PULSE TRINITY@JAKARTA THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH
ENVISION BASIC FUNDAMENTALS OF SUCCESS
UP CLOSE REAL LIFE MIRACLES HE TURNED MY MOURNING INTO JOY
WWW. T R IN I TY . S G
TOUGH QUESTIONS DOES GOD CHANGE HIS MIND?
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VISION MONTH 2017 Living by faith and not by sight
THE DASH A Drama Musical by IGNYTE
70 22 BASIC FUNDAMENTALS OF SUCCESS Being part of God’s expansive plans
THE SILVER FORCE IN 2017 Making the latter years count for His glory
80 MORNING PRAYER 2017 Starting the day right, starting the day with God
75 #SUPERSTRONGONES Childrens’ Day 2017
30 20 TRINITY@JAKARTA The official launch
52 REAL LIFE MIRACLES He Turned My Mourning Into Joy
GOD IS GOOD. ALL THE TIME. REALLY. Embracing the goodness of God in all circumstances
issue 04 HEARTBEAT
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW TRAGEDY AND SUFFERING? Reflections on the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado
38 WHAT DOES THE GOODNESS OF GOD REALLY MEAN? Ways to experience God’s goodness every day
42 FOCUSING ON GOD’S GOODNESS Ways to experience God’s goodness every day
46 HOW TO PRAY WHEN LIFE FALLS APART An invitation to ask and trust God
MISSIONS AT A GLANCE An overview of Trinity’s missions outreach from January-September 2017
62 MISSIONS REPORT A highlight of Trinity’s missions efforts from July-September 2017
64 THANK YOU TRINITARIANS FOR GOING TO THE NATIONS! Missions trips that happened from April-June 2017
66 CARE FACES CCSS
72 I AM A STAR! Trinity’s Inaugural Language Ministries’ Production
UP CLOSE 58
THE JOURNEY TO GOLD Embracing life with a special need
88 UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH TRINITY’S BOARD Leaders in the marketplace and ministry
QUOTABLE QUOTES 88
82 TOUGH QUESTIONS Does God Change His Mind?
SENIOR PASTORâ€™S MESSAGE
g n i c n e i exper s by succes fthe o n i g n i v i l
s s e n d o o G d o G of 1 4
DEAR TRINITARIANS AND FRIENDS, 2017 has been a year of extension and enlargement, lengthening and stretching for Trinity. Just as we celebrate the church’s expansion into Bukit Batok and Jakarta (pg 20), I celebrate with every Trinitarian who has experienced growth and breakthrough this past year. As we continue to embrace the Decade of Expansion, remain confident that the Lord will enable us to experience great success in all areas of our lives. However, don’t just seek the results of success. Rather, recognize that the fundamentals of success (pg 22) begin with an intimate relationship with God. We need to make room for God in our lives. In so doing, it is God who enables us to bear fruit and be successful. For some, success is not the word we would use to describe 2017. What’s there to celebrate in a year of constant setbacks and defeats? For those who recently lost a loved one, Christmas only serves to magnify the loss when spending the festive season without them. When our world is shaken and turned upside down, it can be hard to believe that success is within our grasp. Harder still is believing that God is good.
why God didn’t stop bad things from happening. The truth is this: God doesn’t stop being good because our current circumstances are terrible. His goodness is made even more apparent because He takes the bad and ugly parts of life and work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). When we measure goodness on our own terms, goodness becomes temporal and circumstantial. When we measure goodness on God’s terms, goodness becomes permanent and unchanging because it involves more than His actions – goodness is His very nature, all that He is and all that He can do. Whether times are good or bad, allow our theology to shape our circumstances rather than the other way around. Embrace and live out the truth that God is good. All the Time. Really (pgs 30-59). As we move into 2018, hold fast to God’s promises of success. Live in the full knowledge of His goodness. Cross over with faith and excitement for what’s in store for the New Year.
Whether times are good or bad, allow our theology to shape our circumstances rather than the other way around.
See you at Watchnight Service on December 31!
When people question the goodness of God, what they are really asking is
VISION MONTH 2017
One synonym for “vision” is the word “sight.” At this year’s Vision Month (September 22-24), guest speaker, Apostle Les Bowling, started his message by reading from 2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We live by faith and not by sight.” Indeed, we’re called to live not by what the world sees. Imelda Lie shares more.
Rising to the Occasion
During Watchnight Service, Pastor Dominic declared that Trinity was entering into a Decade of Expansion. Since then, we’ve seen Trinity expand her influence with the opening of two worship centers – one in the west of Singapore and one abroad. This year, the new congregation at Trinity@Jakarta took part in our annual tradition of Vision Faith Promises for the first time.
In the weeks leading to Vision Rally and Vision Weekend, Trinitarians prepared their hearts with 28 Days of Prayer, 3 Nights of Prayer, and a 4-week sermon series. This year I decided to be fully engaged with these initiatives, ready to capture the vision, plunge into every single thing, and emerge victorious at the end of it all. What I learned was that working towards a vision is not a one-month sprint. It is a marathon of continuous labor by Trinitarians who often work behind the scenes.
Vision Weekend at Trinity@Paya Lebar
When I heard testimonies of breakthroughs from our new worship centers, my heart filled with joy. During the 4-week sermon series, I saw that the glories of expansion required the effort of every Trinitarian to pray passionately, serve selflessly, build boldly, and give generously until Godâ€™s set time of favor. While Apostle Les Bowling was preaching at Trinity@Paya Lebar (with a live stream to Trinity@Jakarta) during Vision Weekend, our resident apostle, Pastor Naomi Dowdy, spoke to Trinitarians at Trinity@Bukit Batok. With fresh faith and renewed conviction, Trinitarians in Singapore committed a total Vision Faith Promise of SGD 11,104,342.74, demonstrating a desire to be part of Godâ€™s great plan for this house.
Vision Weekend at Trinity@Bukit Batok
Reflections and Reminders What does it mean to be a Trinitarian? What is our attitude when it comes to the church’s vision? Do we patron the church as if it’s a spiritual diner, a place where we enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, consume the spiritual feeding, and give according to its perceived value? This Vision Month, I am reminded of my identity as a Trinitarian. Being a Trinitarian means I am part of this spiritual family. As a member of this
Penning our prayer impressions on the Vision Board
family, I have a duty to roll up my sleeves and help when the church needs me. It is the time for all of us to take ownership of this house – to start giving not based on our own calculations but based on a faith that desires to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Trinitarians, let’s continue to be faithful in praying, giving, and serving together as one big spiritual family. Trust in God’s provision for your life and stay excited because, as Apostle Les Bowling proclaimed, “God is doing a new thing!”
Trinity@Jakarta’s First Vision Weekend Reflections by Pastor Alana Mah Starting Celebration Services during Vision Month had to be a God-led decision. Our 4-week preaching series that month was about embracing our God-given vision by praying passionately, serving selflessly, building boldly, and giving generously. Most who were coming to Trinity@Jakarta were still visitors. Were they ready to embrace Trinity’s vision? Were we pressing them too much too soon? On the day of our Vision Weekend, we handed out our Vision Faith Promise cards and set up a box at the front. If the congregants wanted to sow in faith to build Trinity@Jakarta, they would have to leave their seats, walk forward, and deposit their completed Vision Faith Promise card into the box. When the time came, it was amazing to see every person in that room rise from their seats to drop in their completed Vision Faith Promise card. Even the two children present that morning gave the little that they had. From the 25 Vision cards collected, we received a total of SGD 70,928.23 faith promise that will go towards the building of Trinity@Jakarta. The faith demonstrated by this fourweek old church was amazing and it is a reminder of what it means to follow God even when it seems illogical by human standards. God moved mightily since the launch of our weekly meetings and we are very excited for what He is going to do in and through Trinity@Jakarta.
Trinity@Jakarta Celebrating our Official Launch By Saw Sing Yee
On November 12, 59 Trinitarians and two first-time visitors gathered together to seek God at the official launch of Trinity@Jakarta in the Ambassador’s room of Hotel Aryaduta Jakarta. There was a heightened sense of excitement as local Trinitarians partnered with the Wave from Singapore for service. Celebration Hosts took their places at the door. The worship team warmed up on stage. Sound and media were fine-tuned by the technical team. As Trinitarians pressed in and worshipped God with all their hearts, His presence started to move so strongly in the room. There was a new hunger in Trinity@Jakarta as the tangible presence of God lingered throughout the service. It was as if the heavens had opened up as His people pressed in. Celebrating this first service at our new worship center was Senior Pastor Dominic Yeo who preached about the God of new beginnings.
“We have come today in this place to celebrate the God of New Beginnings. This is the place of new beginnings. Trinity@Jakarta will represent new beginnings for everyone who comes into this place! Regardless of your past, God has something new in store and this will be a place of restart. Trinity@Jakarta will be a place of covenant. When people come, they will step into their destiny of God’s covenant. I believe that everyone who comes to this place, everyone who is a part of this congregation will continue to have God’s blessings.” – Senior Pastor Dominic Yeo
With that message came a call to partner with God by first entering into a covenant relationship with Him. The altar call was a powerful time as different ones allowed God to do something new in their lives, to change them from the inside out.
No Trinity event would be complete without food and fellowship! During lunch, the room was filled with such vibrant atmosphere as people began talking about the amazing work that God was doing in their lives. It was a beautiful time of fellowship as Kingdom friendships began to form and forge. Since the start of the weekly Potential to Fulfillment seminars at Gedung Metro Pasar Baru, the growth of Trinity@Jakarta is indeed a sign of God’s expansive work for the city. Let’s continue to pray and trust God as He stirs hearts in Jakarta back to Him!
“There are two ways we can get involved in the Decade of Expansion: through prayer or by being present. Though I had already been involved in the first and sixth Wave to Trinity@Jakarta, the Lord impressed upon my heart to be present for the official launch. I saw familiar faces as well as many new ones. The local community has been so active in bringing their friends to church! God is here and moving!” – Nathaniel Cheang Section Leader and member of the Silver Force
“I see God is faithful leading me to Trinity@Jakarta. As Cherry and I prepare for marriage, we wanted to be part of a church that would be a spiritual family for us. Here, we met Grace and her husband, as well as Brother Allen and his wife Pastor Wai Ling. Both couples have daughters who are getting married next year. I don’t see this as a coincidence but as God’s provision. I’m just so blessed with the people that God sent to my life through Trinity@Jakarta.” – Edwald Welton (Testimonies have been edited for clarity and length.)
“Trinity@Jakarta is, and will continue to be, an answered prayer for me. I believe God put me here to restore my life, to be equipped, and make my life a potential to fulfilment. Before coming here, I saw leaders as people who were hard to reach. After I met the pastors here, my perspective changed! I am learning what it means to be a servant leader. Thank you Pastor Dominic, all of the Host Pastors, the Waves, the Board Members, and all the Trinitarians who have invested time into Trinity@Jakarta. You are all examples of servant leaders!” – Jessica (Cherry) Michelle Christian
Invite your friends and family living in Jakarta to join us! Empowerment Seminars - LEAD Friday, 8pm Gedung Metro Pasar Baru Level 1, 204-205 Jl H Samanhudi, Jakarta 10710
Sunday, 10am Hotel Aryduta Jakarta Mezzanine Level, Ambassador Room Tugu Tani, Jakarta
www.trintiy-indo.asia 2 1
By Senior Pastor Dominic Yeo
Success requires hard work. When we are young, we work hard to learn our A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s. Once we leave school, we battle against thousands for the same dream jobs, spending hours crafting the perfect resume and rehearsing interview questions. When we get a job, we burn the midnight oil in hopes that our bosses will notice our hard work. We all want to be successful, to have our efforts amount to something. If we look to the world, success is measured in terms of money, power, and influence. Yet, all this is temporal. Wealth can come today and disappear tomorrow. Terminal heath conditions affect both the powerful and powerless, indiscriminate in dispensing pain and suffering. When we look to God, we see that He measures success by different standards – it is our ability to
accomplish His plans and purposes. He looks at how we run our race, especially in the midst of obstacles and setbacks. For God, success is measured by our obedience and faithfulness – the extent to which we are willing to sacrifice our time, talents, and treasures so that His will is done in and through us. In the Bible, we read of men who exemplify God’s definition of success. One of them is the prophet Elijah. His life flourished with the presence of God. Manifestations of miracles, signs, and wonders abounded wherever he went. When he prayed for rain, rain came. When he declared there would be no rain, there was a drought in the land. Elijah’s life demonstrated the power and authority of a man who walked closely with God. More successful than him was his protégé, Elisha. Through Elisha, we see a multiplication of the powerful life. He also walked closely with God and understood the resources available to him through his Heavenly Father.
In John 15:7, Jesus’ promise is that “if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” How do we abide? How do we experience a life where God’s work is so evident in everything we do?
How do we live a life that is deeply rooted in Christ? By looking at the start of Elisha’s ministry, we discover that there are two basic fundamentals we need to have in our lives.
FIRST FUNDAMENTAL FOR SUCCESS A DESIRE FOR MORE OF GOD
If you and I want to experience success God’s way, it starts by having a desire for more of God. The experience of salvation is wonderful but if we choose to remain in that place, we deprive ourselves of the many experiences and breakthroughs God has for us in this journey of faith.
BECOMING GOD-CHASERS Through Elisha, we see a tenacious, passionate desire for God as he traveled to the Jordan River with his master, Elijah, in 2 Kings 2.
