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WESLEY TIDINGS | A monthly publication of Wesley Methodist Church, Singapore

wesleymc.org

ISSUE 05 | MAY 2020

rld o W e h t g in t Impac

n o i t a e Cr Care

Pursuit To Steward Our Resources

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Church@Home: Return To The Ancient Ways

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Holy Week Sermons: Abiding In Christ

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The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. - Genesis 2:15

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T H E

M E T H O D I S T

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H U R C

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I N

S I N G A P O R E

ALDERSGATESG 2020

Loving God, Serving Together

with hearts strangely warmed

John Wesley’s spiritual experience

at Aldersgate on 24 May 1738 is a significant moment in our Methodist heritage. As MCS celebrates 135 years in Singapore, let us rediscover what it means to love God and serve together, and with hearts ignited by the warmth of God’s spirit.

Come celebrate Aldersgate SG 2020, as one Methodist Church OUR SPEAKER

Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung

Sunday 24 May 2020

w w w. m e t h o d i s t . o r g . s g / A l d e r s g a t e S G 2 0 2 0

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CONTENTS Wesley TIDINGS Team EDITOR Alvin Tay

04 From Our Pastor

+ A True Concern For Creation Care

EDITORIAL TEAM Peggie Chan, Lui Yanzhen, Tan Kee Cheong

06 Cover Story

STAFF Kevyn Lai, Ong Joo Hiang

+ Pursuit To Steward Our Resources

Wesley TIDINGS is published monthly by

08 Small Group Ministry

Wesley Methodist Church, Singapore for internal circulation to members of the Church.

+ Zooming To Keep Connecting

10 Testimony

+ God In The Storm

12 Family Discipleship

+ Church@Home: Return To The Ancient Ways + Laying The Foundation Of Faith In Our Children

18 Missions

+ Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel: Looking To God

22 Holy Week Sermons

+ Abiding In Christ

27 Bible Puzzle Transitions

Views expressed in the Wesley TIDINGS are the contributors’ and do not necessarily reflect that of the Church or the Editorial Board. Materials in the Wesley TIDINGS may be reproduced with permission from Wesley Methodist Church or the authors. Unless stated otherwise, all scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Permit No MCI (P) 080/11/2019

Contributions and enquiries are to be addressed to: The Editor, Wesley TIDINGS , 5 Fort Canning Road, Singapore 179493

The Editor reserves the right to make changes to the contributions if necessary. Designed by Bold Ink Media Pte Ltd Printed by Adred Creation Print Pte Ltd

DIRECTIONS 2020 | 2019-2020 IMPACTING THE WORLD Be a Witness

Be a Blessing

Be a Steward of God’s Creation

Read about DIRECTIONS 2020 - https://wesleymc.org/directions2020 For your Daily Bible Reading Drive Verses & Wesley’s latest happenings! Like us at www.facebook.com/WesleyMethodistChurch

Find us on Instagram @wesleymethodistchurch_sg


Many of us are encased in our technological world, we are so much part of the builtenvironment around us, living from air-conditioned homes, driving air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices and we don’t really see very much of nature.”

A True Concern For Creation Care + By Rev Adrian Ng

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” — Genesis 2:15

I

was not much of a traveller when I was young, largely because air travel was costly and the world was still progressing in global connectivity. My appreciation for nature went only as far as noticing plants at jungle training when I was in the army, and probably a glimpse or two of an occasional double rainbow. Even as Singapore advanced as a nation and became increasingly built up, my appreciation of creation and nature had always remained more of an aesthetic one than one of true concern.

Getting a balance (with my wife Serene) at the Stirling Castle lookout overseeing the Highlands

04 Wesley Tidings | May 2020

This still largely applies to many today, as I echo the words of New Testament scholar Douglas J. Moo, co-author of the excellent book Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World (Biblical Theology for Life):

All that changed for me when I went to Scotland for studies. It wasn’t until I laid my eyes upon the splendid beauty of the Scottish Highlands, did God open my eyes to His marvellous creation. During those two years, I picked up photography and spent countless rolls of film on frequent road trips through the highlands. God loves His creation — simply reading Genesis 1 would reveal God’s delight and pleasure as He created the universe and the world we live in. Psalm 104 is yet another passage that wonderfully captures God’s intimate relationship with His creation and His constant involvement in it. Some questions that we might want to ask regarding this relationship are these: Do we have any involvement with creation? What is our appropriate role in it? Did God tell us anything about our role in creation (care)? We do not have to go very far down Scripture to discover the answer. Genesis 2:15 says: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (emphasis added). Although a lot more can be written about our role in creation care, just two very simple theological concepts would be enough to frame this article today.

1. Working For The Garden

First, if the garden could take care of itself, there wouldn’t be a need for God to put Adam to it. There was no magic at work, and gardens could not look after themselves. A seasoned gardener would tell you that it takes hard work to upkeep the beauty and orderliness of a garden; however, efforts will reap


FROM OUR PASTOR | A True Concern For Creation Care results. As one works the garden, the garden will bear fruit and yield rewards for the gardener. Second, an important thing to note is that the concept of work preceded sin. One cannot argue that physical labour is a consequence of sin because work entered the picture before sin did, and if man had never sinned, he’d still be working, as part of his chores. What is also interesting is that the Hebrew words used for ‘work’ (‫ָ֖דְבָע‬ - ‘bd) and ‘care’ (‫ ָֽרְמָׁש‬- šā·mǎr) are often used in the Bible to refer to human service to God instead of agricultural tasks. In fact, scholars even noted that the same word for ‘work’ is often used in connection with religious service deemed as worship (e.g. in Exodus 3:12) or functions of priestly duties within a sanctuary (e.g. in Numbers 3:7-10). Without getting too technical, it is almost reasonable to say this — man is designated and dutifully bound to work for the good of creation, as an acceptable worship to God.

to take care of humanity’s needs, but humanity in turn is also required (as instructed by God) to work for the good of creation — to care for, guard and protect it from harm. All this is to be done as part of our duty as reasonable worship and service to God! So, creation care is very much a responsibility for all humanity (not just Christians, but whom all the more ought to be role-models for the world) to embrace. As our church theme in 2020 continues to be Impacting the World, it is important for us at Wesley Methodist Church to see creation care as a very critical part of our work and duty, as our reasonable worship and service to God. Let’s do this together faithfully! It’s been 20 years since I left Scotland. I miss diving into the cold waters of Loch Lomond in winter, eating freshly caught wild

salmon while looking over the Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Skye, or even, running away from the Highland hairy cow after visiting the waterfalls of Eas Fors. I’m unsure if the climate change these past 20 years has affected anything, but it’s definitely heartening to note that even in the midst of Covid-19, as the world stays at home, cleaner air is reported over Europe, China and over the world. Creation has an opportunity to prosper when rare turtles can breed once again on the deserted beaches of Patong, Bangkok. Romans 8:28 says: “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.” Let us work together according to God’s purpose in creation care, so that the splendour of the Scottish Highlands can be preserved for me to visit it again and also for generations and generations to come! Amen!

