappointed when those things did not work out as planned. No matter what happens in the end, God works beyond our human limitations. God’s story for the people you will be reaching is so much grander than what you could ever hope and imagine. He just asks us to be obedient and “go!”

As we go on missions, let’s be prayerful, humble, teachable, expectant people who reflect the love of Jesus!


The Small Step To A Greater Journey

“I’m not good enough.”

“Maybe I should wait till I know more about the Bible.”

“What if I can’t answer the questions they ask?”

“But I’m already serving in other ministries!”

Those were just some of the few thoughts and doubts that went through my head when I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to serve in the Girls’ Home ministry (under the Salt and Light ministry). Honestly, I allowed these thoughts to win, and didn’t think about the next steps. It was not until I received a few more prompts from God, and started to feel a bit unnerved about not responding to them, that I eventually went about finding out how to serve.

I love that God knows me better than anyone else does. He knows that I am the type that needs to see the big picture, and so He helped me to understand that my obedience to saying yes to serving in this ministry is just a small step in the journey He wants me to go on. God waits patiently for us, until we are ready to tell our doubts to go away.

I’m not saying that those doubts will magically go away once you say yes. Trust me, I still find those thoughts popping up in my head – more often than I would like them to. However, I’ve learned that it is not about being good or “holy” enough. It’s about my heart of obedience, and allowing God to guide me to say the right things when in the midst of the girls I am serving. It’s never about me. I’m merely a vessel for God to use to speak to them, to be their friends, and most importantly, to be the light and show them God’s love.

So here’s a note of encouragement for you: Don’t ever tell yourself (or God) that you are not good enough, because the truth is – we will never be. That’s how we learn to depend on God.


If you are keen to serve in the Salt and Light ministry, speak to Shawn Lim.


FGA Responds: Keep The Flame Alive

Valentine’s Day is often commercially associated with romance, flowers, candlelit dinner, and many other lovely things that make your heart warm and fuzzy. But behind the flutter of lovey-doveyness we know that love is often much more than a feeling in the moment. It is an act of will, just like to choosing to love and follow Jesus. We have to want it. Valentine’s Day only takes place once a year, it is up to us to choose our partners for the other 364 days – for better or worse.

As a single and unmarried individual, I decided to seek the wisdom of married couples with a very important question:

What is the secret to keeping the flame alive in your relationship?

Here are their answers…


“Making time for dates, keeping regular communications with each other face to face, creating fun memories and doing little things for each other that the other person will love and appreciate.” – Joshua & Angie Sundram

“We are thankful that we both have the opportunity to serve God together in the church and in a way we become more aware of each other and we are able to love and serve one another much easier in spite of our differences.” – Cris & Cheral Aparente

“The oil of intimacy and love keep the relationship burning.” – Emmanuel & Josefa Firmacion

“The secret is quite simple actually. Keeping the other person alive. No life, no relationship, no flame. So practically I would say, learning CPR, how to clean bullet wounds, and staying away from cliffs. But really, it’s choosing to always see the best in the other person.” – Tham Mun Yang & Evie

“I cook.” – Dennis Low (married to Alicia)

“Laughing together.” – Mark John & Huis Hariman

“Intentionally doing things together, listening more, keeping communication open, and praying for each other. Hug and kisses everyday! Lastly, appreciate the similarities and respect the differences.” – Vincent & Jennifer Toh

“For us, it’s making it a point to hang out with each other after the kids have gone to bed and share about our day. It’s when we get to learn about what is on each other’s hearts and see how we can support each other. Knowing, like really knowing, each other’s concerns and intentions really helps us stay in-tuned to each other. It also helps that our love languages are very similar!” – Kevin & Aarika

“Being adventurous to take on new experiences together!” – Ian & Grace Lee


Re:solution 12-day Fast and Prayer – Widya’s Experience

In January, FGA embarked on a 12-day churchwide fast and prayer. Together with a devotional focused on the book of Nehemiah, we waited on the Lord to show us the burdens He placed in our hearts, and provide direction and strategy on how to address these burdens.

One of our partners Widya shares her fasting experience with us.

“I was praying for breakthrough with children whom I deal with in my line of work. I fasted a dinner meal during the 12 day period. Initially, it created discomfort in my tummy for a few evenings but my system finally adjusted to it.
I discovered that fasting and praying is a good discipline and should be done on a more regular basis like weekly. It is very powerful when it is done with sincere intentionality to contend with God for breakthroughs over some strongholds. It’s amazing how we begin to hear more and more from Him, before witnessing breakthrough taking place gradually. Fasting teaches me how to persevere.

As I studied the devotional, what resonated most to me were the messages on days 4 and 8:

* FAST – PRAY – PLAN instead of the other way around, which most of us often do.
This requires much patience, humility and TRUST in His direction & timing!