Gilgal The place of renewal, revival, and restoration “When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here [in Gilgal]; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.’
In this passage, Elisha seemingly rejected the command to stay behind in Gilgal. What would cause him to disobey his master? To answer that, we must understand the significance of that city to the people of Israel. Gilgal was the place where Joshua and the Israelites camped before their miraculous crossing of the Jordan River ( Joshua 4:19-24). Before entering into the Promised Land, everyone had to consecrate themselves to the Lord – to dedicate themselves to Him. Beyond physical circumcision for the men, everyone had to spiritually set themselves apart for the Lord’s purposes.
If we look to the world, success is measured in terms of money, power, and influence. Yet, all this is temporal. For God, success is measured by our obedience and faithfulness.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” – Joshua 3:6
But Elisha said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel.” – 2 Kings 2:1-2 2 3
Only after consecration could God do amazing things, successful things, wonderful things in the days that followed. That is why Gilgal was remembered as a place of renewal, revival, and restoration. For Elisha, it was not enough to experience these three Rs – he wanted so much more! So off they went to Bethel.
Bethel The house of God “Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here [in Bethel], Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’
Though Jericho was a place of victory, they were victories experienced in the past. Elisha wanted to experience victories in the present and future.
And he replied, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So they went to Jericho.” – 2 Kings 2:4 Elisha once again appeared to reject Elijah’s command to stay in Bethel – the “house of God.” At first glance, the rejection doesn’t make any sense. Who wouldn’t want to dwell in the house of the Lord, to stay in the place where His presence can be so tangibly felt? For many Christians, church is a highlight of the week because they experience great worship and gain spiritual insights through the preaching of the Word for “better is one day in [God’s] courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10)
Elisha was not content to live with just the presence of God in his life. So off they went to Jericho.
Jericho The place of victory “Then Elijah said to him, ‘Stay here [in Jericho]; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ And he replied, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them walked on [to the Jordan].” – 2 Kings 2:6 The city of Jericho was the site of Joshua’s first victory in the Promised Land where the walls of the city came tumbling down (Joshua 6:20). Talk about a supernatural act of God – a wonder of wonders! Once again, we read that Elisha appeared to reject the command to stay in Jericho. Though Jericho was a place of victory, they were victories experienced in the past. Elisha wanted to experience victories in the present and future. That meant going where his master went because that was the place where the blessings and anointing of God were. So off they went to the Jordan.
The Jordan River The place of anointing “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied. ‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah said, ‘yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise not.’ As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it…When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, ‘The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.’” – 2 Kings 2:9-15
It was at the Jordan where Elisha revealed his heart’s desire, “a double portion of [Elijah’s] spirit.” In the Old Testament, Elijah represented God. When Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, it was akin to asking for more of God, more of His anointing for the ministry ahead. After Elijah ascended to heaven, Elisha took up the cloak of his teacher, parted the Jordan River, and crossed over. The prophets of Jericho immediately recognized Elisha as Elijah’s successor. They saw that the Spirit of God was now with him and a new season had begun. In tracing the ministry of Elisha, he truly inherited a double portion of his master’s spirit, performing five times more miracles than his master. Don’t settle for one experience of renewal, revival, or restoration. Don’t settle for one great worship experience and message in the house of God. Don’t settle for one-time victories. Adopt the attitude of Elisha and become a God-chaser. Carry a tenacious, passionate desire for our Master, daily pursuing more of Him. When you start doing that, be assured that you will live the “always” life – always experiencing renewal, revival, and restoration, always enjoying the presence of God both in church and outside of church, and always living in victory.
Carry a tenacious, passionate desire for our Master, daily pursuing more of Him.
MAKING ROOM FOR GOD “One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat.
If enduring success is what you want, it’s up to you to make room, de-cluttering so that God takes His rightful place at the center of your life.
She said to her husband, ‘I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair, and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.’” – 2 Kings 4:8-9 Notice the posture of this Shunammite woman. She recognized who Elisha was, God’s representative, and went out of her way to make room for him. When she urged him to stay in her home, such a request wasn’t weak (“Please come into
In Singapore, many pursue the five Cs – cash, car, credit card, condominium, and club membership. Some have upgraded to the five Bs – BMW, bungalow, billionaire, bank, and boss. When we forget that that we’re supposed to pursue one G (God), we start taking on more and more pursuits. That can make our lives very crowded and cluttered, leaving no room for God to navigate. When we pursue the wrong things, we end up with temporary success. When we pursue the one thing that matters, we will have success that endures. If enduring success is what you want, it’s up to you to make room, de-cluttering so that God takes His rightful place at the center of your life.
SECOND FUNDAMENTAL FOR SUCCESS A DESIRE FOR EXPANSION
Another reason Elisha followed Elijah to the Jordan River was a sense of godly discontent. He was not satisfied with what God had done in the past. Just look at the way he audaciously asked for a double portion of his master’s spirit! How big is your desire for godly expansion? If your desire for expansion is weak, you will never be willing to pay the price. If your desire is to live a secure, stable and comfortable life, know that you will
our home.”) The original Hebrew text demonstrated a demand that was made with great fortitude, a strong position (“You will stay in my house. You will not leave until you are finished.”)
never move into a place of expansion. But doesn’t God want me to be content? After all, 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Yes and no. Yes, God wants us to be secure, stable, and comfortable but all these things must come through Him. Security in God doesn’t mean that you’re safe from all things – it means that God holds you in His hands.
Comfort in God doesn’t mean we won’t face pain and suffering – it means that He will be there when times get tough. God’s desire is for us to live beyond the status quo. As much as we strive for a life that doesn’t “rock the boat”, He knows that this kind of living will dull and ultimately kill our spirit. Consider a romantic relationship. If a woman asks a man whether he loves her more today than yesterday, responding with 1 Timothy 6:6 will get him a night in the doghouse. The correct answer should be a resounding yes! Love must grow with each passing moment. It must mature and abound as the years go by. In the same way, God wants our love for Him to grow each day. That’s why we should serve Him more today than we did yesterday. He wants us to experience more and more of the abundant life, walking into our tomorrow instead of relishing in the past. So how do we develop a desire for expansion? It can come in four ways.
1. A NEED In 2 Kings 6:1, the company of prophets saw that they needed a larger place of meeting. They acted upon that need by chopping down some trees to build it (6:4). Similarly, some of us may feel we want to
serve God in a larger capacity. The lack of skills will stir up within us a desire to grow in leadership skills and in our understanding of God.
2. AN IMPACT An impact will always lead to a desire for expansion. Through the impact of Elisha’s powerful ministry, the company of prophets was fired up and that resulted in them wanting to expand the place in which they met so that more people could join them. Some of us are impacted by various ministries and it unlocks a desire to respond to serve God in a greater capacity or even to come into full-time ministry.
The company of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. –– 2 Kings 6:1
Stability in God doesn’t mean our lives won’t be shaken – it means that He will be our rock and strong tower.
3. A REVELATION While a need and an impact are great motivators, a revelation of God’s plans for your life are an even more powerful way to stir up a desire for expansion. God is not simply content with your salvation. You have a destiny in God that He wants to bring to fulfillment. We need to have a revelation of His plans and purposes for our lives. Once we are able to perceive it, we will understand it and step out to apprehend the revelation.
Don’t wait for a push factor from God. Pull yourself into the plans of God by exercising faith!
4. FAITH Don’t wait for a push factor from God. Pull yourself into the plans of God by exercising faith! Seek His plans and purposes. Seek His promises. Let’s not have a “wait and see” attitude. Let us be like the barren woman as described in Isaiah 54.
“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord.
do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
– Philippians 3:12-14
For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.’” – Isaiah 54:1-3
Pastor Dominic Yeo is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Christian Centre. Hear this message, and other sermons, at www.trinity.sg (Media > Sermons) Follow him on social media at @PDomYeo
A barren woman was asked to sing and shout in anticipation of a child, to enlarge her tent in preparation for a growing family. These actions represent faith in the promises of God. Where is God asking you to move in faith? Where does God want to expand you so that you don’t remain in the status quo? Be like the apostle Paul who demonstrated a tenacity towards the things of God in Philippians 3:12-14. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I
From this passage, we can feel Paul’s tenacious spirit. He was a man in perpetual discontent, unsatisfied with the status quo. He wanted to keep on advancing the Kingdom of God. Paul wasn’t content with one missionary journey; he embarked on three during the course of his active ministry. Paul was not content with planting one or two churches. He wanted communities of faith to be dotted throughout the known world. Pressing on. Forgetting what is behind. Straining toward. These are the actions of an athlete’s muscles working overtime as he/she goes towards the finish line. God is moving and He wants us to be a part of His expansive plans, to abide in Him and find success in Him so that we experience miracles and breakthroughs, providence and provision. It’s time to remove all the clutter and all that hinders, to make room for God, to pursue Him. It’s time to desire for a greater move of God in and through our lives.
In Step With Jesus Israel Pilgrimage 2018 November 25-December 7
God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. What do we mean when we say that God is good? Can God be good all the time?
It’s easy to say that God is good when we are healthy and wealthy and in harmony with everyone. When circumstances change, when our world is shaken and turned upside down, it can be hard to believe that God is good when bad things happen. If God is so good, why did my business fail? If God is so good, why did my loved one die unexpectedly? If God is so good, why was my child born with physical/mental disabilities? If God is so good, why does evil and suffering still exist? When we measure goodness on our own terms, goodness becomes temporal and circumstantial. When we equate goodness with how we feel, goodness fades when the feelings are gone. When we equate goodness with our circumstances, goodness can disappear when things don’t go our way. When we equate goodness with what people can do for us, goodness becomes dependent on the words and actions of others. When we equate goodness with society’s definition of “good”, what’s “good” today can be out of fashion tomorrow. When we measure goodness by God’s terms, goodness becomes permanent and unchanging because it involves more than His actions – goodness is His very nature, all that He is and all that He can do.
Often, when people question the goodness of God, they are really asking why God didn’t stop bad things from happening. However, God doesn’t stop being good just because bad things happen to us. Quite the opposite, His goodness is made even more apparent in our lives. When we are lost, He shows us the way. When we grieve, He provides comfort. When we are restless, He provides peace. When we are in lack, He provides for our every need. When times get tough, many Christians take comfort in Romans 8:28 because of the promise that God takes the bad and ugly parts of our life and works it out for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 The trials of life come not as punishment but as a testing ground for faith. Pain redeemed does more to us and the people around us, than pain removed. The goodness of God isn’t about a life without pain. Rather, it’s about a redemption of the bad that has happened – that can be used for good. Nothing that happens is irredeemable. God’s goodness gives us hope that we can live a life of meaning and purpose, that our trials can be redeemed and used for good.
God doesn’t stop being good because bad things happen to us. Quite the opposite, His goodness is made even more apparent in our lives.
Read on to find out how you can live in the goodness of God in all circumstances.
Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering? What Does the Goodness of God Really Mean? Focusing on God’s Goodness How to Pray When Life Falls Apart He Turned My Mourning Into Joy The Journey to Gold
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WHY DOES GOD ALLOW
Tragedy and Suffering? Reflections on the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado The following is adapted from a sermon preached by author and apologist Lee Strobel on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
It’s already being called the worst mass shooting in American history: 70 people shot by a gunman, 12 of them killed, while they were watching the midnight showing of a new movie. It all happened just 21 miles from where we’re sitting. There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering today; our heart and prayers have, and will, go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many people are asking the question, “Why? Why did God allow this?” This has been a heart-rending summer for Colorado. First came the wildfires, which ravaged the houses of hundreds of our neighbors, prompting many of them to ask the same question, “Why?” And those two tragic events are just added to the everyday pain and suffering being experienced in individual lives. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime, and death. And perhaps you’ve been asking the question too. “Why? Why me? Why now?”
That “why” question is not a new one; it goes back thousands of years.
By Lee Strobel It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th Century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why do all of these horrific things happen if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people? Several years ago, I commissioned a national survey and asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The number one response was: “Why is there suffering in the world?” Maybe you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, but my guess is you will when they strike you or a loved one with full force. And Jesus said they are coming. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as mere illusions, Jesus was honest about the inevitability of suffering. In John 16:33
He said, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – He said it is going to happen.
understand everything about it, I believe we can understand some things. Let me give you an analogy.
But why? If you ask me, “Why did God allow the gunman to spray the Aurora movie theater with gunfire just two days ago?” the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words: “I do not know.”
Once Leslie (my wife) and I were driving from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin, which is that thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. We were driving up the highway in the dark, when it started raining heavily and we hit dense fog. I could barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road. I couldn’t stop because I was afraid someone might come along and rear-end us. It was frightening!
I don’t have God’s mind; I don’t share His perspective. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 we’re told, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.” Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And frankly, the people suffering from the Aurora tragedy don’t need a big theological treatise right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. What they desperately need now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that so many churches and ministries of this community are helping them experience that. Yet it’s still important to grapple with the question of why God allows suffering in our lives. Even though we can’t
But then a truck appeared in front of us and we could clearly see his taillights through the fog. He apparently had fog lamps in front, because he was traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and I knew if we could just follow those taillights, we’d be headed in the right direction. The same is true in understanding why there is tragedy and suffering in our lives. We may not be able to make out all the details of why certain things happen, but there are some key biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.
The first point of light
God is not the creator of evil and suffering This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”
Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy.