2. Caring For The Garden

Caring for something requires active participation, passion and love; however, beyond that, the ‘care’ (‫ ָֽרְמָׁש‬- šā·mǎr) in Hebrew attaches a specific meaning like concern, to protect from harm, to guard and to keep. It is often used in conjunction with ‘work’ (see above point) in the context of the Levitical responsibility to guard a place from harm, against people or animals seeking to steal or destroy temple items or areas. It is an interesting thought that even in the Garden of Eden, such a meaning was attached even though there might have been nothing to guard against. Again, a simple reflection that we could draw from here would be this — man is tasked and required to guard and protect creation from being stolen or destroyed. This makes so much sense if you think about it. Humanity and creation have a co-dependent relationship. God designed creation

Capturing a rainbow while travelling up north to John O Groats Inn

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

Walking towards the lighthouse at Neist Point, Isle of Skye

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Pursuit To Steward Our Resources + By Ding Lean Sing Chairperson, Wesley Creation Care Committee + Photos by Johhny Koh and Ho Tzin Yih

What We Have Done

Almost a year ago on 4 May 2019, Wesley Methodist Church held its inaugural creation care conference titled Why on Earth Care? About 200 participants were reminded why we as Christians must not only marvel at the beauty of God’s creation but also see creation care as a crucial part of our Christian discipleship. In addition to the stimulating sharing, participants were also treated to a ‘creation care friendly aka sustainable’ breakfast — with food that was prepared primarily using locally grown vegetables (reducing carbon footprint) and served on reusable plates (reducing reliance on single-use cutlery). Moreover, most participants brought their own water bottles and mugs to enjoy the delicious brewed-on-the-spot coffee, thus reducing the need for single-use plastic water bottles and Styrofoam cups. Post-event feedback showed that the participants thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were looking forward to Wesley being more creation care-friendly and sustainable in all its activities and events.

06 Wesley Tidings | May 2020

Rev Stanley Chua (2nd from right) led in the planting of the Hopea tree on the slope outside the church on 7 May 2019

Since the conference, Wesley has risen to the challenge of caring for God’s creation. Some examples of what we have done include the following: Wesley Weekly

The number of water points in the church were increased to enable church members to refill personal water bottles.

Ministries encourage participants to bring their own cutlery when meals are served during churchheld events.

Our first-ever beach clean-up project was held on 7 July 2019, with 29 volunteers picking up litter along a part of East Coast Park.

Congregants are encouraged to share, or use digital copies of, the Wesley Weekly.

Members from Wesley planted a total of 55 new trees, representing 23 different species of timber trees that are native to the region, during two tree-planting exercises in April and May 2019. They were part of the effort to match our Fort Canning frontage to the National Parks Board Timber Zone concept masterplan.


COVER STORY | Pursuit To Steward Our Resources Slowly but surely, Wesley is embracing the biblical mandate to care for God’s creation.

Doing More

Can we do more? Absolutely! It is my personal hope that one day Wesley would embark on a zero waste campaign, with the following objectives:

1

Zero waste in single-use plastic (especially plastic water bottles)

2

Zero waste in the Wesley Weekly (every physical copy would be taken home by congregants for prayer and participation, or sent to our brothers and sisters who are home bound)

3

Zero waste in food especially in our event caterings

With the current Covid-19 pandemic, churches all around the world are forced to adapt to new norms such as having services conducted through virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom or YouTube. A new norm that our church has embarked on is disseminating church-related information through the Telegram application. For the past few weeks, Telegram has been

the primary means by which Bible reading reflections, Pastor Stanley’s pastoral letters and a whole host of ministry-related information, are disseminated. Clearly, if Telegram proves to be an effective medium to communicate information, perhaps in a post-Covid world (and we will get there!), we could continue to adopt such a means in our bid to care for God’s creation.

Why We Do This

But hang on a minute — while Wesley has stewarded, and I believe will continue to steward, God’s creation well, in our ‘doing’, we must never forget our reason for our doing — our first love, God. In the beginning of this year, the Creation Care Committee met and as we were evaluating what we had done in the previous year and planning the upcoming year, I felt the Lord impressing on my heart, the need to focus on Him and His beauty as demonstrated in creation. The reason why the Creation Care Committee is doing what we are doing is God. God created this wonderful and beautiful world for us to live in. It is right and biblical for us to steward and do justice to what He has provided for us.

One song that has always helped me steer my distracted mind to how great and grand God is is the song, Indescribable, by Chris Tomlin. Part of its lyrics reads: “Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name. You are amazing God.” It is because of this great God and His beautiful creation that the Creation Care Committee endeavours in upholding the message and act of stewarding our resources. While the current situation means that we are unable to travel, not even to the local nature parks (stay home, stay safe!), it does not mean that we are unable to contemplate both God’s majesty and His beauty in creation. We still can! Let me end with the following tips on how to contemplate God’s beauty in creation:

1

Meditate on scriptural passages that speak of God’s majesty and His beauty in creation. (Clue: Psalms has lots of it!)

2

Watch a show that speaks of God’s beautiful creation, such as Our Planet on Netflix.

3

Check out explore.org which shows livecams of various animal and environmental habitats (you can experience a safari without leaving home).

Till the time that we are able to physically meet, let’s continue to mutually and virtually encourage one another to seek Him and enjoy His beautiful world!

Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name. You are amazing God.” Wesley’s first beach clean-up activity on 7July 2019

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Zooming To Keep Connecting + By Yeo Su Chen Su Chen writes for Wesley TIDINGS. A ‘Kiasu’ Small Group Member

It would perhaps not be too far off to hazard a guess that I might well be the most ‘kiasu’ Small Group (SG) member in Zone 10. Way back in February 2020, right after Chinese New Year, while everyone else was still meeting for SG physically, I informed my SG leaders that I would participate in my SG meetings only through video calls. That was more than a month before the church advisories came out, to discourage and subsequently suspend all SG physical meetings.

08 Wesley Tidings | May 2020

Meeting Through Video Conferencing

Having tried out various communication tools in my other meetings, I had suggested to my SG leaders that I would use Zoom* to meet them virtually. As Zoom didn’t quite work out the first time I joined the SG meeting, we switched to WhatsApp video call. The WhatsApp video call worked out fairly well, although I would have preferred to be able to see everyone’s faces. Still, I would say we were off to a good and new start.


SMALL GROUP MINISTRY | Zooming To Keep Connecting The second session of the video chat with my SG went better. However, I got an earful from my husband after the session, as one SG member had used up his entire monthly data plan on his tablet to connect just so the group could have a video conference with me. We learnt early on that it is vital to have a good internet connection to have successful video conference meetings. By our third video chat session, the church advisory to suspend physical meetings in line with government measures, was already out, and it was clear that everyone had no choice but to meet virtually. As I had already hosted a few Zoom meetings, I valiantly volunteered to host the first Zoom meeting for my SG. Preparation is vital prior to a Zoom meeting, and I enlisted the help of a friend and my daughter to practise with me a few features such as insertion of videos and Breakout Rooms. For added security, I used the password and Waiting Room functions. It was nice to be able to see everyone’s faces at the same time on the screen during our Zoom time. “With Zoom, we tend to be more focused on the discussion topics and go off on a tangent less,” said Jeanne Cheng, one of my group members. Although we hit a couple of technical glitches during our first session as a group, we managed to get through opening prayer, worship via YouTube, as well as a robust discussion on the book we were studying together. We even tried to recite Psalm 23 together on Zoom. A positive change that has come out of our online SG meetings is that we are now much more focused on the study resources. Being a ‘foodie’ group, we were naturally often quite excited about the food (provided for refreshments) when we met physically. We could now only focus exclusively on the spiritual food.