* Valley experiences before the Fountain experiences.
Going through periods of uncomfortable/painful ‘pruning’ & ‘refining’ (purging out of any impurities) seems to take forever, but He is actually preparing us for greater work in the future. Understanding that what He’s working in us at all times will enable us to give thanks even in time of trials/valley moments. It is indeed true that only through trials, we’ll come out more refined in our characters and our faith in God.


The Good Shepherd (Pt 4): Caring for the Shepherd

“Look, the Lamb of God!” – John 1:36 NIV

This short sentence caught my notice, “I pray, not wish because I have a God not a Genie.” God compared to a Genie, strange?  To think of it we could get easily confused.  I know of only one God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. But I know of at least two genies.  One was from the Middle Eastern folklore.  Aladdin had a magic lamp.  The genie appears when he rubbed the lamp.  The genie would compliantly appear saying, “What is your wish my master?”  And the genie would grant Aladdin his wish!

The other genie was from the American TV sitcom, “I Dream of Jeannie.” An astronaut, Captain Tony Nelson found a mysterious bottle.  He opened it and released a genie called Jeannie.  She was not quite the counterpart of the genie in Aladdin.  She just needed to wink and her master’s wish would be granted. She would of course try her best to please her master by giving him all might wish for except that she was an attractive woman and had her own mind.


That was how we sometimes treat our prayers. The prayer list is our wish list. But God is not a Genie. So keep your wishes for your genie and your prayers for your God. Put bluntly, whether you are thinking of Aladdin’s Genie or Nelson’s Jeannie you are talking about slaves serving their masters. Let’s be clear.  God is not our slave. God is our creator.  He is our Savior-Redeemer from our slavery to sin.  To help us get to know Him better, God describes himself as our Shepherd. He cares and provides.  The Apostle Paul says, “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.”(Philippians 4:19 MSG)


Why did God speak of Himself as a Shepherd instead of a fisherman or a hunter or whatever? In my view, it was because God saw us as his sheep, his lambs to be precise. This is a precious picture of our relationship with God.  You know what God calls his son Jesus?  That’s right, “The Lamb of God” – (John 1:29, John 1:36). It is a precious relationship because the Shepherd-Lamb relationship explains His Father-Son relationship with us too. God is Shepherd and we are His sheep, His lambs.  This Shepherd imagery establishes that father-son bond.  This can be found in the very first book of the Bible where the word lamb appears for the first time.  Remember this conversation between Isaac and his dad Abraham?


“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”- Gen 22:7 NIV

Notice the words, “Father,”my son” and “the lamb.  There is no question, the Shepherd is about the Father, the son (the Lamb of God).  What a privilege that we should be God’s sheep or lamb along side Jesus, God’s Lamb and God Himself as our Shepherd.


The second mention of lamb in the Bible is in Exodus.  God instructs Moses and Aaron while they were still in Egypt, “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house… And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” – Exodus 12:3,7 KJV. This is the Lord’s Passover. The blood on the doorposts pictures the power of the blood (in anticipation of) the blood of the Lamb of God upon the cross).  In love, God shepherds an entire herd of sheep (the Israelites) from bondage out of Egypt.  The shepherd is responsible for his sheep.  When we think of God as our Shepherd we know that God cares for us, just as we find in John 10. Sheep without the care of a shepherd are exposed to all sorts of danger. God calls His leaders (priest, pastors, elders or cell-group leaders –shepherds) to feed His sheep, to be guardians of his flock.


The sad truth is, shepherds may fail. The prophet Ezekiel speaks clearly on this subject on God’s behalf, Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock… – Eze 34:7,8 NIV. Take note of the phrase my flock lacks a shepherd.

As a church pastor or group leader (no matter how humble that role may be) we are called to be shepherds. Ezekiel says that God’s flock lacks a shepherd, why?  Becausemy shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock.  You see, our church members, our flock of sheep may have problems. So, they go to their shepherd-leaders (to you and me) for help.  But what happens when the shepherd-leaders themselves have problems?  They lose their authority as shepherds.  So, their flock is left without a shepherd.  While we care for the sheep let us not forget that shepherds are appoint a part of the flock too. Here’s a great exhortation to all shepherds from the Apostle Paul,  28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock… 31 So be on your guard!  Acts 20:28 – 31 NIV. Shepherds need to keep watch over themselves.


Jesus himself took great care of his leaders (shepherds). Do you remember the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand?  Many of us would start from Mark 6:34.When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. We overlook the fact that Jesus cares for his shepherd-leaders – his apostles – the Twelve too.  We seem to forget why Jesus was on the other side of the lake. Let me take you to just three verses earlier, Then, because so many people were coming and going that they (the apostles with Jesus) did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”” Mark 6:31 NIV.  The apostle Paul clearly established this very same principle on the importance of not just the flock, but the under-shepherds when he says to the elders from the church at Ephesus, Keep watch over yourselves. The leadership (under-shepherds) comes first or we will have the situation of a flock without a shepherd. 