But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did they come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So love is the highest value in the universe. 3 3
FOCUS And when God decided to create human beings, He wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Why? Because love always involves a choice. When my daughter was little, she had a doll with a string in the back, and when you pulled it the doll said, “I love you.” Did that doll love my daughter? Of course not. It was programmed to say those words. Real love always involves a choice. So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of evil into the world. Some people ask, “Couldn’t God have foreseen all of this?” and no doubt
He did. But look at it this way. Many of you are parents. Even before you had children, couldn’t you foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt you and walk away from you? Of course – but you still had kids. Why? Because you knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning. God knew we’d rebel against Him, but He also knew many people would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him. And it was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His Son great pain and suffering to achieve our redemption. So as we ponder the mystery of pain and evil, we need to be mindful that God did not create them.
The second point of light
Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good In Romans 8:28 the Bible promises, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Notice the verse doesn’t say God causes evil and suffering, just that He promises to cause good to emerge. And notice that the verse doesn’t say we all will see immediately or even in this life how God has caused good to emerge from a bad circumstance. Remember, we only see things dimly in this world. And God doesn’t make this promise to everyone. He makes the solemn pledge that He will take the bad circumstances that befall us and cause good to emerge if
we’re committed to following Him. You might say, “No, He can’t bring good out of my circumstance. The harm was too great, the damage was too extreme, the depth of my suffering has been too much.” But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man once said to me: “God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe – deicide, or the death of God on the cross – and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in history of universe: the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him.”
If God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation
possible, can He not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?
The third point of light
The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil Many people wonder: “If God has the power to eradicate evil and suffering, then why doesn’t He do it?” But there’s a flaw built into the question. Just because He hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean He won’t do it. I wrote my first novel last year. What if someone read only half of it and then slammed it down and said, “Well, Lee did a terrible job with that book. There are too many loose ends with the plot. He didn’t resolve all the issues with the characters.” I’d say, “Hey! You only read half the book!” The Bible says that the story of this world isn’t over yet. It says the day will come when sickness and pain will be eradicated and people will be
held accountable for the evil they’ve committed. Justice will be served in a perfect way. That day will come, but not yet. In other words, we’ve only read half the book! So what’s holding God up? One answer is that He’s actually delaying the consummation of history in anticipation that more people will put their trust in Him and spend eternity in heaven. He’s delaying everything out of His love for humanity. 2 Peter 3:9 reads: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” To me, that’s evidence of a loving God, that He would care that much for us.
The fourth point of light Our suffering will pale in comparison to the good things God has in store for His followers In Romans 8:18 we read: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Remember these words were written by the apostle Paul, who suffered through beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness – far more pain that most of us will ever have to endure.
long-term perspective. Think of it this way. Let’s say that on the first day of 2012, you had an awful day. You had an emergency root canal at the dentist – and then ran out of pain-killers. You crashed your car, and had no insurance. Your stock portfolio took a nosedive. Your spouse got sick. A friend betrayed you. From start to finish, it was like the title of that children’s book: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
I certainly don’t want to minimize pain and suffering, but it helps if we take a
But then every other day of the year was just incredibly terrific. Your
the verse doesn’t say God causes evil and suffering, just that He promises to cause good to emerge. 3 5
FOCUS relationship with God is close and real and intimate. A friend wins the lottery and gives you $100 million. You get promoted at work to your dream job. Time magazine puts your photo on its cover as “The Person of the Year.” You have your first child and he’s healthy and strong. Your marriage is idyllic, your health is fabulous, and you have a six-month vacation in Tahiti.
No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.
Then next New Year’s Day someone asks, “So, how was your 2012?” You’d probably say, “It was great; it was wonderful!” You’d remember that first bad day. You might think, that was a bad day, no denying it. It was difficult at the time. But when I look at the totality of the year, when I put everything in context, it’s been a great year. The 364 terrific days far outweigh the one bad day. That day just sort of fades away. And maybe that’s a good analogy for heaven. Listen to me – that is not to deny the reality of your pain in this life. It might be terrible. It might be chronic. My wife Leslie has a medical condition that puts her in pain every single day. Maybe you’re suffering from a physical ailment or heartache at this very moment. But in heaven, after 354,484,545 days of pure bliss – and with an infinite more to come – if someone asked, “So, how has your
existence been?”, you’d instantly react by saying, “It has been absolutely wonderful! Words can’t describe the joy and the delight and the fulfillment!” It’s like the story that British church leader Galvin Reid tells about meeting a young man who had fallen down a flight of stairs as a baby and shattered his back. He had been in and out of hospitals his whole life – and yet he made the astounding comment that he thinks God is fair. Reid asked him, “How old are you?” The boy said, “Seventeen.” Reid asked, “How many years have you spend in hospitals?” The boy said, “Thirteen years.” The pastor said with astonishment, “And you think that is fair?” And the boy replied: “Well, God has all eternity to make it up to me.” And He will. God promises a time when there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain and suffering, when we will be reunited with God in perfect harmony, forever. Let the words of 1 Corinthians 2:9 soak into your soul: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
the fifth point of light We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage We’ve all seen examples of how the same suffering that causes one person to turn bitter, to reject God, to become hard and angry and sullen, can cause another person to turn to God, to become more gentle and more loving and more tender, willing to reach out
to compassionately help other people who are in pain. Some who lose a child to a drunk driver turn inward in chronic rage and never-ending despair; another turns outward to help others by founding Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
We make the choice to either run away from God or to run to Him. And what happens if we run to Him? Above I quoted part of what Jesus said in John 16:33. Now let me give you the entire verse: “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.” In other words, He offers us the two very things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future. How? Because He has conquered the world! Through His own suffering and death, he has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. Suffering doesn’t have the last word anymore. Death doesn’t have the last word anymore. God has the last word! Let me finish the story of Leslie and I driving through the fog in Wisconsin. We were following the taillights of that truck when the fog slowly began to lift, the rain began to let up and we entered a town with some lights. Things were becoming clearer, we could see better, and as we rounded a curve, silhouetted against the night sky, guess what we saw? We saw the steeple of a church and the cross of Christ. After driving through the confusion of the fog for so long, that image struck me with poignancy I’ll never forget. It was through that cross that Jesus conquered the world for us. As a wise man once said to me, “God’s ultimate answer to suffering isn’t an explanation; it’s the incarnation.” Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced
our pain. Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives. Are you broken? He was broken, like bread, for us. Are you despised? He was despised and rejected of men. Do you cry out that you can’t take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did someone betray you? He was sold out. Are your most tender relationships broken? He loved and He was rejected. Did people turn from you? They hid their faces from Him as if He were a leper. Does He descend into all of our hells? Yes, He does. From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote these words: “No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.” Every tear we shed becomes His tear. God does much more than sympathize with you in your troubles. After all, any close friend can do that. Any close friend can sit beside you and comfort you and empathize with you. No, Jesus is much closer than your closest friend. If you’ve put your trust in Him, then He is in you. And, therefore, your sufferings are His sufferings; your sorrow is His sorrow. So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.
Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel is the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and bestselling author of more than twenty books. His classic, The Case for Christ, is a perennial favorite which details his conversion to Christianity. His recent release, The Case for Grace, just won the 2016 Nonfiction Book of the Year from the EPCA. For the last twenty-five years, his life’s work has been to share the evidence that supports the truth and claims of Christianity and to equip believers to share their faith with the people they know and love. Used with permission.
What Does the
Goodness of God
Really Mean? By Sarah Thebarge
Whenever a plane goes down, there is inevitably a news story about the people who were supposed to be on the plane but weren’t – either because their alarm didn’t go off or there was a traffic jam or they switched travel plans at the last minute. 3 8
Yesterday (March 25, 2015) was no exception. Amidst the horrifying reports of a plane dropping altitude over the Alps and then crashing into the mountain with 150 people on board, there was the story of a soccer team who changed their travel plans because they decided the layover in Dusseldorf was too long. When we hear stories like that, us Christians tend to say, “Wow! Isn’t God good!?” We say that a lot – “Isn’t God good!?” – when we hear reports of people who inexplicably avoided doom. A woman has car trouble and avoids the fatal 12-car pile-up on the interstate that she would’ve been in if her car had started. Isn’t God good? A man goes to his doctor for pneumonia and the chest x-ray shows a tumor in his lung that is entirely removed and cured because the doctor accidentally discovered it when it was still in its early stages. Isn’t God good? I survived an aggressive form of breast cancer when I was 28 years old. Isn’t God good? People say a lot when they hear my story of how I almost died and how God spared my life.
Because here’s the thing – for as many stories as there are of people who escaped doom, there are just as many (if not more) stories of people who weren’t so “lucky”. There were people killed in that fatal interstate pile-up who usually take a different way to work but, for some reason, thought the interstate would be faster that day. Isn’t God good? It sounds obscene to say that. There were people diagnosed with stage IV cancer and died weeks later because their cancer was discovered too late. Isn’t God good? No, my instincts say. It doesn’t make sense to draw attention to God’s goodness in a situation that seems to be the opposite of good. Two of my friends have died of breast cancer in their 30s. Isn’t God good? I have to honestly answer that I don’t know and it makes me think hard about what God’s goodness even means. The thing I can’t walk away from is that the Bible doesn’t just say that God does good things. It says that God is good. It’s not just what He does, it’s who He is – and who He is never changes.
God is good – not because He causes things that seem or feel “good” to happen in our lives. God is good because in the midst of the storm, He comes closer to us than the storm could ever be.
Yes, I always say. God is absolutely good. But is this why God is good? If God hadn’t spared my life, would God still be good?
In Psalm 46, the psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear...”
FOCUS In his commentary on Psalm 46, Charles Spurgeon wrote that God is good – not because He causes things that seem or feel “good” to happen in our lives. God is good because in the midst of the storm, He comes closer to us than the storm could ever be.
God is just as good to the 150 people
And this is why we can say with absolute confidence that God is good.
God is just as good to the parents of
who went down on the Germanwings plane as He is to the soccer team who switched flights at the last minute. God is just as good to the people who died in the car accident as He is to the people who avoided it.
obedient children as He is to parents of children who have rebelled.
This is why we can say no matter how bad the storm is, no matter how much pain we experience, no matter how different the outcome is from what we’ve prayed for, that God is good. In the hardest moments of life, God comes close to us and He doesn’t change. He doesn’t falter. He doesn’t quit. He doesn’t leave. He doesn’t let go.
God’s goodness is not dependent on an outcome or an emotion or a barely-misseddoom story. 4 0
God is just as good to infertile women as He is to women who have as many biological children as they want. God is just as good to the family who loses their home in a fire as He is to the family whose house didn’t burn down.
God is just as good to the single person as He is to the person who gets married. God is just as good to the people who lose their jobs in corporate downsizing as He is to the people who earn a promotion. God is just as good to the people who drown in a tsunami as He is to the people who are rescued.
But we have got to stop only talking about His goodness when an unexpectedly pleasant thing happens. God’s goodness is not dependent on an outcome or an emotion or a barelymissed-doom story. God is not good because we avoid danger. God is good because when the storms of life hit, He comes closer to us than the storm ever could.
God is just as good to the young
He holds us in His loving arms.
women who died of breast cancer as
He doesn’t change.
He was to me when I survived it. Isn’t God good? Yes! The answer is always a resounding yes. God is good!
He doesn’t falter. He doesn’t quit. He doesn’t leave. And no matter what, He never lets go.
Sarah Thebarge is a speaker, blogger, journalist and author of The Invisible Girls, a memoir that weaves her story of nearly dying of breast cancer together with the story of a Somali refugee family she met as she was recovering from her cancer treatments. Sarah studied Medical Science at Yale School of Medicine and Journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She practiced international medicine extensively volunteering in Togo, West Africa, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic. Her next book, WELL, about the three months she practiced medicine in Togo, launched in November 2017. Used with permission.
Goodness By Pastor Johnathan Lee
IS IT POSSIBLE TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S GOODNESS EVERY DAY?
ABSOLUTELY! Whether times are good or bad, smooth sailing or filled with challenges, practicing these five disciplines will help you see, experience, and live daily in the goodness of God. DISCIPLINE
Spend time with God The Bible holds many truths about your security in God’s love. He is always for you from your conception and birth, your growing-up years and journey throughout life. He has also promised your presence with Him in eternity. Let Him speak to you through Time Alone With God (TAWG) – time dedicated to Scripture reading, meditation, and prayer. 4 2
HERE ARE SEVERAL VERSES TO GET YOU STARTED. MY GOD FROM BIRTH
Psalm 22:9-10 Psalm 71:5-6 Psalm 139:13-16; 17-18 Isaiah 49:1-4 Isaiah 49:5
GOD HAS YOU IN HIS HAND TO HONOR YOU
GOD IS FOR YOU
Isaiah 49:5 Isaiah 43:4-5 Isaiah 45:4-5
Psalm 56:9-13 Acts 2:22-25 Psalm 16:18-11 Isaiah 41:10 Isaiah 42:6 Isaiah 41:13-14,10 Isaiah 48:17-19
GOD HAS YOU ALL OF YOUR LIFE
Isaiah 46:4 Psalm 39:4-5 Psalm 31:14
GOD WILL Isaiah 46:9-11 ESTABLISH Isaiah 48:11 HIS PLANS Jeremiah 29:11 AND PURPOSE
OUR PROPER DESIRE TO GOD’S LOVE
Colossians 1:9-12 Psalm 57:2-3 Isaiah 42:6 Isaiah 41:13-14,10
Find a time and place where you can have uninterrupted time with God. Get ready to hear from God by inviting His presence and opening your heart to Him. Read God’s word slowly and reflect on what it says. Frameworks such as “God, Me, SPACE” can help reveal God’s truths. Respond to the revelation God brings. Keep a record of your TAWG by journaling His revelation to you and how you will live it out.