Undeterred By Technology

The average age of my SG members is well above 50. We are, what my teenage daughter would call, a group of boomers (a term the youths use to describe ‘older’ people). There were many things to be learnt from ground zero. Some of us had not used video conferencing before, and coming together to learn and embrace new technology was a bonding activity in itself. It was important for my group to know that we didn’t have to get everything right at every meeting. It was okay to fumble the first couple of times. We learnt together as we went along. Those of us who were more experienced would help the ones who were new to the video conferencing game. The key here is not to be deterred by technology. Our desire for fellowship and community can bring us together in Jesus even when we experience glitches or have to change our mindset about doing church and Small Group. More importantly, we have to intentionally treat online SG meetings or church worship services with the same respect and reverence — respect for one another in our community and reverence to God.

Social distancing measures, along with technology, have changed many of our previous perceptions about doing church. It begs the question of how we could continue to be a community to one another when we are unable to study the word physically together and fellowship with one another in person. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a snapshot to how we can connect as a church community without being together physically. This is also a good time for us to make some efforts to show our concern for one another. Let us care and pray for one another. We can call or send a message to our SG members regularly. Let us remember to check in on those who do not have a Small Group to connect with or right resources to meet their community online. Let us connect with one another and continue to spur one another to grow in the Lord and be transformed in Christ-likeness as we foster community virtually, through this challenging season.

The Covid-19 crisis has compelled many of us to use various communications tools to connect to our church and its community. Many might be sceptical of the ability of a video chat app to replace an actual face-to-face meeting. But when we reflect on the realities of the current situation, I am sure many of us would still be very thankful that we could have the means to come together and commune on a spiritual level.

Care And Connection

We give thanks for God’s provision. Most of us could still have access to technology and the necessary devices that enable us to continue meeting virtually.

With Zoom, we tend to be more focused on the discussion topics and go off on a tangent less.” — Jeanne Cheng

*Zoom is an online video conferencing and communication platform.

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God In The Storm + By Wong Ee Hwee Pastoral Team Member, Small Group Ministry

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” — Psalm 46:1

16 February: First time seeing Dad via video call, a week after he was heavily sedated and intubated

A Storm Named Covid-19

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Sunday 9 February 2020

Mum texted, “My temp no good, resting now. I’m worried I got it too.”

It was 3am. My phone rang and I jolted out of bed. “Hui! What are we to do? The doctor asked us to go down now…” my mum was sobbing terribly over the other end of the line.

26 February: The first turnaround — Dad extubated

Within 48 hours upon his admission into hospital because of suspected pneumonia, my dad was transferred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) ICU as a confirmed Covid-19 patient in critical condition. My sister’s family and my mum were all under home quarantine. The next thing I knew was that they had intubated Dad. We did not have a chance to communicate with him before that. Neither did we know if we would see him again. Dad was a child of God, but not my mum or sis.

Mum requested for prayer almost every night when I video-called her. I could see her earnestness for God to hear and to heal. Saturday 15 February 2020 In the afternoon, upon my mum’s request because of the fever she was having, an ambulance came to send her for testing. My sis was distraught at the sight of my mum leaving the house, with the neighbours watching, and at the thought of both our parents now admitted. In the evening, another ambulance came without notice to take my sis away, almost by force, for testing. This almost broke my sis’ mental and emotional limits. And mine too. While her husband was at the gate talking to the paramedics, their two young children in the house, I was on the phone with her. It pained my heart to hear my sis in distress. The Lord then led me to pray like never before. And my sis responded with, “Amen,” in her shaken voice. Sunday 16 February 2020 Mum’s results were out. It was Covid-positive. My sis decided to get herself tested too, yet, with a newfound calmness in her.

19 February: Poster made to encourage Dad and Mum

18 March: Eagle spotted during my prayer walk on the day of another breakthrough — Dad had withstood 40 days of no oral intake of food or water

10 Wesley Tidings | May 2020


TESTIMONY | God In The Storm The First Week

Both my mum and sis had been crying out to the Lord in the past week, calling upon His Name to save Dad and for God to have mercy on the family. The chances of them doing so before this storm was less than nought. Emotions were intense, the stress level in the family was high, and daily communication with the hospital, Mum and Sis became the new norm.

A Saviour Named Christ Jesus

Through the storm, opportunities abounded to share verses, songs and prayer requests with my extended family, many of whom were of a different faith, but they were willing to call upon the name of the one true God because Jesus is whom my dad believes and trusts in. Through the storm, I experienced the mercies, grace and strength of the ever-present God. God ministered to me through His Word and in prayer, through the signs He gave, through the verses, prayers and songs He sent through friends and colleagues.

three of us prayed together for the first time. Mum started to join the online worship service of the church Dad had been attending, on her own accord. Words cannot describe my gratefulness to the Lord for His mercies upon my mum and sis. Through the storm, my family’s faith and patience were tested each time Dad’s condition suddenly worsened after some improvement. Dad was in and out of the ICU three times. The consistent message we got from the doctors during the first six weeks was that Dad would very likely need to be on oxygen support after discharge, if he managed to pull through. Yet one of the several miracles we witnessed during Dad’s third stay in the ICU was how he was totally taken off oxygen support within one day. Eventually, Dad was discharged after almost 70 days of hospitalisation. There are too many testimonies to be included here.

When storms come,

S

God is the Shelter in the storms. He is our Strength, Sustainer and Salvation.

T

Trust in the Lord and His purposes. His ways are always higher than ours.

O

Seize the gospel opportunities to testify to the goodness, mercies, and power of God.

R

Resist anxiety, relinquish control, and rest in Him.

M

Witness the mercies, miracles and majesty of our Living God, the LORD Almighty.

Be still and know that YHWH is God. He will be exalted among the nations. The LORD Almighty is with us. He is our ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:10-11 and 46:1, adapted).

Through the storm, the 30-yearold ill relation between my mum and our Christian neighbour took a positive turnabout when my neighbour bought some groceries for my mum, and told Mum that she was praying for our family. Through the storm, my mum and sis experienced the goodness of the Lord through the kindness, generosity and love from the Christian principal of my nephew’s pre-school. Besides sending practical items to my mum and sis during the quarantine period, she also sent them daily prayers, and even sent someone to help disinfect the house at the end of the quarantine order. Through the storm, hearts were humbled. Both my mum and sis prayed to receive Jesus as their Saviour and Lord within the second week of Dad’s admission. The

The entire experience can be summarised using the word S-T-O-R-M.

26 March: Dad transferred out of NCID ICU within two days after his third ICU admission — another miracle

21 April: Dad sharing his journey on the Channel 8 News programme Hello Singapore, testifying to how God had mercy on him

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Church@Home:

Return To The Ancient Ways + By Rev David Ho Pastor David is BeTween and Children’s Ministry Pastor.

I

n the wake of the startling decline of Christianity in the West, the following comment by Tom Gillespie, a former president of Princeton Seminary, is worth noting:

The truth of the matter is that the chief cause of our membership decline is our inability over the past quarter of a century to translate our faith to our children. Put simply, we are unable to keep our children in the church when they become adults. As a result, we are not only a dwindling church but an aging church as well.1 In recent times, Mark DeVries, and other practitioners2 in young people’s ministry have suggested that the answer to this crisis is not so much to ‘beef up’ the weekend programme, but rather, to re-

establish the “generational threads that used to weave their way into the fabric of growing up” by “connecting our kids to nurturing relationships that will last after they complete their teenage years.”3 DeVries and other experts have highlighted that parents are crucial in the growth of young people toward Christ-likeness:

Parents, simply by the way they raise their children, will either empower our ministries or sabotage them. Parents play a role second only to that of the Holy Spirit in building the spiritual foundation of their children’s lives.4 All this is nothing new. From ancient times, the family has always been the central faith-nurturing structure.