Then comes “all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God” – Acts 20:28 NIV.  It is Christ who appoints and gave us pastors.  John Piper concludes that, “The New Testament only refers to the office of pastor one time (Ephesians 4:11). It is a functional description of the role of elder stressing the care and feeding of the church as God’s flock, just as “bishop/overseer” is a functional description of the role of elder perhaps stressing the governing of the church.  Pastor and elder and bishop/overseer refer in the New Testament to the same office.” (John Piper, “Elders, Pastors, Bishops, and Bethlehem” Sunday Evening Message MARCH 2, 1987.)

While we expect our elders and pastors to care for our needs, may I urge you to stand by them.  Care for them.  They need your care more than you think!  It will make a big difference to have a caring flock; as it will be; for us to have a caring shepherd-pastor.  Believe me, your elders-pastors need your prayers most urgently than you may think.  It is your plea for God’s grace, that will provide us leaders with vision and a ministry that grow from strength to strength.


Red Camp 2017: When God Showed Up

December is always a special month for our youth because this is when our annual Red Camp takes place. Amidst 4 days of gruelling games, worship, sharing, and blessings, the youth are challenged and encouraged as they build special bonds with the Lord, and each other. But Red Camp 2017 (RC2k17) was particularly special for all involved. Camp commander Natalie Ng reports.

A word released amidst our prayers for the camp was that God would bless the work sown into the camp, and it would bear fruit. As I reflect, I see clearly how He kept His promise.

21 youth signed up for RC2k17, making up 3 groups of 7 (the number of completeness and perfection). We booked 12 rooms at the campsite (12 being the perfect number symbolising God’s power and authority). I sensed this was not an accident; God was telling me that He was in control of the camp, and the camp would be perfection in His eyes.

Games were always a huge focus for the youth attending the camp each year, and they would discuss it with much anticipation as days lead up to camp. But as we found ourselves changing our camp programme by reducing the number of games planned, we understood that God wanted us to focus less on the games, and more on Him.

As we did so, His presence became so real in the campsite. Spiritual was brought into the physical as our youth experienced God in a brand new way, such as bursting out in tongues for the first time and singing prophetically. One of our youth even experienced the whiff of burning as they surrendered areas of their life to Christ, by writing prompted areas on pieces of paper and tossing them into a bin. God was taking these offered strongholds and bad habits, and burning them. Prophecies were released and God gave gifts to the youth.

I believe that God saw the hunger and desire from the youth and helpers to experience Him, and He honoured that by pouring out. He also honoured all the prayers that were sown into the camp from months before. Besides just the Red Camp team, I know that many people in the church had been praying for us, and I am so grateful for this. Thank you! Red Camp would not have been the same without these prayers.

My own prayer and desire for RC2k17 was simple. I just wanted God to show up, and He did. He was the Red Camp Commander, in  control of everything, in order to show us that His power, goodness and authority over our lives is real.

I pray that all of us at the camp, youth and all others involved alike, will remember that as life resumes to normal, He is always there and we need to look to Him. Even in days when we are not in church, days when we are feeling low and days when we don’t seem to feel His presence. He alone is our strength and He provides for us in every situation. He takes us safely through every situation and always wants the best for all of us. He is our Father.

And we cannot, and should not, fall back to normality and resume status quo for the Surge gatherings and future Red Camps in 2018 and the years to come. Let’s expect that God is going to pour out a greater measure from here on.


Looking To Develop New (Good) Spiritual Habits? Consider These Before Trying To Get 10 Steps Ahead

The desire to improve and to grow is innate in many of us.  As we kick-start the New Year, many of us would have had made resolutions (whether consciously or not) to self-improve, grow and change some aspects of our lives for the better, be it to exercise, eat better, study harder etc.

What about spiritual habits such as prayer and reading the Word? Do any of you find it challenging and not-so-natural to develop/build them into the routine of your life? You are not alone.

Developing (good) spiritual habits is no different from developing any other habit we have formed over the course of our lives – it requires time and work. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern formed by repetition. We are all creatures of habits and are shaped by them. As such, every routine and repetition has a formative effect on our being and how we then develop as a person.

Now take that and apply it to Christian discipleship and you will find that spiritual habits, if cultivated properly can enhance and add a lot to our spiritual walk and experience of God, His living Word and presence in our lives.

As we embark on the New Year, here are some things we can turn our minds to and work on in the course of developing new (good) spiritual habits together.

1. Posture

The Lord’s Prayer invites us to a posture of openness before God as our Father. Before undertaking anything in the name of discipleship and being a “good” Christian, know firstly that your Heavenly Father calls you and accepts you as His by sheer love and acceptance and not your works (Galatians 2:15 -21). Find that orientation in your heart in response to this truth, and you will find a different motivation to develop and build good spiritual habits in your life.