Seek help to deal with past and present hurts
Discern God’s presence in your life
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.”
– Romans 8:28 Experiences in the past can affect us both positively and negatively. Many times, hurtful memories keep us in sinful behaviors, hindering us from building good relationships with others, growing in the Lord, and seeing the goodness of God in all circumstances. Allow God to help you heal of past and present hurts by seeking the help of a Christian inner healing ministry or a Christian counselor. During those sessions, be open and honest so that they can minister to you accordingly.
– Psalm 9:1 At the end of each day, take some time to discern God’s presence in your life. Try techniques like the Daily Examen to help you practice this discipline. 1
BECOME AWARE OF GOD’S PRESENCE Invite the Holy Spirit to help you bring clarity to the day’s events.
REVIEW THE DAY WITH GRATITUDE Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the high points of the day such as a random act of kindness, a moment of favor, or time spent enjoying God’s creation.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMOTIONS If you experience negative emotions, prayerfully consider whether it’s a prompting to act (e.g., developing in the Fruit of the Spirit).
CHOOSE ONE FEATURE OF THE DAY AND PRAY FROM IT Ask the Holy Spirit to help recall one event of the day that was of particular importance. Ask for fresh insight about how to react to the event.
LOOK TOWARD TOMORROW Ask to understand tomorrow’s challenges and take note of your reaction. Seek guidance and revelation. Pray for fresh hope and grace.
Be a blessing “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35 (NLT) “…whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:28 It’s easy to receive blessings and enjoy them for ourselves. But the blessings of God are not meant to be hoarded, they are meant to be shared! If you see a need, meet it. If someone needs help, give it freely. Choose to look outward so that others can experience the love of God through your words and actions.
Give God the glory
Pastor Johnathan Lee serves a District Pastor overseeing the Divine Exchange and Wholeness (DEW) Ministry, Trinity’s inner healing and deliverance ministry. With over 20 years of experience as a pastor and counselor, he helps individuals and families break free from emotional and spiritual bondages, enabling them to live fully and freely in God.
“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you accomplished it all on your own?” – 1 Corinthians 4:7 (TLB) When good things happen to us, who do we give the glory to? If we give the glory to ourselves, it leads us to claim credit for the things God does in, though, to, for, by, and with us.1 If you achieve great success, remember that it’s the Lord who enables it. Whether you overcome a challenge or a difficult situation, acknowledge that it’s the Lord who gave you the favor and wisdom to do so. Choose to see God’s hand in all aspects of your life and give Him the credit that’s due.
1. Adapted from Pastor Rick Warren’s message, “Learn to Remember God’s Goodness”
Start your year spending Time Alone With God this January. Look out for tips, Scriptures and share your reflections on Facebook (
Trinity Christian Centre)
and Instagram (
#TAWG #godspeaks 4 5
How to Pray
When Life Falls Apart By Vaneetha Rendal Risner
In the midst of broken dreams and riveting pain, how should we pray? Should we pray for healing and deliverance, believing that we just need to ask, because God can do anything? Or should we relinquish our desires to God, trusting that even in our anguish He has the perfect plan for us? Yes. When life falls apart, God invites us to do both. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced unimaginable suffering. Sweating drops of blood, He fell to the ground and prayed: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36) Jesus, in His agony, is teaching us by example how to pray when we’re desperate.
Abba Father Jesus doesn’t begin with, “Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth.” Of course, God is Lord of all and deserves honor and reverence. But Jesus chooses a term of endearment: “Abba”. Abba is an intimate, personal
term for a father. Jesus is asking His Father to do something for Him. In a similar way, I need to draw near to God in my pain. He’s the Almighty Lord, but he’s also my Abba Father (Romans 8:15). I need to approach Him as such.
Nothing Too Difficult Jesus knows God can do anything. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. All things are His servants. Nothing is impossible with Him. While I know those Scripture verses by heart too, I often functionally doubt God’s ability to change my situation. I scan my circumstances and assume things will continue as they are. Even as I’m praying, I don’t look for miraculous answers; my prayers become rote recitations of requests more than earnest petitions of faith.
The Father said “no” to the Son. And that “no” brought about the greatest good in all of history.
But in Gethsemane, Jesus knows His Father can grant His request. God gives life to the dead and summons into being things that don’t exist. And I need to remember His limitless power when my situation looks insurmountable.
Remove This Cup The cup Jesus asks God to remove isn’t mere physical suffering. Disciples and martyrs through the ages have faced physical pain without fear. Jesus is anguished over suffering that’s infinitely deeper. He is facing the terrifying fury of God’s wrath over our sin. And He’s facing that wrath alone, with no comfort from above. Jesus knows God can change this horrifying situation. So He asks. He wants God to remove the very suffering He was sent to bear, the suffering He willingly came for, the suffering that would secure salvation for His people. Jesus wasn’t coerced onto the cross. He lay down His life of His own accord (John 10:18). But now Jesus is asking if there is another way – any other way – for God to accomplish His purposes.
So many times I filter my requests. Should I ask God to relieve my suffering when I know He can use it? Is it okay to ask for healing, or is that presumptuous? Should I not ask for anything and just accept what I’ve been given? That posture seems more holy. Yet, Jesus asks God to remove the cup. If Jesus can ask, I can too. It’s appropriate to ask God to remove my suffering, change my situation, keep me from further pain. He longs to give me good gifts. I’ve begged God to heal friends, save family members, and give clarity, and He has answered “yes.” But I’ve also pleaded with God to save my dying son, heal my escalating disease, and bring back my husband, and He said “no.” So even though I don’t know how He will answer, my Father still bids me to earnestly petition Him for the things I desire.
Not My Will,But Yours Jesus finally relinquishes His will to God’s. When denied His desire, Jesus accepts the decision completely. He stumbles to His execution without murmur or complaint. This relinquishment isn’t easy for me. When I keep God at a distance, I can stay detached without expectations. But if I draw near to Him and truly believe He can change the situation, I can start to clutch the outcome I want. I may verbalize “Your will be done”, but I’m whiteknuckling my own will. God often has to pry my fingers off my desired outcome. Though I’ve felt devastated by His “no’s,” as I submit to His will – often with disappointment and tears – He assures me He’s working for my good. I see only part of the picture. He has a purpose in His denials.
The Father said “no” to the Son. And that “no” brought about the greatest good in all of history. God is not capricious. If He says “no” to our requests He has a reason, perhaps 10,000. We may never know the reasons in this life, but one day we’ll see them all. For now, we must trust that His refusals are always His mercies to us.
Run to Your Father And now as we wait, still struggling to make sense of the storms in our lives, let us pray as our Savior did. Let us draw near to God, believe He can change our situation, boldly ask Him for what we need, and submit our will to his.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner writes primarily about issues of suffering and loss. She is a regular contributor to Desiring God and blogs at danceintherain.com. She is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering. Used with permission.
Our Father’s plans are always perfect. They will always be for our good and His glory.
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How does one cope after being widowed with four young daughters?
Yannie Yong shares with Lye Huixian about how God renewed her strength and turned her mourning into joy.
Two Lives Coming Together I met Dick at a carecell birthday party in 1997. In that first meeting, I noticed how tall and witty he was. As we started dating, I was touched by his generosity towards those around him. We dated for five years and I looked forward to spending the rest of my life with him.
Our marriage didn’t start as a bed of roses. The contrast in our personalities became evident. He was a methodical planner while I lived spontaneously. These differences often lead to many quarrels. Although we struggled as newlyweds, there was one truth we chose to live by: that God was at the center of our marriage. I knew the only one I could run to with our marital woes was God. Although my prayers were for God to change Dick, God changed me instead. I vented about Dick’s impatience. God taught me to be patient towards him. I lamented about Dick’s anger issues. God showed me how I needed to listen and work alongside him. God also used many wise wives and mothers from our carecell to minister to me.
Dick doted on me and sheltered me from a chaotic world, so much so that I was very much dependent on him. Dick, the Loving Husband and Father By the grace of God, we pulled through those initial years. Over time, our family grew to include four lovely daughters – Isabelle, Victoria, Audrey, and Emma. Dick was a very caring father. He ferried them to and from classes. He brought them out to have fun, especially when I was away on business trips. He had no qualms about splurging on them. He would read devotions with them, teaching they will never lack because God is their provider. He did all he could to show them love, especially since he did not experience that from his own father. Dick was also a very supportive husband. He brought me to eat wherever I fancied. He took me out for many walks. Seeing my weakness in finance, he helped and guided me in that area of my business on top of his own work commitments. He set aside time to bring me on holidays, especially during our daughters’ exams. When I became frantic and worried about their exams, he would calm me with gentle reminders, “It’s not your exams – it’s theirs. This holiday is our time together!”
Dick doted on me and sheltered me from a chaotic world, so much so that I was very much dependent on him.
The Day That Changed Everything On December 5, 2015, life put me through the ultimate test of courage. Dick and I had plans to attend a Christmas lunch party. The arrangement was for him to pick me up at 10:00am from our home. He texted to tell me he was on his way. At 10:30, there was no sign of Dick. I became worried and tried calling him. The phone kept ringing. At 11:00, assuming that he was already there, I set off for the party on my own. When I arrived, he wasn’t there. My heart raced and I became really worried. Did something bad happen to him? At 1:00pm, I received a frantic call from my helper. There were policemen at our home. My heart sank. I feared the worst. The drive home was the worst journey of my life. When I entered my home, the policemen broke the news: Dick was in an accident. He had not survived. My heart shattered. My mind was in a blur and my body was in a state of shock.
UP CLOSE It all felt like a bad nightmare. I went to our room to lie down, hoping that it was all a figment of my imagination. It wasn’t. When I got up 10 minutes later, the policemen were still in the living room. That’s when reality hit me – Dick was really gone.
When I got up 10 minutes later, the policemen were still in the living room. That’s when reality hit me – Dick was really gone.
When the police asked about family members who could help us, I felt even more lost and afraid. Both of Dick’s parents had passed away. My own family was based all over the world. I was now all alone with my daughters in Singapore. In the days that followed, I had many unanswerable questions. Why had this happened to Dick? What would I do now? How would my young daughters grow up without their father? Darkness and fear overwhelmed me, flooding my mind with worried and angry thoughts. I lacked the courage to face each day and cried every night. I entertained thoughts of dying so that I could be with Dick. What kept me going were my four daughters, only 4 to 12 years old then. I could not leave them as orphans with this double tragedy.
Struggling Alone Even as I tried to pull myself together for my daughters’ sake, the nightmare seemed to get worse. My young children were looking to me for support. I had to keep my business going. Dick and I had taken out various mortgages. Our finances had to be sorted out. Even though we
had regularly discussed our finances, Dick was the one who took care of the details and made the decisions. Now, I had no one to consult. I was overwhelmed with the fear of not having enough, of living the years ahead alone. When I was troubled in the past, I would share my troubles with Dick. But now, I only ached with the pain of losing my soul mate. I missed hugging him. I longed for his reassuring presence. In the darkest nights of grief, I had no one to share the burdens that weighed in my heart. When he was around, we used to go for supper together. Now, my sleepless nights were spent eating instant noodles alone.
Standing Up Again To distract myself from the pain, I did many things. I poured my energy into my work. I tried to connect with people. I shopped. I read. I traveled. I even relocated my family to Jakarta in 2016 for a change of environment, hoping for a fresh start. I had lost my identity as Dick’s wife and didn’t like the new “labels” of being a widow and a single mom. I sought to find my purpose and identity. That’s when I started to press in to God, listening to various audio sermons and meditating on God’s Word. As I persevered, He revealed this truth: my identity came not from being a wife, a mother, or a businesswoman. My identity is found in Christ alone. Only He could satisfy me. Only He could heal my inner being.
Finding Hope in God’s Goodness During this valley–and-wilderness time, God reminded me of the sweetness of His Word. It spoke to me tenderly: “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). By Jesus’ work on the cross, my fears had been taken care of. Death lost its sting. I have the resurrected life in Christ! The devil stole much from me but Jesus had come to give me life, and life more abundantly ( John 10:10).
penned in memory of Dick on our wedding anniversary May 5, 2017
Today I remember the vows we made To Love and Hold Till death we part I cherish the joy, love, and moments Your touch and your voice now a void Today I release a new prayer Hope for a better tomorrow
I claimed God’s Word that He will turn my mourning into joy (Psalm 30:11; Jeremiah 31:13). I learned to let my tears be a balm to my spirit man – not all things are good, but God works all things for good (Romans 8:28). I trusted that He would not let me go through this pain without something good coming out of it. The depth of my pain became inversely proportionate to the overwhelming joy of knowing the hope in Christ and the crown of glory I’d receive.
Love like never before
I was reminded of this verse during my time alone with God: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Dick had finished his race on earth. His heart’s desire to pursue love and righteousness had left a legacy for our family and me to follow. Though I felt alone, I was reminded that the Holy Spirit resides within me. I can begin a new race and chapter with my Heavenly Father.