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” — Deut 6:6-7 (NLT)

1 Gillespie T. (1988). The Way Back Leads Nowhere: Report of the Standing Committee on Theological Education. Address to the 200th General Assembly. The Presbyterian Outlook, July 18, 1988, p. 6. 2 Kenda Dean, Professor of Youth, Church and Culture, suggests that “the solution lies not in beefing up congregational youth programs or making worship more “cool” and attractive, but in modeling the kind of mature, passionate faith we say we want young people to have.” See Dean, K. C. (2010). Almost Christian: what the faith of our teenagers is telling the American church. New York: Oxford University Press, p.4.

DeVries, M. (2004). Family-Based Youth Ministry. (InterVarsity Press), p. 56.

3

Ibid.

4

12 Wesley Tidings | May 2020


FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP | Church@Home: Return To The Ancient Ways The Ancient Ways

In the book of Exodus, the Great Commandment in the Old Testament was given within the context of family life and transmission of values. Most of us are familiar with this part:

“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (Deut 6:4–5, NLT). But read the very next two verses and we see the important role of the family:

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (Deut 6:6–7, NLT) God’s express will for His people Israel is still His will for God’s people the church, today. In other

words, every parent is to be the primary teacher of God’s teachings to their children, seizing every opportunity for instruction. Here are three principles that you can reflect upon and adopt in your family’s journey in the ancient ways.

Set The Stage: Put God At The Centre Of Family Life The journey begins by being intentional in setting the stage for God to be at the centre of family life. Take time to prayerfully review the place of the Great Commandment (i.e. to love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength) in the life of your family. Prayerfully discern (with your spouse, if applicable) whether there would be any adjustment that needs to be made to family life (e.g. priorities, schedule, communication, relationships, etc.) Some have described the family as “the laboratory for soul work”5. In truth, the mundane routine

of family life is the informal curriculum that shapes your child’s values, beliefs and worldview. Just before Chinese New Year this year, my son and I were chatting about his internship at HealthServe, a voluntary welfare organisation that serves migrant workers. I was prompted to ask my son whether he would like to invite any of the migrant workers to our home for a meal. In doing so, I wanted not only to affirm his work with the migrant workers, but also to stand in solidarity with him, by extending Christian hospitality as a family. I believe our family experience over dinner with the migrant workers ingrained in my son the Christian values of hospitality and compassion more deeply than a teaching session could. This means that as parents, we must be careful not to set (whether consciously or unconsciously) an informal curriculum that undermines or confuses our children’s discipleship. For example, if the family skips Sunday worship without good reason, the informal curriculum teaches that congregational worship is optional. If parents treat a domestic helper, migrant worker or service staff rudely or unfairly, the informal curriculum is that abuse of power and injustice is permissible against the weak and poor. None of us are perfect parents. I can recall moments when I was too harsh in the way I disciplined my son. Parents are not exempt from repentance and seeking forgiveness from our children if we have done wrong. Showing our children how to respond in a Christian way after a mistake is just as important as modelling good behaviour. This is where the biblical themes of sin, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation can be lived out in our families under the overarching theme of God’s love and His redemptive purposes. This is an essential aspect of the informal curriculum at home, because family life is messy.

Thompson M. J. (1989). Family the Forming Center. Nashville: Upper Room Books, p. 23.

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Speak The Language: Weave Faith Talk During The Daily Events Of Life Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs parents to weave God’s Word into conversations “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In truth, the language of faith in many families has become a lost language. According to a US nationwide study just one out of eight kids talks with their mom about their faith. It’s far lower for dads — one out of 20 kids, or five percent, has regular faith or life conversations with their dad.6

When your child is upset or angry over someone’s ill-action or unkind words, after extending a healthy dose of empathy and concern to your child, consider guiding your child to explore how God’s forgiveness leads us to forgive others. Instead of simply giving the principle or verse too quickly, consider asking open-ended questions such as: what would Jesus do in this situation? How did Jesus respond to those who persecuted him? When your child achieves success or wins accolades, after celebrating

your child’s achievements, consider teaching your child the importance of humility and explore with your child how his or her talents and abilities can be used to bless others. One mother I know encouraged her daughter who has an angelic voice to bless the elderly patients at St Luke’s Hospital with songs. By seizing the canvass of daily life to engage in spiritual conversations, we cultivate our children’s sensitivity to God’s Word and presence in every part of life and to fuel their appetite for the work that God is doing through his or her life.

As parents, we don’t have to be experts in the Bible or super Christians to start ‘faith talk’. Like any language, it will seem awkward at first, but consistency will bring fluency. One good way to cultivate the language of faith at home is to gather the family for prayer. When the Covid-19 circuit breaker measures were announced, Vin Sing, a father of two teenage daughters, was motivated, after reading an article on Jesus’ experience at Gethsemane, to gather his family daily to pray that Jesus would guard them against the temptation of losing hope, of using inappropriate language on one another and of not giving time for God. This not only helped to cultivate the language of faith at home, but also enabled the family to experience the Lord’s peace and power. While church ministry can teach your child the contents of Bible passages, parents play the vital role of teaching their children how God’s Word applies in the daily context of life. Look for divine opportunities to bring God’s perspective, truth, and hope into conversations. Show them how to interpret and access God’s Word to navigate practical situations and current events. Moments of blessing, joy, perplexity, trial, disappointment and sadness can be the springboards for deeper conversation. The Search Institute describes their study of 11,000 teenagers from 561 congregations across six denominations in the Search Institute research report, Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations (1990).

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FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP | Church@Home: Return To The Ancient Ways Schedule Family Traditions: Perform Rituals That Reinforce Beliefs And Values In his study titled Growing Up Religious, Robert Wuthnow stressed the importance of “specific, deliberate religious activities that are firmly intertwined with the daily habits of family routines, of eating and sleeping, of having conversations, of adorning spaces in which people live, of celebrating the holidays...”7 According to Wuthnow, the formal teachings of religious leaders often pale in significance when compared with these practices. Here are some good rituals to include in your family life as a start, especially during this circuit breaker period.

Family Meals

Parents must not ignore the overwhelming amount of research stating the benefits of having regular family meals with our children, relating to their emotional, psychological, academic and spiritual well-being.8 From prayer, to conversation, to sharing, to reflection on the day’s events or anticipation of events still to come, every meal presents rich opportunities for bonding and discipleship. Shared meals provide us with regular occasions to express gratitude to God and model prayerfulness to one another. There are many resources freely available on the Internet that you can refer to for ideas for family conversations over the table.9

Family Service

Serving together as a family in an outreach ministry, overseas mission or a community project can be a powerful way of building shared faith experiences. If we want our children to grow up to impact

the world, we must not isolate them from the reality of a lost and broken world. When parent and child serve together, the child sees the parent’s faith and values in action and vice-versa. Wendy sensed the Lord’s leading to invite her two sons to join her to distribute meals to the elderly in the Jalan Berseh area, and thankfully, both agreed. With gratitude and joy, Wendy shared the deep satisfaction of serving with her sons:

We have formed many good relationships with our clients. I am so glad the boys have brought smiles and laughter to the elderly. We lost a client to cancer last year. The boys were heartbroken but for the very first time, felt comforted in a period of loss knowing that the client is now with our Lord. Through her faith and obedience, Wendy has led her two sons to experience the deep profound truths of Christianity, transcending beyond head knowledge and

the Sunday programme, to an incarnational faith, by being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Conclusion

Abiding in the ancient ways is first and foremost an act of obedience on our part to the commandments of God. We should not see it as a formula or guarantee to raising the perfect children or having the perfect family. If anything, the Covid-19 outbreak has taught us that life is unpredictable. However, by choosing the ancient ways in our families, we are making a stand to embrace the Sovereign God and His timeless ways to navigate the fast-changing and dark landscape of our times. No matter how difficult things are, we know that our saviour Jesus Christ, who has triumphed over the powers and principalities that would lead our children astray, is Lord of the universe and the Head of his body, the Church! May God’s grace, peace and joy be with you and your family as you journey in the ancient ways!