2. Motivation

We start each New Year with a resolve to better ourselves – there is an intuitive desire to be “better”, to improve, to change and to achieve our goals. It’s as though somewhere in every person is a deep conscience that directs that they should be living a “certain” way. How often do we beat ourselves up and feel like we can do better and that we should be better. But how much of it is driven by a different motivation, whether it is fear, the world around us or just us and our self-centred desires?

The gospel, however, compels us without guilt or shame. Instead, it gives us a new motivation by renewing us from the inside out, such that we desire change, growth and maturity. Not simply for ourselves, but for the good works that God invites us to partake with Him for the sake of others and this world we live in.

How can we be a solution for the sake of others and this world? We are currently undergoing a 12-day churchwide fast and prayer to seek God on this. Join us in the journey with this 12-day devotional.

3. Small, incremental change and repetition

Points 1 and 2 do require time and deep reflection for God and the Spirit to work in us. But there is nothing more beautiful and fulfilling than a deeply Christ-changed life consistent with our outward set of actions and virtue.

So if we are able to position our hearts accordingly and are willing for God to sift through our motivations, what practical steps can be taken to then build good spiritual habits in our day-to-day lives?

One of the best advices I have heard is “just start doing something”. While seemingly elementary, this is fundamental because we often easily complicate things and neglect the necessary building blocks to help us move forward effectively.

Set realistic and achievable goals. There is nothing worst than constantly feeling subpar for failing to hit the mark because we have set such high, lofty goals that are unrealistic. Have an honest assessment of yourself, your priorities and schedule.

Make tangible and attainable goals that you can genuinely commit to and do not underestimate the impact of the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from being able to stick to and complete something.

For example, before starting your busy day, you may consider sparing 15-30 minutes to read a passage from your Bible daily while having breakfast, because that is the most optimum time frame for you in a given day.

Once you have some “wins” under your belt, keep at it and repeat and eventually, you will hopefully find the practice a natural part of your daily life.

4. Find someone to do it with.

As alluded above, there are no short cuts and developing good spiritual habits require time, work and a healthy dose of accountability. However, it need not be burdensome and tedious and hopefully each of us, by His Spirit and grace will find the deep joy and motivation to build these spiritual habits into our lives.

Finally, in order to help us, there is no greater blessing than to have a community around us that can hold us accountable and help us develop these spiritual habits together, be it in prayer or opening up the Word together.


Understanding The “Go”

When I was younger, the word “disciple” always dredged up images of dusty, bearded middle-aged men in robes, trudging along behind Jesus, as he moved from town to town preaching and healing people. The image is, of course, courtesy of the film Jesus of Nazareth, which I watched when I was about eight years old, possibly my first visual impression of what Jesus and his disciples looked like.

Jesus, ‘dat you? Image source: Pinterest

Of course now, some 35 years on, I am aware that the film, while eye-opening in many ways, did also put blinders on how I had viewed discipleship. It is also the shallow understanding of the Great Commission that many of us have, to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”. It seems like a daunting call, that requires a great sacrifice of family, career, income and often, life.

My key misunderstanding was with the word “go”. To me, it meant foreign lands, different tribes and tongues, time away from work, separation from family, poverty, hardship and even illness.

But the “go” in Matthew 28:18 does not mean any of those things. The word was written in the present continuous tense, and is meant to be read “as you go.”  That changed what discipleship meant to me. It meant that in the everyday things I do, working, taking care of my family, serving my church, I am called to be a disciple and to make disciples.

The call to discipleship that I received feels more like a mandate. I knew that above everything else that I could possibly do to serve the Lord, the one thing I had to always be doing is making disciples. The message of the Great Commission resonates with me personally, and I know that it is actually God doing the work, and I was in the privileged position of being allowed to help. It is like story Ps Rhordan shared in his book Marked to Magnify, about Ken Malmin allowing his small son to paint the fence with him (pg27). God is always looking for people to “help” him paint the fence, not because we are so good at it, but because He enjoys the relationship.

So, I am glad that I have been allowed to try and fail. I am only too aware that I don’t have all the answers and have made mistakes in discipling. In fact, I would be the first to confess that not everyone I had been in discipleship with still walks with the same fervour that they did when we first began. But I am grateful that I still have the opportunity to keep the friendship, to continue to speak life to them, and to pray for them with understanding. And through these things, God does His work. He hears, he heals, he restores, and in that, they know that there is a loving God who will always wait with open arms for his sons and daughters to come back to him.


If you don’t have a copy of Marked to Magnify yet, approach your LifeGroup or Ministry leader on how to get a copy. Alternatively, drop us a message here or email to enquire.

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