Each broken dream and promise
Courage to dream on Rediscovering the freshness of dawn Purposes and goals From head to heart to action Rainbows that fills the colors in the sky Every stripe arched in its splendor Holds time to its color Like the promises to Noah You will restore and renew The girls are four precious pillars You are the Father to the fatherless The promise in your covenants The world that I once lost hope Your word have replaced my void Strength, courage, faith, and love
I decided to do some spiritual housecleaning, to throw off the things that hindered me from moving forward.
I decided to do some spiritual housecleaning, to throw off the things that hindered me from moving forward. God had called us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) For 20 years, I had been a “comfortable Christian” – content with the status quo and, thus, not growing in my faith and knowledge of God. I fasted and prayed for God to renew my heart and mind. That physical hunger turned into a deep spiritual hunger for God as His Word sank deeper into my soul.
I started to engage in self-care, eating well and exercising so that I could have a healthy body to look after my daughters. I volunteered with SPIN (Single Parents, Informed, Involved and Included) – a program dedicated to supporting single parent families. I also made new friends.
Trinity’s Expansion, My Expansion I could not have faced the darkest moments of life without the love and support of fellow Trinitarians. They helped at Dick’s memorial service. They met with me to see how I was doing. They prayed for me when I shared requests. They encouraged me with their words and actions. My friends and spiritual family were God’s love wrapped in skin. Even after relocating to Jakarta, my Heavenly Father’s goodness followed. Just as Elijah brought life and provision to the widow of 1 Kings 17, God gave me an “Elijah moment” – bringing Trinity to me with the launch of Trinity@Jakarta. Week after week, Pastor Dominic’s teachings from Potential to Fulfillment were like rain on a parched spirit. The weekly Waves that came from Singapore touched me by their example of praying passionately, serving selflessly, building boldly, and giving generously. I came to recognize that God is our source of favor. He enables me to move from potential to fulfillment, from success to significance. When things feel like they’re falling apart, they’re actually falling into place.
As the church spoke about the Decade of Expansion, I was reminded of my personal expansion – to expand my spiritual growth, to have an enlarged vision, to develop in Christ, and to strengthen my faith.
He Turned My Mourning into Joy In my grief, I found the keys to abundant living – to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27-28). I found the courage to love myself again. I let the pain of losing Dick be a reminder to lean upon God.
As the church spoke about the Decade of Expansion, I was reminded of my personal expansion – to expand my spiritual growth, to have an enlarged vision, to develop in Christ, and to strengthen my faith.
I understood my purpose: to be a bridge, a connector, an intercessor. I am a broken vessel that God can use to bring hope to the lost, hope that I once lost but found again in Him. As my six-year-old daughter Emma sang to me recently,
You know every mountain You called out every sea The world is Your creation Yet You are with me You have made all things You are the mighty King Mighty is Your love for me.
I learned to ask God to guide and provide for my today and tomorrow. I discovered how to live and love again – to make each day count and be a blessing.
Read or watch more testimonies through our Facebook page ( Trinity Christian Centre) and Instagram account ( trinity.sg) #testimonytuesday 5 7
Embracing life with a special need What does it take to become a world-class athlete? For Danielle Moi, getting a gold medal at the 2017 ASEAN Para Games was a team effort. Spurred on by her supportive family and faith in God, Kristine Lee finds out how she overcame great odds to make her dreams come true.
“I’m going for gold. I’m going for God all the way...” Those lyrics ran through Danielle’s mind as she stepped on the podium to receive her first-ever gold medal in the ASEAN Para Games this year. It was the song her siblings sang over her before she left for the competition. A dream come true, what’s truly amazing is the unsung story behind her win. When she was nine years old, Danielle was diagnosed with dyspraxia, a lifelong condition that would affect her learning abilities and sense of distance. From a young age, Danielle faced difficulty in gauging distance, sensing audio volume, and reading and writing. There was even one instance where she burned herself because she could not tell how far she was from the flame.
How is it possible for someone with learning challenges and distance sensing difficulties go on to win gold medals in swimming? Danielle’s chirpy family plays a big part in her gold-medal performance. Growing up, swimming time was always family time. Danielle and her siblings spent many days competing with one another in the pool. That pastime eventually became a passion that her parents nurtured and supported.
setbacks discourage her. “It’s like a baby learning to walk,” she shares. “Everyone falls in life.” Tenacity in the Lord also saw Danielle through. “You trust Me, I trust you,” is what God tells her when she faces difficulties in the midst of her special needs.
EMBRACING A NEW NORMAL
Her siblings also supported her in small yet practical ways. Jie jies (elder sisters) Abigail and Gabrielle would regularly pack dinner for her every night so that she could eat on the way home. Gor gor (older brother) Nathaniel availed himself to be a listening ear.
It took time for the Moi family to embrace a new normal, adjusting life to accommodate Danielle’s special needs. Max comically recalled his shock when Danielle, standing right next to his ear, would suddenly start talking loudly. Suzi remembered how a four-year-old Danielle suddenly disappeared halfway during her first swimming competition because she became tired and went to the playground instead. In another instance, Danielle accidentally locked herself in the bathroom during an ongoing competition. While it was funny at first, it became less comical when these incidents kept occurring.
Even with such strong family support, there were some things that Danielle had to learn on her own. In the beginning, she spent five years bumping into the pool walls. She didn’t let all those
Before the diagnosis, Gabrielle remembered how the siblings thought Danielle was deliberately being difficult. During story time, she would read some words but never complete sentences. It wasn’t
Mom (Suzi) or dad (Max) would drive her for 5:30am practice sessions twice a week. Every night, they would take her back from evening practices that sometimes went beyond 9:00pm.
Every one of my children has needs. Danielle’s are just louder. – Suzi Moi
UP CLOSE until they learned about Danielle’s dyspraxia that they understood that she had learning limitations.
You can be good but some people are always going to be better. That doesn’t mean you have to be good at everything.
Despite the diagnosis, Suzi chose not to dwell on them but instead to focus on God’s affirmation. “Danielle is my gift to you,” she remembered God telling her during the pregnancy. Danielle was a miracle baby, conceived even after undergoing tubal ligation – a procedure which was supposed to make Suzi unable to conceive. “Every one of my children has needs,” Suzi shared, “Danielle’s are just louder.” Growing up, Danielle’s parents would affectionately call her “precious”. She often took that to mean she was special in a negative way. “Since I am so stupid, so dumb, what’s going to happen to me when I grow up?” she often asked herself. It was only after enrolling in a special education school that she understood what it meant to live with dyspraxia. She wasn’t stupid or dumb. She just needed to learn things in a slower and more structured pace. With wisdom beyond her 17 years, she shared that, “You can be good but some people are always going to be better. That doesn’t mean you have to be good at everything.” Though she gives everything her best, Danielle recognizes that sometimes her best may not be good enough for others. She has been called names at school and the rejection she feels is very real. Danielle is still shy to tell others when she doesn’t understand what they
say, often apologetic when she has to ask people to repeat information. Through messages shared in IGNYTE, Trinity’s youth ministry, she has learned that life is not perfect. “Life is like a roller coaster – not everything is straight.”
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES BY DEPENDING ON GOD Before every competition, Danielle enters a time of prayer, drawing peace and strength from the Lord. Through Time Alone With God, she reminds herself daily to depend on Him. “If you don’t turn to God, who are you going to turn to?” she asks, “God is also our best friend. Even when we push Him away, His arms are wide open. We can trust in Him to do our best and He is proud when we give our best.” Her family encourages her to reach for her personal best in each competition. That has helped Danielle grow to embrace the joy of “doing her best and let God take care of the rest” in all that she does. With this spirit of excellence, Danielle continues to scale new heights and achieve new breakthroughs, all to the glory of God. There’s always a song for her Heavenly Father in Danielle’s heart. She sings out loud or in her heart, telling God how good He is and that she is actively listening for Him. In her songs, she can feel His presence. His love is just there whispering, “I love you, My daughter. No matter what, I will always be there for you.”
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MISSIONS AT A GLANCE GO
MISSIONS IMPACT TEAMS (MITs)
10 165 63
COUNTRIES Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand
Trinitarians going for the first time
WAVES TO TRINITY@JAKARTA
Trinitarians going for the first time
MISSIONS REPORT Trinity’s missions endeavors exist to demonstrate a Passionate Heartbeat for God’s global agenda by empowering and equipping churches, organizations, ministries, ministers, and communities. This includes the establishment of, and/or support to, charitable and humanitarian works, as well as the equipping of pastors and church leadership.
TRINITY@JAKARTA REGIONAL CENTER PLANT Starting Trinity@Jakarta has been an exciting opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God beyond Singapore’s shores. In our first regional center plant during the Decade of Expansion, it has been established primarily to reach out to the Englishspeaking community in the city.
Every Trinitarian has a part to play when it comes to missions in praying, giving and going.
Reconnecting with Trinitarians who have returned or relocated to Jakarta, Trinity@Jakarta started on August 2 with monthly Church Prayer Meetings, followed by Friday night Bible seminars on August 4. The hunger for God was so strong that we launched Sunday services on September 3. During this period, we have seen many English-speaking Indonesians join us. Some have even made decisions for Christ.
TRAINING AND CONSULTATION Trinity continues to equip churches around the world through trainings and consultations. This year, our pastors went on 13 trips to seven nations (China, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, and Vietnam), strengthening and empowering churches by facilitating three classes: Seven Steps to Transforming Your Church, Nurturing That Transforms Lives, and Section Leaders’ Training. In July, we started a new cycle of carecell church training for a group of churches in North Vietnam. MISSIONS TRIPS We thank God for the mighty harvest of more than 629 decisions for Christ during the seven missions trips held this quarter. 78 Trinitarians with 42 going for the first time sacrificed their time and talents by going to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan. In addition to Trinitarians from the English adult service, we also had missions trips organized and run by our youths (IGNYTE), Campus students, and the members of the Chinese Ministry. Read more about how God used them to impact lives and communities on pgs 64-65. 6 2
Anchored by two local congregation members, Trinity@Jakarta also started a Young Adults Program on September 16 to host bi-monthly Care and Connect events that reach the young adults in Jakarta. We are encouraged by the faith of this new center with their participation in its first-ever Vision Faith Promise held on the same weekend as Singapore. Read more about it on pg 19. The strong foundations that have been laid for Trinity@Jakarta could not have been possible without the 78 Trinitarians who have gone on the eight Waves to support this church. Though similar to missions trips, Waves differ in two main ways.
Statistics for January–September 2017
TRAINING AND CONSULTATION^
DESTITUTE CHILDREN SPONSORED
China, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, Vietnam
^ Does not include Preaching & Exploratory Trips
Waves are sent to support our own regional centers; missions trips are sent to support the efforts of other churches. Waves are also primarily led by laity from the Silver Force, responsible for planning and coordinating the entire trip. They engage in prayer walks, support services through Ministry Expressions, and connect with locals. We thank God for every Trinitarian who dared to step outside his/her comfort zone so that God’s expansive plans could take place in Jakarta. LANGUAGE MINISTRIES Locally, Trinity continues to be a blessing to the Indonesian, Filipino, Japanese, Spanish, and Thai communities through our language ministries. On September 3, the language ministries staged the firstever combined evangelistic event I Am a Star where they saw 65 decisions for Christ. Read more about it on pg 72. SPONSORSHIP OF CHILDREN 1,970 destitute children in five countries (Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand) are supported by the giving of Trinitarians, providing opportunities for them to develop intellectually, spiritually, physically, socially, and emotionally. Besides giving financially, one of our missions teams went to Jakarta, Indonesia to bless a children’s home. In addition to conducting a children’s program, the team helped to paint the children’s home, constructed a shelter, and provided aid through a medical camp.
HUMANITARIAN AID On August, 18 districts in Bihar, India were under deluge when non-stop rain caused massive flooding in the region. Almost 3,000 villages were affected and close to 7.4 million people were displaced from their homes. Because of your generous giving, Trinity played a part in relief efforts by providing financial aid to help feed 1,000 flood victims. BE A PARTNER FOR TRINITY’S MISSIONS – PRAY, GIVE, AND GO! Trinitarians, thank you for giving your hands and hearts to the missions field locally and abroad. In this Decade of Expansion, continue to be part of Trinity’s growing missions endeavors so that more lives can be touched and impacted for His glory. Pray • Missions Impact Teams: Journey mercy and God’s manifest power to be seen through their ministry • Our Sponsored Children: To know God intimately and to grow in favor with God and man • Ambassadors and Trainers: Fresh anointing and impactful, lasting ministry • Expansion Endeavors: Divine alliances and wisdom for our leadership 6 3
Thank You Trinitarians for Going to the Nations! In the third quarter of 2017, 78 Trinitarians chose to be God’s hands and heart – 42 for the first time! Let’s continue to pray for the lives that have been touched and decisions made for Christ. May every seed sown be watered and nurtured to fruition!