Wuthnow, R. (1999). Growing Up Religious: Christians and Jews and Their Journeys of Faith. Boston: Beacon Press, p. xxxi-ii.

7

The American College of Pediatricians. (2014, May). The Benefits of the Family Table. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from www.acpeds.org/the-college speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/the-benefits-of-the-family-table. This presents secular research demonstrating the many benefits of the family meal, especially in protecting adolescents from negative, high-risk behaviours. 8

9 Check out the D6 Family website: www.d6family.com and the Focus on the Family website: www.family.org.sg. Download the D6 Family application for a wealth of family resources.

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(L-R) Joel, Janet, Hannah and Gerald Ng

It is important to help our children to build a strong foundation in their lives during the growing up process, so that as children eventually grow out of their relative cocoons, they will hopefully be imbued with the values to be discerning and to choose wisely” — Gerald Ng

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Laying The Foundation Of Faith In Our Children + By Gerald Ng Gerald is married to Janet, and they have two teenage children. He serves as an LCEC steward, and as a teacher in BeTween. Teachable Moments

One teachable moment that occurred during the Circuit Breaker period happened during an exchange that I had with my daughter Hannah. She was mostly cooped up in her room doing homebased learning. One afternoon, she came out of her room excitedly to share with my wife, Janet, and me that her literature teacher had given very good comments on her commentary about two poems by Elizabeth Jennings. Hannah was eager for Janet and me to hear what she had written in her commentary. “‘Father to Son’” she introduced the poem, “is about a persona struggling

with feeling happy about his son’s independence but at the same time feeling resentful and frustrated because of the distance that exists between them. The father wants to have a close relationship with his son but his efforts of doing so have been futile.” Janet and I listened and nodded. Sounds familiar, we remarked casually. Hannah continued reading out the rest of her commentary to us. She then went on to share her commentary on Jennings’ second poem. This was what she had written: “‘Warning To Parents’ is about the persona cautioning


FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP | Laying The Foundation Of Faith In Our Children parents of their overprotection of their children which can result in children having a fabricated sense of reality. The persona suggests that this might even result in the children being capable of possible cruelty and evil that may end up shocking them... . Losing one’s innocence is not something that can be stalled. It is only a matter of time until children will come to see and understand that the real world out there is full of all sorts of evil things.” Her sharing sparked a reaction from me. I said that as a literature homework, the commentary was fine. But if it was what she held and believed personally, then it was of concern to me. I explained that protection is necessary, especially when children are young. But it is never protection per se as, as pointed out, we cannot insulate our children forever. Thus, it is important to help our children to build a strong foundation in their lives during the growing up process, so that as children eventually grow out of their relative cocoons, they will hopefully be imbued with the values to be discerning and to choose wisely. Hannah’s response was “Oh, so triggered for what!”, not expecting such a strong reaction from me.

Rightly or wrongly, this was just one example of a teachable moment that my wife and I would constantly seize to connect with our children. From the days when they were very young, we would often take time to engage them and talk about what we could learn from incidents that happened, movies that we watched together or simply what they shared with us.

Family Devotion

Of course, it is important for us to be fed and anchored in God’s truths. Hence, we had regular family devotions. It was during these family devotional times that our children prayed to receive Jesus early in their formative years. My wife still recalls vividly the day how God led her to share the gospel with our son, Joel. She was feeling tired and had wanted to skip family devotion that day. Picking up a magazine to read, she suddenly heard a voice telling her to put it down and do devotion. She was shocked but she obeyed. Instantly, she put down the magazine, reached for the Bible and began reading to our son the story of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25–34). Like the jailer, Joel then expressed his desire to want to believe in the Lord and be saved. He was four years old then. The following year, Hannah also came to faith in Jesus during

family devotion. The lesson we learnt was that we must be faithful in the discipline of family devotion and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. As our children grow older and become more independent, I do identify with the struggle of the father described in Hannah’s poem commentary. No longer is it easy to get together with our children these days for family bonding and devotion. Now, they have their own friends, social media, new interests and school work to occupy them, all of which tend to compete with our family time. We have tried to adapt our approach by setting up a dedicated WhatsApp chat for sharing devotion. It is how we continue to encourage them to stay focused on God’s Word.

Role Model

While family discipleship is very much on our hearts, I have learnt that it is not just about parents teaching their children or talking down to them. In my experience, God also uses my children to mould me to be a better father. I recall what Hannah said to me once, after I had sought to apologise to her following an angry outburst. “It’s no use, you will do it again,” she said. Her words hit me hard. I realised that I had not been a good role model to her. Since then, I have strived to be more patient and self-controlled. She will testify that I am not there yet. Yes, but with God’s help, I know I am on the journey towards gradual transformation. I am convinced that, as much as we want our children to grow to be passionate followers of Jesus, family discipleship is not about a method. Ultimately, more is caught than taught. As children see our lives, they will learn by our example and our love for them. Though we do fall short, we need not lose heart. For methods may fail, but love never fails!

Hannah and Joel

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Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel:

Looking To God + By Daniel Teh Daniel is the project lead for the Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel in Cambodia. He is serving in the Field Development subcommittee in the Missions Ministry. December April

February

September

Field exploration on various housing and hostel management options

Dialogue with the MCC on church-based approach

Admission process of students started

2018

• First board meeting with the MCC

• Visit to fully operational WPPH and introduction meeting with the students

2019 October

August

October

Scholarship for E2STEM students provided

• Partnership agreement signed between Wesley and the MCC

WPPH started operations with 22 students

• Renovation works began

Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel Milestones The Vision

It all started with Dr Seet Ai Mee, a Singaporean educator stationed in Cambodia, seeking support in shelter and affordable care for her students. She presented an idea to get participation from Singapore churches, wherein partnered churches would set up student hostels to reach out to the students by providing a nurturing Christian environment. The programme was for a five-year period.

February 2019: Dialogue with the MCC on church-based approach hostel ministry — (L-R) Mr Chan Thol, Rev Hongly, Rev Pheatra, Rev Sophy, Rev Youthearoath, Dr Seet Ai Mee, Pauline Yek, Rev Vuthy, Daniel Teh, Alvin Low

It was an opportunity not just to participate in a good social cause, but it was also a means to promote the values of good character, strong discipline, and a habit of sharing, living and learning together. Above all, the students could experience, grow in and enjoy the love of God during their long stay at the hostel.

The Calling

Wesley Methodist Church sent a team (Daniel Teh, Alvin Low and Pauline Yek) to explore the field in Phnom Penh in April 2018. We visited the school in its infancy stage (its inaugural school term started in October 2018) and viewed their newly set up facilities

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MISSIONS | Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel: Looking To God and operations. They were training local teachers and equipping them with the necessary tools and various learning platforms. We also had the chance to survey hostels run by various Christian organisations, especially The Methodist Hostel. The testimonies from various exstudents who went through the system were both inspirational and touching. Many of them benefited through hostel living and developed strong character and solid Christian values. Our team came back fully convinced that God had impressed upon our hearts to reach out to young Cambodian students who were in need. We were certain that God would provide us with resources and see us through the process. Our church could contribute and play a special part in moulding, changing and impacting the life of young people in Cambodia.

The Faith Journey

The project started with many challenges. When we consulted Methodist Missions Society (MMS), we found that although they were very keen to help, their hands were full. We studied other options but none seemed practical and workable. After several months of knocking on doors, there was a sense of discouragement, but we believed that God would make a way according to His perfect will. We waited upon the Lord and trusted that He would provide a way and see us through every challenge.

August 2019: Rev Youthearoath (left) and Daniel holding the partnership agreement signed between the MCC and Wesley

The divine opportunity came in the most unlikely situation. In September 2018, Rev Sophy, the newly appointed president of the Methodist Church of Cambodia (MCC), attended a conference at Wesley, and our team caught up with him for a short discussion over tea. The meeting went unexpectedly well, as Rev Sophy himself was a strong advocator of hostel ministry. He totally believed in it as he was managing some student hostels in Siem Reap. The timing was perfect and he gave us his blessings. We were given permission and contacts to approach his local churches. Plans were finalised for us to visit in February 2019. The results were much more than what we had expected. Rev Youthearoath, who was the Church District

Superintendent, and his leadership team were willing to partner Wesley Methodist Church and provide the necessary ground support — i.e. help run the hostel and manage its day-to-day operations. The agreement was sealed the day before the team returned to Singapore. Upon our return, we wasted no time to plan. As we had already missed the first student intake the previous year, we realised that the current intake would happen in six months’ time. The timing could not have been worse when we found out that the Missions Board approval could only happen in July, which would be followed by LCEC approval only in early August. Could we get this proposal through and on time to implement the hostel programme by September? The odds were stacked heavily against us but God’s timing could not be wrong if this was His purpose. Again, we trusted God and put in our best efforts, leaving everything else to Him. Amazingly, both board approvals were fast and smooth. The church committees were very supportive. We were surprised by the speed of the process and the outcomes. Finalisation of the housing lease, renovation works, house parents appointments and fitting equipment were completed in a rapid pace — possible only with God.

September 2019: Renovation completed

Hostel room

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Looking back at the series of events that happened in the past year, we realised that God was with us all the way — from the hostel’s very origins till its full implementation. It reinforced our faith in a great God who is faithful, and whose promises never fail.

The 22 boys with the House Parents

church service during the weekend. Two-thirds of them regularly visited Holy Mountain Methodist Church a few blocks away. The rest attended Glory Methodist Church, which was located further away.

When we stood in front of the hostel, we were in awe of what God had done through the MCC and our church. Since the day He opened our eyes to the vision of setting hostel ministry, till the day we met the 22 boys, there was overflowing joy and affirmation. This was only the beginning, and we may encounter more challenges ahead, but through this missions project made possible by God, we have learnt that the only way is to keep looking to God!

House Parents Dim-Thy and SreyOun

The Outcome

In August 2019, we were back in Phnom Penh to witness the signing of an agreement between Wesley Methodist Church and the MCC. While the processes were smooth here, we also saw God’s hands over the work of the MCC, as they secured the rental of the premises and worked hard to interview and talk to the parents. We believed God had handpicked each student to come to this hostel, and within a short time, 22 boys had registered to stay in Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel in September 2019. In December 2019, we returned to witness the full operations of the hostel, which was running well. A total of 22 students were staying there, managed by two house parents. A chaplain had been appointed by the MCC to overlook the students’ welfare as well as their spiritual formation. All the students were encouraged to attend

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December 2019: Wesley Team introduction meeting with the boys

Lunch sent daily to school by House Parents


MISSIONS | Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel: Looking To God Testimonies From The Students Prayer Needs for Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel

Thank God for giving me the opportunity to come to this hostel and write my testimony on how He has provided this place for shelter. I am very happy to be living here and making new friends. New friends and a new house make me want to learn more than before when I lived at home with my parents. — Hel Chan Vutha, 16

We solicit prayers for the following:

I really enjoy my stay here at Wesley Hostel. I think whenever I come to this place, I will study well and improve more. I have been working hard to improve my grades. I want to know more about Jesus. Also, the house parents treat us well and they are really taking good care of us. I am really thankful to Jesus for supporting my life and making me a better person than before. — Phum Thai, 17

I’m so happy to be living in this hostel. Thank God that He cares for me to be healthy. The food is delicious and the house parents really take good care of us. Thank God for providing us with a place to live near the school and it is easy to get to school. And in the hostel, the members who live here are very cooperative and there is no quarrel. Finally, we would like to thank the sponsors who provided accommodations. God bless them to be healthy and to be smart and to be respected by others. — Seang Chivorn, 15

Being here in the hostel has given me more time to study. For the last few months, I have been making good progress in my schoolwork. The house parents are looking after me very well by preparing three meals a day and making the hostel very clean and comfortable. The hostel is crowded because there are many students. We clean the place every day. Every Sunday, we go to church for a couple of hours and then go back to the hostel. Sometimes we have fun programmes and have nice meals. As a rule here, I wake up at 5am for a meal and shower in order to get to school. I was in another hostel before, but it was not as comfortable as this hostel because of the warm care from my mom (Note: the house parents are called ‘Mom’ affectionately) here. I am happy to live here and would like to thank our sponsors and those taking care of me. — Orn kimkida, 16

+ All students staying at the hostel would experience God’s love through the warmth and care shown by the house parents, hostel chaplain, supporting church pastors and youth leaders. + God’s favour, protection and blessings to be over the hostel ministry and all who are involved in nurturing and discipling the students. + The students would excel in their studies and in the various curriculums assigned to them, and that they would develop good character traits. + God would touch and motivate more Wesleyans to help, serve and impact the lives of the students through short term mission trips by conducting meaningful programmes at the hostel.

First of all, I want to say thank you to Jesus Christ for the best hostel for us to sleep and work on our studies. And I want to say, thank you so much to the supporters for supplying us everything. The Wesley Phnom Penh Hostel is the best place for students to study at E2STEM*. When I first came to this hostel, I had a lot of problems. I didn’t have any friends. But now I think this is the place to build more relationships with students who come from other provinces in Cambodia. The supporters are Christian and we can worship at church. Finally, I want to wish the supporters good health, and they can be strong. Everything that you do, God always sees, and may He bless you the best things in your life. May God bless you! Amen. — Hang Emtakasvann, 14

*E2STEM is a school in Phnom Penh with a vision to train young Cambodians to be STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) professionals who will transform Cambodia into a developed nation. It was founded by Dr Seet Ai Mee, former Minister of State for Education, Singapore.

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Holy Week Sermons ABIDING IN CHRIST

Speaker: Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon + Summarised by Yeo Su Chen Su Chen writes for Wesley TIDINGS.

Holy Monday, 6 April 2020

Apart From Me, You Can Do Nothing John 15:1–8 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. — John 15:1–8

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HOLY WEEK SERMONS | Abiding In Christ

Summary: The Vine And The Branches

Jesus described Himself as the true vine while we are the branches. Our hope is to be grafted onto Jesus Christ, the true vine.