JULY 17-24 HYDERABAD, INDIA 1,485 LIVES TOUCHED 375 DECISIONS MADE FOR CHRIST onducted children’s programs, youth C programs, and life skills seminar Engaged in door-to-door and street evangelism Number of team members: 12 Number of first-timers on the team: 8
JULY 3-10 KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN 200 LIVES TOUCHED 20 DECISIONS MADE FOR CHRIST Conducted children’s camp
Engaged in street evangelism
Number of team members: 11 Number of first-timers on the team: 5
JULY 17-24 KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN 91 LIVES TOUCHED 51 DECISIONS MADE FOR CHRIST Conducted children’s program
Engaged in street evangelism and home visits
Number of team members: 11 Number of first-timers on the team: 7
AUGUST 7-14 JOGJAKARTA, INDONESIA 550 LIVES TOUCHED onducted C children’s program
onducted C meal programs
onstructed shelter C and painted portions of a children’s home
rovided care P through medical camp
Number of team members: 14 Number of first-timers on the team: 6
AUGUST 14-21 TAIPEI, TAIWAN 300 LIVES TOUCHED 60 DECISIONS MADE FOR CHRIST Conducted children’s program
Number of team members: 10 Number of first-timers on the team: 3
149 LIVES TOUCHED 123 DECISIONS MADE FOR CHRIST
Conducted children’s program, youth program, and food distribution Provided care through medical camp Engaged in street evangelism
Number of team members: 8 Number of first-timers on the team: 4
SEPTEMBER 3-11 KURNOOL, INDIA SEPTEMBER 6-10 KEPONG, MALAYSIA 265 LIVES TOUCHED Conducted children’s program and youth program
Engaged in home visitations
Number of team members: 12 Number of first-timers on the team: 9 6 5
Serving and Empowering the Community with You When I was in Primary 2, my mother had to work during the day. She placed me in a CareHut for after-school care. I was inspired by the tender and loving care I received from my CareHut teachers. They helped me with my studies, imparted values, and provided a listening ear. The CareHut also gave me opportunities to develop my skills and even reached out to my family to provide much-needed assistance. Because of this program, my dreams and passion were formed. Now, I desire to touch the hearts of children and to serve the community. Before deciding to pursue these dreams, I went back to New Town and Stamford CareHut as a part-time assistant. The feeling of volunteering there was great! Today I am an educator in a pre-school center. Even though the job scope is different, the heart and vision are the same. I would like to thank everyone who cared for me when I was in CareHut. Though the four-year journey was short, the values they imparted will last throughout my life. I am grateful for their love, care, and concern.
Former CareHut beneficiary Currently a preschool educator
Though my time in CareHut was short, a year and a half between Primary 3 and Primary 4, it taught me the value of giving back to the community without expecting anything in return. Being in CareHut gave my mom time to work and support my sister and I. She had a peace of mind knowing that her children were in safe hands. Even though the CareHut was held a container structure, it was a time where the 20 of us children will never forget as we learned and played together. Words cannot describe the impact that CCSS has left on me. I have learned never to forget those who have helped us to be who we are. Since then, I have returned to CareHut as a volunteer to help other kids like me. Thank you to all the CCSS staff and friends for being part of my life journey.
Volunteer Former CareHut beneficiary Currently an architecture student
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f Silver orce in 2017! 2017 marks a robust start for the Silver Force. Eve Loh highlights the initiatives that have been rolled out.
MARRIAGE MENTORS The uptrend of divorces in Singapore is worrying. Figures from Singapore Statistics show that the median marriage duration is 10 years.1 The reality is that Christian couples are not spared the scourge of divorce. Since many marriages face the greatest challenges in the first 5 to 10 years, young couples need moral and emotional support to face the complex challenges that can arise when two people from distinct backgrounds come together to start a family. To help strengthen marriages, 30 couples (over half from the Silver Force) have been handpicked as marriage mentors to help younger couples. Recommended by their pastors and the Silver Force committee, couples have met the necessary selection criteria and gone through in-depth interviews before being selected.2 They also had to attend Trinity’s premarital course Before You Say Yes as 7 0
well as marriage mentoring training before being assigned a couple. To date, many of them have started mentoring relationships with younger couples and we look forward to seeing more in the future.
The Silver Force also made waves with their strong support for the launch of Trinity@Jakarta. They went with “waves” of Trinitarians to Jakarta and immersed themselves in the rigor of ministry, taking their faith and passion to new levels as they prayed, served, and took part in Care and Connect activities.
HUMANITARIAN MISSIONS IMPACT TEAMS Albert Einstein once said that “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” This sentiment is even more apt for the Silver Force. For that reason, Trinity is in the process of training 30 Silver Forcers to be empowered to lead humanitarian mission impact trips across the region. These Silver Force team leaders have been assigned to seven missions trips and are being trained by LEAD pastors. In May, the Silver Force went on a humanitarian mission trip to Chiangmai to enrich the lives of children in our Champions homes. The following month they partnered with Care Community Services Society, Trinity’s social arm, to run a threeday holiday camp for primary school
children from disadvantaged homes at CareHut@Eunos. During the camp, they played games and activities with the children to inculcate good habits and self-discipline in everyday life.
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT Four Silver Force members with experience in curriculum development have been selected to work with LEAD pastors in developing content for Trinity’s education arm. As they undergo further training, two have already started work on curriculum for a new parenting course.
Visit the Silver Force website: www.trinity.sg/SilverForce/
HOSPITALITY 79 enthusiastic Silver Forcers had signed up to serve in hospitality and have hosted visiting pastors at the World Assembly of God Congress in March.
SILVER FORCE SECURITY MARSHALLS “It’s no longer an idea of ‘the police will take care of it’, ‘SCDF will take care of it’ – it’s individual responsibility, it’s you, it’s I, it’s each one of us. The message is about every Singaporean taking responsibility. It’s not easy. It’s going to take time. But we have to do it.” 3 – Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Recognizing the importance of equipping in emergency response, Trinity has turned to the Silver Force to be trained as Security Marshalls for all weekend celebration services and major church events. 30 courageous men and women have stepped up for
With so many reasons to live our lives for others, the Silver Force, invites you to harness your passion and life experience to rewrite your latter years and make it count!
the role and more are needed! The training will include emergency evacuation, improvised first-aid, as well as how to spot and report suspicious persons, objects, vehicles, and activities.
1 Department of Statistics Singapore, “Statistics on Marriages and Divorces: Reference Year 2016,” 16, accessed October 26, 2016, http://www.singstat.gov.sg/ publications/publicationsand-papers/population-andpopulation-structure/populationtrends.
2 All potential marriage mentors must be married for over 10 years to the same partner.
3 Sarah Gross, “Emergency Guide Launched as Part of Emergency Preparedness Day - Channel NewsAsia,” accessed October 30, 2017, http://www.channelnewsasia. com/news/singapore/emergencyguide-launched-as-part-ofemergency-preparednessday-8010770.
Trinity’s Inaugural Language Ministries’ Production By Tina Chen Yi Ting
On September 3, Trinity’s Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese, Spanish, and Thai language ministries came together for its first ever combined evangelistic presentation, I Am a Star. From planning to performance, over 200 people from the various ministries worked together for 180 days to prepare and demonstrate Incredible Unity by contributing their time and talent to make this event a success. Excited for what God was going to do through I Am A Star, many invited their oikos and 1,305 people attended that Sunday afternoon.
A drama filled with dance and song, I Am a Star told the story of contestants taking part in a talent search contest. With translation from the different language layleaders, Senior Pastor Dominic Yeo’s message was on how Christ can give us peace, hope, and life. All glory to Him as we witnessed 65 people make decisions for Christ, a beautiful scene of people from different nations and languages coming together to worship the real star of the show – our amazing God.
“My friend b r ough me to I A m a Star. t I was t the dram a present ouched by ation and cried. I m ust not h arde my heart . I accept n ed Jesus into my life an d I want to follow Him .” –
ro n S ha
e r ia
“I’m touched by God’s presence and many souls saved. very happy to see so the different It’s amazing to see s coming language ministrie such together to put up ance a splendid perform for the Lord. Glad to on.” serve on this occasi
d en –W
g (Testimonies have been edited for clarity and length.)
“The – Lilian Hah pastor’s message not as reminded w I l. u tf c a p , was im ective, that is to lose persp e peace, to cling to th ndant/ hope and abu at Jesus eternal life th .” has given me
“I’ve ys alwa eo Kim N – Teo wanted to visit a church. My Trinitarian friend invited me here. I was touched by the drama presentation, and I walked forward to accept Jesus as my personal Savior.”
– Maria Emilyn Brojo
“The drama wa s very touc hing. I de cided give my li fe to Jesu to s. Thank yo u, Jesus, for pointin g me to the right path.”
By Ong HuiEn a Ministry Intern with
On October 14 and 15,978 children, including 54 first-time visitors, came to be part of the exciting game show #SuperStrongOnes! The game show had several contestants: the huge, fierce and green Incredible Bulk, intelligent Supergirl, and some of our very own young Trinitarians – Evelyn Phua (age 11) and Amber Chan (age 14). The game show hosts got the ball rolling by teaching the children how to participate. First was a test of their lightning-fast reflexes and super loud voices. As action words flashed in the air, their expressiveness brought fits of laughter to everyone. Alongside our guest speakers Pastor Poh Cheng, Pastor David Sashi, and Brother Johnathan Lim, the contestants would be judged by one more person – Judge I-Sight! With her enormous glasses, Judge I-Sight spotted people who showed immense outward strength. In a series of strong feats by Incredible Bulk and Supergirl, there was no doubt about why she was captivated by their strength. In an amazing turn of events, Evelyn and Amber demonstrated their super-strong strength – drawn not from their outward ability but from an inward faith in God. 7 5
Evelyn testified how God empowered her to overcome shyness. Through the Junior Spiritual Parenting class, she learned to be bold so that she could share about God’s love to strangers. That weekend at her family carecell event, Evelyn led a 73-year-old lady to receive Christ!
IGNYTEr Amber shared about how she was ostracized when she first entered Secondary One. She was made fun of for faith and way of dressing. After allowing her leader to speak the truth of God’s love and purpose into her life, she was strengthened to know that God was guarding her always. As Amber took a step of faith to invite some of her schoolmates for the Plunge Deep worship concert last year, she witnessed some of them receive salvation! Now, they are growing in God together with a community of believers!
PULSE Through these testimonies, our guest speakers shared a timeless truth: no matter how they may appear on the outside, it is the faith within them that truly gives them strength to overcome every challenge. When asked whether the children wanted to receive God into their hearts, allowing His strength to help them in all situations, 251 of them said ‘Yes!’
“When I first heard that I would share a testimony in #SuperStrongOnes, I started panicking. It would be my very first time sharing a testimony in front of so many people. Throughout my preparation, I realized that God would be using me to be the salt and light of the children and a good example as an IGNYTEr. From this experience, I realized that all of us can spread the good work of God through various ways. No matter how big or small, God will do it all!” Amber Chan, age 14
This Children’s Day was like no other. Not only was DiscoveryLand blessed to have 12 AlphaTrackers as the event’s cast and crew, many were amazed to see the deep work in the hearts of the children. God was strengthening and empowering them to be mighty in Him! Truly, as Daniel 11:32 proclaims, “the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.”
“I learned to be bold and let God use me as a blessing. I learned to trust in the Lord and ask Him to give me strength. I enjoyed the games. It was very fun!” Estella Chng, age 11
“It was very exciting to see so many children and their friends learn about what biblical strength is through #SuperStrongOnes. I am heartened to serve in a church that invests heavily in laying robust spiritual foundations for the next generation. Above all, I am blessed to serve a God whose truth is profound, yet simple, and within reach of all who desire Him, even the youngest of children.” 7 6
Laura Lim, Regular District Helper
“I learned that we can have physical strength but what’s most important is to have godly strength.” “Despite the constraints and challenges the AlphaTrackers faced in preparing for #SuperStrongOnes, we saw the hand of God on this event even before we started. I am amazed that He brought together a team with diverse backgrounds, talents, and experiences to fulfill His purpose. It is a blessing to partner with Him to serve the young ones!” Johnathan Lim, AlphaTracker
Thaddea Tan, age 9
“I learned that being strong does not mean being the best. Instead, we should trust God to help us gain courage and not have fear.” Davier Ong, age 11
“Even if I am little, I can be strong and share Jesus to everyone.” Angel Yong, age 7
“We are young but if we trust in God, we can do anything.” Moansha Sarah Sinha, age 10
A Drama Musical by By Luke Williams a Ministry Intern with IGNYTE
On September 1, 2017 – 18 months from conception to preparation by over 190 cast, crew, and other team members – IGNYTE opened the Chapel doors for The Dash, a drama musical. The stage was set and ready for the two performances (3:00pm and 8:00pm) but what followed exceeded all expectations. As people streamed in, we quickly realized that the Chapel was too small to contain the crowd – not one, not two, but three overflow rooms were opened for the first performance and two for the second. We thank God for the 3,072 who came – 2,041 for the first time.
THE SHOW Inspired by concepts from the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis and the book Driven by Eternity by John Bevere, the musical centred on a message of eternity and how the decisions we make affect our lives beyond the grave. The drama’s title was a reference to our life – the dash in between our date of birth and date of death on a gravestone. Anchored to Mark 8:36 (“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”), The Dash depicted the judgement scene of three
characters, a message that many run from but something each of us needs to confront. There is a reality of life after death – either glorious and bright or filled with unimaginable darkness.