A Rude Shock

It is a rude shock for the world when Jesus says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” This is because we live in a society which highly values successes and accomplishments. However, Jesus was not referring to earthly deeds and achievements; He was referring to spiritual things. What Christ was saying is that we cannot achieve anything spiritually or eternally significant without Him. No branch can bear fruit by itself. Similarly, we have to be grafted on and be connected to Christ in order to bear spiritual fruits. All that we have amount to nothing if we are not constantly connected to Jesus. The author of Ecclesiastes 1:14 tells us he has seen all the things under the sun and all are vanity. There is a sense of emptiness and fleetingness in life on earth, especially when Christ is not paramount in our lives.

An Essential Connection

The Covid-19 crisis has prompted many of us to take stock of the things that are essential to us. We reflect on life’s unpredictability and vulnerabilities, and what actually matters. In order for us to live a genuine faithful Christian life, we have to be united with Christ, inside out. Everything we have and achieve is irrelevant and worthless if we are not in communion and united with Christ. It is still possible to live a detached life from Jesus even if we constantly go through Christian rituals like going for sermons, Bible studies, worship, etc. But it is vital we remain or abide in the Vine and be nourished and transformed by God.

The word ‘abide’ comes from the Greek word ‘meno’, which means to live, or to keep enduring. We could only do this if we are crucified and resurrected with Christ. Being connected to Jesus is a nonnegotiable part of true discipleship.

It is possible to attempt to live our Christian life on the wrong footing because we can measure our spiritual success by worldly yardsticks. We must not concentrate on achievements but attachment to God.

Absolute Dependence On Christ

Remaining In Christ Regardless Of The Circumstances

We not only have to remain in Jesus; we have to know that we need to be totally dependent on Him. Growing up, many of us are trained to work towards being competent and successful, to control and take charge. Unfortunately, this mindset can carry over to our Christian life. We have to reflect whether we are doing everything ultimately for God or for ourselves. Without God, we cannot do anything meaningful or significant spiritually. As we mature spiritually, we learn that to be grafted onto Christ is to let the life of Christ live in and through us. Not Effort but Surrender The key action to allowing Christ to live in us is not effort but surrender. When we surrender to God, it is His life that flows through us. If we don’t surrender, we could keep on doing more and more and trying harder and harder. We could be fixated on effort instead of surrendering. In surrendering, we become filled with the life of Christ. Only then will we truly abide in Him and bear the fruits of the spirit of God. In order to abide in Him, we cannot be focused on the outcome but on the relationship with Him. A close relationship with Christ will produce spiritual fruits.

In John 6:68, the crowds following Jesus started thinning out because they could not accept His teachings. However, Peter was resolute and told Jesus he will stay with Jesus because Jesus has “the words of eternal life”. Peter knew who and what really mattered. Do we follow Christ as His disciples, like Peter, or as fans with self-interests, like the crowds? Like the latter, we may falter and fall away when the going gets tough or when we find the crowds have left. Would you remain in Christ regardless of the circumstances?

Conclusion

If you have never experienced being in Christ, He wants you to enter into a personal and profound relationship with Him. He wants you to be truly united with Him. If you have experienced being in Christ but have become distracted by the world, Jesus wants you to turn back from the crowds and follow Him. He wants you to wake up from your spiritual slumber. Let us abide in Christ so that His life can flow through ours and we can be His witnesses and bear fruits for Him.

Not Achievement but Attachment The focus to having a close relationship with God and to bearing spiritual fruits is not on achievement but attachment to God.

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Holy Tuesday, 7 April 2020

That Your Joy May Be Complete John 15:9–12 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. — John 15:9–12

Summary: Jesus Wants To Give Us His Joy

Christianity can be perceived by some as a dour kind of religion. That is because some Christians think that the more serious they look, the more spiritual they would appear.

circumstances but Christ. This is evident in many who could still experience joy amid their sufferings and pain. In fact, there are many suffering individuals who experience more joy than those who have fame and fortune.

But the Bible teaches us that joy is the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) and the manifestation of a mature Christian life. Jesus wants us to experience joy in Him so that our joy may be complete (John 15:11). It is a joy that has to do with our relationship with God.

Jesus says He loves us the same way as God loves Him. The depth and intensity of His love for us is the same as what God has for Him. Sometimes, Christians lose the joy in Jesus because they are running their lives under their own steam and disconnected from God.

Joy Has To Do With Our Relationship With Christ

Joy in Christ is not the worldly happiness that depends on circumstances such as our state of health, wealth, families, jobs, etc. While happiness can change when our circumstances switch and shift, joy is not dependent on

Connection Between Joy And Obedience

To have joy in God, we must be connected to Christ and be obedient to Him. Spiritual obedience is not just an emotional or intellectual exercise. It is an intentional effort to be connected to Jesus in what we think, say, do and how we live our lives. Jesus exemplifies obedience to God and sets an example for us. He took the form of a man and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on the Cross (Philippians 2:8). Obedience to God is burying our self-will and carrying the cross. It leads us to self-denial, true resilience and abiding in Christ. Regardless of our standing and responsibilities in this world, our core mission is found in 1 Peter

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1:2 — we have been chosen by God to be obedient to Jesus through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Desire, Duty And Divine Will

Throughout our lives, we have to negotiate between what we desire and what is expected of us. As Christians, we have to negotiate, and sometimes struggle between what we desire, what is expected of us by man and what God wants for us. As Christians, we may experience different scenarios. Sometimes, our desires and God’s will match; sometimes, we struggle between our desires and what is expected of us by others. Other times, we give up our desires to do God’s will. It is human nature to live by impulses and desires. But we have to learn to obey God and remember that our central purpose is to honour Him and put Him above pursuing fame and fortune, health and wealth. Obeying God is not obeying a set of rules and laws, precepts and principles. If we stop at that, we are just trying to be moralistic. Beyond that, obedience is about having a relationship with God, the law giver. When we are close to God, we will experience joy as a natural outcome of our relational obedience to Him.

Complete Joy In Relationships

God wants us to be always joyful, no matter the circumstances. This is a real possibility and not a distant ideal that cannot


HOLY WEEK SERMONS | Abiding In Christ be fulfilled. If we are constantly connected closely with Christ, we will have the joy He promised us. He will be the reason for our joy. Nothing in this world can bury or take away this joy from God. Pleasures and happiness are different from joy. Humans are created to derive joy in relationships. Joy cannot be found through earthly achievements, success and material possessions. True joy is only attainable through being connected with God. Hence, the first commandment is to love God.

The second commandment we have from Jesus is to love our neighbours as ourselves. However, as sinful people, many of our relationships are tainted. Reconciliation is a combination of forgiveness and repentance, just like the thief on the right side of Jesus’ cross who repented even as Christ forgave him. God forgives us and awaits our repentances so that we can be reconciled with Him. Likewise, if we have been offended, we ask God for strength to forgive. If we are the offender, we draw strength from God to repent and seek

forgiveness. We have to give up our grudges, prejudices, hurts and learn to forgive those who hurt us. Reconciliations bring us closer to God and make our joy complete.

Conclusion

Let us reflect if we are merely happy or whether we are truly joyful Christians. When things go awry, will I still experience His joy? Let us allow the Holy Spirit to diagnose and show us our spiritual condition, and look to God to give us His unshakable joy that sustains us.