THE MESSAGE The Dash was a fantastic drama with brilliant actors, musicians, and technicians, coming together to create something awesome. Far beyond that was the message of hope for now and eternity. As the curtains closed, Pastors Gary Chia and David Sashi wrapped up with a short message: no matter how ghastly the decisions made during our dash, Jesus Christ paid the price so that we can spend forever with Him. While our decisions in the present are important, the most important decision we will ever make is the one to either accept or reject Christ as the Lord and Savior of our souls. We are thankful for every life that has been impacted through The Dash, especially for the 200 who made a life-changing decision for Jesus. Our prayer is that every IGNYTEr, as the apostle Paul said, will “Fight the good fight of faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which you were called…” (1 Timothy 6:12).
“Through The Dash, I’ve experienced God on such a deeper level. As a cast member, I didn’t get to see the musical but I was still deeply moved. Backstage, I witnessed the power of prayer. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. There was great spiritual warfare as we cried out for souls to be won, for God’s kingdom to come, and for God’s guidance throughout the musical. The leaders also told us not to limit ourselves because God can still do much more. We were taught to not be complacent but instead, to keep having the posture of prayer.”
–– Noelle Ng, Zone 2, Cast and Ensemble “Through The Dash, I learned to carry a heart for others. I invited everyone I knew to see it because I wanted them to encounter God personally, to find purpose in Him as I have. Serving in the production was the perfect opportunity to invite my family to church. It was a first for me, a chance to rebuild connections and show them who my God really is. Though most of them couldn’t make it, I’m nevertheless thankful that I could have a breakthrough in the area of evangelism.”
“I was hesitant when asked to serve in the stage design because I didn’t have prior experience in it. Despite this, I decided to give it a try because my God is so much bigger than my limitations; I just had to do my part to facilitate evangelism. It was humbling to see how He used the works of my hands to turn the stage design into something beautiful, allowing many to come to know Christ. That itself, brings much joy.”
–– Deon Lee, Zone 3,
–– Charlotte Choo,
“When I was inviting my friends to The Dash, God dropped Cindy’s name into my head. I texted her to ask her if she wanted to come. While serving in the worship band during the altar call, I looked down and saw her standing there smiling at me with tears in her eyes. What hit home was the truth that God reaches out to everyone. She remembered all the instances she ignored God but felt His deep love for her at The Dash. I thank God for bringing her back to Him and giving her a place to grow through IGNYTE.”
“I thought The Dash would be just another musical I was invited to. Although I never heard about God before that, something touched my heart during the presentation. During the altar call, I knew I had to accept God into my life to experience this peace I have never experienced before.”
Zone 2 Leader, Assistant Set Designer
Cast and Ensemble
–– Justin Ng, Zone 2
–– Vanessa Tang, Zone 2
(Testimonies have been edited for clarity and length.) 7 9
i n r o M er Pray 2017 By King Rachel
Getting out of bed for work or school can be a daily struggle for most of us. What about getting up even earlier to meet God? From November 13-17, many Trinitarians got up earlier than usual to meet with God at Morning Prayer. Though it’s been a while since I’ve gotten up at 5:30am daily, I’ve always looked forward to Morning Prayer since my first one during A-levels. Each experience rewarded me with a wonderful, refreshing time of basking in the Lord’s presence – worshipping, reflecting, responding, and praying together with other believers. This year, the struggle to come for Morning Prayer seemed greater than years past. Since shifting from Bishan to Yishun, my travel time was immediately increased. The big storm on Tuesday morning didn’t help. With train faults on Wednesday, the commute was made even longer. Frustrated, I found myself asking God why there were so many obstacles this year. Despite the weather and delayed trains, Theatrette 2 was getting fuller each day. Individuals. Couples. IGNYTERS. Campus students. Carecells. Even parents were bringing their children along to engage with the Lord. Some drove. Others arranged for Grab Hitch or prayed desperately for cabs. The efforts of many encouraged me, especially when God provided ways for Trinitarians to come for Morning Prayer on time.
Persevering through Morning Prayer was tough. After the first two mornings, I didn’t feel as refreshed as I used to. The breakthrough came on Wednesday with the message on confidence. In that time, God uncovered some barriers in my relationship with Him. When He challenged me to reread Psalm 27 in my own time, He rewarded my perseverance with God gave me clarity and revelation on the following Monday. The impact of Morning Prayer doesn’t stay within those five days. My prayer is that we will continue to learn how to discipline ourselves each day to start our day by seeking God.
“As a member of the National Service Force, days outside of the army are precious for sleep-ins. When I took time to be at Morning Prayer this week, God spoke to me about spiritual disciplines: when we make it a habit to seek His will and His Word every day, He will make amazing breakthroughs happen for us!”
–– Timothy Leong
(National Service Force)
“This was my first time coming for Morning Prayer. I struggled because it was so early but I have been greatly impacted by the time of worship and prayer. Instead of feeling tired, I felt refreshed. God has changed my perspective of Morning Prayer.”
–– Cheryl Wee (student) “We always look forward to Morning Prayer. Despite transportation being a challenge in the early hours of the day, my wife and I will make it a priority. This week, we received God’s promise for 2018. He also revealed areas to surrender to Him as He reassured us of His promises over our lives.”
“I took leave this week to attend all five days of Morning Prayer. I thank God that I could seek Him through this time. I have been blessed by the Word from Psalm 27 and confident that God has good plans for my family and carecell in 2018.”
–– Chong Yu Wen (accountant)
–– Mawesh (IT executive) and Viji (homemaker)
“Coming for all five days was a challenge as I still have to make it on time to work. I almost gave up on Wednesday but I’m glad I pressed on. I received a fresh revelation of the covenantal confidence that is founded upon my relationship with God. As I allow God to shape my heart, I resolve to be more diligent in my Time Alone with God.”
“I was delighted not to be on morning shift this week because I could come for Morning Prayer. I am so thankful and grateful to God for the Word and His assurance that I can come to Him in confidence. On Friday, God gave me a vision for 2018. It is beautiful being able to hold on to His promises.”
“Travelling from the West was –– Roxanne Jomento (staff nurse) a struggle and I had class after Morning Prayer. But the time has impacted and reminded me what it means to still my heart and commit to dwelling in His presence. Indeed, starting the day with God is the best way to start each day.”
–– Elijah Tan (student)
–– Jackie Ho
(regional sales director)
(Testimonies have been edited for clarity and length.) 8 1
God Change His Does
By Dr Babu Immanuel Venkataraman
Humans have always been curious about their relationship with the divine, especially the ability to change their minds. Is it possible for mere mortals to sway the thoughts and actions of the gods? To answer this, we set the matter in a larger framework and context by exploring the Ancient Near Eastern understanding of the gods, comparing that against the God of Israel, and analyzing instances in the Bible where human intervention appears to have changed God’s mind.
The ideal characteristics of god in the Ancient Near Eastern understanding The Greeks held that a god should demonstrate the characteristics of justice, righteousness, order, and peace.1 So embedded are these characteristics that it is possible to say that a god is his character. As the supreme ruler and the father of humankind, his chief concern is justice in the world among humans.2 He is supremely concerned about human behavior – the way humans act and treat one another. Thus, the presence of justice, law and order, and peace denotes the just society while their absence denotes an unjust society.3
The actual characteristics of Ancient Near Eastern gods The people of the Ancient Near East believed that nature and its forces – earth, sky, water, wind, and fire – possess some intrinsic divine power. Such belief led to the idea that the 8 2
TOUGH world was controlled by many gods (polytheism). 4 Since the boundary between gods, humans, and the natural world was fluid, there was no real distinction between the worship of the gods and the worship of nature. These ancient people also believed that the gods were not all-powerful. There existed an independent realm which was above them, upon which the gods depend on, and whose decrees they must obey.5 These limits meant that the gods were
Since humanity often bore the consequences of the god’s capriciousness, the only way to deal with them was to please, placate, and pray in hopes that, at the very least, the gods would inflict no harm on them. Various means were employed to coerce, cajole, coax, and manipulate. The three most popular methods are provided below. 6
RITES AND RITUALS
Attempts to release or harness the gods’ power through incantations, coerce the gods to do the magician’s will, or circumvent the capricious will of the gods
Attempts to discern the future and the secrets of a superior power
Attempts to manipulate material substances in order to tap into the supernatural realm, coercing the gods for favor and/or protection
The God of Israel By contrast, the God of Israel is a divine being who is the creator and source of all things – the universe, nature, and human beings (Genesis 1:1). As the creator of the cosmos, He is not one of the natural forces and, thus, cannot be likened to nature. God is not subject to, and cannot be challenged by, other superior powers. 7 That makes Him absolutely sovereign and His will absolutely final. The Bible specifically prohibits the use of magic, divination, and rites and rituals, going as far as to pronounce death to those who practice it. “Do not practice divination or seek omens.” – Leviticus 19:26b
simultaneously actors and acted upon, making them highly unpredictable.
“Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:31 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.” – Exodus 22:18 “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” – Leviticus 20:27
For a detailed study, see John Efstratios Rexine, “Ancient Greek Religion and the God of Humanity,” in Of Human Bondage and Divine Grace: A Global Testimony (ed., John Ross Carter; La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1992): 155-170. Cf. Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days. Rexine, “The God of Humanity,” 164.
Yehezkel Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel: From Its Beginnings to the Babylonian Exile (trans. Moshe Greenberg; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 21-59. The discussion on Ancient Near Eastern religions and their pantheon follows Kaufmann’s postulates.
Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel , 21. This realm may also be called a “metadivine realm”. See Christine Hayes, Introduction to the Bible (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 18.
Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel, 40-58.
Neal Walls, “The Gods of Israel in Comparative Near Eastern Context,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Ancient Israel (ed. Susan Niditch; Chicester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2026): 261-277. Here 273. For a detailed study on the differences between Yahweh and the Canaanite gods, see John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan (London and New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002).
The use of magic in Ancient Near Eastern civilizations was based on the assumption that God was limited by a superior power. Such an understanding is false. God cannot be manipulated through magic. He
TOUGH QUESTIONS cannot be coaxed, cajoled, or coerced by magical rites. Similarly, divination falsely presupposes the existence of a realm independent of God, His knowledge, and His power. The Old Testament abounds with instances where God initiates the revelation of Himself and His will to humanity without their coercion.
God cannot and will not act apart, or in contradiction, to His multidimensional character. Moreover, as a “unified, integrated being whose personality is a harmonious whole,” each of these 10 dimensions work in line with one another.9
To answer that, we look at His character, the qualities that establish who He is. According to Erickson, God’s character can be classified into three basic moral attributes and broken down into 10 dimensions.8
What emerges is a universe where the highest law is determined by God and God alone. As the supreme ruler and creator of humankind, God expects humanity to emulate these three attributes. That is why He shows great concern over the way humans act and treat one another. In instances where humanity acts in ways that contradicts any of these attributes (i.e., engaging in sin), His moral purity compels Him to judge and administer punishment.
These 10 dimensions are so intrinsically embedded in God that He and His character are one.
Yet, three instances in the Old Testament suggest that the efforts of man can influence His interaction
The character of the God of Israel What, then, determines how the God of Israel interacts with humanity?
The Character of God MORAL PURITY
God is separate from His creation, unable to tolerate moral wickedness and evil
God can only act in line with what is lawful
God ensures that righteousness is administered – sin is punished without favoritism or partiality
God is real and exactly who He claims to be
God is honest and true – He cannot contradict Himself
God keeps His promises – He proves Himself to be true
God is concerned about our welfare and acts to meet our needs
God supplies us with unmerited favor – we receive what we don’t deserve God defers the punishment we deserve because of His compassion for us
God defers the punishment we deserve, providing opportunities for repentance and salvation 8 4
TOUGH with humanity. We investigate them to determine whether it is really possible to change God’s mind, specifically with regard to deferring or preventing His judgment.
God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33) This passage begins with God’s declaration to “go down and see” (cf. 6:5; 11:5) whether what He heard about Sodom and Gomorrah was true.10 Before pronouncing judgment, He must objectively verify the outcries, presumably from those who have suffered at the hands of the twin cities.11 God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah made absolute the criterion by which all nations will be judged.12 His character is not ethno-specific but operates universally. He will govern righteously (18:25b) and punish sin, regardless of where it is found and whoever is guilty. What Abraham’s intercession does is raise a new issue – whether God would exercise judgment on a whole city if righteous people still inhabit it. In the end, God does not compromise in His pursuit of justice. The ongoing wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah would lead to its eventual destruction in Genesis 19. Sin, wherever it is found, precipitates divine judgment. However, God’s righteousness will compel Him to spare the just, as demonstrated by the escape of Lot and his family in 19:12-25.
God’s justice in the midst of Israel’s sin (Amos 7:1-6) Amos was called to be a prophet somewhere between 780 and 760 B.C13 during Israel’s Golden Age.14 During this time, “Israel reached the summit of its material power and economic prosperity”15 – success that led its people to disregard their devotion to God. Moral and ethical decadence was a general characteristic of all nations of the time, including Israel. The Israelites had sold the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals (2:6), trampling on the helpless and denying justice to the oppressed. Father and son sexually exploited the same female servant (2:7). God’s people even lounged at religious festivals in stolen clothing, presenting wine purchased with stolen funds (2:8). For Amos, indulging in sin stood in sharp contrast to the morality expected from God’s people. Just as the cities of Damascus (1:3-5), Gaza (1:6-8), Tyre (1:9-12), Ammon (1:13-15), and Moab (2:1-3)16 would face judgment for their sins, Judah (2:4-5), and Israel (2:6-12) would not be spared from God’s wrath. Though the sins of Israel and Judah were different than the sins of their neighbors, it was still deserving of divine punishment. “For three sins of…and even for four…” was a formula repeated against all nations (1:3, 6, 9, 13; 2:1, 4, 6.). When God declared that “I will not turn My wrath” (1:3, 6, 9, 13; 2:1, 4, 6), such language demonstrated that He would not spare the sinful even if it involved His own people.