Holy Wednesday, 8 April 2020

You Are My Friends John 15:13–17

Summary: What A Friend We Have In Jesus

The popular hymn What a friend We Have in Jesus, written by Joseph Scriven in 1855, encapsulates the relationship we must have with Jesus. Throughout the scriptures, we read of Jesus laying down His life for us. Jesus fulfilled the highest standard and virtue of friendship by laying down His life for His friends. Jesus did everything for us. This begs the question of how we can reciprocate Christ’s love and sacrifice for us. It is a privilege for us to have a friendship with Jesus, one that is built up over time. Just as Jesus has shown us what a true friend He is to us, we

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. — John 15:13-17

are invited to demonstrate our friendship for Him, by denying ourselves and carrying the cross. That is the price and privilege of our discipleship and friendship with Jesus. We cannot be a real friend to Jesus in any lesser way.

Suffering With And Obedience To Jesus

In Philippians 3:10, Paul spoke about fellowship with Christ through suffering. Our relationship with Christ calls us to grow spiritually through obedience, sacrifice and potential martyrdom. Obedience of this nature is counter-cultural. It causes us to go against the mainstream, be unpopular and even become an

object of the world’s wrath. But God gives us many opportunities to align ourselves to Him. We just have to obey. Because we are His friends just as He is one to us, we must strive to grow in intimacy with Him.

How Do We Know We Are His Friends?

Jesus shares what He has learnt from the Father with us. He does not keep any knowledge He received from God, from us. The psalmist tells us that the Lord confides in those who fear Him (Psalm 25:14). We have to examine our motives for following Christ and being His Wesley Tidings |

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HOLY WEEK SERMONS | Abiding In Christ friend. Servants obey out of duty but as His friends, we obey Him out of love. The testament of our friendship with Christ is to know Him deeply, produce lasting fruits and be connected to Him. To be called a friend of Jesus is not merely paying lip service. We have to demonstrate our closeness to Him that is sustained through our growth in Christ-likeness. As Christ’s followers and friends, we must march to a different tune from that of the world.

Applications Of Abiding In Christ

from being our comforter to being our entertainer. We reduce joy to happiness, which is joy without holiness and a faithful relationship with God. We expect the Holy Spirit to do spiritual tricks to entertain us. But the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to comfort and counsel us because very often we have to suffer in following Jesus. The process by which the Spirit of God fashions us into the likeness of Christ is often a painful one. And it is only when we experience this painful process can our joy be complete. Joy and suffering are intimately connected.

Apart from Me, You Can Do Nothing Many Christians today treat God as a patron, someone to call upon whenever we need help, instead of honouring His rightful place as our heavenly Father. God is not accorded the reverence and honour He deserves.

You Are My Friends Many of us treat Jesus as an employer with whom we can have transactions or contracts with, for our own benefits. Jesus treats us as His friends, but we may not reciprocate by offering our friendship to Him.

Instead of allowing God to shape us, we try to fit Him into our own plans and let our own needs shape our religion. When we perceive God as a patron who fixes and solves our problems, our religion becomes superficial, superstitious, mechanical and ritualistic.

Conclusion

The solution is to rediscover God and surrender totally to His love and purposes. That Your Joy May Be Complete Many of us turn the Spirit of God

It is not possible to remain in Christ if we are always running around instead of focusing on being connected to Him. To abide in God, we can reflect on how much we long to pray to Him, linger in His presence or spend time with Him. This season, let us surrender and abide in Him. Let’s return to God, the source of our spiritual destiny. Let’s go back to Christ in a deeper and fresher way. Let’s remain in Him and stay connected to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is more than our employer and master. He is our friend and wants us to be His. The Holy Spirit works within us, strengthens us and helps us to be holy in this pernicious fallen world, so that we may experience the true joy from Christ. Jesus wants us to nurture an intimate friendship with Him. The secret of remaining connected to Christ in a profound way is to remain connected to the true Vine as His branches.

About Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon served as Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000–2012. He had served previously as a medical doctor, church pastor, principal of Trinity Theological College and president of the National Council of Churches of Singapore. Dr Solomon has degrees in medicine, theology, intercultural studies, and a PhD in pastoral theology from the University of Edinburgh. He has contributed many articles to books, theological dictionaries and journals, and authored more than 40 books. He now has an active itinerant ministry of preaching and teaching in Singapore and abroad.

26 Wesley Tidings | May 2020


BIBLE PUZZLE

Who Are They? + By Julia Tan

The words describe characters from the Old Testament. Can you guess who they are? 1____

6_____

11 _ _ _

Garden Work Helper

Fire and wood Lamb Burnt offering

Blameless and upright Suffering Friends

2___

7______

12 _ _ _ _ _ _

Ribs Serpent Fruit

Robe Dream Governor

Dream Decree Den of lions

3____

8_____

Flocks Fruits Favour

Basket Burning bush Ten commandments

4____

9______

Righteous and blameless Ark Covenant

Razor Great strength Two pillars

5_______

10 _ _ _ _ _

Nation Covenant Circumcision

Shepherd Stones Lyre

5. Abraham 6. Isaac 7. Joseph 8. Moses

9. Samson 10. David 11. Job 12. Daniel

TRANSITIONS

Answers 1. Adam 2. Eve 3. Abel 4. Noah

Congratulations! Weddings

Condolences Bereavements

April 2020

April 2020

02 Mr Chanho Ahn and Miss Choi Wai Ching Carmen

01 Mr Kuan Kim Hong

14 Mr Chua Whye Hong

15 Mdm Gay Gim Boon

12 Mdm Tan Pheck Heah

15 Mdm Lim Lie Ming

30 Mdm Tan Mary

04 Mr Thaddeus Teo Seng Chong and Miss Trisha Nanticha Soo

11 Ms Tan Pui Ling Angeline

14 Mdm Lim Soo Noi

27 Mdm Sit Yoke Ying


Wesley

PRAYER SERVICE ONLINE

Let us unite

our hearts & pray together as a Church amidst the extended Circuit Breaker in Singapore due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every first Wednesday of the month 8.00pm wesleymc.org/ prayer-needs

CHURCH-WIDE SYNCHRONISED PRAYER

Here’s how to be a part of

“…pray continually… for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NIV)

DATE:

Every Wednesday

(Except the first Wednesday of every month)

RECEIVE THE PRAYER POINTERS TIME:

PLACE:

8.30pm to 9.00pm

ONLINE

Indeed, I am reminded that prayer can transcend time and physical boundaries to keep us connected not only with God but with each other. Importantly, we all play our part to intercede for God’s mercy to be upon our world and us as we battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.” - Ps Stanley (7th pastoral letter on the Covid-19 situation) Wesleyans, let’s pray together as a Church to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. Each week, during the appointed time we will unite our hearts in prayer and intercede for:

Our World

WESLEY’S CHURCH-WIDE SYNCHRONISED PRAYER:

Our Nation &

Our Loved Ones

Every Wednesday at noon, Prayer Ministry will send out prayer pointers for the day, through Wesley’s Telegram Channel (wesleymc.org/telegram).

The prayer pointers will also be available on our church’s prayer page: wesleymc. org/prayer-needs

JOIN OR FORM A GROUP

Join your Small Group, Bible study, ministry team, or form a group with your family & friends (3-10 persons) online. If you wish to join a SG to pray, please contact the SGM team using this form: wesleymc.org/joinsg

PRAY TOGETHER

From 8.30pm to 9.00pm, gather in your groups online (using platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, etc.) and use the prayer pointers provided.

• For information and prayer requests, please visit the Prayer Needs page: wesleymc.org/prayer-needs • Join Wesley’s Telegram channel to have the latest updates delivered to your mobile device : wesleymc.org/telegram

Profile for Wesley Methodist Church, Singapore

Wesley Tidings Newsletter May 2020  

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