Millard J. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, ed. L. Arnold Hustad, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015),. 98-104. Ibid., 104–105.
10 Cf. G. J. Wenham, Genesis 16-50 (WBC, 2; Dallas: Word Books, 1994), p. 50.
11 William John Lyons, Canon and
Exegesis: Canonical Praxis and the Sodom Narrative (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), p. 183.
12 For an insightful study on
this, see K. van der Toon, Sin and Sanction in Israel and Mesopotamia: A Comparative Study (Assen, The Netherlands: van Gorcum, 1985).
13 Philip J. King, “The Eighth, the
Greatest of Centuries?” Journal of Biblical Literature 108 (1989): 3-15.
14 Martin Noth, The History of Israel (New York: Harper & Row, 1960), 250.
15 Shalom M. Paul, Amos: A
Commentary on the Book of Amos (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 1.
16 For a good study on the oracles
in Amos against the nations, see Gerhard F. Hasel, Understanding the Book of Amos: Basic Interpretations in Current Interpretations (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991), 57-69.
TOUGH QUESTIONS Upon seeing a vision of God’s impending judgment – swarms of locusts and fire (7:1, 4) – Amos pleads for God to relent (metanoeō). “Forgive!” Amos cries (7:2, 3, 5). In response, the Lord relented on His intended punishment (7:3, 6), commingling God’s justice, righteousness and mercy in anticipation of moral reform (metanoia) by the Israelites. In this instance, withholding judgment does not compromise God’s sense of justice. He does not condone Israel’s sin but gives His people an opportunity to repent and return to righteous living, just as the Ninevites in the Book of Jonah show.
of heart, God was compelled to withhold judgment because they demonstrated a willingness to turn from their wicked ways (3:10).
God’s forgiveness in the midst of Nineveh’s repentance (Jonah 3:10)
The unchanging God of Israel
So terrible was the reputation of Nineveh that its wickedness had come before God (1:2). Condemned to divine destruction, God sent the prophet Jonah to issue a warning to the people: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” (3:4) As the supreme ruler of the world, God’s justice is a fundamental aspect of His relationship with all nations and human beings. What the book of Jonah illustrates is that God’s righteousness necessitates forgiveness (mercy) when there is repentance and moral reform.17 The Ninevites were evil and violent. They were condemned to destruction. Yet, when Jonah served God’s notice of impending doom, the entire city expressed immediate moral turnaround, demonstrating that humanity is equally capable of evil (1:3) and repentance (3:8). In the midst of an entire city’s change 8 6
Angry that the Ninevites would not be punished, Jonah vented his frustration to God. God’s response gives us a glimpse of His great mercy and compassion on humanity. “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left?” (3:11)
The quintessence of God’s character is justice, righteousness, order, peace, compassion, and forgiveness. God is His character. Therefore, He cannot and will not act apart from it. Since God’s character is a constant, He will always act in consistency with His character. As such, the notion of “change” on God’s part is from a human’s point of view. Sin is a common human trait. God, being a righteous and compassionate ruler, judges sin as it deserves regardless of whoever may be guilty. At the same time, He forgives when there is repentance. Thus, both judgment and forgiveness are natural outflows from His character. Does God change His mind? From His point of view, the answer is no. Though it appears as if God changes from a human’s point of view, in reality, He only acts in consistency with His character. He never changes.
TOUGH Responding to God’s unchanging behavior For believers today, the onus is on us to live with the full knowledge of God’s multifaceted character – concurrently just and loving. We are called to repent and reform not because we wish to escape punishment but because we choose to become more and more like Him. As such, activities like prayer, fasting, and intercession must be done with the right heart and motive. They are not meant to coerce, cajole, coax, or manipulate God to do our will but, rather, to help us come into greater alignment with His thoughts and His will – to resonate with His character of compassion and mercy.
Despite genuine repentance and reform, it is entirely possible that we will suffer the full consequences of our sinful actions. However, we can take comfort in the knowledge that our consequences do not last forever and that God’s love for us remains steadfast.
Despite our failings, God’s forgiveness remains freely available to us, freeing us from our past so that we can move forward toward the abundance promised in all areas of our life. We are enabled to extend the same measure of love, compassion, and forgiveness to others. This way, we act in consistency with God’s character.
Sources consulted Day, John. Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. London and New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.
Lyons, William John. Canon and Exegesis: Canonical Praxis and the Sodom Narrative. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.
Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Edited by L. Arnold Hustan. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.
Noth, Martin. The History of Israel. New York: Harper & Row, 1960.
Gaines, Janet Howe. Forgiveness in a Wounded World: Jonah’s Dilemma. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003. Hasel, Gerhard F. Understanding the Book of Amos: Basic Interpretations in Current Interpretations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991.
Paul, Shalom M. Amos: A Commentary on the Book of Amos. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991. Rexine, John Efstratios. “Ancient Greek Religion and the God of Humanity.” Pages 155-170 in of Human Bondage and Divine Grace: A Global Testimony. Edited by John Ross Carter. La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1992.
Hayes, Christine. Introduction to the Bible. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012.
Toon, K. van der. Sin and Sanction in Israel and Mesopotamia: A ComparativeStudy. Assen, The Netherlands: van Gorcum, 1985.
Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days. Translated by Catherine M. Schlegel and Henry Weinfield. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2010.
Venkataraman, Babu Immanuel. “The Magi, the Reading and the Leading of the Star: Is this Astrology or Matthew’s Universal Gospel?” Trinitarian 4 (2016): 82-87.
Kaufmann, Yehezkel. The Religion of Israel: From Its Beginnings to the Babylonian Exile. Translated by Moshe Greenberg. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960.
Walls, Neal. “The Gods of Israel in Comparative Near Eastern Context.” Pages 261-277 in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Ancient Israel. Edited bySusan Niditch. Chicester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2016.
King, Philip K. “The Eighth, the Greatest of Centuries?” Journal of Biblical Literature 108 (1989): 3-15.
Wenham, G. J. Genesis 16-50. Word Biblical Commentary 2. Dallas: Word Books, 1994.
What are your thoughts about this article? Are there other Tough Questions do you want answered? Starting January 2018, share your thoughts through our Facebook page ( Trinity Christian Centre) and Instagram account ( trinity.sg) #toughquestions
Rev Dr Babu Immanuel Venkataraman has been a faculty member at TCA College since April 2010. He earned his Ph.D in Biblical Studies from the University of London. Dr Babu’s teaching interests include the New Testament, Hermeneutics, contextual theologies, and literary and historical studies.
17 Cf. Janet Howe Gaines,
Forgiveness in a Wounded World: Jonah’s Dilemma (Atlanta: SBL, 2003). 8 7
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l with Up Close and Persona
d r a o B s ’ y Trinit Christianity is more than a weekend religion, it’s a lifestyle! In part two of our Up Close and Personal series, discover how two members of Trinity’s Board engage in Kingdom-building in their homes, offices, and beyond. As the year draws to a close, read what they have to share about getting involved in Trinity’s year-end traditions.
What is your Trinity story?
L My family came to Trinity in 1998. Since Trinity was (and still is) a very large church, we connected to a carecell as quickly as possible so that we could get to know more people. What kept us in Trinity has been the care and support of the carecells in our Christian journey, and the many friendships that developed. At church gatherings, experiencing the presence of God and His Word being expounded
kept us hungry for more of Him. In addition to serving in the Board, my wife and I also serve as Before You Say Yes facilitators and as marriage mentors to newly-married couples. We believe that strong marriages make strong families and strong families a strong church. That’s why we devote our time to helping couples understand the lifelong commitment of married life together.
R In 2002, our family was looking for a new church to be a part of. Our previous church was neither Pentecostal nor charismatic and we wanted to be part of a Bible-based church that emphasized the gifts of the spirit. As a family with young kids, it was also important for the church to have a strong children’s ministry. My Trinitarian friends invited us to try out the church and after six months, our family decided to join a carecell. From there, I grew from being a member to a Section Leader. 9 0
Very early on in our stay, we found the worship experience awesome we could feel God’s presence at the services. We experienced the gift of tongues and healing. The kids were growing in their faith in DiscoveryLand. We couldn’t be more compelled to stay! Today, my primary form of serving is through the Board. On weekends, I serve as part of the Creative Ministry’s Technical Team managing audio during weekend Celebration Services.
L I’ve recently retired after a 39-year career in banking and corporate finance. That’s not the end of the story for me. I plan to go back into the marketplace to be the salt and light in a different way. I’m already a certified executive coach and am in the midst of completing my Masters of Arts in Counseling from TCA College. By combining these skill sets with my network of professionals, I want to bring the hope of Jesus as a personal coach and counselor. There’s a lot of stress in the business world and there are many who are finding it hard to cope, resorting to outlets like addiction and even suicide. I aim to help my clients cope with stress through right thinking, regulating their emotions, using adaptive coping strategies, and finding their internal and external helpful resources, including Jesus.
As an insurance broker, I act as the middleman between my clients and insurance companies, negotiating and finalizing customized insurance products that take into the account the specific needs, risk exposures, and risk appetites.
As followers of Jesus, I believe that we are called to bring the shalom of God wherever we go. Jesus gave us the model for this in Luke 10 when He sent out the 72 who entered into various towns to share the Good News. Our modern offices are like these towns with its protective boundaries and culture. During our employment by the “man of peace,” we stay at the workplace to fulfill our Great Commission.
Tell us more about what you do in the marketplace.
Most of us spend one-third of our lives at work. In that time, we have many opportunities to fellowship with our colleagues, clients and business associates to build relationships and meet their needs. I see their greatest need is to have a strong relationship with Jesus. As marketplace Christians, we should not go “undercover” but be brave to make our convictions known. We are not perfect but we are forgiven by God and continue to be works in progress.
When it comes to being a Christian in the marketplace, I find that it requires a softer approach. Few people like to be preached to because it comes off as very one-sided. Our most effective tool for evangelism is living by example. People need to see faith in action, understanding why you do what you do and make the decisions you make.
Describe your role in the Board.
L In my role as Chairman of the Audit Committee, I am responsible for overseeing the governance of the church the processes for risk management and integrity of our internal controls. This includes looking into areas such as financial reporting and compliance with various legal, regulatory, and internal policies.
As a charitable organization, it is important for Trinity to be a transparent organization that complies with rules and guidelines of the Commissioner of Charities. This includes engaging an independent third-party auditor to review our policies and procedures to ensure that Trinity runs with best practices across the organization.
R I’ve been chairing the Investment Committee since it started five years ago, making financial investments of behalf of the church. Members of this committee regularly monitor and make suggestions on Trinity’s investment portfolio based on a very strict set of criteria. Our investment mandate is very different from what you would find in the marketplace. The goal is not to earn the highest returns but to be good stewards of the funds that have been entrusted to the church for Kingdom-building. I also chair the Enterprise Committee, where we explore and evaluate leasing opportunities for Trinity. For example, several sections
of Trinity@Paya Lebar have been zoned as approved commercial spaces. Our role is to ensure that there are optimal and “best fit” uses for all those areas. On top of that, I also serve on the Board of Care Community Services Society (CCSS). Although CCSS is birthed by Trinity, it is considered a separate legal entity with its own governance structure and regulatory requirements. In this role, I serve as Trinity’s representative to the organization and provide help wherever I can. Right now, I sit in their finance subcommittee where I assist them with improving their financial processes.
About Trinity’s year-end traditions.
L For me, year-end celebrations always start with Christmas. It’s a great opportunity for evangelism because it’s a time when our oikos are open to finding out what Christmas is all about. My wife and I do not miss Family Communion as it is a time when we reflect on the year and renew our covenant with one another. When we come together, it demonstrates our commitment to love one another.
For us, Watchnight Service is a great way to usher in the new year with fellow Christians. We are particularly encouraged by testimonies of God’s powerful work in the lives of Trinitarians shared during service. When we hear the Watchnight Message, we look forward with anticipation to what God will do individually and corporately as a church in the new year.
R Christmas is a good icebreaker time with our oikos because it’s an easy way to start a conversation about Jesus – the birth of a baby is more inviting than the death of a man on a cross. In our family, we arrange gatherings and try to use these opportunities to share the meaning of Christmas and the good things God has done in our lives. Most people think of their lives in 12-month terms, January to December. That makes Family Communion so important because it’s a time to pause and reflect on the goodness and graciousness of God in the past year. Just like the commandment for the Israelites to inscribe on their doors the Word of God in Deuteronomy 6:9, it’s important for families and carecells to come together to reflect on who God is in their lives and inscribe His promises into their hearts.
At almost every Family Communion and Watchnight Service, our family often receives a prophetic word either spoken to us or revealed to one of us. To a great extent, that marks a new chapter for the family where we journey together in God’s plan for us in the year ahead. The prophetic word for the year doesn’t always come but it’s important to maintain a posture of willingness to hear from the Lord and to move where He wants us to move. During the Watchnight Message, Pastor Dominic will share Trinity’s God-given direction for the year. What makes it exciting is that it’s a word that applies to every Trinitarian because the destiny of ourselves and our families is intricately linked to the destiny of the church.
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Published on Dec 12, 2017